Stephen Studd Photography

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Photographing Into the Sun

USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2019 with Stephen Studd grand canyon sunrise

This can be tough to get right, but I’ve found that the latest camera sensors seem to be dealing with this difficult lighting situation really well. Experiment with your camera to see how it copes and create beautiful dreamy contemporary images.

I am using this technique in both my travel and garden photography and clients really love the feel it gives.

Here are a few tips for shooting into the sun.

KEEP YOUR LENS CLEAN

Dust, grease and scratches increase the risk of getting distracting flare. If you have a lens protecting filter on, take it off as sunlight can bounce in between the filter and the lens like in the shot below.

digital photography holidays holiday vacations tour tours workshop workshops to America USA American South West Canyonlands hosted by Stephen Studd

Without the filter.

digital photography holidays holiday vacations tour tours workshop workshops to America USA American South West Canyonlands hosted by Stephen Studd

USE MANUAL MODE 

Choose the ISO you want, shoot in RAW and manual focus. Choosing your own aperture and shutter speed gives you the desired control over the effect you are after. Underexposing the image by meter reading for the sun will give you a dark silhouette and what I call a 1970’s feel which is dated to say the least.

digital travel photography holidays vacations workshops courses photographic tours to  Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Burma, South East Asia and USA America hosted by Stephen Studd Photography

For the shot below I got my exposure reading by pointing the camera to the far right (away from the sun), once I’d set the meter reading in manual mode I pointed the camera into the sun and got the perfect exposure with detail in everything, the subject has a blown out highlight which is the bright sun giving a more contemporary feel.

digital travel photography holidays vacations workshops courses photographic tours to  Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Burma, South East Asia and USA America hosted by Stephen Studd Photography

The shot below same technique, meter reading away from the shaft of sunlight, then moved the camera position on a tripod and then the image taken into the light, leaving detail in the surrounding rock formation at Upper Antelope Canyon.

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TRIPODS MAKE LIFE EASIER

When shooting backlight with the camera on a tripod, it’s easier to move the camera angle to control any distracting flare. The shot below is on a tripod, see lots of flare.

USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen Studd

ISO 100  f22 @ 1/8th sec

This type of flare I don’t like. Once the camera was on the tripod I shielded any bright sunlight getting into the lens by ‘flagging’ to block light and protecting the lens from flare. I use my Lee filters black filter pouch placed above the lens until flare disappears. This can take a few goes to get right. In the photo below the black Lee filters pouch is in the top of the frame. However you can already see the flare has been reduced with more contrast.

_MG_4405

ISO 100 f22 @ 1/8th sec  with 0.6 Grad soft ND

This is the shot I was after below. Fully flagged and no flare shooting straight into the sun. To hold more detail in the final image I used a 2 stop soft graduated ND filter.

USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen Studd

ISO 100 f22 @ 1/8th sec with 0.6 Grad soft ND

ND GRADUATED FILTERS 

These will help balance the exposure in your photograph. Remember to keep your filters clean.

As the sun was obscured behind a small cloud in the photograph below there was less chance of flare so I kept the ND grad on. Again I exposed for the far left of the frame, then pointed the camera into the sunrise light for a clean, fresh and modern sunrise feel.

USA america american landscape photography tour tours workshops holidays vacations with Stephen Studd Photography

0.6 Grad soft ND

HIDE THE SUN BEHIND AN OBJECT

Placing the sun behind an object gives you less chance of flare and can create a beautiful feel to your photograph. The shot below was taken for Paul Hervey-Brookes show garden for Viking Cruises at the RHS Hampton Court Palace flower show.

_MG_0387

The shot below taken again on Paul Hervey-Brookes garden at the Chelsea Flower Show .

Paul Hervey-Brookes Associates,  11 Lansdown, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 1BB, England, UK. landscape garden designer Viking Cruises Wellness garden gold medal RHS Chelsea Flower Show London UK 2018 photography by Stephen Studd photographer, Built by Gar

EXPERIMENT

One thing to take into consideration is that various camera models do act differently using this technique. Get to really know your camera model and what the sensor can deal with. Have fun and try out different apertures and lenses to see what effects they give. Once you’ve mastered the technique with a tripod you can use it in other styles of photography where a tripod can’t be used.

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BLACK AND WHITE

The technique also works well when converting images to black and white. At the Grand Canyon the moody dramatic conditions immediately made me think I wanted a black and white image, the conditions were crying out for it. I shoot in colour in RAW, then convert to B&W later in Lightroom. You can see on the left side of the photograph the sun was shining through the clouds. I again used a 0.6ND soft graduated filter to hold detail in the stormy rain filled clouds.

USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen Studd

Do you use this technique in your photography? Hope you found the tips useful so you can put the technique to good use, I would love to see your results. Thanks for taking time to drop by the blog.

