Phototalk Category

Different Perspective

You see an interesting subject, you take a photo.

Do you take time to explore the subject?
how do you figure you have the best possible composition?
How many photos of the same subject are enough?

Some you can answer accurately some answers are vague. Based on your audience, based on the time you have and many such factors you can answer these questions.

Drift Wood

Sandy Hook Beach, NJ

Drift Wood

The above three image are pretty much the same in nature yet have different perspective, they are shot both in landscape and portrait. And the subject are aligned slightly differently in every composition.

Sandy Hook Beach, NJ

Sandy Hook Beach, NJ

The above two were shot using a telephoto lens. I zoomed in and out to isolate my subjects. In one I used the beach as the leading line to the tree. In the other I zoomed in to the tree and isolated it from any distractions.

Parliament, Ottawa,CA

Parliament hill, Ottawa, CA

The two above are shot at the Parliament Hill in Ottawa, CA. I used a wide angle lens (Sigma 10-20mm). The lens distortion in itself created these two different images.

 

Telephoto Landscapes

My Ideal choice for  landscape photograph is a wide angle lens like a Sigma 10-20mm or may be even a Nikor 18-50mm. However there is no hard and fast rule that you need to use such lenses all the time for the landscape shots. Sometimes you need to look further, probably because the colors in the sky are changing fast and you can’t run to a good spot fast enough. May be sometimes you want to close in to a composition which would make more sense in a tight crop. Depending on whatever your reasons are don’t be afraid to use a telephoto lens.

Example:-

BadExample

In the Image above you can see I don’t have a great composition. So I decided to switch the lens to a Nikor 70-300mm and composed the shot below taking in to consideration now the curve you see in the center and the tree at the end of the curve line. (marked by a red arrow.)

Sandy Hook Beach, NJ

 

And then I walked up to the spot on the right to get another perspective and got the shot below.

Sandy Hook Beach, NJ

 

Give it a try.. and let me know how it went ..🙂

Dealing with Harsh Light

The top advise you would get from the pros is to shoot a landscape during the Golden Hours. This makes a lot of sense because during that time you get soft light, deep colors at the horizon, and on a cloudy day you get more dramatic results. One may not always be in a good location during the sunset or the sunrise, and that time the light can really be very harsh, thus resulting in not so exciting images.

Having said that you can still tame the light to a good extent, and make some good images. A few things I do to get the image I want during the day light are:-

a. Use a ND Filter (I use . 6 and have 2 of them, you get .10 as well)
b. I aim to shoot B&W if possible.
c. HDR – this s a very good technique and there are plenty of tools in the market like Photomatix, Oloneo,  etc. I prefer to use HDR efex pro. I like it mainly because it has plenty of presets and I personally don’t like over the top surreal looking images and this tool helps me keep my image as real as possible. Also check out Jay Patel’s iHDR technique.
d. Shoot subjects if they are under shadow of a bigger object.
e. Always shoot with very low exposure, its easy to retrieve image in post processing specially if you shoot in RAW.

Here are a few examples :-

X-9763Yosemite

YosemiteThe Above two shots are from Yosemite NP. It was shot around 1 or 2 pm in the afternoon. I used the HDR software to create these final images.

Savage River,DenaliThis shot is of Savage River trail entrance in Denali NP, Alaska. Shot it around 3-4pm, I envisioned a B&W for this one.

StoneHengeStone Henge, again shot around 3pm. I kept very low exposure, and in Lightroom I recovered the details.

Horse Tail FallsYosemite again, if you have been here you know the waterfall. There was a large overcast on the fall from the side walls, I zoomed in using my Telephoto making sure not to get any part with sunlight falling on it.

Sandy Hook Beach, NJThis I made in Sandy Hook Beach, NJ. I used a ND filter which allowed my to keep a slightly longer shutter speed.

Kaaterskill Fall

The image above is of Katerskill Falls in NY. I waited for the Clouds to cover the Sun, giving me a few seconds to take this shot while there was a small overcast.

