J. Silkstone Photography: Blog https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog en-us (C) J. Silkstone Photography (J. Silkstone Photography) Fri, 10 Jul 2020 21:50:00 GMT Fri, 10 Jul 2020 21:50:00 GMT https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/img/s/v-12/u449167446-o581264602-50.jpg J. Silkstone Photography: Blog https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog 120 80 COMPOSITION QUICK TIP: TEXTURE https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2020/7/composition-quick-tip  

Texture. 

Can you feel it?

Texture is all about awakening the sense of touch with a photograph.  Sound strange?  Maybe.  But images with texture give the viewer the sense that they could touch the photo and actually feel the surface.  Textures can be found in any environment and can add a new dimension to an already great composition.

In the image below, the shadows and light on the sand give the impression that you might actually feel bumps if you touched the image.  20170223_JMS_DeathValley_88520170223_JMS_DeathValley_885Mesquite Flat Dunes, Death Valley National Park

Ripples in the sand provide great texture to an already wonder scene

The image below may give you the impression that the photograph actually feels like velvet because of the soft moss growing on the rocks.

Silkstone-140925_0398-2136Silkstone-140925_0398-2136New growth covers the lava fields from the 2010 volcano eruption.

Moss covered rocks in Iceland.

While the texture of the photograph never really changes, the use of texture in a photograph can give your images life and grab the attention of your viewers.

The above short composition tip can be found in my ebook: 

ECCP Compose eBook CoverECCP Compose eBook Cover

COMPOSE: Composition Elements for the Landscape and Nature Photographer

28 pages of compositional elements and tips.  Pick one up if you haven't already. 

  

Explore | Compose | Capture | Publish

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(J. Silkstone Photography) composition for photography composition tips creativity ebook j. silkstone photography landscape learning NC photographer north carolina photographer photographer photographers photography photography tip tips https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2020/7/composition-quick-tip Sat, 11 Jul 2020 11:30:00 GMT
ZONER PHOTO STUDIO X REVIEW https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2020/6/zoner-photo-studio-x-review Are you in the market for a photo editor?  Maybe you are just getting into photography or maybe you already have a photo editor and are looking for something different.  There are a number of programs out there so it can be tough to decide which one is best for you.  One such program is Zoner Photo Studio X made by its namesake, Zoner Photo Studio.  I'll will admit that I was not familiar with the brand so when they asked if I would be willing to do a review I was initially skeptical.  But once I did my homework I found that this just might be a great solution for people who are looking for something different.  So let's begin......

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

First, we have to get the elephant in the room out of the way.  For those of you looking for an alternative to the Adobe subscription model you will be disappointed.  Like Adobe, Zoner is also based on a subscription model.  However, there is some good news.  It is half the price of Adobe's subscription.  The Zoner subscription is $4.99/mo or a flat $49/year.  With this you get the full program which contains functionality similar to Lightroom and Photoshop, 20 GB of cloud storage and a free online gallery while being able to use the program on an "unlimited number of computers".  Yes, no more deleting programs on other computers to meet the computer usage.  This is really nice when you purchase a new computer and want to move your software and files to the new one before deleting the program on the old computer.  One more thing to know is that the program only works on PC Windows version 8 or 10.  Sorry Mac users!  If I still have your attention then let's move on to the meat and potatoes of this review.

THE APPROACH........

 Zoner Photo Studio X's uses a "catalog" system allowing for quick culling and nondestructive editing of images.  It has four modules to toggle between. The first is Manager which is similar to the Library module in Lightroom.  Then there is the Develop module where you can process you images using non destructive edits.  The Editor module is where you can use layers and many other similar tools similar to Photoshop.  Finally, there is a Create module which allows you to create "projects" such as ordering prints, books, calendars and also creating videos.  

To review Zoner Photo Studio X I processed a couple of images and made note of both the positives and negative of using the system.  I caution that this review is not a total look at all the functions as that would take for ever considering all the program offers  Instead this is a review based on my initial use of the program. 

It took me a little time to get used to the placement of all the tools and the overall abilities of the program but no more than I expected. If I ran into an issue a quick help query usually solved the problem. Below are images of the different panels.  
Manager ViewManager View

Manager panel

Annotation 2020-05-19 100659Annotation 2020-05-19 100659 Develop Panel

Annotation 2020-05-19 100813Annotation 2020-05-19 100813 Editor Panel

Annotation 2020-05-19 100848Annotation 2020-05-19 100848 Create Panel

As you can see Zoner Studio X contains a lot of functionality.  But how well does all that functionality work when it comes to processing images?  That's what I wanted to know.  So I uploaded a few RAW files with different subjects and processed and exported them as high resolution jpegs for review.  Below are some before and after images I processed and a brief description of the process.

_original_original

Unprocessed

_Complete (1)_Complete (1) Raised shadows, cropped and added watermark.  Very simple edit.

_original (2)_original (2) Unprocessed Image

20200318_JMS_CSilkstone_0210_Editor_Finished_finished20200318_JMS_CSilkstone_0210_Editor_Finished_finished Increased exposure, smoothing brush on skin, edited eyes and lips, cropped and cloned in corners

20170729_JMS_WS_0015_origianl20170729_JMS_WS_0015_origianl Base image for exposure blending

20170729_JMS_WS_0016_hdr_complete20170729_JMS_WS_0016_hdr_complete Multiple exposure blend, straightened building, cloned out manhole

_original (1)_original (1) Unprocessed image

20180630_JMS_Hawaii_099920180630_JMS_Hawaii_0999 Raised exposure, brought down highlights, warmed up image, used soft light blending mode for cloud color, removed distractions

Other than a couple of pauses to learn how to use a tool things were pretty straight forward.  During processing the images I made some notes of both the positives and negatives along with some basic comments that I consider neutral but you may want to know.

POSITIVES AND ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENTS........

Let's start with the positives:

  • Allows the use of Blend modes with color in the brush and graduated filters in the Develop module.  This is a very nice addition.  Thank you!

  • Advance color controls in Color Shift and Split Toning.  Two thumbs up for this and was really impressed.

  • Smoothing brush (works like frequency separation) and the liquify face tool work very well.  Great for portraiture.  

  • Enjoyed the layout of each module and the placement of the tools. 

  • When applying a brush or filter in the Develop module it creates a layer bar for each one.  This makes it easy to turn each one on or off or delete them.

  • Overall layout of panels and tools are very intuitive and just makes sense.

And now some areas that could use some improvement:

  • The brush size in both the develop and editor module do not get very big compared to the image.  

  • No content aware tool.  Clone stamping and the healing brush tool are available.

  • No mask when sharpening in the Develop module. Using a black and white mask to visualize what areas are being sharpened would be useful.  

  • Items such as prints, books and calendars in the Create module are made in the E.U. so they take longer to arrive and have higher shipping costs for the US.  

Neutral Observations:

  • The catalog works by picking a folder and then anything that is imported or put into that folder automatically shows up in your catalog.  This works well and you can quickly add images and keep your normal folder hierarchy.  On the other hand if you like to keep other folders with or without images along with your images those too will also show up in your catalog.  I was unable to find a way to hide them in the catalog.  This is just personal taste in my opinion and can be accommodated with tweaks to your workflow.

  • The video editor works very well but is basic without a lot of options.  I would love to see some updates to the video section.    I believe if Zoner Photo Studio X incorporated a mid tier video editor it would provide a more complete package and a great selling point for a truly all-in-one program.

  • As noted above there should be options for US products in their Create module.

  • Zoner seems to be putting an emphasis on presets.  Besides the ones that come installed with the program they offer 12 different preset packages to download for free.  Those looking for some artistic inspiration or a new look for their Instagram images will be happy.

Yep, that's it,

FINAL THOUGHTS

After using the program for only a few weeks I must admit that I was impressed with Zoner Studio X.  It has a ton of functionality for half the price of Adobe's photography package.  From their website it seems that they are updating the program at least twice a year and adding new items to it regularly.  I think most PC users looking for an full editing program or just looking to start developing their images should put Zoner Studio X at or near the top of their list.  

Note: I reached out to the Zoner team and asked if a Mac version was going to be developed.  They basically stated that it was not in the works at this time.  So for now only PC users get to enjoy Zoner Studio X.         

WHO IS IT FOR?

Is Zoner Studio X for you?  If you are a PC user looking to save a little money then this makes perfect sense.  You are essentially getting Lightroom and Photoshop functionality for half the price.  The system is a great value and includes cloud storage and an online gallery.  I would definitely recommend Zoner Studio X for those just starting out in photography and to the seasoned photographer who wants to save a little extra money.  As always you can download a free 30 day trial to see if it works for you.  Just click here.

I hope you enjoyed this review.  I plan to keep using Zoner Studio X on a regular basis to get even better acquainted with the program.  Have you used Zoner Studio X?  If so, let me know what you think in the comments below.

ZPSX-logo-100px-colorZPSX-logo-100px-color  

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(J. Silkstone Photography) adobe creativity develop images learn Learning lightroom microsoft photography photography software photoshop photoshop alternative presets review video windows zoner zoner photo studio zoner photo studio X https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2020/6/zoner-photo-studio-x-review Thu, 25 Jun 2020 11:37:19 GMT
MY 3 FAVORITE CAMERA ACCESSORIES https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2020/3/my-3-favorite-camera-accessories Every photographer has some gear that they are in love with.  For some it is a lens that creates soft bokeh or a wonderful sun burst.  Others have a backpack that they would never travel without. Below I have listed three items that I never leave home without. 

#1 An L-bracket – An L-bracket might be my best purchase, EVER!  So, what is an L-bracket? An L-bracket is a camera plate in the shape of an “L” that attaches to your camera like a normal camera plate but wraps around to the side of your camera.  Since it wraps around your camera it essentially gives you two camera plates to attach to the head on your tripod, one in the horizontal position and one in the vertical position.  This allows you to change the orientation of your camera from horizontal to vertical without changing the composition or the balance of the tripod. 

Without one you have to move the head into a vertical position which changes the composition so you have to take the time to recompose your image.   It also puts your tripod off balance by shifting the weight of your camera to the side. One other thing to note is that there is also a good chance that something on your camera will hit the side of your tripod or head and thus keep you from getting the image completely vertical.  This will then need to be taken care of in post processing and thus may alter your composition. 

While it does add a little weight to your camera the rewards are well worth it.  There are many brands and different price points.  Be sure to get one that is specific for your camera that way you know it will not slip.  The one I use is the Kirk BL-D500N for the Nikon D500

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#2 The Toolz from 3 Legged Thing - I recently picked up the Toolz and I have to say it had been a life saver. It has both a hex key and a flat key for tightening ball plates, tripod legs, or anything else that may happen to come loose while on a photo shoot.  Plus it works as a bottle opener which always comes in handy after a long time in the field. It easily clips to the outside of your bag so you do not need to dig through a pocket to reach it. For the money it is a great buy.  To see at B&H click HERE.

20200228_JMS_Blog_001020200228_JMS_Blog_0010

#3 A shower cap – I did a post on having a shower cap in your bag some time ago (you can read the post here).  A shower cap provides a quick waterproof cover for your camera and lens. It can also be used to protect it from sand or other elements that may damage or harm your camera or lens.  The best part is that is can sometimes be found free in your hotel room. Although they seem to be going away they are still inexpensive, weight almost nothing and take up almost zero space in your bag.  There is no reason not to have one. 
IMG_2246editedIMG_2246edited

There you are, three of my favorite camera accessories that I can’t go without.  What are some of your favorite accessories that you carry with you that you can’t do without?  Leave them in the comments section below.

If interested in seeing my "almost" full gear list head over to ShotKit and see what I carry in my bag.

BlackBlack

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(J. Silkstone Photography) best camera gear camera camera accessories camera gear favorite gear" j. silkstone photography landscape photography learning north carolina photographer photography photography tips shotkit https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2020/3/my-3-favorite-camera-accessories Wed, 11 Mar 2020 14:17:17 GMT
5 TASKS FOR THE NEW YEAR https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2019/12/5-tasks-for-the-new-year It's close to a new year and you are excited about what lies ahead for your photography.  Here are 5 things you should do to start the new year.

1, Look back over your workflow – Is your workflow working for you?  The new year is the perfect time to evaluate if your workflow needs an update or if it is working just fine.  Making subtle adjustments can have a huge impact in time and enjoyment.  Just be sure that you give yourself time to truly evaluate any changes you make before deciding whether they work for you..

bigstock-Review-Time-words-in-d-letter-103183358bigstock-Review-Time-words-in-d-letter-103183358

2. Backup and save files – this goes without saying and should be done numerous times throughout the year if not after every time you photograph.  Whether you upload to the cloud or copy to hard drives and store them off site be sure to have all your images backed up.  While doing so be sure to determine whether your file management process is seamless with the way you work.
Back up your photosBack up your photos

3. Update copyrights and watermarks – Update your copyright to 2020! Be sure to update your watermark if you use the year along with your copyright.

20191109_JMS_ValleyofFire_NV_0294-HDR-231_Print20191109_JMS_ValleyofFire_NV_0294-HDR-231_Print
4. Set goals - Most of my goals are centered on trying new things, but that’s just me.  Some ideas are

  1. Shoot more panoramas.
  2. Photograph with B&W in mind
  3. Volunteer your photography services to a local charity
  4. Learn luminosity masks
  5. Teach someone a technique that you like to use.  Nothing helps you learn like trying to teach others.

