Patagonia: A Photography Adventure of a Lifetime

by Sean Bagshaw
April 27th, 2016

In March of this year I had the unforgettable opportunity to participate in a photography tour of Patagonia with my friend and fellow photographer, Christian Heeb. This article is a brief account of that trip in words and images.

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Christian and his wife, Regula, planned and organized the trip through their company, The Cascade Center of Photography, which offers photography tours, workshops and classes, both in the western US and to exotic locations around the world. The Heebs have been traveling and photographing all corners of the planet for nearly three decades and Christian has published over 150 books of his travel photography. I was along on the trip as a co-leader to provide photography instruction and to help drive endless miles of gravel roads. The southern Andes mountains of Patagonia have been a mythical place to me since I was 19, when I first read about the terrifying mid-20th century climbs of Mount Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and the Towers of Paine. Later, in the early 1990s, Galen Rowell’s photos of the Cuernos del Paine and Fitz Roy rooted the mystique of Patagonia firmly in my imagination. After almost 30 years of dreaming I finally made it there. Traveling with us were nine clients from the United States and Switzerland, all talented and adventurous photographers as well as wonderful travel companions.

Land of the gaucho. Gauchos, the Argentine version of  the cowboy, are legendary in Patagonia. There is a long tradition of ranching on the Patagonian steppe.

Land of the gaucho. Gauchos, the Argentine version of the cowboy, are legendary in Patagonia. There is a long tradition of ranching on the Patagonian steppe.

Wild horses are a common site on the Patagonian plains.

Wild horses are a common site on the Patagonian plains.

If you aren’t familiar with Patagonia, it is a region that covers the southern portion of South America and includes parts of both Chile and Argentina. The name Patagonia comes from the word patagón used by the explorer Magellan in 1520 to describe the native people who his expedition claimed to be giants. It is now believed that the people he called the Patagons were the Tehuelches, who tended to be taller than Europeans of the time, but certainly not giants.

The 9,000 year old hand paintings in the Cueva de las Manos were possibly made by ancestors of the Tehuelche people.

The 9,000 year old hand paintings in the Cueva de las Manos were possibly made by ancestors of the Tehuelche people.

The Andes mountains reach south through Patagonia, with Chile to the west and Argentina to the east. West of the Andes is wetter with many lakes and fjords. East of the Andes is dryer and consists of desert, plains and grasslands.

Torres del Paine National Park.

Torres del Paine National Park.

Mount Fitz Roy.

Mount Fitz Roy.

Much of the higher Andes range in Patagonia is covered by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the world’s second largest contiguous extrapolar icefield after the Greenland icefield. The icefield feeds dozens of glaciers that flow down out of the mountains, including the Grey and Perito Moreno Glaciers which we photographed.

The ice at the tongue of the Gray Glacier glows a spectacular blue color when back lit by the sun.

The ice at the tongue of the Grey Glacier glows a spectacular blue color when back lit by the sun.

Portrait of a mountain. Cerro Paine Grande towers over Lago Grey.

Portrait of a mountain. Cerro Paine Grande towers over Lago Grey.

Our trip began in the Chilean port town of Punta Arenas in the Strait of Magellan. We spent two weeks driving north, up to Torres del Paine (pronounced PIE-nay) National Park and then along Ruta 40 in Argentina, eventually crossing back into Chile and ending at Puerto Montt.

The idyllic lakes district near the town of Bariloche, Argentina.

The idyllic lakes district near the town of Bariloche, Argentina.

The direct driving distance from Punta Arenas to Puerto Montt is about 1,200 miles, but our circuitous route totalled more than 3,000 miles. Ruta 40 parallels the Andes mountains and spans Argentina from north to south. It is one of the longest roads in the world. The southern part of the route that we traveled is largely unpaved through sparsely populated territory. It has become a well-known adventure tourism journey, although there are now plans to pave it.

Lenticular cloud over Mt. Fitz Roy. The native name, El Chalten, translates to "smoking mountain". Fitting.

Lenticular cloud over Mt. Fitz Roy. The native name, El Chalten, translates to “smoking mountain”. Fitting.

Hats off to Christian and Regula for overcoming the substantial logistical challenges of organizing a trip of this magnitude. Every detail of the trip was meticulously planned, from the rental SUVs and border crossings to plotting our route and fueling points to finding great locations, lodging and food even in remote villages, like the one we stayed in near Lago Posadas in the Santa Cruz Province.

Insane Patagonian wave cloud at sunset over Lago Posadas.

