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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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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10 Favorite Lightroom and Photoshop Hacks and Tips

Video: 5 Favorite Lightroom Hacks, Tips, and Best Practices

Lightroom is a killer program that combines photo organization tools with raw development tools. And while it’s generally easy and intuitive to use there are a lot of features hidden under Lightroom’s hood that will make your experience with the program that much more enjoyable. Here are 5 of my favorite Lightroom Hacks, Tips, and Best Practices.

1) Use Keywords and Smart Collections to Have Lightning Fast Access to Your Photos

Lightroom has lots of wonderful tools for organization. One of my favorite best practices is to combine diligent keywording with Smart Collections. This allows me to do things like find all sunset photos taken in Wanaka, New Zealand in a couple of clicks.

2) Add Your Logo or Other Custom Display to Lightroom

Want to impress your photog friends? Easy, have your logo appear in the Develop Module tool panels. At 3:17 in the video I show you how to exactly do that, or to display any other custom graphic. Me personally, I display a list of my favorite Develop keyboard shortcuts.

3) Create Develop Defaults to Shortcut Your Editing

Do you start every photo with the exact same edits? For example, maybe you change the camera profile to Vivid, add a certain amount of noise reduction, and set the WB to Auto. By creating Develop Defaults you can have Lightroom apply these edits every single time you import a new photo to the catalog. See 4:49 in the video to see how.

4) Show Clipped Highlights and Shadows When Adjusting Tone

In the Develop Module the histogram display gives you the option of seeing clipped highlights or shadows. The only problem is if you turn on these visualizations they are always on. It’s annoying and can obscure the details of your photo. Instead, hold the Alt / Option key on your keyboard when making any tone adjustment (Exposure, Whites, Blacks, etc.) to see any clipping. See 8:15 in the video to see what I mean.

5) Increase or Decrease the Strength of Every Local Adjustment at Once

When you add a local adjustment to a photo it’s common to combine multiple adjustments into a single tool. For example, you might add a Gradient Filter to the sky that darkens, adds clarity, warms the color balance, and increases saturation. If you later decide the effect you created was too strong you have to go back through and individually slide each of those adjustments back toward zero. Or do you?? Check out this super simple keyboard shortcut that allows you to make each of those individual adjustments stronger or weaker all together. Watch from 10:19 in the video.

6) Bonus Tip: My Favorite Keyboard Shortcut

There’s one key on the keyboard that allows tons of additional functionality within Lightroom. It’s the Alt / Option key. In some panels it allows you to reset all your adjustments in one click. In other panels it helps you visualize sharpening and noise reduction. It has a lot of power but I’ll leave you to discover some of the other fun things you can do with the Alt / Option key. Watch from 12:25 in the video.

Video: 5 Favorite Photoshop Hacks, Tips, and Best Practices

Photoshop is arguably the most powerful image editing program on the market. Many of its features are well known but it goes without saying that there are a lot of features hidden under Photoshop’s hood that will make your experience with the program that much more enjoyable. Here are 5 of my favorite Photoshop Hacks, Tips, and Best Practices.

1) Increase History States

If you make a lot of mistakes (like me) then being able to step back in time with the History Palette can be a lifesaver. My first tip (see 0:00 in the video) is to increase the number of history states to give yourself a little more editing flexibility.

2) Zoom In and Out and Pan Quickly With Keyboard Shortcuts

Forget clicking those buttons in the Navigator Window! Use Ctrl / Cmd plus +/- to zoom in or out step by step. Use Ctrl / Cmd plus 1 to zoom to 100%, and Ctrl / Cmd plus 0 to instantly fit the image into your window. Check out 1:13 in the video.

Then, instead of dragging around the Navigator on a zoomed-in image, instead press on hold the Space Bar to turn your cursor into the Hand Tool. You can then click and drag to quickly move around your photo. Watch from 2:05 in the video.

