While I occasionally use a wide-angle focal length for capturing an expanse of landscape, I most often use it to take advantage of the wide-angle's great front-to-back depth.
Moving in physically close with a wide-angle is not an intuitive thing. The wide-angle tendency is to back up in order to take it all in. But you get a very eye-catching - and very unique - perspective when you combine a super-close foreground with a far-off background.
(Note: This blog is a follow-up to Jim Zuckerman's outstanding BetterPhoto Instructor Insights article in which he covers the "Getting Close-up with Wide-Angle" subject in his own special style and with a great variety of inspiring images.)
This old multi-colored boat first caught my eye one afternoon at Morro Bay on the central California coast. The harsh midday sunlight was not inspiring, so I returned just before sunset to catch it in the beautiful evening light.
Anytime there's a photogenic foreground and a good background, I'll grab my wide-angle lens. Along with pleasing light, I also wanted great front-to-back depth with a wide-angle focal length - in this case, 20mm. I set up my tripod very low to the ground and very close (less than 2 feet away) from the nearest part of the boat. That placement shows off the wide-angle's exploded perspective, in which a foreground subject appears exaggerated in relation to the background.
For this image, I chose a small aperture (f/22) to get as much depth of field (DOF) as possible - in other words, good sharpness from front to back. In addition, I also carefully selected the point of focus, since focusing is important to wide-angle DOF too. Setting the focus far into the scene, for instance, will never get a close foreground sharp. Here, I set the focusing point on the middle of the boat's red area in the low foreground. The combination of small aperture and wide-angle ensured that the area in front of that focusing point (the beach's shells and small rocks) and in back of it (all the way into the distance) would be acceptably sharp too.
I double-checked the LCD playback to verify the depth of field to make sure the all-important foreground was crisp and clear. In fact, many cameras have a function for enlarging the LCD image in order to easily check key areas for sharpness.
Along with the tripod, I used a cable shutter release (the self-timer works too) to make sure my hand didn't inadvertently jiggle the camera when clicking the shutter.
OK I know we have online classes have students from all over the world and I must say as our resident Canadian, I'm a feeling a little miffed - is North Vancouver all we got?! Let's make this happen in a big way next weekend.
So my fellow Canadians - get your town on the map and let's start a friendly competitiion!
Let's cover the map everyone! Calling all shooters - who's up for making this day really fun?
Go here to put your city on the map now:
Masai Initiation-Serengeti Reserve, Tanzania © Doug Steakley
Two large-format books featuring his color photography have been published: Pacific Light, Images of The Monterey Peninsula, in 2000, and Big Sur and Beyond, The Legacy of The Big Sur Land Trust, in 2001. Pacific Light won an Honorable Mention from the National Outdoor Book Awards in 2001. A third book, A Photographer’s Guide To The California Coast, was published in 2005, by Countryman Press. Doug is currently working on a fourth book, A Photographer's Guide To The Big Sur Coast, which will be released in 2010.
Photographs by Doug Steakley have received awards in many photography contests including those sponsored by National Geographic Traveler magazine, Petersen’s Photographic magazine and The National Park Service. He recently won a two week safari to Africa as the Grand Prize Winner in a photography contest co-sponsored by National Geographic and Energizer batteries.
Doug supports and works closely with several land conservation groups and a variety of his images have been published in annual reports and a variety of other publications. He has worked with The Big Sur Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, The Land Trust Alliance, The Trust For Public Land, The Wilderness Coalition, The Tuolumne River Trust and The Monterey County Regional Park District. In 2003, he received the Ansel Adams Award from The Sierra Club for his conservation photography.
His images have been widely published in many local, national and international magazines including Architectural Digest, Backpacker, Outside, Better Homes and Gardens, Art and Antiques, Private Pilot, Luxury Living, The Robb Report, and Town and Country. He regularly contributes to travel catalogs published by Wilderness Travel, Mountain Travel and others.
