Rocky Mountain School of Photography » Tips & Techniques http://www.rmsp.com Fri, 31 Oct 2014 22:47:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Photography in the Red Zone – Guest Article by Mel Mann http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/10/22/photography-red-zone-guest-article-mel-mann/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/10/22/photography-red-zone-guest-article-mel-mann/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:51:29 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=34921 READ MORE >]]> It was my good fortune to get a roll of Kodak infrared film recently, giving me a chance to play around with this very different photography medium. In my mind I kept planning to have one of my digital bodies converted to IR but just never got around to it. Film gave me a way to experiment with little cost in time and money; a great opportunity which turned out to be a good motivator.

Although the film was fairly old it had been handled carefully and I followed all the handling instructions my local lab manager gave me, resulting in about 50% of the images turning out pretty good. And by pretty good I mean they look like IR images I’ve seen in books so I knew my efforts were on track.

Infrared_Film_Image_1Infrared_Film_Image_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closely following some corollary of Murphy’s Law I immediately discovered Kodak had discontinued their IR film several years ago and that remaining types of IR film didn’t give the full experience. Here I was again, questioning whether to convert a digital body or not. Fortunately (I hate waiting to try something I find cool) I discovered the R72 filter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPutting one of these on the lens of your regular digital camera results in the sensor seeing light almost exclusively in the near IR frequency (above 720nm for the technically oriented). Combined with the IR filter in front of most digital sensors you get very little green and blue light. What you do get is fairly long exposure times since the amount of light getting to the sensor is seriously reduced.

Which is why it’s great photography for people who like shooting around mid-day. No need to worry about that much-desired golden light landscape photographers chase so much. With this type of photography you really want the glare of an overhead sun just to keep shutter speeds reasonable! Although the film was high speed enough to shoot handheld at ISO 50, the digital sensor isn’t that sensitive. Using ISO 100 I was exposing at shutter speeds well above 10 seconds for moderate apertures (f/5.3-f/8). Tripod use is essential unless your style is glowing, blurred images. I like my images to show good detail, though.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of blur, I learned images will be out of focus unless you adjust the focus for IR light. Film lenses had marks on their depth of field gauges showing where to off-set the focus for IR – digital lenses don’t. You can refer to charts on the off-set for your specific lens or you can take the trial-and-error approach of focusing, putting the filter on, checking the image, taking the filter off and doing it over again until you find the right offset. Fortunately for me I found LiveView on my Olympus enables me to see the composition well enough to manual focus the lens. Since only red light is reaching the sensor, focusing with LiveView is like offsetting the focus for IR. Not sure if all LiveView systems will work so you’ll have to test your system.

 
You’ll find the resulting image to be red, very red. No problem. Using Lightroom’s Develop tools or Photoshop you can adjust the brightness and contrast, convert to B&W, then use the ‘color’ sliders to adjust the monochrome image to your desired look. Add a little Gaussian blur to the image and you’ve got the typical glowing IR photograph.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can get even more creative with false-color IR. Turns out there is some green and blue light reaching the sensor. You can adjust your exposure to maximize these channels (without blowing out the red channel highlights) and then use the Channels and Levels tools in Photoshop to manipulate the look of the final image.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are other color techniques involving swapping channels between IR and non-IR images that enable you to get almost any appearance you want. I haven’t played around with these yet; however, you can find instructions on a number of websites.

I did find more IR film to play around with so my goal is to learn the look of IR from film and then translate that look to digital using the R72 filter. Might be enough motivation to actually send out that camera body for conversion.

Mel Mann
]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/10/22/photography-red-zone-guest-article-mel-mann/feed/ 1
In Living Color: My Summer of Dragonflies – Guest Article by Steve Russell http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/10/06/living-color-summer-dragonflies-guest-article-steve-russell/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/10/06/living-color-summer-dragonflies-guest-article-steve-russell/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 16:08:05 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=34837 READ MORE >]]> R22A2854-2My summer began with a chance photographic encounter with the “birth” of a dragonfly (the topic of my last blog) and is winding down with a concerted effort to capture dragonflies in flight. In between I’ve taken thousands of shots of dragonflies doing what they do: hunting bugs, eating, mating, perching, laying eggs and when I’m lucky hovering long enough to focus my camera.

I now have three dependable, accessible wetland areas between Tacoma and Seattle to shoot. The summer has been warm here and the light plentiful, which brought the dragonflies out and created the conditions necessary to shoot them at fast speeds, enliven the colors, and illuminate the intricate detail of their lacy wings and compound eyes.

R22A3623-2I’ve used about every combination of equipment to shoot them, including real close-ups with a 90mm macro lens, fill-the-frame shots from a little further away with a 70-200 lens(both f/2.8 and the lighter f/4), the use of a 36mm extension tube and/or a 1.4 or 2.0 teleconverter on a 70-200 lens, and both a Canon 7D (speed for flight shots) and a 5D Mark III (for superior processing). Most shooting was handheld, but I used a tripod with a gimble head when I was in a corridor of bushes on one side and tall grasses on the other that semi-contained a few dragonflies and made their flight plans more predictable.

R22A8574-2There were plenty of surprises again this summer. I witnessed (and shot) one dragonfly (the lime green one below) snatch its cousin the damselfly while the damselfly was mating and eat it for lunch (nature is cruel!). Anytime a male clamped onto the neck of a female and flew by repeatedly dipping down to the pond or grasses for her to drop some eggs, it was a surprise. Getting a flying dragonfly in focus was always a pleasant post-processing surprise given that they flap their wings at about 40 times per second. (That usually took perfect conditions and a 1/8,000th shutter speed.) And finding the blurred image of my tripod and the white cloud-like reflections from my camera lens framing a tack-sharp dragonfly in the foreground was a great post-processing surprise.

Dragonflies are the crown jewels of live macro photography (for me) but they can be some of the hardest subjects to shoot. A combination like that makes for a worthy challenge and a jolt of satisfaction when things come together for a great shot.

Steve Russell
IMG_4148-2 IMG_4239-2 R22A0752-2 R22A0983-2 R22A1349-2 R22A1363-2 R22A2854-2 R22A3376-2 R22A3623-2 R22A4784-2 R22A4914-2 R22A5808-2 R22A5989-2 R22A6613-2 R22A7127-2 R22A7799-2 R22A8072-2 R22A8146-2 R22A8457-2 R22A8574-2 R22A9105-2

 

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/10/06/living-color-summer-dragonflies-guest-article-steve-russell/feed/ 0
Using the Contact Sheet II Plug-in With Photoshop CC http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/09/25/using-contact-sheet-ii-plug-photoshop-cc/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/09/25/using-contact-sheet-ii-plug-photoshop-cc/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 21:27:30 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=34802 READ MORE >]]> Photoshop CC includes only a single automated way of adding multiple images to a page: the Contact Sheet II plug-in. So to combine several photos on a page, most of the time you will use the same process described in my article about creating a poster with Photoshop. (See link here.)

 

Eyster_01 Fall Contact Sheet rotate

Contact Sheet II arranges a folder or collection of photos on the page in a grid of rows and columns. You can control the order that the photos appear on the page by rearranging them in Bridge. The images all stay the same size and do not overlap one another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eyster_02 Bridge Folder

To use the Contact Sheet feature, start Bridge and navigate to a folder or collection of pictures. From the menu, choose Tools > Photoshop > Contact Sheet II.* (You can also access the Contact Sheet in Photoshop from the File > Automate menu.) Photoshop starts and displays the Contact Sheet II dialog box.

*If you do not see the Contact Sheet choice, you can download and add the Contact Sheet plug-in to Photoshop CC by following the instructions on this web page: http://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/kb/plug-ins-photoshop-cs61.html. Even though Adobe says the Contact Sheet plug-in is not supported in Photoshop CC, it still works.

 

 

 

 

Eyster_03 Contact Sheet Dialog 1The first section lists the Source Images, which is Bridge by default, and displays the number of files selected. If you start the Contact Sheet from inside Photoshop, you have the option of selecting either Files or a Folder from the drop-down list and then browsing to the pictures you want to add to the contact sheet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eyster_04 Contact Sheet Dialog 2In the second section, you set up the Document size (paper) you want the contact sheet printed on. The default is 8×10-inch paper in a vertical orientation. You can also specify a print resolution, color mode, bit depth and color space. A check box tells Photoshop to flatten all the layers when you are finished. I turn this on for regular contact sheets. (It creates a much smaller file size.) But if you are trying something creative, you should leave this turned off so you can reposition the layers after they are made.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eyster_05 Contact Sheet Dialog 3

The Thumbnails section lets you determine the number of rows and columns of photos printed on the page. First, decide whether you want the photos to begin across a row or down a column. Enter the number of rows and columns you want the Contact Sheet to use. In the example, I’ve chosen three rows and three columns to create larger thumbnails. Use Auto-Spacing sets the amount of white space between rows and columns. If you want to adjust the space manually, turn off this box. Then type in the Vertical and Horizontal spacing you prefer. Changing this will affect the size of the thumbnails. The last choice in this section is Rotate for Best Fit. Checking this box, turns vertical photos sideways so all the thumbnails are the same size. I find this makes looking at the photos awkward, especially for clients. So I leave this box unchecked.

