Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Maya Dancer

Daily photo - The Maya Dancer

I already shared some images from that ancient Maya show before, for instance here. It was the first time I photographed any show in fact. Any. It's just not my kind of photography you know (I'm dedicated to landscapes... even cityscapes are not what I really like). But I quite liked it although it was very difficult for me - the scene was very dynamic and rather crowded most of the time. It was also full of various colours, shapes and symbols that were quickly changing and transforming. There wasn't much time for thinking so I needed to trust my intuition. And I think my intuition was good as I captured some really nice and quite powerful images that I'm really happy with :)

Today I would like to share image of one of the dancers performing in that show. He was wearing bird mask and wings and looked really monumental especially in that magical colourful light.

I used Sony 55-210 tele zoom lens and was quite positively surprised by image quality. Of course the image isn't as sharp from my beloved Canon 70-300 L, but still is very good.

Another interesting thing is that this image was shot at very high ISO (3200) and still the image is completely usable with very low levels of noise. Of course I needed to apply some denoising but it's still pretty surprising how good sensor in this small Sony NEX-6 performs in low-light conditions.

Maya Dancer

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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Photomatix Pro Presets downloaded 2000 times!

2000 downloads of free Photomatix Presets

Just a few days ago I announced that my free HDR tutorial has been downloaded 4000 times, and today I reached another milestone with my free content - my Photomatix Pro presets have been downloaded over 2000 times!

Note: If you haven't downloaded them yet, you can get my free presets for Photomatix here. It's a huge bundle with 100 presets that will work in both Photomatix Pro 5 and older versions (there are just a few version 5 exclusives). They are good for all types of HDR work so make sure to give them a chance.

Daily photo - Sunset over Warsaw

Today I would like to share another HDR image from Warsaw. It was very late sunset already when I took this picture but there was still some beautiful light on the buildings.
Sunset over Warsaw

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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Tutorial: Photo Composition Primer

You know that - some images work perfectly and look very interesting but other images that are similar doesn't look that good and appealing. They may have same subjects, use similar colours but one thing might be different for them - composition. Composition is the key to create interesting and powerful images, ones that will attract viewers attention. Composition is the first thing you should think of when taking a picture.

In this tutorial I will try to teach you some most common rules of composition and give you some general tips on achieving better composition in your images. As a landscape photographer I will illustrate the concepts with landscape photos but most of the ideas described here can be applied to any type of photography.

1) We read images from left to right

What many people don't know is that the fact we read text from left to right (or from right to left in some countries and cultures) and from top to bottom means that we also 'read' images in the very same way. It means that we find the images that have 'action' in the right part more appealing and natural.

Now the interesting thing is that you can do completely opposite - i.e. to put something interesting in the left part - to provide some twist and make your image more intriguing.

2) Avoid center composition

One of the common mistakes that beginner photographers make is to put their subject in the middle of a frame. I remember making this mistake myself and putting horizon in the middle of image height. Unfortunately most of the images with center composition look boring and not really interesting to our eyes. That's why you should avoid this composition most of the time.

However, there are some exceptions when center composition works quite well. Some photos of flowers are one example. Another one is when there is symmetry and reflection (which are described later).

3) Rule of thirds

Rule of thirds is one of the most well-known and easiest to apply rules of composition. It is about dividing the image frame into virtual 3 x 3 grid where each of the cells has exactly same size. The idea is then to put your subjects either on the lines of the grid or in one of their 4 intersections.

This rule can be also applied to landscape photography. In such case you should put your horizon either in 1/3rd or 2/3rd of height of your image. However, sometimes it doesn't work well especially when sky is very boring but foreground is very interesting. In such case you can try putting your horizon in 1/6th of image height instead.

What's more not all lines and intersections work equally well. As stated above we read images from left to right and from top to bottom. This means that many images will look better if you put subject in the bottom right intersection of the grid. This works especially well for landscapes if you put some boat or rock there.

In the image below I used rule of thirds to place horizon in 1/3rd of image height and also to put the end of the road in one of the grid intersections. Moreover, two other roads pass through bottom grid intersections:
Rule of thirds

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Saturday, 19 April 2014

Path through Hala Ornak

Daily photo - Path through Hala Ornak

High Dynamic Range photo that you can see below was taken by me last autumn in Hala Ornak in Polish Tatra mountains. There were some beautiful colours in this scene which were enhanced even more due to use of circular polarizing filter. I composed this shot in such a way that the road is going through whole image thus leading the eye. I hope you like it!

BTW 2 new tutorials are coming next week so stay tuned :)
Path through Hala Ornak

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Friday, 18 April 2014

4000 downloads of HDR tutorial!

HDR tutorial downloaded 4000 times!

Mission accomplished, achievement unlocked... I'm very proud to announce that after 4.5 months since it's release at the very end of November 2013, my free HDR tutorial eBook has been downloaded 4000 times! This number includes only downloads from my website but as it is available in a few other places over the internet I might assume that actual numbers are even higher. Thanks for that! And keep downloading and sharing it ;)

Note: If you haven't downloaded it yet, you can get it completely for free here. Alternatively you can read web version here.

Daily photo - Golden sunset in Warsaw

Today Daily photo is somewhat different from my typical landscape HDR images. Normally HDR is used to get balanced exposure across whole frame with correctly exposed highlights and shadows. Today I used it just for purpose of restoring highlights leaving shadows rather dark. This created rather interesting atmosphere and made the light main actor of the image.

Also I'd like to mention that this photo was taken in Warsaw, Poland by Vistula river bank. What I really like about Warsaw is that despite the fact it's quite big European city (it's capital of Poland after all) you can still find some spots that look like they are in the middle of the wilderness. It's perfect from landscape photographer's point of view :)
Golden Sunset in Warsaw

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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Gorgeous Sunset in Warsaw

Daily photo - Gorgeous Sunset in Warsaw

For a few days this week I had been planning some sunset photography in my home town but everyday it was raining and there was no sunset at all - just some boring ugly grey clouds covering whole sky and terribly flat light. But yesterday despite it was raining almost whole day just an hour before sunset the weather changed. I saw sky finally! There was hope! So I packed my gear and went to the Vistula river bank and waited for the sunset. And there it was with some amazing reds, blues and purples. It was really worth the wait!
And today the sun is shining since morning so hopefully there will be another gorgeous sunset. Yes, hopefully.

For below photo I decided to take a HDR panoramic photo to show almost whole sky. I also decided to close the frame on both sides using a bridge on one side and river bank on the other. This resulted in a nice panorama with 2:1 aspect ratio.

If you're interested in learning more about HDR photography, make sure to read my free HDR tutorial eBook.

BTW it was the first photoshoot I did with my 'regular gear' after testing my Sony NEX-6. And you know what - dimensions and weight of my Canon 5D MK III are now difficult to accept :) it's so heavy! But I can at least take a lot of shots with it on a single battery ;)
Sunset in Warsaw

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