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Ten things nobody told you about landscape photography

Landscape photography is one of my favorite genres and also something I gladly do. Of course, I’m far from being pro – but what if I wanted to become one? In this video, Toma Bonciu aka Photo Tom shares ten things about professional landscape photography that probably no one told you about. So if you’re […]

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Why You Should Use a 100-400mm Lens for Landscape Photos

Photographer Michael Shainblum is known for some truly impressive landscape images and in previous videos has strongly advocated for the use of telephoto lenses. In this 10-minute video, he shows how he captured two days worth of images with mainly a Sigma 100-400mm.

Before the pandemic last year, Shainblum had the opportunity to visit Yosemite just after a snowfall which gave him the opportunity to shoot snow-dappled images of one of the most photogenic National Parks in the United States. After revisiting that shoot recently, he realized that he went the entire day shooting almost exclusively on a Sigma 100-400mm zoom lens.

Part of his goal in these images was to capture the look of being there — that is to say, the atmospheric conditions.

“The way the fog has moved every few minutes, the scene changes, and new compositions get revealed,” he says. “There is just some beautiful atmosphere.”

In the several images Shainblum discusses, the lighting he captures and isolates thanks to framing is only made possible thanks to the extended zooms he has at his disposal.

“I think it’s easy to get into the mindset of ‘well this place has been heavily photographed, is there anything else I can say about the place?’” Shainblum says. “There are tons of images that exist of Yosemite National Park. It’s one of the most famous places for landscape photography. It’s easy to take a look at that and say ‘I just want to go somewhere that hasn’t really been photographed or that isn’t very popular so I’ll be able to take images that are more unique and more interesting.’ And while I do enjoy exploring new places, I don’t think you always have to do that to create interesting and unique photographs.”

Part of what makes using a zoom lens so beneficial for landscape photography is that it forces you to see environments in ways others have not. Wide-angle landscape photography is much more common, so detail shots like the ones Shainblum shares here are wildly compelling because of how unique they are.

“Try not to have those preconceived ideas of what a place is supposed to be about,” Shainblum says while discussing how photographers might come to a location thinking that all the photos that could be taken of a place, have been. “Create your own experience with the place, and I think you’ll be able to tell better stories.”

Michael Shainblum is an excellent resource for landscape photography inspiration. For more from him, make sure you subscribe to his YouTube Channel.


Image credits: Photos by Michael Shainblum and used with permission.

Take a trip around the world with Travel Photography of the Year 2020 winners

  If I should name only one thing I’ve missed since the pandemic began, traveling would be one of the first things to remember. Thankfully, we can still travel locally and look at magnificent travel images from abroad. So if you’d like to take a virtual trip around the world right now, join me on […]

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Here’s Perseverance’s first photo of Mars in full color

Last week’s biggest news was the successful landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. After sending in the first photo it took, NASA now shares Perseverance’s first look at the Martian surface in color, and it’s even more beautiful. Perseverance’s main mission is looking for ancient signs of life on Mars, paving the way for […]

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How to Faithfully Recreate Fashion Magazine Covers on a Budget

Photographer Andrew Parsons has shared a 6.5-minute video where he shows how he replicated the looks of four distinct fashion magazine covers. With clearly less budget and space, Parsons explains how the looks can be pretty faithfully recreated with a little know-how.

If you want to see visuals on Parsons’s lighting arrangements, make sure you watch the video above.

The first look Parsons decided to tackle was an attempt to recreate a photo of Zendaya from the cover of Elle magazine. For this shot, Parsons said that the hardest part about the photo was getting the posing to look correct.

“We altered the pose to fit our set since we didn’t have as much orange fabric to use or a platform for Jasmyne (the model) to sit on,” Parsons says. “What I love about this project is that you can make something out of nothing. The dress was made out of tinsel, and we got the fabric from a craft store. I jury-rigged Jasmyne’s platform by putting together two stools.”

Parsons says this project should demonstrate how you don’t need a huge space or huge budget to make something beautiful.

As mentioned, Parsons has a different crop and pose to this photo because of space constraints, but the photo certainly pays successful homage to the original.

The second photo Parsons chose to recreate was of Willow Smith from the cover of Garage.

