We Simplify The Technical!

Peggy Farren interviews photographer Dan Beauvais.  Dan tells us how best to capture the amazing colors of fall foliage in New Hampshire. Thanks for tuning into episode #79 of The Understand Photography Show!

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Understand Photography General Notes


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About Dan
Started into photography around 1980
Currently photography is a part-time and side business
    – workshops, stock photography, galleries, sensor cleaning
Retiring from IT and pursuing photo education opportunities

When is the best time to see fall foliage?
Varies every year – depends on temperatures, precipitation and elevation 
Plan for first week of October (especially for north central NH)
    PLAN AHEAD!  Fall foliage is a big tourist business, some hotels are booked almost a year in advance!
    Be FLEXIBLE – if colors are not yet peaked when you arrive, drive a few hours north.  If they’ve passed their peak, drive a few hours south.

“Get out of the car.  Find a big rock and sit down.  Shut off your mind and just look.  Within 5 minutes new angles and ideas will appear for you.”

Favorite Spots in NH
Mountains, waterfalls, rivers, covered bridges, hiking trails
Kancamagus Highway – North Conway to Lincoln
Rt. 302N – Mt. Washington – Mt. Washington Auto Road ($27)
Rt. 3 – Franconia Notch State Park
Rt. 16 past Bartlett
Be willing to wait for your best photos until the crowd thins out.

“Slow down.  Give the area time to speak to you.  You’ll spend less time on the road and more time photographing.”

What time of day is best for photographing foliage?
Sunrise to sunset and everything in between.
Mid day photo opportunities:  
    Get to the shaded bank of a river and shoot into the brighter color on the far side, the reflections create abstracts of color as the water swirls around the river rocks.
    Get under a canopy and look up – leaves glow when backlit from the sun.
*Use a polarizing filter to remove glare from the leaves and make colors pop.
-Be careful with a polarizer on a wide angle lens – only part of the frame will be at the 90 degree angle, the rest of the frame will look “off”.
-In doubt about whether you need a polarizing filter?  Hold it to your eye, turn it and see if it makes a difference.
Overcast days are good for straight-on shots of leaves – a filter will still make a difference.

New world markets are making decent gear that is less expensive.  If in doubt about quality, ask an expert or someone you trust. (Hunt’s Photo)
Tripods – It will be worth it to spend the money on a good tripod and avoid collecting a series of less expensive ones that are poorly made and not as sturdy. 
    Carbon fiber helps to dampen wind vibrations.
Ball head – read reviews, try it out, get advice from a good camera store.
Gimbal head – better for longer lenses but heavy.

Getting the best images and Post Processing
“Never rely on just one shot – take 40” -one of them will be crystal clear and tack sharp
Use fast burst mode – group of 3 shots: first shot may have shake from pressing the button, last shot may have shake from releasing the button, but the middle shot should be steady.

“When we’re trying to represent everything that we feel into two dimensions we compress it.  We lose something.  It leaves a big emotional vacuum.  I feel free to fill that emotional void with my creativity.  I feel no obligation to make it look ‘pure’.”

Never happy with images straight out of the camera.
Favorite tools:
Nik Filters, Color Efex Pro
contrast adjustments, clarity, texture enhancement, edge enhancement, glamour glow

“If it starts to be obvious which filter is being used, back it off a bit.”

HDR – high dynamic range
allows capture of the brightest highlights and the darkest shadows
multiple exposures, one stop apart, keep checking the histogram – you want the values to stay “inside the goal posts”
software program (Nik tools or Photomatix) blends images together to look more like what our eyes see

Finding Dan
website:  DanBeauvais.com
facebook:  Dan Beauvais

See you next week for episode 80!

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