Rocky Mountain School of Photography » Tim Cooper http://www.rmsp.com Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:36:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Flash Photography Made Simple http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2015/03/11/flash-photography-made-simple/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2015/03/11/flash-photography-made-simple/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 17:17:07 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=35875 Most photographers tend to shy away from using their on-camera flash and external speedlights. This is understandable given the fact that an uncontrolled flash often causes fake looking pictures with overexposed subjects and harsh shadows. The truth of the matter though, is that flash is easy! Understanding a few simple concepts will allow you take control of your flash and begin to create realistic and satisfying images.

Combo-1

Two Exposures

The easiest way to control the look of your images is to consider the flash exposure and the ambient exposure separately. The ambient exposure is controlled by the Fstop, Shutter Speed and ISO, while the flash exposure is controlled by the Flash Exposure Compensation setting.

Ambient Exposure

Ambient exposure refers to light that is constant rather than instantaneous. When you make a normal photograph outdoors, you are using ambient light- the light that is available to you. In addition to sunlight, this could also be room light, moonlight, stage light or any other continuous light source. The most important thing to understand about ambient light is that it is continuous- unlike our flash that only lasts 1/1000 of a second. To make an exposure with ambient light we must consider our shutter speed, aperture and ISO. These settings combine to control the amount of light hitting the sensor. Shutter speed controls the duration of time it hits the sensor and aperture controls the amount of light hitting the sensor. The sensor controls the sensitivity of the sensor. These settings should be the familiar dials that we all use to control our exposures.

Flash Exposure

Illumination from a flash unit comes via a quick burst of light. The duration of this exposure is very short- about 1/1000 of a second. If a camera’s shutter speed is set to it’s sync speed or slower (such as 1/60,1/30, 1/15, etc.) the burst of light will expose the sensor. The 1/1000 duration of the flash is just a blip compared to the much longer shutter speed of 1/60 that is set on your camera. This shows us that as long as we have our shutter speeds set to the sync speed or slower, the entire duration of the flash will record on our sensor. If our flash is too bright, we can lower the Flash Exposure Compensation setting. Too dark? We can raise it. Most flashes have the ability to raise or lower the power of the flash by1/3 stops from -2 to -1 to 0 to +1 to +2. 

Sync Speed

Sync Speed is the fastest shutter speed available during flash photography. Typically this is 1/200 or 1/250 of a second on modern cameras.

Full Flash

Full flash is a term used to describe a scene that is fully or mostly illuminated by your on-camera flash. In the example below you’ll notice the illumination comes almost entirely from the flash.

3-Full_Flash

Fill Flash

Fill Flash is a term used to describe a photograph that is primarily illuminated by ambient light (sunlight, room light, etc.) but the shadows are filled in with flash. In the example below you can see the hint of flash illuminating the folds of the monuments poncho.

4-Fill_Flash-2

TTL Flash

TTL means Through The Lens which typically refers the way the camera meters the flash exposure. TTL flash units are the most sophisticated, convenient and easy to use. Most middle and high-end cameras have TTL flash units that are designed specifically for that camera. They are built to talk to each other. Each one knows what the other is doing. This makes things much easier for the photographer. In addition to the added communication, these units are usually more powerful and come with more features. Pop-up flashes on the top of the camera are also TTL, although significantly less powerful than the external Speedlights placed in the hotshoe.

As soon as your flash is turned on, it will set itself to the cameras settings. Therefore, if you are using ISO 100 with an aperture of ƒ-8, your flash will set itself accordingly. These flash units may come with various shooting modes. The most common and useful setting is Automatic TTL. This may also be called E-TTL or TTL-BL. With this setting, you can make both fill flash and full flash pictures.

Flash Photography made simple

As mentioned earlier, the easiest way to control the look of your images is to consider the flash exposure and the ambient exposure separately. Begin with the ambient exposure. This is the exposure that controls your background. Set your Shutter speed and aperture to produce an acceptable exposure. The ISO can also be changed to affect the brightness. Here to illuminate this shot of the Civil War Memorial, using a tripod, I set my Shutter to 13 seconds with an aperture of F/9 at ISO 100. This gives an overall good exposure but leaves the Monument a little dark. Time for some Fill Flash.

5-Flash

I placed the flash to the left of the statue using a sync cord and set my flash to TTL mode. The TTL mode means the camera will communicate with the flash and turn it off when it receives enough light.

6-Flash-2

So the trick is to set your ambient exposure just like you always have. Fstop, Shutter and ISO. Next add in the flash and set it to TTL mode. This allows the camera to control the flash and shut it down when it receives enough light.

The same approach was taken here. The first shot was made at 1/125 at F/11, ISO 100. This exposure made the scene a little darker than usual. Adding in the flash will make this a Full Flash Photograph. Two flashes set to TTL were added to the scene to illuminate the truck.

Combo-2

Adjusting Flash Power

If the flash is too bright or too dark, you can use the Flash exposure setting to lower the flash power. This setting, seen below, can be found on your flash or as a setting on your camera. Consult your camera or flash manual to find the location for your make and model.

9-FlashExpCompSymbol


For this first image of the butterfly I set the ambient exposure to 1/125 at F/8, ISO 200. This illuminates the background but leaves it a bit darker. In the next shot, I placed my flash on camera and set the flash mode to TTL. In the second image, the flash overexposes the butterfly. Time to reduce the flash exposure compensation. For the third image, I set the flash exposure compensation to -1. Notice that background exposure stays the same because the I didn’t change the ISO, Aperture or Shutter Speed. Only the flash exposure has changed.

In the following examples, I set my shutter speed to 1/100 at F/4, ISO 100. As you can see, each images has a different flash setting. Each setting provides a different look and feel. Simply choose the setting that best expresses your intentions!

 

No Flash

 

Flash at 0- Default setting

 

Flash at -1

 

Flash at -2

 

So the goal is to set your ambient exposure (background exposure) with your ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed. Keeping the background a little darker makes your foreground subject stand out a bit when flash is used. Once you’ve set your ambient, it’s time to place your flash on-camera. Set it to TTL to use its automatic setting. If the flash is too bright or too dark, adjust the Flash Exposure Compensation dial! As with all photography, experimentation and practice is key!

 

To find out what courses Tim will
be teaching in 2015, click here!

 

 

If you want more training on using your flash to its full potential, consider these upcoming courses:

flash

Flash Photography
with Syl Arena

June 6 – June 12, 2015

 

 

Summer Intensive

Summer Intensive
with various instructors

June 1 – August 14, 2015

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2015/03/11/flash-photography-made-simple/feed/ 0
How to Create Presets in Lightroom http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/12/22/create-presets-test/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/12/22/create-presets-test/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 16:00:18 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=35493

A Lightroom Develop preset is a single setting or combination of settings that can be applied to a few or many images all at once. Think of it as one click to apply several settings. For example, when I download images from a portrait session, each image gets a -5 reduction in Clarity, has its chromatic aberration removed, receives a proper amount of sharpening, and has a Neutral Profile applied to it, all before I even open my first image in Lightroom!

Lightroom has many Presets that ship with the program. These presets can seen and applied by opening your Presets Panel in the Develop Module (as seen to the left). This can be done by clicking on the right facing arrow to the left of the word Presets.

