Choosing Your White Balance

Having the option to change/choose the WB, at ant given moment is probably my second most liked feature of shooting digitally. (Changing ISO, from one shot to the next if I desire, is my favorite feature; this coming of course from a guy who shot film for 30+ years.) It was around 2pm on this 93 degree July day in Lyon, France, and with my WB set to the Daylight setting, the image looked exactly as it should; a scene of kids playing in the fountains at mid-day. (See this image in comments section)

However, I wanted to create the warmth of the 93 degree day, and so I chose to manually set a ‘custom’ WB of almost 9,000 Kelvin and without question this resulted in a much ‘warmer’ golden image.

In so far as overall exposure, easy stuff; F/22 for front to back sharpness, and needing also a freezing action shutter speed of a 1/1000 sec, I chose 640 ISO, and as I metered for the strong backlight I adjusted my shutter speed until a 1/1250 sec indicated a -2/3rds exposure. With the camera in CH Motor Drive Mode, I just fired at will, at those times when I felt my overall composition was one of an active and filled frame. 

You Keep Shooting,

-BPSOP Founder – Bryan F Peterson

Bryan Teaches:

Understanding Exposure & Your DSLR

Understanding Color, Seeing Color & Composing Color

Understanding Close-Up Photography

Mastering Nikon Flash Photography

The Art of Seeing

Understanding Composition

Find beauty all around you

Beauty is everywhere, but can you see it?

“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.” – Ashley Smith


It’s too easy to take for granted the innate beauty all around us: the flowers, trees, and blue skies. But what if you slowed down and really looked…

What if you pulled over off the highway to watch a beautiful sunset?
What if you took the time to feel the warm sunshine on your skin?
What if you listened to the sound of birds chirping?

What would your life be like then?

Life becomes manageable when you slow down. It ceases to feel rushed, overwhelming, and hectic.

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharlal Nehru


When you slow down, you begin to use all of your senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell.

Fresh strawberries taste better when you slow down long enough to smell them. Food is more nourishing when enjoyed fully. The same goes with any other experience.

What do you want your life experience to be? What do you want it to look like?

Find and see the beauty all around you, and your life changes for the better.

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.” – Dante Alighieri


What students say about Brit’s teaching:

“I’ve taken many classes. With the way Brit taught and explained things, I finally said, ‘I get it’. She made me enjoy taking photographs.”

“I have taken quite a few courses offered by BPSOP and learned so much from each one of them. All of your teachers are stellar. Brit Hammer’s class and method of critiquing took me to another level, and I am so appreciative. The video format and her commitment and energy she puts into her students’ work is inspiring and makes you want to work that much harder to utilize her suggestions for improving your photographs.” – Patricia Tedeschi – Galarneau (Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images)

Like a Moth to a Flame

Food For Digital Thought: Like a Moth to a Flame

For those of you that follow my blog, you’ll know that I put a lot of time into writing about the Light. You’ll also know that I always will say that Light is everything, unless you’re out street shooting and capturing the moment which can possibly be more important. Humor, is one other genre that can be as effective as beautiful light.

Having said this, that type of light is not the subject of this post. I’m talking about the light that can actually take away from your subject or center of interest. The light that’s not part of your main message but actually competes with it.

Over the past thirty-thee years of teaching my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind”workshops and in the six years of teaching  my online classes with the BPSOP, I seen a lot of photos that demonstrates this phenomenon and have often brought it to the attention of all my fellow photographers.

Just like a moth to a flame, the viewer will be attracted to the brightest part of your composition whether its your subject or not. Just like a moth to a flame, we are drawn towards the light or in some instances the value of a color; value meaning the lightness or darkness of a color. It’s an unconscious effort because it’s inherent in our DNA.

To know the basic reasons is to take a look at human behavior. As a species, we are Diurnal. In simple terms we are day creatures, spending the majority of our waking hours in daylight. As a result, light is an instrument used for our survival; as in sitting close to the fire so the monsters won’t get to you….a residual belief from the pre-historic times when you could be eaten by a really big predator.

So back to my point about light taking valuable information away from your thought process. If you rely on the meter in your camera to make all your exposure decisions (a big mistake) you will undoubtedly run into this. You might have the right exposure on the subject in your foreground, but what about the exposure in the background?

What if you’re shooting under some trees, or in open shade where your subject just happens to be in the shadow. You might get lucky and have your subject exposed correctly but out where the sun is shining it’s three or more stops brighter…making it way too overexposed. The viewer will not look at your subject, he will be drawn to the overexposed area…the not-so-pretty part of your photo.

Changes in the light levels can be an indication that something has happened in the immediate environment. The viewer will rely on the perception of the environment that surrounds him and that’s why he will re-focus his attention on bright areas of light in our images.

As I said, the value of a subject can and will direct the viewers attention away from your subject. A good example would be a group of people in a photo and one of them has a very bright colored shirt on compared to all the others; that’s where the viewer will look.

It’s so important to remember my pearl of wisdom…the whole enchilada. It can become easy to concentrate so much on the message you’re trying to get across to the viewer that you fail to see other things that can take away from the same message you worked so hard to get.

There are some good things you can do with this scenario. By putting the light in just the right place or places you can get the viewer to interact with you. This is one way to get and keep the visual information that we lay out to the same viewer in the form of a photograph.

