Sunday, July 31, 2016

Black Water

Seen from above, a small boat travels the Buriganga River, thick and dark with pollution, in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. Though the water is filled with human and industrial waste, millions depend on it for their livelihood and transportation. “The Buriganga is economically very important to Dhaka,” Your Shot photographer Jakir Hossain Rana writes. “Launches and country boats provide a connection to other parts of Bangladesh.”

Rana’s shot was recently featured in the Daily Dozen.

This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our storytelling community where members can take part in photo assignments, get expert feedback, be published, and more. Join now >>




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The Ephemeral Beauty of Nature Revealed When Camera-less and Digital Photography Meet - Flavorwire

Photographer Kyra Schmidt, who we discovered on Trendland, uses the transformative power of photography and elements of nature to reveal the beauty of the lush vistas and connect the viewer with an “increased consciousness” of the landscape. From the ...



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Caffeine Priority: LensRacks rails make organizing your photography gear easier than ever - imaging resource

As was the case with LensPacks, which I told you about recently, LensRacks is another product whose beauty lies in its simplicity. If you're like me, you may struggle to keep your lenses and accessories organized. Rather than have to worry about ...



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GoldenHour.One Tells You the Perfect Time and Place to Take Photos

iOS: We all know that golden hour is the hour before sunset and the hour after sunrise when lighting is great for photography. There’s a bit more nuance to it than that, and this app helps photographers optimize golden hour to get the best possible pics.

Read more...



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How to Use Two LED Lights to Achieve Moody Portraits

Any kind of light is a must for photography. You just cannot photograph without light. There are various types of light that no doubt you are familiar with:

  • Natural light from the sun
  • Ambient light (could be natural or manmade)
  • Artificial light such as strobes, incandescent or tungsten, fluorescent, flash and LED lights
  • Infrared light

achieving-moody-portrait-2-LEDs-tips

This article will give you tips for using two LED lights to achieve moody portraits.

Tip #1 – Modify your light

The best light is always modified. Even sunlight is better with a diffuser. Direct sunlight produces hard shadows and harsh light. Clouds soften and diffuse sunlight (by making it spread over a larger area). On a bright cloudless day, shooting in open shade minimizes the harshness, but still takes advantage of the beautiful natural light. Shooting in shadows, located next to reflective surfaces, also leverages any bounced natural light. These techniques are simply modifiers of natural and available light.

Modifiers are more obvious for artificial light. There is a plethora of choice when it comes to these: soft boxes, diffusers, reflectors, foam cores panels, umbrellas, flags to name a few.

The same is true for LEDs when it comes to the need for modifiers. There are many types of LED lights, including ones that you can adjust their brightness as well as colour temperature. But, just like the above, regardless of brightness intensity of the continuous light, it is essential to modify LEDs to get soft, pleasing, beautiful light -overall a better quality of light.

I’m going to show you a setup using modified LEDs to create moody portraits.

achieving-moody-portrait-2-LEDs-tips

Using a window to camera left and an LED, bounced into a diffusion panel, to the right.

The main light I used here is the Magic Tube, the cheaper alternative to Westcott Ice Light. You can adjust the brightness of the light, and it comes with a tungsten gel if you need it. Apart from looking lightsaber Star Wars cool, the Magic Tube also comes with a charger that allows continuous charging while it is being used. So you can always have access to power by just plugging it in if the battery charge runs out.

You can also use window light and just one LED for this setup. Substitute the main light with your window light, but make sure you are diffusing the light coming from a window with a sheer voile, or fabric to soften it.

To diffuse the main light, I covered it with the Rogue Bender diffuser for the strip light. This is just a piece of rectangular translucent material which simply covers the light.

Tip #2 – Position your lights for contrast

Position the main light at 45 degrees to the subject, up high to emulate light coming from a tall window. Use a diffusion panel or a piece of sheer fabric. The less opaque the fabric, the more diffuse your light will be. To further modify the Magic Tube after I have attached the Rogue Bender diffuser, I also used the diffusion (translucent part) panel of a 5-in-1 reflector and had an assistant hold the panel in front of the main light. Having these two diffusers together reduces the strength of the light, but also greatly softens its quality.

achieving-moody-portrait-2-LEDs-tips

The second light is also an LED, this time a small video light positioned to camera right, at 45 degrees, but at the same height as the subject. However, instead of using a diffuser to modify this light, you can turn it around so the light faces away from the subject, and put a reflector in place to bounce the light on. The subject (filling in the shadows) gets illuminated by the soft bounced light from the reflector.

achieving-moody-portrait-2-LEDs-tips

For a moody look it is essential to have both light and shadow in the portrait. You need to watch where the main light falls, and the shadow it’s creating. You want the shadowed area to still have some detail, instead of being completely black. The bounced light from the reflector takes care of this.

Tip #3 – Use a dark background

I tried the exact same setup, although the lights were positioned the opposite way, with the main light on camera right. This setup had a lighter background, in this case lightly patterned, and the results were far from moody. I did not want to shoot at a smaller aperture as I wanted to blur the pattern of the wallpaper in the background. I also wanted to emulate sunlight shining through a window illuminating a dark room, and this setup just did not work to achieve that look.

I’m sure if I had gridded the main LED to avoid spill into the light background, while increasing my shutter speed, the background would have gone darker, but I would have lost the soft and atmospheric look I was after. Compare this photo below to the one underneath it, and it’s pretty obvious the darker background is most definitely better at achieving the moody look.

tutorial-using-2-led-lights-for-portraits-photography

achieving-moody-portrait-2-LEDs-tips

I hope this article gave you new ideas to try. Do share other tips you have to achieve moody portraits!

The post How to Use Two LED Lights to Achieve Moody Portraits by Lily Sawyer appeared first on Digital Photography School.



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Here is how to start with Magic Lantern (Canon steroids for free)

Magic Lantern Is one of the more powerful pieces of software ever released for Canon cameras. ML was released a good few years ago, but I am still getting quite a bit of mails asking us for more information about it. Good! Because videographer Jake Coppinger just released a Magic Lantern for Dummies guide. It only covers [...]

The post Here is how to start with Magic Lantern (Canon steroids for free) appeared first on DIY Photography.



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Count turkeys, win a kayak, learn wildlife photography: In the Pennsylvania outdoors this week - PennLive.com

The second day of the annual Bow Hunting Classic at Cabela's at Hamburg Sunday, July 31, includes exhibition shooting by Frank “The Aspirinbuster” Addington Jr. and his “bow and arrow razzle dazzle,” and Hamburg's ZenaRae Orion Ross, a 16-year-old ...



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Schensul: Travel that specializes in photography - NorthJersey.com

I don't mean cracked glass or weak signals. I mean, the photos you take with it on your travels. Everybody today can be a photographer, and for traveling, smartphones are certainly easy enough to take anywhere. But after the 3-millionth selfie or ...



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Here is how to start with Magic Lantern (Canon steroids for free)

Magic Lantern Is one of the more powerful pieces of software ever released for Canon cameras. ML was released a good few years ago, but I am still getting quite a bit of mails asking us for more information about it. Good! Because videographer Jake Coppinger just released a Magic Lantern for Dummies guide. It only covers [...]

