Join me and Kevin on a fun adventure in Antelope Valley, California poppy fields. I share how to find a great place to photograph and hide from the wind. 🙂 I hope to inspire you to get out and photograph wildflowers and to share with the world the beauty of these amazing flowers.
shot from iPhone one of the fields
Pay attention to where the wind blows to find a good place to photograph
It was amazing to see this small patch of white flowers within all the colorful flowers.
Exposure Time: 1/750
F Number: 4
Exposure Program: Aperture-priority AE
I found this beautiful poppy all by itself.
Exposure Program: Aperture-priority AE
Exposure Compensation: -3/2
You must have patients to wait for the wind.
Shutter Speed: 1/750
So I hope I’ve inspired you to pick up your camera and feel the flowers no matter what time of day it is. I’m always looking for new places to photograph. If you have any to share let me know below.
Using a Variety of Light for Landscape Photographing
Yes, sunsets and sunrises are beautiful to photograph but don’t think this is the only time you can photograph amazing landscapes. Check out the tips in the video below for details.
One-shot while the hubby was driving our jeep.
Exposure Time: 1/350
F Number: 19
Exposure Program: Manual
Here is some of my fun to start you thinking about different ways to photograph your landscapes.
One-shot image during the middle of the day.
One-shot while the hubby was driving our jeep.
Exposure Program: Aperture-priority AE
Here is some of my fun to start you thinking about different ways to photograph your landscapes.
One-shot image during the middle of the day.
Exposure Time: 1/350
F Number: 11
Exposure Program: Aperture-priority AE
One-shot while the hubby was driving our jeep.
Exposure Program: Aperture-priority AE
So I hope I’ve inspired you to pick up your camera and feel the landscape no matter what time of day it is 🙂 I’m always looking for new places to photograph. If you have any to share let me know below.
Photographing Weeds in the Summer - From The Phone
My story below…
Photographing Weed Flowers in the Summer - From My DSLR
When it’s summer, think about photographing weeds.
This month’s challenge is to take your images to the next level. I know this will be challenging because most people have already photographed a variety of weeds since they pop up everywhere.
Take a walk with your camera and photograph any weed you see. Try different perspectives and color arrangements. Even a dead weed can be beautiful.
Below are some suggestions to get you started.
Get low on the ground and that will make your image different from the rest. Make sure the negative space leads your viewer’s eyes to the main subject, which is your summer weed flower.
Or you can do the opposite and try to really soften the background. Using a shallow-depth-of-field will give your work some beautiful colors to enhance your flower weed. Maybe you’ll grab a nice bug chilling too 🙂
What catches your eyes when you see the weed? Use that and make sure that whatever it is, it’s in focus and remember to look on the internet to see if you’re being original in your shot. Don’t photograph the same composition as everyone else has… yep, it’s a tough challenge, but it’ll be worth it.
I caught a nice waterdrop on this Dandelion… bring a small spray bottle with you when you photograph. The flower weed will be happy and you’ll have some fun grabbing some refractions.
Look for dead weed flowers in the later summer. They have some amazing textures you can play with. The thistle above was in a patch of dead brush. Look out for 3’s in your composition and play with post processing to really bring out the textures.
Ok, now it’s time for you to have some fun! When you get out to focus on photographing weed flowers, take your time and play, play, play!
When you get home, look at your work and choose what is different from what you would normally see on the internet. Next, post-process your work to enhance the weed flower(s).
As you can see from the video above, I have found an amazing way to keep my images organized. I found this from a wedding photographer and revamped it for Macro and Landscape photographing.
I can’t remember the photographer’s name, otherwise, I’d give him credit for this structure. I’ve been using this system for years and love it!
If you have questions from the video, feel free to let me know in the comments.
This will be part of an amazing gift I’m getting ready to launch soon. I did this video for our SJPmembership group. If you don’t know about that, you can check it out HERE. During our virus crisis, you can join the membership for $1 the first month. I’ve never done that before, but feel it’s only right to keep you busy and focused on your photography instead of watching TV or Youtube videos.
I’ve also reduced my Mini-Courses to 50% so you only pay $19.50 When you purchase mini-courses, you get updates for life! Just make sure you have an updated email in your account.
Time to be Creative – Understand Continuous Lighting
Today we’re talking about continuous lighting.
When a member of our program asks me questions to help them with a goal, I make videos for them or we have a workshop. When asked to talk about continuous lighting, it was time for a workshop. This video is a condensed version of the workshop topics and it’s packed with goodness. So play and be creative after you check out these tips.
Hi! If this is your first time here…. I’m Janice Sullivan from Sullivan J Photography… where we work to help macro and landscape photographers with their goals and to move them forward in their photography journey.
Don’t have enough light to make the pictures you want or you just want to push your creativity? If you said yes, then it’s time to play with continuous lighting…
Let’s dive into the tips:
Light has different colors, so pay attention to that.
The closer you get to your subject, the fewer shadows you’ll have.
