Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Magical

Regular readers know of my affinity with all things aviation related. This week, Ann-Christine asks us to share our concept of the term “Magical.” She writes in part, “But Magical can mean so many different things to everyone of us – At Lens-Artists, we have already had Magical Light as a theme, (last year) but this time it is all up to you! What is Magical to you?” You can read her entire challenge post here. So, I’ve always thought that being able to get into an aircraft and visit places unknown is magical in itself. But what about those aircraft who don’t have the advantage of generating any power to keep themselves airborne? Continue reading

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Silhouettes

This week, Patti Moed has hit upon one of my favorite photographic styles, the silhouette. she notes that the dark outline against a brighter background is a great technique because of the drama, mystery, emotion, and atmosphere that is added to a photo. You can read her entire challenge post here. The first example I can share is actually my first published attempt at the genre. At the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, the late afternoon sun was in a perfect position for me to share the silhouette of a majestic old mesquite tree. Of all the trees in the world, the gnarly shapes of the mesquite’s branches make the species my favorite.

Sunsets are the best times for silhouettes, obviously. Put the sun behind an object and set the exposure for a brighter sky or background. The subject automagically turns dark and presto, you have a silhouette! The island off the shore of Mazatlan made a great sun block to put the beach and palm trees into the shadow.

One of those basic “rules” of photography is, “Never shoot into the sun.” If there was ever a rule to be broken, this one sure is. The image of this horse and rider provides a much more mysterious and dramatic tone to what would otherwise be a rather pedestrian photo of someone on a horse.

The late afternoon sun and bright sky helped to create this image of a lone climber scaling one of the many climbing peaks in Colorado Springs’ iconic city park, Garden of the Gods.

One of the advantages of working with RAW digital images directly as they are downloaded from the camera is the wide latitude for exposure adjustment you can make after the image was captured. This shot of the Alaskan coastline in Glacier Bay National Park was captured on a cloudy but fairly bright day. Converting it to a black-and-white image and then lowering the exposure added drama and mystery that is enhanced by the low hanging clouds.

For comparison, this is the original photo modified only by basic edits in Adobe Lightroom. The image was exposed at 1/250 sec.; f/8; ISO-200. From those numbers you can see the scene was quite bright and to get some detail in the landscape, I had to “wash out” the sky. By lowering the exposure setting, I was able to bring out the dramatic details in that complex sky and put the landscape into that dark and mysterious silhouette.

I will conclude this post with an image from the golden hour on Coronado Island off the coast of San Diego, California. Thanks to Patti for reminding me to review and share some of the silhouette images I’ve captured over the years. Feel free to select any image in the post. If your browser supports it, you will get a better, more detailed view.

John Steiner


Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Precious Pets

Fargo, North Dakota.

This week, Tina Schell asks us to share images of our precious pets. You can read Tina’s entire challenge post here. I’ve only a couple of images of our beloved Tuffy, a Cairn Terrier we raised from a pup. At the time he was a member of our family, I wasn’t much into photography having let the hobby lapse. A couple of years ago, we were making our bi-weekly trip to Costco when we saw a man pushing a cart, gray parrot perched on his cart handle. I had to stop and grab a photo with the gentleman who obviously can’t even go shopping without his beloved bird. Continue reading

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Framing the Shot

This week Amy features the use of natural and artificial frames to highlight our subjects. This is a technique I’ve used on occasion to help focus attention on the subject. For more details on the challenge, you can read Amy’s post here. In my opening example, near Mount Rushmore, you will find the Iron Mountain Highway. Along the way there are stops where natural and man-made frames highlight the famous mountain. Continue reading

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Angles

Fargo, North Dakota.

This week Ann-Christine asks us to look at photography from different angles. As a landscape photographer, I often go to a “new-to-me” place and take oodles of images of the subjects at different angles. The goal of trying different compositions is that something in one of the angles captured adds a little extra something to make it a more interesting photograph. As her contribution to the challenge, she features a couple of fascinating sand sculptures captured from different angles. You can read her entire challenge post here. Continue reading

Lens Artists Photo Challenge – Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue

This week, Patti Mode reminds us of that old saying usually associated with weddings. The superstition is that good luck will come of the marriage with the inclusion of something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. She challenges us to share images that relate to the saying. You can read her entire challenge post here. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge – Taking a Break

Go to the beach, they said. It’ll be relaxing, they said. It’ll be pleasant, they said. Hmmm… Not so much at this beach on Grand Turk Island. This week’s photo challenge is the brainchild of Tina Schell. She writes in part, “How many ways can you think of for getting away from the daily grind and finding peace? Show us your views on ‘Taking a break…”  You can read her entire challenge post here. Continue reading