Recent one-person exhibitions of Doug's photography include The Pacific Grove Art Center, The Fireside Gallery at the Highlands Inn, The Monterey Conference Center, The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, The Maureen Doud Gallery in The Sunset Center, and The Gallery at The Blackstone Winery in Gonzales.
Doug's stock photography is represented world-wide by Lonely Planet Images.
Doug currently serves as treasurer on the board of directors of The Center For Photographic Art in Carmel, California.
Aside from photography, Doug is an avid cyclist and recently completed his third Markleeville Death Ride in the Sierras.
The topic of White Balance sure has come up a lot lately at BetterPhoto! Recently at Team BetterPhoto, instructor Jim Zuckerman weighed in with his tips on how to set the White Balance in your digital camera.
Now, over at BetterPhotoJim, instructor Lynne Eodice has come up with an excellent rundown on WB. Check it out:
In case you didn't read today's email from Jim, here it is:
Want to get a group of photography enthusiasts together, but don’t know how? Have you run one of our clubs before?
Hi, I’m Jim Miotke and I love photography. For over 15 years, we have been helping amazing photography enthusiasts like you come together to learn, grow, and share experiences with photography. At BetterPhoto, we’re stepping it up to the next level!
On November 19, 2011, we’re declaring a worldwide BetterPhoto Meetup Everywhere Day! This is a day for photographers to gather, shoot, share tips, and find experiences together.
Have you ever wanted to put a group together before? Are you involved in a camera group or club now and want to know how to make it better? What’s been holding you back in the past?
We’ve got the answers that you need to put together a Meetup. However, we need your help to make the BetterPhoto Meetup Everywhere Day a global success.
Sign up now to learn more!
We’re looking for local organizers for our BetterPhoto Meetup Everywhere Day. Whether you are a beginner in photography or are a lifelong photo veteran, or somewhere in between, you can be an organizer for an event.
We’re giving away a 3-part video series that will show you how to put together a rocking Meetup for the Worldwide BetterPhoto Meetup Everywhere Day.
Already have a club or group? Let’s take it to the next level! Here is your chance to become a BetterPhoto Emissary.
What do I mean by Emissary? An emissary is a messenger sent out on a mission. In diplomacy, they bring the message from the home territory to new foreign lands and they speak with the authority of the president. That message is bringing the fun of BetterPhoto to the local community. Only a select group of organizers will have the honor and privilege of being bestowed with the title of BetterPhoto Emissary.
Sign up now and receive video 1!
Here is the lineup:
Video 1: Why Meetup? How to get the word out. Video 2: How to make your Meetup a success. Video 3: How to take your group to the next level and become a BetterPhoto Emissary Video Bonus – Surprise Info!
We’re only offering this video series for a limited time:
If you’ve ever considered organizing a camera club, photography group, or just wanted to share ideas, here is your chance.
Sign up now!
© Kara Hendricks
Yummy! That was my first thought when I saw this excellent image. The blackberries almost jump off the page right into your mouth. Everything about this shot is perfection. Thanks for sharing it with us Kara!
© Judy V. Kennamer
Another delicious entry! The colors are so pleasing and the composition is just perfect. I can envision pulling up a chair to this table and diving right in. Thanks Judy and good luck in the contest this month!
At BetterPhoto's online photography school, we have many creative instructors. One of them is Deborah Sandidge, who does some amazing things with both her "straight" photography and with Photoshop plug-ins. Here's more from Deb:
"Creating a painterly look with a photo is easy with Alien Skin Snap Art! This is one of my favorite ways to add texture and dimension, while keeping the original foundation of the photograph. The latest version of Snap Art has wonderful effects and variations. Pointillism, one of the many painterly effects in Snap Art, creates dabs of impressionistic color which is a lot of fun! You can vary the brush length and even the canvas type.
"A cool edge treatment adds the perfect finishing touch. I used OnOne PhotoFrame to add to the painterly look of this image. Creating a painterly look is mesmerizing, somehow relaxing, and a wonderful creative outlet.
