Category Archives: Death Valley Photography

Insights in Photography ~ Winter 2013

The new issue of my quarterly magazine, Insights in Photography, is now available. In this Winter edition, I discuss the photographic challenges encountered in wide open spaces, such as in Death Valley and the Palouse region of eastern Washington. There are also articles on preparing for nature photography in cold weather, and a review of the Puffin Pad Pro. Enjoy!

insights in photography - winter 2013

Advertisements

Which one Works # 8 The Palouse Region of Eastern Washington… NEWS… & more

JACK GRAHAM PHOTOGRAPHY  www.jackgrahamphoto.com

LEARN to SEE                              LEARN to THINK                    LEARN to CREATE

_____________________________________________________________________________

Playa Sunset, Death Valley NP

Workshop schedule:   http://jackgrahamphoto.com/2012-workshop-schedule

Workshop Registration Form: http://jackgrahamphoto.com/sites/default/files/REGISTRATION-FORM-2012v9.pdf

Workshop Overview http://jackgrahamphoto.com/workshop-overview

Workshop FAQ’S;  http://jackgrahamphoto.com/sites/default/files/GENERAL-WORKSHOP-QUESTIONS-FAQS-INFORMATION-v2012f.pdf

Workshop Referrals: http://jackgrahamphoto.com/referrals

PODCAST: www.18percentgraymatter.com

JACK GRAHAM PHOTOGRAPHY   e books –available for purchase and immediate download http://jackgrahamphoto.com/shop/e-books

 

NEWS and NOTEWORTHY

It’s hard to believe we are now a few short weeks from  leaving for Iceland. I have one seat open should you want to come along. I’ll be updating this blog from Iceland while I am there.

http://jackgrahamphoto.com/ultimate-iceland-july-2012

CUBA 2013 !!!!  Yes it’s going to happen. Details and itineraries will be published in about a week or so. Dates are Feb 8-15th 2013. Email me jack@jackgrahamphoto.com for information.

MORE in 2013—I’ll be formally announcing Utah (Zion area) in October 2013. Guy Tal (www.guytal.com ) and I are working on a joint workshop in…………. CAPITAL REEF     National Park sometime in April 2013—STAY TUNED!!!!

And dont forget ICELAND     http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/ultimate-iceland-2013-limit-10-attendees

and GREENLAND    http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/ultimate-greenland-new-2013      in  JULY 2013

Below is a list of my workshops for the remainder of 2012. Of particular note is the workshop in Northern California in September 2012http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/autumn-napa-valley-san-francisco-and-northern-california-coast-pacific-northwest-art-school-photogra ) that I will be conducting with the Pacific Northwest Art School. September is a great time to be in this area. The summer crowds are gone and the air is a bit cooler and refreshing. In addition, the cost of this workshop is very attractive considering the itinerary and diverse subject matter. We will spend a full day in the beautiful win county of the Napa Valley. We will travel a bit Northwest through the Point Reyes area, then down to the Marin headlands for some great ocean views and a sunrise shoot of the Golden gate. After a morning in San Francisco, we’ll venture out to the coast, south of San Francisco for more ocean, and intimate landscape locations. Time is set to conduct presentations, image discussions and more. Please consider joining us. You can register with the PNWS here:  http://www.pacificnorthwestartschool.org/all/photography-workshops/graham-jack-fall-in-northern-ca-sep-20-23-2012-1 or by calling 866-678-3395.

Napa Sunrise

My 2013 workshop schedule is coming into shape. You can view it here. Another trek to Iceland is planned for July with an additional 9 day excursion to beautiful (and quite warm & pleasant and under photographed) Greenland.  I’ll be back in NE Ohio in October for fall color and once again a full day(including a private Amish dinner) with my Amish friends on their farm in Sugarcreek Ohio. I’ll be teaming up with my good friend, world class photographer and teacher Bill Fortney(www.billfortney.com) for a workshop you will not want to miss! I’ll also be announcing a workshop in late October 2013 in the red rock country (including Zion National Park) very soon. Details on these and more can be found here:     http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/2013-photography-workshop-schedule

I received requests to link the webinar I conducted  for NIK SOFTWARE , back in March, entitled, “Keeping it Simple .You can view it here: ( if you purchase any or all of the NIK Software package… enter code JGRAHAM and receive a 15% discount!!!

http://www.niksoftware.com/learnmore/usa/index.php/webinars/archives/#/keeping-it-simple-with-nik-software-with-jack-graham/0/0/0/0/0

2012 Workshop Info:

ULTIMATE ICELAND, 10 days, JULY 2012 –ONLY 1 SEAT LEFT http://jackgrahamphoto.com/ultimate-iceland-july-2012

OREGON COAST 5 DAYS!—August 2012—2 seats open http://jackgrahamphoto.com/2012-oregon-coast-cannon-beach-bandon-5-full-day

NAPA VALLEY, No. CALIFORNIA COAST, SAN FRANCISCO MORE!!!SEPTEMBER  2012 ( www.pacificnorthwestartschool.com ) few seats left, not many!  http://www.pacificnorthwestartschool.org/all/photography-workshops/graham-jack-fall-in-northern-ca-sep-20-23-2012-1

GRAND TETON NP  SEPTEMBER 2012 3 seats open http://jackgrahamphoto.com/fall-grand-teton-and-yellowstone-np-photography-workshop

17TH ANNUAL EASTERN SIERRA FALL WORKSHOP with GUY TAL www.guytal.com   JUST a FEW SEATS LEFT—filling fast   http://jackgrahamphoto.com/17th-annual-eastern-sierra-photography-workshop-mono-lake-alabama-hills-bristlecone-pine-bodie-more

 

More information found here: http://jackgrahamphoto.com/2012-photography-workshop-schedule

______________________________________________________________________________

 

 WHICH ONE WORKS?  ….  #8  The Palouse Region of Eastern Washington

In this series of articles, I discuss and compare images and talk about why I like one over the other.

Choosing one image over other similar images is one that we all deal with in our digital darkroom.

I suggest to you, as well as my workshop attendees to work the subject while in the field, make final decisions on your monitors at home.

The final image is important for whatever project it’s being used for, and spending time determining which image works vs. another is well worth it. In many case the slightest difference in composition, light etc. makes all the difference, Most of the time it is very clear which one is better for your individual needs than others, sometimes it’s not.

Often we may take many frames of a subject in different light and different angles. Each frame can evoke a different feeling to the subject.

Always remember that you need a good subject and acceptable light, or your final image will probably be less than desirable.

Your comments, as always are more than welcome.—JG

______________________________________________________________________

LOCATION:  THE PALOUSE region of Eastern Washington

 

Crop Dusting in the Palouse

As a photographer I visit many locations while conducting workshops as well as on my own photo excursions. There are two locations that are diametrically opposed but in many ways are photographically similar. I visit Death Valley National Park at least twice each year. Death Valley offers challenges to even the seasoned photographer. Unlike many of the National Parks, there are few icons. One must be on his or hers “A” game or making successful images in  Death Valley will be difficult to impossible. Photographers are there to depict the vastness and sometimes emptiness of the park. We go there to photograph the patterns and textures found within the rock formations. There is little green unless the winter rains produce some vegetation. In the Palouse region of Eastern Washington things could not be more different. If a country, Whitman County Washington, in the heart of the Palouse would be the third largest producer of Wheat in the world. What is more interesting is there is no real irrigation. The wheat that grows here is the result of the rain. What Death Valley and the Palouse have in common however is interesting. Both areas are extremely vast. From the vistas, overlooks and the many rural roads in the Palouse, we can see wheat fields almost to the horizon. In Death Valley, we can look down for miles at the dried playa, rock and sand features, all making up this expanse of dryness.  We photographers go the Palouse, just as we go to Death Valley to photograph the patterns and textures, not in rock or salt playa, but in the wheat fields and farmland.

Usually the first two weeks of June allow photographers to capture images depicting the  patterns and textures of the wheat fields. Again in August, at harvest time many photographers travel to small towns like Colfax, Oakesdale, Dusty and Steptoe to make images in the light produced by the dust created by the harvest machinery.

