Photography Tutorials

Use and Control Colour to Elevate your Landscape Photography

Today we’re talking colour. Beautiful vibrant colour or even the complete lack of it. We’re going to look at how colour feeds into the entire photography process and how we can use and control that colour to improve our landscape photography.

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Style

One of the first things to strike us when we first look at an image is the colour. This is particular true if the colour is designed to make a statement or the photographer has just made a complete hash of it, like some of those horrible HDR’s where it looks like you’ve just thrown up all over the page.

How you use colour in your landscape photography is an important part of what gives you your style. Do you prefer big vibrant colours? Do you use more muted tones? Are you a black and white person?

It doesn’t really matter and no one way is better than the other but what is happening with the colour in your image is something we need to think about and not just let it end up happening by chance.

So how do we start controlling the colour?

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Planning

The first part comes right at the start during the planning phase. Photography is all about storytelling so when planning a shoot I will first decide what kind of story I want to tell. Colour has a big impact on story. Big vibrant saturated colours create a story of hope and happiness whilst more muted subtle, colours have a more thoughtful, down beat, artistic feeling. Colour is directly linked to our brains and affects our emotions heavily so as a photographer I want to use that to my benefit to take the viewer on an emotional journey.

The type of story I want to tell will then guide the location I choose to shoot in. The weather also has an impact on colour. Sometimes I will head out chasing a story. For example, I am in a happy mood and I want a big colour sunset type shot. I’ve checked the weather, I know there is a chance of a colourful sky, so I head to the beach. Finding a composition it then time to hope that the big sky comes. Sometimes it doesn’t pay off but often it will and the story be chased is told.

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On other occasions I’m not in control of where the shoot is happening so it is necessary to adapt the story to the landscape and conditions. Thats exactly what happened in the Peak District last week. That location was set because I had plans with a friend. I knew the weather would be changeable and there was a good chance it would come good at the end of the day. I used colour in the images to drive the story of adverse weather from the desaturated drought shot, through the monochrome rain shot, to the black & white bleak, shot at the top before heading through the extreme clouds and into the sunny colourful sunset at the end.

Watch the video here - https://youtu.be/bsMlvi_RBxI

Compose with Colour

Placing some striking colour into an aspect of your composition can take a photograph from a good shot to a great shot. A blue sky compared to a big colourful sky is an obvious example and it is true of the foreground and mid ground too. Take British moorland as an example. It’s covered in heather and most of the year it is an uninteresting browny green colour. But every Autumn/September time it flowers and turns into a stunning and vibrant pinky purple colour that can turn a composition.

We can take this a step further by using good light. We all know about the golden hour but having the warm light hitting a scene will enhance the colour of everything, without creating nasty highlighted area that you can get during the middle day. This definitely happens with the heather but the same is true of rocks, sand, buildings, trees and pretty much everything else.

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When good light is absent a scene will be much less vibrant, like in dull grey conditions. When I am faced with that I will often combine the more subtle colours with a long exposure to produce a more ethereal and fine art feel to the scene with muted colours or monochrome.

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Black and White and Monochrome

Black and White is an interesting area of landscape photography. To get the best images it is really important to try and decide at the time of shooting if the final image should be black and white, rather than just using it in post to try an rescue a bad image. It does not mean the image need to be captured in Black and White, just have it in mind for the final composition.

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I use black and white when there is a really interesting composition but the colours are dull and actually detract from the image. Even in those dull colours, interesting tones are present that will work well in black and white. You can also post-process grey tones much more aggressively than a colour image to really add drama to a black and white photo.

A black and white image in monochrome but a monochrome image is not necessarily black and white. It just means we’re working with the varying tones of one colour. Monochrome images are difficult to plan for but it’s something I am massively attracted to when the conditions present themselves. Often it will happen in cloudy or foggy conditions. When the conditions present themselves it is good opportunity to create something a little more unique..

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Post-processing

With Adobe Lightroom and other modern editors, they provide a massive amount of control over the colour. Several adjustments can be made to change the colour and transform an image.

White Balance

White balance is the first in the list. This is also the first time I have even considered white balance. When shooting in RAW white balance can be completely changed in post with no reduction in quality whatsoever. Setting the camera to auto white balance will be accurate most of the time and my method in post is to match the sight and feeling I had of the scene at the time.

Vibrance and Saturation

Vibrance and saturation both affect colour but in different ways. Saturation will change all of the colour in the image. It is a bit like the contrast slider in that it can be very tempting to add too much. A good tip is to dial it up to where you think it is right, then dial it back a bit to end up in the right place.

Vibrance on the other hand is smarter and only affects the middle colours so the changes are often more subtle. In the majority of my landscape images I add about 20 vibrance and 10 saturation and that gets me near to where I want to be.

HSL

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The HSL panel gives control over hue, saturation and luminance. It gives massive control over colour in an image. It is through this that many of the presets out there are built around and it certainly creates the opportunity to make an image look unrealistic or stylised. I do not use this very often but it can be handy when you want to control individual colours. With a sunset boosting the overall saturation can take certain colours like orange and yellow overboard, so dialling those individual colours back in the HSL panel can balance the image back out. I try to keep things fairly natural so any changes I make in the HSL panel are mostly very subtle.

Grads and Brushes

Next we have software grads and brushes which give control over the colour in individual parts of the image. It can used especially to give control over the sky or the ground separately and is a very useful tool for colour.

NIK Collection

One bit of software I would massively recommend is the DxO NIK collection. It is collection of photo editing plugins that has changed hands now on a number of occassions. Silver Efex Pro is the pick of the bunch and is a way to convert and edit a black and white image. I don’t use it for every conversion but I think it’s worth it alone for the toners that mimic old dark room toners like selenium and sepia.

