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A Sneak-Peek at the Upcoming 2014 Adventure Workshop

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The 2014 Summit Adventure Workshop has arrived!

Starting on September 20, students from around the world will gather in the beautiful town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming to begin what will be for many of them an absolutely unforgettable experience.


Adventure students have the pleasure of being taught by some of the world’s best adventure photographers and instructors, including: Keith Ladzinski, Corey Rich and Lucas Gilman, among others.


In addition to being in the presence of professional and inspirational photographers, Summit Adventure students will also be in the presence of incredibly talented athletes. Whether it’s photographing a rock-climber on the edge of a cliff or a kayaker rowing through rushing rapids, students will be thrust right into the action where they can get the best view of the adventure.


For continuous updates and student-taken photos from the Summit Adventure Workshop,

follow us on social media:

Instagram – summitworkshops

Twitter – @summitworkshops

Facebook – Summit Series of Photography





How to Create Amazing Urban Landscape & Street Photography Images

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A stitched panorama in a city can make a great scene!

Many of us live in cities nowadays, in fact almost 80% of the world’s population lives in, or near, a large city. While it is fantastic to be out in nature, photographing the remote seascape scenes or the snow capped mountains, that is not possible for most photographers, everyday. That might mean that you don’t photograph for weeks at a time. As you probably know by now, to make big improvements in your photography you need to practice, practice, and practice some more.

Living in a city has its own scenes that are great to photograph, this is why street photography is such a popular genre of photography. These urban landscapes can not only be interesting, but you can make some very powerful images in an urban or city setting. Here are some pointers on how to create amazing urban landscape and street photography images.

1. Urban landscapes are the same as rural landscapes

Ok, not visually maybe, but in the way you approach them. In traditional landscape photography you will use a leading line to draw the eye into the scene. You will make sure that there is foreground interest that holds the viewers eye. You will usecomposition guidelines to set up your shot. This is all true for urban landscapes too. Visually design your scene as you would when you photograph a landscape scene. Be sure that the scene has a good background, a strong mid ground and a compelling foreground. This is not a rule, but it will help when you set up your shot.

2. The mundane becomes unusual

We have all seen pretty much all the objects in a city. The fire hydrants, the mailboxes and the scenes all look familiar to us city dwellers. In urban landscapes it’s not only about the architecture or the street scenes, it is about making those well know objects look different or interesting. Think of the time of day that you photograph. Late afternoon sunlight, warm light can make a fire hydrant or mailbox look somehow magical. Graffiti can look gritty, textured, and interesting in the soft light. Look at how you can change the angle or lines in a normal scene. Come froma different angle and see how that change makes all the difference to making mundane objects seem different.

Look for a way to make mundane scenes look different

3. Textures and close up

Every city has literally thousands of different textures, including: walls of buildings, cobbled streets, paved walkways, wooden walkways, benches, grass, the list goes on.

…to view the rest of this article, visit digital-photography-school.com

5 Camera Checks Before you Release the Shutter to Produce Amazing Shots Consistently

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Experience has the ability to make us wiser with our actions and choices. As a photographer, I have made mistakes in the past because of which I missed out on awesome photo opportunities. If only I was more careful, I could have avoided such situations. While some of these chances are inevitable – those where you wish you should have brought your tripod, or when your lens should have had a longer reach, some can simply be avoided by having some quick checks. Making sure of certain settings before and after a shoot as part of your workflow can go a long way.

Here are five checks you should develop a habit of before you start taking photos. The post also explains what happens if you fail to do so.

Photo by Cubmundo

1. Check the Shooting Mode

If you use different shooting modes from time to time, it is best to make sure you’re using the right one before you start some serious shooting. I normally switch between Aperture Priority and Manual Modedepending on what I intend to shoot. I don’t have a problem when I intend to use Manual, since I already know I will be using 2 dials to change aperture and shutter speed. The problem is when I think I’m in Aperture Priority Mode but I’m really using Manual. I adjust the aperture dial, but the shutter speed doesn’t follow.

