Posts Tagged ‘Monday Blog Blog’

Monday Blog Blog: Review Of ‘Light And Land’ by Michael Frye

October 31st, 2011

Monday Blog Blog: Review Of Light And Land: Landscapes In the Digital Darkroom By Michael Frye

Light And Land E-Book Promotional Image.

(What in the world is Monday Blog Blog? See the blog post, “Monday Blog Blog Celebration.”)

Michael Frye’s articulate, yet casual writing style in Light And Land: Landscapes In The Digital Darkroom, easily conveyed ideas to me that perhaps had seemed more complicated or even intimidating before. Right from the start I felt relaxed as though he would take me through a challenging journey safely. For example:

In this book I’ll take you step-by-step through each decision as I process five different images in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. You’ll see my workflow in action, and I’ll explain why I use particular techniques in a particular order. But more importantly, you’ll come to understand the aesthetic judgments behind each decision… you’ll gain insights about how to convey your own unique vision, and how to squeeze every ounce of beauty, emotion, and inspiration out of your photographs…. While I use Lightroom for these examples, the basic principles apply to any software. Learning how to make good decisions and find the right balance is more important than learning any particular tool or technique.

“OK, I’m in,” I said to myself. “I can do this.” Michael Frye then rolled right into Highlight and Shadow Detail, Black Points and White Points, Workflow, Curves, Tools, Default Settings, Finding Direction and other sections in the natural flow of his work on digital images. These sections, besides explaining technical concepts in non-technical terms, made the process seem simple, but not too simple. Many photography how-to books wax long on technique, but Michael Frye showed me what to do with the techniques to create images that bring out my own vision. He also told me how to best apply each technique depending on what I intend to accomplish in each photograph. In my view, this makes Michael Frye an above average teacher. No wonder he teaches workshops through the Ansel Adams Gallery. No wonder he is the author of the traditional paper paged book Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Masters. Michael Frye knows what he is doing regarding the unique considerations in landscape photography post processing. In his e-book, Light And Land: Landscapes In The Digital Darkroom, he also sprinkled in his own wit and wisdom for landscape photography in general:

…In some other photography genres the photographer is often concerned with only one subject. Landscape photography frequently requires blending many different ingredients in a harmonious way.


…Landscape photography is all about communicating the mood of a particular place at a particular time.


Ultimately it doesn’t matter whether you prefer using Curves or some other tool, what default settings you start with, or even what software you use. The goal is to make the image communicate something, and there are many ways to accomplish that. Knowing what you want to say is more important than using a particular procedure.

At the top of Michael Frye’s section on Workflow, he listed for us readers in order the various steps he takes in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Then he elaborated on each one. He showed how he goes about each step in a sort of “real time” demonstration on his landscape photographs.

He explained that “in a book of this size it’s impossible to describe every nuance and keyboard shortcut in Lightroom.” Then he went on to recommend the two books I already have on Lightroom, but have never read, how handy is that? Plus Michael Frye recommended one more book on Lightroom by David DuChemin called Vision & Voice: Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. The other two books I have are Martin Evening’s The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers and D65’s Lightroom Workbook: Workflow, Not Workslow in Lightroom 3 by Seth Resnick and Jamie Spritzer.

Having watched master landscape photographer Carr Clifton work with curves since 2008, but having only minimally tried it myself, I found Michael Frye’s explanation of curves to be the easiest to understand of any I have read. To check out the Photoshop and Lightroom resources I have either studied or gathered and not yet studied, see the blog posts, “Monday Blog Blog: Photoshop For Pros” and “Monday Blog Blog: Lewis Kemper.”

What I liked about Michael Frye’s style of presentation in Light And Land: Landscapes In The Digital Darkroom was that he urged the reader to think and make decisions. He asked many questions that put me into action in processing images along with him and starting in on my own. His sections called “Evaluation” in Light and Land and on his “In The Moment: A Landscape Photography Blog” have encouraged and inspired us students of landscape photography to jump right in and get involved.

