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Revive your Career: Get Certified

In today’s fast paced life and technocentric learning modules, there are many different options to gain more training. One way to propel your career is to get a new certification.

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Adobe Authorized Training Center

Digital Workshop Center (DWC), headquartered in Fort Collins, has been offering graphic design, web design, video editing, and digital marketing classes for students of all skill levels for the past ten years. Today, DWC has been certified as the first Adobe Authorized Training Center in Northern Colorado and only the second in the state.

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Introduction to Long Exposure Photography: Part II

Long exposures enable the photographer to create impressive artistic images with an illusion of time passing and a smoothing effect. Let’s revisit this topic and define the technique for long exposures outdoors.   Long Exposure: Part II We introduced the basic equipment, camera settings, and technique of long exposure photography in a previous post. Here is a brief review of the most important points. A long exposure can be defined as one taken in low-light conditions using a shutter speed between 1 and 30 seconds. This is the minimum required equipment for long exposure photography: Camera with a manual mode setting – enables multi-second shutter speeds Tripod – holds the camera still for the elapsed time of the photograph Remote shutter release – to take the picture without wiggling the camera We’ll build on these concepts by taking our equipment outdoors and practicing the same technique in nature and street photography. Twilight With outdoor long exposure photography, there are many types of dim light sources. In nature, this is usually twilight – generally 30 to 45 minutes after the sun sets. Twilight creates a different, deeper blue color in the sky than direct sunlight. Take a look at the example at the top of this post. This shows a lake scene at twilight – notice the color of the sky as a neutral blue and its reflection in the water. Long exposure nature photography creates a beautiful effect with water. In our example, you can see the smoothness of the water instead of crisp, glassy look when photographed in a fraction of a second. Water here is our object in motion. The stationary objects are the twigs in the water and the far shore. These two types of objects in dim light constitute the three elements of long exposure photography. The lake scene was taken with these camera settings: Exposure: 30 seconds at f/4.5 ISO 100 Twilight makes it possible to take a long exposure without using filters on your lens. If you’d like to learn about shooting waterfalls and creating the artistically smooth effect with the water, come to one of our Digital Photography courses and ask about a neutral density filter. Street Scenes These same techniques can be applied to street scenes. Dim light sources are typically incandescent street lights and car lights – which are most fun captured in motion over several seconds. The example street scene was taken with these camera settings: Exposure: 30 seconds at f/22 ISO 100 Taking a closer look at these values, you’ll see the f-stop of the first example was 4.5 (giving a wide aperture). In this second example, f/22 was used to give a small aperture which creates the starburst effect with the streetlights. Remember this technique by the phrase “stop down for starbursts.” ISO 100 was used in both photos to give the best detail in the low light. Different Perspectives The technique for creating photographs in town at night can give you a new perspective for taking pictures you never thought of! Consider our third example – what catches your eye when looking at this picture? We think it is unique because of the repeating patterns of the lights between the columns, with the strong linear perspective created by the lines in the image. Would this perspective be so pronounced lit by direct sunlight with a cast shadow? Long exposure photography after dark will totally change the feel of a subject! By learning how to photograph twilight scenes in nature and street scenes in low light, you can create artistic images that will certainly stand out! Gain new...

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Basics of Backyard Bird Photography