The post Here is how to start with Magic Lantern (Canon steroids for free) appeared first on DIY Photography.



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Flagships compared: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II versus Nikon D5

Flagships compared: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II versus Nikon D5

2016 is an Olympics year, and while Brazil may be scrambling to get everything ready, Canon and Nikon are fully prepared. Both manufacturers launched brand new flagship DSLRs this spring, just in time for the world's sports and action photographers to learn how to use them ahead of the games, which start next month.

Having two major DSLRs launched into the same marketplace aimed at the same kind of photographers at the same time is a good opportunity to see how they compare. We've recently published full, detailed reviews of both the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5, but in this article we'll be highlighting the major differences between the two models.  

Dynamic range

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II offers greater dynamic range at base ISO than the Nikon D5 - and than any previous Canon DSLR. Source: Bill Claff

On the face of it, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 offer a very similar sensor specification. And at 20 and 21MP respectively, their output resolution is indeed almost identical, but there are differences.

Unusually, in the contest between Canon and Nikon, the EOS-1D X Mark II’s sensor has the wider dynamic range at base ISO, which represents a major step forward for Canon’s pro lineup. Although not a match for the best-in-class performance offered by Sony’s current full-frame sensors, the 1D X Mark II bests the D5 by around one stop. Oddly, in terms of dynamic range, the D5 has moved backwards compared to its predecessor, the D4S.

The practical upshot of this is that the EOS-1D X Mark II is much more suitable for the sort of ‘expose for the highlights and pull the shadows up later’ approach to photography that makes sense in tricky lighting conditions. With the D5, you have to chose. Expose for highlight detail and color and lose definition in midtones and shadows, or expose for midtones and say goodbye to the brighter areas. With the EOS-1D X Mark II, while not best-in-class, Raw files are much more flexible.

High ISO performance

Even at ISO 64,000 the Nikon D5's image quality is superb, and the AF system is capable of 3D Tracking in near darkness.

Of course, not everyone requires super-wide dynamic range from Raw files. For some photographers (and we suspect most photojournalists) high ISO Raw, and particularly JPEG, image quality will be more important. In this respect the D5 offers marginally superior performance to the EOS-1D X Mark II, although the difference isn’t that great within what any sensible photographer would consider a ‘normal’ ISO sensitivity span.

The D5 yields better quality JPEGs at ISO 409,600 (the EOS-1D X Mark II’s maximum setting) but above this, its additional ISO sensitivity settings (all the way up to 3.28 million) become progressively less useable. More useful is the D5's backlighting of major controls, which is a huge benefit when changing settings at night.

Autofocus

The Nikon D5's 153-point AF system is the most capable that we have ever seen.

As flagship sports and action cameras, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 incorporate the best autofocus systems that their respective manufacturers know how to make.

In Canon’s case that’s a 61-point AF system, supported by a 360,000-pixel metering sensor to aid with subject tracking (‘iTR’ in Canon-speak) and face detection. Of the full 61 points, 41 are cross-type and the center point is sensitive down to -3EV in single-shot AF mode. Additionally, the 5 central points are dual-cross type, containing a long base-line x sensor in addition to the and + cross sensor for enhanced AF precision with F2.8 and faster lenses. Indeed, we've found these 5 points to have nearly mirrorless (contrast-detect) levels of precision, important for shallow depth-of-field photography.

The D5’s AF system features 153 points, 99 of which are cross-type, and of which 55 can be directly manually selected. The entire AF array is sensitive down to a rated -3EV, and the center point can still be used at -4EV. The D5’s metering sensor features 180,000 pixels, and works with the autofocus to create a ‘3D AF tracking’ system with face detection.

While the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II’s autofocus is very good, and leagues ahead of earlier-generation professional Canon cameras, the D5 leaves it in the dust. The D5’s AF system is without question the most capable of any camera that we have ever seen. The almost spooky reliability of 3D AF tracking, despite a lower resolution metering sensor for subject analysis, is a game-changer for all kinds of photography – not just fast action. 

Easy to miss in the D5 (partly because Nikon hides it so well) is automatic AF point calibration. This is a massive time-saver when calibrating fast lenses for accurate focus, and a major selling point over the EOS-1D X Mark II (and earlier Nikon cameras).

Video

Both the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 offer 4K video, but the Canon is the better video camera. Its 1.34X crop in 4K mode is less aggressive and Dual Pixel AF transforms performance.

Again, in terms of video specification the EOS-1D X Mark II and D5 might appear to offer a very similar set of features. Both can shoot high-definition video, and both also boast 4K recording. But the exact breakdown of features – and how they are implemented – is quite different.

Of the two cameras, the EOS-1D X Mark II is unequivocally the better choice for video. Canon has been producing high-end video cameras for a long time (although in the DSLR market, Nikon got there first – just – with the D90) and the company’s experience in this field really shows. The EOS-1D X Mark II can shoot HD footage up to 120fps, which is great for slow-motion capture, and 4K at up to 60p. The D5 tops out at 60p and 30p respectively.

The EOS-1D X Mark II also imposes a less aggressive crop factor in 4K video mode: 1.34X as opposed to ~1.5X. This isn’t a huge difference, but it does mean that it’s easier to shoot wide-angle footage on the 1D X II. In addition, the EOS-1D X Mark II’s Dual Pixel AF system works brilliantly well in video mode, both in terms of speed and accuracy of AF acquisition, and also tracking. The combination of DPAF and touch-to-focus makes for a very refined shooting experience, and even swift and accurate AF for static subjects in stills. The D5’s contrast-detection AF system in live view and video is primitive by comparison.

There are a couple of points in Nikon’s favor though – unlike the EOS-1D X Mark II the D5 can offer zebra striping for highlight monitoring, and it can output clean 4K footage over HDMI to an external recorder. In addition, the D5’s entire ISO sensitivity span is available in 4K video recording, whereas by default, the EOS-1D X Mark II caps ISO at 12,800 (expandable to 204,800 with a custom function).

Rear LCD

The Nikon D5's rear LCD screen offers 2.36-million dot resolution, color calibration, and a broad range of touch-sensitivity features.

The rear screens on the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 are the same size, but the D5’s display offers significantly higher resolution, at 2.36 million dots (to the 1.62 million dots of the 1D X II). Although the Canon’s screen is very sharp and detailed, the D5’s is noticeably better when compared side by side.

It’s not all about resolution though, and the D5 has a couple of extra tricks up its sleeve. If you find that how pictures look on the back of the camera is different to how they appear on a profiled computer, the D5’s rear LCD can be calibrated using a blue-amber, magenta-green color wheel.

And while the screens on the back of both cameras are touch-sensitive, the implementation of touch features on the Nikon D5 is much broader. In the EOS-1D X Mark II, pretty much the only thing you can do by touch is to set AF point in live view. In combination with Dual Pixel AF this works brilliantly, but touch-sensitivity is much more deeply integrated into the Nikon D5’s ergonomics. Move to the next slide to read more.

Operation and Handling

The Nikon D5's touch-sensitive feature set is much more useful than the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. In review mode, images can be scrolled or 'scrubbed' through and focus can be checked with a double-tap.