The presets that are shipped with Lightroom are grouped according to function. For example you can see several different types of B&W “looks” you can apply in the Lightroom B&W Presets category.

Creating your own presets in Lightroom is easy and saves lots of time. You can create your own presets for B&W, Color Effects, Sharpening or just about anything you can think of!

Some of my favorite presets to create are those that I can apply on import. These presets save loads of time later on in the Develop Module.

Here is the list of settings that I typically apply to most images during import:


Clarity
- Adjust the slider to taste.

1-Presets

Sharpening – Here I use the presets that ship with Lightroom. Circled in Red to the right you can see the Sharpen Faces and Sharpen Scenic. If I am creating an Import Preset for Portraits, I click on the Sharpen Faces, to apply the correct amount of sharpening for people. For landscapes, I click on the Sharpen Scenic.

Remove Chromatic Aberration – Under the Lens Corrections Panel, click on Basic at the top and then check the box for Remove Chromatic Aberration.

 

2-Chromatic Aberrations

Camera Calibration Profiles can be found by scrolling to the bottom most panel in the Develop module.

By default, Adobe applies the Adobe Standard Profile to all incoming RAW images. This is a great general profile, but for certain types of images you may want something a bit more targeted.

Click on the double arrow to the right of the Adobe Standard Profile to get the drop down list. Click on the profile of your choice to apply it.

 

The Camera Calibration Profile is only available for RAW (and DNG) photographs. A Jpeg will display the word Embedded here. When shooting Jpegs it is best to pick your “Picture Style” in camera, as you do not have the choice back in Lightroom.

3-CameraCalibration-1

    1. To begin creating your own presets, simply select any image in the Library Module and move to the Develop Module.

 

    1. Apply the settings that you want to be part of the Preset. Starting at the top adjust the Clarity. Higher for images with important detail and lower for portraits.

 

    1. Click the desired Sharpening Preset.

 

    1. Choose your Camera Calibration Profile.

 

    1. Now that your settings have been applied, it’s time to make the preset.  Click on the Plus button in the Presets Panel (circled in red to the right).  This will bring up the New Develop Preset Box

 

    1. Type a meaningful name into the Preset Name box highlighted in Yellow.

 

    1. Check only the items that you have applied to the image.  Here you can see that I have only checked Clarity, Sharpening, Chromatic

 

    1. Aberration, Process Version, and Calibration. Process Version is checked by default and can be left that way.

 

    1. Check the Remove Chromatic Aberrations checkbox.

 

    1. The Check All and Check None buttons at the bottom are a quick way to check and uncheck all of the boxes.

 

    1. Click Create to create your new preset!

 

4-CameraCalibration-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5-Presets-+

 

 

6-Preset Dialog box

Now that your preset has been created, you can find it under User Presets at the bottom of the Presets Panel. Here you can see that I have several import presets beginning with the number one. This keeps the presets near the top of the list using Alpha Numeric organization.

 

Presets can be applied in many ways:

  1. If an image is selected in the Develop Module, you can simply click on the preset to apply it.

 

  1. In the Library Module select one or many images. Right click (control+click for Apple) on the thumbnail of any of the selected images. Choose Develop Settings> User Presets>then choose your desired Preset.

 

  1. The Presets can also be applied during import. When importing images click the left facing arrow next to Apply During Import. This reveals the Develop Settings.

 

  1. Click the Develop Settings to reveal User Presets and finally click on your desired preset to apply it to every image during import!

 

 

7-UserPresets

8-Apply Import Preset

9-Apply Import Preset-2

I have two types of presets: one for Portraits and several for general/landscape images.


The settings for my Portrait Preset are:
Clarity -5
Remove Chromatic Aberration
Sharpen Faces (via the Presets Panel)

Camera Neutral Camera Calibration Profile.

The settings for my General Presets are:
Clarity +10
Remove Chromatic Aberration
Sharpen Scenic (via the Presets Panel)

Using the above settings I created an Adobe Standard , Camera Landscape, Camera Neutral, and Camera Standard Presets.

Want more from Tim Cooper?

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

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/12/22/create-presets-test/feed/ 2
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 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
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 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
Shooting a Realistic HDR Image http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/03/19/shooting-realistic-hdr-image/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/03/19/shooting-realistic-hdr-image/#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 14:58:08 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=32465 The High Dynamic Range Image

HDR imagery can be considered a recent fad or a well-worn technique, depending on how you look at it. In the early days, film failed to produce visible detail in the highlight and shadow values of high-contrast scenes. Because of this, photographers resorted to difficult and tedious darkroom techniques to help return the detail to the print. Today’s digital sensors, while holding great promise, still fall short of the capability of our vision. Luckily for us, however, modern computer programs provide a more accurate and elegant solution to this the age-old high-contrast problem.

The acronym HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It can refer to a computer program, a photograph that has been processed by an HDR program, or the technique of taking multiple photographs with the intention of blending them together in an HDR program.

Let’s begin with the phrase ”dynamic range.” Dynamic range refers to the amount of separation between the brightest and darkest parts of a scene. A scene low in dynamic range would have a limited range of brightness tones, as seen in Figure 1.01. Here you see tones that are almost all the same brightness; the entire scene is made up of midtones. A scene high in dynamic range would have a large range of brightness values, as seen in Figure 1.02. Here the image consists of midtones, shadows, and highlights. There is a huge difference between the highlight values and the shadow values. This huge difference between values is what makes this scene high in dynamic range. High contrast is a more commonly used phrase to describe scenes with high dynamic range.

Figure 1.01: A scene with low Dynamic Range Figure 1.01: A scene with low Dynamic Range

 

Figure 1.02: A scene with high Dynamic RangeFigure 1.02: A scene with high Dynamic Range

The problem with film and digital sensors is that neither is capable of providing a realistic image in these high-contrast situations. If you expose correctly for the shadow area of the scene, the bright highlight areas become overexposed (featureless white), as seen in Figure 1.03. If you expose properly for the highlight area, the shadows become underexposed (featureless black), as seen in Figure 1.04. In some cases, where the contrast is really extreme, it is possible to lose detail in both the shadow and the highlight areas. Both of these photos appear unrealistic because as we encounter these situations in real life, we see detail in the very dark and very bright parts of these high-contrast scenes. We see something more like the image in Figure 1.05.

Fig-1.03-04

Figure 1.03: A good exposure for the shadows results in overexposed highlights
Figure 1.04: A good exposure for the highlights results in underexposed shadows.

 

Fig-1.05The HDR technique, then, is to take multiple photographs at different exposures. Each of these photos will capture a different range of detail. Once the photos are captured, you can then import them into an HDR program such as PhotoMatix. This program blends all the exposures into one photograph that contains full shadow, midtone and highlight detail. This resulting image is often referred to as an HDR image or HDR photograph.

Figure 1.05: An image created by blending the two previous photos together in an HDR program


When HDR Is Needed

The primary reason for wanting to shoot multiple exposures and blend them together in an HDR program is to capture full detail in a scene that contains very bright areas and very dark areas. These high-contrast scenes can be found everywhere, from landscape and nature scenes to interior architecture and real estate situations.

While important, shooting for HDR is not necessary with every photograph. Our cameras are capable of capturing the full brightness range of plenty of scenes. So when do you need HDR? The simple answer would be whenever the scene’s brightness range exceeds the camera’s capability to capture it.

