Author Archives: Giuseppe Sapori

The Power of Blue Hour Photography

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Some time ago I wrote an article on how to shoot during the golden hour, this is usually the best time of the day to shoot sunsets with the best and most powerfull conditions for photography. However golden hour does not always provide stunning results, it may happen that the weather is not good, or with a flat sky. In all these cases blue hour is a very good alternative

But blue hour is more than that, it depends on what are you looking for but in most cases can be to prefer to golden hour. So we see in this article the power of blue hour photography and when exploit it

1. Enhance Mood

The aspect that I prefer about blue hour is the mood of the images, the blue hour manages to give a unique atmospheres that no other time of day can give. In all these cases especially with the help of dramatic clouds it is a unique way to deepening the mood of images

2. Long Exposure

With coming dusk the exposure time lengthen, taking advantage of this conditions is the key point of blue hour, long exposure can completely transform the scene. For example in landscapes to benefit from the movements of clouds or water, in cityscapes with light trails

3. Combine Blue Hour with Golden Hour

Another aspect I love about blue hour is the chance to mix it with golden hour. In every sunset there is always a moment where the golden hour gives way to blue hour. The mood contains the power of blue hour and the warm as golden colours on the horizon

4. Light Trails

Light trails are one of the strongest composition of long exposure photography, especially the cityscape are particularly suitable for this kind of photos. Usually light trails are made during the blue hour, for this reasons it gives the chance of mixing the colors of blue hour and the yellows of city lights, two complementary and attractive colors for the viewer

5. Reflections

Blue hour is a great chance to capture reflections on the water, no matter if in the city or shooting landscape, the result is sure. During blue hour, reflections are amazing and taking advantage of this time of the day is the right time to deal with it

6. Look for Unique Light

Sometimes when the light is falling down a beautiful light can emerge, it’s a totally random and unexpected look that often occurs on very cloudy days but can completely transform your shots. This is the case of my photo taken in Amalfi when a coming storm contrasted with the last colors of the sunset creates a stunning and a unique light

7. Digital Blend

I’ve spoken about the chance to combine golden hour with blue hour while shooting, but we can do this also using Photoshop. In the image you see I have digital blended two different images with different lights, the warm colors of the golden hour and the cold one that characterizes blue hour, in a time that runs between about 30 minutes

8. Emphatize Blue Colours

It can be useful to increase the blue tones of the blue hour in our images, this to make images that are not in enough blue mood in order to increase the dark/blue atmosphere of our photo

We can proceed with the increase of the blue through the use of camera raw blue tones slider or through the use of Photoshop filters. Using TTS Pro Panel there are functions to increase the blue hour such as the golden hour through the application of selective filters that take advantage of luminosity masks


Curon

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Years ago I had the chance to visit the now famous Resia lake in winter. It was interesting to see live one of the most bizarre places in Italy. The history behind this bell tower wants that the construction of a large dam in 1950 unified the first two previous lakes and submerged the ancient town of Curon Venosta which was rebuilt further upstream

In the summer season the scenery is certainly much more interesting than in winter but in winter the frozen surface of the lake allows you to go up to the bell tower on foot and take different angle shots

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

For both images I did a few edits and the images was very fast to complete. I used single exposures here that I edited using luminosity masks, I used TTS Pro to enhance details, colours and contrast

I used a soft orton effect on the image and I used dodge and burn over the shadows areas to decrease the blacks. I lightened the highlighs in the sky using luminosity masks and decreased the brights in the foreground to decrease the whites

I also increased colours vibrance and decreased the luminosity of the whole frame using levels

I hope you will find this usefull. I love to ear this from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 15mm)

Two shots

ISO: 100 at f/13

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro


Crossroads

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As the first photo of 2021 I post a photo that I found from some of my old shots of the Dolomites, unfortunately in a period where is not easy to travel, my photographic resources are decreasing 🙂 but I always try to ensure new elements on all my social networks every week

This is small alpine lake, is one of my favorite mountain spots, if not one of the most photographed by me in the latests years, as in winter the surface of the lake freezes but without snow, a feature that I often look for in lakes in winter but it’s not easy to find anywhere. This is because the whole valley is crossed by icy currents but the altitude is not very high