-BPSOP Instructor: Joe Baraban

Joe Teaches:

Stretching Your Frame of Mind I 

Stretching Your Frame of Mind II

Photographing Landscapes with Post Processing in Mind

Mormon Row Jansen Photo Expeditions

I’m sure you’ve heard this over and over. Landscape photography is about light. Your best option to capture great landscapes is at best 1/2 hour before and after sunrise, and 1/2 before and after sunset. (These times may vary depending on where you are, but this is my rule of thumb.)

If you are on an epic photography journey, this can mean a lot of early mornings, and late evenings. That first moment when you wake up at 4:30 am can be hard, but once you are out and experience the beauty of the sunrise, it will all be worth it. And besides, if you have traveled a long distance to get to an amazing place, why be having breakfast or sleeping when the light is perfect? That perfect light may only last a couple of minutes, but you might capture something to last forever in your photography portfolio and your mind’s eye.

You can’t duplicate this light in Photoshop.

I suppose you could if you tried, but I would rather have the real pallet to paint with light. You never know what nature may throw at you during these magic moments of light, and there are a couple of examples below.

On our recent photography workshop to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, we were there for 10 days. We got up very early every morning to experience what nature had in store for us. We experienced several epic sunrises during this trip. All of them were completely different, and not something that was easily imagined or created in Photoshop.

On our second morning, we headed out to the Mormon Row Barns to experience the sunrise. We were not alone, as there were probably 10 other photographers out there. It’s not our practice to hang out with a large crowd of photographers, but this is an iconic location and we were rewarded with beautiful light.

When I am shooting in this type of environment, I always study the light with the thought of how I will post process it later. The camera sensor cannot pick up the wide range of light that our eye can see, so I frequently take notes on how it looked, and what I will do in post-processing.
There was a moment when the sky lit up a beautiful pink color, but only for a second. There was a little haze and smoke in the sky from a fire in the Southern part of the state, but it only added to the experience and color to our light pallet.

How did I feel so confident that I could reproduce what I saw in Lightroom and Photoshop? My secret weapon is always the histogram. That is the best gauge of the quality of the exposure you are capturing, and whether you will be able to bring down the light and bring up the shadows to the scene that you actually saw.

See my before and after images of the Mormon Row Barns in Grand Teton National Park with the original histogram.

On first look, this image looks underexposed and flat. But take a look at the histogram. Do you see the area in the left side of the graph? There is a little space to the left in the shadows which means there is information there, and that the shadows can be opened up. Notice the area on the right side of the histogram. That is the highlights. So there is plenty of room to adjust there as well without overexposing the image.

And Here is the finished processed image showing the areas where I added individual adjustments. I used the radial filter to brighten up the very darkest areas and the graduated filter to give the sky its dimension. It wasn’t a complicated adjustment process, you just need to look at your images like a painting. Where do you need to add exposure or color to make your creation pop?

On the last day of our trip, we were headed into Yellowstone and rose early once again to catch the sunrise in Yellowstone Canyon. My thoughts were to catch the sunrise and then wait and see if we could catch the full morning light on the waterfall. Once we arrived, we were greeted by a warm glowing light. It was 6:30 am in September, so this was not the sun. It was the moon, lighting up Yellowstone Canyon! It was such an unexpected beautiful surprise.

I shot this image keeping a close eye on my histogram so that I would be able to open up the shadows and enhance the sky in Lightroom. Here’s my before picture with a screenshot of the histogram. You can see with this image it did not require a lot of editing, but once again, I made sure that my histogram was balanced so I would have flexibility when I brought it into Lightroom.

You never know what you will find when shooting landscape photography. Early mornings can be rough, but you never know what you find. It will always be a better image than shooting midday as the light will be soft and the shadows long. Don’t miss those amazing moments. Keep in mind how it really looked, so you can “paint with light” when you bring it home and open it in Lightroom.

If you would like more information on how to create amazing images in Lightroom, take my next Lightroom Quick Start class here at BPSOP.

In this class, I cover the basic tools, so you can use Lightroom as your go-to editing and organizational tool. This 4-week class covers the basics that will get you up and running quickly in an efficient way. Try our next Lightroom class and learn to use the essential program for editing and organization.

BPSOP Instructor – Holly Higbee-Jansen

HollyHolly Higbee-Jansen is photographer, trainer, blogger, and workshop leader who enjoys teaching and the creative process. Her passions include teaching photography workshops in beautiful locations in California, Iceland, Costa Rica and the American West with her husband Mark. Holly also teaches online classes on Lightroom, Photoshop and photographic technique. Get Holly’s Free E-Book on “Landscape Photography and the Light and find out about her newest workshops at Jansen Photo

Reach Holly by email at [email protected] and read her blog at:

Holly Teaches:

Lightroom Quickstart


Do you want to learn to create images that show the beauty of the scene you saw when you took the photograph? Do you want to learn the other essential side of digital photography, photo editing and get up to speed quickly?

This course is designed to get you up and running FAST in this incredibly powerful program. In this two week information packed class, you will learn how to import, organize and perform simple and effective editing processes that will let you produce beautiful adjustments to your pictures.

iPhone Photography
In this class, we will introduce you to the magic of iPhone photography using several shooting and editing apps that will give you the ability to make your pictures sing in a fun and easy way. You will learn how to crop, change saturation, brightness and affect the overall look of your pictures with HDR, drama and grunge filters and other techniques. You will be amazed at the simple and effective methods.

  • "This has been the most interesting photo class I've ever taken! I want to thank you for really opening my eyes to this very cool form of photography!" Read More
    Deb Murray Star Trails and Night Photography
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