Saturday, June 8, 2019

Smokies Sunrise


Sunrise in the Smokies is always a treat. Watching it from on top of Clingman's Dome, the highest point reachable by road, is uplifting and very photogenic. While often sunrise comes much too early for many people, at the Smokies Workshop coming up October 5 - 10, the sun will not rise until about 7:30am. Practically lunch time!

The technique used in this image is a simple one. As soon as the sun begins to peek above the ridge line, there is a brief time when sharp rays appear. They are enhanced when shot with a small aperture like f/16 or f/22. This same technique can be used when shooting the sun peeking around a tree trunk, a building, or anything else that blocks most of the sun, allowing just a small piece of it show.

Try it. Experiment. You will be surprised at what you can create!

Join me in the Smokies, October 5 - 10. We will work on slowing down in order to see and feel the moods of the landscape. Images that convey emotion can be very powerful. We will work on composition to help you create stronger images. We will explore not only the park's soft, misty moods, but also the power conveyed by its rocky streams, its majestic trees, and its thriving wildlife.

We will also have time to work on creative techniques, plus some classroom training sessions on Lightroom and Photoshop. Regardless of your skill level, you will come away with new approaches and a new way of seeing.

WHERE: Great Smoky Mountains National Park (the Tennessee side near Townsend, TN. This gives us the best and easiest access to the park and its main features.) 

WHEN: October 5 - 10

LIMIT: 10 photographers

FEE: $2495, BUT register by June 15 to receive the special discounted rate of $1995

FEE INCLUDES: All breakfasts, snacks, daily instruction, personalized attention, classroom training sessions, creative ideas and approaches, Lightroom Tips and Tricks, Photoshop techniques, image critiques, and a few surprises. [NOT included are lodging, lunches and dinners, and transportation.]

ITINERARY
Saturday, October 5 - workshop begins at 6PM with a Welcome and Training session, followed by dinner at a local restaurant
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday, October 6, 7, 8, 9 - each day will be filled with morning and afternoon shooting sessions; mid-day will be working lunches with classroom training; most evenings will have critique sessions; at least one morning will be a sunrise shoot
Thursday, October 10 - workshop ends at 9AM after a wrap-up and farewell session 

TO REGISTER OR ASK QUESTIONS: Call or email me with questions or to register. For your security, we do not take Registrations or Payments online. You can find phone and email information on the website here  www.awakethelight.com 


TECH SPECS
1/50 sec. at f/22, ISO 400. Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS II lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn."  -- Benjamin Franklin

Friday, May 31, 2019

Simple Close Up


Often the simplest subjects can be the most powerful. This perfect orchid was in bloom in a botanical gardens, and had just been watered by one of the volunteers. Perfect timing! I like to find natural water droplets rather than bringing my own spray bottle, so I never carry one. But if I luck out to be photographing just after a regular watering, I am happy to take advantage of the good timing.

Not only is this a simple subject, but the tones and composition are simple as well. I tipped the camera so that the viewer's eye moves from lower left to upper right. And it is carefully cropped so that, except for the lower left, there is no extraneous background.

TECH SPECS
1/2000 sec. at f/3.2, ISO 800. Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."  -- Leonardo da Vinci

Monday, May 27, 2019

Misty, Moody AUTUMN SMOKIES WORKSHOP Just Announced!


Just Announced! 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Autumn Workshop

October 5 - 10


In autumn the misty, moody magic of the Smokies comes to life. Cooler temperatures overnight create mist in the valleys that are beautiful to photograph. It is also the time of year when colors are changing and wildlife is more active.

During our time in the Smokies we will work on slowing down in order to see and feel the moods of the landscape. Images that convey emotion can be very powerful. We will work on composition to help you create stronger images. We will explore not only the park's soft, misty moods, but also the power conveyed by its rocky streams, its majestic trees, and its thriving wildlife.

We will also have time to work on creative techniques, plus some classroom training sessions on Lightroom and Photoshop. Regardless of your skill level, you will come away with new approaches and a new way of seeing.

