Tag Archives: nature

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

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Each year during this time, I use my images to promote a simple, yet very important message. If this message could help save just one woman’s life that would be a priceless victory.

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Having a regular mammogram can provide early breast cancer detection. This can give a woman and her doctor a much better chance to fight this disease, and that can help save a woman’s life! Be educated about fighting breast cancer, and please share this message.

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All featured images were taken during sunrise, at Botany Bay Beach, Edisto Island, South Carolina.

For more information, please visit the official http://www.breastcancer.org/ website.

 

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Really Right Stuff Gear Review

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reallyrightstuff.com

 

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A low angle set-up was required to capture this sunrise at Joshua Tree National Park

Adding a camera support system to your gear, consisting of a tripod and head, opens up an entire new world of shooting possibilities, not possible with handheld photography. There are many tripod set-up options available, and surfing the web can quickly become overwhelming. When it comes to a camera support system, quality is of utmost importance, after all a tripod and head needs to function smoothly and accurately to give you the best opportunity to capture a sharp image, not to mention keeping your camera secure. That is why I was both thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to work with the Really Right Stuff Company, but seriously, they do not need my approval.

The really right stuff company started out in 1990, and currently ship their gear to over 120 countries. They have turned into a huge success, for good reason. The quality of their product is exceptional, and provides both pro and amateur photographer with a wealth of camera support gear necessary to capture great images.

As a landscape photographer, I have gone through several different tripod and ballhead combinations. Now, after 16 years of photographing in the field, I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I can choose photo gear which will give me the best chance possible to get the shot. Right out of the box, my RRS gear felt different than any other camera support gear I have used, giving me an instant feeling of having a professional quality product with me in the field. Using RRS equipment, has actually given me the chance to set up in more shooting situations than ever before. The piece of mind I have knowing my camera is on such solid support is invaluable, from the feel of the camera being firmly attached to the tripod and head, to the super-smooth action of adjusting the tripod legs and positioning the ballhead, for every shot.

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Tripod legs spread out unevenly on various sized rocks for this 25-second exposure was no problem using my Really Right Stuff camera support system

Whether shopping for a complete system package or individual piece of gear, Really Right Stuff carries everything required to keep your camera firmly supported in just about every situation. After careful research, I had no hesitation in upgrading to an RRS support system. I found their website to be very informative, and in no time I was able to find the best package to suit my needs. However, if more help is required, customer support is available by both phone or email, and the response time is typically very fast and very helpful. The RRS gear I chose to be my prime camera support system, is listed below. To help you select the right tripod, the RRS website includes an illustrated guide, specifically designed to match the length of each tripod model with the physical height of the photographer. I thought this was a very nice touch. Included in my package is a dedicated quick release L-Plate, which attaches to the camera, and is available for most DSLR models. The L-Plate makes the transition between shooting horizontal and vertical format, incredibly quick and smooth. For the ballhead, I chose lever-release over screw-knob as my preferred clamp option. This option allows for maximum speed during set-up, as well as offering maximum camera stability.

My camera support system set-up

TVC-23 Versa series-2 3 sections/leg Tripod

BH-40 mid-size lever release Ballhead

BD810-L L-Plate

It may have taken me a while to get on the Really Right Stuff band wagon, but now I have, I could not be happier. Their gear receives my highest recommendation.

 

David Shield  www.davidshieldphotography.com

 

 

 

 

 

Blog For Peace

“Why, if we can love, appreciate and respect the many colors in nature, can we not feel the same about the simple black and white of humanity.”

Hanalei Bay Moving Light

Hanalei Bay Sunrise

Above the image of Hanalei Bay, is the Mission Statement I have used for my website, since it was created almost five years ago. More than any social media appreciation I have been fortunate to receive and more than image print and media sales, this is the most important goal I continue to wish for and work toward.

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Yosemite National Park’s Valley View by moonlight

If you have watched a political debate recently, you may have heard a candidate claim that America is great, or America is the greatest nation in the world. I believe that verbiage would be more accurate if the word “is” were changed to “could be.” While there is so much good about America, there is also too much suffering and wrongdoing, to make the claim that this is the greatest nation, today.

What America does have an abundance of, is great natural beauty. Now, more than ever, I strive to be one of many photographers, not only in America, but all over the world that through our images of nature, show humanity that this world is a truly beautiful place.

If all people, no matter what color, religion or beliefs make an effort to be better to each other, every day, it is possible that we will start to see the world for how beautiful it is, and never again ask the question of the Mission Statement posted at the beginning of this writing.