In terms of handling, as always when comparing cameras from different manufacturers, the question of which is ‘better’ is largely subjective. But that’s not to say that there aren’t some measurable differences between the Canon EOS-1D X II and the Nikon D5. For starters, there’s that rear LCD screen.

Canon is determined that no unwary professional photographer should ever do anything by accident. That was the logic behind the original EOS-1D’s ’press button A, press button A again, scroll, stand on your head then press button B’ control logic, and it remains a Canon obsession to this day. As such, the company has basically deactivated the EOS-1D X Mark II's touch-sensitivity feature except for one action - AF point selection in live view. 

Nikon isn’t as stingy in this regard, and on the D5, you can perform several operations by touch - possibly the most useful being scrolling through and zooming (by pinch or double tap) quickly into images in image review mode.

In terms of customization, both of these cameras are highly configurable, but the D5 is a level up from the EOS-1D X Mark II. Nearly every custom button on the D5 gets a comprehensive list of assignable functions, much more generous than that offered by the EOS-1D X II. Furthermore, nearly every custom button can be assigned to activate and initiate any AF mode - uniquely allowing for things like momentary disabling of subject tracking, or the ability to switch between tracking a subject you specify vs. one the camera automatically chooses. This makes it easy to adapt to changing scenarios, or instantly try a different AF mode when one doesn't work.

Shooting speed

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II can shoot at up to 14fps with autofocus. This comes in very handy for capturing fast and erratic action like this rodeo rider.

Both the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 are – probably – approaching the limit of how fast DSLRs can be made to take pictures before shaking themselves to bits. The EOS-1D X Mark II is the quicker of the two cameras, topping out at 16 fps in live view mode, while the D5 lags a little behind at 14 fps. With autofocus and autoexposure, the Canon can shoot at up to 14 fps, while the D5 maxes out at 12 fps. It's worth noting the Canon can shoot at 16 fps and still display a review image between each shot - allowing you to follow your subject - while the screen on the Nikon stays blacked-out when firing at its 14 fps maximum frame rate. 

Furthermore, the 4K frame grab feature on the EOS-1D X Mark II effectively allows for a 60 fps silent shooting - with AF. Rolling shutter is minimal, so this is actually a usable way of capturing the decisive moment when it comes to very fast action. The D5 can shoot silently at 30 fps for 5s, but you only get 5MP stills out of it in this mode.

On the numbers alone, the EOS-1D X Mark II has the edge in terms of speed – just. But frames per second is only one part of the equation when it comes to action photography. Remember what we said about the two cameras' AF systems…

Memory cards

Both the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 support CompactFlash media, but the EOS-1D X Mark II offers an additional slot for faster CFast media. The Nikon D5 is available in two versions - one with twin CompactFlash slots, and one with twin XQD slots.

Here’s a funny thing – there are actually two Nikon D5s on the market. There’s one with twin CompactFlash slots, and another one with twin XQD card slots. There’s only one version of the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, and it comes fitted with one CompactFlash slot, and one CFast slot. Confusingly, CF and CFast cards are not mechanically cross-compatible, but the slots for both media – and the cards themselves – look almost identical at a glance.

So the risk of accidentally jamming the wrong card into the wrong slot is certainly higher in the EOS-1D X Mark II than the D5, but which media choice is better?

Currently available XQD and CFast 2.0 cards provide roughly similar performance (400-500mb/s max read speed). The biggest practical difference right now is price: a high-speed (510mb/s read) 128GB CFast 2.0 card costs about twice as much as a 440mb/s XQD card of the same capacity.

Of course if you don’t shoot high frame-rate bursts in Raw mode and don’t want to record 4K video, all of this is academic. Just stick with good old trusty CompactFlash.

Battery life

The Nikon D5's incredible battery life means that it can shoot for thousands of frames per charge - a huge selling point for action photographers and anyone working in remote conditions.

It goes without saying that the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 are tough, durable cameras. Maybe one is tougher than the other, but to be honest we don’t have the time (or the necessary credit limit) to test them to destruction. But there’s more to durability than just physical toughness. A major consideration when using a camera in rough conditions – especially in remote or primitive locations – is battery life.

The Canon EOS-1D X II’s battery life is CIPA rated at 1210 shots per charge. Not bad. But the D5 is rated at an incredible 3780 shots – almost three times as many pictures per charge.

Now, CIPA ratings should be taken with a pinch of salt, since they’re based on a series of use-case tests meant to approximate ‘normal’ use and in our experience, actual battery life is almost always better than the rating. We’ve shot well over 2000 frames per charge on the EOS-1D X Mark II without coming near to running its battery flat. But the Nikon D5’s endurance in normal use really is quite extraordinary. Unless they’re shooting a lot of 4K video, we suspect that most D5 shooters will never need to carry a spare battery.

How do they compare?

Obviously, very few (if any) photographers out there are seriously asking 'which of these two cameras should I buy?' For one thing, we suspect that a large portion of of eventual EOS-1D X Mark II and D5 shooters will have had their gear purchased by an agency or publication. Meanwhile, those who pay for their own gear have most likely been locked into one or other system for so long that a comparison between the two flagships is of academic interest only.

But that's not the point of this article. In examining the two flagship DSLRs from the two biggest camera manufacturers, we're effectively looking at the state of the art for DSLRs at this point in time. So in the final summing up, how do they compare?

It's not a huge surprise that overall, both cameras perform very well indeed. Their identical scores and gold awards testify to that. The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II is slightly faster when shooting stills, and significantly better as a video camera. Meanwhile, the Nikon D5 offers a market-leading AF system (for stills, at least) and a much more satisfying touch-screen implementation, with more extensive customization options.

The D5's extraordinary battery life means also that it can keep shooting for much longer between charges, and it can capture full-color images in conditions literally too dark for the human eye to discern anything. On the other hand, at base ISO in daylight, the EOS-1D X II's extra Raw dynamic range makes it more useful for shooting in brighter, more contrasty conditions. 

Ultimately, on the understanding that the question 'which should you buy?' is largely hypothetical in this case, we'd certainly recommend the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II for landscape photography and 4K video. If you need the world's best AF system, and a camera that can shoot forever and literally see in the dark, then the D5 is the better option.

Want to compare more cameras? Click here

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.



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How to get killer selections with Channels and Vivid Light

Ever since wanting to focus on colour in my images I’ve found that often times due to budget or location, that I just quite simply cannot get the colours I’d like right in the camera. This means that I’ll often have to change colours in post and that, of course, in turn requires decent selections! [...]

The post How to get killer selections with Channels and Vivid Light appeared first on DIY Photography.



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How to get killer selections with Channels and Vivid Light

Ever since wanting to focus on colour in my images I’ve found that often times due to budget or location, that I just quite simply cannot get the colours I’d like right in the camera. This means that I’ll often have to change colours in post and that, of course, in turn requires decent selections! [...]

The post How to get killer selections with Channels and Vivid Light appeared first on DIY Photography.



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Firmly planted in art, photography - Jamaica Gleaner

Growing up in the tough inner-city community of Southside in central Kingston, Patrick Planter discovered his passion for the fine arts. As a youngster, it was not an easy road for him as he always had to be alert in his surroundings, quite often ...



