Columbia river gorge waterfalls and trails

The historic Columbia River highway gives access to amazing waterfalls, and fall colors.  It is a great photo opportunity.  Please check it out. . .thanks, and Happy Shooting. . .Karen

Columbia river gorge waterfalls and trails.

How do you do “That”. . .

copyright Karen Ulvestad
This was taken in 1995 on slide film, and scanned to a digital file.

I’ve been a photographer for years, and started with film.  I wanted to be like Art Wolfe.  I had seen his photos in National Geographic, and wanted to work for them.  I decided to become one of the best photographers in the world, and that would be my life.  I would travel the world, take photographs, and people would pay me a lot of money.  I was 13 years old at the time.

Through the years, I have been blessed with the teachings of many different photographers.  I attended a workshop taught by Frans Lanting in the 1990s, and he told us that nobody in the room would make it as a professional nature photographer, except for the 1 or 2 that did not listen to him.  I love a challenge!

Bryan F Peterson’s workshops brought in the idea that creativity and light were the foundation for all successful photographs.  I’ve taken several workshops from him through the years, and have “wow-ed” him with a few photographs.  This photo of the Painted Desert was the first “wow”, and it was at a workshop.  It was followed by silence, in a room full of 50+ people.  It is one of my fondest memories about photography.

The other factor that brought me to this point in my career was being recognized as a talented photographer by a local photographer.  He taught introduction photography classes, and asked me to assist him.  This was in 1995, and lasted for two years.  He also encouraged me and others to show our work, by organizing a gallery in LaConner, WA.  I was covering a shift at the gallery one weekend, and had the opportunity to listen to a gentleman critique all my work to a friend without even acknowledging my presence in the gallery.  Listening to others can give insight, and knowledge about the artist’s audience.


Copyright Karen Ulvestad
This was taken in 1997 on slide film, and scanned to a digital file.

So now when I do a show or talk, people ask me “how do you do that?”  I could be anything, such as how did you get the background to go dark.  How did you get the picture so colorful?  What kind of camera do you use?

Well, a good photograph doesn’t have much to do with owning an expensive camera.  It does have a lot to do with knowing how to use the equipment that you own or can afford to own (Point and Shoot or DSLR).  It comes down to understanding light, exposure, composition, and how to manipulate the camera to get the artist vision.  It takes practice, using all this knowledge to hone a photographer’s skills.

I teach student’s these skills through several venues.  On the weekends, I teach through Nature’s Photo Adventures.  The 2 hour workshop is called a Photo Walk.  This format allows students to learn these skills, practice the skills, and ask questions regarding application of the skills.  Many of the Photo Walks happen at the zoo, where there are an abundance of photo opportunities.  For the more advanced students, I offer a 1 day workshop (4 hours) of classroom time, and opportunity to practice skills.  The format of the classes focus on skills, and students being successful with their photographs.

For those who prefer a classroom setting, I teach a series of Digital photography classes through the City of Edmonds.  There are 4 individual classes that are 2 hours of instruction.  Each one builds off of the knowledge learned in the previous class.  Students can sign-up for these individually.  The first class starts with basic camera operation.  Class two focuses on exposure and light.  Class three works on composition, and the application of exposure/light.  Class four finishes with the digital darkroom, and what software programs work best for their costs.

I teach longer workshops through the Pacific Northwest Art School on Whidbey Island.  In 2013, I will be teaching a one-day (6 hour) workshop called “From Camera Knowledge to the Digital Darkroom Intensive.”  This will be one day focused on basic camera operation, exposure, composition, light, practice shooting, and finishes with the Digital Darkroom.  This will be on Saturday, March 23, 2013.

The second workshop I will be teaching here is “An Island Photographic Adventure – Birds, Wildlife & the Environment.”  It will be a 2 day workshop with classroom time, and shooting on location.  The shoot locations will be on Whidbey and Fidelgo Islands.  The workshop will be held Saturday and Sunday, July 27-28, 2013.

My other teaching venue is the Sitka Center for Arts & Ecology on the Oregon coast.  I will be teaching “Of the Land, Sea & Air – An Oregon Coast Photo Adventure.”  It will be in June, though I do not have the final date yet.

So, when asking a photographer, “how did you do that,” consider taking a photography workshop. . .

copyright Karen Ulvestad
This was taken in 1992 (I think) on print file, and scanned to a digital file.

Olympic peninsula beach low-tide treasures

Here is my latest article on the Olympic Peninsula.  Please check it out, and subscribe to my articles.  You would be helping me out. . .thanks & have a great day. . .Karen

Olympic peninsula beach low-tide treasures.

Photographing Fall Colors. . .

One of my favorite times of the year for photography is coming up.  In the fall, the leaves on the trees turn vibrant yellows, oranges, reds and sometimes purple.  Each region has its own timing for the fall foliage.  Ours is anytime between late September to mid-November.  It all depends on the amount of rain, and when the first frost happens.

The shot below was taken on Whatcom Creek in northern Washington state.  This is a long exposure (3 seconds) on a tripod.  The depth of field (Aperture) is f22, for maximum sharpness throughout the photograph.  The ISO was 100.

