Swap out That Wide Angle Lens for Your Landscape Photography

Swap out That Wide Angle Lens for Your Landscape Photography

Landscape shooters love their wide-angle lenses. From the amazing Nikon 14–24mm f/2.8 to the new Canon 11–24mm f/4, it’s usually the wides that get everyone excited about landscape photography. Every so often, however, it pays to change things up. I was in the same boat when it came to landscapes; I reached for the Nikon 14–24mm often, even when I was using my Canon 5D Mark II. Then one day, tired of going for wide, sweeping landscapes, I decided to switch things up. Here are three ways you can do the same. Go Long but Not Too Long Sweeping panoramas are awesome and, back in 2012, I used a slightly different method to create a couple of images that I still look at and like today. In the image below I went with a “normal” length lens – the Canon 45mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift lens. This is a composite of two shots, one with the lens shifted left, and one with it shifted right. Going with that normal perspective allowed me to avoid the one effect of wide-angle lenses that I don’t like: the tendency to often miniaturize things unless you’re pretty close to the subject (in which case they can distort things a bit). I also wanted some compression in the perspective and if you look at the image at 100% even in its current downsized version, you’ll see that you can read the words “Honneur et Patrie” on the far wall of the courtyard just fine. I wanted that tiny bit of detail, as well as Rodin’s “The Thinker” statue framed and recognizable by those pillars behind it. That...
Finding the Photo in the Cruft

Finding the Photo in the Cruft

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by the power of software to bring out something interesting in images that might otherwise be a wash, but wouldn’t you know it, I’m still capable of being amazed. I’m currently shooting with the Nikon D800 of late as part of an assignment (more to come on that later), and I was up in the hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay Area at night, hoping to get some shots of the brilliantly-lit vista that encompassed San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and parts of the Peninsula area. Of course, I got up there, and everything was completely fogged in. I was miffed. Even the slight glimpse of the city in the background behind the Bay Bridge was mostly obscured by fog. I was ready to pass up on the image, finding not much of value, but then decided to play with it a bit. Since I had megapixels to spare (the D800 has a 36MP sensor), I decided to crop the heck out of it. Okay, That was kind of cool, and it was still a 22MP image. But it was still just a fog-blurred image. I decided to see what Lightroom 4 could do with it. Well, okay, that’s not half-bad. Exposure bump by +0.30, highlights lowered by -16, +48 on Clarity and +51 on Vibrance. Not half-bad at all. I didn’t want to stop there. If Lightroom could bring that much life back into this image, what could I do with one of my favorite software packages, Color Efex Pro 4 from Nik Software. I added a little bit of the Detail Extractor...
Tip of the Week: In-Camera Panos with Fuji

Tip of the Week: In-Camera Panos with Fuji

Making panoramic images is one of my favorite things to do, and I tend to go to some lengths to make them. My tool of choice is usually something along the lines of a Canon 45mm TS-E lens, and I use a technique I described in a previous Tip of the Week piece, “Use a Tilt-Shift Lens for Panoramic Photos.” That technique takes some time, thought, and setup, and I don’t always have time to do it right. Sometimes, I want to create a panoramic image quickly and easily. The usual thing to do, then, is to use a wide-angle lens and simply crop the center out. This is a good idea, but unless you’re using a 20+MP camera, you’re going to end up with something pretty small (on the order of something like a 3-4MP image). There’s a better option. I’ve been shooting with the Fuji X-Pro1 and the X100 for some time now, and both cameras have what they call a “Motion Panorama” setting. With a bit of practice, you can use this sweep panorama with great effectiveness. First, hit the “Drive” button on your Fuji camera. On the X-Pro1, this is a dedicated button, but is part of the 4-way rocker on the X100. Once you do so, scroll down to the “Motion Panorama” mode. Once you’re in the Motion Panorama mode, hit the “OK” button on the back of your Fuji. You will then see a screen that looks like the one in the image below. In our example, we left the lens cap on so that the guides on the screen stand out, but...