High Rollaways - Buckley Michigan

With autumn at it's peak, many of us photographers have our "spots" to photograph the fall colors. One of my spots is The High Rollaways in Buckley Michigan. Nowadays I use a Canon GP-E2 to geotag my images. Therefore I can share the exact spot I shot the image from. Here are the coordinates along with a map. 

 

The High Rollaways is locally known, but not that well known. Parking is limited but I have never had trouble finding a spot. The view is spectacular, and it's just a short walk from the parking area. It's easily accessible, for people of all ages, even for someone with disabilities. I am truly surprised its not more popular!

I normally head there around sunset, but sunrise would also hold a lot of potential. Try to avoid the middle of the day, unless it's overcast. It will be very difficult to bring out all the colors with harsh lighting conditions. The viewpoint is part of the North Country Trail System, so if you were willing to walk the trail there may be better views that are just a short hike away.

The High Rollaways is one of my must see spots that I visit every year for autumn. Once you visit you'll know why!

High Rollaways Buckley, Michigan

High Rollaways Buckley, Michigan

 

Shoot The Moon

The sun gets most of the attention when it comes to landscape imagery but the moon also sparks great interest in photographs.  In this weeks post I will share some tips on how to shoot the moon.

  • To shoot the moon it is beneficial to know how the moon is lit. The moon light that reaches earth is mainly sunlight reflected off the moon. Other light is also present, such as reflected light from the earth and other stars. Since the main source of light is the sun, we need to make an exposure that is similar to a day lit scene. To capture the detail of the moon start at ISO 100 at f/11 and around 125th of a second. This should get you close, some adjustments to the shutter speed may be needed depending on atmospheric conditions. 
  • Use a zoom lens! The longer the better. This will really get you close to see all the shapes and shadows of the moon.
  • Use a tripod. If you are zooming in on the moon you'll need a tripod, if you aren't you'll need a tripod.
  • Since the moon is so bright, compared to the surrounding night scene, the moon may be "blown out", embrace it and use it in your composition.

There are many ways to shoot the moon, if you want detail of the moon just remember that the moon is bright so the rest of the scene may be in darkness. If you want a grand landscape properly exposed, the moon will probably be blown out. The best thing about photography these days is experimenting to find what works. This weeks post image I decided to let the moon be blown out. The moon was bright, lighting the landscape and river below. I used a 15 second exposure to bring out the snow and river detail along with the night sky.

Ben_neumann_Platte_moon_photo

 

The Magic Hour

What is the best time to photograph the landscape? The magic hour of course! The magic hour is a half hour before and after the sun rises, and a half hour before and after the sun sets. I'm guessing most of you already knew that, but what is better, morning or evening? The magic hour in the morning is the best! Evening light is great and both magic hours possess the best quality, direction, and color of light available for shooting the landscape. The quality of light is soft and warm, the direction is pleasing and will help define and give depth to your subjects.

So why is morning light better? As the sun heats up the air, the air will hold more moisture. Makes sense right? More moisture, equals more dust and other particles in the air. Therefore the best magic hour is in the morning when the air is the coolest, and there are less atmospheric obstructions. To take this a step further, the best light, meaning that there will be the least amount of atmospheric obstructions, will occur on a cold winter morning. The colder the temp the more clear the air will be.

Now that you know this, will you get up early to see the sun rise?

This weeks post image was taken a few minutes before sunrise. The sun provided the color to the otherwise dull clouds as the moon was still up and shining bright.Shisler -Lake-Photo

5 Panorama Shooting Tips

Shooting a panorama can be very rewarding. It will provide a grand scene that can be printed at enormous sizes without loss of image quality. I have been making a point to take more panoramas and here are some tips that will help you do the same.

6 Shot Panorama taken on 5D III and 70-200 f2.8 II at 70mm f11 @ 1/25 sec ISO 100

1) Shoot in Manual

To achieve consistent exposure and color throughout each image shooting in manual mode is a must! To help determine exposure you can put your camera on auto and note the shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. Switch to manual mode and set the shutter speed, ISO, and aperture according to the readings you made in auto. The next thing to do is set your White Balance. Normally I like the look of cloudy and that's where mine is set most of the time. That's it! Now your ready.

2) Shoot Vertically

Shooting Vertically will provide a better result when shooting panoramas as opposed to horizontally. When shooting make sure you overlap about 1/3 of the previous frame. Starting from the left and moving to the right is a good practice. You can make a panorama out of 2 images to as many as you want all the way to a 360 degrees.

3) Be Level

You can certainly shoot a pano handheld, I have done it numerous times, but it's easier and better to shoot on a level tripod. I have a bubble level on my tripod, so I make sure that is level, then I make sure my camera is level. Then I use the panning base on my ball head to move the camera. There are also pano rigs on the market that can help with this process.

4) Use a Longer Focal Length

When shooting pano's you can use a wide angle, but it's often undesirable. The distortion of the wide angle will cause the foreground to make a "U" shape. It's best to use a focal length at or above 50mm to get a "correct" interpretation of the landscape.

5) Beware of Movement

Weather its people, animals, or clouds, beware of the movement in the scene. When stitching in your imaging software, moving objects may have a lot of "ghosting". Try to work fast or make sure the moving objects are not part of the image overlap.

Panorama's aren't difficult, but they are easy to mess up. If that makes sense I don't know, but the only way to get better is to practice.

Sky and Why It's Important

Most of you know the basics of composing a landscape. There are "rules", guidelines, and tips, all over the internet to help you make an image that you will be proud to hang on your wall. Besides my subject the most important thing for me is the sky. For my style, which is a wide angle view, the sky is very important. If there is nothing happening in the sky I usually don't include it, or at least not much of it. This limits my compositional options. When I head to the landscape for sunset or sunrise the first thing I look at is the sky. There have been times where the sky is just plain blue, not a cloud anywhere to be seen. There have been cases I won't even go out and shoot if there isn't an interesting sky. Is this crazy? Not to me, my style needs and wants the sky to be interesting, but as you can see it doesn't have to be too much, just a little makes a world of difference. Imagine the scene below with just a blank blue sky. It wouldn't be as interesting.

5D III 16-35mm at 16mm f16 @ 1/25 sec ISO 100