Learning From Others – June Edition

Learning from others is a new monthly article we are bringing you so you can hear about struggles and achievements from other photographers.

Learning photography from people out in the field is often the greatest way to learn. You can read about what they got right and what they wish they had done differently. This should help you to prepare for your next shoot!

Get used to peoples editing tactics and go to settings so you can quickly adapt to each situation.

We hope you enjoy it!

Callum Buttery – @buttery.visuals

I took a day trip to a magical place in Scotland called Glen Etive, which is on a side road of the main road which runs through Glen Coe. This place is widely known in the photography community thanks to the James bond movie Skyfall, but also due to the fact that a percentage of the red deer population here is friendly and willing to get up close with people.

This area of Scotland has got to be one of the places in the world to get moody shots thanks to the almost guaranteed rainy conditions and the cloud layer that envelopes the top of the mountains at either side of the valley. My goal with this shot was to make an image suitable for a large print that would truly represent Scotland. 

Deer Photography

I spent about an hour around this deer, who I nicknamed Dave the deer. I did this to ensure he was as comfortable with me as possible. Moments before this shot was taken, Dave was grazing, however another 2 tourists showed up and he got to his feet to check them out. It was at this point I knew I had to take the shot. The deer was about 25 metres away, using my Canon 750D with a Canon 70-200 mk1 I pulled focus with a single AF point on one of his eyes.

I had my aperture at F2.8 to get the maximum depth of field to get the most separation between the subject and the mountains in the background. To get my height below his chin line I had to bend to ensure he looked as big and majestic as possible.

Lack of image stabilisation was hard

The biggest difficulty getting this shot was the wind while shooting with a lens without image stabilisation at close to 200mm. I therefore had to lower my shutter speed and increase my ISO in order to get the perfect exposure. The other challenge I knew I would face was trying to get the perfect exposure without blowing out the highlights in the sky.

I edited this image to draw more attention to the subject that it did in the raw picture as the light conditions were very dark and flat. I therefore lifted the exposure lightly of the deer using a local adjustments brush in lightroom. Next, I wanted to show off how weatherproof and hardened these animals are, so I lifted the shadows of its fur below its neck to show off its gritty texture.

This is one of my favourite pictures because of the story behind it. I got up at 7am, left at 8am and arrived by 10.30am. I lucky got there before anyone else that day meaning I had time to sit and take situation. Dave got so comfortable with me that he walked right up to me and allowed me to pet his nose. Its definitely an experience I will never forget.

 https://www.butteryphotography.co.uk/prints

https://www.instagram.com/buttery.visuals/

Scott Steel-Morris – @steelmorrisphotography

This photo taken from Scale Haw Force in Hebden is one of my favourite shots I have taken for a while for many reasons. 

Due to lockdown making finding more remote spots the safest option for photographers, this was one of the reasons I found this gem of a location. I had researched online the areas around me which were close enough and presented the opportunity to provide a new style to shoot. 

Once I arrived here, there were a few challenges. The waterfall was at the back of a small trail where you need to cross stepping stones as well as being blocked by a fallen tree. Navigating through them was worth it as once past the tree the view wasn’t obstructed however there still posed a problem. 

Learning from others

I forgot my Tripod

To get the long exposure of the water without my tripod (forgotten due to my lack of preparation) I had to find a flat surface and use whatever items I had with me to position the camera with the right view in shot. To anyone reading this, taking a tripod saves all those problems haha! 

A branch wide enough to sit my camera on and strong enough to keep it stable was the best option and then I rested the lens on my wallet to keep it facing the best part of the waterfall. Once positioned and with my ND filter added to the lens I set my camera to ISO 100, 18mm range, f/13 and a 15 second shutter speed. 

Given what I had to do to position the camera I didn’t expect to get the results I did when the shutter clicked. Personally this is what makes it one of my favourites. It is always important at times to be creative with what is around you. 

Editing

Once I got to editing at home I wanted to get the balance of light and dark whilst keeping the quality of detail in the waterfall. I added more colour in the greens to bring out the white in the water. Darkened the border where the trees are and brightened the centre of the shot to highlight that. 

Taking shots like this really makes you want to go and explore new areas and be more creative, which I think during the situation we have at the moment helps to keep positive. 

Instagram & Facebook – Steelmorrisphotography

Lawrence Biran@lawrencebiran

Hello everyone! I was asked to talk about an image of mine and I’m happy to choose this sunset twirl. This image is very different to what I normally produce. Being a landscape photographer based in Trinidad & Tobago, I’m happy to shoot beautiful tropical scenes that don’t require much editing. This image however, is highly edited in Adobe Photoshop. It was done on purpose and I had no definite end product. The great thing is it was up to me to feel when it was done. It is the one image that I get asked about a lot and I’m happy to talk about it on this platform. 