About the shot I captured two series of exposures in focus stacking in order to have an image totally in focus, every series of exposure was done in bracketing mode, so I had the chance to digital blend every series before proceed with focus stacking

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I digital blended every exposure series before proceed to focus stack the shot to achieve a perfectly focused image. The next step was to add details and enhnace colours using TTS Pro dedicated effects

I fixed the highlights and shadows using  luminosity masks, I applied the same luminosity masks on curves to have a precise adjustment layer to enhance contrasts. I correct color cast on the sky and on the mountain, I pushed up some shadows on the forest and I slightly decreased the whole image luminosity

With hue/saturation tool I fixed more the colours and I created a small vignette using color efex pro filter

As always I hope you will find this usefull. I love to ear this from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 15mm)

Focus Stacking

ISO: 100 at f/13

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro


My 2020

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Here we are my final post of the year, my annual photo composition. Every year I create a personal photo manipulation obtained with all top elements that distinguish the year. In this photo composition every thing, object and person you see has its own meaning, its importance, its memory for me, a moment that I want to remember and keep with special affection in this 2020

This is a personal representation of my 2020, here we have places visited, travels, personal goals and all that was dear to me.  This image has meaning for myself but I like to think that this image is beautiful even for you who look at it

I really hope you will appreciate the work, as you know I always love to ear this from you! I want take the opportunity to thank you all for the support on my page and socials during this year, I want to wish you a happy 2021 to all!


7 Reasons to Prefer Manual Focus over Auto Focus

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Focus is certainly the main aspect of photography, if the images are out of focus they are ruined definitively. There may be several reasons that lead to an out of focus image, some of which may be the difficulty of automatically focusing on a subject but anyway the best way to get out images perfectly focused is by using manual focus. So here are 7 reasons to prefer manual focus over auto focus

1. Sharpen Images

The main reason for preferring manual focus to auto focus is certainly to get sharper images, the best way to deal with manual focus is to achieve it by using live view, following these simple steps:

  1. Set your lens to Manual Focus
  2. Set Live view on your Camera
  3. Use zoom button to zoom into the are you want to focus
  4. Turn the focus ring until what you see is in focus

In this way you should be able to focus manually with ease. There’s also another step to do just to be sure your images are 100% in focus and extra sharp: compare the images captured with manual focus system and live view with an image captured from live view using auto focus. If you’ve done things right the image taken with manual focus should be with better focus and sharper

2. Photograph with every Light

Focusing with auto focus in low light conditions this one may not work properly or be inaccurate. Imagine shooting during the night, especially for night photography, images like milky way or light painting or startrails, manual focus becomes crucial to focus into a total darker scene

3. Capture low Contrasts

The auto focus to work properly needs some points that are “recognized” to the camera. If you’re shooting something that has similar colors, tones, and textures, or a smooth wall your lens can struggle in autofocus mode. In all these cases manual focus is of great help to be able to focus on subjects with low contrasts

4. Capture out of Focus images

One of the strongest photography composition guidelines is framing. Composing a framing with an out of focus element can be a successful compositional element of a photo and can lead the viewer’s eye through the main subject. Manual focus helps in this sense to be able to take our images with such compositional techniques and play between in focus and out of focus elements

5. Photograph with Fog

Fog is that element that helps make the image more striking and create a beautiful atmosphere in the image. But fog will reduce contrasts and scatter light in the scene, and focusing with fog can be difficult with auto focus if there’s not strong contrasted element in the scene. In all the cases of fog and misty landscapes using manual focus will avoid the problem of having out-of-focus images in fog

6. Focus Stacking

Focus stacking is one of the most used technique to ensure all of images elements are in focus. With focus stacking you take many images of the same scene with different focus in order to achieve a completely focused images with all the elements of the scene perfectly in focus. I created a detailed guide on how focus stack your images using bracketed shots. For a precise use of focus stacking it is very imporant to use manual focus, because it allows you to have great control of the elements of the frame in at different focal angles