By this measure, however, we would never have any photographs with pure blacks or whites, which are necessary to provide a photograph with full range of brightness levels (tonal value). Some pure black or pure white without detail is fine in almost any photograph. The image in Figure 1.21a and its histogram (Figure 1.21) show a slight clipping in the shadows. This is noticeable in the area around the waterfalls. As you can see, this small amount of pure black is perfectly acceptable. In fact, without it, the image might feel somewhat flat (low in contrast).

Silhouettes are another instance where you’ll want some pure black in your images. The image in Figure 1.22a and its histogram (Figure 1.22) show what we would normally consider severe clipping. Because there is no need to see any detail in silhouettes, however, the clipped shadows are just fine.

Fig.-1.21-22

Figures 1.21 and 1.21a: An image and its histogram showing acceptable clipping in the shadows

 

Fig.-1.22-22a

Figures 1.22 and 1.22a: A silhouette image and its histogram showing the amount of clipped shadows

The mood of the photograph is something else you need to take into account. Not all images need to be presented as bright and full of midtones. A low key image is one that is dominated by darker tones. Not necessarily pure black, but just dark tones. Figures 1.23 and 1.24 are examples of this type of imagery. On close examination of these shots you can see there are areas of pure black, but they don’t fill the frame; they are interspersed with areas that are dark but contain detail. Compare these with Figure 1.25. Notice how the large area of dark dominates the frame.

Fig.1.23-1.24

Figure 1.23: Low key image showing acceptable amounts of pure black
Figure 1.24: Low key image showing acceptable amounts of pure black

 Fig_01.25

While some areas of pure black complement an image by giving it a full range of values, large areas of pure black or white can overwhelm an image. This is the time for HDR. When you have large areas of pure black, as seen in Figures 1.26 and 126a, shooting multiple exposures and blending them in HDR is required to reveal detail in the shadows.

Figure-1.26-1.26a

Figures 1.26 and 1.26a: Scene showing good highlight detail but no shadow detail

Once you’ve determined a scene needs HDR to bring out detail in the shadows or highlights, or both, it’s time to make the exposures that can be blended together. Shooting for HDR is more than just setting your camera on Aperture Priority, Evaluative metering, and Auto-Bracketing and firing off a few shots. Care should be taken to analyze the scene and set your camera accordingly.

Metering the Scene

Shooting for HDR boils down to making a series of exposures that capture the full range of tones present in the scene. The simple way of doing this is to get one good exposure for the highlights and then open up one stop (add more light via the shutter speed) and make another exposure. Then open up again and make another exposure. Continue this until the shadow areas are captured on the histogram. Figure 2.01a is an example of the first shot, where the highlights would be properly exposed. This was ¼ of a second at F/16. Notice the shadows are crawling up the left side of the histogram, indicating they are quite underexposed.

Figure 2.01b, shot at ½ second at F/16, would be the second shot. In this histogram both the shadows and highlights are clipped. Figure 2.01c was made at 1 second at F/16. The shadows are still clipped. Figure 2.01d was made at 2 seconds at F/16. The shadows almost have enough exposure, but not quite. Figure 2.01e  shows the final image made at 4 seconds at f/16. Here you can see a histogram that represents full shadow detail.

Fig_02.01aFigure 2.01a: The first exposure, ensuring good highlight detail. ¼ of a second at F/16

 

 

 

Fig_02.01bFigure 2.01b: The second exposure, ½ of a second at F/16

 

 

 

Fig_02.01cFigure 2.01c: The third exposure, 1 second at F/16

 

 

 

Fig_02.01dFigure 2.01d:The fourth exposure, 2 seconds at F/16

 

 

 

Fig_02.01eFigure 2.01e: The fifth exposure, ensuring good shadow detail. 4 seconds at F/16

 

 

 

 

Here is a visual example of six shots created to blend together in HDR.  Figure 2.02 shows the images.  Note that the brightest image shows plenty of shadow detail, and the darkest images retains highlight detail.  Figure 2.03 shows the final combined image.

Figure-2.02-2.03


Pro Tips

Here are a few tips that may help you achieve better results in the field:

1.      Find the important bright area when metering. It’s essential to realize that not every bright area in the scene needs detail. Typically light sources themselves can do without detail. It’s also unreasonable to expect to get detail from the bright sun. Likewise, reflections from light sources in glass, mirrors, or metal should be ignored. Of course there are always exceptions. A very ornate lamp shade or chandelier will benefit from proper exposure. The main idea is to keep larger, important bright areas from blowing out.

2.      Don’t concern yourself with the blackest black. Most images benefit from a pure black somewhere in the scene. Like for the highlights, determine which areas are truly important. Trying to get detail in every black and every white will result in an image series that becomes difficult to process correctly.

3.      HDR software has the ability to blend together images that are not perfectly aligned, but it does take the software longer to produce the final results. If the images are too far out of alignment, however, the software may not be able to achieve perfect registration. While you might get lucky with a hand-held series of exposures, it’s best to ensure perfect alignment by using a tripod. The use of the tripod will also allow the use of smaller apertures for more depth of field.

4.      Use a cable release or remote. Along with using a tripod, remote releases will help keep your images sharp by reducing camera shake.

5.       Use the Self Timer. Some cameras will not shoot all of the exposures at once when set to Auto-Bracket. This means you have to press the shutter release button or cable release for each shot. While not terribly time consuming it would be nice if the camera would simply fire them all of with one press of the shutter. Try setting your camera to Self Timer. In many cases pressing your release once will trigger the camera to shoot the whole series of brackets automatically.

6.      Consider using Continuous High Speed Release mode on a Nikon or Continuous Shooting mode on a Canon. By default, pressing your shutter release button shoots a single frame. In Continuous Mode, your camera will continue to shoot until you release the button. This mode can be used to capture a series of exposures in rapid succession, eliminating subject movement in between shots.

7.      Many scenes don’t require exactly three-, five-, or seven-stop brackets. They might need four or six. In these cases it’s easier to set your Auto-Bracketing to capture more images than are necessary and delete the unnecessary images back at the computer.

8.      If you are unsure about your metering or histograms, hedge your bet by capturing more images. It’s better to come home with extra images that are too light and too dark than to wish you had those images while you’re processing your HDR.

9.      Shoot in RAW. RAW files contain much more information than JPEG files. More image information allows more options when it comes to blending your images together. HDR programs will process JPEG files, so uploading your old images is not an issue. For the most latitude in processing your images, however, set your camera to shoot in RAW.

10.     I use the Program PhotoMatix Pro to blend my images together. I find this to be the most realistic and easiest program out there.  It can be purchased from hdrsoft.com.  Putting in my name, TimCooper (all one word, capital T and capital C) into the coupon code will get you 15% off the purchase price of $99.00!
This is an excerpt from Tim Cooper’s book The Realistic HDR Image from Peachpit Press.  The Realistic HDR Image is an eBook that can be purchased for $8.00 by clicking here.

 

Want to learn more about HDR imaging from Tim?
Join him at an upcoming Photo Weekend or Workshops in 2014.

Click HERE to see a listing of all of Tim’s 2014 offerings.

