The Best Thing You Can Do in 2014

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So often we obsess about taking the next great photo that we forget about some of the basics.  Its great to be constantly looking forward to implement new skills but today I’m going to advocate that you stop…and wonder what happens when that hard drive you’ve been using for the last 5 years develops the least little bit of wobble and computer parts crash into each other.  Of course hard drive failures aren’t going to injure anyone (at least I didn’t think they could) but imagine if you lost all your images and videos.  Don’t think that backing up your data is only for professionals, the blurry pictures that you take on your smartphone are capturing a moment in time that you’ll never get back.  Let’s dive into the exciting world of data backup…stay with me casual photogs…this isn’t a boring as you think.

I forget where I read this (I think it was from Leo Laporte’s TWIT network, http://www.twit.tv) but a simple backup philosophy involves the idea that a file does not exist unless it is stored in 3 places.

Let me explain.

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Too much processing…or was it?

I guess they say that patience is a virtue, which I’m sure has been said a million times to beginner photogs, especially landscape photographers.  The greater part of the landscape canvas can’t be controlled and re-takes simply aren’t possible.  The flip side of this ‘con’ is that every sunset is different, especially if clouds are involved.  No clouds = boring compositions.  Forgive me if I’m repeating myself but clouds really make the difference.  There have been times at supper where I’ve looked out off of the front step only to retreat back inside knowing that I’m not missing out on much.  If you’re photographing anything, it will look better during the ‘golden light’ hours at sunrise or sunset but for the landscape photography that I’m interested in, I know I won’t come away with much I’m interested in unless there are clouds.

Last night doesn’t fall into the boring category though!  I’ve been waiting all summer for some interesting clouds and last night was a great night for shooting.

There was a storm brewing as we were driving across Kincardine around 7pm and even at that time there was some nice light (approx. an hour and half before sunset).  We raced home from an appointment and I grabbed my gear, threw on some bug spray (which was waaaaaay too little in my ankle area) and out the door I went.  I had my eye on a particularly marshy area that I hadn’t been to yet but I had driven past it every time on the way into town.  I had in mind that it would be a good outcropping of rocks for foreground but it turned out a lot better than I had thought.  You’ll see from the photos that hidden behind all the reeds was a low area that would be great for reflections.

If you’ve started to read all the available resources online, you’ll inevitably read about High Dynamic Range photography (or HDR) for short.  HDR includes blending 3 images (shot at different exposures) and blended to make a stronger looking image.  Why HDR?  Because a particularly contrasty scene (bright areas and dark areas) may not be able to be captured in one picture by the camera.  The camera can’t capture the same dynamic range that the human eye can.   Some hate HDR, some only shoot HDR photos.  I fall into the middle for using it – if it works and looks good, its worth it but I’m not going to sit at the computer for hours and tweak an image just to say I’m an ‘HDR specialist’.  Chances are if you can’t get it to look good in less than 5 minutes, you should move on.

Here is the final image I produced using Nik’s HDR Efex Pro.  This is using the in app processing with very little adjustments afterward in Aperture (which I use as my library manager).  I processed this after the shoot late at night and my final thought was that it was too much processing.  It didn’t look realistic so off to bed I went.

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