Archive for March, 2017

How to Understand the Curves Tool in Photoshop

31 Mar

After you’ve mastered Levels, it’s time to take a step up to the tool that is probably the most useful for color and contrast control in Photoshop: Curves. As with levels, you should play around with the basic Curves command to get a feel for it. For safety’s sake, begin by duplicating your background layer, either from the Layer>New Layer from Copy menu, or use the shortcut Control/Command + J. You should make a habit of learning shortcuts because it speeds up your workflow.

The Curves Dialog

Here’s our starting image for this tutorial, shot on a hazy day at Formentor in Mallorca.

How to Understand Curves in Photoshop

Formentor, the northern tip of Mallorca

Use Control/Command + M to invoke the Curves dialog. Taking a look, you’ll see the main part of the dialog is the Curve itself. By default it’s a straight line from bottom left to top right – this is the baseline. There’s faded histogram in the background that corresponds to the tones in the image. There are two other tools to help you work in Curves.

There are two other tools to help you work in Curves. The first is the Channel Overlays, which show you the changes you make when applying curves to the individual red, green, and blue channel curves. The second is Intersection Lines, which appear when you drag a point on the curve. They let you see where the point is relative to the grid. The Channels Overlays, the Histogram, the Baseline, and the Intersection lines can all be turned off in the “Show” section of the dialog box. They’re all on by default.

How to Understand Curves in Photoshop

Another default is that the darker tones are on the left, and the lighter tones are on the right. It can be swapped by clicking the “Show Amount of:” option from Light (0-255) to Pigment/Ink %. Unless you have a specific reason to change it, leave it on the default option Light. The final option is for the Grid. You can change from quarters to tenths by alternating the grid size icon. Alternatively, you can Alt or Option click directly on the Grid to toggle between them.

Starting with Curves

To change the Curve, you click on the baseline to create a control point (we’ll just call them points from here). By dragging the point up, you will lighten the image at those tones and surrounding tone. Drag down, and you’ll see the image darken at the tones around your point.

The most basic change you can make is to click on the center of the curve and drag up. This lightens the mid-tones and acts in a similar way to the Brightness slider, but with more control over the center-point of the effect. By the way, you don’t even need to drag the point. Instead, you can click to create a point and then use the Up/Down/Left/Right arrow keys to move it. A single arrow click moves 1 point (in the range 0-255), while holding the Shift key down as well, moves it 10 points. For utter precision, you can enter the number directly into the Input (that’s the point you click) and Output (that’s the place it moves to).

How to Understand Curves in Photoshop

While it will work as a brightness tool, Curves is really about contrast. Contrast defines the relationship between the tones in your photo. A high contrast image will generally have strong shadows and highlights, with a lot of saturation. Low contrast photos will look flat and almost gray. That’s not to say low contrast is bad, it can be ethereal like the woods in fog, or a flared backlit portrait at sunset. A lot of photos can benefit from an increase in contrast.

So how can you do this? Well, you’ll need to make the shadows darker and the highlights lighter.

Creating Contrast

First of all, click on the line about a quarter of the way in from the left. Next, drag the point you’ve created down. This will darken your entire image. You don’t need to drag it down much to see a difference. After this, you should create a second point, this time about three-quarters of the way along and drag it up a little. Again, only a small amount is needed for this to work.

If you look at your curve, you’ll notice it resembles an S-shape. This S-Curve is probably one of the most common ways for you to create contrast with Curves. Our sample photo has better contrast now, but it is still a little dark, we’ll come to that shortly.

How to Understand Curves in Photoshop

Notice how the line now resembles the shape of the letter S.

As another way of working, start by placing a point in the center. This will be your anchor point. You’re not going to move this one. Now create the point for your shadows and drag it down. You’ll notice that as you drag the shadows down, the highlights will move up automatically across from the anchor point. By clicking and dragging the center up, you both brighten the image and increase contrast. If you want to control the image more, just add more points.

How to Understand Curves in Photoshop

Endpoints and Input

You’re not restricted to making just curves. You can also move the endpoints of the line in. This results in a look that’s similar to when you move the black and white points using Levels. This adjustment makes a huge difference with this image, where most of the tonal information is in the center of the histogram. Notice that as you move the endpoints in the black and white points on the Input Slider move to a corresponding position – so you could also just move these sliders.

