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Photographing with Lazy Eyes Reveals Nothing New!

Landscape Photography Yosemite

Yosemite Valley ©MarkJansenPhotography.com

Don’t be lazy when you have a chance to be in nature to create a photograph. Some new to landscape photography seldom venture much further than their cars to take a shot. Landscape photography is all about interacting with nature.

If you’re not comfortable opening your eyes before dawn or hiking to explore new possibilities, the odds of you capturing that epic photograph is not in your future.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is what it’s all about in this game. This will take you much further than that new piece of gear or software plug-in. Certainly gear is important and is as simple as a point and click away.

But it takes much more.

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Why the Craft of Photography is Learned and Not Purchased

With all the new and improved digital and mirrorless camera gear available these days everybody’s out there shooting. That’s mostly what we see in the field, a lot of shooting going on. High capacity memory cards and high end cameras have pushed information gathering to new limits.

But, we are hear to tell you, photography is learned and not purchased.

 

Yosemite Photography Expeditions in Yosemite Valley

Tunnel View: Yosemite Valley

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5 Things You Need To Know About Dynamic Photography Landscapes Today

Being primarily a landscape photographer, I am always trying to push my images to the next level of attention to create dynamic photography landscapes. Like most, I have this thought in the back of my mind anytime I head out for a shoot, hoping for some magic. Here’s my photographic process.

We all spend some time flipping through photography magazines, or scanning through social media photographs until one stops us in our tracks. After awhile, you’ll notice that a few of these images have common compositions that tend to pull your eye in and hold it for a moment. You’ll also notice certain patterns and visual references begin to appear. These images always seem to appear whimsical and dynamic. That’s just the beginning of creating a dynamic photography landscape.

"Ancient One" by Mark Jansen shows a great example of dynamic landscape photography

“Ancient One” – On our Eastern Sierra Photo Workshop © Mark Jansen

What makes a dynamic photograph?

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7 Simple (But Important) Things To Remember About Astro Photography

We are really excited about heading out on this season’s first astro photography event in the Alabama Hills in the Eastern Sierra. Timing, location and clear skies are what it’s all about when you plan one of these events. Don’t forget a bit of luck as well.

Night sky photography is everywhere. Being in the landscape photography field for over 20 years I’ve seen many changes. Long gone are the days of using film and being happy about capturing long exposure star trails alone.

Astro Photography in the California desert

 

 

These days, with the advent of high ISO digital cameras, we have the pleasure of spectacular photographs of the Milky way and many more more terrestrial bodies.

From highly mysterious light painted backgrounds and perhaps meteor showers, night photography has taken on a life of its own and many photographers have become exclusive to this form of photography as well.

I see many leaving daylight photography altogether, seeking more elaborate compositions every day (or every night I should say).

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5 Secrets to Creating Successful Landscape Photography

Preparation, observation, persistence and patience and getting beyond the program modes are the key factors for getting your landscape photography on track! These are the 5 secrets for successful landscape photography.

What does it all mean?

Getting great photos these days seems as simple as the point and click of your smart phone, but not if you want to create successful landscape photography.

From the latest Digital SLR’s and Mirrorless cameras, everyone is shooting and posting photographs everywhere. Photography is no longer left to the professionals. Great looking imagery is just a pre-programed green button away, or so it would seem.

So many turn to photography for one plain fact.

The digital process has made it a very enjoyable and creative experience with instant results. No paper canvas or paints involved and you don’t need to even draw a straight line.

With all this new found creativity, once people step beyond the simple interface of Smart Phones and move into more substantial real cameras, there seems to be lack of knowledge of the real photographic process. Continue reading

Yosemite Photography: Expect an Adventure

Yosemite Photography is in my blood.  I’ve been there too many times to count, but my favorite time is winter. 

Yosemite in winter is the best time of year because it’s quiet. The crowds of summer are gone and just the hardy, adventurous types are there to experience nature at its finest.

Yosemite Valley Winter Photography

On one particular trip — just two days before Christmas, December 1964 — it was raining like crazy. We were spending the holidays in the Yosemite Valley, just like we did every year. The rain was coming down in buckets. We slept peacefully in our cozy housekeeping cabin at the Yosemite Lodge unaware that the Merced River was starting to flood. When the river started to threaten the little cabins at the Lodge, we were evacuated to higher ground in the middle of the night, out of harm’s way.

You never know what you’re going to find in this beautiful valley in the winter. 

Mark Jansen in Yosemite Valley Continue reading

How Come My Photos are Never Sharp?