7. Moving Objects

This point can be connected with the previous one but also because mobile elements are present in landscape photography. Imagine having to focus stack on flowers in the foreground that are moving on a windy day, or simply wanting to give movement to an element of the photo while keeping the focus fixed in one point. All of this with auto focus would be slower and even more difficult to achieve

Conclusions

Even if manual is better for all the reasons we talked about automatic focus can be very usefull in other situations, the auto focus should be used for:

  • Photographing animals, sport or other scenes where the subject is moving
  • Photographing events and concerts where the subject doesn’t stand still
  • Photographing handheld

Even if auto focus are certainly valid in different cases, for professional results rely to manual focus is the best solution. In any case relying on own’s eyes and judgment is always the best choice


10 Pro Tips for Snow Photography

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A snow covered landscape is always an attraction for every landscape photographer, for this reason every year I take almost two trip on the snow to take photos with beautiful icy and snowy sceneries. I love the colors of the sunset that reflects on the white that characterizes the landscapes this period of year. Photographing in the snow can give beautiful lights to your images, but to do the best you need to be prepared, which is why I have prepared this guide about 10 pro tips for snow photography

1. Save your Batteries

Cold is one of the downsite of snow photography, this reduces the battery longevity of your camera and all your electronic devices, including phone. One solution is to always have a spare battery and to put the camera on the bag when you don’t use it in order to keep your equipment warm

2. Be Careful of Condensation

This point is partly connected to the first one, before going from a cold to a warm environment remember to put your camera in your backpack. Switching from a cold environment to a heated indoor environment instantly creates condensation that can damage your camera and lenses

3. Set the Right White Balance

White balance is very important, especially when photographing in the snow. In snowy locations a trick is to set maually the white balance using Kelvin mode, this allows you to handle the white balance in various situations and set it on the light you have. If 5000K is the mid-day light a good starting point for white balance for snow is around 8000K

4 Use the Histogram

Using the histogram is very usefull in every photography situations not ony during snow photography, but in these cases the histogram takes on even more importance because it gives us a correct and graphic measurement of the exposure, avoiding relying only on a visual image in a prominent white scene

5. Find Colors and Contrasts

This is a compositional tip: in a mainly white scene playing with colors or strong contrasts helps the image to be pop or of greater impact for the viewer

6 Protect your Gear

When shooting in the snow some recommended precautions are:

  1. Keep the lens cap when you don’t use your camera to prevent moisture on the lens,
  2. If your lens becomes fogged avoid to blow warm air on it,
  3. Hold your breath when bringing your camera up to your face to take a picture could prevent fogging on your LCD screen and viewfinder

7 Use Polarizing Filters

Using a polarizing filter while shooting a snowy scene will help you cut through over-powering glare. The use of filters also reduces the light that passes through the lens and can make a great difference in the final result

8 Use Zoom Lenses

Images appear flat when there is nothing standing out in the foreground and most of the image is white. Snowy scenes are dominated by prominent colors over white. Getting closer on the main subject and its details is an interesting compositional solution to add depth to the image and make the image more captivating

9 Adjust the Exposure

In the white of the snow it may be necessary to have to adjust your exposure compensation to get the right light on the snow, in addition to this it is always useful to shoot in raw to be able to fix the exposure even in post with ease

10 Protect your Hands

While shooting landscapes we all use a lot the hands to interact with the camera, for this reason always having warm and dry hands is essential.
Having a pair of warm gloves that allow you to interact easily with the camera will prove to be the most important choice for the success of your winter photos


Let it Snow

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I found this photo from the photo album of my last trip to the Dolomites, almost a year ago now … an incredible snowy landscape and a magnificent backdrop of the Friulian Dolomites

I remember spending most of the day in this location from late morning until almost evening since the sky offered the most disparate facets that day, starting from an overcast sky up to openings full of wonderful light like this one

I made this shot with a focus stacking on only two points, foreground and background, capturing a series of exposures for each type of photo to capture as much dynamic range as possible

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I started with a digital blending between the two series of shots, than I merged the images into Photoshop in order to obtain one image with all focused points