Insane Patagonian wave cloud at sunset over Lago Posadas.

As I mentioned, Patagonia first entered my imagination as a land of unlikely rock spires and ferocious weather which vanquished even the strongest and most cunning alpinists. Later, the photographs of Galen Rowell made me yearn to explore the region with a camera. In recent years Patagonia has become a sought after destination for landscape photographers around the world.

The Cuernos del Paine or Horns of Paine. Paine is an indigenous word that means the color blue.

Los Cuernos del Paine or the Horns of Paine. Paine is an indigenous word that means the color blue, which probably refers to the glacial lakes and not the towers themselves.

But what makes the region so enticing to photographers? Certainly Torres del Paine National Park and the Mount Fitz Roy range are among the most striking mountain landscapes in the world.

First light on the Smoking Mountain, Fitz Roy.

First light on the Smoking Mountain, Fitz Roy.

Beyond that is the remote and rugged nature of the land, the endless expanse of plains, fjords, glaciers, lakes and rivers, the abundance of wildlife and the dramatic weather and light. The proximity to the ocean, the strength of the winds and the abruptness of the mountain range cause the weather to be unsettled and rapidly changing, creating a continuous show of visually captivating cloud formations and atmospheric conditions. In this way it is not unlike the weather and light common to the Eastern Sierra Nevada in California.

Rio Paine waterfall, Torres Del Paine National Park.

Rio Paine waterfall, Torres Del Paine National Park.

We were fortunate to have great conditions for photography almost every day. However, I am aware that the weather can also be extremely harsh. Like Alaska, the mountains can be hidden in clouds for weeks at a time and the winds can be powerful enough to blow the water right out of the lakes.

Wood and Stone, Torres del Paine National Park.

Wood and Stone, Torres del Paine National Park.

For me this was a journey of a lifetime, both as a travel adventure and as a photography experience. It was made even better by all the wonderful people who joined us. I only wish that I could go back to Patagonia with Christian again next year. He and David Cobb will be leading a similar trip to the region, but it will be timed for fall color and will also explore more of the Chilean side of the Andes. Don’t pass it up if you have the chance. If you are interested you can find out more here.

After two weeks in Patagonia half of our group continued on to Easter Island. I’ll follow up with images and stories from that adventure soon.

If you have any questions about traveling and photographing in Patagonia, or a Patagonian experience of your own you would like to share, you can leave me a note in the comment section below.

At least half the journey is about the people and the experiences. The following gallery shares some behind the scenes images from the trip (taken by Christian or Regula Heeb). Enjoy!

Sean is a full time photographer and photography educator. You can see more of his images and find out about his video tutorial courses and upcoming workshops, tours and classes on his website at www.OutdoorExposurePhoto.com.

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Before and After Post Processing Part 3

by photocascadia
April 20th, 2016

by Zack Schnepf

The most common request I get is to see my photos before and after post processing.  This is part three of my before and after series.  Good processing is more important than ever.  The vast majority of professional photographers capture their images with a digital camera.  This has allowed photographers to take control over the entire process, from capture, processing and sharing images.  For the type photography I do, artistic landscape; processing plays a vital role.  This is where I can create a mood to better convey my own experience.  There is a lot I can do in the field to do this as well, but good processing technique allows me to steer the final image toward my own vision of the scene.  In this article I’ll share 3 examples from my trip to the Canadian Rockies with my Photo Cascadia buddies.

Let me preface by saying I am not a documentary photographer, I’m an artistic photographer.  This is an important distinction. I’m stating this in the interest of avoiding the pointless philosophical debate on how much post processing is acceptable.  If you would like take part in that argument, I refer you to an excellent article written by David Kingham:  http://www.exploringexposure.com/blog/2016/3/19/in-defense-of-post-processing

A few notes on the RAW files used.  I use a very bland camera profile in Lightroom which gives me the widest dynamic range possible for blending multiple exposures.  As a result, my RAW images look quite bland, low contrast and lack pop.  This is intentional, it leaves me with the most information possible to work with in Photoshop.

I produced a video detailing the techniques used in the following examples.  In the video I guide you through my most current multiple exposure workflow, illustrating how I use the powerful tools in Lightroom, and Photoshop along with the TKAction Panel V4.  The level of control you can have with these tools is pretty incredible.  To learn more you can visit my site:  http://www.zschnepf.com/Other/Videos2

This first example has an extreme dynamic range to overcome and some serious distortion near the edges.  The distortion could not be corrected with the automated functions in Lightroom, or Photoshop.  I blended the exposures first and then tackled the distortion correction.

