All over the Internet, there are plenty of lists of the few “top” ways to do something. You know what I’m talking about.
If you were to put in a simple web search on any type of topic, it seems to always generate “Top 5 Ways” to do this, or “Top 10 Ways” to do that articles and videos.
This applies in just about any skill or passion that takes immense time and effort to be mastered.
The reason I don’t like to see these lists is simply because I see this as an easy way for people to search for “shortcuts”…….to attempt to learn all these complex skills and tasks quickly, and then attempt to rapidly benefit from them.
While this may initially appear as an efficient way to learn something, I feel that it bypasses the passion that drives us to continuously excel.
I follow quite a few blogs on here, and the articles I enjoy reading are the ones reflecting the hard work people have put into the skills, challenges, or lifestyles they have mastered.
Whether it’s obtaining and maintaining the fit lifestyle they wanted, finding and conquering the trails they’ve always dreamed of exploring, facing the every day challenges of keeping up with writing, or trying to simply increase skills in photography so they can take better pictures (that’s me!), these articles are the most motivating to me.
I don’t enjoy seeing articles that just list these briefly summarized lists on how to do a particular craft, I feel that they just inspire us to take shortcuts so we can obtain quick results.
To me, it just feel genuine to see those of you who have spent the time and learned the research, skills, or experience to become good at something you are passionate about.
When I research something online, I have been finding myself just scrolling past the Top 5 or Top 10 lists, and spending time researching the actual principles of the skill, learning the mechanics, and coming up with my own conclusion of how to apply it to my craft.
In the meantime, please keep posting the articles that reflect the hard work and tough lessons you may have learned in your quest for your passion….I will read through these over an abbreviated Top 5 shortcut list any day!
Over the course of the last couple of years, I have become very interested in minimalism.
This new interest had motivated me to completely declutter my house, and I systematically got rid of things that created clutter and no longer make me happy, by either selling them on eBay, giving away, or donating.
Long story short, my house feels much more open, organized, stress-free, and I see things every day that make me happy, rather than allowing these unnecessary items to bring back memories from the past (that I occasionally would much rather keep there!).
So what does this have to do with photography?
Well, once I removed a lot of the noise and negativity from my life by leaving social media, I next zeroed in on my photography hobby.
I have volumes of photos that I have taken. on multiple drives, that I neither don’t care for, or have no future use for. These were causing me stress and anxiety as I went through my thousands of photos that I no longer needed or wanted.
Once I began to organize (and delete) all of these meaningless photos that I could part with, I started to question why I’ve been taking so many photos to begin with.
A lot of the reason, I found, was to keep up with social media. I felt like I had to keep up with the popular people, take the same compositions they are and go to the same places they have been, in order to feel like I was part of the community.
These recent changes by adapting minimalism have helped me realize my outlook has been wrong.
By applying minimalism to my photography, I could now begin to capture just the photos that have so much more meaning and creativity to me, versus the thousands of photos I had allowed to pile up on my hard drives before.
I now focus more (pun intended) on capturing meaningful memories, special events, and true creativity, versus taking photos strictly for gaining social media’s approval, simply because everyone else on my feed had been doing it.
This new outlook had made photography fun and exciting again. I had went back to the basics, and I am excited again for putting my energy into creativity, versus trying to create photos that I felt would be popular to others.
As we all know, the 10 essentials of hiking is very important. These essentials will not only make our adventures more enjoyable, but are usually necessary to get us back out of the wilderness safely.
I recently took an online Leave No Trace awareness course, and had become certified. This had helped both educate and remind me how important these principles are.
I always feel that I do a good job of protecting the wilderness when I am out there, but also realize there is a lot more to learn about these very important concepts.
The 7 current Leave No Trace Principles are:
Plan Ahead and Prepare.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces.
Dispose of Waste Properly (Pack It In, Pack It Out)
Leave What You Find.
Minimize Campfire Impacts.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors.
I had actually made a couple of changes recently to decrease my own impact on the wilderness.