“What initially stood out to me were the strong shadows framing Willow’s face,” Parsons says. “I knew that I could try to get that look by using a small light source with more light falloff and by bringing in two black v-flats super close on either side for Jasmyne to enhance the shadows.”

This image only used one light overhead pointed at his model with and a reflector below her to bounce in some fill lighting. Parsons admits he probably could have used a smaller light modifier and that a grid also would likely have helped. Below is his result:

Parsons did two more covers, one a cover of Harper’s Bazaar featuring Carola Remer (caution, the full shoot pictured at that link may be NSFW) and the other Zoe Kravitz for Vogue. You can see how he set up both these shots in the video above. Below are his results:

A lot of the work required to make these photos look very similar to the originals was done in post, but a significant amount of the effort also required the images to be captured correctly straight out of camera — especially the lighting. Parsons says that he and his team had a blast with this project and were all very happy with the results.

For more from Andrew Parsons, you can follow him on Instagram and subscribe to his YouTube Channel.


Image credits: Photos by Andrew Parsons and used with permission. Model: Jasmyne Wildes | Makeup/Hair: Melissa Korn | Styling: Kim Brooks | Videography: Mark Malijan

Great Reads in Photography: February 21, 2021

Every Sunday, we bring together a collection of easy-reading articles from analytical to how-to to photo-features in no particular order that did not make our regular daily coverage. Enjoy!


Baltimore Photographer/Activist Gets Sneaker Line from Under Armour – CBS Baltimore

© Devin Allen, photo courtesy TIME

Devin Allen’s protest photography has landed him two TIME covers, the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship, and Leica has selected him as an ambassador.

It was announced late last month that Allen, who is based in Baltimore, would get his own shoe and apparel line from Under Armour, headquartered in the same city.

“But the 32-year-old didn’t get his own sneaker because of his prowess on the basketball court. He doesn’t have any Super Bowl rings. He got his shoe because of his activism and photography — a feat that is considered a first in the athletic apparel world,” reported the Washington Post.


The “I’m Switching to Mirrorless Because it’s Smaller and Lighter” Phase is Just About OverScott Kelby

Photo by ribkhan

Mirrorless cameras are smaller than DSLRs unless you add a 70-200 f/2.8 or a 24-70 f/2.8, at which point there is really no difference in the combination. Let’s see what Scott Kelby, travel photographer, Photoshop Guy, and “struggling guitarist,” has to say.


A New Photo Exhibit Looks at Decades of FBI Surveillance On American Citizens – BuzzFeed News

The Carpeta of Providencia Pupa Trabal a co-founder of the Pro-Independence Movement (MPI). She had surveillance outside her home in 8 hour shifts 24 hours a day. It turned out a person who was like her second son had been informing on her to the cops. She found out when the files were declassified. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/piapeterson/puerto-rico-fbi-files-photos-carpetas
The carpeta of Providencia Pupa Trabal, a cofounder of the Pro-Independence Movement (MPI). She had surveillance outside her home in 8-hour shifts, 24 hours a day. It turned out a person who was like her second son had been informing on her to the cops. She found out when the files were declassified. © Christopher Gregory-Rivera, Las Carpetas series. 2014-2017. Courtesy of the artist.

Christopher Gregory-Rivera is a Puerto Rican photographer based in New York City. His work is particularly interested in rescuing historical narratives around power and colonialism.

In Las Carpetas, Gregory-Rivera shares a cautionary tale of the American surveillance state. The exhibition examines the bureaucratic residue of a 40-year-long secret surveillance program by the Puerto Rican Police Department and the FBI to destroy the Puerto Rican Independence Movement. Carpetas is Spanish for binder as in days before the internet that was the record-keeping method of those being watched.

In 1987 the government was forced to return the files directly to the people who had been monitored once the secret police was unveiled. That must be a first in the world when surveillance documents were returned to those who were surveilled.


Mistakes to Avoid When Applying to a Photography Grant – Photographic Museum of Humanity

PHmuseum, based out of London, is known for its program of grants, which offers £30,000 in cash prizes every year. Having organized grants since 2013, they have noticed several recurring mistakes that can affect applications. Details always make the difference. Check them out and keep these suggestions in mind when the time comes to prepare your next submission anywhere in the world.


