As of today, January 15, 2016 registration is open for the 2016 editions of the Badlands Photography Workshop with 3-Time Badlands Artist in Residence, Rikk Flohr.
This year, I am adding a new workshop to the series: September Night Skies at Badlands. In the traditional Spring Workshop the sun sets too late and rises too early for effective night sky photography. On the traditional Winter dates, the times are fine but the nights are so darned cold! I thought to my self, when can we have light jacket weather, great night skies and decent shooting hours? The answer was Dark of the Moon in September.
To mix things up a bit – especially for returning alumni, I’ve decided to add a printing component to the Badlands Spring workshop. December will remain my traditional Winter Wildlife workshop
Spring: Badlands in Print – May 21-25, 2016
Fall: Badlands Night Sky – September 24-28, 2016
Winter: Winter Wildlife – December 3-7, 2016
There is a $50.00 early registration discount for each of the workshops in the series so don’t delay. Last year, both workshops sold out well in advance of the workshop date.
Complete information can be found at Rikk’s Badlands Website.
I look forward to seeing you all in the Badlands!
Rikk Flohr © 2016
The Holy Crop team just returned from our annual winter workshop to the Badlands of South Dakota. While there are many crops yet to come from the careful framing of our photographs in the Badlands, I thought I would share this image. Workshop participant, Kevin Hawkins, pauses on a ridge to consider the emerging light on this small peak. I captured him and then cropped him into the scene I wanted.
The original camera framing is shown here. Note that there is a vast amount of sky and an additional small peak on the far right. This original framing is pretty nice. The muted colors in the sky add to the photo. As I looked at it, though, I wanted a tighter crop – to pit man against the light in a much closer struggle. At least, that is the story my mind wants to tell when looking at this image.
In Lightroom, I did a rough crop to carve away some of the unneeded sky and get rid of the far right peak – as I thought it a little distracting. When I was satisfied with the rough crop, I started to fine-tune the placement of the peak on the right edge of the frame. The diagonal of the peak flowing down into the center spoke to me and suggested a course of action. I decided to use the Lightroom crop overlay called “triangles” to help me exploit this diagonal.
The Triangles Overlay is accessible by cycling the [ O ] key while in the crop dialog. Placing the RH edge of the image frame in the deepest part of the valley between the two sunlit peaks, I worked my way upwards. I didn’t want to crop up from the bottom as the lowest ridge added some visual depth to the composition so I limited my work to above. It was then a matter of intersecting the perpendiculars to the diagonal with the photographer’s camera by coming in from the left. .
The finished crop is show above. The man against the mountain is isolated from the extraneous material. The Photographer and the Light are dueling in opposition.
In the original framing the horizon occupied the Rule of Fifths. In the crop, the horizon is now at the Rule of Thirds. Rule of odds has been maintained to keep the image as eye-pleasing as possible. The final aspect ratio was left to float to the strongest position and ends up very nearly panoramic at 1.91:1.
News on additional Badlands workshops should be coming soon…
Rikk Flohr © 2014
“Sometimes deciding upon the perfect crop means tossing away an equally valid version.”
Badger in the Grass is a photograph from my recent workshop to Badlands National Park. As an instructor on the Badlands Winter Wildlife workshop, it is important to get my clients close to compelling views of wildlife. A participant and I followed this badger for nearly a quarter mile to get this shot. Badger in the Grass went through surprisingly few iterations. The uncropped image shown below is very simple — which complicates things. Blue Sky, razor-thin depth of field and an obvious subject give us the old Bob Seger quandary “… what to leave in, what to leave out”
A closer examination of the uncropped original above shows a dead-center subject that doesn’t quite work. The reason for the in-camera framing is that I shoot wildlife with only the center focus point enabled. I want to chose where the image focuses to ensure the tightness of the focal lock on the animal’s face. That leaves us with the ability to chop off non-contributing portions of the image to improve our composition. Those portions are not always obvious.
This crop was actually my second crop. Ultimately the first crop became my final choice but not before I agonized over this crop. The American Badger has been moved to the lower-right power point to emphasize the uncovered eye. I left unfocused grass, sharp grass, unfocused hillside and finally sky to give myself depth.
In final analysis of which crop to use, the two dark bands in the blue sky offered enough of a distraction for me to sacrifice the depth of having the sky in the scene and the Rule of Thirds composition. Those two shadows are actually very nearby out-of-focus strands of prairie grass. I was laying on my belly for these captures meaning not only was there a badger in the grass — there was a photographer in the grass as well.
