1 July 2016

Landscape Photography Tips

Posted in: landscape, tutorial|

I tried a lot of genres but it is landscape photography that really fascinates me. I think there is something special, challenging and very rewarding about it. You can’t control many elements of it, nature is often unpredictable but with enough patience, a lot of careful planning, using proper gear and a bit of luck you might be able to capture really spectacular images. It will be gift from nature given to you.

Today I would like to share with you some tips in hope they will further increase your chances of capturing great landscape photos. I use them in my own photography and learnt them through the years of my own experience. I grouped them in a few categories to make them easier to read.

Also feel free to click on the images in this tutorial to read more about the photos including story behind them and camera & exposure info.

Colours of autumn (more…)

6 May 2016

L-Bracket: what is it and benefits of using it

Posted in: Gear, tutorial|

L-Bracket: what is it and benefits of using it

In today post I’d like to discuss very small and very useful photography accessory known as L-Bracket, sometimes also referred to as L-Plate.

If you, like me, take photos both in landscape and portrait orientation then you probably know that switching orientation of the camera when using it on a tripod is cumbersome and takes time because:

  1. Each time you want to change orientation of your camera, you need to make adjustments to tripod head. This can take a lot of time what is a great waste when conditions are changing quickly (eg. during sunset).
  2. After changing orientation to portrait, the weight of the camera is no longer directly over the center of a tripod what makes whole setup potentially unstable, especially when using heavy camera and lens combination. In some extreme cases this might result in tripod tripping over.
  3. After you change the orientation of the camera, composition is heavily altered because position of the camera changed.

Solution to all 3 problems mentioned above is to use L-Bracket. Basically it’s a more advanced tripod plate that looks like the one below. It has two quick-release tripod plates located at the bottom and on the side. This allows quick and secure switch from landscape to portrait orientation.

L-Bracket (more…)

27 April 2016

Post-processing step by step: Bamboo Forest

Posted in: before/after, Japan, tutorial, video|

Bamboo Forest in Kyoto

Today I have a new video tutorial for you (scroll down to watch it).

It will show you how I edited one of my recent photos taken in the bamboo forest in Kyoto, Japan – one of those places I wanted to photograph for years, ever since I first saw it in the photo by Trey Ratcliff (and later in another image by Jimmy McIntyre). This place seemed to be really magical. And indeed it is!

However, taking the image wasn’t as easy as you can think as nowadays it’s a very popular tourist spot and also a place popular for wedding photoshoots. So I had to make several attempts to get the image I wanted. On the first attempt, even though it was still early in the morning, the place was already full of tourists and 4 – 5 photoshoots. Now, this might not sound very bad until you realize the forest path is just a few hundreds meters long…

So I made another attempt and was at the location even earlier (much before 7 AM). This time there were just a few people around but there was another problem – it was very dark in the forest and the light patches that appeared here and there resulted in huge contrast. So I had to use HDR to balance the exposure and avoid clipping highlights or shadows.

If you would like to follow the tutorial, here are the files I used for it:

And without further ado here’s the video:


22 December 2015

New HDR tutorial: Learn how to create realistic HDR photos

Posted in: hdr, photomatix, tutorial|

New HDR tutorial

Here’s a little Christmas gift for all my readers 😉

It’s been several years since I published first version of my HDR tutorial. During that time thousands of photographers have read it (tutorial has around 100.000 views, excluding PDF versions) and learnt my approach to HDR photography. But recently I haven’t done any serious changes to it, just cosmetic corrections.

So for last few months I was working busily on a complete overhaul of it – with new techniques, tips and a lot of new sample photos. I also wanted to update tutorial for new version of Photomatix Pro (5.1), which was released earlier this year.

And I’m happy to announce that this new version is now ready for you to read, below:


Here’s short summary of changes:

  • Completely new section about advanced HDR techniques in which I write a few words for instance about HDR panoramas or long exposure HDR photography,
  • Addition of Sample HDR photos section – if you don’t have bracketed photos yet, you can play with some images taken by me – the list of the available images grows slowly and I hope everyone will find something for himself – check the list from time to time to find new images,
  • Tutorial is now updated for Photomatix Pro 5.1, which is the most recent version,
  • Updated structure of the tutorial, move some sub-sections and paragraphs around,
  • Added tonnes of new tips, definitions and explanations to make HDR tutorial even easier to understand,
  • Minor corrections and updates.

Please also note that it isn’t the end of changes – I intend to add several new things to the tutorial in the few next weeks. Also if there is something you would like to see added, let me know.

I hope you will enjoy this updated version 🙂

Sunset in Warsaw

4 December 2015

Capture One & Photomatix Pro HDR workflow

Posted in: capture one, forest, hdr, landscape, long-exposure, mexico, Photomatix Pro, tutorial|

Capture One & Photomatix Pro HDR workflow

As you probably know I love Photomatix Pro and recently I also felt in love with Phase One Capture One. Before moving to Capture One I used Lightroom and my HDR workflow was simple: select the bracketed images in Lightroom, export them to Photomatix using a plugin, make adjustments in Photomatix, save the image and it would automatically show in Lightroom allowing me to make final adjustments there or send the image to Photoshop for instance.

As much as I like Capture One, it made my HDR workflow a bit more complicated because it doesn’t support plugins (unfortunately just released version 9, hasn’t changed anything in this regard) so it’s not possible to open bracketed images directly in Photomatix from Capture One level. It means different approach is needed and I would like to share my current HDR workflow with you.