 

This next example also has a huge dynamic range to overcome.  So much so, I chose it as my example image in my latest instructional tutorial video, Tonality Control 2.0.

 

Another interesting example from the Lake O’Hara Wilderness.

 

To Look or Not to Look: Can You Find Yourself Through the Work of Other Photographers?

by Erin Babnik
April 14th, 2016

Jigsaw Earth by Erin Babnik

 

There are many photographers who worry that exposure to photographs by others will contaminate the purity of their own creative vision, that they will never find their own voice if they are working under the influence, so to speak. Creativity involves choice, however. The late, great art historian Michael Baxandall famously demolished the idea that artists can ‘influence’ other artists in the true sense of that word. He rightly pointed out that the notion of influence describes the effect of an active power exerting itself on a passive subject, and that the nature of artistic intention actually runs the other way around. He offered up some alternative vocabulary that better explains the process of working in any medium, actual possibilities for what an artist can do in light of another’s work:

“Draw on, resort to, avail oneself of, appropriate from, engage with, react to, quote, differentiate oneself from, assimilate oneself to, assimilate, align oneself with, copy, address, paraphrase, absorb, make a variation on, revive, continue, remodel, resist, simplify, reconstitute, elaborate on, develop, face up to, master, subvert, perpetuate, reduce, promote, respond to, transform, tackle…—everyone will be able to think of others.” (Patterns of Intention, pg. 58)

It is important for photographers to keep in mind that they have all of these options and more for creating their own photographs after viewing other images. It is also important to acknowledge that no photographer exists in a vacuum. One of the great plagues of history is the idea of pure creative genius, that an artwork can spring fully formed out of the head of an artist without any external input. On the contrary, we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and even so-called “naive” artists absorb the visual solutions of whatever imagery they do encounter. Promoting the idea of purity in creativity is not only absurd but is also detrimental to the creative spirit in that it sets up a false premise. That premise posits that what ultimately matters is difference, the extent to which a photograph or a body of work can stand apart from everything that came before it. What really matters, however, is not difference but substance—not standing apart, but making a contribution. As I have written before, the pursuit of difference puts the emphasis on what to avoid rather than what to create, an emphasis that is ultimately counterproductive.

One of the most helpful ideas about viewing photographs that I have encountered is to consider how they might be “extending the conversation” established by photographs that came before them. How is a given photograph in dialogue with what preceded it, and what has it contributed to that conversation? As Brooks Jensen explains, the more that we view other photographs and get to know the history of photography, the better able we will be to appreciate “the subtleties of the currents that drift through the medium” (Looking at Images, pg. 102). That level of appreciation will serve any photographer far better than the impossible pursuit of visual ignorance—burying your head in the sand only cuts off an important avenue for personal development. If we think about existing photographs positively, as foundational elements for all that follows, then we will be more likely to process this visual input in creative ways. We don’t have to try to ‘un-see’ other photographs or fear how they might affect our own work if we embrace the idea that we can ‘own’ our responses to them.

So my answer to the question in the title of this article is a resounding “yes”. Explore and enjoy the images of other photographers! Even photographs that cause us to be overwhelmed with admiration can advance our progress as individuals by helping us to identify what moves and motivates us, which is ultimately a point of personal discovery. If we keep in mind that visual literacy will inform the work of a photographer, not ‘influence’ it, then we can remain focused on productive goals rather than getting hung up on being different. Viewing the works of others is one avenue that can lead in a positive direction as we respond to what we see. Ultimately, anything that can put you in touch with your own interests, reservations, emotions, and experiences is going to help to place your focus where it belongs: on you.

Do you find yourself conflicted by the idea of viewing the images of other photographers? Do you have any favorite strategies for responding to visual input? Please feel free to chime in on this important topic by leaving a comment below. Thanks for reading!

 

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Erin divides her time between Cascadia’s Californian southern boundary and Slovenia, traveling and photographing extensively from home bases in both locations. Make sure to bookmark Erin’s site at www.erinbabnik.com. You can also follow her on FacebookTwitter and 500px.

Limiting Vantage Points – For Your Safety

by Adrian Klein
April 4th, 2016

It was a few summers ago I was photographing sunrise at Cape Kiwanda on the Oregon Coast. A place where you can easily sit mesmerized by the flow of the waves crashing into the earth toned cliffs. On the short “hike” to the end of cape I pass the usual gigantic sign warning of dangerous cliffs ahead that can result in possible injury or death. I have passed the sign and gone through the fence that is nothing more than a visual obstacle, many times before. I take the warning seriously each time while ensuring I am constantly aware of my surroundings. 