 

 

 

 

Eyster_06 Contact Sheet Dialog 4The last section tells Photoshop to Use Filename as Caption as a way to identify a specific image. You can select the font, style and size for the name. I like to use a serif font like Times New Roman to make it easier to tell a number 1 from a lower-case L. A larger size makes the thumbnails slightly smaller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eyster_07 Contact Sheet Dialog 5

If you expect to use these settings regularly, you can save them as a preset. Click the Save button and give the layout a descriptive name. I used “3×3 Contact Sheet”. Then in the future you can click the Load button to retrieve these settings. The Reset button returns all the boxes in the window to their default settings, in case you want to start over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eyster_08 Fall Contact Sheet no rotate 9upClick the OK button when you are ready to have Photoshop build your contact sheet. If you have more images than will fit on one page, Photoshop automatically creates another document until it has used all the pictures you selected. Photoshop displays the finished page (or pages), ready to be printed.

Usually I do not save my contact sheets after printing since it’s easy to have Photoshop recreate them. But if I want to share the contact sheet with a client, I save it as a JPEG copy to make it easy to email to them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want more from Kathy Eyster?

Click here to see the courses
she will be teaching in 2015.

 

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/09/25/using-contact-sheet-ii-plug-photoshop-cc/feed/ 0
Refining Masks in Photoshop http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/09/11/refining-masks-photoshop/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/09/11/refining-masks-photoshop/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 15:04:30 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=34691 READ MORE >]]> Refining Selections

The marching ants that represent selections have been around forever. But it doesn’t mean that they are the best tool for the job; it’s just all we have had until recently. Some years back Adobe gave us the Refine Edge tool. In addition to viewing the selection in a different way, it gives you a chance to modify selections as well. Very rarely do you create a perfect selection on the first go around. This new tool gives you ample opportunities to fine-tune the selection before you turn it into a mask.

When you have any selection tool active, such as the Magic Wand or Quick Selection tool, and a selection active (the marching ants are visible on your screen), you will have access to the Refine Edge command in the Option Bar. This command (pictured below) will allow you to modify or refine the edges of your selection.

The advantage of working with your selections using this dialog box is that you are able to see their true edge. With just the marching ants, it is often difficult to tell how well you have selected an area.

The Refine Edge dialog box gives you many ways to preview a selection. By clicking on the View Box (circled in red) you get access to the different ways that you can view the area of the image that is selected.

By placing your cursor over the icon, you receive a description of the view. The first icon is the least useful. It is the Standard view showing marching ants.

One of the most useful is the On White view, which works well in general and for darker objects. You also may find the On Black view useful for lighter objects.

2UP

3-Refine_Edge

Standard View

On White View

On White View

On Black View

Radius Slider
By increasing this slider, you are increasing the area around the original edge that will be affected by the settings. The increased radius allows the edge to get bigger and become softer. This will be the effect if this is the only slider that you use. If you use further refinements in the bottom of the box, this radius amount is defining the region in which the other options will operate.

Contrast Slider
This slider’s main goal is to remove any fuzzy artifacts that may have become apparent when the radius was enlarged. Radius and contrast work together to tighten the selection or make it more detailed; but don’t turn up radius too much because that’s the job of the Feather slider. Another way to think of the radius is that it is used to create a soft enough edge for the contrast to have something to work with.

Smooth Slider
The Smooth slider does just what you think it may do. It smooths out the rough edges of a selection removing any hard edges.

Feather Slider
The Feather slider is similar to the Radius slider in that it “blurs” the edge of the selection. It differs in that it exerts no control over the region that is being worked on by the other sliders; it is chiefly used for blurring the edge. Use the Feather slider to blend your adjustment from inside the selection to outside the selection. Remember that what is white is selected and what is black is not selected. If it is a shade of gray, it is partially selected. This means that only some of the adjustment will come through.

Shift Edge
The Shift Edge slider will make your current selection edge grow outward (expand) or inward (contract). If your edge is hard, it will stay hard but just grow inward or outward. If it is soft, it retains its soft nature and contracts or expands. To get any noticeable amount of expansion, the Radius slider may need to be increased. Just increasing the Contract/Expand amount without increasing radius may produce very little movement of the edges.  Increasing the Radius slider increases the region or the area around the edge that will be affected by the Contract/Expand slider (or any of the other sliders as well). This slider comes in handy for removing halos. Click OK inside the Refine Edge dialog box to commit to the changes that you made. You will be returned to your image with the new selection still active. Remember that you may not see any visible change to the marching ants. Don’t worry, though—when you create an Adjustment Layer, the resulting mask will look just like the preview!

 

 

Refining Masks

Modifying the edges of the selection with the new Refine Edge tool is a pretty neat trick. It does have one drawback, however: visibility. The problem with working on the selection occurs when you are masking out an Adjustment Layer. The Adjustment Layer, of course, will produce a change in the image. This change may or may not be obvious at the edges of the selection. With just modifying the selection before the adjustment is made, you have no idea how each side of the selection edge will look.

If you create a good selection first, then create the Adjustment Layer and turn it into a mask, and then modify your mask, you will have a real-time visual of the effects of your edges. You will be altering your mask as it masks out (or reveals) the underlying layer or new Adjustment Layer. The ability to see the changes as you adjust is very important.

The Masks Mode in the Properties Panel allows the Refine Edge Tool Controls to work on a mask.  Once a Mask is made, click directly on the mask to change the Properties Panel from showing the adjustment to showing the Masks Controls.  It is always a good idea to click on it once (the mask itself, not the Adjustment Layer) to ensure that you are actually on the right layer and on the mask itself. This will get you into a good habit that will be beneficial to you when you begin to work with multiple Adjustment Layers and multiple images in one document.

If you accidentally double-click on the mask rather than single click, it will bring up the Layer Mask Display options box. Just click OK for now. No harm done.

6-Masks View

7-Masks View

8-Masks View

9A-Masks View

Once you click on your mask, you are able to modify it in any way that you would a grayscale image. This means you can lighten, darken, increase contrast, use the Clone Stamp tool, blur, sharpen, or apply any other number of filters to it. At the moment, however, you can’t really see the mask. This doesn’t mean you can’t affect it; you just can’t see what you are doing. There will be many times when you want to affect the mask without looking at it. One example would be when you have created an Adjustment Layer with a mask, and the new adjustment is adversely affecting the surrounding areas. By working on the mask but looking at your image, you can watch how your edits are affecting the mask. Of course, there are those times that you will want to look at the mask directly.

There are two ways you can view a mask:
1.  Press the Option key (Alt for PC), and click on the mask itself. This will overlay the mask in black and white on your image. The images to the left show the Normal view and the image after Option (Alt) clicking on the Mask view. To return to Normal view, just press the Option (Alt) key and click on the mask again.

2.  Press the backslash key on your keyboard. The backslash key is just to the left of the bracket [ ] keys. This will show the mask as a semitransparent red overlay on your image.  The color and the opacity of this overlay can be changed to suit your needs. Double-click on the mask to bring up the Layer Mask Display Options dialog box. Click OK in this box when you have made the desired changes. The mask overlay will display these new settings until you return to this box to change them. Pressing the backslash key again will return your image to Normal view.

It is beneficial to know both of these options, as neither will work 100% of the time. Sometimes, you may need to see through to your image, while other times it will be easier to work in the black-and-white mode. These are the manual techniques for viewing your mask. When you begin working in the Masks Panel, these overlay modes are also available.

Click on the Masks tab to reveal the Masks Panel. When adjusting the sliders in the Masks Panel, you should be looking directly at your image (usually at 100% magnification) rather than at the small icon of the mask in the Adjustment Layer. This allows you to see in real time the changes you are making to the mask.  In the image to the left I have made a mask of the sky and darkened it using Curves.  Notice the artifacts (circled in red) around the edge of the Washington Monument.  This can be easily fixed using the Masks Panel.

The first slider you will see is the Density slider. It is set to 100% by default. This means the mask is at full density. Blacks are black, whites are white. If you reduce this slider, you will be lightening the blacks and grays on the mask. Remember, the blacks of the mask are blocking the change occurring from that Adjustment Layer. The grays are somewhat blocking the change. The whites allow it through fully. If you lower the density of the mask, the blacks and grays are getting lighter, thus allowing more of that change through to your image.

The next slider down is the Feather slider. It works just like the Feather slider in the Refine Edge tool for selections. The Feather slider “blurs” the edge of the mask. This creates a transition zone (from black to gray to white), from the adjustment being fully on to fully off.  The Feather slider will affect smaller resolution images more drastically than larger resolution images. The image to the left shows that by simply adjusting the feather I am creating a Halo around the monument.  I will need to click on Mask Edge to get to the full range of adjustments.

The next section of the Masks Panel is the Refine area. Here you will see the buttons for Mask Edge, Color Range, and Invert. The Mask Edge button brings up the very same control panel that you get with the Refine Edge tool for selections (pictured at left).

Here it works on the mask rather than a selection. As mentioned earlier, we find that it is often easier to refine the mask after the fact instead of trying to refine the selection before hand. The reason is that you are refining the mask with the current adjustment applied, allowing you see your image while you work.

Using the Refine Mask Box

10-Masks View

1. Here I have clicked on the Mask Edge Button and the Refine Mask box pops up.

2. Next I chose the On Layers View (circled in red)

 

 

 

 

 

 

11-Masks View

3. Increase the radius until most of the artifact disappears (here I have set 9.5). Remember this increasing the area around the original edge that will be affected by the sliders below.

4. The problem with this mask is that it is just a bit too big. The curves adjustment is darkening down the sky, and it is edging into the monument.  Shifting the edge of the mask will eliminate the dark halo.  Here I have shifted the edge +7.

