Three Key’s to Landscape Photography

In Scott Kelby’s latest book The Digital Photography Book, Volume 3 he talks about the three keys to landscape photography.

  • Gear: Having the right equipment and knowing how to use it.
  • Preparation: Scouting your locations in advance so you’re in the right place at the right time
  • Luck: Sheer unadulterated luck!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen these three keys written down before but they’re absolutely true, especially the last one, Luck! Having said that, I do believe that having the right gear and being prepared go along way in determining just how lucky you can be.

Take this image for example. I had scouted this location several times before and knew that the best light would occur just as the sun sank below the rocks to my left at Pedernales Falls. I also knew that I’d have just minutes to capture this scene before the warm, directional light from the sunset was gone. So I setup my tripod and camera about 45 minutes early, composed the scene in my viewfinder just as you see it here and waited for the magic to happen.

I took about two shots per minute for the next half hour or so as the sun slowly set and the image came alive with a wonderful warm glow. When I returned to the hotel after dark it took me only minutes to select the best exposures and process them in Lightroom to display and print. The right gear and good preparation allowed me to get lucky and capture a few really nice exposures that evening.

Rocks and Trees at Sunset

Rocks and Trees at Sunset – Johnson City, Texas
Copyright 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 50D set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 47mm, f/16 for 4/10ths of a second at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film. The image was post capture processed in Lightroom 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 50D, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM, Landscape Photography, Photography

Landscape Photography – Slow Curve Ahead

Here is another image taken a few weeks ago at the Pedernales Falls State Park near Johnson City, Texas. I’ve never seen the Pedernales river this low before. The layers in the granite where the water has cut through are wonderful to capture at sunset.

I love taking long exposures using the Singh-Ray Vari-ND neutral density filter. This wonderful little device is an absolute miracle worker when it comes to long exposures and is worth every penny of it’s $370 (USD) price. You turn the filter element to the “min” setting to compose and focus and then to the “max” setting to take your shots. No other neutral density filter comes close to the functionality of this little beauty.

Now if nature would just provide us a little more rain here in central Texas!

Slow Curve Ahead

Slow Curve Ahead – Pedernales Falls, Texas
Copyright 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 50D set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 47mm, f/11 for 8 seconds using a Singh-Ray Vari-ND neutral density filter. Shot at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film and post capture processed in Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 50D, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM, Landscape Photography, Photography

Landscape Photography – Small Rapids

A couple of months ago I was hiking around the Pedernales Falls near Johnson City, Texas and happened upon this flow of water bubbling from an underground source and running back into the Pedernales river. I looked high and low but couldn’t find any sign of where the water originated from. It must have started somewhere upstream in the falls in a spot where the water flows underground before being forced back to the surface. It was an amazing set of very little rapids and makes a curious photograph to look upon.

Small Rapids

Small Rapids- Pedernales Falls, Texas
Copyright 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 40D set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM tripod-mounted with a Singh-Ray Vari-ND neutral density filter attached. The exposure was taken at 28mm, f/14 for 1.6 seconds at ISO 100 on Sandisk digital film. Post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Posted in Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 40D, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM, Pedernales Falls State Park, Texas Landscapes, Texas State Parks

Follow Your Own Path

This is one long and wordy post so dig in.

We live in interesting times my friends. It’s stated that just one generation ago most folks went to work for a company at age 20 and retired from that same company at age 62 with a generous “pension plan”. Today, we’re told, the “average” person will have worked at five to seven different companies in two to three different industries by the time he or she reaches age 62. This “new age” worker may never retire at all and if they do, they walk away with a 401K “savings” worth considerably less than they think their 40 years of hard work is worth. Not exactly the “American Dream” the previous generation lived.

Or is it?

Much is currently being said about how the rise of the Internet and the new “Social Media” are killing off the world’s newspapers, magazines and television. We’re lead to believe this new age of instant and “free” information is sucking the life blood out of the once robust news and entertainment industry and creating a generation of FaceBook, Twitter and Skype addicts that can’t get enough of their 24x7x365 fifteen minutes of fame. Not exactly your evening news with Walter Cronkite.

Or is it?

We’re told that the massive influx of cheap DSLR cameras from Japan, Korea and China is driving down the price for professional wedding, sports, travel, commercial and landscape photography so much that thousands of professional shooters have been replaced by millions of amateur shooters, effectively killing off the entire industry. It’s said that the stock agencies have been replaced by the micro-stock agencies that have themselves been supplanted by Art Directors trolling Flickr and Google sending the already rock bottom prices for photography even lower. Not exactly what Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Lachapelle or Annie Lebovitz had in mind when they got started.

