Bosque del Apache

Goodbye Bosque - Be Back Next Year

Photograph © Rick Sammon
Today was the last day of the workshops that Juan Pons and taught at Bosque del Apache, New Mexico.

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.

As in all photo situations, I had two camera bodies with two lenses handy, so I could shoot both wide-angle and telephoto shots – with the goal of "telling the story."

I had my Canon 400mm DO lens on my Canon 7D. I had my 25-105mm IS lens on my Canon 5D.

Photograph © Rick Sammon
On the workshop we talked about the importance of setting goals. My goal this morning was to show the incredible number of birds that take off at the same time. The photograph directly above shows just how close the birds are to each other when they take off all at the same time. The photo looks chaotic! I know. But that is exactly what I was trying to convey.

My question: how come they don't crash into each other? :-)

Juan and I will be back in Bosque in 2012 for another set of workshops. I'll have some Canon lenses on hand for the students to use: 100-400mm, 500mm and few more. If you want to join the fun, shoot me an email.

Explore the light,

P.S. 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.

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. (My composition class on Kelby Training will be up on December 12.)

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.

Explore the light and think like a painter,

Bosque Workshop Day IV: Shooin' 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, as illustrated in the image below.

© Rick Sammon
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.

I am returning to Bosque with Juan Pons in December 2012 for another workshop. If you are interested, shoot me an email.

Explore the light,

P.S. You'll find more photo tips in my apps

Beautiful Morning in Bosque del Apache

The Bosque del Apache workshop that I am co-leaing with Juan Pons and Chris Klaphke officially starts tonight. 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.

But first, if you are interested in our December 2012 Bosque del Apache workshop, shoot me an email.

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.

More shots to come.

For more photo tips, check out my apps.

Meeting the group in 1/2 hour. We will have a blast - even before the blastoff tomorrow morning.

Explore the light,

P.S. Chis is our guest instructor. Check out his store for Outdoor Photo Gear.