Sony Alpha A6000-by Chip Phillips

by Chip Phillips
July 16th, 2014

 

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About a month ago, I realized I should probably get something smaller than my 4+ lb DSLR to take pictures of my new family.  I also wanted something that would give me good enough image quality so that if I was out somewhere without my main kit I could still shoot some landscape “keepers”.  My first purchase was a Sony RX100. I purchased this neat little camera based on some great reviews, very compact size, and fast fixed lens.  The fact that it had a larger than normal sensor for a compact was what pushed me click the “buy now” button on Amazon.  Keep in mind, this was all a bit of an impulse, as I had a newborn only a few days old and not a ton of time to research.  That, and I was feeling pretty groggy :)  I received the camera a day later, took some images, and while the quality was good, plenty good for most, it just wasn’t going to cut it for the price I payed for that camera.  So, I came across this nice little comparison website  and after swapping cameras for a while, I came across the A6000 which I had never heard of.  As you can see, it holds its own pretty well even against my Canon 5D Mark III (only up to around ISO 400 though), and is visibly miles ahead of the RX100.  To be fair, there is always bit of focus error with these types of tests unless manual focus is used, with live view, zoomed in 10x.   Even then, some lenses either back focus (like my new Canon 24-70 f4L) or front focus.  So some softness could be due to that.  I can attest to the difference in detail between both Sonys though, because I have personally tested both.

Sony A6000 Canon 5d mark III Sony RX100

So I bought one.  Then, I read some reviews of the Sony 10-18mm F4 ultra-wide angle lens and thought I’d check one of those too.  Nice little ultra-wide zoom!  I also picked up a Sony 35mm f1.8 lens for shallow depth of field shots.  Really Right Stuff makes an L-Plate for this camera, and you can get polarizers for the lenses and a cable release for long exposures.  All together the entire kit weighs about as much as my Canon 5D Mark III and one lens!  This should be great for backpacking, or traveling.  It does feel good to get back to the DSLR after shooting with this thing for a while though.  A couple of things that could use improvement IMO are:  better high-ISO performance, the digital viewfinder image looks pretty ridiculous.  I haven’t looked into many other mirror-less cameras, but MUCH prefer seeing through the lens of my DSLR.  Also, the viewfinder/LCD, when switched to auto detect, can be really annoying-switching back and forth while composing a shot if a hand or finger sets it off.  And, build.  The build is pretty good, but the dial on the back feels a bit cheap, and slightly loose. Things that really impress me are: image quality, auto focus (amazing), speed, size, and  the image stabilization within the lenses is really good.  Actually, the lenses that Sony makes for this are pretty freaking good too, especially for their featherlight weight.

Here are some travel shots taken with the A6000.

_DSC0624 copy _DSC0647 _DSC0628 copy

PRE-VISUALIZATION PART 1 – STARTING THE PROCESS

by photocascadia
July 10th, 2014

by Zack Schnepf

I’m going to start a new series on what I consider to be the most important part of my photography. It’s also one the most challenging concepts for many of my students during workshops.

What do I mean when I say pre-visualization? This is concept I learned from my artist parents, from studying fine art in college and from Alain Briot. Pre-visualization is forming an idea for an image and using it as a roadmap to capture and process an image. Before I even pick up my camera I want to have an idea of what I’m trying to communicate, or achieve with this image. I want to evaluate a location, assess it’s potential in different light, atmosphere and conditions; and I want to come up with different composition ideas that express what I’m trying to say about each specific location. Once I have a pre-visualized idea; I then start problem solving. I figure out how to best capture the information I need so I have everything I need when I get home to process the image. Once I’m home on my processing workstation, I use that same pre-visualized idea to guide my processing to create the final master file

Part 1: Starting the process

Anytime I’m going to visit a new location I research it extensively. I find guides for a specific location, look at images that have already been shot of an area, and try to figure out when would be the best time to visit. This gives me a good starting point.