Or is it?

The Shifting Paradigm
Sometimes we forget how far technology has come in such a short period of time and we underestimate the impact this change has caused in our daily lives. Prior to the twentieth century mankind’s basic situation hadn’t changed much in the past 10,000 years. Yes, civilizations had risen and fallen, wars had been won and lost and the Lord had sent his only son to redeem our souls. Still, people’s daily lives revolved around their family, their village and their region. Most knew little about the rest of the world and few had spare time for idle curiosity.

That all changed in the past 150 years with the most dramatic changes coming during the last 50 years. The industrial revolution created a new paradigm for non-farm workers and gave birth to the “9 – 5 Job”. It created thousands of jobs by inventing mass production, making durable goods cheap enough for these same “workers” to buy.

But the industrial revolution also killed many jobs by making those durable goods less expensively than they were made “by hand” before. The artisans and craftsmen of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century experienced this technological “shift” firsthand and found their life’s work too expensive to compete against the marvels of mass production. (Sound familiar?)

Fast forward to the 1930′s, 40′s & 50′s and the rise of the modern labor union. Union workers strike against company owners and win wage and benefit increases and give birth to the first pension plans. Non-union white-collar workers negotiate for the same benefits as their blue-collar brothers and create an affluent middle class with one single goal; retirement.

Never before in the history of mankind had a large percentage of people “stopped working” at age 62 and spent the rest of their (now longer) lives pursuing leisure activities. Whole new industries emerge designed to cater to this new middle class. The newspaper industry and print journalism in general flourished as people had the time and money to spend learning about the rest of the world. But this “golden age of print” didn’t last for long.

Radio and television become the media of choice in the 1960′s and 70′s with the war in Vietnam and the anti-war protests at home being covered every evening at 5:30 PM (CST). Newspaper subscriptions began their decades long decline and advertisers flocked to the TV like bees to honey. (We’ve been here before haven’t we?)

Fast forward to the 1980′s & 90′s. The integrated circuit is developed and the computer age is upon us. Main-frame computers costing millions are quietly replaced by faster and smaller mini-computers and a whole generation of assembly language programmers find themselves “made redundant” (until the Y2K scare). Only a few years go by and the venerable mini-computer falls to the “personal computer” or PC. A whole generation of COBOL programmers find themselves also “made redundant”. Apple opens their doors and Bill Gates releases Microsoft “Windows”. IBM and DEC find their market share dwindling day by day. (Getting the picture?)

Fast forward to the past decade. PCs, laptops and notebook computers are everywhere. Microsoft releases Excel, Word, PowerPoint, SQL Server, BizTalk Server, Exchange Server and Commerce Server and dominates the world software market. The smaller software companies and contract programmers find themselves broke, acquired or run out of business by the GIANT Microsoft. The governments of the US and several European nations sue Microsoft due to their dominance and domination of the global software market. Microsoft’s market share and profits continue to climb while the PC manufacturers find themselves barely able to make a profit. Mergers take place. Some hardware companies go out of business altogether and the profit margins of the remaining few continue to shrink. (Seem Familiar?)

Apple reinvents itself, retools, revamps and re-engineers its line of desktop, workstation and notebook computers and carefully controls the hardware to match their new operating system, OS-X. Apple opens their bricks & mortar stores amid speculation that they’ve lost their mind, but the crowds love the concept and devout PC users begin to switch to Mac. Microsoft releases a slow, buggy operating system called Vista which falls flat on its face. Apple begins a series of humorous ads laughing at Microsoft’s misfortune. Apple releases new iPods, MacBooks, iMacs, Mac Pros, iTunes, the iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 4G and the iPad. Microsoft watches their market share begin to slip until it’s an all out avalanche of folks switching to Apple products. (Myself included)

The Path

The Path You Follow – Fredericksburg, Texas
Copyright 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 40mm, f/8 for 1/125th of a second at ISO 200 with a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.

Click on the image above for a larger version.

View Location on Panoramio & Google Earth: The Path You Follow – Fredericksburg, Texas

In Closing
For every dramatic “shift” in our society, in our technology and in the world of business, there will be those that adapt, survive and even thrive. There will also be those that cannot adapt and they will rail against the heavens, gnash their teeth and loudly call out for “social justice”.

The best advice I can give anyone starting out in this business is to follow your own path and be realistic in your goals. For example, there are thousands of very talented wedding photographers around the globe looking for work. The average price that a typical wedding photographer can charge has dropped by 50% in the past two years. Perhaps this isn’t the best time to target that market segment.

