Monday, April 29, 2013

When Can't You Snap The Shutter?

I was giving my sister-in-law a ride down to one of the New York airports this morning and she was telling me this story about how she had gotten in trouble taking some pictures over at the local mall.  Now, mind you, she was taking pictures of the swans swimming around in the retention ponds outside the mall, beyond the parking lots.  A security guard (???) went over to her and said she couldn’t take pictures, it was against the law.  Yeah, right.  Today’s image presents sort of the two sides to that story.  It is a photograph, taken with a digital camera and “photoshopped” to look like a sketch.  The house is the Mark Twain House at Nook Farm in Hartford Connecticut.  It’s on private property as is the mall in this discussion.  If today’s image were a “real” sketch, the artist could have sat at the same spot, put up an easel and sketched away.  (Would have been a really nice pencil sketch, but you can probably find a hundred artists who could do it justice.)  At times, the (whatever it is) Nook Farm Association or Mark Twain Society or something invites/sponsors/encourages artists to do “en plein air” work in the yards.  I don’t know that the mall does the same type of thing, but it’s certainly something they “could” do.  So, the question is:  Canvas? Yes. Camera? No.  Hit the “Read More” to find out what’s up. 

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Friday, April 26, 2013

A Rant On Using Manual Exposure Mode On Your Camera

Raw images are notoriously dull.  Straight out of the camera there’s no sharpening, no contrast or color adjustment, no here’s Nikon’s (or Canon or Sony or whoever) best guess as to what the finished image should look like.  Take a look at this past Monday’s post.  It has a before (right out of the camera) and after (the lead image) and demonstrates where an image can be taken to by developing a RAW image.  Typically photographers fall into a few categories.  Those who shoot exclusively RAW and will develop an image.  Those who shoot exclusively JPG and let the camera make the decisions.  Those who consider what they’re shooting and why and decide either to shoot RAW or JPG.  If they’re shooting personal stuff that might become a portfolio piece, they shoot RAW.  If they’re shooting a local high school baseball game, they shoot JPGs to get the shots to the newspaper or school without needing to do additional work.  Then there’s another, rather odd duck, sort of shooter.  He/she will shoot everything in RAW.  If the images will be developed or printed as is, they still shoot RAW.  It’s rather bizarre.  Another case would be something that I came across the other night.  I was out doing some test shooting with some friends.  We have a night shoot coming up and were trying to get the parameters down.  Somehow the subject came up and one of the women said she only shoots in Manual mode.  She was very proud of that fact.  Now, she has one of the more expensive cameras out there.  I don’t understand why someone would buy an expensive computer (the camera) and then use it as if it was a shoebox.  Knowing her, she’s just not that capable enough to determine exposure just by looking at a scene.  It appears she’ll take a shot, say “oops, it’s too dark (or light)”, fiddle with the settings, try another shot and keep going.  Again, another bizarre thing to do to get an image.  I understand why she doesn’t shoot sports.  As we were shooting she would make comments like “I was at F10, but it was too dark.  I’ll switch to F 9 and try again”.  Really, was she so close to a great exposure that she was changing by 1/3 stops to get the absolute perfect exposure?  No, she was closed to 3 stops off than 1/3 of a stop.  I suggested she change it by a full stop.  She said she had, from F 10 to F9.  Where’s a rim shot when you need it?  (Music term, not photography.)  To find out my thoughts on using manual settings on a camera, hit the “Read More”.
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday Q&A: Import Issue In Lightroom For A Friend

I was out with a group of photographers last night and a friend asked me a question about importing images into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4. (I believe he said he hadn’t gone up to LR5 Beta yet.)  His file system is a date system, where the first level folder is the year.  The next level down is the month.  He said he was very faithful to Keywording.  If you’re absolutely on top of Keywording you could dump all your images into one giant folder and depend on Keywords to find any images you want.  Trick is you’d have to be 100% true to Keywording every image.  Naturally you can do it by the batch.  Highlight everything that has to do with the same subject and add the keywords to all of them at once.  You can also use the Paint spray can found at the bottom of the Grid View to apply Keywords just by “spraying” over images.  As with almost anything coming from Adobe, there’s a dozen different ways to accomplish a task.  The issue this friend had was ending up with a duplicate year folder filled with the same thing he puts in the folder he created.  To learn what the problem might be, hit the “Read More”.
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Using Lightroom 5 Beta Radial Filter All Over The Place

