That’s a rewarding compliment for a shooter. It makes the photographer feel like they’ve tapped into something special, unique, and personal. It’s why we do what we do. Half the fun of being a photographer is getting out and exploring. Putting ourselves in a position to capture a moment that is definitively ours. The second half is being successful at communicating our vision inside a single frame. Lets face it, content is everything? It requires timing, good exposure, and more often than not, luck. But, I’ve always defined luck using that old photojournalism slogan, ”F/8 And Be There!”` Ya can’t win if you don’t enter, right? You have to be out there making photographs, searching for subject matter, refining your craft to get great photographs. A musician doesn’t get better without practicing. And, neither can a photographer.
The great photographer Henri Cartier Bresson once said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” It takes time to polish your vision. There are many layers to understanding the depths of photographic communication. Following your own instincts is the most important step. When subject matter calls out to you, that’s a message. Listen to it. This is the first step in defining your own style. It came from you, not someone else. Set aside what you’ve seen done before on similar subject matter. Ask yourself, “what is it that drew me in?” Was it the color, texture, or composition? Were there visual relationships between the clouds and waves? Was a monochromatic scene interrupted with subtle colors in the moss in the foreground? Whatever it was, find that answer.
Once you understand what it was that called out to you, the next step is capturing it. Sounds easy, right? This is where photography is challenging and requires work. How one records that message is the difference between a snapshot and a photograph. The right ingredients of lens, aperture, perspective and exposure all combine to fine-tune your vision. Exploring your subject thoroughly often reveals little secrets that further stimulate your imagination. You get to know your subject intimately. Sometimes giving your subject a 360º walk around provokes you to seeing it in a new way. Maybe from behind is the best side? By the time your done following your instincts, examining your subject, you know it so well that chances are pretty good you’ll walk away with the essence of that moment. If nothing else, you leave with enough material that in your edit, one image will speaks louder than the others. Suddenly, your style is developing.
Giving yourself options during an edit forces you to become a better photographer. Too many photographers just show everything. They are afraid to make choices. And consequently, they bore their audiences with repetition. When you ween through images, asking yourself why one frame is better than the other, even though they are similar, you learn more about your own images. There is a reason one frame is stronger than the other. Image by image, you eliminate the weakest in the herd. By the time you make a final select, you have the strongest image……….and you know why!
You are a better photographer for plowing through that process.
Other considerationsfor fine tuning personal vision include preference for color or black & white. My roots are in black & white. The intense tonal relationships that beckon my camera based on tonal values alone still reach me. At times, I only see in B/W. It’s a different way of seeing, more organic perhaps. I say that because my past (film days) dealt with light sensitive silver halide crystals that become excited when exposed to light and came alive when processed in chemicals. Digital is different, but nonetheless part of seeing in B/W for many photographers is a way of seeing, period. For them, its reality. Color can at times infect content with color alone. A case where color dominates the photograph first, overriding content. However, isn’t that just the flip side to allowing B/W tonal values define the image? There is no right answer to this. Its a personal choice based on the individual situation. Choosing the right medium to allow your voice to be heard is just good decision making. It’s a question of personal style fine-tuning your vision.
In the case of the “Blue Door” at Skogar Folk Museum, I watched everyone walk passed the door. The blue had me so excited. It was like glacial blue. Perfect for Iceland, right? I had to wait for everyone to leave the room so I could huddle into a corner and aim my wide angle at the door. The hues of blue in the corners confirmed my stop. The image had balance and color that electrified my vision of this simple yet complicated scene.
We spotted the well-known black & white church in Budir along the western fjords and knew immediately this scene demanded representation in B/W. The clouds, the stone wall and grasses simply blended in tonal magic. There was never any question of using this in color. Use of a wide angle lens added drama to the scene. But, I was careful not to go too wide. I didn’t want to lose the connection with the white crosses to the right in the cemetery.
On a blustery day along the south coast, the light was fading fast. I spotted a glistening chunk of ice in the waves and wanted to try to create something out of it. Its was a tough photographic challenge. The sea, if captured with a fast shutter speed, made for a confusing image. There was no separation between the ice and the waves. It all blended together and looked awful. The only answer was a long exposure to smooth out the sea water as waves poured around the ice. I was lucky that the ice block was heavy enough that it didn’t move during the long exposure. If the ice lost its sharpness, I had no photograph. Initially, I had seen this image as a B/W photograph. Then, the guy next to me on the beach was shining a green laser on the ice. The light was so bright and colorful, it completely changed my perspective on the drab scene. I asked for a quick blast of light on my ice chunk and magic just appeared.
