My Sleeping Bear Dunes article went live this past week on Pure Michigan’s Blog page. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the link:
- Use a sturdy tripod – A good tripod is important for consistently sharp images. I almost always use mine because I can get sharp photos in any situation and it allows me to shoot with slow shutter speeds and f/stops. Even on a sunny day you’ll be surprised how slow you may need to set your shutter speed when shooting a landscape at small apertures such as f/16 or f/22.
- Use a cable release or self timer – Pressing the shutter button may shake the camera enough to loose sharpness. Even mounted on a tripod pressing on the shutter button can shake the camera. I often use the camera’s self timer set at 2 seconds. Either one of these methods will work since you’re not touching the camera when the shutter opens.
- Mirror lock-up – Using this in-camera feature is very useful and perfect for long exposures. When you take a picture the mirror will flip up a second before the shutter opens so there is no vibration.
- Use the best f-stop available – Using the best aperture for the situation you’re shooting in. Most lenses are their sharpest at around f/8, but that won’t always be the ideal f-stop to use. For landscape photos I usually shoot at f/16 or f/22 to achieve focus from foreground to background. I normally favor f/16 because there can be significant diffraction at f/22. This happens because light begins to disperse or “diffract” when passing through a small opening, such as your camera’s aperture, and can result in a soft image.
- Keep your ISO down – Shooting at high ISOs will make your photos noisy/grainy and less crisp. I generally shoot at my camera’s lowest setting which is 100 to minimize this as much as possible.
- Correct focusing – You’ve probably already discovered that your camera’s Auto Focus is not perfect. You go out take some shots thinking everything went well until you pull your photos up on the computer and things aren’t in perfect focus. In certain situations manual focusing may be the answer to get things right. I also like to double check my viewfinder at 100% after I take the shot just to be sure that got it right.
A short video I shot a the beach near Pyramid Point, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
I’ve always thought of Circular Polarizers as an essential tool in my camera bag. They take away the glare from objects that is caused by sunlight and are great for capturing a rich blue sky in your photos. I also find them useful for other situations:
Trees – Polarizers take the glare away that can rob your photo of their true colors. Using one will give leaves a more rich and saturated color which is especially important with the red and oranges of the autumn leaves.
Waterfalls – I never shoot waterfalls without my polarizer! First of all, it takes the glare off the water and creates more contrast in the photo. Second, it cuts down on the light entering the camera so it allows you to shoot at a slower shutter speed, which is exactly what you’ll want in order to achieve the look of silky water in your photos.
Lighthouses – Metal Lighthouses get a lot of glare, so a polarizer will give you richer colors there too. The light reflecting off the Holland Lighthouse was blinding when I was there back in December. Using my filter fixed that problem and I came away with some good photos.
Last night I looked outside and saw a bright moonlit sky, so I got the idea of going out and playing with my camera for a little while. Night photography isn’t really my thing, partly because I prefer photographing sunlit subjects and partly because I have little patience for sitting out in the dark waiting for the end of each long exposure that I take. But tonight I was itching to take a few shots, so I headed outdoors.
This trick is extremely simple but it can make an interesting photo. Nighttime is perfect for it because an exposure of at least a few seconds is necessary. For the shot that you see on the left, I set the shutter speed to 30 seconds at f/2.8 to properly expose it. I set my lens to its widest point at 17mm. Once the shutter was open I slowly zoomed the lens in, and since I had 30 seconds to do this I made sure I was turning the ring really slow. The photo on the right is the result. You can do a lot of interesting photos with this, although like me you will most likely end up with more bad photos than good ones. More than anything, its just fun to try different things with your camera and lens to see what you can create. If you do try this, send me a comment or message to let me know how you did!
A must-see video of the Tahquamenon’s Upper Falls by UPGraphics.com
One of my favorite places I have photographed this winter has been the Lighthouses at St. Joseph. The large white and red inner light is a beauty, but the outer light is the reason why I was excited to go there. It really catches all of the spray from the waves hitting the breakwater and becomes one big tower of icicles. Both of these lights are on the north pier and a pretty short walk to get to. The problem I ran into was that I could not get out to the ice-covered one – you had to walk on a narrow icy ledge to get around the first lighthouse. I’ve taken a few stupid risks to get a shot, but this was a no-brainer. I have no doubt that if I would have attempted to walk across that ledge I would have slid off into the icy waters of the channel.
So I put on my 70-200mm lens, set up my tripod near the edge (but not too close) to the inner edge of the pier and was still able to get a decent view of it. I framed up the lighthouse tight enough to keep the edge of the inner lighthouse out of the shot but not to where it filled the whole frame of the photo. The western sky was dark enough to give the photo some contrast and make the lighthouse stand out from the background.
Even though I wasn’t able to get in close with my wide angle lens which is closer suited to my style, I walked away satisfied with my photo of what some people have said looks like a large frozen robot. I think I’m beginning to see it now