Blue Dawn at White Sands: How it was done

This photograph was taken at dawn, at the blue hour that precedes sunrise.

The sky was clear and still not tinted red by the sun.  The light on the dunes was only from the blue sky. The white sand dunes, being neutral in color, took on the color of the sky.  While the sand was white it looked blue to the camera.

My eyes did not see the blue color because human eyesight neutralizes colors.  To me the dunes looked white.  To the camera they were blue because digital sensors, and film to some extent, capture color the way it is.  Unlike human sight they do not neutralize colors.

During processing I altered the color slightly to create harmonious blue tones and make the scene aesthetically pleasing.  However the color was there to start with.

CF020070-600

 

About Alain Briot

I create fine art photographs, teach workshops and offer DVD tutorials on composition, image conversion, optimization, printing and marketing. I am the author of Mastering Landscape Photography, Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style and Marketing Fine Art Photography. All 3 books are available as printed books on Amazon.com and as eBooks on my website at this link: http://beautiful-landscape.com/Ebooks-Books-1-2-3.html

You can find more information about my work, writings and tutorials as well as subscribe to my Free Monthly Newsletter on my website. To subscribe simply go to http://www.beautiful-landscape.com and click on the Subscribe link at the top of the page. You will receive 40 free essays in eBook format immediately after subscribing.

I welcome your comments on this essay as well as on my other essays. You can reach me directly by emailing me at alain@beautiful-landscape.com.

Alain Briot
Arizona
November 2017

White Sands Sand Storm: How it was done

White Sands Sand Storm: How it was done

White Sands Sand Storm: How it was done

This photograph was created during a blowing sandstorm at White Sands National Monument during the workshop Natalie and I lead there.  We are leading this workshop this year by the way, here is the link to the description page.

The challenge was being able to photograph during a blowing sandstorm. The photograph does not show the fierceness of the storm, it only shows its beauty. However, it was fierce.  The sand was blowing everywhere and we could barely see in front of us.  On the photo this translates as a slight beige hue which comes from the light being tinted by the sand color.

The advantage of photographing during the storm was that all the footprints had been erased and the sand ripples were constantly changing.  They were in motion in fact. If I had done a video instead of a photograph you would have seen the sand ripples moving in front of my feet.

This photograph was originally captured as an horizontal image. It was just easier to hold the camera horizontally than vertically.  A tripod was unthinkable because it would not have stood up to the force of the wind.

However I wanted a vertical image so I stretched the original capture vertically to achieve this goal. This elongated the sand ripples in the foreground, producing an effect much closer to what I experienced.  The image now makes me feel the way I felt when I saw the sand ripples move in front of me, the blowing sand whipping my legs and covering my clothing with a fine mist.  The camera captured the scene, the change in image format made a photograph express what I saw and felt.

Alain Briot

MG_1747-2-600

 

About Alain Briot

I create fine art photographs, teach workshops and offer DVD tutorials on composition, image conversion, optimization, printing and marketing. I am the author of Mastering Landscape Photography, Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style and Marketing Fine Art Photography. All 3 books are available as printed books on Amazon.com and as eBooks on my website at this link: http://beautiful-landscape.com/Ebooks-Books-1-2-3.html

You can find more information about my work, writings and tutorials as well as subscribe to my Free Monthly Newsletter on my website. To subscribe simply go to http://www.beautiful-landscape.com and click on the Subscribe link at the top of the page. You will receive 40 free essays in eBook format immediately after subscribing.

I welcome your comments on this essay as well as on my other essays. You can reach me directly by emailing me at alain@beautiful-landscape.com.

Alain Briot
Arizona
January 2017

After the Rain-how it was done

After the Rain : How this image was created

Vistancia-Reflections-Collage-BW2-FS

This image is a collage of 2 photographs. The camera I used wasn’t wide enough to capture all I wanted in 1 shot.

