• Adobe Camera RAW Processing

    RAW file work before opening in Adobe Photoshop

    I would love your comments and feedback on this video. It’s a new venture for me, and would appreciate some input. Thank you, and hope you enjoy. . .Karen

  • Controlling the narrative

    Controlling the narrative

    Photography is visual communication. What we put into the photograph communicates what we see in the scene or situation. We control the story through subject matter, composition, and exposure. Post processing the digital file enhances our narrative about the subject.

    copyright Karen Ulvestad

    The narrative portrayed in a photograph is subjective to the photographer and the viewer. It is the culmination of light control, color / black & white, softness or sharpness. It is often defined by the interpretation of the subject by the photographer. In the image above, the tulip is photographed in soft, diffused light with a shallow depth of field. The light creates soft colors that are reminiscent of springtime.

    The shallow depth of field is controlled by the aperture setting. The light is softened by clouds and the trees. This photograph was taken indoors by a window with a screen. The screen acted to diffuse the background colors, and the camera was close enough not to detect the pattern of the screen.

    Equipment: Canon 5D Mk IV; Sigma Art Lens 24-105; Extension Tubes; Tripod

    copyright Karen Ulvestad

    Filling the entire frame with color, texture, and shapes directs the attention to the subject. In this image, the viewer only sees the color of the flower and its petal pattern. The brightness of color is reminiscent of summer. This is a dahlia flower, and the light came through the roof of a greenhouse. The light is even due to the position of the light to the flower. The lens of the camera is parallel to the top of the flower. This allows the amount of focus in the photograph.

    Equipment: Samsung Galaxy J7 Phone

    This last photograph was taken at a very crowded urban area. There were several hundred people under the trees admiring the beautiful cherry blossoms, and tall buildings. This is a time where being selective and creative with the situation needs to happen when choosing the subject. In this scenario, the time of day is crucial for the right lighting of the blossoms and the photograph’s over-all color.

    Equipment: Canon 5D Mk II; Canon Lens 17-40 at 17mm

    May your Spring be filled with Great Photographs. . .Karen

  • Capturing Nature’s Mood

    Capturing Nature’s Mood

    Each season brings different moods to our natural landscape. Winter shows us a moody vision with clouds, rain or snow, and lower light. The colors shift from bright summer colors to subdued winter shades. The tonal quality moves towards the middle tones, and contrast is decreased. Clouds in the sky become a giant diffusion filter, diffusing the natural light and letting less light hit the landscape.

    The image below shows low lying clouds nestled between hillsides, leafless trees, and rain drops on the water. Less light brings a “darker” feeling to the forest. The aperture is larger to bring sharpness to the entire photograph. So, what mood does it show?

    copyright Karen Ulvestad

    The composition affects the amount of light that shows in the photograph. Less sky leaves less light in the image. More sky includes more light. Each of these situations changes how the camera “reads” the available light. The exposure with more forest is easier to get a correct exposure, and details in the land features. When more sky is included, the exposure needs to over-expose the scene, if details are wanted in the forest and land features.

    In the image below, the exposure allows more light to create the image. The mid-tones (Highlights and Shadows) are worked on through Adobe Camera RAW, which brings out more detail in both the clouds and the trees. A similar exposure can be created in-camera using HDR.

    copyright Karen Ulvestad

    Drama in the image is created through working on contrast, keeping areas darker/lighter, or desaturating the color (including black & white). The best way to create “moody” images is to shoot RAW files, and refine the photograph on the computer. Sometimes, it is simple like darkening specific areas, and lightening others. The image below is desaturated color. There is still a little bit of color left in the green trees. The clouds contribute to the separation of the darker, tree covered hills. This image shows more contrast in this monochromatic form, than full color.

    copyright Karen Ulvestad

    As I navigate through the new reality of the pandemic and other challenges, I am teaching more classes and workshops online. If you would like more information on this topic, feel free to contact me directly. Thank you. . .

    Happy Shooting. . .Karen

  • Looking Forward into 2021

    Looking Forward into 2021

    When we look at our world, it influences our vision and photographic images. There are times when it’s easier to escape into nature, and express ourselves through the environment. After 4 years of unpredictability, it is nice to see some calm in the world. So, I’ve spent the month of January creating new images, and teaching. It’s been a nice change in the storm that keeps coming into my life.

    I chased the King Tides in January, and came away with amazing images of the tenacity of the ocean. One thing that helps with creating a good photograph is having a vision. I envisioned showing the ocean and coastline interacting with an extreme tide (and hopefully big waves). I wasn’t disappointed!