 

 

 

 

12-Masks View

13-Masks View

5. The upper image to the left shows how by increasing the radius and Shifting the edge I have removed the halo from around the monument.

6. By checking the Show Original Box (circled in red) you see the original image before the mask refinement (lower image).

7. When you are satisfied with your refinements, click OK to apply your changes.

 

You would follow the same steps to apply any of the other commands such as Smooth, or Contrast within this dialog box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes you may find that the whole edge, however, does not benefit from the same amount of Shifting adjustment. This could be fixed manually afterwards, by going in and painting on the mask.

On occasion, you can create a mask that has shades of gray as well as white and black. This is not uncommon when using Select > Color Range. In cases like these, you may want to subtly alter the tones in the mask.

You can adjust a mask with any adjustment (Curves, Levels, and so on) that work on brightness or contrast. Color adjustments will be grayed out when you are on a mask.

To alter the contrast of a mask (remember to click once on your mask first), choose Image > Adjustments > Curves-Do not create another adjustment layer. Here you are working on the mask itself so go up to the menu and choose Image > Adjustments > Curves. You could also use Levels. The adjustment will be reflected on your mask as you adjust. Remember, white allows your adjustment to be visible, and black restricts it. So as you increase the contrast of a mask, you are simultaneously letting more and less of the adjustment through in different areas of the image.

You can also combine the selections with masks. Let’s say that you wanted to blur a section of the mask rather than the entire thing.

With your mask active, draw a rough selection with the Lasso tool.

You need to blur the selection to ensure a good blur on the mask, so click the Refine Edge button in the Options Bar and feather the edge. Click OK.

To blur the mask, you would think you could just use the Feather slider in the Masks Panel. Not so. For some reason, the panel ignores the selection. So we will use a trusted old technique. With the selection active (and your desired mask active), select Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and adjust the radius to suit your needs. Remember to go to Select > Deselect when you are finished!

 

 

 

Want more from Tim Cooper?

Click here to check out 
the courses he will be teaching in 2015!

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/09/11/refining-masks-photoshop/feed/ 0
Printing Multiple Photos On A Page Using Lightroom 5 http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/09/04/printing-multiple-photos-page-using-lightroom-5/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/09/04/printing-multiple-photos-page-using-lightroom-5/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 22:21:46 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=34665 READ MORE >]]> EysterKathy_01 Multi Image PrintIn my previous posts, I’ve described how to prepare individual images and posters for printing with a photo lab. In this article I illustrate the steps you can take to arrange multiple photos on a single piece of paper. This technique works whether you are using your own inkjet printer or sending a file to a photo lab to produce the final result.

Lightroom 5 provides three different ways to arrange multiple photos on a piece of paper: Single Image / Contact Sheet, Picture Package, and Custom Package. These are found in the Print Module under the Layout Styles panel. You can start experimenting with these different layouts by choosing one of the templates included with Lightroom.


Single Image / Contact Sheet Layout Style

The Single Image / Contact Sheet style arranges different photos on the page in a regular grid of rows and columns. You can control the order that the photos appear on the page by rearranging them in the Library or Filmstrip if they are in a collection. The images all stay the same size and cannot overlap one another in this style.

The 2×2 Cells template is a Contact Sheet style that allows you to arrange four different images on the page. If you have a mixture of horizontal and vertical pictures, under the Image Settings panel you can check the Rotate to Fit box so that all the images are as large as possible in the cells.

EysterKathy_02 2x2 cells rotate

If you want the photos to be exactly the same size, turn on the Zoom to Fill box under the Image Settings panel. This may crop some of your pictures. You can reposition the photos inside the cells by holding down the the Command key (Mac) or the Control key (Windows). Then click and drag the hand cursor on the image to adjust the cropping.

EysterKathy_03 2x2 cells rotate fill

The 4 Wide template is also a Contact Sheet style. This creates four narrow, panorama-style cells in which to place your photos. It also includes a place for a custom Identity Plate that can be edited for a title.

EysterKathy_04 4 wide fair
Picture Package Layout Style

The Picture Package style mimics the “packages” of photos that you would order from a portrait studio that took your school or church directory picture. This style provides for multiple sizes of the same photo on one page. If you select more than one image, Lightroom creates a second page with the same selection of sizes for the new picture.

Picture Package templates are named by the number of copies of each size image included in the layout. (1) 7×5, (4) 2.5×3.5 is a template that creates one 5×7 inch print and four 2.5×3.5 inch prints on one sheet of paper. This template does not leave any space between the prints to make cutting them apart easy. You can add this space by turning on the Photo Border box under Image Settings. Then adjust the slider to create more or less space.

EysterKathy_05 Picture Pkg borderYou can create a custom combination of print sizes by using the Cells panel. Start by clicking the Clear Layout button. Then click the buttons for the sizes of prints you want. For example, if you want one 5×7 print and two 4×6 prints, click the 5×7 button once and the 4×6 button twice.

If Lightroom does not have a print size you want, you can create a custom size for one of the buttons. For instance, you might like a square 5×5 inch size. You can click on the arrow next to any of the buttons and choose Edit from the list. Then type in the dimensions you want for the new print size. These dimensions now appear on that button and Lightroom adds a print that size to your paper.

If the combination of sizes you select does not fit on the page, Lightroom automatically adds a new page. You can click the Auto Layout button to have Lightroom rearrange the prints to make more efficient use of the paper.

EysterKathy_06 Picture Pkg with custom size selection

If you don’t want one of the prints you’ve added, click on the image cell to select it and then press the Delete key to remove it. If you end up with too many pages of prints, you can move your mouse over the page. A black circle with an X in it appears over the top left corner of the page. Click that circle to delete the page and all the prints on it.

Custom Package Layout Style

The Custom Package style gives you the most flexibility. It allows a variety of pictures in various sizes on the same page and provides for overlapping images. The Custom Package gives you the most freedom to experiment with different combinations of photos and arrangements on the page.

Templates with “Custom” in the name use the Custom Package layout style. The Custom 4 Square template allows four separate images on the page: one large square with three smaller squares below it.

EysterKathy_07 Custom 4 square

The Custom Overlap x3 Landscape style has four horizontal cells that each can contain a different image. The largest cell acts as a background with three overlapping images on top.

EysterKathy_08 Custom Overlap x3 Landscape

To add photos to a custom template, simply drag a picture from the Filmstrip into one of the cells outlined in the template. If you want a different photo in the cell, drag and drop a new one to replace the previous image.

You can click on an image cell and drag it to a different position on the page. If you want additional photos on the page, drag a new picture from the Filmstrip onto the page.

Right clicking on a cell gives you a menu from which you can rotate or delete a photo. You can also change the order of overlapping photos from this menu. After selecting the picture, choose to send it forward, backward or to the front or back of the stack.

If you want to create your own design, click the Clear Layout button in the Cells panel. Then you can add photos to the page just by dragging them from the Filmstrip. You can resize and reposition them as you go. You might want to use the Lock to Photo Aspect Ratio box in the Cells panel to ensure the photo retains its original crop.

 

EysterKathy_09 Custom overlap with ID Plate

Each of these different Layout Styles provides many more options to adjust the appearance of your photos on the page. I’ve just given you a brief introduction to the differences among the styles. Gather some images you want to use and experiment. If you come up with a design you like, save it as a User Template so you can retrieve it again for a different project.

 

Want more from Kathy? Join her for her upcoming
Basic Photography workshop in Missoula!

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/09/04/printing-multiple-photos-page-using-lightroom-5/feed/ 1
Metamorphosis of a Dragonfly Caught on Camera – Guest Article by Steve Russell http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/07/23/metamorphosis-dragonfly-caught-camera-guest-article-steve-russell/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/07/23/metamorphosis-dragonfly-caught-camera-guest-article-steve-russell/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:08:29 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=34421 READ MORE >]]> IMG_3562It was an amazing sight – the transformation of a beetle-like larva into a fully functioning flying dragonfly right before my very eyes – and camera.

I’d been shooting dragonflies this summer at my favorite marshy spot on the edge of nearby Waughop Lake. I happened to look down and spot an ugly little larva crawling along the grass toward my bike, which was laying on the ground. Cool, I thought, and I snapped a couple of shots before it disappeared under my rear tire for the shade, I figured.

I went back to the dragonflies until I needed something else from my pack when I noticed the larva had crawled up onto my tire. Snap-snap, and I went about my business. The third time I passed by, though, there were FOUR eyes looking back at me and it suddenly occurred to me that a dragonfly was pushing its way out of the back of the larva. Wow!

R22A0351I ran over to switch my telephoto lens for a macro and twin flash and returned to shoot the metamorphosis over the next 90 minutes. It was mid-day, high sun, harsh light and the larva had attached itself on the underside of the tire partially in the shade. Not the conditions I would choose, but in documentary or photo journalistic photography (which I would consider this to be in a nature sort of way) you work with what you got when you got it.

This grassy spot is right off the asphalt path that circles the lake and I am sprawled out on the grass, which is covered in goose poop, shooting what must have looked to the frequent passers-by to be my bike tire. Hmmm. But, oblivious to them and to the time, I shot away for an hour and a half trying to capture every conceivable angle knowing that in all likelihood this would be my first and only time with an opportunity like this.

The dragonfly and its huge compound eyes and compacted wings slowly eased out, moved next to the lifeless larva exoskeleton, gradually spread and dried its perfect wings, and with its stored genetic knowledge intact, launched its first flight flawlessly – off my bike tire. After surviving for two to three years as a larva in the muck of the lake bottom, it would live to fly, eat and procreate for perhaps another three to four WEEKS – the normal post-larval lifespan of a dragonfly.