 

Like Death Valley, we must prepare, and slow down to study the scene before pressing the shutter. These two areas are so different in many ways, yet so alike in others.

 HE STORY:   On the last morning of my recent workshop in the Palouse, I decided, based on the light and weather conditions to revisit a barn I photographed a few days before the workshop started. This barn is on Highway 26 about 15 miles west of Colfax. For many years, I used this location to turn around to drive back east to the Colfax area. It’s a simple structure, not bright red like many of the barns in the Palouse. It’s located I a field that offers no other structures of any kind. By going there I wanted to send a message to my attendees of simplicity. If photographed correctly this location offers a simple but yet powerful subject. Upon arrival, I sensed from my attendees that they were not impressed with my location choice. The barn was not red; there was no foreground or apparent patterns. Why were we here? By the time we left all were happy and got the message. One attendee actually said this was his favorite location of the weekend. After we took our time and understood the subject everything became clear.

The title of this image is “Turnaround” based on my prior stops at this location. The resulting images were made within a few minutes of each other. I was pleased with one much more than the other two.

TECH DATA: All images made using my Nikon D700, Gitzo 3541 tripod and Really Right Stuff BH55 Ball Head    de images were taken using aNikon 80-200mm  2.8  lens, ISO 800, Shutter speed of 1/1000 sec at F11.. The ISO was high as was the shutter as the wind was blowing the wheat in the foreground. I wanted no movement showing.

PROCESSING: All images were processed in Adobe Lightroom camera RAW As always I used NIK SOFTWARE to complete my processing. I added some structure and fine tuning using Nik’s Viveza. With Color Efex Pro 4 I added some detail, brilliance and warmth, pro contrast, foliage enhancement and the Darken /Lighten Center filter. (I recommend NIK PRODUCTS without hesitation. You can receive a 15% discount by using my code JGRAHAM when ordering at www.niksoftware.com) .Nik’s output Sharpener was used to sharpen the final images. A final curve adjustment , level adjustment and Nik’s Define program (noise reduction).completed the processing.

Image # 1

 

THE EDIT:   

IMAGE #1 is more of a study of the barn. It shows the structure in its surroundings. It’s technically done well buy nothing I would put up on my wall. It is kind of a postcard I image. Without taking time to work the scene these type of images are ones often photographed. They do not convey the sense of place.

 

 

 

IMAGE # 2

Image # 2

Image two begins to convey what I was trying to depict in this scene. I used the foreground of the wheat in conjunction with the background to tell the story. The single barn in the field made this fairly minimalistic scene strong. The single cloud on the left also added some drama to the scene. I would have liked a bit more cloud showing and not running out of the scene.

 

 

Image # 3

IMAGE  #3 After waiting for a few minutes to see if some more clouds appeared, I was rewarded with a scene that was what I was looking for. I reduced the amount of foreground from Image # 2 as I determined that the amount of foreground was overwhelming the image. I also made this wider ythan the previous image in order to further depict the vastness of the area.

 

FINAL DECISION. Image #1 is a postcard image. Image #2 has too much foreground, not enough open space to tell the story I was attempting. The final image (IMAGE #3) is exactly what I wanted to capture in this scene. After about ½ hour in one location the clouds along with the adjustments made #3 my image of choice. It really tells the story of the Palouse with a minimalist, yet powerful scene I tried to convey. Image #3, to me is much more powerful than the other two images.

During the process of making these images and explaining my thought to my workshop attendees, I indicated that there in the field, I know this would become a monochrome image. I processed the image using Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro . I really feel that the monochrome image is even stronger than the color rendition. When in the field I recommend you have , in your mind , the final result you are seeking. How we will process images is important to think about at the time the image is made.

 

What do you think?

 

The right to download and store or output any content on the  websites:  www.jackgrahamphoto.com and  www.jackgrahamsblog  is granted for preview purposes only and may not be reproduced in any form. All Photographs appearing on this site are the property of Jack Graham unless otherwise noted.
These photos are protected by U.S.Copyright laws and are not to be downloaded or reproduced in any way without the written permission of Jack Graham
By entering this site you accept these terms. If you need permission to use a photo on this site please call 503-625-21430 or email jack@jackgrahamphoto.com

 

Which one Works #6 -Sonoran Desert, make sure you are in the right spot!/ News, Workshop Update

                                    JACK GRAHAM PHOTOGRAPHY  www.jackgrahamphoto.com

LEARN to SEE                              LEARN to THINK                           LEARN to CREATE

____________________________________________________________________________________

Workshop schedule:   http://jackgrahamphoto.com/2012-workshop-schedule

Workshop Registration Form: REGISTRATION FORM 2012v9

Workshop Overview http://jackgrahamphoto.com/workshop-overview

Individual ONE on ONE workshops  http://jackgrahamphoto.com/one-one-field-studio-photography-workshops

Workshop FAQ’S  GENERAL WORKSHOP QUESTIONS_FAQ’S INFORMATION_v2012f

Workshop Referrals: http://jackgrahamphoto.com/referrals

PODCAST: www.18percentgraymatter.com

JACK GRAHAM PHOTOGRAPHY   e books –available for purchase and immediate download http://jackgrahamphoto.com/shop/e-books

Jack on 500PX  http://500px.com/JackGraham/photos     Jacks Photos on PHOTOSHELTER http://jackgraham.photoshelter.com/

______________  _________________________________________________________________________________

NEWS and NOTEWORTHY

Last month I recorded a webinar for NIK SOFTWARE, entitled, “Keeping it Simple” (www.niksoftware.com) that you can access via the Nik Software Webinar Library by clicking here:

http://www.niksoftware.com/learnmore/usa/index.php/webinars/archives/#/keeping-it-simple-with-nik-software-with-jack-graham/0/0/0/0/0

San Xavier del Bac, Tucson AZ

I am presently in Arizona. The first of 3 workshops ended last weekend. Though this as far from a banner wildflower season, we spent 3 ½ days in and around Phoenix and Tucson learning and photographing the landscape and some of the nuance of the southwest. For example we spent an afternoon at the Mission San Xavier del  Bac in Tucson as well as the old town Tucson area, photographing the buildings and intimate aspects of this beautiful area.

Old Towne, Tucson

2012 Workshop Info:

Arizona Workshops later this month — FILLED

WHIDBEY ISLAND, Washington, MAY 2012 ( www.pacificnorthwestartschool.com) few seats left, not many!  http://www.pacificnorthwestartschool.org/all/photography-workshops/graham-jack-photography-on-whidbey-may-9-12-2012-1

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK..MAY 2012 – 1 seat left http://jackgrahamphoto.com/olympic-national-park

COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE …JUNE 2012 – 2 seats left http://jackgrahamphoto.com/columbia-river-gorge-and-mt-hood-photography-workshop

THE PALOUSE, JUNE 2012, 1 Seat left http://jackgrahamphoto.com/spring-palouse-now-5-days

ULTIMATE ICELAND, 10 days, JULY 2012 –ONLY 1 SEAT LEFT http://jackgrahamphoto.com/ultimate-iceland-july-2012

OREGON COAST 5 DAYS!—August 2012—2 seats open http://jackgrahamphoto.com/2012-oregon-coast-cannon-beach-bandon-5-full-day

NAPA VALLEY, No.CALIFORNIA COAST, SAN FRANCISCO MORE!!!SEPTEMBER  2012 ( www.pacificnorthwestartschool.com ) few seats left, not many!  http://www.pacificnorthwestartschool.org/all/photography-workshops/graham-jack-fall-in-northern-ca-sep-20-23-2012-1

TETONS & YELLOWSTONE, SEPTEMBER 2012 3 seats open http://jackgrahamphoto.com/fall-grand-teton-and-yellowstone-np-photography-workshop

17TH ANNUAL EASTERN SIERRA FALL WORKSHOP with GUY TAL www.guytal.com   JUST a FEW SEATS LEFT—filling fast   http://jackgrahamphoto.com/17th-annual-eastern-sierra-photography-workshop-mono-lake-alabama-hills-bristlecone-pine-bodie-more

________________________________________________________________________________________________

THINK TANK CAMERA BAGS: Along with my large bags and my Streetwalker Pro that I use very often, I really love my new RETROSPECTIVE 10“Over the Shoulder” Camera Bag

http://www.thinktankphoto.com/products/retrospective-10-pinestone-shoulder-bag.aspx

Here are the Top Features of this bag (abou t$ 150.00-160.00)

Minimalist outer appearance conceals expensive photo equipment …Carries a pro size DSLR with standard zoom lens attached…..Accommodates 2-4 lenses in main compartment with DSLR body in front pocket…Front pocket fits a pro size DSLR (body only) …Organizer pocket built into main compartment for pens, note pad, batteries, etc….Choice of two different colors, black or pinestone, to suit the situation ( I love the Pinestone)….Hook and Loop “Sound Silencers” on the front flap eliminate noise while opening the bag….Soft, adjustable shoulder strap with cushioned non-slip pad….Clear business card holder under front flap….Removable short carrying handle for convenience…Seam-sealed rain cover included for protection against the elements

THINK TANK uses the highest quality zippers available…A lot of thought went into these bags, just like all Think Tank products.—Thanks Think Tank….HIGHLY RECOMMENDED—JG

Order here www.thinktankphoto.com/affiliate and enter CODE —  AP371  and receive a free gift!