3) Adjust Only What You Want With the Targeted Adjustment Tool

Say you want to increase saturation of a certain color in your photo. Or add contrast to one specific tonal region in the image. Use the Targeted Adjustment Tool to adjust exactly what you want. This tool is available in many adjustments such as Curves and Hue / Saturation. Watch from 2:50 in the video.

4) Quickly Adjust Brush Size and Hardness

When painting on layer masks you often find that you need to adjust your brush’s size and hardness over and over. While it is possible to do this via the Brush Tool Bar, there’s a much better and faster shortcut. With the Brush tool selected, hold Alt / Option on your keyboard, then right-click and drag your mouse. Dragging to the right makes the brush bigger; dragging to the left makes it smaller. Dragging up makes it softer, and down makes it harder. Presto! Brush adjustments almost instantly. See 4:30 in the video to see what I mean.

5) Use Clipping Masks to Simplify Masking

With selective editing you often need to apply multiple adjustments to the same part of an image, like when you want to add contrast and saturation to just the sky. Instead of creating the same mask for every adjustment you can simply create a mask for one adjustment, then use a Clipping Mask to attach all the other adjustment layers to it. And in one click all your adjustments follow the master mask. Watch from 6:46 in the video.

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About the Author

Josh Cripps is a wilderness landscape photographer living in beautiful Mammoth Lakes, California. He shoots campaigns and gives presentations for Nikon. His work has been featured in publications like Outdoor Photographer, Pop Photo, and Landscape Photography Magazine. Josh also runs photography workshops, teaches online courses, and runs the popular YouTube channel Pro Photo Tips. Sometimes he talks like a cowboy and can grow an enormous beard when the need arises.

You can read more about Josh here.

5 Favorite Photoshop Hacks and Tips

Photoshop is arguably the most powerful image editing program on the market. Many of its features are well known but it goes without saying that there are a lot of features hidden under Photoshop’s hood that will make your experience with the program that much more enjoyable. Here are 5 of my favorite Photoshop Hacks, Tips, and Best Practices.

Video: 5 Favorite Photoshop Hacks, Tips, and Best Practices

1) Increase History States

If you make a lot of mistakes (like me) then being able to step back in time with the History Palette can be a lifesaver. My first tip (see 0:00 in the video) is to increase the number of history states to give yourself a little more editing flexibility.

2) Zoom In and Out and Pan Quickly With Keyboard Shortcuts

Forget clicking those buttons in the Navigator Window! Use Ctrl / Cmd plus +/- to zoom in or out step by step. Use Ctrl / Cmd plus 1 to zoom to 100%, and Ctrl / Cmd plus 0 to instantly fit the image into your window. Check out 1:13 in the video.

Then, instead of dragging around the Navigator on a zoomed-in image, instead press on hold the Space Bar to turn your cursor into the Hand Tool. You can then click and drag to quickly move around your photo. Watch from 2:05 in the video.

3) Adjust Only What You Want With the Targeted Adjustment Tool

Say you want to increase saturation of a certain color in your photo. Or add contrast to one specific tonal region in the image. Use the Targeted Adjustment Tool to adjust exactly what you want. This tool is available in many adjustments such as Curves and Hue / Saturation. Watch from 2:50 in the video.

4) Quickly Adjust Brush Size and Hardness

When painting on layer masks you often find that you need to adjust your brush’s size and hardness over and over. While it is possible to do this via the Brush Tool Bar, there’s a much better and faster shortcut. With the Brush tool selected, hold Alt / Option on your keyboard, then right-click and drag your mouse. Dragging to the right makes the brush bigger; dragging to the left makes it smaller. Dragging up makes it softer, and down makes it harder. Presto! Brush adjustments almost instantly. See 4:30 in the video to see what I mean.