Did the Pandemic Change Wedding Photography Forever? – Refinery 29

© Garnet O’Connor

Lavish wedding ceremonies have morphed into “minimonies” that include no more than 25 people and are often held outside.

COVID-19 has brought on hard times, and that will have a long-term effect on wedding budgets.

It seems like small weddings with intimate photos that are truly cherished will remain the norm, at least for the upcoming wedding season, but it’s not the only trend photographers see due to the pandemic. “A lot more people are reaching out now about elopements for 2021, and I’m not mad about it!” says Connecticut-based wedding photographer Rachel Kimberly Varanelli. “I can’t wait for those elopements because I know that they’re going to be such adventurous ceremonies.”

Check out:
Are Weddings with COVID Restrictions Worth It?
Harrowing Report Paints Bleak Picture for Wedding Photogs Amid COVID-19


Apple Highlights Black Photographers in New Shot on iPhone “Hometown” Feature – Apple Insider

Sam Trump, local jazz musician, Bronzeville, Chicago. Shot on iPhone 12 Pro by Lawrence Agyei.
Nate, Uptown Washington, DC Shot on iPhone 12 Pro by Julien James. Nate was born and raised in Uptown, DC. “I wanted to pinpoint him in the city and show how the energy of Georgia Avenue is portrayed through him and what he’s wearing,” says James.
Shay, the Bronx, New York. Shot on iPhone 12 Pro by Lelanie Foster.

Apple commissioned 30 black photographers to celebrate Black History Month. They all shot their Hometown on iPhone 12 Pro. The objective was to show the people and the local culture.

“I typically shoot at 50 millimeters because it’s the closest to the human eye,” says photographer Julien James from Washington DC. “I want everything I shoot to represent or be as close as possible to what we see naturally, so I was surprised to really see how iPhone 12 Pro actually shot Ultra-Wide.”

Check out the imagery of five select iPhone shooters from DC, Chicago, Manhattan Beach in Southern California, Downtown Detroit, and Bronx, NY.


25 Famous Photographs by Ansel Adams (& 6 Fun Facts)The Collector

Ansel Adams, which first appeared in the 1950 Yosemite Field School yearbook. The camera is probably a Zeiss Ikon Universal Juwel. J. Malcolm Greany, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Ansel Adams always visualized the photo before he pressed the shutter. How I wish the digital photographers of today would do that (I am as guilty as everyone else).


How Food Photography Transformed the Humble Cookbook into An Aspirational EntityVogue

Photographs in cookbooks have changed the way we look at food. Check out the evolution of cookbooks from instructional to decorative and now highly Instagrammable.


Viewing the Civil Rights Movement in ColorThe DePaula

A claim floating around for almost a year is that photographers in the civil rights era shot in color. These photos were altered to B&W to make them appear older in media and books.

In one word: False.


A Photographer Has Been Taking Pictures of a ‘Cursed’ Ghost Town in California for 10 Years  – Insider

Ariza said it looks like residents were “abducted by aliens.” © Dennis Ariza

Dennis Ariza has been photographing the ghost town of Bodie, California, every year for the last ten years. It is a California State Park, and this gold mining town from the 1880s is kept in a state of “arrested decay” without any restoration.

“Each time I go, I find something new of interest,” Ariza tells PetaPixel. “[It has a lot of] history and how the people lived at the time.”

The Main Street in Bodie, California. © Dennis Ariza

He is amazed to find food on plates on the kitchen table and even homework from the children of the 10,000 people who lived here one time.


Fact check: Heavily Edited Viral Image of Sun’s Surface Wasn’t Taken by NASAUSA Today

Claim: Photo shows a clear picture of the sun’s surface.

The image was shared by the Facebook page Astronomy World. Users like Amazing Physics have even attributed the picture to NASA.

Fact check: Viral photo of star is an illustration and wasn’t taken by the Hubble telescope


Chasing Lava: The Mystifying Photography that Continues to AweKulture Hub

Peering into the heart of a volcano is not for the faint-hearted. However, this glowing liquid rock has a mesmerizing attraction to many adventurous photographers.

Lava is extremely hot and even standing close to it is dangerous. Also, a respirator is necessary to keep the fumes and sulfur dioxide out of your lungs and gloves and more to cover exposed skin.