Solid tripods are essential for landscape photography
The most common question asked by many people is
“How come my photos are never sharp?”

Their big concern is that the lens or lenses they already own are not good enough and they need to upgrade.

Photography has always been a lens specific pursuit. So much of what we do as photographers is wrapped up in gear. Not surprising, once you enter the sales funnel of the photographic arts, you’ll most likely consume more gear than you ever imagined.

When it comes to camera lenses we all have our favorites.

Getting the most out of them is another story… Continue reading

Complete the Creative Circle with your Photography

Last weekend I attended a local art show here in beautiful Camarillo, California. Having spent quite a few years working the Fine Art circuit from Malibu to Santa Barbara, (now guiding workshops and teaching photography with Jansen Photo Expeditions), I have a lot of respect for artists who put their art out there in hopes of a sale or two over a weekend. For them, there is a complete creative circle with their photography or other art form they pursue.

 Vintage Aviation: Waypoint Cafe, Camarillo, California

Vintage Aviation: Waypoint Cafe, Camarillo, California

This art event was a bit different from your regular fair. It was paired on the same grounds as our local artisan community with open studio doors, allowing you to visit the artists at work. This would include mostly painters, sculptures and assemblage artists.

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The Process and the fundamentals of Landscape Photography

Photography has been going through a rapid transformation. With the internet, it’s no longer resigned to the skilled professional. Democracy rules this craft more than ever.

This statement has been bounced around for years. While true in some respects, in regards to post processing in Lightroom and Photoshop, it leaves unfilled pot holes for many. These potholes are most apparent in in the field for landscape photographers. This is where 1 on 1 interaction with an instructor in the field is so important, privately, or in a small group environment.

Sweet sunset light in Yosemite Valley, by Mark Jansen

First off, the landscape photography process is a physical activity, paired with the awareness of environmental changes. Mental acuity is required along with a solid understanding of the physics of light. This is sculpted by a device with a lens, as it transfers light to film or electronic sensor to affect depth of field and exposure. The camera is nothing but a tool. Understanding its full form and function is paramount.

Landscape photography, like no other activity I can think of, balances the physical, creative and mechanical world. The process can produce amazing beauty when combined effectively.

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Why is Photo Editing Essential?

Are you spending a lot of time learning your digital camera and getting up early to shoot at just the right location, in just the right light?

Are you getting the results you hoped you would? You’re not?

Learning Lightroom

Learning effective photo editing is easily the other half of creating amazing images with your digital camera. I have been using Adobe Photoshop for many years, but have recently converted to doing the bulk of my editing in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Lightroom is a powerful program that offers you easy adjustments to push your editing and your photography from good to great.

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Landscape Photography (Learning The Basics and More )

I’ve been in the business of teaching landscape and street photography for the last 15 years.  In the early days, the lion’s share of our business was fine art and commercial photography. But after countless requests, I’ve created a fool proof and simple to understand curriculum. I started offering one on one mentoring to quite a few individuals. I was soon leading private landscape photography workshops and small group landscape photography workshops with my wife Holly.

Learning photographyWhen I’m not leading small group photography Workshops in Yosemite, or leading a private photography workshop in Big Sur, or an Iceland small group photography workshop. I teach one on one basic photography workshops in Ventura California, near my home when I’m not on the road.

After doing this for sometime, I’ve found that many of my students, while having a deep desire to learn landscape photography, sorely need to grasp the basics of their cameras form and function, along with understanding exposure and compositional rules.
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What to Expect on Our Costa Rica Photography Expedition

Costa Rica Photography Expedition Coming December, 2017

 

You love to travel and you’re excited about your new camera and you want to learn to create some amazing landscape images. What a perfect opportunity to join our  Costa Rica Photography Expedition!

We will be highlighting the wildlife, the landscapes, the beaches and the unique colors and contrasts of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica's expansive and open beaches.

Jansen Photo Expeditions has teamed up Costa Rica Vacationing to create a unique and interesting photo workshop in beautiful Costa Rica, December 5 – 12, 2017. 

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Iceland Creative Photography workshop – Opening your Eyes to Adventure

As we were standing on Diamond Beach in South Coast Iceland, we were surrounded by surreal looking blocks of ice the size of small cars that had calved off the nearby glacier. Our photo workshop group was giddy with the experience of the wind, the waves and the ice crashing up on the beach.

Amazing Ice formations in Iceland

The looks on their faces said it all.

We let them have some time to experience the “wow” and started helping them set up to take photographs that would immortalize this trip for their life times.

It wasn’t just about photos though.

