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Ice & Melting Icebergs

Melting ice, Isispynten, Svalbard
Phase One XF 100MP with 55mm Schneider lens, f8 @ 1/800 second, ISO 200.

What makes a strong composition? What makes an abstract? I've been sub-editing Len Metcalf's wonderful articles on abstracts and composition for Better Photography over the past few issues and he's given me (and our readers) lots to think about. If you're a subscriber, may I suggest you pull out the last few issues and have a read!

I'm suggesting this photo is an abstract. Yes, it's also a literal photograph with very little in the way of post-production (for me, at least). I've used some clarity in this version to bring out the texture in the ice and to separate the ice from the water, but at the end of the day, it's an abstract photograph that relies on the random positioning of ice. The only 'intentional' aspect to the composition is the placement of the large blue berg up the top which hopefully anchors the image.

I took 10 shots to get this one. The other 9 aren't nearly so strong. Why do I mention this?

A photographer who purchased my book, The New Tradition, pointed to a caption I'd written, where I confessed I'd taken around 50 shots to get the good one. For him it was a weight off his mind, because he thought that good photographers only needed to take one or maybe two shots to get it right. Maybe that's true for some photographers, but not in my case. And sometimes, when I'm there in the moment, I have no idea whether or not I have the best shot possible, so I keep taking lots of shots. It's not costing me anything except a little more time selecting the best frame from multiple ones later on.

These days, with so many photographers taking so many great shots, to produce images that stand out, we really need to get our compositional balance working and sometimes, especially with moving subjects like this, lots of photos is the best way to achieve success.

This is shot up in the north of Svalbard on a photo tour I did with Kevin Raber last year. Kevin and I are returning there next year in August if you'd like to join us - but berths sell quickly on our ship, so jump in soon! For more information, check out my Svalbard video here or by visiting the www.betterphotography.com website and looking for the workshops link.

Wacom Quality - Budget Price!

Editing Directly On Screen!

Special Promotion: New And Amazing Wacom Cintiq 16

Better Photography readers will receive a 10% discount on all products in the store. Discount code: BETTERPHOTO10.

Looking to take your editing skills to the next level? Check out Wacom’s new Cintiq 16 – an affordable pen display with all the features you need. 

Why do photographers need a pen display to edit their photographs? If you’re using the adjustment brush in Lightroom, layers and masks in Photoshop, or even the layers in Capture One, you’ll know that you need to ‘select’ and ‘paint’ areas of your image in order to edit creatively.

The difficulty, for me at least, is using a mouse. I find it awkward to hold down a button and then move the mouse around the side of my desk. Growing up, drawing and painting was always with a pencil or a brush, so why suddenly do we need to use a mouse?

Don’t get me wrong: a mouse is a great pointing device and I still have a mouse attached to some of my computers. But when it comes to editing my photos, I immediately switch to my Wacom Pro Pen 2. My edits are so much easier to perform. They are more accurate. I can be more precise and I don’t get tired fingers and hands from awkwardly holding a mouse. For me, there is no better option than a pen.

And even better than a pen is a pen which works on top of a display, so I’m working directly on my image.

At the heart of all of Wacom’s products is the pen. This is the remarkable Pro Pen 2.

Cintiq 16

Wacom has been producing pen tablets since 1983 and produced the first ever pen display, the original Cintiq, in 2001. Today, Wacom pens are used for virtually all types of animated movie creation, game development and industrial design because using a pen is natural, intuitive and it speeds up production. So, if it’s good enough for artists who spend their entire lives working on images and designs, it has to be beneficial for photographers as well.

However, in the past, the Wacom Cintiqs with their built-in screens haven’t been the least expensive accessory you could buy, but all that has changed with the new Wacom Cintiq 16.

At just $899 RRP, this is a tool you can’t afford not to have!

The Wacom ExpressKey Remote means you can put away your keyboard as well!

Work Directly on Screen

Wacom Cintiq 16 combines a pen and a display for a seamless experience that not only feels totally natural, but also makes you more productive. The Wacom Pro Pen 2 features 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and a low activation force, so it recognises even the lightest pen strokes. This is really useful when you’re fine tuning a mask or an adjustment brush.