Once I arrive to a new location the first thing I do is explore. I normally don’t even get my camera out unless I want to take a reference shot to look at later for ideas. I usually just hike around and get a sense of the place. It’s almost a meditation for me. I try to let my mind relax and grab on to things intuitively. For instance, if I notice a cool formation in the foreground I make a mental note of it. I start picking out the elements that attract me to this location and make a mental list.

Once I’ve thoroughly explored the area, the real process of pre-visualization begins. I start trying to figure out how to arrange all these compositional elements to create an image that captures the essence of that place. I also try to communicate part my own experience. For example, if the morning is serene and peaceful I try to compose the image to communicate that, I would also process the image to try to keep with that theme. This process is always challenging, I thought the more I practiced the easier it would get, but it’s always a struggle and a lot of mental effort. However, I do work a lot faster the more I practice.

Here is a good example. The only reason I was able to capture this image was because I had scouted this area the day before. Even though I was exhausted from backpacking all day and hadn’t set up camp yet, I dropped my pack and started scouting before we lost the light. I found this spot and knew it’s where I wanted to be in the morning. I could see the sun would rise behind the lake and would backlight the scene and really bring out the essence of this incredible location.

Blazing Enchantments

Blazing Enchantments

In the next parts of this series I’ll talk about how I continue to pre-visualize throughout my entire workflow.

Tony Kuyper’s Updated Actions Panel: Great New Features and Photoshop CC (2014) Compatible

by Sean Bagshaw
June 30th, 2014

 

Like the guys here at Photo Cascadia, many readers of the Photo Cascadia blog have been using Tony Kuyper’s luminosity mask tutorials and Photoshop actions for years. Many readers are also aware that Tony recently produced an update to his custom actions panel. Despite how well known Tony’s resources have become in the world of outdoor photography, I’m sure we have some readers who haven’t run across luminosity masks yet or who have heard of them but aren’t exactly sure what they are or what they do. With the recent release of Tony’s update, as well as the release of Photoshop CC (2014), I wrote this article to quickly bring everyone up to speed.

Luminosity masks and Tony Kuyper's actions were essential in many of the adjustments made during the developing of this image.

Luminosity masks and Tony Kuyper’s actions were essential in many of the adjustments made during the developing of this image.

The update of Tony’s TKActions Panel became necessary when Adobe announced that the 2014 version of Photoshop CC (released on June 18, 2014) would require custom panels to be coded in HTML5 and would no longer support the use of panels built with Flash, like the original TK Actions Panel was. One option for Tony would have been to recode an exact copy of the original TK Panel with HTML5, a painstaking process in its own right. However, Tony felt that he could make the panel even better, so he spent a lot of time consulting with myself and other experienced users and adding new actions and powerful new features to the TKActions Panel. As a result, not only does the panel continue to be functional (thankfully) for those of us who are using Photoshop CC (2014), but everyone, including Photoshop CS5 and CS6 users, gets the benefit of all the new features.

The Updated TKActions Panel

The Updated TKActions Panel

So what are Luminosity Masks and what does the TKActions Panel do (this article explains the basics)? Luminosity masks are created with the use of luminosity selections which can be generated from Alpha Channels in Photoshop. One of the most important aspects of Photoshop is the ability to make selections and masks. Luminosity selections are very precise and self-feathering selections based on the luminosity, or brightness value, of every pixel in an image. Using luminosity selections to create luminosity masks provides an unparalleled degree of control over image adjustments and provides access to an endless variety of creative image developing techniques. In the following video I demonstrate some of the basics of luminosity masks.

It’s possible to manually generate all the luminosity selections and masks in Photoshop, but doing so is a time consuming endeavor requiring a carpel tunnel inducing number of mouse clicks. To streamline the use of luminosity masks, Tony started creating Photoshop actions that would automatically reproduce all the repetitive procedures required to make them. The TKActions Panel adds even further efficiency and functionality to the actions. The panel is a command center from which to launch the various actions with a single click.