Check out:
Photographer Dies Leading Lava Flow Tour in Hawaii
7 Photo Tips for Capturing Epic Lava Shots 100% In-Camera
Photographer Gets So Close to Lava That His Shoes and Tripod Catch on Fire
Daredevils Brave Near-Scalding Water for Incredible Lava Photographs


Adding Animals to Your Wedding PhotosWorld’s Best Wedding Photos

Photographed by Rich Howman – UK photographer
Photographed by Carolina Rivera – New Jersey photographer

It’s not just dogs that steal the show at weddings! Cats, camels, doves, and deer deserve their day too. Watch ten darling photos of animals of all kinds and think about adding the animals you love to your guest list.

Check out: Masai Warriors, Elephants, and Giraffes All Made an Appearance at This Stunning Wedding in Kenya


Why I Like This Photo – Barbara Cole

White Noise Selects © Barbara Cole

If someone screams in a forest (or underwater), does it make a sound…?

There is a wonderful primal quality to this image. It’s completely unselfconscious and visceral. My friend and fellow artist, Yanis, is a frequent collaborator of mine. We seem to have similar feelings and often find ourselves actually wrestling with the same demons. When one shoots underwater, it feels very private and unseen. It’s a perfect place to let go of any frustrations.

At the time of this work in 2009, I was shooting an underwater series called White Noise, which was comprised of still images (this was one of them) as well as Lenticular (or moving) images. I asked my subjects to describe an action, and, in this case, I thought it would be interesting to see what a scream would look like. Personally, I feel that it’s liberating and gives me a cathartic sense of release. I hope it does that for you as well.

I was shooting with daylight and an underwater housing for my Canon camera. Nothing too fancy because I have learned that complex setups do not necessarily yield stronger images. In Crescendo, the name of this image, I love the way the blue water plays against the strong black of his clothing and the clear skin tones. Nothing gets in the way of the moment.

And, to answer the question posed at the top, YES, but it’s not as loud!

Barbara Cole was born in 1953 in Toronto, Canada. Cole, who has often been referred to as an inventor, uses a raw, hands-on photographic process. Cole’s artwork is extensively collected by both public and private institutions and has been exhibited worldwide in such venues as the Canadian embassies in Washington, D.C., and Tokyo, Japan.


Quote of the Week (or a Previous Week) – Walker Evans (1903-1975)

Allie Mae Burroughs, sharecropper, Alabama 1935 or 1936. Photo by Walker Evans, Library of Congress

“Color photography is vulgar” —Walker Evans


To see an archive of past issues of Great Reads in Photography, click here.


We welcome comments as well as suggestions. As we cannot possibly cover each and every source, if you see something interesting in your reading or local newspaper anywhere in the world, kindly forward the link to us here. ALL messages will be personally acknowledged.


About the author: Phil Mistry is a photographer and teacher based in Atlanta, GA. He started one of the first digital camera classes in New York City at The International Center of Photography in the 90s. He was the director and teacher for Sony/Popular Photography magazine’s Digital Days Workshops. You can reach him via email here.


Image credits: All photographs as credited and used with permission from the photographers or agencies.

 

Winter Wetlands: Photographing Whooper Swans

A winter wetland has always held a special place in my heart. A unique wildness derived from the winter wildfowl that visit from the remote Arctic landscapes, birds of prey drawn to harry prey during the short, cold days – the nervousness of wildfowl feeding anxiously – ready to take flight as a menacing shadow passes overhead.

The constant calls of the tight groupings of wildfowl add another dimension to the scene. The whoop of the Whooper Swan, the honk of Greylag, the whistles of Wigeon and Teal. The looming silence of the Hen Harrier is timed to add chaos as ducks take to the air in one location and the next – charting the course of the harrier’s flight.

There is almost too much happening – feeding, hunting, roosting, courting, flight – all played out in constantly changing meteorological events – freezing, flooding, howling winds, sun-filled, calm days, and grey, rain-filled weeks. The wildfowl arrive in small numbers from October and gradually the autumn wetland transforms from a lush, quiet, peaceful habitat to an action-packed winter wildlife showcase. By April, the birds have departed on a northbound and perilous journey to their Arctic breeding grounds.

