Tutorial

Day & Night Video Course

I'm happy to introduce my new video course called Day & Night. It's a mash-up of my favorite techniques put into one video course. You can learn how to create jaw-dropping landscape photography. It's on sale for under 48 hours, so go and grab yours! 

How to create atmospheric photographs part II

Last week I promised a tutorial to show you how to create an atmospheric photograph in post-processing. The editing will be done mostly in Lightroom, but there are a couple of steps that I decided to do in Photoshop. The processing decisions are made from the notes I captured in the scenery. My goal is to show you how I felt. In this tutorial I'm not using the same image I shared last week, because I wanted to create a new view from my notes.

For the photograph, I wrote down a couple of words: A mirror, a world reflected, a second look reveals it, a dream. Cold and mysterious. 

When I was capturing the scenery, I imagined that the reflection would be flipped so that it would look like a kind of dreamy World. 

Editing

Let's start the editing by flipping the scenery in Lightroom go to Photo > Rotate (either one works, do this step twice)

 

BASIC SETTINGS

Let's make it slightly darker and desaturate it so we can add the blue tonality from the Split Toning panel. Also pull detail from the shadows and blacks. 

Temp 4976
Tint 0
Exposure –0,12
Highlights –19
Shadows +26
Whites –5
Clarity –7
Dehaze –2
Saturation –33

 

Tone Curve

As I want to make the overall look a bit darker, let's use the curves to darken and pull some of the blacks to make it hazier. 

 

Split Toning

Now we just need to add blue tonality to make it look colder and more like I saw the scenery.

Highlights Hue 55, Saturation 10
Balance
–100
Shadows Hue 223, Saturation 36

 

Effects 

For this image, I want to add darkness around the edges, so let's add some vignetting. 

Highlight-Priority
Amount
–14
Midpoint 0
Feather 100
Highlights 17

 

Graduated filter

Next step is to add some light to the bottom part of the frame, and the easiest way to do it is with the Graduated Filter. Pull one filter from the bottom portion of the frame towards the top. 

Contrast 33
Whites 26
Clarity 7
Dehaze –13

 

Crop

Usually, I leave the cropping for the final thing to do, but it was hard to visualize the outcome without doing the crop, so cut out the right and bottom part of the frame. 

 

Radial Filter

I want to emphasize the darkness around the frame, so let's add a Radial Filter to darken the image except for the lower part.  

Exposure –0,44
Highlights –50
Shadows 26
Whites –37
Clarity –26

07-radial-filter.jpg

 

RADIAL FILTER II

As I want to boost the lower part of the frame, add another Radial Filter and this time with the following settings. 

Temp –8
Exposure 0,88
Clarity –7
Dehaze –11


Editing in Photoshop

I want to remove some of those branches in the water, and I believe it's easier to eliminate distractions in Photoshop so right-click on top of the image and select: Edit In > Edit In Photoshop CC 2018

 

Removing Distractions 

For this type of editing I prefer to use Photoshop and the spot-healing brush tool. It works magically well most of the time. I recommend that you first create a new blank layer above the image and use the Spot Healing brush tool so it applies to all of the layers.

 

Warp

This is not a necessary step but as the I wanted to straighten the middle tree and make the view more balanced so I used the free transform box and warp to fix it. 

13-warp.jpg

 

Final adjustments in Lightroom

Finally, save the image and head back to Lightroom to make the final adjustments. I tend to use the temperature slider to make the final color adjustments and basic settings to edit how the final image looks like. 

Temp –5
Exposure
–0,10
Contrast +10
Whites +30
Clarity
–5
Dehaze –5
Saturation –10

14-Lr-Final.jpg

Here is the before and after with the same crop. 

And that's it. Quite an easy tutorial on what you can accomplish by having notes and how to use them to edit your photographs. Let me know if you find this two-part tutorial helpful! Next week I will be releasing the new Day & Night fine art photography course, so stay tuned!

Would you like to see post-processing or capturing tutorial next week? Or perhaps something completely different? Let me know!

 

 

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How to create atmospheric photographs part I

The goal of this tutorial is to make you more aware of the process behind your photographs. I'm going to tell you the process I use to create work that inspires me. I talk about how to capture and edit atmospheric photographs. The thing about photography I find so fascinating is that you can always learn new ways to develop your vision. It is more about what happens behind the camera. Because photographers rarely speak about their thought process I wanted to share mine. Next week I will release the second part of this tutorial which shows you an example of the following techniques. 

