Posts Tagged ‘nature photography’

8 Macro Flower Photos to Inspire you

Jul 25 2012

yellow flower

Apologies for my lack of posting for the past few months! During my Around the World with an iPhone trip, I diverted my attentions to my travel blog and posting photos on Facebook. Anyway, after much delay, I thought I would give some love back to this blog. Here are some bokeh beautiful macros to inspire you to get out and take some shots.

Pink Rose



Rose Abstract

*and everything was still*

*Every time you go...*

*a rose by any other name would smell as sweet*

Anatomy of a photo: San Francisco Bay Bridge Rainbow

Dec 24 2010

San Francisco Rainbow over the Bay Bridge 5DMKII+16-35mm, 1/80 @ f/8.0, ISO 125.

Mother nature is on fire these days! As a follow-up to Tuesday’s gorgeous lunar eclipse, I was fortunate to catch a shot of this spectacular end-to-end rainbow over the Bay Bridge. Since there is so much chatter about it being real or fake or completely imagined, I thought I would share the anatomy of  how I took and processed this shot.

When the rainbow first appeared it was quite faint in the middle. I actually grabbed my iPhone first and started snapping shots.

Over the next few minutes, the rainbow grew stronger and formed a complete end to end rainbow across the sky… I grabbed my 5DMKII and started furiously snapping away at around 1/80 at f/8.0 ISO 100 with my beautiful 16-35mm lens. After the rainbow faded, I imported the photos into Lightroom.

I always use compare mode in the library to view the images in side-by-side comparison. It makes it much easier to pick the best shot, which in this case was the one on the right with the most sunlight and vibrant rainbow.

After choosing my favourite, I did basic RAW processing in Lightroom. Straight out of the camera, RAW images look flat — lacking contrast and saturation of colours. RAW images do not represent what your eye sees, which is why you have to process them to bring out details, contrast, and saturation of colours. For this image, I wanted the contrast to be quite heavy. I increased the contrast to +100 so that the shadows of the building would stand out in the water and the clouds in the sky would be more distinct. I also increased the vibrance to +30 to liven up the entire image and make the rainbow look more like what it did in real life.

After I pulled a bit of colour and contrast into the photo, I exported the file into Photoshop (command+e). Immediately, I noticed all of the lovely rain splotches and streaks from the window, including a giant dark spot in the middle of the rainbow. I used the healing and clone brushes to zap those splotches.

The streaks were hard to completely clean up, but I used a fine clone brush set to a 50% opacity to try to preserve the details as much as possible.

On areas that were a bit too smudged I used the lasso tool to select the area and added a noise filter of 1.1% to make them blend a bit more into the original picture. After I cleaned the image up, I duplicated the layer and set the blending mode to Overlay 85% to bring out more details in the sky. I wanted the buildings to remain as is, so I added a mask to the layer and painted them out.

I’m a big fan of highly saturated colour, so I increased the saturation +30 at 75% Opacity. This is where I’m taking a few leniences with reality. I think it adds to the surrealism of the shot, but you can experiment with it to find a good balance for you in your photos.

I wanted the clouds to stand out even more so I created a Curves layer and pulled the middle up to 136, 113. Then, I inverted the layer (command+i) and used a white brush to accent the white areas of the clouds. I repeated this with a Curves layer set to 101, 138 to accentuate the darker clouds.

I then imported the photo back into Lightroom by saving the file. For the final touches, I increased the Clarity +11 (to give the bridge a bit more contrast and sharpness), reduced the Noise a smidge by tweaking Luninance +15 and added a Vignette -11. I always add a subtle vignette to all my photos to draw the eye into the centre of the image.

Before: RAW image straight out of camera

After: Processed with Lightroom and Photoshop
San Francisco Rainbow over the Bay Bridge

Hope this helped you get a bit of insight behind my work flow and how I created this image. Processing is subject to personal taste, and what looks like the perfect image to me might look like a hot mess to someone else. For me, vibrant colours, high contrast, and emphasizing certain eye catching points in photos is part of my photographic style that I’ve developed over the years. :)

How to take great landscape photos with your iPhone

Jun 27 2010

My video tutorial this week focuses on how to take great landscape photos with your iPhone. I will be running another Mostly Lisa Photo of the Week contest to encourage you to share your best Camera+ photo and win great prizes.

Jump to Contest details.

iPhone Magic Hour Shots
Kitsilano Beach. FX: Redscale.

1. Shoot during Sunrise or Sunset

The quality of light is one of the most important things in great scenery shots. Ideally, you want to shoot landscapes either at sunrise or sunset when the light is the most even and the colours are the most brilliant. Try to avoid shooting in harsh, high-contrast light around mid-day. 


