Friday, March 31, 2017

Time Trap Portrait Instagram Photo - March 31, 2017 at 05:28PM

5:28:00 PM


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Time Trap Portrait Instagram Photo - March 31, 2017 at 03:40PM

3:40:00 PM


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Time Trap Portrait Instagram Photo - March 31, 2017 at 01:50PM

1:50:00 PM


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Time Trap Portrait Instagram Photo - March 31, 2017 at 11:05AM

11:05:00 AM


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Photographing Namibia’s Deadvlei

6:10:00 AM

_65C0234Deadvliel,-Namibia

Located in the Namib Desert, Deadvlei aka as The Vlei is essentially a dried up lake with ancient trees (estimated to be about 900 years old) coming up from the ground surrounded by desert sand. The clay pan was formed when the Tsauchab River flooded; the abundance of water allowed many camelthorn trees to grow.  Soon the climate changed and the sand dunes began encroaching on the pan; blocking the river from reaching it. The extremely dry climate prohibits the decay of the trees.

To get to the Vlei you will need to hike out there, up and over sand dunes, and while it is not a cakewalk it is also not that difficult. It is approximately one kilometer, bring plenty of water and don’t bring a lot of unnecessary gear. The floor of the pan is hard so there is no need to worry about your tripod legs going into the sand.

_65C5579Deadvliel,-Namibia

Photography Notes:

One thing not to miss out on at Deadvlei is the sun hitting the sand dunes, that glow doesn’t last very long and you will need to get out there early enough to capture it. Also when you first arrive it is best to scout the scene for your shots before the best light. You will see that when the sun rises it will make its way over the dunes and all of the sand will be aglow. Wait for it.

_65C0273Deadvliel,-Namibia

Gear Suggestions:

An assortment of lenses including a wide angle and medium telephoto lens. I didn’t use any filters but I did bracket a few images. I brought along a sturdy tripod. Infrared photography could be good there but I can’t see missing the glow of the orange light on the sand.

Clothing Suggestions:

I wear lightweight shoes that are good for walking on dunes. I bring a lightweight backpack and carry two bottles of water. A brim hat is a must!  Sunscreen or lightweight long sleeves and long pants.

About Author Denise Ippolito

Denise Ippolito is a full time professional photographer, international workshop leader, and creative artist living in New Jersey. Most recently one of Denise’s images was selected as the "Birds" Category Winner in the prestigious Nature's Best 2016 Windland Smith Rice International Awards Competition. In 2015 she also won the Category for "Art in Nature" in the Nature's Best 2015 International Awards Competition.
In 2010 and again in 2014 Denise received a Highly Honored award in the same Nature's Best competition. Also in 2014 one of her images was selected as part of the People's Choice Awards Top 50 Images in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition. She has also won several PSA (Photographic Society of America) awards. Her images have been published in magazines and text books, sold as greeting cards, calendars and most recently featured in a Sierra Club Documentary. Six of her images hung in the distinguished Birds of the World Exhibit featured at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Denise travels extensively presenting slide shows, lectures and seminars and teaching photography and Photoshop. Her workshops feature a variety of subjects including: avian, flower, landscape and urbex (urban-exploration) photography.

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RAW Processing in Adobe Lightroom – Are you Using the Adjustment Panel?

6:03:00 AM

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RAW Processing in Adobe Lightroom

Lightroom is fairly simple to use, yet and incredibly powerful tool for photographers and it lets you pull out every single detail possible from a RAW file.

raw processing in adobe lightroom

Image by kazuend

FREE DOWNLOAD TIPS: If you want to take your RAW image processing to the next level and put these skills into some practical examples, then download our free Sunset Photography Cheat Sheet. Learning how to process your high-detail images can totally transform your sunsets forever! Download it here.

Why Shoot RAW?

In order to pull out all the possible details from an image using Lightroom, you'll need to be shooting in RAW format -this way you can have your post processing done just how you like it. Nothing wrong with being particular here?

At first glance, RAW processing in Adobe Lightroom can appear a bit confusing, what with the many different modules available, but, you will be doing the majority of your post processing work in the “Develop” module during RAW processing. So relax.

Lightroom's Tabs

Most photographers struggle with or fail to use some of the tabs in the adjustment panel and thought we'd give you a quick overview of those three tabs:
-Tone Curve,
-Lens Correction, and
-Effects areas of the adjustment panel.

Using The Tone Curve

There are two ways in which one can use the tone curve: the

  1. The Point Curve, and
  2. The Parametric Curve.

When using the point curve, you can control all the tonal ranges of an image thereby making specific parts of the image brighter or darker according to your visual preference.

