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The Shoot:Post Ratio

Some photographers post a thousand photos every week and others are lucky to post one. I'm in the later camp but does that mean I only shoot a couple times a month? In reality I'm out as often as I can.
lake louise waterfall under stars

The story behind this photo illustrates why you'll never see large volumes of pictures from me. It took me three separate visits, spread out over two years, before I got the scene right. The first two times I photographed the falls in the afternoon and the light was poor. I reviewed my images and envisioned the scene at night. I'm happy with this image but you'll never see my failed attempts.

My hard drive is full of shots I'll probably never post. Last summer I took three trips to Jasper National Park but conditions were horrible (overcast skies and forest fires) so I never posted a single image. I'd rather have a stale feed if the alternative is showing the world how I can make really beautiful scenery look dull.

The brass tacks is that my shoot:post ratio is quite low. If I had to wager a guess I'd say I post 2-3% of the photos I take. Other people can pull 4-5 solid images out of a single sunrise while different people upload thier entire flash card straight to the internet. I believe that the best way to captivate an audience is to only show your best work. Being selective is an essential skill for an aspiring photographer and differentiates an amateur/pro from a tourist.

Technical Notes


This was shot from a tripod. Snow reflects a surprising amount of light and can brighten up a dark scene. The sky is a separate exposure shot at high ISO to freeze the stars. Photoshop was used to blend in the sky and balance the colours and contrast.

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NEW





Version No.3

Two things I like to boast about are my opposable thumbs and the latest version of this website. I don't release updates every other day so this is pretty big news.

Version 3 has a lot of really great features but the two I'm most excited about are support for tablet browsers (like the Apple iPad) and a new photography blog.

I also opted for a new domain name. If you're still using the old one, don't worry, it will continue to work. If you've linked my site and are able to update those links to the new domain I'd be super grateful.

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Natural hdr images

hand blending vs hdr example

One of the drawbacks of using bracketed exposures is the tendancy for people to over-process to a point where their pictures will melt eyeballs. When I started out I was happy to crank the sliders as far as they'd go thinking more colour was more better. Nowadays I prefer an image that is balanced in terms of contrast and colour.

Luckily I always hang on to my original raw images. As my tastes change over time (and as they will continue to change) I'm able to revisit my previous photos and process them in new ways. I strongly believe that an artist's style is very dynamic and always changing. Keeping track of your original images allows for experimentation and reflection.

A couple years ago I relied on HDR Software (Photomatix mainly) to do ninety percent of my post-processing. I was impressed that my pictures glowed with the brightness of fifty suns or that I could make a normal summer's day look like the apocalypse.  In a lot of cases I would judge a picture simply by how bright it was instead of looking at the content.

Recently I've been using Photoshop more. I'll drop each exposure into a layer and use masks to conceal and reveal shadows and highlights. Once I'm happy with the way the layers work together I'll continue processing. I like this approach since it sustains the realism of a scene while allowing for some artistic interpretation.

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One of my pictures is lots of pictures

The benefits of using bracketing and multiple exposures

Without fail the first question I get asked when someone views my work is how do you do that? I use a series of bracketed exposures blended together to create a high dynamic range (HDR) composite image which utilizes gravitons to acheive the proper luminosity. If you're not fimilar with the process here is another explanation:

First off film and digital sensors aren't able to capture the range of light we see with our eyes. When you look at a raw image the shadows are often completely black or the highlights are blown out and completely white. This happens to every professional photographer regardless of how expensive their camera is. Advancements in software have made it easier to circumvent this limitation using multiple exposures (bracketing).

Bracketing involves taking the exact same picture at different shutter speeds to capture the full dynamic range of light. Shorter exposures will have shadows that are too dark while longer exposures will have blown out highlights. Digital processing techniques are used to blend all the images together to create a final picture with balanced shadows and highlights that wouldn't be achieveable with a single exposure.

 

Using Photoshop I blend bracketed images together to create a picture that has balanced shadows and highlights. It's like having three bowls of oatmeal; one is too cold, one is bland, and one is too hot. You then mix them in Oatmealshop to create one that's just right!

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