Entries by Josh Cripps

How Much Post Processing Goes Into My Landscape Photos?

How Much Post Processing Goes Into My Landscape Photos?

Greetings my excellent friends. It’s Josh Cripps here. Now y’all know that I’m a huge believer that you don’t need to be a Photoshop expert in order to be a great landscape photographer. I have nothing against Photoshop and I think all those really cool advanced techniques can be useful tools when you know when and how and why to use them. But they’re not requirements in order to create fantastic landscape imagery. In fact, in my opinion, if you have a really special, magical moment out there in nature, and you capture it well with a strong composition and there’s good light, and you intelligently apply your camera settings in your technique to create a great raw file, then you can turn that raw file into an amazing final image with some pretty simple adjustments in a program like Lightroom. But if you’ve been thinking well, that’s really easy to say Josh, but how much Photoshop do you actually sneak into your photos behind the scenes? Well, in today’s video, I want to show you exactly how I practice what I preach and how much editing goes into my landscape photography.

So here’s a photo that I’m going to be working on today. This is the final product, and this is a photo that I shot just recently, just a couple of days ago in an absolutely breathtaking place called the Darwin Bench in Kings Canyon, national park. This is the final image and here is the raw file. And I got from point a to point B just in Lightroom. So I’m going to show you exactly what I did, exactly what I put into this raw file to create this final image for me, one of the most important parts of the image creation process is the capture in the field and knowing what you want the final product to look like. So you can make decisions in the field. According to that idea. And in this scene, what I really wanted to showcase was the beautiful contrast between the warm colors, the cool colors, all the neat rocks in the pool here, as well as the reflections that would appear in the smoothness of the water.

So I set up a composition and chose my camera settings to capture those things. And that gave me this raw file and having that vision of what I want to see also lets me now direct my processing because I know that I want to bring out the color, contrast the detail in the rocks and the smoothness of the water. So let’s look at exactly how I do that. The first thing I noticed is I feel like the image is very slightly crooked. So I’m just going to pull up the crop tool here by hitting R and make a very small correction to straighten that out. Something like come on there, where we go. Okay, perfect. So to really bring out the details of these rocks, I’m just going to brighten up the overall image and then dark and the bright part. So I have a nice, smooth exposure across the entire frame. So here in the basic panel, I’m just going to pull up the exposure a little bit. I’m just checking my histogram here, making sure that doesn’t get blown out and I pull that up, like a stop or so something like that. I still have detail on the sky. Nothing’s clipped there, but nevertheless, I’m going to go ahead and pull down my highlights to pull back some of those details. And I’m going to increase my shadows a little bit as well.

This is going to start to create a very flat looking image, but that’s okay because we’re going to add contrast back in later, you can see that the sky is still a whole lot brighter than the reflection. And I really want those two things to be close in exposure to create a sense of connection between the reflection and the sky. So I’m also going to add a graduated filter by hitting em on my keyboard. And I have this preset darkened sky. It’s a pretty subtle adjustment and I tend to use it on a lot of my images and I like to make a nice, huge transition like this. So it doesn’t make it obvious where the adjustment is being applied. Right? If this is a very short transition like this, and it’s very obvious where you’re making these adjustments, but if you make this fantastically broad like this, then the transition smooths out and it’s really, really not noticeable.

Okay, let me close that out. Now we have a pretty good overall exposure across a frame, but like I said, it’s still looking pretty flat. So it’s time to start bringing some contrast back in the image and we can do that in two ways locally and globally and locally. I’m going to add just a little bit of texture here that help with some of the details in the rocks. And then clarity is what allows us to bring in that local contrast. The micro contrast in both the sky, the rocks, the water, all that stuff. And if I add a little bit of D hazing as well, that’s going to help bring out some of the detail in the sky. And at this point I’m also going to increase my vibration, my vibrance, and my saturation a lot. And what that’s going to allow me to do is figure out what the overall color balance of the photo is looking like.

And for me, that color balance is one of the most important parts of this photograph. I want a really, really nice compliment between the cool tones and the warm tones, so fine tuning the white balance and tint on this photograph is one of the most important parts of the editing process. And from where I shot it, I think I was using the cloudy white balance. It’s a little bit too cool for my tastes. I want to bring out some more of the warm tones. So I’m going to go ahead and warm it up here just till I get a level that looks good. I think that’s looking pretty nice. I’m starting to feel a little bit extra yellow tones though. In the, in the scene, it’s starting to feel a little sickly and that’s just because of some of this excess green here in the tent.

So I’m gonna just pull that up a tiny bit to get rid of some of that yellowness and that’s looking pretty good there. I feel like I’ve got a nice color balance in a nice exposure. I do however want to add some global contrast and I like to do that here in the tone curve. And I generally just make a nice, simple S curve where I dragged down the shadows and then I pull up either the midtones or the highlights or whatever I want adjust, and I might make some fine tune adjustments, you know, just so I get the level of detail in each of these tonal range that I like that really helps bring the photo to life, but of course what I needed to do now, I can’t forget that I need to pull down now that I’ve got the color balance figured out.

I want to pull down that vibrance and saturation back to a reasonable level. So it doesn’t feel like a cartoon photograph. Okay. That looks pretty good. I like the saturation and the blues. I feel like the reds and oranges themselves could use a little bit more saturation. So I’m going to do that in the HSL panel. And I’m basically just going to grab my little targeted adjustment tool. Like for example, I want to see this cloud a little bit more saturated, something like that. I can see that it’s living kind of in the magenta and the red channels here. So I’m just going to pull those up a little bit, just to add a little bit more to the warm tones and let’s see, did they have a very subtle effect, but a good one. Now finally, like I said, at the beginning, I really liked the detail in all the rocks. I want to help bring that out here in the detail panel. And I recommend when you’re doing this kind of sharpening that you zoom in to a hundred percent, either on the foreground or on the background, preferably both. And that way you can see what effect your sharpening is having across the entire frame. Now, overall, I’d say the, the depth of field looks pretty good for this photo, but the details could be sharpened a little bit. 

When I’m doing this, I tend to make a compromise between my foreground sharpening and my background sharpening. And here I’d like to see the background a little bit sharper. And for me that means applying the sharpening and a slightly larger radius. So if I pull the sharpening up a lot, then I can fiddle with the radius to see what looks best for the background. And I don’t really like it on the higher end actually. So I’m going to keep it down here, maybe on something like that, the default radius, that’s pretty good. That looks nice and sharp. And that should have also sharpened all of the details here in our foreground rocks too. Yeah. If I turn this on and off, you’ll see how much sharpness it adds to that. That’s fantastic, but I want to make sure that I’m not sharpening the water here.

So I’m going to pull up my masking quite a lot. And if you hold all your options, while you do this, you can see exactly where the massing is being applied. Let me zoom out so you can see it on a global scale. Cause I really only want to sharpen the rocks, right? I don’t need to sharpen the clouds with the water. So something like that looks pretty good. And then let me just add I’ll zoom in here. You might not be able to see it on the screen capture, but I’m just going to add a kiss of luminance noise reduction to smooth out any details in the clouds. And that’s looking pretty good. And I was very, very smart. I have to say much smarter than I normally am in that I cleaned my image sensor right before this trip. So hopefully as I scroll around here, I’m not going to see any big fat dust spots are correct.

There is one right there, but that’s okay. We’ll just bring up the Q tool cleanup tool and get rid of that guy. Oh, there’s a, there’s a good one right there. Smack them. Let’s just say it was a mosquito. Yeah, there was a mosquito on my sensor. That’s what it was. It wasn’t my negligence and cleaning my camera. Now there were mosquitoes flying around a lot of times on my images. I like to apply a little bit of a vignette at the end, just to kind of force the viewer’s eye to stay into the center of the frame. But on this one, I felt like it really doesn’t need it. So I’m going to leave it as is. And that is the final product there. You guys, you can see that these adjustments in Lightroom are not complicated. There are no really advanced techniques that you need to understand in order to create a final product like this. So once again, let’s go ahead and look back at the raw file. And then the final result obtained through some really simple processing here in Lightroom. And that’s going to do it for this video as always. Thank you guys so much for watching. If you enjoyed it, please consider subscribing or sharing it with your friends. It really helps me out a ton. I’m going to see you guys soon in a lot more videos. So until then have fun and happy shooting.

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7 Ideas to Shoot Stunning Landscape Photos in the Middle of the Day (LPQOTW)

Greetings my excellent friends it’s Josh Cripps here. And I’m back with another landscape photography question of the week. And this week’s question comes to us from Chris van Marter. And Chris asks, what advice do you have for taking landscape pictures in the middle of the day? I understand the reasons for shooting at sunrise and sunset, but what about the middle of the day? Like bliss, the default background photo for Microsoft XP? I like those types of blue sky white puffy cloud shots. Yeah, that’s a great question, Chris, because we are so conditioned as landscape photographers to think that the only time you can possibly shoot is during the magic hour when absolutely that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There’s so many fantastic photos to be taken in the middle of the day. And I talked about this a little bit in my, for landscape photography, myths busted video, but in this one, we’re going to dive in a little more. We’re going to talk in a little bit more depth. I’m going to give you a couple more ideas about what you can do to shoot in the middle of the day.

So the first thing that I think you need to do is basically get rid of your expectations, right? It’s not about going out there with, I’m going to force this light to work for the shot that I want rather it’s what kind of shots can I get with the light that I have? Most of the disappointment that comes from shooting in mid day light is thinking that we’re going to shoot some kind of crazy Epic grand landscape and the light just isn’t flattering for that kind of scene. So first I would just encourage you to look for the interesting moments that the light is actually creating, rather than trying to force the light, to fit into some idea of what you had to shoot.

