Setting Limits

Today was the first day in while that it wasn’t raining or snowing in my little city of Bellingham, Washington. As a reward for working hard in my studio today, I gave my self a much needed walk. I have been itching to get out and find those first little sprouts and buds that begin to appear on the ground and branches this time of year.

As many of you know, choosing a lens can be an overwhelming decision to make. What if I want to shoot wide for a landscape? What if I want to do macro photography?

Normally I would just pick a kit lens or an advance zoom on such an outing. These lenses offer different focal lengths for many situations. But, unless you have spent thousands on a high end zoom (and I have not), you also sacrifice quality. Now, on a little jaunt like this you aren’t always necessarily looking to create a masterpiece… or that’s what I’ve told myself in the past and ended up finding the most dazzling light situation or an incredible display of color on a stretch of grass, and my mediocre kit just isn’t sharp enough to capture such amazing stuff! Ackk!!

Solution: Instead of taking a zoom lens, equip your camera with a 35 mm or 50 mm prime lens. These lenses can be found at a much better price than high end zooms ($100-$245) and are tack sharp! In most cases, they can open up to a f1.8, and some can go to f1.4. These lenses are fixed at the focal length they were designed for, so you will have to use your “zoom legs” to adjust focal length, but the reward is great quality pictures!

*below are examples of shots I took today with a 35mm 1.8.

Happy shooting everyone!

Shawn

Purple MajestyNew WaveModern Dwelling

 

 

 

Making the Grade (part 1) photoshop tutorial

Create Graduated Neutral Density effects in Photoshop by blending two exposures into one. In landscape photography, graduated neutral density filters help balance the bright sky and keep it from losing detail and getting overexposed while maintaining clarity and detail in the areas below the skyline. In the digital age we can use software to fix many of these problems if we don’t have a filter at hand. One way to do this is by blending two different exposures of the same image.

Blending two exposures:

Here is the same image shot with different exposure times. Notice the one on the top has more tonal variation and detail in the sky and the one on the bottom has more detail and variation below the skyline:

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To give us the best of both exposures, we are going to blend the two layers using a layer mask with a gradient fill:

1) In photoshop, place the image with the best details in the sky on a lower layer

2) on the layer above, place the exposure with the best details below the skyline, then create a layer mask

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3)With the mask selected, activate the gradient tool in the toolbar

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With the mask selected, start from the top of your picture while holding shift+mouse about 1/5 the way down and release. You may have to do this a few times, dragging more or less down the image, to get the desired result.

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That’s it! You may wish to continue editing color or whatever, but now you have an image with balanced tonality in the land and sky.

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Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found this tutorial useful. Come back and see part 2 of Making the Grade.

Happy Shooting,

Shawn Pagels