Some of the features in the updated version of the panel include:
1) A new two-tab layout for improved efficiency
2) Color-coded sections
3) “View” buttons to provide a visual overlay of which pixels are actually selected
4) Zone masks that focus adjustments to very narrow tonal ranges
5) Web-sharpening actions for vertical and horizontal dimensions and for high-definition dimensions
6) Several new buttons to correspond to some techniques discussed in recent blog posts.
7) One-click live selections (instead of Ctrl/Cmd-clicking a mask)
8) New buttons for creating adjustment layers and changing blending modes
9) Simplified subtracted mask generation
10) “Progressive actions” for experimenting with many different options

After years of studying Tony’s tutorials, using his techniques and developing some of my own, he and I began collaborating to produce video tutorials to help people learn how to utilize luminosity masks and get the most Tony’s actions.

If you are interested in learning more about luminosity masks and Tony’s techniques in general there are many resources available. Tony maintains a substantial library of free luminosity mask tutorials on his website and his blog. Additionally I have several videos available to view on-line that will give you a good preview of what is possible. The video excerpts at the bottom of this page are from the tutorial series I produced called The TK Panel. The series is the direct companion and resource for all the new features Tony has added to the updated panel.

In addition, Tony’s luminosity mask tutorials and tools have become indispensable to photographers and Photoshop users around the world. Many have taken time to write about them on their own. Some of these include John Shaw, Alister BennRichard Wong, Michael Breitung, Don Smith, André Distel and Ryan Cary.

All of Tony’s actions and tutorials, as well as the video tutorials I produced to go with them, are available on my website (OutdoorExposurePhoto.com) and also on Tony’s Special Offers page.  I hope this information on luminosity masks in general and the update on the current TKActions Panel has been informative. Feel free to contact me or leave a comment if you have questions or anything to share.

Badlands of Central Oregon

by Adrian Klein
June 23rd, 2014

By Adrian Klein

I stand there watching the sunset feeling as remote as one can be. No other people except my friend and I, enjoy the sounds and smells of nature. That is the beauty of the Badlands in Central Oregon for those that don’t want to involve a big backpack or hiking trip covering a large distance or elevation to escape. You feel very removed from it all yet only miles up the path and miles up the road is a bustling town.

Only hours earlier my friend and I were sitting in the sun at one of Bend’s newer breweries. No shortage of good ones to visit yet that is a different blog post. After finishing up our meal and IPA we set out on the highway. It was a short drive. About 20 miles and we were at the trailhead for Oregon Badlands Wilderness.

Wildflowers in the Badlands appear to be growing from the ends of this dead bush.

It’s May and as you step out of the car you quickly realize why this is no place to visit in summer. With the high expected of 70 degrees Fahrenheit it’s a cooker in my book when the sun pokes through the clouds. It’s the weekend yet the trailhead has all of three cars, including ours. This is my second time here and neither time was busy.

The Badlands is high desert. There is no water source when you are out there unless you consider putting out a bucket to catch rain drops that infrequent the area. The lack of water is made up by very easy hiking even with a full backpack. The elevation is basically flat. Our 3 mile hike maybe gained a hundred feet. Well in all reality lost 100 ft too so let’s just call it even.

Badlands Light Storm

Storm light brings on a nice glow at the end of the day at the Badlands Wilderness.

The few trails throughout the wilderness are easy to follow. That said a GPS and map would be helpful if you venture too far off trail. Everything looks the same and I could see getting lost while off trail as an easy achievement whether intended or not. Here is a map for more details.

Now to the photography aspect, this is a blog relating to photography after all.

Seasons:

  • Spring – The wildflowers are out usually in April and May and the temps are comfortable.
  • Summer – Avoid unless you like very hot dry conditions, without a water source, and no flowers. This place would not appeal to me for photography in summer.
  • Fall – The temps are back to comfortable and Rabbitbrush will add some nice color to your images.
  • Winter – Going when a light layer of show has fallen appears to be the right choice. I plan to try it this winter.

