• Norway
  • Norway
  • palouseheader

    Palouse Fields

    Sunrise taken in the Palouse area of Washington state.

  • nyheader

    New York City

    Long Exposure Photo Taken From Brooklyn Bridge Park, NY

Skippy Sky Cloud Weather

Last week I posted about 7 tips to help scout locations for landscape photographers. Well, one of the blog readers (All I have of their name is their profile which reads “Missingfingers”), posted a link to a cool resource to help see cloud cover. It’s called SkippySky Astro Weather forecast. It’s actually meant to help see what the cloud cover will be like for astronomers, and anyone who wants to see the sky at night. But even if you’re not shooting at night, it can still help you figure out what the clouds will be like.

Here’s an example of the Southeast map.

The site itself isn’t flashy, and there’s a few things you could miss if you didn’t know they were there. 1) First off, after you focus in on the region you’re in, there’s links below each region that let you see various things like low, middle, or high clouds, temperature, pressure, etc…

2) Below that are links that let you jump forward a number of hours (+6, +9, +12, etc…). It looks pretty cool so I’m anxious to try it out. I’ve been pretty busy gearing up for Photoshop World next week (click here to see my classes), but I’m hoping to get out and shoot soon.

Enjoy and have a good one!

Exposure Magazine Lee Filters

One of my friends, Brett Silverton, pointed me to a new (free) e-Magazine from Lee Filters (makers of the Big Stopper long exposure filter, among others). So I downloaded the first copy and and read it on the plane the other day. With the exception of one article that said you have to use neutral density grads ( ;-) you have to read my article here to really understand that jab), I thought the whole magazine was a great read, and very inspiring. They even showcased photos from some of their customers which I thought was cool. It’s a PDF so you can read it online, or download it to your tablet (which is what I did).

Here’s the link if you want to check it out (it’s free).

DJI Phantom Quad

Hey everyone. I’m in Indianapolis today getting ready for my Lightroom 5 seminar. If you’re attending please make sure you come up and say hi. I’ve got one coming up on Wednesday in Columbus, OH so you can still snag a ticket if you’re around. And don’t forget next week is Photoshop World. Okay, on to the topic…

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people on if/when/how I’ll use a quad copter in my landscape photography. The DJI Phantom has been getting a ton of buzz lately. I’m friends with lots of people that’ve been using them and I see their photos posted online just about every day. And you hear plenty of people talk about how the copter is a “game changer” for photographers and videographers. I definitely think it is. Footage and photos that once required thousands of dollars (if not tens of thousands) of equipment and helicopter/jib rentals, can now be done for hundreds of dollars. We actually used one on our latest Photoshop World movie that debuts next week, and without it, the only way to capture footage even close to what we got would have been hiring a helicopter. It really is amazing at how they’re changing things.

Will I Use One?
Right now, the only use I have for a quad copter is to mess around with my kids because they dig RC (remote control) stuff. Personally, photos from that high up don’t grab me. Here’s a story. I went parasailing with my kids this past summer. I remember thinking it would be great to bring a camera up that high and take photos. But when I got up there, I realized that, while it’s beautiful from up high, from a photography perspective it just didn’t grab me.

Why I Don’t Like Photos From Up High
First, remember this is all a personal preference for me. The way I see it, photos from that high up take away all foreground. They take away the depth that I try to get with my landscape photos. Foreground. Middle-ground. Background… these are all things I’m looking for in my compositions. So when you take that away, in my opinion, you have a postcard. And postcards aren’t bad mind you, but they’re just not what I’m looking for in my work.

A Postcard?
I use the term “postcard” because that’s what a certain type of photo makes me think of. It’s a photo from some vantage point up high that let’s you see everything around you. They’re not bad mind you. They’re actually great to share with some one who’s never been to the place before. But what I’ve learned about myself (and judging from the stats on my personal portfolio and what people like to view), these photos don’t seem to connect. Again, this is just me, but I’ll take a photo down low with a strong foreground in it, any day over the photo from up high.

Oh, and by the way, I have many postcard photos. Here’s a few.

Bergen, Norway

Balestrand Norway

I’m not saying these photos aren’t nice. But I can’t help it. They just don’t do “it” for me. They’re great for photo books of my trips, and they’re definitely not throw-aways, but it’s not a photo I’d hang on my wall. In fact, the photo above was about an hour hike uphill while I was in Norway. So I had some time invested in it. I was excited, drenched in sweat, moving quickly to get there because I couldn’t wait to see what it looked like. When I got there, I snapped off a few photos and realized it just wasn’t what I was looking for. So I quickly hiked down before the really good sunset light, got in the car, and went off to a place closer to the water.

Balestrand, Norway

So Does That Mean I’ll Never Use One?
I’ve learned way too many times that saying “never” always comes back to bite me. So I’ll leave it that, as of right now, I have no interest in incorporating them in to my landscape and outdoor photography work. Believe me, I want to. I LOVE RC stuff! I’d love to be able to justify buying a quad copter (or better) and a bunch of gadgets to go along with it, but right
now I don’t have a use for it. Will that change? What I’ve learned about myself is that I’m usually wrong ;-) So yes, it’ll probably change. Or not. Who knows? :-)

So what’s your take? Already have a copter? Thinking of buying one? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a good one!

• View Matt’s Photography Portfolio
• View Matt’s Photography Gear List

A few weeks ago I posted that I was a guest on TV show called “The Home and Family Show”, and giving some photography tips. The show airs on the Hallmark channel and it was a blast. It was actually my second time on the show, (I was on in Dec. of 2012) so I wasn’t as nervous this time either.

Anyway, we pre-recorded my tips earlier in the day and then talked a little about them later on in the show. The photo examples came out great, and if you shoot portraits outdoors (and even indoors for a couple of the tips), then check out the video below.

Have a good one!