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In this course, photographer and teacher Mikkel Aaland explores one of the oldest and most beautiful neighborhoods of San Francisco: North Beach, home to iconic architecture, beautiful vistas, delicious food, and more than a few interesting people. He explores the area on foot over a three-day period, taking you up hills, inside restaurants and shops, and into encounters with people on the street. Along the way, learn how to take advantage of natural light, shoot a city at night, pack and prep for travel shoots, and enhance your images in post-production.
Skill Level Intermediate
Jim: So everyone who's watching this knows that there's a lot that you can do, in software at your computer, with the photos that you've taken. Does that affect the way you shoot? If so, how? Male: Absolutely, I mean this is I think that if you don't understand what you can do in post-processing with, if you're, if you're not familiar with that, you really restrict your, your shooting ability. Now again, everybody has a different opinion about this. There's just purists out there who really believe that you know, once you snap the shutter and that, that picture is sacred.
They don't crop it. You know, they take it out and just, it is what it is, and that's that. That philosophy is totally valid, and, and it's great for some people. It doesn't work for me. I'm one of these people, when I look at something, I don't see it for what it is. I see it for what it can become. you know, this idea that, that there's something, I know what, what I can do to it. If I, if I want to. So I'm shooting knowing that a, I can turn it into a gray-scale black and white picture.
if, if the color, if it's, if the colors are just not working for me for some reason. No problem in my mind you know, click, it's, I can do that in my mind because I know that what my software does. Just like I know the capabilities of my camera. I know what f stops do. I know what shutter speeds do. I know what changing the ISO does, changing the focal length. These are all things that are, they come natural to, to me. I've worked so long with that camera that I don't even think about it any more, and I've worked long enough now with software and processing to do the same thing.
So it's just natural for me to, to kind of assume, you know, white balance, okay, don't worry, fix it later. even, even some objects that are, you know, maybe interfering with the picture power lines, or something like that. I know I can get rid of those, you know. blemishes in faces. Things like that I'm not saying that I always do that, but I, but I don't worry about it too much. I'm not so worried about certain things. Now, other things, I am. sharpness is one thing you can control sharpness later, in post-processing.
There's no question. It's mostly, kind of, it's a sleight of hand, you're increasing contrast. so, there's really, it's really hard if you're not in focus to get a really sharp picture. So that's one thing that I paid very close attention to, I always do. Exposure though, because, I'm shooting raw, and I know raw has a lot of latitude when I work with it in the software. I'm not so precise. I don't have to be as precise. That's just the way I am.
so, those kind of things, I mean, you just have to trying to think of something. Cropping, obviously I know I can crop later if I, if it's easy to do if I have enough pixels if, you know, to begin with. So, it's just, it's just kind of in my repertoire now. It's, it's a tool. It's part of my process, and I advocate. Er, everybody, you know, everybody's different, Jim. And, and not everybody wants to spend all the time that I have in learning post processing. I respect that, that's fine but I think ultimately it has made me a better photo, photographer.
That's my impression/g. Jim: When you mentioned cropping and I have noticed as we've been working together this last couple of weeks, some of the photos even taken are. Are cropping very non standard ways, you're not a, you're not a slave to the aspect ratio that comes out of the camera, and I think that leads to some interesting compositional opportunities. Male: That's true, I do look at pictures sometime because I have an, I know some of the rules of composition. Right, and, there's just some times when I look at a picture in the computer, on the screen, and I say, oh, you know, I really, I can create more dynamic tension if I crop it this way, as apposed to, you know, leaving it at it's, at it's native aspect ratio.
And suddenly by doing that. I've done this with a few pictures. And I have a picture of my daughter I shot in a, in a, god where was it? In a restaurant in Helsinki. And you, you don't know this when you see my final picture. It looks like something, like, of a mirror portrait. But, it was shot with a wide angle lens. So there's people on either side of her. But, I took it and I cropped it straight down, you know, so that she's, it, it's a, it, the aspect ratio was more, it was like 16:9, or something like that. And, I don't know what compelled me to do that, but I did that, and it's actually one of my favorite portraits I've ever made, just because I just, I didn't, I wasn't restricted.
By what I had there, and I just went, whoa! And it worked, it worked from a compositional point of view, it worked from lighting, everything. so I just, I'm open. You know what? I'm just open, and there's no. And nowadays, when you're displaying your images on the web, and you're displaying them, you know, electronically, a lot of times it doesn't, it doesn't matter so much. you, you, it doesn't have to fill the screen, it can, it can be these strange aspect ratios.
