Monday, December 15, 2014

Photoshop Can Take You Places You Can't Go

Click on image to enlarge.
Today's image is a composite, but probably not what you think.  The sky was actually there and the cascade can be found by driving up the Kancamagus Highway a couple miles west of the Albany Covered Bridge.  Both places have been the subjects of posts in the past.  One on October 19, 2012 and the other on October 29, 2012.  Check 'em out.  It goes to what you can make someone believe in an image.  To find out why today's image is "believable", hit the "Read More".

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Using Curves Adjustment Layers In Photoshop (or Elements) To Enhance Shading

Click image to enlarge.
Today's image is my take on one of the iconic shots of a Maine lighthouse.  It was taken at about 6:30 AM with the sun just about to come over the horizon.  I did a post about the actual sunrise a while back (Link) that was a much darker image.  Today's was taken earlier (sunrise was 6:54 AM), but is considerably lighter.  You can infer a couple things from that fact,  One, I got up way too early for being on vacation, two the detail is there in your digital image, and I changed location for the sunrise shot (went further out on the rocks).  To find out what was done in post, hit the "Read More".

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Targeted Use Of Lightroom's Radial Filter Tool

Angle of view is an important aspect of getting an interesting shot.  Today's image can be thought of as having been shot as a heroic portrait.  Heroic meaning taken from a low angle, raising the subject.  The term "heroic", in this case, has nothing to do with the exploits of the subject.  Just how the shot was composed.  The young lady was very helpful in achieving this pose by being on a set of four or five foot tall stilts.  She just happened to be a performer at a helium balloon filling party on the streets (or rather "a street") of Stamford Connecticut.  I was there as a part of a photo "Meetup" outing.  The second one I've attended and I have to say, they seem to be a fun way to get out and shoot in a different environment than typical.  To learn what today's image "needed" in post processing, hit the "Read More".

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

What "Makes" An Image Using Lightroom

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Today's image is a Cyanotype of a night shot at Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park in Maine.  The big question is what "makes" the image.  If you look at the books you'll see that, for a landscape, you should have a foreground, a middle and a background in order to create the depth of a three dimensional place on a two dimensional platform (the paper).  We have the rocks and sand providing the foreground interest.  "The Bubbles" (the two hills) as a middle ground and the Big Dipper (in the sky) as the background.  Without any of the three there would be no "picture".  But, none of them are what "makes" the image.  To find out what I consider to be the most important piece of the image, hit the "Read More".

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Are Point And Shoot Cameras Dead?

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The simple answer is yes.  Next time you're in Best Buy or B&H or Jessops in London or Yodobashi in Tokyo take a look at the selection of P&S (point and shoot) cameras on hand.  If you have  (or haven't) been in a large store, carrying a serious number of camera choices, in the past year you'll be shocked at how few P&S cameras are available.  Last year a young fellow who had worked for me at Intel sent me an email saying his fiancĂ© was interested in a P&S.  He asked for some choices as to what to buy.  To see what my advice was at that time, hit the "Read More".

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Street Photography And Finishing An Image Using Lightroom

This Saturday past there was an interesting event down in Stamford (Connecticut).  They had a pre-parade Helium balloon filling "party", with street performers, musicians, and "characters" of all stripes.  Some were there as part of the entertainment.  Others, not so much, but still quite amusing.  The subject of today's image showed up just as dusk was settling in.  Because of the changing light it was easier to use the expensive computer (the camera) as a shoe box (shoot in manual mode) and not trust the camera to make any decisions.  I'm big on using the technology available whenever possible.  Typically, I make the decisions and let the camera do the heavy lifting of figuring out how to execute my vision.  Sometimes, rather than arguing with the machine, its easier to do the decision making and setting the parameters of the shot.  To get an idea of the thinking behind today's image and see how it was finished, hit the "Read More".

The first decision was to shoot wide open.  As I said, dusk was falling so I wanted to gather as much light as possible.  Next was a dance between shutter speed and ISO setting.  It happens that today's image was shot at 1/250th of a second at a sensor sensitivity (ISO) of 3200.  Plenty fast enough to freeze any "action" in this image.  Other shots at the event went as high as 1/1250 at 6400 (some things happened faster than Santa touching his finger to his lips).  The image you see is pretty much what came out of the camera.

Finishing tweaks were done in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) primarily using the Gradient Tool to bring up the detail in the beard and "fur" on the hat.  There was plenty of detail in the whites that just needed to be brought out.  Each side of the beard was given a little negative exposure, a little reduction of Highlights and a small amount of positive Clarity.  Once that was done I right clicked on the Pin and chose Duplicate.  Two things were done with the Duplicates.  One was to leave the Duplicate right where it was and double the settings on that side of the beard.  The second was to drag another Duplicate to the other side of the beard, turn it to match the angle and then Duplicate that. (Again to double the "impact" of the settings.)

Another Duplicate was moved, spun, applied to the fur of the hat and the image was finished.  All that was left was a little Sharpening in the Detail Panel.  Take a look at the enlargement of the image.  Checkout the fine hairs in the beard and fur.  Detail in the whites is the key to today's image. Read more!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Holding Detail At Both Ends Of The Histogram Using Adobe Lightroom

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We came upon the site of today's image (Coos Canyon) while wandering around the back roads of Maine heading to the Rangeley Lakes area.  It always intrigues me that people think white water is white.  That and black rocks are black.  I see too many images with blown out white and blocked up blacks. There's a fellow in the village we live in who always has his prints up for sale in any "art space" available.  I have to say they are some very nice images except for the fact that his shadow detail is nonexistent.  In each print, there's nothing in the shadows.  Just blackness.  I guess he doesn't see this as a flaw.  The typical tonal range of an eight bit image goes from zero to two fifty five.  To find out how much of that range I use, hit the "Read More" . 
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Friday, November 7, 2014

Using Adobe Lightroom's Radial Filter To Emulate Traditional Japanese Art Look

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Today's image is actually pretty straight, once it got out of the camera.  It's a five image multiple exposure - in camera.  The Nikon D 300 it was shot with has the capability of going up to ten exposures without advancing the sensor (kind of like not advancing the film in "the old days").  Some of the cameras around today can do a max of three exposures.  Typically, the higher end you go the more exposures you can capture.  One of the big things to remember if you're going to try something like this would be to set the Auto Gain setting in the camera to "on".  This setting will do the heavy lifting of the math needed so the image doesn't become just a blown out mess.  To understand the reference in today's title, hit the "Read More".

