Here a few tips for the basic beginner.
Click on the links for more "How To" info or scroll down to see a few examples.
Fall Color Photo Tips and Ideas - Part I
- Part II
Panoramic photography Tips and Ideas - Part I
- Part II
Mirror Lock Up and Live View - One Reason Why I Use Them
Just an example of how or what was going through my mind and what inspired me to take this.
This was taken at very end of twilight. The trees were lit with a head lamp during a 30 sec exposure. That is not the sun it's the moon around 9pm taken over an hour past sunset. The moon isn't close to setting yet but the peaks around 11,900 ft elevation and the lake is at around 10,900ft so it actually not setting until about midnight. A intervolometer is a just a cable release w/ some timer funtions on it. It's a good tool to have in case your sleepy and forget that you left your DSLR on bulb all night long, with it you can set it's timer to a desired amount of time. After backpacking the 8.5 miles to get here and missing sunset only by seconds. Well I whipped out the G9 for a hand held shot of some nice aplen glow but that doesn't count for much so I felt the need create something. I gave it a touch of the orton effect to give it some dreaminess.
John Muir Wilderness - Eastern Sierra Nevada Range, CA
Canon 5D 17-40mm at 17mm Iso 200
Kings Canyon National Park
I teach workshops on this every now and then or sometimes during my regular workshops.
How about some basics on using a Polarizer
Think you don't need a polarizer? Here is a simple scene where you might not think you need one. The difference is very subtle at a glance but if you look closely the reflecting light on the leaves disappears and and the color throughout the scene is more saturated. By removing the glare you also increase sometimes needed dynamic range. Not in this scene of course. However a polarizer will increase your exposure time so a gentle wind or breeze in the shade might make it difficult to capture detail of moving leaves or flowers that are close to your lens. The following scene is the same scene just split diagonally through.
You can see the difference in saturation between the images.
Depth of Field and the Sweet Spot of a Lens.
What is the best aperture you can use for a given situation? Every lens has a sweet spot where a specified aperture gives the best quality and sharpness, from the center to the corners or edges of your frame. Say you have a lens with apertures of F4 through F22 your lens's sweet spot will be around the middle aperture of F8 or F11. Of course as landscape photographers we often need to use the smaller or narrow apertures of F16 and F22 to get the sufficient amount of depth of field. Each aperture at different focal lengths has it's own individual specified measurements of sharpness from near to far. By taking advantage of knowing when to use the correct aperture you can maximize your sharpness where it's needed.
Using the largest aperture such as F22 will render the best depth of field when needed but there is something just too good to be true. There is a negative trade off of diffraction when stopping down as far as possible. You can test thise yourself by placing your camera on a tripod and shooting at each aperture and zooming into your RAW files at 100 percent. Find a scene where the edges have enough detail. Corners will lose a subsequent amount of sharpness as you get closer to the largest aperture.
We are taught to use the hyper focal technique to keep everything in the photograph tact sharp. The hyper focal technique consists of choosing the second largest aperture while finding the closest foreground compositional element and focusing twice the distance into the scene from your camera to the foreground element. In this case you would use the second smallest aperture. This works well as long as you are not too close to your foreground element. You can also try focusing a third of the way into the frame. Each focal length has a different requirement for this to work. Depending on how far your nearest foreground element is in the composition this will determine what aperture you use. The closer the aperture is to the lens's sweet spot the better the image quality will be. You will have to make the decision and keep the balance between the optimum image quality for your lens and the amount of depth of field.
You can also bracket your images with differnt focal points to blend the exposures together using software like Helicon Focus. If your scenes has any moving elements like water, clouds, and foliage between exposures, the image will not blend together successfully.
The photograph shown here is a case where a larger aperture was used to keep the balance between the sweet spot of the lens and the correct amount of depth of field. The corners of the frame are not filled with elements that are in need of crucial sharpness.
Smaller image sensors like the aps size or 1.6 crop factor sensors are not as affected by lack of edge sharpness compared to large 35mm sensors. The results are better scene when printing large photographs.
Converting Your ProPhotoRGB Tif files for the Web
Pro Photo RGB is the color profile with the most information compared to the older Adobe 1998 and regualr old sRGB(aka Satan RGB or S*@# RGB). It holds the most color information. You will want to use that color profile setting to achieve optimum print color quality. In just a few simple steps you'll be done so all the words shouldn't scare you off. Different versions of photoshop allows you to use different modes of 32 bit channels to 16bit and 8 bit channel modes. I reccomend using the highest you have available. Once you are done editing files and want to convert them for web presentain you must make sure you are in 8 bit channel mode which is easily done from the image pull down menu in Photoshop. First go to image then mode and find 8bit channel, just click on that. Then from the edit menu scroll down to Convert to Profile, click that. The dialog box will open and it will reference your source space profile of ProPhotoRGB and below it will a destination space profile with a pull down menu. click the down arrow to show your options. You want to select sRGB. In CS3 it is sRGB IEC61966-2.1 or might show as working sRGB. Once you select one of those you are done. You can go on to your sharpening for the web.
Sharpen for the Web
Can you just place your images up on the web just as they are? Yes, you can but they won't be as sharp as you would like them to be. Here is how you can do it fast and easy. Once you have your desired full size image open in photoshop and you have finished any adjustments, hit the Alt+Ctrl+I to bring up the image size menu. You can also find it on the tool bar menu.
Start first by finding out what the exact web size will be. Different sites require different sizes. It should be something like 600x400 pixels on the longest side with a maximum file size of 200kb.
Size the longest part of the image to 1.6 x the longest side of what your web size needs to be in the end. For example, say you want a web sized file that will be 700(B) pixels long size the image to 1.6(A) times larger on the long and keep it at 300 ppi or whatever it is that you work with but 300 works fine. Sharpen it twice or maybe 3 times or more until it looks really badly oversharpened. Then size it to 72 ppi and 700(B) pixels(or what your desired final output length happens to be) on the longest side of image. The image should almost disappear because it has been shrunk. From the pulldown menu click the view tab and click on actual pixels. This will bring the file to it's new viewing web size and new sharpened look. Some portions of the image might need more sharpening than others so you can get creative with this. Have fun!
Your original(O) size(4000?) sized to 1100 pixels(A), sharpen, (maybe duplicate layer here)sharpen, size to 700(B) (adjust layer opacity if needed then flatten)
From O size to A then x by 1.6 shrpn, shrpn, size to B
You'll get it. It's not as easy as 1 plus 1 but after you try a few time you will get the hang of it.
At this point all you have to do is save the file as a jpeg and name it. I like to keep the name the same and just add the longest pixel length at the end of the file name. From the pull down save menu, click save as. Then in the format menu select jpeg. Name the file appropriately and click save. Another menu will pop up with a slider. For most images I keep them under 200 kb or move the slider to around 8. This can vary for files with lots of detail to simpler photos with out much detail. Even when the slider has to moved to a certain amount where the quality gets lower they still end up looking fine.
• For anyone that does not have a newer version of photoshop, check out Photoshop Elements 9 it costs practically nothing. Wonder if they added layers and content aware fill? Plus the latest ACR engine. A bargain!?
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