Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Falls in the Fall

ISO: 400  Focal Length: 24mm 
Aperture: f/14  Shutter Speed: 1/4s
      On our same trip to Bridal Veil Falls I hiked up closer to the falls and there were these beautiful trees with very red leaves. I really wanted to get a shot with the red leaves and the falls behind it. In order for this to work I had to make this shot while standing in thick bushes on a steep slope. It made me very grateful for the independently adjustable legs on my Manfrotto tripod. The wind was blowing down the canyon so I had to adjust my exposure accordingly so I could get the shot I wanted. The aperture needed to be small because I wanted everything in focus from front to back, so I needed a higher ISO to keep the shutter speed lower. Normally I would've kept the ISO 100 and dealt with the longer shutter speed but the leaves were moving too much. In situations like this it is important to wait for lulls in the wind and then shoot quite a few images and look for the sharpest one when you get home.

Here are the post processing steps I went through:
Original Image
Using the white balance slider I warmed the temperature up to 61K from 58K

Increased the exposure by .15 ev
Increased the contrast and definition by .1
Increased saturation slightly on the green channel
Added a slight vignette to the bottom left corner to give more attention to the red leaves
Which gives the final image.
Head out and find some fall colors to shoot. It is a great time of year to get outside and take beautiful pictures.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bridal Veil Falls

ISO: 100  Focal Length: 12mm 
Aperture: f/14  Shutter Speed: 6.0s
Yesterday morning I went up to Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon. I have always thought it was beautiful how after the initial falls the water cascades for so long and I wanted to capture that. When I arrived my first task was to find some good foreground elements for the composition. After walking around the cascade and getting my feet very wet I decided on that rock with moss on it because it provided good interest and would have a good stream of water going around it. I knew that the cascading water would pull the viewer into the image and create good leading lines. 

The shot was pretty straight forward. I set up my tripod low to get closer to the water and used my polarizer to add more saturation to the color. When you are doing these long exposures it is important to use a remote shutter release or the self timer on your camera. This is so you don't move the camera when you press the shutter button down. Also when you are shooting in water like this waterproof shoes make it much more comfortable.

Here are the all the steps I took for post processing:

This is the original straight out of the camera
I warmed the white balance temperature up to 6300 K from 5900K

Added saturation to the green color channel

Bumped up the contrast to .11

The final step to get to the image at the beginning of the post was to sharpen for the display and I also added a little bit more color to the moss on the rock to make it stand out more.

Do you like this more detailed explanation of post processing or do you like the more basic summary in older posts? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Why you should join 500px

500px is a site for pictures, kind of like flickr but way cooler. Basically it is a place for people to upload photos and then you can like a photo. All the images have what they call a pulse. As your image gets more votes/likes its pulse will go up and as the popularity dies down the pulse will begin to go down. My favorite thing to do is check out what is popular or the editors choice. There are some really amazing shots on there.

500px is also an excellent place to learn. No there isn't a library of tutorials. The best way to learn from 500px is to dissect the pictures you like. Figure out why you like them, then figure out how they were shot. The exif data will almost always be displayed and quite often the photographer will give some back story to the image. If you really want to know more just leave a comment, most of the photographers are happy to answer questions.

So take a look at 500px

You can also look at my pictures on there here

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Easy Ways to Improve Your Landscape Photograhy

Landscapes have always been my favorite subject, here are four easy tips to help you come home with better landscape images.

1. Shoot during the golden hour

In my early days of photography I didn't know much of anything about light. I would just go out and find what I thought was a pretty landscape and shoot away. For the most part I was dissatisfied with my results.
This picture from the island of Palau could have been much better if I had shot it at a better time of day. Shooting during what is known as the golden hour will really improve the lighting in your images. The golden hour is the hour right after sunrise and right before sunset. So there are really two golden hours in a day. When you are on vacation make good use of both of them.

When you shoot during the golden hours the light has a warm golden feel to it. The light is very diffuse because of the low angle of the sun so it eliminates harsh shadows. Look at this example of shooting during the golden hour.
Moulton Barn in Morning Light
If this image of the Moulton Barn had been made in the middle of the afternoon chances are I would have just deleted it. There would have been harsh shadows and there is a chance the sky would've been blown out (all white and void of detail). This image is what it is because of shooting during the golden hour.

2. Include Foreground Interest

I think this is one of the best things you can do for your landscape photography. It will make your images more interesting and will hold the viewers attention better. Place some prominent element or elements in the foreground of your composition. For example, look at the following photo that I cropped down to exclude the foreground elements.

It's pretty boring and uninteresting. Sure there was this beautiful mountain, but the image fails to hold the viewers attention

Now look at the original image with the foreground elements

The rocks add foreground interest and serve to hold the attention of the viewer.

3. Create Depth

The use of leading lines helps a two dimensional image seem more three dimensional. These will lead the viewer's eye into the image and hold his or her interest. Ideally the lines should lead to the focal point of the image.

In this image of Oxbow Bend the lines of the river lead the eye to the mountains. The concept of using lines in an image to lead the eye is something that will greatly improve your shots. When shooting landscapes look for slightly different angles to shoot from that will create stronger leading lines. Using a strong foreground element will also add depth to your image.

4. Use Basic Composition Rules

I will simplify this tip by saying, use the rule of thirds. There are other more complicated composition rules but learning the rule of thirds is the first rule that you should learn and master. Imagine the viewfinder or screen of your camera is divided into thirds both horizontally and vertically. Then align objects in your frame with those divider lines.