The farther away the light is, the more shadows you’ll have on and around your subject.
Sidelight shares more dimensions.
Front light softens the subject.
Be careful with Chromatic aboration.
Adding two lights can be a lot of fun, so go for it!
There are a couple more tips in the video. Always feel free to share you work with me in the comment section. Set some time and play with continuous lighting. You’ll open up a creative process that’s worth the challenge.
Holiday lights can be absolutely beautiful! This means I want to give you a challenge during this busy time because it’s worth it!
Play with these 3 fun holiday lighting techniques. It’s about being creative and pushing your limits- I want you to remember that if you get frustrated, just put the camera down for a bit and then try again in a few minutes… the key is to not give up! Check out the video below to help you and if you have questions just ask.
1. Circles of confusion – Bokeh
Keep a distance between your lights/sparkles and your subject that is in focus. You’ll need to make sure the light is out of focus… that’s what makes the circle of confusion (bokeh).
Use a low aperture number, for example under 5.6 works better than f11. If you need more light for better exposure, change your ISO and/or shutter speed.
f2.0 @ 1sec ISO 200
2. Star lighting
You’ll need to make your f-stop number at least f16, but I like f22. If you need more light for better exposure, bump up your ISO to get a faster shutter speed so you don’t blur your light. You may need a tripod depending on your lighting conditions.
3. Motion Blur
Have some fun making abstracts with slow shutter speed, start at 2 seconds. The image below was 2.5 seconds and it was a dark area. Change your f-stop to make a good exposure and leave your ISO at 100, but you may need to add a neutral density filter to let less light into your camera.
f22 @ 2.5 sec ISO100
f22 @ 2.5 sec ISO100
Shoot Bokeh without a subject in the frame for post-processing fun later.
f2.8 @ 1/30
Have any ideas for us? Let us know in the comment section.
Do you ever ask yourself, “Why do I make my work?” I do all the time and you should too, so let me share my story to help you understand why you need to know the reason you’re making your images.
With my pink rose flood flower, I tried a variety of ways to make it special just for me, but before I dive into that, let me tell you the back story…
My daughter was having twins for her first pregnancy and we decided to have a tea baby shower. I brought out all of my Grandmother’s China from both sides of the family and bought some beautiful flowers that matched the China pieces. It was a special time for me and my daughter because we had generations with us spiritually. The women started with the twin’s great, great, great, grandmothers.
Image used on Platform Overload. Sharing what I like to photograph and why.
This image had to represent the women in my family and in order to do that, I thought to myself HOW can I make a piece of the bouquet below into the up close and personal photograph that you see above?
I had to photograph them fast before they began to die. I did several shots with all of her flowers, thinking of us grandmothers, but the one above is my favorite… the beautiful pink rose for the women in our lives past and present and the soft flowers around it represents family and the water adding life, the new life of my two grandbabies that were about to be born.
So I decided to stack this shot because I was pretty close to the flowers. I started focusing on the closest part to my lens and took several shots to the back in focus and combined them into one file. It was a little too busy, so I brought back in some of the out of focus areas, especially to the back of the composition to make sure the rose could pop in the flowers. There wasn’t much more I needed to do for post-processing. I cleaned the mess, added a bit of vibrancy and sharpening and then added the water with a program called Flood 2. In this program, I made sure the water processed worked with the composition.
Below in the flower arrangement, you can see that I desaturated the pink roses to go with this vase that was also from my grandmother, which was her mother’s (my great grandma), plus I wanted the bouquet to be neutral and fresh. Ashley, my daughter, was having 2 boys. I didn’t need blue to represent them…. I just wanted to express the abundance of new life with the old vase.
Bouquet of flowers in an old vase with a black background.
For me, both images are about life and death, but in a beautiful way. When you know why you’re photographing the subject in front of you, the more you will put into that piece of work. It may mean something else to others, but you know in your heart WHY you made your work.
The rose flood is for sale at Thirt9. I hope that it will bring happiness to you wherever you hang this image, like it has for me, and to remember the history of life past, present, and future. If you purchase “Pink Rose Flood”, feel free to let me know. I’ll print this up for you to have with your work.
Check out these 7 Easy Tips for Beautiful Soft-Focus Macro Photography
Do you want to capture amazing soft-focus macro photos?
While soft-focus macro photography may seem daunting, it’s actually pretty easy–once you know a few tricks.
And in this article, I’m going to share these tricks with you. You’re going to learn how to shoot in the best light and create the best compositions. Ultimately, you’ll come away with the ability to take gorgeous soft-focus photos.
Are you ready to take your macro photography to the next level?
Let’s dive right in.
1. Shoot During Cloudy Days to Bring Out the Soft Effect
One of the essential ingredients in any stunning macro photo is good light.
If you can shoot with beautiful light, your macro photos will look so much better.
But if you shoot in bad light, your macro photos will generally fall flat.
Which leads to the question:
What counts as good light?
