Inspirational Photography July 2016

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LOCATION FEATURE Venice During Carnival

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PROCESSING TIP OF THE MONTH Making Your Images Glow Using the Orton Effect

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Letter From Ken Change It Up

My wide-angle is my “go to” lens. If you see me out shooting, chances are that my wide-angle is on my camera. In fact, there I am in the picture above shooting with it in a field in Tuscany. Several years ago, I was in Namibia and had a few days there to shoot the amazing dead tree forest known as “Deadvlei”. I had wide-angle vantage points in mind long before arriving there. Much of my time was spent wandering around the forest with my wide-angle looking for a good composition. I got some nice images while there and was really happy after the trip. That is, until the following month when I saw a bunch of great telephoto shots in the same area taken by another photographer. I then realized my mistake. I had a certain type of shot in mind, had gotten into my comfort zone with a particular lens, and had missed some great telephoto opportunities while there. It wasn’t that I didn’t take the telephoto out at all, but I did leave it in the camera bag for the vast majority of my time there. If I would have changed up my lenses more frequently, I would have come home with a wider range of compositions. Since that trip, I’ve made it a point to switch lenses somewhat frequently while out shooting, even if I don’t think that a particular lens will work in that location. So, be sure to get those shots you have pre-visualized before arriving. But, make it a point to change things up and walk around with a different lens or two. You’ll come back with an image that you didn’t expect to capture! Thanks for reading! Ken Koskela To receive this magazine FREE each month click HERE 3

How to Expose for Flash and Existing Light Separately Using Your Camera’s Controls Flash photography can be intimidating. Adding artificial light to the existing light in a scene and getting a proper balance between the two requires some basic knowledge and skill on the part of the photographer. If you are not yet experienced using flash, but have an interest in giving it a try, an important first step is understanding how to control exposure of the light from your flash and the existing light (a.k.a. ambient light) separately using your camera’s and flash’s controls. You probably already have a good understanding of how to control shutter speed, aperture and ISO to arrive at a proper exposure when flash is not being used. Let’s look at how these three variables, as well as your flash’s output, come into play when you are adding artificial lighting to the scene. 4

Introducing Leon the Lion It’s been awhile since I’ve been on safari and I’m missing it. So I thought I’d borrow Leon the Lion from my daughter’s room and pretend I was back in Africa. My settings here were ISO 400, 1/50th second and f/8. I shot in manual mode. No flash yet.

Next, I added the off-camera flash. I used manual mode on my flash and fired it through a small soft box at 1/32nd power. The image below is our starting point for an exercise to learn how your camera and flash controls affect how much flash and ambient lighting end up in your image.

Notice that the flash lighting on Leon appears mostly the same as with the original settings, even with the adjusted shutter speed. However, the background has gotten darker. So, using shutter speed, we’ve just controlled the ambient light background separately from the flash-lit subject. There was some ambient light hitting the subject, in addition to the flash, so we don’t have complete control over the separate light sources. But you can see that we have considerable control here. Aperture Now, let’s reset our settings back to ISO 400, 1/50, f/8 and 1/32nd flash power.

Shutter Speed

This time, let’s adjust only the aperture. Staying with this idea of cutting the light in half, let’s adjust the aperture by 1 stop from f/8 to f/11.

Changing your shutter speed won’t affect the amount of flash lighting that ends up in your image. This might be surprising to you, but it makes perfect sense. Here is why: The flash has to fire while the shutter is open. Your camera will have a “maximum sync speed”, which is the fastest shutter speed whereby that can be accomplished. Usually this is around 1/200 of a second. (I’m ignoring “high speed sync” for now) Even at full power, the blast of flash happens faster than your maximum sync speed. So, the same amount of flash will illuminate Leon when we reduce the shutter from 1/50th to 1/100th second. Here is the image after the shutter speed change.