How to Understand Curves in Photoshop

Moving the endpoints in curves.

To finish up this look, you can add a little S-Curve after moving the end points. You’ll notice that the increased contrast has also led to increased color saturation.

How to Understand Curves in Photoshop

Erase and Rewind

At any point that you want to start again without closing the dialog and reopening it, you can hold down the Alt or Option key, and click the Reset button that appears instead of the Cancel button.

How to Understand Curves in Photoshop - reset

If you only want to remove a single point, you’ve got a few options. Drag the point right off the grid. Or, you can click on a point and press the Delete key. The last option is to Control/Command+click on a point to remove it.


Just by way of mention, you should try the Curves presets in the menu to get a feel for what particular points can do to a curve. You can also save any curve you create yourself by clicking on the tiny cog beside the menu and choose “Save Preset”. Your Curves preset will then get added to the menu.

How to Understand Curves in Photoshop

Auto and Options

Just like Levels, there’s an Auto function for Curves. It too depends on the Options section. Rather than repeat it verbatim, go check out the Auto section in the Levels article.

Auto Curves - How to Understand Curves in Photoshop

Using Curves as an Adjustment Layer

Up to now, what you’ve done has been destructive editing. You’re completely changing the layer to which you apply the Curve. Instead, it’s best to use Curves as an Adjustment layer. From the bottom of the Layers panel, click the split circle icon and choose Curves.

How to Understand Curves in Photoshop

The Curve will appear in the Properties panel. Using the information you’ve got so far it should be no problem editing a file like this. I’ve started by pressing the Auto button, then added a curve to both increase contrast and brightness.

How to Understand Curves in Photoshop

Sectioning your photo with Curves Adjustment layers

So far you’ve been using Curves on the entire image. Not all areas in a photo may need the same work, but it’s easy for you to select different areas to work on.

Press L to bring up the Lasso tool, or select it in the toolbar. If it’s not the main lasso, use Shift+L to cycle through the options. At the top, enter 15px in the Feather option. You’re going to select the sky first. In order to draw outside the photo edge, hold down the Alt/Option key. You need to do this so the Feather, which softens the edge of the selection, doesn’t soften the edge of the photo. Join the two ends of the lasso to make a selection.

selection - How to Understand Curves in Photoshop

Now, create a new Curves Adjustment Layer. Notice that the mask beside the curve is white on top, and black on the bottom? That means your curve will only affect the top of the image. White means the effect is revealed, whereas black means it’s concealed. You can use the brush tool to add to a mask or remove from it using a black brush. Shades of gray will work too but act like an opacity control.

You can now go and edit the curve for the sky, separately to the main curve. Another advantage to using Curves as an adjustment layer is you can overdo the look of the curve, and then bring it back using the layer’s opacity slider.

How to Understand Curves in Photoshop

Before Curves adjustments.

How to Understand Curves in Photoshop

Here’s the version after curves have been applied.

The Tip of the Iceberg

Curves is a pretty useful tool and more versatile than Levels for advanced contrast control. You’ve seen a lot of what can be done here, but there’s also the color changes that can be done using the individual color channel curves, but that’s a topic for another article.

The post How to Understand the Curves Tool in Photoshop by Sean McCormack appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How the heck do you pronounce ‘bokeh’? PGN settles it once and for all

31 Mar

‘Why are we here?’ ‘Is there life on other planets?’ ‘How do you pronounce bokeh?’ Photo Gear News might not be able to help us answer all of our burning questions, but they have offered a definitive answer on that last one.

At this year’s Photography Show in the UK they polled a number of attendees on their version of the correct pronunciation. Not surprisingly, responses were varied. For all of our sakes, though, they got the definitive answer and put the matter to rest once and for all.

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Cold Frontage: Storm Leaves Waterfront House Encased in Frozen Waves

30 Mar

[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Photography & Video. ]

ice house exterior

When a cold front blew in over Lake Ontario, photographer John Kucko caught wind of the phenomenon and rushed to shoot images of a remarkably frozen home.

iced over house

Located in Webster, New York, the house is entirely trapped inside ice, a combination of sheets and icicles wrapping the residence on all sides. Outdoor furniture and landscaping elements between the lake and the house were likewise wrapped in frozen water.

cold front

An unusual combination of waves, wind and freezing weather contributed to the mix, as well as the home’s proximity to the lake. Winds over 80 mile per hour pushed water the short twenty feet to the residence. You can see more images and videos on the photographers Facebook page.

ice house detroit

Years ago, artists in Detroit did something similar but intentional with an abandoned home, showering it with water and letting it ice over for effect.