For soft-focus macro photography, one type of light reigns over all others:
Cloudy light is wonderfully soft and diffused. It gives your macro photos a more subdued look–which is perfect for this type of photography.
Cloudy light also brings out colors. This is great for the soft-focus flower photographer, because the diffused light makes the reds, oranges, and greens much more vivid.
For instance, look at the intense colors in this photo:
This would be hard to create naturally–if it weren’t for cloudy days.
Now, I should note: You can take soft-focus macro photos on days that aren’t cloudy. On sunnier days, I recommend working with backlight.
But cloudy light will get you some incredible soft-focus shots–and you should take advantage of that whenever you can.
2. Use a Wide Aperture for a Lovely Soft Look
If you want amazing soft-focus images, you need to make sure very little of your main subject is in focus. That’s how you’ll get the look you’re aiming for.
The aperture is basically a hole in the lens, which gets wider and narrower depending on your camera settings. Narrow apertures make sure that the entire image is sharp, from front to back. But wide apertures do the opposite: they decrease something called the depth of field, and cause much of the photo to be blurred.
The size of the aperture is referred to using f-stops, like this: f/2.8, f/5.6, f/8, etc. The smaller the f-number (e.g., f/2.8), the wider the aperture.
I recommend using an aperture in the f/2.8 to f/5.6 range if you want truly stunning soft-focus photos. If you go too narrow (e.g., f/8), you’ll start to lose that wonderful soft-focus look, and you’ll get too much of the photo in focus.
Which brings me to the next tip:
3. Create a Large Subject-Background Distance to Make the Subject Stand Out
Almost every great macro photo has a clear subject.
The subject is the focal point of the photo–the thing that anchors the image and draws the viewer in.
And your goal as a soft-focus macro photographer is to make the subject stand out.
But it’s impossible to do this with a subject alone. The subject can’t just stand out. Instead, it has to stand out in relation to something:
Now, a background that looks the same as the subject will result in a muddy mess.
But a background that contrasts with the subject…
…well, that background will make the subject pop off the page. The whole photo will look gorgeous. And one of the best ways to create a contrasting background?
By blurring it.
That is, if you can create a deeply blurred background, your main subject will stand out.
As discussed previously, a great way to create a blurred background is to use a wide aperture.
But did you know that you can also enhance the background blur by increasing the subject-background distance?
That is, if you make sure that there’s a large gap between your main subject and its surroundings, the background will look much more blurry. Even creamy.
That’s why I always check the background before taking a macro photo. And I try to position my subject so it’s pretty distant from its background.
Then I can capture photos like this:
Both of these required large subject-background distances. That’s how I achieved that soft, creamy background look.
And speaking of backgrounds:
4. Create a Beautiful Background With Colorful Flowers and Leaves
As you’ve just discovered, the background is an important part of your soft-focus macro photos.
So it’s worth covering backgrounds more thoroughly.
Now, great backgrounds help the subject to stand out. They make the viewer look straight toward the subject.
And great backgrounds continue the soft look of the subjects. They add a sense of harmony to the image.
So what makes for the best background, specifically?
First, the best backgrounds aren’t distracting. They’re simple, they’re blurry, and they’re mostly uniform–a single wash of color, with maybe the hint of an out-of-focus object. To do this, you need a shallow depth of field, as discussed above.
Second, the best backgrounds add some variety to the photo. If your main subject is a white flower, the background probably shouldn’t be white. Instead, it could be a golden color, like this:
Or it could be a nice black, like this:
The point is to create a background that enhances the image as a whole. A background that is beautiful on its own.
You can find backgrounds like this by carefully observing your surroundings. Are there any autumn leaves? Are there any other flowers? Leaves and flowers make for great backgrounds–and you can always change your position to incorporate these elements.
Worst case scenario, you can get down low and shoot up toward the sky. While this doesn’t make for the most interesting background of all time, it still gives a nice look:
Create the best background you can come up with. It should complement your soft-focus subject. But it shouldn’t dominate the frame.
5. Include a Main Subject for a Powerful Soft-Focus Macro Photo
I’ve talked about the importance of a great subject.
But what should be your main subject in soft-focus macro photography?
First of all, I advocate starting with flowers for a soft-focus macro subject. Flowers give you all sorts of interesting shapes and colors to work with.
But it’s not enough to just choose ‘flowers’ as your subject and be done.
Instead, you need to think about how your subjects will appear.
Because here’s the thing about soft-focus macro photography:
You generally work at high magnifications. And when you work at high magnifications, your subject doesn’t appear to the viewer as a flower. Instead, your subject appears as a curve, or a straight line, or a circle.
Look at this photo:
What does the main subject look like? It’s two flowers–but it’s also two curved lines and two semicircles.
I suggest you think about your soft-focus subjects in terms of geometry, not objects. And, paradoxically, you need your soft-focus subject to be sharp.
In other words, even among a sea of softness, your main subject should stand out as sharp. Even if your main subject is just a line, it should be a sharp line. It should stand out.
