Saturday, June 18, 2011


Cloud Pillows by
Cloud Pillows, a photo by on Flickr.

I've always wanted to have a focus for my work... a style of my own. But, I've never been able to think of something I wanted to make a photo project of.

I had considered doing "barns" or "abandoned houses", but for one, everyone else does that. Two, there are only so many barns and old houses, so I'd have to travel to find things, eventually.

Little did I know, my "thing" was catching up with me. After my first few cool sky shots, I started going for more... and now I find that it's the thing I love to photograph the most.

I find that exposing for the sky, and leaving the foreground dark, works best. If you shoot RAW you can easily add a graduated filter to the dark foreground and PRESTO! Awesome pictures.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Long Exposures

Tecumseh Dam by

I've loved long exposure photography for a long time... but I've never been able to do it because I didn't have a remote shutter, and when you're doing long exposures without one, you get shake from just pushing the shutter button.  After work I stopped at the dam in Tecumseh to take a few pictures. 

The bugs were out in full force, as were the fishermen.  One guy (who is hidden by the tree in this shot) came over to talk to me while I was taking a picture.  He didn't realize I was in the middle of taking a picture (30 second exposure) and kept walking in front of my camera.  Then he asked, "what speed is this camera?".  I have no idea what that means.  I'm kinda thinking it meant that he doesn't know much about photography, and he thought that was a relevant question.  Or maybe he meant shutter speed.  Or ISO.

The two best things I've learned about photography this year are: 1.) Keep the ISO low.  I used to shoot at ISO 400 constantly.  It let me use faster shutter speeds in low light, so I liked it.  Not realizing how much it affected my images, I just left it there.  Now that I'm always almost at ISO 100, my shots are all much more sharp and noise free.  2.) Shoot RAW.  I always shot jpg because it allowed me to store many more images on my CF card, and I could use just about any software for editing.  RAW is so awesome, though.  Yes, it cuts down on my storage significantly, but it's worth it.  If my exposure isn't perfect, I have a lot of wiggle room when I'm post processing.  I can under expose a photograph by quite a bit, and fix it in Lightroom.

The two tend to go hand in hand.  I can lower my exposure when in lower light, which keeps my shutter speed faster while keeping ISO down.  Then I can process in Lightroom, pulling the exposure back up.  I know a lot of people say you get too much noise when you do this, but I think it's just fine.  I also tend to expose for the sky on landscape shots, and then in post processing I'll apply a graduated filter on the land, with a higher exposure.

Like this: 


In the unedited picture the sky looks pretty much the same, but the barn and land is really dark with almost no detail showing.
Tecumseh Dam, a photo by on Flickr.