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Eight Ways to Get Rid of GAS – Gear Acquisition Syndrome

30 Mar

All photographers find themselves suffering from Gear Acquisition Syndrome (or GAS, if you don’t mind) at one time or another. Whether you are eager to try something new or just stuck in a creative rut, falling into the trap of thinking that buying a new lens will instantly revamp your photography skills is something we have all been guilty of doing.

You can spend hours daydreaming of the amazing shots you would be taking if only you could afford that lovely lens you have your eye on. But what if you just can’t justify the purchase? If, like most of us, you don’t have inexhaustible funds, here are eight easy tips to keep your GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) at bay.

Eight Ways to Get Rid of GAS - Gear Acquisition Syndrome

#1 – Keep your kit lens

One of the first things many photographers do after they’ve learned how to use their DSLR is to upgrade their kit lens. Kit lenses are lightweight, versatile, and can achieve most of the results you desire, despite their limitations. They are incredibly handy to keep around. As you start expanding your lens collection, you may suddenly find that there is a type of photography you want to explore that your current lenses aren’t very good for. Your kit lens can almost certainly help you.

Typically ranging from 17-55mm, kit lenses offer a good wide-angle combined with a short telephoto capability (especially when used on an APS-C sensor camera). This means that they can shoot the gamut from landscape to portraiture easily. When you suddenly find yourself dreaming of that incredibly pricey wide-angle and wishing it was yours, having your kit lens on hand is a way of finding out if you actually want or need a wide-angle lens before you hand over your hard-earned money.

Gear Acquisition Syndrome

Shot using a kit lens.

#2 – Change your environment, not your gear

The easiest way to shake up the way you shoot with the equipment you already have is to change what you are shooting. Hop in your car and go on a road trip. Visit the sea. Climb a hill and take in the view. Go to a new neighborhood and explore.

Of course, it doesn’t all have to be about travel. If you always shoot landscapes or take some time out to see how your skills translate to portraiture. If you love still life photos, go to your local hardware store and buy a few wooden planks and marble tiles to use as backdrops in your images.

It’s easy to get bored, but shaking up your surroundings and seeking out new subjects is an instant form of inspiration.

Gear Acquisition Syndrome

A new place opens your eyes.

#3 – Set your alarm clock

It’s a piece of advice given to photographers so often that it is almost a cliché, but there’s no denying that it’s true. Setting your alarm clock to wake up early and take advantage of the golden hour light is the easiest way to improve your photography without spending a penny.

The quality of light found at sunrise – that crisp, misty, lemony light – and sunset – that rich red and gold glow – completely transforms any scene. Buying a different lens isn’t going to change your world unless you have very specific needs for it, but having a limitless spectrum of shifting light to play with certainly will.

Gear Acquisition Syndrome

Light can make even the most mundane subject seem magical.

#4 – Join an on-going photography challenge

Whether it’s a 365 photo-a-day challenge or a 30-day photo sprint, whether it’s a once-a-week challenge or just something you dip into now and again like a photography tutorial book, starting a challenge can refresh your eye for photography. On-going challenges can also help you to avoid blank spots in your creativity and build up a body of work over time. As well as helping you get rid of any creative blocks, these challenges can introduce you to new techniques and ideas.

Sometimes changing the way you shoot is far easier than changing what you are shooting with. Why not try HDR? How about trying a new post-production technique? Or maybe try creating a photo series where you can only use a symmetrical perspective. These challenges help you try lots of new things without needing to buy any new gear.

Gear Acquisition Syndrome

New perspectives can shake up your photography.

#5 – Limit yourself

They say that the best camera is the one you have with you. Sometimes we get so fixated on gear we think we need, that we forget that the photographer is the main component in making a great picture. Digital Rev’s Cheap Camera Challenge has proven time and again that great photography starts with the creative eye behind the camera and not the actual camera they are using.

Instead of investing in a new piece of gear, put your gear on the shelf and limit yourself for a while to the camera on your phone. It might sound like madness, but limitation can be the mother of creativity. Working with a more basic tool forces you to focus on the fundamentals of the form – composition, color, texture, symmetry, subject, style, and more. This minimalist approach will hone your eye, and when you finally go back to using your gear, it will be like dipping into a treasure trove of possibilities.