Along the coast I spotted a cliff with marvelous columnar geology, relatively common in Iceland. It was another overcast, dreary day and perfect for this type of photograph. Using a telephoto lens, I framed the subject and using a long exposure, waited for the wave action to provide me with a highlight in a fairly grey scene. I choose B/W over color for two reasons; One, the rocks were a lovely tone a gray, and secondly, the lower portion of the rocks had a green algae growth to competed with the geology. By choosing not to go with color, you don’t see this distraction and the power of the volcanic action moves forward.
JOIN Layne Kennedy with FocusOnNature in 2014 for a fascinating ICELAND photographic journey:
You won’t be lost in the crowd in this Dan Burkholder workshop presented for a small, select few. With personalized attention at every turn, you’ll learn how Dan’s informative, humorous and generous style can make your week of photography like no other.
Dan Burkholder brings iPhone Artistry to Iceland with an emphasis on creativity, composition and keeping it light, Gone are the sore shoulders and bulky camera bags. With your iPhone and a handful of accessories, you’ll spend your time and energy exploring the magnificent photo opportunities unique to Iceland. Everything from volcanic vistas to ice-filled lagoons will grace your iPhone’s LCD during this week of photography, fun, learning and memory making.
Between shooting adventures and iPhone-specific processing sessions, we’ll eat, drink and love the photographic experience in its purest form. And with an intimate class size that’s limited to five, you’ll get lots of individual help with your iPhone captures, your iPhone image editing, and developing a workflow that makes sense for the way you travel, the way you see, and the way you love your finished images to look.
This is your chance to explore and make artistic images with the guy who literally wrote the book, iPhone Artistry. Why be a Sherpa for your gear when you can carry both camera and digital lab in your pocket. Join us for photography like it was always meant to be! Better move fast to get one of the five spots!
For photographers, I think that it’s vital to cultivate the habit of looking and seeing and finding images wherever you are, even if you don’t have a camera with you. And while finding images in the familiar places close to home is always important, there’s nothing quite like going on a journey that is devoted solely to your photography for super-charging your creativity and taking your image making to a whole new level.
It’s a commitment to your art and craft, to something you really love. It’s an investment in yourself, and in the possibilities that art and creativity bring into your life. Most photographers love nothing more than going out to make images. It’s one of the things in life that makes them feel the most alive and connected to the world around them. And traveling somewhere just to focus (pun intended!) on your photography can be a transformational experience…. part road trip, part vision quest, part adventure.
That’s what my “Creative Discoveries in Iceland” workshop is all about: traveling to an island of stunningly beautiful, majestic landscapes and amazing light, and going on a creative adventure. Learning to see images in new ways, improving your camera work and digital processing technique, becoming a better photographer. It’ll be an incredible week of wonderful sights, memorable experiences, good company, and excellent image-making opportunities. Take a look at the video below to get a small sense of what the trip will be like.
Discover the wonders of Iceland through the creative lens of photography with fine art photographer, author and digital imaging expert Seán Duggan. On this inspiring trip you’ll explore the varied and spectacular landscapes of Iceland, learning to improve not only your camera technique, but also your photographic vision, and understanding of how to get the most from your images in the digital darkroom.
There aren’t many things that are more fun than making fine art photographs with our iPhones. It’s easier than ever to adjust the color, contrast, saturation, sharpness and even the composition of our images. But we can only go so far making global adjustments. By global I’m referring to applying these editing changes to the entire image. Though we certainly start our image workflow with these overall adjustments, we soon run into a roadblock. The real “iPhone Artistry” comes into play as we work with selected parts of the image. These selections let us do things like darken skies, increase the saturation of grass, and even blur the background in a portrait shot.
In this following video I show you how to make selections using one of my favorite apps. PhotoWizard (for both iPhone and iPad) excels at this type of selected adjustment. Watch and learn! Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg (a good metaphor considering the upcoming Iceland Workshop in August). We’ll be delving deeply into shooting and editing techniques this summer. Hope to see you there!
The Art of iPhone Photography in Iceland, August 1-7, 2013
About Dan’s workshop in Iceland where persons interested in combining iPhoneogrpahy with outer worldly experience of the Icelandic landscape and culture which is pure candy to the guests eyes.
This is a high class all inclusive workshop with Dan and the best locals. A golden blend of learning, field work, discussions, critique and fun.
The goal is that you work, win, and have terrific fun as you create images that make you proud. You’ll leave this workshop with lots of new techniques and insights for ALL your photography!
No, we are not crazy. We’re unique. That’s what many photographers are discovering now. With just one quick flight (4-5 hours from Europe or 5-7 hours from the US) you can arrive in Iceland, enjoy Reykjavik (one of Europe’s hippest cities), and experience amazing photographic adventures.
