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Evolution of style

July 20th, 2014

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From the first time I saw a beautiful, painterly textured image (although, I wasn’t aware of textures), I had an affinity for that particular look. It just felt right. To me, being in the arts my entire life to date, art is visceral. Technical virtuosity as the message is impressive, but doesn’t really get inside of me. Never has. 

I’ve been playing around with textures for years, but seldom got the precise look and feel I was seeking. The new extension panel by Adobe creative genius, Russell Brown (links at the end),  has greatly facilitated the texturing process by making it easy to add many textures on a single image, adjusting the opacity and blend mode of each texture. That capability, along with the use of layer masks, has basically brought texture overlays into the realm of instant gratification, where we can immediately see the basic result of an added texture and then can chose to develop it or click off of it and try something different. 

The ease of being able to work and experiment without clunky openings and closings of texture and image files, greatly streamlines the technical process, allowing more spontaneity in the creative process. 

Note: Texture selection is as important as subject selection.

Here’s a small gallery from the day at the computer (all images made with at least 3 textures and layer masks):

There is a Texture extension panel for CC2014 and an older version still available for CS5 and CS6 (maybe earlier. You’ll have to try and see). Both panels are FREE and include some flypaper textures. Thanks Russell Brown!!

If interested in more, check out our discounts page!

After a day of play, it’s back to the salt mines tomorrow.

Have a great week and we’ll see ya online!

Tony

The iPhone loves Iceland

July 16th, 2014

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After our fourth trip to Iceland, yes, the iPhone does indeed still loves Iceland. I’ve been trying to make it a point to always have the phone with me and to always grab a shot everywhere I set up my tripod in the field.  And when the tripod was used, I used my  SideKick 360 tripod adapter, which, like with any other camera, rendered sharper pictures in moderate to low light.

Here’s a small iPhone image gallery from our Icelandic Odyssey 2014. The apps used, as best I can recall, are listed under each image.

The greatest thing about Smartphones in general, and the iPhone specifically, is that the camera and apps get better and better with each iteration.

I tend to use my Fuji X system cameras for my more serious work, however, the iPhone is used as a sketchpad, making images that are more interpretive.

The resolution is high enough in photoshop, where the file size triples (3 channels), that large print iPhone exhibits are not unusual.

The spontaneity coupled with the file size makes this a professional tool.

It’s also really fun.

Here’s some workshop info:

If interested in being added to our Icelandic Odyssey 2015 (yr 5) email list to be notified when details become available, please email Susan.

If interested in being added to our Portugal, May 2015 tour email list to be notified when details become available, please email Tony (me).

We have only a few openings in our Visual Artistry Workshops. CHECK HERE for locales and details.

So, that about it.

Thanks for taking the time. Feel free to leave a comment or question, etc., and we’ll see ya online.

Tony

Iceland in Pano

July 13th, 2014

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Iceland, aka Pano-land, is replete with incredible panoramic photo ops! Sue and I probably shoot more panos here than anywhere else. It really is quite easy. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

Techniques:

1. in bright light, when nodal points are irrelevant, hand holding the camera at a fast shutter speed (e.g. 1/125 sec) and overlapping by half will work, however….in low or medium light (unless you want to jack up the ISO), a sturdy tripod is a good idea.

Nodal Points – There are two nodal points. Both require hardware: For single row pans, place the center of the lens over the center of the tripod head for proper alignment; and, for multiple row and/or off axis pans, in addition to placing the center of the lens over the center of the tripod head, you’ll need to also have the center of the front element over the center of the tripod head. Here’s what I use.

2. when there is a near/far relationship in the scene, nodal points are no longer irrelevant and become critical. This is when hardware is required, otherwise the image will be out of synch and there will obvious edges that don’t line up, resulting in an unsuccessful image, possibly fixable with a lot of software work.

3. I use Photoshop’s Photomerge and Autopano Pro. Since software algorithms can be different, images that don’t stitch in Photomerge will generally stitch in Autopano, and vice versa. However, this only happens infrequently.