You can add as many number of points on the tone curve as you like to adjust tonal ranges in your image. They also have three inbuilt presets; Linear, Medium Contrast, and Strong Contrast.

There's a small box you can select, at the bottom right of this panel, that lets you use the parametric curve. This can be adjusted with the use of the four sliders at the bottom of the curve.

You can also make changes to the red, blue and green channels individually in this panel, that gives you a lot of flexibility to take control over how the different channels in your image look.

raw processing in adobe lightroom

Image by Alexandr Ivanov


Did you know?

If you've made some custom adjustments on your tone curve, and you need it for future use, it can be saved as a “Tone curve” preset. Pretty neat tip!

To do that, once you are happy with the adjustments, just click on the drop down next to where it says “Point curve” and hit “save”!

Lens Correction

This is a very powerful section of the adjustment panel for people who shoot architecture. This is where you can choose the lens (profile tab) that you used while shooting, so Lightroom can apply the known distortion level from its database to the image to remove some of the distortion in the image.

The manual tab has various sliders, where you can transform the image to correct verticals, horizontals, scale the image, rotate etc. The lens vignetting if any, can be rectified here.

Effects

The post crop vignetting you see here is completely different compared to the lens correction vignetting (which is natural vignetting that happens when shooting (also depends on the lens used)) and this is used to add or remove artificial vignetting to your image.

This helps to add focus to an element in the image thereby keeping viewers engaged for a long time. There are a few styles to choose from and this is where you can add grain effects to your images (should you need to add this style).

Another Fact….

There is a “Dehaze” tool in the “Effects” tab that takes away the flatness or the haziness in the images.

raw processing in adobe lightroom

Image by Roman Grac

3 QUICK TIPS

  1. Lightroom has the option called “Solo mode” which, when selected (right click on the top of any tab in the Adjustment Panel and check the “Solo mode” option) will collapse the previously used tab when you expand another tab, helping you to keep the adjustment panel compact.
  2. While you are on the Crop Tool, the default crop format that comes up is the Rule of thirds.
  3. Hitting the key “O” repeatedly takes you to other crop formats like the golden triangle, golden spiral, golden ratio, etc, so that you can choose to crop your image the way you need it using any one or more of the available formats.
FREE BONUS: If you want to take your RAW image processing to the next level and put these skills into some practical examples, then download our free Sunset Photography Cheat Sheet. Learning how to process your high-detail images can totally transform your sunsets forever! Download it here.



Further Resources

Further Learning

If you're considering really giving your skills a significant boost and get to know your way around Lightroom like the back of your hand, be sure to check out Joshua Cripps' Master Lightroom RAW Processing Short Course.

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Dahlia Ambrose

Dahlia is a physicist and self taught photographer with a passion for travel, photography and technology. She can sometimes get obsessed trying new photography techniques and post processing styles using Lightroom or Plugins in Photoshop. She occasionally writes articles on topics that interest or provoke her. You can check out her photography on Instagram, 500px and Flickr
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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Why Leading Lines Are Trickier Than You Think

12:03:00 PM

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A lot of folks get into photography without having any type of art background or art training.

Some might be telling themselves, “Hey, I know how to use a camera. Why do I need that?”

The answer lies in one word- communication.

Just like anyone can write a paragraph, it takes the training and knowledge of becoming an author to write a paragraph that will communicate the correct message to as broad an audience as possible.

Sometimes, having a little bit of art knowledge can be just as unforgiving as having no knowledge at all.

There are different levels of artistic training- what I’m talking about here is composition.

Today, I’m going to talk about the tool of composition called, “leading lines”.

Leading lines are a basic tool of composition, and represent a concept that most photographers can latch on to.

The problem is that many photographers don’t use leading lines properly, creatively, or even recognize when a leading line is ruining their composition.

Let’s look at several examples of leading lines and discuss what works and what doesn’t. I’ll even include some discussion on a pretty sophisticated use of leading lines.

Example #1

Traditional Use -1 a

Example 1 is a very traditional use of leading lines in an artistic (photographic) composition. The railroad tracks are quite dominant and they form a perfect visual path leading toward the three boys that are walking.

A question to contemplate- 

  1. How do we know that the three boys are the subjects of this photograph? Why is it not the train tracks? Or, the surrounding landscape?

 Before we get into answering the question- let’s look at another example of leading lines, and perhaps you’ll find the answer to that question for yourself.

Example #2

 Example 2 with arrows

 In example 2, it’s obvious that the photographer intended for the fence to be a leading line. In fact, the photographer used the tag, “leading lines”, when the photograph was uploaded to the Internet.