Lake Tahoe Summer Sunrise

Lake Tahoe Summer Sunrise

 

 

 

Landscape Photography Twilight LE Technique

One great benefit of having some interest in the sky during sunrise or sunset is the opportunity to photograph a scene at different times, and be able to come away with more than one acceptable image.

On this particular morning, there was very nice cloud cover above Lake Tahoe. Hoping to make the best of the situation, I set up to photograph not only at sunrise, but also just before and after sunrise. I also used different filter techniques to photograph each moment, so I could capture multiple effects. For this image I used a 10-stop ND filter, to show the effect of streaking pre-sunrise clouds above Emerald Bay. When shooting in the direction of the sun, I like to use a long exposure to obtain this streaking cloud effect just before sunrise and also after sunset, through twilight.

Carefully check the first couple of exposures in the camera’s viewfinder. If you notice blown-out highlights in the sky you will have to adjust the in-camera exposure. Another option is to attach a neutral density grad filter to your Big Stopper filter. This will eliminate blown-out highlights,

Image Stacking for Landscape Photography Part One

Zerene Logo

Just four images needed to be stacked to create this image

Just four individually focused exposures were needed to create this image.

Typically used during post-processing of macro photography, Zerene image stacking software processes multiple images taken of a single composition to create a completely in-focus output image. Being a Landscape Photographer, I was curious if this concept would work for the type of images I capture. After using Zerene focus stacking software, I am now convinced that I am on to a really good thing, and in part one of my review I will explain why Zerene Stacker can be an invaluable tool for much more than just macro photography. I have added “Part One” to this review title simply because I have used the software to process just a couple of images so far. I intend to photograph and process more images using Zerene Stacker, which will allow me to fully illustrate the software’s limitless potential, in this field. First lets take a quick look at the Zerene Stacker interface.

The Home Screen where you begin by adding files (images) to the current project

The Add Source Files dialog box will appear, from where you will simply select and upload images from the location they are saved in. The number of images uploaded for each project will depend on the number of focus points you have photographed of that particular scene. I recommend a series of at least three shots, at different focus points when photographing a landscape. One advantage of using focus-stacking software for landscape photography is you will not need to take many shots to process a completely sharp image in Zerene Stacker, for most scenes. This means that after a short learning curve, you will have the ability to process images with more impact in just a short amount of time.

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Image files are now loaded into the current project

For this project I have selected twelve images, which are displayed here as a single image stack. Clicking on any of the twelve image files listed in the Input Files column on the left, will bring that file to the top of the stack, making it the visible file. Next, select Stack from the task bar. Here, you will discover that there are two image stacking options from which to choose from, each based on creating an output image using a different processing algorithm. These are PMax and DMap. I found each method capable of producing different results, and therefore, experimentation is the best way to determine which method will produce the best output image for you. Read a detailed description of both stacking methods here. DMap versus PMax 

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Output image ready for the magical Retouching Tool

Once the all important stacking step is completed, it is time to use the program’s Retouching Tool. With just a little time and concentration, this is where you will eliminate any artifacts and image-stutter, which are a result of moving elements in the scene such as clouds or in this case lupines blowing in the wind. For this step you will need to magnify both images. I use a setting of 100%, which allows me to easily see details, while quickly scrolling through all parts of the image. Each file on the left of the screen represents each individually focused shot. Simply match the best focused shot with the area of the image on the right you are using the Retouching Tool. The tool itself is very easy to use. Just like the Paintbrush Tool found in Photoshop and Lightroom, simply brush over any area that has been effected by movement or wind. When zooming into the lupine image, I was able to see and correct several areas effected by motion-stuttering. Using your mouse, you can easily control the size of the brush area, on the fly. Once you have finished retouching the image, go to Edit>Commit Retouching. Your image will then appear in the column at the left of the screen, under Output Images “Retouched.” Not all projects will require retouching. For example, the image near the top of this review of the tree and Half Dome includes features that were not affected by wind or movement, during the time it took to capture the series of shots needed. For some reason this screenshot did not record the Retouching Tool Brush. Click here Landscape Tutorial Page  and look at the forth image to see an example illustration of the Brush Tool in action.

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Save Output Image(s) Window

Save Output Images will open the output options window. From here you will choose the output file size and type that matches the workflow you typically use. My preferred settings are to save each new image as a TIFF file, at 300 ppi. Next, chose a location on your computer where you wish to save the new file. This will be the location where you will open your stacked file for further post-processing such as color correction and sharpening.

