Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

THE BEST OF CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK IN 3 SIMPLE PHOTOGRAPHS

TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREINA DIAZ

During a recent road trip to Oregon with a good college friend, we decided to stop at Crater Lake National Park on our way back to California. And I’m so glad we did!
What an amazing place with breathtaking views. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S. (1,943 feet deep) and the 9th deepest in the world. The lake was created by a volcanic eruption about 7,700 years ago. Another fun fact is that Crater Lake is among the five clearest lakes around the world. The main reason for the water being so clear is because there are no streams flowing in or out of the lake. The water is maintained only by precipitation (snow and rain), which helps to explain its clarity and extremely reflective blue appearance.
We had just a few hours to experience the park, so we decided to hit the main overlook. We entered through the North Junction and our first stop was Watchman Overlook at over 8,000 feet of elevation. It was the beginning of June and there was still lots of snow on the ground.

Road to Crater Lake

Road to Crater Lake

The first time you see the lake it takes your breath away! We had a magnificent view of Wizard Island – a small island located at the west end of the lake. The reflective quality of the water is almost like a mirror. White puffy clouds formed above the rim and streaks of snow added extra reflections on the water. I was taken away by the reflective quality of the water. Pure magic! So I grabbed my camera and immediately wanted to take the “perfect” picture.

Landscape of Wizard Island on Crater Lake

Landscape of Wizard Island on Crater Lake

However, I quickly realized that I was photographing the lake without a foreground – without it I realized my photographs lacked visual reference. By adding sections of the foreground to the images, the photographs became a bit more grounded and relatable to the eye. Also, I became aware of the placement of Wizard Island in the frame. Instead of placing it right in the middle of the shot, I decided to put it either on the left of to the right of each frame (rule of third). This placement of the island makes for a better composition that is more pleasant to the eye.

Landscape of Crater Lake with snow

Landscape of Crater Lake with snow

Every stop we made along the ring the view changed slightly but the feeling of peace and tranquility kept rising. As I continued photographing the lake, I continued to add visual elements to frame the view. I included sections of the grown covered in snow, rocks and green pine trees. All these added texture and dimension to each shot.

Landscape of Crater Lake and reflection

Landscape of Crater Lake and reflection

I also tried to be selective with the way I shoot and instead of taking hundreds of photographs, I decided to take a breath, take a look, evaluate the view and pre-visualize each image. I said to myself, “If I were to tell the story of my visit to Crater Lake in 3 amazing photographs, how would I photograph this incredible location?”
Of course, I took more than 3 photographs but I purposely took my time and slowed myself down to enjoy the view. There were times in which I didn’t take any photographs and thought “This one is for my eyes only!”
Crater Lake is nature at its finest. A National Park you must to put on your bucket list.
Eye See Santa Barbara offer photography tours for people of all photographic skill levels. Explore Santa Barbara with your camera while learning how to take better photographs by joining one of our photo tours. For information about times, tour locations or to book a tour, visit our Photography Tour Section and follow us on Instagram @eyeseeSB


Toronto Skyline2

How To Prepare For A Photo Trip

Photography and Text by Andreina Diaz

 “Photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” ~ Elliott Erwitt

As a photographer, I spend most of my time photographing the city of Santa Barbara and its surrounding areas. I must admit I really enjoy photographing this beautiful place. However, I have a passion for traveling, exploring new cities and capturing photographs of different places around the world.

Most recently I had the opportunity to visit the city of Toronto, Canada, a great city that combines the look and feel of the old traditional world, in combination with new and modern architecture.

Toronto Skyline1

Toronto skyline during the day

Pre-trip research and planning

Every travel destination has its own charm, landscape, culture and history. In order to capture the essence of a new place you must prepare. I strongly recommend you do some preliminary research about the place you are planning to visit as well as checking its weather forecast. Take the time to learn about its iconic locations, their accessibility, distance between them and the best time to photograph them. To help you with your process you can read travel guides at your local library, do some research online or use my favorite visual resources Instagram and Google Image Search.

After doing my research, I create a rough photo itinerary or shot list, with the places I would like to photograph. I say “rough” because with photography we must leave room for the unexpected, for the spontaneous moments that happen once you are walking the streets of your new travel destination.