And that being said, let’s talk about some of the things you can shoot in harsh midday light. And one of my favorite things to shoot in the middle of the day is any time you have atmosphere, like after a rainstorm, this kind of atmosphere tends to break up the harshness of the light and it provides depth and separation between all the different layers of the landscape. And it’s also one of the best times to see these really cool God beams like this. There are also other subjects that work fantastically well to photograph in that harsh midday light like backlit tree leaves. Say if you’re in peak fall color, or one of my favorites is any kind of smooth landscape. And what I mean by that is whenever you have soft, smooth flowing curves within the landscape, this can work beautifully with direct light. I’m talking about things like sand dunes or crops.

If they’re growing on Hills, like in the Paloose and Washington, what that smoothness does is it helps feather off the direct quality of the light, making it a lot more flattering. When you have bright midday light, you can also look for small scenes. A lot of times these macro scale subjects will look fantastic because the quality of light is uniform across that tiny little scale. Or you can look for moments where you have direct light spotlighting, just one part of an overall scene. And this can create beautiful photographs in the middle of the day. I also really love shooting high contrast black and whites in the middle of the day. The direct light can make for fantastic contrasts between light and dark. And of course you can always just try to find some shade somewhere, whether that’s under a rock or under a tree or under a cliff, because you’re going to get this really beautiful, soft uniform light that can be incredibly flattering for portraits or for flowers or small scale scenes or for all kinds of stuff.

So again, it really is just about getting rid of your expectations of, I want to create this photograph and I have this light, how can I smash those two together? It’s so much more enjoyable and rewarding to say, what is the light that I’ve got and what kinds of photos can I create? What kind of stories can I create with that light? And if you guys want to have even more inspiration and ideas and education about how to create wonderful, fantastic photography in the middle of the day in harsh quote unquote bad light, you got to check out a book from a photographer named T J thorn. I’ll link it down below. It’s an ebook specifically about how to photograph in the middle of the day. And so if this kind of photography interests you, I would highly recommend you click on the link in the description, support, TJ, improve your own photography.

It’s a double super bonus for everybody. And that’s going to do it for this question of the week. If you guys have any other questions about landscape photography that you think a lot of other people would like to know the answer to just pop them down in the comments and I’ll choose the best ones to feature in this segment at some point in the future. And if you enjoy this video, please, please, please. I would love it. If you could just like and subscribe, share it with your friends. It helps me out an incredible amount. It’s a really small thing, but it really does help me grow the channel and keep creating more videos like this one. So that’s going to do it from here. This is Josh Cripps signing off until next time have fun and happy shooting.

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EVERYTHING I Carry on a 20-Mile Photography Day Hike

EVERYTHING I Carry on a 20-Mile Photography Day Hike

Hey there, Joe pal here, JC. And today I’m coming at you from about 10 miles into the back country of Kings Canyon national park. I’m on a little day hike out here today for a couple of reasons. One, it’s just one of my favorite places in the whole world. I think it’s one of the most monumentally, beautiful national parks that I’ve ever been to. And I want to see if I could shoot some photos. I mean, this is a photography channel after all, isn’t it? I wanted to challenge myself on a nice long day hike of about 20 or 22 miles with maybe 5,000 feet of climbing and 5,000 feet of descending. And the reason that I want to start bumping my fitness up is because it’s summer, which means it’s backpacking season. And if you guys have been following me for any amount of time, you know, that backpacking is basically my favorite thing to do in the entire world. That, alongside with photography.

And the nice thing is those two things go together hand in hand. In fact, I can’t think of any better place than the wilderness to experience those truly special, unique and personal moments that we’re all trying to find all the time as landscape photographers. So my recommendation for any landscape photographer is get into the wilderness, whether on a long day hike or on a backpacking trip. And I realized that if you’ve never done this before, that it can seem kind of intimidating to try to carry all of your camera equipment, all of your food, all of your clothing, all of your shelter, everything that you need to stay safe and warm and comfortable and happy in the back country on your back in a pack like this. So in this video, I thought I’d share with you guys out there, everything that I bring with me in order to have a great experience on a nice long day hike like this one, just a tad windy out here today, just a tad. And let’s go ahead and roll the intro.

You can break down all this stuff I carry into four basic categories. (1) You’ve got your trekking equipment, (2) you’ve got your camera equipment, (3) you’ve got your clothing and (4) you got your food. So let’s dive into each of those categories

Trekking Equipment

All right. So this guy right here, my pack is the foundation of all my back country experiences. And this, I bring this same pack. It’s by hyperlight mountain gear. And I do this, whether I’m day hiking or overnighting, it’s just an amazing pack. It’s super light, incredibly comfortable. And it has this roll top, which means that I can use this on maybe a seven or eight day trip, or I can just roll it down and smack myself in the face with it like that and use it on a day. Hike like today. It’s just an incredible pack.

If you’re looking for a place to start highly recommended and it’s made out of this fabric called Dyneema, which is super bomb-proof and essentially waterproof. So you don’t need any kind of cover really rugged. And overall, this is by far the best pack that I have ever owned. When I Trek, I also use hiking poles. These are not just for the old Martin up there. You guys, they’re also for the young fart, send the fit fart, send the outer shape parts. It’s pretty much for every fart who likes to hike. Those things are amazing. They’re going to help save your legs, increase your endurance, involve your upper body. It’s just a win, win, win. Did he win to use those? And the other stuff that I got with me here in the back country today for my day hike, pretty simple stuff. I’ve got a paper map. I just don’t trust electronics back here. So even if you have GPS on your phone, if the batteries die or the phone dies, the GPS doesn’t work, you’re sunk. So I always bring a paper map and a compass. This is my back country. First aid kit, just ibuprofen. Then I have very important sunscreen bug repellent, pocket knife. If I need to, um, you know, what are those animals called and star Wars?

And I’ve got a pocket knife here in case I ever need to, you know, cut open a tree and crawl inside to save myself during a blizzard on the ice planet hot. And then of course I always carry with me some TP and a plastic bag just in case duty calls. And the plastic bag is so that you can carry your TP back out with you guys. Don’t bury your TP. Just bring it back out with you. It’s really not that gross. And then some hand Sani as well. In terms of safety. I also highly recommend that you bring some kind of a personal locator beacon, like a spot or a Garmin inReach, especially if you’re hiking solo. I typically always have one of these with me, but today I spaced out and I just forgot to throw it in the bag, but that’s okay because I actually have 12 bars of five G signal here in the back country.

Hey. Yeah. Could I, uh, can I get a pizza delivered if the extra cheese and extra sauce and extra crust, you know what, just make it two pizzas. Oh, the address. Um, I dunno, I think you’re going to have to send it by mule or something hung up. No, I’m just kidding. Don’t rely on your cell phone. You’re not going to have service. Your bone battery could die. All kinds of things could happen with your electronics. So one of those ruggedized PLPs could be a literal lifesaver for you. And here are a couple of little pro tips about extra things to bring chapstick. Don’t forget the chapstick, the air out here can be really, really dry. Your lips are going to thank you for that. Make sure it’s got SPF in it. And here’s my super special secret, extra bonus. Cough drops, especially menthol cough drops.

These things are incredible when you’re climbing up some steep trail and you’re just sucking down dust and your mouth is parched. And you feel like you’ve got a porcupine trying to claw its way out of your throat. Chuck a cough drop in your mouth and it will open up your airways, open up your lungs, help you feel you can breathe again. And it just makes life a whole lot better. So get some of those too. Funnily enough, water is one of those things that it’s really easy to overdo on a big hike. A lot of people think like, Oh, I’m hiking 20 miles today. I’ve got to carry four liters of water. You know, how much four liters of water weigh and weighs about 8.8 pounds, four times 2.2. Yeah. It’s almost nine pounds of water. Just weighing you down. That’s absurd. I typically, especially here in the Sierra where streams are everywhere, I never actually bring more than about a liter and a half.

And if I can just bring three quarters of a leader, I try to get away with that because there’s so many places to fill up. Now, typically you want to bring some kind of water purification or water a filter. Me personally, I only do that about half the time. It depends on where I’m going. And if I’m going to be in an area with lots of people camping, or if I’m going to be in a true wilderness area where I’m literally just drinking, snowbelt from the streams. I typically don’t bring a water filter, but if you decide not to bring a water filter, don’t blame me. If you get sick, it is on you to make your own responsible decisions. I’m just telling you what I do in my experiences, but for you, if you’re just starting out, I highly recommend bringing a water filter until you feel more comfortable about assessing the quality and cleanliness of the water that you’re drinking.

Clothing

Now let’s talk about clothing because that is one of the most important items that can make or break your back country. Experience. Everything I wear is some kind of synthetic fabric. I never bring cotton into the back country because when it gets wet, it doesn’t insulate. And it chafes like crazy. So everything from the briefs that I wear to my outer garments are all synthetic breathable, wicking fabrics. So I generally like to hike in one of these, it’s called a sun hoodie. Most people wear them for fly fishing, but they’re awesome for hiking because they have fantastic set production. They’ve got a full hood. They dry really fast. They’re lightweight and they’re wicking. So even in hot weather, they’re very comfortable to wear down here in my bottoms. I’m also wearing all synthetic everything. I’ve got a pair of lightweight running shorts under those. I’ve got some tights because it’s actually pretty cold today.

And then I have some wool socks here and because it was so cold this morning and so windy, I opted for the knee high wool socks. And I highly recommend you guys Merino wool or synthetic socks, never, ever cotton socks in the back country. These little fancy things are called dirty girl Gators, and they just help prevent this kind of stuff. The rocks and detritus from getting in your shoes. The shoes that I’m wearing are called ultras. They’re ultra lone peaks. And these are a great shoe. If you have a really wide foot, like I do very comfortable, lots of cushion and very lightweight. They’re not waterproof though. So your feet will get wet. If you go through any river crossings and nose. Now, like I said, it was actually really, really cold and windy today. A lot of the lakes above 11,000 feet still had ice on them.

