Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Potomac River HDR

I made this image last fall while leading a workshop in Great Falls National Park. I set my camera to auto bracket at 5 frames for 1 stop each. I have had these images sitting on the external drive for almost a year and now that I am loving playing around with Photomatix, I decided it was a good one for the software.
click image to enlarge !

5 images merged and processed with Tonemapping. Levels, curves, selective color and saturation layers adjustments in Photoshop CS3.

What do you guys and gals think. Let me know.

All the best, Joe

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dogwood HDR

I wanted to try to create some HDR images the other day. Many of my students have been asking about HDR imaging and to be honest, I have not given it very much attention lately. I decided to go ahead and purchase Photomatix and give it a test run. It was raining and overcast all day yesterday, so I decided to seek out some flowering tree's and spring foliage down at my local park. I found a very healthy looking Dogwood and Redbud against some new spring green foliage and thought that this would make for an awesome shot. I set my camera to auto bracketing at 2/3 of stop for 5 images. After finding the right composition and waiting for a lull in the wind, I tripped the shutter 5 times recording my images for the HDR. I then shot a single exposure of the scene to examine the results and compare the 2 images. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the HDR image. The HDR image really captures the full dynamic range and brought out all the information in the darker woods. WOW ! I will definitely be adding this to my bag of tools as well as offering up instruction on HDR imaging on my photography workshops and tours.

Here are the 2 images. What do you think ?
Dogwood and Redbud - HDR

Dogwood and Redbud- single exposure

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Creative Flower Photography One Day Workshop at Sherwood Gardens

We had our one day Creative Flower Photography Workshop at Sherwood Gardens in Baltimore, Maryland on Saturday. When I awoke and looked outside, it was very overcast and wet down here in Annapolis. As I drove north towards Baltimore the skies began to clear a little bit and I noticed that it had not rained the night before. I was really looking forward to overcast skies and wet conditions for the class. Oh well, we still made some great images and worked the light as best we could.

I started shooting as soon as I arrived making some multiples and overlays of the gardens. If you have never been to Sherwood Gardens before, I definitely recommend it. In the last 2 weeks of April the gardens come to life with a very impressive display of Tulips, Azalea and many flowering tree's.

After the group arrived we started shooting macro and close-ups before the wind began to toss the tulips about. We then went into making multiples and swipes of the many tulip displays. I ran into Barbara Williams, a Baltimore based photographer who is very active in the Baltimore Camera Club. I was scheduled to speak at the Baltimore Camera Club on Thursday, but was had to cancel due to a death in the family. I will be moving the speaking engagement to later in May.

I will also be speaking and judging at the NIH Camera Club on May the 10th.

Here is a small selection of images I made as examples for the group. Click on any image for a larger view.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spring has Sprung !

I have been far to busy at home lately to steal away and go shoot this past week, so I decided to head over to Quite Waters Park here in Annapolis the other day. With soft rain and overcast skie's, the light and weather were perfect for recording some of the flowering tree's and fresh spring foliage. No matter where you go there you are. Great photographs are made within and not on location. Here are a few from right down the road from my house. Enjoy, Joe.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mouintain Trail Photography Workshops

I just wanted to let everyone know that I have been asked to lead photography workshops and tours through Mountain Trail Photography Workshops. Mountain Trail Press which was started by Jerry Greer and Ian Plant have expanded their expertise into the field of location tours and instructional workshops in some of the most beautiful and scenic areas in the United States. I have decided to run all of my location workshops and tours through Mountain Trail in 2009. The remainder of my location workshops for 2008 will also be hosted and administered through Mountain Trail. am very excited and honored to be working along some of the best and brightest nature photographers in the Eastern United States.

I will update my workshops page in the next few days with all the information and links for registration. I will be working closely with Richard Bernabe in the next couple of months to put together the schedule for 2009. I am planning on offering many more location workshops and we will be branching out to areas in New England, the Smokie Mountains and even a couple out west in Utah and Arizona. Please email me to be added to the mailing list when all tours and workshops are announced.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Great Falls Spring Workshop Conclusion and other spring workshop listings

We finished up our Great Falls Spring Workshop on Sunday afternoon. We had an absolutely great group of students and came away some really nice images. The workshop started at first light on Saturday morning and we were greeted with some nice light at Mather Gorge. All the spring trees in the park were blooming and the Bluebells were also putting on a nice show. After shooting our fill of landscapes along Mather Gorge, we headed over to Bull Run Regional Park to photograph the annual spring Bluebell profusion. Conditions were perfect when we arrived with bright overcast skies and lots of dew. I introduced the students to multiples and montage techniques, as well as macro images. After 2+ hours, it was time to head over to Meadowlark Gardens to give the group a presentation on processing techniques with Lightroom, HDR and Photoshop. We also went into great detail on using graduated ND filters at sunrise and sunset, HDR imaging, and special techniques for creating abstract images. The rest of the day, was spent in the gardens. Sunday morning brought an even more dramatic display of light at Mather Gorge. The rest of the day was spent in the same fashion as Saturday, and with soft overcast light, we turned our attention from shooting the grand landscape to macro ,multiples, montages and details at Meadowlark and Bull Run.