On the right, I put in an arrow that displays one of the main problems with leading lines when you don’t understand how they work. The leading line is leading to nowhere. It’s actually leading a viewer’s eyes right off of the photograph(to the left).

You might wonder… why isn’t the leading line leading in the other direction- toward the fence posts on the right? (I think that’s what the photographer intended.)

Part of why leading lines work, as a tool of composition, is because of a geometric rule called converging lines. Another term that comes into play is called “vanishing point”. In geometry, converging lines eventually meet at the vanishing point. Our brains are taught, (from the moment that we begin to learn depth perception as little toddlers), that converging lines and a vanishing point indicate distance and depth. This is a subliminal thing that our minds recognize. Artists, going all the way back to the earliest painters also recognized this, and converging lines became a basic artistic building block.

Trying to follow the line (the fence) in the other direction- goes against what your brain knows to be true. It simply will not follow that path.

If you go back to example 1- is it now apparent why the walking trio is the subject? They are standing at the vanishing point for the leading (converging) lines. This gives them the ultimate dominant visual weight within the photograph. The eyes come to rest at that spot, and the boys’ presence provides meaning to the photograph.

Knowing this- begs for a question…

Does the use of leading lines always have to end with the subject at the vanishing point?

No. There are different types of leading lines. The use of leading lines can become quite sophisticated when you understand the concepts around them.

That’s the thing about art concepts. They’re kind of tricky. They can be quite straightforward, such as the trio walking on the train tracks, or, they can be subtle and melding into other elements of composition that change their use and meaning.

Let’s look at a few examples like that.

Example #3

example 3 with arrows

Example #3 makes use of a primary leading line, secondary leading lines, and a third type of leading line known as a “sight line”.

A question that you may ask is… “Why am I saying that the leash is leading toward the dog, and not away from the dog, like the fence was in example 2?”

Good question! There are two reasons that answer that question-

  1. The leash is not a converging line. It is a leading line. But, it is not a converging line. It is traveling across the photograph- not “into” the photograph.
  2. Because it is not a converging line, the direction is established through different means. In this case, it is the use of a focal point and juxtaposition. Those additional tools of composition occur where the leash is clasped to the dog’s collar. Because that point of contact is a focal point, and it creates shape juxtaposition against the background, it carries more visual strength than the left part of the leash that extends off of the frame. It creates a flow of left to right.

Let’s go back to the question of “What’s the subject”?

Is the subject the dog? Not really. The dog is a secondary subject. The primary subject is what the dog is doing with his leg. This is reinforced through the positioning of the dog’s face and eyes. They are forming a different kind of leading line, known as a sight line. The sight line pushes a viewer’s eyes in the direction of the leg.

The dog’s activity, at the leg, becomes the primary subject of the photograph. Other elements of compositionthat support this conclusion include the use of shape and action. In the end of the viewing experience- this is where the eyes come to rest, and the meaning of the photograph is revealed.

The blue arrows point out the secondary leading lines. Secondary leading lines work subliminally to push a viewer’s eyes in a certain direction. They are not as obvious as converging lines- yet they work subtlety to “nudge’ a viewer in a direction. A vignette is a subtle leading line. It pushes a viewer’s eyes inward. In this case, the focused lines, between the bricks, push the eyes inward toward the dog.

The unfocused lines between the bricks are not secondary leading lines. Why? Being out-of-focus has drastically reduced their weight within the composition.

Example #4

Example 4 right blocked

In example 4, I want you to spend a moment deciding for yourself where the leading lines are. I also want you to make a decision as to where you believe the viewer’s eyes should come to rest. Finally, what do you believe is the subject of this photograph?

We will come back to this toward the end of today’s post.

Example #5

example 5 with arrows

Just as an ill-placed leading line can tank your efforts, an even worse situation is not recognizing the fact that a leading line exists, and it’s not helping your photograph.

Example 5 is this scenario.

The interesting aspect to this example is that we have almost the exact same “composition” situation as in example 3- except it is working against the photograph and not for it.

What are the similarities between examples 3 and 5?

  1. There is a horizontal leading line that is not a converging line.
  2. There is a focal point and a shape juxtaposition working in the photograph.

 Where did this shot go wrong while example 3 did not?

 The problem here is in the placement of the elements within the shot. In example 3, all of the composition elements were pushing the eyes toward the dog and ultimately the raised leg.