It was purely by chance that I got to see (and shoot, no less) such a miraculous event. These may not be Pulitzer Prize winning photos, but they’ll forever distinguish my summer of 2014.

When viewing these photos keep in mind that I purposely re-oriented some right-side-up to make it easier to view them. Also, the last image is, as best I can tell, an adult version of the same type of dragonfly in great light, but it is NOT the same one.

Steve Russell
www.steverussellphotos.com

IMG_3562 R22A0240 R22A0248 R22A0261 R22A0265 R22A0314 R22A0322 R22A0351 R22A0391 R22A0467 R22A0437 R22A0406 R22A0497 Dragonfly

 

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/07/23/metamorphosis-dragonfly-caught-camera-guest-article-steve-russell/feed/ 0
Shadowlands: Five Tips for Capturing the Beauty of Back-Light Macro – Guest Article by Steve Russell http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/06/27/shadowlands-five-tips-capturing-beauty-back-light-macro-guest-article-steve-russell/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/06/27/shadowlands-five-tips-capturing-beauty-back-light-macro-guest-article-steve-russell/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 22:38:29 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=34327 READ MORE >]]> R22A9416How is it that one can walk by, even photograph, the same thing thousands of times year in and year out – and not really see it? It’s happened to me. I shot small subjects for years in soft front-light and side-light or with flash and have had great results, but it wasn’t until I was stuck shooting at mid-day in harsh light recently that I looked toward the sun and noticed the grasses come alive with color and the bugs on the sun-side casting amazing shadows on the vividly striated grass. Not only that but any limbs hanging over the edges became brilliantly translucent. I began to notice this effect on any wide grass– contrasty shadows, bright colors and the amazing luminescence of my subjects created by back-light, especially at mid-day.

Shooting at mid-day in harsh light not only became possible, but preferred for this type of shooting. But to shoot this way there are a few things to know that may help you if you are interested in doing the same.

R22A0173

1) Look for background first and subjects second. This is the reverse of what I’m used to. Look in the direction of the light for wide grasses or leaves. Walk toward the light so you can spot the silhouettes of the bugs on the plants in front of you and because they are less likely to see you coming and get spooked off.

2) No flash needed or wanted here. While flash does an incredible job for detail and saturation, in this case it eliminates shadows and darkens backgrounds that can otherwise create a brilliant bokeh. Besides, there’s plenty of light on a sunshiny day.

3) Forget the tripod (no time for it), but make speed, aperture and image stabilization a priority for handheld shooting. Plan on a minimum of 1/60th sec but really 1/500th sec or faster is preferred as is an aperture of f/11-16. To get these settings it is the ISO that may have to get bumped up and fortunately I have a camera that can handle it – most of the shots below were at ISO 1600, but my 5D Mark III shows little or no noise. My Tamron 90mm macro lens has Vibration Compensation (VC). I use a hiking pole if I can to help stabilize the camera, as well.

R22A1665 4) Keep the lens parallel to what you want in focus. I would suggest several years of intensive yoga so that you can contort yourself in position to shoot from behind bent grass. It ain’t easy sometimes. I’ve been looking through the viewfinder but if there’s time you could use live view (and a loupe no doubt) and magnify the image to get the best focus.

5) All these rules are made to be broken so have fun and experiment with the settings and techniques.

Mid-day sun is now my friend and I have added a whole new way of shooting to my macro repertoire. I shake my head when I realize that these opportunities were there all along and I hadn’t really seen them until now. As much as I enjoy the detail and the balanced light of my normal shooting, I equally appreciate the beautiful lines, shapes, colors and contrasts that back-light photography can generate.

Steve Russell

 

R22A0173 R22A1665 R22A7860 R22A8183 R22A8287 R22A8557 R22A8830 R22A8951 R22A9416 R22A9611 R22A9745 R22A9908 ]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/06/27/shadowlands-five-tips-capturing-beauty-back-light-macro-guest-article-steve-russell/feed/ 0
Using Photoshop CC to Create a Poster for Photo Lab Printing http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/06/16/using-photoshop-cc-create-poster-photo-lab-printing/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/06/16/using-photoshop-cc-create-poster-photo-lab-printing/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 17:27:34 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=34152 READ MORE >]]> In this fourth post on preparing images for printing at a photo lab, I describe using Photoshop CC to lay out a poster that includes one of your photographs plus some text that acts as a title. Note that most of the steps can also be accomplished with older versions of Photoshop as well as many versions of Photoshop Elements. So no matter which edition of the photo editing program you have, you should find some information to help you correctly prepare your favorite image as a poster for printing.

00 Fair Poster 16x20

Create a New Document

To begin, decide on the paper size you want for your poster. Check with the photo lab you plan to use to ensure they have that size available, especially if you want to create a panoramic style. For this example, I’m creating a horizontal (landscape) poster 16 x 20 inches.

Open Photoshop CC and from the File menu choose New. In the window that appears, provide a name for the document. Then fill in your choices for the width, height, resolution and background, which will be the background color of your poster. I set the units to inches and type in 20 for the width and 16 for the height at a resolution of 300ppi. I plan to use a color photo, so I set Color Mode to RGB Color and 8 bit. My poster will eventually be saved as a JPEG file, which is 8 bit, so this saves me a step later on. I want the Background Contents to be White. Clicking on the Advanced arrow reveals the Color Profile box where I select sRGB since this is the color space most photo labs work with. When you are satisfied with your choices here, click OK and a blank document appears.

 

01 New File

Set up Margin Guides

To help position your photo with even margins, it is useful to have Photoshop display guides. These light blue lines do not print; they are just for reference. From the View menu choose New Guide. Create two Vertical guides, one at 1 inch and one at 19 inches for the left and right margins, respectively. Also create two Horizontal guides, one at 1 inch for the top margin and one at 13 inches to leave a three-inch bottom margin where the title will go. Also in the View menu, turn on Snap and then Snap to > Guides. This ensures that your picture exactly lines up with these margin guides.

 

02 new document w-guides

Select the Picture from Bridge

Now you are ready to add the picture. Open Bridge and find a final edited image you want to add to your poster. Select the picture and from the File menu, choose Place > In Photoshop. Using the Place command allows you to reposition and resize the photo without compromising the quality. It also means you can double-click on the layer thumbnail for this picture and do further edits to fine-tune its appearance later.

 

03 Select in Bridge


Position and Size the Photo

Your picture appears centered on the page with an X through the middle. Move your cursor inside the photo and drag it into position. If you need to resize the image, hold down the Shift key and drag a corner. The Shift key preserves the original proportions of your photo. When you are satisfied with the position and size, click the check in the Options Bar.

04 Place Photoshop

05 Move placed photo

06 size placed photo

Now it is time to add the embellishments to make this poster stand out. There are many effects you can add with Photoshop, but I am going to add just a complementary border and a title.

Add a Stroke Border

To add the border, from the Layer menu choose Layer Style > Stroke. In the window that appears, adjust the width of the stroke border using the Size slider. Choose the position of the stroke. Inside and Centered will cover part of your image. Leave Blend Mode and Opacity at their defaults of Normal and 100%. Fill Type is Color and starts with black. If you want a different color border, click the swatch to reveal the Color Picker. Move your cursor over the photo to click on a different color in the image. Click OK to save your color and OK again to apply the stroke effect. If you change your mind later, you can double-click on the Stroke Effect in the Layers panel and make changes.

07 layer style stroke color picker

Add the Title

To create the title, choose the Type tool. In the Options Bar, select the font, style, size, alignment and color. The fonts and styles are what are installed in your computer. Size is in points (72 points equals 1 inch). You can type a larger number in the size box if needed. For a different color, click on the swatch to get the Color Picker again. You can make the type color match the border color by clicking in the border itself. Click OK to save your color choice. Then click below the picture and start typing. You can select the text and make further changes to all the choices in the Options Bar until you are happy with the title’s appearance. When you are finished typing, click the check in the Options Bar. If your type is not in the correct position below your photo, choose the Move tool. You can center the Type layer on the Background layer by Ctrl-clicking (Cmd-clicking Mac) on these two layers in the Layers panel and then choosing Align Horizontal Centers from the Options Bar. Select just the Type layer to adjust the title’s vertical position using the arrow keys. It is helpful to turn on the Grid (View > Show > Grid) to fine-tune the title position.

08 type centered with grid

 

Apply a Drop Shadow to the Title

The font and color I chose do not stand out well from the background. So I add a drop shadow effect to the words. Make sure you have the Type layer selected. Then from the Layer menu choose Layer Style > Drop Shadow. Adjust the Distance, Spread and Size as desired; you can leave the other choices at their defaults. Photoshop updates the effect as you make changes. When you are pleased with the result, click OK.

09 type drop shadow

 

To see a preview of your poster, turn off the Grid and Guides using the View > Show menu.

 

10 Finished poster


Save the Poster as a Master PSD File

Save your poster as a master PSD file and include the poster size in the name. This preserves all the layers and effects you applied so you can change them in the future.

11 Save As PSD

[Note: The Save As screens are from a Windows computer. If you use a Mac, your Save As screens look different but all the same choices are available.]

Save the Poster as a JPEG File

Now create a JPEG copy to send to the photo lab. From the File menu, choose Save As. Select a Prints folder on your desktop (to make it easy to locate your file for uploading). Include the print size in the name and change the file type to JPEG. Click Save.