No reason why you can't. Jim: Do you tend to find yourself shooting more landscape orientation, portrait orientation? I know some photographers have to kind of, now and then mentally remind themselves. Tilt the camera 90 or do you just kind of as it really subject appendant? Male: You know, I come from the news. I, I started out as a newspaper photographer. So I, I'm, I was trained by Cordiant Clark, Bill Owens, I mean some of the, some of the, some of the people I really respect. That, and I it was just knocked into my head.
You don't come back with a picture that's just one orientation. You come back with two orientations, so. I didn't think about it now. I get the shot in one orientation, I get it in vertical. Even though to my eyes, it looks like it should be just a, a, a, a, a portrait layout, orientation. I shoot it this way, you know why? Because when your shooting for news paper and magazine, sometimes the art director wants some room on either side. So, the, you know, in those days, you know, you couldn't really just, you know, extend edges like you can now with Photoshop.
But so it's just ingrained in me. and and I, and I also, when I'm shooting portraits, I just think of portraits as as in the portrait orientation. But then again, I, I, you know, because everybody's different shooting. I know some really good portrait photographers that just, they, they shoot in the landscape orientations. And then, there's some that shoot the the Hasselblad, the, the square orientation. Even while they're shooting digital cameras, they, they set that, that, they want that the aspect ration because that's what the hostile what, was, and is.
And they're just comfortable with the square. With the, you know? That aspect ratio and it's what you're comfortable with. You know? With, with ultimately, really. Jim: Okay, so I'm back home, I've called my best shots. And I've post processed them. What kinds of sharing options do I have with respect to travel photography that go beyond the days when I put 80 slides in a tray? Male: Ooh. It, it's such a relief now. Oh, listen to me. In the old days, oh, listen to me, your options were really limited.
Really limited. You, you got those pictures you either sold them to a, a, you know, a magazine or a newspaper. you know, I was often times on assignment, so I knew where they would go, it was, there was a home for them already. but, there weren't that many options. There weren't that many places you could share the pictures. So it was either in magazine or newspaper for me it was always, they always kind of ended up in books as well because I love books and but it, it now a days the options are just unsung, this is a really exciting time for a photographer.
Really exciting. Some doors have closed we don't get the big buck assignments anymore. You know? I don't get travel first class to Tokyo like I used to. to go shoot assignments. you know the junkets are gone, the, the hotels that would meet me with the, my name stenciled or, or monogramed on a, on fabric. You know? Or match boxes with my name. Those days are gone. I'm glad I got to experience that a little bit. But what I don't miss is the restriction of my work, because, now there's so many options.
I can put my images up on, on Facebook, right away, and I'll do this. I have no problem throwing pictures up, right away, on Facebook in, in, the middle of a shoot. And getting a response. I love the feedback I get from people. I love that immediately, you know, hundreds of people see my pictures and make a comment about it. you know, people do that on flickr too. I mean, there's, there's lots of ways you can share your pictures socially, and get feedback. I mean, you're not going to get any money out of it. You're not, you're not making money. But there are also more ways of making money too.
Now you're not going to necessarily get the big bucks, although we never really ever got the big bucks. That was, we got the big perks, is what we got. but, but nowadays like I'm publishing ebooks. And sell them, you could sell them for 5.99, 8.99 Electronically on the, on the, on the Amazon, or, or through the Apple Ibook sites or through Barnes and Noble. And I don't have to put out all the money for printing. It's, you know? Their, their sold for me. So, this is a great way to, to share your work and get it out in the world.
And make some money, right? Which ultimately is not bad, as you, you know would like to be able to, pay for some of these equipment. Jim: (LAUGH) option to get other forms of media in there too. Male: And that opens up your shooting too. No longer you're restricted by the still image, I love time lapse. You can, now we can make time lapse images and take, turn them into little QuickTime videos. And put, embed those into these e-books. There's all kinds of things you can do with the image.
You can add sound. I just did a book for it was, it was an Ibook, a Ipad book. And I, I could embed when you clicked on a little icon next to the picture, it would play music. And so I would get a, a sound effect that would go with the picture. And that's really, I love putting sound and pictures together. But you can do that all on these on these iBooks. Jim: So clearly another insight would be when you're off shooting somewhere, grab some video, grab some sound.
Male: yeah, yeah, get a train, get a train, or you know, a boat, a boat whistle, or, or, you know, get these little sounds, little snippets of sound, you know, you don't, you don't need to use the video part. And then, that would then be associated with your still picture. All kinds of things. It's really excit, It's a really exciting time right now! And I'm, I'm so thrilled to be you know? Involved and still working and, and, and, and it's, it's just, it's great. (LAUGH) Jim: Mike Lowland it has been a pleasure sharing this San Francisco sunset with you.
Male: Jim: Thanks so much for sharing your insights on travel photography and we look forward to getting more of them elsewhere here on Monday.com. Male: Thanks Jim.