And it should anchor the whole photo.
6. Change Your Angle for a More Intimate Perspective
When you’re doing soft-focus macro photography, you want to create a connection with the viewer. You want the viewer to look at the photo and feel drawn in.
One of the best ways to do this is to change your angle.
Because certain angles create very intimate perspectives. Which is exactly what you need.
Specifically, I suggest you don’t just shoot your soft-focus macro from a standing height. Take a few images from up high, but then get down on the ground. Lie down if you’re able.
If you can do this, your photos will become so much more intimate.
In fact, I often shoot while lying flat on the ground, with my lens parallel to the dirt. This low angle does so much to enhance soft-focus photos. And it create such intimate, powerful photos.
I took this photo while crouched low:
(I couldn’t have gotten the angle I wanted, otherwise!)
Now, you shouldn’t feel confined to this low-angle shooting. Experiment with many different angles. Get closer to your subject. Move farther away.
The more angles you try, the more likely you are to find that perfect shot!
7. Include Several Colors to Enhance Your Soft-Focus Images
Here’s your final tip for amazing soft-focus macro photos:
Choose your colors carefully.
In particular, try to create a nice color palette–one that works together to make an amazing image.
Now, this isn’t as hard as it sounds. You don’t need to go to art school, and you don’t need to learn color theory.
Instead, in every photo you take, try to include two or three colors. If you include too few, the photo will turn out bland. But if you include too many, the photo will be chaotic.
As discussed above, the background can be a color of its own. And the subject can be a color (or two). That way, you’ll get a few nice colors. And the image will feel harmonious–not too complex, and not too boring, either.
If you want to create especially powerful photos, you can pick colors that contrast with one another. For instance, red and green are strongly contrasting colors. So you can put some green leaves behind your red (or pink) flower, and you’ll get a really interesting shot.
You can also combine similar shades of color. For instance, you can find a yellow flower and an orange flower. If you put one flower in the background and one in the foreground, you’ll get a beautiful image, one that is both simple and powerful.
The bottom line?
Just think about your colors. Don’t try to make this too complex, but don’t let them become too simple, either.
That’s how you’ll get some stunning macro images.
7 Easy Tips for Beautiful Soft-Focus Macro Photography: Conclusion
Now that you’ve finished this article, you have the ability to take amazing soft-focus macro images.
You know how to work with light.
You know how to find the best compositions.
And you know how to create wonderful, soft-focus macros.
The only thing left to do?
Get out and start shooting. Lots of amazing opportunities await!
Every Spring, Kevin and I head out to my Aunt’s and Uncle’s in Solvang. We have a great time visiting and catching up, and it’s also a time for me and my Aunt to photograph together.
On one of our trips, Kevin and I decided to take our jeep off road for a short trip up the Santa Anez mountains (well it’s really Los Padres National Forest) so I could grab a couple of quick shots for fun. It was the first time that my Aunt or Uncle wasn’t with us. I bet you can guess what happened next…yes, Kevin and I got lost!
We had no idea where we were at! When we got cell reception, I had to call my Uncle to help us get back into the valley. 🙂
The sun was beginning to set and I was getting a bit nervous because some of the roads are pretty crazy up the mountain. But…I say but, because normally I would not do this knowing we needed to get down that mountain.
As I look to the left, I saw this beautiful large California Oak. I told Kevin we had to stop! Instantly I fell in love with this tree. I took a variety of shots with different exposures to get more range from darks to brights (HDR).
As I started shooting away, I didn’t realize that my ISO was way, way too high, which ended up making this image very grainy.
I was so mad when I pulled the photograph up on my computer! I loved the tree and wanted to save the work, so I started to search around for pictures of trees on the Internet to give me ideas of how I could post-process it because I knew I would have to emphasize the grain to save the shot.
As I was searching, I found some beautiful artwork of Japanese tree paintings. So I started playing with those types of colors to try and save the story of this grand old oak tree which stood apart from everything else.
I was inspired by this piece, can you tell? 🙂
I’m so happy to say that the influence of Japanese Art and my love for this Oaktree has brought this beautiful picture back to life.
I straightened the tree just a tad 🙂
This piece is part of the first set of images on Thirty9. You can purchase this print in many mediums. Check out the details here. Now you have the story behind the photograph. Just print this out after you purchase the work and let me know how you like your new piece of artwork hanging on your wall. 🙂
Today is the first post of the stories that I will share with you on the photographs that are available for purchase on Thirty9. I’m honored to share with you the awesome journey of the value of my Indian Ruin. First, you should know that Kevin and I LOVE Sedona, Arizona because it’s a place where we can unwind. We enjoy hiking and I take many pictures of our journies. As we were hiking we met an 80-year-old man hiking by himself. He was in shape, but we were worried because he didn’t have a cell phone or water. It was winter and some of the trails were pretty slippery. So we stayed with him as we went up the mountain. At the top we took a break and had a snack, then all three of us headed back down.