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Wildflower Photography in Big Sur


Wildflower photography in Big Sur

After arriving in Big Sur at 10pm, it was a bit of a challenge getting a place to park our camper for four days. You see most of Big Sur is only available to campers and is very popular especially in the early spring. We decided to just take our chances and arrive without a reservation, and we lucked out by finding a place to call home mid way about the coast. We were going to one of our favorite places for a weekend of R and R to enjoy the spring and to look for some secret places to share with our photographic workshop clients at Jansen Photo Expeditions. My husband and I have been doing the photography expeditions business for about 10 years now, and although we travel quite a bit, we don’t get as much alone time as we would like. This trip we were interested in the wildflower photography in Big Sur.
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Landscape photography doesn’t stop just because things get wet and the temperatures drop. Be prepared!

I’ve been gearing up and preparing for our upcoming winter and Yosemite Valley and Iceland winter landscape photoraphy expeditions. The following tips will help you avoid some unpleasant surprises next time you venture into the cold and wet. If you’d like to learn more about preparing for our Iceland workshop, check out this blog.

Tips for photography in wet conditions
Camera Body:
 It’s always good to pack a few plastic sandwich bags of various sizes in your kit. If you can also find a few of those clear disposable shower caps you find in hotel rooms, they work great also. You can use them for covering your camera’s body as sits on your tripod in the wet, as you wait for that magic moment. I also like to pack a small multi folding pocket size umbrella. They really come in handy when the weather closes in are simple to store in your camera bags outside pocket.

Another thing that you can do, that provides a little insurance against camera damage is to place your camera in a larger trash bag before heading in from colder than average temps. This prevents condensation from forming on the body of your camera. The condensation will gather on the bag instead. Once the room temperature warms, you can remove your camera from the bag not risking damage to the delicate electronics in your camera’s body

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The Key to Successful Winter Photography in Iceland

There are so many reasons to photograph Iceland in Winter. The stark contrast between the volcanic black sand and the snow, the ice caves, the glaciers, and the aurora borealis to name just a few. You can only see these scenes in Iceland in winter. But the key to successful winter photography in Iceland starts with the basics.

Small photography groups exploring Iceland
There are incredible views at every turn. Other worldly landscapes only seen in Iceland, and every time we go, it’s a little bit different.

Iceland is spectacularly beautiful any time of year, but I find it especially compelling in the snow.

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Big Sur: The Lost Modern Frontier

This amazing stretch of land, along California’s central coast has been strangely hidden from view from so many driving up and down it for years. Except for of its widely published Bixby bridge and a few known public beaches, the real Big Sur is largely hidden from view.

Redwood forests in Big Sur

Big Sur and California’s Highway 1 have been a haunt for beat poets of the 50’s, followed by the hippies of the 60s and 70s. It’s now a known destination for the international tourist to explore by bicycle, car, or rented camper. And don’t forget your standard domestic traveler looking for a weekend stay at many of its numerous “New Age”resorts.
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Big Sur Hippies and Hipsters, Cali’s Chill’n Coast!

.Photography workshops in Big Sur

If you’re a native Californian, it’s rare that this fabled coastline has never crossed your mind at one time or another.
As a young kid, born in Southern California, I always dreaded car sickness each time we traveled Highway 1, heading North to Big Sur on family vacations. We were always bouncing around while looking out our overhead camper’s window, its winding path triggering my propensity to this affliction.

We haunted this scenic Highway, stretching back to the early 1970s, from Morro Bay to Monterey and exploring every little nook and cranny in between.

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Iceland Elves and Fairies, Really?

Mark Jansen in Iceland with Snorri
Frankly, when I first became aware of Iceland’s startling imagery back in 2005, I said to myself, this will be one of those places that would eventually find itself as one of our top expedition locations with Jansen Photo Expeditions. Hopefully our clients would see this as well and we would return each season and make this dream an annual reality. Little did we know that the Iceland elves and fairies would play a part in our tours there.

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300 California Landscape Photographs Installed!

landscape photography at Sysco Foods. Located in Oxnard California

Lobby in Sysco Foods



This is a story of the photographic arts and where it could lead for anyone who follows their bliss as a landscape photographer.

I used to say, all the photographs I would ever take are already created in me, they are just waiting to be expressed. Each image has a clear purpose, as yet to be revealed. This story started out as a personal photography project and grew in to a large corporate installation.

