What’s the Story of Your Trip?

Travel photos help you to remember and re-live the experiences you had, and for those who weren’t on your trip, your photos are a way for them to vicariously share your experiences.

Every trip you go on tells a story. Within the story arc of your trip are mini-stories. These are the many events that happen each day while on your trip.

For example, if you go on a game drive in the morning, that is a mini-story. Let’s say in the afternoon you enjoyed a picnic lunch in the forest — that is its own mini-story. If in the evening you went to a concert, that is a third mini-story.


Each event — each experience of your day, whether you go window shopping, visit a museum, go kayaking on a river, or have lunch at a cafe — is a mini-story with its own story arc. Each of these mini-stories has a beginning, middle and end. Do you see how your trip can be broken down into smaller stories?


Rather than shooting ONE image that has to capture the entire event — say, you standing in front of the Eiffel Tower to represent your entire experience in Paris — learn how to tell a story in a series of images. In “Amazing Travel Photos Made Easy” instructor Brit Hammer shows you how.

There are other ways to break a story down into mini-stories, such as the images shown here of Table Mountain (Cape Town, South Africa). Brit recently shot these as part of the behind-the-scenes story while filming for a museum project with her filmmaker/photographer husband, Armand Dijcks.

Join Brit in “Amazing Travel Photos Made Easy” and learn how to get your own photos like these.  The course touches upon several different types of photography:

  • landscape & seascape photography
  • wildlife photography
  • interior photography
  • food photography
  • cityscape & architecture photography

-BPSOP Instructor – Brit Hammer

Brit teaches:

Amazing Travel Photos Made Easy

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images (Part 1)

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images (Part 2)

How To Create Remarkable Nightscapes by Blending Two Images of Different Exposures from the Same Tripod Position

Here’s how to easily combine two nightscapes into a single, stunning composite image!


The next time there is a new moon and you can get totally away from city lights, do the following. Make two separate images: one with a 20 or 30 second exposure and the second with 2 to 3 minute exposure. The first one will have the sky well-exposed with minimal star streaking, but the foreground will likely be pretty dark (below, left/top). The second one should have the foreground nicely exposed by the sky will be badly over-exposed with egregious star streaking (below, right/bottom).


Next, open both images in Photoshop, and copy and paste the shorter exposure time image on top of the longer exposure time image, as shown below (1). Then after clicking on the top layer, create a layer mask (2). Using the brush tool (3), with a black foreground color selected (4) adjust the settings as shown in (5) below.




Next, use the brush tool to paint over the areas of the top image you wish to remove. You can see how I did this below, where I have also switched off the bottom layer’s visibility so you can see which parts of the top layer I have removed and to what extent:



After a little final editing, here is the final result! Easy, right? Give it a try and let us know how it goes!!


-BPSOP Instructor: Mike Shaw

Mike Teaches:

Star Trails & Night Photography







A Very Useful App

Winter Sunrise


As a photographer, the position of the sun (or the moon) at different times of the day is something that concerns you.  Knowing when and from which direction either will rise or set, is important information particularly if you shoot landscapes.  You can certainly check the local newspaper or google sunrise and set times for your location.  But how about having this information at your finger-tips for your exact location, anywhere in the world?  How about being able to predict exactly where the sun or moon will rise or set on any given day in relation to a particular foreground subject?  How about being able to search for exact time when the sun or moon will be in a specific position in the sky?

I carry this information in my pocket, everywhere I go, in the form of an incredibly useful app for iOS (also Android) called “The Photographer’s Ephemeris”. It’s available for about $12 from the iTunes store.  If you shoot landscapes, this could well be the best 12 bucks you spend all year.

The basic functions are easy to master: sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset times and directions are all pretty straightforward.  More advanced functions such as searching for the specific sun/moon positions might require a glance through the online documentation, but that’s not really difficult either.  Over the years, additional functionality has been added to the program: there is now a night mode which can be used to predict the rise time and position of the Milky Way and Galactic Center if you are so inclined.  There are other applications available with more extensive functionality, but “TPE” and its intuitive interface is my go-to app to answer these basic questions.

Have a look at the screen capture below:  it’s set for the time and place of the image above.  The yellow line on the right shows the direction from which the Sun will rise, while the thin blue line shows the current direction to the Moon.




The band below the map indicated the times for various daily events of interest to photographers: sunrise/sunset, moonrise/moonset, the start and end of Civil twilight (the time for all those amazing blue hour shots), as well as the end of, and beginning of Astronomical twilight (between these times the sky will be dark enough for those amazing star-trail and Milky Way shots). Finally, the box below this band shows the current time (7:10am) and indicates the current direction and altitude of the moon and sun (the sun is just below the horizon, the moon ~6 degrees above).

Using the built-in compass in my iPhone ahead of time gave me the general compass direction of the mountain peak in the distance, and using TPE to search for a time just before sunrise when the moon would be high enough in the sky, in the appropriate direction to complete the image I had in my mind gave me several days when these conditions would be met.   Now all I had to do was show up and hope for clear skies… not all that common in Vancouver during the winter!  On this day however, the stars aligned and I was treated to one of the most spectacular pre-dawn displays I have ever seen from this location.