The day was over-cast, hence the lack of dark shadows and bright highlights.  This can work two ways for a photograph.  First, it give even lighting, since the clouds diffuse the sunlight.  Second, too much sky showing becomes un-interesting, and can take away from the photograph.  In this photo, I cropped out the sky, and focused on the creek, fall foliage and surrounding landscape.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

This next example deviates from a traditional landscape photograph.  The trees, leaves and stream become an abstract image.  This effect is created in the camera by “zooming” the lens.  In this case, I used my 17-40mm lens.  In this case, I started at 17mm and zoomed to 40mm.

This is a 1 second exposure at f10.  The ISO was 100.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

This last photograph was taken on a sunny day.  I chose a shaded bend in the river, and cropped out the brightly lit background forest from the frame (in camera).  Composition can intensify the fall leaves, by surrounding the tree with a single color.  In this case, it is the other green trees that have not turned color yet.  I set my camera’s White Balance on Cloudy, which “warms” up the colors in the photograph.  A polarizing filter is handy to cut the “glare” from the top of the leaves.

This was shot with my 100-400mm lens, at 100mm.  The exposure was 1/60 sec, f4.5 and ISO 100.

For more information about locations, visit my articles, and subscribe to my updates.

Happy shooting. . .Karen

copyright Karen Ulvestad

Northern Cascade mountain scenic loop

Here is my latest article, and a great idea for travel on the Labor Day weekend.  Please check it out.  If you like my articles, please subscribe.  Thanks, and have a wonderful day. . .Karen

Northern Cascade mountain scenic loop.

It’s a Small World. . .

Macro photography is the art of seeing the small.  It is taking the miniscule, and making it the subject of a photograph.  The subject could be printed larger than life-size, and it’s details could be tack-sharp.  It requires a macro lens or extension tubes for true macro photography.  These tools allow the lens to be closer to the subject, thus magnifying the subject in the photograph.  Subjects for macro photography are as varied, though flowers or insects seem to be a favorite subject among photographers.

Close-up photography can be done with a macro lens or a short focal length lens (such as a 17-40mm).  It is different from macro, because of the difference in magnification of the subject.  Another difference is the lens “sees” the subject differently.  It can feel more “sweeping” in perspective than a standard macro lens.

The pink image below was taken with a 100mm Macro lens.  The photograph is a pink rose.  The sweeping lines of the petals create an abstract pattern in pink.  This rose was about 3-4 inches in diameter, and this is a small portion of the rose.

The lighting was a big factor in this image.  It was a bright sunny day, around mid-day.  I looked for a flower that was in the shade, so the lighting would be more uniform across the entire flower.  It the flower had been in direct sunlight, there would have been a difference of exposure exceeding 2 stops of light.  Translated this means that either the shadows would have been black, or the highlights would be white.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

Close-up photographs can reveal the hidden beauty of the subject.  The photograph below shows the subtle color changes and details of a succulent.  The focus is on the tight grouping of new leaves in the center, and this is controlled by the Aperture.  The Aperture is the Depth of Field (DOF).  In close-up images, the DOF is more noticeable than a sweeping landscape, because the camera/lens is so close to the subject.

This image was taken with a 17-40mm lens at 40mm.  Shorter focal length lenses allow the camera/lens to focus closer the subject.  The DOF was f4.0.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

The image below is of one of my favorites.  Water droplets act like a fish-eye lens, and show everything behind them within.  This was taken with a 100mm macro lens at f4.0.  There is a noticeable difference in the DOF between the succulent above and the fir needles and water droplets below.  Each lens and technique give the photograph a different feel.

One additional note is to remember to use a tripod with Macro and Close-up photography.  The slightest shake is magnified in this type of photography.

More Later & Happy Shooting. . .Karen

copyright Karen Ulvestad

Color & Composition

The world around us is filled with opportunities to make photographic images.  Often, we see a photograph, yet the end result does not reflect our vision.  It’s easy to get caught-up in the moment, and forget to “see” what is actually in the picture.  The “cool” subject gets lost in the photography, and it becomes a collection of “things” that distract from our original vision.

There are several ways to “clarify” what a photograph is about.  In the picture below, the mushroom stands out against the oak leaves.  This photograph was taken under a large oak tree in the middle of an urban area.  I wanted to photograph the colorful mushroom, and have it stand-out as the subject.  I used the similar colored leaves as the background, chose a depth of field to indicate they were leaves, and the mushroom is completely sharp.  It is best to use a tripod for this type of photo.  The second part of this image is the use of color.  The leaves reflect the color in the center of the mushroom.  The yellow and white of the mushroom stand-out against the reddish colored leaves.  I did reflect light into the scene with a gold reflector.
copyright Karen UlvestadThis next image is of a cob of corn.  This is a macro shot taken in my studio.  I used studio lighting, a tripod and my 100mm macro lens.  In the camera, I cropped the photo to include this portion of the cob.  I liked the variety of colors and designs.  Each is similar, yet unique.  I used the repetition of shape to create a pattern, and it could be viewed as an abstract photograph.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

This third example was taken in the kitchen on a cutting board.  I used one studio light, kitchen lighting and ambient light.  My focus was on the color of the fruit, and this was the focus of the studio lighting.  The cutting board turned a warm color with the lighting.  This was taken with a shallow depth of field, so the board would become a soft background.  It’s important to crop in the camera, to retain the file size and information for the photo.  Each of these photos uses color and cropping to give importance to the subject.

Happy shooting. . .Karen

copyright Karen Ulvestad


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