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“Not everybody trusts paintings but people believe photographs.”

2013-04-16 16:33:00 GMT

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Ansel Adams (1902-1984) was a photographer and environmentalist revered for his black-and-white landscape photographs, and his commitment to the conservation of those lands. Ansel Adams had a great long career as a nature photographer, here are some tidbits about him:

  • Over the course of 60 years Adams took many monochromatic photos in every National Park in the United States.
  • He gave up his dream of being a concert pianist to become a photographer.
  • His first book “Making a Photograph” was published in 1935 
  • Adams felt an intense commitment to promoting photography as a fine art.
  • His images became the symbols and icons of wild America.
  • He fought for new parks and wilderness areas, for the Wilderness Act, for wild Alaska and the Big Sur coast of central California, for the mighty redwoods, for endangered sea lions and sea otters, and for clean air and water. An advocate of balanced, restrained use of resources, Adams also fought relentlessly against overbuilt highways, billboards, and all manner of environmental mendacity and shortsightedness. Yet he invariably treated his opponents with respect and courtesy.
  • Adams was often criticized for failing to include humans or evidence of “humanity” in his landscape photographs.
  • Adams was ready for digital photography he once said “I believe the electronic image will be the next major advance. Such systems will have their own inherent and inescapable structural characteristics, and the artist and functional practitioner will again strive to comprehend and control them.”

Notes from Ansel Adams life were obtained from www.anseladams.com

Want to create your own stunning black and white images? Here’s a step-by-step how-to for ACDSee Pro 6:

You can create rich greyscale images when you can control the brightness of the red, green and blue channels, as well as the overall brightness. Use the Convert to Black and White tool to emphasize different areas or aspects of a photo, as well as alter its mood and tone.

If you hover your mouse over each slider and watch the effect on the small preview, it shows you which parts of the image will be affected by each channel. This helps to gauge the effect of each slider on the image.

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  1. In Edit mode, in the Color group, click Convert to Black & White.
  2. Do any of the following:
    • Drag the Percent Red slider to the left or right.
      The more red there is in a pixel, the more effect the red slider has on that pixel. The area of red in the picture is brightened or darkened more than other areas.
    • Drag the Percent Green slider to the left or right.
      The more green there is in a pixel, the more effect the green slider has on that pixel. The area of green in the picture is brightened or darkened more than other areas.
    • Drag the Percent Blue slider to the left or right.
      The more blue there is in a pixel, the more effect the blue slider has on that pixel. The area of blue in the picture is brightened or darkened more than other areas.
    • Drag the Percent Brightness slider to the right or left to brighten or darken the whole image.
    Hint - you can right-click the slider to reset the value to zero.

  3. Click Done to save your changes, or click Cancel to discard your changes and return to the Edit mode menu.
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Hint - you can use the Edit Brush to paint this effect onto specific areas of your image.
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The Do's & Don'ts of Nature Photography

2013-03-07 17:19:25 GMT

When it comes to nature photography, the best practice is to take in the moment, breathe the fresh air, feel the air, listen to the birds, heighten your awareness of the environment and notice exactly what it is that makes the world beautiful where you are located. We’ve compiled a collection of image-capturing tips to make your outing a rewarding experience.

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Depth-of-field
Depth-of-field plays a vital role in nature photography, especially when you want to capture a wonderful landscape that seems to go on forever, or, when you choose to shoot something with a relatively shallow depth-of-field to draw your viewers attention to the subject.

When shooting your landscape select a small aperture (a higher f/stop number, like f/22) to ensure a deep depth-of-field. Since you’re outside, there should be enough ambient light to allow you to have a reasonably fast shutter speed and low ISO setting. “Deep” depth-of-field means both close-up and far away elements in your image will be in focus. You also need to know where to focus your lens. This is called Hyperfocal Distance. Hyperfocal Distance is a point where everything from half that distance will be in focus. The best way to figure out this distance is generally by focusing one-third of the way up from the bottom of the scene you are shooting, ensuring everything near to far is in focus. Use the rule of thirds to help determine where viewers’ eyes are naturally drawn in the overall shot.

Drawing your viewers attention to a specific subject, such as a flower or a bird, is done with shallow depth-of-field. A large part of shallower depth-of-field depends on the lens, as well as the aperture setting; a longer lens inherently has a shallower depth of field. Your aperture should be open to a wide setting (e.g., f/2.8 or f/4). Remember that a dSLR camera lens’ natural position is in a wide-open, shallow depth-of-field setting. Some dSLRs have a “depth-of-field preview” which can be handy to gauge how your actual photo will look; this is because the camera will normally only close the aperture to your f/stop setting when you take the photo (not just viewing it before you shoot). Once again, using the rule of thirds is handy in an image where only part of the image in in-focus; for example, you don’t want to have that cute squirrel positioned on the left side of the image and facing left (as if looking out of the shot); you want to think about how the person viewing the image will perceive and understand what’s going on in the “scene”.

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Light
Of course, most people would assume that bright sunny conditions would be best for nature photography, but often this is not the case. A cloudy day often gives “diffused” lighting photographers love. Bright lighting in the wrong direction can illuminate the subject in some not-so-pleasing ways. It is important to understand how the direction of light will affect your results.

Front Lighting - When the sun is directly behind the photographer casting a shadow onto the subject.
Side Lighting - The sun is 90 degrees off-axis to the lens, from either the right or left.
Back or Rim Lighting - The sun is facing the photographer, with the subject’s face shadowed (such as taking a photo of someone standing in front of a bright window). Outdoors, this can cause many problems ranging from lens flare to shadowing, or a hazy quality to your shot.

Leading Lines
Finding a line that will direct the viewers attention toward the main focus of a photograph in nature is simple, and works well with the rule of thirds. With a little creativity you can use a variety of natural elements to create that leading line:

  • rivers
  • trails
  • the edge of a sand dune
  • the line between sand and water
  • mud patterns


Just look around and take in everything around you, see where your eyes take you before you start mapping out the best photos.

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Perspective
The easy thing to do is just take the shot, what’s harder to do is get a unique angle that will be interesting and compelling to the viewer. Go out, glance around, look through the viewfinder and snap that photo. Then see if you can see the same subject from a more creative position. Climb the cliff, get down on the ground, look through that log, look up! This is your opportunity to capture that shot that no one else has taken.

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DO NO HARM
Last but not least: The one-and-only strict rule for nature photography is DO NO HARM. This means, pack out what you pack in, watch where you’re stepping and do not feed the animals.

Photos courtesy of ACDSee Pro Photographer Alexandra Pottier

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