Travel Photogrpahy How-to Week. Day 5: See the Light

Technically speaking, when we take a picture, all we are doing is recording light. Therefore, it’s of the utmost importance that we see the light when we take a picture – the contrast range in a scene, the shadows and highlights, the color of light, the quality of light and the direction of light.

It’s also important to know that our eyes see a much greater dynamic range than a digital SLR (about 13 f-stops compared to about 6 stops).

These three pictures illustrate, from top to bottom, the effect of: shooting in harsh sunlight, shooting in the partial shade, and shooting in full shade.

My point: try not to shoot in harsh sunlight – and notice those unflattering shadows when shooting in those conditions.

I hope you enjoy this week’s photos and the tips. If you want some hands-on experience, hope you can join one of my workshops.

If you are interested in joining one of my Cuba Workshops (after it opens and Americans can go legally (you need a license from the U.S Treasury Department now), keep checking my Events page.

Explore the light,
Rick

Travel Photography How-to Week. Day 4: Watch the Background

When photographing people, the background can make or break the scene. Here is an example.

The background in one photograph is too busy – the horizontal lines are distracting. That was the first photograph I took of this man – at the spot in which he was standing. For the second photograph, I asked the man to move just a few feet to the left, where the background was more pleasing and less distracting.

If the background is distracting and you can’t ask the subject to move, you can use a long telephoto lens set at a wide aperture to blur the background. Another option is to use Bokeh, a plug-in from Alien Skin that lets you blur the background beautifully. (You can get a 10% discount on all Alien Skin plug-ins by using this code upon checkout: RSA0901.

I hope you enjoy this week’s photos and the tips. If you want some hands-on experience, hope you can join one of my workshops.

If you are interested in joining one of my Cuba Workshops (after it opens and Americans can go legally (you need a license from the U.S Treasury Department now), keep checking my Events page.

Explore the light,
Rick

Travel Photography How-to Week. Day 3: People Make a Picture Come Alive

If you have any doubt that including people in a scene makes a picture come alive, compare these images.

‘Nuf said.

Well, actually, I can say a little something more about these photographs.

While I was walking down a street in Old Havana and looking inside a home through a large open door, I noticed a beautiful spiral staircase. I asked the owner if I could take a picture. She said, okay. I took a shot and then, unexpectedly, her children started to walk down the stairs. I kept shooting, which resulted in not only a nice photograph, but also in a pair of images that illustrates the topic of this blog post.

In low light situations like this, you’ll need to boost your ISO. Sou might get more digital noise in your pictures (especially if you have a compact camera), but the higher ISO will help to stop the action and help to avoid camera shake.

I hope you enjoy this week’s photos and the tips. If you want some hands-on experience, hope you can join one of my workshops.

If you are interested in joining one of my Cuba Workshops (after it opens and Americans can go legally (you need a license from the U.S Treasury Department now), keep checking my Events page.

Explore the light,
Rick
P.S. The image on the right was created with Topaz Adjust.

Travel Photography How-to Week. Day 2: Breaking A Rule - One of My Rules

Those of you who listen to the PhotoFocus podcast that I do with Scott Bourne know that one of my favorite photo expressions is: Exposure for Highlights – meaning that you don’t want the highlights in the scene overexposed and washed out. Expose for the Highlights was the credo for slide film shooters, too!

Exposing for the highlights is a basic guideline. For example, if you are photographing a cityscape, seascape or landscape, you want to exposure for the brightest part of the scene – even though in ACR, Lightroom, Aperture and other RAW converters – you can recover up to about one stop of over exposed areas (from a RAW file). If the highlights are overexposed, by more than one stop, they probably will be gone and lost forever.

Well, friends, like all photo rules, this one is meant to be broken, too.

This picture, one of my favorites from a trip to Cuba, illustrates my point. Had I exposed for the highlights – the windows – the young couple, with their beaming faces, would have been way too dark.

The story behind the photo: While I was walking down a street in Old Havana before sunrise, I spotted two cool, vintage blue cars. I experimented with creative composition and got the shot you see here.

After shooting for a while, several people started getting in the shot in the distance, “ruining” my picture. However, keeping in mind that photo opps are everywhere, I walked up to the car and noticed the cute young couple that had just jumped in the back seat. I asked if I could pop in for a photo – using sign language because I don’t speak Spanish. Okay was the answer. I jumped in the front set and fired off a quick shot – because the car was running and I felt that the people wanted to leave in a hurry.

Sure, I could have used a flash to balance the inside light to the outside light – but I think that would have destroyed the spontaneity and feeling of the moment. Also, I kinda like the way the couple is surrounded by the bright windows.

And by the way… did you notice the interior of this car? Looks at all the stuff that is missing!

Hey, if you don’t agree on all this, let me know – as always. Either way, I love this photograph because it not only captures the couple totally at ease with a total stranger, but it also illustrates the all-important point in travel photography: it never hurts to ask. And… I guess it also illustrates one of my photo skills – photographing strangers in strange lands.

If you want to learn more about light, check out my book: Exploring the Light.

I hope you enjoy this week’s photos and the tips. If you want some hands-on experience, hope you can join one of my workshops.

If you are interested in joining one of my Cuba Workshops (after it opens and Americans can go legally (you need a license from the U.S Treasury Department now), keep checking my Events page.

Explore the light,
Rick