Tag Archives: Landscape Photography

Palouse Year 3

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In a few days Denise and I will be heading to Washington for our Palouse Photography Tour. This is our third year doing tours in the Palouse. For those who don’t know, the Palouse is the largest wheat growing region in the country. The landscape is full of rolling hills, barns and my personal favorite, lots of old trucks.

We are looking forward to working with a great group of participants, several of whom have done other tours with us. We can’t wait to see what they create!

During the last 2 years we have mapped thousands of miles of country roads and, believe it or not, we will be scouting some new areas in the days before our participants arrive. I already know the week will fly by.  Did I say fly?  Stay tuned to this blog to see what that means.

 

Win a Trip!!

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Since the inception of Road Runner Photography Tours we have frequently raffled spots on some of our tours. This May however, we are doing something we have never done and frankly have never seen anyone else do either.  We are planning a weekend photo tour in one of our favorite areas of West Virginia and the only way you can attend is to win a spot on the tour.  That’s right, every spot on the tour will be given away to randomly selected winners.

If you want to enter for a chance to win one of the 6 spots on the tour you need to head over to this page;  www.RoadRunnerPhotographyTours.com

If you want to increase your chances of winning a spot on the tour it’s easy.  You just need to share the custom link that will be made available to you after you enter.  You can share this link with friends directly via email or you can use the buttons to post the link on your favorite social media site.   Each time someone enters using your link, you will get an extra entry into the contest as well.

Let’s just imagine for a moment, that you don’t want to win. I know I’m having trouble imagining that you would not want to win.  But you can still help your friends win by registering and sharing the link with your photo friends.  Imagine how grateful they would be if they won a spot because of your help!

Full details are available on the contest page.

 

 

Quality vs. Quantity

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I’m going to start with a question. What is more important, quality of work or quantity of work? What I mean by this is what if you took a week long trip and only got one portfolio quality image? Would the trip be a failure or a success? The answer to this question of course depends of your point of view.

Sitting on this side of the computer I have a front row seat to the internet just like you. Now you can look at websites like 500px and generally you will see examples of stunning work from a variety of photographers. Or if you go over to Flickr you might see someone post dozens or even hundreds of pictures from a particular trip or event. There is no right answer to this question, its like many things in life, a matter of opinion.

As I finish my 2nd decade as a photographer, with a 20 year break between decades, I find that I value quality. In my mind this is the only possible choice. When you go to a gallery or art show you see a few pieces from a particular artist at best. Artists have always been forced to be selective when it comes to showing their work. But with the advent of the internet and nearly unlimited online storage, it takes us back to the days of sitting in front of a slide projector as your neighbor shows you 200 shots from their vacation. Did you fall asleep before the show was over? You have to be older than 40 to appreciate the comparison.

It’s not my intent to be critical of others in this space but let’s think a minute. If you post 100 pictures from a particular place or event, how many people will loose interest before looking at all of your images? Or how many will judge your ability as a photographer not by your best image, but by your worst? The fact is we all take lousy images. I could show you thousands, but then you would not be inclined to return to my blog. I think it helps if you can develop the ability to be your toughest critic. That does not mean that you should not show your images and have pride in your work. You should! I think the art of photography is a journey and not a destination. Personally I hope to be a better photographer as time progresses. Part of that process is being critical of my work and introperspective on how I can strive to improve.

In regard to the blog image above.  It was the only worthy image from a full a day of shooting motion abstracts.   The rest were just not that good.  But my happiness with the one image far overpowers any possible disappointment with the hundreds I had taken that day that no one else will ever see.

Praying for Cold

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I’m not a fan of cold weather and that is putting it mildly. But one thing I look forward to is freezing temperatures that last for several days. Here in Virginia we often flirt with freezing temperatures in the winter, but most of the time it’s not enough for lakes and streams to freeze.

