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Tuesday
Dec202011

New Online Course: Fine-Art Long Exposure Photography

Hello everyone,

I wanted to take a minute and inform you all of a new ONLINE course I just confirmed.

For the first time ever, I am offering my popular Fine-Art Long Exposure Course in an online format.

The course will be 10 weeks in length, with 5 assignments given. You will receive personalized critique and feedback on your images, along with learning resources both in written and/or audio and video format.

The course is offered through my workshop company, Vancouver Photo Workshops. Here's a screen-shot and a link so you can get more information:

Long Exposure Photography 10 Week Online Course

Direct link is here:

http://www.vancouverphotoworkshops.com/workshops/Long_Exposure_10week_Online_Course.php

I have been teaching my fine-art long exposure workshops and courses since late 2006. I have welcomed students from as far from away from Vancouver as Norway and New Zealand. With technology opening up new avenues for communication and teaching, it is time to dive into my first online course.

I am really excited to start this course in late January, 2012.

Have a look and let me know if you have any questions/comments. As always, your feedback is not only encouraged but also very much appreciated!

Wednesday
Dec142011

Long Exposure Workshop in Amsterdam - A Great Success!

Just got back from teaching my first ever workshop in Europe.

Amsterdam was definitely a great choice to hold this event. This city is so rich on visual inspiration, flair, culture and energy that it was hard to leave again. And what made the weekend workshop experience even more enjoyable was the rare opportunity to be teaching alongside the incredible talented and artistic Joel Tjintjelaar.

It's been almost two years since my last trip to Europe, the longest time I had been away since I moved to Canada from Germany in 1997. Walking the streets of Amsterdam made me realize how much I miss spending time here. It's great to take a break from North American chain stores and restaurants, planned communities and 'safety' zones.

It's almost funny how much I enjoyed the chaotic traffic, people on bikes, narrow streets, noises from the late night party crowd, and the ability to walk anywhere without being restricted and/or hassled by security rails or guards (I did wonder how many bikes and cars have 'fallen' into the canals).

Heck, I even enjoyed my hotel room that turned out to be smaller than the last place I stayed in New York City...

With its history dating back several centuries beyond any North American city, it's hard not to feel energized and inspired when walking the streets of Amsterdam. I took my newest camera, a Fuji X100, along with me wherever I went. I don't think I am any good at street photography, but the inspiration was easily strong enough to make me wanna' try anyway. And the X100 was the perfect camera to bring.

The workshop was based at the Eden Hotel located in the heart of downtown and adjacent to the famous Red Light District.

Together with Joel, we took our students to several shooting locations around town, many just a short walking distance away. The weather gods were with us, so we managed to stay dry out shooting on both Saturday and Sunday. Among the shooting locations we selected, most of the students focused on architectural images. This choice came as little surprise due to the strong inspiration derived from Joel's award-winning architectural imagery.

This image was taken with my Fuji X100. Exposure 120 seconds. 16 stops of ND.

The moving clouds let the sunlight move across the building facade, creating interesting patterns of light and shadow. This is among the first long exposure photographs I took with the X100, and I am really impressed with the high quality results. Fuji's lens is a little long for my taste, I would prefer a 24mm or even a 20mm over the 35mm equivalent, but the lens is sharp and the camera produces high quality images with very little noise. There are not many small sensor cameras I would consider buying, so I really think Fuji has a winner here. It was a great opportunity to shoot with this camera during the workshop. I am working on a detailed blog about the camera, and will share more thoughts and images I made with it very soon.

Now back to the workshop. Below is a selection of behind-the-scenes images taken during the weekend. Most shots taken with the X100...

In this image: Joel gives a presentation about post production techniques he used on some of his award-winning imagery.

In this images: Students shooting a newly designed (and recently completed) office building

In this image: Joel 'at work' framing his shot.

In this image: Joel and yours truly, signing prints for students

In this image: Joel signing a print

Students came to Amsterdam for this workshop from as far as Istanbul and Scotland. It was great meeting and working with everyone, and I'm already working with Joel on another workshop for 2012.

Amsterdam, I will be back!


Sunday
Dec042011

Shout Out: Jeff Gaydash and David Fokos!

Hello everyone,

I've been travelling this week.

