HOW DO YOU SERIOUSLY BECOME A GREAT PHOTOGRAPHER?

HOW DO YOU SERIOUSLY BECOME A GREAT PHOTOGRAPHER?

IF I ASKED YOU THIS QUESTION, MOST OF YOU WILL PROBABLY TELL ME A FEW ANSWERS AS TO WHY YOU DON’T BECOME A SERIOUS PHOTOGRAPHER.  WHAT IS A SERIOUS PHOTOGRAPHER IN THE FIRST PLACE?  IS IT A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER?  MAYBE!  IS IT A PHOTOGRAPHER THAT WHEN HE OR SHE GOES OUT AND TAKES PICTURES, EVERY ONE OF THEIR PICTURES COMES OUT GREAT?  IS THAT WHAT A SERIOUS PHOTOGRAPHER IS?  WHAT KEEPS YOU FROM CREATING GREAT PHOTOS?  THAT IS THE QUESTION THAT WE WANT TO DISCOVER TODAY. 

YOU HAVE SEEN ALL THE BASIC TOPICS OF HOW TO TAKE GOOD PHOTOS.  THE COMPOSITION TECHNIQUES, UNDERSTANDING THE DETAILS OF YOUR CAMERA:  SHUTTER SPEEDS, APERTURE SETTINGS, AND ISO SETTINGS, ETC.  SO, THEN YOU GO OUT AND TAKE PICTURES AND YOU LOOK AT THEM AND YOU GO….. BLAHHH!  I DON’T LIKE MY PHOTOS!  HOW CAN I TAKE PHOTOS THAT PEOPLE WILL WANT TO SEE, OR HANG ON THE WALL, OR EVEN BETTER: PAY FOR? 

Photo by ariebelleblog.blogspot.com

 

 

1- Confidence –

I don’t care who you ask that is either a self proclaimed professional, or a just a good serious photographer, they will all tell you the biggest hurdle you must overcome is gaining confidence in yourself.  Whoa, that is a big one.  So, how do you do that?  Well, you do that by doing the things you do know, and focus on that, and run with that.  Say you know how to take pictures of your kids really well.  All of your pictures you take of your kids seems to be just amazing.  So, why not look at photos of other photographers that take pictures of kids, and try that even more on your own, and you will perfect that subject until you are really, really good.  Now, you are starting to develop confidence, because you will find that others will notice the great work that you do.  The one thing I really loved doing when I was starting to take photos in the beginning was that I loved taking close-ups of anything, and I got really good at it. 

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Find out what you love to do, and keep doing it until you have the confidence in that subject.

2- Develop a new style of your own from what you love to do.

Now that you found that you are good at this one subject, what you will find is that you are taking pictures just like another photographer.  This is the time to do some experimenting, and develop a style that is unique to you.  I think of the person who took baby photos for a long time and then decided that they would put these newborn infants in a large Santa Sock.  How unique is that, and then everybody wanted that photographer to take a picture of their new baby in the new Santa sock.  And a new tradition and style was born.  So, as you take pictures of your kids, think of something that is unique to you, the posing, the place you take of your kids, the way you take them, maybe using a filter to do it, or whatever, think about something that sets you apart from the other photographers.  And then practice, practice, and practice.  Take pictures several times a week, then increase it to daily if you can.  Then you will not go anywhere without your camera.  Then you will get into the habit of looking for opportunity.  And that brings up the next step: 

3- Action conquers Fear:

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Photo by Zukiman Mohamad on Pexels.com

This is a simple thing to think about:  The more you do, the more you conquer your fear.  I am friends through Facebook of a photographer who decided to set a goal  to take a photo every day and post his daily photo in a “LIKE’ page he created himself.  Now, could you post something every single day?  The name of the “Like” page is:  366daysphoto.  (There is an extra day in 2016).  If you want to check it out, you should do so.  Force yourself to do something crazy like that and then try to find something to take pictures of every day.  You will get good. 

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Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

 

Obviously, the point of this subject is to practice, because that will conquer the fear that you may have in taking pictures.  Ahhh, but you are thinking:  what if I am no good?  Then that brings up the next point:

4- You must continue to study and learn from good photographers or good learning sites.

