Friday, July 11, 2008

Photoshop 101

In the Groove

Not able to get to far away from home as I had a barbecue to attend to later in the day, I figured a short drive into Kananaskis Country would help get the cobwebs out of my system. This would be due to fighting traffic and other big city issues of the past week. I didn't get to far before I spotted a group of a half dozen individuals pumping up their rafts for a run down the Elbow river. Before long they hit the river and as they ran the series of rapids near where I had positioned myself, I shot photos as the two rafts ran the rapids in turn. If you are in a position to shoot photos of rafters or kayakers, be aware of the one thing that ruins a perfectly good capture. Time is of the essence while you compose your shot and are keeping a watch out for distracting backgrounds while in the meantime, the raft is approaching your position at a good rate of speed carried along by the rushing river. After the raft and its crew pass by headed down river, you check out your captures and there it is, someones face is obscured by a paddle as they fight to keep the raft under control. This is especially troublesome with kayakers due to the double ended paddles that are in constant motion from one side to the other. It ruins a otherwise perfectly good photo so keep the paddles out of their faces. I had noticed that the wildflowers are everywhere and set about to shoot photos of the various flowers that caught my eye. One of my favorite wildflowers is "Indian Paintbrush" that was growing in wild abundance everywhere. Now I have to say that I have many photos residing on my hard drives of this wildflower and others, so for a change of pace I set about to shoot wildflower photos with a somewhat different approach. Most photographers including myself will at one time or another acquired a macro lens for getting up close and personal with wildflowers. I actually find that the photos can be kind of boring of just of the flower head, and besides its a lot of work to keep harsh sunlight off of the flower which creates harsh lighting issues that needs correcting. So for a change of pace I went about shooting photos of wildflowers with a variety of telephoto lenses that I had along with me. My photo of the Indian Paintbrush was shot from 30 meters (90 ft) away with a long lens that included a 1.4 extender. I love the compressed look you get from a long lens and being that the depth of field (DOF)is quite shallow on long lenses, it allows for a nice blur to keep distracting backgrounds from ruining the photo. Moving the position of my tripod and camera to a new location, I found that I had company as a Yellow Pine Chipmunk kept moving in closer to me looking for a handout. I would bet that someone had gave her treats as she was quite approachable. My photo shows the large aperture I selected to keep the DOF shallow which keeps the distracting (gravel) background from taking away from the photo. Remember when shooting images of wildlife (or people for that matter) to focus on their eyes. The eyes are always the windows to the soul, the mirrors to the soul. The photograph has way more punch when the eyes are sharp. Also if possible when shooting wildlife photos, get low - very low, like eye level with your subject. Now I was not able to do that with this tiny chipmunk so I went with my position that put me about 1 meter above her position and 10 meters away. In my photo the chipmunk appears to be on a somewhat similar height to me, however the saving grace in this case was the distance which kept the working angle reasonably shallow. Of course it goes without saying to use a tripod for sharp photos. You will notice that both the chipmunk and the ground squirrel are looking my way. Before I shoot any photos of wildlife, I give a series of pishing sounds (normally used for attracting birds) to get their attention. My photo of this Columbian ground squirrel is a perfect example of a eye level capture. I noticed this ground squirrel in a field of boulders where he was observing his surroundings from a high vantage point that was about 30 meters from my location. I was able to set up for this eye level shot that includes a catch-light in the eye from the sun giving life to the ground squirrel. Catch lights are very important, otherwise your subject will appear lifeless. When the sun is obscured by clouds, I will use a electronic flash if possible to get this effect. When shooting photos of people, use the flash and your photos will take on a sparkle that adds immensely to your photos. Besides the nice catchlight in the eye the flash will add, it will also help alleviate harsh shadows from the sun that take away from your photos.

So there you go, just a few hints to make your photos look great right from your camera without resorting to photoshop to remove that paddle from the paddler's face or the grass obscuring the face of that spruce grouse or the tree growing out of the head of that deer and so on. I should know as I've been there and hey - I still go there. Later

Remember - all photos expand

No comments yet