 

Interview with Ian Plant, A Nature Photographer

Ian Plant is one of the most fascinating and inspiring Nature Photographer I have come across. His photography and articles have been published in various magazines, books and other media. He also holds many photography workshops ( at-least one I intend to attend in the coming months), if you are looking forward to one as well then you can check out his website.

Ian Plant's Dreamscapes
Below in a small Q&A with him where he has answered a whole chunk of questions always troubling my mind.

KK: When you look at a photograph ( your own or your fellow photographer’s) what are the first 3 things (or more) you look at?

IP: The first thing I look at is composition. Composition is the primary aspect of a photograph that is under the creative control of the artist. The second thing I look at is the mood of the moment captured. Photography is all about capturing, as Henri Cartier-Bresson put it, the “decisive moment.” Because of the nature of the medium, photographers must react to the world around them. The mark of a great photographer is recognizing when there is a pleasing convergence of elements in the natural world. The third thing I look at is color and light. Although these are important to nature photography, they are usually more a product of the efforts of Mother Nature than of the artistic vision of the photographer!

KK: When you compose a photograph, are you always sure that this composition would be the best or do you take multiple shots from different perspective and decide later when you download it to your computer?

IP: I try to take as many different compositions of a promising scene as time allows. There’s no such thing as the “best composition” for most scenes; rather, there are often several or many different interpretations that have merit. Digital cameras give one the freedom to easily experiment, so my advice is to take advantage of this and shoot as much as possible. Sometimes I am convinced I have found “the one” when looking through my viewfinder only to be disappointed when I review the image more carefully back on my computer. It pays to take the time and explore other possibilities!

KK: Being a Nature/Landscape photographer, you need to be at the right place at the right time. How do you figure that out?

IP: I find it is important to develop a “weather sense.” Checking weather forecasts and satellite images helps, but nothing beats spending a few days or more on location observing the local weather patterns. Sunset and sunrise are always good bets, but developing an understanding of the local patterns can really help fine-tune one’s timing. Weather is extremely important to nature photography, as it adds mood, drama, and light. Learn the weather and you will have an advantage.

As for being in the right place, scouting a location looking for interesting compositions is the best thing to do. I spend as much time on the ground exploring as I possibly can in order to find the best opportunities, in order to return when I think conditions will be best to bring a scene to its fullest potential. There’s also something to be said for dispensing with a “right place/right time strategy,” and rather just wandering about reacting to changing light as it happens. I often do this, chasing the light rather than sitting on a specific location waiting for something interesting to happen.

KK: Do you have a favorite quote about photography? taken from others or your own?

IP: I guess I have two quotes that I often repeat, one from Ansel Adams and the other is my own. The Ansel quote is: “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” Developing a clear artistic vision and learning to effectively convey that vision to others is very important. The second quote, my own, is: “Don’t have rules, only tools.” There are lots of so-called “rules of composition” out there. Never forget that they shouldn’t be treated as ironclad rules, but rather as tools that should be at your disposal. If you need to break a rule to make a great image, then do so!

KK:  Are there any photographers you are inspired from? If so, please could you share their name and how do they inspire you?

IP: “Growing up,” photographically speaking, I studied the work of many of the latter-day film-era landscape masters, such as David MuenchJack DykingaTom Till, andCarr Clifton. The most significant influence on my work probably comes from my good friend and Arizona legend George Stocking. My discussions with him about composition, use of light, and all things related to photography has had a profound influence on my development as an artist. Of course, for most of those conversations we were completely drunk, so I’m not sure if it has been an entirely positive association!

KK: What is your advice for the new folks trying their hand at photography as a hobby or planning to go pro?

IP: My advice is simple, whether photography is a hobby or a profession: immerse yourself in it completely. Take photographs of everything that inspires you or catches your eye. Study the work of others you admire, and think critically about their work and your own photographs. Get out and shoot as much as you can. There’s only one way to see how deep the rabbit hole is: just plunge in and go for it!

Thank You Ian for your precious time answering my questions.

