Archive for the Techniques Category

Spring Photo Results – Alan Ernst

Posted in Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2011 by Darwin

Below are Alan Ernst’s image from the Spring Photo Tour in the Canadian Rockies. For those interested in one of the best spring photo tours in the Canadian Rockies, I highly recommend the tour based out of Aurum Lodge with friend and fellow photographer Royce Howland. To sign up for the Spring 2012 Photo Tour (May 12-16) contact Alan at the Aurum Lodge (info@aurumlodge.com).

©Alan Ernst

Driftwood at Graveyard Flats

Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens at the equivalent of 42mm, ISO 125, 1/60 sec, f 13, +1/3EV

Landscape extractions and landscape detail are often overlooked when photographers are out to capture the grand mountain landscape, chasing after the magic light. When the light is less than spectacular, great foreground subjects can often be turned into interesting images on their own. I chose orientation, aspect ratio and focal length to exclude all the clutter around and behind my subject, moving back and forth, sideways and up and down until I had a composition I liked. Strong graphic images like this work great in black & white too.

©Alan Ernst

Mistaya Blues

Lumix G1, 45-200mm lens at the equivalent of 168mm, ISO 125, 1/3 sec, f 10, +1/3 EV, Cokin blue/yellow polariser

Tele-zooms are the ideal lens for landscape detail, as they allow you to crop close and refine your composition from any vantage point, while minimising surrounding distractions. The light was flat and visiting Mistaya Canyon ten times a year or more, I wanted to try something different. I rarely use the blue/yellow polariser and if I do, I generally try to “dial” it back from the peak saturation to avoid that artificial looking colour cast. In this case, I decided to max it out though, to emphasize the mill hole in the rock. Again, I spent a lot of time trying different orientations, angles and aspect ratios, until I found the one which showed only the components I wanted: the mill hole and the rock strata which seem to radiate away from it.

©Alan Ernst

Misty Morning in Kootenay Plains

Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens at the equivalent of 28mm, ISO 100, ½ sec, f 11, 2-stop hard edge grad, solid ND

Fog is rare in our valley but it always makes for interesting moody shots, no matter where you are. The group of pine trees against the background mist attracted my attention first. After a few shots at various angles and orientations, it just seemed too flat however, so I started looking at foreground more closely to generate a feeling of depth. The young aspen tree worked well compositionally, but the flat backlight made it look dull, even though to the eye the leaves were a strong green. I tried fill flash first, which was too directional and affected the entire foreground. It then crossed my mind that light painting might do the trick, so I mounted an extra ND filter to slow down the exposure and shone a small LED flashlight top down onto the little tree.

©Alan Ernst

 Morning Dew on Shooting Star

Lumix GH1, Olympus 50mm macro lens (100m equivalent), ISO 125, 1/30 sec, f 10, + 1 2/3 EV, silver reflector

Mist on a calm and cool morning sets the stage for dew on just about everything. Spring is a great time for wildflowers in the area and the soft light created by the fog was ideal. To remove the flower from the distracting background, I had to go as low as I could and point the camera upwards, which created a silhouette against the bright sky. I did want to capture the subtle colours of the Shooting Star however and thus overexposed as far as I could without washing out the background sky. A small reflector to bounce the light back in to the flower was all that was needed to get the right balance, as fill flash would not have worked at this close distance.

©Alan Ernst

Rock and Water on North Saskatchewan River

Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens at the equivalent of 516mm , ISO 125, 1/125 sec, f 8, + 2/3 EV

Rocks around fast flowing water are usually polished smooth, showing the strata and seams very prominently. Various rapids and canyons along the North Saskatchewan display some very interesting patterns in the rock. In this location, the rock is intermittently covered by water gushing over a small fall. Thank God we have digital cameras nowadays… I took over 100 images of this scene at varying shutter speeds to create different blur and they range from no water showing to water only. The best results were the ones which were about half rock, half moving water as in this case.