_________________________________________________________________________

FEATURED ARTICLE

WHICH ONE WORKS?          #6, the Sonoran Desert…

                                                      .                       . Make Sure you are in the Right Location

©Jack Graham, all rights reserved

In this series of articles, I discuss and compare images and talk about why I like one over the other.

Choosing one image over other similar images is one that we all deal with in our digital darkroom.

I suggest to you, as well as my workshop participants to work the subject while in the field, make final decisions on your monitors at home. The final image is important for whatever project it’s being used for, and spending time determining which image works vs. another is well worth it. In many case the slightest difference in composition, light etc makes all the difference, Most of the time it is very clear which one is better for your individual needs than others, sometimes it’s not. Often we may take many frames of a subject in different light and different angles. Each frame can evoke a different feeling to the subject.

Always remember that you need a good subject and acceptable light, or your final image will probably be less than desirable.

Your comments, as always are more than welcome.—JG

______________________________________________________________________

LOCATION: Bartlett Lake area, North and East of the Phoenix, Arizona metro area.

 Note the GPS  DATA BELOW for each image

 

Sunrise near Bartlett Lake AZ

THE STORY:

 I arrived into the Phoenix area about a week and a half ago, prior to my wildflower/landscape workshop in and around Phoenix and Tucson.  I went out scouting areas I wanted to take my workshop participants the morning after I arrived. A rather vigorous storm was predicted for later this day, That information, combined with wanting to be in this location for the sweet light, right after sunrise made it imperative that I get up and out early.

I caught a rather nice sunrise, then ventured down the road a bit, where I came onto a nice area that depicted the beautiful Sonoran Desert. The following morning I was standing in about a foot of Snow up in Sedona, just about an hour and one half north!

TECH DATA:  Both images taken with a Nikon D700 and Nikon 28-70mm 2.8 ED IF Lens. I used a Singh Ray 2 stop, soft , graduated filter on each omage (www.singh-ray.com)

IMAGE 1

IMAGE 1          2012:03:17 06:55:26                             2.8 @ at 70mm

1/3 sec, f/20     Mode: Av    Metering: Multi-segment

ISO: 200        AF mode: MANUAL

White balance: AUTO

Lat: 33°51’16.512″N  Long: 111°37’55.266″W   Altitude: 666m

IMAGE 2

IMAGE 2   2012:03:17     06:56:31                28-70mm @ 60mm

1/3 sec, f/20  Mode: Av     Metering: Multi-segment

ISO: 200 AF mode: MANUAL

Lat: 33°51’16.758″N    Long: 111°37’54.858″W   Altitude: 669m

Processing: Basic Lightroom processing. Most of the processing completed using NIK Software

in this order  Define 2.0 ( remove any noise), Viveza 2.0, Color Efex Pro4 and Output Sharpener.

( Save 15% on NIK Software  www.niksoftware.com when ordering using this code   JGRAHAM )

IMAGE: Finding a good looking saguaro around this area is getting harder and harder. Perhaps the increasing pollution in the Valley of the Sun is having its effect.

These magnificent plants can take up to 70 years to develop a side arm. A saguaro without arms is called a spear. The growth rate of Saguaros here in the Phoenix area of Arizona is about half as fast as those in and around Tucson, Arizona. They can live up to150 years. The largest known saguaro is the Champion Saguaro. It grows close to here in the Phoenix area and is over 43 feet tall with a girth of 3.1 meters (10 ft.). These cacti can grow anywhere from 15 to 50 feet.

Saguaros bloom at night and peak usually in late May & June. The major pollinators are bats, Doves and bees appear to be the primary daytime pollinators. The fruits are highly edible and prized by local people.

I came upon this area and looked for a pleasing composition to tell the store of the beautiful Sonoran Desert The light was really perfect for about 10 or 15 minutes when the angle was still rather low. However as quick as the good light come in, it got very harsh just as quick.

TIP: Always walk around and look for the better spot to plant your tripod. These 2 images were made about 30 seconds apart and just a few feet from one another (see GPS DATA)

IMAGE 1

 THE EDIT:  WHICH ONE WORKS            I chose image # 2

IMAGE 2

What BOTH images have in their favor:

1)     Great “sweet” early morning light.

2)     The desert vegetation is nice in both images.

3)     The saguaros add to the image nicely in both images

4)     Better than average sky ( the clouds add to the imagery)

IMAGE 1 over IMAGE 2

1)     Better looking clouds

2)     Better view of the little peak on the top of the hill on the left

3)     There is bit more space between the top of the tall saguaro and the edge of the top of the image

IMAGE 2 over IMAGE 1

1)     The foreground is definitely more interesting and really anchors the image

2)     More colorful foreground (greens)

3)     Better placement of the saguaros

4)     More defined leading line on the left center drawing the eye up into the center of interest.

I cannot stress the importance of foregrounds when it comes to anchoring the image. The empty foreground with the sort of dead brush in image one does not compare to what is featured in image two. Always ask yourself, “What is the subject”? Here it’s the saguaros and the surrounding area. Think of those features like a soloist and the sky , foreground, leading line like the orchestra, making the soloist sound good.

By literally moving 3 meters to the right and turning a bit to the left I was able to include a wonderful foreground. Before planting your tripod, (do you use a tripod all the time? You should as much as possible.) walk around and see if the spot you committed yourself to is the right spot. It might not be. Image one would have been trashed, but by looking around I was able to make a good image as I did in Image 2

Make Sure you are in the Right Location

Sunrise on the Sonran Desert, Arizona

Which One Works #5 Death Valley National Park , NIK SOFTWARE WEBINAR, ULTIMATE ICELAND 2012

         Jack Graham Photography              www.jackgrahamphoto.com

Learn to See                        Learn to think                      Learn to create

2012 Workshop Schedule    http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/2012-workshop-schedule    — WORKSHOPS FILLING FAST —!!

2012 Registration Form   REGISTRATION FORM 2012v9

 Workshop Referrals:  http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/referrals

 One on One, Individual Workshop information http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/one-one-field-studio-photography-workshops

Workshop FAQ’s  GENERAL WORKSHOP QUESTIONS_FAQ’S INFORMATION_v2012f

PODCASTwww.18percentgraymatter.com    new podcast ready now—interview with Laurie Rubin, NIK SOFTWARE

2012 Workshop Locations incliude the desert southwest, Olympic National Park, Columbia River Gorge, Fall Color in Oregon’s Wine Country & Area, Northern California

http://www.pacificnorthwestartschool.org/all/photography-workshops/graham-jack-fall-in-northern-ca-sep-20-23-2012-1  and  Whidbey Island, Wa  http://www.pacificnorthwestartschool.org/all/photography-workshops/graham-jack-photography-on-whidbey-may-9-12-2012-1   with the Pacific Northwest Art School…. Tetons & Yellowstone, Wyoming Big Horn Sheep in December….   please check out the details here:   http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/2012-workshop-schedule

My fall workshop with Guy Tal  www.guytal.com  in the Eastern Sierra is almost full there are a few spaces left. This workshop is almost at capacity. http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/17th-annual-eastern-sierra-photography-workshop-mono-lake-alabama-hills-bristlecone-pine-bodie-more  Register NOW! ( Check out Guy’s E=Books as well !!)____________________________________________________________________________

Jack Graham E-Book Series 1 & 2 now available for purchase and instant download:  

http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/shop/e-books

 

 Noteworthy                                                                                       Use code  JGRAHAM when ordering NIK SOFTWARE on line and receive a 15% discount!!!!