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Dropping One Hundred Adjustment Pins In Lightroom

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Today's image comes right out of my mind.  (Some friends think that's a symptom of a much larger issue.)  It's a composite of three shots.  The barn is on Zimmermann's farm in the Pennsylvania Poconos.  The two "gentleman farmers" can be found in Colonial Williamsburg,  Virginia.  I thought it might be interesting to have a discussion between neighbors with one very serious and the other taking a more light hearted view of the goings on.  The positioning of the two tries to give the impression of depth in the barn.  The interior of the barn isn't an HDR effect.  It was shot using a reflector to bounce sunlight through a door and light up the entire space.  But, this post is about "dropping Pins" in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR).  To find out where they are, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, October 27, 2014

Going Crazy With Lightroom's Radial Filter

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Today's image is a "finished" image and how it got there.  On top is, obviously, the end result.  I've included the bottom image to show the use of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom's (LR) Radial Filter.  I've seen a couple photographers who have used the Radial Filter once and thought that was it.  Sort like the Crop Tool would be used.  You make your Crop and you're done.  Of course you can go in and readjust your Crop, but it's a one shot deal.  Just by looking you can probably tell that a lot more has been done to the image than just LR's Radial Filter.  The sequence can be found if you hit the "Read More".

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Using Photoshop Layer Masks To Add Interest

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Today's image is another from last weekend's workshop in the Poconos.  We were shooting in George W. Childs Park in Dingmans Ferry Pennsylvania.  According to the sign at the entrance it's run as part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.  It's one of the nicest parks we've been to as far as access goes.  Wide crushed rock trails, wooden stairs to get down the steepest parts, overlooks with benches, just great for what we were doing (photography).  If your thing is the wilderness experience, not so much.  It has a series of waterfalls and offers a myriad of vantage points for shooting.  Today's image is there, kind of.  To see what "kind of" means, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Using Lightroom's Radial Filter To Add Emphasis

We spent this past weekend with some friends (and made some new ones) at PEEC (Pocono Environmental Education Center) for a photo workshop with John Barclay.  Had a good time, laughed a little, shot a lot, slept on a rock (at least that's what the mattress felt like), and learned a new photographic technique.  During John's welcoming presentation he showed some of his work, including a technique he referred to as "swiping".  I'll let the cat out of the bag and reveal his "secret" technique after you hit the "Read More"
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fading A Mask To Produce An Effect

We were up in Maine shooting around Acadia National Park last week and did a couple of "photo walks".  One was a night photography "safari" in the park with "Acadia Photo Safari".  Howie Motenko is the owner and guide.  Nice guy, knows some of the better spots for photography in the area and was very willing to help anyone on the trip with any technical issues.  For us, the big reason to signup was not so much any help with photography but because he knew the back roads and shortcuts getting from one site to another.  If you're at the national park I'd really recommend taking one of Howie's tours.  The other thing we did was take part in Scott Kelby's World Wide Photo Walk.  I've lead walks for the past five years and this was the first one where we were participants.  We didn't do just one, we did two.  The morning was in Acadia with guess who.  Howie and his gang from Mount Desert Island Photo Club.  Great group of people.  Very friendly.  The afternoon/evening walk was in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, about three hours back down the coast from Acadia.  Also a good time and the combination of the night shoot and the Boothbay walk resulted in today's image.  To see how it was done, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Making A Scenic Image - Foreground, Middleground & Background

"O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!  He chortled in his joy." Or so says Lewis Carroll in Jabberwocky about happening on something that gave some measure of pleasure.  What photographer hasn't smiled when he/she comes across a scene where all the pieces just fall into place.  An interesting foreground, something to rest an eye on in the middle range and a non-boring distant view.  Something to look at in each part of an image.  Such is the case in today's image.  Or is it?  To find out, hit the "Read More".

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Getting Rid Of The Hot Bits

We went out shooting with some friends a couple weeks ago.  One of the things I tend to do when in that type of setting is take a couple shots of the people I'm with.  The fellow in today's image is a very good photog and becoming a pretty good friend. (Hi Ed.)  There are two different types of lighting and, obviously, Ed wasn't shooting giant, mutant flowers.  I was shooting using a Nikon 85mm Micro with a Nikon R1 close up rig attached.  So, the flower, although shot in bright sunlight did have a bit of controlled lighting on it.  You can see, in the lower left, that the area behind the flower is fairly dark for being shot in broad daylight.  That's the beauty of using speedlights to over power the sun.  To find out how I tamed the light falling on Ed, hit the "Read More".

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Does Anyone Know What They're Talking About Anymore?

