Category Archives: Landscape

Autumn Forest Impressionism

Impressionist photography is one of the personal projects I’ve been working on for the past couple of years. And since autumn is my favourite season, photographically speaking,  I strive to take as many impressionist pictures as I can during the fall.

Multiple in camera exposures of a tree in a fall forest

I immediately noticed this tree. I was attracted by the pastel colours.

One of the techniques for rendering impressionist pictures involves in camera multiple exposures. I learned it from one of my photographic heroes, Bryan Peterson.

Multiple in camera exposures of a fall forest to create an impressionist photograph

The leaves were backlit, an ideal situation. And I figured the touch of red/orange would make the picture ‘pop’.

Working in the forest, I found that moving the camera down a little bit after each frame produces the most pleasing results. How much movement is a matter of taste and also depends on the focal length of your lens. The photographs in this post were taken with a 35mm lens on a DX camera, corresponding to a 50mm lens for a full frame sensor.

Multiple in camera exposures of a fall forest to create an impressionist photograph

It is harder to get the overcast sky out of a vertical composition, and I believe this is the reason I have fewer of these. But I’m very pleased with this one.

A bit of experimentation is in order, and with practice, you develop the muscle memory that allows you to generate impressionist photographs of your liking without much trial and error.

Multiple in camera exposures of a fall forest to create an impressionist photograph

I took a picture from pretty much the same vantage point the year before, but the colours are never quite the same from year to year (or week to week for that matter)

But even with the practice I’ve got under my belt, I always take several pictures of a given composition to make sure there is at least one I really like. If your cameras allows for multiple exposures, I would encourage you to give this technique a try.

Multiple in camera exposures of a fall forest to create an impressionist photograph

I try to find compositions with a pleasing arrangement of trees. It’s harder than you think.

Light Painting Trees

In my light paintings of musicians and dancers, the scene to light paint is relatively small. I can easily go through the scene a number of times to make sure I haven’t forgotten to light paint any part of it. And a moderately powerful LED light is good enough to do the job. Note that I never light paint the whole scene in one go, but only one part at a time and put together all of the shots in Photoshop.

I really want to hone my technique and push myself to do more and more challenging light paintings.

The bigger the scene to light paint, the harder it gets. One of the main difficulties in light painting a large scene is to remember which part of the scene one has already light painted. It thus pays to develop a systematic approach.

For the scene below, not only did I used a more powerful light than in my people light paintings, but I had to figure out which path I would take in order to light paint the whole scene.

Light painting of trees

There is a wooded area pretty close to where I live. I had noticed these trees a while back, and I immediately knew I wanted to light paint them.

iPhone Photography: Portobello Beach

There is a saying, attributed to Louis XVIII, that punctuality is the politeness of kings. I take being on time very seriously and because  I’m usually afraid to be late for an appointment, I’m often early.

iPhone photograph of Portobello beach, Edinburgh, Scotland,  with DistressedFX texture and flock of birds

I decided to include a little bit of the beach and Firth of Forth in my composition, reserving the largest part of the frame for the sky, because it was the most interesting element.

I used to rue the time I wasted waiting for the meeting or appointment because I was ahead of schedule. Not anymore. Now that I’ve learned to use the camera that is always with me, in my iPhone, I spend the time waiting for my appointment honing my iPhone photography skills.

iPhone photograph of Portobello beach, Edinburgh, Scotland,  with DistressedFX texture and flock of birds

Same composition and texture as in the first photograph, but with a different set of birds from the DistressedFX app.

On that day, I had a meeting in Portobello, and not surprisingly I was early. The light was good so I decided to stroll down to the beach to take some iPhone photographs.

iPhone photograph of Portobello beach, Edinburgh, Scotland,  with DistressedFX texture and flock of birds

This time, I left the originals colours more or less untouched and tried a different DistressedFX texture for a more somber mood.

I do like to add textures to my photographs, and one of my favourite apps is DistressedFX. With this app, not only can you easily overlay a wide variety of textures on your photographs, but you can also add a flock of birds.

iPhone photograph of Portobello beach, Edinburgh, Scotland,  with DistressedFX texture and flock of birds

Now for a different composition, excluding the sand beach from the picture.

I really recommend the DistressedFX app, but  I do  offer you this word of caution: it is very addictive!

iPhone photograph of Portobello beach, Edinburgh, Scotland,  with DistressedFX texture and flock of birds

Yet a different flock of birds for this last picture.

iPhone Photography: Lone Tree

After taking a nature fine art online photography class, I really took to adding textures to my pictures. I was therefore delighted to find out there were apps that allowed me to do this on my smartphone.

iPhone photograph of a lone tree in winter time edited with the DistressedFX app.

