Tree, Bryce Canyon
24mm Schneider lens, Horseman body, Phase One P45 back.
I remember this photograph very well because it was taken on my birthday. I also remember a few days earlier, looking at a photo of Bryce Canyon covered in fresh snow, wondering how photographers were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time!
I was in Las Vegas at the WPPI photography awards and after the event, Phil Kuruvita and I had a week or so in the desert, scouting for photographs. As we drove out of Las Vegas under perfectly clear skies, I put any thoughts of snow out of my mind.
However, the weather in the mountains, even relatively small mountains like those around Bryce Canyon, can be completely different. Late that afternoon, we found ourselves driving into Bryce Canyon with lots of low cloud. We drove back down to the hotel and it started snowing.
My personal website, hosted by Zenfolio
If you need a website for your photography, there are a number of providers who have fantastic products and make the whole process of setting up your very own website easy. My personal website (www.petereastway.com) is with Zenfolio. I am also a Zenfolio ambassador, but I chose Zenfolio first and then they asked later if I would be an ambassador. I was more than happy to oblige.
However, the following suggestions applies to any photography website and, as obvious as it may sound, by following these key steps, you can have a website up and running in next to no time.
Why do you want a website? Once you work this out, determining the photos you want to show becomes a little more obvious.
Many readers will simply want their website to show their best work. Their website is a portfolio and a cut above a page on Facebook, Instagram or Flickr.
Other readers might have a passion for landscape, nature or travel, and so their website becomes a catalog. Rather than just picking their very best photographs (as you would for a portfolio), they will pick photographs that fill out the catalog and give the subject good coverage. For instance, a wildlife photographer might have a catalog of whales and while their photo of a blue whale might not be the best shot ever taken, it is included because it's the only photo of a blue whale the photographer has. It is more important to have the photo than to have the best photo.
Now that you know what you want your website to achieve it's time to sort through your files and pick out your best photographs.
Most photography websites work best when the photographs are segregated into sections or chapters. A site with 1000 photos in a single category is difficult to look out, whereas a site with 50 categories and 20 photos in each is much more 'accessible'.
A portfolio website might only include 15 or 20 photographs, so a single category might be okay. However, if you have 50 or more photographs, perhaps breaking the portfolio into years (2015, 2016, 2017), locations (Australia, New Zealand, USA) or subjects (Travel, Wildlife, Portraits) would be appropriate. Similarly, a travel photographer might divide her website into categories by country, by city or by destination.
There is no single way to divide your photographs into categories, but don't make it too complicated. Simple is best.
So, for every category you're going to create on your website, make a new folder on your website.
The next step is to locate your photographs, re-size them for the website, and then save them into the appropriate folders you've just made in Step 2.
What size photos should you upload? In some ways it doesn't matter because Zenfolio will make copies of what you upload and re-size them depending on where they are viewed on your website. On the other hand, if you want to sell your files, you might choose to upload full size files which your customers can download or print later on.
In my case, I am not selling my photos directly from my website, so I upload JPEG files that measure 2048 pixels on the longest side. However, given the way monitors, tablets and phones are improving, I would recommend today that you upload files that are 4096 pixels on the longest edge. (This is a simplistic approach - there are many reasons you might choose to upload smaller or larger files.)
I save my JPEGs with the AdobeRGB colour space with a compression setting of 8 out of 12, or around 80% (depending on which program I'm using).
The downside of uploading large files is that it makes them easier to steal, but that's a separate topic. I think that there will always be dishonest people and that while we should be aware of internet theft, we shouldn't run our businesses in fear of the worst that can happen!
Categories are called Galleries in Zenfolio - and they are easy to upload.
In Zenfolio, once you've opened your account, all you have to do is make a new Gallery. Give it a name (perhaps the same as the folder on your computer) and then upload your photos! Create a new gallery for each of your folders.
That's it! Your website is now ready to be viewed! Of course, you'll need to make some decisions about which photo or photos are on your home page and you might like to add a logo as well, but these are subjects for another discussion.