I have a blog post all about converting to B&W HERE


WARNING: Be really careful, don’t look into the sun for too long as it can damage your eyes. The main reason this technique works really well with a tripod is once the photograph is lined up you don’t need to keep looking through the viewfinder into the sun. With hand held shooting into the sun you can blind yourself.


My photography tours in Cambodia, Vietnam, Marrakech the USA and the Gower, can be found here: http://www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

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‘May the light be with you’

Stephen Studd Photography: www.stephenstuddphotography.com



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IGPOTY – Flowering Agave – behind the photo

Pleased that I have been Highly Commended in this years International Garden Photographer of the Year competition, in the wildflower landscapes category with this shot taken at the Grand Canyon in the late afternoon.

Grand Canyon National Park USA IGPOTY Stephen Studd Wildflower landscapes

After I had driven to an observation point I went for a look around the area to see where the late afternoon light was hitting for a landscape photograph.

On top of a steep rocky outcrop I saw the small agave plant with the tall yellow flower head shining brightly in the sun that was hitting it. I immediately thought that it would be a great image to take for the IGPOTY competition. There was a fair bit of cloud around so I had to move quickly as it looked like the sun would disappear behind a cloud at any moment, plus the nearest rocky outcrop was starting to go in to shadow.

Setting up my Canon 6D camera as quickly as I could on top of my Manfrotto tripod, I waited until the sun was at the base of the Agave whilst still lighting up the flower head. I had positioned the camera so the flower head sat in the shadow of the background of the Grand Canyon between the two sections that had sunlight on them, that way the flower head would really shine out of the shadow. I also chose to take the image in portrait orientation as I liked the tall flower head against the backdrop of the vertical cliffs, emphasising the height of the Grand Canyon against a moody looking sky.

As my camera was on the tripod I could keep the ISO down at 100, I set the aperture at f22 as I wanted a very large depth of field with the flower head in focus to the furthest point you can see in the distance which is more than 70 miles away. I also used a 0.6ND soft graduated filter to keep all the detail in the clouds.

Within 5 minutes the scene was over as the sun disappeared behind the clouds.

If you get a chance to see the IGPOTY exhibition at Kew I would thoroughly recommend a trip to see it. Not only will you get to see the beautiful exhibition and prints, but also the very inspirational grounds and plants at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London.


I lead photography holidays and workshops in Cambodia, Vietnam, Marrakech the USA and the UK.  www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

KEEP IN TOUCH:
Facebook:
DigitalPhotographyHolidays
StephenStuddPhotography
Instagram:
@digitalphotographyholidays
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Twitter
@PhotographyHols
@StephensPhotos


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USA Landscape Photography Road Trip


“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” Arthur Miller

After my first road trip around the American South West with my wife in 2008, I was hooked by the immense landscapes this region has to offer.digital photography holidays holiday vacations tour tours workshop workshops to America USA American South West Canyonlands hosted by Stephen Studd

I spent all of that first trip photographing the landscapes for an agency, I was captured  by the changes in light and magnificence of the vistas. I knew this part of the world would be one that I would return to over the years.

My most recent trip here was in September 2017, spending 3 weeks photographing the landscapes for a commission and another 2 weeks leading a group of photographers on a photography tour I run. My circular route which started in Las Vegas, took me on roads that are as straight as the eye can see to small friendly towns, and through some of the world’s best desert scenery in the world

Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada is aptly named, the red sandstone formations give the area a warm fiery colouring even in bright sunlight.USa 2017 Valley of Fire Nevada digital photography holidays holiday vacations tour tours workshop workshops to America USA American South West Canyonlands hosted by Stephen StuddIt can get pretty hot here too, but the warm hued landscapes are worth the heat, especially near to sunset when the place comes on fire.

Just a couple of hours drive from the Valley of Fire is Zion National Park, one of my favourite places for photography. In the lower part of Zion you literally get neck ache looking up at the towering peaks of the mountains from the Virgin River which flows through this immense scenery.USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen Studd

However the top part of Zion is my favourite spot. I took a series of photo’s of the Navajo sandstone rock formations back in 2008 which won an award in the landscape category of the International Photography Awards.

Since then I have spent much time photographing in this area as I am fascinated by the unique Navajo sandstone landscape.

digital photography holidays vacations tours workshops to America USA American South West Canyonlands hosted by Stephen Studd

Another few hours drive away sees you at Bryce Canyon which despite its name, is not a canyon, but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters. Bryce is distinctive for its hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. Bryce sits at a much higher elevation than Zion and is much cooler as the rim at Bryce varies from 2,400 to 2,700 m, due to the remote location it doesn’t get the crowds that other parks do.

digital photography holidays holiday vacations tour tours workshop workshops to America USA American South West Canyonlands hosted by Stephen Studd

Sunrises here are particularly special.