Michael Frye powerfully wound up Light And Land by advising us to go to galleries and museums and look at the finished product: fine art digital prints. He said not just to look at them but to ask yourself his many evaluation questions:

When viewing prints, look at the contrast. How much of the photograph is pure white? How much pure black? Is the print dramatic or understated? Notice the color balance and saturation. With black-and-white prints, check for slight color tints.

To bring home his e-book coaching Michael Frye in Light And Land quoted Ansel Adams, one of the world’s greatest fine art print makers of all time:

The difference between a very good print and a fine print is quite subtle and difficult, if not impossible, to describe in words. There is a feeling of satisfaction in the presence of a fine print—and uneasiness with a print that falls short of optimum quality.

The only aspect of Light And Land I don’t like is that it is too short. I would like to learn much more and have Michael Frye go into greater depth in many of the areas of his coaching in this e-book. Fortunately, Light And Land is priced at what David DuChemin termed the “outrageously low price” of only $5.00. If you look around some you may even find a coupon to purchase the e-book for $4.00. I recommend that each of you who takes the digital printing of landscape photography seriously not wait any longer: buy the book now. Michael Frye will show you how to make that subtle difference, referred to by Ansel Adams, in your fine art digital prints. To order go to Light And Land: Landscapes In The Digital Darkroom.

Monday Blog Blog Celebration

January 10th, 2011

Oaks, Alders, Conifer Forest, Indian Creek, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. This photograph was tied with several others for first runner-up for “My Favorite Photos Of 2010.” By the way, this is a color photograph. It was not a black and white photograph in-camera, nor was it converted.

The new year will bring a new off and on feature to Landscape Photography Blogger. It will remain low-profile for now and an alternative medicine for good landscape photography based on my father and his colleagues’ approach to photography and life. It is alternative in that it is a develop-through-observation Travel Log, Interview and experience-based column rather than another outlet for step-by-step rules, laws, principles, guidelines, doctrine, dogma, canons, policies and procedures. You still won’t see anybody’s 14 Easy Steps, or Nine Sure-Fire Tips here.

Nonetheless, not all photography training and pointers online consist of rules and artificial teaching structures. Technique is important and best taught by those who are masters of it. Being able to look under the hood of the systems and methods of other landscape photographers is useful and often energizing. Landscape Photography Blogger intends to do more from now on to help people find these resources around the photo blogosphere. Also, I am often impressed by and learn from the photography I see online. I intend to provide a platform through which work of quality can be passed along to readers.

In addition, I have run across many photographers who seem to be carrying on an updated form of the excellence that my father learned studying under Ansel Adams, Minor White, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham and Dorothea Lange. Some people call it the West Coast tradition, some call it straight photography, some call it lots of other names both complimentary and derogatory, but originally in its time it transformed photography, spearheaded by Group f64 and their students. The more landscape photographers believe they are moving beyond it, the more they espouse it. Ansel Adams was not dictatorial about his approach to photography. He welcomed photographers of many sizes and shapes to teach with him, but they were required to have a professional attitude and they had to be committed to the highest quality possible as he was. In short they were the best.

Landscape photographers like Ansel Adams and Edward Weston might be somewhat bewildered by all that is going on in photography now, but they would probably also be energized, enthused and impressed with much of the work being done today. Landscape Photography Blogger is becoming a conduit for discussion and exploration for many non-photographers and photographers at all levels. As such I will do more community building and looking around within the community to see what coalitions and connections can be made. As a step toward this, I am going to designate Monday as a day to feature or celebrate other blogs, websites or resources from around the world wide web and the photography blogosphere in particular. Starting next week, we will debut what I will call, “Monday Blog Blog.” It’s a silly name and it might not always happen on Monday or necessarily every single week, but the intent is for it to be a regular feature and a service to readers.

Stay tuned for other new developments…