And this time Focus On Nature is going to raise the bar even higher – because we can.
We have the best team we can imagine to take our workshops to new heights. It’s our most experienced team ever. Masters of the medium Digital Photo Destination’s John Paul CaponigroandSeth Resnick, join forces with renowned arctic photographic specialist Ragnar Th Sigurdsson, whose experience photographing winter, glaciers, ice caves, auroras, and night skies is unparalleled.
Join us for this other-worldly photographic experience. Iceland is a natural wonderland. Dramatic coastlines, raging rivers, frozen waterfalls, glaciers, ice caves, icebergs, snowy deserts, geothermals – you’ll experience all this and more! As exciting as all of that is, what makes this workshop even more unique is the night sky. Right now, it’s the peak of a 12 year cycle of aurora activity. The skies have never been more dramatic – and it will be a over a decade before they’re like this again. What’s more, Iceland is located on the auroral oval, where global activity is highest. Plus, the latest advances in digital cameras offer game changing technology for night photography. Photographing the auroras in Iceland is on our bucket list. If it’s on yours, you’d be crazy not to join us!
Response has been so positive that we’ve added session II, March 6-12.
And we have only few spots left. One of them could be yours.
During the DPD’s Iceland winter workshops we do what we do best.
We follow the interesting light as much as possible.
Day or night, we go to the best locations in the best light; chasing dramatic light by day and clear skies at night best for capturing starry skies and auroras. Our “magical mystery bus” is mobile and our accommodations and schedule are flexible so we can adapt to the weather, heading south, east, north or west. We have a lifetime of local contacts (Remember, we are the locals!) that keep us informed of current conditions and allow us access to places only a few can go.
This is not just another photo tour; it’s a workshop! Our world-renowned leaders are at the top of their games. Lectures, demonstrations, exercises, and follow up review sessions deliver unmatched opportunities to improve your photographic skills. It’s non-stop learning, even when we travel, the group shares information and images. Come breathe photography for a week with us!
While we travel to wild remote places, all accommodations are in private rooms with bathroom and shower – and the food is great too.
Get a taste of what this experience will be like and start learning now with these great online resources.
Music during image processing: “Riding with the King”, an album with B.B. King & Eric Clapton.
I have spent since last December working on the upgrading of my website, both for my international workshops program and my local seminars, lectures and event program. I hope those who remember my old website notice the difference from my printed like one fixed template on the old web and the new multi-functional website. Anyway, it was time to get a bit careless and play during part of a day.
I have used Adobe Lightroom since the first version and included seminars on it in my program for the local market in Iceland for few years. So studying any new developments of the software is always high on my list. But during a part of a day one can just play a little.
Following is a straight Raw image shot with my Canon 5D Mark II and exposed to give me good information in the Raw file. I overexposed the frame as the subject was bright and flat. I could see on my camera histogram how far I could overexpose without losing any clippings of the highlights.
Sailing on a Zodiac and turning in all directions I wanted to be safe with my exposures, but still use the highlights part of the histogram as much as possible to gather maximum information in the Raw file. Afterwards I could possibly have overexposed 1/3 or 1/2 stop more, but the exposure is still good.
Before any processing
Original unprocessed Raw file exported from Lightroom 4 Beta as Jpeg, sRGB and scaled down
The histogram for the unprocessed file in Lightroom 4 Beta.
After procession in Lightroom 4 Beta, exported and rendered in Adobe Camera Raw 7, saved as Jpeg, sRGB and scaled down
The histogram for the processed file in Lightroom 4 Beta
It will always be individual preferences and matter of taste what is good image processing, realistic one or something exaggerated like the image above. It is also the question of the final use.
I opted this time for the exaggerated version as outdoor in Iceland, things have been gray for weeks. Therefor I wanted some color and contrast in this image. ”Juice” the image up and see what information the original file did have for me to pul out and play with in Lightrom 4 Beta.
And under the influence of the blues from B.B. King & Eric Clapton in the speakers doing this in Adobe Lightroom 4 Beta was so easy, the feeling from their music going through my head to my fingertips with the Wacom pen, where most things I do on my computer happen.
What makes me so pleased is that I can now with Adobe Lightroom 4 process images with the quality the Raw image theory has been telling me up to now in numbers like bit depth and ProPhoto color-space.
I am looking forward to the final version of Adobe Lightroom 4 and the new Adobe Photoshop 6, which will be running the same ACR engine for image rendering of raw image files.
Adobe Lightroom 4 is expected to be released during the summer.