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After Dehaze

Before Dehaze

The Dehaze slider in Lightroom is one of the most powerful and useful tools and produces contrast far beyond what we can do with curves, clarity sliders in Lightroom, or third-party plugins. It brings dynamic contrast to thin or washed out skies and reveals details that you cannot see with your own eyes. As a global tool, it adds contrast (and saturation) to the entire image, but you can use the adjustment brush and or the graduated filter tool to apply Dehaze locally. Within Photoshop’s ACR we could create a layer with Dehaze effects and then mask in the contrast as needed.  

In the latest Lightroom update, Dehaze is now found in the presence section of the Basic Panel.

When you move the Dehaze Slider to the right, we reduce haze, add contrast, and when pushed to the left we remove contrast and add haze. Adobe engineers tell us that the technology uses a physical model configured on light transmission, and DeHaze tries to estimate the light that is lost due to absorption and scattering through the atmosphere. While I often make Dehaze adjustments early in the workflow, it is sometimes better to set the white balance (if needed) for the image before using Dehaze.

Dehazes’ Side Effects 

While the Dehaze slider can produce incredible, almost magical results, it can also create some adverse side effects such as dramatic color shifts, magenta hues can appear in neutral areas, and shadows often pick up green and or blue colorcasts. If you’re pushing the slider hard right (extreme), you may need to refine the image by increasing the shadow detail, tweaking the Vibrance slider, or adjusting the appropriate saturation slider in HSL. However, these types of workarounds often force us to compromise and sacrifice color and or saturation, something we want to avoid in most cases.   

Blend Modes to the Rescue 

There is an elegant solution that will allow you to get the most contrast from Dehaze while avoiding these side effects that we can do quickly with Photoshop’s blend modes.

Here is how:

Step I 

In Lightroom, create an image with Dehaze and then make a virtual copy.  

Step 2 

Remove the Dehaze from the second (virtual) copy.  

Right click on image to show menu

Step 3  

Highlight the original file and the virtual copy and select Photo > Edit In > Open as Layers in Photoshop.  

Step 4 

Color Blend

Normal Blend

In Photoshop, make sure the layer with Dehaze applied is the top layer and change the top layer’s blend mode from Normal to Color. This method combines the color of the top layer (without Dehaze’s color artifacts) and the luminosity values of the bottom layer while retaining Dehaze’s contrast. 

You can also do this in Camera Raw, by opening your Raw file as a smart object, then select New Smart Object via Copy in the Layer menu, and finally double click on the top layer to return the Dehaze slider to 0. The key to success is to remember to change the top layer’s blend mode from Normal to Color. 

Summary 

Using the color of one layer to overlay another layer is a valuable technique that works well in a variety of other creative approaches. However, it is a particularly powerful way to extend the capabilities of Dehaze, which allows you to gain and control additional contrast. 

The post How to Effectively Use the Powerful Adobe Lightroom Dehaze Tool appeared first on National Park Photography Expeditions.

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I can’t tell you how many messed up, utterly chaotic, Lightroom catalogs I’ve seen as an Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop Instructor; lost images, lost drives, collections substituting for folders, duplicate images, triplicate images, Photoshop files sent off into the ether and photographers on the verge of suicide.

If you got a mess on your hands or maybe you’re new to Lightroom and are confused about all the organizational tools in the Library module, then let me share a simple system used by large volume operators such as myself, National Park Photographic Expeditions, advertising agencies, TV stations, and publishers.

First, let’s be clear about the purpose of Lightroom’s Library Module. This is a powerful database, with tools to import, select, categorize, and rate your images. Moreover, other tools will allow you to keyword images, search by metadata, copyright, and export images with several file formats. However, while there are plenty of organizational tools with operating instructions, there are no instructions how to structure your catalog.

REMEMBER LIGHTROOM DOES NOT ORGANIZE YOUR WORK, YOU DO

And this is where many photographers struggle; they fail to plan and execute a storage and folder strategy for image file management. It is one of the most important and least understood areas of the Lightroom Library Catalog and getting this right is much easier when you first install Lightroom. However, if your catalog is a mess, there is good news. It’s easy to re-organize and fix.

The Image Storage Decision

Deciding where to store your images is the first and most critical decision. Your options are:

  • Store your images on your computer’s hard drive.
  • Store your images on an external hard drive.
  • Store images on several drives.

Yes, you can store them in the cloud too, but I’ll save that option for a future blog.

Our Storage Setup

Our desktop and laptop machines use solid-state drives, which are great for spinning up our Adobe programs, but not so much for storing terabytes of images due to current costs (that will no doubt change in the future). Our typical desktop configuration has 500 GB solid state and 2 TB internal hard drive, which contains images we are currently processing or using, and several external hard drives for archiving images that we don’t need access to every day. Lightroom can see every one of these drives because all the images on the drives are in the catalog.

This is the system configuration at NPPE.

Lightroom does not loose images; photographers and editors do because they forget to tell Lightroom where they put them.

You can choose many ways to configure your storage, but whatever you do make sure your external drive is big enough to hold all your photos. Depending on your system you can store images on your C drive, a second internal drive or a big honking external with a USB 3.0 connection (it’s faster than most lightening streaks). Storage is cheap, and for $150, you can get a 4TB external, and maybe bigger. It’s worth every dime. By the way, if your primary editing computer is a laptop, then you absolutely need a large external hard drive.

You also need a backup system for your images because your drive(s) will crash eventually. So back up your work, and I’ll do a post on how we do that at the agency level.

Folder Strategies

Visual of a folder structure

Folders are the Universal Hierarchy of our Computer Management Systems and often misunderstood and or abused by photographers. Lightroom has excellent search tools that allow you to find your files, but it’s just nice to have things neat and easy to access whenever you need them.

The folder system functions much like a paper file cabinet wherein file dividers create broad categories such as an individual folder stores paper documents that are specifically related. Computer systems work the same way whereas a Parent Folder is much like a Category Divider with titles such as Documents, Pictures, Music, Video and more. Folders under those categories contain specifically related documents such as letters, proposals, and may have subfolders to differentiate types of letters or proposals further.

Pictures is a parent folder that appears on most operating system C Drives. Yes, you guessed it, we could have subfolders for groups of related pictures such as Family, Clients, Weddings, and with further subfolders such as Joe’s Birthday, Bogus Advertising, Mary, and Samy. Within these subfolders, we could further break things down with additional subfolders for individual projects, or different wedding activities such as Formals, Reception, etc. You can create an unlimited number of parent and subfolders within the limits of your storage space.