As as my wife and fellow visionary photographer, Holly, were walking back to our Jeep in the parking lot of one of the largest corporate facilities located here in Ventura County. I looked at my Holly and said, “Wow I can’t believe we just completed that project, it took 2 years to complete. Lets soak in the moment… This is one of those moments that doesn’t happen too often.” We then went out to dinner to celebrate.

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The Personal Photography Project

Aviation Murals by Mark Jansen

Hero: Waypoint Cafe, Camarillo, CA

I’m sure many people have heard this phrase before, especially when it comes to photography: “The Personal Photography Project”. When you’ve been in the photographic field for a number of years, you sometimes find yourself repeating similar creative patterns with success. While this is good, it sometimes walls you in. You can become complacent and cease to explore new ideas.

Pursuing a personal photography project sometimes helps you chip away at those walls and opens new doors to something new and unexpected. This may also solidify a particular new stylistic direction you didn’t expect to travel. I went through this myself a few years back. I’d always had an affinity towards motorized machinery from my early years of living in Southern California. I was brought up in the automotive industry and spinning wenches on anything motorized came easily for me. I was influenced by this for many years. I enjoyed owning and restoring classic cars since my high school days and still do. I also find myself photographing them on occasion at local car shows. Continue reading

The Sweet Light Of Yosemite Valley

 

Yosemite Photography by Mark Jansen

Light in the late afternoon and morning often provides the sweetest glow in Yosemite, as it bounces off the towering granite spires at every turn.

My wife and I have been traveling to Yosemite all of our lives from Southern California. It has become an essential pilgrimage for us, but only going during the “off” seasons. Being a native Californian, I’m always amazed how many natives have never taken the time to explore and photograph its breathtaking cliffs and majestic waterfalls.

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Is Your Photography Any Good?

How do you know if you’re making good photographs? How is it possible to gage your progress as a photographer without unbiased criticism from family and friends? I’m sure everyone’s heard: ” I love your pictures, you’re such a good photographer.” Additionally, social networks don’t go much further than giving a thumbs up. Honestly, when was the last time you read anything really bad about a photograph posted on social media?

In our millennium generation, image conscious positive reinforcement world, nobody wants to be a source of negative feedback. So how does the developing photographer know they’re actually producing quality work?

In the early days, before our connected social media world, the art gallery and fine art circuits were about the only way you knew if you were hitting a nerve with your art. If you’ve spent long weekends standing in the hot sun at art fairs, watching the world go by with only a few sales or positive comments, you knew where you stood as an artist pretty quick.

Photography Murals for your office

Commercial Installations          ©MarkJansenPhotography.com

That said, fear and creativity stand side-by-side. I’ve nothing but great things to say about any artists who put their stuff out there for the public to scrutinize.

I myself spent many years on the fine art circuit and was lucky to hit a few good cords with my photography in the early days. It’s a humbling experience, but provided me with the legs I stand on today and one of  the reasons Jansen Photo Expeditons was created.

Most people these days live behind the online security of their laptop screens and seldom venture beyond posting their images on social media or submitting them to a contest. What seems to be rarely seen these days by the general public is the print media.

The truth of the matter is, you need an unbiased live support network to excel creatively these days, unless you’re prepared to take the plunge into the fine art gallery market and test your steel on what you think is good and what your mom likes.

You need someone to say if its good or not and check your ego at the door. You also need to be with other photographers in a positive learning environment. Camaraderie is great for the learning process. Better yet, find a mentor you respect, and listen to what they say, I mean really listen and don’t take it personally especially if they’ve traveled the road you’re about to embark on.

We have been there, so if you need help and an unbiased opinion, we can help with our mentor program or one of our in person private or group photography workshops with Jansen Photo Expeditions. You won’t be sorry.

All The best,

Mark Jansen

What is the Intention for this Photograph?


We arrived at our morning shooting location in Big Sur just as the first color of the morning light was disappearing. As the red light began to fade, the clouds in the distance started to have more definition and the contrast of the sun began to highlight the rock that the lighthouse was perched on. What did I see here and how can I be more intentional with my photography?

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Help Finding your Photographic Vision

Finding your photographic vision is a great challenge for many photographers. Many people spend years honing their craft to understand the mechanics of aperture, exposure and ISO, in addition to understanding their chosen camera’s form and function before heading out on photo expedition. But many find difficulty constructing solid, engaging imagery once they arrive at a destination beyond the obvious.

We live in a world of simple to capture, perfect digital exposures. They have amazing color and sharpness, paired with ever expanding choices of post capture image manipulation as well.
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Photography Workshops – What to Expect When Booking

Are you looking to book a photography workshop or photography expedition?  