Printing

When it comes to printing we’re really just looking to control the colour as much as we possibly can so our prints look as much as possible like they do one screen. I have done a video on Printing before but three good tips here are:

  • Add about a 3rd of a stop exposure in Lightroom before you print. This extra brightness will help compensate for the fact there is no backlight on your paper and stop the image looking a bit dull when it comes out the printer.
  • Use the best paper you possibly can. This is particularly important for reproduction of saturated colours. Canson Premium High Gloss is the best I have found for this and holds more colour than pretty much any other paper I have tried.
  • Calibrate your monitor - I’m going to be making a video about this soon.
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Conclusion

Thinking about colour throughout the landscape photography process will assist every aspect of what you are trying to achieve. This includes composition, exposure, perspective and many other things. Colour is something most of us are lucky enough to experience everyday so we can easily take it for granted. Using it carefully and intentionally however will see your photography elevate to the next level.

Editing Landscape Photography for Natural Results

Edit your landscape photos in natural way to make them shine like the scene you witnessed.

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In this lightroom tutorial we go over several images to discuss how to edit your landscape photography images in a natural way. 

 

Best Lenses for Landscape Photography

We look at the best 3 lenses, their focal lengths and how they will help your landscape photography.

Today we are going to talk about the best lenses for landscape photography. There are not many surprises here, we’re talking about the holy trinity but I thought you’d find it useful if we talk about each lens and look at why and when we might use a particular lens and how that’s going to effect our landscape photography.

I am really keen for us all to start thinking about landscape as an art rather than a technical exercise and this is true with our lens choice too. The lens you choose for a particular image will tell the story differently so I think it’s important to understand why we are choosing a particular tool to create that narrative.

Wide Angle Canon 16-35mm f/4 IS

I chose this lens over the more expensive 2.8 because it’s still has great image quality, it’s lighter and it has IS which helps me for video. 

What this lets us do is to open up our field of vision and capture much more in the frame. It particularly lets us tell the story about relationship between the foreground and the background. This can be used creatively where we can get nice and close to our foreground and fill the compositions with it. A great example of this is rocks on a beach or a craggy mountain. When we do this be aware that the background will appear much smaller so a huge background is required. A sky full of colour or interesting clouds is perfect for seascapes or huge dominant mountains are also big enough to fill the background and look great. There are also times when you physically can’t move any further back and the wide angle still lets you get everything in…..caves are an example of this.

An important point to note, and something people often get wrong, it that focal length does not change perspective. A normal rectilinear wide angle lens does not cause perspective distortion. It increases the field of view but perspective is only controlled by the relationship between the camera itself and the subject.

There are two tests you can do to show this. Firstly set up an object and shoot it from a distance with both a wide angle lens and a telephoto. Crop into the wide angle shot so the object is the same size, and apart from a resolution loss, it will look the same. Now shoot the same object but make the object the same size in the frame for both shots. This time the perspective is wildly different and the images look completed different. This distortion in the wide angle shot is caused by the camera to subject distance, not by the wide angle. If it was the lens that caused the distortion then distant mountains would also appear distorted and they don’t.

Tamron 24-70mm

If I could only have one lens it would be definitely this one. This particular one is really decent, probably to the standard of the original Canon lens but the IS makes it great for video. Once Canon release a 2.8 version with IS then I will upgrade.

This focal range is just so useable and it’s why most kit lenses hit roughly this range. 24mm is plenty wide enough for the majority of occasions and 70mm can still get you in pretty close. It’s a perfect walk around lens for handheld shots and you’ll find yourself using the full focal range at some point or other. 

Not much more to say about this one. The focal length of our eyes fit into this range and I think most of us instinctively know what to do with this range.

Canon 70-200mm F/4

Canon has four lenses in this focal range so it can become quite confusing. This is the version without IS which I don’t need for landscapes and it is also relatively small and light. I use the 2.8 IS II when I shoot weddings……it’s probably my overall favourite lens but it’s just so damn heavy and completely impractical for landscape photography.

Now the 70-200mm range is really interesting for landscape photography. It lets us stand in front of a scene and really pull out the interesting elements. Get close in on the interesting light, the distant detail and essentially create a portrait of the landscape. It gives us control of the story too. When we are stood in a landscape, we see the whole thing with our eyes but it might just be the one distant element evoking the emotion in you. If you were to shoot this with a wide angle all the other irrelevant parts of the scene would enter the scene and distract the viewer from what you are trying to show them. You are the story teller and the viewer does not always need to know what is just out of the frame. Often a really good image would hint towards this anyway and spark the viewers imagination to fill in around the frame anyway.

There are also only so many amazing vistas in the world and we’re getting to the point now where they have all been shot in great light. This lens though gives us more room to be creative and capture something truly unique.

Start PRINTING your photos today | ESSENTIAL Tips and Tricks

Everything you need to know to start printing your photographs perfectly today! Whether you’re using a lab or you’re own printer I’ve got some tips to really help you out.

Printing your own pictures is a truly satisfying experience. It is the final step to creating an image and brings the work to life. I genuinely believe that photography is an art and when you print out a picture and hold it in your hand, it is difficult to argue that it is not. You can see and feel the amount of work that has gone into creating the image. It takes on a new life once you can physically hold it in your hand and becomes something special and meaningful.

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Imagine driving a great car. It is a decent experience. You drive around in it everyday and it is enjoyable and satisfying. Some people notice you, others do not. It is just like leaving your images in digital format. But every now and again, when the sun comes out, you take a drive down an awesome coastal road, beautiful girl/boy next to you, rolling with the top down; it is an absolutely magical experience and everyone takes note. That is the kind of feeling printing your work can invoke. It’s similar to the the normal process but also vastly more enjoyable and fulfilling.

