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How to photograph Spring Flowers

Spring is a fantastic time of year to get outdoors with your camera as nature is bursting with so much energy and colour. A walk in the woods in springtime will reveal a myriad of wild flowers, our gardens and parks will have plenty of subjects to photograph too.

flower photography workshop Allium ursinum Wild Garlic Ramsons in woodland Sroud Gloucestershire dawn woods forest wildflowers trees medicinal herb edible

Photograph from: The Medicine Garden: Author: Rachel Corby

 

With the advent of digital photography and phones with cameras  we are all photographers, but what makes one photograph really stand out from the others? The answer to that is there is no single correct way to photograph flowers, however, certain elements do have to be taken into consideration to make a great shot.

Firstly before you start, in your cameras settings, select the highest possible resolution. This will give you clearer detail in your photographs, enabling the image to be used larger without signs of bluriness or noise.
Time of day is an important consideration when taking your photographs, the early bird really does catch the worm! Harsh midday sun makes most subjects look unflattering. Early morning or late afternoon are the best times of day as the light is warmer, less harsh and the colours of the plants look richer. Mornings also tend to be more still, flowers are hard to photograph when they are moving around too much. Windy days are the toughest to photograph flowers on, unless you choose to use the blur creatively with a slower shutter speed.

Bluebells, (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) flower photography workshops Gloucestershire

Weather. Most people are surprised to hear that overcast days can be very beneficial for garden and flower photography. This is because clouds act as a perfect light diffuser, creating even lighting and saturation without the worry of harsh highlights or shadows.

Bluebells, (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) flower photography workshops Gloucestershire

Consider your subject before rushing to photograph it. Walk around and see what you are drawn to, see how the light plays on the flowers. Think about your composition, how is the subject going to fill the frame? Backlit flowers will always look good if the petals are transluscent as it accentuates the colours of the petals, giving off a luminesence and showing off the patterns. Don`t be afraid to try out different angles, getting down to the same height as a flower is very effective, or look up to flowers from below them.

Meconopsis Sheldonii Lingholm - Himalayan Blue Poppy

The background of your photograph is very important as untidy, busy, cluttered backgrounds kill a shot as the viewers eye gets distracted away from the subject. If there are shadows use them to make the flower stand out, or move in closer to the subject.

Aquilegia

For close ups I would always recommend the use of a tripod, they allow you to frame the flower perfectly and keep the image sharp. Also look at the flower to see it is free of blemishes or missing petals.

Iris close up

If you do hand hold your camera, as a very general rule of thumb with a standard lens 1/60th of a second is the minimum shutter speed to use, with longer lenses such as a 200mm look around 1/250th of a second to avoid camera shake. For checking correct exposure always check your histogram not the LCD preview.

Galanthus Nivalis - Snowdrops;

Snowdrops: 1/60s  f11

Finally break the rules, experiment and have fun, try out new angles and backgrounds, you might be surprised with the results you obtain.

Allium Purple Sensation

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ photographed against the sun, post processed in Lightroom.

Try out different processes such as black and white such as the photograph below of a tulip.

Homage to Edward Weston Stephen Studd IGPOTY

Homage to Edward Weston – 3rd place IGPOTY : Monochrome

When photographing wildflowers be careful not to tread on other flowers, leave them just as you found them for insects and others to enjoy.

flower photography workshop Allium ursinum Wild Garlic Ramsons in woodland Sroud Gloucestershire dawn woods forest wildflowers trees medicinal herb edible

Wild Garlic (Ramsons) © Stephen Studd Photography for BBC Gardeners World.


I  am running bluebell flower photography workshops in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire in May: further details can be found here: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com


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How to photograph snow

Arctic circle, North polar region, Europe, Scandinavia, Norway, Svalbard, Spitsbergen,  Longyearbyen, woman photographing beware of polar bears sign in Adventdalen valley

When it snows it is a great time to go out with your camera and capture its pure white freshness, but how many times do your photos appear dull and grey and lacking that freshness and purity? When photographing snow scenes or ones that have lots of white in, be attentive to your meter readings, it’s very easy to underexpose a predominately white scene.Watering can in snowSnow is much brighter than the 18% medium grey that your camera is averaged to expose for. Your camera is trying to capture the bright white scene as 18% grey which results in underexposed photos, making them look dull and grey like the one above.

