Friday, September 30, 2011

Combining Techniques In Photoshop CS5

A buddy of mine asked me the other day if I had ever heard of the Dave Hill Effect.  I laughed and told her she hadn't been reading the blog enough.  I've written a couple times about the DHE (and here).  Now, this friend is a very clever photographer and a master refinisher.  The fact that she hadn't used the DHE shocked me.  She does marvelous HDR work, her compositing is outstanding and anyone looking for a photographer to give them some very unique work should run out to hire this photographer.  Here's a link to her site.  Check it out.  We were out the other evening preparing for an night train shoot we're doing at the end of October  She was doing the test shots while I, along with her husband, was playing roadie.  Setting up locations, lights and carrying gear.  She sent me over one of her tests.   As usual, a great HDR of a passenger car we'll be using as a "prop" on the night of the shoot.  I asked her to send the 0 EV exposure over so I could see what a straight shot would good like.  I wanted to check how the interior versus exterior lights played.  Since we'd been talking about the Dave Hill Effect, and I just happened to have it queued up as a preset in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3, I just popped the image with it and sent it back for her to check out.  It got me to thinking about what would happen if HDR was combined with the DHE.  I'd guess it ends up as D2H2RE or something equally as confusing.  In any case I thought I explore it with today's image.  So, today we have an image that's one part HDR, one part DHE and a couple other parts "normal" finishing thrown in.  If you'd like to learn more about what this poor image went through to get where it is, hit the "Read More".
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday Photoshop Q&A - Do I Need My Computer Anymore?

I was out the other evening with some friends when one of them asked me if they needed their computer anymore.  My first response was "of course you do".  After a minute I asked what my friend was using the computer for.  ???  He said I do email, surf the web and doctor my photos.  There it was, the reason for having a computer.  Ah-ha,  you need a powerful computer to manipulate your images.  A no brainer, until I thought about it a little more.  Like almost all aspects of modern life, photography is moving toward the tablets.  I bought an iPAD 2 about six months ago.  It was for the typical reasons (although I still don't have a single song on it) and I thought it would be handy for checking email, online shopping, a couple of games and generally freeing me from running to the computer every time I needed access.  Thinking about how my usage has changed I had to qualify my snap response to my friend.  My initial retort came back to haunt me as we discussed his uses in more depth.  He does some very serious photography, but 99.9% of it is straight.  He's not familiar enough with his chosen image editing software to be any sort of heavy duty pixel pusher.  He makes great images, but they're all very straight.  He's been using Adobe Photoshop Elements through several iterations and is currently on PSE 9.  Having the ability to create a Layer Mask confuses him and Adjustment Layers are over his head.  Any tweaks he needs he does on the Base Layer and it makes me cringe when I see him work.  I had to rethink my initial reply.  To find out what switched my thinking, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Sometimes It's Alright To Steal Ideas

The other day was our anniversary, so, being the good guy I am, I bought some roses for my wife.  Over the weekend she noticed how they had come into full bloom and said she might want to take a couple shots of them on Sunday.  No problem.  She didn't. So, today I took a couple shots of one rose.  That way, if she gets her camera out this evening, she has eleven left that haven't been shot.  The roses are actually kind of an orange color.  I know rose colors have all sorts of meanings and I'm not sure what orange roses stand for, but I'm sure it's some nice thought.  (I hope!)  The setup for today's image comes what a rather hairy accident.  The black glass top used to be part of a television stand.  The stairs going up from the playroom at home are open.  We were dog sitting our granddaughter's English Bulldog a couple weeks ago and I lost my balance stepping over the barrier we had set up to keep the dog in the playroom.  Unfortunately, the 50" flat panel television is right at the open stairway.  It was almost like trying to make a boogie board out of the set.  I wound up on the back of the television, "riding" it down to the floor.  I wound up with some bumps, bruises and cuts but the television smashed.  It had been sitting on a metal frame, glass topped stand.  The metal frame ended up bent, but all three pieces of black glass survived.  That's why I now have three black glass panels to use as sets for doing tabletop photography.  Today's image wasn't shot in "the usual" way.  To find out how it was shot, hit the "Read More".
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wednesday Photoshop Q&A - Wanting A New Lens

Today's question comes, not from searches that pointed to the blog but, from a short conversation with a guy who works with my wife.  We just happened to cross paths with him and he said he wanted to ask for my recommendation for a new lens.  Boy, is that a loaded question.  We had the length of an elevator ride to establish a problem statement.  The obvious question was "what are you shooting that you feel you need another lens?"  His explanation was that the kids were getting a little older and starting getting into sports.  The kit lens that came with the camera just wasn't getting him as close as he wanted/needed.  Next question: what sports are we talking about?  The big three were gymnastics, basketball and soccer.  The other factor was budget.  So, we have the problem statement.  To find my recommendations, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, September 19, 2011