So I also have a fleece hoodie with me. I’ve also got a Merino wool beanie windproof waterproof shell to go over the top of everything. And even though it’s really lovely and more of a blue skies right now today, it was hot and freezing cold earlier. The sunny skies, Julia, there is a soul stealing Arctic Gale blowing, and I had every single layer on including this, which is a net Gator or a buff, which you can pop on and you can use it as sun protection, wind protection, just a little bit of extra insulation, whatever you want. And I’ve also got some lightweight gloves as well. So that’s everything that I’ve got with me in terms of the clothing. And this is a really good setup. It’s going to keep me comfortable from hot temperatures, say 80 degrees or above all the way down to below freezing temperatures. I can just add or remove these layers as I need to.

Food

 Let’s talk about the food that I bring for a hike like this. I actually don’t bring a ton of food, even though I’m doing a fair amount of mileage today and probably burning a lot of calories. Our bodies have reserves of calories built in that they can use for hiking all these long days. So what I like to bring is basically some snacks and one big meal. So I’ve got some bars, I’ve got a banana, well, an extra banana anyway, a couple mandarins. And this is, uh, my lunch, a big fat burrito. I probably won’t eat the whole thing at once. I’ll have half now and half a little bit later. And I’m a big fan of having sugary sweets in the back country, especially Toklas. These are Werther’s. These are great too, any kind of sweets, they really just give you that quick sugar boost and you don’t have to feel guilty about eating them cause you’re burning thousands of pounds.

Camera Equipment

And finally, let’s talk about, about photography because I have a full kit with me. I have everything that I need to be satisfied and happy taking pictures and pretty much any kinds of conditions. Now I’m recording this blog with my Nikon Z seven. That’s what I’m also using for any kind of stills. So when I’m hiking, I only bring one body, which means I don’t have the capability to shoot stills and video simultaneously. I have to switch back and forth, but that’s a trade off that I’m willing to make. And on today’s trip, I brought two lenses, the 24 70 that I’m filming with as well as an ultra wide of 14 to 30. And then typically on a backpacking trip, I’d also bring a 70 to 200, but I just didn’t feel like lugging the extra weight today. I also bring some cleaning stuff like a rocket blower and microfiber wipes.

And then this little baggy just has extra stuff in it, like memory cards and batteries. And I also bring an entire full filter kit. I got a six stop filter on the lens right now that really helps for filming to keep a nice shallow depth of field and a good shutter speed that produces good quality video. And I’m also got a polarizer as well as a 10 stop filter because we’ve had such nice clouds and wind today. I really wanted to bring the whole filter kit. And of course I also have a tripod as well. This is an Enduro legs with a Colorado tripod company, mini ball head. Those things are freaking sweet. You guys, they’re tiny, they’re incredibly strong and they cost like $20. So I highly recommend everybody pick up one of those. And when I’m hiking, the way that I carry my camera is with this peak design capture pro.

And I’ve got my tripod, as you can see back here and I use this extra little strap to just kind of hold that shoulder up off of my shoulder because the camera wants to yank it down like that. So that helps keep it off my trapezius muscle. It makes it a lot easier to keep hiking long distances through day. And that’s it. That’s absolutely everything that I’ve got in my pack with me today. I’d say in total, it probably weighs somewhere between 12 and 15 pounds. So it’s not a ton of weight to carry over a long distance. It’s actually okay. Now, before I wrap up the video, I’m sure people are wondering, did I actually manage to take any photos on this 20 mile day hike? And I got a few that I like well enough to at least show here in the video. So let me close out with those.

That’s going to do it for me for now as a summer goes on, I’m going to be putting together some more blogs about my backpacking adventures places I go, the photos I take as well as some of the extra gear that I need to carry for those overnight trips. So I hope that you guys found this interesting, helpful, and maybe a starting point. If you’re thinking about getting into the back country, just drop your questions down in the comments below. And I will try to answer as many as I possibly can. That’s going to put a pin in this video. So until next time everybody have fun and happy shooting.

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Get a Perfect Shutter Speed with 10 Stop ND Filters for Long Exposure Landscape Photography (QOTW)

Get a Perfect Shutter Speed with 10 Stop ND Filters for Long Exposure Landscape Photography (QOTW)

Hey, what’s up everybody. It’s Josh Cripps here and I got a couple of quick announcements for you. The first one is in solidarity with all of the people who haven’t been able to get haircuts over the past couple of months, I decided to grow out my beard a little bit. Now, I don’t know how long I’m going to be able to make it usually around the time that it starts to fill up with all this stuff that I’m eating is when I get sick of it. So if you see my beard fluctuate like a beardy rollercoaster, now, you know, what’s going on. And the second announcement is that I have decided to bring back an old segment that I used to have here on the channel called the landscape photography question of the week. So if you have a question about landscape photography, just pop it down in the comments of this video, and I’m going to take the best ones and I’ll answer them in this weekly segment. And we’ll have some kind of cool title sequence that comes over the top. That’s like Christian,

But it’ll be way better than that. Anyway, I wanted to kick things off this week with an oldie, but a goodie, an anonymous user asked me, how do you actually make sure that you have a good exposure when you’re shooting long exposures? When you’re using something like a 10 stop filter or a six stop filter. Let me show you guys a couple of photos. Here’s a shot that I took out at Mona Lake the other day. And here is the immediate next photograph. You can see that it’s a long exposure and you can see that the exposure itself is almost identical to the short exposure. I didn’t have to sit there and twiddle with all my exposure dials until I slowly fine tuned my way into a perfect exposure. No, I knew exactly what the exposure needed to be.

Every single 10 stock filter comes with one of those little laminated cards that gives you the initial shutter speed and then the long exposure, shutter speed. But honestly, I don’t think those things are very useful because they just have set points. And if you’re not at one of those set points that they give you, how do you know what the exposure is supposed to be? So in this video, I want to talk about all kinds of different methods that you can use to get that perfect exposure. Now, the first way is sort of for those weird super human people who just have a really great photography, intuition, a friend of mine, Sarah Lindsay, she’s a fantastic example of this. She shoots so many long exposures. She just has a good gut feel about what the right exposure time should be. So she looks at the conditions.

She looks at her rough settings on the camera and goes, no, I think this is going to be about a 42 second exposure. And then she does some tweaking and post if she needs to. But for the rest of us, for us mortals, who don’t have that incredible intuition about long exposures, there are three really good ways that you can figure out what your exposure time should be. Now, let me just jump in and interject to say that all of these methods are predicated on the idea that you have a good exposure already before you even put the filter on your camera. So you need to figure out what your good baseline exposure is. 

The first one is what I call counting clicks. Most cameras are set up so that every clicks of the aperture or the shutter speed dial is equal to exactly one stop. And so if you put a 10 stop filter over your camera, well, then you just got to click your camera enough times that it counts off 10 stops. And if every three clicks of one of these dials is a stop, that means you just have to go 30 clicks, which means if you’re starting at a shutter speed of something like a 40th of a second, and you just go click, click, click, click, click, click. Good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good.

All the way up to 30. You’re going to see that the camera takes you to a 25th of a second, which is exactly 10 stops brighter than you were. And it allows you to get that perfect exposure with the filter on your camera. Similarly, if you’re using a six stop filter, then all you have to do is count off those six stops in those three click increment, similar to counting clicks. You can actually use the preview histogram on your camera. So if you know what the histogram looked like before you put the filter on the lens, then you just increase your shutter speed. Until that preview histogram looks the same with the filter on. Now, this is not quite as accurate a way to do this because a lot of times these 10 stock filters can fool your camera’s light meter, or they can fool the sensor. So even though you can use this method, you might still have to fine tune and twiddle your results. So it’s not really one of my favorites. Now, the problem with both the counting clicks method and the live histogram method is that they only work up to the point that your camera hits a 32nd shutter speed any longer than that. And the camera doesn’t have the necessary display to actually show you what’s going on. So then you have to figure out what the exposure is on your own.

Now, by far the easiest way to do this as simply by using an app, it allows you to plug in your initial exposure settings, the strength of the filter, and it’ll spit out the final shutter speed I use PhotoPills, but there’s lots of them out there. Finally, if you’re not really an app person or you just like the satisfaction of doing math in your head, then this last method is for you. So 10 stops. If you look into the math of what that actually means, it basically means that you’re doubling your shutter speed 10 successive times. And if you do all that math, it works out to be a factor of 1024. So all you have to do is take your initial shutter speed and multiply it by 1,024. That’s super easy, right? Piece of cake, not a problem. I’m just kidding. That kind of map is not that straight forward, but you can do an approximation, right?

Because 1,024 is really close to a thousand. So as long as you can multiply your shutter speed, your initial shutter speed by a thousand, you can get the final shutter speed that you need. So say your initial shutter speed is one, 500th of a second. Well, you multiply that by a thousand and you get two seconds. If it’s a 50th of a second and you get 20 seconds, if your initial shutter speed is a second, then your long shutter speed with their 10 filter comes out to beat a thousand seconds with a six stop. It’s a similar idea. If you take two times, two times, two times, two times, two times two that works out to be 64 and 64 for our purposes is close enough to 60, and it might seem complicated to take a shutter speed and multiply it by 60 until you realize that minutes and seconds all work in sixties.

And so all you have to do is take your initial shutter speed in seconds, cut off the word seconds and replace it with the word minutes. So say your shutter speed initially is a 10th of a second. Well, you put the six stop filter on, and now it’s a 10th of a minute and what’s a 10th of a minute. Well it’s six seconds, right? Or say your shutter speed is half a second. Initially, while you put the sixth stop on and it becomes half a minute or 30 seconds. And so you can do this as long as you need to. If your initial shutter speed is two seconds with a six stop filter, it becomes two minutes. And the reason that I like using this mental map method, we’ll try to say that five times fast is because it gives you a really quick approximation of what your final shutter speed is going to be.

