Monday, March 23, 2015

The Fabulous Colors of Mexico

Every time I have visited Mexico I am amazed at all the colors that are pretty much everywhere. Saturday we walked into Los Algadones, MX for the Gringos Go Home celebration.  I should say first, that is not what it sounds like. 

Yuma, AZ is the highest rated Snowbird destination during the North American winters and Los Algadones is right across the border from Winterhaven, CA, a mere 10 minutes from Yuma. So you can see the importance of Snowbirds to Los Algadones. 

In fact, they are so appreciative they put on the Gringos Go Home party on Saturday where there was festive music, free beer, and free food. It was great!

Los Algadones, like other locations in Mexico, is quite colorful and perfect for me and my obsession with iPhone ‘Happy Snappin.’  And as I wandered the streets I was not disappointed. That led me to this wall tucked in between street vendors.


I live for these types discoveries and the photos I create of them. The vendor next to this wall mentioned that the wall was 30 years old and handprints had been added over the years by school children. Knowing the story is great, but the wall says it all to me.

The file is from my iPhone and I then used Adobe Photoshop Mix (the app) to add contrast (make the whites whiter and darks darker) and added some saturation and slight sharpening. 

Viva Mexico!

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Master Your Landscape Photography With Back Lighting

You can add drama to your nature and landscape photography by using back lighting. It is very effective lighting technique and works very well on some subjects and not so much on others. When a subject is back lit the sun is in front of you or very close. I like to reference the Lighting Clock as example.

The camera is at 6 o'clock and the subject is in the middle of the clock. If the light is to either side, then it is at approximately 9 or 3 o'clock. I generally think of back light as anywhere between 10:30 and 1:30.

In this example from Anza Borrego in California, the sun is in that zone of 10-12 o'clock. What I love about this photo is that back lighting adds amazing definition to the cactus and especially the Chollas. It looks like fuzz. This approach works on many subjects, even ones that dont look so great side lit.

For processing the RAW file I added a hint of contrast to make the shadows touch darker, a bit of saturation, and the sky went white which is common in back lit images due to haze and such. So I added a touch of blue back in. Then sharpened a hint as well.
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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mother Nature's Amazing Palette

It is amazing what Mother Nature provides for our cameras. I looked at this scene and wondered what was happening on Earth to make all these colorful layers?  The multitude of colors, i presume, means some specific mineral was 'spewing' all over for a while before another mineral came along. It's fascinating! Any geologists out there?

When you think of creating great compositions, scenes like this dont make it hard. There is not only lines and diagonals adding to the composition, but the horizontal layers as well. There is contrast as well but it's not lighting. Instead, I call it color contrast: a full range of colors both dark and light bring contrast to the scene. If it was converted to B+W it would have tonal contrast.

This is southern Utah due north of Page, AZ.Shot with a Canon 5D and 80-200mm lens

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Getting Slammed in the Grand canyon

It has been a few years (too many) since my last Grand Canyon rafting trip where I shot this image. It is Granite Rapid which is pretty 'hefty' as you can see here. I am standing on the bank of the river and shot this with a 200mm lens.

Most of our rafts and kaykers stop and watch each boat go through one at a time, for photos and safety. There is a sweep boat 'eddied' out below the rapid to pick up anyone should a raft flip in the rapid, also for safety reasons. This is one of many large and powerful rapids in the Grand Canyon.

When I do a trip like this I usually am limited with the amount of gear I can take so I pack my cameras and lenses in Pelican waterproof cases. I take one tripod and one light stand and put those in a small duffel bag. I have another Pelican with flashes, storage devices, cleaning accessories, and more as well as batteries and lots of them.
Rafting the Grand canyon is a life changing event! If you have done it you know what I mean and if you have not, add it to the bucket list. You will be glad you did!
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Monday, March 2, 2015

What Makes a Good Selling Photo?

Without a doubt concept is the biggest ingredient in a top selling stock photo. This image screams farming, agriculture, Heartland, and more, and has made good money.
I was actually on assignment for the former America West airlines when I was shooting this guys cornfield. He drove up and asked what I was up to. We chatted and later became friends and I was invited to photograph anytime I wanted including wheat harvest where we set up this photo.
It was shot before sunset so it had the golden light of the setting sun. Having them in the foreground with the combine in back added a great sense of depth. It has been on brochure covers, bank ads, and more.

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