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Photography studio fundraising close to goal - WatertownDailyTimes.com

POTSDAM — St. Lawrence County Arts raised 75 percent of its fundraising goal for its “Photography Studio” campaign at AdirondackGives.org. The online campaign closed July 17. Donations will be used to purchase studio lighting and other equipment to ...



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Ep. 94: One Billion Reasons Not to Use Someone Else’s Photos + more!

Here’s episode 94 of the PetaPixel Photography Podcast. You can also download the MP3 directly and subscribe via iTunes or RSS!

Leave a comment in this post, or use our voicemail widget for feedback/questions for the show.

In This Episode

If you subscribe to the PetaPixel Photography Podcast in iTunes, please take a moment to rate and review us and help us move up in the rankings so others interested in photography may find us.

Sponsor:  FreshBooks. Get your FREE 30 day trial at http://ift.tt/1WiCz0k and enter PetaPixel in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section.

Photographer and creator of Plotagraph Pro, Troy Plota, opens the show.  Thanks Troy!

A noted photographer sues Getty for $1 Billion. (#)

Plotagraph Pro is announced and seeks to breathe new life into your photos. (#)

More rumors about the Canon 5D Mark IV as its announcement nears. (#)

Rumors that Sony will be updating it’s a99, but is the A-mount system have any life in it. (#)

Yahoo! gets parted-out as Verizon acquires Flickr and other key assets as EyeEm offers a solution in Flickr’s uncertainty. (#)

A Kickstarter campaign for a mid-level monolight with some high-end features. (#)

Connect With Us

Thank you for listening to the PetaPixel Photography Podcast! Connect with me, Sharky James on TwitterInstagram and Facebook (all @LensShark) as we build this community.

We’d love to answer your question on the show. Leave us an audio question through our voicemail widget, comment below or via social media. But audio questions are awesome!

You can also cut a show opener for us to play on the show! As an example: “Hi, this is Matt Smith with Double Heart Photography in Chicago, Illinois, and you’re listening to the PetaPixel Photography Podcast with Sharky James!”



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Kiev: Beyond the Headlines

By Evan Przesiecki of Carleton University

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A one-way ticket that cost less than a Big Mac combo got me from Moscow to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. But that doesn't mean Ukraine is cheap or that other stories I heard about the country were true.
I remember lugging my rucksack off the baggage belt and walking out to a bus outside the Kyiv Boryspil International Airport. The man at customs stamped my passport and I was on my way in an almost empty bus toward the city centre. I was one of about maybe six or seven people going to the city in the afternoon.

When I got off the bus, I went to a small kiosk outside the central station, hungry and tired after a 3-hour flight from Moscow. The young man at the kiosk grabbed me a beer and a chocolate bar. I had a DSLR camera on me - he thought I was here for work. But I told him I was here for tourism. He smiled at me and asked, "Why?"

I'd been seen the headlines. From the Euromaidan revolution, to an illegal annexation of Crimea, to a civil war that still - to this very day - still goes on. My friends had raised their brow when I told them I was on a one-way to Kiev. "Why would anyone ever go there?"

Travellers don't learn about other cultures through headlines and hearsay. They got on that flight and come to their own conclusions. They travel. And that's just what I did.

A week of metro rides in Kiev cost less than a day of taking the tube in London. The value of Ukraine's currency, the Ukrainian hryvnia, has dropped immensely, especially since the outbreak of the civil war. It's a developing country, where much of the population lives in poverty. My dollar didn't go nearly as far anywhere else in Europe than it did in Kiev.

I went to a 5-star restaurant just outside the city centre and paid $7.50 Canadian dollars for a three-course meal. My Airbnb in the city centre cost 21 dollars a night. My one-way flight from Moscow, using Wizz Airlines, cost $14 Canadian. Of course, it also cost me the price of one Big Mac meal to fly to Ukraine on a budget airline. But that doesn't mean Ukraine is cheap.

"Cheap" devalues a place. Kiev isn't cheap. It's inexpensive. Not only is travelling to Ukraine more affordable than it arguably has ever been, the value you get for travelling there is immense. There's a lot you get out of a trip to Kiev rather than just an inexpensive vacation.

Kiev shouldn't be seen as a compromise. It shouldn't be seen as the cheap destination. There's a rich history in the city that still breathes through it's pre-WW2 architecture and the selfless locals.

Yes, Ukraine is a country that is still at war. A war escalates in the eastern parts of the country, particularly in the regions known as Donetsk and Lugansk. As well, the region of Crimea in the south has been annexed by Russia for the past two years -- though this isn't legally recognized under international law. Assuredly, Kiev is well and distant from all these locations and there's soldiers at the border on the east of the country who will not permit tourists to enter these territories. Life goes on in Kiev.

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Pedestrians on the street may ask for money to donate to the war effort and there are dozens of sites paying tribute to revolutionaries who died in the 2014 Euromaidan protests. Nonetheless, the urban core still functions as per usual.


A developing country at war. It doesn't paint a colourful image. But quite the contrary, Kiev is painted with a golden skyline. Churches, thousands of years old, dominate the cityscape. Their walls painted in vibrant colours and decorated with finely detailed mosaics. The churches of Kiev are as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside. And they were unlike any I had seen anywhere in Europe.


The differences weren't necessarily in the Orthodox architecture, but the people. I had been to the Vatican numerous times and attended a mass with the Pope around New Years'. I'll never forget when Pope Francis was walking down the centre aisle for mass. Hundreds were looking at him, but not with their own eyes. Arms stretched out into the aisle with selfie sticks, phones, and the clunky DSLR cameras. It made me wonder why people really were there.

I hadn't seen a single camera inside the Kievan churches. Not only because photography was generally prohibited - but that never stopped people at the Sistine Chapel - but people observed the architecture and prayer in silence. They sang with mass. They made prayers to the soldiers in the war. They paid respect to the beauty that was the churches and entered through their tall doors with authentic intentions. I hadn't seen that on as big as a scale than in Kiev.

The air you breathe in Kiev is untouched and clean. The capital of Ukraine has even garnered the international reputation of being the "Green City." Trees grow seemingly everywhere. It's hard to differentiate where the city ends and nature begins. It's a natural city. But the genuineness wasn't confined to the churches or the parks.

2016-07-31-1469955280-9629104-11059839_10206862336065710_6812949404479724420_o1024x681.jpg

There's one observation I took away with me on my one-way flight to London and that was that people are people. In a country that has dealt with decades of political corruption and mismanagement and an ongoing war, people still go to church. Friends still go to the park. Nightlife is quiet, but the youth still go out for a drink.

2016-07-31-1469955459-8128134-11263014_10206877222637865_8256152525446855936_n.jpg


The Ukrainian capital is welcoming and I saw that firsthand myself. My Airbnb host, Oleksii, and his wife welcome me into their home with open arms. I had food poisoning during the first few days of my trip and he went to the pharmacy himself to get medication and to the supermarket to get tea for me. He sat down and we had long conversations about the situation in his country and even decades before. During the Chernobyl fallout, he had to leave his home city to live in Moscow for a few years.

I remember him telling me that despite all this, he loved this city. This was his home.