Overall you have options every season except summer. My personal opinion of course.

Badlands Flower

Fragile and delicate sand lilies on the desert floor. Taken with iPhone 5S

Points of Interest:

  • Views – If you want to get up “high” your only options are a few large rock formations such as Flatiron Rock that will get you up just high enough to see over the trees and out to the mountain ranges.
  • Flowers – As mentioned the spring season will bring a variety of flowers. My photos only show a few types that you will see.
  • Trees – One of the highlights of this place is the endless assortment of knotted and gnarled juniper trees. Not as cool as the timeless bristle cone trees yet I saw many that remind me of them.
  • Rocks – Some of the rock formations were rather interesting. I saw a number of cool colors/textures that would make for possible triptych photos as well as the more common anchor for your foreground when taking landscapes.
  • Weather – Going in spring increases your chance of more dramatic skies. All seasons except summer has a decent shot to experience something except dull gray or crystal blue. We were fortunate enough on our trip to get some thunder and lightning rolling in around sunset.
Twist and Burn

A close up of a juniper tree that appears to have met it’s final day with the strike of a lightning bolt.

In summary if you are looking for an under-visited desert with compositions that take a little time to find (but are worth the time finding) then this is a place worth taking a trip to. We chose backpacking to be close to where we wanted to take the photos yet hiking in early or later in the day is certainly an option as long as you are well equipped to find your way.

The sunset view from the top of Flatiron Rock in the Badlands.

Photographing in Fog by David M. Cobb

by photocascadia
June 16th, 2014

Photographing in Fog

By David M. Cobb

 

Fog in the Great Smoky Mountains clears out the background clutter.

Fog in the Great Smoky Mountains clears out the background clutter.

 

Fog is the great equalizer in landscape photography; it can simplify the composition by eliminating all the background “noise” which can clutter an image. It also adds an air of mystery and intrigue to heighten the drama of a photo. When shooting fog you need to check your histogram and move your exposure time accordingly. Cameras tend to underexpose an image in mist, so I’m often shooting at +1 on my metering. Your white balance can come into play too, so experiment with the mood of an image. At 4000 Kelvin the fog will have that cool blue hue which can give a feel for the chill in the air, or at 6000 Kelvin you can punch up the warmth of an image if you choose. When processing your photo, you can play with the white balance for the look you like best. I also don’t add much contrast to foggy images when processing, because the more contrast you add the less fog you’ll have in the photo.

Don't add too much contrast to a foggy image.

Don’t add too much contrast to a foggy image.

While photographing in the fog I pay attention to my exposure time. If it’s a thick “pea soup” fog, I may adjust my aperture to f8 or f11 for a shorter exposure time. The longer the aperture stays open the thicker the fog will be in your photo. In fog, I really don’t worry about depth-of-field too much since the mist will shroud the image in the distance. If the fog is light, but I’d like to give the illusion that it’s thicker, I might shoot at f16 or f22 for a longer exposure time. For the interval the aperture is open fog keeps rolling by, and the fog in the photo will appear thicker than it actually was at the time.

You can easily shoot at f8 or f11 on foggy days.

You can easily shoot at f8 or f11 on foggy days.

Mixing fog at Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone.

Mixing fog at Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone.

There are different types of fog and they act differently. Along the coast the fog will come and go with beautiful breaks of light from time to time.  This type of advection fog is harder to predict as warm air moves over cool water, but it appears like clockwork at certain times of the day in the Redwoods. Another type of fog (called mixing fog) originates from natural geological phenomenon like geysers, hot springs, or even warm lakes. On cool mornings or evenings this fog will be thick, but recedes quickly as the day warms. I enjoy photographing radiation fog a lot too, and I find this kind often on fall mornings as temperatures near the surface of the land are below dew point. You can predict this variety of condensation more accurately by checking temperatures and dew points online for the area you’re photographing. If you have clear skies and a calm morning, chances are you’ll get some good morning conditions for photography. I’ve also captured upslope fog as warm air is pushed up a mountain valley until it condenses. I’ve been in this type of fog many times, but I’d rather photograph it filling the valley from the mountains above.