I love my doctor.  It amazes me the knowledge he has about medicine.  The interesting thing is that he graduated from medical school over 25 years ago.  How does he keep up to his trade?  By continuing to study and learn from people in his field.  And so should you.  That is the one reason this blog exists.  And that is why I continue to use articles from photographers other than myself.  I let you know as I put forth these articles who the authors of these teaching articles are.  I have several articles here myself, and I hope you all learn from these people.  Read and study from these people and find out the details of how they took those photos.  Even now in my weekly “Photos of the Week” I am commenting a lot of how the photos are taken.  So everyone can learn how they are taken, if I can figure it out.  But, I study each photo carefully to try to figure out how that photo or photos were taken.  In order to get better, to gain the photography excellence you want, you must continue to learn from other photographers.  I have on my Facebook friends list, a bunch of professional photographers, friends I have met and worked with before.  And these are people who I can still learn from today.  (Thanks everyone).   So, when I go and take photos, I will remember what I have been taught by these people. 

 

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Amazing photo from:  Photo of the Week.  What can I learn from this amazing Photo?  It’s a great photo, but, there must be something I can learn from this?  What makes this a great photo?  Can I take photos like this?

 

5- There are countless Facebook groups and “Like” pages to associate with to get feedback on your own photos. 

After you have gone through some of the above steps, then you are ready to become associated with groups that have the same interest as you on Facebook or Twitter, or Pinterest.  There are groups that you can submit your photo and ask for critique.  People on those groups are very nice, and do not belittle you.  They want to help you become even better.  Actually, when you get to that point, you will be amazed at the work you will see, and how well you really are doing. 

Here are a few “LIKE” pages I think you should affiliate with to learn by, and associate with:

*  123photogo

*  Street Photography

*  Wonders of Nature

*  Excell Photos

*  Pentax Forums

*  Digital Photographer magazine

*  Popular Photographer magazine

 

Then if you would like to join some groups that you could have some of your photos judged by others:

*

*  100% Free Photos

*  Life in Black And White (if Black and White photography interests you)

*  123Photogogroup

*  Photo Nerds Universtiy

I am sure I have missed some.  But, these are some that I am familiar with as of this writing.  And I am sure I will join more myself.  But, try to join these LIKE pages and groups just so you can continue to learn and get better information, and “rub shoulders” with other photographers.

6- Take your camera everywhere

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Take my camera everywhere?  Everywhere?  Really?  Yes, if you want to be good, you will.  I have a camera in my car always, wherever I go.  You never know when you will see someone, or something that you just have to have your camera.  On the street, some interesting face:  “can I take your picture, please?”  You have to just have that camera ready.   The perfect sunset.  Oh, I wish I had my camera.  A car accident that you just witnessed…. you could be the one to provide the attorney’s with the best photos of the accident scene.  “Road Rage”…. you can flip you camera to video and get something recorded for the police.   They say there is always someone somewhere with a camera.  It might as well be you. 

7- Re-shoot old photos.

This is my favorite part.  Take a look at some of your first photos you took. 

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Now, take some time and see if you can take it over.  What would you do different?  Is there anything wrong with what you did?  How would you correct it?  Could you get some tips from another photographer to help you?  Or, by the time you get to this step, is it obvious now?  That is what I am hoping for.   So, take a look at some of your old photos and do them over and see how much you have improved.  You will be amazed to see how that will boost your confidence. 

So, that is it.  If you have more questions about photography, stay on this blogsite, because there is new information almost daily.  I am trying to cover photo tips for the new photographer as well as the more advanced photographer.  So, you can learn it all right here. 

 

 

  • “What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”— Karl Lagerfeld

 

 

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This article written by:  Lanny Cottrell

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: 15 INCREDIBLE BUT DIFFICULT PLACES TO VISIT

Photos of the Week: 11-23-2018 – 15 incredible places it’s almost impossible to visit !

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© Vietnam Stock Images/Shutterstock

Hang Son Doong Caves, Vietnam
If two year waiting lists don’t daunt you then read on. Currently only one operator, Oxalis, runs trips into the Hang Son Doong caves and they cap visitors at just 500 people per year. Those lucky enough to get in, will find themselves enveloped in a strange world, for even in a country blessed with countless caves, the million-year-old Hang Son Doong are something else. Located in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, at their highest point the caves could fit a 40-story skyscraper and at their widest point a 747 could glide through.

