Macro Teton Ice by Jay Goodrich

MUD SEASON MACRO

March in the Tetons often provides some of the most difficult photography conditions you’ll find, but it also regularly provides the greatest rewards as well. With the weather being what it is in the Tetons, it isn’t uncommon to go from sun to rain to snow and back to sun all in the same day. While unusual weather patterns can make it difficult to dress appropriately, it can do wonders to the landscape and provide spectacular opportunity for the prepared photographer.

Not all landscape images require a wide angle lens, and some of the most interesting images can be found at your feet with a basic macro lens. As melting snow turns pathways and trails to mud, look to locations off the beaten path for inspiration. Wildflowers poking their new buds through melting snow is a classic spring image. We recommend capturing this classic and then moving on to something more unique and in line with your own personal style.  

Another option is ice, often found in great supply in the region in winter and early spring.  Look to the edges of lakes and streams for interesting compositions, and be sure to bring a polarizer. You’ll find that ice often refracts light and creates interesting colors within your composition. Or better yet, bubbles of air trapped below virtually transparent ice can provide you with great macro images. Juxtapose the bubbles on the back side of the ice with the patterns of river stones in the water beneath. Try to concentrate on color and form as your primary elements when creating images under these conditions.

A technical note – if you don’t have a proper macro lens (or a lens with some macro capability), you can always use extension tubes to turn one of your existing lenses into a capable macro lens. A secondary option is to use a diopter (basically a magnifying glass for the end of your lens) which will increase the magnification of your lens.

Creative and unique images can be found everywhere as winter turns to spring and we yearn for the wildflowers of summer. Open your eyes, let your creative juices flow and get out in the field to see some of the beauty that often goes overlooked just beyond your feet.

 

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2016 Photography Project Photo by Jay Goodrich

2016 PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT

As we progress further into 2016, you’re going to read stories of new beginnings, starting over, important resolutions and big plans to be a better person. Let’s face it, though – more often than not, things don’t change for very long. When we attempt big changes, or go out of our way to adjust who we are as a person, it is easy to slip back into the comfort zone of who we were on December 31st.

Instead resolving to do something unobtainable, I’d like to suggest a simpler 2016 photography project that is a little closer to home. I want you to take at least one photo every day. Start with committing to just a week, then see if you can extend your streak to longer and longer. Try not to make it just about selfies either. Commit to making a single well conceived photo for each day that you try this mission.

We all have a smart device, and often those devices possess pretty good sensors and optics. So the old “I didn’t have my camera” excuse won’t cut it. See something on your way to work? Take a photo. A beautiful sunrise? Take a photo. It is your child’s birthday? Of course, take a photo. Think creatively with you as you take the photo of your child blowing out the candles. The benefits will outweigh anything negative you might think about this goal. There is plenty to be gained by this exercise, but I think the primary takeaways for my 2016 photography project are these:

YOU WILL OPEN YOUR MIND

Once you start to think about your surroundings as if they were the basis of a photograph, you’ll find that your mind begins to work differently. You’ll begin to see line and form, color and shape.  Be more aware of what light and shadow do to buildings, or be more watchful of people, places  and elements that could contribute to a good photograph.

YOU WILL SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY

A building is no longer just a building – it can be a geometric pattern, an interplay of lines or shapes, or whatever you can dream up. Look at the sunrise (or sunset) as a color wash, and look for unique silhouettes. Motion blurs, long exposure times, and just about any creative element you can throw at your daily life will lead to unique images to keep your photographic eye fresh.

YOU WILL GROW YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC SKILLSET

With little hesitation I can say this: If you really work and create an image a day for a week or month, or even the entirety of 2016, you will become a better photographer. I can guarantee it. Continuing to practice and hone your skills will open your eyes to seeing new, photographically interesting, subjects and will lead to a great new body of work.

Once you’ve turned this new year’s goal into a daily habit, you will be amazed by how differently you begin to view the world around you. It will quite simply change your perception. The only thing left is to figure out where to shoot that first photo on January 1st.

 

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Holiday Wishes Post Photo by Jay Goodrich

HOLIDAY WISHES

As 2015 winds down, and 2016 gets closer and closer, perhaps a moment of reflection is appropriate.

As we all approach the new year and a “new beginning” consider asking yourself this question: Could I have spent more time in the field with my camera and my friends? My guess at your answer, based on my own personal response, is a resounding yes.

All that gear sitting on a shelf, or in your backpack in a corner, shouldn’t be wasted. I’m not talking about the financial impact of how much you spent on that gear, but I’m speaking to your passion. How many times have you gotten up before the crack of dawn, headed out into the field only to be astounded by the beauty of the scene unfolding in front of you? Capturing and sharing those images and your story with friends, family and often the world in this connected age creates a sense of belonging with nature. It pulls your friends and family closer, and provides you with the warm feeling of fulfillment that only those stunning images can give.

And sure, there are plenty of times when you’ve gotten out of a warm bed, headed out to the field and gotten the big goose egg. Or you weren’t able to get out at all due to truly inclement weather. It is those moments, and that camaraderie, that are often the elements of even better stories.