I believe that the next steps will help you in any photography genre, but when you want to capture landscape photographs with atmosphere, I find these steps to be essential. It's about the different viewpoints we have. 

I know many of us have a problem keeping our work consistent when we are on the road traveling or just spending a whole lot of time photographing. After a shoot or a trip we head back to home after a long day, we might forget to import the photos, or we are just too tired to check the images. As the next day comes, we still haven't reviewed the pictures and didn't even feel the need to do so, and by the time you import the photographs, you might have some thoughts about the captures, but you have lost the ideas for those photos. Maybe not all of the ideas you had, but some were forgotten. Then you find yourself staring at the screen and looking at the pictures like, what was I thinking? Why did I capture the scenery like this? When we are in these situations wouldn't it be amazing to have a place we could go and learn about the photographs? I think so!

Take notes

There is quite a simple method store your ideas for your photographs, take notes! Blah, I said to myself when I first thought about it. I don't want to take notes. But then I remembered how many times I had forgotten ideas behind my images, so I thought that why not try it. And I did, and I think it helped me to be more aware of my work.

Here is how you can do it: After you have done a shoot and it's still fresh in your memory, write down the feelings, ideas or just a few words about the photographs you were capturing. Use a small notepad that you keep in your camera bag. I find it much more rewarding to write down the ideas with a pen and paper than with a smartphone. Sometimes I might even do a small sketch on the same page to visualize it further. I also take a photo with my phone of the page where I wrote down the experience and put it to my Evernote so I can access it on my computer while I'm working on the images. Try it out! It might take you a couple of exercises before it sticks, but if it does, I'm sure you will get most out of your shoot and from the photos.

For the example photograph, I wrote down a couple of words: The other side - a mirror, a world reflected, a second look reveals it.

What is your intention?

When you have your notes, use them as the starting point for your editing. Beginning with a plan keeps your focus on the photos much longer than when you only fool around with settings in Lightroom and don't have a clear vision. 

Ask yourself these questions when you don't have ideas on how to go forward: What kind of emotions you want to draw with your photograph? What is the story behind the image and how did you feel when you were photographing the scenery? Asking questions about your photos can help to guide your post-processing. In this picture, I wanted to convey a feeling of mystery and a look into a different World.

As you now have an idea for your photo, it's time to start to edit the photograph. 

Editing

BASIC SETTINGS

First, I recommend focussing on the global adjustments. Do you feel that the picture looks the way you experienced the moment? If not, maybe you need to make changes to the light and contrast. It may be underexposed, and you need to tweak the exposure. It all depends on your vision of the scenery.

COLORS

Select a color palette that recreates the vision you had when you captured the photos. You can start the color editing with color temperature and tint. Play with the colors and choose if you want more or less intensity.  Or maybe you want the image to be black and white so convert it. 

Color is a huge topic on its own, so let's not dive into it in this tutorial. If you are interested in an article about colors, please let me know in the comments. 

SELECTIVE ADJUSTMENTS

Now you need to pinpoint what is the "hero" or the main subject in the photograph. What was your vision for the picture? Where do you want the viewer's eye to go? What was the reason you captured this view? The eye tends to look at the brightest areas in the photo, so maybe you need to darken other parts of the photograph to tell the story.

EFFECTS

Use the effects to create final adjustments for your photo. Vignetting can help to draw keep the eye in the frame. Noise is also a way to emphasize mood; a grainy look can create a sense of drama. 

The Other Side - Mikko Lagerstedt - 2018, Finland

And that's it. A quick tutorial on what happens beneath the capturing and editing process. As I said, next week I will follow up on a tutorial with these processing steps. Let me know if this was something you enjoyed reading. 

 

 

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How to keep yourself motivated and take better photos?

As I'm looking back to my ten-year journey in photography, I realize that I have had my ups and downs. The thing that I have found out to be one of the keys to my success and for the other photographers I spend time with is perseverance. It's not a surprising thing, but how many of us overlook it? I certainly did. Why? Is it because we don't want to admit that it takes a long time to create beautiful work? 

It's much easier to focus on things that don't matter. Or it might be because someone else is developing stunning work, they must have it in their genes? Why do we do this? It's paralyzing! 

