The Close Ceremony of PSW was the best ever! It’s hard to wrap up in that short time all the amazing going ons of Photoshop World but we sure do give it our best effort. After my closing piece, my good bud Dave Black during his closing remarks called me Mr Clouds. It is true, I love clouds as I’ve mentioned more then once here. Well on Saturday morning we woke up to some great clouds! So with lens pressed against the glass and towel killing reflections, I made a click.
Well, the clouds followed us all the way home (or we followed them). It took a long time to get home, I kept stopping to shoot the clouds. I would stop when I saw patterns in the landscape and clouds (especially shadows on the ground) that would so the size and grandeur of the clouds. Now quite often when it comes to clouds I find less is more and these are some examples of that.
Now I really love this photo and for a detail you can’t see in this thumbnail. But if you click on the link below, you will see why. In the lower right corner is a 18 wheeler, a nice, all white one that I waited to get right where you see it in the shadow of the cloud and at the bottom of the frame. It says size better then anything else. And it is a little detail! And how was it finished? Well, just come to the Nik Webinar and find out!
Well, after the Liberty landed, I went looking for other subjects to put with the clouds. That’s actually a pretty common tactic of mine, I find a background I really love and then look for something to put in front of it. And when it comes to our fabulous summer thunderheads, the chase is on. So at the Minden Aviation Roundup there was a small static display they called a Zoo (planes with animal names) for the kids. I wondered over there since the light on the aircraft look good.First aircraft I came to is an old favorite, the Grumman G-73 “Mallard.”
The first thing I did was do a quick looksie through the lens to see if I liked the clouds in the background. Then, I moved backwards until I got the cropping I wanted of the Goose. Then I slid sidewise real slow until the center frame of the glass lined up with the tail. I then, using the grid in the E Scrn, but that line in the center of the line on the center line of the E Scrn. Click! While I really like the paint job on the Goose, I like it better in shades of gray with that sky. Finishing was a snap, Silver Efex Pro, a lot easier then waiting for the folks to move from the front of the Goose. That’s one thing you have to have when shooting is understanding. Shooting with the 200-400, not a soul knew what I was pointing at way back where I was standing let alone realize they were in my photo. But to compact the scene and get the cropping I wanted, the long lens was the only option.
Why the long lens? Most aircraft are taller then we are so the physically closer you are, the less your see in the cockpit and of the tail. The tail is everything I think so in order to lessen the angle, moving back and shooting with a longer lens permits you to see in the cockpit and the tail. So this Do-28 Dornier with the clouds reflecting off its nose instantly grabbed my attention and just like the Goose, I moved, slid and lined up the lines to make the shot. Finishing was just as simple.
Then I saw the thunderheads start to rise and wanted to find something to put with them. When I took this shot, I knew I wouldn’t like the resulting image but wanted to blog it. What do I think is wrong with it? The clouds look like they were put in using Photoshop. While that’s not the case, because of the perspective and depth of focus, they simply look phoney. It was a great start to what turned out being a great day!
Photos captured by D3x, 200-400VR2 (handheld) on Lexar UDMA digital film
There we were in Warbird Alley as the sunset with a line of P-51D Mustangs glowing. There was a great photo there. The question is, how to get it? What my imagination was going to was an airfield in WWII, Mustangs ready to take flight. The only element of that I see in reality are the three Mustangs. How do I get the rest that my imagination saw? I knew that there was no way I could in reality get what my imagination was seeing in one click. And as Jake just posed in his blog, how much post is right to use?
That means that in order to get the final photograph my imagination sees, I will have to use Photoshop (one reason I love wildlife photography, I never have to think this hard). OK, with that thought, time to go to work. The subject is the line of Mustang canopies, gotta start with making the most of them. The lens on the camera was the 70-200VR2, looked through the viewfinder, not enough compaction. Switched to the 200-400VR2, compaction was good but….I couldn’t see all the canopies. They were all stacked up behind each other so the feel of “many” was lost. At the same time, there was of “junk” in the viewfinder that would simply take way too much time to remove. And the other problem many don’t think about when they know they have to work in post is, there wasn’t enough material to work with to make the junk disappear. How can I solve my problem?
Go Up! I looked around and behind us were the five row risers for the theater presentations. They were further back but they are the only elevation around. So I ran back to them and got up on the top riser. I looked out with my naked eye and liked what I saw. Put the camera to my eye and my heart sank. While I loved the canopies, the junk still remaining in the frame was a killer. The shutter speed was already down to 1/50 @ f/4 (ISO 100) so there wasn’t much time to do anything else. Click!