First thing I did was disband my Facebook hiking group.
I enjoyed being a group leader and always enjoy the company of hiking partners, but I also found that I allowed this hiking group to get too big. I was bringing too many people out at once, and realized I was sometimes disrupting or even possibly creating damage to the wilderness areas by doing this.
Now, I simply send out texts to smaller groups when I plan a hike, backpack, or a photo shoot and want company.
The second change that I made, was I stopped sharing photos to the large hiking groups on Facebook and Instagram.
If you are curious about this, you can read about my main reasons for quitting social media here:
While out on your adventures, you will come across impressive landscapes, that you simply cannot capture the full composition that you want in one shot.
This is where the Lightroom panoramic feature comes in nicely.
I will now cover this feature, and how I had created some of my favorite photos this way.
NOTE: Its important to use a tripod while shooting a panoramic, to keep your images consistent.
This example was from an awesome backpacking adventure in the South Cascades. The sunrise was great at our campsite, but I also wanted to capture all 3 volcanic peaks in the distance, in my final photo. I knew that I needed to take mutltiple exposures to capture the full composition that I wanted.
This is how I will capture 4 exposures of the scene, and when I get home, I will then use Lightroom to blend them together as a panoramic.
I took my first exposure of the sunrise, using my aperture technique to capture the rays that were coming out from the rising sun (keep in mind, these photos are NOT the final edit!).
I then swiveled my camera on the tripod, to capture the 2nd exposure, as you can see above.
Please note, you must be overlapping at least 1/3 of the previous shot. This process is necessary, for Lightroom to able to properly line up and “stitch” these photos together to make the final panoramic photo.
I also use my digital leveler on my LCD screen, between each shot, to make sure my camera is staying level throughout all of the exposures.
Here is my 3rd photo for this composition:
I could have stopped shooting here, since I had captured all 3 peaks, but I didn’t want Mt. St. Helens to be this close to the edge of the composition. Knowing that it was important to overlap the previous compositions, as mentioned, I decided I will take a 4th photo to capture more of the composition near this volcano.
And here is the 4th and last photo. These will be the 4 photos I will use to eventually stitch together a seamless composition in Lightroom.
Back at my computer, once all my photos are imported into Lightroom, I will do my basic edits first, to make sure all the exposures are matched in tone to my usual preference.
The next step, as shown below, is to select all 4 photos that I want to stitch together.
Also, if you use the Lens Corrections feature, as show below, it is important to make sure the corrections are processed on all photos BEFORE stitching, to make sure your final panoramic is consistent throughout.
After the 4 photos are selected, right clicking will bring up this menu, shown below, which will allow you to select Panorama, to begin the process.
A preview will now come up, with various settings you can manage prior to merging.
Spherical, Cylindrical, and Perspective are 3 different methods of projecting them into a panorama. There is no right or wrong answer….just click through each one, and choose the one you like the best.
Boundary Warp will actually warp the photo, to give you more or less upper and lower “boundaries” of the photo. I recommend experimenting with this slider also, since the preview will display your changes. I try to keep this at 0, but you should set it at what looks the best to you.
Once you hit Merge, Lightroom will do the work and you will get a stitched photo to do your final edits with.
Here is the stitched shot, after final editing. I still captured the sunrays as I saw them, but was also able to capture the volcanoes I wanted, to show the scale of the amazing viewpoint we had at our campsite.
I hope this tutorial was helpful, please let me know in the comments!
A while back, I had deactivated my social media accounts. I had utilized social media extensively in the past, for sharing my passion for both the outdoors and my photography hobby.
I knew once I had deactived my social media accounts, that things would be different.
I recently realized that thing are more different that I had originally thought.
I had decided to back off from posting photos on social media mainly to avoid the negativities of posting online, as I had described in my previous blog entries. I realized that I was, to a degree, doing these things for social media, instead of simply sharing my hobby.
The unexpected thing was, my hiatus from social media also led to a hiatus in my photography.
