I am going to have the opportunity to go to Sedona and I would love to take some fantastic red rock pictures. I look at other's pictures and some are just so so. What are the tricks to take great pictures? Is it the time of day, or a special filter or and adjustment on my camera?
Thanks in advance,
Time of day is probably the most important (sunrise and sunset are the golden hours). Dial down your exposure compensation so the highlights won't get blown out. You can brighten the picture in your computer afterwards.
Filters will help a lot due to the difference in light values between the sky and landscape. Cut the sky out in some of your pictures or use a ND filter. Possibly take multiple exposures of the same scene and try HDR. Finally do some post processing in a photo editor to kick up the saturation and contrast if needed.
I was there during an afternoon in August so it was very bright and quite hot. Not perfect for picture taking but you have to make do with what you got at the time.
Here is the Church of The Rock (most popular viewing location the locals told us).
Thank you for your thoughts and comments. I am an amateur and have had my photography brain on the back burner for a bit so I need some refreshers.
What kind of filters would you reccamend? I looked up ND and it looks like you may have meant neutral density filter. It looks like they come in at least clear and gray. What do you reccamend?
I can do multiple exposures but not sure what what HDR is.
The picture is darn good for the middle of the day. Looks good.
Thanks for your thoughts.
On the ND filters (yes you are correct - Neutral Density) I meant graduated ND filter where the bottom is clear and the top is graduated from the center line to the top. This is used in general landscape photography for bright days so the sky will keep its color and you can expose the foreground at the same time. To use a graduated ND filter you need a kit like Cokin - it has an adapter to fit to your camera lens, then a holding bracket for the filters is slipped over the adapter, and finally the rectangular filters (up to 3 filters) are slipped into the holding bracket and slid up or down until you are happy with the look of your composition. The center line of the filter should be even with the sky and landscape horizontal line.
Another one that is often recommended is a circular polarizer filter. This will be adjusted by twisting the outer ring of the filter to eliminate glare and reflections.
HDR is high dynamic range and is a technique used to blend 2 or more photos of the same scene through software. It is best to use a tripod, set the camera in aperture priority, and shoot several exposures of the same scene but altering the EV (exposure value) either manually or through exposure compensation or AEB (auto exposure bracketing). So you would make a normal exposure shot, an under exposed shot, and an over exposed shot of the same scene in a quick sequence (AEB is good for this). The software takes the 2 or more images and makes decisions on what is over exposed, under exposed, etc. and blends them into one 32 bit HDR image (you cannot view this because the monitor cannot show HDR) and then this picture is tone mapped to a 16 bit TIFF file which can be viewd on a monitor. It compensates for the inadequacy of the camera to take one exposure of the entire tonal scene. Sounds complicated but it looks like this is eventually going to take place in the camera. Anyway the sky in an underexposed picture will look blue with white fluffy clouds but the landscape will be kind of dark so no detail shows through, a normal exposure will get most of the scene in the landscape and the sky will kind of look washed out - at least the clouds will be washed out of any detail, and an overexposed shot will show details in the shadows but the sky will totally washed out and a lot of the landscape may be washed out too.
From 40 yrs of desert photography my favorite weapon is a circular polarizing filter does much the same as a ND but with a couple of added benefits another thing I like in desert and rocks is a very wide angle lens the common wisdom is to go with a long lens but I like the WA better if you are going to be in a truck think about a folding ladder sometimes it is nice to be able to get a little elevation ,the back of a truck works well for that Fly Gysers in northern Nevada near Gerlach