Full midday sunlight is usually the worst for photography. Its direct overhead lighting produces flatness of form and washed-out colors. Most professional photographers choose mornings or afternoons, when light moves toward the warmer end of the spectrum. But it is not just for warmth of color; early and late in the day, the tonal range is less extreme. Digital cameras can record more subtle gradations of tone than was possible with film, but are still limited in how much dynamic range they can capture in a single photo. Under conditions of extreme contrast it is not always possible to record the full range of values.
You could think of the image sensor as being like the human eye, but not nearly as sensitive to the full range of light. In bright light, the eye can see all the tonal values from the brightest highlights to the darkest shadows because the iris automatically adjusts to the different light levels. Our brain also tells us what to expect. For example, a scarlet tanager registers the same color red in our mind, even though we might see it in sunlight or in shade. Cameras, however, have a smaller parameter of sensitivity. Their response to tonal extremes varies depending on the specific sensor used in a given camera model.
AW: I first photographed the Twelve Apostles, sea stacks off the southern coast of Australia, early in the morning, which resulted in a very pastel image.
MH: This series reminds me of the famous painting series, by French Impressionist Claude Monet, of the Rouen Cathedral. He always painted the façade from the same vantage point, but under different light conditions at different times of the day and year. The resulting comparisons were a symphony of color tapestries with varying vibrations and moods. The cathedral was not the point. It was the effect light had on its appearance.
Unlike the tourist who stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon, snapped his photo, and then said, “Okay, let’s go, I’ve got it,” we could stand in the same spot, every day, 365 days of the year, and have 365 different images. The subject will be the same. But it will not look the same because the lighting conditions will differ.
Color, as we saw in chapter 4, elicits an emotional response. Mood by itself can be the subject of a photo, as it is in these four images. But more important, mood is one emotional link the photographer shares with the viewer. Each of us can probably pick a favorite. It might be interesting to ask yourself why you like one more than another.
Before heading to Katmai for workshops for the next couple weeks, I visited the Canadian Arctic. We had a great time with beluga whales, caribou, and polar bears. Most of the underwater shots were taken using the camera in a Nauticam housing (thank you, Backscatter Underwater Photo & Video!) suspended from an interesting contraption made from broom handles, bolts and rope, which enabled us to shoot without getting into the water. This was far more effective than when we struggled in the water to get close enough, which the belugas didn’t seem the like at all. Once we lowered the contraption into the water the whales became so curious that we had trouble keeping them from getting too close. The milky waters were so filled with sediment that sharpness became an issue. Despite the fact that the whales are largely in focus, they appear otherwise. With the polar bears I took the perspective of tiny bear in the big environment. The caribou, photographed with a 50MP Canon EOS 5DS, was a happy bonus.
I hope you enjoy checking out what I was able to capture here, and I can’t wait to see what Katmai holds for us this year!
If nature and fall color are subjects that interests you there is no better place than the Pacific northwest to capture the vivid warm hues of turning leaves against the deep greens of the evergreen pines. In October the weather is still generally warm enough to get out into this lush and earthy rainforest comfortably with often overcast skies presenting ideal lighting for capturing all it has to offer. I’m leading two workshops here at this time and whether you are local to the area or have thought about visiting, each will provide their own unique look at the beauty I’ve appreciated over a lifetime of being a resident of the region.
First on the list is the Rainier Fall workshop – this one is sure to be a sell-out with few spots remaining, so if it interests you I implore you to sign up soon! The fall color here is especially satisfying to capture, framing the warm colors of autumn leaves against the cool blues of the distant mountains and skies. The emphasis here will be on creating compelling compositions in nature. Gavriel Jecan will also be on this trip to provide extra instruction and support.
Second is an expansive trip into the Quinault rainforest. At only 8 participants with multiple instructors, this small-group photo journey will focus on nature photography techniques and capturing high quality images – and then, with our time spent at the beautiful Lake Quinault Lodge we will print those images on Epson’s latest state-of-the-art photo printers and have a demo on how to ensure you’re outputting the best possible images captured during your time in the field.
Sing up today, these workshops will fill up quickly as fall approaches!
Two months after it started, Kilauea is still erupting – even forming a new island off the east rift zone. Last week a friend and I made an all-too-quick trip to the Big Island to photograph some of the action. With the help of Bruce Omori we were able to get in the air above the eruption, as well as along side it from a boat. It is a stunning scene of earth’s power. The vog is so volatile that it creates it own weather, colorful clouds and swirling vortices that resemble nebulae of outer space.
As for the boat ride, it is not for the faint of heart. The water is extremely rough and there is always the chance that a sudden and violent explosion where the searing lava meets the cooler water (relatively speaking – it’s still over 100 degrees from our readings, about the temperature of a scalding hot tub!) will hit the boat.
