May began with our second Carmel-By-The-Sea workshop in as many years, and this is fast becoming one of our most requested Photography Retreats! Not only is it a beautiful and accessible location that doesn’t require leaving the states, there is just so much to see and do in the area that each trip is a little different.
Sea otters, seals, and a variety of shore birds can be found here and we usually take a relaxing kayak tour to photograph them from the water. If you’re not an avid or even mildly experienced kayaker, fear not – we just go along for the ride and hire professionals to do the work for us so we can be free to photograph!
Next year’s retreat is already on the calendar – get signed up today to reserve your spot. Spaces are already spoken for, and this trip will be a sell out!
It’s Technique Tuesday, and since the last little tip I shared was a very technical tutorial on creating panoramas in Photoshop and Lightroom, I figured we would go back to the basics with a more universal message that I think will help new photographers and those who may be struggling themselves with tunnel vision alike. With a recently added Abstract Astoria workshop happening soon, and my Photography As Art seminar happening in Seattle this fall, these are some basics I will find myself repeating!
What are you seeing as you photograph? How do you perceive the world and what’s important to you? This is something that goes much deeper than thinking about getting the latest camera with the most megapixels. Good shots come from cultivating the eye. Scrutinize every subject without prejudice. A good photo can be found in rusting debris lying in an alley of a big city or out in a pristine environment. Finding images everywhere is how you practice, how you improve your work. It’s about the subject only in how you frame it, and in the message you send with the photo.
Do you shoot any possible subject, whether a rusting can in a gutter, a grand ceremony in a foreign land, or birds on a beach? Or do you define yourself as a “bird photographer” or a “landscape photographer”? Try not to limit your subjects or how you define yourself as a photographer. Photographing without prejudice opens up the world! You can’t even walk into a grocery store without finding a viable subject. And along the way, you gain practice that cultivates your eye.
You might think that composition comes naturally for professionals like us. Naturally, perhaps, after many years of doing it! There is no question that if you are to succeed as a photographer, you have to take a lot of pictures. This is sometimes frustrating for people who have invested a lot of money in the latest gear and want instant results since you have to take a lot of both good and bad photographs to get better.
There is an old joke about a visitor to New York City trying to get to a concert at Carnegie Hall. After getting a little lost, he saw a man walking down the street with a large cello case. He stopped the musician and asked, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
The musician looked sternly at the visitor and said, “Practice, practice, practice.”
A concert pianist rarely gets up on stage and gives a bad performance, but only because he or she has had years of practice. That isn’t to say that you can’t get good pictures at whatever stage you are in, but it does point out how important it is to get out and take lots of pictures. Practice does matter.
The Subject, or the Photograph?
One thing that can hold photographers back from finding great images is that they focus too hard on finding the “perfect” subject. Whenever possible, try to avoid “trophy hunting” for subjects. That means going out and trying to find the same subjects that photographers like Art Wolfe shot, or going to major locations and photographing only the big, iconic subjects. Think about that. You can buy postcards of those big, iconic subjects that were shot under ideal conditions. When you start looking for subjects simply as trophies to be captured, you stop looking for the photograph.
If you simply look for subject matter, you’ll often be disappointed because the camera is not looking for subject matter. The camera doesn’t care what your subject is! The camera is simply looking at light and shadow and how to translate that into pixels. It is your job as a photographer to work with your camera to find interesting photographs, not simply capture a subject.
Looking at the art world outside of photography can be instructive. Painters have to figure out what the whole image is going to be, not simply the subject. They have to interpret a scene in a certain way on their canvas, rather than simply pointing a camera at a subject and pressing a button. Seeing through that “lens” can help you navigate the challenge of finding original compositions in the world you walk through every day.
In this book there are very few photographs of the big, iconic subjects that so many others shoot. Art looks for and finds subject matter that is going to translate into interesting photographs that appeal to him. He responds to the world around him as a place filled with photographic possibilities because he is not simply looking for an interesting subject. He is always looking for interesting photographs.
Sometimes things are beyond your control and the only choice is to adjust – thankfully with some clever last-minute wrangling, there is an opportunity to fit in one of my most popular offerings. Time and time again I have been asked to shoehorn in another Abstract Astoria workshop. June 5th through the 9th is the window of opportunity and, notably, this will be the last time I will have it in the schedule for a couple of years.
I realize it’s happening soon, so I’m offering it at a special price of $3,450! This workshop is complete with a special edition of my limited edition Human Canvas book + print (a $1,500 value). This workshop will fill quickly so don’t wait. Only a couple spaces are available and it’s sure to sell out despite the fact that it’s only a couple of weeks away.
Now is your chance to partake in this immersive photographic experience in one of the Pacific Northwest’s most fascinating and historical locations – get signed up today to ensure your spot in Astoria!
A topic that came up recently was just how easy it is nowadays to quickly create seamless panoramic images from stitched photos using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. It’s a simple process in either program, so if it’s something you haven’t tried or are just looking for a refresher on how to merge photos – this post is for you!
The first thing you want to do of course is choose the images you’d like to create a panoramic from. The photos should overlap just a bit, as the colors of the pixels are how the software will determine where to stitch the images together. Make sure you photograph your panoramas in portrait format to get the most amount of pixel real-estate for the highest resolution final image!
