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Acting Locally

When I was getting started with the digital darkroom, roughly 15 years ago, there weren’t as many tools available as there are today. Photoshop was the 900-pound gorilla and it was widely–if not quite universally–regarded as the only “serious” software package for photographic editing/enhancement. Almost literally all of the tutorials and editing tips at the time were concocted and outlined with Photoshop in mind and so, of course, I purchased a copy of the Mother of All Editing Programs and jumped in with both feet.

And I floundered around for about six months before I had an epiphany, of sorts; the rest, as they say, is history. (The chronology of my digital darkroom experience is, at least arguably, an interesting one, but I’ll save it for another, later post–maybe.) To this day, Photoshop is, hands down, the least intuitive piece of software that I’ve ever used. When considering that statement keep in mind that I’ve used a number of advanced statistical packages going back deep into the DOS era. Photoshop was significantly more indecipherable than any of them.

otter clifs

Otter Cliffs Sunrise, Acadia National Park, Maine

The process of using Photoshop, in the beginning, was so opaque that it’s difficult to convey. Typically, when using software, the stumbling block that needs to be overcome is how to accomplish a specific goal that has already been identified. How difficult this is tends to be a function of how complex the software is (i.e. how many things it’s designed to do) and how intuitive the interface is (among other things). So, for instance, if I’m firing up a statistical package, I might want to carry out what is known as a discriminant analysis using a particular data set. How do I go about carrying out this particular known task? There’s a very specific way of doing so–I just have to figure out what it is (probably through some combination of checking through menu items, trial and error and accessing a Help file). But postprocessing a photograph with Photoshop? That’s an immeasurably more complex, fuzzier thing altogether.

Au Sable Point

Au Sable Point at Sunset, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

The first problem–as compared to the statistical example outlined above–is simply determining what the task itself is. How should I edit this photograph? It’s not always so obvious, particularly when you’re new to the game. Is there a color cast that you feel should be tweaked or removed entirely? (By the way, if there is…it’s better removed in RAW conversion, assuming you’re shooting RAW, by means of a white balance adjustment.) And, hey, the image looks pretty flat. I guess it needs a saturation boost. Or does it? Perhaps a contrast adjustment would take care of the problem. In short, you need to figure out what you want to do before you go about figuring out how to do it.

Nachusa

Coneflower Morning, Nachusa Grasslands Preserve, Illinois

Then there’s this little realization–there are multiple ways to carry out just about any kind of editing adjustment you care to apply in Photoshop. There are an innumerable number of techniques at your disposal, utilizing a variety of specific Photoshop tools and a dizzying accompaniment of blending modes, masks and plug-ins. When I was first starting out, I began to create a Word document that listed different editing techniques as I ran across them, as a reference that I could consult. I more or less stopped adding to the document after about five years, as I became sufficiently facile to remember/recognize virtually everything I felt I needed. The document was well over 100 pages in length when I stopped updating it, in part because there were so many different approaches to accomplishing the same basic task.

All of this–and other things, which I’m mercifully keeping to myself–in the early days of my digital darkroom experience meant that simply accomplishing ostensibly very basic actions with Photoshop were considered a triumph. As a result, there was little recognition of what a blunt instrument Photoshop postprocessing could be. The emphasis, naturally enough, was on carrying out global adjustments–making the entire image brighter or darker, for example, or adding contrast throughout. But, in reality, it’s seldom necessary to carry out this sort of adjustment to a decent photograph. In fact, it’s not only frequently unnecessary, it’s often a bad idea. The vast, vast majority of helpful postprocessing work is accomplished with a far subtler, more deft, touch. Truly enhancing adjustments are typically carried out in targeted fashion, via the use of layers, selections and masks. This is what makes Photoshop such a potentially powerful tool for image enhancement (and the value of these tools is what made up the substance of the the aforementioned epiphany I had, six-odd months after first getting my feet wet with Photoshop).

Foothills Pkwy

Sunrise, Foothills Parkway, Tennessee

Totem Pole, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona
Totem Pole, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona
So let me illustrate the point with a broadly accessible example. Consider the below image of a scene at Cannon Beach near sunset. It’s essentially unoptimized and illustrates a common issue with many grand landscape scenes (and, not coincidentally, something that bedeviled all of the images accompanying this post prior to optimization)–the yawning chasm of a luminosity difference between the sky and most of the rest of the frame.

Continue Reading…

 


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Kerry-LeibowitzHi, my name is Kerry Leibowitz. I’m a Midwest-based (I split my time between the Chicago and Indianapolis areas) photographer with a particular propensity for the landscape.

You can read my other blog posts at my website Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog and see my photo galleries at Lightscapes Nature Photography.

The entire contents of my web site, images and text, are the copyrighted property of Kerry Leibowitz and may not be duplicated or reproduced in any form without express consent. Image rights may be purchased; please contact me to make arrangements. Images may not be hot linked.