Gear Acquisition Syndrome

Shot with an iPhone.

#6 – Macro without a macro lens

There are some types of photography you may think are impossible without first investing in specialist equipment. Macro photography is one of those genres. Without a dedicated macro lens, how can you possibly achieve close enough focus? But there are a few ways to try shooting macro before you buy.

Firstly, free lensing is the technique of shooting with your lens unattached to your camera’s lens mount. By holding the lens freely and moving it backward and forward in front of the sensor, you can achieve a dreamy, light-leaked aesthetic. But this freedom of movement also changes the lens’s ability to focus at far closer distances. This is an easy and completely free way to test out shooting macro. The downside, however, is that it’s hard to control the light leaks and almost impossible to shoot steadily.

Gear Acquisition Syndrome

Shot using a Canon extension tube.

To resolve this you can try extension tubes. These cheap tubes mimic the effect of free lensing, but minimize light leaks and shake. If you have a little more to spend, you can buy AF-equipped versions. These cheap solutions can let you try shooting macro without putting quite the dent in your bank balance that a dedicated macro lens would.

#7 – Collaborate with models

If you find yourself stuck in a creative rut and you’re fixated on a new piece of gear in the hopes of shaking yourself out of it, why not try working with new subjects instead?

Platforms like Model Mayhem or Purple Port can help you to connect and collaborate with models. By finding subjects who also bring their own ideas to the table, you can test out new techniques and styles. Don’t forget that working with models can mean more than just portraiture. Food photographers sometimes need models to be the hands in their images and lifestyle photographers may need someone building the campfire in a landscape scene. Let your imagination run wild.

Eight Ways to Get Rid of GAS - Gear Acquisition Syndrome A model interacting with a scene tells a story.

#8 – Shop for bargains

If all else fails and you succumb to GAS, try and find some cheap alternatives before you splash the cash. By shopping around on platforms like eBay and Etsy, you can stumble across some great vintage lenses for reasonable prices. As long as you have an adapter for your lens mount, these manual lenses offer fantastic optics at less than a quarter of the price of a modern alternative.

You can also find secondhand cameras, lenses, tripods, and lighting gear from reputable sellers like Wex Photographic and the London Camera Exchange (in the UK) or B&H Photo Video and Adorama (in the USA). These sellers test the equipment they sell to ensure it is in working order and sometimes offer warranties, giving you peace of mind and shaving potentially hundreds off your purchase.

Eight Ways to Get Rid of GAS - Gear Acquisition Syndrome

Get out and shoot. (Shot with an iPhone.)


There will always be a time when you need a new tripod, lens, flashgun – or whatever it may be – in order to bring your creative vision to life. But I’d argue that nine times out of ten you don’t actually need more gear – you need more ingenuity.

So when you feel like you are succumbing to GAS and are hasty to spend money, just remember that a great photograph starts and ends with a great photographer. You don’t give credit for the exquisite work of a master carpenter to the chisel he chose to use, so you certainly shouldn’t give so much credit to your gear! Instead, focus on your ingenuity in using what you already own.

The post Eight Ways to Get Rid of GAS – Gear Acquisition Syndrome by Laura Hexton appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Throwback Thursday: Nikon D70

30 Mar

In 2004 I had to make the same grueling decision as many fellow photographers: Canon EOS 300D (Digital Rebel) or Nikon D70 – which one was to become my first digital SLR? The Canon, which had been launched in August 2003 was the first true consumer-level DSLR and had been on my wish list for a few months when, in January 2004, Nikon threw a curve ball and launched a direct competitor to the EOS 300D: the D70, the company’s first sub-$ 1000 digital SLR.

The D70 shared quite a lot with its 2-year-older sibling D100, including a six megapixel CCD sensor and the MultiCAM 900 autofocus system. It did not have the option to attach a hand grip and came with fewer custom functions and a plastic body but offered better  performance as well as improved image sharpness and detail when compared to its more expensive cousin. 