Big shout out and thank-you to Bruce Omori for helping us on our trip! Check out his website and facebook page for the latest in volcano activity. If you want to see the eruption contact him – I couldn’t recommend his guidance enough!
In spring of 2019 I’m excited to be leading an epic photo journey to India where we will not only experience the color and good cheer of the Holi Festival, the majesty of the Taj Mahal, and the culture and history of Delhi – but the natural beauty of Bandhavgarh National Park as well. If you’ve ever contemplated what the ultimate India experience would be like, here is your opportunity to savor exactly that! We will observe and photograph the iconic as well as the atypical, assuring that the photos you come away with will represent the unique nature and variety of this adventure.
The two main attractions that are the namesake for this particular trip and set against the backdrop of this ancient land are, of course, the Holi Festival and the tigers of the region. The “Festival of Colors” is traditionally a jubilant recognition of the arrival of spring, and has become a celebration of positivity and good cheer world-wide, and it is here where it all began.
In addition to the Bengal tiger, Bandhavgarh National Park offers a rich diversity of fauna and flora, including leopard, striped hyena, macaques, langur monkeys, sambar and chital deer, Indian wolves, Indian hare, and monitor lizards – just to name a few of the species we hope to encounter.
Space for this photo journey is limited, with some spots already spoken for. Check out my events page for a more in-depth itinerary of our travels together, and sign up now to ensure your spot on what is guaranteed to be a once in a lifetime adventure where you’ll make new friends who share your passion for photography and the world’s great places!
Creative Live is having a site-wide sale beginning today and running through the rest of the week, and followers of my blog and on social media can save an additional 10%!
This is a great resource for a wide variety of endeavors, from technical photography knowledge, software packages, Art and Web design to lifestyle, finance and fitness classes. Of course, I’m biased and will recommend you check out my courses, but with such a big sale happening I’ll understand if you want to check out some other stuff!
One of CreaiveLive’s biggest sales of the year runs through July 20th, 2018 – use code CLArWolfe at checkout to get the bonus discount!
The summer months are here, and for myself that means frequent visits to Alaska. I recently returned from Glacier Bay, a trip started off with calving glaciers which was nice to check off the list as you’ll witness this unpredictable phenomenon several times during your visit, and others not at all. The usual suspects come to play as well – Stellar sea lions, humpback whales, puffins, sea otters, eagles and more. The majestic landscape itself makes for an excellent subject. July and August are the busiest months for tourism in the area, with warmer temperatures and a lot of wildlife activity.
July and August are a great time to visit this location if you prefer warmer temperatures, but September can also be an excellent time to go. The amount of tourists diminishes a bit, and the fall color and lighting can lead to some excellent photo opportunities.That being said, there’s really no bad time to go, as every season has something different to offer and it really depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for. Check out the NPS page for planning your visit – or better yet, keep an eye on my events page for upcoming trips with me!
I’ll be in town this weekend between trips and will be spending some time on Saturday signing books at Kenmore Camera’s Customer Appreciation Day! The first 100 customers will be receiving a FREE copy of “Edge of the Earth, Corner of the Sky”, and my assistant Libby will be on hand with some other goodies. Other books will be available for purchase and signature, so come on by and check out the festivities.
Kenmore camera will be offering special savings for the event, so this would be a great time to come and pick up that gear you’ve been holding out for. A Canon rep will also be on hand to answer questions you might have about their products.
Hope to see you there! If you can’t make it but would love a signed book for yourself or as a gift all pre-orders of my latest book, “Trees: Between Earth and Heaven” will be signed and shipped out this fall!
For the last post on lenses we focused on the super wide angle, and how it affects perspective. Now I am introducing my favorite zoom lens for photographing wildlife, the 200-400mm. It has an internal 1.4 extender which is absolutely fantastic. It pushes the 400mm to 560mm and opens the aperture to get more light to the sensor.
I have been known to add an additional external 1.4 or 2 extender on top of this. This is recommended only in desperate situations, like when the snow leopards are spotted two miles across a Himalayan valley and you are on foot. Not only does the extender restrict light to the sensor, it magnifies the faults of the lens.
I use this lens for more than wildlife, though. Strong telephoto focal lengths are needed for photographing extreme compression effects, such as pulling in background elements like the setting sun to make them tower over the foreground subjects.
In addition, the telephoto allows you to:
cut down the angle of view and isolate aspects of the scene in front of you
get close to wildlife without disturbing it
frame simple compositions–look for little slices of design and interest within a landscape
Last and very important – to use this heavy lens effectively, you’ll need a sturdy tripod and a strong back as it weighs nearly 8 pounds.