It’s quite obvious when this happens since you’ll see in your viewfinder that the number on the shutter setting doesn’t follow, although if you don’t take notice, you might end up with either an underexposed or overexposed image.

Unless your shooting mode dial has a safety lock to keep it from accidentally switching, use only one mode, and don’t let others touch your camera, make sure that it is set to your preferred mode all the time.

Photo by Ian Muttoo

2. Look at the ISO

I don’t know about you, but most of the time, I don’t want to think about my ISO setting too much. During the day when there is enough light, all I want to care about is whether to use wide or shallowdepth of field, or freeze and stop motion, or other techniques. I simply keep my ISO at my preferred low sensitivity setting to keep things in detail. The only time I touch it is when I find the need to do so – either when a grainy shot looks better, or if I need to push for a little more exposure.

But what if you were using a high ISO the night before since you’re looking at getting more exposure? Then suddenly you need to shoot something very interesting at high noon. If you forgot to switch back to a low ISO, chances are you’ll end up pretty frustrated that you didn’t remember that you changed it last night since your shots look pretty noisy when you would have wanted detailed ones. Always have the habit of returning to a low ISO and change as needed.

Photo by darkday.

3. Is There Any Exposure Compensation?

When your metering system is acting strange one culprit can be exposure compensation. Maybe you forgot that you were using +3 stops the last time when you were taking photos of snow so it wouldn’t look gray. Now it’s making you wonder if you forgot what you’ve learned in basic photography since your camera is causing your street shots to look overexposed.

….To view the rest of this post, visit lightstalking.com

Using Composition to Create More Powerful Portraits

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As part of my series on portrait photography, in this article, I will discuss composition, one of the most important aspects of creating a good portrait image.

F11A6332 1

  • Are there any laws regarding framing a portrait?
  • Can I leave hands, fingers, or part of the head out of the frame?
  • Does a portrait have to include a face?

I will answer these questions that my students often ask. It is important to keep in mind that as in all aspects of art, there are no “rules” or “must dos” here, because you can do anything as long as it works for you. So, I will describe techniques that work for me and I hope that they will work for you, resulting in much stronger portrait photography portfolio.

What is a good portrait?

A good portrait is an image of a person that manages to tell a story. A good portrait evokes emotion. A good portrait tells us something about the person in the image, and composition is a key element that helps us create a storytelling portrait.

How can I create a storytelling portrait with the help of composition?

I think good composition is a combination of the scene on the ground and the scene within your head. It combines the available with the desirable.

Here are a few examples of portraits I made recently (using natural light only) with explanations of the thinking process and goals in terms of composition. As Ansel Adams said, don’t forget that every image has two people behind it. the photographer and the viewer. So you might not feel the same emotions as I do with the images I created. But that’s okay, because photography is both an art and a science.

Choosing how much background to include

F11A3496 Exposure 1

Focal length 24mm

I met this boy cutting Paprika in rural Cambodia. It was summer vacation and he was there with his family and other villagers. What’s my visual narrative in one line? “Small boy, big work.”

I immediately knew two things: one, the background is a significant element and two; I wanted to capture the boy working alone. So, I started with the background and decided on a high angle in order to capture this “mountain” of Paprika. It was important for me to show the boy’s entire body with some space above his head so that the viewer could compare (remember my one line story?) the size of the boy to the size of the work.

I even included that basket in the composition to add balance to the entire frame. After I set up my composition, I waited about 20 minutes to capture the boy looking up. I knew that if he was working with his head and eyes down, the whole story would fall apart. I think the wait was worth it.

…..To view the rest of this post, visit digital-photography-school.com

Finding Great Photographs Close to Home

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You don’t need to take expensive and exotic trips to make good images. So if staying at home is more your thing then a few simple ideas can help you create beautiful images. What you might view as commonplace and bland can still be photographed in an imaginative and skillful way to produce an image that shows a far more striking aspect of the subject or scene. I am not suggesting you get all creative with software manipulation either. I am suggesting explore your imagination and creativity; perhaps push your technical boundaries a little and this will further enhance your photographic skill.


