Snow is White, not Gray

snow-exposure2Does the snow appear gray in your snow photography? The reason this happens is that your camera’s light meter automatically tells your camera to expose the snow to 18% gray, but snow is not gray – it’s white! Here are a couple ways to fix this problem. If you are using an automatic exposure, in which case your camera determines the exposure, you need to adjust your camera’s exposure compensation to add 1 to 2 stops of light. (Check your camera manual to find out how to do this for your model.) If you set your exposures manually, simply add 1 or 2 stops of light to the exposure reading of your camera’s light meter. These adjustments will capture the snow whiter in color in your photos, the way you naturally see it. However, be careful not to blow the snow out to pure white, or else you will lose all detail. Most cameras have a white clipping warning or “Blinkies” that will reveal areas of your photo that are pure white.

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In this scene adding 2 stops of light give a better exposure of the snow

Check out this tips for yourself, and get rid of the gray snow in your photos!

Also see my articles for DPS at http://digital-photography-school.com/author/brucewunderlich/

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The Background Matters

DSC_4335-EditA background or bokeh (a Japanese term meaning the blurred out-of-focus part of an image) can really create a unique element within a photo, and will often make a subject really stand out. Don’t leave your backgrounds to chance, plan them! In my photo of a Chickadee, the rust colored bokeh is created by leaves on an oak tree in the background. By strategically placing an old pine branch near my backyard feeder for the birds to land on before jumping to the seed, (See my earlier post about how I created the feeder.) I was able to plan the background of my shots using the oak tree for a nice bokeh. The oak is far enough away from the pine branch that no detail of the actual tree is visible, just a smooth rust color from the leaves.

So, plan those backgrounds to create stronger images, and get out there and shoot away!

Also see my articles for DPS at http://digital-photography-school.com/author/brucewunderlich/

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Adding the Human Element

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Father and son at Huntington Beach California

Landscapes always seemed better to me in the past without people in the images. However, I’ve discovered that adding a human element can increase the drama, interest and creative energy of your landscapes. Also, adding people can bring balance, scale or originality which allows you to ultimately create a one of a kind image. One example of balance is in the image below – the couple capturing a selfie is at the rule of thirds position.

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“Selfie at the Beach” – I was waiting for this couple to move from the image of the pier at Huntington Beach when one of them pulled out a cell phone I realized that this was just the extra drama needed to complete the image.

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Surfer at Huntington Beach CA, which is also known as “Surf City USA”

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Boy Scouts at Upper Falls at Old Man’s Cave add an extra element of interest to one of the areas most photographed waterfalls.

So get out there an shoot landscape images and don’t be afraid to add the human element.

Got any ideas about adding the “human element” to landscape images, leave them in the comments below.

Also see my articles for DPS at http://digital-photography-school.com/author/brucewunderlich/

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Backyard bird photography

backyard-birdingMany of us put out bird feeders in the winter months to feed the birds, and of course we want to photograph them, too. But photographing birds at a feeder most often means including the bird feeder in the image. When I photograph birds I like to make them look as if they are out in nature, free of the man-made objects.

Here’s how I feed the birds and get those hand-of-man-free images; the trick is to create a bird feeder constructed completely of natural materials. Find an old log that is hollow or can be easily hollowed out. Use this as your feeder, filling the recesses with bird seed. Now find some other small branches and arrange them around your feeder to resemble places a bird would land in nature. Set this up near a window or on a deck where you can view and photograph the birds that land at your feeder. Because your feeder is constructed of all natural materials, the birds will quickly become accustomed to it and give you many opportunities to photograph them. Change out your branches periodically to change the scene. You can add some evergreen to your area to give color to your shots.

Oh, yeah. If you plan to get close enough to get shots like the one above, you will need to sit still so you don’t frighten the birds. Don’t wear bright colors, and try to blend in as much as possible. In this shot, I love the way the lines in the branch accent the lines in the feathers of the nuthatch.

So, feed the birds and take some beautifully natural photos of them this winter.

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New Year, New Goals

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Sunrise over Marietta

If you don’t set a goal you will never achieve a goal. That may sound like something Yogi Berra would say, but it’s true! Setting goals for improving your photography skills can be a valuable way to help you grow as a photographer. Maybe it’s your goal to learn to use Manual Mode in 2016, or something as simple as just getting out and shooting more. The purpose of making these goals is to keep us always striving for a higher level in our photography. You should set goals that are reachable for you, because success inspires the direction of your next goal!
This past year was a banner year for my photography experiences, with so many highlights! I enjoyed spending time with great photography friends, photographing eagles in Iowa in January, and bears in the Great Smoky Mountains in June. Receiving awards at the Shoot the Hills photo competition in Hocking Hills fulfilled one of my 2015 goals, and was a gratifying experience for me. My goals for 2016 are to continue to write articles for DPS and to also write more articles here on my own blog, which will be much shorter and will usually just include one image.

Crank it up!

The image above is of a sunrise I captured over my home town of Marietta, Ohio, shot on my way to work on a recent December morning. There wasn’t time to get my tripod out and set the shot up like I normally would do, so I opted to quickly capture it hand held. To achieve a shutter speed that I could hand hold, I cranked up my ISO until I set a shutter speed that matched the mm of my lens (50mm lens = 60th of second shutter speed).

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Making your fireworks composite

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Seven image composite of this years firework display. 

 

How it was done

  1. Open all your image into one Photoshop document, with each image on a separate layer.
  2. Create a new layer and put in at the bottom of all your layers. Fill your new layer with black.
  3. Change the blending mode of all your fireworks layers to Lighten
  4. Adjust the position of each layer if necessary.
  5. Flatten layers
  6. Save.

You could also use the same Photoshop Action that you use for star trails to put together your fireworks shot into one composite image.

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Female House Sparrow (English Sparrow)

DSC_6201June 24, 2014

Shot this female sparrow while I was waiting for a pizza at Pizza Hut. I try to always have my camera with me you never know when you might get an opportunity to shoot. They told me I had a 15 to 20 minute wait, so I put my 70-300mm lens on my D7100 and found a tree in the parking lot. I think the sparrows are big fans of pizza also, because the tree was full of sparrows.

Settings:  Nikon D7100
1/1600 sec. at f 5.6 ISO 1250  300mm
Back Button focused

Please feel free to comment on my post,

You can see more of my photography on my Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/baw26/

 

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