By learning to photograph birds, you’ll gain a new perspective on their amazing maneuverability and colorful beauty! Capturing a swooping bird shows how they dart swiftly through the air. Seeing a close-up enlightens the viewer to their colorful feathers. Bird photography is a fun and fast-growing hobby. In this post, we’ll teach you the essentials – bird feeder setup, camera gear, and image editing. Apply what you learn and you’ll never see a bird the same! Backyard Setup Consider these helpful tips when positioning your backyard bird feeder: Habitat – birds will be more interested in your food supply if they also have some familiar habitat nearby, such as: cover in bushes, perches on trees, and a source of native plants and insects. Location – as a bird photographer, be creative with your location – inside the house, hidden by the deck, even in a tent – using the camera at the same height as birds makes for powerful pictures! You’re most likely to see birds feeding in the morning, so setup in an area that gets direct sunlight early in the day. Camera Equipment and Settings All DSLR cameras and even some less-expensive types, will have a setting for shutter speed, which is must if you’re going to capture a bird in flight. Your lens of choice is just that – the right lens for you to enjoy the hobby at your level. A tripod can be very helpful to steady your camera and help you take sharper pictures. Here are some helpful pointers on camera configurations for beginners. Our Capturing Nature/Scenic Photography class covers additional techniques and settings. Exposure – You can get great results using Shutter Priority, an ISO value between 100 – 1250 (though lower is better), and Spot Metering as we defined in the post “Why Metering Modes Matter.” Shutter speeds of around 1/1000th of second are great for photographing flying birds. Sunny conditions will let your camera use faster shutter speeds, improving exposure and image sharpness. Additional Settings – The auto-focus features work well for photographing birds in your backyard. We encourage our students to explore the advanced features their camera may have like auto-focus lock, which keeps a sharp focus when the lens is zoomed in and the camera is moving around. Use continuous mode to take several pictures within one second to capture bird’s wings in a few positions. Here’s an example showing a house finch in flight captured with a shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second, ISO 600, and spot metering. Photo Editing Pictures produced by today’s cameras are many megapixels in size, allowing the photographer a lot of options for creating their best image with the help of photo editing software such as Photoshop. Utilize the basic functions of Photoshop to straighten and crop to adjust the picture of a small bird into a level, detailed close-up.  Adjust exposure and sharpening to polish up your image even more. If you don’t have Photoshop at home, there are many free photo editors for Windows, Mac, and tablets you can use to achieve these basic photo editing techniques. Take a look at the difference in the example below to see what some simple edits can do to bring a Dark-eyed Junco’s liftoff to life. A Bird in the Hand… To explore the fun of photographing birds, apply these lessons: Setup the feeder and photographer in an optimal way to take powerful pictures Configure your camera correctly to improve your results Learn the essentials of image editing to polish your photos Birds are beautiful and wide-spread animals that we know you’ll appreciate seeing in...

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Digital Photography: Why Metering Modes Matter

  Metering matters. As you can see in our image of a catnap, changing the metering configuration makes a big difference in the brightness of a picture. Correctly setting the metering mode will ensure your photographs have the best exposure possible. This is especially important for high-contrast scenes, like the example above. What does metering mean? And what are the different settings? Continue reading and we’ll explain metering and introduce three common modes. Applying these concepts will make an instantaneous improvement in your photography skills! The Meaning of Metering Metering is how the camera sets exposure. Specifically, the camera meters the incoming light to set the shutter speed and aperture correctly. Remember exposure is based on the quickness of the shutter, the width of the aperture, and the ISO setting. You can now see how metering directly relates to exposure. It is important to understand this only applies when the camera itself is in certain modes – such as Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, or Manual. (The on-camera symbols for these modes vary) Stepping out of Automatic mode lets you have more control over your photographs. We’ll teach you about three metering modes below to help you develop new skills beyond automatic snap shots. 1. Matrix/Evaluative Mode Multi-zone metering is the camera measuring the levels of light across the scene and combing the readings to set the exposure (Matrix on Nikon, Evaluative on Canon). This mode typically prevents under exposing or over exposing the image. We recommend using this mode when the subject and surroundings are similarly bright. Our catnap picture shows an even level of exposure and detail with this setting. Here is another example taken with multi-zone metering. Notice how the brightness of the scene is similar throughout.   2. Center-Weighted Metering Center-weighted metering is giving the highest consideration of brightness to the center area of the image. This mode is consistently named on Nikon and Canon cameras. This is a less common setting as the lighting conditions that require center weighting are rare in nature photography. The difference in our example is that the picture as a whole looks under-exposed. The metering considered the white light right next to the black cat and adjusted for that brightness. It read it so bright that the rest of the image ended up too dark; therefore, center-weighted metering is the wrong mode to use with this scene. Let’s look at an example that required center-weighted metering. Notice the wide range of contrast between the plant in shadow and the back-lighting from the sun on the rock. Setting the camera to concentrate the metering on the center lets the plant be well-exposed, and it’s irrelevant that the sunny area is over-exposed. We recommend this mode when the subject is centered and its surroundings are considerably different in brightness. 3. Spot Metering Spot metering determines the exposure by considering a circle at the center of the scene. This mode is also called the same thing on both Nikon and Canon models. How big is the circle? Not very – it ranges between 1 – 5%. Let’s consider our example, as spot metering creates a drastically different image. The camera read the brightness of the black cat, which is much darker than the rest of the scene. The exposure shows the most detail in our sleeping subject, but much of the picture is over-exposed. We introduce spot metering to our students for photographs that are all about exposing the subject correctly. What better example to consider than a circular moon against a black sky. Obviously exposing for the brightness of the moon...