But freezing temperatures can be had if you are willing to travel. I have had great luck in the winter finding frozen water in nearby states of West Virginia, Western Maryland, and Pennsylvania. I prefer to work the edges of streams and lakes. Last year in Maine we did walk on some frozen lakes, but they were covered with about a foot of snow so there was not much to photograph. If you do decide to walk out on a lake or stream please be sure it’s safe. A picture in my opinion is not worth risking your safety. If you stick to the edges I think you will find plenty on interesting patterns and shapes, just remember to dress for the elements.

Working a Subject

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I have heard a lot online recently about revisiting old locations. It’s great advice and something I encourage everyone to follow.

The shot above is of the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, VA, located just south of the Pentagon. So what could possibly change by revisiting a subject multiple times? Your perspective for starters. I know when I revisit a location I typically see things differently than before. Sure I see some of the same things I have seen before as well, but the clouds and the light could possibly be different. Especially if you go during different times of the day or different times of the year.

Small differences can sometimes make meaningful differences in how you see or interpret a subject. It’s ok to go with preconceived notions of what you want to shoot but don’t let yourself be limited by such thinking. Just be open to what is in front of you and don’t forget to look behind you either.

Of course this is an HDR image.  Photomatix is my favorite tool for creating HDR images.  It is available as a free download and is fully functional for 30 days.  If you decide to purchase use the discount code “RRPT” for a 15% discount.

After Dark

As photographers, we are always chasing the light; looking for that perfect sunrise or sunset with just the right amount of cloud cover to provide the quintessential filtered light. But sometimes it is the light you have access to after the sunlight has fully disappeared that provides the most intrigue.

The images below were captured in Iceland last weekend well after sunset, between 2 and 5 hours actually. All of the images, sans one (the bluest icebergs had a few pops with a very small flashlight) were captured with strictly ambient light (moonlight) or in the case of the sea stacks, ambient city light (from Vik).

Working with ambient light is both challenging and inspiring. It takes patience, lots of it, as it can take multiple attempts to get the image correctly framed and in focus. But the results can be amazing when it works out, providing a whole new way to look at the world.

Next time you have the chance to explore in the wee hours, challenge yourself to see what you can find after dark.

If you are interested in exploring Iceland (day and night) with RRPT, we are heading back Sept 5 – 13, 2015. For more information, click here.

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Lake Panorama

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Shooting a panorama properly should usually involve the proper equipment.   I’m referring to a nodal plate and some other gear that allows the optical center of the lens to pivot over the center of the tripod.  This allows your software to have a much easier time when it comes to stitching images.   But if you lack a foreground subject, you don’t have to be so precise.  In the case of this image I took 4 horizontal shots of the lake scene just using my tripod ball head.   Since there was no real foreground this was easily stitched in Photoshop.

 

We frequently shoot panos on our tours and Meetups, so if you need some help with this type of photography be sure to ask.

Would you be disappointed?

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When you decide to get up early and shoot sunrise are you disappointed when a nice sunrise is elusive?  I must admit that I am, but at the same time I quickly shift gears and look for what is right with the scene rather than what is wrong.  On the first morning in Cape May this past October, we were on the beach while it was still dark and as dawn approached we quickly realized that we were not going to have much of a sunrise.  We just shifted our mindset and started working on long exposures to capture the movement of the clouds and waves.  While I think pre-visualization is important, you must also be willing to embrace what is right with the scene and not let your disappointment detract from the creative process.

A Bear Cub in a Tree

 

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I know you are thinking I must have made a mistake with this blog’s title.  I was recently editing my pictures from a tour of the Smoky Mountains this past spring and, after going through about 100 bear cub pictures, I came across this shot.  While shooting the bear I noticed the moon was out and this line of clouds went right across,  so I snapped a picture of the moon and went back to shooting the bear.

 

I have two points or perhaps suggestions to make.  First, don’t be afraid to put your subject in the middle of the frame.  Sometimes it works just fine.  Second, take the time to look around.  You might just be missing a better picture if you are only aware of what’s in front of you.

 

Sometimes it’s better in Black and White

 

Here is a slightly different take on the Palouse Barn from my prior post.  With the sweeping clouds above the barn, I think this one looks better in Black and White.  I had pretty much finished processing the color version when it occurred to me that it might look better in Black and White.