Keep in mind that my own personal standard is, if I have to spend more then two minutes with an image in post to finish, I abandon the image. I knew when I went click that this was going to take more then two minutes to finish. But it was real simple, how often have I seen three Mustangs lined up in killer light on a GRASS field like you might have seen in WWII? The time in post was worth the click. Keeping the subject in mind, the canopies, I took the image into post. I did my normal in ACR for aircraft (don’t know that that is, come to my session at Photoshop World in a couple of weeks) and then took the image into PS.
While when I took the click I assumed I had the skills to pull off the image, well, you know what happens when you assume. So the first thing I tackled to see if I would pull it off was reconstruction of the leading P-51Ds wings and wheels. Once that was accomplished I dealt with the middleground of the photograph. Last think I did was to take care of the background, the easiest. The entire time I kept one thing in mind, the subject. That’s why I filled in the trees in the background, created what looks like a taxi way in the grass and removed and rebuilt the elements. And the total time invested to get to this point, 8min, but I was liking what I was seeing on the Cintiq.
To get to the finished color image required a solid click to start with a basic game plan for finishing in post. Making the click without that knowledge, finishing in post would be near impossible. And all of that would have been not without the imagination creating the image to begin with. Because what I was looking for was an image reminiscent of an airfield in WWII. That meant going to B&W which was a simple single click with Silver Efex Pro. And that was that.
Do I like the final image? Yeah, I do, it fits what my imagination saw and it pulls at my passion for aviation. And I can hear what some of you might be saying right about now. “I no where have this ability.” Well, a number of years ago I didn’t either (ok, a decade ago now). How do you get this skill level? You gotta start by pushing yourself, take on challenges the simply make you sweat, have you doubting yourself and make them work. It’s not until you have a problem and then find a solution can you move forward. Now if a two day discussion on this very topic, looking and problems, solutions and applying them to your photography, Photoshop for Shooters is the class for you. You gotta start with your heart, add in imagination, sprinkle in camera gear and technical talents and you too will come up with those photos you desire. Push, take the time and make a great click this weekend and don’t panic when you can’t do it without post!
“When do you shoot B&W?” It’s a continual question I receive most often after I blog a B&W image. I truly wish there was a little recipe I could post that one could follow and it would create success for photographers. But I’ve not run into such which is why I keep posting B&W images with the hope that if I babble on about how I shot it, something might click for you to help you with this incredibly dramatic medium. It also has me looking at those photographs of mine that are B&W asking myself, “What did I see that told me to go B&W?” And in this case, a resounding answer doesn’t come flying back. There is something about the light, but what exactly it is I can’t put my finger on. This photo is a good example of what I’m referring to.
At Oshkosh in the Warbird Theater are featured aircraft each day. They aren’t exactly simple clean shots, there is all sorts of “stuff” around making getting a clean background a challenge. Now I’m fascinated by the Focke-Wulf 190 because it’s very simplistic looks are misleading to its lethal reputation. So when I saw this parked in the circle I walked around and around and around it just staring at it. Of course I had my camera in my hand but making clicks was a bit of a challenge. When I was at this angle you see here, I liked the drama of the angle and was happy to see a clean background, but the clouds weren’t enough. The biggest obstacle though for me was the backlit fuselage. The paint pattern is lost in the backlit, that is until you go B&W. I would love to tell you that this thought process went streaming through my consciousness but that’s not the case. Looking at the elements I placed in the viewfinder, I think that’s what came together when I went click. All I know is that when I made this capture, I knew it was a B&W photo.
The finishing is for the most part pretty straight forward. The first thing I did was finish my normal way in ACR. Then in Photoshop, the first thing I did was to remove some “stuff” over the left wing. Then I used my favorite B&W tool, Silver Efex Pro (did you know you can get a discount buying it clicking on the button at the bottom of the page?). I did my usual move with Structure and then used 5 control points in the sky to darken it. Then in Photoshop I darkened the tarmac on the right. Lastly, I using Stamp Tool > Luminosity to remove some halo around the tip of the prop. And all of that took less then two minutes to do. And I think that is kinda the key to knowing if the image you thought would make a good B&W is really a good B&W. Of course you need a clean black and white in a B&W image, but if you have to spend a lot of time getting there, then perhaps the image doesn’t make a great B&W image. These are just some random thoughts that I hope click with some helping them getting involved in this very romantic pursuit.
Photo captured by D3x, 14-24AFS on Lexar UDMA digital film
As the thunderstorms leaving can be just as good as the coming. I love the drama as the energy is released!
We headed down to Crowley for out 4th of July picnic dinner prior to the fireworks like I’ve been doing for 51yrs. There simply is no betta! As we left the house, the skies were dark o’dark and on the drive rain started to hit the windshield. I love out summer afternoon thunderstorms. The smell of the wet sage and rabbitbrush, the moody skies and the great light, it’s simply paradise. But not tonight, it’s fireworks time, a pyros favorite night of the year! Well we got down to like the the skies and let loose enough energy that they started to clear a little. Of course I had the camera so I had to make a couple of clicks.