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Humpback Whale Breach 225

USA, Hawaii, Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) breachMy recent visits to Lanai to photograph humpback whales breaching were among my most productive trips ever. I have dozens of new photos of this awe-inspiring behavior. This stunning moment of an adult whale almost completely out of the water was photographed in January on an especially calm day, as can be seen by the reflection of the whale on the surface of the ocean. I worked especially hard to keep my boat in position in order to line up the whale with the West Maui Mountains in the background. Normally, I prefer breaches at their apex, but my auto-focus was slightly off for the 2 frames before this one because I was zooming in tighter as it transpired. This behavior is so fleeting that it is always disappointing to lose any photos because they are soft. Fortunately, this one is razor sharp. It is also not that common to see an adult whale almost totally out of the water. I created this image using my new Canon 7DmkII and Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II lens. I processed the RAW file using Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CC 2014.


 

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Jon Cornforth photographing surf on the North Shore of OahuJon Cornforth photographing surf on the North Shore of OahuJon Cornforth is an award-winning wilderness photographer whose images have been recognized internationally for their masterful composition and incredible detail. He’s compelled to express the beauty of the natural world through his photography, traveling all year, challenging himself in new locations and documenting the unique creatures who live there. All of his images are captured in the wild. He believes in supporting environmental groups and raising awareness through photography. He lives in Seattle, WA with his wife, Daisy, daughters, Maddy and Chloe, and Boston terrier, Buni.

Click here to visit Jon’s website.

Cornforth Images are copyright protected. Cornforth Images are available to be licensed for a fee and can not be used without permission.

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BEHIND THE LINES – Fer-De-Lance, Making Your Own Light

I often hear photographers say that they shoot only natural light. I love photographs that have pleasing natural light, and I respect a great landscape or wildlife shot where the photographer was in the right place at the right time or persisted until getting that magical light. Indeed, great natural light makes great photos, particularly for landscapes and larger wildlife. When I see interesting natural light for any image — landscape, bird, snake, frog, monkey, or mushroom — I’m all over it. But, I don’t see how relying only on natural light (often because the photographer doesn’t know how to use flash well) is a badge of honor for the nature photographer.

The reality of nature photography, especially for the rainforest photographer, is that nature doesn’t often give us what we want, when we want it. I was confronted with this situation recently while shooting for my coffee table book in the Corcovado National Park on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. Days were made up of hard hiking with plenty of gear and wearing rubber boots (to cross numerous creeks and muddy spots but also for safety), looking for things to photograph in the dense forest. My task was to photograph beach scenes, forest interiors, plants, bugs, snakes/lizards, mammals, and birds. Basically, the idea was to bring back a portfolio (in one week!) that would give book readers a good sense of what this area of the country was all about. That meant taking my whole kit with me at all times out in the forest, and it made for some long hot days!

While hiking around mid-day near the Rio Claro, my local guide Jorge went looking for a fer-de-lance he had spotted the previous week. It wasn’t in the same spot but minutes later, I heard him shout “Terciopelo!” and yep, there it was right off the trail — a meter long fer-de-lance.

-As always, a little reminder that I work hard on the site. So, if the spirit moves you, consider buying your next gear through the affiliate links on this site; you pay the same, and I make a little something to keep the site going. Check out the Support the Site page for more info. Below is the gear I used for this shoot (camera was a Canon 5DII which has been discontinued). Gracias!-

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Fer-de-lance, Bothrops asper, are very dangerous, but they are nocturnal. When resting during the day, as this one was, they tend to be pretty calm as long as they are not disturbed. I really wanted a shot of a fer-de-lance in real leaf litter (I have plenty from snake zoos), and this was a nice specimen in a nice position. By using a longer lens (my 70-300 mm zoom), I was able to work at a distance comfortable for me and the subject.

The big problem was the light. In rainforests at mid-day, you normally get one of two things — soft but very dim light with rainy conditions or sunny, very patchy/contrasty light when it’s clear. I actually don’t mind patchy light, particularly for a subject such as a snake on the rainforest floor as it makes for a nice cue as to the subject’s habitat. Furthermore, a rainforest image with light and shadow is usually much more interesting to me than soft overcast light, especially for a snake, where a chiaroscuro effect brings out that sinister character we associate with serpents.

When faced with patchy midday light, however, things have to be just right. The light has to hit the subject’s head and then accent only parts of the image that contribute something positive to the final product. That simply doesn’t happen very often, and it wasn’t happening with my snake this day. Below is how my shot looked with natural light — ouch!

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I needed a strategy to tame or simply rid myself of the natural light. The first thing many macro/closeup photographers would have thought of was to use a diffuser. I had one in my Kiboko pack, but using it would have given me soft light, which would be great for a flower but wouldn’t make for an exciting snake picture. I really wanted that light and shadow for the emotional effect and for the texture it would bring out (the species name asper, after all, means “rough”) in the snake’s scales.