Notice that both the flash lighting on Leon and the background lighting went darker than with the original settings. So, the aperture controls both the amount of flash lighting and existing lighting in the image. But wait... there’s more to say about aperture.... Shutter Speed and Aperture Together With the above aperture adjustment, we left the shutter speed alone. However, we could have made two adjustments, one to aperture and one to shutter speed. Remember, shutter speed does not affect your flash lighting. Here is how you can control each type of lighting separately using a two-step process: 5

First, we get the desired exposure on the flashlit subject by adjusting the aperture. This also affects the background exposure, which might not be properly exposed yet, but that’s okay. Second, we adjust shutter speed for the background exposure only, without affecting the flash-lit subject.

With these two steps, you essentially control the flash exposure with aperture and the existing light exposure with shutter speed.

er (1/1), 1/2 power, 1/4 power, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64 and 1/128. Each of these steps cuts the flash power (the duration of the flash, actually) in half. I have the flash set up to allow further tweaking in 1/3 stop increments. Let’s reset again to our initial settings of ISO 400, 1/50, f/8 and 1/32nd flash power. Here is the original image back with the original settings.

What about ISO? Because your ISO controls the sensitivity of the sensor to all light, it is similar to aperture in that it impacts the amount of both flash and ambient light in your image. To test this, let’s reset our settings to the initial settings of ISO 400, 1/50, f/8 and 1/32nd flash power. Now, let’s reduce the ISO from 400 to 200.

Notice that the aperture adjustment and ISO adjustment look basically the same as both halve the light on the entire image. This means that you can use ISO in a similar way that you can use aperture. However, with ISO, the lower the better in terms of image quality. So, I keep my ISO low. Fortunately, there is another variable we can adjust to control the power of the flash... the flash itself. Flash Power and Placement I always shoot off-camera flash in my flash’s manual mode. My Canon flashes can be fired at full pow6

Now, let’s halve the flash power from 1/32 to 1/64, as shown in this next image.

As expected, this adjustment mostly leaves the background alone, but reduces the impact of the flash on the subject. You may have some flash hitting the background which will still be affected by adjustments to flash power. You can also control the brightness of the flash on your subject by moving the flash closer or farther away, changing the angle of the flash, or adding/ removing a diffuser. However, these adjustments all change the nature of the light, not just its power. So, don’t use this method to adjust the power of your flash.

Summary Here is what we’ve covered: • • •

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Adjusting the shutter speed affects the exposure of the ambient light, but not the flash. Adjusting aperture impacts the exposure of both the flash-lit subject and background. You can first use the aperture to control the amount of flash lighting in your image and then adjust shutter speed for the ambient light without impacting flash. Changes to ISO have a similar impact as aperture. Image quality is an issue to consider. Adjusting your flash’s power controls flash output without affecting ambient light, except for flash that spills over onto the background. Positioning and diffusion of the flash should be used to control the nature and quality of light, not the power of the flash.

Try This at Home You can use this article as the basis of a lighting exercise that you can try at home. Below is the basic set-up I used.

Start without the flash to get an initial exposure, then bring it in and try to balance it with the ambient light. You’ll want to work in manual mode on both your camera and your flash. Try it out in dimmer light, bright light, and even indoors. I shot fairly late in the day in cloudy conditions, so my settings will reflect somewhat dimmer outdoor lighting. Good luck!

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Now, if you decide to use a stuffed animal like I did, my suggestion is to not let the neighbors see you doing this. The basic idea is to get an initial decent balance of flash and ambient light using the controls outlined in this article and then to modify each of the variables to see their impact on the lighting. It is the modification of these variables that is the important thing here, so don’t worry about getting a perfect exposure. 7


Successful images often incorporate opposite characteristics that balance each other. Examples include light and dark, warm and cool, and moving and still. In some cases, these characteristics occur naturally in the scene. In many cases, however, you can build them in or enhance them during the shoot or in post-processing. Warm and Cool

A transition from a warm color (like orange, yellow or red) to a cool color (especially blue) can lead to a dynamic image. In landscapes, low-angled sunlight can contribute the warm colors. The dominating warmth of a golden sky looks even better if there are some cooler tones in the image, even if those cool tones are relatively subtle. Cityscapes at twilight often include both warm and 8

cool tones. In this case, you have cool colors in the cobalt blue sky combined with the warm colors of the city lights, as seen above in the image of Bath, England. You can also add a warm to cool transition during post-processing, such as I did in the portrait of the Indonesian dockworker on the next page. The shipping container is red, which is a warm color. The light hitting the container in the upper right corner occurred naturally, but was enhanced in post-processing. In order to create a warm to cool transition, I added a bit of blue in the lighter areas of the upper right corner using a color fill layer at low opacity. I then added a gradient mask to smooth the transition. For me, this subtle transition made a difference in the impact of the final image.