And so, you know, if you’re shooting say around sunset and you already have an initial shutter speed of two seconds, and you want to drag the clouds out, well, you can just do this in your head really quickly and say, okay, with a two second initial shutter speed, if I throw a 10 stop filter on there, that means my final shutter speed is going to be 2000 seconds. That’s like 33 minutes or something. Somebody checked my math on that place. Whereas you can say, okay, a six stop filter. I just take two seconds. I turn that into two minutes. That’s actually a reasonable shutter speed. So now I know which filter I want to use in this situation. So it gives you a good shortcut. In my opinion, it’s faster than counting clicks. It’s faster than using an app to know kind of what filter that you want to use in every situation you find yourself in.

And there you have it. There’s a bunch of different ways that you can calculate your long exposure, shutter speed times in order to get a perfect exposure. I hope you guys enjoyed this video. If you did, please give it a thumbs up, share it with your friends. Like it really helps me grow the channel and keep making more videos. And like I said, at the beginning, if you have a question about landscape photography that you think a lot of people want to know the answer to just pop it down in the comments, the best questions I will pull out and I’ll throw up in the landscape photography question of the week segment. All right, you guys, until next time have fun and happy shooting. 

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My Book! PLUS: Why You Should Start a Personal Photography Project

My Book! PLUS: Why You Should Start a Personal Photography Project

So over the last couple of months, throughout this whole coronavirus lockdown, I’ve gotten not a small amount of messages from people who have been feeling a little bit befuddled by this whole situation. They haven’t been feeling that inspiration, right? It’s really hard to want to get out and shoot when the government is telling you, no, you gotta stay at home. And I totally get that. This whole situation is just nuts. It’s so weird. It’s hard to know what to do. Those kinds of uncertainties. Don’t leave a lot of room for our creative hobbies. A lot of times. So people have been sending me these messages and saying, well, how can I stay creative? How can I stay inspired? How can I keep shooting during this weird coronavirus lockdown? When I can barely leave my house? And the answer that I always give to every single person is the same start a photography project.

And this could be anything from a three 65 selfie project to taking pictures of your dog every hour of the day, or exploring your backyard from, you know, three inches off the ground. It really doesn’t matter what it is. The idea is you just create a project and that project gives you structure. That structure gives you a reason to shoot. It’s kind of like going to the gym. A lot of times, it’s hard to motivate to actually leave the house to get there. But once you do it, once you just leave the house, you drive to the gym, you get on your Spanx. That’s what I work out in any way. Then, you know, you get your workout done. And the photography projects are the same thing. You have. The structure takes so many questions out of the whole situation. You don’t have to ask yourself, should I be shooting?

Where should I go? What’s the weather going to be like, is it going to be good? You know, all those things that we second guess ourselves about all the time, those go away, you have the project. The project means you shoot. And as soon as you start shooting, I guarantee you inspiration is going to Stripe. So for me, I decided to take my own advice and start a photography project. And what I’m doing is documenting this amazing place mono link. And what I’m going to do is I’m going to create a coffee table photo book that had project in my head for a couple of years now. And I’ve kept putting it off and putting it off. I’ve been chasing photos in New Zealand and South America and things like that. But now I’m here. I’m here in California. And I feel like there’s absolutely no better time to get working on this project.

Now the honest truth is I really have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve never made a photo book before. I don’t know where to begin, nor do I have any idea what I actually want the theme of the book to even be it can’t just be pictures of mono Lake. No, no. It has to have some kind of a defining structure, but the fact that I don’t know how to make a book and I don’t know what the theme of the book is. Honestly, I don’t even care about that right now. I trust that that stuff is going to appear in time. What’s important to me right now is simply to have a reason to get outside the motivation to go shoot. And the reason that I chose Mona Lake is it is an utterly fascinating place. And I think that most landscape photographers, especially if you’re from North America, you’ve heard of Mona Lake, but probably the only thing you’ve ever heard about Mona Lake is the famous tufa towers, which are just down the beach right over there.

But the truth is mono Lake is so much more than just tufa towers. It also has volcanic craters and resident wild Mustangs and freshwater marshes and nesting ospreys. It is the world’s largest breeding colony for California goals, which are these guys right out here. It’s a major destination for migrating birds of all kinds. And it has a really incredible history that goes along with it, not just the natural history of this place, but also the human history that the fact that the Lake level a hundred years ago was maybe a hundred feet higher than it is today is all because of human intervention. The water in the creeks that flow into mono Lake are being diverted now into the LA aqueduct to provide drinking water for the city of Los Angeles. So the fact that we can even get to these amazing places like the two photographers is due in large part to the human interactions with this place.

And even on top of that mono Lake is so emblematic of the environments that you find here within the Eastern Sierra, that if you ever want to understand the ecosystems in this part, California, you have to understand mono Lake. So that desire to understand, to probe a little bit deeper and to discover these places around the Lake that are new to me is a huge part of what’s driving this project. And the reason that I’m telling you guys this now is because the project is still in its infancy. Like I said, I haven’t even figured out what direction I want to take the book yet, but I figure if I tell you guys, if I tell thousands of people, then I have that accountability. Like I said, I have just started the project. I’m only a couple of weeks into it, but I’ve already uncovered some amazing stuff, some incredible moments and some really unusual places that I’d never seen before.

Even though I live only 30 minutes down the road from the Lake last night, for example, I went to a place I’d never been before PanAm crater. And I climbed up to the top, the check out all the cool volcanic rock that’s in the area. And it provides this monumental overlook of the entire mono basin. And there were thunderstorms flowing through the Northern skies and rain falling through the Southern skies. It was a pretty awesome moment that I got to experience just because of this project because of the impetus to get out of the house and shoot, or like a week ago when I was driving around the East side of the Lake through the eight inches of sand on those back roads. And I stumbled across herds of hundreds of horses grazing on the grasses or when I was photographing at South tuba, the most classic spot here at mono Lake, but there’s always something different happening in the sky.

And as the sun went down that particular night, this crazy beam, this column of light came a repelling out of the Western sky. And I’m fortunately I was in a terrible place to get any good photos of it. I have no good compositions of this, but I want to show you the shot anyway, just because of the unusual quality of light. So these experiences are coming to me and this deeper understanding is starting to develop now, just because of this project, the reason that I’m here tonight in this spot, kind of in the middle of nowhere, is to try to experience another one of those unusual, incredible moments. You see the full moon is going to be rising over there over South tufa in about two minutes. So that’s why I got this big beast ready to go. Now it’s pretty cloudy over there. I don’t actually know if I’m going to be able to see the moon as it comes up over the two foot, but there’s a chance. And that chance is all you need to be excited about in photography. So I’m really excited about this. I’m going to keep you guys updated as the project develops, as I figure out what the book’s going to be about and how I’m actually going to make it. So until the next video have fun and happy shooting. 

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Photographing the Full Moon Over California’s 2nd Tallest Mountain

Photographing the Full Moon Over California’s 2nd Tallest Mountain

Heyo. So today is the full moon. It’s June 5th and I’m actually supposed to be in a place called Independence, California lining up a full moon photograph. That’s about a two hour drive from here. Instead, I’m up at Mono Lake having a great time shooting the sunset. And the last time that I was down in this place called, uh, actually is called Kearsarge. The place that I’m actually going to be doing the full moon shoot. I got completely shut down. I can’t shoot from here. It isn’t going according to my plan! Biscuits and gravy, I’m struggling a little bit. This isn’t going to work getting shut down. There’s a little bit of a problem left and right out here, it’s just not going to happen. The moon is not going to align there. It’s going to be way over here, son of a frickin burrito. Ah, I tried three different ways to line  this shot up and I got absolutely smacked to the ground each time: I just couldn’t make it happen.

But while I was there, I took the time because sometimes, you know, all the planning in the world won’t help you until you actually get out in the field and see if the boat is going to line up or not. In that case, it didn’t line up. But I was able to see in those moments that today, well actually tomorrow morning, June 6th, the shot that I had in my mind is actually possible. And I am super excited to see if I can pull it off. If you guys follow me on Instagram or on my newsletter, you know that I love shooting. The full moon is one of the most satisfying and challenging technical, creative, artistic pursuits that I’ve discovered so far in nature photography and every good moon photograph starts with an idea. And it starts with a vision of how you want to see the moon appear in the world.

Do you want to see it over a mountain? Do you want to see it rising over a two foot tower? Do you want to see it setting over the empire state building? You have to start with that idea and then everything flows downhill from that. So for this photo, my idea, there are a lot of tall mountains in California. We have some of the tallest in the contiguous us, and one of them is called Mount Williamson. It’s actually the second tallest mountain in California. It’s 14,293 feet or something like that. And then just past Mount Williamson, there’s another mountain called Mount Tindall, which is also fourteener. And it looks a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot like Mount Whitney, it’s got the same kind of pinnacles, the same beautiful flat East face, and then the broad Western slope going down the backside. And I thought, how cool would it be to see the moon setting right in between those two?

Fourteeners the only thing is the angle that you have to be at in order to actually see that is very far North looking back to the South. So the only time it turns out that that’s possible do is in June. Now, why is that? So if you’re not aware of this, what happens is the full moon always appears in the sky directly opposite the sun. So as you go farther and farther here in the Northern hemisphere, as you go farther and farther into the summer, the sun gets farther North in the sky, right? Which means that the moon, the full moon will be setting farther and farther South. Whereas in the winter time, as the sun goes farther and farther, South, the full moon sets farther and farther to the North. So that means if you have a specific idea for photo in mind, but the moon only lines up at a certain time at a certain angle, you can think about where the sun’s going to be, and that will help you figure out where the moon is going to be for that season.

