Use your Creativity to get “Something from Nothing”

Suzanne Mathia Photography

Author: Suzanne Mathia
OK…  So here’s the situation…  You’re at one of the modern-day 7 Wonders of The World, the Grand Canyon.  There’s a layer of fresh snow, but the only 
problem is, the Canyon is completely fogged in.  This is the situation our Arizona Highways Photo Workshop found itself in for our afternoon shoot (Grand Canyon in Winter).  None of us had ever seen fog hanging in the canyon, so thick, for so long.  To give you an idea of just how thick it was, the first image is looking into the GC from the South Rim from just behind the lodges.  Visibility was about 10 feet, so I could see the tree and the edge, which of course was important also to avoid falling down 6800 feet !
Has anything like this happened to you ?  It might be fog, rain, other inclement weather, a lake or river with unexpectedly low water level, or any number of things.  So you can either call it a day and head back to the hotel, or put on your thinking cap, bring out your creative spirit, and perhaps create something amazing !
So what did we do to turn around our foggy afternoon ?
We were out at one of the many Canyon Points, or vistas.  I was trying to get at least something of a shot with the rocky ledge projecting into the Canyon.  Hey, I could at least see it.  This photo shows you just what I was seeing.  Even though we could see the ledge, the scene was still quite blah.
But I thought “If we only had a photographer down on that ledge in a Red coat”.  That would stand out nicely, and create a sense of interest and contrast to an otherwise blah scene.  Now that could be something. Since I had a red Winter parka, that’s when I changed from a photographer into a model.
The result ?  Magic !!
We had all our participants lined up at the overlook to this ledge, and with help from our master photographer (Suzanne Mathia), using the scene to create
their own unique compositions.  You can decide for yourself, but I believe the results were creative, unique, somewhat surreal, and inspired.  A different
approach to capturing the amazing landscape.
The first of these photos is from Bob Blue, our other Volunteer Trip Leader on this Workshop, and the second is from Sharon Philpott, one of our
participants kind enough to share her photo.
You can see that Bob’s photo is oriented as a portrait, uses the trees for framing, and seems to capture the place and the moment of the emerging sun.
Sharon, by capturing the scene in landscape mode, shows off something about the breadth and grandeur of the Canyon.  Although the photographer is still \
a central element for the eye to land on, he’s seen as tiny compared to the giant Canyon walls.  Two photos with two very different feelings and messages.
In both cases, the photographer in red is the key to making these images work.  And I’m not just saying that because it’s me
When presented with adverse or very challenging shooting conditions, don’t just go back to bed…  Think differently, Trust your instincts, and come up with something unique and magical !!
Suzanne Mathia is an Instructor with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

Photographing with Extension Tubes

Author: David Halgrimson

Here is a little info on using extension tubes to get that super close shot.

An extension tube is used on a lens to allow for getting closer to a subject. It is mounted between the camera body and the lens. They come in many sizes, i.e. I have a 13mm, 21mm, 25mm and 31mm. They are hollow, no glass, and simply move the lens closer to the subject.

There are two types that I am aware of, those that have electronics which allows for auto focus and those without electronics. You can guess which is less expensive. Typically, manual focus will be used anyway as focusing becomes very sensitive the closer you get to the subject. The disadvantage of none electronic tubes is no adjustment for aperture unless the aperture can be set on the lens. The cost is very reasonable, a set of three starting around $40 and up unless Canon, Nikon or other brand names are preferred.

Extension tubes can be combined, i.e. a 13mm and a 25mm for a total of 38mm. The larger the mm of extension used the closer the lens can be to the subject. There is some light loss from using extension tubes and this will have to be adjusted for in the camera.

The use of a tripod when using extension tubes is almost a must as focusing becomes very tricky.  Extension tubes are great for flowers, insects and any other small subjects.

I took these photos using the camera with no extension tube and then with 4 different tubes, 13mm, 21mm, 25mm and 31mm, I did not combine any. A Canon 5D mkII and a 24-105mm lens was used and the focus ring was set to the Macro area of the lens and ISO was 100 for all the images here. The camera was on a tripod and was not moved,

© David Halgrimson — This first image was taken with no extension tube attached, the settings were 70mm, f/7.1, 1/800th and about 10 inches from the subject.