Radiation fog fills the cool valleys of the Sawtooth Mountains.

Radiation fog fills the cool valleys of the Sawtooth Mountains.

Coastal fog is difficult to predict.

Coastal fog is difficult to predict.

 

Upslope fog in the Goat Rocks Wilderness with Rainier in the distance.

Upslope fog in the Goat Rocks Wilderness with Rainier in the distance.

A couple more pointers on fog: if it’s thick fog concentrate on form and shape since that’s what will carry the image, and if the fog is breaking then concentrate on light because it can be spectacular. And if you are in fog, don’t forget to check your lens now and again since you may need to wipe off a few water droplets from collecting condensation.

A light morning mist rises above these Texas wildflowers.

A light morning mist rises above these Texas wildflowers.

What I Learned Photographing The Californian Redwoods

by photocascadia
June 9th, 2014
A Burst Of Light - Redwoods, California

A Burst Of Light – Redwoods, California

For the last five years I’ve taken spring trips down to the Californian Redwoods. Each year I take the trip with the hope of photographing the stunning rhododendrons with the fog and mist that occurs frequently in spring and summer. The last few years I have either been too early or too late. I have witnessed some stunning weather conditions in terms of fog and mist, which produced stunning crepuscular rays but no flowers. From past experiences it seemed to always occur in late morning light as the fog would rise and the sun breaks through.

Looking Up To The Sky - Redwoods, California

Looking Up To The Sky – Redwoods, California

 

 

This year I had the fortunate luck to have some fellow Photo Cascadia members teach a workshop down in the Redwoods a week earlier. They reported the rhododendrons we’re just about at peak and if I were to head down right away I would be arriving at the perfect time. So I packed up my bags and convinced the wife when needed a getaway. With some begging and pleading we headed down to California. As usual, we made a few stops along the southern Oregon coast and made the most out of the trip. In terms of weather reports I usually scout out a week early to see if the conditions are favorable but this this time I had to just head straight down there with no delays. The last four years I’ve seen crepuscular rays almost every day I’ve ever visited the redwoods in spring. So now all I needed to do was find a pleasing composition with both the fog and the rhododendrons, and possibly a burst of sunrays to top things off.

Redwoods Sunburst -  Redwoods, California

Redwoods Sunburst – Redwoods, California

 

 

If you have never been to the California redwoods it is an oasis of larger-than-life trees. Knowing where to photograph if you’ve never been or not done your research beforehand can be very challenging. With the Redwoods being as large as they are, it helps to know the best trails to capture all of the elements in one scene. The redwoods are broken into several areas that are quite spaced apart. Although similar to each other, each has its own distinct look when it comes to the layout. Every year it changes quite drastically in terms of where the rhododendrons are best for photographing. For my visit, the first thing I did was go to the visitor center and seek advice. They were very helpful in suggesting several trails that were excellent at the time. They also advised me in terms of where to be and when tin terms of placement of the breaking sun and fog.

Redwood Mystery Of Ancient - Redwoods, California

Redwood Mystery Of Ancient – Redwoods, California

 

 

Although I saw several sets of rhododendrons along the main highway in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, I would suggest not stopping along the highway as the cars came to close to the side to comfortably photograph. As in past years, I was recommended to hike the Damnation trail, which had several stunning areas of rhododendrons with the trails not being too busy with other people. To avoid crowds I suggest getting there first thing in the morning. Going early allows time to find a pleasing composition while waiting for the light to be just right. On a side note, many cars early in the morning were broken into in the parking areas as the highway is right there and is quick access for the thieves. On both mornings I was there cars have been broken into before I got there.