"Have fun painting! ~ Deb"
Photography is a passionate hobby that is useful in my work and vital to my recreation. I truly love all aspects of digital photography, and although I’d rather be shooting than processing, there is great pleasure in creating an image from the shoot through the workflow.
I mostly enjoy nature, landscape, and wildlife photography, with early morning my favorite time of the day. It is the wonder of nature that attracts me, and that wonder includes its rhythm, harmony, tonality, and composition. As a nature photographer I try to tell a story, share a mood or emotion, and demonstrate nature’s beauty in a way that is both personal and engaging to the viewer.
More than a beautiful scene, nature consists of elements large and small that deserve attention, and are often overlooked. The natural world includes things we miss or cannot perceive. Using techniques such as split second timing or slow timed exposures, and assorted lenses and filters, more of nature can be revealed in photographs than is apparent to the naked eye.
Wildlife intrigues me because animals make so much sense. They have their own societies, social structure, and habits that are inborn and instinctual. I like to capture the beauty of wildlife which often requires knowledge of the animal’s habits and habitats. The importance of a wildlife image is in its story.
I started taking pictures when I was in high school. My mother was the amateur travel photographer in the family. She taught me the basics of 35mm SLR and 16mm movies. I grew up in NYC where a friend had a closet converted into a darkroom. We would shoot and develop black and white photos. Even with this early interest I never took my own photography seriously. I used it as a documentary of friends, family, and travel.
My move to digital photography in 2003 inspired me to want to study photography and get out of the auto shot mode. This led me to join BetterPhoto. In 2004 I took my first BetterPhoto workshop. Between the instructors’ materials and feedback I was hooked. Both constructive critiques and positive reinforcement really set me thinking about what I was doing, and wanting to learn as much as possible to continually improve. Eight years later I’m still taking BetterPhoto classes and shooting as often as I can.
I am inspired by the beauty of the earth, nature, and wildlife, as well as shape, color, and light. I enjoy bird photography as a sport and as an artistic venture. I'm always looking at nailing that bird in flight, and thrilled when light falls on the feathers of a bird and when it gives me that catch light in the eye. Photography satisfies both the nerd and the artist in me. There is always so much to learn and such pleasure derived from creating something new and unique. Most days I enter an image into the BetterPhoto Photo Contest. This competition inspires me to evaluate my own work and process at least one image a day.
(c) Deborah Lewinson
I'm probably an overachiever which means I work hard, tend toward perfectionism, and am always striving for my personal best. From camera and Photoshop technique to composition and portfolio development, every BetterPhoto workshop has resulted in a goal achieved and a new bar raiser for my personal best. Recently I’ve been uploading some of my earlier BetterPhoto classes onto my Motorola Xoom. This portable library is a handy reference when considering how to approach a particular shoot and a great refresher for inspiration.
Besides the classes, BetterPhoto is a community where people really support one another and friendships are created. A highlight for me was the BetterPhoto NYC workshop. It was great fun meeting people whose work I knew from the contest and BP instructors who had so much to share.
My photography wish list is huge. I'd like to go to Bosque Del Apache, Yellowstone, Alaska, Antarctica, the Galapagos, and Africa. Although I love new places and travel, I treat local outings, mostly New Jersey and the East Coast from Virginia to Long Island, as an adventure. There is always diversity in the landscape, along with weather and season changes. This area includes a significant migratory track for birds, and the intimate landscape is ever changing and always fascinating.
I typically shoot with two Nikon bodies and an assortment of lenses from a 16mm fisheye to a 500mm telephoto with a 1.7 teleconverter. My camera bag includes a flash, polarizer, variable ND, grad ND, a remote cord for the flash, a remote shutter release, along with lots of compact flash cards and extra batteries. Essential for stabilization is my Manfrotto tripod, Really Right Stuff ball head, and a sturdy bean bag for over the car door shooting or ground level at the beach.