November 16, 2017

Advanced Digital Photography Class in Missoula

Frequently classes on using your camera and editing your photos are taught separately. But the two processes are intimately linked. In my Advanced Digital Photography class in Missoula, Montana, you have the chance to combine shooting and editing to see how your choices in the field affect what you can get from your image in processing.

Sunset near Harper's Lake, Montana

You get a review of basic exposure, composition and lighting techniques before going out to shoot. Then you return to the classroom for a review of basic editing steps using Adobe software such as Lightroom, Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. I am on hand to help in the field as well as with editing in the lab.

The course takes place at the Lifelong Learning Center on Wednesday evenings November 29 -- December 13 with two Saturday field shoots. See the link for more details and to register. NOTE: The printed course catalog lists the class time as 8:30-11am; this is the time for the field shoots on Saturdays. The evening sessions are 6:30-9pm.

November 10, 2017

Photograph Falling Snow

Have you ever tried to capture snow as it's falling? Maybe you got a shot that shows the snowfall, but you're not sure how to repeat it. Two things are key to capturing falling flakes: 1) a dark background and 2) a fast shutter speed.

A dark background contrasts with the white snow, revealing the snow moving through the air. Pine trees, a dark building or a person wearing a dark coat can all serve to show the snow.

The dark barn allows the falling flakes to be visible since they disappear
against the snow on the ground and the clouds in the sky.

A fast shutter speed of 1/125 second or 1/250 second stops the snow in mid tumble. Depending on the strength of any wind, some flakes may appear as streaks while others show up as white dots. It depends on their speed and their distance from the camera. Closer flakes blur more than distant ones.

A1/250 second shutter speed recorded the blowing snow
visible against the horse's brown coat.

Learn how and why to change the shutter speed in Getting to Know Your Digital SLR Camera which meets Saturday, November 18, in Missoula, Montana, at the Lifelong Learning Center. Click here to register.

November 8, 2017

The Sharpest Pictures Come from the Sharpest Apertures

Maybe you've learned that closing down the camera's lens aperture can help make your entire photo sharp. But sometimes using an aperture of f/22 actually isn't necessary for a crisp image.

An aperture of  f/16 was necessary to keep the foreground ice
and background mountain both sharp.

Due to engineering limitations and the physics of light, your lens's sharpest aperture is usually the setting two full stops from wide open. If your lens's maximum aperture is f/2.8, then the sharpest aperture is f/5.6. If your lens's widest opening is f/5.6, then the sharpest aperture is f/11.

If your scene is all the same distance from the camera, without both near and far objects, then using the sharpest aperture gives you the sharpest results.

Because these snowy pines are all the same distance from the camera,
an aperture of f/8 was sufficient to keep them sharp.

Learn how and why to change the lens aperture in Getting to Know Your Digital SLR Camera which meets Saturday, November 18, in Missoula, Montana, at the Lifelong Learning Center. Click here to register.

November 6, 2017

Improve Your Winter Pictures with Exposure Compensation

We received our first significant snowfall in western Montana today, turning the world around us into pristine white. Photographing all that snow can be a challenge for your camera, though. It makes the snow a dull gray instead of bright white because it doesn't recognize the snow you see. Using +1 or +2 Exposure Compensation ensures your snow will appear pristine in your photograph as well as outside.

Regular exposure leaves snow looking dull gray.

Adjusting exposure by +1 makes the snow record bright white.

Learn this and other camera controls in Getting to Know Your Digital SLR Camera which meets Saturday, November 18, in Missoula, Montana, at the Lifelong Learning Center. Click here to register.

October 24, 2017

The Power of Layers

Perhaps the most powerful tool of photo editing software is the ability to use layers to adjust exposure and color, add text, combine images and many other effects. Photoshop Elements (and Photoshop, but not Lightroom) allows us to create different effects, each on its own layer, so they can be changed or removed later without affecting any other things we did to the image.


Using layers, I adjusted the contrast of the original photo, removed an unwanted element along the left edge, converted to a sepia tone, added the border, and typed a title. Because each effect is separate from the others, I can return to the changes at any time and revise them. For example, I could eliminate the sepia tone, select a different font for the title, or remove the border.

Becoming proficient with layers can greatly expand your creative photo editing options. Learn more about this feature in my Photo Editing --- Layers & Masks class beginning November 6, 2017, at the Lifelong Learning Center in Missoula, Montana. Click this link to register.

P.S. The class is taught using Photoshop Elements, but all the techniques apply to Photoshop as well.