He told us that he was so grateful to have us with him that he wanted to share a hidden secret that only locals know about.
So he showed us a hidden trail of an old Native American ruin he had found on a previous trip. It was a crazy hike up the hill and was a tad hairy at times, but it was so worth it. I took some shots but really didn’t like what I got, but the second time we visited Sedona, we were prepared for the hike.
Kevin and I sat there enjoying our accomplishment of finding it a second time. The trail was hard to find. As we sat there understanding the value of the history of these Indians, I set up my tripod and decided to make an HDR (high dynamic range) panorama.
Below is the pano stitch before I processed it.
Before: Pano stitch
This is the completed image. It amazes me that these ruins are thousands of years old and are still around. It felt good to be one with them so many years in their future. I am honored to make this piece and thankful for the gentleman that we met for that one day.
He will always be special in our memories, as well as this historical ruin.
Indian Ruin Completed
Each of my images has awesome stories, but I have to say that I’m happy to start off with the story of this image. I hope that my work resonates with others as much as I feel about seeing the history in these rocks.
To purchase this piece, click here and know that you’ll have a top quality piece of history and the journey with a wonderful man understanding the value of kindness.
No More Snapshots – I Show You How to Use Textures
When you feel your work is just a “snapshot”, when it’s just like every other image out there…. or you like your main subject, but everything else is distracting because you had to snap that shot with all the mess….or you took your shot out of focus, yes that would be a “snapshot” too because unfortunately you just didn’t have the time to really grab a perfect in-focus shot.
DON’T THROW THAT IMAGE AWAY!
Use Textures to fix that “snapshot”… Below are some examples to help you.
The video tutorial below shows you how to apply a texture to your image, see examples and the reason why I used texture to fix my snapshots.
Here is an important tip… try a couple of textures on one image. I find that two to three textures gives the work impact.
Poinsettia with textures.
Poinsettia leaf with texture.
Masking out some of the texture will give the work depth. That’s what I did on the Situate lighthouse below.
Another great way to remove problem areas in your composition is to add texture. The silk flowers below had too much going on and I just wanted you to focus on three of the flowers, so I went to town with textures in the other areas of the image. I did some blending and playing with layer masks to really get what I wanted, which was to remove distraction on my main focal points.
Silk Flowers with Texture
If you want a flat look, then let the texture overlap on top of the main subject. In the work below, I wanted the flower to feel like it was colored with a pencil so I let the texture overlap the flower.
With the sunset below, I wanted some friction added to the story so I added texture. Now, I like both of the images below, but it’s the story I’m thinking about. “Electricity in the Desert.” The “snapshot” I took now isn’t a “snapshot” any longer.
With this Gerbera Daisy, I wanted you to feel the flower bleeding off into the background, so I added dimension with texture. I also added some water effects with a plugin called flood. It’s a lot of fun to play with… you can learn how to use Flood by CLICKING HERE.
Flower Flood with Texture
So please don’t toss that image that isn’t quite in focus or if you don’t like the color palette. Textures can help both of these problems.
I shot this quickly and to tell you the truth, I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect, but I had a plan to play with it. I used my texture called, “Webbed Rocks” to fix this image.
Dead flower with textures and stacked.
Using Textures can help push your images to another level. So today’s quick inspiration and challenge to you is to NOT toss your work! Play with textures!If you sign up for my newsletter here, you’ll receive some of my free textures and the tutorial above on how to use them. If you join our membership program here, you receive 73 of my textures to play with plus a bunch more goodies that will help you push your work to the next level.
I hope you have an awesome time playing with your photographs! If you have any fun snap-shots that you’ve fixed, share how you did it in the comments below so we all can learn from you.
Like you, I love to photograph landscapes. It’s always good to grab some pointers to push your creativity so you can photograph awesome landscapes! Below are 7 tips that I have learned through the years of photographing landscapes, especially deserts.
Photograph during storms and be safe.
Dramatic is what you’ll have…during our winter hike in Zion National park, there was a winter storm. We were lucky to see the desert snow and took time to play in various locations of the park. The video below shares some of the fun!
Please be careful! I know it’s exciting when you know you have an opportunity to photograph an exciting stormy landscape, but it can be dangerous. I shot this image right after they had opened up the road from a huge rock landslide that trapped several cars. The people were ok, and nobody was killed, but they had to helicopter them out of the park. Be sure to check the bottom of this post, I share some essentials that Kevin and I have with us that may help you.
Zion in the Snow – 1/750 @ f4.0 ISO 400 – HDR 2 images.
Look for leading lines and talk to locals.
The rock in the foreground takes your eyes to the sun. Leading lines are powerful and help the viewers’ eyes go to the place in your work that you want them to be.
This India Ruin was a hidden secret. We met an amazing hiker, over 80 years old btw, that told us about this Ruin. It was so hard to find! No way would we have seen this location on our own. It was a perfect place for the Indians that once lived there thousands of years ago.
