Friday, March 29, 2013

Playing With The Nik Software Suite

As most of you know, Google has had a sweet Suite deal for the complete Nik Software Suite this week. I used to have a copy of Nik Color Efex Pro 2, but I never really used it. I’d sort of lusted after Silver Efex Pro but, seeing as I don’t do a lot of B&W, I couldn’t justify the expense. When Google offered the entire suite for $149.00 US I could resist. I looked for an email saying I had registered the Color Efex recently enough to qualify for upgrading to the suite for free, but didn’t find anything along those lines in my email history. Oh well. Today’s image has been pushed and pulled in almost every piece of the software. Just checking what each one does and where it might be useful. I finally stopped fiddling with today’s image because it reminded me of a lot of images found in church bulletins. It might be a truer B&W and printed on a parchment colored paper to get the sepia effect, but today’s image is pretty close to what you’d see. To see the gyrations done to today’s image, hit the “Read More”.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday Q&A: Is Photoshop's Pen Tool Dead?

I was out with some friends last night and one of my “buddies” said he had recently "discovered" the Adobe Photoshop Pen Tool (P).  His sidekick asked if I used the Pen Tool.  My response was that no one has used the Pen Tool in the past decade.  He insisted that it was a new “wonder tool” they’ve both added to their arsenal of “ease of use” tools lately.  I asked if he had also just upgraded his auto sound system to an eight track player.  He said, having been practicing a little, he could now create a Path around an object in less than five or six minutes.  I shook my head and rolled my eyes.  I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to convince either one that they were “going down a rabbit hole”.  Once home I got to thinking about what they were trying to do and where using the Pen Tool might be a good thing.  Today’s image is just a shot I was playing with a couple years ago to look at some lighting.  Once I finished playing with it I “put a ring on it”.  I put a Stroke (Edit/Stroke) on it just to show the Selection I’d made.  To find out about my thoughts on the Pen Tool (P) (pro or con) hit the “Read More”.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wednesday Q & A: How Not To Use Photoshop Smart Objects

I just saw something the other day that made me nuts.  I subscribe to Kelby Training and watch most of the video classes they put up.  Joel Grimes is a particular favorite of mine and I've watched every single video they've had by Joel.  I like his style.  I like his photography techniques.  I like his compositing.  His desaturated colors.  Everything.  But, his latest class made me cringe.  He said he always opens his images as Smart Objects in Adobe Photoshop CS6.  That's great.  Everyone should as far as I'm concerned.  It just my opinion and I've seen enough questions bringing people to the Gallery to know Smart Objects make people crazy.  They shouldn't.  They're the greatest thing since sliced bread.  I was with Joel up to a point.  To find out how Joel Grimes starts out using Smart Objects and where I think he goes wrong, hit the "Read More".
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Friday, March 15, 2013

The Skinny About My Photoshop Portraits

Enough with the philosophy of Smart Objects.  Today we'll get back to just a plain old "How To".  Today's image is a "file photo" from a trip to Key West we took a couple years ago (ten years ago actually) that has been portraitized (hey, a new word.  Somebody has to make 'em up).  Obviously there is no abandoning the Adobe Photoshop CS6 Smart Objects.  It's just that they won't be the focus of what's going on.  You'll see, after the "Read More", an image of the Layers Panel for today's image.  We can do that because there aren't a lot of Layers to do one of these.  Rather than go through a lot of blah, blah blah, let's get right to it.  Go ahead and hot the "Read More".

The way I work is to select the "hero shot" in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4, do whatever touchup needed there and bring the complete (head and shoulder and background) shot over to CS6.  Next I'll resize the canvas to the anticipated output size. (Usually 16 x 20 or 20 x 24.)  I'll make a "canvas Layer" under the hero shot, turn off the visibility of the head shot and start working on the clouds.
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wednesday Q & A: Photoshop Smart Objects In The Real World

For the past month or so in the Wednesday Q & As I've been talking about Adobe Photoshop CS6 Smart Objects.  If you go back through the posts you'll see the What, the Why, and the How of using Smart Objects.  In my opinion it's the number one most powerful feature of CS6 (and CS5).  But what would be a "real world" use of a Smart Object that wouldn't be totally abstract in the explanation?  Well, over the weekend our Granddaughter called and said her high school science project had been selected to complete in the state science fair.  All the work on the project was done and she needed to produce a "project board" .  An ~4' x 3.5' three fold board that described what she had done, her methodology and the results.  Her idea was to lay the whole thing out in Photoshop CS4 (her current version), print it out and mount it to the store bought presentation board.  I have a wide carriage printer, but not that wide.  The three sections were 11", 22" and 11" wide.  She brought the finished layout over on a USB drive.  To learn how Photoshop Smart Objects helped immensely, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, March 11, 2013

