Archive for June, 2012

New Edition of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite: It’s Almost Here!

Friday, June 29th, 2012

The Photographer's Guide to Yosemite Cover

Many people have been asking me when the new edition of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite will be available. Well as I write this an actual, real, physical copy is sitting on my desk. It’s an advance copy, which means it was shipped by air—the rest are on a boat from China, and should be here and on bookshelves in about a month. So the wait is almost over!

The new edition has three new locations, and completely revised and updated information for the entire park. You’ll find new tips specifically designed for digital photography, including Digital Camera Settings, White Balance, Exposure, and HDR and Exposure Blending, plus Depth of Field, Filters, Night Photography, and much more. Most of the 100+ photographs are new too, and the reproductions are excellent—a pleasant surprise for an inexpensive guidebook.

Of course I’ll let you know when the book goes on sale. And if you can’t wait, or prefer the convenience of having all the information in your smart phone or tablet, all the information in the new book is in the iPhone and iPad app.

Thanks to all of you who have purchased The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite over the years. So many people have taken the time to let me know how much they love the book, and I really appreciate that. I hope you’ll like the new edition just as much!

A Note to Subscribers

I’m using a new service (AWeber) to send out blog subscriptions, so if you subscribe to this blog by email you might notice that the format looks a little different when you view this post in your inbox. You don’t need to do anything; if you already subscribe you’ll continue to get the posts by email. Thank you so much for subscribing!

—Michael Frye

Related Posts: The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite iPhone App is Available Today!; The iPad Version is Here!

Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author and photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to YosemiteYosemite Meditations, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters, plus the eBooks Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, and Exposure for Outdoor Photography. He has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.

Summer Nights

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012
Bristlecone pine snag at night with star trails, White Mountains

Bristlecone pine snag at night with star trails, White Mountains

Night photography offers wonderful opportunities to be creative. The low light allows you to use long exposures to record movement, like star trails or moonlit clouds. And since the natural light is so dim, you can easily overpower it with a flash or flashlight and add your own light to a scene.

That aspect of night photography—light-painting—has intrigued me for a long time. Adding your own light to a nighttime scene gives it a new dimension; it instantly transforms the landscape into something different, something we never see in real life, and adds a mysterious, surreal element to the photograph.

The accompanying image has both movement, in the form of star trails, and light-painting. I used a flashlight to trace the branches of this bristlecone pine snag, then painted zig-zag lines over the rocky foreground. I made this photograph with medium-format film back in September of 2000. Some test exposures with a Polaroid back helped me get the light-painting right, then I switched to real film (probably Provia), did the light-painting again, and then left the shutter open for another 90 minutes to record the star trails. You can see more examples of my light-painting techniques in my nighttime portfolio.

I learned light-painting with film, which was a slow trial-and-error (mostly error) process. Digital cameras make the learning curve much easier, because you can experiment and see the results immediately. If you’ve never tried night photography before this might be a fun summertime project—a way to stretch yourself a little and exercise your imagination. Summer is a great season for photographing landscapes at night, since the Milky Way is prominent, and the warm nighttime temperatures make it more comfortable to stay out late.

Whether you’re an experienced night photographer or a beginner, I recommend reading Lance Keimig and Scott Martin’s excellent book Night Photography: Finding Your Way in the Dark. Also, you can find tips about focus and exposure for moonlit landscapes in my post about photographing lunar rainbows.

And if you prefer hands-on learning there’s still space in my Full Moon Night Photography workshop later this summer (July 31st and August 1st). This is a great way to get personalized instruction and learn night photography in a fun, supportive group atmosphere. Rooms have been set aside for this workshop in Yosemite Valley and are still available if you register soon.

—Michael Frye

Related Posts: Under the Full Moon; Tips for Photographing Lunar Rainbows; Also, see images made by participants in last year’s night photography workshop in this Flickr group

Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author and photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to YosemiteYosemite Meditations, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters, plus the eBooks Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, and Exposure for Outdoor Photography. He has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.

Simplicity vs. Complexity in Photography

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
Sam Abell's classic image of cowboys branding cattle in Montana

Sam Abell’s classic image of cowboys branding cattle in Montana

It’s not often that you get to hear a master photographer explain how he made one of his greatest images, so I was thrilled to find this short video of Sam Abell describing how he made his classic photograph of cowboys branding cattle in Montana.

I love this statement: “What we’re all trying to do is make a layered, deep, complex, complicated photograph that doesn’t look complex or complicated.”

In talking about composition in my workshops and books I emphasize simplicity, since I think the single most common mistake people make is including too much in the frame. But my favorite images are rich and complex, without crossing the line into being busy and confusing. Obviously it takes years of experience to be able to make photographs like that – and Abell’s experience and mastery are on full display in this image.

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Lightroom 4.1

Friday, June 15th, 2012
Path through foggy redwoods

Path through foggy redwoods

I meant to post this earlier, but if you haven’t heard, Lightroom 4.1 was officially released about two weeks ago. So if you’ve been waiting to upgrade to Lightroom 4 until Adobe fixed the bugs, I think your wait is over, as the major problems should have been addressed. I know the point curve bug was fixed with the 4.1 RC (“release candidate”), so that shouldn’t be an issue any more.

Lightroom 4 is a big step forward in Raw image processing, but the advancements require a lot of horsepower to work properly. So check the system requirements before you take the plunge. Many people have had to upgrade their operating system to run Lightroom 4, and upgrading your OS can be a big undertaking, requiring that you update other applications as well.

Earlier I posted two videos about Lightroom 4, so if you haven’t watched those yet they can help you get up to speed in the new process. Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2.

The first image here, as well as all of the images from Monday’s post—including some pretty high-contrast scenes—were processed exclusively in Lightroom 4. In the comments for that last post JayM asked if I could make a tutorial on how I processed the first image. That’s a great suggestion, but for now you’ll find a screen shot below that shows the Basic Panel settings for that photograph. (I didn’t use the Tone Curve, which is not unusual for me these days with high-contrast images in Lightroom 4.)

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Back to Jurassic Park

Monday, June 11th, 2012
Sunbeams in redwood forest

Sunbeams in the redwood forest

Last year I spent a magical day among foggy redwoods and rhododendrons along the northern California coast, and captured some of my favorite redwood photographs to date. You can see some of those photos here and here.

Claudia and I recently returned from another trip to the redwoods. On our first morning we went to the same area we visited last year, but the fog wasn’t as extensive, and not as many rhododendrons were blooming. We kept hiking, and finally reached some mist, and then something magical happened: the fog began to lift, and sunbeams started filtering through the trees. I captured the “Close Encounters” photograph below, then huffed up a steep trail to the top of a ridge and made the image at the top of this post, with classic godbeams radiating through the trees, then hurried back down, chasing the receding edge of the fog, where I found the scene in the second photograph below.

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