Pelican Point at Point Lobos (California)

Another photo from Point Lobos State Reserve in California which is located not far from Monterey and Carmel. The day I took the featured photo I spend an afternoon exploring a southern part of the park. I was shooting from Pelican Point with the partial view of the beautiful Gibson Beach on the left side and with mountains of the Big Sur in the background.

Shooting and Processing

Once again, I took 3 bracketed shots with the intention to merge multiple shots to HDR later in Photoshop but I only needed single RAW file achieve the final result.

For the processing, I used a Lightroom preset based workflow, using Harsh Shadows present from my Landscapes Collection (you can always download free presets here).

California. Big Sur. Point Lobos
Loc: 36.523464, -121.952609

 

Deconstructing Featured Photo

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The Tree Stub at Cypress Cove in Point Lobos (California)

I’ve already featured Cypress Cove, which is located in Point Lobos, in one of my previous posts, but today’s photo was taken from opposite side of the cove so you can actually see the exact spot from where I took Cypress Cove at Point Lobos photo.

A few weeks ago I released Free Lightroom Preset Collection to the readers of my blog and since then it’s been by far the most popular item on my blog. The collection was downloaded thousands of times and feedback was pretty overwhelming.

And the last week I made public my first premium collection Landscapes Vol. 1 where I assembled my top 20 presets I’ve developed in the last 5 years. One of the presets of the Landscapes Vol.1 Collection was based on the editing steps and the style of today’s featured photo and the preset is called Point Lobos.

Shooting and Processing

When I was planning this shot I wanted get everything in focus from the tree stub to the infinity. I set the aperture to F/13 to extend the depth of field. I used manual focus with the zoom functionality to make sure I had all elements of the composition background elements in focus.

I was shooting on my Feisol tripod and I took only 3 bracketed shots (-1, 0, +1) because the weather was changing from sunny morning to overcast afternoon and the light was not dynamic anymore.

But in the end I did not have use HDR processing at all, I used single RAW and Lightroom preset based processing, using Point Lobos preset from my Landscapes Collection.

For the processing, I used a Lightroom preset based workflow, using one of the presets from my Landscapes Collection (you can always download free presets here).

California. Big Sur. Point Lobos
Loc: 36.523464, -121.952609

 

Deconstructing Featured Photo

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Moonstone Beach Sunset Tree (California)

If you follow my blog regularly, you probably read my tutorial Lightroom Organization in 3 Simple Steps and you know when I start editing new photo in Lightroom I move it from CANDIDATES collection to IN PROGRESS collection and it stays there until I am happy with the final result and it is ready to be saved as the final JPEG and published.

Sometimes photo stays in IN PROGRESS collection only for minutes but sometimes for months or even years. When I am not able to achieve the desired result fast I tend to jump to another image giving up on unfinished one for a while.

Today’s featured photo stayed in IN PROGRESS collection for more than two years and I tried to complete it on more than a few occasions without much success. But, when I saw it yesterday, I recognized right away that this photo would illustrate the best the power of HDR processing technology and it took me only minutes to process it and publish to my blog.

California. Moonstone Beach
Loc: 35.582447, -121.121525

Shooting and Processing

Before taking the featured photo, I was well aware of the extreme dynamic range of the light in the scene. It was at the sunset and the sun was still above the horizon making the sky extremely bright. At the same time, the forest behind the tree was pretty much in complete darkness.

I took 7 bracketed shots on a tripod using the shortest possible focal length of 10mm with the oddly shaped tree in the foreground as the main attraction of the composition.

Even though the light was extremely dynamic, I did not need all 7 bracketed images for HDR processing, 6 was enough.

I used the HDR Pro module of Photoshop to merge 6 bracketed shots to HDR (check my free guide “Natural Looking HDR Workflow“) and, when I had newly merged image back in Lightroom, I applied Gentle Wave preset from my Free Preset Collection and I was done.

Deconstructing Featured Photo

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East Point Shore (Prince Edward Island)

I have a habit to go through the archives of my old photos in Lightroom to see if I can find or rediscover photos I missed originally or even rejected and see if I can revive them.

This is one of those rejected and never published or even processed photos I took in the summer of 2008 in Prince Edward Island.

It is hard to believe that I took it almost 7 years ago. Lots of changes happened in the way we take photos and most noticeable in the way we process them.

Canada. Prince Edward Island. East Point
Loc: 46.454398, -61.976987

When I analyze photos taken with my first Canon Rebel, what I notice first is the high level of digital noise and also the general softness of the images. The gradual evolution of the camera sensors made me forget that the noise was one of the main obstacles in achieving clean photos those days.

I had fun dealing with the old challenges, but at the same time, I have to admit that the modern processing and editing tools made it much simpler task.

Shooting and Processing

I took 3 bracketed shots hand-held (-1, 0, +1) but HDR processing was not the original intention because I had no idea about HDR existence in 2008.