The Pro Pen 2 offers amazing precision and control, reacting to the tilt of your hand and accurately responding to each movement, immediately.

Wacom’s EMR (Electro Magnetic Resonance) technology allows the Wacom Pro Pen 2 to draw the power it needs from your Wacom Cintiq – so the pen itself doesn’t need a battery.

Even better, the Wacom Pro Pen 2 looks and feels like a regular pen so you don’t need to learn any new techniques before you start working on your images. The balance of weight, rubber grip and the positioning of the two side buttons combine to make it sit comfortably in your hand.

Plus, those buttons are programmable, giving you immediate control and making your favourite software’s shortcuts easy to access.

Cables are discreetly kept aside so your Cintiq always looks neat and tidy.

No Keyboard?

While I still use a keyboard, when editing my photographs I put it to the side, using the ExpressKey Remote (or the built in buttons on some of my other Wacom devices).

Using keyboard shortcuts and actions, I have set up Photoshop, Capture One and InDesign so they can be operated without a keyboard.

And then there’s the enjoyment of working directly on the screen.

The Cintiq’s 16” slimline display makes even the longest working day comfortable and productive. The 1920x1080 px full HD display provides you with clarity to see every detail of your work, while a layer of anti-glare film prevents distracting reflections as you work.

And combined with the Pro Pen 2, it makes drawing on the Wacom Cintiq feel as familiar as drawing on paper.

With reduced parallax, your cursor appears exactly where you would expect and, built of durable, scratch resistant materials, Wacom Cintiq 16 is a creative tool you can rely on day after day.

There are built-in legs for ergonomic positioning on the Wacom Cintiq 16.

Easy Positioning

In addition to a set of high-grip rubber feet, Wacom Cintiq 16 features a pair of foldable legs so you can quickly get into the perfect position. Go from almost flat to a 19° incline.

An optional stand gives you even more flexible and ergonomic positions.

The Wacom Cintiq 16 is compatible with both Windows and Mac computers, offering an HDMI port and a standard USB-A port.

An optional stand provides even more ways to hold and position your Wacom Cintiq 16.

For more information, visit www.wacom.com.

To purchase a Wacom Cintiq 16, visit the Wacom eStore at www.buywacom.com.au, or selected retailers.

Better Photography readers will receive a 10% discount on all products in the store. Discount code: BETTERPHOTO10.


Luck Plays No Part In Brilliant Photographs?

Nomadic horses, Assy Plateau, Kazakhstan
Phase One A-Series 100MP, 180mm Rodenstock, f11 @ 1/125 second, ISO 50

I'm setting myself up, aren't I! I'm just back from the three Stans - Uzbekistan, Krygyzstan and Kazakhstan - and what an amazing photo tour it was. Three exotic countries, quite different from anywhere else I've travelled and definitely places to return. And my wife, who loves horses, was very happy. 

It all happened on our final day in Kazakhstan. We were up on the Assy Plateau, an 'other world' of alpine meadows, flowers, streams and horses. We even found an old Soviet observatory, but I'll save that for another story. At the beginning of each summer, the nomadic herders take their horses up to the meadows as the snows melt and retreat. We hoped to find them in their yurts, but we were possibly a little early - but it didn't really matter. The landscape was just so amazing.

I set my camera up for the landscape you see here. One of the photographers asked me a question, so I turned around to give a hand, and then as I looked back, what should I see coming over the hill. A herd of horses. And not just one or two, but hundreds of horses. The photo above is one of several, this one showing a few of the stragglers cantering to catch up.

I explained to my group of photographers that this was all pre-planned and that we could organise the wildflowers, the stormy skies and the horses whenever we wanted to. Not! I even managed to capture this photo on medium format using my Phase One A-Series with the 180mm - it's probably the slowest camera set-up I have as focus is critical, but as luck would have it, I had just pre-focused on the grasses where the horses were cantering!

So, luck plays absolutely no part in brilliant photography, but being both ready and lucky certainly does!

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