With Photoshop CS5, It's Easy To Have Dramatic Clouds In Winter

Today's image is a mashup of four (actually three) images.  The street scene is a two shot panorama and the clouds in the background come from one cloud image, duplicated, flipped, joined and tilted.  If you think there was a fancy, intricate mask involved here you be pretty far off base.  I did use a knew trick I just thought of (at least I haven't seen it discussed anywhere) to make placing the clouds a snap.  At the start of the making of today's image there had to be a little Adobe Photoshop CS5 trickery applied.  The two images making up the street scene were two totally separate shots.  Two different focal lengths and probably ten minutes apart.  I noticed that the two images had one building in common, so I had a midpoint to start from.  One set of building was half again larger than the other set, so I wanted to see how clever CS5 would be trying to decipher the data being thrown at it.  I have to say, it did a darn nice job of figuring out what was what and how it would piece together.  The sky was pretty blah, with the palest of blues for the entire stretch.  Not much to look at. The street scene came along fairly nicely, but with as bald a sky as there was the image was nothing special.  To learn how the cloud filled sky got there without a Mask, hit the "Read More".
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Sometimes A Pretty Girl Is Just Sitting There.

Every once in a while you stumble on a shot that works.  The young woman in today's image was just sitting in NYC's Central Park as we happened by.  She an several friends were there to portray characters from anime.  (see this companion post)  The big deal with today's image is that's it's a straight shot.  Maybe it was the makeup she wore, but her skin was that nice.  Maybe it was that she was sitting under the arms of a tree, but the lighting was that soft.  The colors of her dress and hat are as they were and she did have blue tint in her hair.  The fact that she was a very good looking young woman didn't hurt either.  The background was just as you see it (minus the vignette).  There were a couple things that had to be done to "finish" the image, but they were very minor.  To find out what they were, hit the "Read More".
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday Photoshop Q&A - Is Puppet Warp Just For Making Gag Images?

The trend this week seemed to be more than the typical number of people looking for information on Adobe Photoshop CS5's Puppet Warp.  It appears it is getting the same rap the Liquefy Filter has gotten since it was introduced.  The first thing the Liquefy Filter was used for was giving friends elongated noses and the like.  It was a throwback to an old program for doing such playful thing named "Kai's Power Goo".  Once the novelty wore off people started finding out how useful Liquefy could be.  You probably can't find a cover of any fashion magazine that hasn't had the Liquefy Filter used to gently push a waist, some arm flab, a hip or two, or any other not so perfect body part into place.  Today, Puppet Warp is an alternative to Liquefy.  In some cases it provides more control over the tweaks being given.  One of the keys to using almost any tool Photoshop has to offer is moderation.  Don't use the Dodge and Burn Tools (O) at 100%.  Use them at 10 - 15% and build up the effect you're looking for.  Don't make big sweeps with the Liquefy Tool (Filters/Liquefy).  Little tiny pushes with fairly big brushes (in the Blot Liquefy Tool) let's you find tune whatever needs fixing.  To see how the Puppet Warp Tool was used on today's image, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, September 12, 2011

Night Shooting With Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

 Now that's a strange title.  Ya don't "shoot" anything with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 or any other Adobe product.  Adobe makes applications to finish or manipulate shots or artwork after the click of the shutter.  There is a relationship between the small image on the left and the larger one on the right.  You might want to click on each one to enlarge them and take a closer look.  A general observation might be that one looks a little over exposed and the other a wee bit under exposed.  If you take an even closer look (just observing, not enlarging) you'll see that I was either extremely accurate in the placement of my tripod, the height of the camera and the zoom of the lens or there must be another explanation.  To find out which is the case, hit the "Read More".
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Friday, September 9, 2011

What Is The Best Camera!!!

How's this for ego.  Today's image is of me.  I got a call the other day asking for a publicity shot of yours truly.  I only had one shot I (recently) like and that was setup for use on the web only. I asked what was the size they'd be using the shot.  They answer was "no more than 5x7".  Okay, for a 5x7 you really don't need a 12 Megapixel file.  A 1.5 MP shot would be fine (as long as it would be a full frame shot).  Rather than dig out the lights, softbox, stands and all the other gear, I glanced up at the top of my monitor.  There sits a Logitech webcam.  The last shot I was using was about ten years old and that was shot sitting in front of the computer with what was probably a .7 MP webcam.  I figured it was worth a shot (bad bun).  The lights in the computer room are daylight balanced so the monitors won't be thrown off by cool lights.  The monitor, being color balanced, with a blank white screen, makes a reasonable softbox.  So, I had a set of lights that might be workable.  I was educated as an engineer (but was a peddler most of my life) and one of the rags we used to say about engineers was the chief prerequisite was to be lazy.  A good engineer seeks the simplest way to do something.  The simplest way to get a quick publicity shot of me was to use the webcam sitting right in front of me.  I grabbed a 3'x5' five in one reflector and put it in back of me.  Had to do it.  The computer room is not the neatest place in the offices.  I took a quick test shot, tweaked the White Balance, exposure and aiming of the cam and took several more shots, most of which looked pretty dumb.  Eyes looking at the computer rather than the camera, head tilted at some bizarre angle, facing the computer with eyes toward the camera, facing the camera with eyes toward the computer, hand on chin, hand under chin, etc.  All together about ten different, bad shots.  As I was getting more and more frustrated I rested my hand on my cheek, elbow on the desk and looked into the camera.  Click and my head snapped back.  I'd gotten "something" I could use.  It wasn't perfect, but it could be quickly fixed in Adobe Photoshop CS5.  To find out what the fixes were, hit the "Read More".

