Dynamic Sunset at the River (Montreal)

It was another day with absolutely unpredictable weather in Montreal. I went to my favorite spot in the city for the sunsets without much hope of getting any light at all. For the entire afternoon the sun was completely covered with the thick and dark clouds.

Just before the sun was ready to submerge under the horizon the small opening appeared, letting sun out of the clouds. The sunset lasted 3-5 minutes at most but it was enough for me to take a few interesting shots.

The light was extremely dynamic. I was shooting directly into the sun but at the same time I had spots of very dark shadows around me. To make sure I cover entire range of light I took 9 bracketed shots from -4EV to+4EV. Later, I used only 7 exposures to tone map HDR image; +3 and +4 exposures were way too bright and unusable.

Travel Photography Blog - Canada. Montreal. Lachine

Canada. Montreal. Lachine
Loc: 45.429813, -73.690427

 

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 3 Bracketed Shots (-1;  0; +1, ) [Read more...]

Holiday Deals for Travel and Landscape Photographers

This is my contribution to holiday shopping craze. Below is the list of only the very best photography deals I managed to find. I am very comfortable with recommending following products and services because I am very familiar with all of them and I even reviewed some of them previously on my blog (see my reviews).

 

40% OFF the Trey Ratcliff’s Famous “Complete
HDR Tutorial”

Save 30% on famous HDR tutorial (discount code HDR5309) + use code PHOTOTRACES to get additional 10% off.

What’s included:10+ hours of video instruction, Trey’s RAW image files, Stuck in Customs Clubhouse, Recording of Q&A and Critique session.


 

Landscape Photography Tutorial Series: New Zealand from Trey Ratcliff

The best Landscape and Travel Photography Video Tutorial around. Use discount code PHOTOTRACES to get additional 10% off.

Read review on my blog: Landscape Photography Tutorial Series: New Zealand by Trey Ratcliff


 

60% OFF the “Bokeh Creating with Shallow
Depth of Field” by Christopher O’Donnell

This book is an amazing opportunity for us to learn something very unique. By reading and learning from Chris, we can incorporate his techniques into our own style, making it more distinctive and original.

$6.46 (original price $19.00)

Read review on my blog: Bokeh – Shallow Depth of Field in Landscape Photography


 

20% off “The Art of Digital Blending” Video Course by Jimmy McIntyre

The most complete luminosity masks tutorial In the world.

$35.99 (original price $44.99)

Read review on my blog: “The Art of Digital Blending” Video Course by Jimmy McIntyre


 

30% OFF everything at Phlearn

Guys from Phlearn are the photographers who are the wizards of Photoshop. If you never heard of them you have to start with their free tutorials. They also have hours of free videos related to photography.


Bryce Canyon – Minutes Before the Snow Storm (Utah)

As I was standing at the edge of the Bryce Canyon watching the storm from the distance I had no idea how different the landscape would look in 15-20 minutes. It was hard to imagine that transformation from warm and sunny spring afternoon to freezing winter would be so abrupt. At the same time I had no reason to complain; it was an amazing day for landscape and travel photography.

Couple of hours later when I realized that heavy snow storm ruined my hopes for the beautiful sunset, I rushed to Zion National Park where I had more luck with the evening light.

Non-destructive Workflow

This is my second HDR photo that I processed without using dedicated HDR program. Instead, I used luminosity masking techniques from The Art of Digital Blending video course (see my review here). I really enjoy alternative HDR workflow. What I like most about luminosity masking is that it is non-destructive by its nature.

Travel Photography Blog - New York, Tilted View

Utah.Bryce Canyon National Park
Loc: 37.516425, -112.264853

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 3 Bracketed Shots (  -1; 0; +1) [Read more...]

Busy Summer Day in Montreal

This is the photo with probably the busiest composition I have ever taken. This is so much going on everywhere, with the Biosphere and dramatic sky in the background. I took it on extremely hot and humid weekend on Ile Sainte-Helene in Montreal few years back.

That was the weekend when my wife and her swimming team had big competition at the Aquatic Complex and my daughter had water polo practices at the same place. I tagged along after them with my camera and took this shot from the stands. Few minutes later all 3 pools were shut down due to the severe thunderstorm.

