Now Available: Master Landscape and Seascape Photography

My latest on-line class - Master Landscape and Seascape Photography - is here!

Click here to see a free preview (Black-and-white photography).

Introductory offer for blog readers! Use this  code - landscapes - to save $10 on the $29.99 class.

The one-hour seminar (like taking a private lesson from me in your home) is a narrated keynote slide presentation that includes more than 225 images and tons of tips gained from my travel to almost 100 countries.

The seminar is actually two seminars in one: a landscape/seascape/coastal photography seminar and a travelog. You'll learn how to photographs from dawn to dusk - and you'll get some ideas on where you can make some awesome landscape and seascape images.

It's a learn-at-your-own-pace, seminar that you can stream or download and view again and again.

Got questions? Everyone who attends/views one of my seminars is a student for life. That means seminar attendees can email me questions for the rest of my life.

If you are new to my teaching style, here are some videos - on-line lessons that will help you with your landscape photography:
Composition - the strongest way of seeing.
Having fun with filters.
Lenses for landscape photography.
My camera settings vs. your creative vision.

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Here is the timeline for the class:
00:00 Introduction
01:50 Mood & Feeling 
02:43 Why We Photograph – Types of Images
05:56 Basic Concept: Get Everything in Focus
07:50 Basic Concept: Get a Good Exposure
10:05 Basic Concept: Separation
11:58 Basic Concept: Image Enhancements
14:21 Black-and-White Photography
19:14 Time of Day – See The Light
24:03 What If You've Only Got One Shot?
26:15 HDR
30:58 Storytelling With Lenses
33:36 The One-Lens Shoot
36:21 Close Ups
38:56 Stay in Shape
39:37 Blurring Water
41:31 Panoramas
45:54 Composition
49:41 Cropping
51:05 Filters
51.50 Sunrise and Sunset
53.46 Reflections
54.35 Thank you!

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During the class  you will explore the following locations: Iceland, Holland, Death Valley, North Wales, Mt. Rainier, Goblin Valley State Park, Oregon Coast, Mono Lake, Antarctica, Alaska, Laos, Slot Canyons, Monument Valley and Bryce Canyon.

This is not just a slide show of pretty photographs. For each photograph I give a photography, location or digital enhancement tip.

 I hope you enjoy the class - and please don't be shy about emailing me questions.

Click here to order the class.

Explore the light,
Rick

P.S. For more tips on composition, see my KelbyOne class, Composition - the strongest way of seeing. For more tips on exposure, see my KelbyOne class, Light - the mail element in every photograph.

Good Fun and Learning at My Latest Sammon Speedlite Session

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Photographers who attend my photo workshops know that I like to make learning fun while making pictures (rather than just taking pictures). I demonstrated that philosophy during my Canon/Westcott speedlite session yesterday at Adorama's New York City store.

Photo by Richard Cohen. That's me behind the lens!

Photo by Richard Cohen. That's me behind the lens!

Yes, we had a great model, Rebecca West, and great gear. But what about shooting in a relatively small space in a busy store – in front of a standing-room-only crowd on a Tuesday afternoon? A challenge, yes – but a good one. I love challenges. As I said to the crowd at the opening of my presentation, "If you can make a good speedlite portrait here, you can make one anywhere."

The opening image for this post is my favorite image from the shoot. My gear for this portriat:
• Main light (positioned above Rebecca): Westcott Rapid Box 26-inch Octo Softbox - with Canon 600EX-RT speedlite
• Fill light (positioned beneath model) Westcott Eyelighter
Canon ST-E3 Speedlite Transmitter
Canon 24-105mm IS lens (my favorite lens)
Lexar 32GB Compact Flash card.

I shot tethered into Lightroom on my MacBook Pro using a Tether Tools cable.

All of the images here were taken with my speedlites set on the ETTL mode. Hey Joe Brady - I know you love manual, but I'm an ETTL guy. I mentioned our video during the shoot.

