Archive for fine art photography
Below are Alan’s six favorites from the Fire and Ice photo tour. We had ‘interesting’ weather that forced participants to dig deep to come up with creative images. As you can see from Alan’s images below, there is always something to shoot no matter what kind of light and weather nature throws at you.
Cline River Canyon
Lumix GH2, Zuiko 11-22mm lens at 22mm (44mm equiv.), ISO 160, f8 at 1/60s, + 1.33 EV
Lumix GH1, Lumix 100-300mm lens at 200mm (400mm equiv.), ISO 100, f16, 1/10s, +0.7 EV
Morning Sun on Vision Quest
Lumix GH1, Lumx 100-300mm lens at 170mm (340mm equiv.), ISO 100, f9, 1/40s, +0.7 EV
Lumix GH2, Zuiko 11-22mm lens at 21mm (42mm equiv.), ISO 160, f16, 0.6s, +1 EV, solid ND filter
Lumix GH2, Zuiko 12-60mm lens at 21mm (42mm equiv.), ISO 160, f16, 1/5s, + 0.66 EV
The Drain at Whirlpool Point
Lumix GH2, Zuiko 11-22mm lens at 11mm (22mm equiv.), ISO 160, f14, 0.8s, +0.66 EV
Here’s the Ice, Where’s the Fire?
This photo was taken on the last morning of the Fire and Ice Photo Tour in the Canadian Rockies which ended yesterday. Unlike most November tours, this tour we were given cloudy and snowy conditions. But even with the lack of ‘fire’ (sunrises and sunsets), the group of intrepid photographers made some great images.
One of the tricks I use in ‘bad light’ (e.g. overcast, grey days) is to set my digital camera to ‘monochrome’ so that the LCD of my camera shows B+W photos. I find it helps to strip away the colour to see compositions in B+W. Often there will be great images out there that speak to be taken even in the ‘crappy’ light. The image is a case in point. In colour it had no life but when I saw how it looked on the LCD in monochrome, I decided the photo was worth taking. If you shoot in RAW format the camera will display a B+W image on your LCD but record a full colour image in-camera which you can use to make B+W conversion later in post processing. I use Silver Efex Pro 2 as my default B+W conversion program (for a 15% discount on the software just enter darwin as the discount code on checkout). Stay tuned for great shots from participants in the following weeks most of whom used the monochrome setting on their cameras to mine wonderful B+W images in the moody light
For anyone wanting to see the new ice in the Rockies and hopefully to get a bit of fire to boot, there is one spot left starting this Wednesday (November 16) until Sunday (November 20). Contact Alan at the Aurum Lodge (email@example.com) to for more information.
Last week Sam posted a comparison of the same subject shot with film and digital. Her point was to show that the two media deliver very different results and that neither was ‘true’ to her experience of being there. Of course, we all know that cameras do not record things exactly like we see them. Some capture devices seem ‘truer’ than others but none record the ‘truth’ (5 human observers to the same event will all ‘record’ or remember the event differently – so what is truth anyway?).
Given that there is no universal truth then it simply becomes a question of what tool (camera, film type, digital sensor type, processing workflow etc) returns results closer to the way you view or want to present the world in your art. Of course you can enhance or alter the capture in processing (either in the digital or chemical darkroom) to get the results even closer to your personal view. I believe it’s always better to use the media that delivers results closest to where you want to end up, rather than shaving a square block down to fit into a round hole (but maybe that is just me, some of you might like the shaving process ;-)).
The two images below were photographed at the Nordegg mine and were taken at the same time as Sam’s shots in her post. The results of the comparison look similar to the Sam’s in terms of colour and contrast. Which you prefer is personal, you might like one better than the other, or you might not like either rendition. Your job as a photographer is to translate what you see and feel about a scene to your viewer. Using the media that gets you the results you want is really all that matters.
Above – Shot with a Tachihara 4×5 view camera using Fujichrome Velvia 50 slide film (I used a flashlight to paint light onto the wheels – the orange cast).
Below – Shot with a Canon EOS-1ds digital camera and light-painted as described above.
1/100 sec., f/0.0, ISO 160, shutter prio, spot metering mode
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Lensbaby Composer (50 mm) with double glass optics and macro filters
Using flowers as my main motif and creating abstractions of them has made me realize that I had totally missed out on how sensual they could be. That is before I used the camera as my first creative tool of choice. During the time I have worked this way it has shown that I seem to have a natural talent to make the most out of this special trait in their personalities. I do see each flower as a personality, most often a female and as I spend sometimes several months with each species (the Iris for example) I’ve also learned that there is so much more to discover than what first meets the eye, with each flower. A budding tulip reminded me of how vulnerable one can be in the beginning of say a relationship, with a partner, emotionally and sexually or for that matter, the vulnerability in a beginning artist, hoping to flourish in her medium. ~ Katarina Fagerstrom Levring
Samantha and I just got back from the SNAP! Photography Seminars ‘Weekend Workshop’ with John Marriott which, based on the feedback forms was a great success. We had a wonderful group of talented photographers ranging from absolute beginners to semi-pro shooters. Because our location was based in the heart of Banff National Park near Lake Louise it was hard for photographers not to wish for ‘good light’ for the sunrise and sunset shoots. Good light to most of us means richly-coloured skies and warm light skimming across the peaks. Well, the weather did not co-operate with these expectations and we were mostly met with overcast skies.
The problem with expectations is that they blind you to other opportunities which can lead to thrilling images. On the last day of the workshop we all went to Lake Louise at sunrise. Of course, there was no sunrise but instead it was cloudy, then fog rolled in, and then it started to snow. There was some grumbling about the ‘crappy’ light but where some people saw a curse of bad luck, others found inspiration. There really is no such thing as bad light (just bad attitudes ;-)). Below are two images made from the ‘crappy light’ that morning at Lake Louise that show that photographers with an open mind can create amazing images no matter what the conditions.