 

12 Save As JPEG

 

Photoshop displays another window of JPEG Options where you specify the amount of compression applied to your picture. I recommend using Quality 10; this provides a small amount of compression that does not have a detrimental effect on your image and usually cuts the file size in half. Also be sure to set the Format Options to “Baseline (“Standard”)” and then click OK.

 

13 JPEG Options

 

Find your favorite photo lab online and upload, order and pay for your poster print. Consider ordering extras to share with friends and family.

 

To read the first three posts in my series on printing, check out these links:

Using Lightroom 5 to Create a Poster for Photo Lab Printing
Using Photoshop CC to Prepare a Picture for Photo Lab Printing
Using Lightroom 5 to Prepare an Image for Photo Lab Printing

Want to learn more from Kathy Eyster?

Visit her profile page and check out her RMSP offerings in 2014!

 

 

 

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/06/16/using-photoshop-cc-create-poster-photo-lab-printing/feed/ 3
Clouds http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/06/06/clouds/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/06/06/clouds/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 19:05:02 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=34034 READ MORE >]]> In the late sixties Joni Mitchell wrote the lyrics:

“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down, and still somehow its cloud illusions I recall. I really don’t know clouds at all”

Joni may not have known about clouds back then, but we should as outdoor photographers today. They are so important to our compositions they can’t be underestimated…and without them our skies have very little interest and almost no depth. Severely clear is a weather forecast most photographers dread, and quite possibly might change some minds about getting their fannies out of bed to go shoot. Watching a weather forecast the night before is a darn good idea even though there’s never a guarantee you’ll have clouds!

If blank blue skies just happen to be what Mother Nature served for breakfast and you reluctantly got your fanny out of bed for it, a good approach might be to minimize the amount of sky (negative space) so it’s not such a distraction by placing the horizon close to top of the frame. Another great idea is to fill the sky with subject matter that’s interesting.

JohnsonDoug_Minimized sky-2-5JohnsonDoug_Minimized sky-1-7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some weather (wx) forecasting sites on the computer like the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and weather apps for your smart phone have visible and infrared red (IR) satellite video feeds which allow you to see cloud movement in real time or if any clouds actually exist around your location. This technology also helps us predict where they might be in the near future. The IR feed is extremely helpful when there’s no visible light, like at night before a shoot the next day or in the predawn hours before hopping in the car or crawling from a warm bed. My favorite iPhone app that includes an IR feed is My-Cast Weather Radar from Garmin DCI. This wx app is $3.99 worth of pure love and available for Android devices as well.

MyCast-20IR radar.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scientifically, these atmospheric wonders form when air pockets that hold water vapor, and are warmer than their surroundings, rise (like a balloon) and then cool. Cooling causes the water vapor to condense into droplets and together with the wind form the cloud’s limitless possibilities of shape and form. These yummy little visual treats can be the main dish or the whipped cream that goes on top of your favorite landscape.

Main dish-12Whiped cream-1-13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The atmosphere is always in a constant state of evolution and clouds go along for the ride, changing shape and position in the sky from one moment in time to another. Waiting for the perfect moment can make or a break the composition and requires patience, experience and lot of luck. One thing to keep in mind however, is the more you’re out there, the less you need to rely on the “luck.”

good clouds-16better clouds-15

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clouds not only supply our limitless imagination with countless shapes to enjoy and marvel at, they also provide balance and support for the most breathtaking and dynamic landscapes compositions.

To take full advantage of the beautiful and ever-changing personality of clouds, we should consider a few basic compositional ideas to strengthen the communication.

1. Use the concept (rule) of thirds when arranging or waiting for clouds.

Rule of Thirds-1-10Rule of Thirds-2-9

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Support the landscape characteristics (shape, line, texture, color and or idea) by including similar cloud characteristics.

Support-1-11Support-2-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Give clouds a little room to breathe…I know it sounds funny, but be aware of merges with other elements and that includes the edge of the frame.

frames edge-1-4frames edge-2-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Timing is everything.

Timing-1-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One last thought…never forget the polarizing filter (if your camera’s perspective and the heavenly clouds in your view finder are 90 degrees from the sun angle)…

They will sing “hallelujah,” and so will your photographs!

Polarizer-14

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/06/06/clouds/feed/ 0
The Bugs are Back! Guest Article By Steve Russell http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/05/09/bugs-back-guest-article-steve-russell/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/05/09/bugs-back-guest-article-steve-russell/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 22:33:40 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=33980 READ MORE >]]> The Bugs are Back

R22A6655-13After my usual winter hiatus from bug-art photography, I dusted off my 65mm (Canon MP-E 65mm macro) and 90mm (Tamron macro VC) lenses and headed back to the park. What’s new this year is that I upgraded to a 5D Mark III camera, got a Hoodman Loupe (and elastic band to hold it on), and I start the season with lessons learned from last year’s shooting including how to shoot into a cloud-filtered setting sun with, of course, my trusty MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite Flash.

Dance flies made their usual debut at the flowering of the Oregon Grape bushes, but this year I spotted a first for any species I’ve ever shot: a pair of dance flies mating while the female simultaneously feasted on a just-caught fly. Damselflies emerged earlier than I’ve ever seen them and within the first few days I witnessed two of them caught in the fangs of spiders that are always lurking amongst the grasses. I also made my usual quota of one or two focused images per year of the most elusive fly around (orange and yellow with eyes in the back of its head) as I followed it bouncing around from one brief grass-stoR22A6966-18p to another, while getting off one quickly-composed handheld shot if I was lucky before it flew again.

My Mark III performed beautifully, although the move of the magnification button to the left of the LCD screen (from the top right of the camera on the Mark II) is infinitely more difficult to operate when I need my left hand to hold and steady the lens. It also takes a little longer for the LCD image to refresh after a shot and activates again only after I depress the shutter button half way. Maybe it’s just a matter of adjusting something in the camera. I hope so. I’m also experimenting more with high magnification handheld shooting at 4X and even 5X with my 65mm lens, and although there is a high rate of failure unless the conditions are absolutely perfect, the payoff is amazing in terms of detail.

The bugs are back and with them another season of endless opportunities to capture these tiny monsters in artistic compositions, with complimentary backgrounds, in ever-increasing detail while they’re doing instinctively dramatic things.

Let the shooting begin.

Steve Russell Photography

R22A6966-18 R22A6795-17 R22A6733-16 R22A6720-15 R22A6707-14 R22A6655-13 R22A6651-12 R22A6621-11 R22A6534-10 R22A6493-9 R22A6483-8 R22A6463-7 R22A6459-6 R22A6392-5 R22A6356-4 R22A6333-3 R22A6138-2 R22A5663-1 ]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/05/09/bugs-back-guest-article-steve-russell/feed/ 0
The Magic of Light Painting http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/05/05/magic-light-painting/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/05/05/magic-light-painting/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 17:48:46 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=33932 READ MORE >]]> What is Light Painting?

The word photography means to draw or paint with light. When I first began studying photography, I was told that along with composition, the study of light would be a lifelong endeavor. Over the years, I’ve found this to be an absolute truth. I have also found that light painting is one of the more creative and magical ways to illuminate a scene.

RH, Neon Graveyard

In short, light painting is using a flashlight to illuminate your subject. Rather than depending on a typical light source for lighting, you use a flashlight to “paint” your subject. Standard photography involves the use of ambient light, meaning natural light provided by the sun, overcast days, the sky, indoor lighting, street lamps, etc. “Ambient” means “relating to the immediate surroundings,” so ambient light is that which surrounds us. The light that’s available.

Commonly, light painting takes place outside after dark, inside dark rooms, or in any other dimly lit situations. This is not to say that complete darkness is necessary for light painting. It is possible and indeed fun to mix light painting and ambient light together. One of my favorite times to paint with light is when the moon is full. The trick is to put yourself in situations where your shutter speed can be long enough to allow you time to paint your subject. If you are shooting a well-lit street scene, your shutter speed may be as fast as 4 or 8 seconds—just not enough time to effectively paint your subject. A dark alley, however, may produce an exposure of 30 seconds or a minute or two.

Old Truck,  Nelson Ghost TownThese exposures are more conducive to creatively illuminating your subject with a flashlight. The real beauty of light painting is in the crafting of the light. You are the artist. The conductor. Few forms of photography allow this level of creativity in shaping your subject. The flashlight becomes your brush and the scene your canvas. Imagination and experimentation become your workflow, resourcefulness and ingenuity your tools.

In the images below made in the solitary confinement cell in the Mansfield Reformatory, I needed to add light to bring out the detail in the cell. In Figure 1.1 we first see how dark the cell was, with the ambient light reaching only so far down the hallway. Then we see how the cell looked after I stood inside the cell and painted outward with my flashlight to create the shadows of the bars on the floor.

CooperTim_Light

Figure 1.1:  Before and after light painting 

While creating masterpieces takes some practice, the basic concept of light painting is little more than illuminating your subject with the flashlight while your camera’s shutter is open, a process that resulted in this ghost town image (Figure 1.2).

01.02

Figure 1.2:  Restrooms, car, Gold King Mine Ghost Town

Camera

One of the coolest things about this type of photography is that you need very little special gear. No special lenses, tripods, or tripod heads. You will, however, need a some form of tripod and a camera that can be set to “Bulb.” This setting allows the shutter to stay open for as long as you depress the shutter button. The easiest way to do this is to use a remote release to lock your shutter open in bulb mode. You can purchase a cable release produced by your camera manufacturer, or check out less expensive options from after-market sources. I use the Vello brand remote from B&H (Figure 1.3), which costs considerably less than the Nikon models.