Notice how in my Snake River Overlook picture the mountains coincide with the top third line. If this sounds too hard for you then simply put your subject slightly off center in the frame. Don't put the horizon in the center of the frame. Like all rules, the rule of thirds is meant to be broken sometimes, but more often than not it is an excellent starting place for composition.

These tips are an excellent starting place for improving your landscape photography. Now get out and practice.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Moulton Barn Part II

ISO: 100  Focal Length: 24mm 
0, -2, +2 ev
Aperture: f/8 
Quite often the key to good landscape photos is to chase the light. Usually this means shooting around sunrise or sunset. When I went to Mormon Row to have a look at this other barn, I wasn't expecting great shots. It was the middle of the afternoon and the lighting was not at a good angle. I snapped a few shots of the barn just for the heck of it and starting walking away. Then all of a sudden the sun lit up the  ground and barn beautifully. It made for a great contrast against the storm that was approaching. So I literally started running back to the barn to get this shot. The mountains and clouds make for a great background with the barn as middle ground and the grass as foreground. I processed these 3 exposures in HDR Efex Pro and brought up the lighting on the barn a bit with the dodge brush in Aperture 3.

Buy this and other prints through my gallery.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Limited Edition Prints

You can now buy limited edition prints from Beyond Exif. If you want more information click here or on the Buy Prints tab.

These images will be printed on beautiful metallic paper from a professional photo lab.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9/11

I made this image two years ago before I even had a dslr. My object in creating it was to tell a story, it wasn't so much about having a technically perfect image. At the time I felt as though people were forgetting about what happened on September 11th. I wanted to create an image with meaning. 

The four candles represent the four hijacked planes with the two center candles representing the planes that hit the World Trade Center. 

I just shot this with my point and shoot camera on a gorillapod. Yeah I probably could make a clearer image now with better sharpness and color, but this was about the story.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Photo Contest Tips

I decided to enter my first non online photo contest. It was the Utah State Fair and I found out about the photography division. My cousin Tony from Tony Murray Photography (check out his work, it's amazing) helped me out with some tips on entering the contest. I ended up getting 4th in the landscapes division, which I felt pretty good about considering it is one of the more competitive classes.

My Snake River Overlook picture was my choice for the contest

Here are some tips on entering a photo contest

1. Find a contest, fairs are a great place to start. Look for photography groups in your area. You can also look at for national and international contests. I would recommend starting with local competitions before you go to the national or international scale.

2. Find your strongest images. Look through your library and find your best pictures. Make sure that they are well composed, sharp, and are technically well executed. If in doubt ask other photographers or friends what images they think are the strongest.

3. Read ALL the rules for the contest. I made the mistake of just skimming the rules of the contest and ended up realizing the morning I was to take my print to the fair that my mounting was incorrect. So my wife helped me to scramble to fix the mounting so I could enter. Read the rules and read them carefully.

4. Get a high quality print. Go to a professional photo lab to get your print. DO NOT go to Costco, Walmart or the like. Get a high quality print on high quality paper. I chose to print mine on metallic paper, because it is very glossy and has a metallic luster to it.

5. Pay close attention to your mounting/matting. Sometimes it is best to just have it done professionally. Many contests will judge your print and the mounting/matting of the photo.

6. Take your photo to the contest in some sort of protective covering. When I took my picture in, it was raining, which could have ended my chances before they started.

7. Go to the gallery and enjoy all the entries in the contest. If your photo doesn't win, study the winning photos so you can improve for the next contest. Figure out why they won.

Entering a contest can be a great way to examine your work and find ways to improve your photography.

If you want more info about my Snake River Overlook picture check out my post on it here.

If you are interested in purchasing a limited edition print of this image or some of my other work, keep checking back, I am currently looking at options for an online store.

Friday, September 7, 2012


ISO: 100  Focal Length: 28mm 
-.33 ev
Aperture: f/13  Shutter Speed: 2.0s
The Subway is one of Zion's most famous places and it is also one of the top sites for photography in the park. Although it is so famous there are usually few people around because it is a very long hike in and the traffic is limited. The hike is about 10 miles round trip and is very strenuous. If you want to do the hike you will need to reserve a Zion backcountry permit. The hike is a bit technical and for the most part there is not a well defined trail. You basically follow the river once you are down in the canyon.

After about 5 miles of hiking you will get to the Subway portion, which is actually quite short. It is named for the tunnel like formation of the cliffs, see the image at the bottom of the post.

The image with the pools was a pretty straight forward composition. I wanted the lowest pool to be in the lower third of the picture to add foreground interest. The cascade of pools provided a great sweeping line that gives the image depth.

As for the more technical details of the shot, I had a polarizer filter on my lens and chose the small aperture of f/13 so I could get the long shutter speed that would give the water a very smooth look. For post processing I took down the highlights a little, gave saturation a slight bump and sharpened it for the final result.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Coastal Portrait

ISO: 100  Focal Length: 18mm 
Aperture: f/4.5  Shutter Speed: 1/30

This is actually a portrait of my wife and I from the day we got engaged at Solana Beach in Southern California. The sun was about to set so there was very nice directional light with a golden tint. I set the tripod up next to the cliff, dialed in the settings I wanted and put a 10 second timer on. The leading lines are what make this image.

The cliff has these great lines that not only create depth in the image but they also guide the eye right to the subject.

For post processing I used Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 for the black and white conversion and that was pretty much it. I just picked the preset I liked the best for the image, adjusted a few sliders to fine tune things and the image was good to go. 

Now I probably should've used a little wider aperture (smaller number) so the depth of field was a little shallower and the rocks would have been a little more blurred. I think the image would have been a little stronger if I had done that.