Sunday, February 18, 2018

Comin' At Ya


On my last visit to Iceland I took some personal time to visit a glacial lagoon. I was thrilled to see a large number of arctic terns making pass after pass around us. They are speedy and turn on a dime, so getting sharp images means you have to take a lot of shots and be prepared to throw many away. In fact that is often the case with any birds-in-flight photography.

This guy made a sudden hairpin turn and started gliding right toward me. My camera was set on AI (continuous focus), but when the action is coming directly at you, it is not always easy for the autofocus to lock on. In this case I was fortunate to get a sharp shot for two reasons  -   terns have not only a sharp line where their dark feathers meet their white ones, but this tern was directly in front a deep black area of the glacier. Autofocus functions best when there is a hard line with good contrast for the lens to grab onto, and that is exactly the situation here.

This is a color image, but except for the tern's bill, there was no other color in this scene.

For action shots, all you can do is be as prepared as possible, and hope for the best. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time, with the right conditions, and had my camera set properly (continuous focus AND rapid burst). Often those once-in-a-lifetime shots come when you least expect it. Knowledge of your camera and its settings are your best friends when seeking action shots.

TECH SPECS
1/1250 sec., f/8, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens with Canon 1.4x extender for an effective focal length of 560mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity."  --Oprah Winfrey

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Make a Mat in Photoshop


This brown bear mom and cub were taking a break from feeding on the lush early summer grass in Alaska. She was out in the fields with her 3 cubs, but the other two were off munching nearby. When they struck this pose, I knew I had a great mother-baby portrait.

When photographing wildlife, it is safety first, respect and care for the animals second, and getting the shot third. The shot is never more important than your safety, and the well-being of the animals.

I have found the absolute BEST location in Alaska for getting brown bear images up close and personal, and in safety AND comfort. And without tons of other photographers around. We stay in a lovely lodge along the shores of the Cook Inlet in Lake Clark National Park. The 2018 trip has been filled for quite awhile, but the July 2019 trip is now open for registration. It is not listed on the website yet, so if you are interested please email me and I can send you details.

I prepared this image for an upcoming competition, and felt it needed a mat to enhance the portrait feel. It is quick and easy to make a mat in Photoshop. Once the image is optimized and sized, make a new file in Photoshop that measures 3 to 4 inches larger than your image. For example, an 11x14 image would need a new file measuring about 15x18. That will provide space for a 2-inch mat all around. If that is too much mat for your particular image, you can make it smaller.

Copy and paste the image onto the new file, and center it. Use the Eyedropper tool to choose a mat color that goes well with the predominant tone in your image - in this case it was the dark brown of the fur. Just click the eyedropper on the color in the image you want. Then make a new layer and name it "mat." Go to Edit > Fill, Foreground Color, Normal, 100%, and click OK.

Then choose another color from the image that will serve as a thin border (called a keyline) around the image itself. I chose the green of the grass. Use the Marquis tool to trace around the image. The "marching ants" should be visible along the outside edge of the image. Then go to Edit > Stroke. When the dialog box opens, choose a pixel width that is narrow and not obtrusive. Then click inside the color box to add the color you have chosen. For location, choose "center." Blend mode should be "normal" at 100%.

You can always go back and modify your choices if the colors do not look good to you, or if the keyline is too thin or too wide.

TECH SPECS
1/1250 sec., f/8, ISO 400. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "No matter how carefully you plan your goals, they will never be more than pipe dreams unless you pursue them with gusto."  --W. Clement Stone

Friday, February 9, 2018

Unexpected Opportunity


Two unexpected openings have come up on the Denali photo trip. This is a very unusual occurrence, so this is your chance to grab these spaces.

We go deeper into Denali National Park than most other photo groups are allowed to go, yet we stay in relative luxury in a lovely lodge with great food and our own driver. In fact Awake The Light is one of only two photo companies worldwide that is allowed this deep inside the park for so many days.

We'll photograph grizzly bear, caribou, moose, and more. The tundra will be in full autumn splendor, and the mountains will be dusted with snow. It is a photographer's paradise.