5. Review your equipment – Do you need all that equipment?  It is always a good thing to go through your equipment and determine whether or not you really need it.  Have 5 filters but only use 2?  Sell the three you don’t use and put that money into something new.  Have some extra camera bags you don’t use anymore?  Ask people at your local camera club if they have anyone that could use a new bag.  Not only might you make a little money in the process of getting rid of the equipment you don’t use but you might also make your camera bag a little lighter.  Win. Win.

Review your equipmentReview your equipment

There is no better time than the start of a new year to review your workflow, set goals, update your copyright and backup your files!  Start the year off right and have a Happy New Year!

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(J. Silkstone Photography) 5 things to do copyright create creativity j. silkstone photography learning new year north carolina photographer photography photography processing photography project photography tip tips workflow https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2019/12/5-tasks-for-the-new-year Fri, 06 Dec 2019 23:18:21 GMT
ABSTRACTS IN THE VALLEY OF FIRE https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2019/11/abstracts-in-the-valley-of-fire The Valley of Fire state park lies next to the small town of Overton about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada.  To say it is a gem for landscape photography is an understatement; however, the abstract possibilities are what really drew me in during my time there.  Bright red Aztec sandstone among gray and tan limestone produce layers of colors that are fantastic subjects for abstract photography.  Below is just a small sample of the images I found while at the Valley of Fire.

Abstract Frame_1Abstract Frame_1 Layers of color

Abstract Frame_3Abstract Frame_3

Textures and colors

Abstract Frame_4Abstract Frame_4

Repeating patterns 

Abstract Frame_2Abstract Frame_2

Lines and color

The lines, patterns and textures in the rock formation provided an excellent opportunity to work on abstract images.  While most photographers will definitely want to photograph the vast landscape remember not to ignore the color and texture of the rocks as you hike through canyons and around the park.  Once you have captured a great abstract all that is left to do is print it and hang it! 2019-Abstract-Images-couch-photo2019-Abstract-Images-couch-photo For more of my images from this workshop click here.  For a list of Jennifer King Photography workshops where I am instructing please click on the WORKSHOPS menu at the top of the page.  If interested in other workshops by Jennifer King Photography just click here to check out all the wonderful destinations listed for 2020 and 2021.

 

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(J. Silkstone Photography) abstract abstract art color jennifer king photography workshop jsilkstone photography landscape nevada photography photos photos of nevada texture us valley valley of fire workshop https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2019/11/abstracts-in-the-valley-of-fire Tue, 26 Nov 2019 13:30:29 GMT
LIGHTROOM QUICK TIP: B&W Processing Using Temperature and Tint https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2019/10/Lightroom-quick-tip-black-and-white-using-temp-and-tint B&W Quick Tip -1B&W Quick Tip -1

Adobe Lightroom has become a powerful tool for processing your B&W images.  Let's start with a very basic tip.  Use the shortcut "V" to convert any image to B&W.  This can be done not only in the Develop module but also in the Library module in grid or loop view.  Simply press "V" again to convert back to color. This is a great way to quickly view your images in B&W and see if they resonate with you.

Secondly, I would make a virtual copy to work on so that you have a color and B&W copy.  This is because the colors of the original file can change as you make adjustments in the B&W conversion. This will become very apparent by the time you finish with this tip.

B&W Quick Tip -2B&W Quick Tip -2

Press "V" to convert your image to B&W

Once converted it's good to do some initial adjustments such as adding some contrast, a little clarity, adjust your shadows and highlights and then apply the lens corrections!  The real processing of your image is handled in the B&W panel where you can increase or decrease the luminance of the tones by selecting the underlying colors and moving the sliders.  The more pure the color in the underlying image the more it will be affected by moving the sliders.

B&W Quick Tip -3B&W Quick Tip -3

So knowing this it stands to reason that anything that affects the underlying color of the image will affect how the B&W image's tones are adjusted.  In this image I wanted to bring down the tones in the sky.  I did this by reducing the blue slider since the majority of the sky is blue.  The problem is that other parts of the image also contain blue, most notably the water, which I did not want to affect.  Here is where we put this knowledge to use.

B&W Quick Tip -5B&W Quick Tip -5

As you can see the water also darkened due to decreasing the blue slider.  I want the dark sky to remain but I don't want it to affect the water.  To do this I use the brush tool (K) and go over the areas I don't want affected.

B&W Quick Tip -6B&W Quick Tip -6

Now I use the temperature slider to move it towards the orange (opposite of blue) to add warmth to the water.  Remember, you will not see the area turn orange.  You are only affecting the underlying color of the image.  What you will see is the blue areas brighten back up because there is now less blue in those areas due to the added warmth.  

B&W Quick Tip -7B&W Quick Tip -7

And there you have it.  One of the most common questions I get is why did I not use the exposure or the shadows slider with the brush to bring back some of the luminosity.  That's because the exposure and shadow slider would lighten everything including any area of the image that was green or orange in the underlying layer which I did not want to do.  I simply wanted to correct for the darkening of the water when adjusting the blue slider.  

Remember you can use both the temperature and tint slider to add or subtract color from your image to achieve different results when using the B&W panel sliders.

Hope this helps with your future B&W conversion in Adobe Lightroom.  

 

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Adobe lightroom B&W tips black and white processing creativity j. silkstone photography landscape learning lightroom tip NC photographer north carolina photographer photographer photographers photography photography tip processing tips tips https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2019/10/Lightroom-quick-tip-black-and-white-using-temp-and-tint Mon, 14 Oct 2019 18:31:49 GMT
PHOTOGRAPHING DURING MIDDAY HAS ITS REWARDS https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2019/9/photographing-at-midday-has-its-rewards Midday-Photography-Blog-CoverMidday-Photography-Blog-Cover
Never. Ever. Photograph during midday.  Photograph during sunrise or sunset and during the golden hours when the light is soft and warm.  This is what is usually drilled into landscape photographer's minds from the beginning.  And with good reason.  Those times provide beautiful light and make fantastic images with the right subject.  But to say ONLY at those times removes large parts of the days where certain subjects can be captured with light that works just as effective in conveying your story.

I tend to lump midday or bright light photography into two categories and one compositional element: 

1. Postcard images.  Postcard images are those usually taken with nice blue skies and maybe some nice puffy clouds. You get a good sense of what the place looks like if you visited during the day which most people do.  Why do I call them postcard images?  When you go to the next visitors center take a look at the postcards for sale.  At least 50% or more of the postcards are images taken during the day.  Why do you think that is?  Mainly because it represents the location in the way most people see it when they visit.  
2. Black and white.  Photographing during midday creates high contrast images which are great for black and white. 
3. Shadow play.  This compositional element is great for architecture, landscapes or portraits where shadows play a key role in creating your composition.  Works great for both black and white and postcard images.

Let's take a look at some examples of each one.

POSTCARD IMAGES

Below are some images that I would consider "postcard" images.  All images were taken with the sun still well above the horizon.  The first two were taken almost at exactly noon.  The third was taken during the later afternoon. Each one provides a great representation of the location when viewed during daylight hours.

20190905_JMS_NCYatesMill_0122-15720190905_JMS_NCYatesMill_0122-157
20170107_JMS_PilotMnt_006320170107_JMS_PilotMnt_0063Pilot Mountain after the first snow fall of 2017
Silkstone-140805_0013_79Silkstone-140805_0013_79Bodie lighthouse


BLACK AND WHITE

Next are some examples of black and white images taken during the day.  Notice the high contrast you get when photographing during midday.


Silkstone-140329_0598-1865Silkstone-140329_0598-1865Old Sheldon Church ruins, Mar. 29, 2014.
20170804_JMS_Palouse_097320170804_JMS_Palouse_0973

SHADOW PLAY

This compositional element can be used for both black and white and postcard images. Here the difference between the light and dark areas of the image becomes the main composition element.  

20170510_JMS_GMACWS_0043-HDR-17220170510_JMS_GMACWS_0043-HDR-172GMAC building, Winston-Salem, NC
Silkstone-150904_0114Silkstone-150904_0114Old wheel at Bodie State Historical Park

20180629_JMS_Hawaii_061520180629_JMS_Hawaii_0615

Just remember that even though sunrise, sunset and golden hour provide us with some spectacular light you don't have to put away your camera for the rest of the day.  Be sure to look for other opportunities such as postcard or black and white images when the sun is high above the horizon.  I think you will be surprised at some of the images you can capture.  

Do you have another category you think of when photographing during midday?  If so, leave in the comments section below.  Would love to hear what you think.
 

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(J. Silkstone Photography) black and white create creativity j. silkstone photography landscape learning long exposure midday north carolina piedmont photography tip postcards sunny photography sunny photos tips https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2019/9/photographing-at-midday-has-its-rewards Fri, 20 Sep 2019 13:23:46 GMT
I UPDATED MY LOGO. MAYBE YOU SHOULD TOO. https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2019/9/i-just-updated-my-logo-maybe-you-should-too  

Logo-change-blog-headerLogo-change-blog-header

Well. I finally did it. I updated my logo.  I have been wanting to update my logo for some time but it was one of those things that was easy to put off. "Oh, I will get to that next month", I would say. But finally, after putting it off for too long, I went ahead and started the process of creating a new logo. And now, I wish I had done it sooner. While it seems that creating logos for photography businesses is becoming easier with all the sites claiming free logo creators or stylish signatures, I wanted to use a professional because I know a logo can have a large impact on your business whether now or in the future as you try to grow.  

WHY I UPDATED MY LOGO

First let's take a look at my first logo. I created this logo myself and have used it the entire life of my business to date.  It is very simple logo using my initials with the name of my business underneath.  

JSilkstone Logo Zenfolio Grey Side_3JSilkstone Logo Zenfolio Grey Side_3

Original logo

This is very typical for those starting their photography business.  Just throw "Photography" behind your name and KaPow, you're in business.  Of course designing a logo takes a little more time and thought.  Somethings to consider are shape, font, color or no color, which color, all text or use an image, does it represent everything you do as a photographer and can your business grow and not outgrow your logo.  While I enjoyed making my first logo I will admit that it seems a little amateurish.  That's the reason why I decided to go with a professional to update my brand.  Let's first take a look at why I wanted to update my logo.  Then I will give a quick overview of the process and then I will talk about other types of logos and why I went the route that I did.

WHY I WANTED TO UPDATE MY LOGO

Here is a list of the reasons why it was time to create a new logo

  • I wanted a logo that was not tied to my name but to my business.  Yes, I am still using J. Silkstone Photography but I wanted a logo that could stand on its own if the business changes.  If the name of the business changes then the logo can remain.
  • My old logo seemed out of date.  It was time to get with the times when it comes to design.
  • A little more "KaPow!" so it stands out in a crowd
  • I was just ready for a change.  

THE PROCESS

I was lucky enough to meet and complete some small photography and editing jobs for the owner at Headfirst Creative. I approached him about updating my logo and he was more than happy to help.  The first part of the process was filling out a questionnaire in order to get to know me, my business and my clients better. Some of the questions were easy to answer. Others I had not really thought about and it forced me to think about my business in different way.  After the questionnaire we sat down together to discuss some ideas and thoughts on how the new logo might be used.

After that he presented me with 4 different logos, of which one really excited me. From there he took that design and put it into 4 more different layouts with a stylish font.  The final products are below.

JS-Silkston - BADGE - BlackJS-Silkston - BADGE - Black

New circular logo

JS Silkstone - Centered with Name - BlackJS Silkstone - Centered with Name - Black

Logo and name in landscape

I could not be happier with the new design.  The overall process was great and I learned a little bit about myself and my business at the same time. 

OTHER LOGO CREATORS

Let's take a quick look at some of the other options for creating new logos and why I decided to go with a professional.

  1. Do it yourself.  I liked my first logo and it served me well.  But I wanted something more professional looking and therefore I went with a professional.  Enough said.
  2. Use a logo generator.  These seem to be popping up everywhere.  I looked into them and even went through the process.  Unfortunately, they never created something that stood out. 
  3. Signature logos.  This was a big trend for a while.  Send your name to a company and they would send you a fancy signature logo.  They looked great and very professional.  I just had a hard time understanding why I wanted my logo as a signature that I could not duplicate when I signed my own name.

Every person has different tastes along with different reasons for why they choose the logo they choose.  Your logo should speak to you but also to your customers as it represents the product that you offer. I believe my new logo does just that.  RIP old logo.  

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(J. Silkstone Photography) brands create creativity education headfirst creative j. silkstone photography landscape learning marketing north carolina photographer photography logos photography tip stock photography tips https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2019/9/i-just-updated-my-logo-maybe-you-should-too Tue, 10 Sep 2019 12:20:14 GMT
POLARIZER PROBLEM: PART 2 https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2019/8/polarizer-problem-part-2 Polarizer-Tip2-Front-PicPolarizer-Tip2-Front-Pic

Last blog post we looked at a problem I recently stumbled upon when photographing a waterfall and stream and what I did to correct it.  If you didn't read it and are interested click HERE.  This post we are going to look at another common problem when using circular polarizers on a wide angle lens.  Most of the time I don't use a circular polarizer on a wide angle lens unless there is little sky in the image.  Let's take a look at a situation where I wanted to use a wide angle lens and a circular polarizer and see what happens.

THE PROBLEM

Below is a scene I ran came upon while visiting the coast.  This is the image without using a polarizer.  The sun had just risen to the left and was 90 degrees to the scene making this a perfect candidate for using a polarizer.  While normally I do not use a polarizer when photographing with a wide angle, I wanted to cut down on the glare in the water.  The problem is that there is a large portion of blue sky present in the image.  

