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 masking

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...]

The Best WordPress Themes for Your Photography Blog

Today’s post is the third instalment of my series, “Blogging Tips for Photographers.” In my first post I outlined my position on how every photographer can profit from running a blog. In my second article, I shared practical steps on how to setup your photography blog in less than 10 minutes. Today’s post discusses WordPress themes.

WordPress theme is what makes your blog unique. A theme defines the design of your blog, its layout (the position of the elements on your blog) and its functionality (mobile friendliness etc.).

Choosing the right theme is a crucial step in the process of building a successful blog. My experience with WordPress themes started a while ago when I created my first photography blog and picked one of the free themes. I customized the design myself and was a happy blogger for three to four months. However, with the next major update to the WordPress platform, my theme stopped working and I spent a week trying to repair broken code. [Read more...]

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument (Arizona)

This was the end of the very eventful day during my trip to Arizona and Utah.

Earlier that day I woke up in Grand Canyon Village and, after a short stroke along the rim of the Grand Canyon, I drove north towards Page and Lake Powell. Due to the landslide, route 89 was closed and I had to change my itinerary and take an alternate, unplanned route towards the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Unplanned and accidental drives became the highlights of my entire trip. First I drove along the beautiful Echo Cliffs; then, I spent at least an hour on the Navajo Bridge enjoying the view of Marble Canyon with the huge condors flying overhead. Alter I crossed the Colorado River I drove through the beautiful valley along the Vermilion Cliffs.

I took this picture just before leaving the Vermilion Cliffs valley and driving towards Grand Canyon North Rim.

Travel Photography Blog - Arizona. Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

Arizona. Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Loc: 36.726388, -112.058020

 

Deconstructing Featured Photo

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

Bryce Canyon’s Unpredictable Weather (Utah)

These two photos best illustrate the unpredictability of the weather in the Southwest US, Utah, in particular. My trip, in the middle of May, to the Southwest was very pleasant for a couple of days while I was driving through Arizona. Even when I arrived to Kanab (Utah), nothing indicated extreme weather conditions.

I started my day in a t-shirt with the sun blasting through the clouds early in the morning. But, in the middle of the same day, I found myself driving through a major snow storm in the vicinity of Bryce Canyon National Park with zero visibility on the road.

That day, I arrived at Swamp Canyon Point in Bryce at 12:54 PM (left photo) when snow started to fall harder and, in combination with the strong winds, it was very uncomfortable. At some point I thought that it was time to pack my gear and  drive back the hotel.

You can imagine how surprised I was when 15 minutes later, exactly at 1:09 PM (right photo), the snow and wind suddenly stopped and it was spring again with no traces of snow or fog.

Travel Photography Blog - Utah. Bryce Canyon National Park - Swamp Canyon Point

Utah. Bryce Canyon National Park – Swamp Canyon Point
Loc: 37.587369, -112.213526

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Photo 1

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