Start early and stay out late

Most photographers would agree that the best times to take pictures are early morning and sunset. Plan your day accordingly and your chances for finding really good lighting will increase.

Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

My visit to Toronto was at the end of winter, beginning of spring. The hours of daylight were short and I knew it would be cold and cloudy most days so I bundled up, grabbed my camera and tripod and off I went to photograph the city.

First stop, the Royal Ontario Museum, an architectural gem with very modern and unique architecture. I decided to start early in the day with this location because it is located on a very busy street. I wanted to capture it with the least amount of cars traveling up and down the street. My intention paid off, because I was able to capture it before it was time for rush hour traffic.

Humber Bay Bridge, Toronto

Humber Bay Bridge, Toronto

Use a tripod

Next stop was the Humber Bay Bridge. I love the abstract lines playing against the sky and cityscape. I was hoping to capture the contrast of the white structure of the bridge with blue sky as a background, but it was still cloudy and the wind was picking up, so I set up my tripod to stabilize my camera under the windy conditions and tried not to freeze. I’m happy with the results, but I would love to go back in the summer time to capture the bridge against blue sky.

Photographing indoors – Adjust your camera settings

Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Toronto

Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Toronto

It was time to go indoors to warm up and wait for the wind and clouds to pass. I decided to visit the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, a total contrast from the first couple of locations. It is considered a city landmark and this hotel is located at the heart of downtown, minutes from the city’s biggest events and attractions including: The CN Tower – which was my next shooting location.

Photographing indoors is very different from shooting outdoors. You can’t rely on your camera to make the exposure decisions for you, if you want to capture the ambient light as realistically as possible without having to use the camera flash. The interior of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel is warmly lit and it doesn’t have lots of natural light.

Here are the settings I used to take pictures inside the hotel:

  • White balancewas set to Tungsten
  • ISOwas set to 1500 ISO, this way my camera sensor would become sensitive enough to the available light, without the need of flash so I could capture the ambient light as my eye saw it.
  • Camera was set toAperture Priority F8 so I could get good the depth of field with sharp images without having to use a long shutter exposure.
  • Shutter was set by my camera.

Once I had the correct settings in my camera, I was ready to take some pictures of the beautiful lobby.

Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO combination

Then it was time for the grand finale. As the sun was going down it was time to capture Toronto’s Skyline from Polson Pier at sunset. To capture this location, I knew I would need to set up my camera aperture at F22 to guarantee the greatest depth of field which will translate in a sharper image all through out. The ISO was set to a 100 to reduce the amount of digital noise. This combination of a small aperture of F22 and 100 ISO will result in a slow shutter and/or long exposure of 1/2 to a full second as the sun kept going down. A tripod was required to eliminate any blurry images resulting from the slow shutter setting.

Toronto Skyline2

Toronto skyline at sunset

Toronto Skyline3

Toronto skyline after sunset

Toronto Skyline3

Toronto skyline at dusk

These are the images that I captured that evening. They were taken about 30 min apart from one another. As the sun kept going down the exposure (shutter speed) kept getting longer from 1/2 a second, to 1 second to 1.5 seconds.

I look forward to another visit to Toronto in the near future. If it was beautiful to visit during this cold season I can only imagine how beautiful it must be during the summer time.

Until next time Toronto!

Explore Santa Barbara with your camera while learning how to take better photographs by join one of our photo tours. For information about times, tour locations or to book a tour, visit our Photography Tour Section and follow us on Instagram @eyeseeSB


Portrait of San Juan Pueblo Deer Dancers

How To Manipulate Depth Of Field For Spectacular Portraits

Text and Photos by Chuck Place

During my years as a photography instructor, I have seen many great location portraits produced by my students. Great expression, nice lighting—they should be beautiful portraits, except for one major problem. The foreground, subject and background are all sharp. The images are so busy that the subject is overwhelmed by the surrounding details. It’s difficult for the viewer to know whether the subject or the location is the most important part of the photograph.

I think of this as the point-and-shoot camera effect where everything is in sharp focus.

There are subjects where everything in the frame should be sharp, such as the portrait of a Victorian couple in front of a Victorian building below, but portraits usually benefit from a shallow depth of field. Depth of field is defined as the area in front of and behind the plane of focus that is acceptably sharp. Human vision can’t actually see shallow depth of field. It’s an optical effect.