Lightroom Folder Import Choices

Import into one folder

Import By Date

During the import process, Adobe Lightroom offers two folder choices.

  1.  Organize ‘By Date,’ which creates date files and stores your images by the date of capture. This is the default setting in Lightroom, and you do not want to use this if you want to find something in the future.
  2. Organize ‘Into One Folder’ which places your images into file folders that you create with titles that tell you what is inside the folder.

I recommend in the strongest terms that you use “Into One Folder” and that you establish a folder structure by subject matter in a manner that reflects how you use or think about your images.

Some examples of Folder Structures

Here are some examples.

  • For our National Park Photography Master Class Workshops, we make a parent folder National Parks and subfolders for each park such as Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, etc.
  • For Art Photography we have a parent folder called Art Themes and subfolders by thematic titles, Frictionsmooth, The Ivanpah, etc.
  • For Active Clients, we use the client / or project name and then subfolders for projects.

You can search by date with metadata.

Note that we never use ‘Organize by Date,’ but on occasion, we need to find something by date. In those cases, we simply use the metadata panel and create a search by date.

Summary

Developing an easy to understand and easy to use Folder Strategy will eliminate a great deal of heartache and grief as you add pictures to your catalog. Think of the hours you will save when you know where everything is and everything is where it belongs.

The post How to Get Your Adobe Lightroom Catalog Organized appeared first on National Park Photography Expeditions.

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As a rule, I recoil from anything described as “auto,” any promise of instant gratification and the term ‘pleasing image’, which Adobe uses in their description of their new AUTO workflow button, seems ‘snap shotty.’

Well, forget all of that because Lightroom’s new AUTO command is impressive, a feature that you can use with a high degree of confidence in many image situations.

The improved AUTO algorithm arrived in the December update for Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC, and Adobe Camera RAW. Built on Adobe’s Artificial Intelligence platform known as ‘Sensei’, which means teacher in Japanese, AUTO will analyze your photo and compare it to the thousands of professionally edited images in its catalog, including a few of mine. The old AUTO setting had a lame ‘guess and by golly’ character that was not useful. The new AUTO command does a very credible job, and honestly, I’m a bit awe-struck.

AUTO examines your image and then adjusts the tone section of the Develop Module; exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks, as well as the Presence controls; vibrance, clarity, and saturation.

Compare to Bob’s Foolproof Workflow

After using AUTO on numerous images, I wondered how it would compare or effect other workflows such as the Lightroom Foolproof Workflow, which we teach for creating a baseline image in the Development module. So, I tested several difficult images with high dynamic range and other exposure issues with AUTO and compared them to the Foolproof Workflow adjustments as follows:

In the foolproof workflow, I set the lens profile, transform if needed, and may or may not use a bit of DeHaze for initial contrast work. I also adjusted color in the HSL panel after completing the develop adjustments to get to a baseline image, with color emphasis, but no Presence adjustments, such as vibrance and saturation, as we usually make more targeted adjustments later in our Photoshop workflow.

The new Auto Mode only makes adjustments in the Tone and the Presence Panels, and since we are comparing workflows and not panel settings, we did not make further adjustments to the Auto Mode settings.

Three examples:
Out of Camera Foolproof Workflow Auto Adjust
Out of Camera Foolproof Workflow Auto Adjust
Out of Camera Foolproof Workflow Auto Adjust
Conclusion

The new AUTO Command adjusts difficult images quite well with a delicate use of the Presence enhancements. It creates an even histogram, and with the catalog of professional work as a reference, it delivers an image with visual character.

The Foolproof Workflow images have more character, and a subjective interpretation as we often tighten contrast a bit with DeHaze (in landscapes anyway) and adjusting individual colors in the HSL panel adds color contrast and depth to the image. Moreover, we are making visual determinations based upon our own subjective input, not that of an algorithm.

However, I could easily recommend AUTO as a great starting point for many projects. It is quick, easy, does great work in most cases, and if I had to work on a large batch of images, say a wedding shoot, a sports assignment, or a series of event images, I would start with AUTO and modify individual images as needed.

If I were doing post-production work for landscape art, an interpretive fashion shoot, or certain types of product photography, I would use the Foolproof Workflow because this workflow allows me to engage with the image one adjustment at a time. Consequently, I get to know the image and develop a feeling for where I want to go with other workflow steps.

In summary, a workflow is a series of steps to achieve a previsualized image outcome. The Foolproof system allows me to reach a higher emotional range because I immerse myself in the process and can observe the image coming to life. Moreover, art images are not always pleasing in the classical sense of the term; they are subjective with emotional characteristics that one cannot automate.

The new AUTO algorithm is a great tool and I believe will be useful and practical for many photographers and their workflows.

The post Does the New Adobe Lightroom AUTO Feature Really Work? appeared first on National Park Photography Expeditions.

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Got Landscape Photography Noise?

Digital Camera noise is one of those annoying, irritating, pain in the butt technical issues that can kill a great image. No doubt, top line full frame DSLR cameras are much better today than just three years ago, but noise is still a picture killer unless the photographer consciously works to minimize it impacts while shooting and during post-production sessions.

Here is the issue: If you are a Landscape photographer, you choose light for drama, emotional range, design and other narrative effects, but you do not control light. It is what it is, and you have to decide when the light is right for your purposes. You will often shoot in low light, at night, or intentionally underexpose an image for a creative purpose. We often use neutral density filters to lengthen exposure times such as when capturing waterfalls or working with fast moving clouds. Then there are those times when we wish to push the shadows or overall exposure in post-processing to enhance details in the darker areas while preserving highlight details. These creative processes can invite noise into our images.

Noise appears with varying degrees of intensity as an uneven grainy look, similar to grain in the days of film. However, grain was often a creative construct that could deliver an attractive tactile quality. In fact, film grain can be so attractive that photographers pay big bucks for plugins that create grain to mimic film grain. However, digital noise often creates unattractive milky, muddy, soft images, sometimes with weird artifacts and there are no computer-generated plug-ins to create digital noise— digital noise is just ugly.

The Nature of Noise

Men and women of a certain age may remember ‘snow’ on their analog television sets when the broadcast was a bit too far away, and the signal was weak. This snow was image noise and occurred when the background signal, “the snow,” was stronger than the broadcast image. As TV circuitry and antennas improved, weaker signals became much clearer and could compete with nearer signals. The same thing occurs with radio broadcast static and these relationships of snow and static to a signal is the Signal to Noise ratio.