01.03
Figure 1.3:  Vello cable release

Flashlights

Just about any type of flashlight will provide enough illumination to see in the dark, but I like to use tactical flashlights for my light painting.  They provide a nice mix of durability, intensity and a smooth beam of light.  The intensity of a flashlight is measured in lumens. The higher the lumen value, the more powerful the flashlight.

I use a 65-lumen SureFire Xenon bulb for the bulk of my work. I also own a 100-lumen SureFire LED (Figure 1.4) for work where a brighter light is required.
01.04

Figure 1.4:
Top: Surefire 100 Lumen LED
Bottom: 65-Lumen Xenon

While the more powerful 65-lumen and 100-lumen lights work well for light painting, you may find them too bright for the extra illumination you’ll need while adjusting your camera or finding gear in your backpack.  I use a Coleman LED Multi-Color (Figure 1.5), one of many brands, allows switching from a brighter white light to a dimmer red light. I consider this type of light an essential part of my light-painting tool kit.

01.05Figure 1.5:  Coleman LED Multi-Color flashlight

Light Shaping

The best part about light painting is having the ability to shape your subject with illumination. This can generally be accomplished by changing your position and the angle of the flashlight. Moving closer to your subject increases the intensity of the flashlight; stepping back decreases its power. Placing the light at an angle to the subject increases the feeling of texture in the surface. Illuminating it from behind can provide rim light and separate your subject from the background.

There are limits, however to the capabilities of the basic flashlight. It’s not uncommon to want to narrow the beam of light, decrease its intensity, or even change its color. Fortunately, the photography world is filled with light-shaping and modifying tools that allow us to overcome these problems.

A snoot can help narrow down the beam of light from a flood to a spot. This is a great help when you want to paint a smaller area without spilling over on the surroundings. You can see how in this image of a powder magazine at Fort Point, I was able to paint the front of the barrels with a narrow beam to keep the spillover to a minimum (Figure 1.6).

01.06

Figure 1.6:  Barrels painted with a snoot

There are many types of snoots available to the photographer, but most are made for speedlights or studio strobes. Several manufacturers make snoots that can be used with a flashlight as well. Here you see a Vello 5-inch Snoot/Reflector attached to a speedlight (Figure 1.8). This can easily be repurposed to wrap around the front of a flashlight.

01.07Figure 1.7:  Vello Snoot/Reflector

Another way to narrow down your beam is to use a honeycomb grid. This type of modifier will shrink the size of the beam while decreasing the intensity. Pictured here is a ExpoImaging Rogue 3-in-1 Grid (Figure 1.8). This system includes three depths of grids that fit inside of the snoot. The deeper the grid, the more narrow the beam (Figure 1.9).

01.08

Figure 1.8:  Rogue 3-in-1 Grid Kit

01.09Figure 1.9:  Each grid provides a different radius beam

The grid is manufactured to work with a speedlight. It is, however, an easy matter to remove the grid from the snoot and hold it in front of your flashlight.

Getting Your Ambient Exposure

For most light-painting compositions, you’ll want an exposure between 30 seconds and 3 minutes to allow time to illuminate your subject. The first step is to establish your ambient exposure and compostion using a higher ISO.  Once your test shot for the ambient exposure is complete you can then calculate your actual exposure:

ISO 3200 for 2”  equals
ISO 1600 for 4”,
ISO 800 for 8”,
ISO 400 for 16”,
ISO 200 for 30”,
ISO 100 for 1 minute

The one minute exposure at ISO 100 now gives you time to illuminate your subject with your flashlight.  Here is an example of how I used a higher ISO to begin my light painting process.

01.10

Figure 1.10:  I began by putting my camera into Manual Exposure Mode with Matrix metering. I set my ISO to 6400 and my aperture to f/11. I pointed my camera into the sky and adjusted my shutter speed so that the indicated meter read -1. This setting makes the sky appear darker than at Midday but not black.

01.11

Figure 1.11:  The resulting image shows how the sky has a night feel and the foreground is completely black. This exposure was 4 seconds at f/11 with an ISO of 6400. The -1 setting on the sky is typical, but not mandatory. You can experiment with different brightness levels to suit your taste.  

01.12
Figure 1.12:  Next, I used the Six-Stop Rule to calculate my final exposure. The Six-Stop Rule states that 1 second at ISO 6400 equals 1 minute at ISO 100. My test exposure was 4 seconds so my final exposure will be 4 minutes. At this point it’s not necessary for me to run the full exposure while I test for light painting. I know the sky will be right at the 4–minute mark so now I am just testing the light painting. This image shows the amount of painting was insufficient.

01.13
Figure 1.13:  For this next test shot I painted the front headstones for longer (about a total of 2 seconds each stone). The total exposure for this shot was only 46 seconds but I’m not concerned about the sky at this point. I am simply trying to get my painting right for the main subject.

01.14
Figure 1.14:  After a couple more light-painting test shots I came up with this final image. This was taken using the full exposure of 4 minutes. I increased the time I spent painting the front headstones to about 3 seconds each. I then placed my flashlight at a low angle and painted the grass around the stones. The full exposure also gave me time to walk back into the scene and paint a few more monuments. Using Photoshop, I cloned out some of the brighter city lights at the rear of the cemetery for a less distracting background.

Starting the Process

When getting started with light painting you may feel a bit like a fish out of water. Where to begin? What to do first? It all begins with visualizing your composition. As you look at the scene imagine what it can be rather than what it is.

  1. Decide what lens to use. This will determine much of what comes next.
  2. Think about depth of field. Do you want your whole scene sharp (F/8–f/22) or do you want only the main subject sharp (F/1.4–f/4)? I tend to like maximum sharpness, so my default apertures are f/8 or f/11. Consider using only one or two apertures when your first start out. This consistency will help you learn how much painting is necessary for a good exposure.
  3. Set your ISO to 6400. If you don’t have 6400, use 3200. Running test shots at high ISOs saves time and helps with fine-tuning your composition.
  4. Set your camera to its multi-segment meter. The multi-segment meters (Evaluative for Canon, Matrix for Nikon) deliver decent initial exposures in scenes that have a mix of lights and darks. Some adjustments may be necessary after you review your test shots.
  5. You can obtain good exposures under moonlit conditions by pointing your camera into the sky and putting the indicated meter at -1. This will leave your foreground black but your sky will have that nighttime feel.
  6. For scenes without much ambient light, I typically shoot for 2 or 3 minutes at f/8 or f/11. I find these two apertures allow enough time to paint without being overly restrictive. F/16 and f/22 allow much less light to pass, increasing the time you need to paint.
  7. Once your ambient exposure is established, begin to practice your painting. Remember, it’s not necessary to expose each of these test shots for the full time. At this point you are just analyzing your painting techniques. The overall length of exposure will have very little influence here.
  8. If you are working in a bright area, there is a chance that some light can enter through the eyepiece in the back of the camera causing an odd glow or streaks across your image. Closing the viewfinder eyepiece shutter (Figure 2.23) during long exposures will eliminate these anomalies.

Light-Painting  

Once the initial ambient exposure is established, the real fun begins. It’s time to put the brush to the canvas. At this point you are truly making photographs instead of taking them. You are creating the light. You are designing the overall look and feel of the image.

Should your subject be brighter? Get closer or spend more time painting. Too bright? Spend less time painting or back up. Want to change the color of the main subject? Put a filter over your flashlight. Want the ambient light to be more blue? Change the white balance. The possibilities are endless.

The ambient exposure is controlled by the f/stop and shutter speed. The light painting exposure, though is controlled by the aperture, length of time spent painting, distance from the flashlight to the subject, and subject reflectivity.

  1. Wider apertures, shorter painting times.  Smaller apertures, longer painting times.  I typically use f/8 and f/11 @ 100 or 200 ISO.
  2. For shorter painting times, get closer to your subject.
  3. Subject reflectivity is also an exposure factor. Darker or rougher subjects will take more time to bring up to the desired brightness. Subjects that are smoother or lighter will require less time.
  4. Because of all these variables, it is nearly impossible to give an average painting time for any given aperture. Experimentation is key. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Simply open your shutter and start painting

Angle of light

1. Painting at the same angle as the camera will produce the least-interesting version of your scene. (Fig. 1.15)

01.15 Figure 1.15

2. Painting the subject from the side will result in the most texture and dimension. (Fig. 1.16)

01.16Figure 1.16

Light Painting Considerations

  1. Be prepared. Carry extra batteries for all of your gear.
  2. Don’t wear bright clothing.
  3. Use your red flashlight to avoid the painful white light. Set your LCD to a lower power setting.
  4. Use your high-power flashlight to help you compose and focus.
  5. Establish your ambient exposure first.
  6. Use low ISOs of 100, 200, and 400.
  7. F/8 and f/11 provide good sharpness while allowing enough time to paint your subjects.
  8. Common shutter speeds range from 30 seconds to 3 or 4 minutes.
  9. Use your white balance to establish the color temperature of the overall scene.
  10. Filter your flashlight to alter the color of the subjects you paint.
  11. Don’t be afraid to walk through the scene, but be sure the camera can’t see the front of the flashlight.
  12. Paint from different angles to create the feeling of multiple light sources.
  13. Paint some objects brighter than others. Scenes become flat and boring when all of the subjects are the same brightness.
  14. All light painting is an experiment in creating light. Have fun. Don’t be afraid to try new techniques.