 

 

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hanchoo/Shutterstock

Hang Son Doong Caves, Vietnam
In fact, the Hang Son Doong cave system is so massive that it even creates its own weather system. And it doesn’t stop there. Inside you’ll find the biggest stalagmites in the world (a mighty 80 meters high), a tangle of jungle plants that have invaded the interior, an underground river that gurgles through the chasm, and, most bizarre of all, tennis-ball sized “cave pearls” – which are actually calcium deposits – that are scattered across the cave floor.

 

 

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© Valenti Renzo/Shutterstock

Montecristo, Italy
Known to many Italians as “the island that doesn’t exist”, Montecristo’s nickname highlights just how few people have set foot on the island. In fact, until 2008 Montecristo wasn’t open to tourists at all and things haven’t got much easier in the decade since. The island accepts visitors just twice per year – between April 1 and 15, and from Aug. 31-Oct. 31 – and into that slender timeframe only 1,000 people are allowed to squeeze in. On top of that, many permits are reserved for students, while groups of 40 or more people get priority over individuals when applying.

 

 

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sansa55/Shutterstock

Montecristo, Italy
But just why are people clamoring to visit a tiny island 40 miles off the coast of Italy? The answer is treasure. Montecristo (which is rather conveniently diamond-shaped) became immortalized in popular culture as the site of hidden treasure in Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo. That pirate loot may be mythical but visitors today will find another bounty: a rich history, which has seen everyone from Turks and Greeks to Catholics and Romans pass by, and a fiercely protected environment that’s home to a number of endangered species.

 

 

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© allou/Shutterstock

Clavell Tower, UK
The Landmark Trust is no stranger to oversubscribed properties. Its host of spectacular and often quirky historic buildings are unsurprisingly popular with people looking to book a self-catering staycation with a twist. But even among such a well-curated collection of properties, Clavell Tower is something else. With a 19-month waiting list this place is a hot contender for the UK’s most in-demand holiday home. Prepare to put in some rather intense forward-planning and a stay here could be yours – and you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s rather affordable too.

 

 

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© Panglossian/Shutterstock

Clavell Tower, UK
So what’s all the fuss about? Well, for a start Clavell Tower has a rather intriguing past. Built in the 1830s as a folly by Reverend John Richards, the property later became a coastguard lookout and then an observatory. But it’s more than just history here, the four-story tower is strikingly situated overlooking the sea at Kimmeridge Bay in Dorset – in fact, it’s right on the beautiful stretch of coastline that once coaxed the inspiration out of Thomas Hardy and P.D. James. And let’s face it, who can resist the idea of sleeping in their very own tower?

 

 

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© Thomas Kauroff/Shutterstock

Gheralta’s cave churches, Ethiopia
A journey to Gheralta’s cave churches isn’t an undertaking for the faint-hearted. These 30-odd churches are incredibly remote, smuggled away in northern Ethiopia and carved into soaring sandstone cliffs which rise some 8,464 feet above the dusty plains. To get to the churches requires hiking through slot canyons, free climbing almost-sheer rock walls and shuffling along cliff edges – all without a support rope in sight. It’s a journey that’s strenuous, and at times terrifying, but visiting these churches is an experience like no other.

 

 

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Vladimir Melnik/Shutterstock

Gheralta’s cave churches, Ethiopia
Dating back over a thousand years, making them even older than Ethiopia’s famous Lalibela, the churches were carved away at such a lofty height to protect them from raids and to bring worshippers closer to heaven. While the churches’ situation is astounding – graced with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and scorched earth below – their interiors are also magnificent. Inside many of the churches are walls and pillars awash with frescoes, none more so than the small but exquisitely decorated Abuna Yemata Guh.

 

 

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© Ben Loyd Holmes

Bird Island, Belize
Ever dreamed of a castaway experience? Well you can now book your very own private island on Airbnb. Set off the coast of Belize, Bird Island, ticks all the Robinson Crusoe boxes: a little slice of paradise surrounded by limpid turquoise waters with not another soul in sight. The owner drops guests off at the island, which currently can sleep up to six people, and the self-sufficiency starts there. Bird Island does have drinking water and electricity (powered by solar and wind) but with no other inhabitants there, guests need to bring everything else they might need with them.