With that picture in your mind, if you have not printed your work before, you really must. So how do we do it? To reproduce images accurately there’s a few steps to follow before we go ahead and print. This applies to whether printing using a lab or printing at home and will help to avoid being disappointed with the final results.

Brightness Adjustment

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Assuming Lightroom is the editing weapon of choice, (other editors are very similar) the first thing to do is create a virtual copy of the image. This acts as a print file without upsetting the original edit. Looking at images on a screen, the perfectly backlit monitor adds brightness to the image, even with a calibrated monitor, which creates and evenly illuminated picture. Once printed, the image is front lit and room light can be inconsistent and the image is at risk of looking dull. This can be compensated for by increasing the exposure by about a third to half a stop. Not too much to blow out the highlights, but just enough to give the brightness a little boost and avoid disappointment.

Lab Vs DIY

Having your own good quality photo printer is a very nice thing. I have been using the Canon Pro 10s which prints up to A3+ size. It produces prints that are equal to the quality of a lab and the results are exceptional. Cost is an issue though with replaceables like paper and ink and the upfront cost of the printer also needs to be taken into account. It is a personal decision for each photographer but you will probably ‘know’ when the time is right.

A lab can often work out cheaper if your printing is sporadic. Labs are also more versatile in terms of the size of print, the material you can print on and you can easily try out different papers. The downside is the lack of control. Results can often be disappointing and colour not accurate. Taking shipping or visits to the premises into account, time is also a factor and it takes longer to get the print in hand.

Exporting

Printing at home is easy because we can print directly from Lightroom using the print module. The higher end Canon printers also come with Canon Print Studio Pro. This Lightroom plugin gives ultimate control over your prints and is designed to work with those specific printers.

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The lab will not be able to read a raw file so the photo will need to be exported as an image file. Most good labs accept a wide range of file types to provide ultimate versatility to customers. However, to get best quality, the preferable file format to use is a TIFF file. These are uncompressed so no information is lost like it is with a JPEG. The file size will be much bigger but the results will also be more accurate.

Colour Accuracy

Accurate colour is important because we want our images to print out to match how they were edited on the screen. A beautiful orange and pink sunset will be ruined with a print containing a nasty green tinge. There is a lot happening to go from screen to paper, so we must use ICC profiles to make it easy. ICC profiles are plugins for photo editors that are based on the type of printer being used and the type of paper we choose. Once installed into software such as Lightroom we can enable soft proofing in the develop module, select the paper being used, and the ICC profile will simulate how the print will look on paper. Adjustments can then be made as required prior to print. Good labs should all provide ICC profiles by way of a free download. When printing at home, paper companies also provide them for your printer model.

Paper Type

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Generally there are three kinds of paper:

  • Glossy
  • Semi Gloss
  • Matt

The type and quality of the paper being used can massively affect the final print. It is very much a subjective thing and something that requires personal experimentation. As a general rule though I use a glossy finish for images that are heavily saturated and colourful. The glossy finish helps the colours pop and it works perfectly for the water drop images I create and gives them extra impact. 

Semi Gloss - I think is my favourite. I have been using Canson Baryta for years and it’s just a magnificent paper. It feels and looks extremely professional and the high quality paper works extremely well on a wide range of images. The majority of landscape prints I sell are printed on this.

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Matt or Rag paper - Good cotton rag paper is the best bet for a matt finish. Good rag papers will have a high DMax rating which means they hold the blacks very well. Rag papers are perfect for black and white images because it holds really strong contrast. They are also great for certain landscapes and colour portraits when a more muted fine art feel is required.

Borders

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Many photographers like to have a white border around the edge of their print. My preference though is to  print borderless whenever possible. Borderless printing maximises the size of the print and once it is in a frame, with a mount, the overall work has a border but also maximise the size of the paper. A border can be useful though. It lets you put a footnote on the print, makes it easier to handle and some people prefer the double border in the frame. Some printers also do not print borderless with certain types of paper like heavy rag paper and also when using a custom paper size. A border also makes it easier to attach to the mount. 

Printing is an in-depth topic and much of it is subjective. The best thing to do is to start printing and experiment for yourself. One things is for certain, you will not regret it once you are holding your physical work in hand.

You can also head over to store check out all the prints I have for sale. I would be honoured if you choose to buy one and it also helps me keep the lights on.

The Essential Workflow to Backup Your Photos, Videos and Digital Life

Backing up your files is a hugely necessary and sometimes frustrating step in your photography and video workflow. I show you my backup solution that keeps me moving forwards and all my files safe.

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Firstly as a basic theory you always want to have two copies of your files. Drives fail, data corrupts and if you only have one copy you are vulnerable.

So from the start, I’m out in the field and I am photographing, filming and creating my content. With some cameras the backup starts straight away with dual cards. With cameras like the Canon 800D or a drone they only have one card slot so as soon as that picture or footage is captured I’m vulnerable.  I want to move onto the next step as soon as possible.

I get home or back to where I’m staying and I want to dump the cards as soon as possible and transfer the files to the computer. Laptops now don’t have massive storage capacity so if I’m travelling I’ll take something like an SSD to copy the files to. I can now relax a bit because I have two copies, on the computer and on the cards.

I will then generally try to edit my footage or images from the internal SSD of my laptop because it’s faster. After that it’s then time to transfer the files to the main external hard drive or server. Until very recently I was using using a 5TB drive. It’s decent but it’s one drive and it’s slow compared to an SSD which makes re-edits unpleasant to do to and slow.

