Friday, January 24, 2020

Abstracts Are Awesome

Abstracts can be incredibly creative. Any subject will do - wildlife, scenics, buildings, flowers, you name it and then create it!

There are no rules or restrictions when creating abstract images. Just go with your gut and see what you can find that will work well as an abstract.

This is an early morning scene at the shore. The sun was not yet above the horizon, so the lighting was soft and even, and the colors were beautiful. A long exposure allowed the movement of the breaking waves to appear somewhat mushy and almost cloud-like.

Next time you are out shooting, look for things that might work as abstracts. Look at the entire scene or entire subject, and then "zoom" in with your eyes to find an abstract shape, or a series of lines, or colors that merge well.

The best approach is to shoot a lot of different subjects, each time allowing your eyes to view small details of the whole, and then put the camera to your eye to see how best to frame the shot. Not all your attempts will be winners. But you will end up with some amazing images if you allow yourself to just let go, and look deeper into the subject or scene for an image within the image.

1/2 sec. at f/11, ISO 800. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set at 70mm on Canon 5D Mark III body. Gitzo tripod with ballhead.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "To get into your Creative Zone, view your subject quietly, and slow down. If you do that, the image will almost create itself." -- Mollie Isaacs

Sunday, January 19, 2020

JUST ANNOUNCED - Creative Flowers Master Class

If you love flowers and want to catapult your creativity to the next level, this Master Class is for you. Don't let the name intimidate you. You do not have to be a "master' to take this workshop, but you will be well on your way to that level by the end of the week.

This is a full-immersion experience where you will discover how to tap into your creative core like never before. Soar past the mundane and the traditional, and begin to see things in a whole new light. You will see the world with fresh eyes, and will learn how to break the rules effectively.

And you will gain the experience and freedom of shooting without a tripod.

Each day will be filled with shooting, helpful critiques, personal attention, improving your Lightroom skills, and lots of information you need in order to create more beautiful and compelling flower images. And all of this will take place at one of the world's most beautiful gardens, Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Throughout the week you will learn a wide variety of creative ideas and approaches. You will learn how to recognize "good" light, how to use line, shape, and color, how to control the background, and so much more.

Here is a sneak peek of one of the creative techniques you will learn.
This is the original RAW file of the image at the top of the Blog. Notice the messy background, and the extra stem showing. This was shot at Longwood Gardens in one of their nursery areas, and was the closest I could get to this flower with the lens I had handy. But the orchid was so perfect and beautiful that I had to shoot it in hopes that it could be turned into something creative and worthy of its beauty.

 It is quite a transformation, using simple techniques in Lightroom and Photoshop.

In the workshop you will learn easy ways to add new backgrounds or textures, as was done in this image. You will take control of your images in new and exciting ways. And you will begin to find the artist within you by the end of the week. All of this will take place in an easy-going and stress-free environment.

The best news is that this is like two workshops in one - improve your artistic vision AND learn new, easy, and creative ways of working with Lightroom and Photoshop.

WHERE: Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

WHEN: April 27 - 30

LIMIT: 12 photographers

FEE: Regularly $2495, but register before February 29 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, transportation, and personal incidentals. Special lodging rates have been arranged.

Monday, April 27  -  Workshop begins at 7PM with a Welcome and Teaching Session
Tues., Wed., and Thurs.,  April 28, 29, and 30  -  each day is filled with creative shooting time at the Gardens, Lightroom and Photoshop instruction, image critiques, discussion of creative techniques, and fun! Workshop ends at 5PM on Thursday, April 30.

TO REGISTER:  Call or email Mollie with questions or to register. I hope you can join me!

1/640 sec at f/6.3, ISO 400. Sigma 15mm rectangular fisheye lens on Canon 7D Mark II body, handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Creativity doesn't wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones."  -- Bruce Garrabrandt

Friday, January 10, 2020

Approaching Antarctica

Actually seeing Antarctica for the first time is about as exciting as it gets. As we approached, we could see the leading edge of its islands. This scene was reminiscent of drawings of the mythical Atlantis. The mountains seemed to rise straight out of the water, almost floating on its surface.

Because our winter is the southern hemisphere's summer, we experienced 24 hours of daylight. The sun never dips below the horizon. This was shot at about 10PM, and you can see just hints of pale sunset color.

The water was incredibly calm, and the reflections added greatly to this image.

Reflections, light quality and light direction can make or break an image. Whenever possible, look for directional or dramatic lighting. When the sun is relatively low in the sky, it enhances the strength and the beauty of whatever you are photographing. Conversely, shooting in the mid-day sun provides flatter, less exciting lighting.

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying to avoid shooting at mid-day. For wildlife photography in particular, we have to shoot when the animals are visible and exhibiting some sort of behavior, no matter the time of day. But when you can, look for beautiful directional light. It will make your images come alive.

1/320 sec at f/11, ISO 400. Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS II lens set at 24mm, on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Success is where preparation and opportunity meet."  --Bobby Unser

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Drama Queen

While I was in Chile I saw some absolutely beautiful flowers. This columbine was blooming in the garden on one of ranches ("estancias", as they are called) where we stayed. The flower was perfect and beautiful, but the surroundings not so much.

So I used the LensBaby Sol 45 to add a creative blur which certainly helped. But as you can see in this Before version, even that was not enough to make the flower the star of the show.
So Lightroom came to the rescue. I wanted the flower to stand out, but I also wanted the tall stem behind it and the mottled background to add to the story.

The strong sunlight caused the leaves in the background to appear almost white, and they needed to be toned down in order to not take attention away from the flower.

And overall, the background competed with the flower and also needed to be toned down.

Here are the tools used in Lightroom to change this image into a more dramatic rendition of the scene. But first a word of caution - this degree of drama changes the look of the actual scene and might not be allowed in certain photo competitions. So if you plan to enter nature competitions, be sure to check the rules and make sure that these sorts of major changes are allowed. Note that nothing in this image was actually changed or eliminated, but even so, it does render the scene completely differently from the original. In this case I was going for a dramatic look, and not a standard shot of the scene itself.

Steps used in Lightroom:
- reduced Whites and Highlights to tone down the bright leaves in the background
- used the Green luminance slider in the HSL box to tone down the greens in the background
- used the Purple luminance slider in the HSL box to brighten the tone of the flower
- used the Graduated Filter tool to tone down the background even more
- used the Brush Tool to darken small areas in the background that the Graduated Filter tool missed
- reduced Noise to 30
- increased Clarity to 30

That's it. It doesn't sound like much, but those few steps in Lightroom helped to turn this image into a much more dramatic scene.

1/320 sec., f/3.5 (fixed aperture on LensBaby Sol 45), ISO 400. LensBaby Sol 45 lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."  --Henry David Thoreau