What about using the diffuser and then employing a reflector to bounce light back into the scene? That’s a great technique that many photographers use for flowers and mushrooms, and I had a reflector in my pack as well. I didn’t use it here for three reasons. First, it wouldn’t really have given me the directional effect I wanted. Second, since it was mid-day, finding an angle from which to bounce the light would have been difficult. Third, and most importantly, waving two big bright circles around at close distance to a fer-de-lance seemed like a very bad idea!

The obvious choice, then, was flash, and I needed more than one. Of course, I never head out into the forest without at least two flashes, so I was all set. Using the Phottix Odin radio transmitter system, which I am coming to absolutely love, made the job easy. Once I composed and focused (with my camera on a tripod and using Live View), I needed to decide on my exposure. Since I wanted to eliminate all natural light and let my flashes take over (just as in a studio), I knew I wanted a small aperture, a relatively fast shutter speed, and a low ISO. Settings of f/16, 1/200, and ISO 100 gave me a completely black frame when I pressed the shutter button. Perfect!

Continue reading…


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Greg BascoLike many nature photographers, I started my career doing something else. A political scientist by training, my research focused on the politics of the environment in Latin America. I researched environmental politics and ecotourism in Costa Rica and worked here for a number of years as a conservation professional, having first come to the country in 1992 as a Peace Corps volunteer. I now dedicate myself full-time to my own photography and my Costa Rica photo tour company. I work out of my home office in Costa Rica’s central highlands, where I live with my wife, twin boys, our dogs and cats, and various hummingbirds and songbirds that visit our backyard feeders.

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Experience the Extraordinary

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

― Eleanor Roosevelt

africa safari

It is the adventures and experiences that create the excitement that feeds one’s soul. When life starts to feel mundane, it is time to take an adventure; grab your friends, book a flight, head into nature, climb a mountain, dream about the future, feel the freedom, and experience something that makes your heart race. Take more than an epic journey; experience an odyssey in the fullest sense of the word. A single decision can be the defining moment, which changes the direction of one’s path in life. This is what happened to me a decade ago. Making that sudden decision to go to Africa taught me to jump out there, live boldly, and experience the extraordinary.

Although my camera is the drive behind seeking adventure and capturing compelling stories, it is the incredible experiences that stay with me long after the click of shutter. Last year was no exception. I had the opportunity to spend up close and personal time with the young orphaned elephants that were being reintroduced to the wild. We were invited for an exclusive stay at two of the David Sheldrick properties near and in West Tsavo.

Each morning we awoke at sunrise to go down to the stockade for the elephants’ morning feeding, before they headed out into the wild accompanied by their keepers. Midmorning we would join them again for their noon feeding. They would then head to a small water hole where they would interact with the wild elephants that had also come in for a drink. It was fascinating to watch. Both the orphans and the wild elephants would then wander down to a larger water hole for a mud bath. We could lay right beside their water hole, photograph them, play with them, or even get a personal dusting from them! We were able to interact with them, one on one, for several hours.

In the evening we were able to greet them again as they came in from the wild to spend the night in the safety of the stockade. The orphans will decide for themselves when it is time to stay in the wild, as one evening they just don’t come home, so to speak. It has now been placed in the top 10 experiences I have had in Africa.

More amazing than the experience itself was witnessing the incredible dedication of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the keepers who dedicate their lives to help save these amazing animals. I have supported this organization for many years, including donating proceeds of my exhibit “Wild on Earth” that was held at the G2 Gallery in 2013, to the organization. They continue to show the world that we can make a difference. Because someone cared enough to take action, these orphans now have a chance to live a full life in the wild. You can learn more about this amazing organization and the work they do by visiting their website.

This year, I am excited to be able to take 4-5 photographers with me, for an exclusive visit and up-close personal encounter with these gentle giants. Proceeds from our visit will go back to the DWST. Here are the details. Below are a few of the images from our visit.

Vuria, who I adopted, coming from the water hole with the wild elephants

Vuria, who I adopted, coming from the water hole with the wild elephants

Click here to continue reading  www.pipermackayphotography.com.

 


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PiperMackayPiper Mackay is a world, wildlife and cultural photographer, based in Long Beach, California. She believes compelling visual images help to protect what is right in the world. Her work takes her to very remote locations, living cross culturally in the villages and environments that she is documenting.

Her work is heavily concentrated on the African continent, a land she fell in love with when she first touched foot on it’s rich red soil. Her passion for the natural world has grown into a lifelong commitment to inspire others to explore, respect and preserve the beauty of our fragile planet.

She believes compelling work comes when you invest time, living the stories you are trying to tell. It is important to interact and gain the trust of those whose stories you are telling, especially when sensitive and complicated. The world has enough images of poverty, pain and disaster, much more needful is imagery that reveals the beauty and dignity of the communities that are, except by their geography and circumstances, very similar to our own. Powerful images help shape the view of the world and play an important role in disseminating how cultures and wildlife are coping with the rapid changes happening in the developing world.