© David Halgrimson —  The second image was taken using a 13mm extension tube, and settings of 67mm, f/7.1, 1/320th and about 9 inches from the subject.

© David Halgrimson —  The third image was taken using a 21mm extension tube, and settings of 67mm, f/7.1, 1/320th and about 5.5 inches from the subject.

© David Halgrimson —  The fourth image was taken using a 25mm extension tube, and settings of 70mm, f/7.1, 1/320th and about 4.5 inches from the subject.

© David Halgrimson —  The fifth image was taken using a 31mm extension tube, and settings of 73mm, f/7.1, 1/100th and about 3.5 inches from the subject.

I started getting shadow on the subject the lager I went with the extension tubes so this is something to keep in mind. Also, focus was getting more difficult and DOF was getting very narrow, I did not try other aperture settings, this is another thing to be aware of. This was not an exact science experiment, I only wanted to show what an extension tube can do for getting those very close shots.

David Halgrimson is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

How to Capture Star Trails

By Megan P Galope
Twitter = @megangalope

At the end of January, I attended the AHPW Advanced Star Trails workshop taught by Beth Ruggiero-York. We learned how to take many photos over the span of a couple hours and stack them together to create incredible photos of star trails. The shape of the star trails depends on the direction you are pointing your camera. If you point east, your trails will arc across the sky:

If you prefer the classic circle, you will need to point towards Polaris (the north star):

Ever since the workshop, I’ve been excited to try this again. For the best results, however, you will need dark skies—meaning you need to get away from the city. I finally had an opportunity to try again when I traveled to Rocky Point, Mexico. The timing wasn’t the greatest as it had just recently been a full moon (it is better to do this closer to a new moon so that the moonlight doesn’t interfere). Luckily, the moon didn’t rise until a few hours after sunset, so that gave me a little time to take some star trails.

The first night I chose to point my camera south towards the ocean. Around sunset, I set up my camera for the composition that I wanted and determined the hyperfocal distance using my handy Depth of Field app on my phone. After getting the proper focus, I set my camera to manual focus and taped down the lens to avoid accidentally bumping it. Towards the end of astronomical twilight (about an hour and a half after sunset), I took some images of the foreground. Once it was fully dark, I took my high ISO test shot to determine the settings I would need to use for my images. I ended up setting my intervalometer to take 3.5-minute exposures at ISO 800 and f/4. I took a couple test shots to make sure everything looked okay, and then let it run. I had time for 36 images before the moon rose. I then took my 2 dark frames (same settings with the lens cap on). Using Lightroom, StarStax, and Photoshop, I was able to combine all of my images to create the final product:

The next night, I decided to try pointing towards Polaris for the circle effect. This would be a bit more difficult as it would mean pointing towards the houses and more light pollution. I determined that I would need to take 4-minute exposures at ISO 800 and f/4, plugged it into my intervalometer and let it run. Unfortunately, I decided to skip the test shots (I blame the wine), and instead of setting the intervalometer for 4-minute exposures, I accidentally set it for 4-hour exposures. Three and a half hours later, I found a very overheated camera with a dead battery and one unusable image:

It pays to follow all the steps!

If you’d like to learn more about creating star trails, come to our Symposium on November 4-5, 2017, where Beth will host a session on shooting and stacking star trails.

How I Got the Shot – Poppies under the Blazing Arizona Sun

Author: Ambika Balasubramaniyan

Settings:

  • Camera: Canon 5DMIII
  • Lens: Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8 II USM
  • Settings: Av (Aperture Priority)1/40 sec, f22, ISO 100, 16mm
  • Filter: None

Location: Bartlett Lake, Arizona

  • This location in Arizona typically explodes with poppies mid-late March if the rain and temperature conditions are conducive to good bloom. In March 2017, the steady moisture over winter delivered a great bloom year for the poppies. In other years, when the rain is inconsistent over winter – there may be very few poppies. Another note, you also find some white & orange poppies here in addition to the yellowish-orange kind!
  • Location guide: Wild in Arizona™: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, & How(Expanded 2nd Edition) by Paul Gill & Colleen Miniuk-Sperry Location #25 Page 102

Vision: An above average heat made for a blazing hot March and I wanted to capture the contrast of the delicate poppies under the blazing Arizona sun – a juxtaposition of hot and cool. I wanted to feature the sun as an integral part of the image in addition to using light the highlight the delicate poppy petals.