Varina – Nature/Landscape Photographer

Varina Patel is an avid photographer specializing in Nature and Landscape photography. With an eye for the details and love for the nature She and her husband travel together to the most beautiful locations on the planet and capture the most visually stunning photographs. You can follow her on Facebook, her Website and her Flickr stream . There you will find a lot of resources and ebooks to learn from and also you can keep a track of when they are doing the next workshop. She is also part of the team of Visual Wilderness which is a very informative website on everything related to photography right from travel to gear to articles and videos, etc.

Varina

 She was way too generous to answer a few of my questions and I have posted them below: 

KK: When you look at a photograph (your own or your fellow photographer’s) what are the first 3 things (or more) you look at?
V  : Each photograph inspires a different response – but if I have to generalize, I’d say that I usually notice the light first… whether it’s a spectacular sunset or a more subtle scene shot in the shade.  Light is the most important element in the image, and it can make or break a photograph. Composition is probably second. And then distracting elements start to stand out to me.

KK: When you compose a photograph, are you always sure that this composition would be the best or do you take multiple shots from different perspective and decide later when you download it to your computer?
V  : I generally know before I shoot that a specific image will be a favorite – but I do take multiple shots from different perspectives. Sometimes a photo will surprise me by being better than expected.🙂 I’m my own worst critic, and I thousands of images have been tossed before they’ve been given a second look. I’d rather have a few good shots than a million mediocre ones.

KK: Being a Nature/Landscape photographer, you need to be at the right place at the right time. How do you figure that out?
V  : It’s not easy – but with a bit of research and planning, you can make the most of your time at any location. I don’t care as much for “icon shots” as I do for great light… so I chase storms. I watch for storm fronts, and try to place myself strategically to capture storm clouds, beams of light, and sunsets in the best conditions. I’ll work with whatever is in front of me, as long as the sky is looking good. And when the sky doesn’t cooperate, I make the most of my time by shooting details and macro shots.

KK: Do you have a favorite quote about photography? taken from others or your own?
V  : I don’t have a favorite photography quote – but this poem by Lord Byron expresses my feelings about wilderness photography.

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.

-Lord Byron

KK: What is your advice for the new folks trying their hand at photography as a hobby or planning to go pro?
V  : Knowledge is far more important than equipment. Rather than spending your money buying the best equipment – take a few classes. You can also find excellent resources online. Post photos in forums and ask for honest critiques – and LISTEN to them. You won’t always agree with the critics, but learn everything you can from them. My photography is far better because I listen to my critics – and I’ll never stop learning.

  Pearl in the Storm

Thank you Varina for your time.

Jay Patel – ” I just like to photograph”

It took me most of last evening to come up with a write up for Jay. Quite honestly I am lost for words. The photograph below pretty much is an evidence of how visually engaging and stunning his photography is.

Saltworks

Like I said, I am lost for words. Jay’s work has been published in numerous magazines, books and he along with his wife have written several ebooks (available for download on his website). He is also an important team member of the website – TimeCatcher. Together his wife and him run several photography workshops and webinars throughout the year. You can find more information on that on his FB Page and his website.

I personally have been really inspired by his work and thanks to him my resolution for the next year is to “Follow the Light” .. no not the white light to the pearly gates.

Follow The Light

Jay has been kind enough to answer my questions. Even though the questions are mostly same, the answers are very photographer specific, and that has given a lot of insight to me about photography. Below are Jay’s answers:

KK: When you look at a photograph ( your own or your fellow photographer’s) what are the first 3 things (or more) you look at?
JP: I break down the photograph into 3 basic elements: Technique, Artistic value and Impact. Technique includes exposure, ISO, use of filters, blending software and processing. Artistic value is defined by how the photograph was composed. And impact is best defined as the WOW factor. Sometimes a photograph can have perfect technical and artistic side, but yet the photograph may lack the WOW factor. For a good photograph all three elements have to work together.