5) Use Clipping Masks to Simplify Masking

With selective editing you often need to apply multiple adjustments to the same part of an image, like when you want to add contrast and saturation to just the sky. Instead of creating the same mask for every adjustment you can simply create a mask for one adjustment, then use a Clipping Mask to attach all the other adjustment layers to it. And in one click all your adjustments follow the master mask. Watch from 6:46 in the video.

If you enjoyed this article be sure to join me on my newsletter and you’ll get more like it sent right to you. I’m not going to spam you with a bunch of crap, and I’ll never sell your name to anyone else. Join the 12,000+ other people getting photos, inspiration, tips, and more delivered right to their inboxes.

About the Author

Josh Cripps is a wilderness landscape photographer living in beautiful Mammoth Lakes, California. He shoots campaigns and gives presentations for Nikon. His work has been featured in publications like Outdoor Photographer, Pop Photo, and Landscape Photography Magazine. Josh also runs photography workshops, teaches online courses, and runs the popular YouTube channel Pro Photo Tips. Sometimes he talks like a cowboy and can grow an enormous beard when the need arises.

You can read more about Josh here.

5 Favorite Lightroom Hacks and Tips


Lightroom is a killer program that combines photo organization tools with raw development tools. And while it’s generally easy and intuitive to use there are a lot of features hidden under Lightroom’s hood that will make your experience with the program that much more enjoyable. Here are 5 of my favorite Lightroom Hacks, Tips, and Best Practices.


Video: 5 Favorite Lightroom Hacks, Tips, and Best Practices



1) Use Keywords and Smart Collections to Have Lightning Fast Access to Your Photos


Lightroom has lots of wonderful tools for organization. One of my favorite best practices is to combine diligent keywording with Smart Collections. This allows me to do things like find all sunset photos taken in Wanaka, New Zealand in a couple of clicks.


2) Add Your Logo or Other Custom Display to Lightroom


Want to impress your photog friends? Easy, have your logo appear in the Develop Module tool panels. At 3:17 in the video I show you how to exactly do that, or to display any other custom graphic. Me personally, I display a list of my favorite Develop keyboard shortcuts.


3) Create Develop Defaults to Shortcut Your Editing


Do you start every photo with the exact same edits? For example, maybe you change the camera profile to Vivid, add a certain amount of noise reduction, and set the WB to Auto. By creating Develop Defaults you can have Lightroom apply these edits every single time you import a new photo to the catalog. See 4:49 in the video to see how.


4) Show Clipped Highlights and Shadows When Adjusting Tone


In the Develop Module the histogram display gives you the option of seeing clipped highlights or shadows. The only problem is if you turn on these visualizations they are always on. It’s annoying and can obscure the details of your photo. Instead, hold the Alt / Option key on your keyboard when making any tone adjustment (Exposure, Whites, Blacks, etc.) to see any clipping. See 8:15 in the video to see what I mean.


5) Increase or Decrease the Strength of Every Local Adjustment at Once


When you add a local adjustment to a photo it’s common to combine multiple adjustments into a single tool. For example, you might add a Gradient Filter to the sky that darkens, adds clarity, warms the color balance, and increases saturation. If you later decide the effect you created was too strong you have to go back through and individually slide each of those adjustments back toward zero. Or do you?? Check out this super simple keyboard shortcut that allows you to make each of those individual adjustments stronger or weaker all together. Watch from 10:19 in the video.


6) Bonus Tip: My Favorite Keyboard Shortcut


There’s one key on the keyboard that allows tons of additional functionality within Lightroom. It’s the Alt / Option key. In some panels it allows you to reset all your adjustments in one click. In other panels it helps you visualize sharpening and noise reduction. It has a lot of power but I’ll leave you to discover some of the other fun things you can do with the Alt / Option key. Watch from 12:25 in the video.



If you enjoyed this article be sure to join me on my newsletter and you’ll get more like it sent right to you. I’m not going to spam you with a bunch of crap, and I’ll never sell your name to anyone else. Join the 12,000+ other people getting photos, inspiration, tips, and more delivered right to their inboxes.






