Sand, sand and more sand

The Desert Before Us

I’ve been to enough deserts in my time. They’re certainly a challenge to photograph. Despite the image most people have of deserts being golden dunes disappearing into the distance, in reality they are usually rather more boring and combination of low scrub, rocks, stones and sand with little in the way of beauty to inspire you. However there are a few locations where you can see the more classic images of a desert. But when you only have sand before you it can be a serious challenge both to keep your camera clean and safe and to compose an interesting shot.

Over at the Digital Photography School site, guest writer Kav Dadfar has listed six tips to help you get better desert shots:

  1. Get the right light
  2. Find a point of interest
  3. Look for patterns, shapes and lines
  4. Tell a story in your shot
  5. Look for the unusual or out of place
  6. Take good care of your equipment

Whilst many of these can apply to any photography you are doing they are especially important when presented with such a blank canvas as a desert stretching away in front of you to the horizon. Click the link below to view the article in full.

DPS: 6 Tips for Photographing Deserts


Craft & Vision Sale

Just a quick note to let you know that today, 27th August, and tomorrow in celebration of their 4th birthday Craft and Vision have 50% off everything (apart from new Photograph Quarterly subscriptions – although the past years back issues are on discount).

So if there’s something you’ve liked the look of but haven’t yet bought, get over to the site now and get it for half price. There’s no codes to use, just add to your cart and purchase. But be quick, after tomorrow the prices will be back to normal.

Craft & Vision 4th Birthday 50% discount

Photography Quarterly – Issue 4

PQ4_cover_largeThe latest issue of the Craft and Vision photography magazine – Photograph Quarterly – is now available.

As usual it contains some stunning portfolios of work – beautiful luminous abstracts by Kathy Beal (such as the one shown on the cover), dark and gritty shots from Nick Hall and a selection of iPhone shots from Sam Krisch.

Written articles by David duChemin, John Paul Caponigro, Younes Bounhar and Chris Orwig that are sure to get you thinking.

Plus lots more, including technical articles and info on gear.

You can still pick up a one year subscription for just US$24 (a saving of 25% – no code needed). Alternatively you can purchase all the issues in year one (issues 1 through 4) for the same price of $24. Finally, if you’ve not subscribed and just want to purchase a single issue, you can pick up issue 4 for just $8.

HDR The Right Way?

Digital Photography School has an article today about a way to create more balanced results when processing multiple exposure images (commonly referred to as HDR) but without the often over-the-top effects normal HDR processiong can produce.

The DPS article suggests you use a new plug-in from Photomatix – a common tool used for HDR image processing. However if you have Photoshop and Lightroom 4 or above you don’t need anything else. (If you don’t have Photoshop then pop over to the Photomatix page to grab the plug-in which is free). I won’t go into the method using the Photomatix option as both their own site and the DPS article cover that quite well. Instead I’ll outline the method I use, using Photoshop.

  1. First make sure when you export to Photoshop that you export as TIFF not PSDs. If you use PSDs then the file returned will be a 32 bit PSD file and Lightroom seems to have problems with that! You can check this under Edit > Preferences > External Editing.
  2. Now select your images in Lightroom, then right click and choose Edit In > Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop.
  3. Your photos will open in Photoshop and you will be shown the HDR Pro dialog and preview of your image. Don’t worry if the image doesn’t look good at this stage. All we are doing here is converting to 32 bit, so make sure the mode dropdown is set to 32 bit. The slider below it is for the preview only so again don’t worry about it at this point.
  4. Click OK on the HDR Pro dialog and your selection of images will be converted to a single 32 bit image and you’ll be taken back to the main Photoshop interface. Again, don’t worry about the look of your image at this point. Just close the image making sure you save it, and it will appear as a TIFF in Lightroom.
  5. It might still look rough – highlights too blown or shadows too dark – but you now have an awful lot more information hidden in the image and your normal processing, using things like highlights, shadows, contrast, whites and black will give you far more latitude in bringing things back the way you want. As a result you end up with a far more natural looking image despite the huge exposure differences between highlights and shadows in your original. If you want to see what I mean then check out the examples at the end of the DPS article.

Natural images without all those halos. Have fun!

Black and White in the Digital Realm

Google+ is becoming a great place for photographers. Not only are your photos displayed beautifully but there’s a great community building and some superb tutorials, videos, and other info can be found there.

So today I’ve got another video for you as an example. Its by Dan Hughes and covers the differences between traditional black and white photography on film and how that differs when shooting digitally. I warn you now its long at just over 25 minutes but make yourself comfy and sit down to watch it if you can! I particularly found it interesting when he covers why RAW needs a little post-processing and towards the end he even shows why you should shoot in RAW rather than JPG is you can (although I’m sure you all do already!).

If you want to follow Dan on Google+ you can find him at +Dan Huges. You also might want to check out Google+ Photos for all sorts of useful information and tips.