I was going to start the heading with a more sever version of an acronym for "What The Heck".  Seems like no one has any idea what they're talking about concerning photography today.  A friend of mine was judging a camera club photo competition the other day, so I went over to say hello and see what people had to offer.  There was an "assigned subject" of macro photography.  Of about fifty images, maybe three or four qualified as macro.  The rest were close up at best and some were just plain snapshots of nearby things.  My friend kept pointing out (correctly) that this or that image really didn't qualify as macro.  At one point one of the competitors (I'm guessing he had something entered) began loudly complaining about the judge not fairly judging the quality of the image.  The judge tried to explain that the first consideration was if the image was a macro shot.  It wound up with one of the club's officers reading a definition of macro photography.  My "rant" will continue after the "Read More".

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Emphasizing The Details

Today's image is obviously of a white flower (and a bee).  White can get blown out fairly easily and losing detail can happen in a heartbeat.  Today we have wonderful tools to recover a little, some or most of what an original scene has going for it.  In today's image the detail is there.  It's a question of finding and exploiting it.  My first attempt wound up with an image that showed every vein, and shade in each petal.  Unfortunately it was just too dark overall.  This second attempt version strikes a better balance.  The detail is still there, just not as blatant.  Rather than starting over, I switched to another "trick" to make things a little more right.  The difference between the first and second methods can be found by hitting the "Read More".

The first method is one I've written about on a semi-regular basis.  From Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) the image was sent over to Adobe Photoshop (PS).  There a couple of Curves Adjustment Layers were applied.  One for the highlights and the other for the shadows.  The highlights were jacked up and the shadows pushed down.  The included Layer Masks were Inverted (CTRL I [eye]) to black to hide the overall effect.  A small (10 pixel) relatively hard (95%) Brush (B) was then used to define each light and dark area.  The Masks were then given a Gaussian Blur (Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur) strong enough to make the individual lines disappear.  Flipping the Visibility Icon (the eyeball) on and off showed what had been done.

The second round was after seeing the image on an iPad.  It was just too dark.  I use the iPad as a reference tool to check what others might see looking at an image.  When I saw what it looked like I checked it on an HP Slate and two smart phones.  Yep, too dark.

I didn't think another trip from LR to PS was necessary, so the whole "correction" was done in LR.  The overall brightness was brought up about a half a stop.  Then the image was enlarged to 1:1 and the visible area brought over the rear petals.  The Adjustment Brush was made very small with a very large feather.  The preset for Burning was set and each shaded (ya can't even call it a shadow) area darkened.  This added some apparent "depth" to the petals.  Anything darker seems to be deeper and anything lighter tends to look closer.  By placing a "shadow" next to a highlight a flow of light and dark can be made.  This gives contour to an object.

Not that it was done on today's image, but adding light and dark can add contour even when there is none.  Try it.  Take a solid colored screen and do the PS technique.  You'll see that you can put ripples onto a flat sheet of paper.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

A Little Joel Grimes - A little Glyn Dewis In My Soup Ala Mambo #5

As it says in the Billy Joel song "John at the bar is a friend of mine".  In this case the bar might be a bar of steel or aluminum.  We sort of went for an environmental portrait in the shot.  The head of a combined wood working and metal working shop asked me to take a few shots of some of the fellows.  For most it was a case of lighting the person against a green screen and shooting the shop totally separate from the person.  John was the exception.  The shot is pretty straight forward.  I'd set up three speedlights around his playground.  The metal working portion of the shop.  The plan was the same as other places, but this just popped into the viewfinder.  John is what's known as a raconteur, a storyteller, a conversationalist, a wit.  He was just there, holding court, with me sitting across his bench.   I'd just set up three lights, gave them a quick glance and thought "we might have something here". I (and others) think it's a pretty good likeness of a fine character.  The "trick" to today's image is what happened after the shutter clicked (oh good, now I sound like I'm channeling Joe McNally).  To find out about the finishing of today's image, hit the "Read More".
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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Just A Little Silliness

It's sunflower season around here and the farms are having "sunflower weekends".  We've been to a couple lately.  One over at Buttonwood Farms in Griswold, CT and the other at Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, CT.  One of the really nice things about both events is that the proceeds from the weekends go to charity.  Buttonwood's goes to Sunflowers For Wishes and Lyman's to the Connecticut Children's Medical Center Pediatric Cancer Unit.  Today's image is from the Lyman Orchard event.  It was sort of an overcast day with little pockets of blue dotting the mottled sky.  I came across the subject of today's image and it just reminded me of a spikey haired body builder in mid pose.  It's just a fun image, but I couldn't leave well enough alone.  It's not HDR, but to find out what it is, hit the "Read More"

Most of the work on today's image was done in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR).  It was over Sharpened and given way too much Clarity using the Adjustment Brush to bump up the grittiness.

It then took a trip over to Adobe Photoshop CC (PS) it get even more definition using two Curves Adjustment Layers.  One with the curve brought to a hyper brightness range.  (About one quarter in from the right brought up about 90% up to the top of the curve.)  and the other brought to a very low shadow depth.  (About one quarter in from the left brought down about 90% to the bottom of the curve.)  Both masks were inverted (CTRL I [eye]) to hide the effects.

Every highlight and every shadow was then traced using a white Brush (B) set to about 10 pixels width and ninety five percent hardness.  Once drawn, both Masks were Blurred until the only thing left was the enhanced brightness or darkness.  (about twenty to thirty percent)  Flipping on and off the Layer (clicking on and off the eyeball to the left of the Layer Thumbnail) shows the changes.  Too much, reduce the Blur.  Too little, increase the Blur.

It was just an exercise in being a little silly with an image. Read more!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Not Using Layers. Is That Even An Option?