About the Author



Josh Cripps is a wilderness landscape photographer living in beautiful Mammoth Lakes, California. He shoots campaigns and gives presentations for Nikon. His work has been featured in publications like Outdoor Photographer, Pop Photo, and Landscape Photography Magazine. Josh also runs photography workshops, teaches online courses, and runs the popular YouTube channel Pro Photo Tips. Sometimes he talks like a cowboy and can grow an enormous beard when the need arises.

You can read more about Josh here.


Create a Dark and Dramatic Mood in Post Processing


One of the things that separates a competent photographer from an artist is vision. A competent photographer may be skilled at capturing what a scene looks like, but an artist is intent on showing what a scene feels like and is able to use a variety of tools to produce a final image that fits this vision. Vision is particularly important in the era of digital photography because so often in the field what we capture bears little resemblance to the final image produced. You’ve heard me say before that we are not trying to create the prettiest picture in the field. Instead we are trying to capture the best possible data that gives us a good starting point for using post processing to achieve our artistic vision.


A Starting Point – Your Raw File


When shooting in the field my typical strategy for exposure is to expose a photo as brightly as possible before the highlights start blowing out. For this particular case, when I was photographing heavy clouds above a cracked mud playa in Death Valley, that led to an exposure like this:


SOOC exposure using the Flat Picture Control

This is a pretty typical SOOC exposure for one of my landscape photos: the highlights and shadows are in check and the image looks quite flat and low-contrast. Some simple post processing on this (a grad filter to darken the sky, and the tone curve to increase contrast) produces a decent looking shot:


After some minor post processing our SOOC shot looks ok.

Now Let’s Kick The Processing Up A Notch


The image above is ok but it doesn’t really represent my experience out on the playa. I remember the clouds being incredibly dark and brooding, full of fantastic textures. The pockets of light seeping through the clouds were like little gateways to the sky above and kept pulling my attention from the ground and into the heavens. So I want my final image to showcase those things. In order to get the effect I want the process is simple in concept: I want to pull down the exposure a lot, making sure to use the Blacks and Shadows sliders in Lightroom to keep any details from getting clipped. Then I want to use the Whites slider to pull up the brighter tones in the image (this helps those pockets of light in the clouds pop), and use my Highlights slider to make sure nothing gets blown out. Then I’ll use the tone curve to add global contrast in the image, particularly paying attention to separating the dark tones in the photo in order to bring out all the juicy details in the clouds.

Let’s go through all those steps in sequence. First I’ll go back to the raw file and drop the exposure. In this case I reduced the exposure by just over 2 full stops. No real science to this; it was merely the point where my shadows began to approach pure black. Nothing was clipped though so it turns out I didn’t need to adjust my Shadows or Blacks sliders.


After reducing the exposure of the raw file the photo looks like this

Next I’ll pull my Whites slider up (+75) to bring out the cracks of light in the clouds. This caused a fair amount of highlights to blow so I also need to pull the Highlights slider down significantly (-86) to retain detail in the bright clouds in the middle left. There are still some blown highlights but I will fix those in Photoshop later with a quick exposure blend.



The next step is to use the Tone Curve to separate the distinct tonal regions of the photo from one another to pull out the juicy detail in the clouds. I pulled the deep shadows farther down, and the lighter shadows up in brightness. This brought out great texture in the sky. I also pulled up the highlights in the Tone Curve to get those bright cracks of light in the clouds to really pop. (Check the comments for what that Tone Curve adjustment looked like in Lightroom.) Those simple adjustments led to this result:


The Tone Curve helps bring out details in the dark sky

Finishing Touches


This image looks pretty good now; it’s full of mood and drama and much more closely represents my vision of the scene. Now I want to add a couple finishing touches: first, an exposure blend in Photoshop to bring detail back into the blown out clouds on the left hand side. This isn’t always necessary for this kind of dark and stormy processing, but it happens to be for this particular photo.

