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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

These are the posts that got the most views in 2012.

Some of your most popular posts were written before 2012. Your writing has staying power!

Click here to see the complete report.

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Posted by on December 31, 2012 in Featured

 

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Merging HDR in Photoshop CS3, CS4 Tutorial

I found a fantastic tutorial for HDR (High Dynamic Range) at Photoshop Cafe that shows step by step how to apply it to your photographs. It’s important to note that bracketing (taking three pictures of the same scene at three different exposure settings) can make HDR much easier than trying to obtain it from one image alone. (FYI, Single frame HDR is called Pseudo-HDR).

The tutorial will show you how to go from these three images:

To this:

Now I have to admit, that I don’t personally believe the image used shows off HDR to its full effect, but the tutorial for Photoshop is very simple to follow and that makes it worth a look!

Photoshop HDR tutorial. | Merging HDR in Photoshop CS3, CS4 Tutorial.

 
 

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Landscape Photography at Twilight

by Stefan Hofer at PictureCorrect

"Head-On" captured by Mark Broughton“Head-On” captured by Mark Broughton

There are various phases of sunrise and sunset, however each phase repeats itself twice a day – once during sunrise and once again at sunset. All phases during sunrise are the same for sunset phases – the only difference is chronological order i.e. when each phase begins and ends. Therefore, sunrise and sunset are exactly the same, except that sunset reverses the order of phases seen at sunrise.

Twilight phases at Sunrise:

  1. Astronomical twilight
  2. Nautical twilight
  3. Civil twilight
  4. Sunrise

The phases of twilight at sunset are the same just in the opposite order. Let’s begin with sunrise and discuss each phase separately.

The length of twilight before sunrise and after sunset is heavily influenced by the latitude of the observer; therefore I will not discuss the length of each twilight phase since it is highly variable. The first phase of morning twilight is known as astronomical twilight. This period of twilight occurs when the center of the sun is between 12° and 18° degrees below the horizon and slowly increases before day time officially begins.

Most casual observers would consider the entire sky already fully dark even when astronomical twilight is just ending in the morning. Atmospheric colors consist of deep dark blue toward the horizon, and completely black when facing west. Astronomical twilight really brings cityscape photos to life. The deep blue mixed with warm artificial lights from city buildings, streets, and cars produce nice contrasts. Arguably, this is the best time to photograph cityscapes, but this clearly depends what you’re attempting to capture. Images during all twilight phases and during sunrise require a tripod. The photo will be blurry, regardless if your lens has vibration reduction or image stabilization.

Nautical twilight is when the center of the sun is between 6° and 12° below the horizon. The primary color cast across the atmosphere is usually a deep blue hue with noticeable orange and yellow tones at the horizon due to the rising sun. Light will begin appearing quickly throughout this phase, and the blue sky will get begin to get brighter and paler. Details will become easier to distinguish but will lack most edge definition. Again, cityscape photographs are nicely produced during this phase. Most landscape photographs will be uninteresting during this phase because there is not enough available light. Silhouettes begin to look interesting, and get better in the next twilight phase.

"Winter Solstice in Reykjavik" captured by Ævar Guðmundsson

"Winter Solstice in Reykjavik" captured by Ævar Guðmundsson

Civil twilight is the brightest phase of twilight and begins when the geometric center of the sun is 6° below the horizon and ends at 0° sunrise/sunset. The horizon is clearly visible and shadows are easily discernible. Objects are clearly defined and no additional light is needed in most cases. The light cast during this phase can be anywhere from warm golden tones to cool pink tones. During civil twilight, the colors of the sky are going to change quickly. Colors of pale yellow, neon red, and bright orange will dominate the sky. If clouds are present they begin changing colors, first from soft pink then to deep ruby-red. When looking westward you can see the twilight wedge, which is a mixture of Earth’s shadow and scattered light. The pink and blue hues of the twilight wedge are separated by multiple layers. Most landscape photos begin coming to life as available light increases and details become obvious.

When the sun finally rises, deep ruby-red and dark pink colors splash all over the terrain. Shadows come alive and retain purple and blue hues due to scattered light. The contrasts of red and blue are at a pinnacle, and will arguably provide for the best landscape pictures. The mixture of colors and shadows helps distinguish form, shape, and texture, and these compositional elements should be utilized. The color of light is quickly changing from red to yellow, and you must react very fast if you decide to change composition or frame. As the sun continues to rise in the sky, colors shift from yellow to white. This is why the first hour of sunrise and sunset is called the “golden hour“, because red light shifts to gold. After the first hour of sunrise the color of light begins turning whiter and is not conducive to most landscape photography. The only circumstances that could create gorgeous photos in midday are during storms when the sun breaks through high clouds illuminating spots of land. Otherwise, forget about taking good landscape pictures – they will not be compelling.

Photo captured by Denis Krivoy

Photo captured by Denis Krivoy

The best time of day to create evocative landscape imagery is during twilight and sunrise/sunset. There are rare exceptions when these “rules” do not apply, which is why if you are seriously considering landscape photography you must be out in the wilderness during these hours. Yes you will miss breakfast and dinner, yes it will be hard waking up very early in the morning, and yes you will be frustrated many times when the photo opportunities are just not there because it’s too cloudy, or no clouds, etc. But who ever said photography was easy? This stuff is not meant for the meek. As with anything in life you have to really want it. You have to be passionate about taking away a beautiful photo, even though it took many visits to the same spot to get your photo. This stuff can be grueling at times, but for me, the rewards far outweigh the repeated disappointments. I hope this article has helped those seeking to become landscape photographers.