How do you get two weeks ahead in three plus hours?  You drive back from Cooperstown New York to Connecticut.  The foliage was two weeks behind up there.  We had snow (just a little) on the car as we were leaving Sunday morning and the temperature was just above freezing.  Brrr, for April 20th.  We went to Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  You’d think that was the reason for our visit.  Nope.  Cooperstown is also the home of the Farmer’s Museum.  We’re not farmers by any stretch of the imagine.  In fact, we don’t even like doing yard work, let alone farm something.  Today’s image was taken in the blacksmith’s shop at the museum.  Needless to say, it was pretty dark in there.  You can see the building next door through the window.  You can also see there’s another window off to the left.  Today’s image “could have been done” without Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Beta, but it would have been harder to control.  The Adjustment Brush could have been used.  The nice thing about the Radial Filter in LR5B is the control it offers.  Once you get to the second paragraph of today’s post you’ll see how many times the Radial Filter was used on today’s image.  Go ahead, hit the “Read More” and check it out.
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Friday, April 19, 2013

Antiquing With Photoshop & Lightroom & Nik & Topaz, Oh My

Can today’s image pass as an old photograph?  Perhaps a pencil sketch?  I don’t see why not.  It’s neither.  It’s a typical image, shot with a digital camera.  I don’t have a GPS fix on the location, but I’ve been past it often enough that I know exactly where it is.  It’s at the last crossroad going north on the Taconic Parkway in New York.  You can’t miss it.  There’s a gas station and a diner on the east side and this barn on the west side.  The funny thing about today’s image is that it took a lot of “high tech” work to get it to look old and pencil sketchy.  There must be a half dozen modified copies in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Beta from where I took a copy over to Adobe Photoshop CS6, messed with it and did a File/Save – File Close back to LR5B.  With every iteration something was done in each program.  To find out what a couple of the flip-flops entailed, hit the “Read More”.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday Q&A Adobe Lightroom 5 Best Guesses

A friend just bought Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 less than a month ago.  When the public Beta of Lightroom 5 was announced the other day I sent him an email with a link to a sneak preview and a review.  I was on the fence as to if I was going to download the Beta or wait for the RTM (release to manufacturing) version.  It took me two days to decide I needed/wanted the features of LR5.  Today’s image doesn’t look like it would have much to do with LR5, but it wouldn’t be possible without it.  At least not easily.  It’s not that today’s image didn’t take a couple trips over to Adobe Photoshop CS6, it certainly did.  It’s a partial digital painting.  I been slightly fixated on making photographic images look like painting/photograph hybrid.  Today it was taken to a wee bit of an extreme.  To find out was due to LR5 and what was because of CS6, Hit the “Read More”
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Monday, April 15, 2013

Photoshop Brushes And Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers

Face blurred because I don't have parental permission yet.
I was almost set with today’s image and was giving it a once over to make sure I was happy with the way it came out.  I wasn’t.  I didn’t particularly like the background colors in several Layers.  They just didn’t add any spark to the image.  I could have tossed the offending Layers, but that would mean redoing just about the entire background.  Luckily, each form and each color were on different Layers.  Layers are one of Adobe Photoshop’s magical things to work with.  (Layers have been around since Photoshop 3 [Not CS3.  Plain old 3].)  One of the things I do when attempting to “create” a “work of art” is label each of the Layers.  Not with some general title, but adding some detail.  A typical Layer might be something like: “green from turf – abstract 237 – opacity”.  That way, if I want to go back and add more Brush strokes or make changes I know what I’m looking for.  I know where to sample the color.  Will it be an exact match?  Maybe not, but it’ll be something above 95% the same color.  Close enough.  I’m be able what set of Brushes it came from.  Was it a cloud, a paint stroke, an abstract, a star field or a splatter?  I can get in the right area and I’ll know I played with the Opacity of either the Layer or the Brush.  Seeing as its one color and one shape on one Layer, it really (in this case) doesn’t matter which Opacity I change.  To understand the color changes that can be made, hit the “Read More”.
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Friday, April 12, 2013

Would Rockwell Use Photoshop To Do His Stockbridge Main Street?