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Original image without polarization

When using a wide angle lens and a polarizer at full effect you end up with an artifact that is hard to correct in post processing. The polarizer helped to remove the glare from the water but also created the dreaded "UFO" splotch in the sky.  

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Full effect of polarizer creates blue oblong artifact in sky  

THESOLUTION

Easy!  I simply backed off the polarizer effect by turning the polarizer until some of the glare was removed from the water while also removing the dreaded blue "UFO" from the sky!  No more alien invasion!

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Reduced effect of polarizer removes some glare off of water while not producing artifact in sky


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Final image 

Remember that you don't have to use the full effect of a polarizer everytime.  You can change the amount of polarization by turing the polarizer until you get just the right amount you need for the scene.  A circular polarizer is a great tool and definately should be in your camera bag if you are a landscape photographer!  But just like any tool it can have negative effects.  Just be aware of them and you will get the image you envisioned.  

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(J. Silkstone Photography) create creativity education j. silkstone photography landscape learning north carolina photographer photography tip polarizer stock photography tips https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2019/8/polarizer-problem-part-2 Tue, 06 Aug 2019 12:51:04 GMT
POLARIZER PROBLEM? https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2019/8/polarizer-tip-for-water Polarizer-Tip-Front-PicBPolarizer-Tip-Front-PicB

A polarizer is an indispensable tool when it comes to landscape photography.  The ability of a polarizer to reduce and even remove glare from water and foliage can still not be reproduced in post processing.  That's why many photographers swear by always using one when photographing waterfalls.  However, there are certain instances where a polarizer can create problems in your images.  Let's look at a problem I recently stumbled upon when photographing a waterfall and stream and what I did to correct it.

THE PROBLEM

Like any good photographer, I put my circular polarizer on when photographing a small cascade located in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I set up my composition and then turned the polarizer until the maximum effect was applied to the image.  After taking the image I studied it on the back of my camera for the usual suspects: sharpness, composition, exposure and detail in the water.  I quickly realized an issue with my image.  The water in the middle of the image was completely gone and thus not connecting the upper pool with the stream below.  See the image below.

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Water disappears when using a polarizer

The polarizer completely removed the glare from the water and thus allowed only the rock below it to show up in the image!  How can I get the effect of the polarizer on the rest of the image while bringing back the water in the one section?

THESOLUTION

Easy!  I took the same image but this time I turned the polarizer until the effect was completely removed from the scene.  BAM!  The water in the middle section was back!

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Without polarization the water reappears  

To bring the final image together I brought both images into Photoshop as layers and quickly masked in the water from the non-polarized image into the polarized image.  A little more processing and  I ended with the final image below, complete with a continuous stream of water!

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Final image with the polarized and non-polarized image blended together in Photoshop

A circular polarizer is a great tool and definately should be in your camera bag if you are a landscape photographer!  But just like any tool it can have negative effects.  Just be aware of them and you will get the image you envisioned.  

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(J. Silkstone Photography) create creativity j. silkstone photography landscape learning north carolina photographer photography tip polarizer https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2019/8/polarizer-tip-for-water Thu, 01 Aug 2019 11:36:25 GMT
3 WAYS TO BREAK THE RULES IN LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2019/4/3-ways-to-break-the-rules-in-landscape-photography 20170919_JMS_Iceland_677-33620170919_JMS_Iceland_677-336

Good composition is a must for any image.  There are many different elements of composition to think about when determining your final image.  Where to place the subject?  The horizon? Are my colors complementary or analogous?  How much negative space should my image have?  These are just a few.  If you have studied composition then you know about some of the "rules" of composition such as the rule of thirds, use odd numbers over evens or leave breathing room for animals.  Today I am going to give you three "rules" to break to make your images stand out from the crowd.

Rule Breaker #1

Both rule breaker #1 and #2 have to do with moving away from the rule of thirds.  This is the easiest to break since it has the word "rule" it in it makes you feel more naughty when doing so.  First, let's look at what is the rule of thirds:

Rule-of-thirdsRule-of-thirds

The rule of thirds essentially breaks your frame into three parts vertically and horizontally.  Each line represents a place where you might want to place your horizon depending on the scene.  This works both vertically and horizontally.  If the sky is more important, you place the horizon on the bottom third line.  If the foreground is more important you place the horizon on the upper third line.  Remember that you don’t have to be exact, anywhere close will do.

The intersection of the lines is a great place to place your subject.  Whether that is a rock, a person, a building, anything that you are placing emphasis on in your photo, you can place at one of the intersections.  

Rule breaker #1 is to place your subject right in the middle and not on one of the intersections.  This says to the viewer that this is the subject that counts and "look at me!".  In the image below I placed the sea stack in the middle of the frame.  Take that rule of thirds!

20170919_JMS_Iceland_677-33620170919_JMS_Iceland_677-336View from Dyrhólaey, Iceland

Placing your subject in the center of the frame.  

Rule Breaker #2

Again, let's break the rule of thirds.  This time by placing the horizon line in the middle.  The easiest way to do this is when photographing reflections.  When placing the horizon in the middle with reflections you get symmetry, another powerful composition element in its' own right.

Silkstone-140925_0333Silkstone-140925_0333Reflections just off of Route 1.

Placing the horizon in the middle of the frame

Rule Breaker #3

And finally, most people will tell you that an odd number of objects in an image looks better and more pleasing to the viewer than an even number of object or subjects.  This is not always the case as the image below demonstrates.  In this image two trees make a well balanced and well composed image.  I guess no one ever told them to add a third.

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Using an even number of subjects as opposed to an odd number

Compositional elements are used for a good reason.  They create compelling images and help the viewers' eyes to wander around the frame.  But if anyone tells you you must use them then just remember the three "Rule Breakers" mentioned here and create a little mischief!

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(J. Silkstone Photography) composition rules create creativity j. silkstone photography learning lightroom north carolina photographer photography photography processing photography tip tips https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2019/4/3-ways-to-break-the-rules-in-landscape-photography Fri, 12 Apr 2019 16:21:23 GMT
Smoky Mountains in the Spring Workshop Recap https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2018/11/smokey-mountain-workshop-recap 20180512_JMS_SmokyWorkshop_029620180512_JMS_SmokyWorkshop_0296

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is truly a great place to visit and photograph in the springtime.  The leaves are new, the rivers and streams are a little more full and the wild life is active.  This year was no different.  

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Young bear on alert

There were 23 sightings of bear over the three day workshop.  We were literally able to photograph them at every place we visited. 

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One of many cabins in Cades Cove 

And no one can go to Great Smoky Mountains National Park without a visit to Cades Cove.  There we were able to photograph old cabins, sunrise over a country road and some more bears.     

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Moon sets over the Smoky Mountains

The last morning of the workshop we headed up to catch the sunrise at Clingmans Dome.  Luckily, we witnessed some wonderful color along with a setting moon.

For more of my images from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including this workshop, click here.  For a list of Jennifer King Photography workshops where I am instructing please click on the WORKSHOPS menu at the top of the page.  If interested in other workshops by Jennifer King Photography just click here to check out all the wonderful destinations listed for 2019.

 

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(J. Silkstone Photography) bear explore Great Smoky Mountains jsilkstone photography landscape National Park nature photography spring travel workshop https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2018/11/smokey-mountain-workshop-recap Thu, 15 Nov 2018 22:15:42 GMT
5 Tips for Landscape Photographers That Have Nothing To Do With Your Camera https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2018/1/5-tips-for-landscape-photographers-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-your-camera TipsandTricks_SlideTipsandTricks_Slide

Photography tips.  They're everywhere.  So I thought I would add a couple of my own.  Here are five tips that I have learned from experience that will help you be a better landscape photographer.  These are not tips on camera settings, locations or specific gear but are tips that deal with being efficient so you can spend more time photographing and less time setting up. So let's get started!

TIP #1 Leave your tripod bag at home!

I get it.  You paid a lot of money for that tripod and ballhead and you hate the idea of it getting wet, scratched or dirty but carrying it in its bag isn't really going to help.  You still have to pull it out in the elements to take the shot and now you have an extra bag you have to worry about being blown away in the wind.  Leave it in the car, bus, van or hotel room!  I know some will say that they love the bag because it has a strap that makes it easy to carry but then you are carrying two bags, which leads me to tip number 2.

TIP #2 Find a bag to carry ALL of your ESSENTIAL gear!

See what I did there?  I emphasized "all" and "essential".  That doesn't mean a bag that holds all your gear, but holds all your essential gear.  See the difference.  I have seen people carrying bags bigger than they are because they feel the need to carry all of their gear. They are afraid they might miss something if they don't bring all their gear with them wherever they go.  This can be tricky because sometimes you are photographing two things that require different equipment (think landscape and nature) but try pairing it down to a minimum and then find a bag that can hold it all. Sometimes you can use equipment you already have to get the shots you want.  Like macro?  Try your long lens at the minimum focus distance.  Like wide angle?  Use a standard lens and shoot a panoramic.  Like to photograph animals?  Instead of that 400mm lens look at purchasing a teleconvertor to use on a 70-200mm lens.  The less equipment you have the lighter your bag will be and easier you will be able to move.  Be sure that the bag includes a way to attach your tripod if you don't want to carry it by hand.  Other things to think about are whether it can carry your water bottle, clothes, jacket and food.  Different types of photography may require different types of essential equipment and thus different types of bags but once your know your style of photography you should be able to narrow it down.  Once you have your essential gear in your bag you are ready to go....which leads me to tip number 3

TIP #3 Don't wait until you arrive at your location to pack your gear in your bag!

Once you have determined your essential gear for your location your bag should be ready to be grabbed straight out of the car so you can hit the trail.  Time and time again I see photographers in the pitch black of the morning putting their gear into their bag.  While your getting your gear ready I just beat you to the best spot.  Enough said.

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Places like Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park can get crowded quickly.  

TIP #4 Practice setting up your tripod and changing lenses!

You practice changing your setting on your camera.  You practice your techniques for getting the right shot.  Do you practice pulling your camera out and getting your tripod set up?  Do you practice changing lenses?  Probably not.  You should.  How long does it take you to set up your tripod and put your camera on it and be ready to photograph?  Less than 1 minute?  Less than 30 seconds?  How about changing your lens?  With light changing quickly sometimes 10 seconds can be the difference between getting the prize photograph or not.  Practice.  Practice.  Practice.  And finally

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Light changing quickly over Banff, Canada

TIP# 5.  Dress for success!

No, this is not an interview.  Simply put, know your environment and the weather forecast and dress accordingly.  Nothing is worse that photographing when you are miserable because you didn't dress appropriately or bring the correct clothing to keep you comfortable.  Good chance of rain or snow?  Make sure you have waterproof pants, jacket and boots.  Good chance of pop up showers?  Pack your rain gear in your backpack (see Tip# 2).  If it is going to be cold I usually subtract 10 to 15 degrees and dress in layers to meet that temperature.  So if the forecast is for 40 degrees F then I might dress like it's going to be 30 degrees F.  Why?  The longer you stay out in the cold the colder you get.  Makes sense, right?  If I plan on being in the cold for one or more hours I know that dressing for even colder temperatures will allow me to stay warm for a longer period of time.  And dressing in layers allows you to remove clothing as needed if you get too warm.  Be sure to have a light jacket with you even if the temperatures are warm, especially at high altitudes or places where the wind blows a lot as it may feel colder than the actual temperature and may drop quickly once the sun goes down!

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Dressed for success in snow - with my bag that carries all my ESSENTIAL gear

So there you have it, 5 quick tips on how to be a better landscape photographer.  What are some of your tips?  Leave them in the comments section below as I would love to hear about them!

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(J. Silkstone Photography) creativity j. silkstone photography landscape learning photographer photographers photography photography tip tips workshop https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2018/1/5-tips-for-landscape-photographers-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-your-camera Thu, 01 Feb 2018 02:37:16 GMT
Familiarity Breeds Creativity Not Contempt https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2018/1/familiarity-breeds-creativity As a landscape photographer, I travel a good bit to photograph the beauty that nature has to offer.  While I love getting to see these places first hand, it usually means that I will have about 1 to 2 hours to photograph the area in hopes of getting the right light and composition for my subject.  This means I do a lot of planning ahead of time and then cross my fingers that mother nature is kind to me.  If not, I may not be back for a while, sometimes years or maybe never again.  While all the planning usually allows me to come home with at least one photo that I am happy with having access to a place on a routine basis not only increases my chance of getting a great photo but also allows me to be more creative when determining my compositions.  By being able to visit a location in different weather conditions, different seasons and different lighting conditions allows me to experiment and take risks with different compositions knowing that if it doesn't work out I can come back another day and try again.

Take the lower cascades at Hanging Rock State Park in North Carolina.  This beautiful waterfall beside carved out rock is only 45 minutes from my house allowing me visit as soon as I see the right weather conditions starting to happen.  I have photographed this waterfall numerous times and come away with compelling compositions each time but have not been back in while because the weather conditions never presented itself for the composition that I had in mind.  That all changed this past week when the temperature dropped below 20 degrees F and stayed below freezing for a couple of days. 

So one morning I headed down in hopes of capturing one shot, and one shot only.  Luckily, it was exactly as I had hoped!  The bottom pool was frozen solid containing wonderful cracks along with some air bubbles.  