A buddy of mine is an artist.  A real artist, with paints and brushes and canvas and an easel and everything.  He's not exactly a dabbler.  Between his "collection" and his personal work he just sold one painting and went out and bought himself a new car.  The guy's pretty serious. He's been represented by some big name galleries and his personal paintings fetch four and five figure prices.  The reason I bring him up is that he once asked a fellow giving an Adobe Photoshop (PS) class if he always used Layers.  The guy looked at him like he was from another planet and simply said "yes".  My friend is a physical artist.  He has only one "Layer" to use.  The canvas before him.  The paint goes on in "layers", but "the Background Layer" never changes.  Here's something from YouTube showing someone producing an entire image digitally using only one Layer.  Obviously, it can be done.  I can't, but others can.  If I didn't have dozens of Layers, hidden behind multiple (and nested) Smart Objects, I doubt I'd be doing much more than making stick figures.  I've included a screen shot of the Layers Pallet for today's image.  Check it out by hitting the "Read More".
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Selling The Fake

Today's image comes from an Indian powwow held at Foxwoods Casino over the weekend.  It is definately not what it looks like.  The "fake" in the title of the post doesn't have anything to do with the young woman dancing.  She was great.  Very energetic, getting her fringe going every which way.  I'm certainly no expert (not even close), but there appeared to be a similarity to the Hawaiian Hula.  The dancing seemed to be very "story telling".  Looking to the ground.  Looking to the sky.  Looking out at the distance.  I didn't know the stories the dancers were telling, but each dancer was "acting" out a piece of tribal history.  I saw it again and again, from dance to dance.  There was a smoke dance, a shawl dance, a harvest dance and the men were "telling a story" in the war dance.  If you paid some attention you could pair up which people belonged together.  The head dress, the style of clothing, the tools and utensils were different enough from tribe to tribe to be able (for the outsider) to pick out sets of people.  The dancers were very gracious with their time, explaining where their tribe was from, what era their dress represented, and a little history or fun fact about their ancestors.  To find out what "the fake" is in today's image, hit the "Read More"

Today's image is actually two separate images.  The dance was part of a crowd out in the dance circle and the "background" was a couple hundred people sitting around under their shade, watching the dancing.  Extraction of the dancer was made "easier" with Topaz Labs ReMask 3.  It still didn't come easy, just easier.  ReMask had a hard time with the internal spacing of the fringe

The corn was behind a rail fence that "needed" to be removed.  Easy enough with the Healing Brush (J) found in Adobe Photoshop CC (PS) (and earlier versions).  The big gotcha there was making sure all the Blurring was done before removing the fence.

One thing that had to be addressed was the big olde number on her shawl, facing me like a big olde beacon.  It was right in the corner and covered a quarter of design.  That had to be rebuilt by taking pieces and doing quite a bit of Free Transform (CTRL T) work.  The general shade of the pieces were formed using the Lasso Tool (L), then moved, spun around and warped.  The Free Transform Tool does it all.  Make a Selection using the Lasso Tool (L), Copy to a New Layer (CTRL J), bring up Free Transform, drag to the area needing to be patched, put the cursor just outside the bounding box and spin the Selection to somewhat match the area needing the patch, right click inside the box to bring up options, choose Warp and pull the handles to made the patch fit exactly.  Easy-peasy.  The big trick is taking your time to fit all the straight edges.  It takes a little time.

One more little trick.  The sun was casting a big time shadow.  Rather than recreating her shadow I made it part of the Selection and matched the grass in front of the corn to the grass in the shadow. 

Destination shooting is the way to go.  The Powwow was on the other side of the state, but the shots were there.  Much better than driving around aimlessly, burning the same amount of gas and maybe finding something to shoot. Read more!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Shooting At The Right Time Of Day

They say there's only a couple "right" times of the day to do landscape/wildlife/magical photography.  Ya got your blue hour, ya got the golden hour, ya got what ya get when you go out.  That last one is an issue when the gating factor is a wife who likes to sleep late and eat as the sun goes down.  Every once in a while I can convince her that God made sunrises and sunsets for photographers.  The first evening we got out to Elk country (Benezett, PA which is literally in Elk County, Pennsylvania) we went up to "the" prime area for catching sight of elk.  The sun was about a half hour from setting and as soon as we got there we saw three elk on the edge of the ridge.  They were about a football field or more away, so they looking pretty small in the viewfinder.  Twenty minutes before sunset the field started filling in.  A couple yearlings trotted in from the right.  Some cows came up over the rise.  Calves began springing up as though they had been planted there.  About fifteen minutes before the sun went over the crest of the far off hills the field was overrun with about sixty or seventy cows, yearlings and calves,  Not one bull was in the mix.  Seems bull elk are a tad chauvinistic in the early days of August and tend to hang out in some sort of elk testosterone driven boy's club.  They, basically, don't have anything to do with raising they kids.  But, to hear about what we actually did see, hit the "Read More".

Adult elk run about 700 pounds.  They are apparently aware of this fact and they look at adult humans with distain.  They knew we were in their backyard and also knew cameras were no threat.  Now, elk aren't deer and they don't bounce around at high speed as a deer might.  They just sort of amble along, giving you a look as if to say "if you don't move I'm just going to walk right over you.  I weight 700 pounds and you don't."

A cow was walking through the field with her calf in tow.  Seems mother elks are not that much different than mother/father humans.  It looked like she had had enough of her frolicking youngster and just needed some alone time.  She obviously knew of the apple tree across the road (she probably did not know what a road was) and as calmly as could be walked right past the gawkers (within fifteen feet of Doris) and lay down under the tree.  In the mean time her calf was a little more leery of humans.  The calf wouldn't cross some mystical line between her/him and the humans.  Instead, the calf stood, toes on the line, and yelled out "mommmm, mommmm".  I swear, that's what it sounded like the calf was saying.  Mom, on the other hand, just sat there munching on the apples, facing away from her charge.  I guess mother elk can get just as frustrated with uncontrollably exuberant kids as any of us.