This is my favourite of all the versions of the lone tree photograph I created with the DistressedFX app.

One of my favourite editing apps is DistressedFX. It is very easy to use, but it does take quite a bit of experimentation to find which photographic subjects best lend themselves to adding DistressedFX textures.

iPhone photograph of a lone tree in winter time edited with the DistressedFX app.

It never ceases to amaze me how different a photograph can look when applying another DistressedFX texture.

The ‘distressed effects’ worked out quite well, in my opinion, with this photograph of a bare tree taken during the past winter, on my way to a meeting.

iPhone photograph of a lone tree in winter time edited with the DistressedFX app.

This high contrast version works because of the graphic simplicity of the subject.

When editing the photos, what I typically do is cycle rapidly through the many textures/overlays DistressedFX has to offer, and then go back and tweak the ones I thought looked good.

iPhone photograph of a lone tree in winter time edited with the DistressedFX app.

This effect is called ‘Surreal’.

If you are like me and love to add texture effects to your iPhone pictures, I would recommend you try the DistressedFX app. But be warned it’s going to take some experimentation before you get the results you want.

Impressionist Photography: Summer Forest

Until recently, in my impressionist forest project, I had only used diffused lighting. The reason was that I believed the high contrast scene produced by sun rays into the forest wouldn’t work when panning my subjects.

A few weeks back, I was on a scouting trip with a camera. It was a beautiful sunny day that made the excursion very pleasant. The road to the location went inside a wooded area, and since I hadn’t taken pictures for a while, I really felt the urge to take some photos. In the digital age when film cost is no longer a factor, there isn’t any valid reason not to experiment. And since I hadn’t anticipated getting any decent pictures from the scouting trip, there was no pressure of any kind. Even though I was kind of convinced it wouldn’t work, I decided to experiment anyways. Who knows, may be I could add some photographs to my impressionist forest series.

Panning impressionist photograph of summer forest

The sun rays coming from the back of this forest scene add an interesting touch of warmth to this panning impress inis picture of the forest.

I was partly right in my initial judgement, in that the strong highlights in the sunny forest scene did ruin a lot of my attempts. But in some cases, as in the photo above, these highlights could be tamed in Photoshop and give me a picture like no other in my collection.

Panning impressionist photograph of  forest

The light was significantly softer from this angle, but the few patches of sunlight make for a better image.

I now have a better idea of the kind of subjects that might work for this kind of panning photography, and I look forward to going out on sunny days in the forest to see if I can further add to my collection.

Impressionist Photography: Spring Forest Pans

Blackford Hill Edinburgh impressionist picture of spring forest using the panning technique

I looked for a pleasing arrangement of the trees in my viewfinder before panning the camera a number of times to get this picture

This post is another instalment of my ongoing personal project involving impressionist photography. One of the ways to give photographs an impressionist look is camera movement during the exposure. The ensuing blurring of the image eliminates the details in the picture, and one is left with an ‘impression’ of the scene.

Blackford Hill Edinburgh impressionist picture of spring forest using the panning technique in Photoshop

The effect in this photograph was obtained in Photoshop. It is hard to distinguish from the effect obtained in camera. I much prefer the latter in that it gives me much more satisfaction as a photographer to get it done right in the camera rather than on the computer.

The pictures in this post were taken at Blackford Hill, Edinburgh. Just like the multiple exposure technique of a couple of posts back, panning requires quite a bit of experimentation. Moving the camera during the exposure is a mechanical skill that must be practiced. Some fine tuning is required in order to achieve the proper amount of blurring of the image.

Another Blackford Hill Edinburgh impressionist picture of spring forest using the panning technique

Here’s another example of panning the camera during the exposure to obtain an impressionist look. I was attracted to the tree in the foreground and adjusted my camera angle to get an arrangement of background trees I liked.

Breaking The Rules: Composition

One of the rules of composition in design and photography is the “rule of thirds”. Draw lines that divide the frame in three equal parts horizontally and vertically. Then place your subject at the intersection of a vertical and horizontal line.

Edinburgh Hermitage of Braid Blackford Hill landscape composed using the rule of thirds

This photograph taken at the Hermitage of Braid, Edinburgh, was composed using the rule of thirds

The above photograph taken at the Hermitage of Braid, Edinburgh, illustrates this. The tree is located approximately at the intersection of the bottom and right thirds of the frame, creating a pleasant composition.