Thor's Fist“Thor’s Fist” as seen from the outer point of Cape Kiwanda on a hazy summer sunrise.

It’s on this trip I start to think that I am fortunate to be able to go here and I hope this always remains the case. I am glad to be able to make this decision rather than be limited because I am told what is too dangerous for me with complete restriction from the area.

Fast forward to present day and things look a little different. In less than a year there have been over a half dozen deaths as you can see in this article from people falling off the cliffs. Likely everyday people just out to have fun and not necessarily there specifically for photography. My heart goes out those that lost loved ones from these tragedies. Sudden loss sucks, nothing more to say. 

Washing Machine“Washing Machine” sitting lower down the near the water with a few visitors looking from the more secure viewpoint above.

Due to recent tragedies the local city is looking to install more fencing that is likely meant to to keep people out along with additional enforcement in the area. I get the concern, it’s real. Yet most of me feels like we should be careful limiting places like this solely because of danger.  If the city does restrict the location I will be thankful I had my time there to enjoy it’s beauty along with a few photos in my portfolio. That said I don’t like my public locations  being limited solely because of potential danger.  I get doing it for it ecological, wildlife or similar concerns but not danger. Give me fair warning of the risks along stating potential lack of rescue should things go awry and I will make my own decision. I will say the decision for me usually results in the low to medium risk route anyway.

Dory Boat Sunrise“Dory Boat Sunrise” a view of a lone dory boat heading out to sea with Cape Kiwanda sea stack towering above.

I am not out to live life dangling on the edge, literally and figuratively, yet life is not meant to be safe guarded and bubble wrapped around every corner either. There are people that climb mountains, scale cliffs, skydive or myriad of other outdoor activities with some level of risk that will live a long life while others won’t. That’s reality whether we like it not. 

Besides Cape Kiwanda this came to mind when I was last in Kauai, Hawaii a couple months ago. Spouting Horn is a popular spot and it used to be open to wander down along the shore with  adequate warning signs for those that proceed beyond the view point. I had not been in a few years  and I went last trip. Now it clearly states a fine will be issued if you go beyond this point with a longer fence and railing in place. Another location with access reduced for my safety and thus limiting my photography as long as I want to follow the rules. I realize they are doing it for the average person that is not exercising any caution whatsoever or those aspiring to be a candidate for the Darwin Awards. I still don’t necessarily agree with it.

Far Out!“Far Out!” interesting colors and lines on wet sandstone out near the furthest point before there is nowhere left to go.

I am sure you can think of some places that you like to go that have had similar restrictions put in place. What do you think, should we have safety restrictions or closures in place at these beautiful locations or be able to decide for ourselves? Do you not care and simply go past them to the photo you are after no matter how big the deterrent? 

Telephoto Lenses and Landscape Photography by David Cobb

by photocascadia
March 28th, 2016

Blossom Quilt

Most landscape photography is shot with a wide-angle lens to accent that leading line or capture that vibrant red sunrise. Using a telephoto lens to capture a landscape offers a different challenge and a different way of thinking. The goal now is less about distortion and more about compression to help create patterns or an interesting layering effect. Currently, about one-third of my landscape images are photographed with a telephoto lens.

Little Buffalo River

A few tips to help create telephoto landscape images:

• If it’s windy stay low or find a wind break. As you zoom-in camera shake is accentuated, so to keep things steady cut down on your surface area and get low to create less wind resistance on your tripod and camera–wait for a lull in the wind before taking the shot. If that doesn’t work, use a wall, structure, tree, or something for a wind break. Hanging your pack or a weight from your tripod may help create stability.
• Use the zoom function and live view together for sharpness. If you have a live-view function on your camera it comes in handy for telephoto landscape photography. I check out my scene through the live view and then press the zoom feature to get a closer look and to manually adjust the sharpness. The live-view feature can also offer mirror lock-up which will help with camera shake. If your camera doesn’t automatically offer this feature, turn on the mirror lock-up function when photographing with a telephoto lens to avoid camera shake.
• Use a polarizer. Compressing a landscape image over a great distance will also compress all the dust, haze, or fog in the scene. This can produce atmosphere in your image and help to create mood, but chances are more likely it will just generate blur. To cut through this mass of miasma use a polarizer, this will also cut down on glare.
• Use a lens hood. When I’m using a telephoto lens for landscape photography, I’m often shooting into the light for a backlighting effect. Using a lens hood can go a long way towards cutting down on lens flare and unwanted glare.
• Use a tripod. This may be a no-brainer, but I’ll state the obvious. Handholding to take a telephoto image only accentuates camera shake, for the best and sharpest landscape photo use a tripod.