The elk do tend to move from place to place.  The next night the team meeting was held in someone's front yard about a half mile down the road.  The third day it was by a cabin on the ridgeline across a small valley.  If you get the chance, visit Benezette Pennsylvania to get an "elk experience".

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Monday, August 11, 2014

The Piece Of A Photographer's Kit That No One Talks About

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We were on the road again last week.  This time it was "The Wilds" (literarily, that's what they call it) of Pennsylvania.  That area northeast of Pittsburgh and northwest of everything else.  We went there to shoot (photographically of course) Elk.  The area around the little (really little) town of Benezett (that's the way it's spelled in town.  On the maps it's Benezette.) has the largest herd of elk east of the Mississippi River.  About 700 - 800 head.  I'll get to the elk in the next post.  Today must serve as a warning to all photographers.  Anywhere you look (books, magazines, podcasts etc.) you'll find discussions, suggestions and recommendations about what the well turned out photog "should" have in his/her "kit".  (That's the Englishmen's term for gear.  I sort of like the term.  Sounds more fun than gear.)  There's one piece I never hear discussed.  I'd put it up there with a tripod or additional lenses and ahead of a second body.  It's so needed that I've determined I can't live without it anymore.  Before venturing out on another sojourn I have to equip myself with this gear or I might end up in a hospital near you.  It's that important.  To find out what this piece of "kit" is, hit the "Read More".

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Why Can't Folks Believe I'm Not A Painter, Just An Image Manipulator

People look at some of my work and compliment me on my "artwork".  Okay, I think of it as art, but they're confusing it with paint, brushes, an easel and a pretty serious mess.  The best I can do with "real" art is draw a stick figure, and maybe some people might have a hard time figuring that out.  No, I'm a photographer who can't leave well enough alone.  As I've said several times over the past few years, a properly exposed digital negative (which is actually a positive image) is the goal "in the camera".  What happens after that is totally up to the mind of the maker.  I've spoken about Bill Eppridge a couple times in the past.  He was a photog for Life magazine in its heyday.  His iconic image of a dying Robert F Kennedy is probably his most famous image.  I attended a talk he gave one time.  In it he showed the print that he said kickstarted his career.  Follow the link (his name) and you'll see the image.  It's a white horse in a meadow with a threatening sky.  He won a national prize of some sort for the image and brought him to the attention of the photography power brokers of the day.  During his talk he explained that he had spent the better part of an entire day in the darkroom, making print after print, refining his dodging and burning until he had the image he saw in his mind.  The point is that what comes out of the camera is the start of the photographic process, not the end.  Today's image is the end result of a "good" digital negative.  How it got to it's present condition?  Hit the "Read More" to find out.

Today's image started out just screwing around with a properly exposed, lackluster image.  A nice memory of a train engineer.  I've used several other images from the same shoot, but the shot of the engineer was trivial.  Just a grab shot as I walked down along the train.  After my "experiment" with Topaz Labs' (TL) Simplify (previous post) I went looking for other sorts of images that might "benefit" from a trip through LR Simplify.  The engineer always had a stern look him and I could see removing a lot of the detail might make it stand out.  The route to today's image is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) to TL Simplify to LR to Adobe Photoshop (PS) to LR.  Each step was necessary to achieve specific goals.

Everything starts in LR.  I use it exclusively for all my DAM (Digital Asset Management) work.  It's where I store and find every image.  It's also where I make my basic adjustment before shipping an image out to anything.  It's sort of like a yoyo.  You let the string out to other plugins or applications and pull it back for storage.  Once any basic tasks were taken care of the image went out to TL Simplify.  (Photo/Edit In/Fusion Express 2 (64 bit)/Simplify 2).  From there I went through several iterations of the defaults to find a good starting place.  I ended up in Harsh Color Painting (?).  Some of the sliders were played with to get the "right" amount of simplification versus detail.  Once satisfied the yoyo was wound back up on the spool and the image returned to LR.

I felt the details weren't strong enough, so I let the yoyo out again and sent the image to PS (Photo/Edit in/Open in Photoshop as a Smart Object).  Two Curves Adjustment Layers were added.  One for the Shadows and one for the Highlights.  (Do a Google search on Scott Kelby to find out how to use this Dodging and Burning method.)  I actually used two sets.  One for the shirt and another set for his face.  Every highlight was brightened and every shadow was deepened.  This produces an "almost" three dimensional effect to the image.  Once that was done it was time to pull back the yoyo again and have the doctored image retract back to LR (File/Save - File/Close).

Back in LR the "details" were corrected and/or added.  The left shoulder of the shirt was blown out.  Using the Adjustment Brush a similar color was "painted" on both the shirt and the cap.  Shadows were added to both.  Color adjustments were made using the HSL tab, taking some of the red out of his face.  A little bit a Sharpening and a slight Vignette finished off the image. 

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Topaz Labs Simplify - Who Knew?

Topaz Labs (TL) just came out with a new version of it's Remask plugin.  It's a free upgrade if you're already a Topaz Suite user and some minimal cost if you'd be interested in it as a stand alone.  (With the suite pricing I can't imagine why anyone would pick and choose individual pieces.)  I've really struggled with earlier versions of Remask, so I figured I'd download their newest and see what I thought.  Not bad, much improved from what I've played with from them before.  The caveat is that I can still do complex masks quicker using Adobe Photoshop (PS) Calculations if there's a lot of interior detail.  (The sky showing through the leaves of a tree for example.)  I tried a couple of "outline" only things (flowers, etc.) and the TL Remask does a very good job on those types of selections.  While I was playing around with the Topaz Suite plugins I thought I'd take a look at a couple other pieces I've never played with.  Today's image comes from TL's Simplify.  I was pleasantly surprised, not that today's image is a simple as you might think.  To find out why, hit the "Read More"

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Untouched By Photoshop

Today's image is a little down stream from the site of the previous post.  It was taken on the way to the falls, not after the fall down the falls.  (See previous post.)  You can see that there is a definite uphill component to the stream.  As with all flowing water, there are drops and there are quiet spots.  You can see one of the "quiet spots" toward the top of the image.  Had I scrambled about fifteen yards upstream this would have been a shot of the pool, filled with reflections.  The power of the water would have been lost in the apparent stillness.  All the way up to the falls I took five shot sequences with one stop bracketing.  Between last week's image and today's image neither area a result of HDR.  To find out what I did to both images, hit the "Read More".