 

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/03/19/shooting-realistic-hdr-image/feed/ 0
Strong Primary Subjects with Lightroom’s New Radial Tool http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/02/20/strong-primary-subjects-lightrooms-new-radial-tool/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/02/20/strong-primary-subjects-lightrooms-new-radial-tool/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 20:45:59 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=32167 A good photograph usually exhibits a strong, recognizable main subject that is supported by less noticeable, secondary subject matter. The goal of the initial composition is to use subject placement, lenses and camera positioning to obtain this relationship. Sometimes, however, no matter how hard we try, our backgrounds or secondary subjects can tend to overpower our primary subject. This is where Lightroom’s new Radial Tool can be of some assistance.

While many aspects of the subject will contribute to its strength in the photo, there are a few important features that strengthen the main subject:

  • Brightness
  • Contrast
  • Sharpness
  • Saturation

I call these features Attractions & Distractions. If your main subject is bright, contrasty sharp and colorful, it has a good chance of being dominant. If the background is darker, lower in contrast, less colorful and sharp, it will not compete with the main subject. I always consider these four factors while composing and shooting in the field. It’s also critical to think of them when post processing in Lightroom and Photoshop. Early versions of Lightroom had the Post Crop Vignette Tool (Effects Panel) that allowed you to darken your edges and corners.

RadialToolWhile helpful, this tool lacked complete control. The latest version of Lightroom (5) added a new tool called the Radial Filter (circled in red). This tool can do everything the Post-Crop Vignette tool did, plus so much more. In addition to darkening the edges and corners it can also de-sharpen, lower contrast, and lower saturation. It also allows you to control where the vignette will take place. This tool works in much the same way as Lighroom’s Graduated Filter and Adjustment Brush-draw an overlay, adjust the area behind the overlay. The only difference here is that with the Radial Tool you are actually drawing the area you do not want to adjust.

 

 

Here are the basic steps:

1. Click on the Radial Tool to reveal the options below.
2. Place your cursor over the center of the area that you don’t want affected. Drag outward to define the radius overlay.
3. Adjust the sliders in the Radial Tool Box to darken, de-sharpen and lower contrast outside of the radius.
4. Click on the tool (circled in red) again to exit and adjustment

A recent visit with family allowed me to take some photographs of niece and nephew. In the picture of my nephew Carter, you can see how I placed my cursor in the in the center of his face and dragged down and to the right. Once you unclick the Overlay is drawn. In this case, the overlay has gone outside of the image window which is perfectly fine. Once the overlay was drawn out, I adjusted the sliders to downplay the background.

CooperTim_Carter-1

I lowered the Exposure to -92, the Contrast -45, and the Sharpness to -100. I also dropped the feather to 81. The feather controls how the affect of the sliders will fade into the center. A higher feather means a more subtle fade. A lower fader will cause a sharper delineation between the affected areas. You can practice with the feather by dropping your exposure to -100 and then adjusting your feather slider. You will immediately see where the slider works best.

CooperTim_Carter-2

The above adjustments help downplay the background while keeping Carters face bright and sharp. When the background and corners of the frame are darkened in this way, the viewer will immediately explore the face and pay less attention to the rest of the frame. The images below show the before and after view of the image. The adjustments used here were kept intentionally subtle. Use a light touch. When a vignette such as this becomes too dark it begins to call attention to itself. Ultimately a heavy-handed approach ends up competing with the main subject-exactly what you don’t want.

Cooper-Blog-Example

CooperTim_Emmy-2I used a similar approach with my niece Emmy. In this case I used two Radial Overlays. The first was used to darken, lower contrast and reduce sharpness as seen in the adjustment panel to the right. This was a great start but the I was looking to for a little less sharpness on the corners and edges. By creating another Radial Overlay and again reducing the Sharpness to -100 I was able to defocus the outer image even more.

CooperTim_Emmy-1

 

You can create a second overlay by clicking on the New button at the top of the Radial Tool Panel (circled in red). Once again, click inside of the image and drag outwards to draw the new overlay. When finished you will notice that each overlay has a “pin” in the center. The pin with the black dot in the center is the active pin. All sliders in the panel will now make adjustments to this overlay. At any time you can activate the other overlay by clicking on it’s pin. In this way, you can go back and forth between your overlays to fine tune your adjustments.

While I have used portraits as examples here, the Radial Tool is a great way to create controllable vignettes in for all types of imagery. Give it a try. Experiment. Most images will benefit from a small amount of edge vignetting!

 

The before and after:

Cooper-Blog-Example-2

 

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/2014/02/20/strong-primary-subjects-lightrooms-new-radial-tool/feed/ 0
Lightroom Shortcuts I Can’t Live Without http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/10/30/lightroom-shortcuts-cant-live-without/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/10/30/lightroom-shortcuts-cant-live-without/#comments Wed, 30 Oct 2013 15:00:14 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=31581 Like most photographers I prefer my time shooting to that spent behind the computer.  Downloading and editing images sucks up precious energy and time so I’m eager to streamline my workflow and shave time wherever possible.

One of the best ways to do this is by using keyboard shortcuts.  Whenever you find yourself continually repeating a menu command, its time to memorize that shortcut.  Most keyboard shortcuts can be found by looking to the right of the menu item as seen in Figure 1.  On my Apple Computer when I press Command+A, I will Select All Images.  The PC equivalent would be Control+A.

Figure 1

While most shortcuts are easily found in this manner, Lightroom provides a slick alternative to identify shortcuts.  Click on the Help Menu and choose Library Module Shortcuts (Figure 2).

 

Figure 2

Figure 2

 

Figure 3 shows the resulting screen displaying most of the shortcuts available in the Library Module!

Figure 3

Figure 3

This is a great feature that Adobe has included in the software.  It’s of interest to note that unlike many other programs, some shortcuts in Lightroom can change when you move from module to module.  For example the backslash key ( \ ) Hides and Shows the Filter Bar in the Library Module, while it Shows the Before and After Effects in the Develop Module.  For the most part, shortcuts are the same from Apple to PC with the Command (⌘)key in Apple performing many of the same functions as the Control Key on a PC.

 

One aggravating aspect of using an Apple is the cryptic symbols used to represent the Shift, Option and Control Keys.  Here’s the translation:

 

⌘ – Command

⇧ – Shift

⌃ – Control

⌥ – Option

⇪ – Caps Lock

 

Here are my favorite time saving shortcuts in the Library and Develop Modules

 

Library Module

Viewing Shortcuts

G                       Changes the mode to Grid Mode

E                        Enlarges the selected image to Loupe Mode

Shift+Tab           Hides and Shows all of the Side and Top Panels

T                        Hides and Shows the Toolbar

\                        Hides and Shows the Filter Bar

 

Rating and Flagging Shortcuts

1-5                     Sets the ratings on your images.  1 =1 star, 2=2 stars, etc.

0                        Sets the rating to no stars on your image.

6-9                     Sets the color labels on your images.

X                        Flags the image with a Reject Flag

P                        Flags the image with a Pick Flag

U                        Resets the image to be Unflagged.