Piper’s images have been displayed at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, The Museum of History and industry, and The Art Wolfe gallery, as well as local galleries. Her work has been featured in Nature and travel publication through representation of several photo agencies, including Rangefinder, Nature’s Best, Birders, and the World Wildlife Fund. She is an independent photographer and available for assignment work.

Her prior career in the fashion industry, where she was deeply involved with combing color and texture, has greatly enhanced her approach to the unique look and feel of each culture and photographic subject. This also gave her a strong background in business and marketing. Please visit Piper’s website at www.pipermackayphotography.com.

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Photo Friday: Cold Water Flowing

 

Canon 5D MarkOn February 1st eastern Nebraska received measurable snow, something that hasn’t happened very frequently in the last couple of years. Not only was it a good amount, but it was also wet and sticky snow that clung to everything. I ventured out before the wind could blow the snow off the branches and hiked into a winter wonderland at Platte River State Park. I followed the creek for a ways and found a few areas where the water flowed past the snow and ice. I got low to the ground to show the little cascade and used a wide angle to show all the great snow clinging to the environment. In the background one of the bridges that crosses the little stream complimented the scene nicely and I included this detail. I spent quite some time at this spot enjoying the quiet snow falling all around.

Technical Details:
Canon 5D Mark II, 16-35 f/4l lens @ 16mm, f/18, .6 s,
Platte River State Park, Nebraska

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Derrald_Farnsworth-Livingston

While growing up, Derrald’s parents took him on several trips across the United States to numerous national parks. It was on these trips that Derrald grew a love for the outdoors which we wished to explore and share with others. Photography was a natural result, an endeavor that Derrald began at a young age and continued to explore in years to come.

While pursuing a Bachelors degree at Creighton University, he enrolled in all of the photography courses. With these courses he learned the fundamentals of chemical darkrooms, light, balance, and exposure. After college he continued to explore the art and develop his own technique and style and choose to focus on nature and scenic photography as his primary subjects, although he is not hesitant to point the lens at anything.

Amongst the images of majestic mountains and the crashing waves of the ocean, one can find photographs of the prairies, lakes, and wetlands of the American Great Plains and Midwest. Some of these images are the artist’s favorites as they show the expansive heartland of the United States and the subtle beauty of the area surrounding his home. Through the right balance of subject, composition, and light, Derrald strives to transport the viewer into the composition.

Derrald has won numerous awards and exhibited in several solo and group shows regionally. His work has also appeared in several regional and national magazines, calendars, websites, and postcards. He continues to live and work in Omaha with his family.

Visit Derrald’s website Journey Of Light Photography http://www.journeyoflight.com/blog/ to read his other articles. His images may be ordered from his store at http://store.journeyoflight.com.

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Free Falling; Stay Calm & Come to the Mara!

Africa-Safari-Maasai-Mara1Captured with the iPhone 4 just before returning to Mara Bush Camp

It is hard to believe I have been living in Kenya for a month already! I have traveled here so often over the past decade that I think it feels more like another visit than actually living here.

From the moment my feet hit the rich red African soil on May 24th, 2004, I longed to live here for at least one year of my life; an experience I needed to have in my lifetime. It has taken me more than 10 years to achieve this, with great sacrifice, hard lessons, and a failed attempt four years ago. When I landed and walked through the front door with my 7 suitcases and boxes, I expected to feel right at home; jump up and down and shout, “I did it, I am living my dream!” Instead, what happened was panic, “OMG, what have I done!?” My instinct was to run, get back on a plane and head home.

Free falling; when you take the final jump to live your dream, put everything on the line, and risk it all, it can be exhilarating yet terrifying. I imagine it would be much like the first time you jump out of an airplane and parachuted down.

I was in a strange place – knew only a handful of people, had no car (still don’t), no TV, Internet was installed but not working, and I had no furniture except for a bed. The next few weeks I was more in a state of panic than joyful bliss. I will always be so grateful to Sunworld Safaris, who embraced me like family, helped me get around Nairobi, showed immense kindness and got me out to the Mara for New Year’s Eve. They knew that what I needed was go to the Mara.

It was incredible to be in the Mara during the off-season (non-migration time) and on New Year’s Eve! With the exception of a few small groups of photographers and locals celebrating the holiday, it was virtually empty; a photographer’s dream. I could spend hours with Malika (a famous cheetah) and her four cubs or work from the Land Cruiser while sitting across from the Rekeero pride, which were of coarse sleeping. Now, I felt at home, and my office was in nature. The best part was when Air Kenya landed on the dirt airstrip, just minutes from bush camp and picked me up. The flight back to Nairobi was a mere 45 minutes, my driver was outside waiting for me, and in 20 minutes I was home.