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Creative Composition in Colder Months

Can you creatively compose nature photographs during winter months like February in Colorado? Of course you can! Keep these three concepts in mind when you begin creative composition in colder months for a scene you would like to photograph in an artistic way. Identify unique shapes that engage the eye Capture tactile textures which provoke interest Question indescribable abstractions to heighten imagination Developing these techniques will allow you to have more fun photographing ice and snow and can be applied to summer scenes as well! The images are shown in black and white to emphasize the characteristics being discussed. With the right type of photograph, using your favorite photo editor to convert it to black and white can underscore the elements of shape and texture and enhance the abstractions. We’ll be focusing on aspects of composition in this post. Let’s get started!   Unique Shapes In our youth, a Crayola in one small hand drew squares, circles, and triangles. Shapes in nature are much more advanced, similar to today’s cameras versus those good old crayons. It’s fun to discover new shapes in snow when visiting familiar landscapes. Given the context of nature and scenic photography, the shape of something can be defined as the outer form or visible characteristic. When looking at the image above, how many different shapes can you identify? Shapes we see include: Triangle – the point of snow in the middle-ground Arc – the edge of the ice and snow below the triangle Wave – the curve of the snow in the upper-left of the image Bird’s head – below the wave the light and shadows create a visible characteristic of the head of a bird Take another look at the image below if you had trouble finding any of the four shapes. The variety and uniqueness of shapes makes this a well-composed image. We like to recommend looking at a photograph for 20 seconds. Feel your eyes walk around the picture. If your eyes move over the shapes for a length of time that feels good to you, that’s a photograph you like and is well-composed! Setting your camera to capture shapes in snow with direct sunlight can be challenging to say the least. If you need some help getting the right approach down, consider taking our Capturing Nature and Scenic Photography class.   Tactile Textures Textures in nature can evoke many different emotions depending on appearance and setting. These associations will provoke the viewer’s interest in a photograph. Given the image for this example, can you come up with another surface that has a similar texture to the windblown snow? A fun association a student described to us is the snow being like icing on a cake. The wavy diagonal lines and layers reminded her of spreading icing with a spatula and the delight in that activity. If you see such a texture that captures your eye during the winter months and makes you say “Oh, doesn’t that look like so-and-so” then a fun photograph awaits!   Indescribable Abstracts “What is that?  How does is do that?”  These are questions of awe that remind us of nature’s majesty. When asking yourself these questions, recognize you’re seeing an amazing abstraction. An abstraction is free of representational qualities. In the two previous examples, the viewer can see a landscape with snow, trees, and other definable items. With this example, the viewer may not know what is being represented. One may imagine the circular shapes and then wonder “How were these created?” If you’ve cast a curious eye outdoors during the colder months you’ve seen some indescribable...

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