So in June, we’re approaching the June solstice, right? The sun is the farthest North. It’s going to be in about two more weeks, which means the moon is the farthest South it’s ever going to appear as a full moon, which means that for this specific alignment, even though I could shoot the moon setting over Williamson at all different times of the year, it’s always going to be from a different angle. The only way that I can get it dropping into the slot between Williamson and Tyndall is now in June. So that’s the idea that I had. That’s where this photo started from. And I should be down there right now, lining up, doing the final kind of lineup with the mountains, things like that. But I, I’m not. I’m about two hours North at mono Lake, and we’ve had thunderstorms, these beautiful thunderstorms all week. The sky is absolutely freaking gorgeous out right now. It is just too fun to be out here. So I’m going to do the shoot here. You can see there’s this core jus light on the trees, just this beautiful, warm light cascading across the mountain. So I’m out here just roaming around, seeing what I could find. I got no destination fine, but after the sunset I got to get in the car, I’m going to high tail it. I’m going to book it down to Kearsarge because this full moon Bodo is waiting for me.

Well, sunset’s starting to wind down a little bit, starting to cool off as well. I’ve had to put my hoodie on here, but uh, Oh my God, it smells unbelievable out here. I don’t know if you guys know this or not. Well, I’m having some really serious wardrobe issues right here. If you’ve ever shaved your head, you know what happens is you get like Velcro. It’s like head Velcro. You can barely put your freaking clothes on. Cause everything just sticks to it. Anyway, if you guys have never had a chance to go into a Jeffrey pine forest in the summertime, I highly recommend it because it smells like butterscotch and I’m not teasing you. I’m not kidding at all. So if you find a Jeffery tree, hold on a second, Like this guy, this beautiful tree right here, and you stick your nose deep inside. I don’t know if this one’s going to be the perfect example, cause it’s all burned out on the outside.

Actually smells pretty. Dang good, smells like butterscotch. So that is reason alone to go to a Jeffrey pine forest, at least once in your life to stick your nose inside a tree. Anyway, let’s talk more about the plan. How do you actually set up a moonshot? Once you have the idea in your mind, how do you know where to stand? How do you know what to shoot and all that sort of stuff? And this can actually be a pretty complicated in-depth process. I’ll go over it really quickly with you guys. How I do it. I’m a pretty systematic guy. So I like to have kind of a four step process. And the first thing that I look for is the timing. I’m always trying to time my moonshots so that I also have a light on the landscape, which makes my exposure a lot easier to manage.

And I really love to do this around sunrise. If I’m shooting the moon set or around sunset, if I’m shooting the moon rise now for the shot in this blog, I’m going for a moon set shot at sunrise. So first thing I do is I just look and see what time the sunrise is. And it’s like 5:35 AM. So basically that means I’m trying to get to a spot where the mood is going to disappear behind that mountain. The thing that I’m looking to shoot around five 35 or a little bit after a little bit before, just so that there’s relatively nice light on the landscape and you can get the details of the moon and the landscape in a single shot. So when you’re shooting something like a big 14,000 foot mountain, the closer you get to that mountain, the higher you look up into the sky, which means that the earlier the moon is going to disappear behind that mountain.

And so the first thing that I typically do is I just drop a pin in PhotoPills. I drop a black pin on the top of the mountain and I drop a red pin just roughly on a guesstimated shooting location. And I see what time the moon is going to disappear behind the mountain. From that vantage point, if the moon disappears behind the mountain too early from that spot, I basically have two options. The first one is I need to go farther and farther to the East because the more that you back up, the more that your local horizon drops and the later the moon is going to disappear behind the mountain, giving you a little bit more buffer for the sun to get in place and light everything up. But even if you back up all the way, as far as you can, and the moon is still going to disappear before the sun rises.

That means you basically just got to come back the next day when the moon sets about 45 minutes later. And that’s actually what the plan is for this shot. The full moon was on the fifth, but I’m doing a shot on the sixth because the timing works out a little bit better. So that gives me the linear distance that I need to be from my subject to get the timing that I want. The next thing that you have to pay attention to is the asthma angle, which is how far the moon is around the compass, as well as the elevation angle for that moment in time. And these are both pretty easy numbers to figure out because PhotoPills gives them to you. You can see something like this at five 35, a M PhotoPills tells you exactly where in the sky the moon is going to be.

And if you have those numbers, you know how high up it’s going to be? You know exactly what angle it’s going to be. All you have to do is get yourself and your cute little camera to the GPS location that matches those things up. So from this spot, which I know that I’m going to see the moon setting behind the mountain right around sunrise. I could say that the angular distance between me and the top of the mountain is 6.6 degrees roughly. And so that means that my alignment is going to happen when the moon is also 6.6 degrees up into the sky and using PhotoPills. I can see that when the moon is 6.6 degrees up in the sky, it’s at an azimuth angle of, let me look it up about 234 degrees around the compass, which means that I just need to get into a position where I am 234 degrees around the compass from my subject.

So I just put together those couple of pieces of information and I drop a pin on planet earth. And that tells me exactly where I need to go. And I find myself in a spot like this, ready to shoot. I got all my equipment ready. I’ve got my plan. I’ve got my idea. At this point. My part of the process is really done. There’s nothing else to do except to go to sleep in the back of my car and to wake up early in the morning and to see if the moon and the weather all cooperate with my plan

And we’re looking out pretty good this morning. We’ve got a gorgeous sunrise happening up here to the South, got a nice kind of Sierra wave cloud going on over the crest. The moon is just setting into a little bit of a bank of clouds there above Mount Tindall, but I’m hoping that it’ll still pop out here and there. Now, the reason that I came to this location, as I said, when I was talking about the plan is the timing the sun will be coming up in just a couple of minutes and it should paint a little bit of light over the Sierra crest just before the moon disappears from view. So we’re going to have that really awesome combination of the moon with the sunrise light, and maybe we’ll even get a little bit of a pink up in the clouds up there. Now I got the cameras all set up over here behind me and they’re just shooting automatically.

So I can just kind of run around and be free at the moment, which is great because usually when I’m doing moon photography, the last few minutes are just a frantic scramble because I’m not quite in the right spot or I’ve slept in too long and I’m screeching down the dirt roads to try to get to a location. But this morning, everything kind of came together pretty easily and more cleanly. And the alignment works better than I expected it to. And in terms of the gear here, I’ve got my Nikon, [inaudible] attached to the knee core 200 to 500. And the reason that I love using that setup is the combination of the inbuilt camera stabilization. Plus the lens stabilization helps me get a really, really sharp shot when I’m extended out, you know, to these high millimeters, like three 50 or 400 to 500. And I’m using a ball head here from Colorado tripod company because it’s got an incredible amount of locking force.

So it really holds this whole setup incredibly still. And for the same reason, I actually use VR, even though I’m on the tripod because I don’t want any little bit of wind or my hand motion or whatever to cause vibrations within the camera. And I’m also of course, using exposure delay so that, you know, after I press the shutter button here, it takes three seconds for the camera to actually make an exposure. And I typically like to set up two compositions if I can, one with my super long telephoto waiting for the moon to drop from the place. And then I’ve also got a wider time-lapse going on at the same time. It just gives me a couple of different options of things to shoot and compositions to use later.

All right. So I got good news and I got bad news. The good news. It’s a beautiful morning out here. The bad news is clouds. Ah, man, this is the bane of my existence as a mood photographer. There’s always a fricking bake of clouds over this year, a crest and it snuffs the moon out at the last minute, every single time. And that’s exactly what happened today as well. The light is just starting to bathe this mountain range here, but the moon dropped behind some clouds and you can’t see it anymore. So that ha it’s frustrating. I’m not going to lie. It is a challenge to come out here to put in all the hard work, to drive down to these locations, to sleep more or less uncomfortably in the back of my car and wake up ass early to then have the shot, not pan out.

And to know that well, you might be able to shoot it again another time. Maybe I’ll have to check the alignment for July to see if the sun is still high enough in the sky to put moon in the right location down here. And if it’s not, that means I actually have to wait until next June. I have to wait a full year in order to be able to try to take this photo in the alignment that I want. Now I did get the moon as it was dropping into a little clear section of cloud above the mountains. And I’ll show you that photo. It’s the best that I’ve got from the morning, but it’s not what early what I had in mind. The light is not on the mountains. It’s not dynamic. There is very little definition in the mountains. They’re basically just uniformly lit without any, uh, there’s no shadow detail.

There’s no highlight detail. It’s just this flat gray mountain with the moon sitting up above it. And this is why the PhotoPills guys always say plan and pray. There’s only so much that you can do. You can be absolutely meticulous, but mama nature has to come and meet you and the rest of the way. So that’s going to do it for me in this video. I really appreciate you guys watching. If you like this, please comment and subscribe and give it a thumbs up and share with your friends and all that great YouTube stuff. It really, really helps me grow the channel and keep making videos. And until next time have fun on your own moon chasing have fun and happy shooting.

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4 Common Landscape Photography Myths BUSTED

4 Common Landscape Photography Myths BUSTED

Greetings, my excellent friends, Josh Cripps here. Now we are living in strange times. We’re living in an era of unprecedented access to information. And yet ironically, there’s a ton of bad information floating around out there. And the landscape photography community is no exception. So in today’s video, I wanted to tackle four of the most common myths I see lingering around in landscape photography.

Myth #1: A Wide Angle Lens is The BEST/ONLY Lens for Landscape Photography

Right now, without any hesitation, let’s jump into the first one, which is that if you ask what the best lens is for landscape photography, 99 out of a hundred photographers are going to tell you

Look, wide angle lenses can be incredible for shooting landscapes, but the thing that they are the best or the only lens that you should be using is an incredibly limiting belief. In fact, my personal favorite lens for shooting landscapes is my 70 to 200. And there are a bunch of reasons why that is. I think telephoto lenses oftentimes allow you to create more personally expressive photographs than a wide angle. Does you see wide angles are cool because they show you this big grand Vista. They show you the whole scene, but that’s kind of the downfall too. They lose any sense of mystery because you’re like, here’s the whole scene. Here’s everything I was looking at. Whereas with a telephoto lens, you can zoom in and isolate just certain parts of the photograph. And that creates a lot more opportunities to draw your viewer into the image, by forcing them to ask questions.