©Alan Ernst

 Spotlight on Grizzly Bear

Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens at the equivalent of 200mm, ISO 250, 1/160 sec, f 5.6

Springtime from mid May to early July is the best time to see bears in this area. We have been fortunate to see and photograph a few black bears on virtually every spring tour and on some occasions have encountered grizzlies, like this one sauntering along the Icefields Parkway. When driving in this region, it is always advisable to keep a camera with long lens attached and all settings ready for grab shots. I tend to set my camera to Programme exposure mode, ISO 250 or higher, image stabilisation on, and continuous drive. Often there is only time for one or two shots, so preparation is the key.

The Weekly Photo – August 1, 2011

Posted in Filter, Image Processing and Software, Instruction, Photography Gear, TCBlog, Techniques, Weekly Photo with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2011 by Darwin

©Darwin Wiggett

Here is a shot of Cataract Lake from the headwaters of the Brazeau River in Jasper National Park. This is just below Cataract Pass before humping up over the pass to get into the Whitegoat Wilderness Area (Canon Rebel T2i, Sigma 17-50mm lens, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer, f16 – 3 exposure HDR blend using Oloneo PhotoEngine).

©Darwin Wiggett

Upper Brazeau River Canyon in Jasper National Park looking back toward Nigel Pass (Canon T2i, Sigma 17-50mm lens, Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer, f11 – 3 exposure HDR blend using Oloneo PhotoEngine).

©Darwin Wiggett

Upper Cataract Creek Valley in the Whitegoat Wilderness (Canon T2i, Sigma 17-50mm lens, f11 – 3 exposure HDR blend using Oloneo PhotoEngine).

First two winners of the How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies Contest

Posted in eBooks, Good News, Instruction, Techniques, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2011 by Darwin

Note: To see all future reviews please note this blog is no longer active, please visit me over at oopoomoo.com

Check out the first two winning entries for the How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies Photo Contest

Week one is Jeff Lewis and his Bow Lake Reflection Panorama.

Week two is Michael Jame’s Vermilion Lake Infrared.

To enter the contest just click on the banner ad to the right of this post and you’ll be set to win a two-day stay at the acclaimed Aurum Lodge in the Canadian Rockies.

If you are keen about learning how to make our own eBooks and marketing them on the web check out this interview with Stephen Desroches and me over at SMIBS TV.

For a recent review of the Rockies eBook see Younes Bounhar’s blog post.

2011 Tours and Workshops – Something for Everyone

Posted in Art of Photography, Artistic Development, Good News, Instruction, Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2011 by Darwin

Below is a listing of tours and workshops available for 2011 and into 2012. Their are only a few spots left in these events so if you want to boost your learning in photography then come join us for a great time:

Fire and Ice Photo Tour – November 10 – 13, 2011

This event is sold out but to be added to the wait list contact the Aurum Lodge or sign up for the 2012 photo tour. This is one of my favorite tours because of the short days with great light and the intersection of new ice with the fiery skies of late fall.

Just Announced! Do to popular demand we have added a second Fire and Ice as of Oct 10. Tour starts Wed. Nov. 16th 5pm to Sunday Nov. 20th 1:30 pm (four nights at Aurum Lodge!), with the option to join a day later (Nov. 17th) for those who cannot make the four nights, but wish to come for three nights only. Cost is C$ 1,359 for the four night tour or C$ 1,019 for the three night tour all in. Contact Alan at Aurum Lodge info@aurumlodge.com to book. Only two spots left

©Darwin Wiggett

Ice Bubbles on Abraham Lake – Winter Magic Tours 2012 – Feb. 23-26, and Feb. 29 – March 4, 2012

It seems that the Ice Bubbles out on Abraham Lake have now gotten a bit famous especially after my 2008 Travel Photographer of the Year Win which featured my Abraham Lake shots. I have taken many photographers out on the ice at Abraham Lake and now their great photos are circulating around and getting lots of views. I have been leading these tours since 2005 (see the results from back then when almost everyone was still shooting film!).

