CCATP #410 Mark Pouley of Twin Lakes Images

duck_mark as describedThis week we’re joined by photographer Mark Pouley of Twin Lakes Images where he explains how to take a photo in a place everyone else has taken shots and get something unique.

You can find Mark’s work at and you can find him on Twitter TLI_Mark and check out his other photography on Flickr at

mp3 download

How to take a photo in a place everyone else has taken shots and get something unique

Notes from Mark:

Think like a photographer and not like a tourist.

I’ve been shooting “seriously” for about 5 years and exhibiting my work regularly for about 4. I have no formal training, just lots of great help from Bart, Victor, Antonio, Steve Stanger and others; and Internet resources available to all of us. I have worked hard at improving my craft, but I don’t have an extensive background and there are photographers with much more knowledge. That’s not to downgrade my advice, but to suggest this is something the average shooter, with some practice, can accomplish.

Here is the link to the photos we will discuss:

I recently took a trip to Niagara Falls.

  • Thousands of visitors a day most with cameras and a painful number of selfie sticks
  • Vantage points confined and crowded
  • Probably Millions/billions? of photos of the falls by amateur to highly skilled professional
  • weather was overcast, a little dreary
  • I was going to take photos no matter what, but how about getting something unique and “shareable”?

I noticed two mallards on a small “island” and log surrounded by rushing water. Later I noticed since it was late afternoon/early evening and overcast I was able to take a slow shutter speed shot without any filter or special gear. I returned to the spot where the ducks were, they had moved, but I still captured slow shutter of the water with a possible post processing image in mind. I ended up with two usable images

1) ducks sitting on the logs <<image “good duck”>>

2) water slowed down to give a smooth/dreamy effect <<Image “slow shutter”>>

3) Photoshop compositing (rough lesson)

a) start in camera – try to compose same shot

– didn’t do it here b/c different time

– this also works to fix group photos

b) Initial processing in LR to try and match exposure etc.

c) Import into Photoshop as Layer

d) Place photo that will be partially visible as bottom layer

e) Reduce opacity of top layer to about 50%

f) Move bottom layer into position you want it

g) Here I “deleted” much of the edges of log etc. on top layer because I didn’t want them and they didn’t line up right

h) Return opacity of all layers to 100%

i) create layer mask on top photo

j) mask is white, paint black on the layer mask on the part you want to show through – as you paint the lower image will show through only in the part painted black

k) Click on the layer mask to bring up the “properties” and increase feathering (here about 10 pixels) to smooth the edges

l) Save back into LR for any final edits to clean it up

The result here is the top layer – the photo of the flowing water is the top layer and is the majority of the image. The lower layer is the good duck and only appears where I let it show through the mask

<< Final Image “Ducks on the Falls” >>

Lessons: Look for something unique (duck location)

Think about opportunities the situation presents

This subject comes up a lot for me shooting Tulips during the annual Tulip festival

Change your point of view (get low for instance) <<Image “Early Bloom”>>

Open your eyes – be observant (ducks on the log, yellow flower in field of red) <<Image “Over Achiever”>>

Be aware of the background and surroundings <<Image “Flower in the Backyard”>>

Incorporate people <<Image “Visiting the Tulips”>>

Arrive at less popular times (sunrise at the tulip fields) <<Image “Tulip Sunrise”>>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top