I could have used a wide angle attachment but it is huge and carrying it defeats the purpose of having a small lightweight camera. Collaging is easier. I like the technique so much that over 50% of my work consists of collaged images.

The image was taken during a walk in my neighborhood. The tree is just down the path from my house. It’s not that remarkable. What makes it attractive is the reflection. I’ve seen it with reflections before but this time the water pool was larger than I’ve seen it before and that what made me see this image.  Plus, there were no leaves making it more effective as a graphic element.

Our eyes change and we see things differently. I like to carry a lightweight camera because having to go get your larger camera, tripod, etc makes it more difficult to capture things intuitively and spontaneously.

Regarding tripods, lenses, etc. who wants to take all that for a stroll down the neighborhood path! This photograph would not exists if I didn’t have a simple lightweight camera. I wasn’t going to take my medium format digital camera to do this ! A small lightweight camera opens another way of seeing and capturing what you see.

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Alain Briot

http://www.beautiful-landscape.com

Mono Lake Sunset, Eastern Sierra Nevada, California

Dichroic colors at Sunset at Mono Lake in the Eastern Sierra Nevada of California:

CF024097-FS

This is a single frame image captured on a Phase One medium format digital back using Hasselblad SWCM-CF camera with the fixed 38mm Zeiss Biogon lens.

Alain Briot
www.beautiful-landscape.com

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Antelope Canyon Universe by Alain Briot

The Photograph
This photograph is titled Antelope Canyon Universe. It is my most recent photograph of Antelope Canyon, one of my all-time favorite locations for photography. It is also the one showing the widest view of Antelope Canyon. My goal was to use the space in the image to show as much of the canyon as possible so as to feature the swirling shapes of Antelope more prominently. The result is an image in which sandstone appears to flow as if it was in motion, with colors that complement each other in hue and saturation.

I selected this image for the February 2015 Print of the Month.  You can see it at this link:

http://beautiful-landscape.com/Print-of-the-month-143.html

1977397_10152990382855801_8994817025592239578_n

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

January 24th

I am featuring a photograph of Antelope Canyon on this  page today because it is one of my all-time favorite places in the world. I am often asked what is my favorite photography location. I have many places that I like to photograph over and over again and I don’t like to rank them, but if I have to the top one is Antelope Canyon because of the incredible light quality, shapes and colors that are found there.

Together these elements combine to offer what may be the most varied array of photographic opportunities that can be found in a single place. Not only that, but these possibilities change as the day goes by, as the seasons go by, and as the weather, the wind, and all the other variables that affect landscape photography changes.

If you have not been there yet, Antelope Canyon must be on your to-do bucket list! I always say that there are two phases in the life of a landscape photographer: before Antelope Canyon and after Antelope Canyon. If you are part of the first group, you need to go there. If you are part of the second group, like me, you need to go back there! I have been to Antelope Canyon well over a hundred times starting in 1986 and continuing to this day. Not only do I not tire of it, I find that I understand it better and better each time and that this understanding leads me to create new images each time, images that I have not done before.

Join us! We only have a couple seats left this spring for the 2015 Antelope Canyon Workshop, but one can be yours if you do it now:http://beautiful-landscape.com/Workshop-home.html

Alain Briot

Personal Style Master Class Workshop on DVD Part 2

1 – Introduction
Several Personal Style Master Class Workshop on DVD owners asked why it says ‘Part 1’ on the Start Here page under the title and if there is a ‘Part 2.’

Well, I have two good news for you :

The first good news  is  that yes, there is a part two. The second good news is that Part 2 is free for all the owners of Part 1.  All you need to do is login to the Owners Updates area for the Personal Style Master Class workshop on DVD, using the link I sent you when you placed your order, and download Part 2 free of charge.

If you do not own Part 1 you can order it now at this link:
http://beautiful-landscape.com/Articles-DVD-Master-Class.html

The download link and instructions for Part 2 will be emailed to you immediately after you place your order.