In cameras, the Signal to Noise ratio increases with the sensitivity setting (ISO), length of the exposure, ambient temperature, sensor size, sensor quality and will vary depending upon camera models. You may not notice noise on the camera viewing screen, but when you increase the image to 100% (often much less) on your computer screen you may see noise, and if you print at large scale you will find noise can undoubtedly make a mess out of an otherwise excellent image.

Noise Origination

Digital camera noise develops from one or two primary sources

  • The camera sensor size and structure
  • Sensitivity of the camera sensor, (sometimes both)
  • Camera Circuitry (shielding, component quality, )

Secondary causes of camera noise are:

  • Heat (usually associated with long exposures) but ambient temperature can also be a contributor.
  • Individual image type. With digital cameras, darker regions contain more noise than the brighter areas. Brighter regions have a stronger signal due to more light, resulting in a higher overall Signal to Noise Ratio. This means that underexposed images will have more noise, even if you brighten them with post-production tools.
Sensor Design and Noise

All digital cameras use a sensor array with millions of tiny pixels to produce the final image. Each time you press your camera’s shutter button the exposure begins and each of these pixels has a “photosite” which is uncovered to collect and store photons in a cavity. The number of photosites is equal to the number of megapixels.  Therefore, a 20-megapixel camera has 20 million photosites on the camera sensor.

But the number of pixels is not as critical as pixel size. Generally, the smaller the photosite, the noisier the image. So, noise (and overall image quality) is not about the number of pixels on the sensor but the size of the sensor.

For example, modern phone cameras may have 12 megapixels, and yet the same full frame 12-megapixel DSLR camera will yield a far superior image if we enlarge that image because DSLR’s have much bigger sensors, and thus they have much larger photosites than a 12-megapixel phone camera. Although phone camera circuitry and sensors have improved significantly in recent years, they still generate a great deal of noise even when shooting in bright sun. You just don’t notice it because you are looking at the camera viewer and not at an enlarged image. Consequently, smaller sensors with a large number of pixels generally produce noisier images.

Sensitivity Matters (ISO)

ISO is a standard measuring system, which describes a camera’s sensitivity to light with settings listed as factors of 2, (or 2 and fraction in some cases) such as ISO 50, ISO 100 and ISO 200, where higher numbers represent greater sensitivity. The ratio of two ISO numbers represents their relative sensitivity, meaning a photo at ISO 200 will take half as long to reach the same level of exposure as one made at ISO 100 (all other factors being equal). Today’s top line digital cameras have ISO ranges up to 25,000 plus, but for the landscape photographer, most of our work occurs at 100 to 6400.

As you increase the ISO settings in your digital camera, you increase the sensitivity of the sensor through amplification of the image signal resulting in progressively more noise at higher ISO speeds. This means that when you apply a high ISO setting to a small sensor and amplify the sensitivity you will not only see a lot of noise (luminance noise) but also bad colors (chroma noise) and all kinds of garbage artifacts.

Exposure Matters

Long Exposures mean that the shutter is open longer and thus amplification increases, which means more noise. How much and what kind of noise depends upon the quality of the camera sensor and some ambient factors.

The tradeoff is to increase ISO and decrease exposure or adjust the aperture to shorten the exposure.

How to Control and Reduce Camera Noise

Now that we know where and how noise occurs in our images let’s see how we can minimize it. We begin with the source, our camera.

Use Lower ISO Settings (when possible)

This is the easiest and most effective thing you can do to eliminate noise. Newer DSLR cameras (and phone cameras too) have an excellent signal to noise ratios at higher ISO numbers. I often work with a Canon 5D Mark III, and I shoot at ISO 100 to 6400. At 6400, image noise is very quiet in bright areas but does become visible in shadows or with very long exposures. Nonetheless, in most cases, I can quickly correct it in post.

To avoid a high ISO setting, you must make some choices. Open your aperture to its widest setting that will allow you to create the image you want (assuming you have the desired depth of field at that aperture) and select a low ISO. Alternatively, use a tripod and longer exposure, or increase your ISO if none of the other choices fulfills your needs. It is a good idea to experiment with your camera’s ISO and shoot images at various high ISO settings to determine your upper level of noise generation and acceptance.

Shoot in RAW format

RAW images are, well raw, and chock full of great image data, whereas a JPEG image, is the result of pixel compression, and in-camera process. High ISO setting with JPEGS often creates some nasty, noisy artifacts. Moreover, post-production tools remove noise much more efficiently from RAW images.

Proper Exposure

Today’s high-end full frame (big sensor) cameras are much more efficient at managing the highlight shadow ratios (known as dynamic range), and you can make excellent exposures without compensating for highlights in most cases. In fact, you can now overexpose slightly so that the shadows are a little brighter than normal and then you can pull the highlights down in Lightroom. This is a very effective and part of our Fool Proof Develop Module Workflow.

However, landscape photographers often experience very broad dynamic ranges in the field wherein the proper exposure for highlights and shadows can be many f-stops apart and beyond the camera’s dynamic range. Thus, photographers adjust exposure for the highlights and try to avoid clipping those precious white details, which often means we lose detail in the shadows, or clip the blacks. To compensate we attempt to boost the darks and shadows in post-production and this usually works well but at high ISO settings post-production tools often introduce noise into those shadows. For landscape photographers, it is far better to take two exposures and blend them together in post (not covered in this blog).

Long exposures can be cool or funky

Shoot a long exposure of a waterfall, ocean waves crashing on a beach, or clouds scudding across a sunrise sky and you will no doubt introduce some amazing drama into your image. But long exposures can cause your sensor to heat up and render wrong, weird colors and faulty exposures. As an example, I’ve done some long blue hour exposures and captured some saturated blue colors that I did not think existed— and they didn’t.

This is where you need to understand the limits of your camera and previsualize your compensation workflow. In case of the strange blue colors, I simply made a hue and saturation adjustment in Lightroom, and the real-world sky returned.

Use of In-Camera Noise Reduction

In most DSLR cameras, you may have an option to turn on High ISO Noise Reduction (HNR) or Long Exposure Noise Reduction. In general, this tool helps reduce noise at high ISO settings, long exposures, or both with circuitry that looks for any incorrect pixels. This is an in-camera post-processing step and often takes a long time to complete. For example, if you do a 20-second exposure of a waterfall the HNR process will take 20 seconds to complete. If you are doing 3 minute captures this time issue can be impractical. I have not found that the trade-off of time versus image improvement yield to be very positive. You may find this works for you and your camera and I recommend that you test the results and decide if this feature fits your shooting workflow.

