Tag Archives: b&w

Salvaging Your Blue Skies

1 Sep
Poetry of the Earth

Poetry of the Earth

Another photographer recently talked to me about his silly habit of taking camera gear with him wherever he goes, even if he knows the light is going to be harsh.  I think he expected me to agree with him, and tell him he really *should not* hike with that extra 15lbs of gear up a mountain.  Instead, I reminded him of Murphy’s Law.  If he didn’t hike with his gear, he would get to the top of the mountain, only to find a unicorn standing under a rainbow, in front of a (completely unforecasted) partial solar eclipse.

Now, don’t get me wrong, blue skies at mid-day are not ideal light to shoot in.  I’ll always prefer the diffuse light of sunrise and sunset, or the textured light of cloudy New England days.  But if I find myself somewhere epic, with only a small window to shoot, I’m going to make the best of the conditions I have.

So, how do we do that?  First, I’d invest in filters to help you tame unruly light.  Circular polarizers help to cut down on harsh glare, beef up blue skies and give foliage a lush feel in bad light.  A neutral density filter will help you decrease the amount of light entering the camera.  Graduated neutral density filters are particularly handy for modifying the harsh light of blazing, mid-day skies, while still keeping your foreground well-exposed.  (If you want a bit more information about this, check out our practical tips e-book!  You can get a copy in our store, or on itunes through the Light & Landscapes magazine…found in the Newstand app.)

I’d also be certain that if you have the option to shoot in RAW, you do so.  As long as your highlights aren’t clipped and your shadows aren’t crushed, you may have enough data to work with to recover some of the image’s detail.  Remember to keep an eye on your histogram as you shoot and adjust your camera’s settings to give you the best possible chance at a successful photograph.

Balanced Flow :: RI

Balanced Flow :: RI

If the shadows and highlights are just too severe, you may also consider converting the image to black and white.  Personally, I prefer a well exposed black and white with full tonal range…but if image detail can’t be salvaged, B&W can generally support high contrast images.

Most of the time, your best bet will be to shoot during good light, as it will have fewer tonal extremes and be easier to edit.  Sometimes though, some places just won’t allow you to shoot during the golden hours.  In my opinion, you shouldn’t let that stop you from capturing your “epic place” experience.  Play with your camera and filters.  You may not get any award winning shots that day….but then again…you might!

If you know anyone who might benefit from this article, share it! 🙂


4 Nov


Be still and listen, the Earth is singing.


So often, they say that your photograph should tell a story.  You should have a “thing” you want to convey and use your image as a way to do that.


Good, advice.  Tried and true.  But what do they say about images that invite you to be part of their story?


Let me start at the beginning.  There I was, schlepping around Acadia (my first time there) determined not to create the same old shots that have been done a million times.  Now, given the popularity of Acadia coupled with the fact that I was there with three other extraordinary photographers, the potential for a comp stomp was damn near exponential.  Trying to make something completely new…or completely new to my eyes and experiences at least…seemed like a tall order.


Thank goodness I’m never one to back down from a challenge.  (‘Stubbornness’ eeerrr….ummmm…I mean…. ‘Dedication and tenacity’ are part of my charm.)


So, there were were, shooting away on the boulder face pictured here, wrapped up in a beautiful sunrise.  Maybe it was the lack of sleep, maybe it was the lack of caffeine…most likely both…but in what felt like no time the tide began creeping back in to shore.  Thankfully David noticed before our route off the rocks completely flooded.  No problem.  Time to go.  Back to the beach we went.  Or, rather, three out of four of us went back.  One of us (not naming any names *cough*Mital*cough*) was so involved in shooting seascapes that he didn’t climb down with the rest of us.


Now, as a photographer hanging out with other photographers in a beautiful place, you need to exercise a lot of patience.  If you’re not stopping every 5 minutes, you’re doing it wrong.  Therefore, waiting for Mit…uh…our fourth to finish up wasn’t an issue.  Him getting stuck on a cliff being pounded by progressively higher waves, with no escape route because the tide was up?  Well, that was a problem.


So, being the lady of the group, I obviously volunteered to toss their Nikons into the surf while they went to rescue our wayward fourth group member.


Um…I mean, watch their stuff.  Yeah.  Keep it safe and sound.  Yup.  *look away*


While I was waiting for Mike to find and/or rescue Mital, I looked longingly back at the tree I had been photographing as the sun began peeking above the horizon.  It was so tenacious, making a life for itself out on the boulder face.  I looked at the texture in the sky, and in the rocks.  I looked at the movement of the water across the rocks.  Everything about the scene felt right.  It needed to be photographed.


Although I loved the snaps in-camera, it wasn’t until I began the edit that I really felt the magic of the scene come alive.  At first it was just those hints.


Damn…that water looks good.  This shot emotes movement.  Is that even possible?


The light falling along those lines in the rocks is so dynamic.  I want to touch them.  Again.


That path!  Its calling to me, that siren, daring me to explore.


That was about the time I realized, my image was begging the viewer to be part of the story it was trying to tell.  I don’t know what that’s called, but its a spectacular feeling.  It’s like accomplishment, white chocolate and fairy dust all rolled into one.


It’s surreal, really.  Like a dream.  ………Hence, “Dreamsong”.


(And that, my friends, is the story of how I didn’t throw Mike’s camera into the ocean.)


This is just one of 5 images I put together for the ongoing “5 day black and white challenge” on the FB.  Are we friends yet?  I’d really like for you to see the rest of the pictures. 🙂

Chicago Skyline

16 Oct
Chicago Skyline HDR Pano

Chicago Skyline HDR Pano

A pano is a thing of beauty…at least, it is when you’re photographing beautiful things. =)

From the moment I took this pano series, I was excited…Will from WhereToWillie.com suggested we try breaking onto a rooftop on Navy Pier for a better view of the area.  While we didn’t necessarily have to ninja-skulk around (turns out there was a very public parking garage on the top floor of the building we chose), our exploration efforts were rewarded with great light, a lot of texture i the sky, and a spectacular view of the city skyline.  A++ to Will for his suggestion. 😉

Photo courtesy of Nick Exposed

Photo courtesy of Nick Exposed

And, A+++++ to my climbing skills.  You do what you have to do to get a shot! haha

In Honor Of…

19 Sep

Talk Like a Pirate Day…today calls for a seascape!  This is a picture from the past weekend in Cape Cod.

Wood End Lighthouse - Cape Cod

Wood End Lighthouse – Cape Cod

Let me tell you a few things I learned while hiking to this lighthouse…a hike that involved a mile and a half walk over a breakwater across a bay and deep sand dunes.

First, I realized what a gigantic difference there is between high and low tides.  By the time low tide rolled around, someone’s moored kayak was literally hanging vertically down the side of the breakwater.

Second, those breakwaters are a rat and spider haven!!  And to be perfectly honest, the rats we saw had no swimmies or life jackets on.  Apparently, Cape Cod is home to the Michael Phelps’ of the rat world.

Third, flip-flops are not ideal hiking footwear.

And finally…it occurred to me that if a seagull lives in the bay…perhaps they should be called Bay-gulls? (Yes, I really did make that joke.  My friends obviously loved it. haha)


The Mill on the River

3 Aug
Mill on the River

Mill on the River