Got to Germany 2 days ago, so I got a few days here with my family before I head off to teach a workshop in Amsterdam with Joel Tjintjelaar next weekend. I'm really excited to meet Joel in person, finally. And Amsterdam isn't too bad a place to spend a few days photographing -}

The last 2 weeks in Canada were rather lonely, as my wife Xenija took our two kids, Mila (2.5 years old) and Max (4 months old) with her to Germany ahead of when I was able to leave town. Strange to be in our house without the constant shatter, evidence that in fact we are a family of 4 now.

Since I got here I've been making up for lost time, spending lots of time with the kids and taking plenty of pictures in the process as I am testing my newest camera, the Fuji X100. And yes, I have ND filters for it and will be posting my initial thoughts soon, hopefully before I'm off to Amsterdam later this week. Don't know of any other photographer who would think of using this 'street shooter' for long exposure work. Someone's got to do it...

Onward to today's blog topic. I haven't done a 'Shout Out' for a while, so I thought I'd point to not just one but 2 excellent photographers today. It's my hope that you take some time browsing their work, as there's lots to see and admire.

The first Photographer is David Fokos. Below you can find a screen-shot of his website:

I first came across David's work in late 2007, while on a trip to Martha's Vineyard. He's done some very significant work on that secluded island. A friend of mine send me a link this week to a video showing David at work. I thought it was excellent, and it reminded me why I was so attracted to his work. It's very inspirational seeing photographers so devoted to detail as David is.

Here's the video:

David Fokos on Plum TV from clifford reese on Vimeo.

The second 'Shout Out' goes to Jeff Gaydash. I met Jeff during a seminar with Michael Levin, and started following his work ever since. Here's a screen-shot of Jeff's website:

In addition to being an excellent shooter, Jeff is also a very highly regarded and accomplished fine-art printer. I know of several photographers who have him print their work, so make sure to check out more details on his website if you're interested.

Thanks for reading. Hope this will give you some inspirations. More tk...

Friday
Nov252011

iPhone Art Photography: Nude in the House Series

Hello everyone,

my apologies for the delay in posting this week.

I taught a fine-art nude photography workshop last weekend, then returned with two models a couple of days ago to shoot more privately. During workshops, my focus is on giving my students the most amount of help and shooting time, so I rarely (if at all) get a chance to do serious shooting myself.

A good photographer friend of mine brought up two models from Portland and in addition to hiring them for the workshop, it was a treat to have them available for my personal shoot on Wednesday as well.

We were shooting at a private home of a another friend of mine (see how important it is for photographers to connect?). It's a multi-million dollar residence, but what I really cared about wasn't so much the asking price but the fact that it is a simply amazing location for photography.

The house is very minimalist in style, with incredible skylights all throughout. This makes for abundant natural light in almost every corner. The architect who designed the house must have been interested in photography. The features are too good to be an accidental occurrence.

I know these images might be a surprise to many readers of this blog. For starters, they aren't long exposures. If you don't like or are even offended by nudes and figure study, let me assure you that the focus of this blog hasn't changed. We'll be back to more long exposures soon.

For those who took the time to look over my website, you have seen my body of black and white fine-art nudes already. As much as I am specialized in long exposures, photography is too big and exciting to only be shooting and focusing on a single genre.

The great Ralph Gibson once told me that in his opinion, a photographer needs only to be proficient at photographing two subject matters, the nude and architecture. Once this is accomplished, any subject can be attempted. 

Photographing the nude, for me, is an incredible opportunity to exercise creativity. It's an opportunity to work with other artists, and it's this collaboration that regularly leads to results far beyond what I could have come up on my own.

The models I work with are, like myself, genuinely interested in making art. We want to explore the medium that is photography. I loose interest fast in working with any models who I deem are interested in the money they make from posing alone. Those models don't go very far, and it shows in their pictures, too. As much as money is important (we all have to eat and pay bills) it should never be the only motivation for serious models.

After the shoot I had a chat with the Glas Olive, the model I was working with in the images below. She said a lot of models she talks with are surprised that she, Glas Olive, has actually paid photographers to shoot with her on occasion. Well the proof is right there. She obviously takes photography seriously, and it's no surprise that it shows in the amazing pictures she takes. 

So without further ado, here are some sample images:

All of these images were shot exclusively on my iPhone 4s.

