Archive for December, 2011

Dealing with Lens Flare in Back Lit Scenes

December 29, 2011

Back lit Cholla cactus in the Maricopa Mountain Wilderness section of the Sonoran Desert National Monument
Maricopa Mountain Wilderness, Sonoran Desert, Arizona

Flare was the hardest thing to control when shooting this back lit desert scene. If you can control the lens flare you’ll get some very dramatic results. If you don’t block the flare you will lose much of the saturation and contrast that initially drew you to photograph the scene. As if you were looking through a pair old and dirty reading glasses. Since this shot has a higher percentage of shadows and minimal high lights it fooled the meter reading into thinking it needed to over expose the scene. I under exposed this scene but kept the high lights from overexposing on the histogram. Then pulled detail out of the shadows with a few layer adjustments and masks. Only a little detail was brought back to keep the stark contrast between light and shadow. Most cameras have a blinking highlight indicator you can use but sometimes that isn’t enough. Even if the highlights are not blinking, the percentage may be to small to blink, you may not be able to recover all the highlights that have been over exposed so be sure to check your histogram.

Here is a what the scene looked with the lens hood and hand to block out some of the flare.

The same scene with out blocking all of the lens flare.

Of course there are many other methods of blocking the sun.. .

Website: Portfolio
Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.
Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
Steve’s Landscape Photographer Tools Page


New Take on Mt Whitney

December 9, 2011

Icey reflecion of Mt Whitney covered in alpen glow in the high country of the Eastern Sierra.

Icey reflection of Mt. Whitney covered in alpen glow in the high country of the Eastern Sierra

As a creative goal I attempt to create unique photographs so if anyone would like to help find a similar photograph please send me a link because I couldn’t find one. It’s give me a reason to go back again! Thanks for viewing folks!

I’ll talk more on the experience up there in a later post, thanks for reading and viewing.

Website: Portfolio
Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.
Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
Steve’s Landscape Photographer Tools Page

Triple Arch at Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

December 8, 2011

Triple Arch at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada

Triple Arch at Valley of Fire

I’ve been sharing a few arch photographs on the internet from the Valley of Fire, well here are a few more to add to the series, “The Land of Little Arches”. Years ago my parents used to live out in Colorado Springs, CO so I’d have a great time looking at a map and trying to figure out how long I could make the trip getting there, the average amount of time getting there was 3 to 4 days and same thing with the way back so I’d visit some fantastic places of the Southwest & Rocky Mountains in good light and scout out a few others in the harsher hours of the day. Unless I could find some kind of canyon full of shade or canyon light then I’d just be there for hours with out a time limit.

Some of you may wonder how decisions are made on what to photograph. Some photographers use a book or a guide, sometimes GPS coordinates. This gives them a little bit of certainty and eliminates some of the risks of taking a possibly bad photograph and not coming home with anything. Of course no one can control the light and weather but some photographers are good at adapting to it so this increases their certainty of pulling off a great photograph such as the one they want to duplicate or hopefully improve upon and later submit to a contest for some kind of validation or just share it with friends. Is this true or not true?

A valley view of the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada

I love to drive down a road and just look for interesting backdrops such as desert mountains or large rock formations. Especially something I haven’t seen shot over and over again. I might have to spend a little more time being out there exploring but the payoff to me is well worth it. It really helps one’s creativity when you are working with something you can’t duplicate. I guess you could compare it to visiting restaurants when traveling, do you judge the place by it’s exterior or look up the reviews online at home or smart phone, personally I don’t care, if I see a BBQ house that looks like shit I immediately think “I’m going in to find out what it’s like”. I’ve had good and bad experiences this way, an eatery known for it’s margaritas called the Loop in the town of Manitou Springs, CO. The margaritas were great but I like spicy food so I ordered “The Plate from Hell”. Let’s just leave it at the plate defeated me, but the experiences from the road are part of what motivate me to keep going.

Photographers often fly to Vegas to visit the Crown Jewels of the Southwest, places such as Bryce Canyon, Zion, and the Grand Canyon. Collect a few images and be gone. They may see Valley of Fire on the map and think I’ll visit sometime and some stop by shoot the Fire Wave, Fire Cave (Windstone Arch), Elephant Rock, and Atlai Rock then check it off the list and say been there done that. Valley of Fire and Lake Mead are so full of photographic opportunities I often found it hard to leave. Even during fun trips to Las Vegas with my friends during the summer I’d find some time sneak off and explore a few canyons here and there. The heat alone was enough to kill me and my water had to be frozen solid before any hikes began. There were many finds in bad light that require more trips into the desert to wait for the good light! As landscape photographers it helps to live in a place where we can be close to beautiful locations we can photograph only minutes away and Las Vegas has no shortage for the icon hunter or the explorer.

See more Valley of Fire images here or find workshop info here.