You love to travel and you’re excited about your new camera and you want to learn to create some amazing landscape images. What a perfect opportunity to try out a photography workshop! I teach photo workshops with www.JansenPhotoExpeditions.com, and in this article, I will give you an idea what to look for when you are considering taking a photography workshop.

What to Expect

Photography workshops take you to the best places to shoot, and most importantly, an experienced guide will get you to the right place, at the right time, in the right light. In the best photography expedition, you will have experienced professionals helping you with composition and camera settings.

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Find Meaning in Photography


When I approach an iconic landscape photographic location on our photography expeditions these days, I often see other photographers jockeying for position. Some have traveled great distances and most certainly planned for a particular composition. They might have seen it published, and have hopes of repeating it and putting their own twist on it but it is hard to find meaning in photography that way. 

Replicating iconic photographs has always been  a great way to learn. There comes a time, when one wants to move beyond copying another artist and express their own photographic vision and find their own formula. Most certainly, the original photographers of these iconic spots had some pre-visualization going on, or a compositional formula that they would employ on arrival to a location. 

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My Revisit to Film SLR Cameras and Black and White Photography In Yosemite Valley

Captured on Ilford XP2 Super 400

The early dawn of digital photography promised endless quantities of free high resolution, simple to create images.

That high tide has certainly been achieved, with the world’s photographic beaches now covered with unimaginable amounts of digitally created images. From iPhone, DSLR and high end medium format, digital satisfaction is at an all time high. People seldom mention film these days during our photography classes.

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The Eastern Sierra Ultimate Photo Expedition

The Eastern Sierra Ultimate Photo Expedition

It’s five a.m. and all I can see in the pre-dawn is the light from my headlamp as I head across the desert. My husband and business partner is waiting for me at one of the famous sandstone arches in the Alabama Hills. This arch is hidden from view and not easily found without a guide. It is the first morning of our Eastern Sierra photo workshop.

Behind me, four hopeful photographers follow in the 4am darkness. It’s my job to guide them through the sage-and-stone-scattered tundra, through and around large boulders, across a stream bed and up a small hill to the arch.

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A Fresh look at a Salty World During Our Photography Workshop in the Eastern Sierra

Moving through the dusty, gravel-strewn road, we soon arrived at our destination, the saline aquifer, Mono Lake. One of our favorite stops on our Eastern Sierra photography workshop. After years of photographing this place and its other worldly calcified towers, I was looking for something new and unique that would give a fresh perspective to the place. I’ve been a little pushed to find something new to shoot other than its expanse of Tufa towers, grasses and bird life.

Mono Lake Spider

I think I’ve photographed this lake from every conceivable angle you could imagine having done numerous photography workshops in the Eastern Sierra. If you’re a neophyte to this place, it can be quite stunning, especially as you move closer to the water’s edge. The buzz of the swarming mud flies, migratory birds and the towers of calcium are beautiful and out of the ordinary. But once you have photographed them a few times, you’ll most likely be wanting for at least an interesting sky to set off the scenery, perhaps maybe something more. Continue reading

Endless Possibilities with iPhone Photography!


Do you want to learn to shoot great pictures with your iPhone camera? Do you want to learn to create spectacular images quickly and easily? With some basic photography skills and the help of some really fun apps, I’m here to tell you that the iPhone photography is here to stay!  I’m a professional photographer, teach on location workshops in beautiful places and online. Jansen Photo Expeditions teaches iPhone classes in person in Ventura County, CA. Here is a sneak preview of some of the things you will learn.

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Creating Depth in Landscape Photography

Do you know what it means to create depth
in your landscape photography?

Do your images carry the viewer into the scene and move you from one corner of the image to the other? Are there compelling foregrounds to activate interest?

What about the mid points and distant views of your scene?  How do the light and shadows play in to your composition?  These are all things you need to keep in mind when composing your landscape images. You need to have a clear subject and an intention for your image. Continue reading

Astrophotography: It’s More Than the Milky Way!

Astrophotography is emerging as a new experience for many photographers. The Milky Way is now open territory for all. Imagery with good story is now being produced using it, pushing night photography to new heights!

Camera sensors have become so sensitive to light, and there are great strides in noise reduction software that help create interesting and compelling images with your DSLR.

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Separation and Gesture

Culling through an amazing amount of imagery after a long day of shooting can be a daunting task.

Whether on a long weekend or on an extended trip, we all go through this in one form or another. You may have one image that you remember on a shoot, that was particularly eventful that sticks in your mind.