I strongly belief that putting limitations on your gear can lead to increased creativity.

And it lets you focus on your photography and meaningful interactions with your model. You're not messing around with camera settings, wasting time in the process.

I am exremely happy with these images. I think it shows that if you have a good concept, a great model, and a fantastic location it doesn't really matter what camera you're shooting with.

Think about how many master photographs have been created with vastly inferior camera equipment. To Ansel Adams, even my iPhone would have been an incredible camera.

I will post more images in the coming days. Working on some color versions as well....

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think!

Marc

Wednesday
Nov162011

New images posted on 500px.com

Just posted 2 new images on 500px.com. If you haven't seen this great photo-sharing site, please take a look now.

I would really appreciate if you rate my image(s) and leave me a comment (or two).

Thank you,

Marc

Monday
Nov142011

101 Things I Learned About Long Exposure Photography:

Hello all,

I've been shooting long exposures since early 2001.

There have been plenty of mishaps and learning along the way. Lots of wasted film (and pixels). But among the frustration was also the occasional sliver of hope. And it was enough to keep me going in those early days...

Here's the first image I took that I was actually satisfied with. I wanted to include it so this blog had at least one picture associated with it :)

This image was shot on my trusty Rollei SL66 camera on medium format black and white film. it was snowing pretty hard during the exposure. About 4 minutes if I recall correctly. There's no metadata with film:). My wife (girlfriend at the time), and my Dad both held umbrellas over me (and the camera).

I remember that when I started to 'experiment' with long exposures, it took me over a year just to learn how to deal with reciprocity failure of my film....so in an effort to hopefully eleviates some of those challenges, here's a list with 101 things I learned about long exposure photography in the past 10 years

Some of these points are about general photography, but I do think it all relates and I hope you'll find it useful in becoming a better photographer. Granted, this list is far from complete, but hey, I still need to learn just as much as anyone else reading this (possibly even more).

One of the reasons I love photography so much is the fact that we all are only as good as our next photograph, no mater what the skill level. Unlike many professions out there, you'll never stop learning as a photographer.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Don't be afraid to ask questions either. If anything is unclear, I will do my best to clarify!

