When I started out in photography shooting slide film, I was trained to carry two "mandatory" filters: a polarizer and a set of graduated neutral density filters (ND-grads). Polarizing filters not only increase contrast in skies, but they are indispensible in removing glare and reflections from water and foliage. ND-grad filters offer a way of compressing tones in scenes with a large dynamic range.
Outdoor photographers are trained to recognize good light. For most situations, this means the “golden times” right after sunrise and before sunset, and sometimes the pastel light just before dawn and at dusk. Of course, depending on your latitude, the “golden hour” can sometimes be more like the “golden ten minutes.” Other times, sunrises and sunsets just don’t happen. Clouds in the wrong place on the horizon can kill your chance at amazing light, and weather conditions are often unpredictable, as my students discovered a few weeks ago in South Dakota, where we got fogged in until after 10AM one day.
I've been an advocate of Nik Software's original black-and-white conversion plug-in, Silver Efex Pro (SEP), since it was released a few years ago. Recently, Nik Software released a major revision, Silver Efex Pro 2 (SEP2). In this review, I'll take a look at what's new in SEP2 and compare its features to the original version of SEP.
If you enjoy outdoor photography, birds are one of the most challenging subjects you can try to capture. The very nature of bird photography—trying to capture small, fast-moving subjects from a distance—evokes visions of monster lenses costing nearly as much as a quality used vehicle. Without question, serious birders typically have serious gear.
For many of us, our first foray into photography involved black and white film. It was readily available, and cheaper to process than color. Also, you could easily set up a home darkroom to process black and white film and prints. Color processing wasn’t for the average home user, due to its complex requirements for temperature control and chemicals.
Landscape photographers often find themselves in challenging light. If you're at all experienced with shooting landscapes, then you know that the best light happens in the hour or so right around sunrise and sunset. The so-called "golden hour" is when we get nice, warm light and excellent opportunities for side-lighting to bring out the texture in terrain. If you shoot right around sunrise and sunset, though, you'll also get the problem of too much dynamic range.
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