So I’ve recently upgraded to this the Drobo 5D3. This uses a kind of RAID 5 which increases speed because it’s writing data to all the drives at the same time and also gives you redundancy. If one drive fails I can just pull it out and pop in another and my data is safe. This one is thunderbolt 3 so it’s also nice and fast and you can actually edit 4K footage straight off this. In the Drobo I’ve got three 10TB seagate drives which gives me 18TB of storage with that redundancy. This is pretty expensive and that’s where the pain comes. All this time and money spent is not glamorous but you need to spend it to keep your files safe.

Now the next step is to backup all this on a separate drive to again give us that redundancy with two copies. You can use Time Machine or Acronis to do this and you even need to do it with a RAID system like the Drobo. If the Drobo unit itself fails, then your data is gone. At the moment I am using an 8TB seagate drive and I’ve copied all previous years work to separate external drives.

I then back all this up again using the cloud. Offsite backup is important in a case of fire or theft. I am currently using Backblaze which is a kind of set it and forget system that you get for a small monthly fee and you can back up and restore your files. You can access them online like Google drive or dropbox. I’ll put a link down below for you to check that out and you can store unlimited data and that includes external HD’s. 

Now the last step with your photos that we don't immediately think of is to print them. There is a theory blowing around that modern human history and knowledge is currently at massive risk because it is all stored digitally. Printing your pictures guards against this and it also just an extremely satisfying thing to do anyway. 

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I created this diagram a little while ago to show my backup workflow so feel free to screen shot it and use it as a reference. Please also share this video with someone who needs to hear the backup message.

Out.

Ramp Up Your Sunset Photography with this Easy Technique

We use a very simple technique and a bit of layer masking to take your sunset landscape photography to the next level. 

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In this landscape photography tutorial I show you an amazingly simple technique to ramp up the quality of your sunset photographs when you are shooting straight at the sun.

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There are two difficulties when shooting directly at the sun that we need to overcome. First is the exposure difference between the sky and the ground. The sky is almost always brighter than the ground so we must take action to balance the exposure across the frame. This is easy to solve and we have a choice of two different methods.

We can use either ND Grad filters, that darken the sky at the point of shooting, or use bracketing. This is where we combine images of the same scene with different exposures to have well exposed highlights,  mid tones and shadows. The video tutorial below gives details of how to do bracketing when doing sunset photography.

https://youtu.be/ndoolGymQJM

The second problem is dealing with lens flare. Those nasty, ever expanding rings that enter your image and ruin the shot. They can be avoided by not shooting at the sun, keeping the sun to your side or using your hand or a lens hood to block it. Sometimes that is not possible or the composition necessitates pointing toward the sun. Thankfully there is very simply technique that anyone can apply, with any camera, as long as a tripod is employed.

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The trick is to very simply place your finger in front of the lens and block out the sun with your finger. We take at least two shots, keeping the camera perfectly still, to expose once for the ground and once for the sky. When exposing for the ground just pop your finger between the sun and the lens and it removes the flare. In the video I show how to then combine the two images using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop with simple masking.

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It is an easy technique and will work in many situations. On some occasions some additional luminosity masking can help balance the exposure if there is a big difference between the ground and the sky. Luminosity masking is a subject for another day and I only mention it briefly in this video.

One small safety point. When you are shooting straight at the sun do not look at it directly through  the viewfinder as it can damage your eyes. It is much safer using live view and this will not damage the sensor of the camera if only done occasionally.

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The on location section of this video is an extract from landscape photography settings tutorial.

https://youtu.be/0uhG0HvjXGw

How to EASILY create a HYPERLAPSE

We look at a couple of ways to easily create an awesome Hyperlapse to enhance the story of your films and videos.

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Time Lapse Vs Hyperlapse

We looked at how to do a high quality time lapse the other day so what is the difference between a time lapse and hyperlapse?

They are both quite similar and employ the same photographic techniques and both help to move the story along by condensing a large period of time into a small clip. They can both be done by either speeding up video or capturing a series of still images. The main difference is the movement. In a time lapse it is important for something to be moving in the frame like the clouds or a car. With a hyperlapse the movement in created with the camera, essential moving through time and through space. 

When I do my hyperlapses I simply film normal video and speed it up in post production and that's what we're going to do today. Taking a series of still images whist moving is time consuming and does not particularly add that much to the overall film. 

It's particular effective with drone footage. 

Camera Gear

Just a video camera is required. I use my Canon 800D vlogging camera. Try and keep the camera as stable as possible, but for my vlogs a little shake does not matter once it is speeded up. So set the video going and then just start walking. When you have got to your final point stop the recording and you're done and it’s time to edit in Adobe Premiere Pro.

In the tutorial we go through the editing process in Adobe Premiere and take a couple of minutes to create the final clip.

Very easy and very effective.

Adobe make BIG Lightroom CC changes!!

What is the difference between Adobe Lightroom Classic CC and Adobe Lightroom CC? In this video we discuss some of the big changes that have been made by Adobe this week that is causing many photographers to be nervous.

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Adobe Lightroom Changes

Adobe Lightroom has gone through some big changes in the last few days. It’s a staple of millions of photographers worldwide and changes like this can make many of us nervous. In this video I’m gonna go through some of the changes, discuss how it might affect everyone, from the absolute beginner to the seasoned pro and share a couple of my thoughts. 

On Wednesday Adobe updated their full suite of apps and some of the biggest changes involved Lightroom. For years it has been the main software used by photographers all over the world. Prior to this week it hadn’t been updated since 2015 and has been plagued with slow speeds and has become increasingly complicated. 

