Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Photographing in June in Yosemite National Park

 A beautiful afternoon at the Valley View pullout

Winter sure did stick around for quite a while but warm weather is finally here.  As soon as the temperatures started to get hotter I decided it would be a great time to head down to Yosemite National Park to photograph.  I was especially excited because I knew that all of the waterfalls were going to be at their peak flow.  If you've never been to Yosemite to watch the waterfalls in the spring you should put it on your itinerary.  It is a true demonstration of nature's power and a sight that everyone should see once in their life.

 First light on Upper Yosemite Falls

Waterfalls weren't the only thing to photograph.  The photography opportunities in the valley are absolutely endless.  The light changes almost every minute and you could literally spend a lifetime chasing it, and some people do.  There have been so many occasions when I have been walking back to my car thinking that I'm done shooting a location and find myself scrambling to get my gear set up again to capture the ever changing light.  It always keeps me on my toes.

Half Dome at sunset

In Yosemite each season really has it's own character.  I can't wait to head back in the fall to photograph all the colors.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

10 Tips for Getting that Extraordinary Shot

  1. Go out when the light is interesting. Sunrise, Sunset, “the Golden Hour,” Storms, Misty Days, ect…
  1. Remember that light makes your picture. If you start to think about photographing light versus the subject you will probably surprise yourself.
  1. If you can, always have a tripod and shutter release cable with you.  You never know.
  1. Pick subjects that are interesting and that get you excited. If you aren’t excited, then your pictures probably won’t be exciting either.
  1. If you are going to shoot something that is photographed a lot (monuments, tourist attractions, sunsets, ect…) think about a way that would make the shot different from everyone else’s.  Use an ultra wide angle lens, go when the light is especially interesting, take the shot from a unique angle, experiment and have fun.

"Last Light" - taken in Baja, CA

  1. Shoot a lot of pictures. The great thing about digital is that you never run out of film.  Shoot, shoot, shoot and edit later.  I probably have one shot that I really love for every fifty I take.  Get the picture?
  1. Preview your images if you are unsure about exposure or composition.  Be aware though, this will burn your battery faster than normal, so if you're on the tail end of your battery life, don’t hit that preview button.
  1. If you aren’t sure about the right exposure, BRACKET!!!! The camera is smart, but you are smarter.
  1. Remember that taking the picture is only half the battle.  Making a nice print is something completely different. Make sure you have a program that you feel comfortable using to get the most out of every picture you take. Look at a digital file as a negative. Many times cameras do a great job of getting a good shot, but it’s in your digital darkroom where extra fine tuning can be done, to make a great picture outstanding.
  1. BACK UP ALL YOUR FILES!!!!!!!!!!! If your computer crashes or gets a virus you may loose everything. I highly recommend owning an external hard drive with duplicates of all your work. Can you imagine loosing every picture that you have ever shot?

"Dry Creek Sunrise" - taken in the Dry Creek Wine Country, CA

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Photographing in La Jolla, California

Last week I headed down to Southern California to relax, surf and photograph for a week.  The weather was all over the place.  I had a hard time catching a window of really good light until, finally, I was rewarded with a 5 minute window one evening in La Jolla.

"Sunset at the Cove"

A few hours before sunset I was wandering around on the coast scouting a possible location for a good shot.  The skies were completely overcast and I wasn't holding my breath for any sort of dramatic lighting.  About 30 minutes before sunset the clouds started to break up with the sun popping out in small increments.  I scrambled to get my gear out and headed for a location I looked at earlier.  When I arrived I knew my opportunity for a good photograph was very limited -- the sun was almost about to dip below the horizon.

The lighting was very dramatic and it required me use a 3 stop and a 1 stop Graduated Neutral Density (GND) filter to account for the full dynamic range of the scene.  I also switched to my wide angle lens and used a vertical format so I could capture the beautiful purple flowers in the foreground.  Lastly I stopped my lens down to f 22 to create the star burst effect on the sun.  After taking 10 photographs the light was gone and that was it.

With patience and a little luck I was able to come away with an image that I am very happy with.

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