20180105_JMS_HangingRock_0020-51120180105_JMS_HangingRock_0020-511The pool below the Lower Cascades at Hanging Rock State Park freezes solid

Lower cascades and pool frozen

The reason this ended up being the only shot I took (OK! OK!  I took one more but only because it presented itself, which is always a good thing!) was I had this composition already in my head and I knew from being familiar with the area that it was the composition that I wanted to capture for those conditions.  Now I could relax and just enjoy the scene knowing that I had captured the image that I wanted.  I have one more composition in mind but it will have to wait for another visit under much different conditions.

Here are some other compositions of the same waterfall but at different times, conditions, and seasons.  

Silkstone-141030_0064Silkstone-141030_0064Fall color at the Lower Cascades, Hanging Rock State Park.

Lower cascades framed by red leaves during the fall

20170425_JMS_HangingRock_0063-14520170425_JMS_HangingRock_0063-145Lower Cascade Falls after a heavy rain, Hanging Rock State Park, NC

Heavy rainfall during the spring produces an overflow of water below the falls.

Silkstone-141030_0056_49Silkstone-141030_0056_49Lower Cascades, Hanging Rock State Park, NC.

Fall leaves swirl at the base

So what's the moral of this story?  Find a place close to home you enjoy to photograph and be sure to visit it in different seasons, times and weather conditions.  Become familiar with the landscape and take risks with the compositions because if you don't like it, you can go back tomorrow.

OK, so I said one photograph.  Here is the other photograph I captured during this trip because who could pass this sight up?

20180105_JMS_HangingRock_0064-51020180105_JMS_HangingRock_0064-510Ice climber climbs frozen Lower Cascades at Hanging Rock State Park, NC Ice climbing at Lower Cascades in Hanging Rock State Park

 

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(J. Silkstone Photography) creativity hanging rock state park j. silkstone photography landscape learning lower cascades north carolina north carolina state park photography photography tip tourism waterfall https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2018/1/familiarity-breeds-creativity Wed, 10 Jan 2018 20:12:43 GMT
What A Difference A Day Makes! https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2018/1/what-a-difference-a-day-makes  

As any landscape photographer can tell you, Mother Nature can throw you some curveballs.  Rain when you wanted sun.  Sun when you wanted rain.  Weather plays a major role in landscape photography second only to the landscape composition, in my opinion.  We watch it constantly and make changes accordingly.  Its unpredictability is the reason it's pretty rare for an trip planned well in advance to not have some sort of weather that is not what you had in mind.  Most of the time you can work around the weather and still find compositions that you are happy with.  But sometimes, there is nothing you can do but wait and hope that the weather changes.  That was the case this past fall when photographing Corkscrew falls (Robinson falls) in Boch Hollow State Nature Reserve in Ohio.  I had wanted to photograph this waterfall for sometime and finally planned to visit it.  Everything was planned including getting the necessary permits weeks in advance.  Little did I know that the area would be hit by over 2 weeks of drought before we got there. The first day there I went to scout the area this is the image I produced.

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Corkscrew falls, Boch Hollow State Nature Reserve

Not exactly what I had in mind.  The place was everything I had hoped it would be but the amount of water trickling over the falls was not doing the waterfall justice.  I took a couple of photos and headed back to the hotel.  The forecast predicted a rain shower over night so with hope I went to bed.  

The next morning I woke up to find in deed it had rained, but the amount seemed insignificant.  I only hoped that it had made a difference at the falls.  We headed back to the falls and on the trail down you could hear the waterfall, which gave me encouragement that the rain had made a difference.  

20171007_JMS_HockingHillsSP_0203-41620171007_JMS_HockingHillsSP_0203-416Corkscrew or Robinson falls, Bach Hollow Nature Reserve, Ohio

Corkscrew falls, Boch Hollow State Nature Reserve

What a difference a day made!  Not only had the rain increased the amount of water over the falls it had also made everything wet giving the image a much more pleasing look.  I walked pack to the car with a big smile on my face and my favorite image from my trip.

Weather conditions can change overnight, so if the conditions are not what you wanted, wait an hour or a day and go back.  It might be well worth your time.

 

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(J. Silkstone Photography) boch hollow state nature preserve corkscrew falls j. silkstone photography landscape learning ohio photographers photography photography tip robinson falls waterfall https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2018/1/what-a-difference-a-day-makes Mon, 01 Jan 2018 14:05:36 GMT
What's Wrong With This Picture? https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/11/whats-wrong-with-this-picture TipsandTricks_SlideTipsandTricks_Slide

As a landscape photographer my number one objective is to convey the beauty of a place and show what the world has to offer.  Sometimes that is easily accomplished. If the place is already photogenic you can choose one of a number of compositions and be assured that you will have a nice photo to share with everyone.  Sometimes though a place seems to have everything but once you get home you run into that "If only...." moment.  Take the picture below of the middle section of Gluggafoss in Iceland.  Lovely picture, right?  Two tier waterfall (I mean who doesn't love a good waterfall picture?).  Lush vegetation in a gorge.  The reminder that you hiked up a steep hill and had the place all to yourself.  All great reasons for you and I to enjoy this photo, right?  If only.... it had a sense of scale.

20170917_JMS_Iceland_151-34120170917_JMS_Iceland_151-341Gluggafoss, Iceland

Middle waterfalls of Glugglafoss, Iceland

How big are the waterfalls?  How deep is the gorge?  How wide is the river?  Hard to tell from this photo, right?  Why is that?  Because there is nothing in the scene that you recognize with a known or approximate size.  Let me set the scene for you.   I am standing on the side of sheer cliff approximately 15-25 meters high.  You fall off you die.  Each one of those waterfalls are themselves at a minimum of 20 meters high for a total drop of around 40+ meters.  Did you guess that?  Maybe if you know Iceland than you might be able to make a pretty good guess.  If not, I think it would be hard to tell.  While I still enjoy the photograph I think having something in the photo to show scale would allow viewers to get a sense of what I saw and felt as I stood there.  

Now let's take a look at two photos that incorporated something into the environment that can be used for scale, in both cases people.  The first is in Death Valley looking out from Zibrinski's Point.  Using a hiker in the environment gives you a better sense of just how vast this national park truly is.  

20170223_JMS_DeathValley_87220170223_JMS_DeathValley_872A hiker at Zibriskie Point

A hiker makes his way through Death Valley

20170919_JMS_Iceland_575-Pano-364-44620170919_JMS_Iceland_575-Pano-364-446Seljalandsfoss at golden hour, Iceland

Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

The second photo is of Seljalandsfoss, a famous waterfall in Iceland.  See the person on the right behind the waterfall.  Now you have good idea just how big the waterfall really is.  By placing a person or any object that most people can recognize and can estimate the size of in a picture the viewer can get a sense of scale.  Now when you say, "that waterfall is huge!" they know what you mean!

Next time when you photograph something and you want your viewers to understand how grand or large something is, think about placing a person or other object in the photograph to show a sense of scale.

 

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(J. Silkstone Photography) death valley gluggafoss iceland j. silkstone photography landscape learning photographers photography photography tip portraits scale tricks https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/11/whats-wrong-with-this-picture Thu, 16 Nov 2017 15:14:40 GMT
A Must Have for Your Photo Bag. And It's Free! https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/10/best-free-photography-tool TipsandTricks_SlideTipsandTricks_Slide

I routinely stay in hotels during workshops, photography trips and even family vacations.  As soon as I enter the room I head straight to the bathroom.  No, not because I drank too much coffee on the way, but because inside sometimes lies one of the most under rated camera gear that a photographer can have in their backpacks.  A shower cap!  Yes, you read that correctly, a shower cap.  It is free with the room, weighs almost nothing, takes up absolutely no room, yet can save your camera, lens or both.  

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Shower cap covering camera and lens during a rainy morning

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View through shower cap.  You can still compose your image and get an exposure value.

Caught in a down pour?  Put the showercap over your camera and lens as you wait it out.  Working in a a dusty landscape with a lot of wind.  Use the shower cap to keep the lens clear.  Getting spray on your lens in between shots?  Put the showercap over your lens while you adjust your settings.  Shower caps are clear enough to allow you to compose your image and get a decent exposure value while your lens stays free from water drops, spray or dust.  They are great to use around waterfalls, oceans or any place where water may affect your shot.  So next time you stay in a hotel, be sure to pick up the free photographer's gift in the bathroom.  

 

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(J. Silkstone Photography) camera dry dust gear j silkstone photography lens mist photography tip rain shower cap tip workshops https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/10/best-free-photography-tool Thu, 12 Oct 2017 13:41:45 GMT
Iceland Workshop Recap https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/9/iceland-workshop-recap 20170921_JMS_Iceland_96620170921_JMS_Iceland_966

Iceland.  The land of fire and ice.  Or as I like to say, "the land of fire, ice, waterfalls, rainbows, unpredictable weather and arctic char".  This year Iceland threw more rain at us than usual but, as always, cleared up just enough at the right times to allow for us to photograph the beautiful scenery.

20170917_JMS_Iceland_224-33920170917_JMS_Iceland_224-339 Gluggafoss or Merkjarfoss

How many waterfalls are there in Iceland?  I have no idea.  But I do know that they are some of the most spectacular waterfalls that I have seen.  You literally can not drive for more than 30 minutes without seeing a different one.  

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Icelandic pony

No trip to Iceland is complete without photographing the Icelandic ponies.  They dot the landscape and are easily photographed from right off the road.  Many seem to pose for you as if they know what to do for the tourist.  This makes getting portraits and detail shots rather easy.  However, the environmental shot of an Icelandic pony with mountains or a waterfall in the background and no fence still eludes me.  

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Reykjavik, Iceland 

Make sure to bring out your camera in Reykjavik too, as the colorful houses, great architecture, and people provide a wonderful opportunity for photography.

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Rainbow over Jökulsárlón, glacier lagoon, Iceland

Most people's bucket list includes a stop at Jökulsárlón.  This year the glacier lagoon seemed almost empty past the front line of ice making its way to the ocean.  Global warming?  Maybe.  Bad timing?  Maybe.  Either way it's hard to think about this beautiful place no longer existing in the future.  Hopefully it's just me being pessimistic.

For more of my images from Iceland, including this workshop, click here.  For a list of Jennifer King Photography workshops where I am instructing please click on the WORKSHOPS menu at the top of the page.  If interested in other workshops by Jennifer King Photography just click here to check out all the wonderful destinations listed for 2017 and 2018.

 

EXPLORE | COMPOSE | CAPTURE | PUBLISH

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(J. Silkstone Photography) europe explore fall iceland jennifer king photography workshop jsilkstone photography landscape photography reykjavik travel vik waterfalls workshop https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/9/iceland-workshop-recap Sat, 30 Sep 2017 15:00:34 GMT
Tripod Tip https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/8/tripod-tip TipsandTricks_SlideTipsandTricks_Slide

As a landscape photographer my tripod gets put into some harsh conditions.  Water, snow, sand, mud and dirt.  You name it it has probably been put into it.  Yes, even poo.......but that's a whole other story.  Needless to say a tripod is one of the most important tools for a landscape photographer so keeping your tripod working smoothly is extremely important.  So here is a little tip to help you do just that.

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The lowest legs are extended so the water does not touch the leg locks

When setting up your tripod, extend your lowest leg section so that the element you are trying to avoid does not come in contact with the leg locks.  During your session, do not collapse the lower section of your legs.  This will help keep the bad element from being moved into your leg locks and farther up the next leg section.  When done photographing, remove the tripod from the element and dry, wipe, or clean the lower leg section before collapsing the lower section into the next section.  Bam!  You just saved yourself a lot of time from having to clean grit/dirt/sand/water out from your leg locks.  Your leg locks will thank you.

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Use the angle stops at the top to lower your tripod while keeping the lower section out

So what do you do if you want to lower your camera closer to the ground?  Most tripods these days come with angle stops at the top of the legs of the tripod.  Use those to lower the tripod closer to the ground.

If you find yourself in a situation where your leg locks are getting in the elements anyway, such as in deep water or sand with wind, then still follow the same method if you can.  Do not collapse your legs until you can clean them or let them dry.  Thank you! (says your tripod leg locks!) 

 

Explore | Compose | Capture | Publish

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(J. Silkstone Photography) gear j. silkstone photography learning maintenance photographers photography tip tricks tripod https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/8/tripod-tip Tue, 29 Aug 2017 11:20:00 GMT
Palouse Workshop Recap https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/8/palouse-workshop-recap 20170731_JMS_Palouse_029120170731_JMS_Palouse_0291

The Palouse region of Washington offers a wide range of photographic opportunities.  From colorful barns, rolling wheat fields and crumbling structures to the patterns and textures created from the harvest, the Palouse offers a little something for everyone.  During the summer harvest, farm equipment leave wonderful patterns in the fields while kicking up dust adding more drama to an already beautiful scene.

20170801_JMS_Palouse_0472-30420170801_JMS_Palouse_0472-304 One of many old barns found throughout the Palouse

This year smoke from wildfires to the North produced a haze adding an extra challenge while photographing.  However, one of the benefits of the smoke were dramatic red sunrises and sunsets. 

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Smoke from wild fires provided some brilliant red sunsets and sunrises

The lines, patterns and textures in the landscape provided and excellent opportunity for B&W images.

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Moon over wheat fields 

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Lines and curves in the wheat field

On this workshop we had the wonderful pleasure of meeting a family that was harvesting their fields.  They quickly embraced our group and invited us to come photograph the harvest.  It was an opportunity that I will always remember.

