Winter Photography Workshop, The Holden Arboretum, January 30, 2016

If you would like to improve your winter photography skills, join us on Saturday, January 30, 2016 for a one-day Ice Photography Workshop at The Holden Arboretum in Lake County, Ohio. This is a popular workshop that we have conducted for more than 15 years.

Icicles, Cuyahoga River Gorge, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Icicles, Cuyahoga River Gorge, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Stebbins Gulch, Holden Arboretum
Stebbins Gulch, The Holden Arboretum

The workshop begins with a slide program on winter photography at Holden’s Visitor Center. We’ll cover winterizing your digital camera equipment, the best smartphone and digital camera settings for winter photography, fine-tuning your winter exposures using in-camera histograms, and specific tips for finding, lighting and composing great photographs of icicles, ice patterns, snow scenics, and wildlife in winter at the best locations in Ohio.

Photographing Icicles in Stebbins Gulch (iPhone 5 Photo)
Photographing Icicles in Stebbins Gulch (iPhone 5 Photo)

After the slide program, we’ll carpool a short distance and enjoy a hike through Holden’s winter woods to Stebbins Gulch, a rugged gorge with 80-foot sandstone cliffs, frozen waterfalls, and picturesque icicles, if the weather is seasonally cold. We’ll descend into the gorge (knee-length rubber boots are highly recommended), shoot for a couple of hours, then hike out of the Gulch and return to Holden’s Visitor Center to socialize and enjoy a hot drink.

Icicles in Stebbins Gulch (iPhone 5 Photo)
Icicles in Stebbins Gulch (iPhone 5 Photo)

There will also be an afternoon session on Saturday, February 6 from 2-4 pm at the Holden Visitor Center to share and critique your favorite photos from the Stebbins Gulch photo shoot, and we’ll share some techniques for fine-tuning your winter photos using Adobe Photoshop CS6/CC and Adobe Lightroom 6.0/CC

Group Photo in Stebbins Gulch, January 16, 2015 (iPhone 5 Photo)
Group Photo in Stebbins Gulch, January 16, 2015 (iPhone 5 Photo)

This workshop is limited to 16 participants, and you should have a basic knowledge of digital photography and be familiar with the controls and operation of your smartphone camera, digital point-&-shoot or SLR camera.

To register for the program, visit Holden’s website at: http://www.holdenarb.org or call Joy Totedo at (440)-(602)-3833.

 

Ice Photography Workshop – The Holden Arboretum

Icicles, Stebbins Gulch, The Holden Arboretum, Lake County, Ohio
Icicles, Stebbins Gulch, The Holden Arboretum, Lake County, Ohio

If you would like to fine-tune your winter photography skills, join us on Saturday, January 22, 2011 for a one-day Ice Photography Workshop at The Holden Arboretum in Lake County, Ohio. This is a popular workshop that we have conducted for more than 15 years.

The workshop begins with a slide program on winter photography at Holden’s Visitor Center. We’ll cover winterizing your digital camera equipment, optimal camera settings for winter photography, fine-tuning your winter exposures using in-camera histograms, and specific tips for finding and photographing Lake Erie ice, icicles, ice patterns, snow scenics, and wildlife in winter. After the slide program, we’ll carpool a short distance and enjoy a hike through Holden’s winter woods to Stebbins Gulch, a rugged gorge with 80-foot sandstone cliffs, frozen waterfalls, and many icicles, if the weather is seasonally cold. We’ll descend into the gorge (knee-length rubber boots are best), photograph for a couple of hours, then hike out of the Gulch and return to Holden’s Visitor Center to socialize and enjoy a hot drink.

Stebbins Gulch, The Holden Arboretum, Lake County, Ohio
Stebbins Gulch, The Holden Arboretum, Lake County, Ohio

This workshop is limited to 15 participants, and you should have a basic knowledge of digital photography and be familiar with the controls and operation of your digital camera. The photo shoot includes two miles of hiking in the snow, some scrambling around snow-covered trees and boulders, patches of ice, and occasional wading through an icy stream with water up to a foot or more in depth.

Photographing Icicles in Stebbins Gulch, The Holden Arboretum, Ohio
Photographing Icicles in Stebbins Gulch, The Holden Arboretum, Ohio

There will also be an evening session on Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at the Holden Visitor Center to share and critique your photos from the Stebbins Gulch photo shoot, and we’ll cover some techniques for enhancing your winter photos using Adobe Photoshop  and Adobe Lightroom.

To register for the program, visit Holden’s website at: http://www.holdenarb.org/home/winterholdenexperience.asp or call Vonna Zahler at (440)-(602)-3833.