These two photos were the images that John, Sam and I felt were the most compelling of the weekend (all made in the ‘worst’ light by the way). To us these were refreshing and novel images of Lake Louise. How many more pink alpen-glow images need to be made from here anyway? To see more work by each photographer simply click on their photos. Watch in the future for new workshop offerings from Samantha and myself and new offerings from John Marriott.
This image of Adrina among the roots was made with my Canon 50D and 16-35 2.8 back in June of 2009. It was f8 at 1/100. Sounds great, right? Well, it’s also shot at 1600 ISO, because just prior to arriving at this location, the model and I had been trying to shoot in an abandoned space that was very dark. So I’d cranked up the ISO to try to get a workable shutter speed under those conditions — then forgot to adjust it back to my usual 160 or 320 before resuming outdoor shooting. For various reasons, a tripod was not practical for this location, so the high ISO actually worked out well. It did allow me to shoot at a an optimal aperture for sharpness and depth of field, plus a high enough shutter speed to get very good sharpness hand-held, so a little noise is a trade-off I can live with. I’ve exhibited a 16×20 inch print of this image and the noise does not detract in my opinion — being properly exposed and not having heavy shadow or solid areas makes noise less of an issue. Converting to monochrome in Lightroom, adding a little vignette, and some secret herbs and spices completed the picture. I frequently shoot RAW with monochrome picture style because it gives me a good preview of what the image will look like in B&W, which is pretty much my “native language” when it comes to photography. Of course, the RAW file gives me the option to use color when an image calls for it.
About the image, we were in pursuit of a purported waterfall in an area south of Dayton, Ohio, but I’d not had a chance to scout this location ahead of time. So it wasn’t until we were on the scene after a 20 minute walk into the woods that we saw the stream was nearly dry, and nothing even resembling falls in sight. But the roots of these two trees on the shore of the stream bed provided a lot of visual interest and possibilities. Adrina tried some poses in the little cubby hole on the right side of the trees — I like those shots, but finding the spot where she could stretch out among the roots was a clear winner. As serene as this image looks, she was contending with the usual spiders and insects, while still managing to look graceful. We worked the scene a bit more, as well as some other spots near there before we headed back to the car, but I was confident that this frame would be the standout from that location. ~ Gary Mitchell
I have been super busy travelling and doing workshops and so have had little time to post or process images. Here is one from early October near Cochrane, Alberta (Canon Rebel T2i, 1/20s at f14, Sigma 17-50mm lens at 38mm, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer – click on image for a larger view).
I asked five photographer friends, Mark and Leslie Degner, Alan Ernst (from Aurum Lodge), Royce Howland, and Roy Ramsay (from Outdoor Photography Canada Magazine) to judge the Canadian Rockies Photo Contest. Each photographer is intimately familiar with the Rockies and I wanted their opinions on the images. Of course anytime you judge art, you are going to get vastly different opinions and this was certianly the case where four different images were chosen as the ‘best’ by the five judges (only one image was chosen as best by two different judges – the winning image below). Nine images ended up placing in the top three spots. Of the images selected by multiple judges, the following images garnered the most votes:
And the big prize winner for a two night stay at Aurum Lodge and a portfolio critique by yours truly is Nigel Roberts, for his wonderful abstract of a forest burn in Kootenay National Park – see this link. Congratulations Nigel!
Below are the six favorite images from Doug Keech. Doug kept us in stitches with crazy stories of his dad beating him with a Globe to cure his travel urges.
This image was shot into a very bright sky with a telephoto lens. I isolated this aspen branch that was being magically backlit by the sun. Canon 5dmii, 70-200 f2.8L at 115mm, 400 ISO to stop motion, 1/800s, f5.6, Singh-Ray LB Warming CPL.
I’d never been to Emerald Lake before, but as soon as I saw it, it looked like a pano would be nice. Since we only had 20 minutes at this location, I worked fast at getting the tripod level and secure. I took 9 exposures bracketing plus and minus 1 ev at each position. Canon 5dmii, TS-E 24mm f3.5LII, 100 ISO, 1.0s (base exposure), f11, Singh-Ray LB Warming CPL and 2 stop hard edge ND grad.
The Mistaya River above the canyon with the large rock for a foreground looked like a pleasing composition to me. I added the graduated fog in post for the effect, to add to the overall mood of the image. I think it works here. Canon 5dmii, 17-40 f4L at 23mm, 100 ISO, 30s, f16, Hoya 8 stop ND.
This was an extremely windy morning so I wanted to use the motion to my advantage. I shot a 3 exposure vertical pano then blended them together in post. Canon 5dmii, TS-E 24mm f3.5LII, 100 ISO, 30s, f11, Singh-Ray LB Warming CPL and 2 stop hard edge ND grad.
Wind & Water
This was another very windy morning. I wanted to capture not just the skyline, but the waves crashing in on the shore. In post, I decided to go a little more monochrome adding to the feeling of coldness and the grey morning it was walking along the lake. Canon 5dmii, 17-40 f4L at 17mm, 100 ISO, 0.3s, f16
Man & Nature
This impressionistic image represents man’s unbreakable connection to nature – a solitary photographer walks the shoreline of Abraham Lake as he experiences the vastness and beauty of a wilderness. I used the out of focus highlights and the contrast of shape against shore to depict what I was going for here. Canon 5dmii, 70-200 f2.8L with 2xII (400mm), 100 ISO, 1/500s, f5.6.