Buttermilk Creek Cascade 2

When using a telephoto lens, it’s our job as photographers to simplify an image down to its prime elements—and to pick out order from the chaos. I pay attention to the light, patterns, key features, and leading lines to help me look for subject matter. Overlap and layering helps create depth, and the compression of these features helps create form from this flatter telephoto perspective. When practicing telephoto landscape photography, it’s usually best to take the high ground. By looking across or down on the landscape you’ll be offered a better view from which to pick out your subjects and shoot. If my subject matter is without much depth, I’ll usually use an aperture setting around f8 or f11; but if there is depth to my landscape, then I’ll shoot from f16 to f32.

I hope these tips prove useful and inspire you to take out that “longer” lens when photographing a landscape.

Lavender in Layers

Palouse Hill Country

What I Learned From My Time At Paws Up Resort

by photocascadia
March 21st, 2016

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This winter I got to visit one of the top premier resorts in Montana called Paws Up Luxury Ranch just outside Missoula Montana. A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to be asked my the media team at Paws Up to do a commercial shoot during spring photo shoot. I really enjoyed my time on the ranch and hoped I would get the chance again to photograph the location but in winter time. This winter I was fortunate enough to be asked again to photograph the property to highlight the stunning winter landscapes of the ranch. They were looking for images that showcased the facilities at its best including the stunning dining area, the warm lit cabins at night, and the many winter activities available. While on location they were generous enough to set myself up in one of their luxurious cabins as well as a SUV for transportation to get around in. From the client, I had a list of things they expected from me. It was laid out from most important to least and clearly what they expected from me. There main objective from me, was to photograph the ranch in the best available light. We had established a contract beforehand of things they expected and a fee that would be appropriate for the job. It is critical that when dealing with commissioned jobs that you have a well laid out contract that clearly establishes what each party is responsible for. Things always can go sideways when employed to do a job and thus, a contract is there to protect both parties involved.

Images from Paws Up Luxury Ranch in Greenough, Montana. It is 30 minutes east of Missoula.

My contract stated I would be photographing at the ranch from Thursday to Sunday with an extra day to increase my odds of getting at least one morning or evening of light. Upon arrival I wrote down a game plan of how I wanted to do things and make sure I was at the right place at the right time. Looking to photograph the locations at the top of the list and work my way down. The first night I choose to photograph the main buildings at night under the warmth of the lights at night with the fresh snow. My adjective when shooting areas with a lot of foot traffic in winter snow is to avoid signs of human presence. To be more specific I want to avoid footprints in the snow and signs of cars. So I had to carefully compose the images to avoid these elements and yet capture the essence of each place. The clients specific instructions was to do my best to avoid human footprints in the snow. I always try to tell a story with my images and this includes when shooting architecture. My job as a photographer is to create a mood and present a story to the viewer. So when shooting buildings or cabins in winter I want to express a feeling of cozy, warm, shelters to escape the cold winter nights. I try to include smoke coming from chimneys, lights turned on in all areas of the building, and visual opening to the door. This is essential to my objective and will ask management to make sure as many of these things settings are present when photographing. I also like to do most of shooting just after sunset during what I call the blue hour when the sky is going dark but has a cooler blue cast and really complements the warmer colors coming from the buildings and cabins. At the end of the night I managed to capture most of the ambiance I was trying to achieve.

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The next day my objective was to photograph clients enjoying the resorts activities. The first objective is to photograph the guests being escorted around by horses and sleds in the fresh snow. Here is it vital to capture the smiles on the guests’ faces as well as the horses. I take both intimate and wide-angle shots to make sure I capture the moment. I make sure when photographing activities to capture as much as I can. In the afternoon I setup a photo shoot where I shoot some of the employees on the horses making there way through the winter forests. Here I am looking to focus on the relationship between the cowboy and the horse. As many riders know a bond between a horse and a cowboy is special so I really want that to show in my images. Once I was satisfied with my cowboy images I turned my attention to the sunset and being at the best places I could. I also wanted to photograph it from as many places as I could in the small window I would be provided. With a list of places to shoot I shot as from as many places I could in the time given until dark settled in for the night.

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On my last day, I woke up early for a spectacular sunrise with the fresh snow that fall over night. I was able to get to all the places I needed and when the weekend was over I had achieved most of the goals I had set out to get.