In example 5, the photographer’s intended subject was the coiled rope. The problem occurs where the rope leaves the coil. At that point the rope leads into the background (a converging line – Strong Visual Weight), where it comes to a stop at a focal point (the knot on the post), which adds more visual weight (away from the coiled rope), plus the use of a shape juxtaposition that adds even more visual weight away from the coil, before the eyes follow that last little bit of rope right off the page to the right.

Important Point: When you’re ready to take a picture. Take a moment to analyze the scene. Are you using leading lines, and if so are they leading in the right direction? Are there any leading lines that you didn’t notice, and they’re working against you? Could you change the camera POV to make a leading line stronger, or perhaps you need to eliminate one that’s not working?

Back to Example #4

Example 4 with arrows

Example 4 is actually a fairly sophisticated use of leading lines. Let’s break this shot down-

  • The lines on the road provide the strongest path into the photograph. There are several reasons for this. They are converging lines. They are very bright compared to the surrounding areas. Plus, they are the strongest representation of movement.
  • The red circle is the final resting place within this photograph. This is primarily due to placement (as indicated by the Rule of Thirds grid) and this area is the vanishing point for the converging lines.
  • The blue arrows indicate secondary leading lines. They become secondary leading lines due to motion and contrast. This point is important. A leading line isn’t necessarily “always” a physical line- just as the “sight line” in example 3 wasn’t a physical line. Try to think of leading lines more as a stream. The water flows, and the ebbs and tides of rocks (or whatever) push the water this way- and that way- sometimes hard and sometimes gentle. Your use of leading lines should help push a viewer’s eyes through your photograph- sometimes hard and sometimes gentle. The converging lines on the road (in example 4) are a hard push. The soft contrasting clouds in the sky are a soft push.
  • Finally, what is the subject in example4? This is actually up to interpretation for each viewer in this case. (I happen to like that.) There is no concrete information that says “THIS IS THE SUBJECT”. On the train tracks, it was obvious that the trio of boys were the subject. In example 4, it’s much more esoteric. I think the subject is the “idea” of speed. What do you think?

If you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about leading lines, and perhaps you have an interest in composition in general, Photzy a great books on the subject. “Understanding Composition” is a great entry point into deepening your understanding of composition in photography.

This book can help push you (just like a leading line) along a path to an end result!

» Click here to take a look at the guide

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Kent DuFault

is a professional photographer and author. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.
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Digital Blending is a Post Production Technique You Need to Get a Hold Of

8:03:00 AM

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Digital Blending in Photography is Nothing New

If that's the case, how come you're still not using it as much as you could be?

If you're a landscape, cityscape or nightscape photographer, many a time you would have come across situations where you felt that your images looked, well….flat. They probably lacked color and vibrance and maybe looked very dull and boring.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that you need to blend and create some art on your screen.

So, despite taking the time to compose the image and get it right SooC, your photo still fails to perform. Huge bummer – honestly, this sucks.

Sometimes, however hard you try, the weather, lighting and other similar conditions can result in nothing but…uninteresting images.

There are graduated filters that sometimes do a better job, but manually blending the images to create an image that has correct details in all places is the best step forward. Learning digital blending in photography is going to be the next step to creating images you'd be proud to call your own!

digital blending in photography

Image from Pexels

AWESOME FREE BONUS: Before we all go any further download our free Beautify Skies Photography Cheat Sheet. How come you ask? It's FREE and got a load of useful content we feel you could use with having in your back pocket for next time you're out to create those epic-looking skies! Download it here.

But don’t lose heart there yet, there is a solution for all of these and the best solution is to use digital blending techniques to bring out all the details that you wished you could have had in your image. Let's start from the beginning…

What is Digital Blending?

As the name suggests, digital blending is a technique used mostly by landscape photographers (also by other photographers) and is combining together two or more versions of the same image digitally using software like Photoshop.

Basically, you work with layers, using the layer mask method.

The final image is created by revealing or hiding different parts of each layer so that the best areas from all layers are visible in the final image.

The photographer takes at least two images, for example, if it is a landscape where there is huge contrast between a bright sky and the foreground that may appear dark in the image, the photographer takes one image correctly exposed for the sky and another image correctly exposed for the foreground.

These are then blended together and layer masksused to reveal correctly exposed areas from each layer.

There are various blending methods that can be used based on the needs of the photographer and there are some techniques that do not require working with masks at all.

digital blending in photography

Image by Dominic Wade

So, in order for you to get started with digital blending, here are some basic tips and techniques that we think will help you:

Digital Blending and How to Apply it to your Photography

1. Gear and Camera Settings

Digital blending requires different brackets of the same frame. It is best to use a camera that can be controlled manually for aperture, shutter speed and exposure.

