Smoky Mountains Photography Workshop

Well its time again to dust off our camera sensors for our annual Smokies spring workshop with good friend and co-leader Donna Eaton. Our workshop is April 17-21.  We like to arrive a few days early to scout locations. This time of year, we always bring plenty of clothing to cover weather extremes. Hats, gloves, and winter coats are often used at Clingmans Dome at sunrise and sunset. Of course we pack sturdy shoes for walking and [...]

Combining Two Images in Photoshop

This image was created last weekend at Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, GA . The goal is to combine two images in Photoshop, creating a soft ethereal feel in the finished image. From a tripod-mounted camera, the first “normal” capture was made at F8 focused sharply on the white dogwood blossoms. The second “blurry” image was made after manually adjusting focus to render the entire scene very blurry. Tip:  shoot the blurry image with the lens wide open. Shooting wide [...]

Plain Skies – Post Processing – Blending & Masking

This image was captured on the plains of the Masai Mara in Kenya. We’ve all had a great situation ruined by a terrible background.  The sky in the zebra image was rendered as solid white and featureless. A cloudy sky with lots of detail was dropped in, adding lots of interest. The key is to use a more detailed/interesting sky, but one matching the overcast condition of the zebra image. A little layer masking, a blend mode [...]

Using Textures

This image was captured panning with a group of Camargue horses in southern France as they ran by our workshop class. For this image a slow shutter speed was panned to capture the beauty and grace of these powerful animals. Once the image was processed traditionally, a layer mask was used to overlay a texture, creating a painterly effect. A combination of Blending Modes and selectively painting on the texture created an entirely new image. Equipment & Settings: [...]

Cheetah Chasing Thomson’s Gazelles

This shot is all about being in the right place at the right time. We first encountered this hunting cheetah early one morning. Our guide spotted two small ears sticking up above the tall grass. He instantly knew there was a cheetah in the grass stalking a group of Thomson’s gazelles. We parked our vehicle, with the sun at our backs about 50 yards away. Waiting nearly two hours she finally started crawling ever so slowly and [...]

Telephoto Lenses for Landscapes

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve watched photographers walk up to a grand scene and without even thinking, grab a wide-angle lens and shoot. Just because the scene in front of you is expansive does not mean a wide angle is automatically the best choice. Telephoto zoom lenses are perfect for optical extractions. Simply using a telephoto lens to isolate interesting compositions within the grand landscape. Many times the graphic lines within the overall scene [...]

Using Teleconverters With Confidence

This fantastic moment was photographed as Burchell’s Zebras shared a drink in the Mara River.  The Masai Mara is world famous for incredible wildlife: often only a few feet from our vehicle.  In this case, we could not position our photo vehicle closer to the zebras. The solution: attach a 2x teleconverter between the camera body and 500mm lens for an effective focal length of 1000mm, thus ensuring a frame filling composition.  In this case, I closed the [...]

Milky Way and Bristlecone Pine

This star filled night sky was captured during my workshop in the ancient Bristlecone forest located at about 11,000 feet in the eastern Sierra range, above Bishop, CA.  I used one of my 24-105 zoom lens, but honestly, it’s not the perfect tool for this application.  The image was captured at F4 at 24mm focal length.  For night skies this lens is a bit slow, an F2.8 lens would have cut my exposure time in half.  Shortening [...]

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