On my flight to London, I remember feeling thankful for the circumstances in my own country of Canada. I couldn't forget the optimism of people like my host, Oleksii, and the love for their country despite the hard times in his country, though. That, to me, is a true appreciation of life.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.



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Photographer shoots Great Balls of Fire which turn to be a Chinese spaceship reentry

Photographer Ian Norman was out on shooting some night skies photo in Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, California. The photos are gorgeous (as you can see below), which is pretty usual up till now. But some time into the shoot Ian notices a huge fireball over the Sierra Nevada mountains. While Ian’s “big guns” gear was not setup [...]

The post Photographer shoots Great Balls of Fire which turn to be a Chinese spaceship reentry appeared first on DIY Photography.



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Photographer shoots Great Balls of Fire which turns to be a Chinese spaceship reentry

Photographer Ian Norman was out on shooting some night skies photo in Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, California. The photos are gorgeous (as you can see below), which is pretty usual up till now. But some time into the shoot Ian notices a huge fireball over the Sierra Nevada mountains. While Ian’s “big guns” gear was not setup [...]

The post Photographer shoots Great Balls of Fire which turns to be a Chinese spaceship reentry appeared first on DIY Photography.



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Saturday, July 30, 2016

New Exhibition Shows 56 Years of Evolving Presidential Photography - 27east.com

The International Center of Photography has partnered with the Southampton Arts Center to introduce “Winning the White House: From Press Prints to Selfies,” an exhibition that explores the impact of mass media, especially photography, in presidential ...



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Rose-Tinted Spectacle

Sunset splashes a rosy tint over the landscape in this image submitted by Fabrizio Fortuna. The mountain is the 1,500-foot (457-meter) Vestrahorn, a main landmark of southeastern Iceland.

This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our storytelling community where members can take part in photo assignments, get expert feedback, be published, and more. Join now >>




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Plotagraph converts any JPEG into a mesmerizing cinematograph

If you like Cinematographs, you are going to love Plotagraph. In a nutshell, Plotagraph can convert any single JPEG into a cinematograph. This is great news to anyone who likes Cinematographs because creating those is a tedious and cumbersome process while (at least judging by the tutorial) Plotagraph is fast and very intuitive. Actually it requires no premiere/photoshop/after effect know how. [...]

The post Plotagraph converts any JPEG into a mesmerizing cinematograph appeared first on DIY Photography.



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Plotagraph converts any JPEG into a mesmerizing cinematograph

If you like Cinematographs, you are going to love Plotagraph. In a nutshell, Plotagraph can convert any single JPEG into a cinematograph. This is great news to anyone who likes Cinematographs because creating those is a tedious and cumbersome process while (at least judging by the tutorial) Plotagraph is fast and very intuitive. Actually it requires no premiere/photoshop/after effect know how. [...]

The post Plotagraph converts any JPEG into a mesmerizing cinematograph appeared first on DIY Photography.



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Photographer’s Business ‘Died’ After He Started Photographing Trump

Virgina-based photographer Ray Reynolds is finding out that there are consequences to covering one of (if not the) most controversial public figures in the world. Ever since he began photographing Republican nominee Donald Trump professionally, the rest of his business has completely dried up.

Reynolds became the photographer for the “Veterans for Trump” coalition last August. Since then he’s photographed 20 different Trump events and followed the presidential nominee all over the country; however, his “front row seat to a historic presidential campaign” comes with a catch.

The rest of his photography business is, in his own words, dead. “That’s one reason I’ve been able to travel and follow him,” he says in his interview with NBC WSLS 10. “Nobody will use me for photography now.”

The question now is what happens once the campaign is over. Win or lose, come November Reynolds probably won’t be tapped as the next Pete Souza. Is covering a historic presidential campaign—and the chills Reynolds says go along with it—worth losing your future career prospects over? We suppose Reynolds will have to decide that for himself.

(via NBC WSLS 10 via Fstoppers)



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Biker shooting a 20 stairs BMX jump trick confronts removes security cart (with guard) from road

Remember that guy in the truck who tried to kill that photographer and eventually got charged with felony? This is kinda the same, only instead of a guy, it’s a girl, instead of a car it’s a golf cart, and instead of the guy trying to kill the photographer, it’s the photo crew almost killing the girl! We hate it when [...]

The post Biker shooting a 20 stairs BMX jump trick confronts removes security cart (with guard) from road appeared first on DIY Photography.



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Biker shooting a 20 stairs BMX jump trick confronts removes security cart (with guard) from road

Remember that guy in the truck who tried to kill that photographer and eventually got charged with felony? This is kinda the same, only instead of a guy, it’s a girl, instead of a car it’s a golf cart, and instead of the guy trying to kill the photographer, it’s the photo crew almost killing the girl! We hate it when [...]

The post Biker shooting a 20 stairs BMX jump trick confronts removes security cart (with guard) from road appeared first on DIY Photography.



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Old School: How to Meter and Expose for Any Lighting Situation

Aspen Rainbow

It’s time for a long overdue post. Looking back through my archives, I realized that I’ve covered topics like film selections and scanning film but to date I’ve skipped one really important part: metering and exposing color film.

This is something I get quite a few questions about so bear with me while I try to be very thorough and cover topics from different lighting conditions and how I would meter with the various film types, both color negatives and slides. While graduated neutral density (GND) filters deserve an entire post for themselves, I’m going to have to touch on that topic as well since they are a critical part of my film exposures.

As a disclaimer, I’m going to be covering my methods for metering. These may not be the methods you’ll read about in most books but I’ve found them to be both effective and extremely quick which is crucial when the light is changing dramatically.

It’s come to a point where metering is mostly second-nature to me and takes up a very small portion of my workflow. When using large sheets of film, every mistake gets very expensive so my goal is to nail each exposure in one try and only take “duplicate” images as the incredible light show progresses throughout sunrise or sunset. Very rarely do I bracket exposures—only if the light is some insane condition I haven’t yet encountered—instead I count on proper metering, film choice, and filter usage to produce an image. My goal here is to help you do the same.

Cameras like this aren't going to have a light meter and film is expensive, so lets get it right in one shot!Cameras like this aren’t going to have a light meter and film is expensive, so lets get it right in one shot!

While I may be a die-hard film user, I think this process has been sped up greatly with the help of a small digital camera to meter light with. Yes, that’s right, I may never show any images from a digital camera but for the past 5 years it has played a very important role in my exposure. Just as some traditional photographers would have used a Polaroid to check exposure on the scene, I have become a big fan of using the histogram and LCD display on a digital camera. I’m not going to encourage anyone to go spend a chunk of money on a digital camera, but there’s a good chance many of you already have one.

If you don’t want to carry a digital paperweight in addition to your film camera, you can use one of many smartphone apps that also meter light. I have used LightMeter for Android and found it to be accurate and quick. There are many others and some that cost just a few bucks will also show you a histogram so you can check exposure. You can also use the old tried-and-true spot meters from the film days to make your measurements. Maybe you’ve got a fancy enough film camera that it even has a light meter built into it. Perfect! I’m all about using what you have and making the best of it!

If you don’t have a light meter and have come to this article looking for advice on a purchase, then I will make a few quick arguments for using a small digital camera.