Portrait of Victorian couple, Cape May, New Jersey

Portrait of Victorian couple, Cape May, New Jersey, 28mm lens, f8 aperture

Shallow depth of field, however, is one of the most powerful tools in photography for separating a subject from its background. By capturing a sharp subject and letting the background go soft, you are telling the viewer of your image what is most important and what is less important. It’s a relatively simply effect to achieve, but you must take control of your camera and get away from letting your camera make photo decisions for you.

Portrait of vendor at Farmers Market

Portrait of vendor selling strawberries and lettuce, Farmer’s Market, 70mm lens, f2.8 aperture

First, set your camera to full Manual or at least Aperture Priority. The aperture, or f-stop, controls depth of field by changing the size of the opening in your lens. High f-stops numbers, like f16 or f22, create a tiny opening and lots of depth of field. A small f-stop number, f2.8 or f4, creates a large opening, or aperture, producing very shallow depth of field.

I know. It would be nice if big aperture numbers created big openings and small aperture numbers created small openings, but it’s the reverse. Blame the optical engineers. Maybe the easiest way to remember this is small f-stop, or aperture, numbers give you the least depth of field and higher numbers give the greatest depth of field. Once you start using this technique, it will quickly become second nature.

Portrait of young woman

Portrait of young woman, 100mm lens, f2.8 aperture

The lens aperture setting is not the only way to produce shallow depth of field in a photograph, however. The longer the focal length of a lens, the easier it is to get a sharp subject with a soft background as seem in the featured image of Deer Dancers above. A short telephoto has traditionally been the preferred portrait lens partly because of this ability to produce a soft background. A longer telephoto will produce an even softer background, making it easy to separate your subject from the background clutter. A wide angle lens, on the other hand, makes it difficult to soften your background.

Portrait of young Hispanic woman with flowers

Portrait of young Hispanic woman with flowers, 300mm lens, f2.8 aperture

 

One other technique for achieving shallow depth of field is moving the camera closer to your subject. It gets a little techie here. This is all about the relationship between camera to subject distance and camera to background distance. As you move the camera closer to your subject, the relative difference between subject distance and background distance becomes greater, producing a softer background. Check out this Depth Of Field Calculator, at http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html, to see the effects of f-stop, focal length and subject distance on depth of field. Change the lens focal length and f-stop to see how depth of field changes.

Portrait of traditional powwow dancer

Portrait of traditional powwow dancer, 200mm lens, f2.8 aperture

If you are like me, all of this technical stuff gives you the shivers, but it’s all good to know. As a working professional, I tend to walk around with my lens aperture “wide open” or set for shallow depth of field. I shoot many subjects, from people to sports and even food, with a shallow depth of field. I need a reason to “stop down” my aperture and create great depth of field. When you have to tell a story with each image, shallow depth of field makes it easy to show viewers what is the most important subject in an image and what is secondary—usually the background. This approach keeps things simple and takes control of this powerful tool away from the camera. Your camera is, after all, just a computer with a lens hanging off it. The best camera is the one inside your head. Control depth of field and rule your world—photographically speaking.

For more on posing subjects for portraits, see our earlier post “Shy Photographer’s Guide To Putting People At Ease”.


Sunset photograph of East Beach, Santa Barbara

3 Simple Photography Tips To Capture Great Pictures by Andreina Diaz

1.- Fill The Frame – Get Closer

I always say if you feel that your pictures aren’t good enough is probably because you aren’t close enough. One way to take stronger photographs is by filling the camera frame with the most important elements in your image.  As you compose your photographs identify your main subject. Before you start clicking the shutter, hoping for the best, ask your self a few of questions: What is it about this particular scene that’s important to you? Why? How can you photography it best? Then once you are clear about the subject that you are photographing, eliminate any distracting elements that don’t add anything to the actual picture. Can you get closer to your subject or zoom in? Do it!  You will see your images getting better by simply getting closer to your subject.

Here it is an example:

This is the iconic fountain at the Santa Barbara Mission. A subject that is largely photographed by thousand of tourists every year. However, most visitors leave this beautiful site with underwhelming photographs. Most of them tend to capture the fountain with all sorts of visual distractions that include; the sidewalk, the side of the fountain wall, and maybe some uninvited visitors. If what you are interested in photographing is the fountain and its relationship to the Mission, I invite you to get close enough to it. By doing so you will catch the reflection of the Mission in the water, the seasonal water lilies, and the soothing rippling water.