The exposures for all the images in this post were fine tuned, quickly and easily, from my camera with the Canon ST-E3 wireless transmitter.

I converted my color file to black-and-white with Macphun's Tonality Pro. Click here to see all my plug-ins.

Photographs by Richard Cohen

Photographs by Richard Cohen

Speaking of challenges (which I often see as opportunities), I often like to give audience members the opportunity to shoot during my speedlite sessions – after I set up the lighting gear and offer some quick tips. Above are two photographs by audience member (and first-time in-studio speedlite shooter) Richard Cohen.

Left: Westcott Apollo 28-inch softbox (Canon 600EX facing toward the back of the softbox and zoomed out all the way) placed to the side and slightly behind Rebecca. Thanks Jack Reznicki for showing me this technique.

Right: Westcott Apollo 28-inch softbox placed in front of and to the side of Rebecca, and a Canon 600EX-RT held directly behind Rebecca's head.

Nice work, Richard!

Thanks to all those to attended my seminar, and thanks to Adorama for hosting the event.

For more basic lighting tips, see my iPad and iPhone app, Light It!

I hope to see you on one of my workshops. I promise you, you'll learn a lot and have a lot of fun.

Explore the light,
Rick
P.S. I also give private speedlite (and Photoshop and everything else) lessons. Shoot me an email for info.

Photograph the "Old West" on My Casper, Wyoming Photo Workshop

I am gearing up for my "Old West" photo workshop in Casper, Wyoming later this year. Can't wait, and I hope you can join the fun.

Fun? I run a lot of workshops, but this one will be a ton of fun, as illustrated in this video.

I took the opening image for this post on my previous Casper photo workshop. Yes! We got a horse in the Wonder Bar, and we'll do it again - for you!

In going though my files, I came across some of my favorite Old West images (from a shoot in Spearfish, SD) along with some captions. Enjoy.

Reflecting on the day. The most important element in a photograph is the mood, feeling or emotion. I created the mood in this photograph by “painting” the cowgirl with the light from a $5 flashlight. My goal was to create an image with dramatic shadows. Shadows are the soul of the photograph.

Lone rider. I like the feeling of  freedom that this image captures. That’s part of being a cowboy.

Looking for her. I am drawn to faces. It was the intense look on this cowboy’s face that inspired me to make this photograph. To add to the artistry of this image, I removed the color. When you remove the color from a photograph, you remove some of the reality.

Best friends. The eyes are the windows to the soul. It was this cowgirl’s beautiful eyes that first drew me to make this photograph, but then I noticed the look and “feeling” in the dog’s eyes. Both subjects seem to be having the same feeling, so I included both of them in my frame.

Daybreak on the range. I like shooting at the crack of dawn, capturing dramatic silhouettes against the rising sun. I like to challenge myself to make pictures in these high contrast situations, as the light changes very, very fast.

Good morning, pardner. The perfect silhouettes of the horses and cowboys drew me to make this photograph. Silhouettes add a sense of mystery to a photograph.

After the storm. I like the way the dark clouds create the mood in this image. Not every picture needs to be taking on a bright, sunny day.

Heading home. This cowboy was riding as fast as he could. To convey the sense of speed, I used a photographic technique called panning, which blurrs the background but keeps the rider in sharp focus.

Ride 'em cowboy (and cowgirl),
Rick

Make Better Bird Photographs

Do you like making bird photographs – and processing your bird photography images? If so, I think you will like my on-line seminar/class, Master The Art and Craft of Bird Photography. I'll show you how to photograph birds in flight . . . to birds on a sick.

The class/seminar is about one hour in length and costs $29.00 - but only $19 with the rsbirds1 code.

Class Topics
• Introduction
• Learning
• Setting Goals
• A Bit of Blur
• Seeing the Light
• Story Telling
• Exploring Bosque
• Exposure
• Histogram
• Both Eyes Open
• Focus Point
• Light and Mood
• Basic Enhancements
• Think Like a Painter
• Daylight Fill-in Flash
• Birds on a Stick
• Art in Nature
• More Creative Images
• Gear
• Good luck

  Click here to order.

