The monsoon season in Arizona brings with it many opportunities for photographing dramatic skies. With only a few days to capture the lake, I was hoping to capture some better, crazy, stormy scenes, but I had to take what I could get. This is one of my favorite shots taken right at sunset.
This is going to be the fastest review you have ever read about the Luminar's Skylum 4 AI Sky Replacement tool. The AI Sky replacement tool works GREAT! It has some issues with an original photo with cloudy skies, but It works the best with a plain blue sky. I have had success with clouds. Skylum Luminar 4 still runs slow on my souped up iMac but it works well enough and I still like using it. Check out a free trial for yourself and see how you like it.
I used one of the starry skies built into luminar 4. You can opt to use your own if you like.
Never been to The Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, I wasn't really prepared for how massive these dunes are. Looking at photos online, It's difficult to get a feeling of scale, or size, of The Great Sand Dunes. The best way to display scale in a photograph, regardless of your perspective, is to add something to the scene that the brain can reference to find scale.
Usually, I don't like people in my landscapes. I would prefer a wild animal, or a bird, but because this is a pretty busy spot I left all the sand explorers in the shot so the viewer can really get a sense of scale.
Since I have replaced my workflow using Nik Plugins with the new Luminar photo editing tool, I have to say personally, after weeks of review, I am loving Luminar. Coming from Photoshop with Nik plugins background and not Lightroom. I feel like, for some photos, you can't really get there color-wise with Nik. Nik is great but Luminar is blowing them out of the water. I am impressed!
Just for fun I was going through some of my old photos, shot in 2009. These photos I just skipped by because they were shot dark and lifeless. I thought I would run some of them through Luminar to see what it could do with them. See for yourself:
I feel like there was a reason for me to take this photo. I just don't point and shoot just to take a photo. I think the dark, lifeless photo is the result of the raw camera file and just lack of light. I'm sure it looked better in person or I wouldn't have taken the shot.
If you are looking for a great alternative to editing your photos why not give Luminar a try, just download the free trial and see if it works for you. That's what I did!
Banyan trees are so cool to look at. The main trunks have roots growing down to form new trees and looks like wax dripping down. I wanted to get a nice wide shot to showcase the length of the trees and also the roots that grow off of them.
The weather up in the Great Smoky Mountains didn't quite cooperate for grande landscapes so I decided to just "focus" on leaves and the colors they produce. My goal was to get some nice depth of field with color contrast. This photo is one of my favorites. The red pops out with greens and yellows behind them. It's almost like a painting. For this shot I really wanted shallow depth of field to produce nice bokeh in front and behind with just a little bit of the leaves in focus. To achieve this, I got as close as I could with my 60mm lens as wide open as possible f2.8.
Sometimes mother nature just doesn't quite cooperate. That's when you gotta just do the best you can. If the shot isn't there it's time to play around with different technique and use your imagination. I knew I wasn't going to get a great shot of the full super moon with all the different layers of storm clouds. So I just played around and tried some different things and came up with this photo below. At a 2 minute exposure I'm surprised the clouds aren't more blurry, but I like the smoothness of the ocean and the semi crisp clouds with the super moon rising behind them.
I've really been pushing this little camera to see how well it stacks up to my Nikon D700. Even though the sensor is APC I am getting terrific results. In some cases I am getting some banding (lines that go across the image) but I think those show up in contrasty or darker images. So far I have to conclude: why will I ever buy a 3k camera body again. My Nikon is a fantastic camera and I will probably still use it as long as it works. My motto has always been this: it doesn't really matter, in most cases, what camera you use, it's how you use it. If you learn the fundamentals of photography you can achieve professional results with just about any camera. (Take a look at my W.I.S.E. page.) Also see my GoPro Pix here
In this scene I wanted to see how well the low lights did with the highlights. I exposed for the sky and brought out the details in the foreground in post. The Sony raw file holds up pretty well, not quite as good as my Nikon D700 but I think it's good enough, enough so, you wouldn't be able to tell what camera or size of sensor took the photo.
As I continue to test my Sony a6000 camera and push the raw files I am very impressed. The raw files aren't as good as my Nikon NEF's but they are really close. It must be the difference between the Sony's 12 bit raw and the Nikon's 14 bit raw. None the less, this camera is keeping up with my Nikon D700 and then some. I'm really enjoying the small form factor and portability of this power-packed camera. Image below: Black & White Double Rainbow
A road with no cars on it! That's what a good thunderstorm will do, get everyone off the roads so us photographers can capture a scene. I just really liked how this road looked as it led down into the glowing sky, then add to that the "do not enter" sign. - ominous
I ran down to the beach with my Sony a6000 right after a big thunderstorm. I was hoping to catch the lightning offshore but instead there were rainbows everywhere. Gotta love the double rainbow action.
Zion National Park is one of my favorite places. The colors, the hikes and the scenery are breathtaking. I went during fall for the fall colors. It's a great time to go because they stop the buses entering the park and you can drive in and explore on your own time. I believe they still force you to take the bus into the park during summer hours but I'm not 100%. As a photographer, it's better when you get to come and go when you please, utilizing that early morning or late evening light.
Below is an early morning shot of the Court of the Patriarchs. Just as the sun was coming up and the moon was going down.
A little different! I wanted to get a new perspective of the ocean in this shot. I really liked the tall grass growing on the dunes and I wanted a nice shallow depth of field.