Landscape Photography

My First Shoot at the Black Hills Photo Shootout

I arrived yesterday here in Spearfish, South Dakota for the Black Hills Photo Shootout, where I am the keynote speaker tonight. 

Early this morning, Les Voorhis and Jason Hahan, organizers of the event and two of the talented instructors on the shootout, took me to Spearfish Canyon for quickie photo shoot. Hey, they don't call me the "shoot and scoot" photographer for nothing!

Les and I are doing a waterfalls, HDR and cowboy photography workshop next year. Shoot me an email for info.

What a location. What light. What wonderful photo ops. What nice guys.

My first thought: I need to come back here and spend some time.

Above is a quick "jump out of the car and shoot" shot.

All the images this post are 5D Mark III in-camera HDR images. The shot above is a hand-held HDR that I grabbed on the way to breakfast.

I need to give Les 75 percent of the credit for the first two photos and the photo below, because he invited me to the Shootout, took me to the locations, and loaned me his tripod. Thanks Les!

I hope to post more pictures here from the Shootout. Stay tuned.

Explore the light,

P.S. Left is the average exposure for the scene and right is the Canon 5D Mark III HDR image. Kinda amazing that technology can do for us! For more on HDR see my iHDR app on my Apps page. I also teach HDR on my photography workshops.

Soon Come: Sunset Saturday

We had another spectacular sunset here on the Hudson River last night. We shoot here on my Croton Creative Workshop.

The sky was so spectacular that we decided to make a quick movie on shooting sunsets. It's Part I. Part II to come. Be sure to select HD before watching the movie.

One tip from the movie: Always look back, as illustrated above.

Both images with my Canon 5D Mark III.

Top image: Canon 24-105mm IS lens - my favorite lens.

Bottom image: Canon 17-40mm lens - which I picked up after selling my 16-35mm lens, which is more expensive than the 17-40. This lens is perfect for wide-angle photography if most of your shooting is outdoors.

So what about Sunset Saturday? I'm looking for great sunset images to share here on my blog. Hey, you'll be more famous! Just send a link (link only - not the photo), to me via my email address. In the email give a brief description of the image. Please keep it short and sweet.

Here's one of my favorite sunset photographs. It was not taken in Croton on Hudson, as you might have guessed. I took the shot in Rajasthan India.

Explore the light,

Rick's List: Nature and Landscape Photography Gear

© Rick Sammon
My "In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams Photo Caravan" is coming up next month. I can't wait to return to some of the most picturesque locations in the country: Yosemite, Mono Lake, Bodie State Historical Park, and Alabama Hills. The workshop is full, but I have other workshops planned for this year.

© Rick Sammon
For those of you who are coming on the workshop, and for all landscape photographers, I put together a list of the accessories that I recommend - and why I make the recommendation. Here goes.

14mm lens - for extremely wide views with everything in the scene in focus

17- 40mm lens - to capture wide views

70-200mm lens - for isolating subjects in a sweeping landscape

Sturdy tripod - to steady your camera for HDR and low-light photography

Polarizing filter - to darken a blue sky

Variable neutral density filter - please make sure you have the right filter diameter!

Lens cleaning cloth - to remove dust from the front element of your lens

Promote Control - for time lapse and HDR shooting

Nik's HDR Efex Pro or Photomatix Pro. Info on my Plug-ins page

Backpack-style bag - for trekking up and down hills

Knee-high rubber boots - for walking in the lake. You'll also need these on my Oregon Coast Photo Caravan, which is also full

Wide-brim hat - to shade your face from the sun

Powerful flashlight - to paint landscapes with light

Head-mounted flashlight - so you can see what you are doing in the dark - before sunrise

© Rick Sammon
Explore the light,

P.S. My 24/7 Photo Buffet, iHDR and Life Lessons app are loaded with outdoor photography tips. Info on my app page.

Death Valley Photography Workshop: Feb 23- 26, 2012

Photograph © Randy Van Duinen
If you like landscape, travel and HDR photography, my Death Valley Workshop is for you!

I'll be teaching with Randy Van Duinen and Jeff Leimbach – the guys who head up The Digital Photo Workshops - in one of the harshest places on earth . . .  which is also an incredible location for photography.

If you have been to Photoshop World, you know Randy and Jeff. And if you have been to PSW, you are probably a NAPP member - so you get $100 off the cost of the workshop.

What's more, all workshop participants will get onOne's Perfect Effects 3 for free! That's a $99 value.
Photograph © Randy Van Duinen
Randy, Jeff and I will be there to help you get great landscape photographs. We'll also help you improve your HDR, Photoshop and Lightroom skills. What could be more fun!

Speaking of HDR, I will be using Nik Software's HDR Efex Pro. If you don't have this cool plug-in, you can get a 15 discount on the Nik web site by using this code: RSAMMON.
Photographs © Randy Van Duinen
Click here for more info on the workshop. If you join the workshop, I recommend these two filters.

For now, here are my top landscape photography tips:
1) Try to get the entire scene in focus. Use a wide-angle lens, small aperture and focus 1/3 into the scene.
2) Use a polarizing filter to darken the sky and brighten white clouds.
3) Use a tripod. It will slow you down.
4) Keep the horizon line level.
5) Shoot from low angles - as Randy did in the first two shots here.
6) Remember that shadows add a sense of depth and dimension to your photographs.
7) Use a lens hood or shade your lens - watch for lens flare, which can ruin a picture.
8) Don't place the horizon line in the center of the frame.

We hope to see you in the desert!
Explore the light,

Two Essential Filters for Outdoor Photographers

Photograph © Rick Sammon
Two filters are essential for outdoor photography.

A polarizing filter reduces reflections on water, glass and ice. It can even make your pictures look sharper because it reduces reflections on atmospheric haze.

Polarizing filter tip: Don't over-polarize a scene. If you "dial in" too much of the polarizing effect, you may get a large dark spot in the center of your frame.

Photograph © Rick Sammon

A variable neutral density (ND) filter reduces the amount of light entering your lens, allowing you to shoot at slower shutter speeds to blur water on bright, sunny days.

ND filter tip: Experiment with different shutter speeds to get just the right degree of water movement.  

These filters are a must for those participating in my Oregon Coast workshop with Alex Morley.

Explore the light,