Monday, December 26, 2011

When Is A Mask "Good Enough" in Photoshop CS5

Today's image, obviously, is a series a images taken using continuous high speed shutter.  Before we get into it I'll talk a little bit about Nikon's (or any manufacturer's) continuous mode of shooting.  It kind of cracks me up when some friends say with certainty that their camera can shoot at six, seven or nine frames per second.  In the case of today's image(s) that's most likely the case.  But, if you're in low light and your shutter speed is one second, you can shoot at a maximum of --- one frame per second.  If you're shooting a seven shot bracket, and your "normal" shutter speed is 1/100 of a second, you'd have 1/12 of a second as your longest shutter speed.  Add up 1/12th +1/25th +1/50th +1/100th + 1/200, +1/400, and 1/800th and you'll find you've used up just about that whole second.  Start at 1/50th and that one second is long gone before you get that six frames per second over.  A friend of mine who has a D3 (not a D3X) found that out the hard way when he heard my D300 start to labor during a seven shot bracket.  He wanted to show me how fast his D3 was.  I told him to use the same Aperture I had, in Aperture Priority Mode.  His camera went click, click. click, click,  click,    click,        click, same as mine had.  There are some rules of physics that you can't break no matter how good your camera is.  But, back at today's image, it's a burst of exposures in high speed continuous mode with plenty of sunlight.  It was clicking away as fast as the mechanism would go.  Seeing as the Nikon D300 can run at six frames per second, today's image should be about a one second interval.  Putting the sequence together in Adobe Photoshop CS5 is easier than you might suspect.  To learn how it was done, hit the "Read More".
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Selective Sharpening, Selective Blurring, Selective Vignetting in Photoshop CS5

Today's image reminds me "a little bit of"  of Lou Bega's song Mambo No. 5.  In it he sings about a composite woman he'd like to have.  He's looking for "a little bit of ... " many different woman.  Check it out, it's a cute song from a couple years ago.  Today's image has "a little bit of" the Sharpening Tool (no keyboard shortcut), "a little bit of" the Blur Tool (same tool set), "a little bit of" selective vignetting, "a little bit of" Adobe's Pixel Bender and "a little bit of" Content Aware Fill.  I say "a little bit of" for each one because none are applied to the entire image.  The result is a cohesive image that appears to have been treated as a whole.  In addition, it has a sky dropped in with its resultant reflection in the water.  I'd be willing to bet that my buddy Lorri will look at it and think (at first) it was a one button filter application.  It's nothing if it's not really far from the case.  There's about a half dozen nested Smart Objects, a dozen independent Layers, at least four trip back and forth from Adobe Photoshop CS5 and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3.  Everything serves a function.  I don't believe there are any gratuitous operations.  We'll take a walk through the image and show where each alteration was done.  To follow along, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Selective Sharpening In Photoshop CS5

Everybody (well, just about everybody) knows about using an Unsharp Mask (Filters/Sharpen/Unsharp Mask) to sharpen their images.  It is an oxymoron that comes from the film days of sharpening images.  Many (well, some) know how to use a High Pass Filter (Filters/Other/High Pass) to do some very controllable sharpening.  An even smaller set of people know about using the Luminance Channel in LAB (that's L A B, not referring to some laboratory somewhere) Mode.  There, you don't mess with the color Channels (the A Channel and the B Channel) and only Sharpen the L Channel .  By only Sharpening the grey scale of the L Channel you eliminate any chance of producing a color shift.  And then there's a Brush on Sharpening technique that very few people use.  I suppose some of the "early adopters" probably tried using the Sharpening Tool (no keyboard shortcut - it's located under the Blur Tool) and found it lacking.  I believe the Sharpening Tool fell into Adobe's JDI (just do it) tweaks that came in Adobe Photoshop CS5.  The JDI's were a set of little, niggling, things that bugged enough end users and (apparently) Adobe Product Managers that they made the decision to fix many things before releasing CS5.  Dodge and Burn is a good example.  They put in a checkbox that says "Protect Tones".  Prior to CS5 the Dodge and Burn Tools (O) would just muddy up whatever they were applied to.  With the JDI fix, they work as they were always supposed to.  Being able to set a default in the Stroke (Edit/Stroke) dialog box was another.  Before it was set to Red and had to be changed every time it was used.  In CS5, if you choose to do so, you can set the default color to whatever you frequently use.  If 90% of your Strokes are Black, set it to Black in one case and it'll remain "sticky" until you change it.  A great sanity fix.  Lots of people were bugged with that one.  Another is the subject of today's post.  To find out how it was used in today's image, hit the "Read More".
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wednesday Q&A - Saving Files to Lightroom

