Friday, August 31, 2012

Bonneville Salt Flats Portrait

ISO: 100  Focal Length: 50mm 
Aperture: f/2.8  Shutter Speed: 1/4000
This was a shot from an engagement session I did. The couple wanted to do it out on the Bonneville Salt Flats. It is a pretty cool place to go shoot. This was shot in the afternoon and the light was still pretty harsh. I would have liked to have shot it early or late to get better light from the sun, but unfortunately that just wasn't an option. When shooting at the Salt Flats you will want to overexpose just a bit maybe +.5 or +1 ev, otherwise the salt flats will be a sort of gray color instead of white. For a lot of shots during this session we used a 5 in 1 reflector. In this case we positioned the translucent part of the reflector to the left of the camera to take out the harsh shadows and give some directional light to the couple. I used an aperture of f/2.8 to get a shallow depth of field to isolate the couple from the background. If I had tried a wider aperture the shutter would not be able to fire fast enough so f/2.8 was the widest aperture possible. For a wider aperture you would need to use a neutral density filter (think of sunglasses for your camera) it restricts the amount of light going through the lens without changing the color of the image.

During the entire shoot I was shooting with my 50mm lens that I mentioned in my last post. It is really great for portraits.

For post processing I used Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. It is an incredible tool for converting images to black and white. 

If you shoot a lot of portraits I would really recommend getting a 5 in 1 reflector. They are a fantastic tool that can be had very cheap. Like my 43" set cost less than $20. I use the Neewer Reflector and it has really worked great for me. It does have a few drawbacks but for less than $20 it is well worth it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Ideal 2nd Lens

So you have that fancy new dslr and the kit lens it came with. You have probably taken a lot of pictures with it and are now ready to get a second lens. The best value in both Canon and Nikon systems is to get a 50mm prime lens. A prime lens has one focal length (it doesn't zoom). These lenses are also a great choice because they have a very wide aperture. This wide aperture makes them ideal for low light situations. It will also have the ability to give the look of a sharp subject with blurry background sometimes called bokeh by photographers. In addition to being great optically, working with a prime lens will help you become a better photographer.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II $108 on Amazon

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Yellowstone Pool

ISO: 100  Focal Length: 28mm 
-.33 ev
Aperture: f/9  Shutter Speed: 1/125
The colors in Yellowstone are pretty amazing. The clear blue pools with swaths of orange around them make for great pictures. I arrived at this particular pool pretty late in the day, so the lighting was pretty flat. This did serve to illuminate the colors well. To get this shot I crouched down low on the boardwalk so the stripes of orange would create a lot of depth in the image. I decided to darken the image by .33 ev so the skies would be better exposed than what the camera originally metered for.

A big tip for shooting in Yellowstone: get up early. Everyday we would get up before sunrise and there was very little traffic. As it gets later in the day there are crowds of people everywhere.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Aspen Sunburst

ISO: 400  Focal Length: 12mm 
2 Shots bracketed at 0 and -2 ev
Aperture: f/22  Shutter Speed: .4s and 1/10

Originally this morning was supposed to be all about a waterfall. I had driven up near Sundance and hiked in a few miles to shoot Stewart Falls in the morning light. After shooting there I was hiking back and came upon this beautiful scene. I positioned the tripod so that the sun would just be peaking out behind an aspen and set my aperture to f/22 so I would get that nice sunburst shape from the sun. 

I composed the image this way so there would be the sunburst on the left and a stand out aspen on the right to balance the frame. These are the most dominant elements in the frame and are what will draw the eye the most. The forest floor that is carpeted with ferns serves to add interest and depth to the picture. With the sun in the frame I knew I would need to bracket my exposures for an HDR image. I set my camera to take pictures at 0, -2 and +2 exposure compensation. Once home I processed the files in HDR Efex Pro and ended up only using the 0 and -2 exposures. The original exposures are below.

Although I was originally just looking for good shots of the waterfall, this might be my favorite image of the morning. So keep your eyes open for other opportunities for great images when you set out with a specific subject in mind.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Moulton Barn

ISO: 100  Focal Length: 20mm   Exposure Compensation: -.67  
Aperture: f/10  Shutter Speed: 1/125

Right after shooting at the Snake River overlook we hurried over to the famous Moulton barn on Mormon Row in Grand Teton National Park. It was lucky that we got there in enough time for the light to still be a good golden color. I composed the shot with the intent of cropping it down for a wide print. The trees on the right and left of the frame serve to help balance the shot. The dirt path in front of the barn added a nice diagonal line to the shot that helped give depth to the image. Having the path and brush in the foreground, the barn in middle ground and the Tetons in the background really helped to make a good composition. 

The post processing this image was very minimal. I bumped up the saturation and vibrancy just a little and cropped it down. It is always best to get as much right in camera as possible.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Snake River Overlook

f/8.0 ISO 100
3 Shots at 0, -2, +2 ev

I was filled with apprehension before the trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. Ansel Adam's Snake River overlook photograph is one of my favorite landscape images and I was nervous about how my images would turn out. It is important to get to the Snake River overlook in order to get a prime spot. By the time I got to the overlook there were already a few photographers. 

In order to get a better composition I stood on top of the wall that is at the edge of the slope down to the river. In order to make this work it is important to have a tripod that has independently adjustable legs. Two of the legs can go to the right and left of you, but the third leg will go right in between your legs.

The s bend of the river really draws the eye into the image, which is one of the big draws of the Snake River overlook. In this case the river points almost directly at the peak that is highlighted by the first rays of the sun. These lines that lead you to the focal point (the highlighted peak) are what make this a strong composition.

I chose to make this image from three shots and combine them with HDR Efex Pro. The image could have also been made by using a graduated neutral density filter. The final touch was to put a slight vignette on the final image.

What is Beyond EXIF?

EXIF stands for exchangeable image format. Nearly all digital cameras record EXIF data for all images taken. This data includes the date, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, exposure compensation, etc.

The purpose of Beyond EXIF is to explain how images are created. This explanation will be in depth; camera settings and the reasoning behind the composition will be explained.

In addition to image explanations, there will be gear reviews, photography news, and breathtaking images by other photographers.