You quickly go to that one shot as soon as you upload your images. You look at it and you’re not quite sure why it sings louder than the rest.

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Iceland’s Warming Visual Ecstasy Will End Someday.

For the last 20 years, our planet’s environment has been going through some amazing and highly noticeable changes. Some will argue of the semantics of global warming. But inserting one’s self into the midst of it will truly make you reflect. What does this mean? After a few trips to Iceland in the last couple years as a landscape photographer, I’ve reflected quite a bit about the future of Iceland’s Diamond Beach.

Being a creative, the camera is my brush and canvas, and it’s my most successful tool of expression. I’ve been able to capture the results of our warming planet in intriguing ways.

Many of the images seen of ice melting globally, from the Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland, to the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica to the largest glacier in Europe Vatnajökull, (the one in Iceland I am most familiar with) show this global warming phenomenon. I’ve photographed this by product many times. By this, I’m referring to the many ice chunks washed up on Iceland’s black sand beaches as a direct result of climate change.


The beach ice is only found at this location, as Vatnajökull melts into the newly formed glacier lagoon. The phenomenon of a fresh water bay, formed only in recent years pushing chunks of ice into the ocean through an ever decreasing channel river. Its future as a river is finite, as well as the glacial chunks it pushes out onto a black sand beach through a narrow channel for eager photographers to capture through the lens.  Continue reading

The Human Flow of Life and Street Photography

When using a DSLR on the streets and your subjects are human (not architecture), leave those multi focus long telephoto lenses at home. Prime, single focus lenses 35 to 50 mm, 1.2, 1.4 or 1.8’s rule on the streets! They’re small and unobtrusive and focus fast when you don’t want to make a fuss in some tight urban situations.

Remember, fast aperture lenses provide great background blur and isolation, making your subjects pop when those amazing street moments with mankind happen!

Get your camera ready for the action before it happens. I always like to take a few quick  test shots at a random object to get my exposure and focus right, a light post or street sign will do at about the same height or distance I expect my subjects to be. The odds are good I’m walking the same street where building shadows and sunlight will be in the same place for at least a city block, and something interersting in the human flow of life might happen!

Having your exposure set in advance really helps. This simple preparation will go a long way in helping you nail that epic street capture. Many magic moments are lost, while fumbling around with camera settings, not observing the streets, and not being aware how the light might affect your potential subjects.

Prepare a little in advance and have a great time!

All the best,
Mark Jansen

 

Iceland: Land of Contrasts for the Landscape Photographer

Every time we go to Iceland it’s different. The weather is very changeable in the late winter, and you can experience the whole range of the Icelandic climate.

That’s what makes our travel and photography workshops interesting and unique.

One of my favorite places on our Iceland workshop is the area outside of Vik where we are overlooking an amazing scene of sea stacks and shoreline. I have been there twice now in completely different conditions. One time it was snowy and grey creating a unique black and white image, even though it was shot in color. The second time, it was sunny with interesting afternoon light and beautiful cloud formations. Both times I was completely enthralled with the experience and created some interesting images as a result of the dramatic weather.

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Mark’s Photography Tips: Landscapes


Great landscape photos are captured when light is optimum. This could be early morning or just as the sun sets and a bit after. Captures are also great on the edge of storms or immersed in them. Dramatic skies rule and will provide great outcomes for the most part. Don’t fear stormy condition. Venture into them and explore.

Mark’s Photography Tips: Pre-visualize Your Image


Pre-Visualize your photo. Build an image in your mind, much like a fine art painter would do before putting paint to canvas. Then, think about the time of day, light, and composition for your image. Attempt to match it  as closely as possible to what you see in your minds eye before your photograph. Work your canvas before committing to your final capture.

Beyond the Golden Circle…an Iceland Photo Expedition

Iceland is an impressive and beyond beautiful country. It’s nestled far out in the North Atlantic, 700 miles east of Greenland. It’s located directly where the North American and European tectonic plates collide, boasting one of the most active volcanic regions anywhere. Paired with the nutrient rich Gulf Stream, as it skirts it’s dramatic shorelines. This also provides a haven for sea life for Iceland’s traditional commercial fishing industry, and now ecotourism. Its rare combination of elements make it an amazing geological and natural paradise.

It’s a place every serious landscape photographer should put on his or hers to go list at least once in their lifetime.
Iceland’s remote backcountry is at the heart of a truly magical photographic experience there. Amazing landscapes vistas abound at every turn.