This is exactly why I moved to Kenya! To have more time to photograph, experience and capture the stories that move me. I have now been back in Nairobi for just over a week, working harder than ever, planning some exciting photographic adventures for 2016. Many of you have been asking about trips in 2016 and I should start listing them in the next few weeks. I am heading to Samburu for a few days, before heading to India on January 26, with Deborah Sandidge and a great group of photographers.

May you all have the courage to pursue your own dreams!

OfficeInNatureMaraOffice in Nature – captured on the iPhone 4 – in the Maasai Mara

3 OffiiceInNatureMaraBushCampOffice in Nature – captured on the iphone4 – at Mara Bush Camp

4 OfficeInNatureNairobioffice in Nature – captured on the iPhone 4 – at the house in Nairobi

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PiperMackayPiper Mackay is a world, wildlife and cultural photographer, based in Long Beach, California. She believes compelling visual images help to protect what is right in the world. Her work takes her to very remote locations, living cross culturally in the villages and environments that she is documenting.

Her work is heavily concentrated on the African continent, a land she fell in love with when she first touched foot on it’s rich red soil. Her passion for the natural world has grown into a lifelong commitment to inspire others to explore, respect and preserve the beauty of our fragile planet.

She believes compelling work comes when you invest time, living the stories you are trying to tell. It is important to interact and gain the trust of those whose stories you are telling, especially when sensitive and complicated. The world has enough images of poverty, pain and disaster, much more needful is imagery that reveals the beauty and dignity of the communities that are, except by their geography and circumstances, very similar to our own. Powerful images help shape the view of the world and play an important role in disseminating how cultures and wildlife are coping with the rapid changes happening in the developing world.

Piper’s images have been displayed at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, The Museum of History and industry, and The Art Wolfe gallery, as well as local galleries. Her work has been featured in Nature and travel publication through representation of several photo agencies, including Rangefinder, Nature’s Best, Birders, and the World Wildlife Fund. She is an independent photographer and available for assignment work.

Her prior career in the fashion industry, where she was deeply involved with combing color and texture, has greatly enhanced her approach to the unique look and feel of each culture and photographic subject. This also gave her a strong background in business and marketing. Please visit Piper’s website at www.pipermackayphotography.com.

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REVIEW: MICHAEL FRYE’S “LANDSCAPES IN LIGHTROOM 5: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE”

LR5-CoverSpread.jpgCalifornia landscape photographer Michael Frye recently published his latest ebook, “Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide“, and it’s a good one. I mean, really good. I’ve been using Lightroom for seven years and I’ve read countless books and online tutorials, all of which have contributed significantly to my proficiency with the software. Michael’s ebook is as good as they come. In a nutshell, here’s why I think it’s well worth the $15 investment:

An ebook is no good if it isn’t easy to buy, download and use. ”Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide” was easy to purchase on Michael’s website and is delivered as a PDF that downloaded to my iPad without any hiccups. Most importantly, it is laid out in a logical, easy to use and attractive format.

There’s a lot of content here, folks. Really, really good content. Some “how-to” books are too basic while others cater to those who are experienced users of the software. Michael strikes a good balance of both and as a result, you’ll find value in the ebook regardless of your proficiency with Lightroom.

To many, myself included, the tools in Lightroom’s “Develop” module are a bit of a mystery. Sure, we may have a pretty good idea of what they are and how to use them, but each new version of Lightroom brings new tools and updates to old ones, some of which are significant. Michael did his research and is able to explain each tool in depth, but in a way that the average person can easily understand. I learned things about several of the tools that I use daily, and I think having that knowledge will make me more adept at using each tool.

We’re all unique and we each learn best in different ways. For some of us, just reading about a new technique is sufficient while others may pick it up quicker by watching a video. Michael recognizes this and has included several video tutorials that cover some of the more complex topics. I found the video tutorials to be very helpful.

Yet another way people learn is by doing. Michael has included sample workflows wherein he walks you through step-by-step as he processes six unique images, each with different challenges. He even provides a link to the actual DNG files for each image so you can download the unprocessed RAW files and import them into Lightroom so you can edit them yourself. This is huge. It’s almost like getting a one-on-one Lightroom workshop with Michael. This alone would make the ebook worth $15 (or more, actually).

Landscapes in Lightroom 5: A Step-by-Step Guide” is an excellent ebook for all photographers. If you’ve never used Lightroom I recommend you start with another book, Nat Coalson’s excellent “Photoshop Lightroom 5: Streamlining Your Digital Photography Process“. Nat’s book begins at the ground level with importing and organizing your images in Lightroom and then delves into the editing and other features of the software. Once you’re comfortable with the basics, “Landscapes in Lightroom 5: A Step-by-Step Guide” will be a great supplement to your library that will help you fine tune your processing skills.

