Great Light Easy Light

GREAT LIGHT EASY LIGHT Strobe Techniques That Don't Look Lit

Great Light Easy Light is the latest ebook from Craft and Vision and it is written by Kevin Clark.  The book provides some solid examples of using lighting for portrait photography work.  I am certainly no expert on portraits and it is a field I really have no interest in, but if I were this book would give me a good start on using strobe and natural light.  I found the examples in the book well written with lighting diagrams provided and settings included.  The author does use large light boxes and octagons, so if these are something you do not have, you might find it difficult to implement all of the setups described in the book. One, two and three light setups are discussed in the book along with alternative lighting positions. I'm sure there are a multitude of sources on the internet where you can find similar information, but Kevin Clark has put together a nice package in this book that will save you lots of time digging around the inter webs.

From now through September 29, 2012 at 11:59pm(PST) you can purchase Great Light Easy Light for just $4 when you use the code EASY4. You can save 20% when you purchase 5+ ebooks when you use the code EASY20. Link below.

Purchase Great Light Easy Light

Half Dome Reward

One of the many rewards of hiking to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park is of course the immense sense of accomplishment that goes along with such a significant hike. But from a photographers perspective the true reward is the view and excitement one has in trying to capture some magic from the top.  



The rush one feels when accomplishing such a personal goal of reaching the top of Half Dome can leave you light headed and perhaps not thinking as clearly as you would like. When it came time to settle down and make some images, I needed to think about what I wanted to accomplish photographically. In my mind I would think of the beauty captured by photographers such as Ansel Adams of course, but also of modern day photographers like Jimmy Chin. I wanted to not only capture the beautiful view one experiences at the top, but also the other hikers who achieved their goal.



I highly recommend the Half Dome hike, it is truly a most rewarding experience.  Just ask my 12 year old who still beams to this day of making it all the way to the top. You can read all about the Half Dome hike here at the Yosemite National Park page. Half Dome should defintely be on your bucket list, it was on mine and still is. I want to go back and do it again!


Portraits of Earth


PORTRAITS OF EARTH An Introduction to Landscape Photography

When one speaks of David duChemin the conversation usually does not involve landscape photography, but rather one of vision and expressing that vision in print. However, as David points out in his latest ebook from Craft and Vision, he did not suddenly decide to become a landscape photographer. His pursuit of making art has led him on a journey that has resulted in his appreciation of our planet earth and capturing its beauty. As Jay Maisel has been often quoted, "If you want to make more interesting pictures, lead a more interesting life." Now I'm not claiming that David did not lead a more interesting life before this, it just seems more recently he has been challenging himself to improve his craft by taking some risks and creating a very interesting journey.

This book is a solid effort that really hits home on pursuing one's goals. The book provides very a very useful discussion of light and its importance in landscape photography. David does talk about gear in the book and does it well by highlighting those items that really come in handy without presenting obstacles. He provides insight to many techniques and tools that I had taken for granted, but now see based on his results why they are so important.

And the images, wow the images. David includes many beauties from his travels over the last several years and discusses them and shows what makes them mean something to him. I found myself reviewing each image for sometime, trying to study them to see why I like them so much.  It is part of the process to improve your self by studio others art. I can't think of a better way to spend $5 to and improve both your appreciation for our art and to improve  upon our craft.

I thoroughly enjoy David's writing style and always look forward to grabbing a cup of coffee and sitting down to take it all in.

From now through September 9, 2012 at 11:59pm(PST) you can purchase Portraits of Earth for just $4 when you use the code EARTH4. You can save 20% when you purchase 5+ ebooks when you use the code EARTH20. Link below.


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Finding Focus


Finding Focus Understanding the Camera's Eye

Finding Focus by Nicole S. Young provides a straightforward introduction into the concept of focus and how one applies it within their photography.  Included in this introduction as the basic idea of why focus matters and how it is applied can ultimately make or brake what you are trying to represent in your particular image.

Nicole gives us a nice background on lens aperture and its effect on depth of field and focus.  If you do not understand what lens compression is, then I suggest you grab Nicole's book since she cleaarly explains what it is and includes some solid examples of its application.

While Nicole is known for her food photography and she does include some examples of it in the book to demonstrate application of lens compression, this is not a book dedicated to food photography.  Its concepts are applicable across all disciplines including portraits and macro photography which Nicole touches upon.

Nicole also talks about the application of focus in landscapes, group photos and how it can be used to convey your story or message that you are trying to put forth in your images.  Included in the book is some specialty lens discussion and application of various leading software packages and how they can also assist in applying just the right focus to your image.

I believe that anyone getting more serious about their photography, especially those with advanced Point & Shoots or those recent converts to their first Digital SLR would greatly benefit from this book.  And although there are no specific discussions on camera phone photography in the book, the concepts discussed in it can equally apply to those looking to get more creative with those devices as well.

I would have liked a bit more detail provided in the discussion regarding landscape photography and where one decides where to focus in the scene. A basic tip is provided, but a little more discussion of the more technical approach mentioned in the book would have been helpful.

From now through August 19, 2012 at 11:59pm(PST) you can purchase Finding Focus for just $4 when you use the code FOCUS4. You can save 20% when you purchase 5+ ebooks when you use the code FOCUS20. Link below.