The "specs" on the shot are ISO 200, F 22 @ 1/2 second.  The "companion" shots for HDR ranged from 1/4 second to 4 seconds.  As you can see, the image is based on the one stop above the darkest image of the set.  The big reason for that is that it was dark in there.  The camera's meter bases what it thinks is a "proper" exposure by trying create a neutral gray average to the shot.  When it reads a scene that it calculates to really dark, the camera adjusts upward.  Therefore, the darkest shot (the 1/4 second shot) is still fairly bright compared to what the eye would see.  Using one of the images from the longer exposures would have left blown out highlights.

As is noticeable, there are some bright areas and some darker areas in today's images.  For me, this is a pretty straight image.  It never made the trip from Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) to Adobe Photoshop (PS).  Now, that is unusual for an image from me.  I'm typically adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing something in an image that can't be done in LR.  Not today!  100% LR.  The boulders on each side of the stream were brightened.  The green moss deepened,  The color of the rocks warmed up using the Color space in the Adjustment Brush.  I've found an amazing amount of control can be developed using that Color box.  Once you get a shade of color that's semi close to what you're looking for you have all the "tools" (sliders) of the Adjustment Brush available to you.  Not exactly the color you were thinking of?  Use the Temperature and Tint sliders.  Not a deep enough shade?  Use Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, or Clarity to zero in on what you feel is ideal.

The water also took a hit using the Color block of the Adjustment Brush.  The water was a nondescript sort of gray.  No life to it at all.  Giving it a little blue cooled the water off and made it look a slight bit more translucent.  (Even though it isn't.)  The quiet pool was hit with another Adjustment Brush pin and made a little greener to accent the reflection of the trees.

All told, about fifteen to twenty individual Adjustment Brush pins were dropped in various parts of the image.  Getting a good digital negative, in camera, should be the goal of every photographer.  Developing that digital negative into a useable image is what one section of post processing is all about.  If Ansel Adams or Alfred Stieglitz, or Matthew Brady had had access to LR they would have embraced it in order to "develop" their images.  Read more!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Two Sliced Up Legs and A Black Eye

Every once in a while it gets a little tricky to "get the shot".  That was the case this past weekend.  I'd read about a waterfall in Keene, New Hampshire.  We were staying there after attending a conference in the area.  Only problem was that no one in town seemed to know where this waterfall was.  Asked the grizzled old timer at the gas station that was right out of the movie Deliverance.  Even he didn't know what the heck I was talking about.  Asked a cop.  "No such place." I was told.  Of course he looked like a high school kid, so tromping around the woods probably took a backseat to video games as he was growing up.  We finally tracked it down.  The access was at the end of a residential road.  There was a trail marker with some information.  The falls was about three quarters of a mile up an abandoned section of the road.  So off we went with a pair of cargo shorts stuffed to the gills with filters, accessories, a cable release, $3.86 worth of change, packets of powdered lemonade (no water) and assorted items designed to weigh me down.  To learn what today's title refers to, hit the "Read More".
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Monday, June 30, 2014

What Did You Do To This Image?

Some friends ask me that all the time. They assume (naturally or not) that I must have messed with the original image in some way. Often they can see that I've done "something" because it's pretty darn obvious. Flip back through a few posts and you'll see several examples. But! Sometimes an image looks pretty straight and it's been worked to death. I get a kick out of those who say "I like to get it right in the camera". I like to get a well exposed digital negative. Today's digital negative is a digital positive, but what I'm getting at is that I like to get all the information I need on a properly exposed NEF file. (If I'm going for a straight image and not some HDR thing.) If you go to the "absolute" people who want the image to magically come out of the camera ready to go, do you know who you'd be eliminating? How about Ansel Adams? Bill Eppridge. Alfred Stieglitz. Any of the masters of film photography. Adams is quoted as saying "thee negative is comparable to the composer's score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways. Read more at . I was at a talk by Bill Eppridge (look him up) and he explained that he spent the entire day in the darkroom one time making print after print until he got the image he saw in his head. He wasn't just clicking the enlarger's light on and off. He was "creating" his final image by burning and dodging small areas of the print. He mapped out what tone should be in what exact tones he knew were there. There's more to today's image than there is in many of my more obvious manipulations. To find out more about today's image, hit the "Read More".