The D70 also had more manual controls and was more customizable than the Canon EOS 300D. After reading Phil Askey’s D70 review in April 2004 it quickly became clear to me that the D70 was the way to go. Phil wrote in his article that the Nikon D70 was ‘a camera which is a significant step ahead of the EOS 300D in terms of build quality and feature set and a match, and in some instances better from an image quality point of view.’ He went on to conclude that ‘There’s no risk involved in the D70’s slightly higher price compared to the EOS 300D (Digital Rebel), it’s absolutely worth it.’

 The Nikon D70 next to its closest rival, the Canon EOS 300D (Digital Rebel).

Despite Phil’s in-depth testing and analysis, I have to admit that one of the main reasons I favored the D70 over the Canon did not have anything to do with image quality or manual controls: with its black body and slightly beefier dimensions the Nikon simply looked much more professional and business-like than the silver-colored and slightly plasticky-feeling Canon.

Eventually the final decision about which camera to get was taken out of my hands anyway. My parents gave me a D70 kit with two entry-level Sigma lenses for my 30th birthday and they had no idea what they’d just done. I had been a keen amateur photographer before, but the D70 took things to a whole new level and triggered a true obsession with digital imaging. Virtually my entire spare time was spent either shooting and editing images, reading about photography or communicating with other photographers in online forums such as the ones on this very website. 

Three years later I applied for the position of camera reviewer at and, after a fairly intense interview process, Phil and Simon offered me the job. Working at Dpreview meant that I suddenly had access to virtually any camera on the market and the Nikon got less use but I still own the camera today. It has simply had too much of an impact on both my career path and life to ever sell it.

Read our Nikon D70 review

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Visual Flow – How to Get the Most out of Composition

30 Mar

In photography terms, composition can make the difference between a good image and a fantastic one. Yes, you need all the other components; the light has to be dramatic, the subject compelling, and the colours vibrant. All of these will add to the final result. If you have all that, but your composition is not great, the image will fall flat.

Jay Maisel has a quote that goes like this, “As the photographer, you are responsible for every inch of the frame”. This is true, and one of Jay’s other mantras is that he prefers to speak about framing and not cropping. His view is that framing is done at the time of making the image. Cropping is done afterward in post-production. He maintains that cropping changes the original intent of the image. If you frame an image in a particular way and then crop it afterward, it really is a different image.


Visual Flow - How to Get the Most out of Composition

Frame your scene correctly in camera

I don’t think Jay is saying that you shouldn’t crop, but rather that you need to compose with intent and purpose, not simply hope for the best and try and “fix” the image later by cropping. Good composition can really be impactful on your image. Changing your composition is free. You don’t need any special equipment or lenses. There’s no need to wait for a specific type of light. You can shoot at any time of day. Composition is the one thing in photography that is easiest to fix, yet it is most often overlooked.

There are many articles on DPS and other sites about composition and the best techniques for improving composition, so I won’t try to reinvent the wheel. What I want to talk about here is visual flow. This is more about the visual journey you are taking your viewer on than the destination. In this article, we aren’t going to discuss the rule of thirds and powerpoints, but we will discuss how framing, removing distractions, and how light, shape, and texture will all contribute to your composition.

We will look at how someone’s eye will travel through your image. You want the viewers of our images to look at them longer, to find them interesting and to be captivated and inspired by what they see.

Framing not cropping

As the photographer, you need to take responsibility for everything in the frame. That means, you decide what will be in the shot and sometimes more importantly, what will NOT be in the shot. Your subject needs to be in the frame obviously, but what else absolutely needs to be included? Ask yourself if all the elements in the frame are adding to the narrative or story you are trying to tell. If not, get rid of what is not working.

In this case, less is definitely more (and usually better). Be aware of visual clutter in the frame, objects that are distracting or drawing the viewer’s full attention away from the subject. This is really tough to get right and it takes time and practice. But once you become aware of this and work hard on fixing it, it will become much easier.

Visual Flow - How to Get the Most out of Composition

Focus on your subject

Remove distractions

This sounds obvious but is not always easy. There are many things that can cause your viewer to be distracted when they look at your image. Any words in your photograph will automatically draw they eye. Signposts, graffiti, street signs…anything with words or letters will cause the viewer to look at that part of the image. If the wording is not the reason for the image, then try and remove that item from the frame as it may be distracting.

Color can cause the eye to wander. If your scene is full of color, that’s great, but if it is largely monochromatic and there is only one color in the frame, that color will become the focal point. Warm colors like yellow or red will very quickly pull the eye across to them, so be aware of the colors in your image.

