For those of you who don’t know, I was a backcountry ranger in Yosemite several years ago and have been trying to get back ever since! So I used scouting as an excuse; I continue to try to convince Joel that a Sierra workshop would be amazing! If you’d be interested, let us know… The Sierra Nevada are as beautiful as I remember- it’s no wonder Ansel Adams spent so much time there. I spent most of my time in the high country so all of these locations are 10,000 ft (3050 m) or higher. I hiked about 35 miles in 3 days and my maximum elevation was a mountain pass at just over 12,000 ft (3700 m).
Photo Tech Notes:
I used a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 for all of these, a small light weight camera with a lot of control. I used a polarizing filter on all but the night shot. I carried the Pedco Ultrapod Mini (tripod) with me in my backpack- small and light weight is a necessity! I used Lightroom 3 to process my color photos and Joel helped me use Photoshop, Nik Silver Efex Pro, Topaz Adjust and Topaz B&W Effects to process the black and whites. NOTE: For a 15 percent discount on Nik or Topaz products, use the links here and when you check out use the code JWOLFSON.
This time the photographer, instead of his wife, is writing this post. I’m very excited to announce a newly formed relationship with Topaz Labs. Who’s that? The company that makes some of my favorite and essential software tools which I use to improve my images prior to printing them. As many of you know I do all my own printing so preparing my images is a critical process that is the modern equivalent of my old wet darkroom, only way cooler! I also set up a discount with Topaz (use code JWOLFSON for 15% off any products and/or the code GETADJUSTED for 25% off Adjust) for any of you out there who are photographers and want to try their awesome plug-ins.
Here’s a quick behind-the-scenes example with some brief explanations:
Step 1: My original image (left side), shot in the Fall is this curvy aspen that looks like it’s dancing.
My first step, using Topaz Adjust, is to bring the slightly washed out leaves and sky in the background back to the way they looked (the camera often lies). I do this using the Adjust’s Adaptive Saturation to make them more vivid. I also use the Detail controls to bring out the detail in the bark. These are fairly subtle changes but look closely at the two images and you can see the differences. The adjusted image is on the right.
Step 2: Next I use Topaz ReMask to isolate the foreground tree. The funky colored image you see is what it looks like within the software when you create a “mask”. A mask is a cutout where you can block everything out except what you want to work on- in this case the foreground tree. Everything with a reddish cast gets blocked out, the blue outline tells the software what you are isolating, and the green area is what will show through the mask. The righthand image is the mask itself.
Final Step: Now with the tree isolated by the mask I just created, I can lighten it up which draws more attention to it. Voila! Here’s the final image (some of you may have noticed a black and white version of this in a previous post but that process I’ll save for another day…)
That’s the nutshell version of preparing this image!
If you are interested in trying these plug-ins you can take advantage of some discounts through my affiliation with Topaz- Use code JWOLFSON for 15% off all Topaz Products and the code GETADJUSTED for 25% off Adjust (Adjust ends August 1st, JWOLFSON discount is ongoing.)
Joel will be participating in an exhibit at Hidden Light in downtown Flagstaff for the month of September where he will show only black & white images. When he first began his photography career many years ago, he shot mostly black & white. Although he still shoots a lot of black & white, he rarely shares it. I’m a bit early in mentioning a September show here, but he’s been having so much fun picking out images and shooting some new stuff that I wanted to share a preview!
Hidden Light and Joel will host a catered reception as part of the First Friday Artwalk in September… I’ll have more details this summer!
And Don’t Forget…
Check out our summer workshop schedule, including a black & white workshop! We’re working on a special pricing deal that I’ll put in my next post. Stay tuned…
Ciao for now!
Abstracts can be fun because some of the general rules of photography may not apply. When we’re not focused on an obvious subject or story to the photograph, we concentrate more on color, form and texture. Almost anything can be the subject of an abstract- here I chose reflections in water. My original goal was to shoot the scene and it’s mirror image reflection at sunrise, but a slight breeze did not cooperate with that idea. So I decided to focus solely on the rippling reflections and came up with this interesting abstract.
Remember, there may still be a photograph, even when what you had in mind doesn’t work!
Thursday night Joel gave a presentation for the Flagstaff Photography Club. He talked about what to look for during photography critiques, what makes a photograph great instead of mediocre.
Editing your own work is difficult for most people, even pros. Joel always offers critique and review as part of our workshops. Many times a photo can be much better just by moving closer to a subject or if that is not possible, zooming in. Sometimes a photo can be much improved simply by cropping, after the fact, though it is best to do as much in-camera as possible. We are often overwhelmed by what our own eyes take in and want to show it all.
Here’s an example of two images I shot in a village in Provence, France. In the first image, I tried to show too much of the scene. By using a telephoto lens in the second image I more successfully conveyed the feeling of tightly built houses. As Joel often says in our workshops, your portfolio is only as good as your weakest image. Happy editing!
Joel and I recently went to a Major League Baseball Spring Training game in Phoenix, part of the Cactus League. What a great opportunity for photos! I used my little “point and shoot” and put it on the sports setting (which sets a fast shutter speed).
Because we both love baseball, we figured it didn’t matter what teams we saw play. So we chose a game based primarily on the size of the stadium. In a small stadium, not only are the tickets typically cheaper, but it’s a more intimate feel. You can get close to the players (as you can see) and really feel like you’re part of the game!
We went with some friends and their two young boys. One of the boys had a player throw him a fouled ground ball. After the game, they were able to get autographs… that’s just how great Spring Training is!
Because we recently got some snow in Flagstaff, here’s a quick tip for shooting snow! Your camera tries to read your mind, and it’s not always good at it! For reasons I won’t go into here, your camera sets the exposure for middle ground, which will turn your snow gray. As we all know, fresh snow is bright white! Find the “exposure compensation” on your camera and move it to +1 or +2 and see what happens. If +2 is too bright, try somewhere in between. Does the snow look more like it does to your eye?
Here’s an example… The first one is what the camera “wanted” to do. But for the second one, I set the exposure compensation to +1.5.
*Of course I must acknowledge Joel’s Digital Photo Basics class for this great tip!