Problem Solving Approach

Adobe have now tried to solve these problems by splitting Lightroom into two parts. Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC. These names have caused some confusion.  Adobe Lightroom Classic is pretty much the same program we have always known and has been updated with new features like luminosity masking and much needed performance improvements. Lightroom CC is now a stripped back version of Lightroom that is cloud based. It is basic but powerful. It still edits raw files but works seamlessly across all your devices including your desktop and even a web browser. 

This has been much needed. Recently on my workshops I have come across photographers who are new to photography or just getting back into it after years of being away and the essential step of post processing is something that has been intimidating and difficult to learn. With Lightroom CC we can now make all the most straightforward edits without the complexity and still shoot in raw. The files and the edits are stored in the cloud so there is no need to try and manage all your files on an ageing computer. They can be made on your iPad, phone or other devices with the Adobe servers doing the hard work. 

More User Friendly?

The interface has been reworked to be more easily understandable and user friendly. The app imports all your cloud based collections from your current Lightroom mobile account. You can load in new files and edit them like normal. I can see this being useful even for seasoned shooters. One way I can see me using this is for simple family pictures, quick shoots or even weddings. I will load in the raw images into Lightroom Classic, select the keepers and place them into a collection and the come over to Lightroom CC where I can use any of my devices as suits me to make the simple edits required for these type of shots. I can still open them into photoshop from the desktop version of Lightroom CC. If need to make more complex images like bracketed shots or combine panoramas then I can move back into Lightroom Classic.

Cost

From the start of next year all Lightroom products will now be subscription based. The basic package is the Lightroom CC package.  This includes Lightroom CC and 1TB of cloud storage for £$10 per month. Next is the photography package. This includes Lightroom CC, Lightroom CC classic, Photoshop and 20gb of cloud storage. The final package is the same as the photography plan but with 1TB of storage and costs £$20 per month. 

Photographer Nerves

Understandably there has been some nervousness and confusion about the changes Adobe have made here. They are clearly targeting the 95% percent of the world who have previously been happy to never edit their images.  It makes the rest of us worry that we are going to be neglected. I don’t think that will be the case though. I think Adobe could have done a better job just by naming things a little differently. Adobe Lightroom CC and Adobe Lightroom Pro CC would have been much more descriptive and made us traditional Lightroom users feel special, rather than old and out of date. 

How I Make Money With Photography

I explain how I make money with photography and how I use my Squarespace website to make it happen.

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Squarespace

When Sqaurespace got in touch with me to ask if I would make a video about their platform I decided I would only do it if I could provide value at the same time as advertising their service. Thankfully the good people at Squarespace wanted the same thing. 

A base on the internet

I was a Squarespace customer for about 6 months before they started sponsoring me. The website it the gateway to how i make my money with photography and the two are intrinsically linked. Having that base on the internet provides some context about who you and people will take you seriously.

Selling Prints

The first way I make money with photography is by selling prints of my work. The website provides a fully integrated store where the prints can be ordered directly online. I make the prints myself using the Canon PRO-10s which puts me in full control of quality. Selling prints is an obvious way to make money as a landscape photographer but finding a market and people who want to buy them requires hard work and the ability to build an audience.

Landscape Photography Workshops

The second way is via my landscape photography workshops. These launched successfully recently and form part of almost all landscape photographers income. This is a much bigger topic that deserves a dedicated video. If you are considering running workshops it’s important to consider your teaching style, locations, legal issues, insurance and much more.

Weddings

Thirdly is weddings. Most professional photographers have shot a wedding at some point. It’s another big subject that I will cover more in future. However it is a great way to make money as a photographer, the market it always there. The pressure, hard work and importance of being professional with a client can’t be overstated. You get one chance to capture each moment of the day so do not accept a wedding job lightly.

YouTube

Fourth is YouTube. There are several ways you can make money with YouTube. Advertising revenue, affiliate marketing and sponsorships are the usual kind of pathways to make money. Creating videos for YouTube can be amazing fun but if you plan to create videos consistently, it is very hard work.

Hard Work

With enough dedication, hard work and a little talent, anyone can make money with photography. If you want to start a website and start making money from your photography, make your next move with Squarespace.

Straight Lines Will Take Your Photography to the Next Level

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Take your photography to the next level by employing straight lines.

Since I started making video critiques a recurring theme has been keeping lines straight. This can be everything from architecture to portraits and its especially important to keep the horizon straight in landscape photography.

Why is it important you ask? We perceive the world in straight lines. When you look at a horizon with the naked eye it is always straight.  Buildings look straight, trees are straight and we look people straight in the eyes. Even when we tilt our heads our brain will still force us to perceive it as straight.

So when we look at a picture and things are not straight, it feels wrong. A wonky horizon, a diagonal building or still water on a hill all go against our normal perceptions.

A photograph will always be more appealing when lines are straight. Clearly curves are beautiful too and often photographers will shoot things at an angle intentionally but all other times things should be straight.

Happily this is a very easy thing to solve both at the time of shooting and in post processing when things have gone askew. It happens.

First, when you look through the view finder notice your scene and think about shooting straight. Notice the background and edges of the frame and this will make the vast majority of your images straight. Secondly the camera provides tools to help keep things straight.

Some cameras have a level level tool. You can also bring up the guide in live-view and align it with your horizon or you can get a small spirit level to attach to the top of your camera. Get the bubble between the lines and then you know it is straight.

Straightening Tool in Lightroom

Lastly you sort things in post-processing. Adobe Lightroom has a very powerful and simple tool to straighten lines. The straightening tool.

If you employ these simple tricks your images will instantly look better and really elevate your pictures to another level.

Let me know what you think. I'm obviously a big fan of straight lines but I suspect many of you might feel different. Share your thoughts and we can have an interesting and constructive  discussion.

Get Adobe Lightroom  - https://www.firstmanphotography.com/get/photography-plan

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Landscape Photography Tutorial

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The essential elements to capturing beautiful landscape photography images.