 

Target Collection Shortcuts

B                        Adds selected image to the Target Collection

⌘+B                   Shows the Target Collection on an Apple

Control+B           Shows the Target Collection on an PC

 

Photo Shortcuts

⌘+E                   Edit in Photoshop (Apple)

Control+E            Edit in Photoshop (PC)

⌘+S                   Save Metadata to File (Apple)

Control+S            Save Metadata to File (PC)

⌘+G                    Stacks images together (Apple)

Control+G            Stacks images together (PC)

⌘+Shift+G           UnStacks images (Apple)

Control+Shift+G    UnStacks images (PC)

 

 

Develop Module

View Shortcuts

Shift+Tab           Hides and Shows all of the Side and Top Panels

T                       Hides and Shows the Toolbar

\                        Shows Before and After Effects

⌘+I                  Show/Hide Info Overaly (Apple)

Control+I          Show/Hide Info Overaly (PC)

I                       Cycle Info Overaly

 

Mode and Tool Shortcuts

R                        Enter Crop Mode

X                        Rotates the Crop (vertical/horizontal)

O                        Show/ Hide Paint Overlay

Hold down the Option Key to reveal Reset on most of the develop settings (Apple)

Hold down the Alt Key to reveal Reset on most of the develop settings (PC)

  • Double Clicking Effect while in the Gradient Tool, Radial Tool, or Local Adjustment Brush resets all of the sliders to their default settings.
  • Double Clicking any slider resets it to its default position.
  • Hovering your cursor over the Clipping Triangles in the Histogram temporarily shows the clipping on the image without having to click the triangle.
  • Double Clicking on the number to the right of the sliders, makes the number active and allows you to move the slider in small, controlled increments with your Up and Down Arrow keys.  Holding down the shift key moves the slider by larger increments.
  • Holding down the Option (Apple), Alt Key (PC) while moving most of the Tone Sliders reveals the clipping directly on the image.

 

 

 

 

 

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/10/30/lightroom-shortcuts-cant-live-without/feed/ 0
The Power of Critique http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/09/26/the-value-of-being-critiqued/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/09/26/the-value-of-being-critiqued/#comments Thu, 26 Sep 2013 16:00:26 +0000 http://blog.rmsp.com/?p=21717 CooperTim_ PoringOver-06-1For most of us, photography is enjoyed on many different levels.  First and foremost is the act of taking the picture.  This might mean walking around finding interesting subjects or creating scenes from the ground up and photographing them.  It can also include the act of touching up your images on the computer.  Making them a little more dramatic or perhaps more true to life.  In either case it’s the creating that we find so satisfying.  I always find it fascinating how time flies by when I am behind the computer or out with my camera.  This level of concentration focuses my thoughts on the task at hand and pushes all other worries and concerns from my mind.

As a photographer I am sure you are familiar with this blissful feeling.  Getting caught up in the moment is a great diversion from everyday life!  But there is a second factor that plays into our enjoyment of photography- sharing our work with others.  This could be putting on a slide show for your family, sharing a photo album with friends or posting images to Facebook or one of the countless image sharing sites now available.

I don’t know any photographers who keep their images to themselves. Showing your images to others finishes off the creative process. It’s the critical step that allows us to share our vision; let’s us tell people what we think or feel about a particular subject or circumstance. This step also allows for feedback on your work.  It allows our friends and family to tell us how much they like our images or what a wonderful photographer we’ve become.

That’s the catch.  Friends and family.  Our loved ones are always going to tell us how good we are.  While this boost is necessary for our ego, it doesn’t help us grow as photographers. We need critical feedback as well as the positive feedback.  This is where the photographic critique comes in.

Having your images critiqued by a professional is paramount to your growth as a photographer.  Its tough working in a vacuum.  Not knowing whether you are executing your techniques properly or more importantly if your vision is getting across to your viewers.  A good critique can correct these problems and speed you on your way to better photography.

Local camera clubs, photography workshops or weekend events at RMSP are a great place to look for critiques.  Some places will simply grade your images on specific aspects such as technical, composition, execution, etc. Steer away from these critiques, as they are not as beneficial. Look for classes that will provide direct feedback on your images, not just appoint a number value to specific categories.  Also try to find classes that include a large group of people. While hearing a critique on your image is more personal, listening to critiques of others’ work will provide a well rounded education!

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/09/26/the-value-of-being-critiqued/feed/ 0
Painting with Light http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/06/29/painting-with-light/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/06/29/painting-with-light/#comments Sat, 29 Jun 2013 14:00:52 +0000 http://blog.rmsp.com/?p=20830 Star Trails, Mesquite DunesBy definition, Light Painting is the process of photographing at night while illuminating your subject with a handheld device such as a flashlight or camera flash.  The use of a moving hand held light creates a look that is nearly impossible to replicate during daylight hours.

You can also mix in the ambient light of the scene for a more layered affect.  Your scenes can be partially lit by moonlight, street lights, house lights or entirely lit by your own flashlight!  You can use different flashlights for a slight change in color or place colored gels over them for striking changes.  Rotating the front bezel of your flashlight spreads or focuses the beam light creating a variety looks to your image.  The possibilities are endless!

RH, Neon Graveyard

Unlike many forms of photography, there are very few hard and fast rules that apply to this discipline.  Proper exposure is largely based on a trial and error approach.  Subject reflectivity, ambient light, flashlight power and  distance from flashlight to the subject all influence the resulting exposure.

Begin by taking some test exposures.  In many cases, the longest shutter of 30 seconds on your camera will not provide enough time to paint.  This means you will need a camera that goes to a shutter speed of “B”, which stands for bulb.  To use the B setting you must have a cable release with a lock.  Plug in your cable release, set your camera to B and press and lock the cable release.  The shutter will now stay open until you unlock the cable release.  Exposures can range from 1 second to hours.  Typically most cameras will start to exhibit too much noise after the 3 minute mark, however.

I usually start with my aperture at about f8.  This is typically the sharpest part of any lens and also allows more time to paint.  Keep your ISO at a lower setting such as 100, 200 or 400.

Blue House, Grafton Ghost Town, UtahIf the scene is completely dark with no ambient light, then only your flash light will illuminate the scene.  In cases like this, you can leave your shutter open for a very long time.  1 minute, two minutes or even three or four minutes.

If you are mixing ambient light, such as the full moon or street lights, you shutter time may anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes.  My recommendation here is to take some test shots with out painting. Get your ambient light to a brightness that doesn’t overwhelm your scene.  Perhaps something a little darker than you might normally use.  Set your shutter speed for this exposure and then begin to experiment with different amounts of light painting.