I gave a class last spring and saw one of the attendees the other day.  He said "ya gotta clear something up for me".  In the class I had taken an image from Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 (after going as far as I could initially) over to Adobe Photoshop CS5.  There I played with adding a couple Layers, added a couple pieces from other images and generally messed with the shot.  When I was done there, I wanted to do other things back in LR3.  The part the fellow wanted clarification on was how I saved it.  That took me back a little and I asked "what do you mean"?  He explained that he "always" does a Save As rather than just plain Save.  I asked him to tell me why he did that.  That's when I saw why he wanted some explanation.  His justification for using Save As was that he wanted to preserve his original image.  Take a look at today's image.  It's the same shot, four different ways.  The original is on the upper left.  The other three have had one, two and three trips over to PS CS5 and back.  Each time, a simple Save was used, yet there are now four files that show up in LR3.  (It also applies to Adobe Bridge.)  To find out what's going on, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Simplifying Images With Adobe Photoshop CS5

Simplifying today's image comes from trying to do "something" different from a shoot we did back in April.  We've featured about a half dozen shots here on The Kayview Gallery from that session.  I shoot with a typical Nikon DSLR, so the square format was the first change that was made.  The original image had too much room on the left side and a little confusing detail on the right.  One of the biggest things new shooters need to learn is making good decisions about their photography.  Good decisions when looking through the viewfinder.  Doing most of the composing in the camera.  Rick Sammon runs around with several clich├ęs on how to turn "snapshots into great shots.  One of his axioms is 'the name of the game is fill the frame".  Rick is a good shooter, written a bunch of photography books, but is a little pompous for my taste.  Never the less, he's right about filling the frame.  The nothingness on the left of the original of today's image?  Get rid of it.    The part the fellow in the shot was working on became a maze of shapes on the right.  Get rid of the too.  One of the benefits it gives is that it puts the subject and his hands at two strong points in the composition.  Mentally project the tic-tac-toe grid of "the rule (suggestion) of thirds" on the image and you'll see the fellow's cheekbone and hands now align on the intersections of the upper horizontal line.  They say, if you know the "rules", you can break them.  If you know the "rules" you can also use them.  The "rule of thirds" in particular has come into some derision in recent years, but it's pretty much by those one US Vice President once called "the nattering nabobs of negativism".   The "rule of thirds" came a "rule" because it represents a powerful place to put important components of an image.  To read about other ways used to simplify today's image, hit the "Read More"
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Friday, December 9, 2011

Playing With Plug-ins In Photoshop CS5

Today's image is a bounce to the edge in one direction.  I occasionally ping pong between using plug-ins and not using plug-ins.  My thought is that there is nothing you can do with a plug-in that can't be done in Adobe Photoshop CS5 alone.  The way I think of it is sort of like the "Laws of Physics".  People can do some amazing things, but whatever someone does it can't break the Laws of Physics.  Same with plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop CS5.  Plug-ins allow people to make some amazing images, but they have to stay within the envelop of what CS5 can do.  If that's the case, why would anyone bother using a plug-in?  The answer is simple.  Ease!  If you listen to Photoshop educators like Scott Kelby, or if you've ever attended one of his seminars, he's says flat out:  "this is the way you do it in Photoshop" and shows the Photoshop way to get to an image.  He'll also say: "but this is the way I do it for my own use today", and bring up a plug-in.  In the early days of personal computers I went out and bought an Intel 286 based machine.  I mentioned it to my brother, who happens to be a EE (Electrical Engineer).  He said if he wanted one he'd build it himself.  That was like thirty years ago.  He's gone through several computers, but he has yet to build one.  Why?  Same reason.  Ease!  Being a EE, I'm sure he could have bought the individual components, plugged everything together, and assembled a computer.  But he hasn't.  Plug-ins are a crutch for those who don't know how to create an effect in raw CS5 (not CS5 ACR).  They'll push buttons until they wind up with a good looking image.  I'd prefer to know what the plug-in is doing and then let the plug-in do its job and get me someplace much quicker that recreating the wheel.  To find out what plug-in was used for today's image, hit the "Read More".
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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wednesday Q&A - Trust A Retail Salesperson?