WHERE: Great Smoky Mountains National Park (the Tennessee side near Townsend, TN. This gives us the best and easiest access to the park and its main features.) 

WHEN: October 5 - 10

LIMIT: 10 photographers

FEE: $2495, BUT register by June 15 to receive the special discounted rate of $1995

FEE INCLUDES: All breakfasts, snacks, daily instruction, personalized attention, classroom training sessions, creative ideas and approaches, Lightroom Tips and Tricks, Photoshop techniques, image critiques, and a few surprises. [NOT included are lodging, lunches and dinners, and transportation.]

ITINERARY
Saturday, October 5 - workshop begins at 6PM with a Welcome and Training session, followed by dinner at a local restaurant
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday, October 6, 7, 8, 9 - each day will be filled with morning and afternoon shooting sessions; mid-day will be working lunches with classroom training; most evenings will have critique sessions; at least one morning will be a sunrise shoot
Thursday, October 10 - workshop ends at 9AM after a wrap-up and farewell session 

TO REGISTER OR ASK QUESTIONS: Call or email me with questions or to register. For your security, we do not take Registrations or Payments online. You can find phone and email information on the website here  www.awakethelight.com 

I hope to see you in the Smokies!

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The fastest way to become a good photographer is to slow down.'  -- Freeman Patterson



Friday, May 24, 2019

Feeding Time


When photographing wildlife, patience is a requirement. You just cannot rush Mother Nature. A pair of Great Egret parents were taking turns feeding their young. The babies look like the proverbial ugly ducklings with their fuzzy spiked head feathers and scrawny semi-naked necks. And I kept waiting for them to get their heads in a good position, as well as the parent.

There were many long twigs to work around, not to mention all the other photographers trying to get good shots as well. But everyone was respectful of each other and of the birds.

Finally everything came into position, but just for a very short time. Then in a heartbeat, the babies heads went lower in the nest and the moment had passed.

That is how it is with wildlife photography. Wait and wait and wait. Then zip into action when the scene comes together with the shutter firing on rapid burst. And as soon as the moment passes you are compelled to hit the playback button on your camera to see if you got what you had been hoping for.

This scene replayed itself several times over the course of the morning, but in all the hundreds of shots I took that day, this is the only one that truly came together as I was hoping. I was lucky and happy to get it.

TECH SPECS
1/1250 sec. at f/5.6, ISO 1600. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 400mm on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience."  -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Longwood Gardens CREATIVE FLOWERS MASTER CLASS



Ready to up your game? Want to elevate your flower photography to a higher level? Then this is the workshop for you.

Each day will be filled with shooting, helpful critiques, lectures, demonstrations, and personal attention. The entire workshop will be educational, inspirational, and fun!

Throughout the week you will learn a wide variety of creative and new techniques, including how to:
- find appealing subjects
- recognize "good" light and how to work with it
- learn the freedom of working without a tripod
- isolate the subject for an artistic effect
- learn how to see with an entirely new vision
- learn how to use line, shape, and color to your best advantage
- use selective focus
- control the background
- understand how to break the rules effectively
- use post-processing quickly and easily in Lightroom and Photoshop
- add textures and other techniques in Photoshop and other software

This is like two workshops in one - improve your artistic vision and your shooting skills, AND learn new and easy ways of working with Lightroom, Photoshop, and more.

WHERE: Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania


WHEN: September 9 - 13


LIMIT: 12 photographers


FEE: Regularly $2495, BUT register before June 1 for the Special Discount rate of $1995


FEE INCLUDES: Personalized attention, daily instruction, image critiques, creative ideas and approaches, Lightroom Tips and Tricks, Photoshop techniques, and all Garden entry fees. [Not included are lodging, meals, and transportation. Special lodging rates have been arranged.]