Post-Production Noise Reduction

After

Before

Lower noise reduction processing at high ISO is a ying and yang process that balances the loss of detail in high ISO settings. Major camera manufacturers have noise reduction algorithms in their sensor circuitry that create a low noise appearance by smearing and softening details along pixel edges. It is a tradeoff between sharpness on the one hand and noise on the other. Noise reduction is a complicated issue because noise reduction can be applied in both Chroma and Luminance dimensions collectively and individually and some of the better programs can attack noise by frequency which allows the software to target only areas where noise is an issue.

The Lightroom Noise Reduction tools are excellent, and you will find them in the Details panel (also available in Camera Raw). The panel has several adjustment sliders, and each has a distinct and useful purpose. As you adjust each slider, you are making trade-offs between Noise Reduction and preserving details or sharpness.

This is a visual process, and you need to zoom into 100% of the image to see how your adjustments are affecting the noise/detail ratio.

The noise reduction sliders in Photoshop Camera Raw, are identical in Lightroom

The Luminance Slider

Start with this slider which reduces luminance noise which occurs from over or underexposed pixels. As you move the slider to the right, you reduce noise but increase softness.

The Luminance Detail Slider

Use this slider next, which controls the luminance noise threshold. As you move to the right and achieve higher values, you will recapture or preserve more detail but can also produce noisier results. Lower values produce cleaner results but also remove some detail.

The Luminance Contrast Slider

This tool can be useful for noisy photos, but gentle; careful moves are needed because higher values preserve contrast but can also produce noisy blotches or mottling. Lower values produce smoother results but can also have less contrast.

Color

Reduces color noise. This is often noticed in the underexposed shadow areas of an image. Color noise occurs more frequently in JPEG images than RAW.

Color Detail

Controls the color noise threshold. Higher values protect thin, detailed color edges but can result in color speckling. Lower values remove color speckles but can result in color bleeding.

Color Smoothness

This slider controls the smoothness of the colors in the image. This is useful if you still have some unusual color noise in your image after you have made all your adjustments above. Use this to finish off the noise reduction workflow.

Process

This is a tedious process with no standard setting for all images. Proceed slowly, and zoom in and out so that you can see the adjustment results after each adjustment. I tend to start with higher Luminance, and Color setting then retreats to the point of sanity. Once I am happy with these adjustments, I‘ll move to the next, starting with a higher setting then retreating until I am happy with the results. With patience and a bit of practice, you can eliminate noise or reduce its effects to an acceptable level.

Conclusion

Noise is inherent in all digital cameras, and some noise is necessary to eliminate the plastic look that occurs in digital images, but excessive noise ruins good work and should be dealt with while shooting or planned for in the post-production workflow. Today’s newer DSLR cameras manage noise quite well even with a high number of photosites or pixels. None the less it can occur when you are least expecting it and knowing how your camera performs at various ISO setting and how your camera processes noise is critical to reducing noise to an acceptable level.

Creative landscape photography requires essential detail and a wide dynamic range to present effective narration and navigation. Thus, take noise seriously, and you will be on your way to creating flawless work.

The post 6 Ways to Control and Reduce Noise in Landscape Photos appeared first on National Park Photography Expeditions.

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Going to a popular National Park will soon cost more… but it is worth it!

Join us in Kings Canyon National Park for a Master Class Workshop!

The National Park Service announced in mid-October that they intend to raise fees at 17 of our most popular national parks. This increase is near and dear to National Park Photography Expeditions (NPPE) because teaching and exploring in our national parks is what we do. I’m sure many would think that we would be against the increases but the truth is just the opposite. We passionately favor them because the added income, about 70 million dollars a year, will go to maintenance in the affected parks.

Of course, the call for fee increases has ignited a firestorm of objections among some politicians, as they believe that the fee increases would exclude many Americans from enjoying our parks and that public lands belong to all Americans. Yet, Congress consistently fails to budget the needs of the National Park Service in relation to its visitor count and infrastructure needs. Thus, I would encourage all of us to examine the facts and skip the political homilies.

Something needs to be done and done now

This is not the first time we have had entry fees increases. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton championed fee increases during their White House terms. Interior Secretary, Bruce Babbitt, noted in 1996, “that a family of four can enjoy a week’s visit to Yosemite, Yellowstone, or Glacier national parks for less than it costs to see a first-run movie.”

The increase would raise the top price to $70 per week per vehicle — more than it now costs to take the family to the multiplex but well below what the typical family pays every month for TV service. For a family of four that spends just three days in Joshua Tree, the cost would come to less than $6 per person per day. Yes, it would be nice if park visits were free and 299 of the 417 properties managed by the National Park Service are. Moreover, the fee increases are seasonal and only affect the most heavily visited National Parks. The Park Service will continue to grant a number of free days each year at these and all other locations. Nor would the change be a huge obstacle to locals who make frequent use of nearby national parks. An $80 annual pass provides unlimited access to every national park site in the country

Affected National Parks

We’re hosting Master Class Workshops in Grand Teton National Park, join us!

The affected parks have seen their visitor rates rise 11-40% since 2015 and this puts a great burden on operational and maintenance resources. The proposed new fee structure would be implemented at Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks with peak season starting on May 1, 2018; in Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah National Parks with peak season starting on June 1, 2018; and in Joshua Tree National Park as soon as practicable in 2018.

Eighty percent of all entry fees go to the park that collected them, and the additional income is for maintenance, a mere drop in the bucket when you consider that the Park Service has a 12 billion dollar maintenance backlog. Let’s face it; someone has to furnish the money required to run and maintain these vast sites, which last year endured the wear and tear of approximately a million visitors. Most of the National Park Service budget, which exceeds $3 billion a year, comes from taxpayers, but it’s also fair to ask those who actually venture into them to kick in a bit more.

With such a vast infrastructure maintenance backlog, the extra income at the gate could only help.

Note: The NPS has opened a public comment period on the peak-season entrance fee proposal. You can comment until November 23, 2017, on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website https://parkplanning.nps.gov/proposedpeakseasonfeerates.

We would encourage you to support a small change for a desperately needed improvement.

The post Should You Pay More to Visit a National Park? appeared first on National Park Photography Expeditions.