KK: When you say “Artistic Value” or the “Wow” Factor. Isn’t that just your perspective? I mean a different person may like a photo that you may not like, since everyone has slightly different sense of composition, perception and idea. Or are there any rules to this “Wow Factor” ?
JP: There is technical side to photography and then there is artistic side. Artistic side is always subjective and it includes both composition and impact. While what makes is say WOW is not ALWAYS the same thing that makes others say “WOW”. So if a photograph will have greater impact if can make more people say WOW than the ones which dont make more people say “WOW”.

KK: When you compose a photograph, are you always sure that this composition would be the best or do you take multiple shots from different perspective and decide later when you download it to your computer?
JP: I will choose multiple composition from a location. The number of composition will depend upon the location and the light available to work with. While shooting during golden hours your window of creating composition is limited by available window of light. Besides just the rules of composition we use Gestalt principles to compose our photograph. We have 3 Ebooks that explains in detail the rules of composition, gestalt principles and tips to improve your photography by helping the photographer “See Differently”.

KK: Being a Nature/Landscape photographer, you need to be at the right place at the right time. How do you figure that out?
JP: We view light as our primary photographic subject. So, we both prefer the right light over the right location. We frequently stop to shoot on the side of the road, or on the trail to a fabulous location, because the light was right in that spot. We encourage our student to follow the light rather than be fixated on a location. While we look at the weather, cloud covers and storm fronts often times we will shoot when the light is right from any place.

KK: Do you have a favorite quote about photography? taken from others or your own?
JP: Not really….I just like to photograph.

KK: Are they any photographers you are inspired from? If so, please could you share their name and how do they inspire you?
JP: I am rarely inspired by a photographer, but often by photographs. So, I dont have any specific names…but anyone who is passionate about photography inspires me to reach new levels.

KK: What is your advise for the new folks trying their hand at photography as a hobby or planning to go pro?
JP: Learn everything you can. Equipment doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to use it… so worry less about what you are shooting with, and more about what you don’t know. Read everything you can, invest in classes rather than fancy equipment, and ask for those honest critiques we mentioned before.

Thank you Jay for you time..

Interview with Paul Marcellini

Paul Marcellini is an award winning nature and landscape photographer from Florida. I came to know about him when I was doing a project in Sarasota, and was looking for inspiration and places to check out for my own photography. I was really impressed with his photographs of Everglades, and that was one of the reasons even I made a trip to the glades in spite of the thunder and lightening and the heavy storm that day. His photography has inspired me in many ways. You can follow his Blog here ..

Below is the Q&A with him:-

KK: When you look at a photograph ( your own or your fellow photographer’s) what are the first 3 things (or more) you look at?
PM: I look at composition, mood, and exposure.

KK: When you compose a photograph, are you always sure that this composition would be the best or do you take multiple shots from different perspective and decide later when you download it to your computer?
PM: No, sometimes I am surprised that the last minute composition is the one I prefer, over the initial one.

KK: Being a Nature/Landscape photographer, you need to be at the right place at the right time. How do you figure that out?
PM: I am out mostly during good light(around sunrise and sunset) but sometimes you get lucky. It takes a lot of persistance.

KK: Do you have a favorite quote about photography? taken from others or your own?
PM: Not photo specific, but I have always liked: “The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” – Walter Bagehot

KK: Are there any photographers you are inspired from? If so, please could you share their name and how do they inspire you?
PM: I definitely take inspiration from Marc AdamusGuy Tal, and Michael Anderson.

KK: What is your advice for the new folks trying their hand at photography as a hobby or planning to go pro?
PM: Keep your day job as long as possible. =)

Thank you Paul for your time…..

You never know unless you go..

Joshua’s keen sense of interpreting nature’s beauty and an eye for details, has made him an avid and an admired photographer. He is an Engineer turned Nature and landscape photographer and is quite an inspiration for people who want to go pro.


He was way to kind to do an interview for me and he has written in good detail, so there is much to learn from this post.