 

 

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© Ben Loyd Holmes

Bird Island, Belize
But fending for yourself is all part of the appeal and is a pretty small price to pay for undisturbed tranquility and for being surrounded by coral reefs that you can explore to your heart’s content. So what’s the catch? Booking your stay. While the price is $491 (£376) per night for the whole island, at our last check Bird Island was booked up well into 2020. Cancellations do sometimes happen, however unsurprisingly these are rather rare events.

 

 

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© Abhijeet Khedgikar/Shutterstock

Mount Fuji’s summit, Japan
As the Japanese proverb goes “A wise man climbs Fuji once. A fool climbs it twice” but get your timing wrong and you won’t be climbing it at all. The official climbing season is restricted to just a slim section of the year, from July 1 until August 31, a time frame that rules out visitors who want to see Japan in its loveliest seasons of spring’s cherry-blossom or autumn’s golden hues. Outside the climbing season, the hike is only suitable for the most experienced climbers, with almost all facilities closed and the conditions at their most treacherous.

 

 

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Abhijeet Khedgikar/Shutterstock

Mount Fuji’s summit, Japan
The climb to Fuji’s summit is hardly a walk in the park at the best of times. The six-hour clamber from the fifth-station – which requires a five-hour hike to reach in itself – takes place at dawn when temperatures drop well below freezing and sudden storms near the summit aren’t as rare as you might like to think. But the hard trek is certainly worth it, few experiences in Japan can compete with the thrill of standing on the country’s iconic roof gazing across the landscape as a new day rolls in.

 

 

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© Janos Rautonen/Shutterstock

Aldabra Island, Seychelles
To many people the Seychelles spell out paradise, yet for the remote Outer Islands group paradise seems almost an understatement. Of this archipelago, the most remote is the untouched Aldabra Island, which is situated more than 100km from Mahé. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and nature reserve, the island’s environmental value is so weighty that David Attenborough described it as one of the world’s greatest natural treasures and scientists view it as a baseline for what Earth once looked like.

 

 

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MattiaATH/Shutterstock
Aldabra Island, Seychelles
A whopping six tons of marine biomass per hectare encircle the island, thousands of migratory birds flock there and it’s the only place on Earth where reptiles – represented by over 150,000 giant tortoises – still dominate the ecosystem. Visits are restricted to scientists and volunteers and, as there’s no boat or air service, a handful of wealthy visitors who can fork out for a private yacht or flight. All visits must be approved by the Seychelles Islands Foundation and even then sometimes the island is off-limits due to the area’s fluctuating piracy risk.

 

 

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© Ben Loyd Holmes

Actun Tunichil Muknal, Belize
Hidden in the remote northern foothills of the Maya Mountains, one of the most fascinating sites in Belize lay completely undiscovered until 1989. The three-mile-long Actun Tunichil Muknal cave system is more than just a series of rock-hewn formations, this is the site of Mayan remains that date back more than a thousand years, with bones and fragments that are thought to date between 250 and 909 A.D. Referred to by locals as the “place of fear”, this was once believed to be the site of ritual human sacrifice.

 

 

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© Antti T. Nissinen/Flickr/CC.2.0

Actun Tunichil Muknal, Belize
If the contents of the caves make you feel uneasy, it’s unlikely that you’ll derive much comfort from the journey you’d need to undertake to reach the site. Shut off for centuries, the caves have only been accessible to visitors, on official tours, for the past 10 or so years and the journey there is challenging to say the least. The excursion is kicked off by a strenuous hike through humid rainforest, followed by a swim across a potentially crocodile-infested river, and finally ends with a descent into the cavernous mouth of the cave system.

 

 

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© Karen Roe/Flickr/CC.2.0
Frogmore House, UK
It’s been quite the year for Frogmore House. Selected as the location for Harry and Meghan’s engagement interview and later for the couple’s wedding reception, 2018 has added another glimmer of limelight to add to the property’s illustrious history. Built in the 17th century, Frogmore House became a royal residence when George III purchased it for his wife Queen Charlotte in 1792. In fact, much of the striking 35-acre gardens nod to this time, thanks to Queen Charlotte who sculptured them with lakes, bridges and glades.