Left to Right: Jack, Laurie Rubin, Dan Hughes, of NIK SOFTWARE in their offices in San Diego
Left to Right: Jack, Laurie Rubin, Dan Hughes, of NIK SOFTWARE in their offices in San Diego

Recently I recorded a webinar at the NIK SOFTWARE Headquarters in San Diego. I would like to thank the folks at NIK Software, especially Laurie Rubin and Dan Hughes for making this possible. You can view the entire webinar here: http://www.niksoftware.com/learnmore/usa/index.php/webinars/archives/#/keeping-it-simple-with-nik-software-with-jack-graham/0/0/0/0/0

I just returned from my spring workshop in Death Valley. We had great weather right up until the last few hours when a bad dust storm blew through.  We had good sunsets and sunrises. We had an exceptional group of attendees as well. I’ll be back in Death Valley in early November and have a few spaces left.

Driving into the sandstorm on the way out of Death Valley last week

   Speaking of spaces, I have only one space left for Ultimate Iceland in July 2012. If you are thinking about this trip, please consider coming along. You will be in for an exceptional experience, feathering 10 full days ( I don’t count travel days like some other workshops do!) of photography. You can view the details here: http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/ultimate-iceland-july-2012

Getting set for the webinar at Nik Software

______________________________________________________________________

I received a nice email from a workshop attendee recently. She really summed up what I not only preach on workshops, that being to slow down, Look more and shoot less,  and to try and make some different images than what has already been done. Please give it a quick read!

From: Anne S [mailto:atXXXXXXX2006@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2012 5:42 AM
To: Jack Graham
Subject: Recent Workshop

Jack,

I finally got a chance to process the photos.  I did not take a whole lot of pictures but each of them reminds me a lot of your instructions and hints.

As you know, I am not out there to just take beautiful pictures though I have some very nice ones with your help to get things tighter.  For me, most importantly, I left the workshop with a good amount of knowledge and technique to help me take better pictures in the futures.  I really appreciated you coming out for this personal workshop.  I certainly have enjoyed it a lot and best of all, I have learned some good technique in photography.

If I get a chance to be in the west again in the near future, I will certainly contact you.  Likewise, if you are in the east coast, please do not hesitate to drop me an email.  I hope we could do another workshop again in a different setting.

Thanks—Anne

____________________________________

My podcast partner Bob Kulon has a new e-book out titled “Getting There”– Bob goes through the trials and tribulations of going pro as a nature photographer–a must read! !!!     http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/bkulon

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

FEATURED ARTICLE
© Jack Graham

WHICH ONE WORKS?  # 5– DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK,   CALIFORNIA 2012

Which One Works is a feather I am publishing here on my blog every week or two. I’ll discuss and compare images and talk about why I like one over the others.

This process is a common one that we all deal with in our digital darkroom. The final image is important for whatever project it’s being used for, and spending time determining which image works vs. another is well worth it. In many case the slightest difference in composition, light etc makes all the difference,

Often we may take many frames of a subject in different light and different angles. Each frame can evoke a different feeling to the subject.

Always remember that you need a good subject and acceptable light, or your final image will probably be less than desirable.

Your comments, as always are more than welcome.

______________________________________________________________________

Badwater, DVNP © Jack Graham

LOCATION:  Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley NP, California USA

Lat: 36°36’44.16″N

Long: 117°07’2.93″W

 Death Valley is a vast baron land, about the size of Connecticut (3.3 million acres) in the southeastern part of California. Due to the many mountain ranges on all sides, rainfall is scarce. I am sure that most of you know that DVNP receives about 2” of rain per year and would evaporate about 150”+. Badwater is over 200 feet below seal level and is usually the hottest place I the United States and even throughout the world. From a photo graphical standpoint, DVNP is a challenging place, even for a seasoned pro photographer. Heat is a huge problem in the late spring, & summer. When arriving at a location the conditions can be vastly different from your hotel or campsite. When photographing in DVNP, its always important to consider textures and patterns. Slowing down and learning to see are both very important factors and go a long way when attempting to create quality images in Death Valley. The bottom line is that DVNP is a great place to learn to be creative. If you are in too much of a hurry, your images will fail.

Image # 1   Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP  ©Jack Graham
Image # 1 Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP ©Jack Graham

 THE STORY:

Our group ventured out the 1st morning and the 4th morning of our workshop at sunrise to capture images at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. It was soon apparent to my workshop attendees that patterns and subject matter had to be considered carefully. At sunrise, the sand becomes a rich orange. Soon after the sun is above the horizon, the shadows of the back of the dunes contrast to the first lit sides, making metering a bit tricky. I often find that automatic metering is ineffective most of the time when shooting these dunes.

I always suggest, especially in this location, that you really work the subject. Take multiple images from different locations. If you are using a zoom lens, just don’t zoom in and out to create tighter shots. Walk around and get the most out of whatever focal length up you are using. The compression of the background is different, especially with mid to long telephoto lenses, when you walk into place and make an image vs. when you stand in one place and zoom in. It’s always good to get on the dunes the morning after a windy night. Tourists (and photographers as well) trample the dunes and leave footprints which can be really tough to clone away. These images were made on the 4th morning after a windless night. I cloned out as many footprints as possible, but many still remain. Wind is the only force that can eliminate these unwanted artifacts which are seen in so many images.

Image # 2  Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP  ©Jack Graham
Image # 2 Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP ©Jack Graham

TECH DATA:  On day 4 I decided to put my new Nikon 28-300mm lens to the test (more on this in another blog article). I shot a few images at F22, which I normally do not use very often and at 300mm and 28mm respectively. I was rather impressed with the overall quality. I obtained this lens to use as a travel lens, when weight is a consideration. Does is perform like my 17-35mm 2.8 or 80-200mm 2.8? Not quite but its really better than I expected.

IMAGE 1   Date/Time: 2012:03:05 07:32:35  ( sunrise was about 6:15 or so)

NIKON D700  Nikon   Lens-Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR   set at 300m

Shutter speed: 1.6 sec at  F22  Exposure –Manual  Metering-Spot  at 300mm

–         1/3 compensation  no filters

______________

IMAGE # 2       (11 minutes later)   This images was slightly cropped on the bottom.

Date/Time: 2012:03:05 07:43:32  ( sunrise was about 6:15 or so)

NIKON D700 , Lens– Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR    set at 105mm

Image # 2   Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP  ©Jack Graham
Image # 2 Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP ©Jack Graham

Shutter speed: 1/20th sec at F16 Exposure –Manual Metering-Spot

–         1/3 compensation no filters

_____________________

PROCESSING:  Lightroom camera raw adjustments then NIK SOFTWARE—Define, Viveza 2.0, Color Efex Pro4 (Pro Contrast, Darken Lighten Center) Output Sharpener 2.0

The final monochrome image was processed using Nik Software Silver Efex Pro2

Image # 1   Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP  ©Jack Graham
Image # 1 Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP ©Jack Graham

THE EDIT:    I really have a tough time discerning which one works. They both work in different ways. There are certainly more lines in image # 2, than the wider view, as well as the crop, depicts what the dunes represent. Both images tell a story. Both images depict the sand dunes well, but in a very different way. The use of the creosote bush to me is better in image #1.

When critiquing images, I use what I refer to as my 5 second rule. If I can not look at an image and in 5 seconds, want to study it more, or know that something is working well, I usually move on. Again both images quality in this respect as well.

I will pick image #1 over image # 2. My eye tends to keep moving around in image #2 looking for a more defined subject than image # 1. I also think that though I made a slight crop in image #2, there is still a bit too much foreground. Perhaps a panorama of this area would have been better suited for my needs. I really like how the bush in image #2 anchors the image. The curve and shape of the large dune in image #1 is a well-defined subject.