10 New Years Resolutions Every Photographer should make

Jan 2 2010

Jesse Tucker set-up

I am clutching my 5DMKII and literally buzzing inside, thinking about the photographic potential of the new year. The possibilities are endless. Now, I just have to commit the time and passion required to become a great photographer.

In that spirit, I think we should all try to keep these 10 New Years Resolutions. Now, everyone say after me:

1. I will learn how to use my camera.

This seems like an obvious point, but we are all guilty of skipping our camera manual and just fiddling with settings. Ah, this one works right? Spot-metering? Why not. Hey, what does that button do? Seems to make things darker. Hmm.

I’m going to admit something to you that I ask you to keep hush-hush. I haven’t actually read my 5DMKII manual. I know. Horrible! I’m guilty of arbitrary button pushing and royally messing up shots because I don’t really know how to use my camera. Let’s all become technical experts of our cameras this year. Deal?

2. I will not use the Auto setting on my camera.

Instead of relying on your camera’s dubious Auto settings, force yourself to learn how to use manual settings. Upgrade to Aperture priorty mode (AV) first. Once you understand Depth of Field, jump into Manual mode. You will make mistakes and feel frustrated when you completely blow-out a shot, but this is the way we learn. Don’t get discouraged by your mistakes. Learn from them and push on!

i miss summer.

3. I will not use on-camera flash

The only photos you should take with an on-camera flash are ones that end up on your Facebook wall of shame. Tape down that pop-up flash if you have to. Instead rely on your skills as a photographer to capture shots in low-light.

Shoot with a wide-open aperture, as low as your lens will go. Decrease your shutter speed & increase your ISO. Steady your camera on a tripod, gorilla pod or table top. Invest in a good lens. I suggest the 50mm f/1.4 or the f/1.8 if you are on a budget.

Shauna headshot
Canon Xti + 50mm f/1.4 + 430EX strobe shot through umbrella

4. I will not be hindered by the gear I do not have.

You can take great shots with any camera. From an iPhone to a $20 Holga to cheap point and shoot to a 1DMKIII. Don’t let your lack of gear limit you, but rather let it open up new possibilities to be creative.

Until 6 months ago when I upgraded to a 5DMKII, I was shooting on a Canon Rebel Xti (400D). I shot weddings, actor’s head shots, fashion, landscapes, you name it. You don’t need a 5DMKII to work as a photographer. Get creative. Be resourceful. Rent lenses. Make reflectors with $2 poster boards. There is always a way to do things cheaply, you just need to hunt around a bit.

5. I will shoot in RAW

Everyone, go find your camera right now. I’ll wait for you. Got it? Ok. Set your picture quality to RAW. Done? Good! Take some snaps in RAW right now. Feel the power. Now you can start shooting for real.

Beauty & the Bokeh

5DMKII, 85mm f/1.8, 1/200 at f/2.0, ISO 100.

6. I will learn how to process my shots

No shot comes straight out of the camera perfect. Every shot needs a little bit of processing TLC to take it to the next level. Learning how to process photos can feel overwhelming at times especially if you are technically challenged. It really isn’t that scary, just time consuming. I recommend starting with Lightroom. You can download a free trial and take it for a spin. If you are completely confused, sign up for a account. It’s the best video tutorial site on the web.

7. I will share my photos with others on the web

I know so many photographers that take thousands of photos, upload them on their computer, and never share them. Some lack the confidence, some are worried about copyright infringement, and some just don’t find the time in their busy schedules to share their photos. What a waste! If you are not currently sharing your photos, go right now and join Flickr, Tumblr or Facebook and post three of your best shots. Done? Great. Hi-five!

8. I will accept critiques of my work.

Receiving criticisms about your photos is difficult and sometimes hurtful, but it is the only way we can progress as photographers. Yesterday I asked Joseph Linaschke to look at my portfolio and tell me honestly which shots should go. He told me to ditch 4 pictures out of 16. Pictures that I had spend hours shooting and retouching. I didn’t want to get rid of them and it physically hurt me to remove them, but after I did, my portfolio was much stronger.

light in love
Canon 5DMKII + 85mm f/1.8 + bare strobe 1/4 power behind.