I also want to do some dodging and burning. Notice how the central bright halo of clouds is brighter on the right than on the left? I want to dodge the left hand side to even that out. I’m also going to dodge the center of the playa to create a subtle pathway of light to lead your eye from the foreground to the sky. I also made a few minor color tweaks. Those touches result in this final image, which encompasses the full mood of my experience:


A few finishing touches and voila: a dark and dramatic photo.

It’s a simple process that yields powerful results. This process can work for many kinds of photos when you have dramatic conditions or great contrasts within a scene. I hope you can use this in your own processing for creating moody images.

Thanks for reading!

Josh




If you enjoyed this article be sure to join me on my newsletter and you’ll get more like it sent right to you. I’m not going to spam you with a bunch of crap, and I’ll never sell your name to anyone else. Join the thousands of people getting photos, inspiration, tips, and more delivered right to their inboxes.






About the Author



Josh Cripps is a wilderness landscape photographer living in beautiful Mammoth Lakes, California. He shoots campaigns and gives presentations for Nikon. His work has been featured in publications like Outdoor Photographer, Pop Photo, and Landscape Photography Magazine. Josh also runs photography workshops, teaches online courses, and runs the popular YouTube channel Pro Photo Tips. Sometimes he talks like a cowboy and can grow an enormous beard when the need arises.

You can read more about Josh here.


Create a Milky Way Composite Night Photo in Photoshop. Part 3: Clean Up & Final Touches

Learn how to create a Milky Way Composite Night Photo in Photoshop. In this video I cover techniques to clean up the photo for a perfect composite. To follow along you need a Milky Way photo plus a photo from the same composition shot during dusk.

Part 1: Edit and process the Milky Way in Lightroom or ACR
Part 2: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Matching Color and Tone
Part 3: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Perfect Selections and Masks
Part 4: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Cleaning Up and Final Touches

Got another question? Check out our Landscape Photography FAQ here:
https://www.joshuacripps.com/landscape-photography-faq/

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube channel for even more landscape photography how-to.

Join Josh on Social!
http://instagram.com/joshuacrippsphotography
https://www.facebook.com/JoshuaCrippsPhotography

Create a Milky Way Composite Night Photo in Photoshop. Part 2: Select & Mask

Learn how to create a Milky Way Composite Night Photo in Photoshop. In this video I cover techniques to create virtually perfect selections and masks for a clean composite. To follow along you need a Milky Way photo plus a photo from the same composition shot during dusk.

Part 1: Edit and process the Milky Way in Lightroom or ACR
Part 2: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Matching Color and Tone
Part 3: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Perfect Selections and Masks
Part 4: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Cleaning Up and Final Touches

Until next time have fun and happy shooting!

Got another question? Check out our Landscape Photography FAQ here:
https://www.joshuacripps.com/landscape-photography-faq/

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube channel for even more landscape photography how-to.

Join Josh on Social!
http://instagram.com/joshuacrippsphotography
https://www.facebook.com/JoshuaCrippsPhotography

Create a Milky Way Composite Night Photo in Photoshop. Part 1: Color & Tone

Learn how to create a Milky Way Composite Night Photo in Photoshop. In this video I cover techniques to match color and tone for a more seamless composite. To follow along you need a Milky Way photo plus a photo from the same composition shot during dusk.

Part 1: Edit and process the Milky Way in Lightroom or ACR
Part 2: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Matching Color and Tone
Part 3: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Perfect Selections and Masks
Part 4: Create a Milky Way Composite in Photoshop, Cleaning Up and Final Touches 

Got another question? Check out our Landscape Photography FAQ here:
https://www.joshuacripps.com/landscape-photography-faq/

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube channel for even more landscape photography how-to.

Join Josh on Social!
http://instagram.com/joshuacrippsphotography
https://www.facebook.com/JoshuaCrippsPhotography

Who makes the best Neutral Density Filters?