Image Capture: I wanted to showcase the sun along with poppies feature the mid-morning sun – higher up in the sky rather than the typical sunrise – on the horizon treatment. I wanted the image to convey “hot” and showcase the sun loving poppies reaching up to soak up the rays. I also included a bit of the surrounding hills to set context. The image capture was set up was with the Canon 16 – 35 mm lens for the wide angle treatment, shooting upwards from below the clump of poppies on a roadside berm to emphasize the poppies reaching up towards the sun. Aperture was set to f22 to include the sun as a “sunburst” in the composition. The small aperture at f22 on the Canon 16-35mm f2.8 II USM wide angle lens generates a pleasing starburst.  I also intentionally under exposed the image to ensure a sharp “sunstar” with a workable image that was not over exposed. Remember to remove ALL filters in front of your lens to minimize any lens flare. You may still get some lens flare from the internal elements of the lens but you can do your part in minimizing them!

If you are interested in learning more about sun bursts & different lens that make good ones: https://www.outdoorphotographyguide.com/article/how-to-create-a-starburst-effect/.

Post Processing: Images were post processed in Lightroom CC minimally – some cropping, opening up of the shadows, pop of clarity & saturation in Lightroom.  Some of the lens flare artifacts were also cloned out to clean up the sun.

The key post processing move for this image is the opening up of the shadows that show cases the color of the poppies against the blue sky!

Ambika is a Trip Leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

Capturing Clouds : Tips

Author: Kerrick James

Most of my sixty or so Arizona Highways photo workshops have featured the pursuit of Landscape, the endlessly challenging chase for light and drama, texture and natural design that we hope will unite in an evocative slice of time that both defines a place, and your skill in rendering that reality. Somewhat paradoxically, it’s very often the atmospheric phenomena above the land that elevate the image to its greatest impact. In a word, Clouds, are key. Call them ‘icing on the cake’, or any descriptor you wish, but distinctive clouds are always worth waiting or planning for. I’ve whiled away thousands of hours over the years waiting for clouds to arrive or depart, to morph or reveal, and still they surprise, delight and confound me.

Storm clouds of all types are inherently dramatic, and indeed stormlight is my personal favorite situation. But having Clouds in place over a striking graphic landform is always my chief goal, as the clouds themselves without a hint of land are merely meteorological trophies. It seems there are more types of clouds than earthly gemstones, and here are some examples:

Shiprock, New Mexico (linear, horsetail Clouds)

Jungfrau, Switzerland  (clearing storm clouds)

Hunts Mesa, Monument Valley  (morning monsoon clouds)

Three Sisters, Monument Valley (morning monsoon clouds)

Sometimes the clouds are moving at surprising speed over the land, and by using a neutral density filter and very low ISO, you can attain long shutter speeds even in full sunlight. Obviously a sturdy tripod is essential, and don’t forget that you can shoot clouds at night if you have some moonlight to work with.

Colorado River at North Canyon, Grand Canyon  (30 seconds, F 11, ISO 100)

Sunrise light on Totem Pole (Yei Be Chi), Monument Valley (1/10th second, F/16)

Stars and clouds over the Bluemlisalphorn, Switzerland  (172 seconds F8, ISO 100)

And let’s face it, luck favors those who wake up early, or wait past the edge of patience. Last June I finally got sweet light after sunrise, illuminating clouds that featured patterns and weight and well, gravitas, flowing slowly over Double Arch. It only took thirty years to find them there, or to find myself in the right place, at the right moment, watching the clouds go by…

Sunrise clouds over Double Arch, Arches NP, Utah

 

Kerrick James is an Instructor with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops
Space still available in Kerrick’s Glacier workshop July 24-28, 2017

iPhone or “Real” Camera? Which is better?