It might seem an easy proposition to just drive up to the lake in winter and get great shots on your own; and yes that is possible. But the ice bubble locations change from year to year, and most people are unaware of the extreme dangers of Abraham Lake and of the other great locations near the lake. That is where your guides (Alan who lives on the shores of Abraham Lake) and I can make sure we get you to the best spots in the best light no matter the weather. And plus you get the fantastic accommodations of the Aurum Lodge which is a nice retreat after a few hours out on the ice at -25 degrees C!

In 2012, there are two tours available; Feb 23-26, and Feb. 29 – March 4 (this latter tour is already sold out). So if you are keen to photograph Abraham Lake and other great spots this coming winter, then sign up for the Feb23-26 tour before it sells out!

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett - could you find this place on your own?

Basic Tilt and Shift Movements

Posted in Instruction, Photography Gear, TCBlog, Techniques, Videos with tags , , , , , , on July 21, 2011 by Darwin

Anyone who follows my work knows I am a huge fan of Tilt and Shift lenses. These lenses open up so many possibilities for landscape photographers. I am currently working on an eBook that will highlight all the methods to use for creative photography using Tilt-Shift lenses. For now here is a ‘teaser’ video showing the basic movements of a Tilt Shift lens. Before you can use a Tilt Shift lens you need to know the mechanics of the movements. The theory and practical uses of the movements will follow in subsequent videos and in the detailed eBook.

The Weekly Photo – July 18, 2010

Posted in Good News, Image Processing and Software, TCBlog, Techniques, Weekly Photo, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2011 by Darwin

This week I am posting three photos from Island Lake and Island Lake Lodge in Fernie, British Columbia. Samantha and I are in the process of developing an exciting new photo workshop with Island Lake Lodge that we will announce in the next few months. Suffice to say if you want something completely unique and you like photography, wine, food, outdoor recreation and nature, then do we have a program for you! We can’t wait! In the meantime if you are in the Fernie area do check out Island Lake Lodge as a potential place to stay; you won’t be disappointed!

Also very exciting to me is a new software program introduced to me by Royce Howland called Oloneo PhotoEngine. Royce is the master of HDR and in my opinion is one of the best instructors out there on the making of realistic looking images using HDR. Royce told me he has been using PhotoEngine a lot and loves how simple and intuitive the program is for making HDR images. If Royce recommends something I try it!.

Sure enough I have become hooked on Oloneo’s PhotoEngine. It is super easy to use, has amazing capabilities and is fast. I made sixteen 3-frame HDR images in less than 1/2 hour. Of all the different HDR programs I have tried this one gives results that look the most realistic. Sure you can still make grunge cartoonish HDR’s if you want but the control sliders on this program make it easy to get precisely the image that appeals to you. This is software I recommend to anyone interested in extending the dynamic range of their digital images. I am going to get Samantha to try this program out because if anyone can find a bug or a weakness in a piece of software or a equipment it is Sam! Watch for a more detailed review in the future but my preliminary conclusion is WOW!  (Note: I am not paid not sponsored by Oloneo, I just am thrilled with the software; can you tell?).

Below is a the the middle exposure of a three frame bracket to build an HDR image (0EV, +2EV and -2EV). Yous can see that the image definitely needs more detail in the shadows and highlights that the other two bracketed photos will provide.

RAW image of 0 EV exposure

Here is the final HDR built in Oloneo’s PhotoEngine (click on the photo to see a larger version).

©Darwin Wiggett - 3 image HDR using Oloneo PhotoEngine

Here is another image of Island Lake and the Lizard Range using a 3-exposure HDR using PhotoEngine (click on the image for a larger version).

©Darwin Wiggett - 3-frame HDR using Oloneo's PhotoEngine

And Island Lake Lodge using PhotoEngine as the HDR processing software.