Here is an overlay of the crop I decided upon. I decided to omit the sky and with it the depth. The badger is long and low and the crop needs to be long and low as well. This allows space in our mind for the long badger body, hidden in the grass, but within our expectations, to occupy. The nearby grass shadows aren’t as obvious without the sky and that solves another dilemma. The closer crop makes the badger encounter seem more personal and engages the viewer.
When all is said and done, I have a very mono-tone image because I have left out the blue skies, which, while natural, took away from the overall golden tone of the image. Black. white and gold, and a badger in the grass… staring at a photographer in the grass… and ultimately you.
Rikk Flohr © 2012
Playing the thirds against the fifths
Greetings Holy Crop! fans,
I’ve just returned from teaching my Badlands Winter Workshop at Badlands National Park. The Queen of the Crop and I took 8 photographers around the park chasing sunrise, sunset and all the critters in between. Of course, in the non-shooting hours we taught image editing techniques with composition and cropping figuring heavily into our curriculum.
The shot above is from one of our afternoon drives. This old car sits on a hilltop near the park and makes for a tempting target for driver’s by. I thought this might make an interesting image to discuss briefly the Rule of Thirds and the Rule of Fifths.
To begin, I ask myself: “Of what is this a picture?” In other words, what is the star-the subject. It is a picture of…
The answer: “A Car”
The car is the star. It should occupy the most important part of the frame. I have overlaid a rule of thirds grid to show that we have placed the focal point of the car, in this case where the missing driver’s face would be, at the lower right rule of thirds. The car is facing into the frame and the space is left in front of the car to satisfy the rule of space. The car isn’t moving so the rule of motion isn’t as important. In this shot, the car is a face looking semi-hard left. It needs space into which to stare.
Secondary to the car is the sky-particularly the sun. The sun is fairly small in frame but the extremely bright area is fairly large. Even though we discussed sun placement in a previous article as being stretchable to the rule of sevenths, here a rule of fifths is an appropriate placement. Keeping the sun near the upper left rule of fifths gives us ample space to hold the sun in the picture.
The sky is awesome in this image. We need just enough land to ground the car and contain it in the frame. Keeping the horizon near the rule of fifths lets the sky dominate the remainder of the picture. A rule of thirds placement would have left too much foreground and lessened the sky’s impact. The rule of fifths grid overlaid here shows clearly the rule of space choices. There is twice as much space in front of the car as behind. There is four times as much sky as ground.
Playing the rule of thirds against the rule of fifths is a good way to start your composition both in-camera and in post production.
- Start by putting your subject on the most obvious rule of thirds.
- Put your secondary subject on the opposite rule of fifths in a way that balances the relative size and weight of the two opposing focal points.
- Lastly, chose a horizon placement that reflects the relative strengths of sky and land.
- Tweak to taste.
Rikk Flohr © 2011
Sometimes the best solution is to just walk over there to capture that image.
From across the road, that distant moving fleck in left-center is a mystery. Put the lens to your eye and you realize it is an American Badger
You cross the road and step a few feet into the prairie and snap he picture. Now no one can deny you saw the badger.
You figure you can crop the heck of of this mage and show everyone the picture on Facebook.
When you halve the distance to the subject you effectively double the focal length on your lens. Walk a little closer. All of a sudden, you are starting to see some personality. No crop involved here and the badger is the same size in frame as in the shot above. We have gained megapixels as a result of cropping with our feet.
Up till now we had been shooting with a 1.6 crop-factor sensor on a 300MM lens with a 1.4 tele-converter. (that’s 13x in binocular lingo) In the shot above, we have cropped with our feet sufficiently to remove the converter. With the new lens arrangement we are now sharper, a stop faster and easier to hand-hold. We are also close enough to carefully compose the shot and create a work of art.
As close as we dare. Knowing the temperament and eyesight of the badger, the direction of the wind, the position of the sun. we can creep as closely as we dare. Now we have an animal shot we can be proud of.
And what about that ultra-cropping we did in third image of the series? We do it again with our foot-cropped image. Instead of a tiny badger in a big landscape, we now have a head portrait of the elusive creature.
Too many times we are content with the shot from the road. Putting a camera to your face crops out most of the world. Taking a step toward your subject crops out a little more. Crop with your feet until the world becomes your subject and your vision becomes the world.
Rikk Flohr © 2010
Crop rotation kept the aspect ratio just under 3:2. Gotta keep that tripod level!
Rikk Flohr © 2010
Today’s aspect Ratio: 2.16:1
Rikk Flohr © 2010