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

 

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!

Ojai Valley California

Ojai Valley California is a beautiful small town located east of Santa Barbara. The valley runs east and west so it's a great location for sunrise or sunset. There is a little parking area that will hold about five or six cars for a short hike to overlook the valley. Click here for where to park. Once you park you will have to hike this old dirt road to several different valley views. There is a spot where there are 2 park benches so you can sit and watch the sunset and it's the most scenic area along the road.

Ojai is a nice small town that has that ole western feel when driving through the valley. The overlook was nice as well but it is filled with houses, cars, power lines ect. I didn't really have expectations when heading to visit Ojai but all the modernism's of the valley kinda cramped my style photographically. So I didn't really take that many photographs. I did however stay for sunset which was beautiful. Also the valley has a couple different Orange and or Lemon fields and being a Michigan boy it's very interesting to see.

Over all it was a decent trip. The drive was nice, the sunset was nice and the town was cute, but I won't make the trip again.There are plenty of photographs to be made so everything from a wide angle to a telephoto will be useful. I found myself using my 70-200 to isolate scenes so I could focus on the natural landscape. If you are close by it's worth a day trip but if not your better off visiting somewhere else.

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.

5 Holiday Christmas Ideas for Landscape Photographers

It's that time a year again. It's time to buy your special someone a gift for Christmas. Here are 5 Holiday Christmas Ideas for Landscape Photographers 1) Filters! One of the most important tools for a landscape photographer is the Neutral Density Graduated filter, another filter is the circular polarizer. These 2 filters should be in every nature and landscape photographers bag. Find Polarizers Here and Find ND Filters Here

2) A cable release. Both Nikon and Canon make them, some of them are wireless. These will help the landscape and nature photographer achieve those tack sharp photographs.

3) Rain gear for your camera. There are several options out there. You can get a disposable, or a reusable version. The disposable ones are relatively cheap, but if you are shooting in rain all the time it may be worth while to invest a reusable version.

4) A hotshoe  bubble level. This will assure that your horizon lines are straight. Nothing is more annoying than a diagonal horizon line.

5) A good ball head and tripod. These are worth their weight in gold to a landscape and nature photographer. In my opinion these two things are almost as important as the camera itself. Hope this helps with the holiday shopping.