My Final Outcome

Sunset Swirl
After

The Covid-19 pandemic forced everyone inside. We all had a lot of free time and for photographers like me, this was a blessing. I had a few folders of RAWs from previous adventures just waiting to be edited. This was going to be fun. However, I ran through these edits really quickly. Like most landscape photographers, we couldn’t go outside any more I had no new content. Running through older folders I came across this image. I was already playing around with Adobe Photoshop from cloning out little spots, and I was getting braver. I decided to load up this image and see where it goes.

This image was perfect to play around with because the horizon was clearly defined and it was rather simple. The tiny island with the tree was the only thing needed to be masked. I started by making a duplicate of the layer. I then used the Spot Remover tool to remove the island. Using the Rectangular Marquee tool, I selected the bottom half with the water and created a mask.

The plan here was to apply some motion blur to the water. This adds a really nice effect with all the little waves that were in the image. Under filter I found Blur, and then Motion Blur. I played with the slider and settled around 250px and applied the Blur, and then applied the layer mask and painted back in the island. Took a step back, looked at it and realized I had a smile on my face. Let’s keep going.

Now the Sky

I duplicated the original once again and selected and masked the sky. I tried the Motion Blur method here again, but wasn’t too happy with the look. So, I decided to try the Twirl method, but it wasn’t going to be as simple. A number of steps had to be followed which started with converting the image to a Smart Object. Then the sky had to be pixelated, by clicking Filter, Pixelate, Mezzotint. In the drop-down menu, I selected Fine Dots and applied the effect.

Next, I applied some Radial Blur by clicking Filter, Blur and Radial Blur. In this menu it was important to choose Zoom as the blur method. Now the sky was ready to Twirl! Under Filters, Distort I clicked on Twirl. I played with the slider until I was happy and I could see that the end was near. It was just a matter of moving the sky into a proper location over the sea and doing some small touch ups with a soft brush at fifty percent opacity.

Enjoyment was key

I spent a lot of time and effort on this image and I love it. The plain, and somewhat boring, sunset photo had been totally transformed into a beautiful image. The sky’s warm lines are hypnotising. The lonely island floating on the glassy sea added a little mystery to it all. However, I sat on this image for a while.

I was conflicted of posting it on my Instagram landscape page. Is it art? Digital-art? Is this landscape photography? Is this even photography anymore?

I pondered on these questions for quite a while. In the end I decided to post it up and be proud of my work. I’ll get my feedback there I thought, and my goodness, did I get feedback! The image blew up and there were tons of comments, praises and shares. Needless to say, I was quite happy. The feedback helped me learn to stop overthinking and doubting myself and be proud of the work that you’ve created. 

Specs

This sunset shot was taken at King’s Wharf, San Fernando in Trinidad. It was taken at ISO 100, f5.6, 1/200sec at 14mm. 

learning from others
Before

You could check out my work on Instagram @lawrencebiran and I would appreciate your support. I’m also working on a website www.lawrencebiran.com that will be going live at the beginning of July. Thank you kindly.

Danny Coy – @wildcoyphotography

I was out on the Isle of Skye in Scotland a few years ago and had heard a lot of great things about the Island. It did not disappoint. My favourite part was a running body of water known as the fairy pools. The water flows all the way down the mountains. If you catch it right you can see the colour of the turquoise rocks below shining on the water. Hence the name, fairy pools.

I had a vision of an aluminium print that gives an almost 3D like effect. So when I captured this image I was excited about what I could do in editing. Purposely framing the image to show the direction of the flow of water. I had my shutter open long enough to show the water moving but not to long so as to lose the details in the rocks.

Aperture – 8

Shutter speed – 3 seconds

ISO – 100

The hardest part about the shot was getting the angle on it. The area was so hilly and uneven and there were a lot of puddles and bogs around. To get close to the edge to get my tripod to stay level and supported.

Learning Photography

I had managed to capture the faint turquoise colour when the water hit the bottom of the waterfall but it definitely wasn’t as profound as I had expected and as it looked in real life. Using the brush tool in Adobe Lightroom allowed me to bring out the blues and contrasts and to reduce some red hues you can see on the bottom of the waterfall.

By bumping up the clarity on the left waterfall I really added the 3D effect I was looking for. My final edit was a small crop to make it a bit more pleasing on the eye and to fit a longer landscape aluminium print.

Leave your thoughts!