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Is there a perfect aperture for landscape photography?

In Landscapes, Scenes & Scenarios by Don SmithLeave a Comment

The sun sets into Pacific Ocean fog as seen from Fremont Peak State Park, elevation 3,169 feet, Gabilan Mountain Range, California. Sony a7RII, Canon 11-24mm, f/16, 1/4th, 100 ISO. How often do you think about your aperture choice? There is an old saying amongst photojournalists: F/8 and be there! Many amateur landscape photographers seem to think f/16 is the popular choice. If one thinks about maximizing depth-of-field, then their thinking is correct. But when should one use f/22? Is that …

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Tips For Better Wildflower Images – Part 2

In Equipment & Technique, Landscapes, Polarizing Filters, Scenes & Scenarios by Don SmithLeave a Comment

Lupine and Balsamroot against setting sun, Columbia State Park, Dalles Mountain Ranch, Washington. Sony a7R, Sony/Zeiss 16-35mm, f/22, 1/8th, Auto ISO @ 640. Tip #6 – Auto ISO Most new digital cameras are now offering Auto ISO. I find, when photographing wildflowers and fighting a relentless breeze, that this feature can save the day and really allow me to concentrate on my composition. I first tried this feature last March in the hills of southern Washington. I was working on …

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Tips For Better Wildflower Images – Part 1

In Equipment & Technique, Landscapes, Polarizing Filters, Scenes & Scenarios by Don SmithLeave a Comment

Editor’s note: It’s flower time in many parts of the world now, so we thought these tips from Don Smith might be helpful – here is part one. Don’s essential tools for shooting wildflowers include his Singh-Ray warming and neutral polarizers. Many photographers also choose our ColorCombo polarizer for flowers. One way or the other, a polarizer is a must-have creative tool for this type of photography. Sunset and spring hills, Southern Santa Clara Valley, Diablo Mountains, California, Sony a7R …

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For stronger foregrounds, try taking a bug’s eye view!

In Equipment & Technique, Landscapes, ND Filters, Scenes & Scenarios by Don SmithLeave a Comment

Editor’s note: Don’s technique for capturing and processing this image is also a great way to solve the challenge of combining a very long exposure for one element of a scene with the need for a faster exposure to avoid motion in another part of the scene.  Sony a7RII, Sony/Zeiss FE 16-35mm, f/16, 8.5 minute exposure (separate exposure on foreground – explained below), 100 ISO, Singh-Ray 15-stop Mor-Slo solid neutral density filter.  Back in my college days at San Jose …

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5 reasons why you should be using a circular polarizing filter

In Equipment & Technique, Landscapes, Polarizing Filters, Scenes & Scenarios by Don SmithLeave a Comment

  The sun sets through fog as seen from Fremont Peak State Park, San Benito County, California (Sony a7R II, Sony/Zeiss 24-70mm, f/22, 1/10th, ISO 100, Singh-Ray Neutral Polarizer) If you are serious about your landscape photography, there is one filter that should be on each lens in your bag – a polarizer! Why? Well, that is what I will discuss in this article. But first you need to understand that the one filter that cannot be re-created in post-processing …

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What grabs your attention? That’s what your picture should be.

In Scenes & Scenarios, Wildlife by Don SmithLeave a Comment

  “When Forces Collide,” Big Sur Coast, California, Sony a6000, Tamron SP 150-600mm @900mm, Sony LA-EA4 adapter, f/11, 1/1000th sec., 800 ISO I work with a lot of amateur photographers. There are times we are on location when I get the question, “so what are we shooting here?” Sometimes the answer is rather obvious, but oftentimes it’s not. As an instructor, these are the times I seize to really teach. My first response is to not hand it to them …

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Working Through Visual Puzzles

In Equipment & Technique, Polarizing Filters, Portraits, Scenes & Scenarios by Don SmithLeave a Comment

  Maple Leaves on Fallen Redwood, Nisene Marks State Park, California Sony a7R, Sony 70-200mm @ 200mm, f/20, 4 seconds, 100 ISO, Singh-Ray Neutral Polarizer It has been my observation in teaching workshops for the past 10 years that there are two types of photographers: There are those whom I call the “trophy hunters,” they have scoured the internet regarding the area they are photographing and are there to shoot the icons. Then there are those who’ll find their own …

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10 Myths People Have About Professional Photographers

In Corporate/Commercial, Equipment & Technique, Polarizing Filters, Portraits, Scenes & Scenarios by Don SmithLeave a Comment

I have had the good fortune to make a living with my camera for the past 40 years. I picked up my first camera at age 13 and have never stopped being fascinated with creating images. During my teen years, I had absolutely no desire to be a professional photographer. I loved sports and was absorbed in the world of snow ski racing. Every year, without fail, I would round up my friends and see the latest Warren Miller ski …

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Take a look back at a great year with Singh-Ray filters

In Equipment & Technique, Landscapes, ND Filters, Polarizing Filters, Scenes & Scenarios by Don SmithLeave a Comment

Dawn at Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii Canon 5DMKIII, 24mm, 6 minutes, f/16, ISO 100, Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo Looking back at 2013, I was fortunate to photograph incredible landscapes from Eastern Utah to Hawaii and many places in-between. Of course, my Singh-Ray filters were always with me and are an integral part of my success. During my Kauai Workshop this past June, I had my group on location at Hanalei Bay for first light. I love the soft hues of early morning …

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Strive to make fine art landscapes that are a lot more than realistic

In Equipment & Technique, Landscapes, ND Filters, Polarizing Filters, Scenes & Scenarios by Don SmithLeave a Comment

When Don Smith switched from a 20-year career as sports photographer to dedicate himself to landscape photography, he adopted the philosophy that fine art images should do more than simply recreate reality. “The major theme in my workshops is the importance of seeing the finished image in my mind as I click the shutter. As Ansel Adams used to teach, we need to go on and visualize the finished image in our mind while we’re composing the scene in our …