Understanding the creative aspect of lens aperture
We all learn in Photography 101 that the aperture setting is a physical property of the lens, and you can vary its size to control the amount of light entering your camera. Usually, we think of aperture as it relates to the rules of exposure.
Back when I was shooting film and early digital cameras, it was considered ideal to have a “fast” lens (meaning one with an aperture of f/2.8 or wider). Why? because with limited ISO options (remember film rarely was faster than ISO 800 and early DSLRs got noisy in a hurry above ISO 400), a fast lens meant you could shoot hand-held in dim conditions without a flash.
Today, ISO no longer limits most photographers. Sure, images are still cleaner and have greater dynamic range at a camera’s base ISO, but you can shoot above ISO 6400 these days pretty much with impunity. That means you have much more creative latitude to choose the aesthetic of your shots by varying the lens aperture.
The difference between a blue sky and a dynamic background in bird photos is amazing
Most of the time, when we photograph birds in flight, we simply capture an image of a bird against a blank blue sky. Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get a cloud or two in the background, too. If you can capture flying birds in front of an interesting background, your shots can be improved dramatically.
Southern California: The Perfect Coastal Backdrop for Bird Photography
The southern California coast is a great place to capture unique photographs of birds in flight. The high cliffs offer a vantage point where instead of pointing up into the sky, you can point down at the rocky shore below. The backgrounds can include waves, spray, and the coastline. These dynamic backgrounds make for interesting photographs that are so much more than just plain blue skies.
Using Photoshop to create natural landscape photos that include the moon
When photographing landscapes at twilight that include the moon, proper exposure can be nearly impossible to achieve. That’s because while the dim light of twilight requires a relatively long exposure, the moon requires nearly a sunny-16 exposure. As a result, there is no one camera exposure setting that will get the scene right. Your options are:
Under-expose the scene and recover shadows & highlights in post
Properly expose for the landscape and blow out the moon
Bracket exposures and combine them in post
All of the above options have drawbacks. In an under-exposed image, you’ll be prone to getting noise when you try to recover shadow details, and you may or may not be able to recover detail in the moon. If the moon is very small in the frame (as with wide-angle lenses), you can make the conscious choice to just allow it to blow out completely. Bracketing exposures is another option, but I’ve found that traditional exposure blending or HDR tone-mapping just doesn’t quite produce the results I’d like, because the blown-out areas around the moon often bleed into the sky or are exacerbated by thin clouds.
Recently while I was in the field, I decided to try a variation on exposure blending. I captured two shots: the first was exposed only for the moon, and the second shot was properly exposed for the landscape. I then used Adobe Photoshop to combine the images, but instead of just blending them (as with a traditional composite), I had to completely remove the blown-out moon from the landscape photo using Photoshop’s Content-Aware Fill tool.
Video: Processing Landscape Photos with the Moon (Photoshop)
It’s quick and easy if your camera offers a DST function
Daylight Savings Time (DST) ended in North America on Sunday, November 3rd. That means, we’re back on Standard Time until March 8th, 2020. You probably forgot to change the clock on your camera, though!
Having the correct date and time set in your camera is important because the time stamp that’s embedded in your digital images can be used for record-keeping, and to sync up with GPS track logs.
Most cameras today offer an easy way to set the clock for Daylight Savings Time
First, find the “Time and Date” menu item in your camera’s settings. Next, see if there is a Daylight Savings or “DST” option. If so, simply set it to OFF and your camera’s clock will “fall back” one hour. If it was already set to OFF, then you’ll need to manually adjust the camera clock. In spring, when DST returns, change the DST setting to ON.
This cool floating frame effect is easy to create in Photoshop CC
I sometimes like to present my photos online with a nice “floating” effect. It’s easy to do in Adobe Photoshop, which is included when you subscribe to Adobe Lightroom Classic CC. Here’s how you do it: