Moving On

I moved to California just over two years ago to be with my now fiance who has been serving our military for the past four years. It's been a great opportunity for me to explore and expand my portfolio and it has open doors that otherwise would have stayed closed. I am grateful for the places that I was able to visit and for the friendships that I made.  I discovered and experienced places like Yosemite that I had only seen in books and magazines. Yosemite will always be dear to me. I can still remember the way I felt when I first drove through the tunnel and came upon Yosemite Valley and "Tunnel View". It gave me goose bumps. We liked Yosemite so much it's where I proposed to my Fiance and future wife. Now the time has come to move on.

We will be moving to Michigan to be closer to our families and to start a life of our own. My goal is to travel and see the world all the while taking pictures. Even though I was born and raised in the great mitten I have yet to see all the splendor it has to offer. I can't wait to go exploring!

Thanks to my faithful readers, but during this transition time I will be very busy packing, traveling, and wrapping things up here. I am hopeful to be back up and writing the week of 11 July 2011. I will have many new stories and places to share since we are stopping at several National Parks on our journey back. I will leave you with one of my most popular photographs from my time here. It's a HDR photograph of "Valley View" Yosemite National Park.

 

Hope you enjoy!

Ben

 

HDR Photography

HDR Photography has an ongoing debate among the professionals. Photographers either love or hate HDR Photography. Those of you that don't have a clue what HDR is, it's the blending of multiple exposures into one photograph. This process usually takes place in a software program such as Photomatix or Photoshop. This isn't going to be a tutorial just an opinion on HDR. To learn more about HDR  check out the king of HDR Photography Trey Ratcliff.

The people that like HDR photography the most seem to be the average person that has no idea what HDR Photography is. The people that hate HDR the most is the photography purists that believe that it has no place in photography and believe its more a graphic art.

I myself don't really care one way or the other as long as the photograph looks good. This weeks post picture was taken handheld using the HDR technique. In a situation like this I would normally use my ND grad filters to darken the sky a bit so I could get the exposure I was looking for but in this case I was driving when I happened upon the scene. Instead of getting out my tripod, getting out my filters and making this a long drawn out ordeal (besides I was trying to get to a spot for sunset) I decided to use HDR.

You can see what I was faced with in terms of the back lighting and the bright sky with the dark foreground. Not very appealing

HDR photography is just another tool in the photographers toolbox. Whether you choose to use the HDR "tool" is up to you, but for me it's a tool I will always have in-case I need it.

 

 

Prints

There is nothing better than seeing your photographs printed. A recent trip to Yosemite and the Ansel Adams Gallery has inspired me to print my photographs with the best quality and craftsmanship that I can. When in Yosemite valley visit the gallery. Even the restaurants in the valley display the beautiful work of Michael Frye and others. The work and detail in the prints are gorgeous. With that being said this is how I develop my prints. After editing (click here for more on editing) I will print from Photoshop. I will go to lightroom select the photo I want to print in the library tab, right click on that photo and select edit in: then select edit in Photoshop. Once I have it in Photoshop I do very little to the image since it's already been through the edit ringer. What I do is add some sharpening. The easiest way to do this is with a Nik plugin called Sharpener Pro. This makes sharpening a simple process based on your needs.

Once you have your photo loaded in Photoshop and Sharpener Pro loaded, go to filter, Nik Software, Sharpener Pro: Output Sharpener. Nik will then open up your photograph in the Nik Plugin. Under output sharpening I change it from display to ink jet. It will then give you a few options you will have to fill in based on your needs and printer. Under viewing distance I usually select the 4-8 ft range on my 13x19 prints. I then select my paper type. Last but not least is the printer resolution. My Canon Printer is a 4800 x 2400 but refer to your printer manual for proper resolution. That's it! Nik also has a selective sharpening option if you want to apply sharpening to some areas and not others. This is helpful if you want to sharpen the foreground but don't need sharpening for things like water and clouds. When that is completed press OK.

Once Nik applied the sharpening you should set up your printer to get the best possible prints. In Photoshop click file, then print. I then click Print Settings... This opens up the setting for my Canon printer. The menu for other brand printers may vary but the same concept remains.  The main thing we want to do is have Photoshop manage the colors not the printer. So after you select your media type, paper size, and print quality, we want to click the box for "color/intensity manual adjustment".

Next click the main tab near the top. Double check media type, paper source, print quality and make sure color/intensity is on manual. Next click the set button. This will bring up the color adjustment tab, click on the matching tab next to that and click "none" under color correction. Press ok, press ok again and now you are ready to print. Double check the settings in the Photoshop print menu. Select color management; and document. Under color handling select "Photoshop Manages Colors". Pick your printer profile based on the paper you are using. Most manufactures have the paper profiles available for download on the manufactures website. I use Canon Paper and a Canon printer so paper profiles came preloaded. Now under "rendering intent" I either use "Relative Colorimetric" or "Preceptual". I normally do a couple 4x6 test prints to see which one comes out best, but sometimes you can see the effects in the Photoshop print setup page. I click the black point compensation box and now I am ready to print my photograph.