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bret-edgeBret Edge is a nature and adventure photographer in Moab, Utah. His interest in photography evolved as an extension of his life long passion for the outdoors. He is an avid hiker, backpacker, mountain biker and canyoneer. A visit in 1999 to an exhibit featuring photographs by Ansel Adams, Jack Dykinga and David Muench stoked Bret’s creative fire such that he immediately purchased his first SLR camera, a Canon Rebel. In the years since, he has traveled extensively throughout the American West creating a diverse portfolio of dynamic images.

Bret’s work has appeared in magazines, calendars, travel guides and advertising campaigns. His clients include Backpacker magazine, Popular Photography, the Utah Office of Tourism, Charles Schwab & Co. and Jackson Hole Mountain Guides.

While Bret enjoys seeing his work in print, he receives the most satisfaction by helping others realize their potential as photographers. He accomplishes this by leading several group workshops each year and guiding photographers on private photo excursions. For information about his workshops and guided excursions, visit www.moabphotoworkshops.com. To view a collection of Bret’s images, visit www.bretedge.com. Bret lives in Moab with his wife, Melissa, their son Jackson, and two All-Terrain Pugs named Bierstadt and Petunia.

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Save The Elephant’s Safari

KenEledart0533Nearly four years ago, when I was in Africa for several weeks, I had the pleasure of doing some conservation work in Kenya. One of our stops was in East Tsavo, where I accompanied the rangers on de-snaring missions, for several days under the hot African sun. One of my most memorable moments in Kenya, happened during this trip. While at Salt Lick in Tsavo national park, I joined the vet team from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, to photograph them while darting an elephant and fixing it’s wounded leg.

Here is a blog post I wrote about the experience in October of 2010. Later that evening the elephants all came down to the water hole. In the stillness of the night you could hear their every movement. Soon they began interacting and trumpeting loudly for minutes at a time. It was magical and I have dreamed to return to this place ever since.

Tomorrow I will depart on a private “Save the Elephants” safari. I will be heading out to Tsavo to visit it as a photographer for the first time. Have you ever seen the movie, “The Ghost and the Darkness?” If not, I highly recommend watching it. It is the Hollywood version of the famous man eating lions in Tsavo, during the building of the Uganda-Mombasa Railway in 1896. Tsavo is filled with history. Tsavo East and Tsavo West combined forms one of the largest nationals parks in the world and covers a massive 4% of Kenya’s land area. Of coarse I am going to be tracking lions in this area, as their behavior tends to be different in Tsaveo, compared to other reserves; don’t worry, at the moment, they are not known as man-eaters.

While in Tsavo, I will be staying at a private house retreat and tented camp, maintained by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. I will see their continued work from the elephant Orphanage based in Nairobi. Once the babies are old enough they are transported to Tsavo, where they eventually released back into the wild! I will also get to revisit Salt Lick, where I captured the image at the top of this post. Please visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to learn more about the amazing work they have been doing to “Save the Elephants”, for over 3o years.

This is all part of my 80 days in Africa. Make sure to follow the journey though my social media pages. Just click on the social media buttons in the top right side bar.

Piper Dec mainframe-lions

don zeck lens cap smPiperMackayPiper Mackay is a world, wildlife and cultural photographer, based in Long Beach, California. She believes compelling visual images help to protect what is right in the world. Her work takes her to very remote locations, living cross culturally in the villages and environments that she is documenting.

Her work is heavily concentrated on the African continent, a land she fell in love with when she first touched foot on it’s rich red soil. Her passion for the natural world has grown into a lifelong commitment to inspire others to explore, respect and preserve the beauty of our fragile planet.

She believes compelling work comes when you invest time, living the stories you are trying to tell. It is important to interact and gain the trust of those whose stories you are telling, especially when sensitive and complicated. The world has enough images of poverty, pain and disaster, much more needful is imagery that reveals the beauty and dignity of the communities that are, except by their geography and circumstances, very similar to our own. Powerful images help shape the view of the world and play an important role in disseminating how cultures and wildlife are coping with the rapid changes happening in the developing world.

Piper’s images have been displayed at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, The Museum of History and industry, and The Art Wolfe gallery, as well as local galleries. Her work has been featured in Nature and travel publication through representation of several photo agencies, including Rangefinder, Nature’s Best, Birders, and the World Wildlife Fund. She is an independent photographer and available for assignment work.

Her prior career in the fashion industry, where she was deeply involved with combing color and texture, has greatly enhanced her approach to the unique look and feel of each culture and photographic subject. This also gave her a strong background in business and marketing. Please visit Piper’s website at www.pipermackayphotography.com.

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Review: Western Digital My Cloud EX2

Western Digital my Cloud EX2 Western Digital my Cloud EX2[/caption]

As a photographer, I capture a lot of photographs. Surprising, I know. Before digital cameras I had boxes and boxes of film and slides. In the digital age that means a lot of files that need to be stored. The upside of this is that I store thousands of photographs in a space that would only hold about 100 slides previously. The downside to all of this is that photography now requires IT skills and your photographs are susceptible to power blips, heat, lightning strikes through the power lines, and let’s not forget strong jostles or downright falls from 3 feet or so. In the slide days if you dropped your images you would just pick up your slides, curse a bit and put them back in order. In the digital age that little fall could mean life or death.