USA travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen Studdas the hoodoos glow in the morning sunlight.

USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen StuddAs Utah is +1 hour ahead in time from Nevada and Arizona, sunrises are at a very comfortable 7.00am in September, no excuses for getting up for these views.

digital photography holidays holiday vacations tour tours workshop workshops to America USA American South West Canyonlands hosted by Stephen Studd

Horseshoe Bend near Page in Arizona is another favourite place for the landscape photographer, especially at sunset.

USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen Studd

Again in Page is Antelope Slot Canyon in Navajoland, a place that is really high on the photographers bucket list. Places are limited to just 6 people for the photography tours in Upper Antelope Canyon, with only 2 tours a day they can sell out years in advance. I have been lucky to have photographed here twice and already have a booking for 5 places for the September 2018 tour.

Photographing Antelope Slot Canyon has been one of the highlights of my professional photography career, the images you capture here are truly awesome, with the ever changing light bouncing around the canyon walls that have been weathered into beautiful shapes and patterns over eons of time.

Just 120 miles from Page is Monument Valley Tribal Park in Utah, the sacred heart of the Navajo Nation and a place I had always wanted to visit from an early age, it doesn’t let you down once you get there and it’s easy to see why it became an iconic symbol of the American West. My first visit was in 2008 when there was no hotel there, we camped under a cloudless sky looking at the Milky Way all night and I knew it was a place I would return to again and again.Monument Valley USA American travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen StuddThe skies here can be outrageously moody.USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen StuddIn a very synchronistic way that always seem to happen on Navajo Land, I have teamed up with a Navajo friend who has taken me way off road to a place only accessible with a Navajo guide, this has been the highlight on the photo tour I run here. The drive is totally amazing going over terrain that only a local would be confident doing, but once at the top of one of the mesa’s the panoramic views of the sandstone formations from a distance bathed in warm evening light are breath taking.Monument Valley USA American travel landscape photography toursAs for the desert night skies high up from this vantage point, you can see the Milky Way and a billion stars as there is no light pollution here. The sunrises from up here too are a landscape photographers dream.

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It’s always hard to leave Monument Valley and the amazing landscapes, but 180 miles drive away you reach yet another photographers bucket list location the Grand Canyon from the East side with its jaw dropping views.USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen StuddThe Grand Canyon is world famous for the light, which photographs well whatever the weather conditions are. I personally prefer real moody scenes as they really add drama to photographs,USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen Studdthe same scene can change within a very short space of time, making it worthwhile to stop and photograph the ever changing views that appear in front of your lens._MG_3669.jpgThere are so many great turn outs to stop at along the south rim meaning that you don’t have to walk far for stunning photographs.

USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen Studd

There is also an excellent free shuttle bus that goes to the main view points, that start way before sunrise, which is excellent news for photographers.

Historic Route 66 was my next stop on the circle route back to Vegas, which takes in USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen StuddAmericana and old-school kitsch._MG_4040-EditHackberry stores literally in the middle of nowhere is sure worth a stop on the way back,USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen Studdas is the strange little town of Chloride, those that have been there will know what I mean!USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen Studd

Taking this 14 day circular route from Las Vegas it is possible to photograph every day of the road trip, spending a few nights at the best locations, with plenty of sunrise and sunset shots along the way. There are relatively short drives on quiet roads, the longest drive I ever did in between locations was 3 hours, but still stopped on the way for some unique American shots.

digital photography holidays holiday vacations tour tours workshop workshops to America USA American South West Canyonlands hosted by Stephen Studd upper antelope canyonThe one thing you will need for a two week road trip is plenty of storage space to back up all the photographs you will take. USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen StuddInstead of heading back to the madness of Vegas after this nature immersion I like to stay in Boulder City, Nevada. On the way you pass the Hoover Dam, worthy of a quick visit. Boulder is a small compact city that you can walk around and has some fantastic places to eat and craft beer micro breweries. From here it’s only a short drive to Las Vegas airport to fly home.USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen StuddThere’s great value to be taken from photography road-tripping as they are not only full USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen Studd

of wonderful adventures, but also give you space for new ideas and help you improve your landscape photography skills, and you’ll come away with powerful compelling photo’s and a whole new way of seeing the world.

CAMERA EQUIPMENT ESSENTIALS: Sturdy tripod as it can get windy, remote release, ND soft graduated filters, ND filters, spare memory cards, selection of lenses with lens hoods, including a fast wide angle lens if you intend to do any astro-photography. Plus of course back up hard drives, laptop/tablet.


I RUN LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY ROAD TRIPS in South West USA each September, the next one starting on September 9th 2018. Maximum 4 guests only, with just 1 place left. Full details and itinerary can be found on my website HERE

I also lead travel and landscape photography tours and workshops in Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Wales & England: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com


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