If I show you a photo like this, which is a single shot, this is not a composite going on here. You have the reflection and the thing above the reflection that are totally different from each other. It forces the viewer to ask, well, what the heck is going on here? Draws them into the scene a little bit more. Whereas if I had shot this same scene with a wide angle, yeah, it’s cool. It’s beautiful. It’s nice. But it shows you everything. It completely removes the sense of the mysterious from the scene and the viewer can easily say, Oh, I get it. That’s what’s going on telephoto lenses. They allow you to look at the landscape in front of you and say, you know what? Out of this whole situation that’s going on here, what I’m really interested in is just this little part right here.

So if I show you a big grand wide shot like this, yeah. As cool as dad, some nice clouds there’s reflection. That’s freaking great, but there’s not a whole lot going on here in terms of overall interest. When I was there in the moment in the scene, what was interesting to me were those mountains way in the background that are scrunched up the tiny little dots because of my wide angle shot. Whereas if I get out the telephoto and I zoom in, I can really tell the viewer what was important to me. And when you do that, when you start to pull out these little vignettes from the overall scene, you’re able to tell a story in tiny parts of the scene. So check this out. This is a photo from the Eastern Sierra. Here’s a wide angle shot. There’s actually not a lot going on in this photo, but way in the background here above this mountain called Mountaineer. I noticed that there are all these beams of light coming out just to net one tiny little spot as the sun was setting. So I threw on my super telephoto lens, my 200 to 500, I zoomed into 380 millimeters. And I was able to take this photo, which is full of color and drama and story and interest at the wide angle shot just
can’t convey.

Myth #2: A Landscape Photo Has to Be Sharp From Front to Back

All right, for our second myth, we’re looking at the idea that every landscape photo has to be sharp from front to back. And in order to understand a little bit more about this, you need to realize that what depth of field and focus and sharpness and all of that are doing is allowing you to tell your viewer exactly what they should look at within your photograph. In other words, if you want to leave your viewers on a visual journey through the photo, from the front to the back then, yes, everything should be in focus like in this photo. For example, I freaking loved these sun cups here in the foreground. They’re an integral part of the story that I wanted to tell at this place. And I wanted my viewer’s eyes to go from there to the mid ground, to the mountains in the background.

But you can see if my foreground is out of focus, the viewers, I just kind of slides over and lands on the background and it really hurts the story that I’m trying to tell. So this is the tool that we have as photographers is to tell our viewers eyes what they should look at within the photograph. But somehow this has been translated into the idea that every landscape photo has to be sharp from front to back all the time. But what if, what if there’s something in your photograph that you don’t want the viewer to look at, then it actually benefits you to make sure that it is out of focus. Take a look at this photo of a Wanaka tree. You can see that the foreground is completely blurred out. In fact, I shot this at F four, in order to deliberately throw these foreground rocks out of focus and push your attention to the tree in the back of the frame.

And the reason that I wanted to do that is because those rocks in the moment were ugly as crap. This is what the scene looked like from eye level. You can see that there’s just random chaos of rocks and puddles. And I wanted to diminish the importance of that within the frame. Now I know that I can’t just cut off the bottom of the frame because that’s going to make the tree feel like it’s not anchored to anything. So I need to include some foreground, but I really don’t want you the viewer to linger on that. I don’t want your attention to stick to those rocks. So what I decided to do in this case, like I said, open the aperture all the way up, focus on the tree, throw the foreground rocks out of focus. And in this case, what it does is it provides that grounding for the tree. It gives the composition balance, but it forces your eyes to sneak right past those rocks hit the tree in the background. So bear this in mind when it doesn’t suit you or your composition to have everything in focus, it’s totally okay to have some things soft in your frame.

Myth #3: The Best Light and Photos ALWAYS Happen at Sunrise or Sunset

All right, for our third myth, we’re going over a biggie, which is the idea that you can only shoot photos around sunrise or sunset. And that it’s impossible to take banger landscape shots outside of those magic hours. Now I may ruffle some feathers by saying this, but in my opinion, good light is a crutch. And the sign of a truly creative, truly unique photographer is what they do when they’re confronted with challenges such as quote unquote bad light. And in my opinion, there’s actually really no such thing as bad light. There might be light that doesn’t work for the scene that you want to shoot, but in situations like that, it’s more a case of you just need to get rid of those expectations and understand what the light is actually giving you and create photographs that go in line with that. And if you are shooting, say in the middle of the day, there are a couple of things that I found can really, really help you create fantastic imagery.

Now, of course, anytime you have an atmosphere that helps a lot, it breaks up the direct sun. It gives your photos, depth and dimension. And in fact, a lot of times photos like this are only possible during the middle of the day, when you have the combination of the sun high in the sky and cool atmosphere down below, take a look at these photos. For example, these were shot in the Alabama Hills at about two 30 in the afternoon on an absolutely blisteringly clear, harsh, bright day, but there was fresh snow on the mountains. And there was a wicked wind whipping off the tops of creating all of this Spindrift and the combination of that high sun angle and the backlit Spindrift created this incredible atmosphere that showcased all of the fantastic shapes and geometries and graphical elements of these mountains. And this photo wouldn’t have been possible at sunrise or sunset.

The other thing you can do when you’re shooting outside, the typical magic hour is to be thinking about black and white. A lot of times, these high contrast black and white photos work best when you have strong light on the landscape, creating these bright highlights and deep shadows. But don’t think that the only way to shoot in the middle of the day is to somehow cope with the light or adjust for the light, because there are scenes that actually work best with this kind of bright sunlight, such as backlit trees. When the fall color is popping or small intimate scenes, when you have bright sunlight striking just one part of the scene. And another thing you can do when you’re shooting in the middle of the day is just shoot in the shade, find somewhere where the sun isn’t shining and use that to your advantage. This photo for example, was taken about 1130 in the morning, but in the shade of a cliff. So I actually had all of this beautiful uniform even light.

So whenever you’re shooting outside of magic hour, it really is all about getting rid of your expectations, seeing what the scene is actually presenting you with and then taking advantage of those actual conditions to photograph what’s there in the moment. And I just want to take a quick commercial break. Now, if you guys enjoy this video, would you please do me a favor and do all the YouTube stuff like, and comment and subscribe and share it with your friends? It really helps me out a ton. It helps me grow the channel helps me creating more videos. 

Myth #4: You Should Always Use a Tripod for Best Results

Now tripods are great. I’m a huge proponent of shooting with a tripod. And I probably do at 90 or 95% of the time, what they let you do aside from all the normal stuff that people talk about, like getting the maximum detail and sharpness and removing any handshake and doing long exposures, all that right,

Good stuff is it allows you to be meticulous and systematic and make small adjustments

Spins to your settings and your composition so that you can fine tune things as you go. You can make the best composition. You can make the best choice for your camera settings. Tripods are wonderful for that sort of thing, but sometimes they get in the way, right. They’re kind of annoying to use. And if you’re ever in a situation where you have to really react fast to the moment shooting going to, tripod’s probably going to get in the way of that. This photo. For example, I was giving a talk at an Instagram meet way back in 2016, and I could see the people looking over my shoulder, looking behind my head, something going on behind me, which was the sun setting and shining all of these crazy beams down through the minarets here in the town of mammoth lakes, where I live. And as I turned around, I didn’t have time to get my tripod out from my backpack.

I just had to grab my camera and whip around and take shots because I had to be opportunistic about grabbing this shot before the conditions changed. And there are other situations when a tripod is completely useless like this, for example, I was shooting these photos from a fricking plane. How the heck are you going to use a tripod? When you’re in this tiny little plane that’s bouncing around and it’s moving and it’s pitching and rolling. Now, you just have to crank up your ISO, crank up your shutter speed, turn on your VR, stick your camera out the window and shoot a bunch, trying to get the sharpest shot that you can. And now that I think about it, it seems to me that whenever I’m shooting with my telephoto lens, I’m less likely to use a tripod because a lot of the scenes that I come across, I simply have to be opportunistic and ready to shoot like this photo.

For example, from Columbia, my buddy, Joe and I were on a hike. We just walked out of the forest and we saw these amazing light beam striking the ground. There wasn’t time to get a tripod out. I just had to bring the camera up and start shooting. The same is true here. Right? It’s not like I could go up these horses and be like, okay, just hold on a second. You guys, if you could just stay there, that would be great. Cause I got to get my tripod up. So I’m gonna undo the leg locks. And now I just got to get my camera and put it on top and think, Oh, you’re like 50 feet down the road now. Dang it. No, you just gotta be ready sometimes to shoot or in this image, there’s absolutely no way a tripod would have helped me take this because what I was doing was focusing on these comments of water that were coming down from the top of Yosemite falls.

And I was tracking them with my lens as they were falling. And I had to complete freedom of movement with my body and my camera in order to create this photograph or like this image, for example, it’s a 30 minute exposure at about 200 millimeters and I just tucked my elbows in and I just held that shutter button down and I didn’t breathe the entire 30 minutes. I’m just kidding. Of course, I saw that one on a tripod. I’m just messing with you guys. And on top of all of that, the truth is our technology is changing all the time now, right? I’m shooting with a mirrorless camera that has in-body stabilization plus stabilization with the lens. And this thing can hold the scene. Rock steady up to a surprisingly long shutter speed. And there are certain situations that’s incredibly advantageous. Like when I was shooting this beach in New Zealand, for example, these ways are powerful and they’re pounding.

And I just couldn’t stand there in the surf with my tripod, getting smashed by these things. And so what I would do there was that actually led away have come up the beach and as it would retreat, I would run down along the beach, wait for these patterns to appear. I would take a deep breath hunker down on my haunches, tuck the camera in. And I would shoot these photos at a sixth or an eighth of a second to get completely sharp results. Even though I wasn’t using a tripod. And that way, when the next wave came in, I could stand up and run back up the beach before I got obliterated. So don’t think that you always have to use a tripod. Your photos always have to be sharp and run the back. You always have to use a wide angle lens and you always have to shoot at sunrise or sunset. There’s so much opportunity for creative photography outside of those myths. Okay. And now that’s going to do it for this video.