Preparing for a photo expedition in Iceland can take some planning to get it right. That is, if you want to get past the “selfi- stick” tour bus crowds headed to  heavily promoted and heavily visited Golden Circle tourist routes. This route is tailored to provide a quick glimpse to what this country really has to offer within.
To explore the magic within, you first need a qualified guide service. One that’s not only skilled in some rather specialized photographic techniques, but also one that is familiar with working in Iceland’s ever-changing environment.

A good Icelandic photo tour outfit uses local Icelandic guides exclusively. One that knows every local person in every location on any chosen route, from the smallest back country villages and beyond. Family connections run deep and venture far in Iceland. This is key to a safe and fruitfull photograpic expedition.

No matter what time you plan your visit to Iceland, summer fall or winter, expect to experience sun, rain, snow and ice. Proper clothing is the key! All three seasons can be accompanied by extremely high winds. All these conditions can occur within a short period of time. Weather systems arrive and move through quickly, as with any island environment. This very fact provides the most amazing photographic opportunities not found anywhere else on earth when combined with amazing geology!

This is not meant to put you off, as expeditions to Iceland is our business. But it’s only a reminder, if you decide to explore beyond the Golden Circle tourist routes. Please make sure you do it with a qualified guide service that users native Icelandic guides, one that’s versed in what the landscape photographer is looking for and not on your own.

join our upcoming February 2017 Iceland Photo Expedition as we explore Iceland’s south and West coast, ice caves and Arora Borealis. This trip is not to be missed!

All the best,
Mark Jansen

San Francisco’s Chinatown: Frozen In Time.

San Francisco’s Chinatown is an amazing place to explore and photograph. Chinatown is nestled on Grant Street and Stockton Street in San Francisco. As as you explore the streets of San Francisco and approach this area, you’re instantly transported into another time and space.

Chinatown is just another reason I enjoy walking through and photographing San Francisco. It has a variety of culture and architecture simply accessed. From the echoes of the 60s in the Haight -Ashbury district, to one of my favorites, Chinatown.

You’ll find many trades being practiced throughout Chinatown’s narrow and intimate streets and alleys. It’s fairly reminiscent of the way many turn of the century American cities operated. From it’s colorful open farmers markets dotted along the sidewalks, to traditional food restaurants and curious Chinese goods shops. There’s something or someone intriguing photograph around every corner.

Barbershops and beauty shops are located in odd subterranean locations. It’s a street photographers paradise where black and white captures excel in expressing a classic, frozen in time feel. There are many festivals that can occur anytime, along with many open air family, musical and cultural events as you wander through its interesting streets.

Exploring Chinatown with minimal photographic equipment is the way to go. Remember, if you’re thinking about exploration, you’re going to be in close on many of its narrow streets.  I find a fixed 50mm and 35mm with smart phone near by is the way to go, with your favorite photo app loaded and ready to go. Enjoy your next trip to San Fransico!

Want to know where to go and how to shoot it?  Join us on our next San Francisco Street and City workshop, December 3 and 4, 2016.

 

All the best,

Mark Jansen

 

Iceland Photography Tour: It’s more than the Golden Circle and Elves…

 

Contrary to popular belief, Iceland is a very developed country at its core. Small and compact, with only 300,000 people. 200,000 of them living in the main capital of Reykjavik. This leaves the remaining population, 100,000 spread throughout it’s remote and sparsely populated countryside.

When planning an Iceland Photography Tour, many photographers, have a chance of falling into a certain kind of tourist loop that is not optimal for the serious landscape photographer.

That would be the “Golden Circle Blue Lagoon Tourist Route”: the most advertised tour promoted by travel agencies and large discount photo tour operators. Continue reading

Pictures with Purpose

With so many images being produced these days, it becomes more important than ever to lock in an eye catching story. Storytelling and purpose is the cornerstone of photography once you’ve mastered the fundamentals.

Telling a good story is a task that many fall short on in photography. Some have an innate natural ability to do this, while others struggle. No worries, it can be mastered by a few conscious steps.

In landscape photography, inserting yourself within the proper elements must be calculated, using structure and atmosphere and timing. For example, colorful sunsets alone will only get you so far in this era of non-stop images being produced. Building a great story around your sunset is essential!

The next time you’re at the beach and you see a great sunset forming, even before you set up your tripod, look around. Strive to incorporate it into a story with purpose. Seek a tangible blueprint of sorts. If the sky is clear without clouds, lower your composition with less sky and seek an interesting foreground through structure instead. Find your foreground perhaps from that shapely clump of seaweed strewn out on the beach or maybe work in that jetty of rocks you see nearby to form a leading line.

