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I have a new article published today on Photofocus, titled “Photographer of the Day: Nic Taylor”. Here’s a sneakpeek… ” …” Check out the rest of the article at this link: Photographer of the Day: Nic Taylor

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I have a new article published today on Photofocus, titled “Get Eye Level to Make More Powerful Animal Photos”. Here’s a sneakpeek… ” …” Check out the rest of the article at this link: Get Eye Level to Make More

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For this composite, my goal was to produce a version of my galloping wild horses image that looks like it’s been drawn and woodburned onto an old board. Not sure why, I just thought it would look cool, the inspiration behind many my composites. Having an idea of what you want to make before you start usually produces the best results. But, don’t be so in love with your idea you can’t change as you create your composite.

At this point, I have my horse picture processed and saved as a high resolution TIF file, and have found a nice wood texture I want to use as the background texture. Ideally you want these texture files to be high-resolution also, so that you can print your finished piece later. Using a 400 pixel wide texture will result in a blurry grainy mess, it’s too small to print it big later.

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In the digital darkroom, we can take two paths with our images. The first is to use your photo processing software to get your image looking as close to what you saw when you took it. This is your standard digital darkroom workflow, adjusting your exposure, getting rid of spots, cropping, etc., with more of a focus on realism.

The second path is to take that photo and transform it into something completely different. It may be combined with other photos as a composite, have various effects applied, and generally will look completely different from what you started with, but in a good way! Here the focus is on creating something new, using your original image only as the first ingredient. This is compositing, combining multiple images and effects to produce an original piece of art. In this article I’ll take you down the second path, introducing how to use Skylum’s new Luminar 2018 to start doing your own composites.  

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The image “1” by Denis Malciu displays a perfect choice of composing in black and white, simplifying what could have otherwise been a very busy photo.  As the crowd stands in rapt attention to the dancer’s performance, they frame the dancers instead of competing with them. Imagine if instead this photo was presented in color.  The dancers could have easily gotten lost against that sea of people and the variety of textures and colors they are wearing.  Instead the photographer works purely with light and contrast.  Though small in the frame, the dancers take center stage in the image, drawing your attention directly to them, captivating you as they did the crowd.  

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Go out into the great outdoors. Find a place that animals like to hang out when people aren’t around. Set up your camera to automatically a photo of them when they do show up. Leave it there. Come back tomorrow and see if you got any shots. Repeat it all over again until you get the shots you need. Welcome to Remote Camera Traps!

In previous articles I’ve shared the different ways I’ve used Platypods in my photography. Possibly one of the best uses I have found is in helping set up a successful remote camera trap. The Platypod adds flexibility to the placement of your camera and lighting equipment that can make your trapping endeavors much more likely to pay off with great images.

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Simplicity and symmetry are the first two things that grab one’s attention in the image “lost in white”. The moment of the women in mid stride is perfectly framed by the columns, her black outfit in stark contrast to the white building she walks past. One of the smallest details that adds life to the image is the raised foot and slight bit of motion blur. This creates the sense of movement in the image, bringing her and it to life, a beautiful example of a decisive moment captured.

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One of the most powerful aspects of photography is its ability elicit emotions in us.  But, our emotions can also change how we perceive an image. The first time I saw the Pierre Pichot’s photo “Ghost_19” I thought, “Cool, that has a great dark mood, it’s kinda creepy”. The next time, “It seems very melancholy, I wonder who that is and what they are thinking”.  The next time, “It feels like there is a sense of foreboding, like something bad is about to happen”. Each time I saw something different, because I was feeling something different before I looked at the image.  The photographer has created a scene where it conveys a dark mood, but they have left enough to our imaginations for us to dream up a story. It is a powerful image, because it engages us, drawing on our emotions to complete the scene.

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I recently noticed my camera had a lot of dirt on it, so I took it to the nearest creek and threw it in for a good scrubbing. OK, maybe not, what actually happened was every photographer’s nightmare. Setting up on the side of a creek to photograph a series of rapids, I tripped, with the result of my camera getting a solid dunking.

Now, speaking from experience, this is what we call an “Oh [email protected]#t!!!…” moment. A 10 on the “Brown Pants” scale. In other words, an unpleasant experience.  However, quick action and a proper drying out process can, in some cases, save your gear from an untimely demise. Despite its underwater expedition, my DSLR is still alive and well thanks to the tips below.

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Recently I came across a thread on social media proclaiming all cemetery shoots were disrespectful and should be prohibited.  Being a.) an artist and b.) someone who likes to debate everything, I was surprised by this stance.  I’m endlessly fascinated by the stories in these places, the history, and the artistry of the headstones and statues. So, personally, it had never occurred to me that photography in a cemetery would be a bad thing.  But, I understand how others might object, and I do have a personal set of guidelines to follow to make sure I am respecting the memory, families, and friends of those who are interred there.  

I know when Halloween approaches, the temptation to head to the nearest cemetery for a holiday themed photo shoot is very tempting.   This can be a very sensitive subject, and I certainly do not encourage people to seek out the nearest mausoleum for their photo shoot just because its October.  But, done with respect, photography in these places can be powerful, compelling, and artistic. Here are my “do’s and don’ts” of photographing cemeteries and other sacred places.

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I have a new article published today on Photofocus, titled “Photographer of the Day: Rafa Velazquez”. Here’s a sneakpeek… ” …” Check out the rest of the article at this link: Photographer of the Day: Rafa Velazquez

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Being an outdoor/adventure/”hike all over the place” type of photographer, I love any gear that can do more than one job, without weighing a ton.  When you have to backpack everything in, you learn to simplify and use as much multipurpose lightweight gear, as possible.
One trick I have learned is to turn my Oben travel tripod into a light stand for flashes or continuous lights.  At just a few pounds, it’s light enough to hike with, and serves double duty as either a camera or flash support. This versatility means it gets a place in my pack, instead of staying home with more specialized gear that won’t make the hike.

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Funny thing about animals is they move around, a lot. So a technique like HDR, which requires several images that are nearly identical in everything but exposure values, is usually not an option for wildlife photographers. Often thought of as mainly a tool for landscape and architecture photography, High Dynamic Range photography captures a series of shots at multiple exposures to provide detail in both highlights and shadows a camera cannot capture in one frame. But, in the case of a running horse or flying bird, even at high shutter speeds and frame rates there will be large differences in their position from frame to frame. This makes multiple exposure HDR pretty impractical, if not nearly impossible, for wildlife and other action photography.

While the multi-shot HDR technique may not work well for high-speed creatures, software like Aurora HDR is a useful tool to put the finishing touches on your wildlife photos. Instead of capturing a series of shots at multiple exposures as you would for landscapes, you use a single shot in a process called “tone mapping”. This is a fast and easy way I use Aurora HDR to Tone Map a single image and add some extra pop and punch to wild animal images.

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I have a new article published today on Photofocus, titled “Photographer of the Day: P Sterling Images”. Here’s a sneakpeek… ” …” Check out the rest of the article at this link: Photographer of the Day: P Sterling Images

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HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing of your photos by its nature can result in a lot of noise or graininess in your final image. While Macphun’s new Aurora HDR 2018 for PC’s does a great job overall reducing noise, there are still times when noisy areas appear in your processed HDR. This can be caused by many reasons, but most commonly it’s due to your settings in camera (such as shooting at too high of an ISO) or any image processing you have done to your images before merging them in Aurora (such as exposure adjustments). Regardless of the cause, you can remove most of this noise by using a “Luminosity Layer”. This technique saves a lot of time, giving you consistently good-looking results, quickly.  

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