Mark wanted to improve his landscape images and understand how to avoid the common issue of over or under-exposed images.
We talked about using the Rule of Thirds to help compose your shot. We also looked at using naturally occurring lines in the landscape to help draw the viewers eye into the shot.
Blue Mountains Photography workshop at Flat Rock Wentworth Falls. This example uses the naturally occurring lines of the landscape to draw the viewer into the shot from foreground to background.
Another tip I gave Mark to help achieve correct exposure is to look for the brightest area of his (usually the clouds), expose for them and then ‘open up’ 2-3 stops from there. This method allowed him to use the inherent brightness range of his camera (5 stops) and keep his exposure within those limits.
Blue Mountains Photography workshop at Flat Rock Wentworth Falls. Creative editing is another great tool for creating interesting landscapes using the Rule of Thirds principle.
Here is Mark, dwarfed by the amazing Blue Mountains vista.
Mark enjoying the view.
I run regular group workshops and individual tutoring by appointment. If you or somebody you know would like to improve their photography skills and further enjoy your camera, get in touch by phone or email.
Every so often I’m lucky enough to be a part of something very special.
The wedding of Alena and Lawry at Yestergrange, at Wentworth Falls in the upper Blue Mountains is just such an occasion.
Not only was the weather perfect, the location was stunning, but the couple were a joy to work with as they laughed and joked with each other, enjoyed their family and friends and seemed to really soak up their big day.
I was enjoying myself so much it didn’t feel like work!
All of this contributed to producing some great shots.
Have you ever wondered what size you should print your enlargements?
It depends on a number of factors such as;
– resolution of your camera
– which room in the house you want to hang the image (living room, bedroom etc)
– how far away you will be from the image
Did you know that the viewing distance of an enlargement is best determined by the resolution of the image and the diagonal width of the print? Billboards usually have a resolution as low as 22ppi (pixels per inch) because they are viewed from such a vast distance.
Some photographers use the formula of 1.5 to 2 times the diagonal width to determine the viewing distance.
I was pleased to deliver this image last week. Shot at one of my favourite Blue Mountains locations, this order was a 48” framed print of this family from Epping standing at Flat Rock, Wentworth Falls. At 48” x 25” and 300ppi it has a diagonal distance of 54” meaning it would be best viewed at 2-2.7m away.
Think of that next time you are buying a new 80” tv. You would need to have your lounge at least 4 meters away from the screen to see it correctly!
Another formula for the resolution of the image is 3438 divided by the viewing distance.
So, to view this image from 3m (120″) away, I would divide 3438 by 120 to find the minimum resolution of the print as 29ppi. This is obviously very low res but as long as I wasn’t standing inside 3m from the image it would appear to be quite sharp and detailed.
What this all means is that your small mega-pixel camera need not prevent you from creating big enlargements, as long as the minimum viewing distance is not exceeded they will look sharp and detailed.
I’m not sure how practical that is but its worth giving some thought to I reckon.
Here is a link to a good discussion on print resolution and viewing distance.
What is the best camera or lens is like trying to answer the “how long is a piece of string?” question.
I’m often asked to recommend a camera or lens for somebody starting out in photography – I find it difficult to give a definitive answer most of the time as the choices are so numerous.
Nikon or Canon – Ford or Holden?
What camera is best is a bit like the Ford and Holden debate. You’re either a Nikon user or a Canon user. While there are other brands, when it comes to DSLR these are the two big brands.
I use Nikon, not because I don’t like Canon or because I drive a Holden, just because it was the camera I was given to use when I started my career and I’ve continued to use them for nearly 20 years.
I have driven both Holden and Ford in the past but now have a love of French cars, which is beside the point…
I have photographer friends who swear by Canon and won’t consider using anything else. Each to their own I reckon as long as you get the shot – right?
Starting out in photography can be an expensive exercise and the initial outlay can be huge if you haven’t done your homework.
The great thing is you can always add to your kit over time as you improve and develop your skills.
Most manufacturers these days have cameras at many different price-points, with 1 or 2 zoom lenses which cover focal lengths anywhere from 18mm up to 200 or 300mm. This sort of focal range should cover most people for most photographic subjects and situations.