The seminar is a recording/QuickTime movie of my Keynote slide presentation, Master the Art and Craft of Bird Photography. You watch and learn at your own pace.

Click here to see a preview of the class - which features almost 150 images from my travels around the world.

That's me with my assistant during one of our bird photography shoots! :-)

In the seminar/class I cover shooting and a bit of processing, including, "Thinking Like a Painter." In that section I talk about sharpening selectively, illustrated above with a Photoshop screen grab (from the class). Process: Filter > Convert to Smart Filter > apply Unsharp Mask, mask out the background. Sharpening the background would detract from the main subject, as well as increasing noise, which can show up in out-of-focus areas in a frame.

Of course, you can also sharpen selectively in Lightroom – illustrated above with two Lightroom screen grabs – top showing selective sharpening (on eagle), accomplished by holding down the Opt/Alt key when using the Masking slider (moving it to the right) in the Details panel.

The concept: A painter would not sharpen an entire image, so think/work like a painter.

Speaking of thinking like a painter . . .click the image above to see a clip that did not make it into my seminar/class. I did not include it because: I cover Thinking Like a Painter in the seminar/class - and because I wanted to keep the class just under one hour. So enjoy - and always think like a painter. ;-)

In the seminar/class I also talk about using plug-ins to improve images. Above is a screen shot that shows the Tonal Contrast filter in Nik Color Efex Pro - a cool way to increase contrast for a more dramatic image.

Above is a screen shot that shows another Nik Color Efex filter - Darken/Lighten Center - that I use to draw more attention to the main subject.

I also briefly cover Daylight Fill-in Flash in the seminar/class. For more detailed info on fill-flash, see:
Daylight Fill-in Flash - Layers Magazine
Daylight Fill-in Flash - Outdoor Photographer Magazine
Daylight Fill-in Flash - X-Train

Above: A must-see for serious bird photographers: The Blast Off at Bosque del Apache, New Mexico. Below: grabbing a bite to eat in Alaska. :-)

Here are 10 quick bird photography tips:

1 - Focus on the eye. If the eye is not in focus, you’ve missed the shot.
2 - Make sure the eye is well lit. If it’s not, you have missed- the shot, unless you want a silhouette or if you are looking to create a sense of mystery in the scene.
3 - Expose for the highlights (small areas of bright feathers).
4 - Set your camera on focus tracking to track a bird right up to the moment of exposure.
5 - Set the focus point in your viewfinder to focus on a small area of the frame and set that point on the bird.
6 - Use a shutter speed of at least 1/1000th of a second to freeze the action fast-moving birds.
7 - Set your camera to the fastest frame rate to capture subtle differences in the subject’s body position.
8 - Take full-frame shots and environmental photographs.
9 - Watch the background. It can make or break your shot.
10 - When you are composing a photograph of a flying bird, leave some room in the frame into which the bird can fly.

Try to avoid these bird photo faux pas:
Left: bird is flying away from you (in some cases);
Right: tail is amputated.

Like photographing birds at zoos - but don't like the wire fences that ruin your photographs? Try the photographer's disappearing act, as illustrated above. Use a telephoto lens, place the lens (w/out a lens hood) directly on the fence where there is an opening, and shoot at the widest aperture. This set-up creates a very shallow depth of field, so the fence disappears. This techniques works best when the fence is black or in the shade.

In the top photo, I darkened the edges of the frame to draw more attention to the main subject.

Below: The technique works for big cats, too! :-)


How cool! Steve Bailes from Spartenburg, SC sent me a note with the following cool tip. Check it out! Thank you Steve!

Looking forward to your bird seminar.  One trick you may not know that I learned from birdwatching. 

Sometimes there is a bird that just won’t come out in the open for a photo.  I use an Audubon app on my I-phone. 