As I have been creating the Day & Night video course, I have realized that I can't focus on many things at the same time. It led me to focus only on the course, which then lowered my ability to go out and photograph. And I haven't been active on social media either. Looking back over the last two months I have barely gone out to shoot which has dropped my confidence in creating beautiful work. If you didn't know by now, I'm not perfect. 

I haven't seen many posts about motivation when it comes to photography, so I decided to write one. I'm sure all of us sometimes lack the motivation to take photos, but I think it all depends how fast you can bounce out of it.

For me, it's sometimes hard to find balance. I love to share my knowledge with people, but if I "can't" go out to photograph I feel uninspired. I think we all have these assumptions of how we are and that we cannot do anything about it. In fact, I think that those are just scripts that run in the back of our mind to keep us taking action needed to break out from the jam we are.

So what are the steps we can take to break out of these excuses and keep us motivated to create beautiful photographs?

1. PLAN

Make a plan that is easy to follow through. I use an "easy-motivation-planner" I have created when I'm planning my week. I don't plan all of my weeks like in the below example. Instead, I use it if I haven't been photographing lately or find it hard to go out and take photographs. The planner has a day, time, place, goal and ideas sections.

A preview of how the planner looks like.

Here is a breakdown of the planner:

  • The Day, of course, is the day you want to go out and photograph in a specific location.
  • Time is when you need to head out from your home, so calculate enough time before the sunrise, sunset or any time you want to visit a location.
  • The Place is a specific location you want to visit that time. If you don't have a place in mind, use Google maps as a location scouter.
  • The Goal is what it is that you want to capture, is it perhaps seascape or landscape or anything you wish to achieve from the location.
  • Ideas are from your idea archive. Put at least one idea for the shoot in this section.  Don't know how to create ideas that are unique? Check out my video course

Download a copy of my easy-motivation-planner here.

2. Make it Impossible to fail

I bet there have been times when you have woken up but felt that you need to keep on sleeping instead of heading out to photograph. I know I have. Or you have been busy doing something else and forgot to go out and capture the sunset. We all have many excuses not to go out and photograph...

One of the best things you can do is prepare for it. Take the excuses away!

  • Charge your camera & gear beforehand
  • Pack your gear into your backpack and keep it ready
  • Make sure you have enough gas in your car if you wish to travel with it

When you want to capture the sunrise

  • Keep your clothes prepared near your bed
  • Make it easy to take a coffee or tea with you or grab one on the go
  • Cook your breakfast the day before 

You can add any steps you think makes it easier to go out. If you have gone through all of these, I bet you would feel stupid not to go! 

3. TAKE ACTION NO MATTER WHAT

It sounds counter-intuitive but if you doubt yourself the only way to break out of that doubt is to take action. Go out and take photographs, no matter what. When you make a plan, you can always say to yourself that this is what you promised yourself when you were thinking about the best interest of your photography. So listen to your past-self and take action. Action-cycle is where you want to end up!

4. GO OUT WITH OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS 

Chat with a fellow photographer and plan a trip, whatever it takes for you to start taking action and going out to photograph. If you make yourself accountable to other photographers, you will make progress. "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." Yeah, it's a cliche already, but having people around that increases your positivity is crucial! Having like-minded people who want to create work that stands-out makes you feel inspired.

5. STOP SPENDING TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Scrolling the internet (except my site of course) or using the smartphone instead of going out is a way to kill your productivity. I'm not saying that you should entirely stop using social media or any platforms that connect you with other creators and followers. I'm just saying that you should have more time for creation than for watching what other people have done. Create work that inspires you!

 

The above steps have worked for me, let me know if you find them useful!

I know this post was something different, so leave a comment and let me know if you want to see posts like these in the future. Enjoy Spring everyone! 

 
 

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Mikko-Lagerstedt-Passing-Moment.jpg

New Video Tutorial - Day & Night

Happy New Year everyone! For the past two months, I have been working on my first pro video course Day & Night. In the tutorial, you will learn how to capture, create, edit and produce ideas for fine art photography and manipulations. It will be fast-paced, straight to the point learning experience. 

This year it will be my 10-year anniversary in photography, and I'm happy to announce I will be posting three different pro video courses in 2018. In these tutorials, I show you all of my techniques and knowledge I have gathered in the ten years I have been photographing.