 

 

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© Karen Roe/Flickr/CC.2.0

Frogmore House, UK
In the centuries since, successive members of the Royal Family have left their mark on the house and gardens: Queen Victoria’s Tea House; the 18th-century lake; the white-marble Indian Kiosk; and the artworks in the house. However, although it’s no longer a permanent royal residence, access to Frogmore House is highly restricted with the house only opening to individual visitors on three Charity Open Days in June each year. Groups might have a bit more luck, as pre-booked groups of over 15 people can gain access during August. Or why not try one of these other royal residences?

 

 

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© OceanGate

Titanic Wreck Site
Viewed as the pinnacle of luxury travel when it launched in 1912, now a handful of wealthy people are being offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit the Titanic. Experience company OceanGate are launching the first manned exploration of the site since 2005, with June 2019 marking the beginning of its six-week expedition. The price tag is high – tickets for the first trip cost $105,129 (£80,500) – but this certainly isn’t a luxury vacation, it’s a proper scientific mission where each week nine guests will be donning the cap of “mission specialist” and actively aiding the research crew.

 

 

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© OceanGate

Titanic Wreck Site
And the mission? To laser scan the wreck site to assess the rate of the ship’s decay and to capture the first ever 4K images of the site – something that will open the door to creating a virtual reality experience of the wreck. During the expeditions, the site will be visited in a purpose-built submersible that plunges more than two miles below the surface of the Atlantic. The mission is set to run annually after the 2019 trip, however given the rate of decay of the wreck, these voyages could soon become some of the last opportunities to visit The Titanic. 

 

 

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© Chris Howey/Shutterstock

Northeast Greenland National Park and Ittoqqortoormiit
Travelers seeking a slice of wilderness have been increasingly looking to Greenland. And nowhere fits the wild bill better than the Northeast Greenland National Park, the largest protected area in the world. It’s utterly uninhabited, populated instead by musk oxen, orcas, humpback whales and polar bears. Aside from a handful of scientists that visit each summer, only the sealers and whalers from the village of Ittoqqortoormiit are allowed any access.

 

 

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© Adwo/Shutterstock

Northeast Greenland National Park and Ittoqqortoormiit
For the rest of us, the best bet is to view the park from the deck of a rarely visiting ship. Slightly more accessible is Ittoqqortoormiit: nestled between the park and the world’s longest fjord system, this remote settlement – a scattering of colorful houses with just 450 inhabitants – is breathtaking. Getting there isn’t easy, boats can only reach the village in July and August, while the rest of the year the frozen sea limits travel to dogsled, skis or snowmobile.

 

 

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© Dennis van de Water/Shutterstock

Tsingy de Bemaraha, Madagascar
The word “tsingy” translates as “the place where one cannot walk”, a name that indicates just how impenetrable this place can be. In fact, the Tsingy de Bemaraha – Madagascar’s most extensive plateau of limestone karst pinnacles – is one of the hardest to reach UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world. The area was pretty much inaccessible until the 1990s when an organization began installing a series of suspension bridges, ladders and steel cables to navigate the thorny pinnacles.

 

 

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© Dennis van de Water/Shutterstock

Tsingy de Bemaraha, Madagascar
Exploring the park may have become easier but getting there remains a challenge. Located on Madagascar’s far-flung west coast, the 10-or-so hour dirt-road drive involves crossing two major, crocodile-infested rivers, while in the six-month rainy season the road becomes an impassable quagmire. But the journey’s worth it for the chance to climb the serrated needles of rock, explore the geological maze of erosions, and gaze down across the jagged limestone forest.

 

 

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© cpaulfell/Shutterstock

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is another place that keeps its riches very much under-wraps. From the modern glitz of Riyadh and world-class Red Sea diving sites, to the ancient mud-brick ruins of Dir’aiyah and the desert-scattered rock-tombs of Mada’in Saleh, Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly one of the world’s most fascinating countries to visit. And until recently, it was all but closed to travelers, with a ban on tourist visas and a strict policy that limited foreign travel to only those entering the country for work, business, or on a pilgrimage.