The “disadvantage” for want of a better word with these zoom lenses is they are not particularly “fast” and don’t always have the best optics or elements. For most of us that won’t matter and won’t be noticeable, but for the serious amateur wanting to go to the next level you might consider investing in some “nice glass” and getting either a few fixed focal length lenses or a zoom with a consistent F-stop of 2.8 for serious speed and shallow depth of field.
Fixed focal length or zoom?
Again there are two schools of thought about fixed focal length and zoom lenses. Fixed focal length means your lens is 28mm or 35mm or 50mm or whatever focal length and thats it. There is no zooming from 28 up to 50mm or vice-versa. Some say fixed focal length is old-school and the technology in zoom lenses these days means there is very little blur, quality loss or vignetting like there use to be with some zoom lenses.
I like fixed focal length lenses because I like to be involved in the shoot. By that I mean if i’m too far from the subject I physically need to move, I can’t zoom-in as this changes the focal length and therefore the effect I want. I will often change lenses 5 or 6 times during a shoot as I strive to create the image I want. I could use zoom lenses and not have to change them so often but I choose not to.
Zoom lenses are great for particular applications – wedding photography and press photography both spring to mind. Both of these disciplines often involve capturing moments very quickly as they happen and zoom lenses are ideal for this sort of thing. One doesn’t have time to fiddle around changing a lens during a wedding or a press event as the moment can pass and you’ve missed it!
You need to move fast at a wedding to not miss the moment
What do I use?
I use Nikon gear. I have worked as a press photographer and used zoom lenses, typically 18-55mm and 70-200mm both f2.8 and both perfect for that sort of work.
Now I use fixed focal length lens for most of what I do – for family portraits and commercial portraits I most often shoot with my 85mm or my 135mm depending on the outdoor location. I might also use a 24mm or 50mm to include the background into the shot.
The correct focal length can help you achieve the result you want
What should you choose?
Obviously we’re all driven by our budget so far be it for me to suggest anybody go out and spend thousands on a kit you might not benefit from.
Try to invest most of your budget in your lenses as these can last a lifetime if cared for well. Camera bodies generally don’t last forever with most DSLR’s having a finite number of shutter-releases before they need replacing. (I’ve heard it can range from 100,000 up to 200,000 depending on the brand and model)
Your lens choice will depend on what you want to photograph most. For portrait photography choose a lens with a focal length from 80mm up, to help you isolate your subject from the background, landscape photography will require wide angles, for sport you’ll want telephoto from 200mm or 300mm.
Wide angle lens for landscape photography - Bermagui Point
Then there are specific purpose lenses like macro photography and tilt/shift lenses for architecture.
Once you have your camera and lenses you can start to think about lights – speedlights and strobes. But thats for another post…
The most important thing in my opinion is to gain an understanding of what effect you can achieve by using different focal lengths. Zooming your lens shouldn’t just be about getting closer or further back from the subject, it should be about creating an image with particular subject matter and compositional elements linked to your choice of focal length.
Try to choose the correct lens for the subject and regardless of your choice of camera learn to use it, read the manual or take a course, the reward for effort can be ten-fold and your next lens or camera purchase will be an informed one.
A mixed bag of rain, sun and wind did nothing to deter another great crowd at this years Leura Spring Fair.
Although for us stall-holders our gazebos needed sandbagging to stop them blowing away!
My weekend involved meeting people, eating delicious fresh food and generally enjoying the wonderful atmosphere.
From my point of view it was a success, I have work booked well into November. A lot of work goes into the preparation for the Fair and it can all come unstuck if the weather isn’t kind.
I had a display of some of my most recent framed and mounted images.
Acrylic mounting provides a modern high—gloss finish
Of particular interest to many visitors was the acrylic mounted image of two young brothers arm in arm amidst autumn leaves. It was my favourite image from that shoot and I think looks amazing mounted on acrylic.
To answer some of the questions about the mounting, the image is adhered to the back of the acrylic and gives the image a high gloss finish with a back-lit effect due to the whole thing sitting proud of your wall due to the method of “hanging” with 4 small polished bolts in each corner.
It is very modern form of image display and quite a head-turner. I’ve had a number of clients request this method for their images and it was by far the most commented upon image over the weekend.
Detail of the hanging method with 4 polished bolts