So grab an eggnog and settle in for the holidays. Perhaps you’ll be the lucky recipient of one of the gifts from our tip from last month, or perhaps you’ve given one to support a fellow photographer’s passion. We’ve got a few free eBooks for you to read while sipping on that eggnog. In any case, take a few moments to think about what you’d like to do as a photographer in 2016. Make some plans to travel near or far, sign up for a workshop that will allow you to push your photographic envelope or just find an excuse, ANY excuse, to grab your bag and hop in the car to create some new photos.

Rest assured, you won’t regret it.

Jay, Brendan, and Yuri want to personally send their heartfelt wishes for a wonderful holiday season to you and your family, and may 2016 bring only peace and prosperity. We look forward to seeing you in the field next year!

 

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Photography Gifts Post Photo by Jay Goodrich

PHOTOGRAPHY GIFTS

Photographers are notoriously difficult to buy for. This month’s tip is geared towards helping you provide a list of some photography gifts that won’t break the bank for anyone looking to get you something special this season. Most of the items on this list are available online as well, so your gift giver won’t even need to leave their house to get you something you will use.

NEOS OVERSHOES

Tromping around in snow and mud ultimately pays off when it helps you capture the image you envision, but getting wet feet while you’re in the middle of taking the shot, can really put a damper on the process. NEOS Overshoes come in multiple styles and tech levels allowing them to cover your feet in a variety of ways. They are the perfect addition to your photography kit when conditions aren’t that optimal. We love them in locations like Alaska when we are photographing coastal brown bears.

https://www.overshoe.com/Pages/default.aspx

FILTERS

Our recommendation is that you get your photos as close to perfect in-camera, and do your best to minimally adjust your images on your computer later. Primarily, because the less time you spend sitting in front of your computer, the more time you get to spend in the field photographing.

There are a myriad of filters and filter manufacturers out there, each supplying similar products in the marketplace. To help you narrow it down consider these two basic styles…

Circular Filters (Screw On Style)

Circular filters thread on to the end of your lens, and affect the entirety of your frame. We typically use Neutral Density (solid or variable) or Polarizers (circular or color enhancing). Within these types of filters there are many different options including color correction, beauty filters, vignettes and more.

Graduated Filters

Where a Circular filter allows you to adjust your photo by coloring or darkening the entire visible area of the photograph, a Graduated Density Filter allows you to even out high dynamic exposure in an image to match your creative vision. Graduated filters are made of rectangular glass or resin, with only half of the glass coated with a darkening or color adjusting coating.

Resources for Purchasing Filters

Singh-Ray http://www.singh-ray.com/neutral-density-filters/

Lee Filters http://www.leefilters.com/index.php/camera/ndgrads

Cokin Filters http://www.cokin-filters.com/creative/filters/

Tiffen Filters http://www.tiffen.com/filters.htm

Breakthrough http://breakthrough.photography

REMEMBER: If someone you know purchases a Singh-Ray filter, have them use code GOODRICH10 to receive 10% off the total order!

VSCO SOFTWARE

VSCO (Visual Services Company) did something really creative with their business model – they produced a series of presets for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw that simulate many of the films from the film days. While every photographer remembers film (at least on some level), there are a few films that standout through photographic history. The VSCO team now gives you FujiChrome Velvia, Kodak Tri-X 3200, and hundreds more at a simple click a button. Here’s what they have to say about themselves on their website:

“Our goal is to honor art and artist while fueling a worldwide creative movement through innovative tools and experimental projects.”

The bottom line here – if you use VSCO software on your computer, you can quickly replicate a particular look, or evoke a particular feel that film gave you without spending a ton of hours creating your own Lightroom or Camera Raw presets. We use them as a key starting point in our processing work flow, and highly recommend them. This is a really inexpensive way to take your photography to a new level. While it won’t help you in the field like some of our other gift ideas, it will certainly take your digital darkroom to a new creative level.

Check out the VSCO websites for all the details, options and pricing info.

For your computer:

http://vsco.co

They also have an app for your iPhone/iPad/Android:

http://vsco.co/vscocam

ADDITIONAL MEMORY

The staff here at TPW uses and recommends SanDisk cards and card readers, but there are plenty of manufacturers, sizes, speeds and styles available beyond our choice.

After many conversations with photographers, two schools of thought emerge. The first, is to get more cards at a slightly smaller size (16MB instead of 32 or 64MB) so that if you lose a card you don’t lose that many images. The second, is get the biggest card you can (64MB or larger) and shoot all day. More memory equates to a greater cost per card, so keep that in mind as you reach for your credit card. Larger sensors create larger files, so keeping plenty of memory on hand and accessible is a great idea as well.

Another gift option within this category is to get memory card storage to safely transport your cards to and from the shoot. While there are a number of options out there, look to companies that sell camera cases or backpacks. Pelican makes a waterproof hard-case option and Think Tank has a soft sided version that fits in your pocket like wallet.