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday Photoshop Q&A - Where To Make B&W Images? Lightroom or Photoshop?

Let's dispense with the obvious, if you don't have Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 you can do a Black & White image completely in Adobe Photoshop CS5.  After all, Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), which comes with Photoshop, has the same engine as the Develop Module in LR3.  So, bouncing back and forth from LR3 to CS5 and back a few times is more a matter of personal workflow.  Today's image started out as a five image HDR mashup.  It's not an "over the top" HDR, but a pretty subtle form of the technique.  I can go either way with HDR, but tend to be more interested in the photorealistic side.  A buddy of mine (that would be you Lorri) is a great practitioner of the far side of HDR.  Her HDR images are beautiful.  Take a look at her portfolio.  She tends to push to the illustrative side and I'll have to sit down with her one of these days and take a lesson on her technique.  The question today comes from several search queries that brought people to the gallery this past week.  Hopefully I can "focus" a little light on the subject.  (I know, bad pun.)  Today's image is straight out of LR3/CS5.  I played with the two week trial of Nik Software's Silver Effects Pro 2, and thought it was a very interesting piece of software.  I'm old enough to have come from B&W film developing and printing, so I think I might have a bit of an advantage over those who have never done wet printing.  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad those days are gone and I sit in front of a computer to do my "darkroom" work .  To get an idea of how to apply wet darkroom techniques in a dry darkroom, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, September 5, 2011

Real Life Anime in Photoshop CS5

Over the weekend we took a ride down to NYC to see JoeMcNally's tribute to the heroes of 9-11 titled "The Faces of Ground Zero,10 Years Later" and shoot in Central Park for an hour or so.  Today's image is part of a fun event going on in CP's Sheep Meadow, but a little on the McNally exhibit first.  I've seen Joe's blog on the exhibit along with several other sites encouraging people to make time to visit this fleeting moment in history.  The exhibit only goes until September 12th, the day after the tenth anniversary of that day.  Several commentators have said that September 11, 2001 is one of the days that are seared into your brain and you can tell people exactly where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news.  The Intel office I was in on that day is no longer there, but even if new tenants have totally rearranged the layout I'd be able to take you to within two feet of the exact spot I was standing when we heard the first report.  A phone call from a coworker's wife telling him "a plane" had hit the World Trade Center.  No word of the size or type of plane came from the first call.  We speculated about how bad a pilot you'd have to be to get that far off course so you'd hit a building that big.  We had just gone back to our planning discussion when the same guy got another call from his wife about a plane hitting the second tower.  The first reaction of the two guys I was meeting with was a joke about what the hell was up with those New York people.  I stopped them and said "guys, we're under attack".  Their reaction was disbelief and "do you really think so"?  As we know, I was right and the event planning and the event itself was put off indefinitely.  "The Faces of Ground Zero, 10 Years Later" brought back some of the emotions of that dreadful day and tears again came to my eyes.  What McNally did in the aftermath of 9-11 was undoubtedly a work from the heart.  The exhibit now on display at the Time Warner Center is, in typical McNally fashion, meant to be a tribute to the people who served at that time.  Without his meaning it to be, it's also a tribute to Joe McNally.  Thanks Joe.  Now, to find out about today's image, hit the "Read More".
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Friday, September 2, 2011

Matt Kloskowski's Compositing Book

This isn't going to be a true review of Matt's book.  Let's just say I have a stack of books by Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, and Joe McNally and a bunch of other people associated with Kelby's NAPP.  If you've followed the postings here you probably know that I do a fair amount of compositing.  Never the less, I'm a firm believer in the fact that there's always something to learn.  That continues to be true with Kloskowski's newest book.  As I read through the book (the power was out over the weekend due to Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene so I was literarily reading through the book rather than following through the examples) I'd sit there and said "yep, yep, yep, aha".  Every once in a while there was a nugget that was new to me.  Using an inner glow to get rid of a little halo of left over color was one such nugget.  Very cute trick and it's now in my hip pocket whenever it'll be needed.  I think Kelby's sense of humor must rub out on the folks working for him because Matt's book is written in the typical irreverent style of Kelby Media.  I'd much rather read a book that teaches while not taking itself (actually the author not taking himself/herself) too seriously.  I've bought a number of books from pompous asses and, for the most part, they sit in a stack of books that have the first two chapters read.  I just can't handle someone who might as well, figuratively, write "I'm better than you" at the start of each paragraph.  What they say might be the key to my becomes the world's greatest Photoshop expert, but I'll never know.  I just can't get through the book.  Books out of Kelby Media Group, their DVDs, the online training, their online TV shows and about any other thing they put out have an easy going style and, while they treat the subjects with respect, the authors/stars all have a self deprecating sense of humor.  To find out which tricks from the book were used on today's image, hit the "Read More".
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