iPad apps

Self-Assignment/Photo Challenge: Shoot into the Sun

From time to time I will post self-assignments/photo challenges here on my blog. Self-assignments are a good way to learn and grow as a photographer. Try 'em by yourself or with a friend.

If you take the challenge, you can post your photos on my Rick Sammon's Photo Challenges Google+ page.

FYI: This Photo Challenge is one of the several photo challenges in my forthcoming Focal Press book (Spring 2015) on visualizing and developing your eye. Shoot me an email to get on the book announcement list.

Assignment: Shoot Into the Sun

Concept: Use HDR to capture the entire dynamic range of a scene when shooting into the sun. Have the sun just peak out from behind an object. Use an aperture of f/22 to get the starburst effect.

The starburst effect is enhanced with wide-angle lenses, so the wider the lens the better. Here I used my Canon 15mm full-frame fisheye (but I now have the 8-15mm lens) on my Canon 5D Mark III full-frame image sensor camera. When a true fish-eye lens is used on a cropped image sensor camera, you don’t get the fish-eye effect.

Make sure your lens is very, very clean, as just one speck of dust can look like a big blob in your image. Take enough photographs over and under the average exposure setting to capture the shadow detail (over exposed images) and highlight areas (underexposed images).

If a person is your HDR sequence, have him or her very, very still while you are taking several exposures. That is the direction I gave my friend Mike “Spike” Ince when I made this HDR image.

As you can see in the above image, the contrast range was too great for all the detail in the scene to be captured in a singe photograph.

By the way, this is a hand-held HDR image. Wide-angle lenses and rapid frame advance make hand-held HDR images possible.

Processing Suggestions: Use Photomatix to create your HDR negative, and then process your HDR file in Photoshop or Lightroom. You can get a discount on Photomatix on my Play and Save on Plug-ins page.

Remember that HDR images tend to look a bit flat, because you are compressing the brightness range of a scene. Therefore, you need to add a bit of contrast if you want your image to pop.

If you like HDR, I teach that technique on many of my workshops.

Location: Junkyard near Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

Explore the light,
Rick

Day 5: Seven Days of Sunrise/Sunset Photography Tips

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To celebrate the release of my Photo Sundial app, which runs on the iPhone and the iPad,  I am running a series here on my blog: Seven Days of Sunrise/Sunset Photography Tips. Each day I'll share two tips from the Gallery section of the app, for a total of 14 images. Check out all the images in the app, which is on sale until September 30th.

Today is Day 1.

Softer Side. Before sunrise and after sunset is a wonderful time to take pictures without strong shadows. In lower light levels, you’ll probably need a tripod. Use a cable release or your camera’s self-time to release the shutter. That helps to prevent camera shake during long exposures. To soften my image even more, I used the Pastel filter in Nik Color Efex Pro. Location: Key West, Florida.

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Rule of Thirds. Placing the sun in the dead center of the frame is deadly – usually deadly boring. Rather, imagine a tic-tac-toe grid placed over a scene, and try to place the sun where the lines intersect. When photographing running horses, try to get a shot with all the hooves off the ground. Location: Los Osos, California. Taken during the California Photo Fest.

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Read more about Photo Sundial - the app that helps you find the position of the sun so you can make awesome images - and much, much more.

Explore the light,
Rick

Day 3: Seven Days of Sunrise/Sunset Photography Tips

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To celebrate the release of my Photo Sundial app, which runs on the iPhone and the iPad,  I am running a series here on my blog: Seven Days of Sunrise/Sunset Photography Tips. Each day I'll share two tips from the Gallery section of the app, for a total of 14 images. Check out all the images in the app, which is on sale until September 30th.

Foreground Element. When possible, use a foreground element to add a sense of scale to your photograph.  Also, the more “layers” you have in a scene, the greater the sense of depth. In the photo above, there are three layers: bird in the foreground, birds in mid-frame, and the mountains/sun in the background. Location: Bosque del Apache, New Mexico.

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Horizon Line. Usually, placing the horizon line in the center of the frame is boring. When the sky is interesting, place the horizon line at the bottom of the frame, and vice versa. Location: Kenya, Africa.

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Read more about Photo Sundial - the app that helps you find the position of the sun so you can make awesome images - and much, much more.

Explore the light,
Rick

Day 2: Seven Days of Sunrise/Sunset Photography Tips

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To celebrate the release of my Photo Sundial app, which runs on the iPhone and the iPad, I am running a series here on my blog: Seven Days of Sunrise/Sunset Photography Tips. Each day I'll share two tips from the Gallery section of the app, for a total of 14 images. Check out all the images in the app, which is on sale until September 30th.

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Today is Day 2

No Filters. When shooting into the sun, remove all filters from your lens, even your skylight filter. When a filter is on your lens, the sunlight passes through the filter and may (depending on the angle of the sun) bounce off the front element of your lens and back onto the filter, creating a ghost image of the sun in your frame. Location: Key West, Florida.

Blue in the Sky. A good time to take city shots is shortly after sunset, when city lights are just coming on and while there is still some color in the sky. Location: Miami’s South Beach, Florida.

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Read more about Photo Sundial - the app that helps you find the position of the sun so you can make awesome images - and much, much more.

Explore the light,
Rick

Tripod reco for sunrise and sunset shots: Induro CT214. Ballhead reco: Induro BHL1.

Squarespace Makes It Easy to Post - even when you are on the road!

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Thank you all for following along during my most recent blog post series: Six Days of Canon EOS 6D Images from Route 66. You can scroll down to see the individual posts. Each post includes photo tips that will help you make better pictures.

One of the reasons why I was able to post every day for the road: the ease in which Squarespace is designed.

Squarespace lets me (and you) quickly and easily drag and drop photos into a post and even edit the photos within the platform. Editing, moving pictures up and down, and adding links are a snap. What's more, all this is fun!I

If you are looking for a new Web site, check out Squarespace and take advantage of the free trail. Use one-click to get started with your own awesome Squarespace site.

To learn more about Squarespace, check out this post: 7 Reasons to Switch to Squarespace.

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Above is an image from Chloride, AZ that I did not include in the series. I enhanced the image with the Polaroid Transfer filter in Nik Color Efex Pro. All my plug-ins are listed on my Plug-ins page.

Tip: Adding a creative filter can remove some of the reality from an image. When you remove some of the reality, your picture can look more creative.

Explore the light,
Rick

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