In this video we give you an introduction to landscape photography. Landscape photography is arguably the most popular area of photography as we capture the amazing scenes the world has to offer. Most people who have ever touched a camera will at some point have taken a landscape photograph. This does not mean it is easy however with most of these images being nothing more than snapshots. The interest in viewing these images is also massive with landscape photography shots capturing far greater attention on photo sharing mediums such as Instagram and Flickr.

With this in mind, truly great landscape photography is not as common as you might think. A quick flick through Instagram will show this and is proof that landscape photography is an art. Having the natural talent and 'eye' for things will be a large help but there are certain rules that, if followed, will allow you to start capturing some beautiful images.

Gear - Great landscapes can be captured with any type of camera including smartphones. To take things to the next level though you will need a camera with the ability to shoot at wider angles. Having these wider angles allows more of the scene to be captured. Extreme wide angles can also give the sense of how big the scene is when used correctly.

A tripod is also extremely useful for landscape photographs. It becomes essential for long exposure landscapes or even when the light begins to fade and your shutter speed slows down.

The Secret - The absolute key to getting amazing landscape photography images is to travel to somewhere with amazing scenery. A simple fact that is not always easy achieve.

landscape photography tutorial

Rule of Thirds - This is a common photography rule that gives guidance to composition and to what can create pleasing images. In landscape photography the rule of thirds is best applied to where we place our horizon line. Keeping the horizon line along the bottom third of the image or the top third of the image will create a much more pleasing image than a horizon that runs along the middle of the frame.

rule of thirds

The Golden Hour - The hour after sunrise and before sunset is known as the golden hour. When the sun is low in the sky it creates a beautiful golden light that will flood your scene and produce long interesting shadows. Use this to your advantage when composing your shot.

landscape tutorial

Focusing - Most landscape photography will require sharpness from the front to the back of the image. Focusing on the area about 1/3 of the way into your scene will usually provide the optimal focus. Hyperfocal distance dictates the science around this and can be read about here. If you have a key point to your image such a castle, then focus on that point.

landscape photography

Camera mode - Manual. Use landscape photography to introduce yourself to shooting in manual and controlling your exposure in every way.

Aperture - To get everything in focus we generally want to use a small aperture (large f/stop number). To get front to back sharpness, f/11 or f/16 will nearly always provide this. If your shot does not contain any foreground then f/8 can be used to maximise sharpness as many lenses are at their sharpest at f/8.

ISO - 100 or lower.

Shutter Speed - Control your overall exposure with the shutter speed. If the shutter speed starts to get slow then ensure you employ your tripod.

Lighting - Shooting into the sun might, at first, seem like a silly thing to do. However it can result in some really interesting images and includes all sunset shots. Shooting with the sun directly behind you will often result in flat images in terms of contrast. the same applies when the sun is directly above.

Filters — Your landscape photography can be taken to the next level by introducing filters such as neutral density gradients, circular polarises, infrared and big stop neutral density filters that allow you to capture long exposure landscapes.

Long Exposure Photography tutorial - https://www.firstmanphotography.com/tutorials/long-exposure-photography-tutorial

Infrared Landscape Tutorial - https://www.firstmanphotography.com/tutorials/infrared-photography-part-1

Use the timer - When using a tripod, using the timer or a shutter release cable will ensure there is no unwanted movement in the camera.

Following these simple rules will give you a solid base on which to start building your landscape photography portfolio. Be warned, it is an addictive pursuit and you will find yourself regularly checking weather forecasts, tidal times, sunset and sunrise times and travel times to certain locations. Good luck and enjoy.

Follow me on Instagram - http://instagram.com/adamkarnacz

Prime Lenses vs Zoom Lenses: Which is Better?

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In this video we decide which is better: prime lenses or zoom lenses?

Before we answer this question let's first discuss the difference prime lenses and zoom lenses.

Zoom lenses are common on all compact cameras and have the ability to optically zoom in and change the focal length, getting you zoomed in and close to your subject. They are versatile and can be used in a variety of situations.

Prime lenses have a fixed focal length and cannot be zoomed. They are less versatile on their own but because of the more simple design they are sharper, cheaper and often have a bigger aperture.

Physical size and focal length does not define it as a zoom or a prime lens as there is a misconception that primes are small and zooms are big.

prime lens vs zoom lens

So which is best? Unfortunately there is no definitive answer to this and it is really a matter of both personal taste and what you will be shooting.

I love to shoot with prime lenses because the restriction on focal length can often force you to think more about your shot and the only way to zoom is to use your feet to get closer or move further away from your subject. They are great for portraits and low light shooting due to the large apertures and they can create creamy bokeh. This makes them a common sight in the camera bag of a wedding photographer.

Videographers also swear by prime lenses as they are generally lighter and more portable, easy to use and they give that traditional film look. For DSLR video, zooms will often come with image stabilisation that is essential for hand holding video although there are several prime lens on the market now that also have image stabilisation.

Zoom lenses on the other hand are getting better and better all the time and the difference in sharpness is not as pronounced as it used to be. A lens like the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 is such a versatile range that it is suitable for almost all situations and you really have to start pixel peeping before you see the difference in sharpness.

tamron 24-70

The only way to truly know which is best for you is to try them out. If you nailed me down ands asked which is better? - I think I would have to say prime lenses. If you ask me which spends most of the time on my camera then it is definitely the 24-70mm zoom.

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How to Change Your Camera Lens

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Change Your Camera Lens Without Fear

In this video we show you how to change your camera lens quickly and safely.

Photography is becoming evermore popular and, in addition to DSLR's, many of the latest crop of camera systems have interchangeable lenses. This means that when it comes time to change your camera lens the sensor of the camera becomes exposed.