Similarly, the portrait image of the woman in the red hat was created using side lighting, also known as “split lighting�. This technique creates a pronounced, abrupt transition between light and shadow, resulting in a three-dimensional look.

Light and Shadow Transition between light and shadow can give a two-dimensional image a three-dimensional quality. I shot the picture below in Lower Antelope Canyon. It includes a nice mix of shadows on the closer walls and brighter highlights on the more distant walls. This creates a nice separation between the two.

Moving and Still I like images that include both stationary and moving elements. My favorite example of motion blur is


this picture of the London Eye. This is motion blur on steroids. It is the still objects that really provide the anchor in the image and the motion blur that adds the visual interest. High Contrast and Low Contrast

During shooting, you can do this by selecting a wide aperture and positioning yourself close to the subject, leaving more distance between the subject and the background. In this case, much of the sharpness / blur transition was created in post-processing.

The image below of Pony Tail Falls transitions from a higher contrast foreground to a lower contrast and distant background. The lower contrast areas were provided by the existing fog and were part of the scene, but accentuated slightly during post-processing. This idea of closer objects appearing to have more contrast and distant objects less so looks natural to our eyes.

A Word on Transitions In some cases the opposite characteristics are included in separate areas of the image, while in other cases there is a transition between the two. Transitions created or enhanced during processing need to look both natural and believable. Sharpness and Blur In the portrait below, the subject is sharp, but the background has some blur to it. This directs your attention to the subject. 10

I’ve gotten great results using luminosity masking for complex and abrupt transitions, as well as gradient masks when a more gradual transition is called for. I favor both of these techniques over using brushes.


Renee Doyle Australian photographer Renee Doyle first ventured into photography 10 years ago and found it to be such a varied medium that she challenged herself to try different styles to see what was the best fit for her. Over time, Renee developed a passion for wildlife and Cityscape reflections at twilight. Additionally, after meeting a master of digital darkroom techniques, Renee has delved into conceptual photography. According to Renee, “It seems like the world is your oyster when you have a love and passion for taking and creating photos and the opportunities are wonderful and endless.�



The first time I traveled overseas with the expressed purpose of photographing was to Venice during Carnival. I had an absolute blast and felt I made progress as a relatively new photographer during that trip.

trips, but they never panned out. That will change in 2017, as I’ll be back co-leading a photography workshop there.

Since then, every February I have this regret that I’m not back in Venice. I had planned a couple of return

Venice comes alive as models wearing incredible costumes and masks descend upon the city to be admired and photographed. People have asked me, somewhat in disbelief, if the models are just there to be photographed by anyone. The answer is yes, but.....

So, what is Venice like during Carnival?

I’m not going to lie to you... there are a LOT 12

well before sunrise and capturing twilight and then the rising sun is a good shooting opportunity. There will be many less models out, but there should be a few. You’ll need to bring your flash and fire it off-camera at this hour. • Indoor shoots - Some of the best opportunities are indoors. For example, there is a palace with a grand ballroom and an amazing, ornate staircase that you can bring a model to. These indoor shoots really round out the portfolio. However, renting these spaces out costs a lot of money and is really only cost-effective with a group. Plus, it books up way ahead of time. • Private shoots - Getting the best models away from the crowds makes all the difference. To do so, it really helps to know at least several of the models. Going with a workshop group led by someone who has those connections will get you these private shoots and tips on where the models plan on congregating each day. I hope you can join Renee Doyle and I in February!

