Intro to Landscape Photography Course- Visual Arts Center of NJ

I am very excited to be offering a 5 week course, Introduction to Landscape Photography, this fall on Thursday nights at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit, New Jersey.

We will take a look at all of the building blocks in making a successful landscape image as well as the best camera settings and accessories. Given enough time, we will also broach on classic landscape compositions and modern digital landscape photography techniques. The goal is for participants to make consistently impactful photos and of course a greater appreciation for the arts.

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Landscape Photography (16F-1109)
Instructor: David Blinder
Experience Level: All Levels
Thursdays, 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM
5 sessions: Oct 20, 2016 – Nov 17, 2016
Members: $ 160.00 – Non-Members: 190.00
Lab Fee: $ 35.00

Registration info in link below:

http://public.artcenternj.org/public/AdultClasses.faces?medium=photography+%26+digital+media

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Maximizing dynamic range in landscape photography

NJ landscape photography

An abandoned pasture slowly returns to its natural state under an ominous sky in New Jersey.

My goal in nature photography is generally to have my photos look very realistic, yet also portray a flattering impression of whatever laid in front of myself and my tripod.  While out shooting yesterday, I was fortunate to have overcast lighting and also some dramatic clouds.  More or less the ideal conditions for photographing scenery.  The histogram on my DSLR was showing that I was losing a smidgeon of highlight data within my first exposures, so the easy solution was to bracket exposures and blend in post-processing.

For both photos below, I initially shot different exposures, bracketed 2/3 of a stop over and under my baseline capture.  Within Photoshop I used the “HDR Pro” option and selected the “Highlight Compression” option to maximize details in my highlight regions.  I then used a Levels Adjustment to add some pop back into my shots.

NJ landscape photography

The open doors of an old horse stable evoke thoughts of a once-thriving farming economy in New Jersey.

Unsure how to bracket your photos?  Your camera’s manual most likely contains that info, otherwise a quick Google search for bracket photography exposures will lead the way.  Don’t know how to blend exposures or execute HDR?  Ask Google, there are many great tutorials.  Technical and software skills such as these are requirements of modern digital photography.  Learning to look up tutorials on your own and interpret them is an even more valuable skill.  The info is out there, if you seek it.

The Best Weather for Nature Photography?

My favorite nature photos, especially landscapes are often taken in the most brutal weather conditions.  Often in snow, rain, or wind that makes being outdoors very uncomfortable.  On the contrary, I don’t find many of my “blue sky” shots to have much of a mood to them.  Why the correlation between extreme weather and dramatic photos?  I’m not entirely sure, but I think that the sunlight is often much softer during bad weather spells.  Also, precipitation and moisture in the air create a lot of mystery and drama.  Perhaps a great deal of effective nature photography lives in the surreal or sublime realms?  On the other hand, embracing and emphasizing the mundane is an effective technique too, especially for street photography.

As my photography years go on, I’ve come to embrace adverse weather conditions more and more.

What weather conditions have created your most dramatic photos?

Wooded Road in Winter

Infrared photo taken in the early stages of a snow storm in Chester, New Jersey. I had finished a quick walk at some local parks, but glanced down a residential road and couldn’t resist shooting a vanishing point in the snow.

Electric Brook Falls in Winter

Photo taken shortly after a snow storm. The walk down to this vantage point was treacherous to say the least. I did not enjoy the bitter cold or the fright from extremely icy rocks. I do enjoy looking at the photo from home now, though.

New Jersey Nature Photography

A very gloomy morning on the Atlantic Ocean. Photo taken in Ocean City, New Jersey. The wind was strong and actually a big unnerving. Even with a tripod-mounted camera, I will keep the camera’s strap around my neck to avoid accidents in this type of weather.

And here is a blue sky photo that I like:

New Jersey Nature Photography

A blue sky above the New Jersey Pinelands is dotted with Cumulus clouds, adding the illusion of depth to some two-dimensional pixels.

New Jersey Nature Photography: Sunset over Frozen Pond

This afternoon I ventured out in the cold, dangerous, and remote tundra…. Okay okay, so I was actually only a few minutes from the big local shopping mall in New Jersey.  Anyhow, I was scouting the location as the sun slowly descended towards the horizon.  A photographic frame came together in my mind as I walked across a small frozen pond.  Why was I walking on the pond in the first place?   Bodies of water often offer a clean and uncluttered midground for scenic photos and quite often rocks or vegetation on the periphery can be used very effectively to anchor the foreground of an image.

Below I have uploaded my final output jpeg, compromised of a 3 exposure HDR blend.  Below that is a view of what the individual exposures looked like.  Last is a snapshot of my Canon T5 DSLR and Tamron 16-300mm VC PZD lens in position for the capture.

New Jersey Photograph of a Winter Sunset

Sun beams pierce the wooded fringe of a calm pond on a cold February evening. This is a three image #HDR blend and the #photos were taken with the #Tamron 16-300mm VC PZD lens and the Canon EOS T5 DSLR.

raw image previews

A quick look at my three unprocessed #raw exposures. The #dynamic range of the #Canon T5 sensor is approximately 12 stops of light, which is not quite enough to record details in the highlights and the shadows of the scene.