20170804_JMS_Palouse_0888-30320170804_JMS_Palouse_0888-303Combine harvester harvesting the wheat in the Palouse region Combine harvesting the wheat

For more of my images from this workshop click here.  For a list of Jennifer King Photography workshops where I am instructing please click on the WORKSHOPS menu at the top of the page.  If interested in other workshops by Jennifer King Photography just click here to check out all the wonderful destinations listed for 2017 and 2018.

 

EXPLORE | COMPOSE | CAPTURE | PUBLISH

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(J. Silkstone Photography) barns farmland harvest jennifer king photography workshop jsilkstone photography landscape palouse photography summer us washington wheat workshop https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/8/palouse-workshop-recap Tue, 15 Aug 2017 17:00:56 GMT
ECCP: Explore | Compose | Capture | Publish https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/6/eccp-explore-compose-capture-publish JSilkstonePhotoBlog_BannerJSilkstonePhotoBlog_Banner

People often hear photographers talk about workflow.  Most of the time this is referencing "digital" workflow or the steps, settings, processing techniques and file cataloging a photographer uses from the time an image is captured until an image is prepared for social media or some other display.  While studying digital workflows and creating one of your own can pay dividends for your own advancement it helps to see how it fits in your overall workflow, or as I refer to it as your creative workflow.  This encompasses the totality of your workflow from the time you start thinking about creating an image, whether shooting an iconic image photographed by many or finding that new composition, to the end when the image is shared through social media, printed, or just enjoyed at home.  

To help photographers discover their own creative workflow I am sharing mine that I have broken down into four phases: Explore, Compose, Capture and Publish.  Below I have listed a brief description of each phase.

Explore - How do you find the places you photograph?  This is something that I get asked often and I usually reply, "by exploring."  The process usually starts long before I head to a location and continues once I arrive.  Explore the websites that give you a good understanding of your composition possibilities.  This means searching images of the place you plan on visiting at 500px, Flickr, or google images.  What does the weather look like?  Explore the weather apps.  When does the sun rise and set?  Where will the sun or moon rise and set?  Apps like PhotoPills (I use it) and Photographer's Ephemeris (I use it) are great apps and allow you to know exactly what to expect when you arrive at your destination. 

Once you arrive you should have a good idea of where and when you want to be to get the image you imagined.  However, don't stop there.  Once at the site be sure to explore the area.  Look behind you.  What's just down the trail or around the bend?  Don't leave without finding another place to photograph.  In fact, you should be "exploring" the entire time - while hiking or driving to your destination, once there and when you are leaving, be on the look out for a new place to photograph.  

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I found Waterholes Canyon while exploring the area using Google maps and search engines

Now, once you are in position determine your composition.....

Compose - Composition may be the most important element of any image.  How you compose an image lets the viewer understand what you are trying to convey with you work.  Easier said than done, composition should be studied and practiced in the field.  What does the image in front of you provide you with to enhance your composition?  Color?  Leading lines?  Texture? Is it time to break the "rules"?  Wide angle?  Telephoto?  Both?  This is where you put your stamp on your images.  Do you convey a certain "look" that fits with the rest of your portfolio?  This will take time to figure out on your own but while you are working on it be sure to study other artists photos that you admire.  The best presentation encompassing the major aspects of composition that I have seen is Jennifer King's " Image Design: Using the Principles of Design to Create Better Images".*  She teaches this at her workshops and on the lecture circuit at photography clubs and conferences.  It is straight forward and covers the most important topics for composition.  Great for beginners and for those looking to refresh their knowledge regarding composition.

20170618_JMS_BRP_0144-23420170618_JMS_BRP_0144-234Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

I found this composition while exploring Doughton Park after I arrived.

Once you have your composition determined it's time to capture that image.....

Capture - Aperture?  Check.  Shutter speed?  Check.  ISO?  Check.  Focus?  Check.  Capture the image the way you imagined.  Here is where you digital workflow kicks in.  Utilize your camera to capture the image you imagined.    It's as simple as that.  Then make sure you get it backed up and saved into your workflow.  Develop the image to your style or liking using the software of your choice or, if you prefer, just use the image straight from the camera.  There is not a right or wrong answer.  Just be happy with the work you produce.

20170221_JMS_DeathValley_441-10420170221_JMS_DeathValley_441-104Color on the mountain range reflects in the water at Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park

Once I had my composition I waited for the light to strike the mountain tops before capturing this image

Now that you image is complete let's share it with the world (or family and friends).....

Publish - You have just created an image that you have dreamed about.  You explored the area and found your spot.  You determined your composition and when the light was right you captured the image and finally processed it to make the most fantastic image you could imagine.  Now it's time to share!  Creating images can be thrilling but what good are they if they are not shared with others.  Even if it is just with your family or maybe even one other person, sharing your images should be your final goal.  Let the world see what you see and how you see it.  Print the image.  Post the image on social media.  Create a slideshow for family and friends.  Have the image printed on a coffee mug so every morning you remember that time you drank coffee over looking the Grand Canyon.  Provide it to a local charity for use.  Enter it in a contest.  Do something!  Don't let them sit on your hard drive and become obsolete.  Don't.  

And there you have it - a bird's eye view of my creative workflow.  Hope that gets you thinking about your creative workflow.  What's yours?

EXPLORE | COMPOSE | CAPTURE | PUBLISH

 

*I am a workshop instructor with Jennifer King Photography Workshops

 

 

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Learning Photographers Tip capture composition digital workflow exploring information media photography publish social social media websites workflow https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/6/eccp-explore-compose-capture-publish Mon, 26 Jun 2017 01:03:18 GMT
Waterholes Canyon. A Hidden Gem? https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/4/waterholes-canyon-a-hidden-gem 20170414_JMS_SW_AZ_NM_0823-11920170414_JMS_SW_AZ_NM_0823-119Waterholes Canyon, Page, AZ

Have you ever heard of Antelope Canyon?  How about Horseshoe Bend or Lake Powell?  If you are a landscape photographer these landmarks are well known and are some of the most photographed areas near Page, Arizona.  What if I asked if you knew about Waterholes Canyon?  Probably not, huh.   I have to admit that when I knew I was heading to Page, Arizona for a night my first thoughts were to photograph Horseshoe Bend in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and either Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon.  Both are jewels of photography near Page and I had hoped to photograph them, especially Antelope Canyon, for some time.  When I started to research the possibility of photographing Antelope canyon I quickly ran into a problem.  See, everyone wants to visit Antelope Canyon, not just me.  I quickly learned that it was going to cost me $140 or more just to photograph the canyon and I would be sharing the area with 100+ of my closest photographer and non-photographer friends.  While I know that Antelope Canyon would be absolutely breathtaking, paying $140 or more was not in my budget.  The expense along with being in a line like Disney World also convinced me not to book the tour.

After some more research I came across some information on Waterholes Canyon, just about 5 miles south of Page.  You needed a Navajo hiking permit that cost $12 and that's it.  You did not need a guide.  It sounded too good to be true.  I had visions that upon my arrival I would find that you get what you pay for and the canyon would be merely a nice hike in an otherwise forgettable place.  Boy, was I wrong!

20170414_JMS_SW_AZ_NM_084020170414_JMS_SW_AZ_NM_0840 Wildflowers down in the canyon

At the top and in the canyon wildflowers were in full bloom.  This only added to my excitement.  The scramble down into the canyon was pretty intimidating.  Climbing over a couple of boulders and down loose rock to get to the bottom, while not very hard, was enough to get your heart racing.  But once at the bottom of the canyon, the beauty of the place takes hold.  The reddish-orange Navajo sandstone soared up on either side while a sandy path led in both directions.  When I picked up my hiking pass I also got a map that showed the area open for hiking.  West of the bridge was off limits.  I quickly checked it out to find a car that had crashed into the canyon was blocking the path.  I had also heard that the area requires rappelling so I quickly started my journey east.

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Blooming cacti at the trail head

The canyon is named for the waterholes that form after rain, but since rain had been scarce in the area I did not run into any of them.  The canyon changed from deep slot canyons to open areas and back to deep slot canyons.  At one point you had to climb a ladder to continue.  The ladder was not that steady and could of been a bit taller but luckily I was able to get to the top and continue.  It was coming back down the ladder that was the hard part, but I luckily made it down and was able to continue on my hike.

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iPhone photo of the ladder

Navajo sandstone formations

The best part, aside from the cost difference, about Waterholes versus Antelope canyon was that I only saw four people over two and a half hours.  Four people!  It was absolutely beautiful and more than I imagined.  I hope to get back and explore the area some more but for now I will just remember this great experience. For more of my images from this journey click here.  

NOTE: Make sure you get the hiking pass before going.  It supports the local people and it keeps you from having your car towed from the parking lot.  Also, past the power lines to the east is private property and off limits and requires a guide.  Please don't be "THAT" person and obey the rules so you don't ruin the chance for others to hike this beautiful area!

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Antelope canyon Arizona Arizona adventure Jsilkstone Photography Navajo Navajo Nation Navajo sandstone Page cacti landscape sandstone slot canyon waterholes waterholes canyon wildflowers https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/4/waterholes-canyon-a-hidden-gem Wed, 26 Apr 2017 14:04:44 GMT
Sleeklens Lightroom Presets Review https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/3/sleeklens bigstock-Review-Time-words-in-d-letter-103183358bigstock-Review-Time-words-in-d-letter-103183358

Who doesn't like presets?  They can help speed up your workflow.  They can provide endless inspiration.  Or, they can just make processing images fun.  I was recently invited to review Sleeklens' (you can check out their website hereThrough the Woods Lightroom presets which are touted on their site as "The Ultimate Workflow for Landscape photography.  Designed to enhance, tone and sharpen your landscape photos in a natural style".   First, let's look at Sleeklens' approach to using presets.  Then I will give my impression on how I used them and any positive or negatives that I found over the last couple of weeks.  And finally, I will give my opinion as to whom the presets are for and whom they are not for.  So let's begin......

THE APPROACH........

When I first visited Sleeklens' website I have to admit I was impressed.  They have a large number of preset bundles for both Lightroom and Photoshop along with templates, a blog and even editing services.  Under the "For Lightroom" tab you find numerous preset bundles for landscape, portrait, newborns, winter, black and white and even night photography.   What really impressed me was the number of tutorials they provide to make sure you learn how to use their system.  When clicking on the Though the Woods bundle you are immediately greeted with what's included, how to install the presets and 6 video tutorials on how to use the presets.  The preset bundles include a number of "all-in-one" presets to get you started but really focus on presets that "stack" on top of the other.  This means that the presets can be added without changing the previously used preset letting you build upon the changes that you have already made to the photo.  I received a zip file with the presets and brushes along with a file on how to install the file and a Through the Woods recipe file showing before and after images with the specific presets and brushes that were used to create the final image.  I quickly installed the presets without a problem on a PC using Windows 10.  

A quick look at the presets showed all-in-one presets starting with the number 0, and the stackable presets labeled 1-6.  Each number of the stackable presets represents the order in which to apply them to help you with your workflow: 1 means to apply first and so on until applying a preset with a 6.  Of course any of the numbers can be skipped or adjusted by using the sliders on the right hand side panel.  The brushes are found in the "Effect" dropbox inside of the brushes panel and are labeled using a descriptive work to describe what they are meant to do.  I found that most of these were true to the description with any of them being able to be adjusted to personal taste using the sliders.

Below is an image that I processed using their stackable presets along with some of their brushes.  I made some slight changes to get the image to my personal taste but overall was quite pleased with the ease of use and effects created using them.

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Before

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After using presets and brushes

POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES........

Let's start with the positives:

  • Easy to use - no issue here.  The descriptions are pretty straight forward aside from the all-in-one descriptions which seem to be based on feeling rather than actual outcomes

  • Great resources:  How to videos and recipe files provide numerous sources on how to use the presets and brushes to get the look that you are hoping for

  • Easy to fine tune once applied.  Change the sliders to taste after applying the effect.

  • Can speed up your workflow once you know what each preset does (See negatives)

  • Loads of inspiration

And now the negatives:

  • It may take a while to know what each preset does and to determine which ones match your taste.  I am not sure this is even a negative but some people may think so.

  • They cost money.  There are a lot of free presets out there and of course you can always make your own.  However, shelling out a few coins to get such a large library of presets is easily understandable.

Yep, that's it

WHO ARE THEY FOR?

Are they for you?  Maybe.  If you don't like spending time in front of the computer and like the thought of hitting one button then the all-in-one presets will work wonders for you.  Do you prefer to have brushes with descriptive names like Cloudy Sky Definition or Brighten Shadows instead of playing around with the sliders to get the desired effect?  Then the brushes are for you.  Do you like getting inspiration from the endless different possibilities of processing combinations?  Then presets are a great opportunity.  

FINAL THOUGHT

As of this writing the Through the Woods LR presets and brushes are sold for $39.00.  Not bad considering the amount of time it would take someone to come up with that many on their own.  You can find these presets and many others at their website Sleeklens.com.  

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Learning Photography tip Tip adobe brushes learn lightroom presets review sleeklens through the woods https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/3/sleeklens Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:50:27 GMT
Death Valley Workshop Recap https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/3/death-valley-workshop-recap 20170221_JMS_DeathValley_441-10420170221_JMS_DeathValley_441-104Color on the mountain range reflects in the water at Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park in California typically lives up to it name.  With an average rainfall of around 2" and average temperatures of 116 degrees in the summer, very little life is supported in the harsh climate.  However, during the winter months temperatures cool making winter the ideal time to visit.  On this workshop we were greeted with rain on the first couple of days.  This gave the participants a unique chance to photograph the area with water.  Badwater Basin, sitting 282' below sea level, turned into a shallow lake providing wonderful reflections of the sky above. 