The human form will also draw the eye. Again, if the person in the frame is a key part of the image, that’s great, leave them in the shot. But if not, then wait until they leave the scene or reframe the scene without them. As humans, we tend to find the human form in an image very quickly and this will become the main focus of the image.

Visual Flow - How to Get the Most out of Composition

Be aware of distractions, words, powerlines etc

Using light, shape and texture

These three elements (there are more) will greatly help you in your visual flow.

Light is key to making any image. Without light, we cannot do photography. Light also informs so much in your image. You can use side light to emphasize texture in your image. You can use front light to create a silhouette, which will emphasise shape. These three elements are important tools in making sure your image compels people to look at it.

Shapes in your image add a dynamic feel. Get in close and emphasize the shape of an object. If it has a curve, make that curve fill the frame. Shapes can make a great subject too. They are all around you too, you just have to start looking.

Texture is a great way to emphasize your subject. To get great texture images, your light needs to come from the side. Side light enhances texture and each granular detail can be seen if the light is right. Texture will make your images seem three dimensional. Using texture is a great way to communicate more information about your subject.

Visual Flow - How to Get the Most out of Composition

Use side light to emphasize texture.

Get in close

To make sure that you get the most out of the scene, you can do a few things. First, move in closer and fill the frame with your subject. This is especially useful if you are doing abstract or creative images. If you are not going to fill the frame, then decide where to put your subject. Yes, you can use the rule of thirds for this (this would be my last choice), but you can also use the Fibonacci Spiral (Golden Ratio) or any number of other compositional techniques.

The most important part of an effective composition is to make sure that your viewer knows what they are supposed to look at in your image. If your subject (the reason for the image) is unclear, your image will have little impact. You have likely seen this happen. You show someone photos from your last trip and they simply glance at them in passing. Then suddenly, something catches their attention in a particular image and they stop and look intently at the scene. That’s when you know your image has hit the mark.

As I said earlier, all the elements need to come together to make a great image, but if you have good light, great exposure and bad composition, chances are, people will just flip past the image.

Visual Flow - How to Get the Most out of Composition

Fill the viewfinder with your subject.


So, how else can you improve your composition? It is deceptively simple but easily overlooked. Some of the things I do is get inspiration from the top photographers in the genre I want to shoot. If it is street photography, then I am looking at Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jay Maisel, Ernst Haas, and others. If it is landscape photography, then I will be looking at Ansel Adams, Charlie Waite, and Koos van der Lende. I look at photographers who inspire me. I also make a point of visiting art galleries whenever I can.

Photography is not even 200 years old as an art form. Much of the techniques we use as photographers have been learned from the painters and artists of old. Spend time looking at the composition of master painters. Look at how they placed subjects in their scene. See how the light works in their paintings, is it hard light or soft light? Spend time taking note of how they used color and shapes in their images. Then, go out and apply that to your photographs. Over time you will begin to see your eye and your images improve.

Visual Flow - How to Get the Most out of Composition

Work hard at improving your compositional eye.

The post Visual Flow – How to Get the Most out of Composition by Barry J Brady appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Taking Competition to New Heights: This Skyscraper Dangles from an Asteroid

30 Mar

[ By SA Rogers in Conceptual & Futuristic & Technology. ]

dangling skyscraper 1

That tongue-in-cheek ‘world’s longest skyscraper’ design we highlighted last week seems totally reasonable compared to a new proposal taking the competition for the world’s tallest structure to absurd heights: The Analemma Tower literally dangles a skyscraper from an asteroid. An actual asteroid, orbiting the Earth. The design is firmly in sci-fi territory, with the renderings resembling matte paintings made for ‘70s and ‘80s movies set in space, but the architects offer details as to how this could actually work.

dangling skyscraper 2

Clouds architecture Office envisions a space-based supporting foundation, noting that NASA has planned a 2021 mission to capture and redirect an asteroid. Of course, NASA’s budget is up in the air right now, and who knows what’ll happen to the United States’ space-related endeavors by then. The asteroid would be located about 31,000 miles above the Earth’s surface, with the tower using what the firm calls the Universal Orbital Support System (UOSS) to hang the multi-use tower via super-strong cables.