So how do you make the image look bright and fresh whilst keeping detail?Watering can in snowIf your camera has an exposure compensation dial then you should dial in about 2 stops overexposure as a starting point. Exposure compensation is used to move the camera away from the cameras suggested exposure to brighter or darker ones. Look at the histogram and make sure the image preview isn`t blinking (indicating overexposed highlights). It takes a bit of practice but after a while you will be able to expose the shot perfectly. It is a good idea when practicing this technique to bracket the shot.

This scene below was a tough one to get right as the bud is against snow and the ice crystals on the bud I wanted to show with all their intricate detail.

Blackcurrant "Ben Nevis" branch with buds covered in snow and ice crystals, winter

As a starting point I added 2 stops overexposure in the exposure compensation dial, which gave a decent image with no highlights (snow & ice) overexposed. As the camera was on a tripod I then bracketed around this exposure for a perfectly exposed image which retained all the detail in the ice crystals.

On a photo shoot for Manfrotto in Svalbard this technique was essential as the whole place was covered in snow and ice at the time of year I was there. At -30C it was important to act quickly and know the way around the camera, as I had 3 pairs of gloves on, a thick outer extreme weather glove, then inside a woolen glove and a silk glove, this was a technique that Alan Hinkes told me about when I met him and asked his advice. I thought he should know, as he is the only British mountaineer to have climbed all 14 mountains with elevations greater than 8,000 metres and he also photographs his ascents. Basically you keep the 2 outer gloves on for as long as possible and for the shot remove the 2 outer gloves on the one hand leaving the silk glove when you are ready to take the photo.

For the shot below I dialled in 1 & 2/3rd stops overexposure in exposure compensation. This kept detail in the snow and also held detail in the blowing snow on the ground. The camera was mounted on a Manfrotto heavy duty 055 tripod as the strong wind blowing, nearly knocking me off my feet!

Arctic circle, North polar region, Europe, Scandinavia, Norway, Svalbard, Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen,  view towards Hiorthfjellet mountain and Adventtoppen mountain across Adventdalen valley

Again for the dog sledders below, overexposure was needed to keep the shot looking fresh, with full detail in the dogs and dog sledders.

Arctic circle, North polar region, Europe, Scandinavia, Norway, Svalbard, Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen, husky dog sled, dusk

Nowadays many people use their smartphones for blogging and for social media. In your phones camera settings there should be an exposure value / EV setting. Try shooting a snow scene without adjusting this and then shoot the same scene with it set to 1.5+ see those whites whiter, try moving it to 2+ brighter to see if this makes a difference, but be aware of over exposing the scene.

Arctic circle, North polar region, Europe, Scandinavia, Norway, Svalbard, Spitsbergen, view from Longyearbyen towards Hiorthfjellet mountain across Adventfjorden fjord, Advent Bay, woman taking photo across the bay

With this easy technique your snow will look snow white and not a dull flat grey. Have fun in the snow and keep warm!

This technique also works well with any scene that is predominantly white, such as with white flowers or buildings.

Dahlia

When you have finished photographing snow don`t forget to set exposure compensation back to 0



I run travel and landscape photography holidays and tours in Burma, Cambodia and Vietnam.

I also run landscape photography workshops and weekends in the Gower, Wales and Bluebell woods photography workshops in Gloucestershire, please visit the website for full itineraries and information: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

Newsletter subscribers receive special offers throughout the year on my travel photography holidays and landscape photography workshops, you can subscribe here

‘May the light be with you’



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Black and white photography

Digital photography holidays vacations  tours workshopscourses to Myanmar Burma Cambodia Angkor Wat Vietnam Wales UK hosted by Stephen Studd

I can remember in an art class at school when we developed a print from a black and white negative, that was my life changing moment, I was hooked, I knew what I wanted to be, a photographer. Printing was one of my passions when I was studying for my degree in photography and loved the whole process of developing the black and white film and then making the prints. I still miss this part of photography, but guess nowadays black and white photography is much easier with software and has reduced the use of toxic chemicals.

I am a freelance travel and garden photographer and also run photography holidays, and on these I always say to my guests “See in colour, think black and white”. Black and white can often work better for you on even dull days or misty ones, such as this misty morning on Ha Long Bay.