Photographing Christmas Lights – Part 3

Christmas lights in Newbury, Geauga County, Ohio

Nikon D2X, 12-24mm lens, ISO 400, 1 second at f/8

Do you want the sky in your Christmas lights photos to be black, gray, or blue? The time of day you shoot and the “white balance” setting on your camera are two key factors that affect the color of the sky and the lights in your photos.

The time of day you shoot has a big effect on the quality of your Christmas lights photos. Most people wait until it is completely dark, and the sky is black, before taking pictures of Christmas lights. This is too late, if you want the most pleasing color. The best time to shoot is usually just after sunset, when the sky still shows some color – deep blue on a clear day. So try to arrive at the Christmas lights display you plan to shoot before sunset, so you can do some scouting and figure out a few of the best angles and compositions, especially those in which the lights are outlined against the sky. As the light fades to a deeper and deeper blue, the Christmas lights will begin to glow against the sky. This period when the ambient light from the sky and the Christmas lights are well balanced only lasts for 10-15 minutes, so plan your shoot to take as many photos as possible between sunset and the time when the sky becomes completely dark.

The white balance setting you use on your camera is also very important. If most of the Christmas lights are incandescent, then a white balance setting of “tungsten” (2700 – 3300 K) may provide the most pleasing color, though this setting is often a bit cool for my taste, with a pronounced blue color cast. The “daylight” and “cloudy” settings (5000 – 6500  K)  are usually too warm, rendering clear skies a bluish-gray. To my eye, a white balance setting which corresponds to halogen and some fluorescent lamps (3500 – 4500 K) often provides the color that is most pleasing. On the other hand, if the Christmas lights are some of the newer, more energy efficient LED bulbs, you may find that a much higher value will provide the most realistic color rendition.

If you shoot in raw mode, as I strongly recommend, you can adjust the color temperature to taste when you process the raw file in your image editor’s raw converter. I use Adobe’s Camera Raw, which is the raw converter used in Photoshop and Lightroom. Even on a cloudy day, when the sky fades from gray to black, you can produce a blue sky in your photo by simply using a cooler, “tungsten” setting in your raw converter when you process the photo back at home. If your point-&-shoot camera doesn’t provide raw files, and you are using Adobe Photoshop as your image editor, you can use the File “Open As” command to open your JPEG files in the Adobe Camera Raw program, which gives you access to the color temperature sliders. You can also open JPEG files in Adobe Lightroom and obtain the same color temperature controls.

What color rendition do you prefer in your Christmas lights photos?

Clock tower in Hudson, Ohio

Nikon D700, 24-120mm lens, ISO 800, 0.6 second at f/8

Do you want lots of “noise” in your digital Christmas lights photos – a grainy appearance, especially in the darker areas, with strange colored pixels that can be seen when you blow up the photo on your computer screen?

If so, use a very high ISO setting of 1600, 3200, 6400 or even higher on your digital camera. The higher the ISO setting, the more noise you will get in your photos.

If you shoot in raw mode, you can use the noise reduction sliders provided in the raw conversion program to reduce the noise in the photograph. In Adobe’s Camera Raw program, used in Photoshop and Lightroom, there are separate sliders for reducing luminance and color noise. The color noise consists of random red, blue, and green pixels which appear in dark areas of the photo. You can often eliminate most of this color noise using the color noise slider. The luminance noise is a generally grainy appearance in darker areas of the photo that is mostly a function of the brightness level. It can be reduced by using the luminance noise slider, but this noise reduction is often accomplished by slightly blurring the fine detail in the photo, which can result in an unnatural, plastic or smeared appearance in your photos. There are also several powerful noise reduction packages, including Noise Ninja, Neat Image and Dfine, that can be used as stand-alone programs or, in some cases, as plug-in programs for Adobe Photoshop and other image editors.

You may find that a certain amount of noise in your Christmas Lights photos is OK and doesn’t bother you. However, if you want to minimize noise in your Christmas lights photos, use a lower ISO setting, such as 200 or 400, on your digital camera. The lower the ISO, the less noise will appear in your photo.

Point-&-Shoot and cell phone cameras, which have very small digital sensors, are especially susceptible to noise at high ISO settings and long exposures. Many of the newer SLR cameras, however, such as the Nikon D3s, D700, and D7000, and the Canon 5D Mark II, 60D, and 7D, are remarkably noise-free at  ISO settings of 800, 1600, or even much higher. Check out some of the on-line camera review websites, such as www.dpreview.com for more detailed information on how your digital camera performs with regard to noise at high ISO settings.

Tomorrow, I’ll share some final thoughts on (not) using your camera flash when photographing Christmas lights, and a place where you can shoot amazing light displays every night of the year.