Edinburgh Hermitage of Braid Blackford Hill landscape  not composed using the rule of thirds. The cloudy and dramatic sky has more importance

In this photograph of the same scene as above, I gave the cloud sky much more importance.

In the second photograph (above), I wanted to emphasise the sky and purposefully broke the rule of thirds to only have a very thin strip of landscape at the bottom of the frame. Which one do you prefer?

Impressionist Photography: Spring Forest Multiple Exposures

I strongly believe in personal projects, because this is how I’m getting to find my style. Ever since discovering Bryan Peterson’s books on photography, I’ve been intrigued by some of his more creative experiments involving impressionist photography.

Multiple exposure photograph of spring forest in Blackford Hill Edinburgh

I used the lone tree in the foreground to break the pattern.

One can create some fascinating pictures using multiple exposures in camera, but it does require quite a bit of experimentation. The end result is something one must learn to anticipate, because it is not possible to see it in the camera viewfinder.

Multiple exposure photograph of spring forest in Blackford Hill Edinburgh

The green colour of the leaves in the spring is something I really like to photograph. It looks really ‘fresh’.

Usually, a subject with patterns works well. Like a forest. This is something I discovered last autumn, and this spring I went back to Blackford Hill to capture the spring colours using impressionist photography techniques.

Multiple exposure photograph of spring forest in Blackford Hill Edinburgh

The bluebells in the foreground attracted my attention, since they added an interesting new tone to the colour palette of the forest.

No Sun, No Problem!

I still remember talking to a friend years ago about one of her relative’s wedding. The Met Office had predicted cloudy skies for the Big Day, and she was very disappointed because she thought the photos of the event wouldn’t look their best.

Landscape photograph of Hermitage of Braid, Blackford Hill Edinburgh with vivid green and yellow colours and a dramatic sky

The light was perfect to nicely render the vivid colours of this landscape at the Hermitage of Braid, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh. The dramatic sky provides an interesting contrast to the foreground.

To her great surprise, I said that on the contrary, cloudy skies could be a blessing for wedding photographs. Weddings usually take place in the early afternoon, and when the sun is out, it casts deep shadows on people’s faces. Like “racoon eyes”, where the eyes go nearly black in the photograph because of the shadows cast by the sun light coming from above.

Landscape photograph of Hermitage of Braid, Blackford Hill Edinburgh with vivid green and yellow colours and a dramatic sky

Same scene as in the picture above. One of my favourite photographers is Bryan F. Peterson and he is fond of saying “What is the best time to take a vertical photograph? Just after you take the horizontal!”

I don’t and won’t shoot weddings, but the above story is still relevant for what I do. I don’t like to shoot people in the midday sunlight. I much prefer to wait until the sun is low on the horizon and the light is softer and warmer. In midday, I look for shade or hope that the clouds will come to the rescue and diffuse that early afternoon light.

Landscape photograph of Hermitage of Braid, Blackford Hill Edinburgh with vivid green and yellow colours and a dramatic sky

Another view of the landscape at the Hermitage of Braid, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh. My eye caught the top of the tree peaking out of the hill and the lines leading to it. The overcast sky was sufficiently interesting that I decided to make it the dominant element in the composition.

An other advantage of an overcast day is that the colours are generally more saturated. This works well for flower photography for example. In the case of landscapes, it can work too if one doesn’t show the sky, which is generally uninteresting. But one can get lucky and find some interesting clouds in the sky to complement the vibrant colours of the landscape, as in the few pics shown here.

Cramond Island From Portobello Beach: Chasing The Light

One of the first thing I noticed when I took up photography in Edinburgh is how much the position of the sun in the sky changes during the course of the year. The advantage I have as a local photographer is that I can study the light throughout the seasons and find the best time to photograph a particular subject. This is of course impossible to do if you visit Edinburgh for a short amount of time.

I love to revisit certain Edinburgh locations at different times to get a sense of what the light is like and what it does to the scene. The first picture of Cramond Island below was taken from Portobello Beach at the end of September and the sun was side lighting the clouds. The colours were enhanced at the time of capture with a Lee Twilight Filter.

Cramond Island, Edinburgh, from Portobello beach seascape with vibrant colours in the sky. Taken with a long exposure. at the beginning of Autumn

Cramond Island from Portobello beach at the beginning of Autumn.

The second picture was taken in July and the scene was backlit. The clouds obstructed must of the direct sunlight, and gave the scene a different mood. These pictures will not be in my landscape portfolio but the experience gained will undoubtedly prove valuable in the future.

Cramond Island, Edinburgh, from Portobello beach seascape. Taken with a long exposure in July.

Cramond Island from Portobello beach in July.