Experimenting with luminosity masks

I keep experimenting with luminosity masking, applying new techniques I’ve learned from The Art of Digital Blending video course (see my review here). I managed to create High Dynamic Range (HDR) photo by blending 3 exposures without dedicated HDR software.

Travel Photography Blog - New York, Tilted View

Canada. Montreal. Ile Sainte-Helene
Loc: 45.511949, -73.534814

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 3 Bracketed Shots (  -2; 0; +2) [Read more...]

Manhattan’s Tilted View (New York)

I know that some photographers try to avoid well known and recognizable places when they travel  as they are always in search of new and unique spots. I have a different approach when visiting iconic locations. I treat them as a personal challenge and, instead, work hard trying to make my photos unique. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not; but, I always have fun trying.

That was the exact challenge I faced while visiting Rockefeller Center in New York. The view from the observation deck towards the downtown is one of the most recognizable in the world. There is so much going on in front of you: the Empire State Building, Lower Manhattan, Hudson and East rivers, Statue of Liberty, Jersey City, bridges etc.

Thousands and thousands of photos are taken from exactly the same spot where I was standing. This is when I decided to do something different; I tilted my camera and took three bracketed shots. I broke my first rule of photography which states - always keep the horizon horizontal. I topped it with black and white treatment in post-processing and achieved quite an unconventional photo of an iconic location.

Travel Photography Blog - New York, Tilted View

New York. Manhattan. View From Rockefeller Center
Loc: 40.75905, -73.97841

 

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 3 Bracketed Shots (  -2; 0; +2) [Read more...]

Review: “The Art of Digital Blending” Video Course by Jimmy McIntyre

I am a big proponent of High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. I shoot multiple photos with different exposures and later combine them together to create rich images with extended dynamic range.  I always try to achieve natural looking images with the right balance of highlights, shadows and saturations. I use different programs and techniques to achieve the desired effect of natural looking HDR photographs.

One of the techniques I started to use is digital blending. The technique is based on combining multiple exposures in Photoshop with the help of luminosity masks. This is an easy alternative for using standalone HDR programs.

For me, there are two main advantages of using digital blending over a dedicated HDR program:

  • Level of control: You no longer rely on HDR application algorithm as you control every step of the process.
  • Digital noise factor: The digital blending does not introduce excessive noise to your photographs.

Recently, to improve my digital blending skills, I downloaded a copy of the video course, “The Art of Digital Blending,” by renowned travel photographer and educator, Jimmy McIntyre. After watching the course only for a few minutes, I realized that up to that point I used only 10%, at most, of potential digital blending techniques.

I’ve used Photoshop for years; actually, I started using it with version 3.0, and thought that at this point nothing could surprise me about Photoshop. But, Jimmy managed to do just that.

After watching this course twice, I realized that I could significantly improve my photography by introducing changes and modifications not only to my post-processing workflow but to my shooting techniques as well. [Read more...]

Photography Tips (#03): Cross Processing Effect in Lightroom in Seconds

Even before I seriously got involved with photography, I was a big fan of the Cross-Processing effect as a type of photography. I liked the stylish, retro look which was so popular in fashion photography.  Since I had a film camera, and my private darkroom in our bathroom when I was in high school, I understood how cross processing was achieved in film. I knew that when you deliberately develop film with the wrong chemicals you can achieve very interesting and artsy effects.

Photography Tips - Cross Processing in Lightroom in Seconds

Not surprisingly, when I finally bought my first DSLR and started to process photos in my digital darkroom (Photoshop), the first thing that I tried to achieve was the cross-processing effect. Soon, I realized that it was not as easy as I expected. It required multiple steps and multiple tools (curves, levels, blending modes). The process of experimenting with cross process style was time consuming. Over the years, I developed my own presets and actions but I never found it to be friendly and fun.

Everything changed when Lightroom introduced its new tool, SPLIT TONING. This is probably one of my favorite features of Lightroom. It allows you to experiment with a variety of different looks in seconds. The creative process becomes very intuitive and fun.

The Split Toning tool allows you to add specific color to light areas of your photo and another color to the dark areas. The color combinations and settings are endless, thus letting you achieve any look you desire.