Once we got to the ruin, you could see the valley. PLUS, this was a perfect time for me to photograph during the day! Yes, the middle of the day! Most Landscape photographers would never think of photographing with the harsh light of midday…but I did and so can you. 🙂
An old Indian ruin that we found from locals in southern Arizona. HDR Pano Stack
Don’t leave after the Sunsets and “What are they looking at?”
The best light is about 30 minutes before the sun rises and 30 minutes after the sun sets, give or take a minute or two. Scout your location during the day for compositions and set up before the golden hour (one hour before sunset/sunrise).
Kevin and I hiked Watson Lake during the day and because we were new to the place, I paid attention to where other photographers were hanging out.
As the sun was setting, people were taking a bunch of pictures around the location below and when they left, I was like “SCORE”! I rushed to the site to see what the excitement was all about and I noticed the amazing compositions all around me. I knew I only had moments to set up. As the sun went down, the sky blew up behind me and bam, happy Janice couldn’t stop taking HDR shots.
Be patient…it’s worth it for you to experience the beauty after the sunsets.
Watson Lake – HDR
Symmetrical Balanced landscapes are beautiful. The Watson Lake image above is a great example of symmetry.
Research where you plan to photograph. Check out its history… you’ll feel the place and take better shots for sure.
This is where they made the famous movie Gunga Din. It was so much fun photographing historical movie locations for the day.
Lone Pine California
No more eye-level shots.
Take us on a new journey. We all see landscapes at eye level. Shoot over or under your main focal point and you’ll have some punch to the story.
I shot this below the tree. The sky popped and the tree seems larger than what it really was.
Look Out For Stories and Perspectives
I call this, “Ouch”! In Joshua Tree, there are many rock climbers. I noticed a bunch of them on a clump of rocks, so I set up my tripod and camera while paying attention to the foreground. Sure enough, this rock climber bent down. I was laughing because the perspective was perfect. You see people holding the Sun all the time in pictures. Play with people in your landscapes…it gives perspective and fun stories.
OUCH! – HDR
Get out of your Car
Almost didn’t get this shot!
We had a full day of hiking and I had done some sunset shots in a different location, but I wasn’t happy that there were no clouds. As we were driving, the sky turned this beautiful yellow and the excitement that we (photographers) have when you know it’s good to pull out the camera came over me…but I almost didn’t. The inner self-wasn’t happy not having clouds in the landscape and the sky wasn’t pink and purple like desert sunsets can be, so I almost didn’t stop and take the shot….last second before the turnoff, I changed my mind. I’m so happy I did. I love this image! I can feel the beauty of the desert.
Get Crazy and Play
1/2000 @f16 28mm ISO160
One last tip…I’d like you to step out of the box and play with some of your landscapes in post-production. It’s fun to go over the top sometimes and help you be creative even if you never show anyone what you’ve done. I had fun with these pieces and that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it 🙂 And…they are perfect images for Interior Designers, who were my clients at the time.
Now let’s talk a little about gear.
You don’t need much, but you should have at least a couple of goodies in your equipment bag.
Tripod – Sturdy your camera
Camera (that’s a give me)
Graduated Filters if you don’t like to photograph HDR.
Your favorite lens – Wide – 50mm – Telephoto
Polarizer filter – remove the glare on water and saturate color a tad
Shutter remote – To grab that sharp image (remove camera shake)
Variable Neutral Density Filter – Slow your shutter speed for soft water shots.
Here are more essentials for when you’re outdoors photographing. You may think this is overkill, but we’ve actually needed most of the goodies during our various adventures.
Paper Map and compass (phone reception doesn’t always work)
First Aid kit
Blanket – Extra clothing
99% of my work in High Dynamic Range (HDR) if you would like to learn more about HDR I have an awesome Mini-Course for you. Updates are forever too!
Feel free to share your gear and tips. I always love to read your comments.
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I know how hard it is to take time to really focus on your photography when you’re in a rush. I’m always in a rush when I’m with family and friends. With that said, take your camera with you anyways. You can still have fun playing with your shots. Here are 5 ways to photograph and be creative when you’re in a rush.
Motion Blur – you can make some beautiful work slowing your shutter speed and moving your camera.
Look for patterns – Even if you blur a bit with patterns your eyes really pull to the pattern not blur.
Hold your breath and pulling your elbows in – Seriously, it really works. You make yourself a human tripod.
Use a lens with Image Stabilizer – It’s hard to have a tripod around when you’re in a rush and with non-photographers. This type of lens will help you make a sharper image.
Use a shallow depth of field – 1.4 to 5.6 usually works for me, sometimes I go to f11 when it’s bright outside. Since the aperture is open you’ll have more light coming into your camera so you can speed up the shutter speed. Just make sure your main focal point is nice and sharp.