 

 

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© Hussain Faisel AL-Salehi/Shutterstock

Saudi Arabia
However, Saudi Arabia’s tight travel restrictions are now starting to thaw. In April 2018 the often closed-off country rolled out a new visa scheme, allowing single-entry travel to the country to tourists for the first time. This also included allowing travel for women aged 25 years and over (younger women still need to be accompanied by a husband or male family member).

 

 

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© Denis Belitsky/Shutterstock

Space
Of all the hard to reach and rarely visited places in the world – from the murky depths of the ocean floor to ice-sculpted mountain peaks – there’s one final frontier that glimmers furthest from reach for most travelers. Space. No matter how many science fiction films you watch, the world beyond our planet still remains the most mysterious of places. Well, that’s until 2020 at least, when plans for the first civilian trip into space are set to commence with aerospace companies Blue Origin, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic all jostling for first place in commercial space exploration.

 

 

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© Kent Weakley/Shutterstock

Space
Unsurprisingly being one of the first civilians in space comes with a hefty price tag, over 300 people have already reserved their seats for Virgin Galactic’s inaugural flight at the eye-watering cost of $200,000 (£153k) per seat. Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is set to launch its first commercial flight in 2023, a private trip orbiting the moon which has been paid for by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa who will be accompanied by an elite guest list of eight artists who he’s invited to capture the experience.

 

 

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© Kai19/Shutterstock

Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan
If you’ve ever seen a photo of Bhutan’s Tiger’s Nest, then no doubt the image has remained firmly etched in your mind. If you haven’t, then picture this: the world’s most breathtaking Buddhist monastery, glinting in gold, ochre and white and seemingly floating 2,952 feet above the Paro Valley floor as it clings to a craggy Himalayan cliff. For many, this description is the closest they will get. The journey there is an arduous one, across rickety bridges and through narrow passages as you tackle the steep 3,000-foot mountain climb to reach the lofty monastery.

 

 

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© maodoltee/Shutterstock

Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan
But first, you need to get into Bhutan. To enter the country almost all nationalities require a visa, must book their trip with a Bhutanese travel operator, and must pay for a pricey all-inclusive package in advance. But it’s worth it: Bhutan is no ordinary place. The last great Himalyan Kingdom offers more than the majestic Tiger’s Nest, it’s home to fascinating architecture, spectacular festivals and a pristine environment of snow-dusted peaks and forest-cloaked mountains that are fiercely protected by law.

 

That is some of the most beautiful sites in the world, but, yet so hard to see.  It is too bad they are hard to get to, or to costly.  But, if you can get there, as a photographer, you will have photos that will certainly be rare.  I hope you enjoyed this gallery of photos and hope you will hit the “LIKE” button and stay with us for more incredible photos.  

This special presentation of these photos was originally put on the internet by:

Love Exploring

 

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LEARNING TO SEE IN BLACK AND WHITE & HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR B&W PHOTOS

Everything you want to know, to become a better Black and White Photographer:

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One hundred years ago, making photographs in black and white was a technical limitation; today it is a creative choice. It is somewhat ironic that after a century of scientific development to deliver cameras capable of capturing the world full of rich textures and colors, so many of us have returned to making images in mono. Why would that be?

The 21st century has been a whirlwind of development in both camera/sensor technology and the processing power of our home computers. It is not too bold to suggest that most of our smartphones today are packed with more possibilities than our DSLRs were a decade ago. But, as always, contemporary tools are also full of quick fixes and automation, leaving us with both a gift and a curse. The gifts are obvious: speed, efficiency, convenience and not least, being able to bypass a lot of study and craft. However, the flip side of this is that we so often find ourselves handing our images over to the computer and failing to truly understand why it is we are making them in the first place.

The primary focus of this article is to cover the concept of Pre-Capture Visualization, that is, making a clear intention when we are in the field to make images without color. This is profoundly different from making a creative choice when we’re sat at the computer and can flip a color image into mono in seconds and decide it looks great! However, before we get to that, let’s first delve into the whole concept of why we would ever want to make images in black and white when we have so many creative possibilities in color.

Note:  2 authors viewpoints will be inserted into this article to give you the instructions necessary to understand the importance of how to make black and white photos look their best.  One author will be done in the font color above, the other author will be done in a green color.  Their credits will be shown at the bottom of this blog.