101 Things I Learned About Long Exposure Photography:

  1. Long exposure is subjective. Depending on the situation, a long exposure can be 1/15th of a second or 1 hour (or even longer).
  2. A great long exposure photograph is 60% vision, and 20% each your camera technique and post-production skills. To get a good photographs you can fail in one or even two of these areas, but to get a great photograph all three have to be excellent!
  3. Long exposure photography is not about quantity. It’s about quality.
  4. Bring a timer (can be a kitchen timer, your watch, cellphone, etc.).
  5. Less is more - carry only the equipment you need. 90% of my portfolio is shot using only 2 prime lenses. You don't need that 18-200 f2.8 zoom. Even if it existed.
  6. Buy your last tripod first. You'll be glad you spend the money when your shots are actually sharp and you enjoy using the tripod as well.
  7. Don't setup the tripod right away when you get to your destination. Explore and take hand-held shots first, then commit.
  8. Think before you shoot! Then take a test shot. Repeat. 10.000 hours of exercise will make you great.
  9. When using ND filters, take off any skylight or UV filters that might be in place to protect your front element. The more filters mounted on the front of your lens, the higher the chance of vignetting.
  10. B+W ND filters, as great and affordable as they are, cause significant color shifts on most digital cameras (this is due to infrared light not being filtered out as much as the visible spectrum).
  11. If you're converting to black and white, or shooting B+W film, color shifts from ND filters usually aren't a problem.
  12. Tiffen makes a great ND filter that helps prevent color shifts because it has an infrared (IR) filter component to it. It’s the filter I now recommend most often to my students, especially if one is interested in color long exposure photography.
  13. If you can muster the effort, spend an entire year just shooting with a single prime lens. You will be a much better photographer and you’ll be able to pre-visualize what your camera sees even before raising it to your eye.
  14. Limitations are opportunities for creative advancement. It’s on of the reasons why the iPhone is so popular among serious photographers.
  15. Take a step back. Now take another! Shoot!
  16. After you accomplished understanding how to photograph the more challenging question become what to photograph.
  17. Learn from the Masters, make an effort to really understand their work and what you like about it.
  18. Use wide-angle lenses.
  19. Prime lenses are where the quality is. In fact, it's how you improve not just the technical but also artistic qualities of your images. Zooms tend to make you lazy and offer an overwhelming array of choices for many photographers.
  20. Be aware of wind and what it can do your tripod and camera.
  21. Old wooden piers may move, especially when people walk by.
  22. Variable ND filters are tempting. But don't buy them! Much easier and more consistent to work with solid ND filters. Trust me.
  23. Carry extra batteries. You'll need them!
  24. Carry spare ND filters. You will drop a filter (or two). It's a fact. So don't stress about it. I dropped a few sets in the ocean and/or saw them shatter on rocks...
  25. Long Exposure noise reduction in-camera doubles your waiting time! But, it may be worth it so experiment with your gear.
  26. Tape the viewfinder with black tape, or use the supplied plastic cover. This will prevent light leaking in during long exposures.
  27. Tape the focusing window on your lens so no light can enter through there as well.
  28. The more planning you do the better - know about the place before you go. Have a shooting game-plan.
  29. Tell stories with your images - aim to make a series of photographs rather than single captures.
  30. RAW is your friend. Jpeg isn't.
  31. When you’d like to shoot black and white images, shoot RAW + Jpeg and set the camera to black and white. It helps as it let’s just see your compositions in black and white before coming back to your computer.
  32. To bring out drama in a cloudy sky with your long exposures, underexpose it.
  33. Noise resides in shadows. Make sure to bracket your exposure, including your long exposures, to make sure important details are correctly exposed (no blocked up shadows).
  34. Brightening exposure in post production will increase noise significantly.
  35. Bring a notebook to record ideas when shooting long exposures.
  36. The more gear you bring the less fun you'll have shooting.
  37. Be critical when selecting only your best work. In fact, be ruthless.
  38. Only share the best of the best of your photographs. If you’re Flickr account has 100+ photos from your last shoot, then you didn't listen to this very important rule!
  39. Be selective with who you invite for critiquing your work.
  40. Scan the edges of your frame. Now take a look at the center.
  41. Grain can be beautiful.
  42. Grain can conceal noise.
  43. Grain looks more photographic compared to ‘digital noise’.
  44. Do not overdo post production effects. Too much of anything is never good. Applies to post production, gear, and yes even money.
  45. Use leading lines in your compositions.
  46. Use the rule of thirds in your compositions.
  47. Shoot square.
  48. Shoot double square (panoramic).
  49. Be consistent within a particular body or series of work.
  50. With long exposure of 30 minutes and longer use film.
  51. Film isn't dead. Especially not for long exposure photographers.
  52. If you're a serious long exposure photographer you want to shoot some film.
  53. Film 'suffers' from reciprocity failure. Digital suffers from noise. It's important to point out this is a positive effect for film shooters, but a negative effect for digital shooters.
  54. The front of the lens rotates on some lenses. If it does be careful not to de-focus while screwing on your ND filter.
  55. When shooting in (light) rain where you cannot protect the front filter getting sprinkles of raindrops on it, you can wipe it off very gently during the long exposure. Using a wider aperture such as F 8 or even F 5.6 will also help not making the raindrops visible in your final photograph.