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By the end of the trip I had jotted down a list of things I learned over the weekend that would make my next adventure better. Most importantly, I realized how vital it is do have a plan from most important to least; this also includes having a backup plan if the weather does not cooperate. Also whenever doing a job that has been commissioned make sure that you and your employer have a clear understanding of what their objective is. In my particular circumstance it was to capture the ranch in a way that was inviting to viewers especially in wintertime where it would colder conditions would make this a harder job. After I finished processing the images and the client was able to see the images they picked out a set amount of images that had been agreed upon beforehand. They used this images for there brochures, website, and everything that was used for their marketing. Lastly, I made sure that I honored everything that was set out in the agreement to achieve and on their part they did the same. In the end, the ranch and I were both happy with the results.

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Photoshop for Landscape Photographers

by Chip Phillips
March 15th, 2016

Product Page-blog

I just finished the second edition of my video series, originally titled “Image Editing Volume 1″.  Now called Photoshop for Landscape Photographers ,this series of 10 videos has been completely redone from the ground up, with up-to-date software, new images, and current techniques. I have tried to keep all of the original content and have added new stuff as well.

Some highlights include:

-All tutorials have been completely redone with all new images, up-to-date software, including Tony Kuyper’s new Tkv4 Panel, and current techniques.
-1920×1080 HD Video, 3hrs and 50min. of content.
-A new video titled “Workspace Settings” is included, discussing the ideal settings for Lightroom, Camera Raw, and Photoshop.
-Along with content from the first volume, I demonstrate my most commonly used blending modes in my new “Layers” video. My new “Layer Masks” video incorporates the use of these blending modes, along with current techniques for applying adjustments to images using layers and masks.
-In my new “Luminosity Masks” video, along with original content, I demonstrate how to create and use 16-bit luminosity masks, and demonstrate the ease of using Tony Kuyper’s new Tkv4 Panel for creating and using these powerful luminosity masks.
-My new “Multiple Exposure Blending For Dynamic Range” video includes in-the-field footage of me on location in the Palouse where I demonstrate my technique for capturing multiple exposures for blending in Photoshop.  In this video I demonstrate three different blending techniques on three different images.
-In my new video, “Multiple Exposure Blending for Depth of Field”, I demonstrate my current technique for focus stacking on two different images, and include a portion on cleaning up if things go a bit haywire.
-In my new “Micro Contrast” video, along with original techniques, I include the use of the Camera Raw filter, and Tony Kuyper’s awesome new Tonal Clarity actions.
-Along with my favorite “Orton” effect technique, I include a new technique for light painting in my new “Enhancing the Light” video.
-In my new “Color” video, I include all of the current tools that I use for color adjustments, and demonstrate the use of luminosity masks for color adjustments. I also include a segment on my technique for color painting.
-My new “Sharpening” video includes current sharpening techniques used for web and print. I also demonstrate the ease of using Tony Kuyper’s all new Web Sharpening action.

For a complete list of content and to watch an introduction video, visit the Instructional Videos page on my website.

Thanks for the support!

Make One Photoshop Action That Will Place A Watermark On Any Size Image

by Sean Bagshaw
March 7th, 2016

Mt.-Ashland

I enjoy getting photography and developing questions from people. When certain questions come up often enough I realize the topic might warrant a video tutorial of its own. Such is the case with how to place watermarks on images in Photoshop. Many of us who share our images on the web or by email like to place an identifying watermark on them, like the one on my image above. While it doesn’t guarantee images won’t be used without our permission, at least it lets others know that they do belong to someone and who that person is. Some well known photographer’s watermarks even become as recognizable as their images and names.

Adding some text or a logo to an image in Photoshop is easy enough to learn, but it requires multiple steps. If done manually on a regular basis adding watermarks can become time consuming and tedious. It is also difficult to keep the watermark consistent each time. Adding watermarks to web images is a perfect repetitive job for a Photoshop action. However, creating a single action that can successfully and proportionally place a logo or text on an image of any size or orientation isn’t as obvious as it might seem. I know this from the frequent questions I get. In this video I demonstrate how to record a single action that accomplishes the task. It takes a few minutes to record the action, but you will get that time back after just a couple uses.

In this second video I show TKActions Panel users how to assign the watermark action to one of the customizable buttons in the panel. This makes it super efficient to size and sharpen an image for the web using the panel and then place your custom watermark on it with just one more button click.