Today's image does relate to the Q&A topic.  The topic comes from a direct email from the guy who was my last boss at Intel before retiring.  Back in the summer he had borrowed a lens from his brother (or brother-in-law ???) and used it to get closer to some landscape type subjects.  At that time he wanted a recommendation on which lens he should buy.  I gave him a couple options,  The serious route of going for a Canon 70 - 200 F2.8 IS and the less budget busting 70 - 300 F4 - 5.6 IS.  He thought he might be able to get the $150.00 75 - 300 "kit" lens.  I talked him out of it and he decided that he could wait until the holidays to get his lens as a "gift" from his wife.  That's where the problem came in.  She had lost the email I'd sent and went to a store knowing only that the upper end of the zoom was 300mm.  His wife explained that the use of the lens would be to get closer to the subjects of the photographs.  The salesperson at the store talked her into the cheap 75 - 300mm "kit" lens and --- wait for it ---a 25mm extension tube.  The explanation being that it was needed for his Canon camera to get closer to subjects.  The title of today's post in "Trust a Retail Salesperson?"  The simple answer is absolutely not.  To find out where this opinion comes from, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, December 5, 2011

A Little Weekend Shoot

What a beautiful weekend the past couple of days have been.  A slight chill in the air (it's about time), semi clear skies and a photowalk with a couple of friends down to Liberty State Park in New Jersey.  We had dinner with a couple friends last Tuesday and they mentioned they were going to Liberty SP on Saturday.  They asked if we'd be interested in joining them.  We had our usual zero on the calendar and thought it would be a fun day to do some shooting.  Lorri Freedman is the shooter of the pair and she has a great eye for images and does a great job doing some Photoshop magic with the images she shoots.  Check out her SmugMug portfolio.  I'm sure you'll agree.  Well, we left the house at 9:00 AM for what Google Maps said would a ninety minute drive.  We were supposed to meet at 11:30, so we'd left ourselves plenty of time.  Grabbed some coffee to go at the local Dunkin Donuts and set off.  Would you believe the GPS knows of a second Liberty State Park about twelve miles from the one that was our intended target?  In checking Google Maps I knew we wanted exit 15E on the New Jersey Turnpike.  Google had given one option of taking, basically, city streets once we'd crossed over into NJ on the George Washington Bridge.  I figured I'd ignore the GPS until we'd gotten to Exit 15E and then follow it on in.  After exiting at the appropriate spot the GPS said take a left, take a left and get back on the Turnpike in the opposite direction.  I knew that was wrong and if we just headed east the GPS would recalculate and find the way.  It fought with us for the next half hour and I finally surrendered and followed the directions from the GPS.  After all, it knew "a way" to get us there.  Followed the instructions until it said we were within a block or so of our destination.  I knew that couldn't be the case, because the LSP we were looking for was on the Hudson River Estuary and the GPS had us in the middle of Jersey City.  Asked Doris to reprogram the GPS using Statue of Liberty rather than Liberty State Park.  It gave three options.  Two in NYC and one said New Jersey access.  Asked Doris to use the Jersey access option and we were finally in route to the right spot.  Of course, instead of being a half hour early, we were now 45 minutes late.  Lorri and Mark were very gracious about our tardiness and had waited past one boat out to Ellis Island and the Statue.  It is nice to have understanding friends.  To find out about today's image and why they don't lineup exactly, hit the "Read More".
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Friday, December 2, 2011

Using Adobe Photoshop For Desktop Photography

Today's image looks like one shot.  Okay, maybe two.  After all, I really don't know anyone that small, or anyone who has a desk that big.  One or the other.  Today we have an example of what happens when you have too much time on your hands.  As I said in the last post, the year is winding down and jobs are getting a little scarce.  Happens every year.  People are busy with holidays, budgets have been spent, the marketing folks are more interested in cleaning things up before the end of the year rather than starting new projects and on and on.  Big thing on the calendar for today is paying the bills.  They don't do any winding down just because it's the last month of a year.  The tripod was sitting next to the desk yesterday.  The camera on the floor by the back wall.  Okay, let's stop right there.  You may be wondering why the camera is on the floor.  It's a psychological thing.  I've had this theory since I'd been in my early twenties.  "Always put cameras and drunks on the floor.  It's the only way you can be assured they won't fall off something."  I've had personal experience with both and it's stood me in good stead.  Alright, back to today's discussion.  The other thing I was doing was trying to resurrect a backup computer who's harddrive has bitten the dust (literarily I think).  At first I thought it might be interesting to take a couple shots of the inside of the computer through the grill on the back.  Sort of interesting, but nothing special.  I looked at my desk and thought it was interestingly messy.  The lighting is the key to today's image.  To find out about it and the post processing, hit the "Read More".
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