  56. Shooting panoramas combined from several single exposures can produce very unique perspective, but it take a long time especially when each exposure is several minutes in length.
  57. Shooting long exposures panoramas is worth the effort! It’s an opportunity to create unique compositions.
  58. Pick a single location, easily accessible for you, and keep returning to shoot until you are 100% satisfied with the results. This will make you a better photographer!
  59. Once you mastered long exposure photography in a single location, you are ready to shoot any- and everywhere.
  60. Nik Silver Efex is an amazing plugin to convert your color originals to black and white.
  61. Photoshop works great to fine-tune your results from plugins such as Silver Efex, and can also solve more advanced post production tasks (such as replacing skies).
  62. Learn Photoshop. It takes effort, but it’s worth it.
  63. You don’t need to know a lot of Photoshop. But be good with adjustment layers, curves, and masking.
  64. Using the ‘Hi-Pass’ Filter in Photoshop to add local contrast, sharpness and general ‘punch’ to your images. It works great for city-scapes.
  65. Long exposures photography in nature or along the coastline can be incredible relaxing, enjoyable, even therapeutic.
  66. Long exposure photography in urban centers can be stressful; you may get yelled at, asked to leave, and depending on where you shoot you got to’ be worried about your equipment being either stolen or run over.
  67. Security guards do not like long exposure photographers. Having candy usually doesn’t work as bribes.
  68. When asked to leave, be polite. Most security guards can be convinced to give you enough time so you can finish the picture you’re working on.
  69. If you enter a debate with a security guard, even if you’re shooting legally from a public sidewalk, usually causes grief that isn’t worth it. Use common sense, be polite, and you get your shot without having to explain yourself to the police and wasting time in teh process.
  70. It’s nearly impossible to get away with using a tripod in places like Times Square, but you can use a Gorilla-Pod with no hassle at all
  71. A Gorilla-Pod is strong enough to hold a DSLR with a prime lens.
  72. A Gorilla-Pod can be great to do long exposures from rooftops (I used it on the Empire State Building). Simply connect it to the railing. ‘Regular’ tripods aren’t allowed, but I’ve had great luck getting away using the gorilla pod instead-
  73. Yes it is possible to shoot in the rain. Bring a big umbrella, large enough to cover you and your camera.
  74. Yes it is possible to snow in the snow. Use that same umbrella.
  75. If you can, the only weather condition to avoid for long exposure photography is direct sun and clear blue sky. It’s the hardest to deal with.
  76. Use multiple exposures to deal with high contrast range.
  77. For most compositions, merging two exposures manually in Photoshop will give you sufficient detail in both shadows as well as highlights.
  78. Vignettes are not only cool, they help you direct your viewer’s attention to the center of your photograph.
  79. I use the vignette control mostly to introduce more vignetting, not to take it away.
  80. Using multiple ND filters stacked, especially on wide-angle lenses can cause strong vignetting. Since I like using vignettes, this is generally not a problem nor concern for me.
  81. If you do not want vignetting, even when stacking filters on wide-angles lenses, shoot multiple frames and combine as a panorama. This will let you crop out and eliminate the vignette.
  82. To create panoramas, you can use Photoshop, but the program I recommend is Autopano Pro.
  83. Live-View is a great feature to use when the camera is on a tripod.
  84. Use Live-View to help you focus manually when shooting long exposures.
  85. Using Live-View with grid lines enabled helps you to get the horizon or building straight in camera.
  86. Use a level to make sure your camera is positioned correctly.
  87. When shooting long exposures, expose to the right. It helps with the quality of your images. Really.
  88. When shooting long exposures with film, you’re not limited as to the length of your exposure time. You can go well over an hour, even days or months. This is a huge advantage over digital.
  89. When shooting long exposures with digital, use the shortest exposure time that will give you the particular creative effect you’re after. Do not use exposures of 1 hour or longer.
  90. Noise is always a concern when shooting long exposures with digital cameras. Always.
  91. The first year you will (very) likely not make a decent long exposure photograph. So keep practicing. You will improve!
  92. Taking a workshop or course in long exposure photography can significantly speed up your learning curve, but it isn’t a replacement for practice. You still got to spend lots of hours practicing if you want to become a good photographer in this field
  93. Black and White compared to color photography is one more step of abstraction from reality. That’s why I like it so much.
  94. Long Exposures subtract details from your photographs, and coupled with strong compositions can yield to very minimalistic and effective imagery.
  95. Study composition as much as technique and you will be a much better photographer.
  96. Photoshop should not be used to fix mistakes you could have prevented while shooting. It is a tool to enhance your image and do things that wouldn’t be possible with in-camera capture alone.
  97. You will stand out doing long exposures. Be friendly to people asking what you are photographing. They really don’t know.
  98. If you do explain to the curious what you're doing, most won't understand.
  99. Good long exposure photography still wins awards and photo contests, despite the fact that most commercial galleries won't accept new artists shooting in this style.
  100. Shoot what you can't help but shoot. This one keeps me going out doing more long exposures. And I can't wait for the next 10 years of shooting more. And the 10 after that...
  101. Now that you've read this list to its end, it's high time to go and get OUT SHOOTING! Take that lens-cap off!
Friday
Nov112011