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Neutral Density Filters

During our National Park Photography Master Class and First Horizons workshops, we are often using filters for photography- specifically neutral density (ND) filters. To be clear, these are full neutral density filters, not gradients which are sometimes used to darken landscape skies.

Fixed vs. Variable

Neutral Density Filter in use

There are two types of ND filters, fixed and variable, and you can buy them as screw-on filters for your lens or with a lens holder that mounts in front of your lens. (Here are some examples: Variable Filter, Fixed Filter) I use both, but I find that the fixed is more precise than the variable. With some practice, a well-made variable can render excellent results as well.

Neutral Density filter used to get a silky-smooth waterfall. Photograph by Dennis Oliver, Lassen National Park Workshop

The issue with variables is that because you as the operator are turning the vari ring on the filter it can be difficult to achieve a precise setting. At some settings, you can develop an exposure artifact that looks like an imprecise vignette or create a dark X in the middle of the image.

The fixed neutral density filter evenly blocks some of the light so you can reduce the light during the day and create a longer exposure duration, which is very handy for waterfall images and skies in some cases. Fixed ND filters have a specific density, so you can quickly adjust your exposure settings based on adding the ND filter to the mix.

The variable neutral density filter is a different horse altogether because it is made from two polarizing filters, one stacked on the other. The rotation of the two filters relative to each other provides the variable amount of light-blocking capability, and while there are marks on the outer ring, these are not calibrated adjustments. As we know from using a single polarizing filter, we can introduce an X effect into an image at some settings, and this will occur with a variable as well.

Which One Should You Use?

I use and teach our workshop participants to use both. The variable is flexible but requires more careful application whereas the fixed units have no challenges. Variables have a range of 2 to 10 stops and fixed come in ranges of 2, 4, 6, and 8. With a filter holder, you can stack your fixed ND’s to achieve other combinations of neutral density.

ND filters are a useful creative tool, and every landscape photographer should have them in their camera backpack.

The post Tech Notes from the Field: Using Filters for Photography appeared first on National Park Photography Expeditions.

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Photography Workshops, Are They Worth the Money?

By Bob Killen, ACE, ACI

The answer to “Are Photography Workshops worth the Money” is a two-sided affair. On one side, we have the student’s perception and on the other the instructor’s knowledge. How well these two points converge will determine the workshop’s value.

Photography Workshops are a powerful way to learn and grow

Photography Workshops provide aspiring photographers the best of all possible learning paths because workshops are a concentrated, full immersion experience.

A ‘designed for learning’ photography workshop generates a level of concentration, power, and excitement that’s impossible to achieve in the classroom.

“Lone Juniper” by Steve Ovitsky, Canyonlands National Park, May 2017 Workshop

Working together closely for 3 to 5, sixteen-hour days guarantees a richer and more varied experience than sitting in a classroom or working virtually with video tutorials. Photography classroom learning dilutes intensity because of time gaps between classes, and thus we lose knowledge continuity when everyone bails at the end of the class. Ideas evaporate before they ever take hold, but in a workshop, students find themselves engaged at all hours of the day and night.

More importantly, an intense workshop inspires self-discovery. Often the relevant internal learning does not take place in the field or in the post classes but between those sessions, or over meals, or perhaps late in the evening when everyone’s sharing images and arguing about the world of photographic art, or possibly the world itself. These cherished encounters, at the fringes of the workshop experience, bring another revelation — that developing new friends is every bit as important to your future as learning your craft.

Workshop Instructors

“Arches Rock” by Howard Lyon, Canyonlands National Park, May 2017 Workshop

Great workshop instructors may or may not be credentialed teachers or not, but in either case, most teach from a position of ‘in the trenches’ experience. Their photographic art, techniques, visual voice, and skills usually encompass formal learning but more importantly their knowledge and styles are from the real world of gritty failures and humble pie success.

As instructors (and I am one who teaches 8-10 landscape photography workshops per year) the income earned as a teacher is generally supplemental to income earned from other areas of photography. We teach because we love to see others grow artistically and we professionally refine and expand the learning experience for our students. For most workshops teachers its really simple; we love to teach, mentor and support!

Choosing a Workshop

Understanding the value of the workshop teaching methodology is one thing, but for the workshop student, the process of deciding where and when to shell out hundreds or several thousands of dollars to take a workshop can be an angst filled decision. However, there are value questions that are useful to consider before selecting a workshop that can eliminate your angst (well, most of it).

Where are you today?

Photograph by Marti Phillips, Mojave National Preserve, February 2017 Workshop

Are you a beginner, advanced hobbyist, semi-pro or working professional? Be honest with yourself in evaluating your current skill and visual voice levels, but also be careful not to under rate yourself. Also, consider your post-production knowledge and equipment kit, two items that govern the outcome of how much you can learn in any given workshop.

Where do you want to be tomorrow?

Once you have made an honest appraisal of your current capabilities, the next step is to define where you would like to see your work in the future. The difference between these points is the learning curve you need to scale to achieve your goals. As a teacher, I have found that students often have difficulty with defining their photographic future because of this age-old axiom:

“You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it.”

I encourage them to download and save images they like (or copy them from books and magazines). Review these pieces of inspiration and notate what you like about the work: composition, mood, atmospherics, technique, locations, styling, coloration, and other details that excite your eye, heart, and soul.

What do I need to get there?

“Lost in Space” by Lynn Ballard, Capitol Reef National Park, June 2016 Workshop

Through self-evaluation, you have decided where you are, and you have some idea where you want to go. Now ask yourself what do I need to learn? Do you want to copy a particular photographer’s style, which you can use to pave the road to your own style? Do want to learn a specific technique to improve your work? Do you need creative leadership that will help you find and define a visual voice? Alternatively, are you looking for an opportunity to capture images in an amazing and remote area?

You may not know the answers to some or any of these questions. However, a great workshop with a considerate instructor will help you explore the questions and find the answers you need to advance your goals.

Who can help me?

Workshop Instructor experience, teaching skills, and curriculum planning vary. Excellent instructors have a reputation for excellent teaching abilities that exceeds their personal work. In other words, they focus their time on instruction; they prepare well and provide camera specific techniques, help students explore new visual ideas, and provide a framework that allows each student to grow a unique visual voice— their own.

When evaluating and selecting a workshop, consider these instructor qualities:

The Photography Instructor’s Work— What do you like and dislike about their images, do they resonate with you, and how do others evaluate their work?

Biographic Information— Read the instructor’s bio, which details their experience as a photographer and as an instructor.

Ramiro Estenssoro, Art Photography Workshop

Testimonials— Check out past student testimonials or contact past students.