The ability to take an everyday scene and construct from it a superb image will require your application of some or all of the following:

  • vision to see the various elements that might be included in an image
  • concentration and time to develop the idea and assimilate all the components
  • awareness to recognize the potential of a color, shape and form
  • observation to study the scene and time enough to mentally collate the aspects of the image and to try them out in camera
  • willingness to try something new

This skill of making the mundane magnificent is not dependent on the type of camera and lens you use, it works with anything. My particular interest is nature and wildlife, but the skill can readily be applied to most of your chosen genres of photography.

Getting started

To start you should be looking for a spark or catalyst to kick off the mental process. This can be anything that takes your fancy such as color, shape, pattern or motion.

Once you have selected your particular environment, and isolated some elements for a composition, then take some time to arrange and rearrange them in your mind. Walk around, kneel, lie down and test different perspectives. Work the opportunity and let the image evolve, don’t rush it. You may get a few strange looks in certain circumstances, but that is the price you pay.

Something simple like a field of rapeseed (or field of other flowers or crops depending on where you live) is a common, beautiful, bright yellow sight which also heralds the arrival of summer. The endless fields of yellow can be monotonous, but they can provide you with a colorful subject in their own right, or a backdrop for a smaller subject. You can use the color, the size of the field and the detail of individual flowers. Look about for a subject, choose a perspective and include other elements such as: blue sky, clouds, a tree, a car, a sunrise or sunset, or all of the above. Let the image unfold.

Finding subjects close to home

The images here are all taken this year, with this article in mind, all within a couple of miles of my house. This is to demonstrate that there is much on our doorsteps that might keep our photographic needs satisfied, well some of them at least.

Choose any patch of grass on a dewy morning and have a look for a good collection of dew drops and try a backlit shot. The sparkles and perfect shapes of the droplets make an intriguing subject. Here I have turned the image into a black and white just to emphasize the shape and patterns, but often you’ll want to keep the lovely green of the grass.

001 Dewy Morning in the Grass

Garden birds are probably the most accessible wildlife for you budding nature photographers. With some simple skills you can go beyond just taking a record shot, but can create lovely images. Place a bird feeder in a good position, with a decent background, and a thoughtfully placed perch and sit back and wait. Change the perch and change the background at will and you have a whole suite of different images available to you.

……to view the rest of this article, visit digital-photography-school.com

A Chance to work with Sports Illustrated, only at the Summit Sports Workshop

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Since its creation in 1954, Sports Illustrated has employed some of the best and brightest photographers and storytellers in the world. The result is a publication that personifies the meaning of award-winning photography and journalism in sports. One of our long-time friends and faculty members, SI Director of Photography Brad Smith, spends his days deciding what is good enough to run in his magazine. At the Summit Sports Workshops, Brad doesn’t simply teach students about the sports photography business, he also brings an exclusive opportunity to our students that can only be found at our workshops. For the student who conveys the most determination and enthusiasm to become a better sports photographer, Brad offers a one-time photography assignment from Sports Illustrated.

Tamela Triplett, left, poses with Brad Smith, right, after receiving the second-annual Bill Eppridge Memorial Award.

Tamela Triplett, left, poses with Brad Smith, right, after receiving the second-annual Bill Eppridge Memorial Award.


This award is given out to one student at each years Sports Photography Workshop, and for many it is the ultimate opportunity to get into the competitive sports photography business.

The only thing greater than the award itself is the name given to it. When Brad Smith decided that he would offer this award to Summit Workshop students, he also decided that it would be named the Bill Eppridge Memorial Award. Bill Eppridge was a long-time friend and faculty member of the Summit Workshops.

Bill Eppridge was one of the most esteemed faculty members to ever be a part of the Summit Series of Workshops.

Bill Eppridge was an incredibly talented and inspirational part the Summit Series of Workshops.


He was an incredibly talented photojournalist that all of his friends and colleagues admired, but he was also an incredibly talented human-being, who spread his knowledge and experience to those around him. Bill died on October 3, 2013, but his memory will live on through the people that continue to be inspired by him. By naming the Summit Workshop’s top-prize after Bill Eppridge, we hope to show the appreciation for the man that’s taught us so much, and the man that we miss dearly.

