Loving Landscapes – A review

Are you new to photography? Do you roam around everywhere with your camera equipment to get that one amazing looking landscape photo? Are you disappointed about the fact that your photos aren’t that compelling enough? Well, to begin with, watch this TED talk video by Angela Lee Duckworth. She clearly states the fact that the key to success is not in the IQ or good looks or talents. It is the grit, the perseverance, the passion for long term goals and the willingness to start over again upon a probable failure. Before going ahead, please watch the video.

 A few weeks ago, while browsing through dPS, I bumped into this e-book which was dedicated to Landscape photography. It was quite intriguing to find a book which focussed only on one particular genre. I went on to read the book with a notion that the photographic idea in the book can be applied according to one’s perception on one’s style of photography. The contents page of the book clearly stated that the book is strictly for landscape photography but with a good understanding, one can apply the concepts to other genres of photography.

The book starts with a clear introduction and it speaks about what is covered in the book and what is not too. The entire book is divided into 12 chapters. The first chapter covers the basics of image capturing and attributes which play an important role in getting the right exposure in a given situation and in attaining an optimum sharpness for a decent landscape photograph. It also touches upon the negatives of a higher ISO, White Balance, Histograms and Focusing. The above attributes have been touched upon in a simple way, in a way not to confuse the readers with extremely technical terminologies.

 The second chapter is “Computers and backups” and this chapter deals with techniques that Sarah and Todd follow in their studios and is pretty straight forward. This topic is by far the most discussed on the internet and one of the most important in this era of digital photography. The next chapter talks about the power of RAW and why it is important to shoot in RAW format, every time! I have covered this topic in an earlier blog and you can check that out here!

 The fourth covers File management and using Lightroom to organize images. This chapter is very useful for those who would like to keep tab on their huge collection of images with ease. The uses of key wording are dealt with in detail along with the advanced search techniques in Lightroom which enables searching of images using the multiple filters. This chapter also explains about the collections and smart collections in Library module and how it works to help you finding the image you are looking for.

Todd

The sixth and seventh chapters explain about the export option in Lightroom which lets you export your image to different social media platforms like flickr or your own website. This chapters emphasize on the develop module’s functions and on how the sliders can be used to enhance your photograph by adjusting the exposure, opening up the shadows, bringing out the colours, enhancing the colours from the raw data your camera has recorded on field.

In the next chapter Sarah explains her work flow in detail. She starts with explaining the crop tool, goes on to the dust removal, applying sharpness, removing Chromatic aberration and also touches upon the basic panel adjustments. The importance of following the mentioned order during post production is explained clearly in the book. All the necessary tools in the develop module are touched upon in this chapter.

Chapter nine talks about the other tools in develop module. The noise corrections panel, HSL panel, Split toning panel, Effects panel and a few other local correction tools in develop module are explained in detail. The uses of these tools and they can be used to enhance the photograph is explained clearly.

Chapter ten touches upon some camera techniques which can be used in creating some effects, namely Photo impressionism, Camera spin and techniques on how to photograph the Milky Way in detail. The next chapter goes on to explain the use of Photoshop for landscape photography. All the important panels and necessary basic tools are explained clearly. Lightroom and photoshop has been explained in such ways that even a first timer (I mean it) can follow and get the results as in the book. The last chapter talks about the Multi exposure workflow in Photoshop, explaining the tools which are required for taking multi exposure photographs, like star trails, light paintings and HDR.

Overall, the book is neatly presented with appropriate screen shots wherever necessary. The photographs used in the books are available along with the book and lets you try what’s being explained while reading, this makes the book a practical guide. Open the e-book along with Lightroom and Photoshop to make this a worthwhile exercise. If you want to enhance your skills in landscape photography you might have to get this book immediately.

Cheers, Happy Photographing. 🙂

 

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Histogram

Why histogram is inevitable?

Before that what is Histogram?

“The horizontal axis of the graph represents the tonal variations, while the vertical axis represents the number of pixels in that particular tone. The left side of the horizontal axis represents the black and dark areas, the middle represents medium grey and the right hand side represents light and pure white areas. The vertical axis represents the size of the area that is captured in each one of these zones. Thus, the histogram for a very dark image will have the majority of its data points on the left side and centre of the graph. Conversely, the histogram for a very bright image with few dark areas and/or shadows will have most of its data points on the right side and centre of the graph.”

Histogram is the one and only tool to show the image’s exposure details, after you do all your composition, lights, metering, shutter speed, aperture, optics etc., you have only histogram to get checked. Even if you lack one stop of light in your image, assuming you going to fix it later in processing you are going to boost noise by pushing the histogram towards the right. Do it on field not via screens (Real good photographers do not want to process their image, they want to fix it in fewer clicks,and that too because of digital, if that cannot be done in few clicks they will throw the image, get out and get a another satisfying shot). And that one stop of light has the most details, more than the details than the rest of the 4 stops (A digital camera’s dynamic range is 5 stops and some more, but for better understanding I have taken 5 stops).

Here you go, divide your histogram in to 5 equal vertical parts (one stop each); the right most one got 50 % of the data in the image, and the next one got 25%, and the further next one got some 13% (middle one), and the next one 6 % and the last one stop at the left most got 3%. Next time when you check your histograms in field, if you are one stop down than you have lost already 50% of the data. When you push your histogram towards right, possibilities are there to clip the highlights, never do it as there are no software can recover those details and there cannot be one. It is not possible to bring back the detail where there is nothing; yes that is what will happen when you push right much.  Next time look at your camera’s LCD to check the histogram not the shot you just took, though looking at the image is helpful to check your composition and composition only.

For aesthetic purpose one might want to bring down the exposure sometimes even up to 2 stops selectively while processing, but no worry you are not going to bring noise by bringing down the exposure slider and that is why you have to push your histogram towards right when you are at field. There is no guarantee that you will be having a stunning photograph or even a moderate one, if you have exposed your image towards the right without clipping. A perfect exposure does mean that the image is well exposed, nothing more and nothing less. Photography is not about technical expertise, it is about your sensibility on the things in this universe.

There are two types of histograms, one is luminosity histogram and the other one is RGB histogram. I have talked about luminosity histogram; I will talk about the RGB histogram at a later point in time.

For further reading about Histograms and pushing towards the right here. Read about photography here.

RAW image capturing in 12 bit mode is assumed here.