Halong Bay digital travel and landscape photography holidays, vacations, tours and workshops to Asia,  Vietnam, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia: Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, the Gower Wales UK

Halong Bay: Vietnam: Canon 100-400mm lens – f11 @640th sec ND 0.6ND grad soft -ISO 200

I liked the different tones in this scene and knew it would work well as a black and white image. Pre-visualising  your result is important and having a knowledge of the zone system is also valuable.

To produce digital black and white images these are some of the steps I use.

When taking the photograph shoot in colour and in RAW mode, colour space Adobe RGB. You will have far more control over the finished result photographing in colour and then making a black & white conversion using image processing software on your computer.

It is best to shoot on the lowest ISO possible when photographing for black & white images. At high ISO`s, noise (grain) is more evident, the lower the ISO the less noise. If you want to make the final image more grainy then it is best to add this afterwards in post production software such as Lightroom.

Having first visited Bagan in Myanmar (Burma) over 10 years ago for a shoot for National Geographic I fell in love with the place and it still remains one of my favourite places on the planet. There are over 4,000 temples dotted on the plains and the whole area has an ethereal, timeless feeling. I have been returning to Bagan ever since my first visit and have been working on a series of black and white images. I had already pre-visualised the set of black and white images of the temples and for this series I shot the originals in colour and converted them to black & white in Lightroom.

When you wet processed black and white prints, each make of paper would have a certain quality, feel and tone to them. A favourite of mine used to be Kentmere Bromide paper, which had rich neutral blacks, a brilliant base white and superb tonal rendition. I used to use this paper for selenium toned prints to produce a warm feel. To replicate this feel, in the develop mode of Lightroom I use the split tone function.

tones

I produced a set of photographs of Bagan that won an award in the travel category of the International Photography Awards. If you are producing a series of photographs that will be seen together it’s best to keep the same tone for each print so they work well  together.

digital travel and landscape photography holidays vacations tours workshops to Myanmar Burma Cambodia Angkor Wat Vietnam hosted by Stephen Studd

Bagan temples: Canon 100 – 400mm lens, f16 @ 1sec  ISO 100

In the develop mode of Lightroom, in the ‘tone curve’ you can alter the contrast of the photograph, much as you could with processing prints through choice of paper and processing. For the photograph above I adjusted the tone curve until I got the desired effect.

curve

I tend not to use the main develop functions when producing a black and white image, apart from possibly a little clarity:

untitled

On a shoot at the Grand Canyon the light was truly working for me early one morning as the sun rose above the horizon. The shafts of sunlight through the moody clouds was a photographers dream.

digital travel and landscape photography holidays vacations tours workshops to Myanmar Burma Cambodia Angkor Wat Vietnam hosted by Stephen Studd

Grand Canyon: Canon 24-70mm lens  f16 1/20th sec – ISO 100

I also thought this would make a lovely black and white. For this photograph I wanted a Kentmere Kentona photographic paper feel which featured a chloro-bromide emulsion to give warm deep rich blacks and a warm white base. For the image below I again converted it to B&W in Lightroom, altered the tone curves and split toned the image.

digital travel and landscape photography holidays vacations tours workshops to Myanmar Burma Cambodia Angkor Wat Vietnam hosted by Stephen Studd

In Cambodia I was wandering around a rural village saying hello to people in the Khmer language, when I came across this lady. She spoke back to me in Khmer and I replied back, much to her amusement. She called out all her family and got me to speak to them. They all found it funny that I was speaking their language, as they spoke no English. I was invited to their house to drink sugar palm water with them, which is highly prized, it has a lovely sweet and very earthy taste to it.

I was just about to ask if I could take some photos, when the lady had already pointed at my camera and stood up, I always find it amazing that thought always seems to have no language barriers. I took some photos of her and when she looked at them on the back of the camera she gave me the seal of approval. It is these chance encounters that really make me buzz when I am on a travel photography assignment as I love meeting the people of the country.