ITINERARY: 

Monday, September 9  -  Workshop begins at 7PM on Monday evening, September 9 with a Welcome and Teaching Session.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, September 10, 11, 12  -  each day is filled with shooting time at the Gardens, Lightroom and Photoshop instruction and more, image critiques, discussion of creative techniques, and fun!
Friday, September 13 - workshop ends at 10AM after breakfast and a wrap-up session

TO REGISTER: Call or email Mollie with questions or to register. I hope to see you there!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Flowers That Fly


The BUTTERFLIES and FLOWERS + Lightroom workshop ended today, and I was blown away by the fabulous images everyone created. Each person created exquisite images each and every day. 

In addition to the great photography, we had lots of laughs and a really good time. For me, that is all part of what photography is all about. Sharing what you love with others, enjoying and celebrating what each person creates, and enjoying each other's company. That is why I love running photo workshops and tours so much.

This image was an up close and personal, eye to eye view. The butterfly was very cooperative, stayed on this plant for quite a while,  and tolerated my getting closer and closer.

I shot this with a macro lens, and was careful to focus on the eyes. When you get in close to your subject, depth of field becomes quite shallow and it is important to decide what should be sharp in the image and then focus on that. Since my intent was to have this shot essentially be a butterfly's view of another butterfly, it was important to be at eye level, and for the eyes to be sharp.

I did some tweaking in Lightroom to darken the corners and to saturate the colors a bit.

TECH SPECS
1/125 sec. at f/5.6, ISO 800.  Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun."  --Randy Pausch

Monday, May 13, 2019

Butterflies Everywhere


The BUTTERFLIES and FLOWERS  + Lightroom workshop begins tomorrow. Each day we will have over 500 butterflies flitting all around us in an enclosed conservatory, plus acres and acres of flowers to photograph.

Photographing butterflies can be challenging since they are often on the move and land only briefly on the flowers of their choice. When they decide to land for a longer time is when to have your camera ready to shoot. Of course you never know exactly when that will happen, so you have to be ready all the time.

Some of the same techniques used to photograph birds in flight can work for butterflies on the move as well.  Using Continuous Focus, also called AI Servo on some cameras, combined with setting the shutter to rapid burst can help track moving butterflies and can increase your chances of getting good wing positions.

Shooting butterflies in an enclosed butterfly house can improve your odds of getting good shots, but you can also capture wonderful images outdoors in a natural garden setting.

TECH SPECS
1/500 sec. at f/6.3, ISO 800. Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Butterflies ... flowers that fly and all but sing."  --Robert Frost


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Creative Flowers Master Class Just Announced



Immerse yourself in a creative and educational experience. If you love photographing flowers, and want to create more artistic and compelling images, this workshop is for you! It will open your eyes to new and exciting techniques, and you will receive a great deal of personal attention.

The workshop begins with an evening Welcome Session followed by a teaching session to get you primed for the first day of shooting. Then each day will be filled with shooting, helpful critiques, lectures, demonstrations, and personal attention. The entire week will be educational, inspirational, and fun!

Throughout the week you will learn a wide variety of creative and new techniques, including how to:
- find appealing subjects
- recognize "good" light and how to work with it
- learn the freedom of working without a tripod
- isolate the subject for an artistic effect
- learn how to see with an entirely new vision
- learn how to use line, shape, and color to your best advantage
- use selective focus
- control the background
- understand how to break the rules effectively
- use post-processing quickly and easily in Lightroom and Photoshop
- add textures and other techniques in Photoshop and other software

This is like two workshops in one - improve your artistic vision and your shooting skills, AND learn new and easy ways of working with Lightroom, Photoshop, and more.

WHERE: Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania


WHEN: September 9 - 13


LIMIT: 12 photographers


FEE: Regularly $2495, BUT register before June 1 for the Special Discount rate of $1995


FEE INCLUDES: Personalized attention, daily instruction, image critiques, creative ideas and approaches, Lightroom Tips and Tricks, Photoshop techniques, and all Garden entry fees. [Not included are lodging, meals, and transportation. Special lodging rates have been arranged.]


ITINERARY: 

Monday, September 9  -  Workshop begins at 7PM on Monday evening, September 9 with a Welcome and Teaching Session.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, September 10, 11, 12  -  each day is filled with shooting time at the Gardens, Lightroom and Photoshop instruction and more, image critiques, discussion of creative techniques, and fun!
Friday, September 13 - workshop ends at 10AM after breakfast and a wrap-up session

TO REGISTER: Call or email Mollie with questions or to register. I hope to see you there!