 

This is an excerpt from Tim Cooper’s book The Magic of Light Painting from Peachpit Press due to be released mid-May.  The Magic of Light Painting is an eBook that can be purchased for $8.00 by clicking here.

 

Want to learn more from Tim Cooper?

Visit his profile page and check out the rest of his RMSP offerings in 2014!

 

 

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/05/05/magic-light-painting/feed/ 1
Flossing with Keywords http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/04/22/flossing-keywords/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/04/22/flossing-keywords/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:00:07 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=33868 READ MORE >]]> Dentists know a thing or two about healthy teeth and you may have heard Dr. Molars say, “You only have to floss the teeth you want to keep.”

As photographers using image editing programs like Aperture, iPhoto, Lightroom, Photoshop, etc., this anecdote could apply in some ways to our image file organization…meaning, “You only have to add keywords to the files you want to find.” It’s an easy task to do each time you edit or add image files and if we integrate the task into our everyday workflow, finding any file you want becomes a piece of cake. Yes, you’ll be able to find that “needle in a haystack” from images taken yesterday or years ago without much effort.

Some folks might be asking, “What’s a keyword?”

The FreeDictionary.com describes a keyword as:
A word used as a reference point for finding other words or information…as photographers that information is keyword metadata attached to image files.

People use keywords when they type into the Google search box to find web pages, for example. It’s no different here, except we’ll be adding the keywords in our image organization software so we can search for our photographs.

It’s certainly easy to find your photographs if you just started taking pictures, and taking the time to add keywords might seem unimportant at this point. That will change over time, however, and become much more challenging as your library of images becomes gi-normous…it will I promise. So, why not make adding keywords a “good habit” right from the start?

If you’re someone like me who had previously added thousands of images into my photo library, adding the appropriate keywords to all those files might seem like a daunting task and it certainly would be if you tried to complete the whole task in one sitting. If you approach the task in smaller bites you’ll be done before you know it. For example; try adding a few when you’re looking at existing files to do a certain project or how about when you’re downloading a cool movie or music from iTunes…you get the idea.

Getting started is simple, but there’s a few things to consider now so the keywords you’ll acquire over time are easy to manage as well.

  • The camera/lens and exposure metadata is already written to the image file when you take the photo and is searchable, so it would be redundant to add any of this information as keywords. The industry also calls this specific type of metadata “EXIF data” or Exchangeable Image File Format data…now you can really impress your photography friends!
  • When you are adding keywords always separate the words with a comma and then a space between them (or they will be considered one keyword). Good keywords: big, Martha, dog – Not so good: big Martha dog…Martha might get a little upset if she found out and not because her dog is big. You get the point!
  • Keep it simple whenever possible and use one word descriptions that have meaning to you. These could be adjectives, verbs and/or nouns that will help in your search when you need to find a photo.

Examples:
Adjectives: cute, blue, round
Verbs: running, blowing, blurred
Nouns: waterfall, boy, Kevin, cloud

Here’s a good list of keywords for the image on the left:

good_keywords_imagegood_keywords

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keywords can be added to image files in nearly all image editing programs these days including Aperture, iPhoto, Lightroom and Photoshop, although the convention in which they’re added might be a little different. For example, in iPhoto the placeholder for keywords is labeled “add a description”:

keywords_iPhoto

 

 

 

In Photoshop’s Bridge organizer the place holder is labeled “keywords”:

keywords_bridge

 

 

 

 

 

In Lightroom, it’s in the Library Module and since most folks are using this program as their “go to” editing software, let’s look a little more closely at adding keywords in this program.

When you open the Keywording panel in the Library Module there are a few places to add the words. These are labeled Keyword; Tags, Suggestions and Set.

LR_Library Module

 

Keyword tags1. Tags is the place to type in and add your keywords to one or more image files that have been selected in the grid mode.

 

 

 

 

Keyword suggestions2. Suggestions is a list of recently used keywords that are continually updated with the most recent words that you have added. You can click on these to add keywords to one or more image files that have been selected in the grid mode.

 

 

Keyword set3. Sets are a group of keywords. You can create the group (as a preset) or use what LR has when it was installed. These are words you frequently use to describe images like winter landscape, wedding, food or even the names of relatives in your family.

 

 

Keyword_ListThe Keywords List panel in Lightroom is a reference for all the keywords you’ve added over time. This is “the place” to edit your growing list of keywords…meaning organizing and deleting words. It’s also another place to add a keyword to other photographs although it’s not the most convenient or logical place to do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the image files have one or more keywords (metadata) attached, they are now searchable using the text filter.  In Lightroom, this is located above the image display window in the Filter Bar. Just type in a keyword and “Bing Botta Bang” and there’s the images you were looking for…Wahoo!

Filter_Bar

 

Want to learn more from Doug Johnson?

Visit his profile page and check out his RMSP offerings in 2014!

 

Want to learn more about using Lightroom?

Join RMSP instructors on one of these upcoming workshops:

Lightroom for Photographers in Ronkonkoma, NY
Lightroom for Photographers in Minneapolis, MN
Lightroom for Photographers in Missoula, MT

 

 

 

 

 

 

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/04/22/flossing-keywords/feed/ 0
Using Lightroom 5 to Create a Poster for Photo Lab Printing http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/04/16/using-lightroom-5-create-poster-photo-lab-printing/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/04/16/using-lightroom-5-create-poster-photo-lab-printing/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:00:33 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=33832 READ MORE >]]> In my previous posts, I’ve outlined how to prepare a single photo for printing by your favorite photo lab (called “outsource printing” by some). In this article, I describe how to use Lightroom 5 to create a poster layout featuring one of your best photos and get it ready to send to a photo lab. Lightroom includes many additional layout choices you can adjust (for example, changing the background color), but I’ve kept to basic steps to keep the article a manageable length!

00 Glacier Poster

Start by selecting and processing your photo to look its best in the Develop module, including sharpening it using the Detail panel. Cropping to improve the strength of your photo is fine. There is no need to crop for a certain size since this layout provides for a border around your image.

01  develop LR5

Choose a Template

Next, switch to the Print module. From the Template Browser in the left panel, choose a layout. For this project, I select the “1 Large with Stroke” template. It has 1-inch equal borders on all four sides along with a thin black line around the photo.

02 Original Print Template

Change the Paper Size

The template assumes a letter size piece of paper (8.5×11 inches), so to change this, click the Page Setup button. Select the appropriate paper size, in my case 16×20 inches. Lightroom automatically adjusts the page layout to reflect the new paper size. [Note: I'm working with a Windows computer so if you use a Mac, your Page Setup window will look very different.]

03 Page Setup 16x20 Land

04 16x20 Print Template

Widen the Bottom Margin

To leave space for a descriptive title, I need to make the bottom margin larger. In the Layout panel on the right side, I make the bottom margin 3 inches and leave the others at 1 inch.

05 Layout panel bottom margin

Adjust the Stroke Border

The default width of the black border is two pixels. If you want to make this wider, open the Image Settings panel. Then adjust the Stroke Border size to your preference. The border is contained within the cell that determines the size of your photograph. So as you make the stroke wider, your picture shrinks slightly to accommodate it.

06 stroke width Image Settings

Add the Title

To create the title below the picture, you can use Lightroom’s Identity Plate feature. To access this, open the Page panel. Check the box for the Identity Plate. The default color is white, which makes editing the text difficult to see. Check the Override Color box, which turns the type black.

07 ID Plate Center

To change the Identity Plate text to something appropriate for your picture, click the small arrow in the bottom right corner of the Identity Plate box and choose “Edit.” Double-click to select the text and type your title to replace it. Choose a font, style and color for your title. Don’t worry about the size at this point. Click OK when you are satisfied.

08 ID Plate Edit

09 ID Plate Edit 2

Position and Size the Title

The Identity Plate appears in the middle of the page, right over your image. To position it below the photo, click on the words so a box appears around them. Drag the title into position below the picture.

10 ID Plate Center with box

11 ID Plate bottom black

Lightroom does not contain any commands to automatically center the Identity Plate. But you can create that effect by stretching the box’s borders to fit between the left and right margins. This usually makes the type too big. So adjust the Scale slider until the title looks right.

12 ID Plate Expanded

13 ID Plate sized

Change the Title Color

If you want to change the color of the type in your title, click on the black box next to Override Color. In the window that appears, click and drag the eyedropper out of the box and over the image. You can see a preview of the color under the eyedropper displayed in your text. Let go of the mouse when you are happy with the color. Close the box by clicking on the X.

14 ID Plate new color

For a preview of what your printed poster will look like, first click in the gray background to hide the Identity Plate box. Then open the Guides panel and turn off Show Guides.

15 Poster Preview no guides

Save a Template

If you think you will use this same layout again, you can save the design as a User Template. In the Template Browser panel click the Plus icon. Type a name for the template. I used “16×20 poster H” (H designates a horizontal design) and click Save. Now you can easily add a different image to the poster and update the Identity Plate.