Curriculum— The best photography workshops will provide you with a curriculum to review in advance of purchasing your course. I teach landscape photography workshops within our National Parks using exact GPS locations for our shooting assignments and provide our students with lesson plans that help them achieve technical and artistic outcomes. In my view, it is critical to work with instructors who have lesson plans and student objectives.

Post-Production Training— If you are considering a multi-day, advanced photography workshop, find workshops that include post-production techniques to help you expand and clarify your visual voice. Working in post between your capture assignments accelerates your compositional skills because you can see what has worked, what hasn’t, and make adjustments as you return to the field for the next capture session.

Class Size— A hands-on teacher will want a class size of 3 to 6 students, or if the class is larger, there will be a capable assistant instructor. Photo tour workshops just put you in front of places you have never seen and often with large groups.

Post-Class Support—Some of the best workshops offer online post-production training, which is an excellent way to continue your skills development and explore your visual expressions at a deeper level. This facet plus your dedication to practicing the material taught is critical for long-term growth.

Student Services— The best landscape photography workshops have student service support to help with lodging, transportation arrangements, meals, safety lectures, pre-class guidance and other amenities that make it easy to learn. You want to concentrate on learning, and thus a workshop that provides Student Services frees you from many distractions that can interfere with your class.

‘Kelso Dunes Arpeggio’ by Steve Ripple, Mojave National Preserve, February 2017 Workshop

Is it Worth It?

Dennis Oliver, Lassen Volcanic National Park, August 2017 Workshop

The value of a Photography Workshop cannot be measured by the fee or tuition charged. Fundamental costs such as location, learning days, the number of instructors, student services, curriculum, instructor quality, lodging and other factors affect prices. Photography Education is not a cost-plus commodity; it is a value-based proposition. You will pay more to attend Harvard than your local state college, and while both grant degrees, Harvard has more resources and can offer a richer learning experience.  However, personal success does not depend upon where you went to school; it depends on what you put into your education and how you used your learning experience to advance your work and life.

The same rules apply to a photography workshop.

Enroll in the best photography workshop you can afford, and show up ready and willing to learn.

Put in the effort to advance your visual voice, master your craft, and to explore personal expression. Give it your all and when you complete your workshop continue to build on what you have learned and archived.

Will it be worth it?

Yes!

The post Photography Workshops, Are They Worth the Money? appeared first on National Park Photography Expeditions.

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Creating the Landscape Art Photography Theme

By Bob Killen, ACE, ACI

Creating a powerful, meaningful, and innovative landscape photography composition is a visual challenge for all of us. However, for the Landscape Photographer who strives to create a body of work with images that are a vision beyond documentation, no subject is more difficult to understand and execute then creating an Landscape Art Photography Theme. Art in general, and art photography in particular, captures the status of the human condition. The timeless human qualities of life, death, love, hate, peace, war and judgment are the wellspring of all the arts. Interpretations, impressions and abstract reasoning all resonate from our forward and back-rolling perspective. For the landscape photographer, it is these humankind conditions that drives how we see and fit into a shared landscape.

So, just what is a theme?

Friction Texture

If you are a working artist, you may be familiar with art thematics and understand the development and construction of an art theme. However, most landscape photographers are unfamiliar with themes and tend to shoot/create images that are a succession of shots without a visual narrative or point of view. As an art teacher and instructor for the National Park Photography Masterclass Workshops, I know that developing a theme for any genre is a challenge and perhaps more so for the landscape genre, but then so is writing a novel or finding enough connected songs to create a music album. When speaking or lecturing for the Mojave National Preserve Artist Foundation and other National Park Service speaking engagements I am often asked, “What is a theme, how do I create a one.”

Here is the answer.

In the arts, a theme is a broad idea or a message conveyed by artwork, such as a painting, photograph or sculpture. Themes in the visual arts are often messages about life, society, human nature, the environment and are usually implied rather than explicitly stated. For the landscape photographer, a theme is a coherent body of work that supports the idea through a visual narrative developed primarily for aesthetics or intellectual purposes distinguishing it from documentary images. Post card pictures can be aesthetically pleasing but rarely deliver aesthetically challenging themes. They are one offs, and this is what many landscape photographers capture.

Themes and Subject are not the same.

Smooth Texture

A theme is not the same as the subject of a work. For example, the subject of the movie Star Wars is a battle between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance, whereas the themes focus on moral ambiguity and the conflict between technology and nature. Another example is my Friction Smooth theme from a Mojave National Preserve Artists in Residence exhibit, which presents as a subject Mojave Desert features of extinct volcanoes and dry lake-beds (Soda Lake). However, the theme is about the comparative view of volcanoes’ friction driven textures versus the dry lake bed’s smooth features with navigation techniques that present a Vision beyond Documentation.

Themes are not Motifs

While similar, themes differ from motifs in that themes are ideas conveyed by the visual-written experience while motifs are repeated symbols found inside an overarching theme. The motif in the above example stresses the repeating patterns of the desert surfaces.

Themes versus Genres

Genres are broad based categories of art based on some set of stylistic criteria formed by conventions that change over time as new genres replace the use of old ones. Artwork from any given period is often defined and categorized by similar themes found during that period. Some examples of genres are architectural photography, portraits, landscape, fashion, etc.

Landscape Photography Composition— Less is More

Repeating Motif Pattern

The first act of artists is to isolate the subject, clarify the emotions and apply a limited focus. In other words, less, is more, but you need to have the right less. Here are six steps to help create a successful theme.