Below is a Before & After demonstration. I took this photo with my point and shoot camera, Lumix LX7, in the local park. I will show you how to achieve this stylish look in Lightroom in seconds.

 

Cross Processing Effect in Lightroom

At the end of the post you can find a short video that demonstrates the entire process in less than 2 minute.

STEP 1

Open Lightroom. Select the photo you want to work on. Go to the Development module of Lightroom. Find the Split Toning menu on the right panel.

 

STEP 2

Set Hue value for Highlights to 50, Saturation to 50.
Set Hue value for Shadows to 170, Saturation to 50.

I always start with saturation value 50 and then I decide if I have to dial it down or boost it.

 

STEP 3

At this point, the Cross Processing effect is achieved. Now we have to fine tune the image to achieve the look we desire.

As you can see, the shadows are over saturated and we have to dial it down (value 25). At the same time, I want to boost saturation of the highlights (value 66).

The last adjustment slider is Balance. By moving the slider to the right, we can make the photo warmer and by moving it to left, we can make it cooler.

I want to convey the feeling of a warm sunset light in this photo, so I move the Balance slider to the right (value +21).

 

STEP 4

This is an optional step which has nothing to do with actual Cross Processing. I just want to improve the image in general by recovering some shadows in dark areas, boost the contrast and slightly increase the saturation.

Jump Basic Panel and have fun with the sliders.

We are done.

 

Please watch the short video below to learn all the processing steps. The best way to watch the video is in FULL SCREEN mode.

 

 

Colors and Textures of Utah Desert

This is another photo from my driving trip to the Southwest. After exploring Utah for three days, visiting Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, I was ready to drive towards the ocean.

Sometimes driving through the desert can be monotonous and boring. I realized that while driving from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. It was probably the longest 400 km in my life. But the drive from Zion to Las Vegas was far from boring. I’ve already addressed the amazing transformation from canyons to the desert in my earlier post.

I find the featured photo to be very graphical. There is nothing special happening in the frame and there is no main object of interest. There is just an incredible variety of textures and colors with the thick clouds casting random shadows and, as result, adding depth to the composition.  

A beautiful desert.

Travel Photography Blog - USA. Utah. Drive to Nevada

USA. Utah. Drive to Nevada
Loc: 37.224840, -113.252011

 

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 3 Bracketed Shots (-1;  0; +1, ) [Read more...]

Snowless Winter Sunset (Montreal)

It was a very cold and windy day. The wind made it very uncomfortable and I had no plans to go outside at all as a freezing day in winter with no snow is not ideal time for photography.

But, then I thought that if I do not go out, I would spend the next two hours staring at a monitor screen and reading useless nonsense. I picked up my gear and went to the local park.

As you can see, I was rewarded for my persistence with this interesting shot. What I like most about it is that it has three distinctive and contrasting areas of colors: ice, sky and foreground elements (tree, grass) illuminated with the warm sunset light.

The only real challenge I had with the shot was my long shadow being cast over the grass by the setting sun. I had to deal with it in post processing by masking it with the Stamp Tool in Photoshop.

Travel Photography Blog - Canada. Montreal. Old Port

Canada. Montreal. Lachine Park
Loc: 45.429027, -73.685683

 

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 53 Bracketed Shots from Old Montreal ( -2,  -1, 0, +1, +2 ) [Read more...]

Red Colors of Zion National Park (Utah)

When you travel to Zion from Las Vegas you experience a fascinating transition from the land of the deserts to the land of the canyons. During the 3 hour drive you witness amazing transformations in colors, shapes, vegetation and geology. When you reach this spot, you realize that the transformation is finally completed and you are entering the land of the canyons. Everywhere you look you see orange and red, even the asphalt has prominent red hues.

I took this photo not far from south entrance to Zion National Park and this is the exact spot where my jaw dropped the first time I traveled to Zion.

At the same time, if you travel to Zion from the east, you probably would not even notice this place. Travelers who enter the park from the east entrance most likely have already visited the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and have driven along the beautiful route 89 and at that point nothing can surprise them.

Travel Photography Blog - USA. Utah. Zion National Park

USA. Utah. Zion National Park
Loc: 37.210121, -112.979180

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 4 Bracketed Shots ( -2; -1;  0; +1 ) [Read more...]