You do not want to move your camera and lose out important details and elements in the frame due to camera movements – hence using a tripod preferably with a remote trigger is very important when exposing for the same shot multiple times.

Always shoot RAW and use the same aperture values for all the shots in the series. Keep an eye on the metering settings on your camera.

Matrix evaluation metering is the best for landscapes and architecture/cityscape images and these are the type of images that are most commonly considered for digital blending.

2. Exposure Bracketing

This is the basic when it comes to digital blending as you need more than one image of the same frame but with different exposure bracketing.

Take at least two exposure brackets of the same image one with the brighter areas correctly exposed and another one with the darker regions correctly exposed and blend them together.

If you are working with more than two images, say for example 3 or 5 images, the best thing to do is to shoot in steps of 2 EV if you are doing three brackets (-2, 0, +2) or 1 EV step if you are doing five brackets (-2, -1, 0, +1, +2).

WARNING: – Do not wait for too long between shots of the same scene, especially if it is a sunrise, sunset or there are moving clouds, winds or other moving elements.

Best is to use the Auto Exposure bracketing function as it helps to take pictures quickly without having to touch the camera.

There are various methods to utilize digital blending in photography, ones used by pro photographers each depending on what they need to create.

digital blending in photography

Image by happymillerman

AWESOME FREE BONUS: If you want a way to put these techniques into practice, download our free Beautify Skies Photography Cheat Sheet. How come you ask? It's FREE and got a load of useful content we feel you could use with having in your back pocket for next time you're out to create those epic-looking skies! Download it here.

1. Blending Using the HDR Technique

Using the HDR technique is a process where the photographer takes multiple exposures of the same image with different exposure values (a range of bracketed images) and blends them together.

Most of the time, it is three exposures (one underexposed, one correctly exposed and one overexposed), which are then blended using software to create the final photograph.

2. Blending Using the Gradient Mask

Most landscape photographers use a piece of glass in front of their lens called a graduated neutral density filter to darken very bright areas, mostly the sky while maintaining the correct exposure for the other areas.

This can be created in photoshop using the gradient tool technique.

As with all blending methods, this requires you to capture two images; one exposed for shadows (darker regions) and another exposed for highlights (brighter regions).

These are then blended together using the gradient tool in a software like photoshop.

Create a layer mask. With the gradient tool selected, draw a line from above the center of the image to just below the center of the image to reveal the correct details from both images. Certainly, a very quick and easy technique to start with!

3. Using Luminosity Masks

The most powerful of them all is blending images using luminosity masks. So, what is a luminosity mask?

It is a layer mask that hides certain tonal ranges in the image and reveals others.

The masks are created using the image itself, making transitions between the black and white parts smooth and hence does not create those harsh edges or halos.

This is a very flexible method and gives the photographer high control over the workflow.

This method may seem complicated and time-consuming at first, but with practice, you can master this technique and create beautiful images in minutes.

There are a lot of photoshop actions available online free to download. You can make use of them for a start till you create your own masks!

digital blending in photography

Image by Dominic Wade

4 QUICK TIPS!

  1. Having a good understanding of masking techniques and use of brushes is a must, to start with exposure blending techniques. There are good tutorials online that are very quick and easy to understand.
  2. When using brushes, always use lighter brushes with the flow and opacity levels set to very low, so that you have more control over the brushing technique and this also helps to smooth out details rather than give harsh edges.
  3. Always try and take a few exposures in situations where there are extreme tonal contrasts to ensure you get a smooth image that covers all the tonal ranges

Summary

If you are creating your own luminosity masks, make sure that you choose an image that has good contrast and then create them.
Now you know what Digital Blending is all about! Awesome.



AMAZING FREE MATERIAL: Before we all go any further download our free Beautify Skies Photography Cheat Sheet. How come you ask? It's FREE and got a load of useful content we feel you could use with having in your back pocket for next time you're out to create those epic-looking skies! Download it here.

Further Resources

Further Learning

Learn the true Art of Digital Blending and become a master at making your older, flatter and lifeless photos pop!
This short course will teach you everything you need to know….

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Dahlia Ambrose

Dahlia is a physicist and self taught photographer with a passion for travel, photography and technology. She can sometimes get obsessed trying new photography techniques and post processing styles using Lightroom or Plugins in Photoshop. She occasionally writes articles on topics that interest or provoke her. You can check out her photography on Instagram, 500px and Flickr
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Time Trap Photography is dedicated to freezing those special moments in life that can be revisited and admired for generations to come. - Shannon Bourque

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“Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important and capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out, just take another shot.” — Unknown

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