Author: Amy Horn

Have you ever wondered what is the difference between an iPhone image and a “real” camera image? Well, here is the test. I was waiting in a Northern Arizona University parking lot for students to arrive for a field trip and I noticed ice. For those that don’t know me, I love capturing images of ice. Instantly, I grabbed my iPhone 7 and built in camera app, placed the phone about 2 inches away from the ice and captured several photos. I still had a few minutes before leaving with the students, so I grabbed my new Olympus OM-D E-M1 MarkII with the 12-100mm lens (sensor equivalent 24—200mm). I zoomed in to 100mm (200mm equivalent) and stood about 12 inches above the ice and shot several images. Both shots were taken with non-macro lenses and here are the comparison images:

Both images are straight out of the camera. You might notice a slight difference in white balance from the different systems auto white balance. Unfortunately, I did not compose the images identically, but, can you tell which image is the iPhone image? Take my iPhoneography/Smart Phone photography class to learn the answer. Not really! The image on the left is from the iPhone and the image on the right is from the Olympus. When I examined these images close up, I have to say the only difference I saw was the white balance! Decide for yourself and compare your smart phone to a “real” camera. Sometimes that mobile phone can be quite a powerful option.

It’s not too late to join Amy in her iPhoneography/Smart Phone Photography class March 25! Follow the link to register.

 

Amy Horn is a lecturer of photography at Northern Arizona University and an instructor for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops. View her current teaching schedule at ahpw.org or horndesigns.com.

Instagram: amyhornphotographer
Facebook: Amy Horn: Horndesigns Photography

Vancouver Island with Shane McDermott

Author: Shane McDermott

I grew up on Vancouver Island and couldn’t have imagined a more beautiful place to live! Although it is no longer my home, I can’t wait to get back and show you all how amazing this place is. Join me for 6 glorious summer days on this northwest island paradise tour June 18-23, 2017!

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This is truly one of those photo tours that offers everything you could imagine and hope for. You will experience it all including charming cityscapes, bustling harbor scenes, beautiful gardens, ancient rain forests, wild orcas, stunning seascapes and abundant coastal wildlife!

The tour begins in the heart of old Victoria’s inner harbor. This quaint old Victorian city has a very special charm and will capture your heart the moment you lay eyes on it! As you walk through the gobble stoned back streets of Victoria you’ll feel as though your in an old European city. I remember moving to Victoria from up island as soon as I was old enough and my parents would allow it, I just love visiting this place!

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Although we could easily spend the entire six days in Victoria, we will visit many of the local highlights, including, the spectacular inner harbor with it’s famous Empress Hotel, fisherman’s wharf, the world renowned Butchart Gardens, Craig Derek Castle, the Edwardian style Hatley castle of Royal Roads and more.

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From Victoria, we’ll head to the vast open waters on the west coast of the island, where we will begin the nature portion of our photo journey. Based out of coastal fishing village of Port Renfrew, we’ll spend 3 fun filled days exploring one of the islands true natural gems, Juan De Fuca Provincial Park. Juan De Fuca offers spectacular seascapes, rivers, waterfalls and old growth rainforests as well as abundant coastal wildlife.

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Hitnat,Port Renfrew

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On the coastal portion of our tour photo, location highlights will include Parkinson beach, botanical beach loop trail, Botany Bay, Avatar grove and a few other surprise locations. Expect to be astonished with the diverse beauty to this enchanting park and it’s rich display of both flora and fauna! The immense moss covered giants of the Avatar grove rival the mighty redwoods of California. Even better, few people even know this place exists, which means quiet serenity and a relaxed photographic environment.

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Upon returning to Victoria we’ll finish our tour chasing wild orcas across the open ocean! If lions are the king of the savanna, orcas are definitely the king of the sea! To see and photograph these massive whales in their natural and wild ways will provide you with remarkable photographic opportunities and lasting impressions. We’ll conclude our time together a warm summer evening dinner together overlooking the inner harbor.

Shane McDermott is an instructor with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.