Photo Editing – 4 steps to make it easy

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Don't let the editing process get the best of you, simplify your steps. Photo: CGuyTech

Don’t let the editing process get the best of you, simplify your steps.                    Photo: CGuyTech

Have you ever returned to your computer with a memory card full of photos and become overwhelmed at the idea of going through all of them?

The thought of sorting and analyzing so many pictures can seem so daunting it’s sometimes hard to even know where to start! Often we find ourselves copying the contents of our cameras to our computers and letting our precious memories collect digital dust, though we promise ourselves we will get around to organizing them – someday. Modern technology has made this task easier, with various software and cloud-based services even promising to find your best photos for you.

The following tips will help you streamline your photography workflow and make the task of sifting through your images not only easier, but a lot more enjoyable too. These general practices will apply to whatever photo editing software you use.

Step 1: Get rid of bad photos

This is the first thing you should do when sorting throuogh pictures, and it can be hard at times when you want to save everything. But this step will make all the difference in managing your growing photo library, especially if you have never done it before.

Let’s say you went on a summer family trip to a national park, and you returned home with thousands of pictures to deal with. It might be tough, but as you look through them, try to think about what images will matter the most to you a year from now. You might have had a wonderful time at the Grand Canyon during your vacation, but will you really want 50 pictures of your child looking down at the great abyss? What about the ones where he is blinking, out of focus, or looking the other way? It is likely that two or three good pictures are all you need. In this first step, it’s up to you to find the ones that best encapsulate your experience as a whole, and ditch the rest.

This approach might seem coldhearted and cruel, but it’s a necessary step in taming the photo-management beast. When you revisit the pictures from your summer trip a couple years from now, you won’t need a thousand of them to help you remember the experience. A tenth of that will probably be perfectly appropriate. If you hang on to every last one you might find that they become a burden that you’ll be afraid to come back to and revisit.

One nice advantage of using a photo management program is that you can remove unwanted photos without actually deleting them from your hard drive. In Lightroom, pressing the “X” key on a photo will mark it as rejected, so it will no longer show up in your photo library but will still exist on your computer. This helps soften the initial blow, and then you can go back later and actually delete the rejected photos if you so desire. Alternatively, you can press the “P” key to flag a photo as one of your favorites, or assign star ratings to the images you like best. Then you can instantly sort out your best shots later down the line, and delete the rest when you are ready.

Step 2: Basic Editing

After culling your pictures to find the ones you like most, the next step is to perform basic edits and save the real heavy lifting for later. After removing the duds from your recent camera import, go through each of the remaining images and apply the simplest of edits such as cropping, straightening and exposure. Not much else is needed at this stage, as you are essentially preparing your photos for any real edits that might need to be done later. These basic adjustments are very quick, and you can churn through your recent batch of vacation, birthday, or hiking photos in a manner of minutes or hours instead of days or weeks.

You can also copy and paste adjustments, so if you have a dozen similar photos you can edit one and then apply those adjustments to the rest with a simple keystroke. This is also a good time to  apply some rudimentary organization to your photos as well, using tools like keywords, flags, categories, or star ratings. Be careful not to get caught up in editing any single photo in depth at this stage. The goal of Step 2 is to dig a little deeper into the photos you like, which will help you decide where to concentrate your efforts if you do need to do more intensive edits afterwards.

Step 3: Advanced Editing

By this point you should now have a curated set of photos that you really like, with some mild corrections applied to help them look a little more pleasing. Now it’s time to perform the types of more detailed edits that will help your images truly shine. Advanced adjustments to a photo’s white balance, color saturation, contrast, and other parameters, while also applying localized improvements like dodging and burning can take a long time, but the results are well worth it.

It’s important to do this step last, or else you can easily wind up spending a great deal of time editing a single picture early in the process only to realize there are plenty of better ones that should have had your attention instead.