On a side note, I still have spots available for this weekend class on Adobe Lightroom at Meadowlark Gardens. Click herefor more details and payment options.

Also, our one day workshop at Sherwood Gardens in Baltimore Maryland still has a few spots available. Sherwood has an amazing display of Tulips and flowering trees and can not be beat at this time of the year. We will be working on creative techniques in macro and abstract imaging. Click herefor more details and payment options.

Here are a few of my keepers from the workshop. Enjoy, Joe.

Click on any image below for a larger view.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Great Smokey Mountains

I just finished up putting the finishing touches on a huge magazine submission with images I made last spring in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. I will be leading a photography workshop in the spring of 09 in the smokies and am planning on heading down for a few days of scouting, shooting and prepping in general for the future workshop. Here are a few select images from 07 spring in the Smokies. Enjoy, Joe.

Click on any image for a larger view.

Monday, April 7, 2008

“Multiples Exposure” – Technique for creating impressionistic abstract images

I first learned of multiple photographic techniques while visiting a local photography exhibit. I kept asking myself, how were these images made? After getting back home, I did some research and found a few photographers who were experimenting in this type of photography. After a few months of reading as much information as I could find, I headed out into the field and starting putting theory into practice. I find this style of photography to be completely impressionistic and at times totally unpredictable. It is a lot of fun experimenting with all types of subject mater from trees, flower portraits and even grand landscapes. While this style and technique may seem luck of the drawl, it is after a bit of practice and experience quite predictable.

The techniques I have learned over the years include panning, swirling and zooming multiple exposures. Many of these techniques can be replicated in computer software such as Adobe Photoshop, but I prefer to create the vast majority of my abstract images in camera. I feel it has a more fluid and organic feel than multiples created in post capture software. Pre-visualization is important and will come with time. As you begin to develop your personal vision, you will recognize subject matter and techniques that work well together. Be patient and keep shooting and experimenting and you will begin to see the image before you ever trip the shutter. Let’s get going with some tips and techniques to get you started in the world of abstract impressionist photography.

Metering the Image/Pre-visualization

I find that overcast light works best for creating multiples, although the warm soft light of sunrise or sunset can also be quite nice for multiples and montage effects. Working under these lighting conditions is quite easy as far gaining exposure is concerned. I like to keep my camera set on aperture priority and 3d matrix metering. Using a digital camera will allow you to take a test exposure and look at your histogram to see where your exposure falls. Changes can then be made using the (+/-) compensation on your camera. Its really that easy. In the past, some amount of math and compensation was needed for each individual exposure when stacking images in camera. With the multiple exposure functions in most modern digital cameras, Auto Gain is built into the custom function and the camera will take care of this compensation for you.

Multiple Exposure Techniques

An example of a 10 exposure multiple of flowers,
moving the camera in a random movement for each shot

Panning – Moving the camera up/down or left/right over the course of two or more multiple image exposures. Make sure to follow the natural flow of the subject matter. For example, when shooting trees, you would want to move the camera in and up or down motion for each shot.

An example of creative Panning at 2 second, moving
the camera in an upward motion.

Zooming – Using a zoom lens it is possible to make beautiful bursts of color while racking the zoom in/out during the course of exposure. It is best to use a shutter speed in the range of 1/2 second as far up to 2 seconds the majority of the time. It helps me to begin the zooming before I trip the shutter in order to have a smooth and even effect throughout the course of the exposure.

An example of Multiple Zooming, Zooming the lens
out for each exposure - a total of 6 shots

Multiple Zoom - Same as before, except using the multiple exposures function. For each image in the multiple, simply zoom in or out and then trip the shutter. Remember to refocus the image on each shot.

Another example of multiple exposure panning. I used
a 3 way pan/tilt head for acurate movement up and down

Swirling - Moving the camera in a circular motion around the subject. This technique is best executed using a tele-photo lens with a tripod collar attached to the body of the lens. With the lens mounted on a tripod, loosen the lens color and move the camera in a clockwise or counterclockwise rotation for each image. To keep a central point of focus through the image, try slightly recomposing the subject in the same position of the frame for each shot.

For this shot, I rotated the camera in a clockwise
direction for each shot over the coure of 8 images

Good luck and have fun.