dangling skyscraper 4

The portion of the tower that sticks up above the Earth’s atmosphere will host an extraterrestrial cemetery, with the three sections below it designated for ‘devotional activities.’ The architects say these portions of the tower wouldn’t be attractive to live in due to “extreme conditions,” though they’d benefit from an extra 45 minutes of daylight each day. The residential area is fairly small in comparison, set just above the garden and agricultural section, an area for offices and business activities, and a transfer station with dining, shopping and entertainment options.

dangling skyscraper 5

Analemma would get its power from space-based solar panels, with water filtered and recycled in a semi-closed loop system and replenished with condensation captured from clouds and rain. It could be placed in an orbit allowing it to travel between the northern and southern hemispheres on a daily loop, with its slowest trajectory occurring over New York City so people can get on and off. They go into some detail on these technicalities on their website.

dangling skyscraper 3

“Manipulating asteroids is no longer relegated to science fiction. In 2015 the European Space Agency sparked a new round of investment in asteroid mining concerns by proving with its Rosetta mission that it’s possible to rendezvous and land on a spinning comet. NASA has scheduled an asteroid retrieval mission for 2021 which aims to prove the feasability of capturing and relocating an asteroid…”

“Analemma Tower is a proposal for the world’s tallest building ever. Harnessing the power of planetary design thinking, it taps into the desire for extreme height, seclusion and constant mobility. If the recent boom in residential towers proves that sales price per square foot rises with floor elevation, then Analemma Tower will command record prices, justifying its high cost of construction.”

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Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscape Photography

30 Mar

Juxtaposition – it’s one of my favorite words, and also one of the most important aspects of successful photography. It’s used in portraiture, outdoor adventure, and frequently in travel photography. In images of the landscape, however, juxtaposition is often overlooked.

I say overlooked because many photographers integrate juxtaposed elements in their landscapes without even being aware of them. You see, juxtaposition, or the way different elements conflict and contrast, is a key feature in most good landscape photographs.

Though there are a dozen or more different ways juxtaposition can occur in an image, in this article I’m going to concentrate on three; color, texture, and subject matter.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

Juxtaposition – Color

You are probably familiar with the color wheel. Likely you were introduced to the concept in grade school when you learned the difference between primary and secondary colors. More recently, if you have selected a new font color on your word processing program you’ve likely seen some form of the color wheel.

Simply, a color wheel shows the three primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) occupying three slices of the circle with all the mixing iterations of color blending together between them. The result is a continuous blur of colors, encompassing just about everything on the visible spectrum.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

Many landscape images will have multiple juxtapositions. In this case, color is foremost with the warm tones on the salt mounds against the deeper blues of the water and sky. But the shape and texture also stand out. (Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia).

Colors that are opposite from one another (complementary) on the wheel like; blue and yellow, red and green, or orange and purple, for example, will juxtapose. That is, they will stand out from one another; some in a pleasing way, some in a conflicting way. Both can work in photography, depending on your goal, but you need to be aware of the way colors communicate in an image to assure your final result is what you intend.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

In this aerial image of the Baird Mountains in northwest Alaska, the turquoise tarn in the foreground stands out as the brightest patch of color in the frame, juxtaposed from the muted grays and browns of the mountains.

Reds and blues, for example, are very commonly blended in landscape photography; blue water with sunset sky, red flowers on a bluebird day, autumn colors against a dark backdrop, etc. Color plays an important role in landscape photography, and we recognize pleasing color combinations as soon as we see them. But recognizing WHY they are pleasing, is different from seeing that they are. Look for those relationships in your compositions, and concentrate on their placement. Some colors, red for example, are extremely effective at drawing the eye. But to be most effective, red needs to be counteracted by cooler tones, balancing the image. Mind how the colors are distributed in your image. It matters.

Juxtaposition – Texture

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

A long exposure softened the water which creates a juxtaposition with the rough stones of the cliff. (Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.)

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

In this image, both the color and the rounded texture of the autumn Bearberry in the foreground creates a juxtaposition with the blue sky and the sharp, upright trees in the background.

Juxtaposed textures are abundant in any landscape; spiky bushes against a smooth landscape, water flowing over rough rock, or just a jagged boulder in the middle of an otherwise soft, grassy meadow, etc. Textures, as like color, are easy to observe in the field. Like bright colors, aggressive textures too need to be used in moderation. Like reds and oranges, sharp, rough, textures will dominate an image if used too liberally.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

The antlers of this caribou skull and the bright white against the dark tundra make the subject leap out from the image.