Next time you visit the Santa Barbara Mission you can leave with a stronger image by filling the frame and getting closer to your subject.

2.- Choose A Unique Point Of View

Most amateur photographers capture their images from eye level. This could make your pictures seem predictable. Try shooting shooting from different angles; from up high or down low.  Using a unique point of view can make your images more interesting to the eye. You can shoot from a high camera angle by getting up on a bench or shooting from higher grounds.  Maybe by getting low on the ground or on your knees you will give your images the extra edge you are looking for.

Shoot From Up High

While visiting the Santa Barbara Courthouse make sure you check out the view from the Clock Tower. This is a great example of an image captured from a high point of view  Yes! The top floors have best views. From up there you will be able to capture an striking view of the city framed by the incredible mountains. This is a view you don’t want to miss.

Shoot Down Low

When you are a sea level get down on your knees and photograph the nice foam of the waves gently touching the sand. By capturing low angles you will place the person looking at your photograph “in your pictures” as if they were there with you. It’s a subtle invitation to be part of your journey.

3.- Choose The Best Light – The Golden Hour

The best time to take outdoor pictures depends on the quality of the light. The light of the sun can change the atmosphere, the mood and the overall look and feel of your photographs. The Golden Hour is the time of day when the sun is closest to the horizon which creates a magical golden glow. So based on this, the best times to go out with your camera would be either during the hours of sunrise or sunset.  Santa Barbara is known by its magical sunrises and sunsets, so don’t miss them the next time you visit. As a photographer I always say; “the best time to go out and take pictures would be either early in the morning or late in the afternoon; and during the middle of the day, take a break or a nap!”

 

I hope you find these tips useful. I can’t wait to see the images you’ll capture in this beautiful city of Santa Barbara or somewhere else! Use the hashtag #eyeseeSB or tag us on your pictures @eyeseeSB on Instagram. I will leave you a nice comment telling you how good you did!

The next time you are ready to explore Santa Barbara with your camera join one of our photo tours. For information about times, tour locations or to book a tour visit our Photography Tour Section.

SEE you soon!


Photograph Rainbows And Find A Pot Of Gold

Rainbow_Saguaro

I love it when a plan works out. I had been photographing petroglyphs in Saguaro National Park all day and towards evening, rain clouds began to build over the Tucson Mountains. Although hazy much of the day, it looked like rainbows might be a possibility right about sunset if the sun popped out under the building storm clouds. I found a good vantage point with my camera pointing directly away from the setting sun and sat down to wait. Times like this, you have to have confidence that the weather will deliver. Would the sun actually come out? Would a shower be in the right location to deliver a rainbow? Would I get sunset-tinted clouds along with a rainbow? If I had worked out the odds of all that happening, I probably would have just gone back to my camper for dinner, but sometimes luck really does favor the prepared and I got everything I wanted. It really did feel like a gift, the proverbial pot of gold.

Rainbow_Courthouse

Although rainbows are a fairly rare event, sometimes repeating weather patterns makes it possible to anticipate their creation. Oddly enough, Santa Barbara, with its consistently clear skies, is one such location. During the winter, when we do have actual clouds, the sky tends to clear at the end of the day. Maybe it’s the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other controlling our westerly winds, but even on rainy days, the clouds tend to break at the end of the day. A shot of a double rainbow over the Santa Barbara County Courthouse was a result of this specific pattern.

Logan Temple and rainbow, Logan, Utah

Rainbows can occur any time during the day, of course, and the only trick to photographing one is making sure your own shadow does not appear in the image. Photographing the Mormon Temple in Logan, Utah, for a book by the Smithsonian, required me to sit down to avoid having my shadow break up the beautiful pattern of a fence surrounding the property. I had not noticed it before, but the second rainbow of a double rainbow always reverses the order of the colors.

We are coming up on rainbow season in my part of the world and you can be sure I will be looking for subjects to frame with a bright band of color. Scope out your location, place the sun at your back and enjoy photographing one of these great gifts from the clouds.