Details at this link  http://awakethelight.com/denali-national-park/

If you have questions or to register,
email me at awakethelight@charter.net
or call me at 757-773-0194

TECH SPECS
1/1000 sec at f/8, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens with 1.4x extender for an effective focal length of 560mm. Handheld.

TODAY QUOTE: "Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you."  --Frank Lloyd Wright
 
 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Find Your Creativity


Going, going, almost gone! Only a few spaces left in the 
Creative Flowers MASTER CLASS 
at Longwood Gardens, April 30 - May 4.

Longwood Gardens is a gem among botanical gardens. It is filled with acres and acres of flowers and breath-taking beauty.

This Master Class will show you how to capture beautiful, artistic images of flowers, and will jump start your creativity. You will learn how to shoot, what to shoot, and how to improve your images in post-production with Lightroom, and Photoshop.

It is like two workshops in one. It is an in-depth week to help you hone your flower photography skills, AND it will provide training in easy-to-learn, easy-to-use techniques in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Learn to see things more artistically using line, shape, and color to create your own masterpieces. Each day will be filled with shooting time, personalized training, classroom time, and image critiques. You will come away with new techniques, and a renewed sense of creativity and excitement about your photography. The entire week will be educational, inspirational, and fun!

Throughout the week you will learn a wide variety of things including:
Finding appealing subjects
Recognizing “good” light and how to work with it
Learning the freedom of working without a tripod
Isolating the subject for an artistic effect
Learning how to see with an entirely new vision
Learning how to use line, shape, and color to your best advantage
Using selective focus
Controlling the background
Using Depth of Field creatively
Understanding how to break the rules effectively
Using post-processing quickly and easily in Lightroom
Adding textures and other techniques in Photoshop and other software

More details on the website here  http://awakethelight.com/creative-flowers/

Call or email for more details, or to register. 
I'd love to speak with you about this workshop.
 
CREATIVE FLOWERS MASTER CLASS
 April 30 - May 4, Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania


TECH SPECS
1/100 sec. at f/9, ISO 400. Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro IS lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld. 


TODAY'S QUOTE: "Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out-values all the utilities of the world."  -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Improve Your Flower Photography AND Boost Your Creativity

From unique and cutting edge....


                                                                 
 .... to soft and traditional ....


You will learn it all and more at this
informative and exciting workshop. 

CREATIVE FLOWERS MASTER CLASS
 April 30 - May 4, Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania

Spend several days with me in spectacular Longwood Gardens and return home with greater skills, lots of creative ideas, and more confidence in yourself and your photography.

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

We will spend each day in the Gardens, and then return to the classroom for teaching sessions, image critiques, and creative ideas. See complete information here  http://awakethelight.com/creative-flowers/

FOR MORE INFORMATION or TO REGISTER
call me at 757-773-0194, or email me at awakethelight@charter.net 

Be sure to ask about the early registration discount, 
good until March 10.

TECH SPECS
Top image  -  1/640 sec. at f/6.3, ISO 400. Sigma 15mm lens on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld. 
Bottom image  -  1/400 sec at f/4, ISO 400. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.  

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Flowers always make people better and happier. They are sunshine, food, and medicine for the soul."  -- Luther Burbank

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Art Is Where You Find It


Always keep your eyes open to find interesting subjects. Cars, trucks, and motorcycles can be great subjects for artistic images. This image is a tight shot of an old truck retired to a "truck graveyard" near Richmond, Virginia. Look for small areas of interest and zero in on that. Take lots of images from a variety of angles.

Then free your mind, get out of the box, and try many different approaches with Lightroom or Topaz or Photoshop. Allow yourself to play with a variety of options, filters, and techniques.

This image was optimized and saturated in Lightroom, and then enhanced a bit with the Watercolor filter in Photoshop. Tip: In order to access all filters in Photoshop, be sure to change the image from 16-bit to  8-bit. It is easy. Just go to Image > Mode > and click on 8 bit/channel. Then you can go to Filter > Filter Gallery and start playing with all the filter options to see what looks good with your particular image.