After converting image # 1 into monochrome (below), I even like it better. The shadows work much better in monochrome than in color

What do you think?

JG

Image # 1   Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP  ©Jack Graham
Image # 1 Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, DVNP ©Jack Graham

 

The right to download and store or output any content on these websites www.jackgrahamphoto.com and  www.jackgrahamsbloog.com is granted for preview purposes only and may not be reproduced in any form .All Photographs appearing on these sites are the property of Jack Graham unless otherwise noted.
These photos are protected by U.S.Copyright laws and are not to be downloaded or reproduced in any way without the written permission of Jack Graham
By entering these sites you accept these terms. If you need permission to use a photo on these sites please call

503-625-1430 or email Jack @ Jack@jackgrahamphoto.com

WHICH ONE WORKS? #3 “Composition, Processing challenges and the Feeling” / Recent News

                            Jack Graham Photography

www.jackgrahamphoto.com

    Learn to See                        Learn to think                      Learn to create

 

   2012 Workshop Schedule    http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/2012-workshop-schedule

2012 Registration Form   REGISTRATION FORM 2012v9

Workshop Referrals:  http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/referrals

One on One, Individual Workshop information http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/one-one-field-studio-photography-workshops

Workshop FAQ’s GENERAL WORKSHOP QUESTIONS_FAQ’S INFORMATION_v2012f

PODCASTwww.18percentgraymatter.com

______________________________________________________________________________

 

    Jack Graham E-Book Series 1 & 2 now available for purchase and instant download:  

http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/shop/e-books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noteworthy

LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRPAHY MAGAZINE   http://landscapephotographymagazine.com/

This months issue (Feb 2012)  contains an article entitled “Focus on the Unconventional” http://landscapephotographymagazine.com/magazine/issue-12/ by me. I hope you find it interesting. While you are there, check out his 1st class publication. Compared to many of the print magazines, Landscape Photography is far ahead of the curve. Check out them various sections and innovative layout here. Let me know how you like the article!.

NIK WEBINAR : I’ll be doing a webinar for NIK DOFTWARE, live in their studio from 2-3PM (Pacific Time) on February 28th.  The webinar topic is “Keeping it Simple” and getting the most out of the NIK Software Suite. Click here to register for the webinar:  http://www.niksoftware.com/learnmore/usa/index.php/webinars/signup/12851?j=16013119&e=jack@jackgrahamphoto.com&l=175395_HTML&u=205139063&mid=115479&jb=0

See you there!  (save 15% on NIK Software—order online www.niksoftware.com and enter the code JGRAHAM)

WORKSHOPS; My 2012 workshops are beginning to fill quickly. The links you need to have are at the top of this page. We have only one seat left for Iceland, and just a few for our unbelievable trip to Hidden China and Tibet this summer. Also the workshops in the Southwest this spring are almost filled.. Don’t miss out on these !!!!

__________________ FEATURED ARTICLE————————————————————————————————————

WHICH ONE WORKS?          #3

    “Composition, Processing challenges and the Feeling”

©Jack Graham / Jack Graham Photography

Within these discussion that will appear on my blog every week or two, I’ll discuss and compare images and talk about why I like one over the others.

This process is a common one that we all deal with in our digital darkroom. The final image is important for whatever project it’s being used for, and spending time determining which image works vs. another is well worth it. In many case the slightest difference in composition, light etc makes all the difference, Processing techniques can also make the choice apparent as well.

Often we may take many frames of a subject in different light and different angles. Each frame can evoke a different feeling to the subject.

Always remember that you need a good subject and acceptable light, or your final image will probably be less than desirable.

You comments, as always are more than welcome.

______________________________________________________________________

IMAGE # 1 Beaver Pond, Lundy Canyon,

 

LOCATION:  Beaver pond, Lundy Canyon, Eastern Sierra, California

 

THE STORY:  Prior to the start of my fall workshop in the Eastern Sierra, in 2011, Guy Tal www.guytal.com) and me, spent a few days together, scouting the area for our coming workshop in early October. Late in the afternoon as some weather was moving in we drove back into the beaver pond past Lundy Lake. I’ve been back here in some wonderful weather tor photography ( for me its dramatic skies; usually adverse conditions!). There is  lots of subject matter here. There is a series of ponds all high maintained by the local beavers who monitor the water level and use the plentiful amount of aspens and other trees for their dens, easily visible from the shoreline.

 

 

IMGAE # 2   Beaverpond Lundy Canyyon
IMGAE # 2 Beaverpond Lundy Canyyon

 

Its’ about 7000’ elevation here and the temperature is usually about 10-15 degrees colder than in close by Lee VIning and Mono Lake. Though the weather was not really terrible, it was about 32 degrees Fahrenheit and windy and raining and snowing at times pretty hard. Unfortunately the wind was blowing right at us. I’ve been in worse. The light was just ok, but for a few minutes when the sunlight pushed through the clouds in the distance hi about the mountains where it was snowing and the snow up high really made this image interesting. Though I had my chamois ready, the raindrops were a factor on my lens as you can see in the raw file.

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TECH DATA:

Image 1 ( Horizontal )                                                                                                              Image # 2  (Vertical)

Date/Time: 2011:10:10 16:21:36 Nikon D700 /Nikon 28-70mm F 2.8           2011:10:10 16:04:41 Nikon D700  /Nikon 17-35mm F 2.8

Shutter speed: 1/30 sec   Aperture: 16                                                                    Shutter speed: 1/13 sec   Aperture: 16

Exposure mode: Manual Metering mode: Spot                                                    Exposure mode: Manual Metering mode: Spot

ISO: 400   Focal length: 30mm                                                                                ISO: 400   Focal length: 20mm

 

Let’s discuss processing. II did all my normal processing Adobe Lightroom & did a lot of cloning in Photoshop of the water droplets that I could not prevent from hitting my lens! ( you can see my workflow and processing information in my eBook Series 1 available for sale on my website: I then used my   NIK Software as follows:

Here are the origional RAW FILES of each image

RAW file before processing

 

 

 

RAW file before processing

1)       Define 2.0—noise reduction. With my Nikon D700 at ISO400 there was virtually NO noise

2)       Viveza 2.0 – added a good amount of structure and some contrast to the clouds (see my glossary below & learn these terms). I reduced the amount to light in the upper right, ‘

By adding some structure to the water, I was able to bring out some of the reflections as well. I also adjusted the shadows in the trees and brought out a lot of definition, lost in the RAW file. (This is why we use the RAW format. We have much more to work with and can make these adjustments correctly… a discussion of RAW vs. jpeg can be found here: https://jackgrahamphoto.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/photo-tip-podcast-workshop-info/

3)       Color Efex 4 – I added just a tad of Brilliance & Warmth and then just a little Pro Contrast. I used the foliage adjustment to bring out the greens & the foliage along the shoreline. As always I added a vignette, using the Darken –Lighten center feature. This allowed me to choose where I want the center of attraction to be. I chose the shoreline on the left side of the pone. and adjusted the amount of vignette I wanted as well as the amount of darkening I wanted the boarders to have.

4)       Sharpening _ I used NIK’S Sharpener Pro 3.0 . I wanted the trees and vegetation sharper than the mountaintops and certainly the sky. With the Nik software I can control using the U-Point technology the area I want to have sharper than others. Not all images need this but this one did.

 

After that I added a slight curve and adjusted my levels in Adobe Photoshop and completed the processing.

 

THE EDIT:   

 

Both images deliver a totally different feeling and emoting. I chose image 2.Some of you who know me know I really love vertical images and for a while I tended to photograph more vertical images than horizontal. I’ve now learned to shoot both angles and make the decision later! This is a good example.

IMAGE #2

 

I choose #2 for a few reasons. First there is a much more appealing foreground, which is usually the first thing I look for inn the field when looking for good subject matter.

On my workshops, I always stress to my workshop attendees , that a little thing can make a good image a great one. Sometimes it’s not the obvious, but the subtle that can transform an image. For instance,

I really like how the sun reflection is right at the top of the tree reflection, and the top of the dead tree it pointing right up to the sun that just cresting over the tops of the mountains . I also like, really in both images how the submerged tree act as kind of a leading line to the other side of the pond.