What you have here are back to back, handheld 5image HDR images. I shot them at f/22 to get the starburst around the run. With the could moving, I knew the odds of getting it were slim but I tried anyways. You can see in the top image, no cigar. In the bottom image, I not only got the starburst but look at the funny “ray” of light in the right lower corner. I have no idea what the light is striking, rain, rain & dust, no idea what but it’s cool. The finishing just took seconds using Silver Efex Pro 2. Great start to the picnic!
Photos captured by D3x, 24-120VR on Lexar UDMA digital film
John Muir has been a hero of mine since I was 7 and first read his work. Later, I was deeply honored with the John Muir Conservation Award. And it brings us great happiness to live right in the heart of his Sierra, what he correctly called The Range of Light. It’s days like today when the thunderstorms roll in that the drama in the light underscores John’s love for these mountains. If you’re a photographer, the inspiration of his words and the scenery before you are a monumental challenge. Without that passion then you can’t feel the passion and if you don’t feel the passion, those looking at your photographs won’t feel it either. There is a reason Ansel traveled up and down the Eastside (where Mammoth Lakes is located) shooting black and white. He felt the passion and he shared it with us, the viewers of his photographs. And that’s what Photoshop for Shooters is all about!
I received 14 emails today seeking help with B&W photography. “Seeing” a color image in B&W doesn’t come overnight. There is as much feeling and seeing to make a good B&W. When it comes to a classroom to explore this, there is none better then John Muir’s Range of Light, right where Photoshop for Shooters is being held. Currently, the location list participants are being provided is 7pgs long. It includes everything from locations, lenses, time of days, directions, everything you need to be in the right place at the right time. From your explorations we then explore in class your findings, talk about the click and then go to finishing those clicks. We will spend a heck of a lot of time with B&W, what makes a great B&W and how to finish that great B&W. What you see here is just a small sample of what you’ll see in your viewfinder and on your computer monitor by the end of the weekend. And best yet, you’ll have it in your heart to take home with you. We have an opening for July and a couple openings in October (760.924.8632). We hope we can share this magical place with you!
I could spend hours trying to make the best click of surf patterns as they recede. Simple gorgeous patterns.
I am asked ALL the time about B&W. I think Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 has a whole lot more digital shooters thinking B&W and that’s great! But just because we have an amazing finishing tool to go to B&W does every photo become a great B&W image. It all starts with the click.
As you saw, I shot a lot of color images. As you’re seeing, I also shot a lot of B&W images. Yes, when I pushed the button I was seeing B&W and that’s what a lot of photographers ask help with. The clouds in these photos come to life using the Structure sliders in Silver Efex Pro 2. It’s that knowledge that I use in part when arranging the elements in the viewfinder. I then look at the whites and the blacks, where they are in the frame, where they pull the eye and the story that is tolled during that travel. That’s where experience starts to come into play.
After thinking through that aspect of the photograph I think about contrast and brightness. That’s where the subject lives I think with structure giving the subject a place to live in the photograph. I came away with about 20 B&W images from the morning that I particular like, each because of some small subject that has a home in the photo. The bottom image is a great example of this. I like how Dave is in the scene, a microdot in size yet all the elements bring the eye to him. His solid black form stands you against the gray background. The one thing though that I feel all great B&W photos have in common is passion! B&W is the realm of romantics and without that key ingredient, while the technical might be present, the essence of the shades of B&W are not reaching out and touching the viewer.
Photos captured by D3x, 14-24AFS / 24-70AFS on Lexar UDMA digital fim
We’re down in Phoenix getting ready for our Air2Air workshop which is based out of the AZ Wing of the CAF. These great folks open up their doors and hearts and make us feel right at home. This is the home base for the B-17G Sentimental Journey and the B-25 Made in the Shade you see here.
The AZ CAF does an amazing job putting people together with our history which I personally think is so important. I wasn’t able to photograph it, but today a WWII B-17 radioman who was shot down and was a POW was flying in Sentimental Journey. When if got back down he was nothing but smiles. That’s an aspect of aviation photography I truly enjoy. I’ll be blogging through out the weekend, give you something to do as the weather is looking to keep many in.
Photos captured by D3x, 24-120VR on Lexar UDMA digital film
Home for a few days, long enough to do some chores, some laundry, move snow, backed up images from the last two weeks onto the network drives, pat the dogs on the head, pack and back out the door we went. It’s that time of year again when I look in the mirror I see the road warrior view.
The Sierra is a magical place, one I’ve written about and shared in my images many times, I never get tired of them. They always seem to send us off and welcome us back without any conditions, just that we do comeback. We skirted out this time just as another big storm was coming in. You can see its beauty piled up over Mono Lake hiding the fact the fury that would be unleashed as the sun set.