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A Return to Yosemite

Two years ago my family and I embarked on a 5+ week journey across CONUS (that's fancy for Continental United States). We are often asked how we could stand each other for so long in cramped quarters ( small hotel rooms and our medium sized SUV).  But somehow we managed to have a great deal of fun together and can put up with one another's little idosyncrasies. This summer we decided upon a return trip focusing on the great state of California.

One of our greatest regrets from that trip two years ago was the ill timed arrival and execution of our first visit to Yosemite National Park.  One of our greatest desires this year was to make sure we planned and executed our visit to this national treasure a bit better.  And boy did we.  After our last trip I decided any return trip to Yosemite must include a hike up to the top of Half-Dome. We studied what it would take to make this journey and watched videos and read many blog posts on planning such a hike. We were successful.
Below is an image from the sub base of half dome looking up at the cables located in the middle of the image. The ascent from the bottom of the cables is approximately 400 feet at about a 45 degree angle or more. Just getting to this point is about a 7-8 mile hike with +3500 feet of climbing.  In the image that gentleman in the lower left hand corner is my 17-year old son who is realizing for the first time the magnitude of what he is about to undertake and also the grandeur of this granite beauty.
All four of us made the trek up to the top (and back down I might add) safely including my 12 year old son who seem to hit his stride as we got to the cables. On our previous trip we were exhausted when we got to Yosemite, this time we were well rested for our hike and completely wasted after it.  Like I said, better planning pays off. Below a shot of the descent.
I would like to say the image below was a well planned self portrait showing what it is like on the cables, however this was just me trying to hold on and take some shots during the hike up when I accidentally triggered the camera. What was that I read Ansel Adams often saying, "chance favoring the prepared mind"? That's it!



Salem Witches Cup

Yesterday I traveled up to Salem, MA to take in some fantastic cycling races around the Salem Common. The Salem Witches Cup is a criterium or crit race which involves a closed course where cyclists travel the same short loop many times, in the case the Salem Common. Being as this was only my second outing at photographing a bike race, I was excited to get back to applying what I have learned in other areas of photography to my other passion, cycling.

While obviously one tries to watch the race and capture events as everyone else sees them, the creative side of me tries to apply techniques I have picked up in other areas of photography. Here I use the panning technique to blur the background as one of the riders has broken away from the group.

A criterium race like this affords you many opportunities to try different things.  The riders are not going anywhere except around and around, but at very high speeds. The important thing no matter what your interests in photography is t get out there and shoot. Experiment, fail, try again.  This is the only way we improve at our craft, whether it is photography or cycling.

Dodge & Burn: Leading the Eye with Lightroom and Photoshop


Sorry for the delay in posting this review, I usually get these out on release date of the book. Being on vacation without internet access hampered my communications, but also helped me relax. I did find it somewhat ironic that Dodge and Burn was released just after I spent several days in Yosemite (including a hike up Half Dome which will be another blog post). When I think of Yosemite, Ansel Adams work comes to mind immediately and from what I have read he was a master of dodge and burn in the lab. I really believe if Ansel Adams was around today, he would buy this book! Piet Van den Eynde has really hit a home run with Dodge and Burn by giving you everything you need to enhance your photos with this technique that has been in practice for many years. Workflows using either Lightroom or Photoshop are covered in the book.


Note: I do not own photoshop and rely strictly on Lightroom for my post processing with a couple of plugins, therefore I cannot comment on the Photoshop portion of this package.  However I imagine the experience is very similar with the use of the custom panels developed by Piet for Photoshop. He uses Lightroom 4 for his workflow in the book, but also includes some advice with respect to process versions in LR 3 & 4.

There is no assumption on your knowledge of dodging and burning as Piet takes you through some background information on the technique and why we use it.  This helps as you dive into the workflow descriptions used in the Lightroom develop module.  Piet provides time saving techniques to apply dodging and burning in both a global and localized manner with a step by step walk through.  His "path of least resistance" philosophy to getting the job done makes a great deal of sense with all of us being restricted in some way with the amount of time available to edit. The full package includes the images used by Piet in his case studies so that you can follow along and practice at the same time.

Piet goes into detail using the Photoshop Dodge and Burn panels as well as a discussion on some third party plug ins that could also help with the process.  You can check out a video at Piet's site for some background on the panel itself.

The "lite" version includes the complete Dodge and Burn book and the lite version of the Photoshop panel.  The "Full" version includes the same Dodge and Burn PDF book and the Full version of the Photoshop panel.  If you are strictly a Lightroom user, then you should stick with the lite version.


From now through Sunday night, July 22 at 11:59pm you can purchase the full Dodge & Burn package for just $8 when you use the code DODGE8. You can save 20% when you purchase 5+ ebooks when you use the code DODGE20. Links below.


Purchase Lite Version


Purchase Full Version

Purgatory Chasm

Not far from the Purgatry Road race is Purgatory Chasm, a nice state park to explore and quench your thirst for some rock climbing. Here is a shot taken on a recent hike through the chasm. I applied a miniature or tilt shift effect to the image.


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