TO TAKE WINNING PHOTOS OF BLACK AND WHITE TAKES MORE THAN JUST SNAPPING PHOTOS AND THEN CONVERTING THEM INTO BLACK AND WHITE.  THERE IS TRULY AN ART TO TAKING GOOD BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS.

 Photo by:  Yasir Mehmooda

WHY B&W?

We are all unique; we all see the world as only we can see it – our perceptions, beliefs, visions, motives, and expression are all our own. Equally, our abilities to spend time in the field vary, with some limited to a few short moments at the weekend, after work, or on family vacations.

The landscape and nature work to their own agendas; the sun rises and sets, weather systems come and go, atmospheric pressures rise and fall, as do the tides and the passing of the seasons.

In short,

Do not expect nature to deliver the perfect conditions for the image you want to create at the time you want to make it.

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How many variables had to align for this image to be made? Weather, tides, season, time of day, opportunity, creative vision, technical capture and processing technique, to name a few.

For years I used to measure the success of a photographic trip into nature by the images I made, and if I failed to make the image I had in my head prior to leaving the house, I would return home deflated and somehow resentful that nature had somehow let me down!

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Now, I live by a far simpler mantra: shoot what is there in the available light.

Before we know it, we have found the first reason why we can shoot black and white images:

You can make successful mono images in any light.

Color is the subject in so many landscape images – often-poor compositions are compensated for with the saturation slider – adding wow and punch to the greens and reds to shock the viewer into a state of submission!

In black and white, the graphics and composition of the image are so vital, it tests the photographer, forcing them to be articulate and clear about the subject, lines of flow and balance.

1-  SUBJECT MATTER

HOW WILL THIS PHOTO THAT YOU TAKE LOOK WITH THE ABSENCE OF COLOR?  SOMETIMES I LOOK AT A COLLECTION OF PHOTOS AND THINK:  THAT SHOULD HAVE REMAINED IN COLOR.  IF IT LOOKS BETTER IN COLOR, THEN LEAVE IT IN COLOR.  THAT IS A DIFFICULT DECISION TO MAKE, BUT, A GOOD BLACK AND WHITE WILL LOOK BETTER IN BLACK AND WHITE THAN COLOR.  LOOK AT THE ABOVE PHOTO.  THAT IS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF GREAT USE OF BLACK AND WHITE.  WOULD IT MAKE A GOOD COLOR PHOTO?  I DON’T SEE IT.

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In the image above, the graphical elements of the image are stripped and cannot hide behind over-saturated colors. The eye takes a natural journey through a restful and simple image.

SUITABLE LIGHT FOR B&W

Some lighting conditions that are excellent for black & white photography include the following:

  • Harsh directional light
  • Soft light under heavily textured cloudy skies
  • Fog
  • Silhouettes
  • Uniform skies with no textures
  • Side light on heavily textured surfaces

If you read between those lines, what we are saying is, many situations that people would consider non-conducive to landscape photography are ideal for making black and white images.

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The moodiness of a Scottish afternoon

SUITABLE INTENT FOR BLACK & WHITE

If you read anything I have ever written you will become familiar with the word intent. It is something I drill into every image I make and every spoken or written statement about the creative process.

If you sit a painter down with a black canvas in front of a landscape, they decide where to paint, how to paint, and why to paint. Every brush stroke has intention.

While landscape photographers may not have that degree of creative license, we can still decide what to include in the frame and very much how we want to post-process that image. We have plenty of opportunity for intention; it’s just that most choose to let the cameras or computers make creative choices for them!

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By stripping our images of color, they can, in fact, be more expressive, as they lend themselves naturally to some, or all of the following intentions:

  • Timeless character
  • Ambiguity
  • Mood and mystery
  • Departure from reality

The whole genre of fine art photography rests on the shoulders of mono images, from cityscapes to bridges, architecture, lilies, portraits, and of course, landscapes. It is almost as if by stripping the world of color, the viewer truly sees it for the first time as a graphical series of shapes and tones.

