Monday, November 26, 2012

Controlling Blur In Camera, Not In Photoshop

So, what's the big deal.  If you have a shot where the background is too in focus and the image would look better with the background out of focus, no problem.  That's what Adobe Photoshop (CS6 or before) is for.  That's a hell of an excuse for not knowing what the camera will be doing before you press the shutter.  Today's image is pretty (really) straight for a shot by me.  Just a little touchup in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (LR4) and it never needed to go to CS6.  A friend and I were out shooting a vintage baseball game during this past summer.  He was using a 80 - 200 F2.8 lens and I was using some 70 - 300 F4.5 - 5.6 glass.  Before the game we did some informal portraits while the visiting team was warming up.  He took a couple shots and said "I can't throw the background far enough out of focus to make things interesting".  Duh!  He had the faster glass and he couldn't get some nice blur????  I turned around to see what he was shooting.  He was about twenty five feet from his subject.  I asked what F-stop he was on.  2.8  Again.  Duh!  What focal length?  200  Double duh!  I looked at his screen and just shook my head.  He had a little blur, but not enough to get that soft background you'd want for a informal portrait.  What was the difference between his shot and mine?  Hit the "Read More" to find out.
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Friday, November 23, 2012

Turn Around - Lightroom Works Both Ways

Today's image shows what happens when you turn around when you're shooting an iconic scene.  While we were in Maine last month we stayed at the Hotel Pemaquid in New HarborMaine.  The thing that makes this hotel somewhat unique is that it's (according to the website) 150 yards (meters) from Pemaquid Light.  Pemaquid Light is the lighthouse found on the US Quarter (25 cent piece) featuring the State of Maine.  It's, at least, as iconic as is Portland Head Light.  Another interesting fact is that the room rates are very reasonable.  I'd guess that comes from the fact that it's not likely that the hotel is someplace you'd just happen to pass.  It's not like it's on a main road.  But, the rooms have been newly "restored" to their past glory.  From what the receptionist said, the Carriage House across the street from the main building was (in part) "restored" through the work of the owner's friend, Norm Abram of This Old House fame.  The place is actually a pretty great place to spend the night.  Planning is necessary.  There are only two restaurants within fifteen miles or so and they close by 8:00 PM.  Convenience stores?  You must be kidding.  The hotel and light are about a half hour south of Damariscotta, Maine.  If you like a drink or a bag of chips as a snack in the evening, you'd better get them before leaving Route 1.  But, this isn't a travel blog.  It's a photography blog.  So, to find out what happens when you turnaround at an iconic spot, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Hand Painting With Photoshop

There's all sorts of methods to jack up colors using Adobe Photoshop CS6 (CS6) and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (LR4).  You can do a faux HDR (in CS6, Image/Adjustments/HDR Toning).  You can use Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers (Layers/New Adjustment Layer/"Hue/Saturation").  You can "paint" over an area and change the Blend Mode to Color.  But, today's image is done in LR4 with a small assist from CS6.  About 90% of what's been done was done in LR4.  To find out what was done, hit the "Read More".
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Friday, November 16, 2012

Photoshop's CTRL/ALT/SHIFT/E Debunked

It happened again on Thursday.  I watched an online tutorial and the person was pushing the fact that whenever you got to a place using Adobe Photoshop CS6 to retouch a photograph that you wanted to have a place you could go back to you should use the keyboard shortcut CTRL/ALT/SHIFT/E (CASE) to create a composite of all the work you'd already done.  What CASE does is Merge all the Layers and put the result on its own Layer.  The tutorialist (is that a word?  It is now.  Somebody's got to make up new words.) said this would save all your Layers so you could go back and make any changes at a later time.  Bullsh**.  What CASE does is put a line in the sand that says "you can't go back further than this point without scrapping all the work you did above".   If you've done five Layers of work and made the CASE move, then another nine and CASE, then seventeen and another CASE and found out you had to make a change on Layer three, you're screwed.  You'd have to dump twenty six Layers worth of work to make that change.  Depending on what you were doing, that could be hours of work down the drain.  I can think of one way to go back to Layer three and fix the mistake/error/oversight/whatever.  Eliminate each of the composite Layers.  If that's the case, why would you bother creating them in the first place?  Dumb!  There is a way to have your cake (make a composite) and eat it (make changes to any Layer at any time) too.  To find out what this magic trick is, hit the "Read More".
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Q&A: Removing Objects with Photoshop CS6