Step 4: Walk Away

This might sound silly, but often the most useful activity you can do when editing your photos is nothing at all. Take a break, get a coffee, head out for a walk, or just go to bed and come back to your pictures the next day with a fresh set of eyes.


Following this simple process, and adjusting it to suit your individual needs, can transform photo sorting from a tedious chore into an activity that is enjoyable, relaxing, and fun.


[via Simon Ringsmuth at digital-photography-school.com]

2014 Fall Summit (Nature) Workshop – SIGN UP NOW!!

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Our longest running workshop of the Summit Series, the Summit Nature workshop, is filling up quickly! Taking place from September 28 through October 3, this workshop is an exceptional opportunity to learn not only how to shoot nature and wildlife more effectively, but also the journalistic efforts that go into capturing the story of the image.

The Summit Nature workshops brings together a faculty of top international photographers and editors, many from National Geographic. Students have the opportunity to listen to, study with and network with the very individuals who are uniquely positioned to help with career development.

Included in the instructional sessions are lectures on conservation photography, marketing and freelance photography, and software and technology education. Also, what might be the most underrated aspect of our workshops, the networking, comes in all shapes and sizes at the Nature workshop.

To reserve you spot for the Summit Nature workshop (Sept. 28 – Oct. 3), visit:


OR email Workshop Director Chris Steppig at:



5 Photoshop Blend Modes Every Photographer Should Know

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Photographic compositing has been with us since the dawn of photography. The merging of two or more separate images into one is seen as a way of extending our creativity. In the digital age, of course, this has become a whole lot easier with the use of Photoshop’s layers and blend modes. As well as compositing different images, layers and blend modes can be a great way to improve the look of your images. Today we are going to look at five of the best blend modes for a photographer, but before we start we should briefly look at what a blend mode is.

What is a Blend Mode?

In layman’s terms, a blend mode works out specific differences between two layers, the upper layer and the lower layer. Depending on the blend mode, these differences can be in exposure, contrast, color or other factors. The blend mode then uses this information to merge the two layers together.

The blend modes can be found on the top left of layer palette once there are two or more layers available. To use a blend mode, select the upper of the two layers that you wish to blend. Another useful tool to be aware of when using blend modes is the Opacity slider, this is found to the top right of the layers palette.

The whole array of blend modes in Photoshop.

The whole array of blend modes in Photoshop.

1. Multiply

This is an excellent mode for outdoor photography such a landscapes particularly if they look light and washed out. A useful technique is to create a curves adjustment layer to reduce the highlights a touch, then apply the multiply blend mode. This has the effect of darkening the image by the equivalent of one stop. If your image is now too dark, you can back the blend mode off a little using the Opacity slider.

Use Multiply to darken up a flat washed out image.

Use Multiply to darken up a flat washed out image.

2. Soft Light

This is useful mode for boosting contrast within an image. If you have a flat, low contrast image you can get an instant contrast boost by duplicating the original layer and applying the Soft Light blend mode. Again, the effect can be backed off using the opacity filter but if you need a further contrast boost, duplicate the upper layer again, the Soft Light mode will also automatically copied to the new layer.

Image with normal blend mode.

Image with normal blend mode.

Contrast boosted with Soft Light blend mode.

Contrast boosted with Soft Light blend mode.

3. Overlay 

Overlay is in many ways similar to Soft Light in that it is a contrast based mode. One of its most powerful uses is in adding graduated filters to flat skies. To do this, create a blank layer above your original. Using the graduated fill tool with a neutral graduation selected, drag the fill tool down from the top to about two thirds of the way down the image. Apply the Overlay blend mode to this graduated layer and you will see the graduated filter effect darkening your sky. Again, you can back this effect off using Opacity slider. You can also apply the Soft Light mode to this for a more subtle effect.

Image in Normal blend mode.

Image in Normal blend mode.

The same image with a graduated filter added in Soft Light mode.

The same image with a graduated filter added in Soft Light mode.

