Thursday, October 23, 2014

Using Photoshop Layer Masks To Add Interest

Click on the image to enlarge
Today's image is another from last weekend's workshop in the Poconos.  We were shooting in George W. Childs Park in Dingmans Ferry Pennsylvania.  According to the sign at the entrance it's run as part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.  It's one of the nicest parks we've been to as far as access goes.  Wide crushed rock trails, wooden stairs to get down the steepest parts, overlooks with benches, just great for what we were doing (photography).  If your thing is the wilderness experience, not so much.  It has a series of waterfalls and offers a myriad of vantage points for shooting.  Today's image is there, kind of.  To see what "kind of" means, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Using Lightroom's Radial Filter To Add Emphasis

We spent this past weekend with some friends (and made some new ones) at PEEC (Pocono Environmental Education Center) for a photo workshop with John Barclay.  Had a good time, laughed a little, shot a lot, slept on a rock (at least that's what the mattress felt like), and learned a new photographic technique.  During John's welcoming presentation he showed some of his work, including a technique he referred to as "swiping".  I'll let the cat out of the bag and reveal his "secret" technique after you hit the "Read More"
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fading A Mask To Produce An Effect

We were up in Maine shooting around Acadia National Park last week and did a couple of "photo walks".  One was a night photography "safari" in the park with "Acadia Photo Safari".  Howie Motenko is the owner and guide.  Nice guy, knows some of the better spots for photography in the area and was very willing to help anyone on the trip with any technical issues.  For us, the big reason to signup was not so much any help with photography but because he knew the back roads and shortcuts getting from one site to another.  If you're at the national park I'd really recommend taking one of Howie's tours.  The other thing we did was take part in Scott Kelby's World Wide Photo Walk.  I've lead walks for the past five years and this was the first one where we were participants.  We didn't do just one, we did two.  The morning was in Acadia with guess who.  Howie and his gang from Mount Desert Island Photo Club.  Great group of people.  Very friendly.  The afternoon/evening walk was in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, about three hours back down the coast from Acadia.  Also a good time and the combination of the night shoot and the Boothbay walk resulted in today's image.  To see how it was done, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Making A Scenic Image - Foreground, Middleground & Background

"O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!  He chortled in his joy." Or so says Lewis Carroll in Jabberwocky about happening on something that gave some measure of pleasure.  What photographer hasn't smiled when he/she comes across a scene where all the pieces just fall into place.  An interesting foreground, something to rest an eye on in the middle range and a non-boring distant view.  Something to look at in each part of an image.  Such is the case in today's image.  Or is it?  To find out, hit the "Read More".

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Getting Rid Of The Hot Bits

We went out shooting with some friends a couple weeks ago.  One of the things I tend to do when in that type of setting is take a couple shots of the people I'm with.  The fellow in today's image is a very good photog and becoming a pretty good friend. (Hi Ed.)  There are two different types of lighting and, obviously, Ed wasn't shooting giant, mutant flowers.  I was shooting using a Nikon 85mm Micro with a Nikon R1 close up rig attached.  So, the flower, although shot in bright sunlight did have a bit of controlled lighting on it.  You can see, in the lower left, that the area behind the flower is fairly dark for being shot in broad daylight.  That's the beauty of using speedlights to over power the sun.  To find out how I tamed the light falling on Ed, hit the "Read More".

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Does Anyone Know What They're Talking About Anymore?

I was going to start the heading with a more sever version of an acronym for "What The Heck".  Seems like no one has any idea what they're talking about concerning photography today.  A friend of mine was judging a camera club photo competition the other day, so I went over to say hello and see what people had to offer.  There was an "assigned subject" of macro photography.  Of about fifty images, maybe three or four qualified as macro.  The rest were close up at best and some were just plain snapshots of nearby things.  My friend kept pointing out (correctly) that this or that image really didn't qualify as macro.  At one point one of the competitors (I'm guessing he had something entered) began loudly complaining about the judge not fairly judging the quality of the image.  The judge tried to explain that the first consideration was if the image was a macro shot.  It wound up with one of the club's officers reading a definition of macro photography.  My "rant" will continue after the "Read More".

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Emphasizing The Details

Today's image is obviously of a white flower (and a bee).  White can get blown out fairly easily and losing detail can happen in a heartbeat.  Today we have wonderful tools to recover a little, some or most of what an original scene has going for it.  In today's image the detail is there.  It's a question of finding and exploiting it.  My first attempt wound up with an image that showed every vein, and shade in each petal.  Unfortunately it was just too dark overall.  This second attempt version strikes a better balance.  The detail is still there, just not as blatant.  Rather than starting over, I switched to another "trick" to make things a little more right.  The difference between the first and second methods can be found by hitting the "Read More".

The first method is one I've written about on a semi-regular basis.  From Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) the image was sent over to Adobe Photoshop (PS).  There a couple of Curves Adjustment Layers were applied.  One for the highlights and the other for the shadows.  The highlights were jacked up and the shadows pushed down.  The included Layer Masks were Inverted (CTRL I [eye]) to black to hide the overall effect.  A small (10 pixel) relatively hard (95%) Brush (B) was then used to define each light and dark area.  The Masks were then given a Gaussian Blur (Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur) strong enough to make the individual lines disappear.  Flipping the Visibility Icon (the eyeball) on and off showed what had been done.

The second round was after seeing the image on an iPad.  It was just too dark.  I use the iPad as a reference tool to check what others might see looking at an image.  When I saw what it looked like I checked it on an HP Slate and two smart phones.  Yep, too dark.

I didn't think another trip from LR to PS was necessary, so the whole "correction" was done in LR.  The overall brightness was brought up about a half a stop.  Then the image was enlarged to 1:1 and the visible area brought over the rear petals.  The Adjustment Brush was made very small with a very large feather.  The preset for Burning was set and each shaded (ya can't even call it a shadow) area darkened.  This added some apparent "depth" to the petals.  Anything darker seems to be deeper and anything lighter tends to look closer.  By placing a "shadow" next to a highlight a flow of light and dark can be made.  This gives contour to an object.

Not that it was done on today's image, but adding light and dark can add contour even when there is none.  Try it.  Take a solid colored screen and do the PS technique.  You'll see that you can put ripples onto a flat sheet of paper.

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