But I am glad that I bracketed most of my shots those days because it allows me now to use new processing techniques like HDR merging or digital blending.

For this particular shot, I chose Photoshop based HDR workflow. I used the HDR Pro module of Photoshop  to merge 3 bracketed shots to HDR (check my free guide “Natural Looking HDR Workflow“).

Deconstructing Featured Photo


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Photography Tips (#07): Shooting and Stitching Panorama – Step By Step

I captured the featured photo while hiking along the Hanauma Bay Rim Trail in Hawaii (Oahu). The main two attractions of the trail are Hanauma Bay and Koko Head Mountain. When I was planning my sunrise hike, I knew that I wanted to capture both attractions in one composition with Koko Head in the background.

Hawaii. O’ahu. Hanauma Bay Rim Trail
Loc: 21.272665, -157.698772

Shooting

When I saw the actual place, I realized that capturing both attractions in one composition would be more challenging than I expected. There was no way I could place both the bay and the mountain into the same composition, as the landscape was too wide.

This is when I decided to take a series of shots and later stitch them into the panorama in Photoshop.

I set up my camera on the tripod in portrait orientation, using the L-Bracket. The L-Bracket allows you to switch from landscape orientation to portrait orientation in seconds.

I used a focal length of 16mm on my Sony 10-18mm lens. I opted not to use the widest 10mm focal length in order to minimize distortion.

First, I took a couple of shots in Aperture Priority mode (F/8) and, with the help of histogram I pinpointed the right value for the shutter speed. Then, I switched to Manual Mode and set the following values: F/8, 1/250, ISO 100.

I shot in Bracketing Mode and took three brackets at 1EV intervals. I ended up with 15 shots in total (5 series of 3 shots).

Processing

I imported 15 RAW files to Lightroom.

I applied the Shark Cove preset from my Landscape Collection and  further customized it a bit, removing vignetting and making the blue color of the sky darker. When I was happy with the result I applied the same settings to the rest of the images.

I selected 5 individual RAW files and using the command (right/option – click) Edit > Merge to Panorama in Photoshop sent them to Photoshop. Since I was merging five 24Mp files, it took Photoshop a while to stitch them together but, it did a decent job on the first try.

The last step in panorama stitching was to fill up the gaps in the area of the sky and the grass (see above). I used the Content Aware Fill feature and Photoshop did the rest by filling empty areas with the right texture.

The rest was standard Photoshop processing: cleaning, contrast, noise reduction, vignetting.

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Camera: Sony a6000
Lens: Sony 10-18
Focal Length: 16mm
ISO: 100
Aperture: F8
Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec
Tripod: FEISOL Tournament CT-3442  – Check my FEISOL Tournament CT-3442 Review.
Ballhead: FEISOL CB-40D

Processing: Lightroom Preset Based Workflow

Lightroom: import, tagging, preset based processing (Shark Cove from Landscape Collection), export to Photoshop (Merge to Panorama in Photoshop).
Photoshop: Panorama Stitching Cleaning with the Stamp Tool, contrast, color correction, banding elimination with the Add Noise filter.

Photoshop Plugins: 

Archiving: I saved photo as JPEG (quality: 100%) at full resolution and with the help of Lightroom plugin, I synchronized it with my portfolio on SmugMug (read my review The Way I Use SmugMug in My Photography Business) for safekeeping, sharing, image hosting and online sales.

Photography Tips (#06): How to Use Telephoto Lens Creatively

When we start using telephoto lenses and learn the differences on how they affect our photography in comparison to wide angle lenses, some of the concepts are obvious and easy to understand because of our previous experiences. For example, telephoto lenses have a narrower field of view, making it is easy to grasp because all of us have used telescopes or spyglasses before. When we read that telephoto lenses bring objects closer, it is a very obvious concept because we have all used binoculars at some point in our life. But, when we learn about the telephoto lens “perspective compression effect”, it doesn’t always resonate right away.

I remember when I was first starting in photography and read about the “lens compression effect”, I did not understand the concept at first because the article was very long and very technical, even including some elements of physics.
But, when I came across the featured photo, I thought it would be a perfect example to demonstrate how telephoto lenses compress the perspective. I wish someone had just shown me a similar photo so that it would have been as clear with little or no explanation.

I took this photo in the local park of Montreal not far from where I live. During this time, I was getting ready for my road trip from Phoenix to Los Angeles with plans to drive through Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California. That day, I bought a brand new telephoto lens (Canon 70-200mm 4L) and went to the park to test it.

Montreal. Kahnawake. Catholic Church

Montreal. Kahnawake. Catholic Church
Loc: 45.428264, -73.678156

If you look at the featured photo, you can see the narrow area of water behind the trees and in front of the church. That narrow stream is actually one of the biggest rivers in the world, the Saint Lawrence River, and, at the location where I took the photo, the river is approximately 1.5km (1 mile) wide.