SUITABLE SUBJECTS FOR BLACK & WHITE

We could be forgiven for being comical and saying anything is a suitable subject for black and white photography! But, some subjects do lend themselves to mono photography:

  • Strongly graphical elements
  • Scenes full of tonal contrast
  • Moody scenes
  • Monochromatic subject matter
  • Raw natural elements, such as rocks

Ultimately, the choice of subject is a very personal thing, as you choose to shoot what stimulates you and help you make some form of articulate statement about that place and yourself.

Landscapes can be simple, or they can be complex, and each of those should act as a trigger to focus your creative attention. Each of those types of landscape lends themselves to different images and will ultimately have a different effect and impact on your viewer.

Taking these two examples below —one simple, one complex—try to describe each using only emotional words. How do they feel?

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Light, airy, calm, barren, minimalistic, reflective
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Dark, moody, dramatic, majestic, ominous

 

PRE-CAPTURE VISUALIZATION

 

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Looking is not the same as seeing. When we enter the landscape with a camera in our hands, more often than not we do not consider the image we are going to make. Instead, we become engrossed in the place and our reaction to it. We see a nice scene and raise the camera to record it. Later, at home, we can reflect and measure the success of our images by comparing them to the memories of the event.

Our viewers do not have that luxury of comparison; they get what we give them! Intention, again.

Our photographs are better by design; they are improved when we have a clear vision of what we want to shoot and how we want to present it to the viewers.

Black and white images can be visualized after the event, at home in front of the computer. We can select an image that is graphical, simple or naturally muted – perhaps when we were shooting in poor light, or in the middle of the day. Most DSLRs come with software that allows for mono processing and there is always Adobe Lightroom, which has an amazingly powerful array of creative tools.

TOP 10 TIPS FOR SEEING IN BLACK AND WHITE

  1. If possible, set your camera to monochrome and then all your previews will be stripped of color. If you are shooting RAW, the color information is still recorded – if you still shoot jpeg, your images will now be in black and white.
  2. Experiment with the color filters in your DSLR mono settings. Shoot the same scene with a Blue Filter, then a Red Filter, then a Green Filter. The more colorful the subjects (blue sky, red rocks, green grass, etc.), the more dramatic the differences will be. When colors are converted into tones, they can be portrayed anywhere between white and black. Above, we see the original on the left, a Blue Filter in the middle and a Red Filter on the right. Creative post-processing plays a huge part in black and white photography, as it always has done.
  3. Start looking for shapes in the landscape—triangles, squares, circles. Stop seeing the world as a selection of subjects. Stripping the landscape down to geometry is an excellent way to understand the interaction and relationships of elements within the frame.
  4. Remember that the frame is a shape: four straight lines making up a square or rectangle. How subjects converge with these four lines is a key to simplicity and articulation.
  5. Find the flow. This is easy if there is flowing water in the scene, but if not, where is the eye leading through the frame? Is there a natural route, or is there something blocking the flow?
  6. Find simplicity. Black and white images are not the same as color images. You can get away with a lot more negative space in mono. One single rock, or subject in a field of negative space can be powerful.
  7. Consider investing in a neutral density filter. Something like a 10 stop ND Filter allows you to take long exposures of tens of seconds in the middle of the day. This is ideal for rendering the moving ocean as a mist of regular tone. Super for creating ethereal images full of calmness and isolating key subjects.
  8. Begin approaching post-processing as a creative process. Use the interface to try images with high or low contrast, brighter, or darker. How does the mood change?
  9. Go into the landscape without expectation. Shoot what you see and react to, not what you hoped to shoot.
  10. Invest in your development. Take to time to read and think about what you want your images to say and then work on the techniques necessary to realize that vision.

 

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SUMMARY

Poor light or the sunset or sunrise that failed to deliver is no longer an excuse to pack up early and go home – literally at any time of the day in any light you can find simple, graphic situation in which to make wonderful black and white images full of expression and articulation.

Your images can be bright and airy, or dark and mysterious, rich in detail, or stripped down to the most basic of elements. Either way, black and white allows for a huge spectrum of emotions to be expressed.

As with any other discipline of study, we can start simple and work up to complexity – letting the camera or the computer make some decisions is fine, but in time, taking creative control of the entire process becomes easier as post-processing and creative capture techniques are added to your toolbox.

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Ansel Adams made some of the most exquisite and expressive landscape images ever. Nothing has really changed—just the tools. Be inspired.

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