4. Lighten 

Lighten is an excellent mode for merging identical shots with different exposures. For example, if you took a series of identical shots of a cityscape through sunset and wanted to merge a night image with an earlier, lighter image that had more detail, Lighten would be the mode to use. It works by removing all the dark areas from the upper image and bending purely the lighter areas into the layer below.

Here the Lighten mode has allowed me to add light trails from a darker image to a lighter image.

Here the Lighten mode has allowed me to add light trails from a darker image to a lighter image.

5. Luminosity

This mode is extremely useful for boosting contrast without affecting saturation. Normally, when you boost the contrast of an image using either levels or curves, the color is also boosted, often leading to an over saturated feel. To avoid this, create a duplicate adjustment layer, either curves or levels, carry out your contrast adjustment, then switch the blend mode to luminosity.

A curves contrast boost in Normal mode over-saturates.

A curves contrast boost in Normal mode over-saturates.

Using Luminosity blend mode reduces that over saturation.

Using Luminosity blend mode reduces that over saturation.

The combination of layers, adjustment layers, blend modes and opacity combine to make the layers palette in Photoshop one of its most powerful functions. They give us the ability to work on specific elements of an image such as contrast or luminance without affecting other elements. Although they might seem a little daunting at first, blend modes, and in particular the five listed above, are a powerful tool in the photographer’s post production workflow.

[via Jason Row at LightStalking.com]

Three Uses For High ISO You Might Not Know

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The ISO setting  is used to control your camera’s sensitivity to light. When you use a high ISO setting essentially you are telling your camera to become more receptive to the available light. This is most often used when you are photographing in low light situations in order to maintain a proper exposure. However, there are at least three other reasons you might consider using a high ISO setting when you’re either in a good light situation or on a tripod.

1. Freezing fast motion

Use a high ISO setting to freeze fast motion – 1/8000th ISO 1,000

Use a high ISO setting to freeze fast motion – 1/8000th ISO 1,000

The only way to freeze fast motion, like the wings of a hummingbird moth, is to shoot with an extremely fast shutter speed. The above photograph was shot with a shutter speed of 1/8000th of a second in order to freeze the insect’s wings. However, even in the bright mid-afternoon sun, a shutter speed that fast required bumping the ISO setting on the camera to 1,000 to maintain an even exposure.

Below, is an example of why shooting at 1/8000th of a second was necessary. Even at 1/800th of a second the insect’s wings were barely visible. In order to ensure that the motion was frozen it meant that more light was needed in a shorter amount of time and the only way to get this (without a faster lens) is to bump up the ISO on the camera.

ISO 500 1/800th – even at that speed the wings are blurry.

ISO 500 1/800th – even at that speed the wings are blurry.

2. Night sky photography

Many different techniques come into play when you want to photographing the stars, but one of the more important things to remember is to increase that ISO setting. The reason you want to photograph the stars with a higher ISO, even though you’re using a tripod, is that as the earth rotates, the stars move across the sky and you don’t want to capture that movement in your photograph (unless you are doing star trails)

Use high ISO to capture stars in the night sky.

Use high ISO to capture stars in the night sky.

Many different techniques come into play when you want to photographing the stars, but one of the more important things to remember is to increase that ISO setting. The reason you want to photograph the stars with a higher ISO, even though you’re using a tripod, is that as the earth rotates, the stars move across the sky and you don’t want to capture that movement in your photograph (unless you are doing star trails)

By using an ISO in the 800 to 1,000 rang,e with a fast wide-angle lens, you will be able to capture enough stars to fill the sky.

3. Hand-holding a long lens

If you’re shooting handheld with a long lens, you have to remember the shutter speed rule: 1/focal length (35mm equivalent).  This rule basically means that if you’re using a 300mm lens on a 1.5x crop factor DSLR then the minimum or slowest shutter speed that you can use is 1/450 (1/300 on full frame).

Use high ISO when shooting handheld with a long lens

Use high ISO when shooting handheld with a long lens

The bald eagle above was shot at a 450mm equivalent focal length using a shutter speed of 1/500th of second and an ISO of 1,000. Any slower on the shutter speed and you begin to run the risk of introducing camera shake.


[via digital-photography-school.com]

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