Q&A with Joshua:-

KK: When you look at a photograph ( your own or your fellow photographer’s) what are the first 3 things (or more) you look at?
JC: The first thing I notice about a photo is the composition. To me composition is the meat and potatoes of a photo. This is where the substance of a photograph lays, and is the foundation of the rest of the photo. In other words, the whole idea of a photo comes from its composition. Next I look at the light. Amazing light is like a wonderful desert that perfectly finishes off a grand meal (hmm, can you tell I’m hungry as I type this?🙂. Next I look at the interplay between the composition and the light. Did the photographer get a great comp without great light, did he just shoot amazing light and color without thinking about the comp, or did he nail both. When the photographer takes the time to find an amazing composition and then is patient enough to wait for the right light to complement the scene, that is when the iconic images are created.

KK: When you compose a photograph, are you always sure that this composition would be the best or do you take multiple shots from different perspective and decide later when you download it to your computer?
JC: Lately I’ve become much more selective with my compositions and will often not shoot a scene unless I find a concept that I think is very engaging. But once I’ve found that great concept, I will try horizontal and vertical compositions, slightly different angles, heights, etc. It’s very rare that I nail a comp right out of the gate. Rather, I start with an idea and shoot that idea. Looking at the images on the back of my camera then helps me refine my vision until I get the comp just right.

KK: Being a Nature/Landscape photographer, you need to be at the right place at the right time. How do you figure that out?
JC: You can get 90% of the way there with wonderful tools such as Google Earth, Gaisma (sunrise/sunset times), The Photographer’s Ephemeris, tide charts, weather forecasts, and
radar maps. These will help you figure out places that might be interesting to shoot, and what the conditions will be like. But the other 10% is plain old experience. When you
visit a place over and over, you start to get a sixth sense for when conditions will be just right for great photography. You’ll also create concepts for new photos. For example, the place I probably know best is the Santa Cruz coastline. And I have a backlog of photo ideas rattling around in my head that are just waiting for the ideal conditions to shoot.

KK: Do you have a favorite quote about photography? taken from others or your own?
JC: “You never know unless you go.” That’s the title of one of my images and it pretty well sums up my ideas about getting out to shoot. In this day of iphones and constant weather updates, it’s easy to get stymied by constant questions of “the weather looks iffy, should I go shoot or not?” But the truth is, you’ll never know what happens unless you get out there and shoot. Yeah, you might get skunked, but at least you were out shooting. And those few times when the light is amazing, where would you rather be: at home kicking yourself, or out capturing the beauty because you took a chance?

KK: Are they any photographers you are inspired from? If so, please could you share their name and how do they inspire you?
JC: I find inspiration in a huge number of photographers. I see so many outstanding works being produced today it’s a little intimidating. I could list a hundred names here, but instead I’ll just give a few who really stand out in my mind:
a) Galen Rowell – When I was getting into nature photography I came across Galen’s images and was absolutely floored by what he did with light, color, and composition. I didn’t know landscape photography could be so beautiful. What’s so amazing about Galen is that he opened the door to the next generation of landscape photographers, but rather than be a springboard to a higher level of landscape imagery, his photos still serve as shining examples of what to strive to achieve.
b) Chip Phillips – I think Chip is one of the finest photographers working today. He seems to have the supernatural ability to control light to do what he wants it to. His photos always have captivating compositions and incredible light and color.
c) Peter Lik – I am inspired by Peter not necessarily for his photography but for the success he has achieved with it. While many of us are struggling to make ends meet with our photography, Peter is out selling prints for one million dollars. I am incredibly impressed and hope to achieve even a fraction of his commercial success.
d) Ryan Dyar – Photography’s wunderkind. I think Ryan is only 27, but he is an absolute landscape photography monster. His “Into the Valley” photo from Glacier National Park is one of my all-time favorite images.
e) Jim Patterson – Jim is my friend and business partner, but he’s also a spectacular photog. The cool thing about Jim is he’s really well-rounded: he shoots underwater, seascapes, desert scapes, mountain scapes, and they’re all awesome. Doesn’t matter what he shoots, Jim seems to bring back the best imaginable images.