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Inspirations: FAROE ISLANDS – 24 Best Travel and Landscape Photographs

Every week I feature my handpicked selection of the best photographs. Each selection illustrates one amazing location from around the world which I found unique and that inspires me to travel and improve my photography.

Today’s theme for inspiration is FAROE ISLANDS. The archipelago is located in the North Atlantic and lies northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway. No wonder its fascinating landscapes and seascapes has elements you can find in the countrysides of Scotland, Iceland and Norway.

If you like my selection you might also like places previously featured in Inspiration Series.  Iceland, NorwayIndonesia, Vietnam, NamibiaBurma, Patagonia and Peru.

 

 

 

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Sunrise Over Kailua (Hawaii)

This is another photo from my scenic Lanikai Pillbox Trail sunrise hike in Hawaii (O’ahu). This time, I was shooting toward the North with the town of Kailua below.

At the top of the trail, just when you reach the mountain ridge, there are two old WWII military bunkers (pillboxes). The bunkers were abandoned after the war and are now popular lookout points among the hikers.

I climbed to the top of one of the two bankers and set up my tripod. Now, if you check the right side of the mountain, which I placed in the foreground of the composition, you can see the second bunker where someone is sitting on its roof and enjoying the view.

Shooting and Processing

There was nothing special about shooting the scene. Shooting on a tripod, I selected a longer exposure (1/25 sec) in order to get a smooth effect of the moving grass in the foreground. Actually, I took another shot with the shutter speed at 1/125 sec but it did not look as good as the version with blurred grass.

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with the new technique of sharpening photos. In my current workflow, I sharpen images at the end of my processing in Photoshop. First, I apply sharpening, using the Topaz Detail plugin and, at the very end, just before saving photo as the final JPEG, I apply noise reduction using Topaz DeNoise.

The issue with using any sharpening tools is that they always introduce extra noise, which is sometimes impossible to fully eliminate in the noise reduction step.

The technique I am testing right now is somewhat counterintuitive because it employs Topaz Details and Topaz DeNoise together to sharpen the photos. When I am fully comfortable with the new workflow, I will most likely create a tutorial dedicated to this technique.

For the processing I used a Lightroom preset based workflow, using one of the presets from my Landscapes Collection (you can always download free presets here).

Hawaii. O'ahu. Kailua

Hawaii. O’ahu. Kailua
Loc: 21.387095, -157.717726

 

Deconstructing Featured Photo

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The Very Best Of Photography Articles and Tutorials – March 2015

In the beginning of 2015 I decided to change the format of my weekly newsletter. Instead of featuring only news from Phototraces.com, I also started to feature the best photography related content I came across in the previous 7 days.

The change was triggered by the realization that quality content is not easy to find in an enormous amount of junk.

Below is the extract from my March 2015 weekly newsletters and it represents the best photography content according to me!

The Very Best Of Photography Articles and Tutorials - March 2015

Please subscribe to my newsletter and receive weekly email with the amazing photography, tutorials and inspirational articles from around the web.

The Very Best Of Photography Articles and Tutorials from Around the Web

Vincent Laforet’s Latest High-Altitude Helicopter Shots Overlook the Twinkle of San Francisco
Above The Clouds & Undulating Hills

Well Illustrated Composition Tips From Steve McCurry
9 photo composition tips with the help of Steve McCurry’s incredible photographs.

The Game Changer for Photographers from Amazon
Amazon launches unlimited cloud photo storage for $11.99 per year, including RAW files.

Watch Eight Photoshop Masters Try to Use Photoshop 1.0
8 of the best Photoshop experts and instructors out there were asked to flex their photo editing muscles… in Photoshop 1.0.

Inspirational

21 Photographers Doing Whatever It Takes to Get the Perfect Shot
Some photographers are just more determined than others. Whether it’s laying down on the concrete, going chest-deep in swamp water, or jumping out of an airplane with a smartphone at the ready, these 21 photographers are doing whatever it takes to get that “perfect” shot.

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Bench with the View (Point Lobos)

Point Lobos State Reserve is an expansive place that is located at the north end of the Big Sur coast area. It took me four visits over the span of three years to become familiar with the different parts of the park.

During my last visit to Point lobos, I knew in advance what sections of the park I wanted to visit and what I was going to photograph. After I was finished with my photography, I had plenty of time just to slow down and enjoy the park.

This is one of those places where I could spend hours just sitting and enjoying the view of places like China Cove and the Big Sur coast.

Shooting and Processing

I probably could have easily achieved the same result without using a tripod in this situation but, I already had my camera mounted on the tripod. I took three bracketed shots with my landscape setup.

If you check the original, straight from the camera shot below, you can see that the scene had pretty dynamic light with dark shadows in the foreground and a very bright sky. Once again, I did not have to use HDR processing. I used a Lightroom preset based workflow, using the Tropical Morning preset as a starting point (you can download my free presets here).

Bench with the View - California. Big Sur. Point Lobos

California. Big Sur. Point Lobos
Loc: 36.508742, -121.941213

Deconstructing Featured Photo

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