of people in Venice during Carnival. However, with some strategy, you can avoid much of the crowds and get some great images. How can you make the most of your time there? There are three types of shooting opportunities you want to incorporate into a Venice Carnival photo trip. But, let me start by saying that, in the case of Venice, going along with a workshop group makes a lot of sense. In addition to learning about flash lighting and post-processing, you’ll see that two out of these three shooting opportunities are better off done with a group. • Sunrise shoots - Don’t go into St. Mark’s Square in the middle of the afternoon. There are a ton of tourists everywhere during this time. Beyond that, the bright overhead light isn’t the greatest for photography during this time. Waking up 13


VENICE CARNIVAL w/ RENEE DOYLE February 18-24, 2017

Venice comes alive during Carnival as amazing models in ornate masks and incredible costumes descend upon the city. I am co-leading this tour with Renee Doyle. Renee and I have some great connections with many of the best models which will allow our group to have opportunities for private shoots in some locations away from the crowds and not accessible to the general public. CLICK HERE FOR INFO



GUILIN, CHINA w/ RICK SAMMON May 17-25, 2017

Join Rick and I to photograph the beautiful karst mountains, Li River, cormorant fisherman at sunrise and sunset, the incredible Longji rice terraces, the XiangGongShan overlook, Cuipinghsan Hill, and many other locations. We will also meet and photograph rural villagers. BOOK FAST... ONLY 2 SPOTS LEFT!! CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO!


2017 PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS & WORKSHOPS NEW ZEALAND w/ RENEE DOYLE April 18-28, 2017 (Optional 3-Night Milford Sound extension available)

Join Renee and I to photograph this amazingly beautiful country during the best time of year... Autumn. In addition to the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd, the lone Wanaka Lake tree and Nugget Point Lighthouse, we will photograph turquoise lakes, rolling hills, hidden waterfalls and New Zealand’s iconic mountainous regions. Also, join us for the optional extension to Milford Sound to round out an amazing visit to the South Island of New Zealand! CLICK HERE FOR INFO!


The Story Behind the Picture Light Trail

Once in awhile, you capture something that is difficult to re-create later on by you or anyone else. The above picture is one of those. I captured this picture exactly 7 years ago today from the writing of this article on the night of Chicago’s Independence Day celebration. I had only been photographing a few months and was there trying to catch fireworks with the skyline. This didn’t work out all that well. So, at the end of the fireworks display, I was a bit disappointed with my images. However, the leftover smoke from the fireworks show began to move over the city and was lit up nicely by the city lights, turning the smoke an eerie looking orange. I ended up capturing a couple shots of the skyline with the smoke and haze and thought it looked pretty cool. The crowds were mostly gone, so I began packing up my tripod to head home. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a couple of helicopters (presumably carrying tourists) circling around the city. I ran as fast as I could from the Adler Planetarium (where I was shooting from) to near the Shedd Aquarium, planted my tripod and started doing long exposure shots of the helicopter flying around. About two minutes later, a helicopter started flying in my direction, so I started the exposure and watched the helicopter circle around the Sears Tower. It completed a perfect “S” shape just when the exposure finished. The timing was perfect and I think I jumped up in the air as I had just gotten pretty lucky. Incidentally, awhile back, the name of the building was changed to “Willis Tower”, which doesn’t start with “S”. And I certainly didn’t get an image of a helicopter flying around the building in a perfect “W”. However, Chicagoans have never really accepted the new name anyway.. it will always be the Sears Tower here. 17

Processing Tip of the Month Making Your Images Glow Using the Orton Effect

The Orton Effect is a very common processing technique that can help add glow to your images. This technique is especially popular among landscape photographers. Although it was originally used in film processing, this is accomplished in Photoshop by combining a blurred image with the original (non-blurred) image and then applying some brightness and/or contrast adjustments.

and, from Photoshop’s top menu, choose “Filter-Blur-Gaussian Blur”. When the filter opens, you will have one value to adjust. Choose a value of somewhere between 30 and 40 and hit “Okay”.