20170223_JMS_DeathValley_85520170223_JMS_DeathValley_855Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park Zibriskie Point, Death Valley National Park 

20170223_JMS_DeathValley_88920170223_JMS_DeathValley_889Mesquite Flat Dunes, Death Valley National Park

Mesquite Flat Dunes, Death Valley National Park

Zibriskie Point and Mesquite Flat dunes provided wonderful photographic opportunities.  Unfortunately due to the rain, many roads were closed during the workshop including the famous Racetrack Playa known for the mysterious moving rocks.  On my last day the road opened up and we made our way through Tea Kettle Junction to the playa.  The northern section was still closed due to the rain but the southern section was dry enough to walk on.

20170225_JMS_DeathValley_112820170225_JMS_DeathValley_1128Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park

Racetrack Playa

20170219_JMS_DeathValley_18520170219_JMS_DeathValley_185Badwater Basin after a rainfall, Death Valley National Park Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park

This vast national park is a landscape photographer's paradise that I highly recommend visiting. For more of my images from this workshop click here.  If interested in other workshops by Jennifer King Photography just click here to check out all the wonderful destinations listed for 2017.

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(J. Silkstone Photography) death valley jennifer king photography workshop jsilkstone photography landscape racetrack playa https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/3/death-valley-workshop-recap Tue, 14 Mar 2017 13:34:30 GMT
Try Something New https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/1/try-something-new 20170118_JMS_FHS_0282-63-6420170118_JMS_FHS_0282-63-64Maple When I first started my photography endeavor, I reached out to a local group that was providing professional pet portraits in order to help get the pets adopted.  They seemed eager to have volunteers come in and help and I was told that they would get in touch with me when my services were needed.  I never heard back from them.  Of course I never followed up either as I was still trying to figure out where I wanted to devote my time.

A couple of months ago Forsyth Humane Society moved into a new building only minutes from my house.  I decided it was time to at least volunteer if not also provide my photography services, if needed, for a good cause.   The staff was very friendly and quickly reached out for help with some photos.  As a photographer I was happy to help.  As an urban and rural landscape photographer, I was a little worried about being able to provide a quality product.  

20170118_JMS_FHS_0107-6120170118_JMS_FHS_0107-61Amelia

Amelia

Some people think that a photographer is a photographer.  However, most photographers tend to choose a type of photography based on their passion and focus on learning the skills necessary to produce high quality images in that field.  That's not to say that a photographer can't be good at two different types of photography, say landscape and portraits or commercial and architecture, but merely that the more time spent in one field usually produces better results then spreading yourself over multiple fields.  And with me, I had spent maybe all of 5 minutes photographing my dogs before being asked to contribute.  

20170113_JMS_FSH_0013-5920170113_JMS_FSH_0013-59Marigold                     Marigold

My first visit to photograph the animals did not go that well.  I went by myself and came away with only one image I was happy with.  Lesson learned.  Having someone that you can work with to the get the pets into the right area or look the right way or even hold still is pretty helpful.  The second visit resulted in a number of photos that I was happy with since I had the help of my wife to coax the dogs into position.  While I was happy with the shots I still have a long way to go to get the quality pet shots I think I can take.  But most importantly I learned some new things about what it takes to get a good pet portrait; camera settings, processing and patience - a lot of patience.  Also, while landscape is still my number one passion, portraits might be moving up the list!  So go out and try something new.  You never know, you might like it.

20170118_JMS_FHS_016720170118_JMS_FHS_0167Rose  Rose

If you live in Forsyth County, NC or nearby please stop by the Forsyth Humane Society at 4881 Country Club Rd, Winston-Salem, NC 27104 if interested in adopting a pet!  

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(J. Silkstone Photography) 2017 FHS Forsyth Humane Society JSilkstonePhotography NC North Carolina dog portraits dogs portraits volunteer https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/1/try-something-new Mon, 23 Jan 2017 14:56:29 GMT
First Snow of 2017 https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/1/first-snow-of-2017 20170107_JMS_PilotMnt_009220170107_JMS_PilotMnt_0092Pilot Mountain after the first snow fall of 2017 With the first snowfall of 2017, I was finally able to take some photographs that I had envisioned for some time.  The forecast was for 6-8 inches of snow with clearing skies around 12:00 pm.  By the time I was able to leave the house the clouds had all but disappeared and left behind a brilliant blue winter sky.  While I do love photographing landscapes with clouds most of the time I knew that snow covered landscapes also look wonderful with blue skies.  The park was closed but they noted on their website that you could park outside the gates and hike in.  The entrance is right off of Highway 52, about 20 minutes North of Winston-Salem, so getting there was not a problem even with 8-10 inches of snow.  When I arrived at the gate I saw that the road leading up to the top had been plowed.  This wasn't as great as I thought as I soon found out that 1) It was only plowed to the visitor center and, 2) all it did was remove the snow and leave the ice behind on the road.  It seemed that the hike to the visitor center was more dangerous than the hike to the top of the park.

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The total distance to the top was 2.6 miles uphill.  Only about 0.5 miles had been plowed.  Once I got to the section of the road that had not been plowed I found that someone had made the trip before me.  While I really only wanted to be the only one up there, this was a blessing in disguise as it made the hike that much easier by following the footsteps in the snow. (I would later find out that the foot prints belonged to another local photographer who had made the hike and photographed the top before the clouds had cleared - and before anyone else had arrived).

20170107_JMS_PilotMnt_008120170107_JMS_PilotMnt_0081 Footsteps in the snow

The top was peaceful and exactly what I had envisioned, a winter wonderland with blue skies.  To my surprise the bathrooms were open with the heat running.  This turned out to be fantastic as it allowed me to warm up in between photographing.  In the end I was happy that I was able to capture the photograph I envisioned.

20170107_JMS_PilotMnt_006320170107_JMS_PilotMnt_0063Pilot Mountain after the first snow fall of 2017  

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(J. Silkstone Photography) 2017 JSilkstonePhotography NC North Carolina Pilot Mountain Pilot Mountain State Park State Park Visit NC landscape photography serene snow https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2017/1/first-snow-of-2017 Tue, 10 Jan 2017 16:15:03 GMT
Columbia River Gorge Workshop Recap https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2016/9/columbia-river-gorge-workshop-recap 20160421_JMS_ColumbiaRiver_053520160421_JMS_ColumbiaRiver_0535Vista House from Portland Women's Forum State Scenic Viewpoint, Oregon

The Columbia River Gorge showcases large waterfalls, lush green forests and beautiful wildflowers.  The river marks the boundries of two states with Washington to the north and Oregon to the south.  All along the river photographic opportunities abound.  Many of the waterfalls are only a short hike from the road making them very accessible.

20160422_JMS_ColumbiaRiver_0610_46620160422_JMS_ColumbiaRiver_0610_466Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge  

20160422_JMS_ColumbiaRiver_0677_48220160422_JMS_ColumbiaRiver_0677_482Shepperd's Dell, Oregon

Shepperd's Dell, Oregon

Lush green forests surround the waterfalls providing a serene surrounding.

20160422_JMS_ColumbiaRiver_0893_46520160422_JMS_ColumbiaRiver_0893_465Wildflowers at Columbia Hills State Park, Washington Columbia Hills State Park, Washington

If you time it just right, the fields of wildflowers are some of the best I have seen.  For more of my images from this workshop click here.  If interested in other workshops by Jennifer King Photography just click here to check out all the wonderful destinations listed for 2016.

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Columbia River Gorge Jennifer King Photography Workshop Oregon Washington landscape waterfalls wildflowers workshop https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2016/9/columbia-river-gorge-workshop-recap Fri, 30 Sep 2016 01:15:46 GMT
South Carolina Beaches and Plantation Workshop Recap https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2016/4/south-carolina-beaches-and-plantation-workshop-recap 20160409_JMS_Charleston_090320160409_JMS_Charleston_0903Dixie Plantation, South Carolina

Within an hours drive from Charleston, South Carolina, are some of the most photographed areas in the South.  From beautiful beaches, flowering gardens to magestic plantations, this area provides many wonderful many photographic possibilities.  The workshop included some of the more popular spots along with discovering some new ones.

20160405_JMS_Charleston_021620160405_JMS_Charleston_0216Star trails at Old Sheldon Church ruins, South Carolina Old Sheldon Church Ruins.  

Botany Bay, Edisto Island

No trip to the area would be complete without a stop at Botany Bay on Edisto Island to photograph the trees on the beach.  One of the smaller trees had sucumbed to the ocean, making it even more important to photograph the trees before they disappear entirely.

20160408_JMS_Charleston_059320160408_JMS_Charleston_0593Morning light at Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina Magnolia Gardens, Charleston, SC

Capturing the essence of the south is easy in the Charleston, SC area.  For more of my images from this workshop click here.  If interested in other workshops by Jennifer King Photography just click here to check out all the wonderful destinations listed for 2016.

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Botany Bay Charleston Edisto Island Jennifer King Photography Workshop Magnolia Gardens South Carolina Workshop landscape https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2016/4/south-carolina-beaches-and-plantation-workshop-recap Wed, 27 Apr 2016 12:58:26 GMT
Removing Flare From Your Photographs https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2016/3/removing-flare-from-your-photographs 20160216_JMS_ArchesCanyon_0243_367_37120160216_JMS_ArchesCanyon_0243_367_371Mesa Arch at sunrise, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

 

Have you ever taken a photograph directly into the sun only to get home and notice some weird alien looking globs on your photo?  Well, what you have just experienced is called flare.  Flare is a common phenomonon that happens when icluding a bright point of light, like the sun, in your photograph.  Newer lenses are becoming more and more resistant to flare but I am not aware of any that can stop it completely.  Some people like to leave it in the photograph and that is OK.  Usually, however, I prefer to remove it from my photographs.  Here is a simple technique I use to remove flare from my photographs.  There are other ways to do this but I find this way is easy and produces excellent results with out having to resort to extensive photoshop techniques.  Of course you could just photograph a scene with out a bright light source in it but what fun would that be!

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Origianl RAW photo with flare highlighted that I wish to remove

In the image above you can see the colored "Skittles" showing up in my original photo.  They are bright and colorful and really distract the viewer from the beautiful scene. To remove them we need to take one more photo with the same exposure and then use a little photoshop magic to clean things up.  

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Origianl RAW file with finger covering the sun.  Notice the absence of flare.

This is the second photo using the same exposure (using any mode other than Manual on your camera may require some adjustment to the exposure) as the original.  The only difference is that I have used my finger to cover the sun.  See any flare?  Nope.  Pretty cool, huh?  The trick is to look at the original file and note where the flare is and try your hardest to place your finger where no flare occurs.  Otherwise you will not be able to blend in the original scene (you would blend in your hand or finger which is not what you want to do).  I think it goes without saying that it is easier done while using a tripod but with a strong hand it can be done without, but I don't recommend it.

Sunflare_Blog-Post4Sunflare_Blog-Post4

Both photos layered in photoshop with a mask on the one with the finger covering the sun.  Notice the small white dots where I have brushed in the areas where the flare occurred

Next you need to bring both photos into photoshop as layers in one document.  Place the photo with your finger in it above the photo that you want to remove the flare from.  Next highlight both layers and click on EDIT - AUTO-ALIGN LAYERS to align the layers.  I am sure you used a tripod but even tripods move a little from frame to frame.  Next add a black layer mask to the photo with the finger in it hidding the photo altogether.  Then set your foreground color to white and select a soft brush about the size of the flare in the oginal picture with an opacity of 100%.  Carefully paint on the layer mask where the flare is located and, presto, watch the flare disappear.  Save your image in the format you like and you now have an image without flare.  

 

I understand that some people that do not use photoshop often may have a little trouble with some of the instructions such as creating a layer mask or selecting foreground color or using brushes.  If you do, please do not hesitate to email me with questions and I will be happy to assist you in creating the technique as described above.

EXPLORE | COMPOSE | CAPTURE | PUBLISH

 

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Canyonlands Flare Learning Mesa Arch Photoshop layers photography tips tricks https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2016/3/removing-flare-from-your-photographs Wed, 16 Mar 2016 11:00:00 GMT
Arches and Canyonlands Workshop Recap https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2016/3/arches-and-canyonlands-workshop-recap 20160216_JMS_ArchesCanyon_0243_367_37120160216_JMS_ArchesCanyon_0243_367_371Mesa Arch at sunrise, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks lie just minutes outside of Moab, Utah.  Arches National Park, literally 5 minutes outside of Moab, boasts having more than 2000 natural arches in a red rock wonderland.  Canyonlands, a 30 minute drive outside of Moab, provides overlooks with spectacular views that are reminiscent of the Grand Canyon.  Both provide wonderful scenery and great photographic opportunities.  

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park

In Arches National Park we visited Turret arch and the Windows section, Balanced Rock, and Park Avenue.  We also made the 40 minute hike up to Delicate Arch, probably the most famous arch in the park.  Luckily, after the uphill hike we were greeted with a wonderful sunset.  