Filters will look different on different images, so don't expect the Watercolor filter to look great on every image. You just have to try them all and find the one or ones that work best with each image.

So get your "artsy" on and go play!

TECH SPECS
1/125 sec., f/8, ISO 200. Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lens on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "A work of art is above all an adventure of the mind."  --Eugene Ionesco 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Honored To Be Asked


I was honored to be asked to be one of a small number of photographers showcased by Hunt's Photo and Video. This is part of an article I wrote for them that appears in a special section of their website. Check out the entire article here   http://specials.huntsphoto.com/photo-tips-and-reviews/mollie-issacs_nature-wildlife.html

The photographic community thrives when we all help each other. That is a big part of why I love running workshops and tours. I am able to share knowledge and ideas, inspire creativity and enthusiasm, and learn from you as well.

So when a company like Hunt's seeks to help photographers learn more and improve, not just sell products, we all win. For that we owe them a hearty "thank you."

I have purchased many products from Hunt's, and find their knowledge, willingness to help, and customer service second to none. And be assured that when I recommend a company or a particular product, it is based on personal experience. My endorsements are not for sale. I do not get paid for recommending products or companies.

I always deal with Alan Samiljan at Hunt's. If you mention me and Awake The Light, he will bend over backwards to get you what you need as quickly and easily as possible. Email him at alansamhunts@gmail.com or asamiljan@huntsphoto.com OR call him at 781-462-2383.

At the end of the day, my goal is to help you learn all you can about photography, art, and creativity, and to motivate you to always strive for improvement. Aim for the stars!

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement."  -- Helmut Schmidt    

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Selling Out Fast - Creative Flowers Master Class



Only 4 spaces left. Learn how to create more artistic flower images at one of the world's great gardens. Longwood Gardens is over 1000 acres of one photo opportunity after another.

Increase your knowledge, your skills, and your creativity in this full immersion workshop. In addition to learning new ways to photograph flowers, you will also learn techniques in Lightroom, Photoshop, and other software that will enhance the artistic beauty of your images.

This is two workshops in one - photography AND easy, creative image optimization techniques. See details here http://awakethelight.com/creative-flowers/

To reserve your space, or if you have questions, email Mollie at awakethelight@charter.net
Grab your spot before they are all gone. 

TECH SPECS
1/100 sec., f/5.6, ISO 400. Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS lens on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways."  -- Robert Greene

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Creative Flowers Workshop - Master Class at Longwood Gardens



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 and demonstrations, and personal attention each day. The entire week will be educational, inspirational, and fun!

Throughout the week you will learn a wide variety of things including:
Finding appealing subjects
Recognizing “good” light and how to work with it
Learning the freedom of working without a tripod
Isolating the subject for an artistic effect
Learning how to see with an entirely new vision
Learning how to use line, shape, and color to your best advantage
Using selective focus
Controlling the background
Using Depth of Field creatively
Understanding how to break the rules effectively
Using post-processing quickly and easily in Lightroom
Adding 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 to jumpstart your creativity and the look of your images.

More details on the website here  http://awakethelight.com/creative-flowers/

TECH SPECS 
1/640 sec.  at f/6.3, ISO 400. Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lens on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld. BW conversion in Lightroom. Personally created textures and color added in Photoshop.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Creativity is contagious. Pass it on."  --Albert Einstein



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Want Your Opinion


Seeking your opinion on this image. The original image was taken in Alaska on a small rocky island filled with breeding puffins. The image originally had a green grassy background. But I wanted to create a more artistic representation of these two puffins, who were positioned perfectly.

So I used Photoshop to drop out the background and replaced it with an off-white tone.

So the question for you to answer is this:
Does this image look interesting and artsy, or does it look odd because it is clearly not a realistic representation of nature?

It is important to note that this type of image should NEVER be submitted in a nature or wildlife photo competition, and should NEVER be used in a textbook on birds or nature. It is only intended as an art piece, an interpretation of nature, not a realistic representation of nature.

So what do you think? I want to hear from you so please be honest and direct.

TECH SPECS
1/2500 sec., f/13, ISO 1600. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens with 1.4x extender set at 560mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."  --Scott Adams