2 – About Parts 1 and 2 and beyond
Part 1 focuses on theory and Part 2 focuses on practice.  Together they create the most complete tutorial on Personal Style that I am aware of.

I am now at work on the next Mastery Workshop on DVD.  Designed to go further than the Personal Style Master Class workshop on DVD, this upcoming tutorial focuses on Visionary photography and is titled The Vision Mastery Workshop on DVD.  It is scheduled for publication in mid-2014.

A pre-order list is open. Joining this list is simple: just email me at alain@beautiful-landscape.com with the words Vision Mastery in the subject line and I will add you to the list.  You will then be eligible for a pre-release list member special offer when this new tutorial is published.

3 – About Alain Briot
I create fine art photographs, teach workshops and offer DVD tutorials on composition, image conversion, optimization, printing and marketing. I am the author of Mastering Landscape Photography, Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style and Marketing Fine Art Photography. All 3 books are available as printed books on Amazon.com and as eBooks on my website at this link: http://beautiful-landscape.com/Ebooks-Books-1-2-3.html

You can find more information about my work, writings and tutorials as well as subscribe to my Free Monthly Newsletter on my website. To subscribe simply go to http://www.beautiful-landscape.com and click on the Subscribe link at the top of the page. You will receive 40 free essays in eBook format immediately after subscribing.

I welcome your comments on this essay as well as on my other essays. You can reach me directly by emailing me at alain@beautiful-landscape.com.

Alain Briot
Vistancia, Arizona
2014

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Six Remarks on Composition

No one is an artist unless he carries his picture in his head before painting it,
and 
is sure of his method and composition.

Claude Monet

Introduction
Composition is an important aspect of good photographs. I have written about it at length in my books and my essays, and I continue to do so.  Here I want to offer some remarks about composition that I wrote recently.  These are not organized the way my essays or book chapters are.  Instead, they are simply numbered and they are not necessarily related to each other.  Read it as a loose list of items written as they crossed my mind and that I wanted to share.

1 – About Photographers
A great photographer has, above everything else, a great eye.  Camera gear is important but secondary. Great photographs are the result of acute seeing abilities.  If anything, the best gear is the one that frees the photographer from thinking about technique and lets him or her free to concentrate on seeing.

In landscape photography the photographer must be able to follow changes in the light, the weather, the clouds, the shadows, etc. as they happen.  This means being able to shoot continuously while exposing, focusing and completing other technical tasks accurately.  Only then can the photographer follow his inspiration and work his way through the multiple opportunities offered by the subject, the light and the weather.

Blue Mesa Cottonwoods
Horizontal composition

Sometimes trying both vertical and horizontal compositions of the same scene can lead fruitful results, as in this photograph of a row of cottonwood trees in fall colors set against a shaded mesa.  The horizontal composition allowed me to fit more trees in the foreground than I could in the vertical composition, resulting in an image that has more ‘breath’ and spaciousness than the vertical composition. The tree that is the ‘hero’ of the vertical composition is only one of the characters in the horizontal composition, further adding variety and interest to what is my favorite of these two images.


Blue Mesa Cottonwoods
Vertical composition

2 – About Upgrading Gear
It takes time to get used to new equipment, software and other tools.  Doing so is not automatic.  Even though there are many tutorials available, we need to practice in order to get used to new gear.  This can take weeks, months or even years.

If you constantly change your gear you never become fully familiar with it. You may also miss some new and important features.  You have to work with tools for a while before you become fully conversant with them. You have to ‘make friends’ with your tools before you can become intimately familiar with them.

This is what mastery is all about.  Mastery is not only knowing what to do or how to do it.  Mastery is also, and primarily, knowing why and when to do something.  Mastery is focusing on the why, on the motive, instead of the what, the technique.  When one seeks mastery one is no longer concerned with not knowing how to do something. Instead, one is concerned with knowing why something needs to be done. Mastery is using specific tools for specific reasons, not just using tools because they are ‘new’ or ‘better.’