Here are main steps:

  1. First I do basic adjustments like lens correction, removing chromatic aberration, white balance or noise reduction in Capture One
  2. I export the images as 16-bit TIFF files to a folder where my source images are stored (of course recipe is needed for that).
  3. I load exported TIFF images to Photomatix and merge them to HDR where I post-process them as I would normally do.
  4. After doing the adjustments in Photomatix I save the image as 16-bit TIFF in the directory where source images are located
  5. I switch back to Capture One. As I saved HDR image in the same directory as source images, it appears there automatically.
    Note: make sure to disable following option in Capture One: main menu View -> Global Filters -> Always Hide Processed TIFF . In my case it was checked by default and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why my tone-mapped images didn’t show in Capture One.
  6. I do fine tuning in Capture One. This includes working on colors and contrast, removing dust spots, local adjustments etc.
  7. If I need more control I export the image from Capture One to Photoshop.

It seems to be quite complicated but apart from steps 2 and 3 it doesn’t differ much from my previous Lightroom workflow. In case of Lightroom these 2 steps were one – export the images from Lightroom to Photomatix and it happened almost automatically, a bit more work is needed here.

Sunset in Mexico

Today I’d like to share long-exposure HDR taken in Mexico in 2014, post-processed in Capture One and Photomatix (yes, above workflow applies here). I really like this silky smooth water. It looks sort of dreamy or painterly.

Sunset in Mexico (more…)

23 September 2015

HDR Photography Tip: Check for halos by zooming out your image

Posted in: architecture, hdr, landscape, reflection, tutorial, warsaw|

HDR Photography Tip: Check for halos by zooming out your image

baseOne of the reasons why some photographers consider HDR photography evil are halo artifacts – phenomenon that appears between regions of very different luminosity like bright sky and dark mountain. You can see example of halo artifact in the image on the right. This is the lighter area around the trees and building.

Most of the time they are clearly visible but there are cases when there are so subtle than you can actually miss them (but sooner or later someone will find out). If you opened the image on the right in larger size, halo artifacts wouldn’t seem so bad.

There is very easy trick to make sure your photo is halo-free – just make your photo very small (either by zooming out in your HDR program or when previewing finished image) as halos tend to become more visible as you make the image smaller or look at it at the distance (so walking a few feet away of your computer will work equally as good).

If there are halo artifacts in your photos you might be interested in learning how to get rid of them. In the past I wrote several pieces of information on that subject:

Featured photo – Reflection of Royal Palace

For today I decided to share yet another sunset image from Warsaw… yes, another from my workshops 🙂 5 exposures at 1 stop spacing were required to capture whole dynamic range of this scene. At first it might seem its dynamic range isn’t very high as there is no longer sun in the frame but there was still a little glow in the sky that was very bright and using fewer exposures resulted in blown-out highlights.

What you might notice in this image is that there is plenty of dirt in the reflection. Unfortunately it is how it looks at the moment. Vistula river level is very low right now (after very dry winter, spring and summer) and there is also a lot of debris in it right now.

If you would like to create such photos yourself, make sure to read my HDR tutorial.

Old Town in Warsaw (more…)

27 July 2015

Photoshop Tip: Load Several Images as Layers

Posted in: landscape, long-exposure, Lulworth Cove, photoshop, tutorial|

Photoshop Tip: Load Several Images as Layers

I have a small Photoshop tip for you today.

Have you ever wanted to load several image files into one as layers (e.g. to blend them)? Unfortunately the option to do so is a bit hidden in Photoshop, so here is how you can do this:

  1. Go to File -> Scripts -> Load Files into Stack… menu.
  2. Select Browse and choose your files.
  3. Click OK button.

Optionally you might want to select “Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images” checkbox in case you suspect that the images might be not correctly aligned (what can happen when shooting hand-held or during windy conditions).

If you’re using Lightroom, you’re lucky as it’s much easier:

  1. Select photos you want to open in Lightroom.
  2. Right-click them and select Edit In -> Open as Layers in Photoshop…

Featured photo – Durdle Door

Today I would like to share my long exposure image taken in Durdle Door, England. The sea was rather rough so by using exposure of 20 seconds I got completely blurry water. In fact the water almost looks fake, like painted or drawn with crayons, something like that. It’s one of the cool things about using long exposure – the image you get is something completely different from what you see when taking the picture.

Durdle Door (more…)

22 July 2015

Post-processing Ep 1: Long Exposure Photo from Lulworth Cove

Posted in: landscape, long-exposure, Lulworth Cove, post-processing, step-by-step, tutorial, video|

I’m back to making tutorials finally! Something I planned for a really long time but was always too busy (I’m also busy right now but somehow manage to organize my time better). I want to go to the roots of this blog where I shared a lot of useful tips & tutorials, something a lot of you enjoyed.

For today I made this short video tutorial about editing landscape photos in Adobe Lightroom 6. Picture I edit is a long exposure photo I took in Lulworth Cove, Dorset, England. In this tutorial I’m using a lot of Lightroom tools such as:

  • Exposure settings,
  • Lens correction tools,
  • Spot removal tool,
  • Local adjustments (gradient and radial filter).

I hope you will like this tutorial – of course I’m open for suggestions and feedback.