Keep your camera with you all of the time. I say this because if you love photography like me and you don’t have your tripod or that perfect lens, it shouldn’t matter. Some people get all caught up on equipment and feel that their images won’t be worth anything because they don’t have the correct setup. Yes, when you plan a shoot it makes all the difference, but when you can’t it’s okay too.
It’s a great time to really learn your camera. Just play and not worry if you can’t get the sharp image you planned on grabbing at the time. The more you photograph the more you learn.
1. Motion Blur –
2. Look for patterns –
3. Hold your breath and pull in your elbows
4. Lenses with Image Stabilizers –
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens
5. Use a shallow depth of field –
In our membership for July’s challenge we’re keeping our cameras with us everywhere we go to learn something new within or outside of your camera. Your camera should be part of you, an extension of you. The more you’re comfortable with your camera the better you’ll feel when you pick it up.
I challenge you to take your camera everywhere and photograph when the opportunity arises: lunch break, when you go for a walk, grocery shopping, etc… Really get to understand your camera inside and out.
Have any suggestions for us? I’d love to know your tips when you’re photographing in a rush, share them below.
There are many reasons to add more light to your subject. But before you do…know why you’re doing it.
When you’re making your work using a flash, you’ll want to think to your self, “Why am I using this”?
To fill in shadows?
Capture moving objects without them being blurry?
To be creative?
Because it’s just fun?
Let’s talk about the ring lite. If you like what you see, I’ll have a link at the bottom of the post where you can purchase it plus a few more goodies to go with the flash.
Info from Amazon
Twin-tube ring lite designed for close-up photography with EF Macro lenses
Shorter recycling time and reduced size
Easy operation with illuminated dot-matrix LCD panel for easy flash settings in any lighting condition
White LED focusing lamps and two forms of modeling flash permit preview of lighting effects
Custom Functions: Twelve (in addition to any on camera) set on flash LCD, plus three Personal Functions
I did an unboxing video if you’re interested in buying the flash, but you’re still not sure what it really looks like.
Yes, I’m blurry….it happens. 😉
Now let’s talk about the power pack. This is where all the controls are.
I go over these buttons and a tip for you in the video:
Exposure compensation +/-
FEB – Exposure Bracketing
Sync Modes – High Sync and Rear Shutter Curton
Ratio Button – A,B, C
Tip – Green light – Exposure Correct
I also share how the ring light moves.
Next, let’s get out and use the flash outdoors.
Sometimes you may want black backgrounds on your image, but if you don’t and you’re using a flash, this can be a problem. In this video, I show you how to fix those black backgrounds from your flash. If you would like to read the complete article, you can here.
Grab the best exposure you can from you camera. (Manual Mode)
Next try ETTL to see how the image came out.
If you don’t like it, you’ll need to set your flash on manual mode. Start playing with your ratios
If that doesn’t work, set the flash sync to High Sync and adjust your flash while looking at your histogram.
I found a couple of great buys on Amazon…click below and start your journey using a Macro Ring Lite.
This image was shot with the Canon MR-14ex II Macro Ring Lite. I took this photograph while I was live during a workshop with my apprentices in The Arcanum. I had some fun using textures and play with the tone. If you’d like free textures just sign-up for my email on this site. You’ll receive Challenges, Deep Dives, FREE Textures and insider info from me.
Daisy with my textures and water affects shot with my Macro Ring Light.
If you like to play with light you’ll have too much fun for sure! Of course, if you have any questions, please feel free to let me know below.
We all go through those horrible creative slumps. I’ve had a couple of people ask me how I get rid of those damn creative blocks, so I figured I’d give my tips to help you.
It’s a frustrating time for us creative people and I hope that if you have a creative block, you remember this post. The video below is a bit longer than most of mine, but I feel it will really help you so I don’t want to break it up. You can go to the end if you just want to hear the 10 tips and below I have them in bullet points. With that said, I think the video is really good because I go into a lot of detail.
On my first live chat show, one of the critique submissions from William was perfect for a deep dive video. He had a beautiful bug image that was shot with a flash. The background was underexposed because when you get up close with your flash, the light will drop fast so the background will go really dark to black. I told him that I would like to do a deep dive video to show him how I fix flash problems.
There are other ways to help you fix this problem…I know it’s frustrating when you really want to have the background exposed properly. The best way to fix this problem is on the camera while you’re photographing. So let’s get to it…
Adjust your camera settings to Manual Mode. Do your best to get the best f-stop, shutter-speed and ISO to have the subject and background exposed properly.
If you’re shooting bugs or need to stop motion because of wind and other movements happening while you’re photographing, a flash will be needed. With the manual settings you’ve done previously, do a test shot on ETTL ( Evaluate Through The Lens).
I used my Macro Ring Light in the behind-the-scenes. I really like the soft feel I get with this flash. But like I always say…light is light. You don’t need this lens to make a great Macro shot. You just need to understand your equipment and it’s limitations.