Don’t get me wrong, the digital age is great, I wouldn’t trade it for all the free slide film in the world. The real challenge I’ve found is finding a way to keep my data secure, backed up, and easy to access. Until now I’ve collected a myriad of USB drives which I replicate from one to the another. It’s been crude, but effective. I had recently been researching other storage options when Western Digital offered me the chance to try their My Cloud EX2 NAS. I jumped at the chance. Besides being on my short-list, I liked the feature set and felt that it could potentially improve my workflow in the future. If I can be more efficient in AND away from the office, that gives me more time to do what I love, capturing images! Below are five reasons why I recommend the My Cloud EX2 for a photography business.

Easy Setup

One thing I’ve learned to love is simplicity, both in photography and in life. As a business owner with a million things to do so I don’t have time for complicated setups. I want things that just work. The setup of the My Cloud EX2 was just that, simple. I plugged it in, went through the easy setup and bam, I was up and running. The interface was intuitive and easy, something I can always appreciate.

Additional USB Drive Support and Backups

The feature set, however, was anything but simple. First off, I love the ability to plug in additional USB drives directly into the My Cloud EX2. This allows you to either add more storage on the network or use the plugged in USB drive as a backup destination. My main concern with using the additional USB drive as additional storage was that it was going to be transferring data over the same link as the My Cloud EX2. Since I’m always transferring large amounts of data at once through viewing photographs or saving large Photoshop files, I wanted to maintain my network connection only for the Western Digital NAS. As such I configured the USB port for backups, that way the My Cloud EX2 was going directly to the USB and bypassing the network. Setting up the backup was super easy, I just went through the wizard, configured the destination, the time and hit finish. I cannot stress this point enough, back up your data!!! I’ve seen lots of people lose valuable information and never recover. The backup configuration is easy so use it! There are lots of other backup options available including cloud backup to Amazon so explore them all.

RAID Configuration

One item I do want to mention here is that the My Cloud EX2 comes with 2 drives. You have the ability to setup these drives in different versions of what is known as RAID. You can have one drive constantly mirror to another drive or have them become one big drive. The pro of making it one big drive is almost twice the storage space. The tradeoff is that if either drive fails you’ve lost everything. The pro of mirroring the drives is that if you lose a drive you should still be operational. The tradeoff is that you pay twice as much for the same space. After debating I decided to leave the drives in the “RAID 1″ configuration, or redundant. Keep in mind, this is NOT considered a form of backup. I’ve seen plenty of configurations on other devices like this go completely south, like “Antarctic put your business in a deep freeze” south. See the point above for information regarding the easy to use backup! Anyway, I’d prefer being able to keep working if one drive does fail as opposed to scrambling to go to a backup to retrieve everything if either drive goes.

“Cloud” Storage

Everyone has a different definition of “The Cloud” which can frankly become a bit well… cloudy. In fact whenever I hear, “The Cloud” I often think of an ominous unseen announcer saying “The Cloud” with a booming voice. What “The Cloud” means here is that the My Cloud EX2 creates storage on your home or business network which you can access from anywhere. The benefits here is that when you are locally on the same network as the NAS the speeds are fast and you aren’t paying a service a monthly fee to store the information. In order to use this you’ll have to setup your router or network to allow external access to the device. There are some setup options that make this configuration a little easier, but there might be a bit of technical knowhow needed. Once setup, you can generate access codes for phones, iPads, tablets, notebooks, desktops, servers, well you get the idea. Basically, any device that you might want to access the information can. Additionally, users and access rights can be created so if you want Aunt Cindy to see your family friendly Disney photos, but not images from your weekend bender, no problem. On tablets and phones you can download WD Photos which will allow you to view photos from your MyCloudEx2 and even post them to Facebook. Personally, I can always use something that makes me a more effective social networker.

Besides the photography, I had to try it with some music. I placed some music files on the storage, took off and was able to seamlessly access it. Now I could access both my tunes and my photos easily from numerous devices. Not bad.

App Support (and the ability for future development)

Lastly, one of the features on the list I wasn’t expecting is the ability to install apps. These apps enhance the functionality of the My Cloud EX2 and allow for future development. The options are fairly limited and nothing that really excites me. Most of them deal with torrents and downloading which might excite some of those peer-to-peer sharers out there. I’m not one of them, but I hope to see more of these cool add-ons in the future.

Overall, I was pleased with the experience, I loved the ease of setup and the performance has been good. The ability to access my files from outside is a plus and the backup features are very welcome and from what I’ve seen a much under discussed bonus of this little device. For the advertised price, it provides the storage with a feature set richer than I’ve seen in similar devices.