It took me many years of inefficient watermarking before someone showed me how to create a single watermarking action that works on all images. I hope you find this information helpful and are able to put it to good use. Let me know in the comments if you have questions or any of your own tips or tricks to add.

Tonality Control 2.0 Instructional Video

by photocascadia
March 2nd, 2016

by Zack Schnepf

In case you may have missed my other announcements.  I recently completed my latest post processing instructional video Tonality Control 2.0. In the video I guide you through my most current multiple exposure workflow.  I demonstrate how I use the powerful tools in Lightroom, and Photoshop along with the TKAction Panel V4. The level of control you can have with these tools is pretty incredible. These techniques are quite advanced, but yield incredible results that are not possible with HDR software. In the video I’ll show you how I take the 3 raw exposures below from pre-visualization to fully realized master file.

3 original raw exposures

3 original raw exposures

Final Image

Finished Master File

Here are the techniques covered in Tonality Control 2.0: Raw preparation in Lightroom, multiple exposure blending, advanced masking, luminosity selections, refined selections, advanced selection building, color range selections, tonality adjustment layers, color adjustment layers, color cloning, sharpening for print, web preparation and more.

Included material: 25 chapters, covering 4 hours of instruction.  
I’ve also included the raw files used for the project image you see above. This way you can follow along with the same files I’m using in the video. These files are for practice only, they may not be reproduced or sold in any form. You can download the table contents here: Table of Contents

The TKActions V4 Panel is a custom panel developed by Tony Kuyper that works in Photoshop CS6 and CC 2014/2015. This video relies on it heavily, it is not required, but highly recommended. The TKActions V4 Panel displays like other panels in Photoshop and makes it easy to play many different actions with the click of a button. While originally developed to simplify working with luminosity masks, it’s continued to expand with additional features and functions. This video does not come with the panel, but again, I highly recommend it. It is an integral part of my workflow now. You can learn more and purchase the panel on Tony’s site here:  http://www.goodlight.us/writing/actionspanelv4/panelv4.html

Recommended: This video is not intended for Photoshop beginners. You will need to be familiar with the basic tools in Photoshop as well as masks, adjustment layers and basic selections. All of the processing is done within Photoshop and Lightroom as well as the TKActions V4 Panel within Photoshop. This video is not compatible with Photoshop Elements.

Viewing on tablets and iPads: Using a tablet to watch the videos while you follow along is a great way to use the videos. Unfortunately, Apple makes it difficult to transfer video files onto their mobile devices. I made a short tutorial video using the VLC app in iTunes to transfer and play my instructional videos on iPad. You can see the tutorial here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moUHUeHqqS8

I have 2 videos on youtube to help you get a preview.
Tonality Control 2.0 Intro:

Excerpt from chapter 19:

If you would like to learn more, or purchase the video please visit my site: www.zschnepf.com

Five Valuable Lessons that I Learned in Art School

by Erin Babnik
February 22nd, 2016

 

Art school may not be necessary or even helpful for everyone with creative intentions, but it can provide a valuable experience. In my case, being enrolled in a fine arts program introduced me to a lot of great advice that has stayed with me over the years. What follows is a list of the five takeaway points that most resonated with me, lessons that have enabled me to derive greater personal satisfaction from my photography. Of course none of these lessons are uniquely available through formal education, and some may even seem like common sense. All of them touch on issues that most creative people face, however, and therefore art educators tend to make a point of teaching them, as I now do in my workshops.

1) Remember to Have Fun

Creativity is ultimately a playful process. There are times when some thoughtful problem solving can go a long way, but it is important to enjoy what we are doing. Curiosity, whimsy, and passion are all fueled by enjoyment, and without them, we are left with simply going through familiar motions. Landscape photographers may be especially familiar with the woes of frustration because we are so affected by circumstances that are out of our control. Disappointment can set in quite easily if we go to great lengths to reach a location and then have conditions that thwart a particular motivation. When the mind is hung up on what it cannot have, creativity plummets, and taking ourselves too seriously will only compound the effect. If you feel yourself sinking into that hole, remind yourself that what you are doing is supposed to be fun. Allow yourself the freedom to experiment and to explore ideas playfully, without any pressure for results governing the process.

"Frizzante" by Erin Babnik

The best kind of work is play. I hiked up to a high alpine lake thinking that I would shoot some snowy landscapes there, but instead I spent two days photographing bubbles in the ice of the lake because I was having so much fun with them.