  1. Research is the first thing you need to do and here is why. I recently completed a Masterclass workshop in Olympic National Park and on that first day in the field, all of the learning photographers suffered from sensory overload. You cannot arrive at a theme on your first day or even your first visit. You need to explore a given landscape location often under various light and atmospheric conditions to develop a personal connection. In our workshops, we can work a particular area for several hours under preferential conditions, but successful landscape artists that develop and complete a personal project may spend up to a year exploring a given landscape site(s). As part of the thematic process I recommend that you read literature about a given location, interview local people who live in the area and review images from other artists who have worked the in this area and similar areas.
  1. Decompress and feel the Landscape location first and intellectualize your workflow second. Until you can feel your visual narrative, it is impossible to develop a creative project that has a coherent This takes some time.
  2. Reduce your thematic ideas to a similar subject matter: trees, rivers, atmospherics, etc. Having said that let me also add that you can use a wide variety of subjects, particularly if your theme is going to drive a book, but these approaches are usually for documentary Nonetheless, I would encourage you to employ creative similarities to achieve visual coherence.
  3. Explore the subject in emotional or metaphoric terms: isolation, texture, fear, anger, hope, loneliness, etc.
  4. Select similar technical compositions: all black and white photographs, all negative space photographs, toned images, impressions, abstractions, etc.
  5. Extend your emotional range with challenging compositions, unique subject view, and apply narration and navigation as opposed to documentation with moods developed through light, color, monochrome and other art tools.
Summary

Themes are useful for defining your visual message and critical to creating a narrative. However, your theme can be defined by several criteria such as an implied metaphor, visual compatibility or incompatibly of image material, cultural implications, common atmospherics, style and other forces or concepts. The main elements of defining a theme that there be no awkward gaps in your image relationships and to see your landscape theme clearly, we need to see where you as the photographer ends, the landscape begins and a gradual discerning of what is self and what is not.

The post Landscape Photography Composition: Creating the Landscape Art Photography Theme appeared first on National Park Photography Expeditions.

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Creating the Landscape Art Photography Theme By Bob Killen, ACE, ACI

Creating a powerful, meaningful, and innovative landscape photography composition is a visual challenge for all of us. However, for the Landscape Photographer who strives to create a body of work with images that are a vision beyond documentation, no subject is more difficult to understand and execute then creating an Landscape Art Photography Theme. Art in general, and art photography in particular, captures the status of the human condition. The timeless human qualities of life, death, love, hate, peace, war and judgment are the wellspring of all the arts. Interpretations, impressions and abstract reasoning all resonate from our forward and back-rolling perspective. For the landscape photographer, it is these humankind conditions that drives how we see and fit into a shared landscape.

So, just what is a theme?

If you are a working artist, you may be familiar with art thematics and understand the development and construction of an art theme. However, most landscape photographers are unfamiliar with themes and tend to shoot/create images that are a succession of shots without a visual narrative or point of view. As an art teacher and instructor for the National Park Photography Masterclass Workshops, I know that developing a theme for any genre is a challenge and perhaps more so for the landscape genre, but then so is writing a novel or finding enough connected songs to create a music album. When speaking or lecturing for the Mojave National Preserve Artist Foundation and other National Park Service speaking engagements I am often asked, “What is a theme, how do I create a one.”

Here is the answer.

In the arts, a theme is a broad idea or a message conveyed by artwork, such as a painting, photograph or sculpture. Themes in the visual arts are often messages about life, society, human nature, the environment and are usually implied rather than explicitly stated. For the landscape photographer, a theme is a coherent body of work that supports the idea through a visual narrative developed primarily for aesthetics or intellectual purposes distinguishing it from documentary images. Post card pictures can be aesthetically pleasing but rarely deliver aesthetically challenging themes. They are one offs, and this is what many landscape photographers capture.

Themes and Subject are not the same.

A theme is not the same as the subject of a work. For example, the subject of the movie Star Wars is a battle between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance, whereas the themes focus on moral ambiguity and the conflict between technology and nature. Another example is my FrictionSmooth theme from a Mojave National Preserve Artists in Residence exhibit, which presents as a subject Mojave Desert features of extinct volcanos and dry lake beds (Soda Lake). However, the theme is about the comparative view of volcanoes’ friction driven textures versus the dry lake bed’s smooth features with navigation techniques that present a Vision beyond Documentation.

Themes are not Motifs

While similar, themes differ from motifs in that themes are ideas conveyed by the visual-written experience while motifs are repeated symbols found inside an overarching theme. The motif in the above example stresses the repeating patterns of the desert surfaces.

Themes versus Genres

Genres are broad based categories of art based on some set of stylistic criteria formed by conventions that change over time as new genres replace the use of old ones. Artwork from any given period is often defined and categorized by similar themes found during that period. Some examples of genres are archi

tectural photography, portraits, landscape, fashion, etc.

Landscape Photography Composition— Less is More

The first act of artists is

to isolate the subject, clarify the emotions and apply a limited focus. In other words, less, is more, but you need to have the right less. Here are six steps to help create a successful theme.

  1. Research is the first thing you need to do and here is why. I recently completed a Masterclass workshop in Olympic National Park and on that first day in the field, all of the learning photographers suffered from sensory overload. You cannot arrive at a theme on your first day or even your first visit. You need to explore a given landscape location often under various light and atmospheric conditions to develop a personal connection. In our workshops, we can work a particular area for several hours under preferential conditions, but successful landscape artists that develop and complete a personal project may spend up to a year exploring a given landscape site(s).
As part of the thematic process I recommend that you read literature about a given location, interview local people who live in the area and review images from other artists who have worked the in this area and similar areas.  
  1. Decompress and feel the Landscape location first and intellectualize your workflow second. Until you can feel your visual narrative, it is impossible to develop a creative project that has a coherent This takes some time.
  2. Reduce your thematic ideas to a similar subject matter: trees, rivers, atmospherics, etc. Having said that let me also add that you can use a wide variety of subjects, particularly if your theme is going to drive a book, but these approaches are usually for documentary Nonetheless, I would encourage you to employ creative similarities to achieve visual coherence.
  3. Explore the subject in emotional or metaphoric terms: isolation, texture, fear, anger, hope, loneliness, etc.
  4. Select similar technical compositions: all black and white photographs, all negative space photographs, toned images, impressions, abstractions, etc.
  5. Extend your emotional range with challenging compositions, unique subject view, and apply narration and navigation as opposed to documentation with moods developed through light, color, monochrome and other art tools.
Summary

Themes are useful for defining your visual message and critical to creating a narrative. However, your theme can be defined by several criteria such as an implied metaphor, visual compatibility or incompatibly of image material, cultural implications, common atmospherics, style and other forces or concepts. The main elements of defining a theme that there be no awkward gaps in your image relationships and to see your landscape theme clearly, we need to see where you as the photographer ends, the landscape begins and a gradual discerning of what is self and what is not.

About the Author:

Bob Killen is a nationally recognized Art Photographer, Landscape Photography instructor, and artist. He is the Director of the National Park Photography Expeditions, President of the Mojave National Preserve Artists Foundation, a national speaker on landscape photography, National Park Service Arts Spokesperson, and an Adobe Certified Instructor. His thematic work explores Western Americana landscapes with a focus on man’s obsession to abandon structures, places, and things across a shared American landscape. Collectors in 20 countries own Bob’s work.