I was pleased with the portrait and decided to convert the photograph to black & white in Lightroom and again split toned the image.

digital travel and landscape photography holidays vacations tours workshops to Myanmar Burma Cambodia Angkor Wat Vietnam hosted by Stephen Studd

Khmer woman portrait: Canon 24-70mm lens. ISO 500 f6.8 @1/250th sec

I wanted a black and white image that this time had an old Ilford Galerie photographic paper feel.

digital travel and landscape photography holidays vacations tours workshops to Myanmar Burma Cambodia Angkor Wat Vietnam hosted by Stephen Studd

This was done by processing in Lightroom and using the tone curve and split toning to the desired effect. In this image note it has a cooler feel to it, with a little more blue hue in the shadows..

To recap, for black & white images, start thinking in black and white. Shoot in colour in RAW mode on the lowest ISO possible, then convert the final image in the post production software of your choice.

Next time you visit a photography exhibition or gallery that is displaying old wet process photographic prints take a close look at them and see the differing tones and contrasts, if you are lucky they will also display which paper they were printed on. You can use this feel of wet process photographic paper in your own digital prints.

Nowadays there are many different digital print papers on the market, these have different feels and tones too. Fine art digital printing is an art in itself, you really need a fully colour calibrated, controlled digital workflow to achieve the best results. Experiment, have fun and if you are producing black and whites for the web then try some of the techniques above, I’d love to see them.


I run travel and landscape photography holidays and tours in Burma, Cambodia and Vietnam.

I also run landscape photography workshops and weekends in the Gower, Wales and Bluebell woods photography workshops in Gloucestershire, please visit the website for full itineraries and information: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

Newsletter subscribers receive special offers throughout the year on my travel photography holidays and landscape photography workshops, you can subscribe here

‘May the light be with you’



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Photographing sunrises, be in place early.

There is a time between night and actual sunrise that is really magical in photography. This time of day is my favourite, it has a unique light and colour and is generally still and quiet. You also get to witness the sky lottery; what colours are going to be produced, how long will it last, is it going to completely cloud over, which quite often happens. When the conditions all come together a joy fills the heart and you know instinctively that you have the photograph you came for.

digital travel photography holidays tours to Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam, Marrakech and Gower Wales hosted by Stephen Studd photographer myanmar hosted by Stephen Studd

Angkor Wat, before sunrise. Manfrotto tripod and head: Canon 6D, Canon 24-70mm lens: ISO 400 – 30 sec @f8 – 0.3ND soft grad filter

You will need a torch to get you to your location pre sunrise, it also helps you with setting your camera dials in low level light conditions. For the photograph above, the scene was really dark to the eye. I set my camera up on my tripod and used a remote release for mirror lock as exposures can be long and you don`t want camera shake. I took a test shot at an extremely high ISO to see whether I had focussed correctly with manual focus. If you use autofocus it is best to move it to manual focus as cameras find it hard to focus in very low light conditions. Once I knew the camera was focused I locked the focus and set my ISO to 400, which still gave a 30 second exposure at f8. I always photograph on manual mode and as the light changes quickly from near dark to sunrise don’t forget to keep adjusting your camera settings. I always have my camera set to RAW for high quality images. I used a 0.3ND soft grad filter to balance the sky with the foreground. I could of used a 0.6ND but wanted the water to be slightly darker than the sky.

Depending on where you are photographing on the planet determines the length of time before first light and sunrise, in the tropics you generally only have about half an hour pre-sunrise.

When it starts to get much lighter, be ready for the actual sunrise, which will give you a whole new feel to your scene. As you can see between the two photo’s the cloud had completely disappeared in the photograph below, which was taken 45 minutes after the photograph above. I had waited for the sun to rise to give me another saleable image from the same morning. Both images have been published in several travel magazines and books.

For the shot below, in my last blog post ‘How to Shoot into the Sun’, it explains how to achieve this effect in your photographs

digital travel and landscape photography holidays, vacations, photo tours and workshops to Asia, Cambodia: Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, sunrise: Manfrotto tripod and head; Canon 6D, Canon 24-70mm lens:              ISO 100, f16 @ 1/500

Get out and enjoy this spectacular time of day, it stills the mind and fills the soul with joy!


I run photography holidays and tours to Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and in the Gower, Wales, please visit the website for full itineraries and information: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

Newsletter subscribers receive special offers throughout the year on my travel photography holidays and landscape photography workshops, you can subscribe here

‘May the light be with you’



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How to shoot into the sun

digital travel and landscape photography holidays, vacations, tours and workshops to Asia, Cambodia: Angkor Wat, Vietnam, Burma (Myanmar), Marrakech Marrakesh Morocco, the Gower Wales UK

Angkor Wat 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 images.