I started metering with an Olympus EP-1 Micro 4/3rds camera years ago. Previously I had been using a 35mm camera for metering so this thing was a huge step down in size for me. At that time, the EP-1 had already been out for a few years and they were only a couple hundred bucks used so I picked one up. Today, they can be had for about $100 with a lens on KEH.com which is cheaper than you’ll likely find a spot meter for and also about the same size/weight. You could even use a newer model if you desire, but the main features I would look for is something that lets you choose exposure settings manually and a lens that lets you stop down to f22 or so.

I wouldn’t recommend getting a point and shoot camera because they don’t have great controls and won’t let you select smaller apertures like f22 that you’ll use a lot with medium and large format film. My biggest downside with using a digital camera is that I am really hard on photographic gear. In five years I have destroyed two of these cameras and the third one is on its way out. Don’t be like me and try to keep from smashing your cameras on rocks and you should be fine. I think that might be a big reason I’ve stuck with the old durable film stuff…

Metering for any scene should be a breeze and take up very little time from your workflow.Metering for any scene should be a breeze and take up very little time from your workflow.

Ok, so we’ve got some sort of accurate light meter, now lets get to measuring exposure for film!

I’m going to break this down into several types of lighting conditions you might find while shooting landscapes and give you metering options for both color film types. Keep in mind that metering is an area where you have a lot of say in how you want the image to look. Do you want the bark on that tree to be dark or light in tone? Do you want realistic light or are you going for a certain mood that may call for a brighter or darker look? Do you want the snow to be bright white or would that take away from the colorful sunrise sky above?

Don’t go from my word on all of this, look into your own artistic vision and decide from there. All of that is up to you but I’m still going to give you all sorts of advice to help you meter quickly in any condition. Alright then, here we go:

How to use your meter

I tend to think in aperture priority. I don’t really care if that’s your personal preference or if it’s right or wrong, it’s just been how my mind works ever since I’ve started in photography. It just makes sense with landscapes because aperture is the aspect of exposure control that affects your image the most when you’ve already got the camera on a tripod. We need to know how much of the image we are going to get in focus, and since we’re on a tripod it typically does not matter if the shutter speeds get slower unless you’re dealing with wind, water, or other moving subjects.

Using large format film I tend to be in the f22 or f32 range, which will always result in a relatively long exposure. Since I know my desired aperture, I like to set my digital light meter camera to that aperture and have it tell me the proper shutter speed. I then use the exposure compensation dial for artistic adjustments such as making sure snow is white or a shaded rock is dark, and I use a little bit of simple math to determine the needed GND filters.

If you have a different method you use that is completely fine, as long as you’re able to get a good result in the end. To help clear this up for everyone, in the rest of the article I will use some visual samples that show you what my light meter camera would have read while metering around the scene.

Color Positives vs Negatives

I wanted to make a quick note about film types here, for a more in depth look take a look at my film choices article.

Color positives (also called slide or transparency film) will give you a positive image with the real colors that you saw when shooting the image. Color negative film (also called print film) will give you a negative where highlights are dark and shadows are light and the colors are all inverted and wacky. You then invert negative film during scanning or traditional darkroom printing.

The main differences for the sake of this article is that color negatives (like Kodak Portra or Ektar) will give you a significantly higher amount of dynamic range, or the amount of contrast the film can handle between extremely bright areas and the darkest shadows. While they can handle a huge amount of contrast, they will have softer colors than slide film. Slide film (like Fuji Provia or Velvia) has a very narrow dynamic range and must be exposed carefully, but the results are an image with incredibly rich colors.

For that reason, there may be different times you would want to use positive vs negative film and you would likely want to meter them differently. I will also add that color negative film will get less color saturated as you overexpose it, and you can gain a little additional saturation (at the cost of some extra grain) by underexposing it a bit.

Two shots from the same morning, with color positive on the left and negative on the right.Two shots from the same morning, with color positive on the left and negative on the right. Back Lighting

Alright, I’ll start with the tricky one. The one I get the most questions about, the one that has the most room for artist interpretation. Furthermore, I’m going to break back lighting down into two categories: back light with open sky beyond the subject, and back light in a forest. These both need to be treated differently because you’ll likely be unhappy if you use GND filters in a forest.

"Farmall" - Shot on Ektar 100 4x5 with a 90mm Lens. 2 seconds at f32 with a 3 stop reverse GND filter“Farmall” – Shot on Ektar 100 4×5 with a 90mm Lens. 2 seconds at f32 with a 3 stop reverse GND filter

I’ll start with back lighting with open sky, like the example image above. With this scene I instantly knew the important part of the image, the tractor, and it needed to be exposed in a way that lets all the details show properly.

Within the tractor itself you’ll notice that there are many different tones from the white lettering to the red paint to the deep black tires. In this situation, I wanted all these to be exposed in a way that makes sense to your eye. It’s important to know that our eyes can see in a significantly greater range of brightness than any film or digital sensor can, so we need to choose the parts we want to be exposed “correctly” in high-contrast lighting situations. It’s also important to know that in even light, most subjects will have tones within the reasonable dynamic range of any film. It’s the variation in light throughout the scene that causes exposure problems, and not typically the variation of tones within a particular subject. Read that last sentence again if you need to.

With that in mind, the tractor and the majority of the foreground have the same light falling on it aside from a few hot spots like the where the sun is hitting the very top of the tractor’s hood. Our only extreme contrast in the scene comes from the sky, and that contrast is indeed a big difference in light—more than any film can handle.

What we need to do first is meter the most important part of the scene, the subject. Since my experience has shown that most subjects under the same light will fall into a reasonable exposure range, I’m a big fan of average metering. It’s quick and effective. If spot metering is your style then by all means continue that method. I will occasionally spot meter something that’s very important to make sure it’s within a film’s range, such as the brightest white water in a waterfall or the bright gap of sky between the clouds and horizon at sunset. For a scene like this I will average meter the entire foreground, pointing my meter downward and making sure that none of the sky is in the frame.

Remember I’m using a small digital camera as a meter so I will zoom the lens as needed for spot metering or point the camera to ensure only the area I want is average metered. If the sun is flaring into the meter, make sure to cover it with your hand so it doesn’t throw the reading off. If I’m concerned about excessive contrast within the foreground I’ll move the meter around a bit and check several areas.

In a scene like this with a good variety of middle tones in the subject, I would set my exposure to this reading. Sometimes it may be a good idea to underexpose the foreground by just a tad to keep the scene looking natural, our eyes want the sun and sky to look brighter than a field and a tractor.

Image showing about what the photo would look like while metering for just the foreground.Image showing about what the photo would look like while metering for just the foreground.

Now that I know how I want the exposure set, I will meter the sky and see just how much brighter it is than the subject. To do this, I will point the meter upward and ignore the ground for this reading. I’ve found in a typical back light situation like this, the brightest area of the sun and sky will be about four or five stops brighter than the average of the foreground. That’s a huge difference.

As you aim the meter higher away from the sun you’ll likely notice that this part of the sky is a actually bit darker than the area just above the horizon. This can make for a bit of a challenge with traditional GND filters because they are darkest on top and lightest on the bottom, but you can still make do if that’s all you have.

Image shown if it were exposed just for the sky and how to calculate the needed GND filter.Image shown if it were exposed just for the sky and how to calculate the needed GND filter.