    This is the coastline at Kalaloch. This stretch of coastline is part of the Olympic National Park. Normally, more beach is walkable. This day, the ocean came up to the sandstone cliffs. The photo above was taken two to three hours before the high tide.

    I went out to the coast the previous day to catch the incoming tide. A rain and wind storm came through the night before, and I spent the night sleeping in the car a 100 yards or so from the ocean. The sunrise case a soft pinkish cast to the clouds and ocean white caps.

    copyright Karen Ulvestad

    The morning progressed, and the sun lit up the waves. The sound of the surf, along with the amazing amount of sea foam, created a magical scene to photograph. I think I ended up with over a 1000 frames, and several video clips. As a creative person, the challenges of the past year of a Pandemic washed away with the wind, surf, sun, and the photographs.

    The image below is looking north from Kalaloch. The intense storm clouds brought rain to the north and south of this area along the coast. The sunlight added to the power of the moment, and allowed faster exposures to capture the immensity of the incoming surf.

    copyright Karen Ulvestad

    In closing, I encourage all to venture out, and enjoy the beauty of nature. It’s times like this where seeing and feeling nature can move us forward to new visions of future photographic projects.

    Happy Shooting. . .Karen

    copyright Karen Ulvestad

  • Looking Back on 2020

    Looking Back on 2020

    WOW! I made through 2020, but looking back I discovered that I shot less than 10 shoots. Most years, I’ve reached this number of shoots by the end of February. We made through Pandemic lock-downs, travel restrictions, and other limiting factors. I taught only 4 classes, 1 bird festival, and sold a couple prints. With all this, there is visible growth in my photographic vision, and I’m looking forward to 2021. Here, I’m posting my best from 2020.

    May the New Year be filled with may photography opportunities. . .Karen

    • copyright Karen Ulvestad
    • copyright Karen Ulvestad

  • 2020 holiday Special

    2020 holiday Special

    As the year 2020 is coming to an end, it is a great time to learn a new skill or improve an old hobby/passion. I decided that I would offer a special price for an hour of instruction, including answering questions. The topic of instruction will be discussed with the student prior to the session, and will focus on the student’s needs. These sessions will be scheduled between me and the student, and will take place via a ZOOM session. This would make a great Holiday gift for the camera enthusiast, or a child/adult wanting to learn photography. I look forward to working with you in the New Year.


    One Hour Learning Session

    This hour long ZOOM session is designed to help learn a new camera, expand existing knowledge, and/or learn new photography skills. Skills taught could range from camera operation, understanding exposure, composition, the digital darkroom, storing and accessing picture files, and/or subjects/locations to shoot. The subjects taught will be tailored to the student prior to the session. These sessions are great for children or adults. I have taught both age groups in-person and via ZOOM classes. Each session will be scheduled to the availability of the student and instructor. Parents are welcome to be part of a child’s session.


  • Creating a Photographic Story

    copyright Karen Ulvestad

    A photograph is the reflection of the photographer at the time the image is created. It reflects our mood, vision, and emotional state. The way the light is captured in the image, then post processed reveals the story hidden in the photograph. It is a visual communication between the photographer and their audience.

    The image above was take this spring during the afternoon (during a short day escape during the Pandemic). The weather report called for rain, yet it hadn’t rained yet. The clouds were amazing and dynamic. The hillside viewpoint allowed me to include the Columbia River, Vantage, I-90, and the dynamic clouds. I brought more contrast into the post processing. I like how it look a ominous.

    In the next image, I took a different approach. . .

    copyright Karen Ulvestad

    What attracted my attention in this image is the dynamic clouds, the lines of the hillside, and the wild horse monument. I return to this place at least once a year to experience the high desert changes. I love the changing sky. Often this area is a treasure trove of opportunities to explore line, shape, textures, and other compositional elements. It usually isn’t over-run with people, and the hike to the top is relatively easy.

    The biggest piece in creating a photographic story is the photographer’s vision or ability to compose in the field. It is the culmination of an idea, and the cooperation of the weather/other elements in the environment. The subject or important element needs to fill the frame. The following photograph focuses on the amazing cloud formations.

    copyright Karen Ulvestad

    The clouds are far more interesting than the landscape, yet what sits on the horizon? This is looking west towards the Cascade Mountains, and the clouds have created a dark blue-gray background for the turbines in the distance. A small airplane sits in the sky against the background of the massive clouds. Both the turbines and airplane give some perspective on the size of these cloud formations.