All of the images in the gallery are shot using the RRS panning system and the Fuji XT-1 and 18-55mm lens. The infrared made using an infrared converted D300 and 16-35mm.

Panoramic images capture more of the expanse and feel of this place, much more than a single frame, in my opinion. Actually, it’s more like what we see, isn’t it?

We have Iceland 2015 on the books for late June/ July. Email Susan and/or Einar at Focus on Nature for more information and if interested in being placed on our mailing list.

Next blog: “Iceland loves the iPhone!” Watch this space.

Don’t forget to check out our 2014 Visual Artistry workshop page, as we have a few openings this fall.

If you have any specific panning questions, email me directly or leave a comment.

Thanks for taking the time and we’ll see ya online.

Tony

Iceland in Infrared

July 11th, 2014

 

southeast coast

Since conducting workshops in Iceland w/ Focus on Nature beginning 2009, the intense greens, graphic rocks, and old structures with white puffy clouds made this a killer infrared venue, but because of weight constraints, I’ve been unable to bring my infrared system along with my normal gear. But, since moving to the Fuji mirrorless X-system, the weight was so reduced that I was able to bring my relatively weighty infrared system: Nikon D300, 16-35mm and 28-300, and as a bonus, my RRS panning rig also came in under the weight limit! The lead image is an 8 image stitched pan from one of our favorite venues on Iceland’s southeast coast.

I’ve decided to further lighten the load by getting my Fuji Xpro-1 converted to dedicated infrared (super color conversion) from LifePixel.

Here’s a small gallery of Icelandic infrared images.

All images are processed in Lightroom and further optimized using layer masks in PS and Magic Bullet Photo Looks.

Icelandic Odyssey (IO), June 2015 is on the books!!
Please email Susan if interested in being on our IO/2015 mailing list, being kept apprised as things develop.

Watch this space for future blogs: Icelandic panos and Icelandic iPhone pics!

Thanks for taking the time and we’ll see ya online!

Tony

 

A 24-hour day of photography

July 8th, 2014

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Wow, our Icelandic Odyssey Tour is over! and, as per our last two times in Iceland, we pack in a 24 hour shooting day after one day of R&R before heading home. It’s pretty fun….and exhausting. Since there’s no light indicator as to what time it is, it’s like being in a casino with no windows or clocks….we totally lost track of time until we looked at our watches, in very bright light, to discover that it was Midnight!! We left about 1030am and traveled to Snaeffleness national park, returning for breakfast 0930 the next morning!

We traversed the island from Reykjavik, east to Seljalandsfoss, then back to the west coast to Snaefflesness National Park, an incredible place, where we spent most of our time!

The cool thing about great light this far north is that it hangs on forever, unlike on the east coast or elsewhere, where it can be only a matter of seconds!! Being conditioned to work rapidly when the sky opens up like this, we were able to work quickly to make quite a few different compositions, acting like it would end any second. It didn’t.

Here’s a small gallery from our 24 hour shooting day (no night!), all made using the Fuji Xt1 and all Fuji glass:

 As we pack to get out of here a couple of random thoughts:

1. I went inside to pay for gas and the cashier said to pump first, then come back and pay. When’s the last time you heard that in the states? I’ll take a wild guess: Never!

2. I took a pair of neoprene gloves to get repaired that I bought a couple of years ago and only wore few times before the seam split. After getting back from our 7 days on the road, the gloves were not repaired and we were leaving the next day. The North66 salesperson replaced mine with a new pair.

3. We shot at a park which was the President’s summer home. He drives himself, does some gardening, hangs out. No security. I was told why…..”There’s no need for that, here”

4. We really like 24 hr daylight!

So, that’s about it from Iceland. We’re back in Eldersburg tomorrow evening, catching up and looking forward to our Palouse workshop, August 10!

Watch this space for a possible Northern Lights workshop in Iceland, March 2015 (possible). If interested in being included on our email, please email Susan.

Thanks for taking the time and we’ll see you online from E-burg!

Tony

p.s. All images made using the Fuji XT1 and all Fuji glass.