I had really begun to enjoy being out to these amazing places, and had enjoyed not having the concern of bringing back worthwhile pictures back with me. I simply did not even want to pull my camera out of my bag.
No more stress from finding compositions, concern over the proper light settings, or disappointment because the lighting was not right for a shot that I wanted.
Simply put, I went back the basics.
Now, I look for composition more from a creative sense, and I am actually turned off by going to the locations that I feel are a destination strictly to capture a photograph.
Ever since I had been pursuing photography, social media posting of my photos has been a critical part of my workflow.
I would rush home to process my photos, so that I could get them posted to show the masses the great hike I was on, and await feedback.
In my previous blogs, I had talked about I felt this process was slowly taking me away from the reasons that I really enjoy landscape photography in the first place. I also talked about my feelings about how social media is having a negative impact on the wilderness as well, since I can see evidence firsthand that it is being overrun.
Late last year, I had begun a social media detox, since I wanted to step away and back off from the dopamine hit I was getting from the attention when I post a great photo.
I felt that this process was leading me to post excessively, and share all my favorite photos with tens of thousands of strangers in popular social media groups.
However, what started out as a detox, had actually turned into a process of leaving social media completely. I had deactivated my profiles and removed the apps from my phone.
I had eventually realized this is the best decision I ever could have made.
Aside from the other negative aspects of social media that are now well documented, I feel combining social media and landscape photography does have their own set of negative traits:
1. Posting the location of an amazing secluded hike, waterfall or lake to vast numbers of strangers in popular social media groups is contributing to overuse and abuse of our public lands.
2. By not receiving the feedback we expected from posting a photo (in the form of likes, hearts, and comments), may incorrectly lead us to believe that photo is not as good as we thought it was.
3. Including social media posts as our regular workflow takes away from the artistic concept of photography, in my opinion. I had found it would lead me to post photos of what is popular, or may get more attention, rather than the photos that I truly thought were my favorites based on the concepts I have developed.
So these are the main reasons I had begun this blog, and abandoned social media altogether.
I do love to share and receive instruction, inspiration, and great photos with others who are interested, and also share a passion for this hobby. I feel that I find a genuine community here.
This mindset has led these improvements to my hobby….
I focus more on composition and my favorite photography concepts, rather than rushing to get photos specifically that will get me attention on social media.
I feel that my original passion photography has “rebooted”, and I find myself taking photos strictly for appreciation of the wilderness and nature.
I feel I am getting interested again in the artistic sense, rather than just hunting down photography locations that I feel the audience wants.
In other words, It feels great to get back to the basics.
Curious what others feel about this process of thinking…..please let me know in the comments!
Recently, I had taken a break from posting photos and hikes social media, for many reasons.
As a hiker and photographer, a lot of my processes involved getting my hiking trip reports and pictures up on social media. This had been part of my process from the beginning, and while I really enjoyed it initially, it had began to feel tedious after a while.
This process also added stress, since I was in a rush to post my photos and trip reports, and would slowly get concerned if no one liked it or commented on it enough.
Over time, I realized this had begun to add anxiety, and even stress to my routine.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some good qualities about social media, but for me, the negative attributes far outweighed the good.
To me, social media had a caused a “superficial” appreciation for the outdoors…..and I felt myself losing the sincere appreciation of living for the moment. I would get concerned that I was not capturing enough “wow” photos that would fill up my notification screen. I also found myself competing with other posts, and actually having a fear of missing out when I saw posts of others going on hiking adventures while I was at home working in my yard (which really needed to be done).
This year, I had begun working on a goal of creating a better balance in my life. After reading “Digital Minimalism” and “Deep Work”, both by Cal Newport, I had taken the author’s suggestion to minimize social media. Both of these books are amazing, and they give the numerous how this change could improve your focus and passion in your craft.
Deciding I would leave the social media sites for a while has moved me tremendously toward my goal of balance, and life is already much better.
While I am out and enjoying the outdoors and finding photography compositions, I am also enjoying living in the moment. I am being more selective in my photos, which results in less work when I get home of processing and posting on social media.