Much of the advice out there instructs that you must only ever change your camera lens indoors away from any tiny spec that could turn your camera into an expensive paper weight. This over reaction is a symptom of advice handed around by over protective photographers that seem to prefer their gear over anything else. The phrase 'all the gear and no idea' springs to mind. My thoughts, and the working methods I employ, are very different.

Essentially a camera is nothing more than a tool to capture photographs and hopefully some beautiful images along the way. It should therefore be used as such. If a situation arises where you need to change a lens, even when you are outside in the field, then you should change it. Many do not have the luxury of owning two camera bodies so changing lenses regularly will become normal once you upgrade the kit lens that came with your camera.

Changing your camera lens should be done without fear. Following a few simple methods you will minimise the risks to your lens and camera, building up confidence to change your camera lens in most shooting situations. This will ensure you do not miss a shot because you are too afraid to change your camera lens.

Once you become accustomed to changing your lens when required, used to the fact that your camera is just a tool you will be able to focus on honing your craft and capturing beautiful images.

Follow me on Instagram - http://instagram.com/adamkarnacz

Photoshop Layers Tutorial

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Photoshop layers provide the keys to the photo editing kingdom.

In this video we give you an introduction to layers in photoshop and how they work.

If you have ever tried, or looked into, using Adobe Photoshop before you have probably heard of photoshop layers. Being central to how Photoshop is used it is vitally important to understand what layers are and how they work.

The first thing to understand is that layers are transparent. However when you open an image into Photoshop it will be placed onto the background layer. Likewise if you create a new document the background will be filled with white by default.

layers in photoshop

When you click to create a new layer it will be transparent and sit on top (or in front of) the background layer until you add elements to it, such as text, shapes or other images. A photoshop document can contain numerous layers with the layer at the top of the list being visible before any others beneath it and so on. This means any element in a layer will obscure anything in the layers below (unless the opacity is reduced). In many circumstances this will be a desired effect as you aim to cover or replace the main image below, for example when adding a logo or some text to an image.

Things get more complicated once we start adding adjustment layers and masks but photoshop layers provide a high level of control whilst being non-destructive. Edits and changes occur on layers above our main image leaving the main image unaffected. This means changes are reversible if we make a mistake with an edit or your vision changes at a later date.

Photoshop layers can be dragged within the layer panel to adjust the order. They can also be made invisible by clicking the eye icon. This is very useful to assess the effectiveness of a particular edit or temporarily hide the effects of the layer from your image.

Depending on the file type you choose to save your images with, e.g. .psd, layer information will also be saved so edits and layers can be revisited at a later date.

It is important to understand photoshop layers and how they work and much of what photoshop can do is built around the principle of layers. Once understood using Photoshop will feel much more natural and a lot less intimidating.

Follow me on Instagram - http://instagram.com/adamkarnacz

How to Remove Vignetting in Lightroom

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Quickly Remove Vignetting in Adobe Lightroom

In this short video tutorial we show you how to quickly and easily remove vignetting in Lightroom using a simple automated tool.

Very simply Lens Vignette is when the light falls off to the edge of the frame within your image. It results in a dark border around your image. Sometimes this is desirable in your image as it can draw the viewers attention to the main subject in the centre of the frame. On other occasions you will want to remove vignetting to have even exposure across the frame.

Lens vignette occurs with most modern lenses but is more obvious in some lenses than others. Large aperture prime lenses will generally create more vignette when shot wide open. This happens because they suck in so much light the internal barrel of the lens will block some of the light coming in from a wider angle compared to the light hitting the lens head on. This results in the darkened corner of the images and on many occasion you will want to remove vignetting in Lightroom to counteract this effect. Once stopped down, the smaller aperture directs the light away from the inside of the lens barrel so the effect is much reduced.

To remove vignetting in Lightroom all you need to do is head into the Develop module and under the Lens Corrections panel select the Enable Profile Corrections box. Once this box is checked it will remove the vignette based on a profile based on the camera or lens you used. These profiles are built into Lightroom.

On other occasions your photography can sometimes benefit from adding vignette to an image. This is also extremely easy to do and can be very effective in focusing a viewers attention. The addition of a vignette will be featured in an upcoming tutorial.

Please follow me on Instagram  - http://instagram.com/adamkarnacz

How to Do Light Painting Photography

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A Light Painting Photography Tutorial

In this video tutorial we give a quick guide on how to get started with light painting photography, including camera settings, the gear that you will need and a couple of ideas to get you going.

Light painting is becoming a very popular form of photography as more and more people own cameras that are capable of taking long exposures. A quick search of ‘light painting’ on google reveals just how creative people are getting and there are some amazing images out there. in this guide we show you how you can create your first light painting images within a few minutes.

Gear
  • The essential gear you will need for light painting are:
  • A camera capable of taking long exposures - this includes all DSLR’s
  • A tripod or solid surface to place your camera on.
  • A torch or smartphone to use as our ‘paint brush’.
  • A darkened room.

Light painting photographs can be done in two ways. Firstly, by pointing your light source directly at the camera so that the light is the only thing that appears in the resulting image. Secondly ,we can paint the light into an existing scene to add some extra interest to the images. This can include landscapes, portraits and still life images. In this tutorial we are going to be using the first method to give you the basic skills to then go and create some images for yourself.

Setup

Set up is very straight forward. Simply set your tripod up in a room big enough that you will be able to get your full body in the frame. Attach your camera. Zoom out or use a lens that ensures most of your body fits in the shot when you stand in front of the camera. The background is not important. Start out by getting your focus. Again this is not massively important as we will be using a large depth of field but it does not hurt. Hold a light stand or ask some one to stand in for you. Stretch you arms out in front of you and put the stand down. Then return to the camera and focus on the stand; when we paint we will be holding our hand out in front. Just remember where you were stood. Once this is done flick to manual focus so no further adjustments are made.