Mastery is often counterintuitive.  It often goes against common sense or has an iconoclastic side to it. There is often a unique or unexpected aspect to the choices made by masterful practitioners.  However, a common characteristic of the masters is that they can explain clearly and convincingly why they made specific choices.  In other words their choices are not accidental. Rather, they are deliberate, thought-out decisions made for specific reasons.

In art, these specific reasons are  related to the desire to express a personal vision.  The goal is to make this vision visible to all instead of keeping it in our mind. The goal is to use gear and tools to make our vision a reality that everyone can see.  The goal is to make what is in our mind’s eye visible in our photographs.  The true artist falls in love with his vision.

3 – Processes and variety
Using a variety of processes is nice, but variety of vision is more important than variety of techniques.

So what if the techniques you use are always the same? As long as they serve the needs of your images well, what need is there for more? In the darkroom we used nearly always the same processes and techniques. Variations were introduced only when dealing with recalcitrant images. The process was otherwise standard.

What changed was our vision for each image,   The processing variations introduced as we went from one photograph to the next consisted of altering the process slightly for each image to make the images match our vision.  For example what changed was how long we exposed the paper, or how long we developed the image, or the timing of some other aspect of the process.  What did not change much at all was the process we used to go from vision to final print. That process, for all intended purposes, was pretty much standard.

Today there seems to be a focus, indeed an obsession at times, with using new techniques.  While refining the process and introducing changes is important, what we are talking about here is something quite different.

What we are talking about here is change for change’s sake, not change for vision’s sake.  The changes we see today do not necessarily make the process better. What they do essentially is make the process different.  More often than not they do not bring significant improvements.  In fact, occasionally they bring a degradation of image quality.

Using different techniques because of novelty alone is therefore something to watch out for. Just like new cameras do not necessarily mean better images, new digital techniques do not necessarily mean better master files or better prints.

As is often the case in art, the artist and the artist’s vision are what needs to be improved and worked on. The artist’s tools, for the most part, are rarely the issue.  Most artists have tools, or software, whose capabilities far exceeds their vision.  It is depth of vision that is most deserving of our attention.

4 – About printing
From a technical standpoint raw captures are characterized by being low contrast, low saturation and somewhat blurry.  Starting from a low contrast,  low saturation and blurry original file requires having a vision for the final image.  The original raw file alone cannot act as guide.  The  final image has to exist first in the mind of the artist, second in the final optimized file and third in the fine art print.

The ability to translate what one sees in his mind onto a piece of paper is directly related to the artistic and technical virtuosity of the photographer. Achieving a fine art print involves much more than moving sliders and adjusting “things” in LR3 or other software!


Zabriskie Point Sunrise #1

In this second example the difference between the two photographs is essentially the amount of sky present in each of them.  The photograph above has less sky than the one below.  However, it is my favorite of the two.   I spent a long time deciding why until I realized that including more sky took my attention away from looking at the badland formations in the foreground. By including a lot of sky, the photograph became primarily about the sky.  By including less sky, the photograph is both about the sky and the land.  The outcome is a more balanced photograph, one that is more pleasing to look at in my opinion.


Zabriskie Point Sunrise #2

5 – About field work –
When I get to a location that I want to photograph I do not unpack my camera gear right away.  Instead, I put my bag and tripod down and spend a good amount of time looking at the landscape, taking in it, studying the colors and considering different compositional possibilities.  Before taking photographs I first want to view the scene without a camera.

This is because I hardly ever find the strongest composition right away.  Instead, I find compositions that I like by walking the scene, by stopping to study the possibilities offered by different viewpoints and at times by stopping and letting the scene ‘soak in’ so to speak.  I do this until I see a specific angle that I find particularly inspiring.  Only then do I unpack my gear and set up my camera and tripod.  Because of experience and familiarity with my gear, doing so takes only a minute or so.  I can’t remember an instance in which I lost a shot because I waited to set up my gear.