When I was at the coast, I knew the sound of a painted bunting but it was across the marsh.  I simply took out my phone, pulled up the bird and played the vocalization (which it heard from 50 yards across.)  As soon as it heard it, the bird flew and landed within 20 feet, ready for a photo.  Since I was near some bushes with dead branches, I guessed where it would come and set myself so that the sunlight would hit it when it landed. 

This isn’t a photography trick, just a bird trick, but it works very well in the springtime and early summer to draw birds into close range.

• • • • •

Photographer  Susan Wilkinson makes a good point (on a Google+ post) about bird vocalization apps. Take it away, Susan.

Steve's use of a bird app's vocalizations to call in birds is a common practice and one that I have used as well. I just want to make a point that I think should be mentioned.

"First, it is important to point out that the use of playback is prohibited in many parks and refuges. It is also illegal to disturb any endangered or threatened species (and playback can be interpreted as disturbance). Any potential negative impacts of playback are more likely to occur in areas with a lot of birding pressure, so avoiding playback entirely in those places is a good idea. Where and how to use it in other situations is up the individual birder."
Credit: Sibley Guide 

Many federal, state parks and wildlife refuges do not allow the use of such apps. Also, there are many avid bird watchers and photographers who frown upon the use. 

Here's a few links for anyone that is interested in the use of these apps:
American Birding Association
http://iphone.ibird.com/ABA_Ethics.html
Sibley Guide
http://www.sibleyguides.com/2011/04/the-proper-use-of-playback-in-birding/
Ethics of Bird Calls
http://birding.about.com/od/birdingbasics/a/Ethics-Of-Bird-Calls.htm

Thanks for sharing all your wonderful tips and beautiful images, Rick. 


Quick tip: Learn how to see the light: the direction, contrast range, color, quality and movement (as in moving water, clouds, etc.) Also, always shoot with your Highlight Alert activated and Histogram displayed. Expose for the highlights. I talk more about exposure in my Bird Photography class/seminar.

Find the best light in advance of your shoot. My Photo Sundial app can help. When it you about it, it's all about the light. That said, never underestimate the importance of a good subject.


Here's a look at the gear I use for my bird photography:

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Like black and white bird photography? Learn about how color filters (in plug-ins) change the tones in a photograph. Experiment with different color filters to see which one is best – for you.

Also know that contrast becomes more important when the color is removed.


Like on-line learning? Click here to see all my on-line classes.

Explore the light,
Rick

Excerpt #6: Creative Visualization for Photographers

Click image to enlarge. It's one of my favorite panos. Autographed prints up to 24 inches available for $99.Shoot me an email for info.

This post wraps up my blog series: A week of excerpts from my latest book, Creative Visualization for Photographers.

Scroll down for posts 1 -5. Thank you for following along.

Excerpt #6

When you are taking panos, set your camera to the Manual exposure mode, set the white balance to the existing conditions (sunny, cloudy, etc.), focus – and then set the focus to manual. 

In metering the scene, set your exposure to the brightest part of the scene. If you meter the darkest part of the scene, the highlights may be blown out in bright areas of your pano.

If you set your camera on any of the auto exposure modes, and/or if you use a polarizing filter, the exposure will change throughout your panorama, and you will get visible/annoying bands of dark areas in your image, most visible in the sky. Because these bands blend gradually between the images, it’s virtually impossible to remove them, even for a skilled Photoshop expert.

You need to hold, or set your camera on a tripod, vertically.The pano in this post is a hand-held pano that I took in Iceland on one of my photo workshops.

 The vertical position is important because when you stitch the images together, you lose a portion of the top and bottom of the frame, as well as a little bit of the frame on the left and right. Knowing that, you need to shoot a little wider than you may think – so important parts of your photograph will not be cut off in your final panorama.

As you move from left to right or right to left, you need to overlap your images by about 1/3. Keep the horizon line level.

I cover processing my Iceland pano, and have more pano examples, in my book.

For now, only the Kindle version of the book is available. The hard cover is due out in April . . . but I am really loving the look of the book in e-book form.

Explore the light,
Rick