Pooya Nabei: Long Exposure Fashion Photography!

Hello everyone,

Today's Shout-Out! goes to my dear friend and studio partner Pooya Nabei!

Pooya recently worked on a new series of Fashion Photography utilizing long exposures. In fact, we went out shooting together when Pooya was just getting this series started.

I remember we had to stop the shoot rather quickly, as the weather conditions just did not work. If I counted correctly, Pooya had to return more than 4 times to get all the images he was looking for.

Isn't it refreshing that despite the very (!) high calibre of Phtoshop work and retouching applied to these images, the Photographer in the end was still very much depending on the elements?!

In the end, persistence paid of and Pooya created an amazing series of images here. At least in my humble opinion.

Here are some samples, taken from Pooya's website. The series is called 'Rapt':

 

Please make sure to visit Pooya's website to see the rest of the images in this series.

There are many reasons I wanted to share these images with you.

Near the top is the fact that it illustrates just how large a variety of subject matter can be photographed using ling exposure techniques. Don't think that sea-scapes are the only creative opportunity...

What is more, I really like the color traetment Pooya has choosen for this series. As you may know, I am not good at color at all. But I can still recognize good color photography, and for this series I strongly belief that color is actually beneficial and an important element to communicate the mood. I am also no good in fashion either (my closet if full of black t-shirts) but I simply love the color palette in the fashion and how it relates to the colors in the landscape.

The retouching was very involved for this series, and was done by a local Photoshop retoucher Steve Pinter of Pinter Creative Studios.

Steve teaches Photoshop courses and workshops with VPW here in Vancouver, and it was great to see him being involved with this series.

I won't go into too much detail about how it was all done, but I will say that it involved photographing the models separately (in studio) and then 'placing' them into the long exposure landscape scenes.

Let me (and Pooya) know what you think of this series. Commenets and feedback are always appreciated.

More tk...

Thursday
Nov102011

Exhibition at the ARNICA in Kamloops, BC

Good evening!

Just received the Exhibition Agreement for an upcoming solo show of my work to be held at the ARNICA (Artist Run Center) in Kamloops, BC.

I was contacted by ARNICA a few months ago, right after receiving numerous awards from the IPA (International Photography Awards).

I posted a blog about the importance of getting your work out there to be seen, and here's the case in point. 

It's always an honour to be asked to show my photography, and I am excited and look forward to this exhibition, which will feature both my long exposure work, as well as my "The Tattoo Project' portrait series.

The exhibition opens Friday, January 13th. That's when I will have Joe McNally in town doing several workshops with VPW, but hey when it rains it pours. It'll be a hectic start of the year, but it's very positive stress and I am looking forward to it.

The great thing about working with a small gallery space that is mostly artist run is the fact that they give me a lot of freedom when it comes to how to put together the exhibition. I can choose which images to show, how to frame and present them, and also how to hang them in the space. In addition, I receive support towards the costs of mounting the exhibition, and they aid me in marketing the event as well.

This exhibition will give me a great oppprtunity to print and frame up some of my newest work, and have some fun creatively as to how to present it.

I'll post updates as move along. First challenge to tackle will be the selection process. I want to show some of my most recent work that hasn't been exhibited yet.

More tk...

Saturday
Nov052011

Brigus.psd - From RAW to Final Look:

Hello everyone,

I have been getting numerous emails asking to break down my post production on the image I posted below: The lonely house I photographed in the small village of Brigus, Newfoundland.

So here it goes. From RAW to final look and feel.

This particular image required an extensive (for me) amount of post production. I am one of those photographers who would, given 10 hours, aim to spend at least 9 hours out there in the field photographing. I've had many talks and discussions about the 'value' and 'importance' of post production over the years. Some photographers seem to really enjoy the process, to the point that they would actually prefer to spend the majority of time inside the digital darkroom (rather than out there photographing). One photographer I spoke to even went as far as calling photography a 'necessary evil', something that he doesn't enjoy but has to practice to have 'stuff' to work with in Photoshop.

I know this topic can be heavily debated. And I am bringing it up in this context, because this image here took me about 45 minutes to finish in Photoshop. It is a stitch from 4 separate exposures, each one 4 minutes in length. When you consider some additional time taken to adjust the camera between each shot, one could argue that I have spent about an equal amount of time photographing and doing the post production afterwards.