I follow this process because I like to keep the possibility open that there may be an image here.  At the same time I also want to keep the possibility open that there may not be an image here. Therefore, to find out which of these two possibilities is true, I wait patiently until the image reveals itself to me, or not, as the case might be. There isn’t always a photograph in a location, not matter how promising it may be.

6 – Creating simple images is not simple
The most simple images are often the most effective images. However, creating simple images is not necessarily a simple process.  To be able to simplify a composition one must have acquired a variety of ‘visual reflexes.’  These ‘visual reflexes’ consist of things that one does automatically, without thinking, because these things have been practiced so many times that they have become intuitive.

Sometimes this means proceeding quickly through the construction of the image, and sometimes it means proceeding slowly and moving through each step carefully.  Sometimes it means using finesse, and sometimes it means moving forward intuitively.

It may also mean finding out what is the weak area of an image and looking for ways to strengthen it.  Or it may mean having the patience necessary to wait until everything comes together, until the light and the subject are balanced and become equally interesting.

Sometimes it means letting things be, for example letting objects fall where they may without worrying if they are in the right place or not.  On the other hand sometimes it means controlling the position of each element until everything looks right.

Sometimes it means taking one photo after another while fine tuning the composition, until the perfect image is found.  Sometimes it means working quickly, knowing that there will only be enough time to take one photograph, two at the most, because the light is changing very quickly and there is no time to waste.

Sometimes it mean finding ways of making the subject come alive.  Sometimes it means letting the subject speak for itself.

About Alain Briot
Alain Briot creates fine art photographs, teaches workshops and offers DVD tutorials on composition, image conversion, optimization, printing and marketing. Alain is the author of Mastering Landscape Photography. Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style and Marketing Fine Art Photography. All 3 books are available on as printed books Amazon.com and as eBooks on Alain’s website at this link: http://beautiful-landscape.com/Ebooks-Books-1-2-3.html

You can find more information about Alain’s work, writings and tutorials as well as subscribe to Alain’s Free Monthly Newsletter on his website at http://www.beautiful-landscape.com To subscribe simply go to http://www.beautiful-landscape.com and click on the Subscribe link at the top of the page. You will receive information on downloading the table of contents, plus over 40 free essays by Alain, immediately after subscribing. Alain welcomes your comments on this essay as well as on his other essays available. You can reach Alain directly by emailing him at alain@beautiful-landscape.com.

Alain Briot
Vistancia, Arizona
2013

http://www.beautiful-landscape.com

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Fifteen Remarks on Fine Art Photography Composition

Fifteen Remarks on Fine Art Photography Composition

by
Alain Briot

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
Albert Einstein

Moonset at Sunrize, Zabriskie Point, Death Valley, California

Introduction
What are the most important aspects of composing a Fine Art Photograph?  The answer to this question certainly varies from photographer to photographer because each of us places more importance on some aspects than on others.  What follows is what I personally consider to be the most important aspects of Composition.

This list is excerpted from a longer list that I use for teaching during my workshops and seminars.  The decision to create a shorter list, with only 15 items instead of 37, stemmed from the desire to focus on the essential aspects of composing a fine art photograph regardless of the  subject we are studyphotograph or the specific project we are working on. The resulting list is free from a particular teaching emphasis and represents what I look for in a Fine Art Photograph.

1 – Composition is the strongest way of seeing
This is Edward Weston’s definition of composition
It is still my favorite definition of composition

2 – Composition is not just the placement of objects in the frame
Composition also involves using color, contrast and light
Composition includes post processing in the raw converter and in Photoshop

3 – The goal of composition is to express your vision and your emotional response to the scene
The goal of Fine Art Composition is not to create a documentary representation of the scene
Nor is it to create a photograph that is only technically perfect
The goal is to create an image that is superior, both expressively and technically
An image that demonstrate both mastery of vision and technical virtuosity