I made the major adjustments using  luminosity masks on highlights, shadows and contrasts. I applied high details filters using TTS Pro, I also launched orton effect and glow tool in order to increase the glowing atmosphere of the image

I fixed color cast and I pushed up the warmth of the whole image increasing vibrance and yellow tones. With dodge and burn I lightened some areas around the trees and on the mountains

I darkened a bit the whole frame and I created some lighting spot on the main areas of interest using brush, as final step I a fixed the lasts lights using levels to better balance the image

I really hope you will find this usefull. I’m always happy to ear this from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 15mm)

Focus Stacking

ISO: 100 at f/13

Software: Photoshop CC2021

Plugin: TTS Pro


Last Autumn Flashes

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A image series of autumn colors captured in the countryside of northern Italy in Friuli some time ago. As I wrote in my guide how to photograph the beauty of autumn colours in the search for the right autumnal atmosphere it is important to take advantage by fog and clouds

Luckily I came across scenarios characterized by important fogs and low clouds that helped me to increase the autumn atmosphere of my shots. this series of images comes from all different places but obviously all within the same geographical region

The common line of these shots is that all these images are not the result of a planning or scouting for a location; they are all captured while I was driving my car and along the way I found these view, I pulled up the car on the side of the road and started shooting

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

These images are the result of all single shots, therefore no digital blending has been done here, however I have always used luminosity masks to correct exposure, contrast, shadows, highlights, etc…

In all my images I applied a strong orton effect to increase the autumn mood of the shots and I also increased this using the glow tool along the most darker areas

I increased details selectively, I increased colours and fixed the color cast in all the images using TTS Pro. I made some crops to make some images more interesting to the viewer and increased the vignetting on all the images

I really hope you will find this usefull. I’m always happy to ear this from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (different angles)

N/A

ISO: 100 at various f/values

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


In the Wood

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A small series of images that I collected during my latest photo session inside the wood. I waited here until sunset to catch the colors of autumn and to give more prominence to the leaves. The sun filtering through the branches of the trees was also a strong inspiration for me, as my previous post, for that as well as an important point of energy in the photo

The first image is a bit of a classic of autumn photos although I have never taken anything like this before, on the other two I tried two different point of view

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I made for all the shots very similar edits. I captured all the shots with no brackets so every image is a single shot, I didn’t use any digital blending here, but at the same time I used for all the fixes TTS Pro with I launched orton effect, increased glow, details, contrast and warmth

I also increased the color vibrance to push the red color up, I increased the yellow tone of the sky and pushed up the highlights, I also added a smart vignette effect to the image to increase the sense of darkness in the wood

I hope you will find this informations usefull. I love to ear this from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 24-70 f/2,8 (different angles)

N/A

ISO: 320 at f/9

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


In the Wood

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The autumn scenarios are of great inspiration this period for me and for this reason this week’s photo is centered on a autumn forest scenery. I found many leaves on the ground and no longer on the trees but despite all the forest was enveloped by a magical mysterious autumnal atmosphere

In this photograph I tried to focus more on capturing the sun filtering through the dry branches of the trees, pushing myself as low as possible with the camera to have an overbearing foreground

I made this shot in focus stacking because I had in front of me several points with different focus starting from the roots up to the trees that are at the bottom of the woods

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I started stacking all the exposures into a final image, after this I fixed all the highlights and contrast using luminosity masks. The image needed a perspective correction that I made through the use of Photoshop Warp to bring the roots a little closer and arrange the other trees in the forest

I increased details and created a glow atmosphere with orton effect using TTS Pro, with a paintbrush I glowed also the highlights to increase the sense of glow coming from the sky

After fixing color vibrance and saturation I added a small vignette to focus more attention on the sun spikes and the main tree

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 14-24 f/2,8 (used at 14mm)

Focus Stacking

ISO: 100 at f/22

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


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Hi, my name is Giuseppe Sapori, a professional photographer and author of this website, created by yours truly to show my work and share with you the techniques I use. My expertise is in the field of Landscape Photography... (Read More)

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