I feel that the composition is simpler in the vertical. My eye keeps moving around looking for somewhere to land in the horizontal image. There is a lot of subject matter in the horizontal. Simple is always better.  In addition the clouds were much more dramatic in image #2.  Also note how two different lenses can evoke a different look and feel to an image as well.  Image was made with my Nikon 17-35mm F2.8 ( a very sharp lens) . I got down low to the ground to get the foreground where I wanted it. Image #2 was made with my Nikon 28-70mm F2.8, also a very sharp lens. There was no foreground where I was standing.

To recap, these items, in order of importance to me are why #2 was my choice.

1)       #2 has a more simple, but stronger composition, delivers a better feeling to the mood

2)       Strong  foreground

3)       Clouds more dramatic

4)       Position of the sun on the top as well as the reflection

5)       Somewhat better light

Let me now what you think!

 

The right to download and store or output any content on the  website www.jackgrahamphoto.com and  www.jackgahamsblog.com  website is granted for preview purposes only and may not be reproduced in any form.All Photographs appearing on this site are the property of Jack Graham unless otherwise noted.
These photos are protected by U.S.Copyright laws and are not to be downloaded or reproduced in any way without the written permission of Jack Graham
By entering this site you accept these terms. If you need permission to use a photo on this site please call 503-625-1430 or email Jack @ Jack@jackgrahamphoto.com

 

FALL COLOR PHOTO TIPS…East and West.. (updated from 2007 edition)…NEW FROM NIK SOFTWARE-Color Efex Pro4……PODCAST NEWS

PLEASE READ THE ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING Nik Software’s new Color Efex Pro4 AND OUR  PODCAST WITH NIK”S PRODUCT MANAGER Josh Haftel below!!!!!!!!

www.18percentgraymatter.com

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2011 Workshop Schedule  http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/2011-workshop-schedule

Reg Forms & FAQ’S REGISTRATION FORM 2011v9      FAQ’S

2012 Workshop Schedulehttp://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/2012-workshop-schedule

Reg Forms & FAQ’S   REGISTRATION FORM 2012        FAQ”S

WORKSHOP DISCOUNTS   WORKSHOP DISCOUNTS

Jack’s Website   www.jackgrahamphoto.com

PODCAST:  www.18percentgraymatter.com                      WATCH FOR MY NEW E_BOOK       -COMING SOON!!!!!!!

COMING in 2012-–I will be doing a workshop on Whidbey Island , Washington May 10-13 2012  with the folks at  the PACIFIC NORTHWEST ART SCHOOL (www.pacificnorthwestartschool.org). In addition I’ll also be offering a 3 1/2 day Oregon Coast workshop with the Pacific Northwest Artschool in September—-STAY TUNED for details soonhttp://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/whidbey-island-washington-pacific-northwest-art-school

_________________________________________________________________________________

WHAT’S NEW:

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog. Ongoing, I’ll be more active. It’s been a busy workshop season and will continue that way through mid November.

 WORKSHOPS: I have a few spots left for my Fall Color in Ohio Workshop  http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/fall-color-ne-ohio-well-very-special-day-amish-oct-2011  in late October… as well as the Fall color workshop in Napa Valley, San Francisco and the Northern California Coast in early November.http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/fall-northern-california-napa-pt-reyesmarin-headlands-sf-coastline-s-sf Registration forms are available above. These are going to be very special events. Please consider joining us.  The Eastern Sierra Workshop with Guy Tal and me, in mid October has one opening left.http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/eastern-sierra-photography-workshop-1-spot-left

DON’T FORGET ICELAND 2012 (filling fast) http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/ultimate-iceland    and CHINA 2012  http://www.phototc.com/tours/tour.php?tour=152    in 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

____________________________________________________________________________

www.18percentgraymatter.com PODCAST—BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG NEWS—THE BEST JUST GOT BETTER…—  Recently Bob Kulon and I recorded an interview with Josh Haftel, product manager at NIK SOFTWARE www.niksoftware.com  regarding today’s announcement from NIK about their newly upgraded COLOR EFEX PRO4 program( available today for download). Please take a few minutes and listen to the PODCAST. You can access the site here.   By using the code 18percent, you’ll receive an additional 15 % discount! This is a great program. The new addition has more filters as well as filter stacking (Thanks NIK). Please check it out, you will not be disappointed.  

                                      Remember  code=  18percent    &   save 15% on download  www.niksoftware.com

________________________________________________

Mary & Peter Andrade

GOOD READING: My good friends and past workshop attendees Mary & Peter Andrade have an interesting blog on line. http://pamphotography.wordpress.com/

These folks are good photographers with some different perspectives on some really cool subject matter. They have become good friends and though Mary & Peter are somewhat different in their approach, they have some really great images up in the blog, as well as some really good information. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

________________________________________________

Also, I am really proud of my son, and fellow photographer Matthew Graham. Check out his work, he’s doing some great stuff—Way to go Matt!!!

http://matthewgrahamphoto.com/wp/

________________________________________________________________________________

ANOTHER FRAUD  http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/world/celebrated-wildlife-photographer-exposed-as-fraud-in-sweden-61616.html

When will these folks learn——keep this in mind when it’s tempting to cheat. Sometimes editors should ask to see the RAW FILE!

—————————————————————–

   And finally–Don’t forget to check out the latest specials from my good friends at Hunt’s

http://wbhunt.com/specials/

                                    AND OF COURSE:  <img src=”http://www.outdoorphotogear.com/affiliate/banners/BlueGreen_OPG_banner_180x150.jpg” alt=”

   just click the banner and start shopping—-you’ll find accessories not found in your local camera store, all under one roof here. These are good people!

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

FEATURED ARTICLE…………….AUTUMN, EAST AND WEST, Tips for Fall Photography

(Updated from my 2007 blog post)  ©J Graham

Bridalveil Falls, Ohio

If you love shooting the landscape like me, fall is our time of year. Fall is when the mountains, hills and valleys light up, on fire….. and then go out in a natural blaze of glory.

I have been lucky to have lived and photographed autumns here in the west, as well as the eastern regions of the country. There some major differences in photographic technique in both regions as well as certain skills.  There are also some similarities.

For me,Michigan,Wisconsin, and the Adirondack Mountains of NY North-Eastern Ohio and of courseVermontis the most productive areas for me in the Northeast. Colorado, Utah, The Cascades and the Sierra Nevada Mountains are my favorites in the west. Northern Arizona, from Flagstaff north is also one of my favorites as is Yellowstone and Teton National Parks

In the east the Maples (Sugar, black and red) can be simply amazing. Other species add to the palate such as beech and hemlocks bring out lots of yellows and orange color. It takes a good summer of rain; along with the right climatic conditions bring out the best in fall color. The Maple trees are aided in color when temperatures reach high enough to bring back up the sugar into the tree. After the temperatures drop in the evenings, the sugar drops within the trees system. This is how the color becomes apparent in the leaves.

While the maples in the east blaze in red, the autumn color in the west is mostly shades of orange and gold. The principle tree in higher altitude regions is theAspen.

Aspens in the Eastern Sierra, California

The aspen propagates by sending root suckers through the ground. This makes for groups of trees that are all clones of each other, sometimes referred to as a vein of aspens. You can easily pick these out against the mountainsides in the west. Unlike the east where finding the grand scenic may be a bit tougher at times, I have always  found it easy to capture these veins of aspens in the west. I can remember driving south on US 395 from Bridgeport to Lee Vining (the home of Mono Lake) and shooting the aspens right off the highway.

Be sure to monitor the weather. Weather in the UP of Michigan’sCountry Fall well as most of the west can change within hours. I have been in the Sierra where the morning was 60 degrees, at the height of the fall color, and in the 30’s by sunset, with the leaves dropping. Aspens can loose their leaves overnight. Timing is very critical.

Most states offer fall color information using the State Department of Natural Resources web sites.  Go to a search engine and type in “department of natural resources, then your state.”