You can upload your images in bulk - really easy to do!
However, the big thing is to make a start. Don't make life difficult for yourself by trying to organize all the photos you have, just start with two or three categories. My website has grown in size over a period of 10 years or more, so start small and enjoy the journey.
There's so much more to Zenfolio, such as password access for clients, SEO optimisation and even email campaigns.
When Zenfolio approached me to be a Zenfolio ambassador, I was more than happy to oblige. I liked that they asked someone who was already using their services, and I also liked the fact they were prepared to offer Better Photography readers a 30% discount on their first year's subscription.
To access this special offer, visit www.zenfolio.com/au and have a look around. There's lots of information there.
Then, if you like what you see, sign up for a year and use the coupon code PETEREASTWAY for your 30% discount. Click here for more information.
Shooting from a zodiac
Getting you into all the right places.
A photograph of an iceberg in Greenland received a lot of attention over the weekend on my Instagram feed. I wish I knew which pictures pushed people's buttons because while it's a nice shot (I shared it with you a couple of weeks back in this newsletter), it's not necessarily my best!
However, it lead me to think, how many people know what it takes to get into position for shots like these? The answer is simple: a zodiac. A zodiac is a largish inflatible dingy and varies a little in size. It can comfortably take 10 photographers but 8 is better because there's a little more room.
Access is down the gangway from the ship and in waters like you see here, it's very easy. Some ships ask you to put your camera bag over your shoulder so you have both hands free to hang on to the railings and arms of the crew as you board the zodiac; other ships say keep your camera bag in one hand so that if you do fall into the water, you can simply let it go and float back up to the top! Both are reasoned arguments and I'll let the experts tell you which is the best approach!
When the water is a little busier, with ocean swells for instance, access can be a little more challenging, but you'll find that you enter and exit the zodian in the lee of the ship where the zodiac is somewhat sheltered from the wind and swell.
Once aboard, the zodiac itself is very stable. It is an excellent camera platform, especially if you have a good rapport with your 'driver' as you can move around your subject to get the right angle, the right light or the best background. And sometimes you can be lucky and get all three together!
As the following photos show, if you have a group of well equipped photographers on board, the middle of the zodiac can be full of equipment, but on most occasions, there's plenty of time to shoot and the group doesn't leave until everyone has their shot. The only exception is when photographing wildlife and sometimes it's the wildlife that brings the photo session to an end!
Late afternoon - Yazd's Amir Chakmak Square, Iran
Photographs by Nuran Zorlu
Nuran Zorlu is a commercial photographer in Sydney - and a passionate traveller, historian and gourmet! He has visited Iran a couple of times and has published a book of photographs on the country, its architecture and culture. I'm not quite sure what I'm getting myself into with our tour to Iran later this year, but I'm sure it will be a lot of fun! Nuran was speaking to me about the importance of taking enough time at travel destinations to ensure you get the best light - as his three photographs from Yazd show.
The view of Hells Gate from Middlehurst, South Island, New Zealand.
Phase One XF 100MP, 60 seconds @ f12, ISO 50, ND filter
A popular Photoshop technique to great perceived sharpness and detail is to use a High Pass filter on a copy layer and change the blend mode to soft light. It creates a similar effect to the clarity slider found in Lightroom, ACR and Capture One. However, there are lots of variations in the technique, including the different blend modes which I want to discuss here.
The photo above is a long exposure taken on my Phase One XF with the amazing 100-megapixel IQ3 sensor, processed in Capture One and then finished in Photoshop. To create the 'sharpness' in the mountains, I applied the High Pass technique with hard light to the lower foothills, but this strength was too much for the crags up above. The solution was to copy the layer and change the blend mode to soft light, adjusting the mask accordingly.
A similar result could be achieved using the clarity tool in Lightroom with the Adjustment Brush and Capture One with its Local Adjustments.
So, what is the difference between soft and hard light? Take a look at the following comparisons on the website.