How to fix dark backgrounds from your flash
How do you work your flash situation when you have these problems? I’d love to know 🙂
I know that exposure isn’t the sexiest thing to talk about…we just want to make awesome pictures and really hope that we grabbed the perfect shot the first time. But unfortunately that rarely happens 🙁 So I’m here today to discuss this dreaded word: EXPOSURE. If you LOVE exposure, kudos to you and I’m slapping a high five at you right now! If not, let’s help you understand what happens with your camera when it makes the exposure and how you can work it!
Once you really understand exposure, you’ll have so much power while using your camera, and if you’re a power freak like me, you’ll be in photography heaven while you photograph. No Snap Shooting for YOU!
I talked about the steps to start your learning fun with exposure. For now, just play and don’t stress out. You’ll get it!
Here is another visual to help you see the difference of how bright the sky is compared to the grass and trees in the field. I manual shot the best image paying attention to what I could bring out when I processed this in ON1.
The grass looks great, but I couldn’t get the clouds to pop.
1/125 @ f6.7 ISO 200 Manual Mode Over Exposed
Now the sky looks amazing, but everything else looks like crap!
1,3000 @ f6.7 ISO 200 Manual Mode
So this was the shot I had to work with. I had just enough information to pull out what I wanted to make my river of grass shot. 🙂
1/350 @ f6.7 ISO 200 Manual Mode
It was tough, but I worked the image and got what I wanted in one shot! Whew! Fun…fun!
Correct Exposure to get the shot.
This is another way to get up close and personal with your camera, so when you start to photograph and just look at your scene, you’ll start to know what’s going to happen before you even push that shutter button. I’d like you to be different than the snapshooters, and the way you really begin to create your OWN work is to understand that there may be problems with your exposure and to know what to do when those problems arise.
Normally I ask you questions, but I thought today it would be better for YOU to ask me questions. If you want more techie answers, I’ll answer them here in the comment section. Feel free to ask anything about exposure, I really do want to help if you’re just not understanding why the pictures are not turning out the way you want them to!
Kevin and I decided to head out for a road trip to Anza Borrego. I’ve heard about the super bloom in the desert and I was all over take advantage of the flowers. Kevin grabbed his drone and I grabbed my photography equipment. This was our first trip and being newbies to the place I thought I was so prepared! I researched the park on where the flowers were blooming, but boy did I screw up! So here are some of my tips before you head out to the desert.
1. Make sure you go over all of your equipment before you leave for your desert photographing fun!
Why is this the first tip of this post? Because I made a huge boo boo and forgot my plate that attaches to the camera so I couldn’t use my tripod. Yikes…that’s huge when you’re a macro photographer. I was so lucky because I had my Gorillapod in my photo bag. Whew!
2. When packing your equipment don’t say to yourself, “I hardly ever use this so I wont bring it this time”.
I’ve said those words to myself before and I so happy I didn’t listen to myself this trip! My extra tripod what saved the day!
3. Super bloom news made the park packed.
The traffic was crazy so I suggest you grab a good app for your phone to check traffic. We found other routes to get into the park and that made our life easier so we could get to flowers instead of being in traffic for hours.
4. Make sure you have water, food and gas!
Yes, gas is on our list! We didn’t realize how big the park was and our Jeep was running low on gas. We had to drive way out of our way to grab more and there were no flowers on the way. Fuel up before you get into the park!
5. Don’t beat yourself up for not having the correct photography gear!
Take a deep breath and look to see how you can fix the situation. If all fails and you can’t use your camera take out your phone and take pictures. Maybe it wasn’t what was intended, but you grab what you love and TAKE pictures!
Her are some links to help you get ready for your photograph adventure:
I’m so honored to be a judge on Viewbug.com! It’s an amazing place to get inspired. I’m judging the Reptiles and Amphibians Contest. Our pet leopard gecko would be so jealous if she knew all the cool images of other critters I’ve been viewing. 🙂 I plan to share the other contest I’m judging next week, so stay tuned for that.
I wanted to tell you another fun aspect of this site. You can win cool goodies…and you all know I LOVE goodies. Well, if you’re new to my blog then you know now. There are thousands of people around the world on this site, so if you’ve got photo burn-out…make Viewbug one of your go-to sites to light a creative fire.
Here is my latest unboxing. I have to admit I’m starting to feel a bit more comfortable in front of the camera. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone for sure. I’ve alway liked to be behind the camera instead of in front of it. What makes this easier for me is talking about what I love; photography, it’s equipment and tools. I next want to share my macro tips and techniques since this is my true passion. But I need more practice in front of the camera for sure.
Unboxing a Flash Zebra Shutter Release Cable for Pocket Wizards
I haven’t shared some awesome sales or fun goodies I’ve found out there in a while, so here you go…
The Pre-Order for Aurora HDR 2017 includes over $300 in bonuses, find out more here! It’s an amazing program. Yep, I have it and love it! You can also check out their blog here for even more info.
Click on the twitter to tweet the awesome contest!
Of course I’d love to chat, if you’re up to it…write a comment or just say hi!