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Aim To The Right

"Aim to the right"?  Sounds like I'm coaching somebody at a rifle range.  I typically use two methods when I'm out shooting (photographically) for my personal use.  If I see something that might make a good (interesting) HDR image I'll set the camera to take five, seven or nine shots one F-stop apart.  I "always" (99% of the time) have my camera set to -.3 EV (Exposure Value), so the images come out on 1/3 increments.  (-.3, -1.3, -2.3...)  That way I have choices as to what exposures to select.  If I'm shooting something that probably wouldn't lend itself to HDR I'll switch up the settings.  I'll go no more than five shots and set the F-stops to .3 separation.  That way I'll have one exposure that I think will give me the optimum density.  Today's image is one of those that probably would not be "enhanced" by HDR.  It was shot with option two, the .3 stop steps.  It was taken in bright sunlight at the absolute worst time of the day.  My choices were very dense, where I'd have to bring back the shadows or pretty light, where I'd have to tone down the wildly overexposed areas.  To find out which option I chose and why, hit the Read More.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

How To Get More Interesting Images

Well, the easy answer is "go to more interesting places".  It's an old truism, but it is something that works.  About a month ago Doris (wife) said she wanted to go to the Lancaster Pennsylvania area over Memorial Day weekend.  Okay, Lancaster equals Amish.  Amish farms.  Amish buggies.  Flat brimmed straw hats.  Buttoned up (sometimes not) white (also sometimes not) shirts.  Beards and bonnets and horses along the highways (not the interstates).  Some things are contradictory.  The Amish won't ride a car or use a tractor to till the fields, but a weed whacker with a motor is okay.  There's no electricity to the house or farm, but that doesn't mean all the houses are old farm houses.  Some were absolutely modern in appearance.  Imagine a couple coming at you in a horse drawn buggy and the driver and passenger are wearing the latest in Oakley sunglasses.  One thing all these opposites do is mess up a "vintage" look images.  We noticed the thoroughly modern juxtaposed against the eighteenth century.  If nothing else, it was entertaining.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Create A Background That Wasn't Really THere

I guess it's time to start getting "serious" about making some images.  Those who know me will understand why the word "serious" is in quotes.  Today's image is a result of a "Fun Trail Ride and Obstacle Course" at the 2nd Governor's Horse Guard in Newtown Connecticut over the past weekend.  I'm not sure if there was a fee for the riders, but "spectators" were welcomed and treated royally.  There was a Major in charge of the day and we were invited into the barn area to watch the unit's horses brought in after their workout and being brushed down and groomed.  Flashes were not allowed, so the I had to crank up the sensor sensitivity pretty far.  When we got back outside the trail riders were just getting back and starting the obstacle course.  Most riders used English style riding hat (helmets) and didn't give the look I was looking for.  Then came along the "Marlboro Man" in today's image.  So I had the right horse, the right guy and still had a pretty crappy background.  Possibly because of the cold spring or maybe just because it was the first weekend of May the trees in the background were just a bunch of sticks.  To me, my cowboy looked like he'd been out riding the range and had just come down from the mountains.  I decided that was the setting he "needed" to be in.  To check out how he got there, hit the "Read More".

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

500 Posts And Counting

It was five years ago (almost to the day [4/21/2009]) that The Kayview Gallery (TKG) had its initial post.  I looked back at some of the early images and, frankly, some of them gave me a giggle.  What the hell was I thinking?  There's a few I still like.  The very first post was about an image I took at one o'clock in the afternoon and turned it into a reasonable night shot.  A retired professional photographer, when looking at the print, wanted to know how, if it wasn't a night shot, did I get the interior to look right.  I think I remember telling him it was a very special trick I used.  Truth is, what looked like an interior was actually the reflection of the building across the street.  I changed the color of the panes of the window using the Color Blend Mode to give the appearance of warm tungsten light.  It was an exercise in the mind seeing what it wanted to see rather than what was reality.  Other things going back through the Blogger online database for TKG I'm reminded for the slow start we had.  The first post, to this day, has only seven total views.  Even today, TKG isn't exactly one of the big name photography blogs.  Just an eclectic few (hundred) who read it on a regular basis.  There are thousands who pass by, but I've come to recognize some of the frequent readers.  Some folks in Bozeman Montana check TKG about every day to see what's new.  According to Google Analytics there been twenty one different people from Bozeman stopping by almost three hundred times during the past year.  There's about 38,000 people in Bozeman.  If I could get that same ratio of readership from New York City that would be something over one hundred thousand reads (for one city) rather than a little less than one thousand.  Guy (or folks) in Bozeman?  I appreciate your support.  TKG has been one of the blogs featured in the Photoshop section of Alltop  .  We're selected as "Most Topular" often enough to make me smile.  Thanks to Alltop.  Thanks also to all who have mentioned TKG on their blogs and sites.  We've gotten nods from Planet Photoshop, Lightroom Killer Tips, MasterPhotoshop, Photoshop User and a bunch of others.  It is nice to know we're occasionally noticed by the heavy hitters. 

How about if we make post number 500 a record breaker.  Make it some sort of chain letter type of thing.  Send it to ten of your friends and ask them to send it to ten of theirs.  There won't be any sort of prize or payoff, but if the results are magical I'll report back on the next post.

So, thanks to all readers.  Those loyalists and those who are dropping by for the first time.  I appreciate your interest.  I hope you get a kick out of today's image.
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Bring Out The Details Using Photoshop

Today's image is an exploration in pulling details out of an image.  There's all sorts of areas that have been "worked on"  The jewelry, the hat, the shirt and the beard to name a few.  They've all been "souped up", but two used one technique and two used a totally different method.  The hat and the shirt "had" to be done in Adobe Photoshop (PS) [any version you might be using]  and the jewelry and beard were easily taken care of in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) [any version].  Before I see a flood of comments saying "watta mean 'had to be done' in PS".  I know, there's fifteen ways to do anything in PS and a dozen in LR.  I just wanted to do it in a time saving manner.  What are the techniques?  To find out, hit the "Read More".