KK: What is your advice for the new folks trying their hand at photography as a hobby or planning to go pro?
JC: The best advice I can give to newcomers to photography is to take it slow. People think shooting digital means shooting a million frames every time they go out. But then these same people are disappointed when they don’t get any good shots. The trick is to slow down and really figure out what it is you want to shoot, then focus on getting the best possible shot, not shooting machine gun style and hoping to hit something.For those who are looking to go pro, first realize that is incredibly hard. I only know a small handful of photographers who are actually full-time pros. The rest of us supplement our photography income in other ways (I’m a part-time engineer for example). Second, there isn’t really a way to “ease into it”. You have to just jump off the deep end. If you want to start doing art shows for example, expect to spend $10,000 up-front in order to cover your start-up costs, inventory, booth display, signs, etc. Third, expect that you will have a lot less time for photography once you turn it into a business. I spend 90% of my photography time writing emails, working on SEO, applying for art shows, creating inventory, doing website maintenance, keeping track of bills, and so on. The other 10% I actually get to devote to taking photos and editing images. Be assured that “pro photographer” sounds a lot more romantic than it is. For most people, the right decision is to keep photography as a hobby, that way they get to spend as much time as possibly enjoying it, rather than dealing with the stress of trying to make money from it.

Breathless - Sand Harbor State Park, Lake TahoeYou can follow him on his blog and on FaceBook.

Magic Hour Unplugged with Kah Kit Yoong

Kah is another of my most favorite photographer. I first saw a photo of his in the Outdoor Photographer 2008 magazine issue, became an instant fan. He gives “Golden Hours Of Photography” its true meaning. His photography is evidence of the beautiful world out there yet to be seen by many of us.

KAH KIT YOONG

He is also a member of Timecatcher.com, a team which comprises of wonderful photographers like Jay Patel and Patrick Fruscia and more ..

He was kind enough to answer a few questions of mine. They are posted below for you to read ..

KK: When you look at a photograph ( your own or your fellow photographer’s) what are the first 3 things (or more) you look at?
KKY: The first thing I notice is the composition, in particular whether it is well balanced or not. The concept of balance is a difficult one since it is more of a gut feel than anything to do with following or breaking the traditional ‘rules’. Often the next thing I notice is how the light has been used, whether it matches the subject and composition or not. The technique behind the photo should be invisible ideally. If there are glaring technical deficiencies, these may well be the first things I notice.

KK: When you compose a photograph, are you always sure that this composition would be the best or do you take multiple shots from different perspective and decide later when you download it to your computer?
KKY:You can never be sure that you have the best possible composition. I often walk around without taking any photos first to get a feel of the various perspectives. I may then take a few shots and study them on the LCD to see which works best. Once I have decided roughly where I want to shoot from, I can spend quite a bit of time making seemingly small adjustments which can have a big impact to the end result.

KK: Being a Nature/Landscape photographer, you need to be at the right place at the right time. How do you figure that out?
KKY: Most of my photos come about from simply turning up to the location and matching the light to the subject. Of course the light at the beginning and end of the day are usually more likely to give better results. I much prefer to chase good light and then find something suitable to photograph rather than finding a composition and waiting for the right conditions to appear.

KK: Do you have a favorite quote about photography? Taken from others or your own?
KKY: “To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.” Cartier-Bresson

KK: Are they any photographers you are inspired from? If so, please could you share their name and how do they inspire you?
KKY: I draw inspiration from many photographers these days, and not only from the landscape and travel genres. Too many to mention really. However when I first started photography in 2005, seeing the work of Marc Adamus and the Time Catcher team, made me want to become a landscape photographer.

KK: What is your advice for the new folks trying their hand at photography as a hobby or planning to go pro?
KKY:I get a lot of questions from people trying to discover what ‘secrets’ I might be using. The truth is that I developed my way of doing things through lots of practice, trial-and-error, hard work and problem-solving. Some of the new folk get so caught-up in trying to find short-cuts that they lose sight of the fact that the basics of photography : exposure, composition and using light can only be learnt through practice and experience.

Kah’s award winning work has been published in many popular and prestigious magazines including Nat Geo Traveler and Popular photography. You can follow him on his blog “Magic Hours unplugged“.