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

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.

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 will give you dark silhouettes,

Intha leg rowing fisherman sunrise, Inle Lake, Nyaung Shwe, Nyaungshwe, Shan State, Myanmar (Burma), Asia

Intha leg rowing fisherman sunrise, Myanmar

while overexposing gives detail in the subject and a more dreamy feel.

Intha leg rowing fisherman sunrise, Inle Lake, Nyaung Shwe, Nyaungshwe, Shan State, Myanmar (Burma), Asia

Intha leg rowing fisherman sunrise, Inle Lake, Myanmar

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.

digital travel photography holidays tours to Burma myanmar hosted by Stephen Studd, Bagan temples sunrise

Bagan sunrise, Myanmar

ND graduated filters.

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

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.

digital photography holidays holiday tour tours workshop workshops to Myanmar Burma Cambodia Angkor Wat Marrakech Venice 2014 2015 South East Asia Cambodia Siem Reap Angkor Wat temple complex UNESCO World Heritage site Angkor Thom Ta Prohm temple tree gro

Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm temple, Cambodia

Experiment.

One thing to take into consideration is that different 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.

digital travel and landscape photography holidays vacations tours workshops to  Cambodia, Angkor Wat, Myanmar, Burma, Vietnam, Morocco Marrakech Marrakesh hosted by Stephen Studd

Kep crab market, Cambodia

Finally be careful, don’t look into the sun for too long as it can damage your eyes.


My holidays & courses to Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, Marrakech and the Gower, Wales can be found on my website http://www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

Newsletter subscribers receive special offers throughout the year on my travel photography holiday and landscape photography workshops, you can subscribe here

‘May the light be with you’



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Travel and landscape photography holidays & workshops

The travel and landscape photography holidays that I run have just been featured in the Practical Photography Holiday & Courses guide for 2016.

Digital travel and landscape photography holidays holidayvacation vacations tour tours workshop workshops to Myanmar Burma Cambodia Angkor Wat Vietnam Morocco Marrakech Gower Wales UK hosted by Stephen Studd

Pleased to see my photo of the Gower, Wales on the front cover, last years weekend workshop was a real success with guests capturing some amazing landscape photos.

My holidays & courses to Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, Marrakech and the Gower, Wales can be found on my website http://www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

Thanks for taking a look.

‘May the light be with you’



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Arctic Circle Photography Adventure

digital travel photography holidays tours vacations workshops to Myanmar Burma Cambodia Angkor Wat Vietnam Marrakech with Stephen Studd Svalbard Norway Spitsbergen arctic circle

My travel photography adventure for Manfrotto has just been published on their website.

Photographing in such cold conditions has many challenges, how do you keep your hands warm? Stop your gear from freezing? Keep yourself warm? Photograph when you’re dressed like this.

digital travel photography holidays tours vacations workshops to Myanmar Burma Cambodia Angkor Wat Vietnam Marrakech with Stephen Studd Svalbard Norway Spitsbergen arctic circle

Stephen Studd in the Arctic Circle

Whilst in Svalbard I went on a 10 hour snow mobile trip

Arctic circle, North polar region, Europe, Scandinavia, Norway, Svalbard, Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen snow mobiles, Adventdalen valley

Svalbard, Spitsbergen, snow mobiles, Adventdalen valley

from coast to coast in search of polar bears.

Arctic circle, North polar region, Europe, Scandinavia, Norway, Svalbard, Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen, East coast, polar bear footprint

Svalbard, Spitsbergen, East coast, polar bear footprint

Is it worth going to such extremes for photographs?

Svalbard Panoramic4.jpg

The answer to that one is YES, when you get to see views like this.

Did we see polar bears? Unfortunately not, only footprints, but my time in the arctic circle was enough for me to fall in love with this unique place.

Follow the link to Manfrotto’s website to find out more about the adventure, with more photography: http://www.manfrottobags.com/03/01/2016/




 

I run small group travel and landscape photography holidays and workshops.

My travel photography holidays website can be found here: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

Newsletter subscribers receive special offers throughout the year on my travel photography holiday and landscape photography workshops, you can subscribe here


Keep in touch:

My travel and garden photography website: www.stephenstuddphotography.com


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