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

NIght Photography Made Easy

Have you ever gotten the urge to grab your camera and go out and shoot in the middle of the night?  Photography at night is an adventure.  You stumble around, set up your tripod, guess at a starting exposure (not really), stumble around some more, probably freeze your butt off, take forty two shots of the moon, stumble around again and on and on.  You'd thing that Hollywood, making big time epics, would avoid all that stumbling at all costs.  Actually, they usually do.  Next time you're watching a movie where the hero (heroine) is out wandering around in the dark, take a closer look.  Chances are you'll see shadows cast by things like trees, street lights, buildings, anything that sticks up from the ground.  Wow, they must have been shooting that scene under a full moon. Not!  Movies have been using a trick for as long as movies have been made.  Still photographers used to use the same trick, but it either has been forgotten or today's "new" shooters have never learned it.  "Back in the day" photographers ran around with a stack of filters to fit various lenses and conditions.  If you had daylight film in the camera and you had to shoot an inside shot, you'd check on the lights and put on either a tungsten to daylight filter (an 85A) or a fluorescent to daylight filter (an FLD).  Same in reverse.  It you had tungsten light balanced film and had to run outside into the sunlight you'd slap on a daylight to whatever light you were coming from filter (an 80A for tungsten light).  To find out how this relates to today's image, hit the "Read More".

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Adding Details In Photoshop

I don't know why, but a lot of posts sort of start out with "I was talking to a friend..." lately.  Guess I must have more friends than I thought.  Well, I was talking to a friend the other day and showed him the deconstructed restoration of the baseball umpire from the 1880's (?).  At first he was suitably impressed by the work, but then said "wait a minute, there's detail in the "fixed" image that isn't available in the "original".  You can't add detail if it's not there to start with".  I sort of cocked my head, dropped my chin to look over the rim of my glasses and came back with "of course you can".  Where's nothing added to today's image that wasn't there to start, but you can see the detail a lot better by emphasizing it.  Today's image actually has two very separate techniques applied.  Since she was portraying an Anime character she was wearing very little makeup.  Since I was giving my spin to the image, I did her makeup for her.  I didn't want to turn her into something from Ringling Brothers, but thought some nice subtle makeup might be nice.  The other technique was something I saw Scott Kelby do.  Kind of a Dodging and Burning using Curves Adjustment Layers.  The interesting thing about this method of Dodging and Burning is that you use the color information already in the image.  This would be unlike using the technique of using a 50% gray Layer, changing the Layer Blend Mode to Overlay and painting White or Black to get highlights and shadows.  To find out a little about both techniques used on today's image, hit the "Read More".

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lightroom and Layers and Masks, Oh My

If you're a frequent reader of The Kayview Gallery you know I typically have a problem with HDR'd skies.  Seems no matter how "realistic" you make an HDR scenic image the skies still come out unnatural. In today's image I sort of took the long way around to get to the finished image.  It went from Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) to Adobe Photoshop (PS), back to LR for tone mapping, and once again to PS to replace the HDR sky and back to LR for storage.  There's two reasons for the trips over to PS.  The first was to create the HDR image.  The second was to replace the sky.  Other than that, everything was done in LR.  I tried going to Nik's HDR Efex Pro, but didn't like the result.  (I know, Blasphemy.) Sometimes the HDR Pro that comes with PS is more than "good enough".  Sometimes it gives a better representation of what I'm looking for as a starting point.  There's a couple things that were done that are a little "out of the ordinary".  To find out what those things are, hit the "Read More".

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Twenty First Century Use Of The Pen Tool

I was talking to a friend the other day and he said he was getting into using the Pen Tool (P) in Adobe Photoshop (PS).  I must have had a quizzical expression on my face, because he said "What!".  I told him I didn't think anyone, who didn't already know how to use the Pen Tool (P), had bothered to learn how to use the it in this century.  I asked him to give me a little demonstration of how he was using the tool.  He's been known to develop his own hard way to do some simple things in PS.  Just in case you've come to PS during this century, let me give a short explanation on using the Pen Tool (P) in PS.  You place a dot to start.  Place another dot somewhere else on your blank page.  You'll see two handles come out from the second point.  You can pull them, stretch them, spin 'em around in circles or let them sit.  Put a third dot on your document and another two handles appear.  Pull one, twist one, do something to one of the handles.  You'll see that the straight line between point two and point three deforms depending on how you move the handle.  The line between point  one and point two remains fixed.  (As long as you didn't move the handles.)  What's happening between points two and three is called a Bezier Curve.  Back in the day (probably around PS 5 (not CS5 - just plain PS 5) it was essential that you learn to use the Pen Tool (P) to make a Selection.  Today there is a large variety of methods to make Selections.  The Pen Tool (P) is almost dead.  The Quick Selection Tool (W) with its Refine Edge feature just about eliminates the need for the Pen Tool (P) or reduces its functionality to touching up hard lines.  The way my friend was using it is another one of his "let's make something harder than it should be" tricks.  His method consisted of laying out a point, cutting off the leading handle and making his next point.  There is a valid reason for cutting off the leading handle, but it's to be able to make hard point turns (i.e. a 90 degree turn) in the direction you're plotting, not just going to the next point on a curve.  Basically what he's done is find the hardest way imaginable to use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L).  I used the Pen Tool (P) on today's image, but only for experimentational reasons.  To find out what I found and how I used the Pen Tool (P), hit the "Read More".

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Keep It Simple In Photoshop

If you look at today's image you might scratch your head and think "what do ya mean, simple?  It's three different shots composited together".  Well, simple is a matter of degrees.  I shot the sequence on high speed shutter.  Through the swing about seven shots were taken.  The first thing I tried is using all seven.  What happened was a mess.  The whole composite was just too confusing.  There were arms and legs all over the place.  The whole process of making the composite is a lot easier than I've seen some people try their hand at it.  My thing has always been "let the computer figure it out".  That does not mean let the computer make the decisions.  No!  Computers are there to be brutes.  Tell it what you want done and let it do the math.  That goes for computers on the desktop and for the computers in your camera.  You've paid hundreds (the laptop) or thousands (the camera) to own a computer.  Let it compute.  To find out how simple compositing is, hit the "Read More"
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