Camera Settings

We are going to be Manual Shooters here so flick your mode dial to M. When deciding on camera settings it is always best to start with ISO. In this case we will go for ISO 100 for a nice noise free image and also to help minimise the ambient light that we do not want in our image. Aperture comes next. This setting will really depend on the power of your light source, or ‘paint brush’, but I always find f/11 or f/16 a good place to start. Shutter speed needs to be long enough to paint your image but not so long that too much ambient or reflected light creeps into the picture. I find 5 to 10 seconds to be ideal. The last setting is to switch on the shutter timer. The 2 second timer should be enough for you to push the shutter and jump in front of the lens.

Shooting

Your light source is going to be the dominating factor on how your image looks. A one bulb torch can produce great results but LED torches with 2-4 LED’s can add extra interest to your ‘brush’ stroke. There are numerous light painting apps available for your iPhone or Android smartphone that produce multi coloured images on the screen which you then wave in front of the camera. You can get very creative and use pretty much anything that emits light. Coloured LED strips or fairy lights are particular effective especially when spun round in circles.

When you are ready, turn out all the lights so the room is dark. Press the shutter button, get into the spot where you focused earlier and wait for the timer to shoot the shot. When you hear the shutter it is time to start waving your arms around with your light source. When painting try and fill the frame as much as possible, so if you are writing your name for example, write it big. Here it is time for you to get creative.

Check the resulting image and adjust the aperture if the exposure is not quite right. Your image will end up looking something like this. The final stage is post-processing.

light painting

Post-Processing

Post-processing will depend on how many shots you have taken to achieve your overall image. If it is just one shot then you will be using just Lightroom. To combine images we’ll be heading over to Photoshop.

In Lightroom we are simply looking to darken the background and isolate the actual painted light. The is achieved by increasing contrast, darkening the shadow areas and bring the blacks right down. I then like to add lots of clarity to bring out more contrast and really add some definition to our painted light strokes.

Once this is done, copy your settings and paste them to any additional images. Open into Photoshop as layers.

In Photoshop we are going to create a new black background layer and then change the blending option on your existing layers to ‘Lighten’. This means only the light parts of that layer will show through making it easier to combine the sections of your image. Once this is done simply Transform each layer to the correct size and move each part into position. I then clone out (or paint black) any areas that I want to remove.

light painting

Create Your Own Images

This should give you the basics of capturing light painting images. The painted light can easily be composited into various kinds of images meaning the only limit is your creativity.

I look forward to seeing the images you have created. Share them in the First Man Flickr Group and hopefully some will make it to the Photo of the Week Show next week.

https://www.flickr.com/groups/firstman/

Water Drop Photography Tutorial

Learn How To Shoot Water Drop Photography.

Welcome to the world of water drop photography. In this video we show you how to capture water drops using both a basic set up and a more complex setup using the SplashArt 2 dropper system.

I first started shooting water drop photography a few years ago when I noticed a few popping up on Flickr. I was instantly struck by these amazing moments of nature that we see so often in our lives but never have the chance to study. Fascinated, I decided to see what it took to capture these images and I felt I could produce something original using my own lighting ideas and composition.

Having set up, using something very close to the basic setting featured in the video, my first capture of a water drop was extremely satisfying. I was instantly hooked. I quickly upgraded my equipment and bought the SplashArt 2 kit so I could produce and capture water drop collisions repeatedly. Once in the arsenal it left me more time to play with my lighting setup, composition and drop consistency. In water drop photography changing the consistency of the liquid has a direct result on the final image. Milk is slightly thicker so behaves differently and the different surface tension produces different looking drops. I eventually took this to an extreme adding Xanthan Gum to my liquid. This thickens and smooths the liquid to the point where the final drops have a crystal like appearance.

water drop photography
water drop photography

Understanding the theory of water drop photography is key to giving you the ability to fully explore the creative possibilities. Normally we freeze action by increasing shutter speed and this works perfectly in most conditions. However in water drop photography the action is frozen with the flash. When using flash to light a scene the shutter speed is limited by the flash sync speed of your camera. On most DSLR's this limits you to about 1/200th or 1/250th second which is not quick enough to freeze a water drop. The flash burst is much faster than this so exposes the scene so quickly that it freezes the action. Further, Speedlite flash guns discharge their light faster at lower powers so the lower the power you can manage to use the better your image will be frozen.

After some experimentation I settled on using 1/32 flash power. The shutter speed does not really matter but I set it at 1/200 to avoid any ambient light sneaking into the image. Aperture needs to be as high as possible to ensure all the drop is in sharp focus but needs to be balanced with ISO to obtain a well exposed image that is not too noisy. The majority of my shots have used f/11 and an ISO of around 400.

water drop photography
water drop photography

Hopefully this will arm you with the skills and knowledge required to start shooting your own images. To move things on further you can add extra flash guns and multiple droppers to ensure that every image will be unique.

Once you have captured the images, post-processing them can take them to the next level. I share my secrets in this video - https://www.firstmanphotography.com/tutorials/how-to-edit-water-drop-photos

Once you have created some water drop photography I would love to see some of your images. Please post them to Flickr and add them to the First Man Photography group and I will feature some of my favourites.

https://www.flickr.com/groups/2838380@N23/

For a more detailed guide on how to use the SplashArt drop system follow the link below.

https://www.firstmanphotography.com/tutorials/water-drop-photography-splashart-dropper

Splash Art 2 Kit