 

Starting Points

 

In Complete Darkness

In Mixed Ambient Light

  1. ISO 200 @ ƒ8
  2. Add Light with Flashlight
  3. Check Histogram for good exposure
  4. Add or subtract time or distance of flashlight as needed

 

  1. Find Base Exposure first using high ISO at ƒ8
  2. Extrapolate back to longer exposure for painting
  3. Add Light with Flashlight
  4. Check Histogram for Exposure
  5. Add or subtract time or distance of flashlight as needed

 

Extrapolating ISOs and Exposure

ISO 6400

ISO 3200

ISO 1600

ISO 800

ISO 400

ISO 200

ISO 100

4”@ ƒ8

8”@ ƒ8

15”ƒ8

30”ƒ8

1 min ƒ8

2 min ƒ8

4 min ƒ8

 

 

High ISO Noise           

  1. Some cameras produce more noise than others.  Run a simple test to determine:
  2. Set up a test in your house at night.  Use any common room in your house.
  3. Make a series of exposures from 2 second to 2 or 4 minutes.
  4. View your images on your computer at 100% (full size) to determine where the noise become unacceptable.
  5. If using that time is needed.  Use your Long Exposure Noise Reduction.
    Blue House, Grafton Ghost Town, Utah Old Truck, Ghost Town Restrooms, Car, Gold King Ghost Town RH, Neon Graveyard Star Trails, Mesquite Dunes

 

Lower your LCD Brightness to its lowest Setting for more accurate viewing

10 Helpful Hints:

  1. Wear dark clothes so as you walk through the scene you will appear invisible to the camera
  2. Keep your body in between the flashlight and camera to alleviate recording the flashlight in the scene.
  3. Don’t keep your body in between what you are painting and the camera.  This will negate the painting.
  4. Paint your subjects from the side rather than from the camera.  Painting directly from the camera will flatten out the scene while painting from the side adds texture.
  5. Spend more time painting the areas you want to highlight.
  6. Use a broad beam for illuminating a general area, a focused beam to highlight.
  7. Use the cardboard core of a paper towel roll over the front of your flashlight to achieve a very narrow beam.
  8. Move the position of the flashlight to create a softer light.  Try to refrain from painting from one position.
  9. Before going out to make masterpieces, test your camera at home.  Set up your camera in your home at night and make a series of exposures at 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes and 4 minutes.  Check your images out on your computer and see where the noise starts to become a problem.  Most cameras will look ok up to the 2 or 3 minute mark.
  10. The hotter it is, the more noise you will see over long exposures.  Below 60 degrees is optimal!
  11. Practice, experiment and have fun!
]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/06/29/painting-with-light/feed/ 0
Extending Your Depth of Field http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/06/05/extending-your-depth-of-field/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/06/05/extending-your-depth-of-field/#comments Wed, 05 Jun 2013 16:00:48 +0000 http://blog.rmsp.com/?p=20378 Sometimes it is just impossible to get everything completely sharp within a photo, even if you stop down to the smallest aperture (such as f22 or f32).

This may be due to using longer focal length lenses (which inherently give us less depth of field), or it could be that you are trying to get something very close AND very far away sharp.

In this example of the Aspen trees, I was using a 200mm lens to visually compress the trees and remove unwanted background. This resulted in a composition where it was physically impossible to get all of the trees sharp. When faced with this type of situation the solution is to shoot several images each focused on different area of the frame and then use Photoshop to blend them together.

The image below shows the three separate images. In the first image, I focused on the front tree. For the next exposure, I focused on the second tree back. The last shot was focused so that the far tree was sharp. Each image was made at an aperture of f16 to spread out the depth of field.

Blend_Dof_1.1

Select the three images in either Lightroom or Bridge. In Lightroom choose Photo>Edit In> Open as Layers in Photoshop. In Bridge choose Tools>Photoshop>Load Files into Photoshop Layers.  The image below shows how your new document will appear with the three stacked layers.

Blend_dof_2

Select the three layers by clicking one and then Ctrl-clicking (Cmd-clicking for Mac) on the others. Click the layer where I have it marked with an X.  Clicking in other spots on the layer will have a different effect. The image above shows all three layers selected (yellow) Choose Edit > Auto-Align Layers. From the resulting dialog box Choose Auto for projection. Un-check Vignette Removal and Geometric Distortion. Now that your layers are all aligned, Choose Edit>Auto Blend Layers. Choose the Stack Images option and check the Seamless Tones and Colors box as seen below.

Blend_dof_3

Voila! Photoshop has blended your layers together and created a final photo that is sharp throughout. The image below shows the resulting image with the Layers dialog box. Notice that Auto Blend has masked out the necessary areas to create the final image.

Blend_dof_4

 

 

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/06/05/extending-your-depth-of-field/feed/ 0
Control the Background in Your Macro Photos http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/04/25/control-the-background-in-your-macro-photos/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/04/25/control-the-background-in-your-macro-photos/#comments Thu, 25 Apr 2013 16:00:53 +0000 http://blog.rmsp.com/?p=19502 Control the Background for powerful macro photography

As with most forms of photography, macro imagery benefits from having a strong main subject; A subject that stands out and keeps the attention of the viewer. One approach to strengthening your main subject is by ensuring that you background does not compete with it.

I consider the background to be the most important part of my macro imagery.  It is the most difficult area to control and can make or break an otherwise strong main subject.  By subduing our backgrounds we keep the main subject free from visual competition.

So what causes this visual competition?  Simply put, areas of interest.  As our eyes move across a photograph they are drawn to certain areas of interest first.  I call these locations Attractions & Distractions. Bright areas, contrasty areas and areas of sharpness all draw the eye.  Logic would dictate, then, that an effective photo consists of a main subject that is bright, contrasty, and sharp, while our backgrounds are kept dark, low in contrast, and out of focus.  This, of course, is impossible to do in every situation, but keeping these ideas in mind can help us better design our compositions.

Here are a few tips that will help you better control and subdue your background.

Use a Longer Lens
Macro lenses typically come in three different focal length ranges: 50mm, 100mm and 180mm.  The longer the lens, the more narrow the field of view.  A narrow field of view shows less of the background. It is much easier to control the background when you are seeing less of it.  The following illustrations demonstrate how much more background is visible with a 50mm lens as opposed to a 180mm macro lens when the main subject remains the same size.

50 mm macro lens 180 mm macro lens
In the following pair of images you can see how I have kept the main subject nearly the same while the backgrounds are completely different. Using a 180mm lens, I only needed to move my camera about 3 inches to achieve this.

PinkFlower-Combo

 

Watch For Bright Areas In The Background
Carefully examine the scene for random bright areas in the background.  These distractions really draw your eyes away from the main subject.
white spots-Combo

 

Keep Your Background Low in Contrast
A low contrast background tends to be less competitive with your main subject.  The easiest way to achieve this is by keeping your main subject sharp and your background out of focus.  When the background is out of focus, the bright and dark areas blend together to create a lower contrast as you can see in the examples below.
f4-f22-combo

There are three ways to keep your background out of focus.  The first is by using a larger fstop.  The image to the left was shot at f22 resulting in a very sharp background.  The image to the right was shot at f4.  This lets the background elements blur together supplying lower contrast.

The second way is to keep your main subject as far as possible from your background. In this first image the leaves behind the flower are about 6 inches behind the main subject.  This will be difficult to really blur. In the next shot, I found a similar flower where the background was about 3 feet behind.  You can see the background is much more pleasant in the second image.

blueflower-combo

The last way is to get closer to your main subject. The images below demonstrate that the closer you get, the less depth of field you will have.

Green-Combo

Controlling your background takes practice and patience, but give it a try, experiment a little.  Try longer lenses, getting closer to your subject and using wider apertures.  I think you will find these little tricks do a lot to make your macro photographs far more appealing!

 

 

 

Want to learn more about macro photography?Join my colleague Tony Rizzuto for our upcoming Macro Photography workshop beginning on June 30 and ending on July 5, 2013.