Let’s face it, we as photographers….pro’s, amateurs’ or just casual shooters all look forward to the fall color display to get out and capture all that nature has to offer. Unless you are lucky enough to live in an area that offer really interesting photography most of the year, once that cool air, increasing rain and fall color starts, we get that rejuvenated feeling and grab our camera bags and tripods and get out in the crisp, fall air to capture the vibrant colors of the season.

Fall in Oregon's Wine Country

Fall is all about color, and how to make the most of it. Here are some pointers that can help you come home with the best images possible during this magical season of color.

~Overcast and even rainy weather provides the best lighting for both landscapes as well as for close-ups of fall leaves, ferns, mushrooms, berries, and other subjects. Bright sunny weather creates harsh highlights, blocked shadow details, and even a blue cast due to reflected light from the blue sky.  A cloudy sky minimizes the blue cast, reduces contrast, and increases color saturation.  Rain and wet conditions serve to even increase the color saturation. Heavy rain also makes the tree trunks dark, further enhancing the color of the leaves

  •  A credo of nature photography, stated by Ansel Adams, is that “Bad weather makes for great photography”. Streams, rivers, waterfalls and forests are great subjects to photograph when it rains. Take care to keep your equipment dry as well as yourself and get out and shoot in these conditions. You might come home soaked, but making images in rainy weather will be a lot more rewarding than those on sunny days.

When making close up images, always use a circular diffuser, to soften direct sunlight, simulate an overcast sky, and thus improve the lighting for your fall close-ups. You may not think you need it, but even on cloudy days diffusers make a big difference.

  • Early morning and late afternoon lighting on sunny or partly cloudy days can provide dramatic lighting for scenic fall vistas taken in the open.  Weather fronts, which often occur in fall, can also provide sensational light, especially when areas of fall color are sunlit against a dark storm sky.
    • Let’s talk about sky. If the sky adds nothing to your image… LEAVE IT OUT.  White or overcast, less than dramatic sky is poison to an image.
    • Sunny weather is also the best lighting for photographing reflections of fall foliage in lakes, rivers, and streams.  The reflections are most dramatic when the fall color is sunlit and the water is in shade.  Try using slow shutter speeds to create abstracts from fall foliage reflected in the moving water of rivers and streams. Be careful if you are using a polarizer. This can detract from the reflections that you really want, of the color in the water. Refer to this article to get more tips on photographing water. https://jackgrahamphoto.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/2377/

    Misty, damp days can provide wonderful, moody lighting for fall color and waterfall photography.  The air is usually still, eliminating the problem of wind movement, and the moisture on leaves and rocks intensifies their color. 

As with snow scenes, relying on your camera meter may result in misty scenes that are too dark, so you may need to open up by ½ to 1 f-stop to retain the pearly light and luminosity that permeate these quiet foggy fall days.

  • A polarizing filter can be used to intensify colors and minimize reflections from wet rocks and leaves.  An exposure increase of 1 to 2 f-stops will be needed, depending on the amount of polarization.  Your camera meter will adjust the exposure automatically when you attach a polarizing filter.  With most modern digital cameras, a “circular” polarizing filter is needed to ensure an accurate exposure reading. Don’t forget your graduated ND’s as well. www.singh-ray.com
  • Use color to your advantage. Complimentary colors add to impact images. Green foliage combined with the reds and oranges work well. So does yellow aspens against blue skies in autumn.
  • Look for different subjects such as reflections of the fall color in water pumpkins, covered bridges, buildings that can compliment the fall color. Make use of the color. Don’t just go after that grand landscape.
  • Keep your compositions as simple as possible. Remember; don’t try to write a novel in your photographic composition, write the sentence that tells the story. Use the rule of thirds, graphic lines and make your image using a key element as the anchor. Simple is always the best.
  •  Always use a tripod. Walk around with your camera before committing to a spot while it’s on your tripod. Choose your lens properly to get the shot you want.

              

  •  
  • Get out and stay out. You can use this saying in two instances. Especially in the East where we might require getting onto private property to get that “winner” shot, always ask first as to avoid hearing that phrase. Make sure you have all the right clothing and equipment to be able to get out in bad weather. Stay out as long as you have some light. Your best light is always during the golden hours in the morning and evenings.

Most of all enjoy the color display that happens only once per year. In just a few short weeks (at least where I live) it will only be a dream and the realities of winter will set in.

Finally here are a few websites to help you monitor the fall color:

www.foliagenetwork.net

http://usparks.about.com/od/fallfoliage/a/Fall-Colors.htm

http://www.chiff.com/a/fall-foliage.htm

http://www.weather.com/activities/driving/fallfoliage/

http://phototravel.com/fall.htm   (more than you’ll ever need!)

http://www.wxnation.com/fallfoliage/ (lots of cams)

For the west —- www.calphoto.com

                   

BREAK THE RULES.. but know them first! / News and Notes

WORKSHOPS:: www.jackgrahamphoto.com/photo-workshops (2011 & 2012 schedules are there)        PODCAST: www.18percentgraymatter.com

JACK GRAHAM PHOTOGRAPHY MAIN WEBSITE: www.jackgrahamphoto.com

 

OCTOBER 2011—–FALL in NE OHIO & a day with the AMISH —FILLING FAST   http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/fall-color-ne-ohio-well-very-special-day-amish-oct-2011

 

 

             ICELAND 2012—FILLING FAST   http://www.jackgrahamphoto.com/ultimate-iceland

 

 

 

 

 

 

______________________________________________________________________________

News & Notes:

Outdoor Photo Gear recently had a reprint of an article from this blog on their site (they gave an excellent blog area). Today they used one of my photographs on their home page……

thanks guy’s !!     www.outdoorphotogear.com if you haven’t visited them (click on the banner below) & check them out. They are a truly 1 stop shop for the coolest photo accessories and more around.

___________________________________________________________

Naturephotgraphers.net (www.naturephotographers.net also published a new essay of mine “The 10 Commandments of Photography” recently. http://www.naturephotographers.net/farchives.html  Give it a read, as well as the other articles from Guy Tal and Alain Briot. NPN is THE premier online forum for photography.

______________________________________________________________

And don’t forget my friends at HUNT’S PHOTO & VIDEO. http://www.huntsphotoandvideo.com/ ., by far the best in the industry—Call Gary Farber for the best pricing and selection, yes better than NYC!!! (800) 221-1830 x 2332 and tell Gary I said hi!

______________________________________________________________

And finally a new website advertising workshops both in the USA and abroad is up and running. . All Photo Adventures also contains lots of good tips from some excellent photographers.

They were kind enough to post an article from me as well https://www.allphotoadventures.com/protips.aspx .

________________________________________________________________

INTERNET EXPLORER 9 vs. FIREFOX & SAFARI

Let’ talk about looking at images on the web on your monitor for a minute. I bet a lot of you didn’t know this. Internet Explorer 9 is not color managed. I REPEAT—NOT COLOR MANAGED!!!

FIREFOX and SAFARI is color managed and will ensure sRGB is read correctly. The problem is with Internet Explorer 9. If you are using IE9 often the greens & yellows will have hues significantly different from your original image. Why this is I have NO idea.

Many folks often discuss, and often critique images using IE9. I think you see my point. To do this kind of exercise correctly, use either Firefox or Safari. If everyone is not on a color managed browser such as in FIREFOX or SAFARI (as well as a calibrated monitor) we are all looking at hues & colors that often are drastically different…….Consider this when viewing images on your (hopefully calibrated) monitor.

One way around this if you want to continue to use explorer 7 on up…. is here http://www.gballard.net/psd/go_live_page_profile/embeddedJPEGprofiles.html#

___________________________________________________________

New D400 from Nikon? I am hearing lots of rumors about a D400 coming in August. This would make a lot of sense since the D300 line, though extremely successful, has about reached it life cycle. Historically,  Nikon has unveiled follow-up cameras about every 2 years, and this August makes 2 years since the D300s came on the scene.

I would guess the MSRP on the D400 to be around that of the D300s. The “Sweet spot” these days for DSLR’s is $750- $1500.  Competitively, along with Canon & Sony there are many fine cameras in those price points. The D 400 will compete with all of them…………………………..I guess we’ll see in a few weeks!