Forest Trail Sunray - Redwoods, California

Forest Trail Sunray – Redwoods, California

 

 

When it comes photographing, the rhododendrons in the California redwoods it helps to pre-visualize some possible compositions or scenarios you would like to shoot. I never visit a place with just one composition in mind, but I do research on the Internet beforehand. This allows me the opportunity to see what others are doing, and trying to take it on step further in terms of creativity and impact. For example, one of the images that stuck with me, was an image of the rhododendrons taken from the ground looking up at sky to also include perspective of the gigantic Redwood trees. The combination of these two together when photographed properly really brings a story to life. When light is available I always strive for mist or fog because this seems to really enhance the pink in the rhododendron flower and makes it pop in the image. Shooting later in the afternoon when the sun is out can be almost next to impossible to really get the impact of the color due to the harsh light. So to maximize the color in your images strive to photograph when the mist is present in the morning.

Trail Of Eden And Rhodies - Redwoods, California

Trail Of Eden And Rhodies – Redwoods, California

 

One of the challenges of shooting the rhododendrons is that many are located very high up on the tree. For this reason I would photograph with a lens that is medium telephoto. When I photographed with my ultra wide angle (14-24mm), the rhododendrons got lost in the scene. So I photographed with a 28– 300mm lens that allowed me to really bring the rhododendron in tight and maximize impact.

Descending Down Into The Valley Floor - Redwoods, California

Descending Down Into The Valley Floor – Redwoods, California

 

Because of the telephoto lens, compression also enhanced the important elements in the image. If you do shoot later in the afternoon when the sun is out, you will have to shoot multiple exposures or HDR. This is due to the extreme total contrast between the shadows and the light areas, which can be very challenging in the forest. I did shoot quite a bit in the afternoon, using multiple exposures. Unfortunately I was not happy with most of the results from shooting at this time.

So in summary, photographing the California redwoods is one of the highlights of my photography journey. Until you see them in person, it’s hard to grasp how tall these trees really are. When you combine these tall redwoods with all the elements at the same time it is pure heaven. To have success photographing the redwoods do your research, find where the rhododendrons are and try to time your visit with early morning sessions. But the most important thing is ,be patient and wait for early-morning weather changes when the fog rises and the sun breaks. This is more frequent than you would think, always leads to some spectacular images.

 

The Bursting Glow Of Light - Redwoods, California

The Bursting Glow Of Light – Redwoods, California

Deep Forest Soft Light Glow Techniques

by Sean Bagshaw
May 30th, 2014

 

In my experience, one of the types of light that cameras have a difficult time capturing correctly is the subtle, glowing, ambient light you see early and late in the day in deep forest settings. It is a very soft light but it has a certain richness and luminosity to it, as if the foliage is almost lit from within.

Fern-Glade

“Fern Glade” using my soft light glow technique. Click to view larger.

An unadjusted raw file never quite captures it, and simply increasing saturation or contrast doesn’t render it accurately. The Orton technique and many other soft glow methods generally do a better job of increasing saturation and low frequency contrast in a way that is more satisfying, but I find that these techniques often create too much blur or glow, or they block up the shadows too much.

In this short video tutorial I share a couple of techniques for enhancing this type of deep forest light that I have found particularly effective. They work best with soft, subtle, low contrast light but you could experiment with higher contrast light as well and see what you get. (Make sure to click on the gear icon to view in 720p. For best viewing click on the YouTube icon and watch at 720p using the Large Viewer.)

If you have questions or comments leave me a message below or on YouTube. You can also check out my YouTube Channel for more image developing tutorials. You can also visit www.outdoorexposurephoto.com for complete sets of video tutorials and get more information on Tony Kuyper’s TKActions Panel.

FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER – JEREMY CRAM

by photocascadia
May 22nd, 2014

by Zack Schnepf

This month we welcome Jeremy Cram as our guest photographer.  Jeremy is a friend of mine, and a talented photographer.  He has some of the most impressive wildflower images from the Columbia River Gorge.  Jeremy and his wife Sharon run Club K-9, a doggy day care business in Portland.  Photography is Jeremy’s passion and it shows in his images.

The One Tree

The One Tree

Zack: You are doing some fantastic landscape work here in the Northwest.  What got you into landscape photography?

Jeremy: Thank you! I have always had a love of the outdoors, and doing anything, whether it was hiking, mountain biking, climbing, spelunking, scuba diving, whatever it was I always felt at home there. I was always amazed at the tiniest of details in the smallest things to the grandest of landscapes I found in nature. Capturing that beauty I saw and showing people how I saw it did not really come to be until I bought a nice camera setup for my business. My wife and I own a doggy day care in Portland Oregon. I originally bought the camera so I could photograph my clients’ dogs while they played. As time went on, I began taking more pictures while out on hikes throughout the Columbia Gorge, at the coast, and at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge in Washington and less of the dogs I had bought the camera originally for. The rest is history!

Zack: What areas do you enjoy photographing the most?

Jeremy: The Columbia River Gorge. The proximity of the gorge makes it easy to get out for short half day shoots to multi-day backpacking adventures. The variety of subjects in the gorge is really unlike any other place I’ve shot. Depending on the time of year down to even the time of day you can shoot anything from macros to the grandest landscapes there are. Wildflowers, waterfalls, ferns, blooming apple and pear orchards, barns, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, meadows, creeks, rivers, Crown Point…..The list really is endless.

Zack: You have kids and a thriving business in Portland.  How do you find time to photograph?

Jeremy: Being outside has just always been part of who I am. Building a business with my wife that still enabled us to do the things we want and spend time with our family has been very important to us. I think if you love doing something it is really not that hard to find a way to do it.

Zack: What is your biggest challenge in nature photography?

Jeremy: I think the biggest challenge for me now is to just produce the best work I can. I try to be as original as I can. Learn as much as I can. Improving my ability to see a scene, for what it is and what it has the potential to be through post processing.  Ultimately, I just want to grow as an artist, whatever that looks like.

Zack: You have some particularly stunning wildflower shots from the Gorge, do you have any tips to share with fellow photographers?

Jeremy: My first tip to other photographers would be to find a different subject than wildflowers in the Gorge. I’m totally kidding, but in a way there may be some wisdom in that. The flowers and backdrop of the gorge are so addicting that the pursuit of those beautiful non-stopping wind grabbing little bits of eye candy will drive you crazy. It is always a hit or miss venture when it comes to shooting flowers. They are either too early or late, a bad bloom year, too windy, flowers are too windblown, or in the wrong spot for the composition I had wanted or envisioned, BUT…..when you nail a series of shots to blend together to create that “in your face Gorge Bouquet” with the sky going off, suddenly you forget about all the work you put in. You just end up wanting more.

Seriously though, as far as the technical side, the list is long. But in short, be methodical with your approach to how you capture your flower images, especially if you are focus stacking. Always work with purpose when capturing the scene from the front to back or back to front, don’t focus on the front flowers, then to the middle ground and back again. That will become a nightmare during post processing. If the wind is blowing, resist the urge to widen your aperture too much or the blending of images while maintaining sharpness will become way too hard, if not impossible.  Same goes for increasing your ISO, keep it as low as you can and be patient. The wind will die down every so often, snap a shot then. In the meantime, enjoy where you are sitting, you are in a meadow of flowers after all. Oh, and don’t forget to swipe away the ticks that are inevitably crawling up your legs.

Zack: What is your favorite aspect of nature photography?

Jeremy: Just being out there, wherever that is, is the number one thing. I am at whatever spot most likely because I want to photograph it, but if I am truly experiencing a place I think it will show up in my final image. Second, would have to be the friendships I’ve gained. The friends I’ve gained since I began photography are some of the best friends I’ve ever had. I love the community of it.