The Secret To Photoshop Digital Image Paintings

Today's image is another "digital image painting".  The reason I'm using that term is that they start is a capture from a digital camera.  I wouldn't want to call it a "digital painting" because that would diminish the work by the crazy good digital artists out there.  I've never been able to pick up a pencil or a stylus and make something interesting on a piece of paper or screen.  It's just not something I was given the natural talent to do.  So, I take image that I've taken with a digital camera and change them.  Sometimes for the better and some people think sometimes not so much for the better.  The key to the DIPs (digital image paintings) I've been featuring lately is have a "hero" image as the central (both figuratively and literally) focal point of the composition.  If you had only a set of small images scattered around "the canvas" it wouldn't be something that was saleable.  A "commission work" similar to today's image would have to have a premium to the pricing.  The TAM (Total Available Market) for something like today's image is one, maybe two.  It's not something you'd be able to sell in the dozens or hundreds of copies.  Maybe the subject, his kids, his mom, his favorite uncle.  It has a limited market potential.  Therefore it demands a premium price.  If the image were of a famous athlete or actor (and you have a model release) you'd be able to, possibly, make thousands of dollars selling $25.00 posters.  That isn't the case with a personal commission.  Taking into consideration your time to do the shoot, your post production time, your marketing time, your production costs and whatever else you can think of to throw in there, you're probably talking of a selling price for a 20 x 24 framed print would probably run in the many hundreds of dollars range.  To find the key to making this type of digital image painting, hit the "Read More".
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Friday, March 8, 2013

Sports Montages With Photoshop

I'm kind of getting into these sports montages using Adobe Photoshop CS6 (CS6).  Today's image is a continuation of the discussion from Wednesday's post.  One of the biggest comments I can make to start with is that the past few montages/digital painting cannot be sold.  For this one in particular I was a guess of the team photographer and shooting for pleasure.  Something fun to do after a day's work.  It's always better to be shooting rather than shooting products shots or photoshopping something.   At least being out in the field you get to stand, stretch, move and not become a lump in a chair staring into a box.  The reason this image can't be sold is that I didn't get a model release.  I can do whatever I want for my own pleasure.  I can post it on the blog because I'm using it to demonstrate a concept.  I can toss it onto my iPAD to be able to show it to friends.  I can show it to clients to give them an idea what it is that I do.  What I can't do with it is make money off it.  Without that model release the only way I might be able to make a buck off the image is to sell it to the guy in the image.  He**, I'd probably give him a copy just to get the model release.  I wouldn't do it as a routine matter, but if I thought I could make some change selling additional copies, it might be worth the "investment".  I don't know how many "fans" this guy has, and the fee they'd be willing to pay probably isn't very high.  With a model release the image is worth about $300.00 - $400.00.  Without it, a cup of coffee.  Just goes to demonstrate the old axiom that, if you're a serious photographer, trying to make a living, you should always have model releases in your gear bag.  And don't be afraid to ask to get them signed.  In fact, with the motocross images I did a couple weeks ago the plan would be to have samples of the work at the track and charge a "sitting" fee at the track, before agreeing to shoot the rider.  With the advent of smart phone based transactions (Square for example) it would be easy to charge a fee, get a model release signed, and leave the track with cash (charged fees) in hand.  Well, this is a photography blog, not one dedicated to how to make money.  So, to find out about today's image, hit the "Read More".

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Photoshop Brushes All Day Long

Everything about today's image involves Brushes (B).  The only thing Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 was used for  was to select the shots that would make up today's image.  Spring training has started and, for the colleges, it looks like the season has begun in the southern states.  I suspect I'll be spending several evenings down at the local (next town over) baseball park where the NECBL (New England Collegiate Baseball League) plays.  The only problem is that the home team (where the money would be) wears the white (pinstripe) shirts.  Boring!  The closest away games are about a two hour drive.  Unless I can hookup with someone else going to the games I'll probably be shooting a lot of white shirts.  Well, you may have noticed today's image isn't exactly "out of the camera".  To find out what's going on with the image and where to get Brushes, hit the "read More".

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Monday, March 4, 2013

With Photoshop, Nothing Is As It Seems

Today's image isn't what it seems.  The "path" is actually a paved road in the town where I live in Connecticut.  The guy walking down the "path" is really in Vermont.  It's not really raining.  I called it "Summer Rain" because you can see the sun shining on the barn in the background.  So, we have the base image of the road, the image of the path laid over the road, the image of the guy walking and the non-image of the rain.  Why?  Just to play.  It's a Monday.  There's nothing on the schedule.  Might as well practice (play) with Adobe Photoshop CS6.  As usual, I found the components for the image using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.  As far as I'm concerned, the only DAM (Digital Asset Management) application I need.  I do admit, I stumbled upon the shot of the fellow walking.  I was looking through some shots of our Granddaughter and in the same folder were shots from a weekend in Vermont.  I checked, they are keyworded, so if I ever wanted to find those specific images I wouldn't have to rummage around blindly.  Just go to the Keyword List in LR4 and they'll pop up very quickly.  As you might suspect, there is a lot of choreography involved in the making of today's image, so let's get going.  Just hit the "Read More" to continue.
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Friday, March 1, 2013

Wednesday Q&A: Nesting Photoshop Smart Objects

I know, it's a little weird to do a Wednesday Q&A on a Friday, but that's the type of week it's been.  The diagram that makes up today's image shows in very little detail how I work with Smart Object on a very simple image.  It goes from bringing in the original RAW file from Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (LR4) to Adobe Photoshop CS6 (CS6) and the way I use Smart Objects to get to the Ready For Print version in CS6.  Using this diagram I can go all the way back to the image in LR4, make any LR4 adjustments I'd like and have them reflected all the way back up to the Ready For Print image.  I can make any changes in any step.  The work flow becomes completely non-destructive.  With this method you do not have any dead ends that would force you to start over at any point.  To see the list of what goes on in each step, hit the "Read More".
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