__________________________________________________________________

Break the Rules….but know them first

© Jack Graham all rights reserved

In all of the many books that attempt to teach one how to be a better photographer, I would bet that there is only a handful that actually talks about breaking the rules. We are so entrenched in getting things right, and following the many common rules of photography, we sometimes forget to experiment and let our creative side flourish.

So what are the “rules”? Without going into each specific photographic “rule”  suffice it to say, before going out into the field attempting to make quality images one must have a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t work. It’s hard enough to “See” an image, but then how do want to communicate that through the lens. What mood do you want to project, and what equipment do you use.

I maintain that if you can be adept at the following basic “rules”, use the light to your advantage and slow down and give yourself the ability to see, you’ll come away with more quality images.

If you understand the basic rules, but do not incorporate them into your photography, you are in essence not using the rules at all and in turn, your images will reflect this lack of understanding. In some ways if you don’t adhere to the accepted photographic rules, you’re already breaking them, however by using accepted photographic rules; you’ll be more successful when you attempt to break them. It takes patience and lots of technique when you break one or more of the cardinal rules of photography. One had better study them, know them inside and out and understand these rules are accepted protocol.

I recently was told that a rather well-known nature photographer, when asked about rules, replied that he has no rules. I admire this person’s work and guarantee, he follows the common rules of photography, but at times successfully breaks them and comes away with great images. In this essay, I am doing to discuss a few common rules of photography and how you might successfully break them, let your creative juices flow and be successful in your photography.

Let’s look at a few, certainly not all basic rules of photography. I’ll demonstrate the use of them and how you can break them to a degree, but still come away with a pleasing image.

LIGHT

RULE: Bad light is bad light and good light is good light. Usually, but not always.

I know some excellent nature photographers that only shoot in the “sweet light” Sweet light is defined by the effects of the sun during the time of day when the sun is at a very low angle or when conditions provide for warm and dramatic light. Typically ½ hr before sunrise and ½-3/4 of an hr after sunset is when this sweet light occurs.

You must know and if possible if possible visualize the light under certain atmospheric conditions in order to make your time in the field successful.

Monument Valley in "sweet light"

BREAK the RULE: However, Can you break this rule and make acceptable images? Certainly for macro photography and in areas where you can control your environment, shooting only at certain times of the day are not relevant. In certain circumstances, you can come away with quality images.

The image on Monument Valley was shot at the so called”Golden hour”, in very good light.

Oregon Coast

The second  image was taken about 2PM on the Oregon Coast with a rather bright, but partly cloudy afternoon. First I limited all but a touch of sky and made the movement of the grasses the subject. I shot this 2/3rds under exposed to darken the image a bit. One might see this as being shot on an overcast day, but it was far from completely overcast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMPOSITION:

RULE: Always follow the rule of thirds………………….  Well, not always

The rule of thirds is the most important rule of composition. It is intended to place subjects in areas that are aesthetically pleasing. This rule was not invented yesterday. It’s stood the test of time

.

The “Rule of Thirds” divides each image into three areas both horizontally and vertically.  In turn, a grid with nine squares, similar to a tick-tack–toe board is created.  Each of the individual points of those squares is where your subject could be placed.  The basic idea of this rule is to avoid centering an object.

Following the rule. The male cardinal is  nowhere near the middle of the image. The rule of thirds is followed in this image.

In the two images below, it is easy to se why moving the center of the image just a bit makes for a much more pleasing image

This center of this image is kind of bulleseyed
the center is off center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BREAK THE RULE

Hawaiian Church

There are a few special times when centering an object or subject works. Most often is when the leading lines are all moving in concert to the center of the image.

The image of the church on the left is a good example of a centered subject. In this case the subject takes up most of the frame. The  flowers act as a leading line , bring you right up to the stairs and the front door of the church.  Though the subject is in the middle, the image looks just fine.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse, California ( image shot on Fuji Velvia--remember film?)

It is important to determine how much negative space you want to have in your image. Negative space is the area around the subject.  For example, if a subject happens to be is long and thin or on the smallish side, having more negative space will make the subject look lost within the image. Conversely, too little negative space might cut off the subject. …. And you may want that! Remember, if it works, break the rule.

Have I ever broken the centering rule, yes, when it works. If I choose to center an object because its shape allows the image to be more pleasing.  Circular objects are a good example.  A photo looking up into a domed ceiling usually works better with some centering

A round flower often needs centering to avoid cutting off portions of the petals. Buy why not cut off the petals, break the rule and get creative.

I never make breaking rules a habit, but sometimes it works.  In the end I usually use the “Rule of Thirds” as my guideline.

 

 

 

VERTICAL or HORIZONTAL

The other main decision with composition has to do the deciding if the subject lends itself to a horizontal or vertical image.

RULE: The amount of negative space required to make a pleasing images is a major factor in determining which format is the best….) and then as always, consider the rule of thirds in both formats when making the image)….. And think creativity. If I break the rule, would it improve my image?”

As a photographer when in the field I will typically shoot both formats of a subject if there is any question as to the best format. I then make the decision at a later date which format works for me. Usually, each format conveys a very different feeling.

When I photograph waterfalls, trees or flowers with long stems, I tend use the vertical format. However if the same waterfall, flower or tree is photographed without the long stem or falling water, then the horizontal format might be considered over the vertical so there is more space surrounding the subject.

Both images are of the identical waterfall.

Again, if breaking the rule makes for more pleasing images, then by all means do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HORIZON LINES in composition are critical.

RULE: Horizons should generally be low to feature the sky, or high to the foreground.  They should always be level straight and level.

Again, thinking creatively, you may want break this rule. Most often if I do, I exaggerate the horizons, making somewhat of an abstract image. You either want to follow this rule to the tea, or really break it and use your imagination.

   

The horizon line in the image of Monument Valley is almost right down the center of the image, however in this image I think it works quite well.

 

 

 

 

Green Heron on the prowl

One area I almost never break the rules is when photographing subjects that are not stationery.  Birds in flight, moving objects like boats, planes or cars should point in a direction they are moving towards.  Without this direction they look like they are running out of the frame and into an invisible dead-end on the end of the image.

Big Horn Ram, Wyoming

But I sais almost.  The ram below is almost dead center. I wanted to show the path from where he came from in the background. Did I break the rule, of course, but purposely to show the environment he lives in and appeared from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exposure

Exposure is basic. One must take Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO into consideration. Each has an effect on the other, though by themselves are separate considerations.

Rule: Smaller apertures will always give more depth of field, and a larger less. and a slower shutter speed will always cause more blurring, and a faster less. A higher ISO ( though modern technology is changing this drastically) will always create more noise in an image  Proper exposure comes from knowing how these three affect each other and thus making the right choice for each scene.

Oregon Coast, underexposed by 2/3 of a stop

Rule: Exposure itself should match whatever the lighting is in that situation.

Moonlit landscape at Death Valley... about a 40 second exposure at F4, ISO 400

For example, a moonlit landscape should look moonlit and not like mid afternoon. The rules for ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, are not debatable.  However, a we can use these rules them to convey a feeling using light. I often try to replicate the scene as I observed it when making the image. However, experiment, and perhaps underexpose your image (usually overexposure will be less advantageous). You may find a totally different feeling being felt. If it’s interesting and pleasing, by all means break the rule!

Even is you have an acceptable composition, a bad exposure will destroy the image. Break the rules of exposure only after you master them. By the end of a workshop, my attendees are usually sick of hearing me preach getting the exposure (and composition for that matter) right in the camera. Editing often can not fix everything.

Photographers use rules, or lack of, and creativity to make pleasing images. We all are different and see in different ways.  This is what makes each image and each photographer unique.  Remember; break the rules only when you have mastered them. Be creative

We are all using creativity when we photograph a subject. Just breaking the rules doesn’t work by itself. One should spend time experimenting with the composition and the light, Using your creativity is the way to make pleasing images while breaking the rules.  If a certain rule of photography blocks out your creativity, then choose to use it or try something different. Creativity along with other parameters is what makes one photographer stand out from another

Our life is filled with rules. We stop at red lights; sports are based on rule books. There are rules that we are not permitted to break. However in the arts and science, though based on rules as well. Many great discoveries were made by someone breaking a rule………………In photography, some rules can be more definitive and some more vague.