So we’ve measured about a four stop difference between our foreground and the bright sky, so we should use a four stop GND filter to make up for the difference, right? Not so fast! Remember that a bright sky with the sun beaming through it should look bright. To me, the point of a back lit image is that it appears very full of light and everything almost glows. We don’t want the sky to end up a middle tone so don’t over-filter it.

If I measure a sky that is about four or five stops brighter than the ground, I would use a 3 stop GND filter. If you have a flat horizon like this, grab your hard-edge three stop filter and place it carefully, making sure to stop the lens down to the desired aperture while fine-tuning the placement of the filter. Better yet, if you’re lucky enough to have a reverse GND filter, it’s time to pull it out for the one and only situation I use it in.

A reverse GND filter is darkest in the middle, clear at the bottom and less dark towards the top. This filter is specially designed just for shooting into the sun while it is near the horizon like this image. I find a three stop reverse GND to be the most handy and it’s the only reverse one I have. This means it darkens the area just above the horizon by three stops but gradually darkens the higher parts of the sky by less, leading to a very even and pleasant sky exposure.

"Irrigation Ditch Sunset" - Velvia 50 4x5, 75mm Lens - 4 seconds at f32, 2 stop hard and 2 stop soft GND filters.“Irrigation Ditch Sunset” – Velvia 50 4×5, 75mm Lens – 4 seconds at f32, 2 stop hard and 2 stop soft GND filters.

I would typically tackle a scene like this with a color negative film like Kodak Ektar (or Portra if you wanted more subtle colors). While you certainly can do this on slide film you’re going to have to give up some details, most likely in the bright spot around the sun.

In the image above I used Velvia 50, a wonderful slide film. This was before I had a reverse GND so I stacked my two 2 stop GND filters to darken the sky. While some of the highlights are a bit hot and some of the shadows a touch dark, the overall feel of the image works nicely and you can enjoy the rich colors of slide film.

I would meter and expose rather similarly for this situation between the two film types. Just keep in mind that slide film can’t handle as much in the highlights so be careful not to overexpose anything too greatly. Again, start by metering the foreground and setting your exposure, then meter the sky and decide how strong your GND filter needs to be.

Just to clarify, here’s a basic breakdown of my metering process for using GND filters:

  1. Average meter the foreground (the part that will not be darkened by a filter).
  2. Set the camera’s exposure to that setting.
  3. Average meter the sky, calculating how many stops brighter it is compared to the foreground. Photography is all simple math. Each stop brighter is one half the shutter speed. For example, if the foreground meters 1 second at f32, one stop brighter would be 1/2 second at f32. Two stops brighter would be 1/4th second at f32, and three stops brighter would be 1/8th second at f32.
  4. Decide on a GND filter based on that calculation and how bright you want the sky to appear.
  5. Place the GND filter on the lens, making sure to stop down the aperture before you place the filter. This increases the depth of field and makes the transition edge of the filter more accurate.
  6. Take the photo using the settings from step 2.
But I don’t have a set of GND filters, what can I do?

Don’t worry, I love to cheat the system and come up with hacks. A quality set of GND filters will cost you some money but there’s still some things you can do if you don’t have them handy. I’m using large format film so my apertures are commonly around f22 and f32 which results in exposures of several seconds around sunrise and sunset. Since this is a significant amount of time to work with, you can experiment with dodging a dark item in front of the lens over the sky area for a portion of the exposure time.

You could use a black cloth (or glove), but I like to use the dark slides that come out of the 4×5 film holder while I’m shooting. Whatever you use, just make sure to wiggle and move it continuously to keep it from showing up as an obvious edge in the image.

I actually use this trick a lot. Sometimes the light is changing so quickly that there’s no time to fiddle around with filters, or sometimes I want to darken a sky that is in a shape that filters don’t come in. Think of the “V” shape in a valley or if there’s a mountain protruding into the sky, you can use your dark object to dodge over the lens in that shape.

Just keep some simple math in mind when calculating how long to dodge for. If your foreground exposure is calculated at 8 seconds, then dodging over the sky for 4 seconds would darken it by one stop. If you held it over the sky for 6 seconds, then it would have been darkened by 2 stops. This trick has a lot of potential and can help you out while you decide on a GND filter system.

Back light in a forest

Now this can be a very special lighting condition. Back light will make foliage glow brilliantly and just fills the whole scene with pleasant tones. It can also be a bit tricky to expose for. You will typically be looking at a lot of contrast in this situation, so I would typically go with a color negative film that can hand it all. Here’s an example on Kodak Ektar below.

"Glowing Aspen" - Ektar 100 4x5, 75mm Lens - 1/8th second at f32, no filters.“Glowing Aspen” – Ektar 100 4×5, 75mm Lens – 1/8th second at f32, no filters.

Notice that the sky still holds blue, the aspen trunks appear bright white, and the leaves are still full of color and not blown out. Part of this is due to the magic of films like Ektar but it’s still a good idea to meter very precisely.

Again, you must think about what aspects of the image are the most important to you. How bright do you want certain parts of your image to appear?

In the above example, I knew it was crucial that the aspen trunks appear bright because they..



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Using Lightroom’s Transform and Crop Tools to Improve Composition

Everybody loves to get it right in camera. But if you don’t, you have plenty of tools to help you make it right. Lightroom is one of the best available, and the easiest to use. In this article I’ll show you how you can use Lightroom’s Transform and Crop Tools to improve your composition.

The Transform Tab

First, let’s talk about the Transform tab, in the Develop module. Transform is relatively new to Lightroom. It’s an improved version, split-off of the Lens Correction tab. Essentially, Transform helps you straighten crooked or skewed images.

IMAGE 1

Here, in the first example above – a lovely seascape – there is a crooked horizon. Before opening the Transform tab, press the R key to activate the Crop Tool. Now press the O key (letter not number) to toggle the Grid overlay. With the Crop Tool still activated, click on the Transform tab in Lightroom and choose Level.

IMAGE 2

The Level option is perfect for images like this, when there are no strong vertical lines that need correction. It simply straightens the horizon so it no longer slopes crookedly. With the Grid overlay turned on, it’s easy to verify that the horizon is now straight. Here’s the image after the crop is applied.

IMAGE 3

In this next example (below) – an interior image of an old Italian mansion – the windows are falling over backwards.

IMAGE 4

Here the Vertical option in the Transform tab does a great job of straightening the perspective. The windows align perfectly with the horizontal and vertical lines of the Grid overlay.

IMAGE 5

But as you can see, straightening the image has created a few problems. The image was so crooked (perspective distortion) that now there is a lot of white space to crop out. The good news is that when fixing these issues, composition can be improved too.

Composing with the Crop Tool in Lightroom

The white space can be eliminated, and the composition strengthened, by creatively using the Crop Tool in Lightroom. The next step is to adjust the composition with the Crop Tool by moving it around the image.

IMAGE 6

In this image, to eliminate all of the white space and direct the viewer’s focus to the chandelier and windows, grab the Crop Tool at the top centre point, and draw down. This eliminates both the unnecessary ceiling, and the white spaces on either side of the image.