On New Year’s Eve of 2020, I paid a visit to the East Coast Nature Reserve to observe and photograph the flight of the Whooper Swans on their dawn flight from the flooded coastal fields to feed on the surrounding farmland. There are many collective nouns used to describe swans – “a whiteness of swans” for me is the perfect descriptor.

Whoopers roost and feed together in large numbers. Within that “whiteness”, family groups stay together, the parents keeping a close eye on their siblings. Each family group departs for the feeding fields each morning, one of the parent swans will honk and bob their head, the others will join in. This ritual may be repeated several times.

It is clear that the flight of a family of swans is an activity carefully undertaken. It is fascinating to watch the intensity of calls increasing in tandem with the bobbing of heads until one swan then another begins the long charge across the water’s surface until the transition between water and air is gained.

Family by family the swans depart for the day, they regroup in a field or in a number of adjacent fields until dusk signals a return to the safety of the roosting area – the same flooded, coastal fields from which they departed at the dawn of day.

I did not intend to return to photograph the swans after my first on the eve of the New Year but was subsequently drawn back, enticed, and enthralled by the dawn flight. This became my January ritual, a photographic project per se.

How to capture this wonderful event in a still image? My initial attempts were limited to standard sharp images of the swans in flight. As the month passed, I paid more attention to the habitat and objects along the flight path. I studied the pools of water in the coastal fields, the untidy grass that separated the water from the phragmites in the fen, the stands of birch wood and how they absorbed the light of the rising sun. And each morning I positioned myself 20-50 meters along the flight path, paying close attention to the scene where I thought the swans may fly past.

On some mornings the swans were absent, or they flew in the opposite direction – but I learned that they take off into the wind and therefore I could gamble on the correct position to capture them in flight. Some images were taken whilst they were running across the water. However, I preferred images taken as they gained height with a mix of phragmites and birch wood as the backdrop, and this determined where I positioned myself the following morning.

Early in the month, I inadvertently set the exposure to 1/30th of a second. The scene, as the swans flew past became blurred as you would expect but was extremely beautiful and so I decided to persist with the slow shutter speed.

Panning the camera in the direction of the flight resulted in a relatively sharp head/neck/torso but blurred wings, as the wings were moving at 90 degrees to the pan. However, such images were only possible as the swans flew directly in front of the lens. Each morning I would preset the camera to 1/60 sec, auto ISO, GRP autofocus, and EV -0.5 to 1 to compensate for the light reflecting off the swans.

I soon realized that the brief, daily moment when exposure was feasible was consistently ruined by a poor panning technique. The excitement of the flight got to me each time and my jerky movements resulted in totally blurred images. So before the flight, I would practice a steady pan. But it was to no avail and very few images, if any, matched the images I had envisioned.

As January drew to a close, I realized that my swan obsession may turn into a love/hate relationship as I had failed somewhat in capturing these magnificent creatures as I hoped to. Nonetheless, it was time to move on to another project. I concluded that the gimbal head I was using moved too fluidly and like a workman who blames the tools of his trade, I ordered another tool – a video head with variable resistance so that my panning action will be smoother.

I have moved on to another project for now — I may have another few tries before the swans return to Iceland in April or I may wait until next winter.

Samuel Beckett once said, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” I’ll wait for a time, maybe tomorrow, maybe next year when I try to fail better again.


P.S. If you enjoyed this article and my photos, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel!


About the author: Jimmy Mc Donnell is a landscape and wildlife photographer from Co Wicklow, Ireland with an enduring passion for capturing images that reflect the beauty of the natural world. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Mc Donnell’s work on his website and YouTube. This article was also published here.

NASA and Insta360 Pro 2 bring you immersive view from the Perseverance Mission Control

As you probably know by now, NASA’s Perseverance rover made a successful landing on Mars yesterday. And if you wish you could have been in the Mission Control and share the joy – Insta360 takes you there. Virtually, of course. NASA used Insta360 Pro 2 to live stream the entire event and bring it closer […]

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Photographer creates extraordinary portraits by sticking his head into the snow

I can’t say I’m crazy about snow, but creative photographers like Oliver Turpin are starting to change my mind. He uses snow as a kind of canvas, creating incredible portraits by sticking his head in it. It’s like nothing I’ve seen before, so I was eager to hear more about it. Oliver kindly shared his […]

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