I’ve seen different ways to apply an Orton Effect. I’ll show you how I apply Orton in Photoshop. Let’s use the following image, shown here initially with no Orton Effect at all: 3. Change the blending mode to “soft light”. At this point, your image will look a bit out of control, as seen here:

Next, let’s apply Orton to the image, initially at full opacity. Here is what I do in Adobe Photoshop. 1. Make a stamp copy of your visible layers. To do this, make sure you are on the top layer in Photoshop by clicking on it. Then, enter Cmd-OptShift-E (Mac) or Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E (Windows). You should see a new layer appear that is a copy of all of the layers beneath it. Rename it “Orton”.

2. Click on the new Orton layer to make it active 18

4. Next, create a brightness/contrast adjustment layer above the new layer. Add some brightness (I usually add 25-35) and contrast (I usually add 55-65).

5. Now, clip the brightness/contrast layer to the blurred layer. To do so, Ctrl-Click (Mac) or Right Click (Windows) on the brightness/contrast layer layer and choose “create clipping mask”. At this point, the image looks like this.

In general, I find that having the distant elements of the image glow looks better. Also, you may want to retain the detail in certain parts of the image, such as a detailed foreground subject, so avoid painting the effect into those areas. I also usually avoid applying the effect to bright areas of the sky, as the Orton Effect will further brighten them. Here are the layers with the painted mask so that you can see what areas I painted Orton into for this example.

6. Next, reduce the opacity of the Orton layer considerably. I usually bring it down to 20%, but am using 30% in this case to illustrate.

Lastly, here is what the image looks like with Orton applied selectively.

My opinion is that images look their best when the Orton Effect is applied selectively to only part(s) of the image rather than the entire image. So....

I can teach you my processing techniques through one-on-one, on-line instruction via Skype and screen share. I can help you with:

7. Add a black mask to the blurred Orton layer by holding alt/opt (Mac) or alt (Windows) and clicking on the layer mask icon. Masking this layer out gets rid of the effect altogether. 8. Now, using a soft brush, paint white onto the black mask to make the Orton Effect visible in parts of the image. You can adjust the opacity and flow of the brush to vary how much Orton is applied to parts of the image.

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Basic Lightroom and/or Photoshop Intermediate and Advanced Environmental Portrait Processing Techniques Intermediate and Advanced Landscape Processing Techniques


Ideas for Including Reflections I regularly look for reflections in water, mirrors, windows and other reflective surfaces when out shooting pictures. Reflections can really enhance an image. But you have more to think about compositionally. Here are a few ideas on how you can effectively incorporate a reflection for a successful image: Cropping Reflections These first few images are from a section of a larger image of mine from China. In this first version, I’ve left in the full shadow of the person at the bottom. With the second crop, I’ve cut the reflection 20

right in half, which really takes away from the picture. A reflection that fades off is usually okay, but cropping the reflection at a mid-point looks bad. In the third version, I’ve left just a little reflection in which looks more acceptable than cutting it in half. This is because the reflection isn’t yet recognizable as the shape of a person.

Consider putting the horizon line in the middle

Make the reflection into the subject

I often avoid having the horizon line right in the middle of a picture. With reflections, however, I make an exception to this. I like the symmetry of a split photo with the horizon in the middle. Additionally, this composition is often necessary to avoid cutting off part of the reflection.

In the shot below, the reflection is the actual subject of the picture.

Avoid blocking key parts of the reflection This is relevant advice in certain cases involving water, where there are elements in the water blocking an important part of the reflection. Notice in the image of Mount Cook in New Zealand how the floating ice is blocking part of the peak. This looks really bad and ruins the image right from the start.

Avoid distractions in reflections Similar to blocking key parts of the reflection, you want to avoid distracting elements in it. The cover photo for this article was taken with a wide-angle lens very close to the mirrored sign. I had to work on finding a position where I was not appearing in the reflection while also avoiding including nearby construction that would weaken the image. Use reflected color for abstracts

Re-positioning helps improve the image considerably by not cutting into the details of the peak. This composition could still be improved if the ice was not blocking any of the reflection, but keeping it away from the peak certainly helps.

The picture below is nothing more than brilliant golden light reflecting off of a moving stream. If you are near a stream or river around sunrise or sunset, watch for light hitting the water. Take out your telephoto and grab some shots that also include some interesting elements, such as the ripple of a wave, bubbles or rocks.


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