4 – What the camera captures is objective.  What the artist’s sees and feels are subjective
Take stock of your emotional response to the scene in front of you
Record those emotions in writing or in audio
Use light, color, contrast, composition and cropping to reproduce these emotions visually
Work on this both in the field and in the studio

5 – Think first about light
A photograph is only as good as the light you use
The subject is less important than the light that illuminates this subject
The best subject in bad light does not make for a good photograph

6 – Use foreground-background relationships
Find a great foreground and place it in front of a great background
Make sure your foreground is large enough to play an important role in the composition

7 – Contrast opposites elements
Human beings think and see in terms of opposites
Therefore this is something everyone can relate to

Examples of opposite elements include:

– Static / moving
– Young / old
– Large / small
– Organic / man made

Cottonwood Trees in Fall Colors, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

8 – Composing a fine art photograph is not about redoing what someone else has done before
If tempted to redo an image you have seen, just buy the postcard, the book or the poster
You cannot be someone else, therefore you cannot take the same photographs as someone else
You will waste time trying to do so
Instead, start to create your own images right away

9 – Being inspired and redoing someone else’s work are two different things
You can certainly be inspired by the work of other photographers
We have all been inspired by the work of other artists and photographers
This is an inherent aspect of the artistic process

10 – No amount of technology can make up for a lack of inspiration
Cameras and other gears are technical
Inspiration is artistic
The two exist on different planes
Achieving a Personal style in Fine Art means working as an artist not just as a technician

11 – People, not cameras, compose photographs
Certainly, a camera is a necessity
However, your camera cannot compose a photograph anymore than your car can drive itself
You are the one who composes your photographs, not your camera

12 – “Correct” is whatever works when the goal is to create fine art
There is no such thing as “the right thing” in art
“What is Art ?” is a question to which there are many answers
We therefore have to answer this question for ourselves
We are also bound to disagree with others because fine art is a polarized activity.

13 – Straight fine art prints are a myth
All fine art prints are a modification of the image recorded by the camera.
The composition of the image you started in the field is continued in the studio.
This is done through image optimization because colors, contrast, borders, image format, etc. are all part of composition.

14 – The “right” color balance is the strongest way of seeing color
There is no such thing as the “right” color balance in Fine Art
This is because color is one of the ways you express your emotional response to the scene
For this reason, the “right” color balance for a specific image will differ from one  photographer to the next

15 – The finest compositions are those you never saw until you created them
Recreating a composition you saw before is easy
Creating a brand new composition, one you have never seen before, is difficult
This is because doing so requires transforming the natural chaos into an organized image
It involves creating order out of chaos, as Elliott Porter said.

 

About Alain Briot
Alain Briot creates fine art photographs, teaches workshops and offers DVD tutorials on composition, raw conversion, optimization, printing, marketing photographs and more. Alain is also the author of Mastering Landscape Photography and Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style. All 3 books are available from Alain’s website as well as from Amazon and other bookstores.

You can find more information about Alain’s work, writings and tutorials as well as subscribe to Alain’s Free Monthly Newsletter on his website at http://www.beautiful-landscape.com. You will receive over 40 essays in PDF format, including chapters from Alain’s books, when you subscribe. You can also email your comments or questions to Alain at alain@beautiful-landscape.com

Alain Briot
Vistancia, Arizona
2013

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Composition notes #1/6

Composition Notes
#1/6 

1 – About Photographers
A great photographer has, above everything else, a great eye.  Camera gear is important, but secondary. Great photographs are the result of acute seeing abilities.  If anything, the best gear is the one that frees the photographer from thinking about technique and lets him free to concentrate on seeing.

In landscape photography, the photographer must be able to follow changes in the light, the weather, the clouds, the shadows, etc. as they happen and shoot continuously, while exposing, focusing and completing other technical tasks properly.  Only then can the photographer follow his inspiration and work his way through the multiple opportunities offered by the changing light and weather.

Alain Briot
Arizona

http://www.beautiful-landscape.com

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