We continued up the road without a hitch, just a gorgeous view as the storm piled in over the crest. We’re heading north past Carson City and just heading into Washoe Valley when the weather closed in. The winds were such the highway was closed to all high profile vehicles, it was blowing snow across the highway and in some places making is an icy mess. The normal 70mph limit was more then most felt comfortable with, 50mph seemed more cautious with the conditions. We were just about to get through the mess when in the southbound lane we saw a new, white, Ford F250 just as it started to fish and then the wind gust grabbed its empty bed, flipped it a couple of times over and over and dump it into the center island. There was no way or place we could stop but we were instantly on the phone reporting it. Moments later the ambulance passed us heading south. The rest of the details I’ll leave out but it’s not good. Life is so precious and yet it seems we get stuck in the fast lane and miss that fact until we get hit in the side of the head. Waiting until you loose something to realize that is too late. That too is sometimes the road warrior view.
Photos captured by D3x, 24-120VR on Lexar UDMA digital film
We ate lunch at my favorite spot in Hayden Valley and watched winter return!
The weather went from bad to horrible so we headed up to Upper Geyser Basin to see what was happening. What do I mean the weather went to crap? Look at the skies….BLUE! I hate bald skies but when you want to photograph steam, they do have some benefit to your photography.
Since it was up to 39 degrees, it was too warm for anything other then geysers. This is Castle Geyser and other then darkening the sky in ACR with the blue slider, it’s straight from the camera.
I have to be honest, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen and photographed Old Faithful so to make a new shot is a challenge. The one hard thing about the photo is the fact you just don’t know what the old girl will do until it blows. How high, the direction of the steam are highly variable. So what I decided to do was stand where I had the best foreground, go B&W in post and click. I was pretty happy with the eruption as the wind took the steam back and to the right leaving the actual eruption up front and white. Perfect for a B&W image.
Photo captured by D3x, 14-24AFS on Lexar UDMA digital film
After making an A Stop, we turned south down the road taking us up the Firehole River. The day had warmed up to -10 by this point which isn’t great but still made for some great drama with light and steam. We came around the corner to see this gorgeous view. There was NO WAY we were going to pass up this magnificent offering to the B&W gods!
As I mentioned yesterday, the trick to making steam images I think is to click, click, click. In the case of both of these images, a total of 75 were taken to come up with these two I really like. What is it about them I like? The main subject, the couple of black, predominant trees amongst the rest. Those blacks set the stage for the rest of the shades of gray and white. Then there is the stair step pattern to those shades that is highlighted by the rising steam. The last key to the puzzle is knowing the power of Silver Efex Pro 2 and its Structure slider. It can pull out detail, subtle detail that makes the B&W really zing! What a great second stop to the day!
Photos captured by 24-70AFS / 70-200VR2 on Lexar UDMA digital film
Sharon and I needed to get over to Stockton for a presentation tonight (can’t wait, talking bird tales) so we decided since The Pass was open (Tioga Pass) we’d take the shortcut over the Sierra. The drive is only 4hrs rather then 8.5hrs. The “shortcut” takes us through Yosemite Nat’l Park and as you might imagine, I had the camera out.
We opened The Pass this year and we closed it since it closed behind us by the winter storm you see pictured starting here. It was as always a gorgeous drive and a great start to winter at home.
Photos captured by D3x, 24-120AFS on Lexar UDMA digital film.
We woke up to the start of a major storm, Mammoth had major winds and rain, not the best of conditions for photography. Definitely not the best conditions to have any fun. So we headed towards the east, away from the storm. I took the gang to a spot I’ve never taken folks before, a special locale when the clouds are talking to us, the photography is amazing! What you see in the distance are the White Mtns and Nevada. mtc
Photo captured by D3x, 70-200VR2 on Lexar UDMA digital film
It might seem like a real stretch but I tend to take folks on our Eastern Sierra Adv to my favorite places in the Eastern Sierra to shoot. One on the top of the list is Horseshoe Lake. A true lake not messed with by man, it screams Sierra, especially when storms are blowing in like this day.
Our participants were a bit lost probably because I ran to one spot in the bottom of the lake and planted, simply spinning around in place in a circle shooting like a mad man.
With the high winds blasting the clouds past overhead, the scene was constantly changing. Shooting really wide, I simple kept turning and in a short time had clicked over 200 frames, each basically different. I’ve not gotten through all of them, just grabbed the ones that caught my attention.
This is by far one of my favorites (I know, it’s a repeat). The Maple Leaf looking design in the water’s edge is what caught me attention and then finishing in Silver Efex pro made the rest a snap. The key to making this type of photography work are the trees in foreground, they give scale and sense of place. It was a gorgeous afternoon.
Photos captured by D3x, 18AF on Lexar UDMA digital film