©Darwin Wiggett - Island Lake Lodge

Keeping Your Equipment Safe – by Les Picker

Posted in Articles about Photography, Instruction, Photography Gear, Techniques with tags , , , , , , on July 16, 2011 by Darwin

Keeping Your Equipment Safe

By Les Picker

www.lesterpickerphoto.com

Whether you’re a pro or amateur photographer, traveling any distance with photo equipment today is a major hassle. If you’re crazy enough to put delicate camera equipment through checked baggage; well, good luck. If you take it aboard as carry-on, today’s onerous weight and size restrictions take a major bite out of what you’ll be able to pack (see my blog on packing photo gear: http://blog.lesterpickerphoto.com/2009/05/25/transporting-your-gear/).

For a moment, though, let’s assume you’ve managed to cart your camera, lenses and accessories with you on vacation to Europe (or perhaps to Asia or Latin America). For the first three days all is well as you walk along the streets of Paris, Budapest or Florence, snapping image after glorious image. Then, one of the following disasters occurs:

A. You come back from dinner and find your camera, lens and laptop gone from your room;

B. You are sitting in a restaurant, hang your camera on your chair and when you get up to leave, the camera is mysteriously gone;

C. You are walking down a narrow, crowded street, someone walks by, you feel a slight bump and shove, and a moment later notice that your camera is no longer on your shoulder;

D. A group of adorable children walk up to you, engage you in greetings and then your camera is yanked off your shoulder, sending you sprawling, with bruises to your head and arm.

Actually, every one of the above incidents has happened to my colleagues, all of them experienced photojournalists, savvy in urban environments. With the downturn in the worldwide economy, fewer police on patrol and a ready Internet market for stolen goods, the theft of tourist valuables has become a going business. The question is, what can you do to protect your valuables from theft while abroad?

©Lester Picker

I’m a believer in proper planning, which I believe can go a long way to minimizing the chances that you‘ll end up being a victim. As a seasoned traveler and professional photojournalist, here are my top ten safety travel tips to protect your valuable photo investment. My thanks to Darwin for having me share this with you.

1. Research. Before I leave home on assignment I thoroughly research the areas I will visit. I check the U.S. State Department’s website (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_4965.html) or  Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/menu-eng.asp) for alerts in every area I plan to visit. I also check Trip Advisor (www.tripadvisor.com) for recent incident reports, as well as do a Google search for the city name combined with “crime,” “safety issues,” and other descriptors.

2. Take a checklist. I always keep an updated list of my photo equipment, serial numbers and copy of my receipts with me both in hard copy and on my iPod, in case I have to file a theft report with local police and my insurer.

3. No designer labels. I’m not sure why people do this, but camera bags advertising Nikon, Canon and other high-end brands are neon signs to would-be thieves. Use a bag without the designer name or cut off the one that’s on it.

4. Bag the vest. I no longer wear photo vests in foreign urban areas. Instead I’ve switched to products by ScotteVest (www.scottevest.com) which feature hidden inside pockets, or else I use shirts and pants with multiple pockets to store accessories. Disclosure: I am a monthly photography columnist for ScotteVest, but am not paid to endorse their products.

5. Airport security. How do you safeguard from theft those camera accessories that you might need to store in your checked bags? I use PacSafe products (www.pacsafe.com), which are lined with slashproof Exomesh titanium and also come with a long wire and lock. I put my camera accessories into the PacSafe bag(s) and lock them to the interior rollbar. Since I’ve used these bags I’ve not had a single theft from my luggage (I have had six previous checked luggage theft incidents all over the world).

©Lester Picker

6. Hotel security. Always lock your photo equipment in your hotel safe, even if out of your room for a few minutes. If the hotel does not have a safe or you have too much equipment to fit into the typically micro-sized safes, invest in a PacSafe 140 or PacSafe 85. These titanium mesh bags fit over your luggage and then you secure the luggage and bag with the provided lock to any solid surface. Hotel room tip: I advise against securing a bag to the bed frame, since frames can be easily disassembled, or to the leg of a desk, which can be quickly sawed or broken. Instead, use your PacSafe wire and lock to wrap around the toilet bowl. By my reckoning, any thief who goes through the trouble of turning off the water supply, unhooking the toilet tank from the bowl and making off with my luggage is a deserving thief, indeed.