9. I will set goals and be proactive about my photography career

I have personally been in a photographic rut for the past couple of months. The weather has been rainy and miserable. I’ve had been taking on other work to pay the bills and I’ve lost focus with what I want to do with my photography. So right now, you and I are going to sit down and set some goals, both small stepping-stone goals and big lofty life-changing goals. These are some of mine:

*I will learn one photography-related skill every day
*I will continue to improve my Photoshop skills on a daily basis
*I will book at least one creative fashion shoot every week.
*I will build a network of creative producers, stylists, make-up artists, and models

Lofty goal:
*I will get my photography published in a major publication this year!

Your turn! Write them down and post them on your blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Get them out there in black and white type where you can’t dismiss them.

10. I will connect with other photographers

There is a vibrant and passionate photography community sharing their knowledge and experiences everyday. If you aren’t currently visiting the vast array of photography blogs and resource sites, you are missing out on a wealth of knowledge that won’t cost you a cent. Right now, join Twitter and follow these photographers

Let’s make 2010 a productive and inspirational year! What New Years resolutions are you are making?

Friend me on Facebook, Twitter, & Flickr.

Sharing a photo: This Cow looks Nice

Apr 26 2009

This Cow Looks Nice... 

I was on my way back to San Francisco from recording a rather silly TWiT episode at the cottage in Petaluma and I spotted a field of cows bathed in the most glorious golden magic hour light I had ever seen. It was similar to the light in that scene in Transformers where minxy Megan Fox is slinking down a dirt highway and Shia is looking perplexed, anxious & slightly constipated. Like that only cows instead of beads of sweat on Megan Fox’s sweaty cleavage. < — I’m going to get so many google search hits for that. Stats score!

Anyway, I jumped out of the old gelapi of a rental van I was in and ran towards the field to catch the beautiful light. This was my first mistake. You see there was a new & very protective mother cow with her new baby calves. And as you might imagine, Mama Cow was not too happy at me for charging towards her kin with a huge sniper lens. Maybe she was shy about her post pregnancy baby weight or something? So I slowed down, pretended to shoot some flower macros on the side of the road and sneakily approached from the side.

Well, I guess Mama was no fool because as soon as I was close enough to take a shot, she let out the most horrific ‘Moo’ I have ever heard. This was no Fisher Price barn opening moo, but a “I will bore out your eye sockets for fun” sort of Moo. I saw death in that mama cow’s eyes. Skull n’ cross-bones death, I tell you.

This is when I realized there was a large barbed wire fence between me and Mean Mama, so I snapped the shot of her boyfriend, stuck out my tongue, and skipped away.

Aperture Nature Photography Workshop

Sep 16 2008

Canada Goose Neck
This goose is 100% Canadian just like me. He even said “aboot”.

Next week, I am heading to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, along with 8 amazing photographers for the first Aperture Nature Photography Workshop in Grand Teton National Park.

The workshop brings together the wisdom and experince of 3 pro photographers, award-winning photojournalist Steve Simon, travel & stock photographer, Scott Stulberg & TWiP’s leading man Scott Bourne, with the enthusiasm of the 4 amateur photographers and me!

Lisa with 70-200mm on Kits Beach
Gabriel Morosan snapped this candid of me on Kits Beach with the 70-200mm.

I’ll be blogging, vlogging, and documenting all the inspirational moments in the Grand Tetons and no doubt I’ll get up to some mischief at some point :D.

The amateurs were selected amongst thousands of talented phtoographers who entered their best nature or wildlife shot in the contest. You can see their stunning photos here.

Besides getting to learn from some of the best photographers in the business, the contest winners get some sweet prizes as well (USB Drobo, ThinkTank photo bag, Aperture, Lifetime Photrade membership…). As the official blogger, I may be privy to these prizes as well.

I’m so psyched about the ThinkTank rotation360 bag. I’ve been using the Lowepro Computrekker AW bag and it sits so high on my back that it completely messes up my centre of balance, and I have literally been knocked off my feet more than once. Both of those times being on the London Underground. Don’t worry, no biscuits were injured during the fall, only my knees and elbows.

Lisa & Lowepro Computrekker AWWith all my gear, this bag weighed 7.5kg (16lbs). Yikes. See what’s inside.

I think this will be a life-changing experience for me. Getting the chance to learn from these great photographers is truly priceless. Plus, Scott has promised to let me have go on his Nikon D3. My lil Rebel Xti is already pouting.

There are three more ANPW contests to Olympic, Yosemite, and Yellowstone National Parks, so if you are budding nature/wildlife photographer, I really encourage you to enter the next competition. You may even get to hang out with me. :p I’ll let you know when the next contest deadline is announced. Until then, get inspired and head outside and snap some awesome nature photos.

And remember to join my photography competition group on flickr and post your best shot of the summer. You’ve got until noon Thursday, Sept 18th to enter your photo.