Without post production I could not have realized my vision for this photograph. What is more, weather conditions weren't what I was looking for and being on a tight schedule I did not have an opportunity to return at a later time to photograph at this location again.

So I counted on some Photoshop techniques. 

For those who are quick to call me 'cheating', consider this: I am of the opinion that Photoshop should not be used to correct mistakes that could have been avoided with better camera technique. But if it is used to realize photographic vision I belief it is not only appropriate but a valuable and necessary tool at the artists disposal. In fact, it's part of taking the picture. When I was standing there wth my camera, I had this final composition and look in mind. And I was confident that the combination of camera technique (long exposure, 4 images to stitch) and post production (BW conversion, sky swap, sharpening and selective burning/dodging) would produce the final look I was aiming for.

So let's see how I shot this image.

I started with taking 4 images, each with 4 minute exposure time, to be merged together as a panorama. I used Autopano Pro Software to stitch these images, but Adobe Photoshop could have been used as well.

Step 1: Shoot 4 images to be merged as Panoarma:

Here's are the RAW files (unadjusted). Exposure time is 4 minutes each:

After these images were stitched in Autopano Pro, I loaded the resulting file into Adobe Photoshop CS5.

Step 2: Crop and open in Photoshop

I then cropped the resulting panoramic image to double square format. The screen-shot below shows how the image looked before I started working in Photoshop. Notice the green color cast that is due to using the ND filters (I could have fixed it but didn't bother since I was looking to go to Black and white anyway).

Step 3: Replace 'boring' sky with dramatic sky

In this image, the sky wasn't as dramatic as I would have liked it to be. So I made a selection of the sky are in Photoshop, and then copied and pasted in a more dramatic sky that was part of another photograph I had taken on this trip. Notice that the color cast is also green, but a bit different so if I wanted to get a color image I would have needed to put more work into color correcting. Since I am aiming for black and white though, I did not worry about this at all.

Step 4: Black and White Conversion using Silver Efex Pro 2

I converted the image to a dramatic black and white using Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-in inside Photoshop. I actually saved a preset that I was going to use for all images I took during the trip. The starting point for my custom preset was 'Film Noir', which means much elevated contrast, grain and heavy vignetting. I was very pleased with the look and quality, but knew I had to furher refine using Photoshop adjustments.

Step 5: Photoshop adjustments to get you to the final look of your image

As you can see from the screen-shot below, it took me 9 layers to get my image finished.

After I converted to black and white in Silver Efex, I made the following adjustments in Photoshop:

  • Brightened the land and house (but leaving the rest of the image the same)
  • More selective dodging and burning, to bring out details and contrast in the rocks, the house and the clouds
  • I added a vignette on the right
  • I darkened the sky to add even more drama
  • I added sharpness and grain using the Hi-Pass filter

Voila! That's it.

I know I skipped over many details, so please feel free to ask questions by leaving a comment (or two) below. I am working a video screen cast that will take you through this entire edit step-by-step. Will let everyone know when it's done and available.

I still got a lot more image from the trip that need finshing, so watch this blog for updates...

Thank you for your valued feedback and continued patronage,

Marc

 

Tuesday
Nov012011

Goodbye Newfoundland!

It was time to say goodbye. I flew back to Vancouver from St. John's yesterday.

It was an amazing trip, despite the fact that it took nearly 9 hours to fly back home. Canada is a huge country, and Newfoundland even has its very own time-zone (it's a 4.5 hour time difference to Vancouver).

On my last day, the weather gods took pity and the rain stopped. The sun even came out for a few hours. I was on the road and was able to take this image in Brigus, about an hour outside of St. John's.

I was working on this image while on my flight home. It nearly overwhelmed my aging MacBook Pro. It's a stitch from 4 images, shot on the Phase IQ 140. Exposure was 4 minutes. The resulting file is over 60 megapixel, and the .psd file is 1.87 gigabyte (!).

That same house can also be seen in a photo on the official Newfoundland tourism website. While driving along a narrow coastal road, I spotted this location and couldn't resist shooting a long exposure.

This images to me reassembles the magic of Newfoundland. Small communities set amidst rolling hills along a seemingly endless coastline...

Now that I am back I will be working hard this week to complete a selection of images from this trip.

Updates will follow so please stay tuned.

More tk...