16 Save Template

17 Save Template

Set the Resolution, Sharpening, JPEG Quality and Custom File Dimensions

Now you are ready to save this picture and layout as a JPEG file that you can upload to a photo lab. These are the same steps as you would use for an individual picture. In the Print Job panel, for Print To select JPEG File. Set the File Resolution to 300 ppi for prints up to 16×20 inches (you may want to use 200 ppi for larger prints to create a smaller file at acceptable quality). Turn on Print Sharpening. Select the amount you want applied; I usually use Standard for my nature and architecture shots. If you are printing a portrait, you may want to choose Low instead. Then pick the Media Type. Use Glossy unless you are ordering an inkjet print on watercolor or other textured paper. In that case, choose Matte.

Now set the JPEG Quality to 100. If you are ordering a very large print (16×20 inches or more), use 90 to create a smaller file but still good quality result. Check the box to turn on Custom File Dimensions. These start at the paper size that you selected with the Page Setup window. Confirm they are the correct dimensions. In my example, the dimensions are already correct at 20 inches (wide) by 16 inches (high). If they are not accurate, type the dimensions you want.

Set up Color Management and Create the JPEG File

Making choices for Color Management is the last part. For Profile, sRGB is the safest choice. For Intent, use Relative for the most vivid colors. If you know the lab can accept Adobe RGB files, you may want to use that profile for slightly better quality, especially for high saturation photos. Finally, leave Print Adjustments turned off until you have experience with the lab. If you have calibrated your monitor, you should not need to make any adjustments here. Now your poster is ready to be turned into a JPEG file suitable for a quality print. Click the Print to File button at the bottom right and save the image to a folder on your desktop for easy retrieval.

18 Print to File panel

Go to the photo lab’s website and follow their instructions for uploading, ordering and paying for your print. Wait patiently for your print to arrive. Admire your work when it does!

 

Want to learn more from Kathy Eyster?

Visit her profile page and check out her RMSP offerings in 2014!

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/04/16/using-lightroom-5-create-poster-photo-lab-printing/feed/ 0
What’s That NOISE? Part 2 http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/04/11/whats-noise-part-2/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/04/11/whats-noise-part-2/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 22:25:22 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=33869 READ MORE >]]> In the last post I covered the most widely recognized cause of digital noise in your photographs and solutions for removing and minimizing this problem. Now I want to cover two other causes and how to combat the different noise that results

Cause #2: Exposure

Didn’t see that one coming did you?

We love digital photography because we can fix our mistakes on the computer after the fact.  e all underexpose our images from time to time and lighten them later but this isn’t really any different than what’s going on when you’re shooting at high ISO’s. By underexposing your images you are dropping the signal closer to the level of the noise and by lightening it in Lightroom or Photoshop you are boosting both the signal and noise similar to the way your camera would have done by shooting at a high ISO.

In fig 5 I overlaid two pictures of the same subject. On the left is a photo taken at the proper exposure and on the right is a photo that was underexposed by 2 stops and then lightened. You’ll clearly see a crosshatch pattern much like the effect of shooting through a screen door.  This is really unpleasant and easily avoidable.

Fig 6

Solution #2

Um…don’t underexpose your images!  Okay, that one is obvious and I know that it’s consistent with your goals anyway.  The crazy thing is that many photographers, when first starting out, have been told to intentionally underexpose their images.

Try to get the best exposure possible and beware of what will happen when you shoot at high ISO’s and underexpose…screen door city!

Cause #3: Long Exposure

The process of creating long exposures produces a whole different type of noise and requires another approach to eliminating it.

Every time you take a picture, your camera charges your sensor while the exposure is being made.  The longer your exposure the longer the sensor receives the charge.  As you may have guessed, the sensor heats up when it’s being charged so longer exposures result in the sensor getting hotter.  By using really long exposures (let’s say anything longer than 8 seconds for older cameras and 15 seconds for newer ones) your camera’s sensor starts exhibiting noise due to this heat.  This is often called thermal noise and, as you might expect, more heat = more noise.

As your sensor heats up, different pixels on your sensor start to “fail.”  This looks like specks of false color that are most apparent in the mid tone and dark areas within your photo (see Fig 6).

Fig 7

Newer cameras do better at long exposures than old ones but every camera has its limit.  The fortunate thing about this type of noise is that it’s predictable and repeatable and that makes it easy to remove.

 

Solution #3  Let your camera do the work!

There’s a setting in your camera, called Long Exposure Noise Reduction (Long exposure NR) that you want to turn ON.

Here’s what it does. Say you take a 10 second exposure. Your camera will operate normally during that 10 seconds but then it will take a second exposure for 10 seconds with the shutter closed creating a Dark Slide. For both exposures the sensor was charged for 10 seconds and in both cases it produced the same thermal noise at exactly the same pixels; in the photo you took and the Dark Slide that your camera took. Then your camera goes through a process called dark slide subtraction in which it identifies the pixels that failed in the dark slide and fixes those exact pixels in your photo.  Some cameras differ in the way they do this but the process works like magic and there is no equivalent in computer post processing that comes close so be sure to use this awesome camera feature.

Turn it on and leave it on, it only goes through the process on long exposures.

BE WARNED! You’ve got to remember that this feature is on so that you don’t think your camera is broken the first few times you use it.  Remember that your camera is taking a second “picture” after it took yours.  If your exposure was 30 seconds long then the dark slide is also 30 seconds long. That means your camera will prevent you from doing anything (like hitting “play” to see your photo) for those 30 seconds and then a few more while it performs dark slide subtraction. You’ll be standing there in the dark thinking your camera is broken but it’s just doing its job. In fact it will tell you so on the top of the camera.  It will say something like JOB or NR on the LCD. Let the camera do its thing and don’t turn it off during this process.  When it’s finished, prepare to be amazed with your gorgeous image, free from thermal noise.

BE WARNED #2.  Long exposures eat up batteries and you’re taking two of ‘em for every photo.  Be prepared to go through batteries quickly!

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/04/11/whats-noise-part-2/feed/ 1
What’s that NOISE? Part 1 http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/04/09/whats-noise-part-1/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/04/09/whats-noise-part-1/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 21:00:35 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=33858 READ MORE >]]> It’s pretty likely that you’ve at least heard about noise in digital photos. I’d also be willing to bet that you’ve got a few images in your archive that are great examples of this artifact, but do you really know what causes it? I would imagine that most of you answered “yes” but how about if I tell you that there are three different types of noise and three different causes…now what’s your answer?

In these two posts I’ll go over the three causes of noise and the three solutions.

Cause #1: High ISO

This is the one that you’ve definitely experienced. We all use high ISO’s when we are forced to shoot in low light situations but still need fast shutter speeds. Even if you don’t use manual exposure, your camera will automatically boost the ISO when shooting on Auto Exposure or using the scene modes.

Here’s something you may not know:  when you shoot at a high ISO you’re actually UNDEREXPOSING your image.  Seems strange, huh?  Your images don’t look underexposed because your camera amplifies the signal after you take the photo to make it look brighter.  This isn’t too different from listening to a recording in which someone is speaking very softly; you turn it up to hear it better.

Here’s where the problem starts…your camera’s sensor has a specific amount of noise that is always present but usually the amount of signal (your exposure) is so much greater than this noise that you don’t see it. When you don’t have a lot of signal and your camera amplifies it (turns it up) you are also amplifying the noise as well.

Imagine in that same example of the person speaking softly there is a fan on in the background. The noise of the fan is much more quiet than the person but when you turn the recording up to hear the person better the fan gets louder too. You can easily imagine that if the fan stays on and the person speaks more and more softly the difference between their voice and the fan gets smaller. As their voice gets more quiet it gets closer to the volume of the fan which means it will be harder to distinguish their voice from the noise.

So how does this relate to ISO again? The higher you set your ISO the more you are underexposing your image (less signal) and the more your camera has to turn up the signal. As you underexpose the image more and more you are dropping the level of the signal closer and closer to the level of the noise so when your camera amplifies things the noise becomes as apparent as the signal. That’s why you see more noise in your images as your ISO gets higher.

Solution:

There are several things you can do to prevent or minimize the appearance of high ISO noise.

#1  Shoot at the lowest ISO you can get away with in every situation. Seems like a no brainer but I see people shooting at ISO’s that are much higher than necessary all the time. Remember to check that setting often.

#2  Turn OFF high ISO noise reduction if you use post processing software. The tiny little computer in your camera attempts to get rid of noise by smearing over it to smooth it out. Unfortunately it also softens details and creates strange artifacts in the process. The processor in your computer combined with post processing software are much better suited to the task of removing high ISO noise, especially if you shoot RAW. Lightroom and Photoshop do a remarkable job of removing ISO related noise. In Lightroom, use the Luminance slider in the Detail Panel to remove High ISO noise. Be careful, if you go too far things will look like they’re made of plastic!  Check out Fig 1 and Fig 2 to see what an incredible job you can do with RAW images.

Fig 1 Fig 2

#3  Use your tripod and longer shutter speeds. In situations where you don’t need to freeze subject motion your tripod is your best friend.  It will control camera movement during the exposure while your longer shutter speed will give you the right exposure in low light.

#4  Get a new camera!  I knew you were looking for a reason to buy a new body so I thought I’d give you permission. Really, I’m kidding, but you should know that all cameras are not created equal and you should know the limits of your camera. Newer cameras, especially those with larger sensors and low megapixel counts perform much better at high ISOs. My Nikon D3s is a great example of a camera that is exceptional at these ISO’s. Look at how well it performs at 6400 ISO (fig 3) and prepare to pick your jaw up off the floor once the noise is removed (fig 4).

Fig 4 Fig 5

In my next post I’ll cover two other types of noise and how to overcome the resulting nastiness.

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/04/09/whats-noise-part-1/feed/ 1