 

Zack: What are your 3 personal favorite images?

Jeremy: Favorites are relative to what I’ve been shooting. For me the newer the image is the more I like it. The older image is the more I start to see the imperfections or mistakes I made. I think that is kind of typical for artists though. Right now my favorites are…

1) The One Tree

2) Golden Fall

3) Radiate

http://www.jeremycramphotography.com

 

Golden Fall

Golden Fall

Radiate

Radiate

Three Small Photography Gear Tips

by Adrian Klein
May 12th, 2014

I am sure all of us that are into photography have little tips we each find useful as well as many that are worthwhile enough to share with others. I got to thinking of several that I have mentioned for a number of years at workshops that folks found useful so I figured I would post them here.

Grad Bumper
I don’t use my graduated filters as much as I used to. That said I still use them on occasion and when I do I rarely use a grad holder. I normally will hand hold the grad. Obviously doing this and having it close enough to the lens (basically banging up against the lens) would ultimately lead to scratches quicker than I would like.

Not sure where I heard this tip yet I have done it for a number of years now, what I call the “produce trick”. You take one of those wide thick rubber bands from a bushel of fresh produce you just bought to eat healthy, and put it in your camera bag. This now becomes your bumper to keep from scratching up your grad as easy or any filter you might be hand holding for that matter. You stretch it out over the edge of the lens with just enough of it going over the lip of the lens to cover it but not enough to start showing up in your images. It takes a minute to do this yet it can be done and will stay on pretty snug without moving around especially on 77mm to 82mm lenses.

These will wear out and break after not too many uses yet when you feel like eating healthy again go back to get that bunch of broccoli in the bulk product section and you will get this accessory included for free.

iPhone shot of produce rubber band on my Canon 16-35L while holding my grad

 

Reusable Kneepad
This is obviously a personal preference yet I see people out in the field using these big bulky knee pads. Certainly that is an option yet it’s not something I prefer to drag around and have to take on and off. That said a number of years back I got a large bubble envelope package in the mail and I hated the thought of throwing it away (yes you can recycle these but only when facilities are accepting them which isn’t all the time).

It dawned on me a good way to reuse it was as a knee pad. It cost me exactly $0 (except the order you paid for which hopefully is not simply to get a bubble envelope), is very light and easier to use in my opinion than the full on knee pads. When it wears out you can simply recycle it and by then I am sure a new one will have arrived at your door. This one in the photo has lasted me a while now although I don’t use it every time I get on my knees to photograph. I only worry about it if the ground is hard.

iPhone shot of my current reusable knee pad in action

iPhone shot of my current reusable knee pad in action

Remote Release Longevity
It might only be me (very possible) yet one piece of electronic camera gear that seems to have the shortest life span is the Canon Remote RS-80N3. I have tried everything from buying the Canon brand to cheap knockoffs sold for only dollars to some more expensive than the Canon option. No matter what they never last long, maybe months but rarely a year. And it personally drives me nuts how much Canon charges for something that is essentially a single button, some plastic parts and a few wires. Stepping off soapbox.

Anyway the majority of failures occur when the cord near the trigger end starts coming loose from the remote switch. In most cases I can get some more use out of it using some black electrical tape to keep the life going. What I have started doing is putting on a pretty tight wrap of electrical tape from day one. Maybe it’s more of the placebo effect with my remote but it does seem to go longer without getting pulled out from the trigger.

iPhone shot of my current remote trigger wrapped with electrical tape

iPhone shot of my current remote trigger wrapped with electrical tape

These are just a few tips I have used with my photography and photo equipment. I am sure you have some to share and if so what are they?

Tips for Photographing Waterfalls by David Cobb

by photocascadia
May 5th, 2014

Tips for Photographing Waterfalls

By David Cobb

 

Last fall I spent the day with Outside Explorer in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge. The finished video below supplies a number of tips and tricks to photographing waterfalls.