Category Archives: Lessons

A Lesson In Composition

The Evening View From The Gazebo

A Kalaloch Beach sunset from the gazebo, Olympic National Park

Good morning, class. Today’s lesson will be in composition: as in, what to try and avoid when composing your image.

Now, the image above is lovely, or rather, is looking upon a lovely scene. At the time I captured it, I know I wanted to get the scene below framed by the gazebo structure. However, I must have suffered a bit of a brain fart, because the composition did not come out as I’d hoped. What I should have done (and don’t know why I didn’t), was include at least a portion of a third post into the left side of the photo. Right now, in this image, things look a little weighted and not quite right. There is part of a post on the far right side, and a post in the middle, but absolutely nothing on the left side.

So, the moral (lesson) of this story is to try and make certain that, when looking through the camera viewfinder, your images are evenly weighted with regard to natural frames (like the gazebo posts).

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under Canon, Composition, Lessons, National Parks, natural frames, Olympic National Park, Photography

Waterfall Wednesday

Gibbon Falls

It’s Waterfall Wednesday! I took a quick look through all the photos I’ve posted and I didn’t see this one listed, so here it is. If I missed it and have posted it before, my apologies. I just lose track, sometimes.

Anyway, this is Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone has plenty of beautiful, photogenic falls, reached either by view area right off the road, or via a hike along a trail. Gibbon Falls has its own large parking lot and view areas (yes, multiple spots to view different angles of this beautiful waterfall).
 
Waterfalls make great subjects for silky water shots, you know. Yes, some people like their water to “look like water”, as one fan told me, but others like that dream quality of smooth, silky water that a slow shutter speed gives you. The key to getting a shot like this, where the lighting for the composition is good and the highlights in the waterfall are not too very blown out (overexposed) is to use a tripod (required, really) and a neutral density (ND) filter. ND filters come in verying sizes, shades (densities) and prices. Some of the fancier (and super-expensive) ones, like the Singh-Ray brand, can be adjusted to various densities of darkness with a twist of the outer filter ring. The darkness of the filter allows you to use really slow shutter speeds while still capturing a well-exposed image. If you don’t have a ND filter (and every SLR photographer should have that filter in their gearbag), a circular polarizer (CPL) can do a decent job, too. To be honest, I can’t remember if I used a CPL or a ND filter for this shot. If you have both filters in your camera gear arsenal, then try experimenting with each one to see which result you like best.
 
I also shot at a focal length that would allow for a decent cutoff of the trees at the bottom of the shot. Taking your compositional details into consideration (rather than just getting a grab shot), can mean the difference between a good image and a great image. Think of it as akin to trying to figure out where to (figuratively) chop off the arms and legs of someone you are photographing. Sometimes you just don’t have enough room to get everything in your shot, so you need to make that cutoff somewhere. Rule of thumb on that is to NOT crop off at the joints so it doesn’t look like they’ve been amputated.
 
And that concludes our photo lesson for Wednesday, folks. You are halfway through the week!
 
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

2 Comments

Filed under Canon, National Parks, Photography, Waterfalls, Yellowstone National Park

Creepy

Shapes And Colors In The Rain Forest BW

I know, what a word to use for something as beautiful as the scenery along the Hall of Mosses trail in the Hoh Rain Forest of Olympic National Park. Actually, this image (just in time for Halloween, I might add), is a duplicate of the color one I uploaded to a post a couple of days ago. I wondered how forest interiors might look if converted to monochrome. I immediately noticed the clarity and texture of the tree roots, and the play of shadow and light in the scene. A lovely, green and brown serene scene became a bit more sinister in black and white.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under Black & White, Halloween, HD PENTAX-DA645 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR Lens, National Parks, Olympic National Park, Pentax Lens, Photography, Travel, Washington State

Waterfall Wednesday!

Falls Creek Waterfall

The waterfall at Falls Creek, Mount Rainier National Park

Whenever I enter Mount Rainier National Park via the Stevens Canyon entrance, I always stop at the Falls Creek pullout to photograph this waterfall. Depending upon the time of the year, it can be at full throttle, or a mere trickle. I also love photographing this waterfall because of the play of light and shadow, and the many shades of green. Plus, it’s good exercise for me in getting in a few “silky water” shots. During this particular instance, it was also good practice working with my new medium format Pentax 645z.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under HD PENTAX-DA645 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR Lens, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Pentax 645z, Pentax Lens, Photography, Seasons, summer, Washington State, Waterfalls

Lightroom’s Dehaze Slider Tool

Dehaze Slider

Good Morning, Class – I know it’s been a few days since my last post. You know how it goes. You get busy doing things, either photography or regular home/chore/errands and you find you don’t have time for much else. I wanted to show you some example photos Before/After using a lovely little tool in Adobe Lightroom, called the Dehaze slider. You might find it helpful for some of your own images.

These photos were taken during a 2016 autumn visit to the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. Autumn, for me, is a magical time to visit any national park, with some caveats. Autumn in Mount Rainier may mean wonderfully crystal-clear skies with The Mountain out in its full splendor, or it might mean you are socked in with low-hanging clouds and fog. While the fog/mist can create some ephemeral, haunting images, it can also get in the way, at times. And, that’s where the Dehaze slider comes in. It really does reduce the amount of whiteness/haziness that you might have in your imagery. The more you move the slider to the right, the more the haze is reduced.

These images are pretty much not edited in any other way than whatever preset I used in Lightroom, along with the Dehaze tool. I didn’t do anything in Photoshop except convert the TIF images to JPG and the color space from ProPhoto RGB to sRGB, with adjustments to the saturation and brightness.