Finding niche markets or industries needing economical photographic work is not simple but with Google and the help of your local Chamber of Commerce, it can certainly be done. Do some research and get a listing of all the small businesses in your immediate area. Send out a targeted email blast and follow up with a phone call. Don’t sit in your home office spending hour after hour on FaceBook or Twitter. If you want to succeed as a professional photographer then get out there and “sell” your services.

Follow your own path and enjoy the ride of a lifetime!

Jeff

Filed under: Photography Tagged: Canon, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Texas Hill Country, Texas Landscapes

Workshop Preparation Post #5: Packing for Landscape Photography

As I’ve posted before, gear selection and packing for a landscape photography trip is a cumbersome task. Each time I set out for a few days or a few weeks I begin by putting together a shoot list and hiking schedule. I also check the weather forecast for the area of Texas I’ll be traveling though and pray for any cold fronts approaching from the north or west. The last thing I want is a cloudless sky.

Packing for Landscape Photography

Pulling together a shoot list is a common enough task for most commercial photographers but I find few landscape or nature shooters that follow this discipline. I like to maximize my time in the field but I can’t carry fifty pounds of cameras and lenses on each hike so a shoot list is essential.

So here is a list of what I pack for a typical landscape outing.

  • Canon 5D Mark III with EF 17-40mm f/4L USM zoom attached.
  • Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L zoom with lens hood.
  • Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Tilt & Shift Lens.
  • Gitzo Traveller Tripod & RRS Ballhead.
  • Singh-Ray CP, Vari-ND & ND Grad filters.
  • Black Rapid R-Strap & Clips.
  • Bubble level, CF cards, lens cloths.
  • Garmin GPS on one strap.
  • Motorola MR350 Two Way Radio on the other strap.
  • Emergency Thermal Mylar Blanket.
  • Hiker’s First Aid Kit.
  • LED Flashlight & Hunting Knife.
  • Emergency Bail-Out Rope.
  • Water, typically three 24oz bottles.
  • Trail Snacks (for energy).

This much gear weighs in a little under 20 lbs and fits comfortably in my pack. The nice thing is, the weight decreases during the hike as I consume my water supply and trail snacks. I caution folks about carrying too much weight in their packs. I’ve done these hikes and climbs several times in the past few years and every extra ounce of weight you carry takes that much more energy. When you’re out shooting in nature, the last thing you need to be thinking about is how sore your lower back is from lugging around all that gear.

In fact, during my spring workshop (Texas Landscape Safari) I may carry only one lens (24-105mm) on my 5D3 and a few filters in my pockets. I load my pack up with as much water as I can carry along with some apples for energy. One thing I tell all my attendees; if it’s a choice between a lens or a bottle of water, always take the water. The Texas sun can be a relentless companion and folks that don’t respect its strength soon find themselves dehydrated and exhausted. Not a great combination for a budding landscape photographer during a workshop.

Filed under: Photography Tagged: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4, Canon, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM, Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Caprock Canyons State Park, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Photography, Te, Texas High Plains, Texas Hill Country, Texas Landscape Safari, Texas Landscapes

The Path We Take Through Big Bend National Park

The path you choose to explore in a place as large as Big Bend National Park is a very personal choice. Many folks drive through the park and rarely leave the comfort of their vehicle to venture forth and explore the deep desert regions of the park. Some brave souls hike countless miles throughout the back country trails in search of solitude and tranquility with only a backpack and bed roll for their comfort. Luckily, Big Bend National Park has something special to offer to almost everyone that visits. And like me, many just can’t get enough of this incredible jewel hidden in the reaches of far West Texas.

Ernst Tinaja Wash

Ernst Tinaja – Big Bend National Park, Texas
Copyright 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 24mm, f/14 for 1/30th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Follow @jefflynchphoto
Filed under: Photography Tagged: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3, Big Bend National Park, Canon, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Texas, Texas Landscapes, Travel Photography, West Texas

Something Different

Here’s something I’ve been working on for the past few weeks while waiting for the weather to break and for autumn to actually begin here in Texas. A free copy of my latest book for the first person to identify all six objects in this product shot.

Race Gun

Race Gun – Sugar Land, Texas
Copyright 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual using an EF 24-105m f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. Lighting was provided by natural light through a 1-stop diffuser and with a single 580EX II with a soft-box for fill and highlight. Post capture processing was done n Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Adobe Photoshop CS5.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Filed under: Photography Tagged: 1911, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3, Canon, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM, Kimber, Photography, Product Photography