MSP Images gives you a royalty-free license to over 150 of my most popular photographs, including landscapes, sunsets, nature, & more. New version 2.2 is now available on the App Store.
With my MSP Images app for iPhone, iPad, iPad Pro, & iPod touch, you get over 150 of my most popular images. You’ll get a personal use license to all the photos. Save any or all of the images to your photo library.
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Over 150 of my most popular images for your personal use
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Save any or all of the images to your photo library
Use the images as wallpaper, prints, or any other personal use
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I took well over fifty shots during a late afternoon in early September, as an incredible line of thunderstorms moved in.
I was excited by the evolution of this line of storms and how the rain created a misty appearance on the water.
This was an HDR image composed from three exposures: -1⅓ ev, ⅓ ev , and 2 ev. I used Photomatix Pro to build a tone mapped image from the three shots and then did a little bit of Photoshop to remove some dots that the raindrops on my lens added to the image.
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Here’s a technique I use often to add interest to an otherwise dull photograph and draw attention to its subject, without making it look “Photoshopped.”
First, let’s take a look at a shot I took of a fantastic Gumbo Limbotree at Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park near Islamorada, Florida:
It’s a potentially dramatic image, shot with a ultra-wide 10mm lens to show all of the tree’s forked limbs with the sunlight filtering through the canopy. The problem is that the tree itself is underexposed and lacks much of the reddish coloration I saw when I took the shot.
I could have used the HDR technique, which I discussed in a previous post. However, I did not think to do so at the time; and, I only took this single exposure. I also could have used Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop to increase the exposure or otherwise brighten the image. But, that would have blown out the rest of the image, making the leaves, branches, sky and sun overexposed.
So, what to do? How about selectively brightening the subject!
Here’s how to do it using only one additional layer in Photoshop and a little skill with the brush:
Open your image in Photoshop.
Make sure the Adjustments panel is displayed and click on Exposure to create a new Exposure adjustment layer. As you can see, the adjustment layer comes with its own layer mask.
In the Exposure adjustment properties panel, increase the exposure using the slider. You’ll see that the entire image is brightened. This is OK for now. Adjust the exposure slider until the subject looks close to the way you want it to look. Don’t worry about getting this exactly right. With this technique, you can go back at any time to adjust the Exposure adjustment layer!
Now, press Command-I on your Mac (Ctrl-I on your PC) to invert the layer mask that was created for you. The layer mask will now turn all black, thus completely hiding the adjustment layer you just created.
Select the Brush tool from the Toolbox or press B. Choose a soft-edged, medium-sized brush from the Brush Picker and set the Opacity to somewhere between 25% and 50% (experiment to see which works best).
Press D to set the foreground/brush color to white.
Using your mouse or trackpad—a Wacom tablet is a much better solution—begin to paint on the areas of the image you want to add the extra “light” to. Start with one stroke at a time, so as to not overdo it and to avoid making the photo look like it was “Photoshopped.” The areas you paint will show as white “holes” in the layer mask, thus, allowing the Exposure adjustment to come through.
You can change the brush size and opacity as you go. Remember: go easy. You want a natural look.
Here’s how my Gumbo Limbo photo looked after I applied this technique (plus some additional processing to enhance the sky, canopy, colors, and other elements):
One of the benefits of this technique is that you can go back to the Exposure adjustment panel and change the exposure level if you like at any time! As an alternative to creating an Exposure adjustment layer, you can create a Curves Adjustment layer. This will give you more control over the effect you want to achieve, but can be a bit more complex.
Experiment with different brushes and opacities. It will take some time to get good at this, but it’s worth it. You’ll love the results!
During an incredible sunset on the west coast of Florida, I was amazed by the lone cloud formation in the foreground and how it added depth and interest to the scene. Then, when part of the formation started to rain out, I knew it would make an interesting photograph.
This was part of a shoot during this amazing sunset that included over a hundred exposures. I started shooting the sunset at 7:40pm and ended at 8:12pm EDT. This photo was late in the sunset at 8:01 pm EDT on August 27, 2015. I shot this from a balcony, 100 feet above the beach at Naples, Florida. Coordinates: 26°15’41” N 81°49’29” W.
The equipment I used for the shot
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod
Manfrotto Ball Head
Canon Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3
The final HDR image was composed from five exposures from-2v to +2ev. I used manual focus and aperture priority mode.
Here are the five photos I shot and used to create the final image:
The longest of the exposures was 8 seconds. The shortest was 0.5 seconds. This gave the image an unusual and dramatic look, capturing and blurring the motion of the clouds and rain.
I used Photomatix Pro to build a tone mapped image from the five shots using a preset that I’ve perfected over the last few years. Then, I did a little bit of Photoshop to remove some dots that the raindrops on my lens filter added to the image.
The result is a dramatic sunset image with soft pastel-like colors and good detail at the same time.
I took this photograph of these spectacular yellow blossoms at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida. I used a macro lens and ring flash for the capture and set camera to manual mode. Exposure: 1/250 sec at f/32. Canon EOS 7D, EF-S60mm f/2.8 Macro USM.
This is a great image at any size and will look great on your wall!
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