If something in the distance can be added without distraction, such as a singular silhouette of a surfer or sailboat, add it. Look for an estuary as it drains into the ocean, eroding the sand away. Use outgoing surf and a slow shutter speed to create lines of interest. Don’t be afraid to drop your tripod to a low point and seek a rock or seashell as your subject, pushing it into a forced perspective using a super wide angle lens. Refine your objectives by adding or leaving things out.

Simplicity rules in any strong landscape photograph. Using any of these techniques will make your colorful sunset pop, holding the interest of the viewer and making your images stand out from the rest!

All the best,

Mark Jansen

Luck favors the prepared Landscape Photographer.

Do you ever wonder how those amazing landscape shots are pulled off? Most likely, they’re not created by the lucky opportunist, pulling off the highway during a mid-day road trip.

They come about by someone who does careful research and planning. Conversely, if it’s a quickly developing opportunity, they know what to do right away with focused attention. These photographers have the experience and gear selected for his or her creative pre-vision and can tap into it quickly. They know what lens to use and what aperture. They have a solid tripod adjusted and ready. They can quickly gather all the elements before them that are needed to create an amazing landscape shot.

Proper equipment is important, as is knowing its form and function. But as with any creative process, knowing and using the rules of composition are the creative corner stone. Knowing how to use them as tools, as well as using all of the above effectively, combined with a little luck, will favor the prepared landscape photographer.

All the best,

Mark Jansen

 

Mirrorless Versus DSLR Cameras.

Mirrorless Versus DSLR Cameras? This is a heated subject for many beginners just getting into photography. With so many options flooding the market these days, it’s a wonder anyone can make a choice. I myself see advantages to both types, and for the most part stay with what I’m most comforatble using.

I’ve done some research here and have broken things down a bit. That said, technolgy is changing daily, but for the most part what I’ve found here is pretty much true.

I hope this helps you when you make that big jump into photography or you’ve been rooted in one or the other format and have been thinking about moving on..

That said, please  keep this in mind. Photography is all about telling a great and compelling story. How you choose to tell your story has little bearing on what you use to record your story with. Continue reading

Mastering the Basics of Photography

Landscape Photography Workshops Ventura

Whether you’re shooting a DSLR, mirrorless, or even film, all cameras do the same thing once you dig through the array of options packed within. They capture light onto a light-sensitive emulsion or sensor.

Each camera comes with a complete array of adjustments to sculpture light as it passes through the lens. Understanding these basic adjustments takes some time, but once mastered will provide the photographer with an unending pallet of creativity and control.
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The Woes of the Beginner Photographer and Editing Images.

We live in a world of amazing technology, everything is at your fingertips. iPhones are so simple to use and take great shots right of the box.

Many are seduced by the quality of smart phone images, and capturing interesting images with them in classic photographic destinations. They are encouraged by family members that they have an ability not yet tapped, and that they should move on to bigger fish, that being the digital SLR, or mirrorless camera.

In the beginning, the big purchase camera has the security of those green program auto DSLR settings and in-camera Jpeg camera processing of images. That will only suit them for a while as that’s not why they bought the more sophisticated capture device in the first place.
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Camera Lenses for the Task at Hand

The management and transport of camera lenses in the field can be a challenge. I like to suggest looking into your camera bag
and finding out what lens you actually use the most before heading out the door on any shooting assignment or even one of our workshops.
You’ll soon realize that you seldom use all of your lenses. Newcomers seem to select an expensive lens for everything, from telephoto to macro, for fear that they will miss that important shot because they don’t have a particular lens.

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There’s more to making a photo than pushing a button in our iPhone world…


We live in the days of constantly evolving technology. New techniques of photo enrichment, manipulation and photographic stylings are flowing like water  with every software developer screaming for our attention.

When something new hits the net or social media social outlets,
it’s immediately consumed copied and reproduced with slight variations by many!

The new and the different stand apart for a time., but the magic soon fades. Remember overdone HDR?

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Tripods, Landscape Photography and the Reason why?

How to pick the right tripod
Are you wondering what type of camera tripod to purchase?  It can be a confusing task.

Many newcomers are often lost on the subject of tripods altogether. In this blog, I will try to de-mystify tripods, landscape photography and the reason why?

They know they need one, but don’t know exactly what kind or why. Some fail to realize that with landscapes and commercial applications, the tripod is the single most important piece of equipment they will need next to add to their camera arsenal for sharp well-composed photographs.

Here are two of the seldom-realized reasons why you need a tripod for landscape photography. The first is, they help you slow down and give you a chance to really think.

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