I am no longer stressed or concerned with how many “likes” I am getting, or trying to keep up with comments about my hikes or my photos. I am no longer striving to be popular, since this was leading me to post unnecessarily, and sometimes excessively.
I do have friends that really like to see photography in their feed, and had commented they miss seeing my work since I had quit posting. But for the most part, I do not have any repercussions of taking a break from social media. Also, even though I had decided not to do a typical “exit speech” while beginning my social media detox, some friends have realized it and now text me about barbecues, hikes and backpacking trips that I thought I would miss out on while being offline.
This was also a big motivator for starting this blog. I still love to share my ideas, my photos, and my passion in this format, specifically for those who seek this type of information. Rather than using this method strictly for attention, it is a great outlet for creativity, and still allows me to share my work, through a more meaningful channel. I also like spending time on my tutorials, since it also works as a database from what I am learning on
Curious if others feel this same way I do……I would really like to hear about your experiences also!
You may have wondered why some landscape photos taken with your DSLR camera look better than others. Some look flat, while others seem very naturally vibrant.
You may want to carefully look at your exposure compensation settings, and practice using these so you can capture more light in your photos, without degradation of the image.
Let me explain….
If you shoot on auto, your light meter is most likely set at 0. However, even with other shooting modes, it will default to 0 as well.
This means you are letting in just the right amount of light that the human eye normally sees, but not any higher or lower.
I had been shooting with my light meter set to 0 since I had started photography, but recently I have wanting to figure out how exposure compensation works, and how it can improve the quality of my photos. Exposure compensation is basically adding or removing the light captured in your photo, by moving the light meter either above or below 0.
I felt my photos looked pretty good with the light meter set to 0, but sometimes I would catch myself adding saturation and luminance in Lightroom or Photoshop, to give the photo more pop.
Over time, I found that I did not like this type manipulation of the photo, i.e. artificially adding color that was not actually captured adequately in the original shot.
The question I would ask is, can you increase the exposure to capture more of the light data, without negatively affecting my photo?
Yes, you can.
Since I began exclusively shooting in RAW format, the mindset that I had developed is this….I am capturing data on my camera, not just taking a compositional photo.
With this mindset, it makes sense to attempt to capture as much data as possible while you are out there shooting. However, it is also important not to lose any data, by unintentionally overexposing or underexposing your photo.
This is where your histogram comes in. I shoot with a Canon 80D, so my histogram pops up when I am in Live View mode, taking the picture using my LCD screen. Your camera should do the same. Here is what my live mode screen looks like:
Please note that in my histogram display on the top right of my screen, the graph is centered, which is usually the result when my light meter is set to 0.
A quick note about a histogram…..your white tones you are capturing are on the right, your dark tones are on the left, and your mid tones are in the center.
Now, in the example above, I have increased my exposure one full stop (light meter is now on 1), and the composition appears to be a bit washed out. However, the bars on the right of the histogram (the white tones) are still visible in the graph. This means I am not losing any quality of the photo, but I am capturing a bit more data in my shot.
This example above shows the white histogram bars on the right being “dropped” off the right edge of the graph, which is what you want to avoid. The tones that were pushed off the histogram are gone forever, and this will actually degrade your photo when you process it with your editing software.
So now that this data has been captured in the field, you can process this photo in whichever editing software you use, such as RAW, Lightroom, or Photoshop.
NOTE: The RAW photos below have my basic landscape settings applied, which happens automatically when I import.
To summarize these steps:
1. Using a tripod, choose your composition, and activate your camera’s Live View Mode.
2. Move your exposure compensation wheel so the histogram bars slide over to the right on your Live View screen. Make sure you stop before the bars on the graph are about to drop off the screen.
3. When processing this photo in your editing software (I use Lightroom), slide the histogram on your computer back over to the center for a normal exposure. You should be able to see more detail and luminance in your photo.
TIP: This routine is very helpful when shooting sunrise and sunsets!