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Click on screenshot to enlarge

http://zerenesystems.com/cms/stacker

Detailed product information and support can be found here: FAQ Page  Tutorials  Support
Zerene Focus-Stacking

Website Sales Holiday Charity

I am happy to announce that I will be donating 20% of ALL money I receive from my website sales to the Placer County SPCA. Donations will be made from each image sale, through January 18, 2013.
If you know of anyone thinking of a print as a gift this season, this is just an option I hope will be considered.
I realize there are many charities out there; however I would like to start somewhere. SPCA organizations around the country provide an invaluable service to thousands of animals, whether they have homes or not. From firsthand experience, I can say that their VOLUNTEERS have provided health and happiness to many animals.
I will send an email after each sale, once the money has been donated. The email will contain a phone number (also on the website) to verify your donation, as I would like to make it very easy for anyone to confirm.
Placer County SPCA Website:  http://placerspca.org/
My Website:  http://www.davidshieldphotography.com/ 

As four brand new kittens played on their favorite couch, I took multiple exposures to create this montage.

As four brand new kittens played on their favorite couch, I took multiple exposures to create this montage.

Leia, pictured on the right was born with 3 working legs and no tail. Even though she only lived 2 months, she was always happy, and Luke, at left was always by her side.

Leia, pictured on the right was born with no use of her back legs and no tail. Even though she only lived 2 months, she was always happy, and Luke, at left was always by her side.

Until the very end.

Until the very end.

The four surviving kittens are now 14 months old, and along with their rescued mother Padme, are all happily thriving!

Sunset Curtain Call at Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

Tutorial: Blending Two Images

Due to the heavily debated preference between users of HDR software and On Camera Grad Filters, a third very useful option is often overlooked. Whatever your current preference, the blending option described below is easy to use, effective and can produce images that portray a very accurate rendition of the actual scene. This method was used (in Photoshop) to create the image featured above; “Sunset Curtain Call at Seljalandsfoss.”

The Scenario: Attempting to capture this scene from behind the waterfall, was extremely difficult, due to the heavy spray shooting straight back to where I had my tripod set up. All I could do was take several different exposures, quickly replacing the lens cap in-between each shot. I was honestly amazed to find that there was not one drop of water on my lens after completing the shoot.

Blending the Images: Choosing not to use my preferred method of an On Camera Grad Filter, I discovered that I was left with captured images that were either well overexposed or underexposed. The following workflow was used to make the final image of the falls.

1. First, open both the overexposed and underexposed images in Photoshop. Viewing the images side by side you will see that one image is lighter, displaying a well exposed foreground; however the highlights in the sky are too bright. The second image retains good detail in the sky; however the foreground is too dark.

2. The next step is to place one image directly on top of the other. To do this, click on one of the images. For this example, I selected the darker image. In Photoshop, go to Select>All then Edit>Copy. Then click on the lighter image to make it active, and go to Edit>Paste. You will notice that the two images now appear in the Layers Palette. The images should be perfectly aligned which can be verified by setting the top layer to about 50%, so the lower image is visible.

3. Once you are satisfied with image alignment, look at the tools palette to confirm that the front layer box is black, and the back layer box is white. If not, simply click on each box to set the color.

4. Now you will add a Layer Mask to the top layer. To do this, click on the top layer to highlight it, and then click the New Layer Mask Icon found at the bottom of the Layers Palette. The highlighted top layer will now have a white Layer Mask next to the image icon in the Layers Palette.

5. This is where you will begin to paint on the mask, using the Brush Tool. Select the Brush Tool, and set the Brush Diameter. Choose a large brush for areas with no defined lines, such as horizons to quickly paint areas of light in. Use a small Brush for areas where better control and care is needed. With black selected as the front layer box, you will be simply painting light in. By clicking X on your keyboard or the double arrow in the Tools window, you can switch between the white and black layer boxes, which can be useful if you need to remove areas of light.

Using the Paintbrush, you are literally revealing the lighter bottom layer with each Brush stroke. By setting the Brush Opacity command located in the toolbar above your image, you can modify the strength of the effect. This is a great way to experiment, giving the effect of using lighter brush strokes. Using a lower Brush Opacity is also a good way to fine tune your strokes in areas that require more accuracy.

As with any method you choose to process an image with, the technical aspect can take a back seat to an individuals artistic impression. Using the image blending mode, one can choose to produce images that are very natural, or to add individual artistic impression. One other thing about the image blending mode is unlike HDR or On Camera Filters, it is not an extra expense. This process can be completed with almost any software program that facilitates the use of layers.