Overwhelming textures, just like overwhelming colors, might be exactly what you want. Just be aware of that decision when you make the image. Make the harsh textures the point of your image, because the wrong balance, or aggressive textures placed too dominantly by accident, can ruin the balance of an image. Consider how they relate, the story you want to tell with their use, and place them in the frame accordingly.

This is a tough one to put to use because there are no clear rules about texture. You may not always realize when you’ve gotten this balance right, but you’ll definitely know when it’s wrong.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

In this image of Denali, in Denali National Park, Alaska, the two rounded forms, one green and spiky, one blue-white and more smooth echo one another, while providing wildly different textures, colors, and implications for the image.

Juxtaposition – Subject

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

Bright flowers on a gray day on a barren dune. Few things can create more juxtaposition in this image.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

Without context, this image would not have an obvious juxtaposition, it’s just an image of a lightning strike. But, when I tell you this photo was made on the arctic coastal plain of northern Alaska where thunderstorms are as rare as unicorns, then the juxtaposition of location and lightning are more clear.

The first two examples, color and texture, are more nebulous and tougher to apply in the field than the subject of the image. In landscapes, juxtapositions within the subject matter are easier to apply, and will almost always add interest to your images.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

A rare rain storm in the Altiplano of Bolivia catches the last rays of sunlight. Both color and subject juxtapose here.

As I sat down to write this article, the first thing that came to mind was the weather. Storm light, that rare sunlight that appears despite the dark clouds, is a perfect example of subject juxtaposition. Few things contrast as much as a stormy day, and sunlight.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

Rainbow in the dry desert, another clear example of the way juxtaposed subject matter can add interest to an image.

Tying weather to elements of the landscape is another way to create juxtapositions. A few years ago, I was hiking in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park, Texas when I was treated to a rare thunderstorm. As the very brief storm cleared the mountains, a rainbow appeared. The desert landscape, topped by a rainbow against a blue sky, leads to an undeniable juxtaposition.

Similarly, last summer I was leading a wilderness photo tour in the Brooks Range of northern Alaska. On the summer solstice, it snowed four inches overnight, and the following morning the blooming flowers were covered in snow. Summer flowers and fresh snow juxtapose nicely.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

Summer flowers the day after a snow storm.


Juxtaposition, the way elements compare and contrast each other, is as important in landscape photography as it is in any other discipline of the art, even if it is more difficult to use. Pay attention to the way color, texture, and your subject interrelate within your image and you’ll find greater success with your landscapes.

Have you explored juxtapositions in your landscape photographs? Tell me about it in the comments, and share some of your successes.

The post Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscape Photography by David Shaw appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How To Use Lightroom To Save An Underexposed Photo

30 Mar

Sometimes you  come home with what you thought was a great shot, just to find out that it is way underexposed and without any better exposures of that composition. But, how can you save the underexposed photo in Lightroom? Of course, first of all, it would be better to get the exposure right on location, lesson learned, right. But if Continue Reading

The post How To Use Lightroom To Save An Underexposed Photo appeared first on Photodoto.


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Samsung announces updated Gear 360 camera with 4K video

30 Mar

Together with its new Galaxy S8 flagship smartphones Samsung has also announced an updated version of its Gear 360 spherical camera. A new design, with some controls moved to the handle, allows for a smaller distance between the two 8.4MP sensors with F2.2 fisheye lenses and therefore better image stitching results. At the bottom of the handle there is now also a standard tripod-mount. 

On the video side of things resolution has been upped to 4096 × 2048 video at 24 fps. Still images are still captured at a 15MP size. A dedicated app allows for seamless sharing, viewing and editing of your captured content. In addition the new Gear 360 comes with real-time content sharing and supports live broadcasting and direct uploading to platforms such as Facebook, YouTube or Samsung VR. 

In addition to most recent Samsung flagship devices the latest edition of the Gear 360 is now also compatible with iOS devices including the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone SE, as well as Windows and Mac computers. 

Key specifications:

  • Two CMOS 8.4-megapixel fish-eye cameras
  • F2.2 apertures
  • 15MP still images
  • 4096×2048 video at 24fps
  • microSD card (Up to 256GB)
  • IP53 Certified Dust and Water Resistant

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

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