A side-note:  If you want to include a crescent moon in your pre-dawn/sunrise images, start looking for this a day or two ahead of the new moon.  A few days later, you should be able to catch a crescent moon hanging above the western horizon in a cobalt blue sky, some time after the sun has set.  The rise and set directions for the moon vary greatly over the course of each month; much more so than the sun on it’s annual trek.  So, while the newspaper may be able to tell you when the moon will rise or set, you will need TPE to tell you where it will rise and set each day.  There is also a free to use web-app version with somewhat limited abilities compared to the iOS or Android versions, if you would like to give it a try before buying: just go to photoephemeris.com

– BPSOP Instructor: Mark English

Mark Teaches:

The Art of Printing & Selling Your Art

Join Mark for a photo-adventure in Tuscany: June and October 2017

How Big Can You PRINT?

A question I often hear in my course “The Art of Printing Your Art” goes sort of like this: “How large does my file have to be (or how many megapixels do I need) to make a print of this or that size”.  The answer often surprises some students.

Recall that digital images are made of thousands of discrete dots called pixels.  In a well-crafted print, they are displayed so close together that we perceive a continuous tone image, rather than an assemblage of dots.

Initially, the maximum number of pixels that you have to work with is determined by the resolution of your camera sensor.  A dSLR of around 20 Megapixels will produce an image composed of roughly 5,600 X 3700 pixels.  When we go to print these pixels on paper, we can choose to spread them out over a smaller or larger area to produce a smaller or larger print.  The larger we try to print, the farther we will have to spread those available pixels apart, and the fewer there will be per inch on paper.  Spread them out too far, and the print will start to fall apart.  On the other hand, as we pack those pixels closer together in a print we will be able to reproduce more fine detail… up to a point.

So what is an appropriate degree to which we should spread out our available pixels?  Expressed in a different way, what is an appropriate image resolution at which to print?

The answer to this question is wrapped up in the limits of human visual acuity.  We have to ask ourselves, “What is the finest detail we can see at any given distance?” We need to print at a sufficiently high resolution so that the image appears to be continuous tone and so that all the fine detail is preserved.  On the other hand, printing at resolution so high that no one with good vision can see the difference just wastes ink and limits the maximum size we can print.

The closer we look at a print, the finer the detail we can see, and conversely, move that print farther away and we will lose the ability to see that same fine detail.  That much I’m sure is obvious.  We also have a tendency to hold smaller prints closer to look at them and to step back to look at larger prints, So, it seems logical that smaller prints should be printed at higher resolutions than larger prints.

Fortunately for us as print makers, this works in our favour.  We can spread those pixels thick and close together for small prints, where the higher print resolution is needed, and spread them out thinner for larger prints where it doesn’t matter so much.

Now let’s look at the impact of these numbers on our print making.

When we talk about “sizing an image for final output”, we are talking about adjusting the size and image resolution together, to produce an image that will print at a particular size at chosen number of pixels per inch.  We do this in Photoshop (“PS”) using the Image>Image Size dialog.

You always start with the native pixels from your camera sensor.  You can find the native pixel dimensions of your camera sensor by opening an image in Photoshop, and then going to Image>Image Size.  The pixel dimensions are displayed at the top of the dialog.  For example, a typical dSLR in the 20 megapixel range will produce an image with native dimensions around 5600 pixels on the long side.  If we spread these out at 300 to the inch, we can produce a print roughly 19” on the long side (5600 ÷ 300 = 18.7).  If we can get away with 200 pixels per inch in our finished print, then we can produce one 28 inches on the long side.  Rounding up a bit this means that we can print a 20 X 30 print with just the native pixels of the camera in our example.

Long story short: when sizing for your final print in Photoshop: for starters, deselect the “Resample” box in the Image>Image Size dialog.  This will ensure that we are working with only the native pixels of your camera.  Set the Width and Height to whatever size you plan on printing.  Have a look at the “Resolution” number that results; it will change as you change the width and height of your image as PS recalculates how to spread your pixels at a particular size.



In the example dialog above, our 20 X 30 print can be printed at about 187 pixels per inch.  This is a good news, because (without going into details), as long as the Resolution number falls between 180 and 480 pixels per inch, you are good to go.  Starting with a file from a typical dSLR in the 18 to 21 megapixel range, the resulting print resolution will be very close to optimal for you chosen print size, keeping in mind that we don’t need the highest resolutions for larger print sizes.

What do when the print resolution falls outside this range?  That’s a topic for another day, one that we cover in my course The Art of Printing Your Art”.  Classes start soon… hope to see you in class!

– BPSOP Instructor: Mark English

Mark Teaches:

The Art of Printing & Selling Your Art


Join Mark for a June 2017 photo-adventure in Tuscany!

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  • "I can’t begin to tell you how much I learned and how much fun this class was! Bryan and Chris are passionate photographers and their sense of humor alone is worth the cost of the class:) I highly recommend this class and can’t wait to take my next class at BPSOP."
    Patti The Art of Seeing
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