About the Author
Please visit my website for compelling landscape photographs to witness some of the phenomena I have described above. http://www.stefanhoferphotography.com

via Landscape Photography at Twilight – PictureCorrect.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2011 in Featured, Landscape, Worth a Look

 

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Maintaining Focus

Maintaining Focus

Images by December Medland. Licensed under CC: BY-NC-ND

It’s strange how we take photographs. As a species we’ve been doing it for several hundred years, and our love affair with photography has continued ever since the first camera was invented.  Back in the old days, camera equipment was only available for the elite, whereas today it seems like everybody is a photographer. There are cameras in just about everything: MP3 players, mobile phones, laptops, and the iPad 2.0; even in your car. So we’ve all become photographers: all capable of snapping every moment as it happens. And that’s what a lot of people do, certainly. They snap and click and shoot. Then they look on the back of their camera and delete what they don’t like and go back to snapping, clicking and shooting.  And this style of photography suits them well!

On the other hand, some shooters prefer to be professional and get paid for their photographs. There’s a range of industry sectors for paid professional photographers: commissioned works, wedding photographers, commercial photographers, artistic photographers. They’re all out there, fighting to stay alive and competitive in a photog-eat-photog market filled with the bulk of the people out-snapping, out-clicking and out-shooting them.

And then there are people like you. Interesting people. Exciting people. Passionate people. People who may never be able to define why they photograph things but love to do it. People who want to frame before they shoot. Explore modes before they click. Compose before they snap. People who have a perspective on photography quite unlike the other two groups above.

Nobody can tell you why you have the passion to be a photographer (though some will try). And there are plenty of lengthy articles explaining how to reignite your enthusiasm for it. But truth be told, you are what you do. And if you photograph things because you love to photograph things… then you have a photographer’s soul.

So, don’t question whether or not you have what it takes. Don’t fret over knobs and buttons – these will take care of themselves as we use this blog to expand your horizons. Just give in to the need to snap, to click and to shoot. Focus on your photography and your photographs will soon blossom with you!

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Images by December Medland. Licensed under CC: BY-NC-ND

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Posted by on March 23, 2011 in Featured, Musings

 

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Some Macro Inspiration and Equipment

Image by Clicksy from Flickr CC: BY

I just found this incredible article on LightStalking that shows incredibly detailed macro photos taken using a Macro Rig and a house fly. 

This started me wondering exactly what a Macro Rig would contain and what it would look like. Do macro photographers have enormous elaborate setups or compact small items? What are the crucial pieces to have? So I went off searching the Internet to find the answers. Firstly I read a few forums but they were very out of date (2006) and then I discovered a fabulous article by Microscope UK and another from the Up Close and Personal Blog . There are some great images to be viewed at the Pentax forums and the ones at Talk | Photography go on for pages so there is plenty of inspiration out there. What impressed me most was how much of this stuff is duct-taped together using thrown together bits of DIY. You certainly don’t seem to need to spend a fortune on equipment (except the initial lens).

The general gist so far seems to be that the following items are MUST-haves:

  • Tripod – Small or Large
  • Ring Flash or Independent Slave Flashes or Lamp with bracket.
  • Macro Lens on a zoom
  • +10 magnification lens plus other magnification lens for stacking
  • Remote Trigger

Even if you are not a huge macro lover, the items listed really can be used for so many different types of shots – not just macro and really these do form a staple of a photographer’s diet. It’s certainly something to aim for, isn’t it!

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Link to Light Stalking article: http://www.lightstalking.com/photographs-of-flies

Link to Microscopy UK article: http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/indexmag.html?http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artoct05/bjmacro.html

Link to Up Close and Personal Blog: http://orionmystery.blogspot.com/2009/03/my-macro-rig-then-and-now.html

Link to Pentax Forums: http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-camera-field-accessories/108162-post-pic-your-diy-macro-rig-flash.html

Link to Talk | Photography: http://www.talkphotography.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=132158

Image by Clicksy from Flickr – Licensed through Creative Commons: BY

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2011 in Worth a Look

 

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You can be Anti Auto too!

Are you frustrated by forever using the Auto Button on your camera and want to break out but don’t know where to start? Do you want to start experimenting but everytime you begin, it all goes terribly wrong? Sunday Photographer is all about showing you the tips and tricks that will help to get you started. Consider this the Photographers Cheat Sheet.

One of the hardest things when you are a point and click photographer, is turning off that Auto button and trying to manually adjust the settings yourself! Not only can it be daunting, but often the results leave a lot to be desired. When I first began attempting photography without Auto Mode, I had no idea where to start. I searched the Internet for some magic chart that would show me what settings to use but to no avail.

The point of this blog is to inspire, create, inform and engage you to finally have the courage to turn that Auto Button off. Learn more about composition, what all those settings mean, and more importantly, what setting should you have them on! But this site isn’t just about what I think, but about the things I’ve learned and will share with you. Sites to explore, creative images to try and to aid your creativity with suggestions and inspirations.

Enjoy. Because I know I will.

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Camera Back Image by smitty1770 via SXC
 
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Posted by on March 1, 2011 in Featured, Inspiration

 

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