7. Insurance. Make sure your equipment is insured and updated.

8. Distribute your memory cards. As a pro I’m paranoid about this, but then again I have to come home with the goods. Whether pro or amateur, make backup copies of your memory cards and distribute them separate from your camera equipment. It’s one thing to lose your camera. It’s another thing to lose vacation memories. Buy a cheap portable backup drive for less than $100, back up to your laptop each night, or upload to a favorite photo-sharing site (see my blog on backing up your images: http://blog.lesterpickerphoto.com/2009/06/02/backing-up-your-digital-images/).

9. Be street savvy. Brush up on local scams, such as the cut-the-camera-strap-and-run, motorcycle-pull-and-drive, cute-little-kids scam, and bag-lady-on-bus scam or whatever the latest ones happen to be. Don’t leave your camera on a table, chair or counter. Use a camera strap reinforced with wire.

10.  Don’t be heroic. This is injury- or life-saving advice. If thieves confront you, remember that your equipment is not worth injury or death. Give it up and file a police report immediately, then contact your insurer.

Les Picker is a professional photographer whose work has appeared in National Geographic books and magazines and dozens of other major magazines and newspapers. He travels widely throughout the world. His blog is: http://blog.lesterpickerphoto.com


©Lester Picker

Fabulous Film Friday – July 8, 2011

Posted in Fabulous Film Fridays, Humor, Techniques with tags , , , , , on July 8, 2011 by Darwin

©Darwin Wiggett

I have yet to develop film that I took last week so for this Fabulous Film Friday, I am pulling an image from the archive. I photographed these two ‘animal actors’ (dogs trained for the movies) with my Canon EOS-1n and a 15mm fisheye lens about 10 years ago. The Border Collie was trained to hold things on his nose and would do so for hours given the right motivation. The animal training is right behind me holding pieces of wieners for the dogs (the right motivation). Both of these dogs love wieners, just check out the excitement in their eyes! An overcast sky acts as a big bright soft box to perfectly illuminate the dogs.

Lee Holder vs Cokin Z-Pro Holder

Posted in Filter, Photography Gear, TCBlog, Techniques, Videos, VWBlog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2011 by Darwin

Note: To see all future reviews please note this blog is no longer active, please visit me over at oopoomoo.com

If you have a full frame camera and plan to use and combine filters for your photography then you’ll likely want a filter holder. The two primary options are:

The Lee Holder – available in the USA at B+H photo and in Canada from The Camera Store

The Cokin Z-Pro Holder – available in the USA at B+H photo and in Canada from The Camera Store

To learn which holder I think is more practical watch this video:

Now the only problem is that the future of Cokin filters is up in the air – there may or may not be new product made, so buy your Cokin holders while you can just in case… and even if you don’t use them someone out there will want to buy your filter holders.

For more on filters see these links:

Essential Filters for Digital Nature Photography

Advanced Filters for Digital Nature Photography

©Darwin Wiggett - no filters

©Darwin Wiggett - Singh-Ray LB Warming Poalrizer and Singh-Ray 2-stop hard-edge grad filter

The Weekly Photo – June 27

Posted in TCBlog, Techniques, VWBlog, Weekly Photo with tags , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2011 by Darwin

Below is a photo from the Spring in the Rockies Photo Tour. This ‘secret spot’ is only 5-minutes from the Aurum Lodge. I used a Canon 24mm TS-E lens on my Canon EOS-1ds Mark III. The camera was in portrait orientation and I made two vertical photos; one shifted up, the other shifted down to make a long thin pano that I stitched using Photo Merge in Adobe Photoshop CS-5. I also had the lenses tilted for max apparent DOF. Exposure was 20s at f11. I also used a Singh-Ray 4-stop solid ND filter to lengthen exposure time to build-up colour in the sunrise.

©Darwin Wiggett

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