A couple of photographers I know asked recently about "clearing the decks" as one of them put it.  He had an assignment to shoot a public place, but the editor said he didn't want to bother with any people being in the scene.  Since this was not a photojournalism gig, where there are harsh penalties for "altering" the content of an image, I figured he had a couple options.  He could go through the people in charge of the public space and get an off hours shoot, or barge in and start telling folks to get out of the area.  The first case would take weeks to go through all the paperwork and the second would be just downright rude.  There was a timeline to get the image in and this guy isn't the rude type, so a "perfect storm" of circumstance was coming together to have Adobe Photoshop CS6 (or earlier versions) come to the rescue.  To find out what "magic" happened to today's image to have clear sailing on the highway, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, November 12, 2012

Going Artsy With Photoshop CS6

I've got a website/e-store/tutorial site you've got to checkout.  It's Woody Walters DigitalPhoto Candy site.  Today's image is a first attempt to do something similar to what woody does so masterfully.  He's out of Cedar Falls, Iowa, so I'd don't think my emulation of his (and many others) technique here in Connecticut will do him harm.  If you don't know how to make brushes.  If you don't have a folder full of smoke images.  If you don't shoot clouds every time the sky is full of big puffy, well lit clouds.  If you've never done on OOB (Out Of the Box) image (my first was about ten years ago).  Well, head on over to Woody's website.  He has brushes for sale.  He has backgrounds and textures and masks and all manner of things for sales.  His site could be your one stop shopping experience for setting up your own "Senior Portrait" digital studio.  He should create a franchise situation out of his talent.  Today's image, being a first attempt, meant I had to either create or gather up the components to be able take a shot at trying it myself.  To find out about the components, where I got them and how i used them, hit the "read More".
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Friday, November 9, 2012

The River Is Wide - Thanks To Photoshop Content Aware Scaling

Today's image is another from out recent road trip to Maine and New Hampshire.  The covered bridge in the shot is just south of Conway NH along Route 16.  As you cross a bridge, if you look to the northwest you'll see the covered bridge.  As we drove by we saw several photographers standing on the Route 16 bridge shooting the scene.  Every one of them was standing on the bridge and shooting the "tourist" version.  I knew there had to be "something" better.  The west side of the bridge was a straight drop down about sixteen feet.  The east side offered a more gentle slope with a weathered "trail" to the water.  I walked down and it was pretty obvious that the underside of the bridge was being used as shelter for some (or more than one) person.  I made sure I didn't disturb anything and really didn't dare move anything.  At the water's edge I got down to almost water level and shot the scene.  It was an alright shot but needed more drama.  It got the needed "drama" in Adobe Photoshop CS6.  To find out how the "drama" came about, hit the "Read More".
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wednesday Q&A: how to put multiple copies of one picture photoshop

I've done a couple posts on using one image multiple times in Adobe Photoshop CS6.  The first was using the same image (enlarged and blurred) as a background to the mainimage.  That's one way to do it.  The title of today's Q&A comes directly from a search query that brought someone to The Gallery.  I don't think that first instance was what the seeker was looking for.  I believe today's image portrays what many questioners are looking for.  The most common use for this type of "putting multiple copies of a one shot on one printout page" is making a keepsake for Grandmother or selling sports cards.  Something having (as in today's image) one 5 x 7, two 2.5 x 3.5 and four 2 x 2.5 inch copies (or other variations) on one sheet.  In Adobe Photoshop CS4 it was easy.  The Picture Package app was built right in.  In Adobe Photoshop CS5 or CS6 it's not.  But don't worry.  Adobe hasn't completely abandoned us.  They have it available as a free download.  To find out where to get the elusive Picture Package, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Photoshop Takes You Where No Man /Person Has Gone

