In these days of HDR, Lightroom, and Photoshop, is there still any point in carrying around Graduated Neutral Density (GND) filters? Often at photographic overlooks I hear photographers banging away with their cameras, shooting multiple exposures for future HDR images, while I nail the same scene in a single shot. More than once I have had one of these photographers scoff at me for using my “old school” GND filter, asking, “Ever heard of HDR?” While I am a firm believer in using all the tools available to me, including HDR, I feel that HDR is either unnecessary or won’t work in situations where multiple images are not possible, such as an action shot.
For almost a year I planned for the 22-day trip I took this past January to photograph among the indigenous people of Ethiopia. I did a lot of research so I’d know what to expect and how to deal with everything from the customs of the country to the weather and the traveling conditions. Also, I’d have a driver and a guide, and along the way I’d pick up local guides who’d know the ins and outs of specific villages, tribes, and dialects.
Filing the frame with the critter isn’t required for great wildlife photography. Reflecting on how I first slanted my wildlife photography in this direction, it has its roots in the first lens I had to shoot wildlife. I started with a Vivitar 400mm f/5.6 on an old Minolta that was soon replaced with a Nikon 400mm f/5.6 on an F2. That 400mm was my main lens for a long time and it taught me lessons about wildlife photography that I still depend on to this day.
At my workshops and lectures I am often asked by photographers how I am able to get sharp images at slow shutter speeds out of the affordable 70-300mm zoom I use for backpacking while they are unable to get sharp images with their 70-200 f/2.8 pro lenses. It is true that when it comes to lenses, the price tag does match the quality in terms of durability and sharpness at wide apertures. But by the time my carry-along backpacking lens is stopped down to f/8, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between photos taken with it and images taken with the most expensive pro lenses. Honestly, the lack of sharpness in photos has less to do with the tele lens you are using than it might seem and more to do with long lens technique.
Some of the best photography is in the worst weather!” I’ve been saying that for decades and it comes from coming in from the cold, soaking wet and thrilled to death with the images I captured. The drama in the light, clouds and the response to it by nature is a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle you just can’t duplicate. In order to see it and photograph it, you have to get out in it and be able to work. And that’s where the challenge lies.
Having worked with Steve in the past, and knowing him for many years, we are always pleased to feature his photography and writing. Recently a new book of his came across our desk (ISBN: 978-1-4547-0327-3, published by Pixiq, www.pixiq.com, 272 pages, $29.95) and we are happy to offer an excerpt of just a few pages of the tip and technique filled volume here. This is one book where Steve’s personality, experience, and expertise certainly comes through in each and every well-illustrated page.—Editor
“Whether the client is advertising a travel destination or a product, such as clothing or sports apparel, I strive to set up the shoot with talent that’s the best fit for the ad,” lifestyle photographer Dennis Welsh proclaims. “That’s what makes the shot and the client’s message believable. That’s what sells it to potential customers. For instance, if I’m shooting for a ski company or a ski resort, I want to find skiers who can easily do what I want them to do. That conveys a sense of truth and honesty. If you start with skiers who are not convincing, you start with a deficit. In that case, you have to do the best you can with what you’ve got. If I’ve got great talent and a great location, a lot of things are already working in my favor.”
Jul 09, 2013
Published: Jun 01, 2013
After a grueling three-day walk, an elderly farmer, hobbling with the aid of two gnarly walking sticks, finally arrived at the hospital in Ometepec. The long distance and oppressive Mexican heat were not his only obstacles—the insidious cataracts that were slowly robbing him of his vision made his trek a precarious journey. A young mother, who had been sightless for several years, gave birth to a child. She had nursed her, raised her, and loved her, without ever seeing her face.
There are stories we tell to explain ourselves, to clarify who we are, and to account for why we are who we are. And no matter what the apparent subject of these stories, what they are always really about is the past. “The past is never dead,” William Faulkner said. “It’s not even past.”
May 30, 2013
Published: May 01, 2013
Photographing Waterdrops is a beautifully illustrated how-to photography guide that serves as both a technical tutorial and visual photography inspiration. Its collection of imagery explores the world within the tiniest droplets of water. Written by award-winning photographer Harold Davis, author of more than 30 books including the bestselling title, Photographing Flowers: Exploring Macro Worlds with Harold Davis, this photography book is intended to offer a fresh, creative perspective into the dynamic possibilities of natural waterdrop photography. Davis draws from his professional expertise and artistic perspective to offer advice on capturing extraordinary waterdrop compositions. Readers learn how to use light and reflections to their advantage, which tools and equipment work best for macro photography, and how to perfect their waterdrop shots both before and after shooting.
In a business that thrives on intensely refined specialties, Newport, Rhode Island-based shooter Matthew Cohen has managed to find success in what has to be one of the ultimate photographic niches: nautical adventure photography. Cohen is one of a handful of photographers worldwide who earns much of his living adventuring on the high seas and capturing those exploits with his camera.
Jun 25, 2013
Published: May 01, 2013
Straddling a beautiful stretch of the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Virginia, Shenandoah National Park is a hiker’s and photographer’s delight. Located only 70 miles from the nation’s capital, Shenandoah provides an oasis of nature surrounded by ever-encroaching civilization. Long and narrow, the park runs north/south along a ridge crest characterized by rolling hills and mountains, quiet hollows, rushing streams and waterfalls, and verdant forests. Running through the park is Skyline Drive, a 105-mile scenic roadway that meanders along the crest of the Blue Ridge. Along this roadway are 75 overlooks offering unparalleled views of the piedmont to the east and the valley and mountains to the west. The park is also host to a 101-mile segment of the venerable Appalachian Trail as it winds its way from Georgia to Maine.
I have always been a big supporter of joining and participating in professional groups. The growth of my career as a photo rep, teacher, and author all came from joining and participating in groups that brought together like-minded individuals. For photographers looking to enhance or initiate their careers there are numerous professional associations worthy of attention.
Jul 02, 2013
Published: May 01, 2013
Several years ago I decided to take on a challenge of focusing on macro photography right in my own backyard. No, I do not reside in the Sierra mountains or adjacent to a national wildlife refuge or conservation area. I live in a typical South Florida suburban subdivision surrounded by homes and asphalt. South Florida doesn’t even offer much in the way of seasons. Yet, I am amazed at how many unique images I have captured over the past several years.
Mark Katzman has been shooting professionally for over 25 years. Originally, he studied filmmaking at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In college, and for a short while thereafter, he found he could earn money by taking pictures of baseball teams.