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Landscape Photography Composition: The Sky Dominant Image

Completed image from Lightroom

A moment after the failing night sky turns gray, a black, bull nosed dome of jagged lava and cinder cones lifts its stark bulk against the first streaks of sunrise. It’s a red yellow cinder cone, one of seven long ago extinguished Volcano Landmarks in Mojave National Preserve and has the potential to make a landscape photography composition. The volcanic mass is rising from a desert plain of sharp lava rocks, and vuggy, pockmarked cinder cones with a scattering of white topped Indian rice grass starting to reflect the mist laden sunlight that is still below the horizon. I see all of it in the morning gray through my Canon 70-200 lens, and I can feel the creosote bushes brush my sides and tangle my Induro Tripod legs.

I begin to squeeze the shutter cable, making multiple focus stacking and light bracketing images. I like the fundamental structure and have committed myself to wait on the light, capturing sequences of sun streaks until I feel I have an image I can grow into art with a few post-production techniques.

Between sequences, I make entries into my journal, and on this morning, as I often do, I recall Ansel Adam’s quote;

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.”

I know as a photographer and as an art photography teacher that the biggest cause of poor landscape image failure is poor composition; compositions without visual cues, voice or purpose.

Let’s face it— landscapes are just out there, unedited scenes that repurpose themselves moment by moment with the light. Landscape photography is not necessarily intuitive, and thus the successful landscape photographer is the one who has learned to compose on several levels; shape, tone, texture, color, contrast, perspective and visual narrative. I tell my students in our National Park Photography Masterclasses that it is the photographer’s responsibility to make compositional choices that will engage viewers at an emotional level with a vision beyond documentation, a vision that is theirs.

The image in my viewfinder is challenging, and as I continue to shoot, I have made several compositional choices with lens angles as I examine the subject relationship to sky and ground. Given how the light is developing I decide to create a Sky Dominant image which will provide an expansive sense and yet if composed properly the great sky color and smooth cloud streaks with work to emphasize and counterbalance the texture of the cinder cone.

In my journal, I note “dramatic loneliness, isolation, friction-filled surface and possible gold foreground; texture juxtaposition exists between sky and ground.” I also make a quick sketch with possible crop lines as the in-camera capture will be too tall and destroy the long blunt nose shape of the cone. I note that I’m intrigued with the slant of the clouds as angles provide motion and emotion.

In time the light moves on from this scene, and I move on too.

Landscape Photography Composition: The Sky Dominant Image

Original Cinder Cone Image, Mojave National Preserve, Kelso California

I teach landscape students to choose sky or ground dominant perspective because the choice can make a profound difference in emotional connections and cognitive perception.

Sky dominant images have more sky then ground and just as with a ground dominant image we eliminate the split horizon effect which generally (but not always) makes an image unfocused.  However, just because we have more sky in our landscape composition that does not mean that the visual emphasis is on the sky, though it could be. Often sky dominance provides balance to the image in furtherance of an underlying theme or image narration which may be the ground subject.

Let’s see how my new RAW image gets processed

Details about a sky dominant landscape

The out of camera RAW image captures the blunt dome shape of the extinct volcano and the beautiful pastel pinks of sunrise in progress. The image is intentionally underexposed to capture the sky colors which are brighter than the ground, and I made several images while on the tripod for completing stack focus work in Photoshop to ensure front to back sharpness. Using a Canon 70-200 mm lens at 70 mm I purposefully emphasized sky over ground and which allowed me to include the entire cinder cone in the image. However, the sky in a 4:3 aspect ratio is too tall, and I will crop to provide a panoramic look with sky dominance.

The first act of composition for landscape photographers is to isolate the subject, clarify the emotions and apply a limited focus. In other words, less, is more, but you need to have the right less.

From my previsualization and journal notes there are several good spatial and tonal cues that I want to accentuate:

  1. In the tall sky, the blues separate the sky into two distinct cloud/sky elements, which I saw as I squeezed the shutter. Thus, the composition is unbalanced and lacks clarity. By cropping the sky, I can eliminate the false horizon and the two-sky story while maintaining sky dominance. This will impose a limited focus and provide an opportunity to broaden the tonal range in the completed image.
  2. Accentuate the diagonal line of the cloud formation so that I crop with good entry and exit points. This will provide a sense of movement, power, as well as a counterweight to the bull nose top of the cinder cone.
  3. Accentuate the dramatic pinks and blues in the sky which will broaden the emotional range.
  4. Relieve the shadows in Lightroom to provide cinder cone detail.
  5. Relight certain elements in Photoshop to add visual voice and personal style.

Every compositional and previsualization choice I make is to bring greater depth and emotional range to the picture. This will still be a sky dominant image, but the purpose of the slightly lower sky is to illuminate the height of the cinder cone whereas a much taller sky would diminish this element.

Bob’s Foolproof Lightroom Steps

With basic Lightroom adjustments

In Lightroom, I performed my basic Lightroom adjustments to “dial in the image.” If you prefer, you can do this in Adobe Camera Raw. I could also crop the image in Lightroom but I prefer to leave this step to the end of the Photoshop workflow because as I work through the relighting process I will get a better sense of the exact crop point and make sure that my work is building in the emotional navigation that I felt when I captured the images.

In this stage, the clouds are developing well with respect to color but the color and tone works leave them too jagged. I have lifted detail in the cone shadows, but it will need accents and further shadow relief which I can do more effectively in a Photoshop workflow. Moreover, in Photoshop I can be more selective in how I wish to portray color contrast and using curves I will be able to add the drama that I noted in my journal through selective relighting.

Lightroom completed image

Completed Image

I have my aesthetic senses regarding landscape photography composition and choose certain looks to reproduce what I feel and see as a vision beyond what the camera documents. The RAW image provides the words, but I rearrange them to tell a story as I want my audience to get past visual documentation and narration, and to navigate the image with their own feelings. It is beyond the scope of this blog to detail the Photoshop work, particularly how to relight and emphasize the structure. Suffice it to say that emphasizing highlights and relieving shadows in the cinder cone adds depth and life. Bringing forward the foreground yellows adds contrast and warmth as a counter balance to the deep blue of a night fading into a far horizon. The crop design accents the slant of the clouds and provides a sense of motion.

Am I done? Not quite.

I will print the image at scale and then make final adjustments to account for light beyond the computer and texture.

All the Best Light,
Bob

The post Landscape Photography Composition: The Sky Dominant Image appeared first on National Park Photography Expeditions.

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