Be sure to check out more of the features at Western Digital’s website. I’m sure you’ll find something I missed that might benefit your business!

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 MEET THE AUTHOR

Derrald_Farnsworth-LivingstonWhile growing up, Derrald’s parents took him on several trips across the United States to numerous national parks. It was on these trips that Derrald grew a love for the outdoors which we wished to explore and share with others. Photography was a natural result, an endeavor that Derrald began at a young age and continued to explore in years to come.While pursuing a Bachelors degree at Creighton University, he enrolled in all of the photography courses. With these courses he learned the fundamentals of chemical darkrooms, light, balance, and exposure. After college he continued to explore the art and develop his own technique and style and choose to focus on nature and scenic photography as his primary subjects, although he is not hesitant to point the lens at anything.Amongst the images of majestic mountains and the crashing waves of the ocean, one can find photographs of the prairies, lakes, and wetlands of the American Great Plains and Midwest. Some of these images are the artist’s favorites as they show the expansive heartland of the United States and the subtle beauty of the area surrounding his home. Through the right balance of subject, composition, and light, Derrald strives to transport the viewer into the composition.Derrald has won numerous awards and exhibited in several solo and group shows regionally. His work has also appeared in several regional and national magazines, calendars, websites, and postcards. He continues to live and work in Omaha with his family.Visit Derrald’s website Journey Of Light Photography http://www.journeyoflight.com/blog/ to read his other articles.   His images may be ordered from his store at http://store.journeyoflight.com.

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Moments And Memories

Squaretop Mountain Reflecting in Green River at Sunset, Wyoming

Last summer my family and I packed up our travel trailer and headed north to Wyoming. We had no plan, no itinerary. Only a few vague ideas and a whole mess of maps and guidebooks. We wandered through Dinosaur National Monument and then followed a lonely highway across rolling hills that eventually gave way to the Wind River Mountains, a range easily equal to the Tetons in rugged beauty but without the national park crowds. The Winds, as they’re known to locals, invite exploration. Dirt roads penetrate flanks of the range from the east and west, winding through fragrant sagebrush meadows and climbing higher past stands of aspen trees to alpine lakes and frigid mountain streams. In summer, colorful wildflowers dot the landscape below skies that begin each day clear and blue before afternoon thunderstorms arrive with dramatic ferocity.

We followed a dirt road a few miles before stumbling across an idyllic campsite. A warm creek fed by a nearby hot spring cascaded over ledges before emptying into the Green River, itself surrounded by grassy meadows so green they looked fake. We parked the trailer next to a fire ring left behind by previous campers and continued up the increasingly corrugated road to Green River Lakes. According to my topographic map, granite peaks rose dramatically above the lakes and would certainly create interesting opportunities for photography.

Almost to the lakes I spotted a calm section of the river just below the road with views of Squaretop Mountain and other nearby peaks catching late afternoon storm light. My own personal philosophy for landscape photography holds that one should never pass a sure thing for a maybe thing. This was a sure thing. I parked the truck and scrambled down to the river’s edge, all giddy with excitement at the scene before me. My wife chased our son around in a futile effort to prevent him from taking an unintentional dip in the river. I hurriedly set up my tripod and used my borrowed Nikon D800 (thanks BorrowLenses.com!) to make the image you see above.

I discovered the photo again recently while digging through my archives. Upon seeing it, I was immediately transported back to that moment, swatting at mosquitoes in the chill evening air, listening to my son laughing and, eventually, splashing in the river, the happy sound of a solid shutter click. That’s the great thing about photographs. They allow us to remember those all-too-rare special moments in time when nothing of the outside world is of concern. No bills to pay, no errands to run – leaving us to relish the enjoyment of time well-spent.

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bret-edgeBret Edge is a nature and adventure photographer in Moab, Utah. His interest in photography evolved as an extension of his life long passion for the outdoors. He is an avid hiker, backpacker, mountain biker and canyoneer. A visit in 1999 to an exhibit featuring photographs by Ansel Adams, Jack Dykinga and David Muench stoked Bret’s creative fire such that he immediately purchased his first SLR camera, a Canon Rebel. In the years since, he has traveled extensively throughout the American West creating a diverse portfolio of dynamic images.

Bret’s work has appeared in magazines, calendars, travel guides and advertising campaigns. His clients include Backpacker magazine, Popular Photography, the Utah Office of Tourism, Charles Schwab & Co. and Jackson Hole Mountain Guides.

While Bret enjoys seeing his work in print, he receives the most satisfaction by helping others realize their potential as photographers. He accomplishes this by leading several group workshops each year and guiding photographers on private photo excursions. For information about his workshops and guided excursions, visit www.moabphotoworkshops.com. To view a collection of Bret’s images, visit www.bretedge.com. Bret lives in Moab with his wife, Melissa, their son Jackson, and two All-Terrain Pugs named Bierstadt and Petunia.

 

 

 

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