    Exposure for these images is important and contributes to the story. All three are shot with at F16 or F22. This is a large depth of field, and gives the viewer a visual reference to the fore-ground, mid-ground, and background. A larger depth of field gives an expansive feeling to the photographs, and contributes to the 3D feeling in the images. A shallower depth of field would give less visual information to the viewer, and feel more 2 dimensional.

    Through all these social challenges we face today, may everyone stay well and continue to photograph the world around us.


  • Changing Times. . .

    It’s amazing how quickly our world changes! I hope this post finds all my followers in good health. As we navigate this new world filled with a dangerous pandemic (virus) and travel restrictions, I think it becomes more important to find ourselves behind our cameras documenting the world.

    The act of being creative puts perspective to the unseen and sometimes frightening aspects of our lives. I sit here at home contemplating opportunities that have been canceled in the past few weeks and in the upcoming future. There is a lot to fear, yet it is an opportunity for a new future and growth in vision.

    I believe that this is an opportunity to hang out at home, work previous images, and plan / execute new subject matter / ideas. It’s like we have been asked to take a step back from our normally busy world, and breathe. I look forward to the photographic images that emerge through this time of transition and change.

    The photo above was taken last year on my way to the Othello Sandhill Crane Festival. I spoke on bird photography. It was an amazing trip and opportunity to meet fellow photographers. This year, the festival was canceled due to the pandemic. I was going to lead a photography tour highlighting the migratory Sandhill Cranes. Maybe, I’ll get to do this next year. . .

    I did venture to the Port Susan Snow Goose Festival. It was a quiet year for sighting birds at a close distance. This photo was taken last year (2019).  A year made an immense difference in flock sizes and attendees of the festival. It seems like there was a shadow hanging overhead in the background.

    Many of the festivals and gatherings for photographers (and others) are canceled in the foreseeable future, so what are we to do?

    First, I think it is important to continue shooting. It might sound difficult to achieve in this home-bound times, but it only requires a bit of creativity. Maybe, it’s time to learn a new photography skill. It could be choosing subjects at home that will improve skills. Everything we learn as photographers translates into better photographs. Now is a great time to try new things.

    Second, I believe it helps to create assignments to complete. An example would be to shoot a photo a day, or select a word and try to accomplish it in a photograph.

    Third, this is a great time for planning. I’ve been working on planning 6 to 12 months from now, making the plans flexible. I know that these plans help me with creating course content for my classes / workshops, designing new products to sell, and personal projects. Often times, these sessions reveal opportunities for books, articles, and blog entries.

    One last thing. . .all of my classes will be taught online until further notice.

  • Finding the Spirit of Place

    copyright Karen UlvestadThis workshop is the culmination of creativity combined with photography. It is the art of exploring the environment or subject to express its true nature from the perspective of the photographer.

    It is offered through the amazing art school Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. It is the former home of Georgia O’Keefe.

    Here is the synopsis of the workshop. . .

    Ready to take the next step in your photography? Learn to “see” the world around you through the camera’s eye, and create amazing photographic images. Simply put, photography is light. It’s important to see it and learn to control it through camera settings. In the digital age, photography is more dynamic in what can be captured in a picture. Our cameras are able to capture both low light and high light situations. To create a photograph, this is combined with our knowledge of our camera’s settings. Exposure and composition combine together to make the photograph a true representation of the photographer’s vision through management of light, color, and highlight/shadow. This class includes the formulas and techniques to create dynamic photographs, and the importance of equipment choices. Different lens focal lengths change the depth of field recorded by the camera. This is an important piece of creating a story-telling photographic image. Discussions include in-camera techniques and digital darkroom adjustments. The digital darkroom is basically the photo lab of the film days of photography. We will learn basic techniques, along with the best software and best hardware choices. This is where the photographer adjusts the photograph to match his/her visual representation of the scene/subject. It is as important as in-camera techniques to create the picture. Class includes time to practice these new concepts and techniques through practice and assignments. Questions are encouraged both in-class, and during practice times. Each class includes time for review / critique of students work. The feedback helps clarify the concepts of the class, and encourages creativity.

    We will cover:
    *Seeing Examples of concepts through visual presentation
    *Learning how to “see” and “seeing” techniques
    *Creativity is encouraged *Exposure & composition (basic to advanced depending on level of student)
    *Equipment & how to select which pieces to use
    *Learn visual story-telling and finding inner vision
    *Planning and accomplishing the photographic concepts
    *Color or Black & White? What works best with the photograph’s concept
    *Experimenting with visual concepts
    *Connecting with the subject or place
    *In-camera techniques for better photographs
    *Digital Darkroom techniques

    Link for the class is on the Workshops page. . .

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