Bonus Myth: You Have To Be A Photoshop Expert

What, bonus myth? Yeah, sure. Let’s do it. 

Now I couldn’t let this video go by without addressing the idea that you have to be a Photoshop expert in order to create beautiful landscape photos. This idea is so prevalent within our community and culture right now. In fact, there are photographers who have built their entire careers on perpetuating this myth either directly or indirectly, right? You see this all the time, the photographers who are like, all right, you guys. So here’s my rough file. And then I’m just going to add a little bit of focus, stacking some lens, blending, a little bit of time, mixing mountain warping, light painting and sky replacement. And I get something like this. And that’s how I create these incredible images. And if you want to learn how to do that too, you can for the low, low price buy in my tutorial right now. Look, I got nothing against post-processing.

I think it’s an amazing tool to achieve your artistic vision, but it’s not the only way. It’s not the only path that you can take that leads to creating awesome photos. There are many, many different paths and extensive post-processing is just one of them. You don’t have to do that to create beautiful photography. The truth is if you have some amazing moment, all you have to do is set up a strong composition that shows that off and intelligently apply your camera settings. And you’re good to go. All the post-processing. The backend is just icing on the cake. So let me show you exactly what I mean. This is one of my favorite photos here. Now you might think that it took a ton of post-processing to get to this final result, but you guys here’s the raw file. All I did was add a little bit of contrast and saturation.

I brightened up the water streets and wallah. I got that final result. I didn’t have to do any crazy luminosity masking or exposure, blending or warping or painting in new elements or clone stamping or anything like that. The moment itself was magic and I was able to capture in a way that required minimal post-processing here’s. Another example is photo from Tahoe. And this one I spent about 17 hours in posts and I was compositing in the sky and creating the reflection and warping this in luminosity dodging that no, just getting, I didn’t do any of that stuff. You guys, I was a little bit of contrast saturation again, maybe an exposure adjustment to get this final result. And for one final example, here’s my eclipse photo. And for me, this truly represents the epitome of a magical moment. This was captured in camera. Here’s the raw file.

All I had to do to get the final image was fine. Tune the exposure to a level that I like had a little bit of saturation to bring out the warm and that’s it. The craziness was in the moment, not in the post-processing. So if you’ve been feeling like you’re never going to be an amazing landscape photographer because you don’t know Photoshop, all these tools are too complicated. You don’t understand about luminosity masking and focal length, blending and compositing. That’s okay. You don’t need to. All right. That really is going to do it for this video. Thanks for watching. And I’ll catch you in the next one until then have fun and happy shooting!

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I Hiked To The Most Beautiful Place In California And Didn’t Take A Single Photo Of It

I Hiked To The Most Beautiful Place In California And Didn’t Take A Single Photo Of It

Hey there. In this video I wanted to talk about a really important idea when it comes to taking pictures, which is being 100% totally okay with not taking any pictures. So, let me back up a second and I’ll show you what I mean.

Today. Today is a mental health day for me. Like many of you, I have been spending way too much time over the past few months stuck inside, sitting on my fat ass, doing absolutely Jack shit and eating way too much pizza and ice cream and cookies than is healthy to do in such a short period of time. And to be honest with you, it hasn’t been that bad because where I live, the weather hasn’t been wonderful. So getting outside hasn’t been that appealing. But today, today is one of those blisteringly beautiful Sierra days that calls to you. It’s one of those days that would be offended if you didn’t get outside to take advantage of it.

So today, today I decided I had to go out for a hike. And the reason that I chose this specific hike is, well you see, I have an ankle. I mean I guess most people probably do, but my ankle is totally *bleep*. I completely demolished it playing volleyball earlier this spring. And at the time I didn’t know if I had sprained it, broken it or just grounded it up into a pulp inside. And actually I still don’t know because I didn’t go see a doctor. And partly the reason for that is because I’m a stubborn idiot. And the other reason is the American healthcare system sucks and I didn’t want to have to pay a thousand dollars or more out of pocket just for an x-ray to say, actually your ankle is fine. Go ahead and walk it off. And over the past three months, my ankle has started to heal a bit, but it still bothers me.

And so I’ve been doing a lot of PT. Stretching, strengthening, walking, and it has improved to the point where I was ready to give it a challenge. And so I decided to pick a hike today that would really put my ankle to the test. I decided to come here to the North Fork of Big Pine Creek because it’s five miles in, five miles out, and about 2,500 feet of elevation change in each direction. And this trail leads to one of the most beautiful places in California, if not the US, if not the entire world. And of course I brought all of my photography equipment with me. But here’s the thing, I actually don’t know if I’m going to be able to make it. If my ankle is going to tolerate hiking the entire way in and the entire way out. And so, I started today’s hike knowing very well that I might not actually make it to the destination that I have in mind, which means that all of the purpose and enjoyment of my hike today has to come from simply being here and being outside. Not from making it to a specific place, not from having a specific destination or specific goal that I achieve. Which means that my goal for the day, ironically, is to not have any goals at all. And that got me thinking a lot about the journeys that we take as photographers.

See, the journey that every landscape and nature photographer goes on in their life is a circle and you start so much closer to the end than you ever realized. And hold on a second, let me just take this off because I’m sweating like a greased hippo in Alabama sandstorm.

Okay, so like I was saying. Circles. Every photographer I have ever met has told me a story like this. I got into photography in the first place because I love being outside and I was having these incredibly beautiful moments and then I wanted to learn how to better capture and share those moments with the people that I love. Right? Does that sound like you? I know that’s how I got started. So, you get a camera and you start to learn a little bit more about landscape photography and you take your first step around that circle and somewhere along the way, 180 degrees across the circle from where you started, it becomes all about the image itself instead of the experience. But when you start to prioritize the image over the experience, and this is totally normal, it happens to every photographer, it happens to me.

But when you do that, a lot of bad things can start to happen, not the least of which is that you stop paying attention to the magic that’s going on around you all the time. You stop paying attention to the experience when your thought process is, “I have to get to this spot in order to take this photo.” You don’t pay attention to what you’re actually going through in the moment. You start to lose out on all those beautiful, wonderful, magical things that are happening around you all the time in nature. So you get this tunnel vision that completely cuts you off from so many amazing things that are going on all the time. And because of that, you start to miss out on the hundreds of photos that you could be taking because you’re so fixated on that single photo. That’s your objective. And in order to complete your journey as a landscape photographer, in order to start back down that other side of the circle, you have to give up on that idea of photography as a destination.

You need to start looking back at the idea that photography is an extension of your experience in the outdoors. It’s your opportunity to capture the magic of what’s going on right now. Photography is not a destination and one of the best ways you can start to do this is to completely give up on the idea of taking photos. Give up on the idea that you have to come home with a specific photo from a specific spot. How many times have you been so fixated on a place? You’re rushing to get there,that you’re not even paying attention to what you’re walking on, where your feet are going? Maybe you’re accidentally trampling brush or you’re stepping on flowers because you have this objective. You have to get to this spot to take this specific photo. It’s happened to me more times than I can count and I really want to break that habit in myself.

So today, just like I have to be okay with the fact that my ankle might not allow me to get all the way to the end of this trail. I want to be okay with the fact that I might not take any photos at all. But let me be clear about something because it’s not about deliberately not taking photos. It’s simply about not having a destination photo in mind, which allows you to be way more present and open to what you’re actually seeing in the moment and to be able to create photographs that represent those things.

Well, good news. My ankle feels great and I was able to make it all the way here to a place called Second Lake, which as you can see, looks out on this gob smackular view of a mountain called temple crack. And having actually made it here, I asked myself, would I be disappointed if I hadn’t been able to do it? If I had to stop a mile back and turn around, would I be disappointed? And quite frankly, yeah, the answer is yes, I would be. I’m not totally zen monk buddhist about this whole thing – yet. But in terms of the photography, as stunning as this view is, I have to say it’s not actually doing anything for me photographically speaking. Whereas along the hike on the way up here, I found lots of really beautiful, cool little scenes just off the side of the trail that were really calling to me and I was able to enjoy being a photographer.

Whereas if I’d had it in my head that the entire success or failure of today’s excursion depended on getting here to take the most epic photo of temple crack, this would have been a failure. Right? But because I had no expectations, I completely got rid of the idea that I needed to take a photo of this destination. I was able to stop and enjoy a lot of those different scenes along the way. Are they the most monumental photo of this area that anybody’s ever seen? No, of course not. Far from it, but there were scenes that spoke to me in the moment and I enjoyed photographing them. And honestly, at the end of the day, that’s really what it’s all about.

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How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse

How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse

Want to learn how to photograph a solar eclipse? Here are three resources to learn how to take amazing solar eclipse photos.

1) Watch my eclipse webinar:

Watch this 1-hr, free webinar on how I planned and photographed this viral annular solar eclipse photo on December 26th, 2019.

2) Read these articles:

To learn the technical part of photographing a solar eclipse, read these comprehensive articles that cover absolutely everything you need to know in order to photograph beautiful solar eclipse photos.

Have fun shooting!

3) Interested in a print?

If you are interested in a print of this photo, please click here to visit the photo page, then scroll down to the order form.

 

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How to Replace a Sky in Photoshop The Right Way

How to Replace a Sky in Photoshop The Right Way

A couple of days ago, I was roaming my way around the old interwebs and I came across this video by Mark Denney and in this video Mark paid a bunch of professional Photoshop experts on Fiverr to create a composite photo for him. He had this base image of Corona Arch with this totally blown out sky and this really nice sunset photo from Acadia National Park and he wanted those two photos smashed together. So, he threw it out on Fiverr. He got five people to send him results and when the results came in, well, they were less than impressive. They were adequate. They might look okay on social media, but blown up large they had all kinds of problems, color mismatches, fringing around the arch. And the whole time I was watching this video, I couldn’t help but think that all of these artists were missing a couple of really critical points when it comes to creating composites.