Norman Rockwell was (is) one of America’s greatest visual story tellers.  A flat out statement.  That’s my opinion of his value to the interpretation of American life in the twentieth century.  One of his most famous works is titled “Home for Christmas” or, alternately “Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas”.  There are several differences between today’s image and Rockwell’s masterpiece.  The most obvious is probably the fact that his truly is a “masterpiece” and mine is not.  Take a look at today’s image and Rockwell’s painting and you will see the same buildings.  They’re really there (at least they’re somewhere) along Main Street in Stockbridge Massachusetts.  Today’s image doesn’t carry as far down the street and doesn’t include the venerable Red Lion Inn, but it captures (I think) the spirit of his painting.  There is one thing the two do have in common.  You can’t see the scene as presented in either the painting or today’s image.  The backdrop of Main Street Stockbridge is the neighborhood behind the stores, not a vista of the hills to the south.  Basically, there are no hills behind the buildings.  It just falls off looking like many Main Streets.  In the image you’re looking south.  The hills (they ain’t mountains by any stretch of the imagination) run north south, with one set not too far to the east and the western set being a good distance away.  To learn where those mountains are and how they got into today’s image, hit the “Read More”.
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday Q & A: When To Use Photoshop's Eraser Tool --- Never!

I look through a lot of tutorials.  Some have some interesting tricks that I’ll incorporate into my workflow.  But!  I’ll tell you where I lose my curiosity.  As soon as the mention of the Adobe Photoshop CS6 (and before)’s Eraser Tool (E) comes up, I’m out of there.  I might flip through to see how the tutorialist (hey, somebody has to make up new words) gets to their finished product, but as far as thinking I might learn a trick or two, no thanks.  I haven’t used the Eraser Tool in at least a half dozen years.  As far as I’m concerned, there’s just no use for it.  My recommendation, for anyone trying to learn something from internet tutorials, is to have a red flag/fireworks/a distress signal of any stripe go off at the point where the “educator” first mentions the Erase Tool.  Take a look at today’s image.  Obviously I’m not trying to impress anyone with a wonderful work of art.  It’s strictly there as a means of explaining my advice to anyone using the Eraser Tool in Photoshop.  It’s a one word suggestion/recommendation/nudge/command/shout/warning.  STOP.  TO see my explanation and why I’m saying it, hit the “Read More”.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wednesday Q&A: How Do You Reset "Color" In The Lightroom Adjustment Brush?

Today’s image is just eye candy.  It has nothing to do with the question at hand.  I’ve been asked this same question twice in the past two weeks and have recently seen erroneous answers to it from (of all people) “The Photoshop Guys”.  Specifically, both Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski.  Today’s post is going to be one of the shortest ever.  Don’t even bother hitting the “Read More” down at the bottom of the post.  There won’t be anything more to read.  For the proper answer (and I know there are a dozen different ways to do something in Lightroom or Photoshop), let’s make it a little bit of a quiz.  Or maybe it’s better stated as an exercise in deduction.  Let’s go.

·         If you have the Adjustment Brush selected in Adobe Lightroom 4 and the Exposure is set to some increased value, how can you reset it to exactly zero?  Answer:  Double click on the word Exposure.

·         Still using the Adjustment Brush, how might you reset the Clarity slider to zero?  Answer:  Double click on the word Clarity.

·         Here it comes!!!  Even still with the Adjustment Brush active, what might you do to zero out the Color Picker?  Hmmm, let me think about that one.  Ya wanna guess what you would do to reset the Color to a zero value.  You guessed it.  Double click on the word Color.

Now that wasn’t so hard to deduce, was it?  (Apologies to Scott and Matt for picking on them.)
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Monday, April 1, 2013

My Thoughts On Windows 8

Today’s image is just a different take on a vintage baseball shot I did a few weeks ago. Rather than color I went for a sepia tone and put a texture on the image.  But, today’s post is my thoughts and opinions about my experience with Microsoft Windows 8.  Daily I have people visiting the Gallery from Microsoft.  It started as a trickle (visits from Microsoft in Hialeah, Florida) and has grown so there are now visits from Microsofties  from coast to coast and as far away as Japan.  I’m happy for the support, love to see you “guys” taking an interest in The Kayview Gallery and hope you’re enjoying what you’ve been reading.  Something tells me you won’t be quite as enamored with my experience with MS Windows 8.  Hit the “Read More” to checkout my opinions of Win 8 "on my machine".

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