 

2) Go Big

The phrase “go big” is familiar to most artists, but many take it to mean the size of a finished product, which is exactly what I assumed until exposure to big ideas taught me otherwise. It is not the size of your prints that matters, it is the extent of your ambition. If your passion is pointing you towards a certain idea, then ask yourself what the fullest expression of that idea might entail. If it means pushing yourself harder than you ever have before, then so be it. Hike farther, climb higher, wait longer, venture deeper, learn new techniques—whatever is necessary to take yourself to the next level. So long as you allow your passion to drive you, then there will be a unique kind of enjoyment in it all, even when the going is rough.

"Afternoon Delight" by Erin Babnik

Pursuing big ideas can result in great personal satisfaction. Without much more than some topographical maps to guide me, I spent five years exploring the higher elevations of the Dolomites, concentrating on areas that I had never seen photographed. It was a big project. I traveled repeatedly to a foreign country, hiking a lot of steep terrain, and taking the risk of it being an unproductive expense of time and money. In the end, the photos that I did produce helped me to progress personally and professionally in ways that I never could have predicted.

 

3) Find the Tipping Point

An art instructor once said to me, “You’ll know that you’ve found the point where you have gone far enough after you find the point where you have gone too far.” This advice is related to the first two lessons on my list in that it encourages experimentation and pushing ideas further to see what happens. If you like a feature of your composition, what would happen if you made it take up more of the frame? How about all of the frame? How close to the water is close enough? How about standing right in the water? Is less color more effective? How about going monochromatic? How dark is too dark? Sometimes we allow habits, timidness, or laziness to govern our decisions instead of exploring the limits of our ideas more fully. If we find that we are at the point where we have gone too far, at least we’ll know where it is.

"Harmony" by Erin Babnik

You’ll know what is ‘just enough’ after you’ve found ‘too much’. I discovered this view while out exploring one day and subsequently returned to it many times to photograph it in different conditions. After shooting this same composition in some very dramatic light, I decided that I preferred this softer light for the scene instead.

 

4) Craftsmanship Matters

Whether we intend to pursue a polished look or a grungy one, it is important to ‘own’ our results. It may require more effort to produce a photograph with technical quality and developing that looks wholly intentional, but it is worthwhile to try. Being sloppy rarely produces anything very satisfying. For example, awkward out-of-focus areas, blown-out skies, or obvious blending halos are going to detract from a landscape image unless somehow these qualities suggest deliberate decisions. Ultimately, the extra enjoyment that comes from the finished product will be worth whatever extra attention to detail may be required to realize your vision for it.

"Embrace" by Erin Babnik

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. A lot of extra work is required in order to shoot and process an image that involves focus stacking and also blending for dynamic range, and I find these less creative aspects of processing to be a bit tedious. Nonetheless, it is always worthwhile to have your final photo match the vision for it.

 

5) Creativity is a Messy Place

The caveat to everything above is that creativity works in mysterious ways. Sometimes we arrive at solutions without understanding exactly how we got there, but we can still feel a sense of accomplishment when we do. It is important to give yourself credit for what may seem like a happy accident because, chances are, your creative instincts had a lot to do with it. One of my photographer friends once complained to me that he felt disappointed in himself for not being more disciplined in the field. He often left his tripod attached to his backpack and shot handheld, requiring him to patch together multiple exposures in order to produce an image that he ostensibly could have achieved more easily with a more controlled approach. Nonetheless, this method of shooting enabled him to catch very fleeting moments with ambitious compositions, and his portfolio sparkled with a freshness that surely owed a lot to the spontaneity enabled by his unorthodox techniques. Sometimes it is best not to let that little voice in your head tell you that you’re doing it wrong, even when you’re going against received wisdom that you truly respect.

"El Dorado" by Erin Babnik

Trust your instincts. Although I was shooting with friends this day, I wandered off by myself, gravitating towards a high ridge that would give me a view only in the ‘wrong’ direction. The giant butte that we had come to photograph was now behind me and too close to show its form. For whatever reason, I felt compelled to hike up to this point, not really conscious of what I might find there. I photographed the giant butte that day as well, but this view turned out to be my clear favorite.

The pitfalls of creativity are many, and these five lessons certainly do not address them all. These are the nuggets of advice that seem to have been most beneficial to me, but there are many more. What advice has helped you to get greater satisfaction out of your creative efforts? Please feel free to share your comments on this article below.

 

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Erin divides her time between Cascadia’s Californian southern boundary and Slovenia, traveling and photographing extensively from home bases in both locations. Make sure to bookmark Erin’s site at www.erinbabnik.com. You can also follow her on FacebookTwitter and 500px.