China

What Would You Have Done Differently?

On my workshops, I am asked to offer suggestions on how to make a photograph better.

Well, I thought I'd turn the tables, so to speak. Here is one of my favorite photographs (long-skirt Miao women) from a workshop I organized to remote China last year. Scroll down on this page to see more images.

So the question is: How would you have posed the subject in this situation? What would you have done differently? Let me know. I really would be interested. (As you will see in the addition to this post below, I actually thought of some of your good ideas!)

If you post your comments here, all can see.

Explore the light,
Rick

P.S. An after-post addition.

Thank you for you comments. Here are a few pictures that address some of the good suggestions - applied to other photographs. Three from China, one from Kenya.

Above: Subject off-center.


Above: Subjects in context.

Above: Head and shoulder shot.

Above: Black background.

Again, thanks to all for playing along.

Always Envision the End Result

Images © Rick Sammon. All rights reserved.

When you are composing a picture, always try to envision the end result - the image that you will create in the digital darkroom. Think about how you can control the color, contrast, sharpness and brightness of a scene. Also think about all-important cropping.

Here is a before-and-after example that illustrates this point. I took the original shot in Guizhou, China on my recent photography workshop.

Here are steps I took to create the opening image for this post:

• Opened the image in Adobe Camera Raw and made some basic enhancements.

• Changed the image to a pano in Photoshop by going to Image Size, unchecking Constrain Proportions, and then typing in a longer width.

• Converted the image to a B&W in Photoshop using the B&W adjustment.

• Used the Midnight filter in Nik Color Efex Pro.

• I did something else. Can you see?

Like the Midnight filter effect? You can get a discount on all Nik products (as well as some other plug-ins) by clicking here.

Explore the light - and explore your creativity,
Rick

P.S. All my workshops are listed here.

A Week of Storytelling: Day 7 – Take Behind-The-Scenes Shots

Photograph © Rick Sammon.
All rights reserved. Canon 5D Mark II. Canon 15mm lens.

It’s Day 7 of Storytelling Week here on my blog - the last day of this project. Each day, I shared a photography tip illustrated with one of my favorite photographs that I took this past April at the Sister’s Meal Festival in the province of Guizhou in southwest China.

The idea of this weeklong project: When you go to an event, on the other side of the world or the other side of town, try to “tell the whole story” with your pictures.

Today’s tip: Take behind-the-scenes shots.

This is not my favorite photograph from the Sister’s Meal Festival, but it sure does tell part of the story: If you go, you’ll have dozens of photographers trying to take the same shot, even if you have taken the time to set-up your own shot.

Take behind-the-scenes photographs. Not only will they help to bring back memories of the event, but they will help you share your entire experience with others.

Want more travel photo info? My current app, 24/7 Photo Buffet, offers dozens of photo tips for photographers on the go – even HDR photographers.

Explore the light,
Rick

P.S. Shoot me an email if you are interested in joining my 2011 China workshops. I will have some guest pros leading some workshops, too. Email me: Rick Sammon at mac.com

A Week of Storytelling: Day 6 – Lose the Background

Photograph © Rick Sammon. All rights reserved.
Canon 5D Mark II. Canon 24-105mm lens.

It’s Day 6 of Storytelling Week here on my blog. Each day, I’ll share a photography tip illustrated with one of my favorite photographs that I took this past April at the Sister’s Meal Festival in the province of Guizhou southwest China.

The idea of this weeklong project: When you go to an event, on the other side of the world or the other side of town, try to “tell the whole story” with your pictures.

Today’s tip: Lose the background.

As illustrated in the first post in this series of posts on storytelling, events can be packed with people – subjects that can ruin a picture be creating a distracting background.

One way to lose a distracting background is to get down low and shot upward, as I did here.

When shooting upward, you may need a flash, especially if your background is the sky.

Another technique to blur the background is to use a telephoto lens set at a wide aperture.

Yet another technique is to blur the background. One method is to use Bokeh from Alien Skin. Check out this way-cool plug-in. Click here.

Want more travel photo info? My current app, 24/7 Photo Buffet, offers dozens of photo tips for photographers on the go – even HDR photographers.

Explore the light,
Rick

P.S. Shoot me an email if you are interested in joining my 2011 China workshops. I will have some guest pros leading some workshops, too. Email me: Rick Sammon at mac.com

A Week of Storytelling: Day 4 – Use Daylight Fill-in Flash

Photograph © Rick Sammon. All rights reserved.
Canon 5D Mark II. Canon 24-105mm lens.

It’s Day 4 of Storytelling Week here on my blog. Each day, I’ll share a photography tip illustrated with one of my favorite photographs that I took this past April at the Sister’s Meal Festival in the province of Guizhou in southwest China.

The idea of this weeklong project: When you go to an event, on the other side of the world or the other side of town, try to “tell the whole story” with your pictures.

Today’s tip: Use daylight fill-in flash.


When the subject’s face is shaded, either by a beautiful headdress or a banged-up football helmet, you’ll need to use a flash to illuminate the subject’s face. In some cases, you can get a good exposure if you turn on your flash and set your camera to one of the automatic modes: P, Av or Tv.

However, you will have more control if you set your camera to the manual mode and use an accessory flash, as I did here for this photograph of a Miao woman.

For precise flash control, you’ll need an accessory flash with variable flash output, which let’s you add more or less light (from your flash) than when set to the automatic mode.

Click here for an in-depth article I wrote on fill flash.

Want more travel photo info? My current app, 24/7 Photo Buffet, offers dozens of photo tips for photographers on the go – even HDR photographers.

Shoot me an email if you are interested in joining my 2011 China workshops. I will have some guest pros leading some workshops, too. Email me: Rick Sammon at mac.com

Explore the Light,
Rick