All in all the process takes just a few minutes. I am using Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5. Process may vary based on different versions of  software. I am using a Canon 9000 mark II printer, Epson and other printer procedures will vary so consult your manual when trying to set up your printer. The main thing we need to remember is to sharpen your photographs based on our needs and allow Photoshop to manage colors. When you have a calibrated monitor your print will look like what you see on your computer. This will save you time and money when trying to match your monitor with your prints.

After the printer prints, I let the print sit on the printer for a couple hours before I even touch it. This allows the print to dry. I then take the print and place it in a shaded area at my office and let it completely dry for a couple days before I frame it or ship it. I ship using a hard density tube with the print placed in an archival plastic bag. I also place a pair of white cotton gloves in the tube so when the buyer receives the print they will be able to safely handle it. A good idea for your customers is to have it shipped right to the framer. This way the customer won't have to handle it at all!

Happy Easter & Happy printing!

My Top 5 iPhone Photography Apps

If you look through the app store on Itunes there are hundreds if not thousands of apps for photography. In this post I will go over My Top 5 iPhone Photography Apps. Sorry to the droid users out there nothing against the droid but I am an iPhone user, but I am sure droid has similar apps if not the same ones. 5) Pano- This app is a great app if you like panoramas. It's simple to use and easy to make beautiful panoramas. It will allow you to stitch together up to 16 photographs taken from your iPhone. It has a transparent layer to help you line up your pano. I Love this app for it's simplicity and interface.  Currently it's on sale for $1.99 Pano - Debacle Software

4) Pro HDR- HDR photography has been picking up a lot of steam lately in the digital world. Well did you know your iPhone can do HDR photography as well? There are several HDR apps out there but this one is my fav. My friend Ken Snyder the "HDR Guy" has written a post about it here. Take a look to learn more about HDR iPhone Photography. You can pick this app up for $1.99 Pro HDR - eyeApps LLC

3) Photoshop Express- Every photographer wants to put their best image out there even if it's an iPhone photograph. Photoshop and photography goes hand in hand, so why not have photoshop on your iPhone? Photoshop Express, lets you crop, convert to black and white, adjust exposure, do some sharpening and even add some special effects. It's a great tool to add to your arsenal. Best part about this app is that it's free! Adobe Photoshop Express - Adobe Systems Incorporated

2) Contract Maker Pro- If you are working photographer you know about contracts. Model releases, second shooter, bill of sale, copyright release, service agreement etc. Why not have all that on your iPhone? Well you can! Contract Maker Pro allows you to customize the contract of your choice. All you have to do is input the names and numbers, have the person sign via the touch screen on your iPhone, then Contractor Pro will email the contract to you and your client. No more paper, pens, briefcases, filing cabinets, you get the idea. It's a great tool for the mobile photographer. This app is currently priced at $4.99 Contract Maker Pro - MIchael The Maven

1) The Photographers Ephemeris (TPE)- Being a nature and landscape photographer, this app is my go to app. It tells me where and when the moon or sun is rising and setting. It tells me that the distant foothill will cause the sunlight to falloff a bit earlier based on my current elevation. It will tell me what time the sun will strike the face of El Capitan. It's a valuable tool to have for that outdoor photographer. Here are the main features of this app. - Time and direction of sunrise and sunset - Time and direction of moonrise and moonset - Phase of the moon and % illumination - Times of civil, nautical and astronomical twilight - Save any location you want - no fixed lists - Automatic time zone detection for any location on earth - Determines elevation above sea level - View azimuth and altitude of sun/moon for any time of day/night - Distance, bearing and elevation angle between any two points - Find when the sun/moon will appear from behind a hill - Compensation for atmospheric refraction - Compensation for elevation above the horizon

This is the most expensive app on my list at $8.99 but well worth it to the landscape photographer.

The Photographer's Ephemeris - Crookneck Consulting LLC

What's Your Shooting Percentage?

I was talking with a beginner photographer the other day and I was asking about her recent trip. She said it was good but she took twenty or so photographs and only one was "good enough". She seemed upset or down on herself for only getting one keeper after twenty or so photographs. I told her that was an excellent "shooting percentage". On a typical day for me I might take 200 photographs of a sunset. If I get 2 or 3 out of those 200 that meet my standards I am pretty happy with that! Sometimes I will even go out on a shoot and not even get one photograph that meet my standards. Just wasn't my day. We all have those days! Don't be hard on yourself, it happens, it's part of the craft.

With time and practice your shooting percentage may improve, but the great thing about the digital age is that we don't have to buy film. Shoot away! People don't know that the one photograph I display took me 200 tries to perfect, nor do they really care. All they know is that they like the photograph. I have never had anyone ask me how many tries did it take to get that photo.