Once you’ve made your selection of images, you’ll then need to choose between using Photoshop or Lightroom to merge them together. The base Adobe Creative Cloud subscription includes both, so it’s really a matter of your familiarity with one or the other.
Both processes are simple enough. I’d say if you’re looking for quick and easy results the Lightroom method is a good starting point, but if you want a little more control the Photoshop method offers a little more. Better yet, give both a shot to see what you prefer!
1.) Import the images you wish to merge together
2.) From the top menu, choose the “Photo” drop-down and find the “Photo Merge > Panorama” Option
3.) In the Panorama Merge Dialogue box, ensure “Spherical” is selected for the
projection. You can also choose “Auto Crop” to automatically crop away the
transparent edges. Finally, ensure “Auto Settings” is checked.
4.) Click “Merge” and your panorama will be created!
1.) From the “File” menu, choose “Automate” and then “Photomerge“.
2.) In the Photomerge dialogue box, ensure “Auto” is checked under “Layout“.
In the “Source Files” box, be sure “Use:” is set to “Files” and hit the
“Browse. . .” button.
Choose the files you wish to stitch together. In this case we will use four
PanoTutorial.jpg images in the Pano Tutorial Images folder.
Be sure that “Blend Images Together”, “Vignette Removal”, and “Geometric
Distortion Correction” are all checked.
You can also choose to check “Content Aware Fill Transparent Areas”, but this
will add to processing time and attempt to fill in edges with content sampled from
the image, which may require more advanced Photoshop experience to ensure
there aren’t repeated elements in your image.
3.) Click “Ok” and the Process will begin. Depending on the size of the images being
merged, it could take several minutes to process the images.
4.) Once the image has processed, from the top menu, choose the “Layer” drop down and
choose “Flatten Image“.
5.) Using the crop tool (highlighted in red below) crop the image to get rid of transparent
areas, and also use the rotate ability of the tool to ensure your horizon is straight.
Those are the basics – There are obviously a lot of other options in those dialogue boxes. . . I suggest experimenting to see what different settings do to come up with a process that works for you!
In spite of the evening cloud cover which thwarted our star photography, we had a great time in the Utah canyon lands near Moab. Studying and staring at all the rock formations is like looking at shifting clouds–how many faces and forms can you see? This is an excellent place to put your artistic eye into action, capturing graphic images of shadowed rocky columns silhouetted against a bright blue sky, or using the natural textures, lines and layers of the landscape to lead your viewer through your shot.
Overall this was a fantastic trip; it’s always humbling to visit such a massive wide-open landscape! Enjoy the photos!
It’s May, and the sun is out here in the Pacific Northwest. Have you thought of what you want to do in July and August? Consider joining me in Alaska’s Katmai National Park to photograph bears. Scary? No. Exhilarating? Indeed! These are the last Katmai trips I am offering until 2021 so if you have been sitting on the fence, it’s time to jump off and sign on. None of us are getting any younger!
Just two spots are left on my Romania tour with native son Gavriel Jecan, and two spots just opened up on the Antarctica Fly/Cruise in February. Sign up today to ensure your spot in these trips before they fill up!
The annual NatureBridge Gala is coming up at 6 PM on May 9 at the LEED-Certified Bently Reserve, one of the greenest buildings in San Francisco.
NatureBridge is a national organization that inspires environmental stewardship and science-based experiential learning by connecting young people to National Parks. This year promises to be another inspiring event with keynote speaker, Sophia Danenberg, the first and only black and African American woman to summit Mt. Everest, and 2019 Student of the Year, Kinzie Klein.
This summer I’ll be holding a workshop in my home state of Washington centered one of the more iconic features of the Pacific Northwest, second perhaps only to the Space Needle. Here are 10 reasons to join me from August 15th through the 18th for the Mount Rainier Workshop!
10.) Visit one of the locations that is the subject for some of my most recognized landscape photos! We will capture Rainier reflected in the local waters at sunrise.
9.) It’s a volcano! Cool!
8.) Make some new friends – one of the best things I take away from these workshops is being able to unite people with similar interests, many of which go on to become great friends and travel companions.
7.) The Instructors! I’ll have my assistant Gavriel Jecan with us to ensure there are enough hands on deck to support all participants.
6.) Familiarity – I’ve been coming here my entire life. You simply won’t find anyone who knows this locations in terms of photographic opportunities, ensuring our group will get the best shots imaginable!
5.) Creativity! I will give my Creativity In Nature Photography lecture as part of this workshop. It’s always my goal to make sure that along with the iconic shots, we also see things differently than everyone else and capture unique and creative images.
3.) Summer in Seattle! We may have a reputation for rain, but summers in Seattle are gorgeous and August is a good time to visit.
2.) The breathtaking nature around the mountain itself – flowery meadows and green forests below the glaciers of the cascade range provide an unlimited source of inspiration and color.
1.) Mount Rainier itself is, simply put, an icon of the Pacific Northwest. Visible looming in the distance from the city of Seattle, it’s one of the most prominent mountain features in the United States. Even locals like myself can’t help but marvel to see it in the distance, let alone up close!