BTS nature photograph

A peek behind the scenes, my #DSLR is atop my tripod and positioned very close to the ground. The petal shaped #lens hood of the #Tamron 16-300mm VC PZD can greatly help reduce flare from shooting into the sun.

New Jersey Nature Photography: Meadow, Trees, and Hills

Using a telephoto lens to compress the shapes of distant hills into “waves” is a time-tested technique that can produce great aesthetics.  For this photo (taken yesterday), I aligned some small trees for a foreground element to present the distant hills.  The key to getting the foreground just right was to not overpower the scene, but also to take up a bit of the negative space.

NJ Art Photo

Layers of rolling hills weave through the frame as distant tones of blue and a peaceful meadow draws the viewer in. Photo taken with the Tamron 16-300mm VC All-In-One lens and the Canon EOS M.

Above photo taken with the Tamron 16-300mm VC All-In-One lens and the tripod-mounted Canon EOS M mirrorless camera.  Exposure settings: 1/125 F/11 ISO 100, 251mm

New Jersey Nature Photography: Ice and Stream

In my experience, the best opportunities for snow and ice photography are along streams and rivers.  You will often get a nice juxtaposition of stationary elements alongside a capture of motion in the water.  Have I shot this type of scene to death?  Could very well be!  I was still very happy when I saw my the preview of my first RAW appear on the LCD.  In my eyes, it’s a pretty surreal and tranquil sort of image.  I will look to do some snow and ice abstracts when they present themselves this year also, to further challenge my creative skills.

NJ Art Photo

Silky and fresh cold water in a stream is complimented by a small icecap in New Jersey. Photo taken with the Tamron 16-300mm VC All-In-One lens and the Canon EOS M.

New Jersey Photography: Electrical Towers

Below is a conceptual art photograph I took outdoors today in Essex County, New Jersey.  I think we all interpret electrical towers as looming and seemingly dangerous objects.  One can’t help but ignore their unmistakeable hums and huge physical dimensions.  To my eyes, this multiple exposure photo adds extra drama to create a menacing industrial scene.

NJ conceptual art image

Conceptual art photo of a vivid mid-day sun and large looming electrical towers in New Jersey. Photo taken with the Tamron 16300mm VC AllInOne lens and the Canon EOS M mirrorless camera.

Photo taken with the Tamron 16-300mm VC All-In-One lens and the Canon EOS M mirrorless camera.  Exposure settings: 30s F/22 ISO 100, 50mm

New Jersey Landscape Photography: Muriel Hepner Park; Autumn

I’ve just gotten home from a local photography art meeting at the time of this posting.  We engaged in critiques of photos from the traditional artist viewpoints of mood, composition, and uniqueness.  Quite a different mentality than looking for “likes on Facebook”.  I do think the photo I am posting here is a very straightforward composition, but at the same time the texture of the rocks and the wooden bridge provide character and personality to the scene.

NJ Nature Photo

The midday sun and vibrant Fall foliage provide a warm glow around a pond. Taken with the Tamron 14-150mm DI III Lens for m43.

Above photo was taken in Denville, New Jersey on October 18, 2014.  Exposure settings: 1/50th F/10 ISO 200

New Jersey Landscape Photography: Sunrise in Ocean City

Not all sunrises are created even.  Before I began doing photography, I didn’t pay all that much attention to weather patterns and cloud conditions.  Slightly into my photographic venture, I assumed that no clouds = bright light = sharp shots = best shooting conditions.  Nowadays, I look forward to storm clouds and uncommon atmospheric conditions as I’ve begun to understand that compelling landscape photographs usually require dramatic light.

NJ Fine Art Photography

Intense crimson red colors briefly fill the early morning sky over the Atlantic Ocean in Ocean City, NJ. Photo taken with the Tamron 16-300mm VC All-In-One lens and the Canon 7D DSLR.

The above photo was taken 10/29/2014 at 7:04 AM looking eastward from the beach at Ocean City, New Jersey.  Exposure settings: 30s F/7.1 ISO 200

New Jersey Landscape Photography: Ocean City; Predawn

I just returned home from my first visit to Ocean City, New Jersey.  A quiet shore town nestled in between Atlantic City and Cape May.  The photography opportunities were plenty with iconic buildings to capture and the easy beach access.  I ventured out to shoot sunrise several mornings, and also capitalized on soft predawn light to showcase some of the sights.

NJ Fine Art Photography

In soft early morning light, a quiet side street leads towards the amusements of Ocean City, New Jersey. Photo taken with the Tamron 16-300mm VC All-In-One lens and Canon 7D.

The above photo was taken with the Tamron 16-300MM F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro lens and the tripod-mounted Canon EOS 7D DSLR camera.  Exposure settings: 30s F/22 ISO 100