You can catch me at one of our upcoming Photo Weekends in these cities:
Great Falls, MT
Hartford, CT
Rochester, NY

I am also leading these Workshops in 2013:
Colorado Mountains and Wildflowers
Glacier National Park

 

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/04/25/control-the-background-in-your-macro-photos/feed/ 0
Things to Consider Before Clicking the Shutter http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/02/01/things-to-consider-before-clicking-the-shutter/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/02/01/things-to-consider-before-clicking-the-shutter/#comments Fri, 01 Feb 2013 16:00:15 +0000 http://blog.rmsp.com/?p=18420 CooperTim_Blog-2-2013The modern DSLR is an amazing tool that supplies immense control over our image making. This control is delivered through a vast array of camera settings and options.  Once you leave Program Mode, the options you need to keep track of really begins to stack up.

Creating great imagery requires, good light, a good subject, excellent composition and the right camera settings.  It is so easy to miss the shot because you were in the wrong Focus Mode or you forgot to turn off your Self-Timer.  Keeping track of all of the different camera settings can overwhelm the beginning photographer and even trip up the seasoned pro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lets start with a list of options that are likely to change due to your subject matter or shooting conditions:

• Image Quality- Raw? Jpeg?

• ISO

• Aperture

• Shutter Speed

• White Balance

• Shooting Mode- Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, etc.

• Auto/Manual Focus

• Focus Mode-  Single Point, Dynamic Area, or Auto Selection of focus point?

• Lens Servo/Drive Mode- Single Shot, Continuous Shooting?

• Self Timer

• Mirror Lock Up

• Image Stabilization/Vibration Reduction

You can roughly divide the two common types of photography into two categories of settings: Action/Portrait and Fine Art/Landscape.  This could also be categorized as Things that move quickly and Things that don’t move quicklyOf course there are countless divisions and subtleties within these categories, but lets use a wide stroke of the brush here.

If you are photographing things that move quickly:

You generally want to set your:

• Image Quality- Raw or Jpeg.  Raw for the most part unless you really need to capture many frames per second, then Jpeg

• ISO- The lowest ISO’s always give you the best image quality, but if you need to raise the ISO to GET the shot, then by all means do so.

• Aperture- wider apertures of f2, F4, and f5.6 are the norm for this type of photography.  The shallow depth of field enhances portraits and enables faster shutter speeds.

• Shutter Speed- Hand holding or using a mono pod requires faster shutter speeds to keep the image sharp.  Fast motion requires a fast shutter speed to stop the action.

• White Balance- Dependent on the situation.

• Shooting Mode- Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, etc.- Shutter Priority and Manual shooting modes are the norm.  However if you are just starting out, Program mode may be just the ticket.

• Auto/Manual Focus- Most folks prefer auto focus for photographing people.

• Focus Mode-  Single Point, Dynamic Area, or Auto Selection of focus point?  Dynamic area or Auto Selection will help you keep the face sharp in your portraits.  Check your manual for facial recognition options within your focus modes.  Choose to use to less points for faster focusing when shooting sports.

• Lens Servo/Drive Mode- Single Shot, Continuous Shooting? Sports Photography will definitely benefit from continuous shooting.  Holding the shutter down will capture as many frames per second as your camera allows.  The same can be said of portrait photography when the subject is fast moving or expressions are likely to change.  Single Shot works well for posed, traditional portraiture.

• Self Timer- Off

• Mirror Lock Up-Off

• Image Stabilization/Vibration Reduction – Turn this feature on if you are hand holding to reduce camera shake.  Always turn this feature OFF when on a tripod!

If you are photographing things that are not moving quickly:

You generally want to set your:

• Image Quality to Raw.  The Raw file will give you greater latitude when editing you images in post processing.

• ISO-If you are on a tripod, why not choose the lowest ISO to provide you with the best image quality! Again, if you need to stop some action, don’t hesitate to raise the ISO as needed.

• Aperture-  Small apertures such as f11 and f16 will provide deep depth of field.  This is generally desired for landscapes and architecture.

• Shutter Speed- Can be kept to slower speeds as long as the subject is stationary or slow.  Lower shutter speeds allow smaller apertures which provide deeper Depth of Field.

• White Balance-  Try to use the White Balance dictated by the conditions.  Direct Sun for sunny days, Cloudy for overcast or Shade for open shade conditions.

• Shooting Mode- Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, etc..  Although Aperture Priority is common amongst beginner photographers, most pros tend to use Manual. Practicing in Manual Mode will go a long way in making you a better photographer.

• Auto/Manual Focus-Your choice.  Most pros use a combination of Manual and Auto focusing.

• Focus Mode-  Single Point, Dynamic Area, or Auto Selection of focus point? Single Point Auto Focusing is the norm here.  When things are not moving quickly, there is no need to drain your batteries.

• Lens Servo/Drive Mode- Single Shot, Continuous Shooting?  Same as above.

• Self Timer- If you are not using your cable release, the Self-Timer will help you avoid camera shake when mounted to tripod.

• Mirror Lock Up- for a slight increase in sharpness (at slower shutter speeds), the mirror can be locked up before shooting.  This gives the camera a second or two to stop vibrating before the shutter opens.

• Image Stabilization/Vibration Reduction-  If you are using your tripod, turn OFF the IS or VR function of your lens.  Only use this feature when hand holding.  Note- Some lenses have a mode that can be employed for panning when on a tripod.  Check your lens manual for instructions.

Extra tips and hints

Looking at the above settings you might almost wish that you could always have two cameras handy!  Indeed, many pro photographers, actually work with two cameras.  Many cameras also give you the ability to set up a custom shooting bank.  Each bank remembers a set of camera settings that you design. Explore your camera manual.  If your model allows a custom shooting bank, spend some time setting up one for Sports and one Landscape.  These “presets” will shave precious time out in the field.

Dirty sensors are the bane of the digital photographers.  The time you spend fixing your images will be drastically reduced by setting your Auto Cleaning to engage when turning your camera on and off.

Be Prepared!  Precious few professional images are spur of the moment.  Almost all are the result of careful planning or being prepared for the moment when it comes.

Check your settings before and after you shoot.  Before setting out, imagine what you might encounter. Preset your ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed, or even attach the desired lens so that you will be ready for the shot when it happens.  Likewise, its easy to get carried away basking in the afterglow of the shoot.  Instead, take a moment to reset your camera settings.  You may have increased the ISO or engaged the Mirror Lockup to capture the shot.  Resetting the options to YOUR standard settings will increase your chances of success the next time you pull your camera out.

Looking for a step by step checklist?

Before the shoot happens check your camera settings. Note: this is only a partial list but contains the most commonly changed settings.

ISO

White Balance

Image Quality- Raw/Jpeg

Self Timer

IS/VR On/ Off

Auto Focus On/Off

Shooting Mode- Manual, Aperture Priority, Program, etc.?

Lens Servo/Drive Mode- Single Shot, Continuous Shooting?


Setting up the Shot:

Determine your main subject. Remember you are photographing an idea or a feeling. NOT the actual subject.

Explore different vantage points before finalizing your camera position. Move your feet! Stand up. Crouch down.

Determine Focal length

Again, what is your main subject? Do the included subjects actually support the main subject, or do they distract from the main subject?

 

Meter the Scene:

Take a spot meter reading from an average subject and zero out your exposure scale.

Take a spot meter reading on the brightest area of importance and ensure it does not read above +2 on the exposure scale. If it does, begin to close down your Shutter or Aperture until the area reads +2.

In other words, meter for your midtones and ensure your highlights don’t blow out.

 

Before clicking the shutter:

Border Patrol- look for distracting items before clicking the shutter.

Look for distracting bright areas in the photograph.

Are areas of high contrast competing with your main subject?

Watch for lines going out the corners of your photo.

Keep an eye out for Tight Mergers-places where strong or obvious lines, come very near other strong or obvious lines.

Depth of Field:

Do you have enough?

Do you have too much?

 

 

You can catch Tim at one of our upcoming Photo Weekends in 2013 in these cities:
Huntsville, AL
Oklahoma City, OK
Las Cruces, NM
Portland, OR
Great Falls, MT
Hartford, CT
Rochester, NY

Tim is also leading these Workshops in 2013:
Colorado Mountains and Wildflowers
Glacier National Park
Vegas to Zion: Dusk to Dawn

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/02/01/things-to-consider-before-clicking-the-shutter/feed/ 0
Creating a Lightroom Catalog http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/01/11/creating-a-lightoom-catalog/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/01/11/creating-a-lightoom-catalog/#comments Fri, 11 Jan 2013 23:06:29 +0000 http://blog.rmsp.com/?p=18315 Lightroom is an enormous leap forward in organizing and developing your images and getting started is simple. Let’s start with some background on the Lightroom Catalog and then get you rolling on how to set up your first catalog. When working in Lightroom, we are actually working with three independent entities:

1. Lightroom (the program)
2. Your photographs

3. The Lightroom Catalog (the .lrcat file )

1. Lightroom (the program)
Lightroom is a program like Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages. It can work with photographs that live anywhere. You can have Word documents in many different folders or even on different drives and Word can still work with them. When you open a Word document it is opening INTO Word. The document isn’t stored in Word.

2. Your Photographs
Your images live in a FOLDER on your computer, not in the Lightroom the program. Generally this folder is either your Pictures folder or within your Pictures folder.

3. The Lightroom Catalog
The Lightroom Catalog is the RECORD of all of your images and the things that have been done to your images in Lightroom such as cropping, exposure, etc. It is above all a Database.

Think about it this way. Lightroom (the program) is like your community Library. A place to check out and read books. The Lightroom Catalog (the .lrcat file) is like the card catalog. You would use this to find your desired book. Your photographs are like the books on the shelves.

When you launch Lightroom (the program) it opens with your catalog (don’t do this yet!). That means it is opening and using your very own created catalog.

Lightroom (the program) has the ability to work with many different catalogs. You could have a catalog for your family pictures, one for your client work and another for travel photography. It can, however, only work with one Catalog at a time. So if your Family Catalog is open in Lightroom, you will not have access to your travel pictures. It is generally agreed that working with one catalog is the easiest way for the Lightroom novice to begin working. Plenty of my colleagues, myself included, work with multiple catalogs. I only recommend multiple catalogs for the experienced user as more than one catalog can get confusing very quickly.

So let’s get going on creating your Lightroom Catalog. When you start Lightroom for the first time you are greeted with the dialog box seen below. This is asking you where you want to create a folder that will contain your new catalog. You can see this is the title of the window below. Notice that I have typed Tims Lightroom in the Save As box (Red). This will create a folder called Tims Lightroom in My Pictures Folder (circled in Blue).

Many pros choose to create this catalog on an external drive. If you tend to travel a lot or you work between your laptop and your desktop, I highly recommend getting an external drive that is dedicated to your photographs. When Launching Lightroom for the first time, you would create Tims Lightroom Folder on your external drive instead of your Pictures folder on your laptop or desktop.
Image_1
Once you hit Create in the above box, Lightroom will start and open your newly created catalog. If you go back to your pictures folder, you will see what Lightroom has created for you.

At this point we realize that Lightroom (the program) is running and is opened with Your Catalog that you just created. That would be the .lrcat file you see above. Next time you open up Lightroom by double clicking the icon, this catalog will open again. Provided you do not create any new catalogs, this will be the only one that ever opens.

Now Lightroom is running with your new catalog, but you will not have any pictures in it. Time to import. If you have older images on your computer, start with those. You can see above that I have three folders in my pictures folder. Clients, Family and Travel.


Downloading

In the Library Module click on Import in the lower left hand corner (click to enlarge).
Image3

You will see the following box. Click on the down arrow in the lower left to expand the box and show more options.

Cooper4

Here you can see the import box works from left to right. Starting on the left is our source. Where are our images coming from? I have chosen to import images from my clients folder which is in my Pictures folder.

Image5

The frame in the center shows the content of that folder. If images are checked they will import.

Moving to the right along the top we can see what will happen to our images upon import. Copy as DNG, Copy, Move or Add. In this case the images are already on my computer so I just want to ADD them to the Lightroom Catalog. Hit import in the lower right and your images will now be a part of the catalog. You can continue this operation with all of the folders that exist on your hard drive.

Another option is to move your images. Lets say you want to organize all of your images and folders into one main folder on your hard drive. Or perhaps you want to move images from an external drive onto your main drive. Move is the option you will need. In this case I will create a new parent folder called LR_Photographs. I will move my Clients, Family and Travel Photos folders into LR_Photographs.

I begin by hitting Import. Next I choose my Clients, Family and Travel Photos folders at once by Command+Clicking (Control+Click for PC). At the top I choose Move. The next step is to determine where they are going.

In the upper right you can see they are going to Tims Laptop. In the destination box below I clicked on Pictures. Next I checked the Into Subfolder check box, and typed in LR_Photographs in the adjacent box. This allows Lightroom to create this folder within my pictures folder. Below that I chose to Organize by Original Folders. This keeps my images in their respective Clients, Family and Travel folders.

You can see in the red square below (right) that the newly created folders are gray rather than white. Pay close attention to the Destination Box. This is where most people make their mistakes. If you closely monitor this box and make the necessary changes before you hit import, you will always know where your images are located!
Image6

The last type of import involves new images from a card reader or camera. Here we will follow all of the same steps as above except we choose Copy As DNG or Copy instead of Move. It is important to let the camera do the formatting of the card rather than your computer. So copy your images to your computer then place the card back in the camera to format it before your next shoot. I choose to Copy As DNG so all metadata stays in the raw file as opposed to being stored in a sidecar file. The choice is yours, but there is no harm to your raw files when changing them to DNG.


Organizing Your Photographs

There are two main ways to organize your photos:

1. By Date
2. By subject, theme or place

Either is fine, just stick to one approach rather than mixing them. In the above example I chose to organize by subject. If I decided to organize by date the Destination box would change somewhat.

Image7

Here you can see that I created a folder 2012 inside of Pictures. Then I chose to Organize by date. In the lower right you can see how the folder hierarchy will look upon import. Again the best approach is to choose one system and stick with it!

Good Luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can catch Tim at one of our upcoming Photo Weekends in 2013 in these cities:
Spokane, WA
San Antonio, TX
Morrisville, NC
Huntsville, AL
Oklahoma City, OK
Las Cruces, NM
Portland, OR
Great Falls, MT
Hartford, CT
Rochester, NY

Tim is also leading these Workshops in 2013:
Colorado Mountains and Wildflowers
Glacier National Park
Vegas to Zion: Dusk to Dawn

]]>
http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2013/01/11/creating-a-lightoom-catalog/feed/ 0