Flying Over Lachine Lighthouse (Montreal)

I was lucky with this shot. It was not my intention to place the flying plane into my composition, I had no idea It was there. That afternoon I was more concentrating on testing brand new lens (Canon 70-200mm) and did not pay much attention to my surroundings. But when I started to process the featured photo in Lightroom I noticed a lucky accident. It does not happen very often but sometimes it does.

Montreal. Lachine
Loc: 45.430394, -73.690344

Shooting

I was shooting on a tripod entire afternoon, experimenting with the various focal lengths starting from 70mm and all the way to 200mm. I used a focal length of 118mm for this shot and since I had Canon 60D with cropped sensor, the actual value was about 177mm.

Processing

Even though I took 3 bracketed shots I knew that I only needed one because the setting sun was completely covered by clouds and the scene sdid not have dynamic highlights.

I used Lightroom Preset based workflow. I applied Electric preset from my Landscape Preset Collection and adjusted Exposure using ToolKit adjustments.

In the final step, I did some cleaning and color correction in Photoshop.

Deconstructing Featured Photo

 

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Golden City (San Francisco)

It was perfect afternoon in San Francisco in the beginning of February. It was very warm and what was even more surprising, there were no wind at all. The air was clear and the blue sky was covered with bright clouds.

And, just before the sunset, during the golden hour, the already amazing scene became illuminated by warm sunset light. It was just perfect.

Shooting and Processing

When I saw the cargo ship entering the San Francisco Bay I knew that it was my chance to enhance the composition of my photographs. I waited until the ship approached the Golden Gate Bridge and took multiple photos with the various focal lengths.

Travel Photography Blog - California. San Francisco

California. San Francisco. Marin Headlands
Loc: 37.827778, -122.499444

When I started the process of editing I realized that I did not have shot I really liked. The Photo 1 was my favorite but the cargo ship was too far from the bridge and it was impossible to create vertical crop. [Read more…]

Rio De Ca’Tron in Venice (Italy)

Editing an old photo with the new tools and techniques

This is one of my older photos, the one I took 4 years ago while traveling in Italy. I tried to process it before on the couple of occasions, but I never was happy with the final results. Years later, I decided to give it another try using my new and improved processing techniques.

Italy. Venice
Loc: 45.440278, 12.328056

Shooting

It was a middle of September, and Venice was packed with the tourists. Because I did not see any opportunities to use my tripod I left it in the hotel. The entire day I was shooting hand-held, taking 3 bracketed exposures for each composition.

Processing

First, I used the HDR Pro module of Photoshop to merge 3 bracketed shots to HDR (check my free guide “Natural Looking HDR Workflow“).

When new HDR image was saved to Lightroom catalog, I applied Tropical Morning presets from my Landscape Preset Collection and adjusted Exposure using ToolKit adjustments. [Read more…]

Photography Tips (#08): How to Weather Seal Your Camera For Under 1 Dollar

For years, I’ve been dreaming about having a weather sealed camera. But, every time I began the process of selecting a new camera, weather sealing became a much lower priority on my list compared to the quality of the sensor, other essential features and, of course, the price.

Another factor among these that also played a large role is the fact that weather sealing is not something that is needed on a daily basis.At the same time, I always regretted not having weather sealing when I was hiking in some beautiful location and was not able to capture it because of rain.

At the same time, I always regretted not having weather sealing when I was hiking in some beautiful location and was not able to capture it because of rain.

[Read more…]

Sunrise Over South Shore of O’ahu (Hawaii)

I took the featured photo from Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail on the O’ahu island of Hawaii. The trail is probably the most rewarding location in regards to photography.

When you begin the trail, this is the panorama you get to see firsthand: the south shore of the island with breathtaking views of Koko Head Mountain and the famous Sandy Beach where I almost broke my back while learning to bodysurf.

After the trail takes a left turn, all you see is the open ocean with the silhouette of the neighboring Moloka’i Island on the horizon and the large number of migrating whales between the two islands.

And, when you reach the top of the trail, you are exposed to the amazing views of the eastern shore of O’ahu with Waimanalo Beach underneath and Kailua and Olomana peak in the distance.

Shooting and Processing

I only used a single RAW image to process this photo. 90% of the processing was done in Lightroom. I used the Graduated Filter to emphasize the sunrise colors in the sky.

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

Hawaii. O’ahu Island. Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail
Loc: 21.304722, -157.651389

 

Deconstructing Featured Photo

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Pelican Point at Point Lobos (California)

Another photo from Point Lobos State Reserve in California which is located a short distance from Monterey and Carmel. The day I took the featured photo I spent the afternoon exploring the southern part of the park. I was shooting from Pelican Point with a partial view of the beautiful Gibson Beach on the left side and with the 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 a single RAW file to 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 the opposite side of the cove, which allows you to actually see the exact spot from where I took the Cypress Cove at Point Lobos photo.

A few weeks ago, I released a 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 has been downloaded thousands of times and the feedback has been pretty overwhelming.

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

Shooting and Processing

When I was planning this shot I wanted to 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 that I had all the elements of the composition, including the background elements, in focus.

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

But, in the end, I did not have to use HDR processing at all. I used single RAW and Lightroom preset based processing, using the 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

[Read more…]

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


[Read more…]

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.