So, I sent Mark an email and I said, ‘Dear Mark, I would like to take the Mark Denny Photoshop challenge as well. I believe that I can do a better job putting these two images together in a composite.’ And Mark wrote back, ‘Gee, I dunno Josh, these are professional Photoshop experts. I’m not sure you got what it takes to pull it up.’ And I was like, ‘no, c’mon Mark, I can totally do it.’ He’s like, yeah, ‘whatever, Josh. I just don’t think you can hack it.’ I was like, ‘bro, just send me the files bro.’ And he was like, ‘bro, I don’t think so, bro. Also, I’m not your bro, bro.’ It’s like, ‘dude, just send me the files and I’ll show you what I can do.’ He’s like, fine, whatever. Just quit whining about it. Anyway, so Mark sent me the files and I thought I would show you guys what it takes actually put together a solid composite when you’re combining two totally separate images.

Let me jump on over to Photoshop here. So here we got the raw based Corona image and you can see that the sky is, in fact, totally, totally blown out. And this one is a DNG file. That’s why it’s open in Adobe camera raw here. And now down below it you can see I’ve already opened the tiff file from the Acadia national park shot. Now, I learned all my compositing secrets from the two Mans. Mens? Mans? I’m not sure. Aaron Nace from Florida and Matt K from, well Matt K. These dudes know compositing and you should absolutely check out their channels if you want to learn more about it. And if there is one lesson that I have taken away from learning compositing from those dudes, it’s that you have to match the color and the light of the images that you’re putting together as well as perspective and scale and direction and things like that.

And that’s where all of these Fiverr artists made their fatal mistake. They basically just slapped the two photos together and didn’t think much about matching the internal characteristics of the scene. So, since I want to match the sky to this photo, I want to be thinking: how does the color lineup, how does the exposure lineup, how do things like the scale perspective and the lighting direction lineup? So here in the Corona Arch image, you can see that the sky, although it’s blown out, is fairly blue. It lives a lot in the blue spectrum, whereas this shot from Acadia is much warmer, so I need to move those two color schemes closer together. I need to make the Corona art shot warmer and the Acadia shot cooler. So here at ACR what I’m going to do is I’m going to warm this Corona art shot up a little bit to try to get that sky closer to the Acadia shot.

I’ll just do some other adjustments as well. I’m gonna try to pull those highlights down as much as I can. I’ll bring some shadows up. I’m just going to do some quick adjustments to start and then I’ll go back later to the master image and make more adjustments. Let’s pull down the exposure a little bit, shadows up. We’ll add some texture and some clarity. I don’t want to do much with a dehazing for right now, so I’ll leave that alone. I’m also going to lead the vibration, vibrance and saturation alone. Now this is really critical right here, right down here where it says open image. I’m going to hold the shift key on my keyboard and that’s going to change that to open object. That’s going to allow me to go back and make more changes to this raw file if I need to during the course of this composite.

All righty, now we’ve got this Acadia image and I’m just going to grab it with the move tool and I’m going to move it on top of this guy. Now, here’s one really important thing that I want to point out that all of the artists in the Fiverr video missed. What direction is the light coming from in this Corona art shot? You can see just a couple of highlights here on the edges of the clouds. The lights coming from over here. Right? Like this, it’s shining like this, but what direction is the light coming from in the Acadia shot? It’s coming from the lower left. So the first thing that I’m going to do to this Acadia shot is I am going to flip it horizontally, transform it so that the light direction actually lines up. Great. Now let me zoom out a little bit. I need to match the perspective and scale of these two images. So I want to make sure that the horizon lines up, but that the sky still fills the entire frame. So I’m going to transform the Acadia shot something till it’s nice and huge like that, and I’m just going to line it up with the horizons. I need to make it big enough that this cliff band is not going to appear

when I mask in the sky. So let’s start with that. I’m going to lower the opacity so I can see a little bit better…what I’m doing with this. Let me go ahead and move that over a little bit more just to hide that little cliff band. There we go! Something like that. So, now we have the sky filling the entire frame. The horizons roughly match, the lighting direction matches as well. Beautiful. Now I’m going to make a first rough mask to composite these together, so I like to do this with my sky layers underneath my ground layers.

And the way I’m going to make this mask is super easy. These edges are super nice and clearly defined here in Photoshop. So, I’m just going to grab my selection wand, my selection brush tool and I’m going to select this window right here and then I’m going to hold the shift key. Actually, with the selection wand, you don’t have to hold the shift key. It automatically adds to your section because you have these really clean lines between the sky and the horizon. It’s going to make a really nice decent selection. So, I’m going to hold the alt option on my keyboard and click that add mask button. Boom. Now we have an initial mask that’s putting the two images together and this is about the place that all of those Fiverr artists stopped and called it good. But you can see if I zoom in, there’s just something kind of funky about this blend. It doesn’t quite line up. You can see the haloing around the edges here, the color matching, the luminosity mask matching just doesn’t look good across the frame. So again, this is what I’m talking about, matching that color, matching that lightness. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to actually brighten the sky and make it a little bit more cool. That’s going to help with the blend and rather than do it to this image directly, the first thing I’m going to do is right click on it and turn it into a smart object.

And what that’s going to let me do now is go up to the filter menu and add the camera raw filter. Now you can add the camera raw filter to any image at any point. But doing it to a smart object like this is going to allow me to make further adjustments and I can, I can treat it more like a raw file than a static image. So this one I wanted to brighten it up. Make sure I don’t blow out any highlights… there we go. And I also need to cool it down, right? So that it matches more the blue tones in the sky from the Corona Arch photo. So let’s just start there and see what happens. And you’re going to see as soon as I do this, how much cleaner that blend automatically gets. And I haven’t done anything to take care of the fringing around the edges here, but just look at the difference in how clean the matches – from that to that, right?

It lines up so much nicer because I’ve started to worry about the relative exposure and the color between the two things. Actually, I’m going to go back in there. If I double click on, it’s going to load the camera raw filter back up, and I can make further refinements to my adjustments. So what I’m going to do now is I’m actually going to add a grad filter here and I’m going to further increase the brightness just to this part of the frame. So remember this is my sky that I’m blending in right here, and this is the brightest part of the Corona Arch image. So that needs to be the brightest part of the sky that I blend in as well, and that’s going to further help that window, make the eye of the arch look a little bit cleaner. All right, fantastic. So this is looking much, much better already.

The blend over here I think pretty much looks seamless as is, if I zoom way in, you would never be able to tell other than the fact that there’s sort of different inherent levels of detail in the sky and the ground image. But look how clean that blend is along the horizon line there. The main thing we’ve got to worry about now as you can see a little bit of haloing, just a little bit of blue fringing along the edges of the arch and that’s actually really easy to deal with. We’re going to do that by double clicking the layer mask here for the Corona Arch image. That’s going to bring up this mask, fine tuning thingamabobber. I don’t know what it’s actually called, but you can call it the thingamabobber and there’s a couple of ways that we can actually clean up these edges. The easiest one by far is you just click this decontaminate colors checkbox right here. And what it does is it goes along the edges and it gets rid of all that fringing and look at that. Just instantly done. No more fringing everywhere there was fringing, the fringing is now gone. Sometimes this can produce other weird artifacts though. So I want to show you guys another way you can do this. Let me uncheck that.

And we’re going to work with the shift edge here. And if you basically just slide this one way or the other, Photoshop is going to manipulate the edge of the mask that you already created and clean it up. So here what we’re going to, we’re going to shrink in the edges of the mask, just enough that it gets rid of the fringing on the arch. And here again you can see that that fringing is completely gone because we shifted the edge and all. I’ll turn this effect off so you can see, look right here that the fringing is really apparent and then I’ll drag that back down and the fringing essentially disappears. So you might have to play with this a little bit to get the effect that you want, but that’s all there is to that. It’s looking really clean. All the fringing has gone all the way along all the edges.

That looks awesome. Okay, so now I’m just going to go ahead and output it to a new layer. With the layer mask. You can say it’s made a duplicate copy. I no longer unfortunately have my, my DNG smart object to make it more adjustments to, but that’s okay cause I can convert this layer to a smart object if I need to. But I’m not going to do that because at this point with the blend looking really nice and seamless, I’m actually gonna make a copy of this entire image by hitting control, alt shift E or command option, shift E on a Mac. That’s going to stamp the entire image into a single layer. Now what I can do is I can convert this layer to a smart object and then go back to filter camera, raw filter, and now I can treat this layer basically like a raw file with way better qualities and characteristics than my initial one. So, I can pull the exposure down if I want,

bring the shadows up, pull the highlights down, and now here’s where I can really start to play with bringing in the details that I want to see in this image. So I can do whatever I want in terms of the white balance. Add little bit of vibration to the scene, and I think I’ll add a little bit of a vignete just to help pull the edges down a little bit. All right. I think I’ve pulled those highlights in the middle a little bit too much. Now it’s not looking quite as realistic, so let’s leave those brighter like that. I think I’m going to warm this up just a little bit more. Flicking a little green too, so add some magenta, a little bit of global contrast as well. Just like that. And I’m not going to go super heavy on the edit on on this one because I really just wanted to show you how you can make a good composite.

This isn’t necessarily an editing tutorial, but just how if you’re going to throw together a landscape and a sky, the things that you need to think about, lighting direction, lighting, color, scale perspective, how things line up, matching the exposure and the color between the different frames. It’s going to give you a way better result. So anyway, I’m done you guys. This is my result and check it out. This is Mark’s favorite of the Fiverr results. Who do you think did it better? Leave a comment down below and let me know. Did I live up to the Mark Denny Photoshop challenge or do I just suck? Don’t be shy about leaving a comment that’s going to do it for this video. Until next time you guys have fun and happy shooting.

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