Now that the image is starting to look better, scroll through the Crop Tool overlays and review the newly cropped image to see which ones work. By reviewing your images with different Crop Tool overlays, you can strengthen your intuitive sense of strong composition.

To review each of the overlays, press the O (oh not zero)) key. You’ll toggle through the following:

  • Rule of Thirds (below left)
  • Diagonal (below right)
  • Golden Triangle
  • Golden Ratio (similar to the Rule of Thirds overlay)
  • Golden Spiral
  • Aspect Ratios
  • Grid
IMAGE 7 IMAGE 8

In the example images above, both the Rule of Thirds and the Diagonal overlays clearly show that the composition is strong.

Before

Before

IMAGE-9.jpg

Final image.

Here’s the final image (before correction is above left, after is on the right). Now let’s take a quick peek at one more image, and one more feature in Lightroom.

Flipping the Golden Spiral and Golden Triangle Overlays

You’ve probably toggled through the overlays and disregarded both the Golden Triangle and the Golden Spiral because they just never work. Unlike most of the overlays, neither the Golden Spiral nor the Golden Triangle is symmetrical. That means that you need to flip the overlays around a few times to find the orientation that aligns with your image. By pressing the Shift key and the O key at the same time, you can change the orientation of both the Golden Spiral and the Golden Triangle. Changing the orientation makes those overlays a lot more useful.

Here, in this image of a wild stallion (below), before flipping the Golden Triangle orientation, this overlay doesn’t work at all. Looking at it you might question whether or not the image had a strong enough composition to start with.

IMAGE 11

By pressing Shift plus the O key, and flipping the overlay orientation, the stallion fits neatly into his own triangle. His legs and nose are also no longer bisected by one of the diagonals. In addition, he’s positioned towards the back of the triangle. The top diagonal edge of the triangle that contains the stallion shows us that he is moving forward into the composition, towards the viewer, which is naturally pleasing to the eye. The other triangles neatly organize the foliage surrounding the stallion. Even the beam of sunlight highlighting the stallion falls within the main triangle, further confirming that this image is well composed.

IMAGE 12

With a little practice, some judicious use of the Transform tab and Crop Tool, you’ll master composition in no time. How do you use these tools to help you? Please share in the comments below.

The post Using Lightroom’s Transform and Crop Tools to Improve Composition by Lara Joy Brynildssen appeared first on Digital Photography School.



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8 creative tips for shooting waterfalls

8 Tips For Shooting Waterfalls

Photographing waterfalls can be a tricky endeavor – especially when shooting in conditions where the light can change drastically depending upon the weather conditions. If you've ever struggled to get the waterfall shot you envisioned, you've come to the right place. This article will cover everything from basic tips to more advanced techniques to make shooting waterfalls a breeze.

Choose the Right Gear for the Job

The most important piece of gear that you will need beyond a camera and lens is a sturdy tripod. This is an absolute must when shooting longer exposures. Here's a list of a few more important pieces of gear that will come in handy in the field:

  • Tripod: Any time you're shooting long exposures a tripod is a must
  • Selection of lenses: I generally try to cover a focal range of 16mm to 300mm to give myself a number of options in the field

  • ND filter: I typically don't use ND filters as I generally shoot fairly short exposures, but they can come in handy depending upon the lighting conditions and the type of water texture you hope to achieve

  • CPL: I always use a circular polarizer when shooting waterfalls as it can really help give the vegetation more 'pop' – the above image is an example of where a CPL can make big difference in terms of how the foliage appears in your photo and it can also help enhance the appearance of wet rocks and reflections in the water

  • Remote Shutter Release: This isn't a necessity but it certainly can make shooting waterfalls a bit easier

  • Rocket Air Blaster and Lens Cleaning Cloths: Let's face it; you're going to get wet. Using these two products, plus a waterproof housing (or zip lock baggies) can help to keep your lens and camera dry while shooting

  • Bag of Rice: You never know when disaster may strike, so I always bring a large bag or canister of rice with me in the event that my camera decides to take a dip  
Shoot in Diffused Light

If you've ever tried to shoot a waterfall in direct sunlight then you'll know how difficult it can be. Shooting with an ND filter can help to resolve some of these issues but shooting in diffused light is the best solution to the problem. When planning a waterfall shooting trip I always take a look at the weather forecast and check sunrise/sunset times before heading out to a location.

In general, I've found that shooting during the hours just after sunrise offers the best results as morning light can provide some impressive shooting conditions. The image you see here was shot about 3 hours after sunrise at Metlako Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, OR.

Choose the Shutter Speed

It seems like it was only a few years ago that using extremely slow shutter speeds while shooting waterfalls was all the rage, but lately I find myself using shorter shutter speeds to really capture the texture in the water. The rate at which the water is falling dictates how quick or slow of a shutter speed you will need to use when shooting in lower light conditions. To give you an idea, the above image (Panther Creek Falls, WA) was shot at a shutter speed of 1/4 second to freeze the water and capture some of the texture as it cascaded down the rock face.

Choosing a longer shutter speed will soften up the water a great deal and in some cases that's just what the scene calls for. It really all comes down to personal taste. Experiment with the shutter speed while you're out in the field – the more options you have the better!

Save the Foliage

If you've ever shot a waterfall on a breezy day you know that it's nearly impossible to utilize slower shutter speeds while simultaneously 'freezing' the foliage in the frame. You almost always see motion blur in the vegetation surrounding the waterfall.

To solve this problem I always take at least two exposures: one for the waterfall at your favorite shutter speed to obtain the right amount of water texture, and an additional exposure taken at a much faster shutter speed to freeze the foliage in place. In the above example I blended two exposures together to get sharp foliage along with the amount of water movement I was trying to achieve with the longer exposure.

Choose Your Composition Carefully

Choosing a strong composition can be challenging when shooting waterfalls. Here are a few of the key guidelines that I follow when shooting images like the one you see above:

  • Find a leading line or an 'S' to work with in your composition
  • Let the water flow guide you to the focal point
  • Shoot downstream of the waterfall to add depth
  • Utilize rocks and other elements in the scene to guide your eye to the focal point
  • Don't be afraid to try out several variations – I always shoot at least 3 or 4 compositions at any given location
Think Outside of the Box

One of my favorite things to do while shooting waterfalls is to think outside of the box in regards to composition. Taking an abstract approach to shooting a waterfall can lead to some really fun results. Use different focal lengths and experiment with tighter compositions that may only show a small portion of the waterfall.

I always try to shoot at least a handful of abstract shots while I'm in the field because let's face it: it's just plain fun to get the creative juices flowing!

Adjust Your Exposure

Getting the exposure right can be a tricky business when shooting waterfalls. When using longer shutter speeds it's very important to constantly meter your exposure to make sure that you aren't losing detail in the water by clipping your highlights. Check the histogram to make sure that you are staying to the left or dead center in your exposure. As the light changes you will have to do this quite often so definitely keep an eye on it!

Provide a Sense of Scale

Waterfalls come in all shapes and sizes, but it's often difficult to provide a sense of scale while shooting them. Adding a human element to your photo can really bring a whole new sense of wonder and scale to your image. Special thanks to Max Foster for snapping this photo of me at Spirit Falls, WA.  

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