20160216_JMS_ArchesCanyon_037220160216_JMS_ArchesCanyon_0372Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park

In Canyonlands we visited Grand View Point and battled 50 mph gusts with sand at Green River Overlook.  And no photography trip would be complete without a sunrise photo at Mesa Arch (along with some other photographers).  We also made a sunrise visit to Dead Horse Point State Park, which is located right next to Canyonlands.

20160218_JMS_ArchesCanyon_0648_37820160218_JMS_ArchesCanyon_0648_378Grand View Point, Canyonlands National Park, Utah Canyonlands National Park

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Turret Arch through North Window, Arches National Park

With great weather, fantastic scenery and a wonderful group of photographers, this workshop was a blast.  For more of my images from this workshop click here.  If interested in other workshops by Jennifer King Photography just click here to check out all the wonderful destinations listed for 2016.

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Arches National Park Caynonlands National Park Jennifer King Photography Workshop Moab Utah Workshop landscape https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2016/3/arches-and-canyonlands-workshop-recap Tue, 01 Mar 2016 14:20:28 GMT
Warm and Cool - Mixing Color With Feelings https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/12/warm-and-cool---mixing-color-with-feelings Silkstone-120706_0097-349-1120Silkstone-120706_0097-349-1120Hot and Cold

Pepper on Ice

The use of certain colors in photographs helps to convey feelings to the viewer. One of the best cases is the use of blue and orange, complementary colors on the color wheel.  Blue tends to evoke a sense that an object is cool or cold while orange gives the sense that something is warm or even hot.  When I process photos I think of objects in the image as cool, warm or neutral.  I tend to add a little blue to "cool" objects such as water, shadows, ice, and sky.  I then add a little orange to "warm" parts of the photograph such areas around the sun and places where light is falling.  I use the term "add" loosely, as it usually is just intensifying the color that is already there by adjusting the hue or saturation sliders in Lightroom.  This doesn't work with every photograph but when done right it can add a nice "punch" to a photograph and make it stand out. 

Cold snow and warm sunlit clouds

A little blue tint to the snow and shadows along with the orange clouds really adds some color contrast that would otherwise be dull and flat.  

Cool moutains and shadows and a warm sunrise gives the sense that the day starts off cool and warms up.

BLUE Ridge Mountains?  PURPLE mountain majesties? Yep.  

Silkstone-140328_0197Silkstone-140328_0197The Boneyard at Botany Bay, Mar. 28, 2014.

Cool water and clouds with warm sunlight give this photograph some much needed tension

Next time when you're out photographing ask yourself if the scene before you would be better if you used blue and orange to represent cool and warm areas of the photograph.  If so, I think you will find that it spices the photograph up just a notch.  Enjoy.

EXPLORE | COMPOSE | CAPTURE | PUBLISH

 

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Color contrast Color Wheel Complimentary Colors Cool Learning Warmth https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/12/warm-and-cool---mixing-color-with-feelings Wed, 02 Dec 2015 12:30:00 GMT
Photographer's Spotlight - Part II https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/11/photographers-spotlight---part-ii bigstock-Mentor-Word-Cloud-44151907bigstock-Mentor-Word-Cloud-44151907

Three more awesome photographers to visit!

Johnny Carroll http://www.piedmontphotoclub.com/johnny-carroll-gallery/ - One of the first persons to take me under their wing and teach me a ton about photography.  Not only is he a great photographer but also a great friend who I enjoy shooting with on a regular basis.  If you ever get a chance to shoot with him do so, the stories, humor and knowledge are worth the time even if you don't get a good shot.    

Jennifer King - http://www.jenniferkingphoto.com/ - One of the few landscape artists that I can truly say that I am still striving to elevate my photography to match.  It was not only her eye for powerful landscape photography but her enthusiasm and approachability that led me to ask if I could work part time for her.  Luckily for me, she agreed.  In the last year and a half I have learned so much from both a photography and business standpoint just by observing her work.  If you are ever interested in taking a photography workshop, I can't recommend Jennifer enough.  

Randy Wilson - http://www.rhwilsonphoto.com/​ - The best architecture photographer that I know, Randy also possesses a great eye for landscape photography.  Randy enjoys processing photos as much as I do, so whenever I get stuck with Photoshop I know who to call.  Just an overall great guy, great photographer and great person to shoot with.  

Go out and find some new inspiration.  

EXPLORE | COMPOSE | CAPTURE | PUBLISH

 

 

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Links Photographers websites https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/11/photographers-spotlight---part-ii Tue, 03 Nov 2015 12:30:00 GMT
Photographer's Spotlight https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/9/photographers-corner bigstock-Mentor-Word-Cloud-44151907bigstock-Mentor-Word-Cloud-44151907 One of the first things that you learn when you start out in photography is that you cannot exist in a vacuum.  Whether you consider yourself self-taught, mentored, or studied photography at a University or photography school there are other photographers that helped shape the way you express your vision.  I consider myself lucky in that I was able to associate with some great local photographers that shaped the way that I approached photography both from a technical stand point and also from an artistic stand point (I wrote an earlier blog on what I think really helps to develop a photographer and you can find that clicking here).  In order to "pay it forward" I am going to start a regular series of "Photographer Spotlights" and provide links to three or four photographers (in no particular order) that have had an impact on my photography one way or the other.  Some I know personally.  Some I don't.  Either way I have learned a great deal from them, whether by studying their images, watching their videos or simply talking to them and asking questions.  What I ask of you is to simply click on their website and check them out.  Some may not be for you.  However, if one does strike a chord with you I ask that you reach out to them and ask them one question about photography that you would like you know.  I cannot guarantee that they will answer your questions but what do you have to loose.  Nothing!  So with that.......

Chris Almerini http://www.chrisalmerini.com/ and http://casportsphotos.com/about.html.  Chris is a local landscape and wildlife photographer whose brain I try to pick on a regular basis.  Why?  Because he knows everyone and every place to photograph.  He is literally a walking encyclopedia of knowledge of where to photograph at what time and who is who in photography.  Not to mention he takes some great photographs.  He also has ventured into high school sports photography to supplement his income - a great business move on his part, a skill I am still trying to figure out.  

Franklyn Millman - https://franklyn.smugmug.com/.  Franklyn is one of the best, if not the best, printers around.   His travel and landscape photography is superb.  He is one of a few persons that I consider my mentor and I know that if I ask him for help or a question that he will answer it without reservation.  His work can be found in the Greensboro airport (GSO), the medical office where he works and other venues.  

Jimmy McIntyre - http://www.throughstrangelenses.com/  and  http://www.shutterevolve.com/​.  I do not know him personally but his images are some of the best travel/landscape images I have seen.  They are the ones that I inspire to someday create on my own.  He focuses on HDR using Photoshop to digitally blend 2 or more images and his tutorials have helped me improve my post processing skills.  If his work inspires you, sign up for his weekly email and you won't be disappointed.  If you enjoy processing your images like I do then he has a lot to offer including a new PS plugin.

Go out and find some new inspiration.  

EXPLORE | COMPOSE | CAPTURE | PUBLISH

 

 

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Links Photographers websites https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/9/photographers-corner Wed, 30 Sep 2015 13:05:36 GMT
Mono Lake & Bodie Workshop Recap https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/9/lake-mono-bodie-workshop-recap Silkstone-150906_0174-HDR_217Silkstone-150906_0174-HDR_217Sunrise at South tufa area of Mono Lake

Tufas at Sunrise, Mono Lake

Mono Lake, California, is a unique landscape created by the formation of tufas and a drop in lake level.  The tufas were formed when carbonate in the "salt" lake mixed with calcium from underground springs creating limestone formations.  When the lake level dropped in the 1940's due to a water diversion program, the tufas were exposed.  The South Tufa area seen in these two pictures have some of the largest tufas on the lake.  

Silkstone-150903_0160_227Silkstone-150903_0160_227Sunrise on Mono Lake, CA Sunrise at South Tufa on Mono Lake, CA

The workshop also provided "full" access to Bodie, a ghost town located about 45 minutes from Mono Lake.  We were allowed to stay in the park after dark and also return for sunrise the next morning (normal operating hours are 9-6 pm).  This opportunity allowed us to photograph the stars over the town along with shooting sunrise.  We also had full access to all the buildings to photograph areas of the park most people are never allowed to see.  

Silkstone-150905_0272_220Silkstone-150905_0272_220Star trails over church at Bodie Star Trails over Bodie, CA

Silkstone-150904_0114Silkstone-150904_0114Old wheel at Bodie State Historical Park Shadows near Sunset at Bodie, Ca

Silkstone-150905_0245Silkstone-150905_0245Bodie Hotel, Bodie, CA

Hotel room at the Bodie Hotel, Bodie, Ca

As always the days were long but the views and experience were well worth it.  For more of my images from this workshop click here.  If interested in other workshops by Jennifer King Photography just click here to check out all the wonderful places already listed for 2016.

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Bodie Bodie Ghost Town California Jennifer King Photography Workshop Lake Mono Workshop tufas https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/9/lake-mono-bodie-workshop-recap Tue, 22 Sep 2015 11:30:00 GMT
Balancing Act https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/8/balancing-act EmeraldIsle-JMS--150812_0025-Pano_141EmeraldIsle-JMS--150812_0025-Pano_141Sunset on Bogue Sound, NC

Bogue Sound near Emerald Isle, NC. 

Have you ever photographed something that you couldn't wait to show to everyone only to come home and look at it and feel that something was not right?  One issue may be that your photograph is not balanced.   This can happen when a number of elements that your eye is drawn to - such as bright areas, in-focus areas, and bright colors - are all located in one section of the photograph.  Another reason a photograph may look unbalanced is when certain objects appear to give more weight to a particular part of the photograph and overpowers the rest of the scene.   Recently I have been paying a lot of attention to the balance of my photographs.  Let's take a look at some photographs I took of Bogue Sound during a recent trip to Emerald Isle, NC.  

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Unbalanced photo.  Photo is too heavy on the right

This image was part of the first couple of frames that I took.  Right away I realized that most of the elements that I was trying to capture were on the right side of the photograph.  The brightest part, the sun, is on the right side.  In fact, the entire right side is brighter than the left.  The large clouds?  Yep, you guessed it. On the right.  Also, the warm color is mostly concentrated on the right side.  Even the small line of grass adds an extra place for the eyes to land on the right side.  Because of this I shift the camera to the left to try and bring more balance to the photograph.

EmeraldIsle-JMS--150812_0014-Pano_144EmeraldIsle-JMS--150812_0014-Pano_144

Unbalanced photo.  Better but photo is still too heavy on the right

Better, but the photograph is still unbalanced.  The large cloud really pushes the weight of this photo to the right.  With that, I again shift the camera to the left to take the final image shown below.

Final Image with a nice balance

I moved the top of the large cloud to the center of the frame.  The sun is now a little to the left of center and the warm color is spread more evenly throughout the picture.  The cloud to the right now acts as a counter balance to the heaviness of the larger clouds being more on the left side.  The line of grass is located near the middle of the frame so as to not tip the photo one way or the other.  The final image is nicely balanced.

Vertical crop of the first image above creating a balanced image

Of course, another way to balance out the first two images would be to crop the image so that the final image is balanced.  Here I took the first image and cropped it vertically to make sure all the elements balance each other out.  The next time you are photographing a scene be sure to ask yourself if the image seems balanced.  If not, then look for elements, recompose the image or go vertical to help balance it out.

All the photos are panoramas comprised of two horizontal photos - one for the sky and one for the water.

EXPLORE | COMPOSE | CAPTURE | PUBLISH

 

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Balance Learning Panoramic https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/8/balancing-act Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:10:00 GMT
Playing With Leading Lines https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/8/playing-with-leading-lines  

Route 1,"The Ring Road", passes Mýrdalsjökull glacier

A leading line is a design element that helps to create depth while leading the person’s eye through the picture.  They can also be used to draw attention to the main subject of the photograph.  Leading lines can be man-made or natural.  Whether it is a fence, cracks in rocks, a road, or some other element, using leading lines in your photography is a great way to create more dramatic photos.  Let’s take a look at some examples.

Roads are perfect examples of leading lines and one of my favorite to use.  Not only do they help to lead the eye into the picture but give the viewer the sense that they could be standing right there or driving down that same road.  Leading lines are very effective when starting from a corner of the frame as the center line is in this example.

Fence line in Highland County, VA

Fences are also wonderful to use as leading lines.  In the example above, the fence leads your eyes right to where the drama and color are in the sky.  You can also see every other fence section pointing towards the center of the frame.

Silkstone-140327_0010Silkstone-140327_0010

Morris Island lighthouse near Folly Beach, SC

In the lighthouse example the rocks form a curved line that leads the eye from the corner to the lighthouse in the water.  These are just a couple examples of leading lines.  Next time you are out photographing the world, be sure to look for leading lines in your next composition to add depth and draw the veiwer into the frame.

EXPLORE | COMPOSE | CAPTURE | PUBLISH

 

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Leading lines Learning https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/8/playing-with-leading-lines Wed, 12 Aug 2015 11:15:00 GMT
Off the Grid: Virginia and West Virginia Highlands https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/8/off-the-grid-virginia-and-west-virginia-highlands HighlandCounty-150728_0032_3_4_5-EditHighlandCounty-150728_0032_3_4_5-EditFoggy sunrise in Highland County, Va

Getting away, I mean really getting away, seems to be getting harder and harder these days.  Luckily there are still places that one can go to get completely off the grid.  Some may think that these places are just behind the times or worse yet “backwards”.  But for a few days in the Virginia highlands I find myself not looking at my phone every 30 minutes for texts or emails.  My kids go outside to create games and adventures on their own.  We spend time talking, going for hikes and enjoying the mountain air.  I find it to be a great way to recharge and really focus on things that matter: family, friends, conversations, laughter, adventure, the outdoors.  No computer or electronic device will ever take the place of hiking to a rocky outcrop to view the valley below, coming face to face with a timber rattlesnake, or watching a black bear cross a field as you have a beer around a fire.  Sure, I know that when we get back to “civilization” I will get back to doing all the things that the internet affords me to do.  I understand that you being able to read this IS because of the power of the internet.  But for now, as I type this, I have no internet access or mobile phone service and it feels great! 