If you use Lightroom for your own photo editing and have never tried out the Dehaze slider, I urge you to play around with it and see whether or not you like it.

Blue Grouse Chick - Before

Blue Grouse chick – before using the Dehaze slider

Blue Grouse Chick - After

Blue Grouse chick – after using the dehaze slider

Hoary Marmot - Before

Hoary marmot – before using the Dehaze slider

Hoary Marmot - After

Hoary marmot – after using the dehaze slider

 

Paradise Visitor Center - Before

 

Visitor center at Paradise – before using the Dehaze slider

Paradise Visitor Center - After

Visitor center at Paradise – after using the Dehaze slider

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

2 Comments

Filed under autumn, Canon, Lessons, Lightroom Dehaze Slider, Mt. Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Seasons

Negative Space and Color Space

Full Moon And The Beginning Of Sunrise Over The Tetons

My latest photo article has been published in the National Parks Traveler. This month’s article deals with negative space and color space, something photographers use each time they capture an image, but may not really think much about (and should).

To read the article, click on the photo above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Color Space, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Negative Space, Photography, summer, Travel

A Fun Way To Shoot Portraits Using Strings Of Christmas Lights

Christmas Becky

I subscribe to Petapixel.  It’s an online magazine with all sorts of neat articles about the latest photography news (did you know Lensrentals.com and LensProToGo are merging?), cameras, camera gear, projects, etc.  The other day, I read an article that piqued my interest and I ended up sharing it to my Facebook photography page (Rebecca Latson Photography).  I thought I’d share it in a blog post too.  To read the actual article, click on this link.

After reading the article, I decided to do some experimenting with strings of multi-colored Christmas lights (since I had 5 strings of them and only 2 strings of the white lights), using the same settings that the photographer, Irene Rudnyk applied (ISO 500, f1.2, 1/250 shutter speed, 85mm lens).  Heaven knows, I didn’t have anything better to do, like laundry, dishes, or packing.  It was a fun little experiment and I gained some valuable insights.   Photography is about experimentation as well as about learning new techniques and ideas and stepping outside one’s own comfort zone to apply something new that they’ve learned.  That’s how a good photographer becomes a great photographer.

  1. Ignore the clutter in the room and concentrate on the camera/light/backdrop/light setup. Just as in Ms. Rudnyk’s room, this light project can be accomplished in a very small space.
    8001_View Of Setup8009_Setup View From Camera Angle8005_Looking At The Camera
  2. Yes, you can do this project with just one person (yourself), but it’s not as easy. Because I was both photographer and model, and because I was using a remote shutter release instead of being the one to look through the lens at the subject, I kept checking the images to ensure I was positioned correctly in front of the lens and that the string of lights did not get in the way of the lens.  You can see what happens when a colored light is in front of the subject and too close to a lens wide-open at f1.2.  You also may notice just how shallow the DOF is on a 85mm lens wide-open.  I didn’t mind that too much, as it added a teeny bit of dreamy quality to the shot.
    Christmas Becky Green BlobPink BlobChristmas Becky
  3. I carried out this project twice, over the course of 2 days. During my first attempt, I wasn’t using an 85mm lens, nor did I have the aperture wide-open to get the maximum bokeh.  I used different  settings as well, since I didn’t remember what Ms. Rudnyk’s settings were – I didn’t learn that until I actually watched her YouTube video embedded in the article.

    Christmas Becky - Day 1White Lights And A Christmas Tree

  4. Ms. Rudnyk used white lights in a light, neutral-toned room with a large picture window letting in natural blue/white side light. Her model was pale and wore light-colored clothing. I was in a cluttered spare bedroom, in the evening – so no natural light – using a black backdrop and strings of multi-colored lights. The strings were dark (as opposed to the white strings used in Ms. Rudnyk’s images, which is why I used the black backdrop).  I used a tall lamp near the camera for side-lighting.  Sometimes the strings still showed through, but I don’t consider them too distracting.
  5. Because of the darker atmosphere, I used Curves to lighten, and sometimes Levels to brighten the composition.  I also had to clone out a dark spot on my front tooth – I have a natural indentation on the tooth and it catches the shadow, so in some photos, it looks like a speck of food (sigh).
  6. I used my Canon 5DSR for this shoot. I love this camera, but it totally stinks regarding low-light, higher-ISO noise (what’s up with that Canon?).  So I applied some Imagenomic-brand  Noiseware noise-reduction software to the overall composition, which reduced/removed grain and helped my skin look a little more even (I’m definitely not as young as Ms. Rudnyk’s model).

All-in-all, it was a fun project and I like the results.  Plus, I learned a new technique for neat portrait shots.

Note:  If you are doing this all yourself:

  • Use a wireless remote rather than the timer on your camera.  Really, it is easier.
  • Make certain you have a sturdy step-ladder and/or a spotter to keep you steady while you hang the light strings from the ceiling.
  • Unless you want to put holes in your ceiling, I would suggest using something like duct tape.  Gorilla-brand tape works really well.  If you use any other kind of tape, it may be too weak to hold up the light strings for any length of time.  I noticed this morning that the tape and lights had fallen from the ceiling to the floor.
  • If you want light strings to lead to your lens, don’t use tape or anything else to secure the strings to the lens.  Simply wrap the string around the lens itself to keep the string in place.
  • Remember to stand in front of the light strings to get the nice bokeh.
  • Have fun!  Despite getting all sweaty and hot as I hung the lights up, set up the camera and ran back and forth to take a shot then look at the result, it was a neat, educational project.

Christmas Becky

Leave a comment

Filed under 5DSR, 85mm f1.2L, Canon, Canon Lens, Christmas, Equipment, Exposure, Photography, Portraits