Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Best of Bosque

Photograph © Rick Sammon
This post includes all the individual posts from my December 2011 workshops with Juan Pons. Here's the link for the 2012 workshop that I am leading with Juan. Note: I will only be there the first session.

Throughout this post I mention the gear I use. To see all my gear, click here.

Blast Off at Bosque

Our group was treated to an amazing "blast off." (That's mist at the bottom of the frame.)

For those of you new to Bosque, the "blast off" usually lasts for less than one minute. I took the opening image for this post with my Canon 24-105mm IS lens. 

Later that day . . . . Here's a close-up of two snow geese flying by the moon. Yes! I created the image in Photoshop. I can show you how to do this on my workshops - as well as how to enhance your images.

Spectacular Sunrise

This morning we went on a scouting mission. Here are a few of my shots, along with some tips.

My gear: Canon EOS 7D and EOS 5D Mark II; Canon 100-400mm IS, Canon 400mm DO and Canon 24-105mm IS.

Above: Get on site before sunrise. Expose for the highlights. Don't be afraid to boost your ISO; you can reduce the noise later in Lightroom or Photoshop.

Above: For dramatic blastoff shots, shoot with a 24-105mm lens. To add some color to the sky, use the User Defined Gradual Filter in Nik Color Efex Pro. To get a discount on Nik plug-ins, and to see what other plug-ins I use, click here.

Above:  Experiment with the placement of the horizon line in the frame. To enhance the color in a scene, try the Spicify filter in Topaz Adjust. Info on Topaz on my Creative Plug-ins page along with Nik info.

Look up and watch out for falling bird poop! Got me. Photo by Juan Pons.

Above: Speaking of looking up. . . .  Shoot straight up. Experiment with creative cropping in the digital darkroom. Usually, dead center is deadly. And, use AI Servo Focus to track birds in flight.

Above: Focus on the eye. If it's not well lit and in focus, you've missed the shot.

For more photo tips, check out my apps.

Shooting Silhouettes

© Rick Sammon
Why do we like silhouettes? I would like to hear your suggestions here on my blog – or on Google+.

Maybe it's because silhouettes are more dramatic than photographs in which we can see details.
Maybe it's because millions of years ago we looked for prey and predators at sunrise and sunset . . . when there is a changing of the guard between the nighttime and daytime animals . . . and when there is the greatest danger of being eaten. Actually, that is my theory. Subconsciously, we are always on the lookout for danger. Another theory: silhouettes can simply be pretty. :-)

Whatever the reason, silhouettes are fun to take and create. Here are a few tips:

– Slightly underexpose your image. That will darken the shadows for a more dramatic image.
– Shoot toward the sun.
– Increase the contrast and color in Lightroom or Photoshop.
– Increase the saturation in the digital darkroom.
– Look for a clean background.

© Rick Sammon
Here's another tip: Think color. If the background has little or no color, add color. In all of these images I added a touch of color with Nik Software's Color Efex Pro. To get a discount on all Nik plug-ins, as well as some of the other plug-ins I use, click here

It's Not Easy Having Fun

Photograph © Rick Sammon
"It's not easy having fun."

That expression rang true this morning at Bosque del Apache, New Mexico. Want proof? See the photo below.

The good news is that we had great light and a winter wonderland landscape.

Photoshop © Rick Sammon
Last night I gave our workshop student my talk on composition, and I put my own tips to use this morning - using background and foreground elements to complement the main subject.

My Kelby training class on composition will be on line on Monday. For now, if you shoot with Canon cameras, check out my Canon classes. I will be posting a preview of the class on Monday here on my blog.

I took the tele shots here with my Canon 7D and Canon 100-400mm IS lens. I took the wide-angle shots with my Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 17-40mm lens.

Photograph © Rick Sammon
For all of these images I used Nik Software's Color Efex Pro: Graduated filters on the first two images, and the Polaroid Transfer filter on the last image.

You can get a discount on Nik plug-ins, and the other plug-ins that I use, on my Creative Plug-ins page.

 Plug-ins Can Help Create Painterly and Cool Effects

Think like a painter." That's what I suggested to the students who are attending the Bosque del Apache photography workshop that I and Juan Pons are currently teaching.

When you start to think like a painter, you might produce more artistic images.

Last night, while we were freezing our buns off at sunset, I was thinking like a painter. I wondered how a painter might capture the scene, which included sandhill cranes, the moon and a clear sky.

I took a few shots of the moon with my Canon 400mm DO lens w/1.4x converter which was mounted on my Canon 7D. Then I started to photograph the sandhill cranes with the same setup. I was looking for groups of three birds, following the "rule of odds" composition rule. For more on composition, check out my Composition class on Kelby training.

Back in my toasty room, I created a montage in Photoshop CS5.

I used two plug-ins to remove some of the photographic reality from the scene.

On the sandhill crane layer, I first used the Midnight filter in Nik Color Efex Pro. Then, on the same layer, I used the Crisp filter in Topaz Adjust.

You can get a discount on Nik plug-ins (and some of the other plug-ins I use) and save on bundle on Topaz Labs bundles on my Creative Plug-ins page.

I added the drop shadow as a Layer Style in Photoshop.

I teach all this stuff on my workshops - shooting and using Photoshop (and Lightroom).

Above is  photograph I took at the "golden hour." I enhanced the color with the Bi-color User Defined filter in Nik's Color Efex Pro.

HDR plug-ins and programs can help you create cool images, too. 

Above: I used Photomatix Pro to create this cool image. Earlier this week I posted an HDR image of the same scene - minus the snow.

You can save 15% on Photomatix by using this code upon checkout: ricksammon.

There are other great photo ops in Bosque.... especially if you are into HDR photography.

Today Juan Pons, Chris Klapheke and I took our workshop students on a cool HDR shoot in a junkyard.

When it comes to HDR photography, you'll get the coolest images when shooting in a high contrast situation - such as shooting from indoors to outdoors, which includes shooting from inside a car.

Above is one of my favorite images from our HDR shoot. I used the Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens on my Canon 5D Mark II. I created the image in Photomatix with a touch of Topaz Adjust (to bring out the grain in the leather seats). Below is another Topaz Adjust image.

To learn about HDR, see my post: HDR Must Know Info.

To $ave on Photomatix and the other plug-ins I use, click here.

Above is another HDR image I shot today. I could have brought out more of the details in the shadows, but.... shadows are the soul of the photographs, shadows are your friend... and light illuminates, shadows define.

If you like HDR, check out my iHDR apps.. for the iPad and a Mac!

So what about the birds today?

We saw tons of birds. Above: I used my Canon 400mm DO lens on my Canon 7D.

Tips: Crop creatively; crop out the dead space. Use focus tracking (AI Servo) when photographing moving subjects.

Shoot silhouettes. Use Nik Color Efex Pro's Gradual Filter to change the color of the sky. Again, see my plug-ins page to get a discount on the plug-ins I use, including Nik.

Leave some room in the frame into which the subject can fly.

Shoot with both eyes open so you can see other subjects that can enhance (or ruin) an image. Watch the background, too.

Explore the light,


Jeff Peterson said...

Wow, some great photos in this post. I especially like the sunrise photos and the silhouette photos.

Jim Griggs said...

Great tips and photos, Rick! Thinking about getting you back to the Great Plains Nature Photographers sometime. One tip I would add is to set focus range on the telephoto shots to minimize focus "hunting".

Gregory Urbano said...

Looks like a fantastic shoot!