Thursday, May 2, 2019

Jumpin' Jack Flash



Seeing a Jack-In-The-Pulpit in the spring is a real treat. They tend to grow in out of the way places, often blending in with the green foliage of other plants nearby.  But once you have found one, it will most likely reappear in the same spot year after year.

I had been searching for one in an area where I had seen them before, but no luck. But a friend I was traveling with (thank you Dee!) spotted this one growing in the deep shade next to a rock.

The light was very soft, with most of the light coming from behind the plant, but it is hard to tell in this original RAW file.
Original RAW File
You can see a few bright areas behind the plant, which is the only hint of the light direction. Everything looks flat and gray. With a little help from the Brush tool in Lightroom, I was able to lighten the Jack to make it pop, as you can see in the main image above.  I also used the Brush tool to darken the rock and the light areas in the background. You can see how a few small changes in Lightroom made a huge difference in this image. One of many helpful attributes of Lightroom is that when using a tool like the Brush or the Gradient Filter, feathering is built in so it is easy for your changes to blend nicely with other areas. Never be afraid to experiment with Lightroom, since none of your changes ever permanently change or destroy anything in the original image. Your original image ALWAYS remains intact, and your modifications can be changed at any time.

TECH SPECS
1/125 sec. at f/7.1, ISO 400. Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Find beauty not only in the thing itself, but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides."  -- Junichiro Tanizaki


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Golden Glow


Moving water is great fun to photograph. The changing shapes of the water as it courses downstream over rocks can provide an infinite variety of abstract shapes and interesting colors.

This was a beautiful sunny day with blue sky and sunlit trees reflecting in the stream. A slow shutter speed helps to enhance the flow of the water and smears the colors a bit.

HINT: When photographing moving water, try a variety of shutter speeds since you never know what will work best. Better to cover your bases rather than to get home and be disappointed that the shutter speed was either not slow enough to create the look you wanted, or so slow that the scene looks too mushy for your taste. Start at about 1/4 second and then slow the shutter down from there.

This image has been modified in Lightroom to bring out the latent colors. Here is the original RAW image.
BEFORE
Notice that it looks very gray with low contrast. This is a typical look for RAW images before they have been modified in Lightroom or other software. ALL images need some sort of tweaking in post-production in order to bring out the colors and contrast. If you look carefully you can see the blue and gold colors, but they are quite muted. It almost looks like a gray film was placed over the image. Again, this is the typical appearance of a RAW image in its original state.


The image was modified in Lightroom to create the final version. Admittedly, the final version was significantly boosted to punch the colors and to improve the contrast. BUT the contrast slider was NOT used. I suggest never using the Contrast slider in Lightroom since it can cause more harm than good. It is better to use the Whites and Blacks sliders to improve contrast since that allows you to control each one independently.

This image required only 9 quick and easy steps to bring out its latent beauty.
1. Highlights slider moved to -38 brought out more detail in the whites at the top of the image.
2. Whites slider moved to +34 increased the brightness of the whites.
3. Clarity slider moved to +30  improved the mid-tone contrast.
4. Saturation slider moved to +68 improved the richness of the colors.
5. Luminance slider moved to +30 (in the Details section) was used for noise reduction.
6. Yellow Luminance slider moved to +91 (in the HSL section) brightened the yellows.
7. Blue Luminance slider moved to +8 (in the HSL section) brightened the blues.
8. Yellow Saturation slider moved to +57 (in the HSL section) to richen the yellow tones.
9. Blue Saturation slider moved to +28 (in the HSL section) to richen the blue tones.

The numbers listed are specific to this image, and always vary on an image by image basis. It is best to experiment with the sliders on your own images to see what changes work best for each different image.

TECH SPECS
1/2 sec. at f/22, ISO 100. Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS II lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff bullhead.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up."  -- Garry Winogrand