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Virginia Highlands https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/8/off-the-grid-virginia-and-west-virginia-highlands Wed, 05 Aug 2015 13:33:20 GMT
The Other Side of the Teton Range: Exploring Idaho Farm Country https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/7/the-other-side-of-the-teton-range-exploring-idaho-farm-country Tetons-JMS-150710_1849_122Tetons-JMS-150710_1849_122View of the Teton mountain range from Idaho

When you tell people that you are going to visit the Tetons most people think of Grand Teton National Park located in Wyoming.  And for good reason, Grand Teton National Park is one of the most picturesque places in the lower 48 with towering snow capped mountains, clear streams and lakes and abundant wildlife.  However, over the pass into Idaho provides a entirely different, yet just as spectacular, scene.  Rolling farmland full of wheat, abandoned buildings, and an endless sky provide ample opportunities for photographers. 

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Old farm building

Rodeo in Driggs, ID

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Wheat fields with the Teton range in the distance

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Abandoned house near Drummond, Idaho

Experience the other side of the Teton Range in Idaho during the 2016 Jennifer King Photography Teton Workshop.

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Idaho Jennifer King Photography Workshop Places Workshop https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/7/the-other-side-of-the-teton-range-exploring-idaho-farm-country Tue, 21 Jul 2015 11:10:00 GMT
The Grand Tetons Workshop Recap https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/7/the-grand-tetons-workshop-recap Tetons-JMS-150706_0562-2Tetons-JMS-150706_0562-2Teton Mountain Range Grand Teton National Park is without question a nature photographer's paradise.  Very few places can provide a photographer with the opportunities for both glorious landscapes and wild animals in such a small area.  The week before heading out the weather was clear and in the 90's during the day.  As we arrived the temperatures cooled to the high 60's along with plenty of clouds and a chance for rain each day.  The clouds and storms provided some drama to the sky making each grand vista even more exciting.  

Tetons-JMS-150705_0181Tetons-JMS-150705_0181 Moulton Barn on Mormon Row

Wild flowers on Antelope Flats

Tetons-JMS-150709_1290Tetons-JMS-150709_1290Bison, Grand Teton National Park Bison on Antelope Flats - other animals sited were Pronghorn, Moose, Beaver, Great Grey Owl, Fox, and many others

All the participants were great even when waking up for 4:30 am sunrise departures.  The days were long but the views and wildlife were well worth it.  For more of my images from this workshop click here.  Jennifer King Photography already has the 2016 Grand Tetons Worskshop posted so if you are interested click here.

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Animals Grand Teton National Park Jennifer King Photography Workshop Mormon Row Workshop https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/7/the-grand-tetons-workshop-recap Thu, 16 Jul 2015 21:58:10 GMT
A Great Way To Improve Your Photography https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/7/a-great-way-to-improve-your-photography bigstock-Photography-School-Camera-Dia-72670300bigstock-Photography-School-Camera-Dia-72670300 Are you just starting out in photography?  Have you been doing it for a while and are wondering how to improve?  Most people will tell you that to improve you need to practice and I would agree.  However, there is another component that is often overlooked. 

When I first started out I read a lot of books.  I watched countless videos.  I practiced with my camera endless hours to make sure I knew my camera and how it worked.  But the one thing that helped the most was associating with people that were already producing the kind of images that I wanted to create.  Why not go straight to the source, right?  Through my local photo clubs and workshops I attended I introduced myself to a number of individuals whom I considered to be producing outstanding work.  Not every introduction led to a contact but soon I had a number of photographers who I could contact when I needed help.  From camera and lens questions to what is the best way to print a photograph, I could ask questions and feel confident that I was getting the right answer. 

One of the main reasons for making these contacts was to have my photographs critiqued by someone that I knew would give me an honest answer.  Your family, friends and relatives usually will not give you an honest answer; they all seem to like your photos because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.  Luckily I found someone that was producing great photography who was willing to critique my photos on a regular basis.  He didn’t always like my photos, in fact he sometimes didn’t like any of them, but he provided positive feedback.  He didn’t just come out and tell me my photos were crap; and looking at them now, they were.  He would tell me what I could have done differently to improve them or what made them not appealing.  It sometimes hurt to have someone tell me that a photo I liked was not very good, but I knew it was helping improve my photography.   In the end, having my photos critiqued early on was one of the main foundations to my improvement in photography.

So whether it is through a workshop, social media, or your local photography club, find someone that is already making  the kind of photos that you insprire to create and ask them questions or if they will critique your photos for you.  I think you will find most of them are happy to help and it just might improve your photography like it did mine.

DISCLAIMER!  A lot of photographers teach photography for their livelihood, whether they write books, run workshops or classes or get paid to critique photos. It is how they make a living so do not be surprised, offended, or upset if they point you towards their products or ask for some money for their advice.  Not everything in life is free and sometimes it is worth every penny.

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Learning https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/7/a-great-way-to-improve-your-photography Thu, 02 Jul 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Expanding Your Dynamic Range: The Pros and Cons of HDR Methods https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/6/expanding-your-dynamic-range-the-pros-and-cons-of-hdr-methods Silkstone-140922_2086_30_58_289Silkstone-140922_2086_30_58_289Seljalandsfoss as the sun sets.

 

How do you HDR?  Do you use dedicated HDR software?  Do you manually blend images in post-processing?  Do you use a graduated neutral density filter?  There are a number of ways to create a High Dynamic Range (HDR) image, each with their own pros and cons.  I have listed some of the pros and cons for each method so that when or if you decide to create an HDR image you can determine the best method that fits your style, post-processing workflow, budget, etc.

I will not go into great detail about each method and assume you know enough about your camera to follow along.  I merely want to point out the positives and negatives of using each method.  Let’s begin.

Graduated Neutral Density Filter (yes, that is an HDR image you just made):

Pros

Cons

  • Gets all the details in one RAW image
  • More equipment to buy (can get expensive)
  • Ghosting not a problem
  • Possible color cast
  • Can see image right away and make adjustments
  • Takes time to set up in the field

 

  • Image noise is not an issue
  • Another item to pack

 

  • May need different filter strengths for different situations

 

  • Does not work for all situations

 

In-camera HDR (cell phones, newer model DSLR and mirrorless cameras have this function)

Pros

Cons

  • Gets all the details in one image
  • Output is usually a jpg file
  • No more equipment to buy or carry
  • May process photo not to ones’ liking
  • Can see image right away and make adjustments
  • May still not cover the entire dynamic range of a scene
  • Will work in most if not all situations

 

 

Manually blend images in Photoshop (Blend if, layers and masks, luminosity masks, etc.

Pros

Cons

  • No extra camera gear needed in the field
  • Have to take more than one image (more hard drive storage)
  • Image noise is not an issue
  • Takes time in post processing
  • No color cast
  • Have to worry about objects moving from one photo to the next
  • Can be assured that entire dynamic range is covered in the field
  • Need Photoshop or other processing software capable of performing functions

 

HDR software (Photomatix, HDR Pro, Lightroom, etc)

Pros

Cons

  • Quickly combines images
  • Takes time in post-processing
  • No extra camera gear needed in the field
  • Have to take more than one image (more hard drive storage)
  • Can be assured that entire dynamic range is covered in field
  • Have to worry about objects moving from one photo to the next
  • Can batch process
  • Need software capable of performing functions

 

  • May have artifacts in final image – noise, ghosting, glow,

As you can see, each method has its pros and cons.  I have used all of them but mostly use manually blending in Photoshop with HDR software being a distant second.  Please feel free to leave a comment as to why you use one method over another or if there is another reason that I forgot to mention.  Frame, Capture, Publish!

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Dynamic Range HDR learning photography Post-Processing Workflow https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/6/expanding-your-dynamic-range-the-pros-and-cons-of-hdr-methods Tue, 30 Jun 2015 14:58:20 GMT
My Quick Take On HDR Imagery https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/6/my-quick-take-on-hdr-imagery Silkstone-150406_0017_388Silkstone-150406_0017_388Building 21

For those who are not familiar with HDR images, I have put together a quick explanation on the technique along with why it can be a useful tool when capturing images. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range.  Your camera has a certain dynamic range that it can capture within one image.  The dynamic range refers to the number of tones from pure white to pure black the camera can capture.  HDR images are simply images that contain a larger dynamic range than what your camera could capture in one image without extra equipment or software.  Why would this be important?  While cameras are getting very sophisticated they still cannot always capture an image the same way that your eye can.  The best example is taking a photograph in a dark room with a window while it is sunny outside.  Your eye can easily see the details in both the room and outside the window.  Now take a photograph of the room with the window.  If the dynamic range is too great your camera will either pick up detail in the room or outside the window, but not both.  Using an HDR process can produce an image that allows you to see detail in both the room and outside the window, just like your eye can. 

 

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Exposure set for windows

Exposure set for room

 

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Final HDR image with both the room and windows exposed correctly

 

As you can see in the example above, I could choose to either expose for the windows or for the room.  The color in the windows was too important to me not to capture in this image.  In this case, I chose to expose for both knowing that I could combine the images later to create a HDR image, which produced an image much closer to what I saw. 

Early on, the term “HDR” became synonymous with images produced with dedicated HDR software.  The software produced images that were highly saturated and looked “over processed”.  While many people enjoyed this new look, just as many people stayed away from making HDR images for this reason.  Today, with the advancement of software to create more realistic images and new methods for blending images together, realistic HDR images can be found everywhere. 

From my point of view, methods for creating HDR images are tools that allow you to express your artistic view point.  I must admit that my use of HDR images has dropped over the last couple of years.  As new cameras capture even greater dynamic range and software’s ability to restore details in highlights and shadows increases my need to create HDR images has dropped.  However, there are still numerous times when I can’t capture the entire dynamic range of a scene and must resort to a HDR method to create an image that meets my vision.

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(J. Silkstone Photography) Dynamic Range HDR https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/6/my-quick-take-on-hdr-imagery Sun, 14 Jun 2015 19:15:55 GMT
Outdoor Photographers Long Weekend Article https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/6/outdoor-photographers-long-weekend-article Outdoor Photographer Magazine online published two of my short articles in their Long Weekend Locations.  I was contacted to submit the articles on April 1st, better known as April Fool's day.  Luckily it was not a practical joke!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Long Weekend Locations

Pro photographers share some of their favorite regional locations for extended weekend photo adventures

By The Editors

Labels: Locations

Description: http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/images/stories/2015/jun/weekends/16.jpg
Middle Prong of the Little River, Tremont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN


Jeff Silkstone
www.jsilkstonephotography.com

SOUTHEAST

Middle Prong of the Little River, Tremont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
One of my favorite times to photograph fall color is when skies are overcast and slightly gray. I had such an occasion this past fall while visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Middle Prong of the Little River in the Tremont section was full of color from the autumn leaves. The water was flowing fast and the air was crisp. A boulder jutting into the river provided the perfect place for me to take advantage of the fall color in the foreground while shooting up the river. The path to the boulder was steep, and a good pair of sturdy boots was essential as I carefully made my way down the rocky terrain. Once I reached my spot, I took time to enjoy the scene and survey all the photographic opportunities. Upon determining my composition, I used a carbon-fiber tripod with a ballhead to sturdy the camera, allowing me to decrease the shutter speed and create a silky look to the water. I used a remote release to further ensure a sharp image. I attached a circular polarizer on the front of the lens to reduce any glare from the water and wet rocks while also helping to bring out the color in the leaves. In the end, it was a perfect day to capture an image of fall color in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
 

Description: http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/images/stories/2015/jun/weekends/17.jpg
Sparks Lane, Cade's Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN


Sparks Lane, Cade's Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
Arriving 40 minutes before the gates opened, we were already behind a number of cars in line. I knew getting there early gave the best opportunity to photograph Sparks Lane in Cade's Cove, a section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. When the gates opened at sunrise, we drove straight to our destination, and luckily, we were one of the first to arrive. In addition to the tranquil beauty of the scene, the reddish-orange color of the leaves of the tree to the left side of the lane caught my attention. Luckily, a fog had settled into the valley providing some drama while muting out any distracting background objects. I could tell the sun was starting to break through the fog, and it wouldn't be long before the fog disappeared entirely. Besides the weather, the only elements I had to deal with were other photographers and cars. I waited patiently in order to get the perfect shot as people moved in and out of the scene and cars passed by. I used a tripod and remote release to steady the shot for sharpness, and a polarizer to reduce glare and bring out the wonderful colors of the leaves. The fog provided the perfect atmosphere for one of Cade's Cove's most photographed places.
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(J. Silkstone Photography) Great Smoky Mountain National Park Outdoor Photographer Magazine https://www.jsilkstonephotography.com/blog/2015/6/outdoor-photographers-long-weekend-article Thu, 11 Jun 2015 12:51:28 GMT