BATTERIES/CHARGERS

Electronic devices, especially ones as complicated as the DSLR’s we all use, require power.  Often a lot of it. Having an extra set of batteries may be the difference between getting the shot or yelling at yourself later. We recommend spending a little extra and purchasing the manufacturers batteries. You can find batteries with more charge (and potentially a longer use time in camera) but you may not get the same warranty or guarantee from the manufacturer. Non-OEM batteries may be more prone to issues as well. We cannot state with any certainty that buying a battery not made by your camera manufacturer will damage your gear, but we leave that decision up to you.

EBOOKS

It seems that every photographer has some type of eBook these days. You’ll find eBooks to help you take better pictures, many will tell you where great locations are, and even more will show you beautiful images. You’ll find them on many photographer’s websites, so once you find a photographer whose style or look appeals to you, check to see if they have created any eBooks that speak to you. You’ll find a number of offerings from Jay Goodrich and if you sign up for his newsletter they are all free!

WRAPPING UP

Our goal with this list is to provide a few specialty items that we use that will not break the bank for anyone looking to get you a photography gift this season. This way you may actually get something useful for photography, instead of some gag photographer gift that doesn’t help you further your craft.

 

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A STRONG FOUNDATION IS THE KEY TO A GREAT PHOTOGRAPH

Adages like “A building is only as strong as its foundation” are used for a reason: they’re true. When building everything from a single family home to a skyscraper, the foundation is the first and possibly most important element. And while you’ll find our eBook on Photo Foundations here, we’d like to discuss a different foundation for a moment.

The “art” of a good photograph begins with the compositional elements. The “tech” of a good photograph begins with the camera platform. With the longer exposures typically used when creating a landscape image, your camera needs to be rock solid on its foundation. Spending the money on a good tripod (and other support equipment) is key to giving yourself a head start on capturing the image you see before you in the field.

Landscape photography isn’t the only time you’ll need a good, solid tripod upon which to support your camera gear. Imagine hand holding a 600mm F/4 lens while shooting larger mammals in the field! Or when it is late at night, and you’re in the field capturing star trail images, there’s no way you’ll be able to drink hot cocoa to keep yourself warm and hold your camera steady at the same time.

Today, you’ll find tripods made from two primary materials: carbon fiber and aluminum. Each has its own pluses and minuses; aluminum is light weight and reasonably inexpensive, though it responds to ambient temperature quickly. You don’t want to be shooting in the show in winter and grab a tripod that is freezing cold! And while carbon fiber is even lighter in weight than aluminum, it is really expensive. Use the Resource Links below as a starting place to begin researching just want kind of tripod works best for you at this stage in your career.

Here at Teton Photo Workshops, all of our instructors use carbon fiber tripods with individually adjustable legs, though we all use ball heads from different manufacturers. We recommend staying away from “entry level” tripods where all three legs are joined together, and we try not to recommend tripods with center columns. Be on the look out here on our Teton Photo Workshops Tip Of The Month page where we will discuss other camera support related elements, including ball heads and gimbal heads, camera brackets, flash mounts and more.

TRIPOD MANUFACTURES THAT WE RECOMMEND:

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Sunrise Moran by Jay Goodrich

SIZING IMAGES CORRECTLY FOR YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE

With Facebook being the 800 lb gorilla in the room, sizing images correctly for your Facebook page is extremely important so that your online social media presence reflects you as a photographer. As FB may have the most variable image sizing specifications on the market today, it is actually impossible to crop your photos for every scenario. However, if you at least know what they are doing to your images you will be able to choose appropriately so that your photography looks the best it can when on this social media platform. View specific sizing on the Facebook screen shot below. Let’s start with the easy ones…

Cover Image: 851 x 315 pixels

Profile Photo: Upload as a 180 x 180 pixels but displays as 160 x 160 pixels

Easy enough, now here is where it get’s complicated…

If you want to load an image into a post in your timeline you are allowed to go as large as 2048 x 2048 pixels, however Facebook won’t allow you to see an image that large. After a ton of online research it looks like 1200 x 1200 pixels is the consensus for best sizing based on the fact that Facebook will only display an image up to 504 x 504 pixels and they automatically scale your image to work on their platform on upload.

Now, if you or anyone else shares a post of yours, Facebook automatically crops your image to 484 x 253 pixels. This is important because things can get chopped off if you are not thinking ahead when you post your image.

In addition to this, if you post an event on your Facebook page which in turn is shared automatically to the Newsfeed (see image above), Facebook crops the image that is associated with the event to 470×174 pixels. If you weren’t thinking about this when you posted the event, your image could potentially look poorly cropped from a photography standpoint.

So how do you deal with all this automation and still have images that look decent? We typically crop photos for the Facebook advertising spec’s, which puts an image at 1200 x 627 pixels. This is more of a panoramic format and I am learning to give my main subjects some space around all of the edges, so when things are shared or added to other people’s timelines my images look as good as they possibly can.

Sizing Images Correctly for Your Facebook Page Image

 

 

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