One nice thing about Adobe Photoshop CS6 (and those versions before) is that you can go places in your mind and translate them to an image.  Today's image (the main portion at least) is at a parking area along the Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, USA, looking west.  I'm pretty sure hot air ballooning isn't allowed in the White's.  The reason would be that hot air balloons go where the breezes take you for as long as you have gas in the cylinder.  Typically you have a "chase" crew that follows the route of the balloon as closely as possible.  That's so the crew can pick up the balloonist when he/she comes down.  That would be sort of a problem in the White Mountains.  There's kind of a lack of roads to do the chasing.  Imagine landing six or seven miles from the closest road.  I'd recommend a rather big, burly guy as (at least) one of the crew.  Somebody's going to have to lug that empty gas cylinder out to the nearest road, and those suckers aren't light. So, chances are hot air ballooning in the White Mountains is at least frowned upon.  But, with a little Photoshop magic, it's no problem.  Putting a balloon in the sky would be easy.  Heck, putting an Army tank in the sky would be easy.  Not believable, just easy.  To find out how easy it was to put the balloon in the sky, hit the "Read More".
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Friday, November 2, 2012

Post Sandy Thoughts

The lights came on last night.  We were without power from Monday through the day on Thursday.  Something like 30% of our little town is still without electricity.  Our next door neighbor had his first experience with a generator and thought it was necessary to run it twenty four hours a day to keep his frozen food frozen.  He's young, he didn't know any better.  The fact that the generator was just outside our bedroom window was not the best idea he had.   We just went to the guest bedroom at the opposite end of the house.  Far enough that we weren't bothered greatly by the sound.  His generator was still running when we got home last night.  I went over and tapped on his door to let him know he could probably turn the darn thing off now that power had been restored.  I asked him why he thought he needed to run the gen.  at 3:00 AM in the morning.  As expected, he said he thought he needed it to keep his food frozen.  I said "come with me young man" and brought him to our kitchen.  I opened the freezer and tossed him a piece of chicken, still frozen solid.  I asked "was this your objective?".  Shocked, he asked how I had kept it frozen.  Dry ice.  One of the things about dry ice is that it doesn't make noise.  He went home better educated and vowed to use dry ice a lot and the gen as little as possible if there was another outage. 

Another instance was while buying the dry ice.  The guy in line in front of me wanted to make small talk, so he started bitchin' about the utility company.  Boy, did he pick the wrong guy.  My Dad spent his adult life working for the local utility company and I know how hard those guys work.  We don't get a whole lot of thousand mile wide hurricanes coming through meeting up with storm out of Canada.  In our area the electric company has had a campaign to cut back the trees on the side of the road with overhead wires, based on pressure due to last year's storms.  That sounded like a plan to the governor.  Like so many people, he didn't think it through.  One of the benefits (to the hurricane) was it removed any protection those trees gave from preventing the trees on the opposite side from having a clear shot at taking down wires on the side of the street  with the wires.  The best, half laid, plans of mice and men ...
We didn't have power for four days.  Big whoop, it was four days out of a lifetime.  Don't get me wrong, people on the coast (we're about twenty miles inland) got ravaged.  Some won't have power for a year.  Before they can get power they have to build a house to put power to.  "They" said the storm "affected"  sixty million people.  Six million people lost power or more.  Because of the population density in the northeast 20% of the country's people got wacked by Sandy.  Nobody more so than the people on the coast of New Jersey.  My hope is that people will remain reasonable and no one who survived the hurricane will get killed in the aftermath.  That's a hope, but unfortunately, not an expectation. Read more!