Monday, March 28, 2011

High Five Photo Tips_ #2_March 2011

High Five Photo Tips

JMP Top Five Monthly tips for March are:
1.      Try a star effect for the sun using a small aperture F stop such as f 22.  If there is too much glare, position the sun behind an object such as a tree and use a lens hood or shield the front of the lens such as with a cap or hat.   
Haleakala Crater, High Noon

   2.     Try HDR.  The new Nik HDR Efex Pro plug in filter for Photoshop or Lightroom makes the processing so much easier.
To shoot for HDR, I recommend using: 1.  3 to 5 exposure bracketed shots (each varying by one f stop for under, correct and overexposed images), with 2. Aperture priority (usually around f 8 or 11) so the camera will bracket by changes in the shutter speed, 3. A tripod,  4. Autofocus first and then set on manual, 5. Shoot on Continuous High shooting mode.
For Nikon you will need 5 one F shop bracketed images but for Canon you can choose 2 f stop brackets and thus will only need 3 images to get the same exposure info to use for HDR.  Check your camera manual for details on setting up bracketed images since it will vary.  I prefer my D3 since a dedicated button is right on the camera whereas for the D300 it is a menu item.

Haleakala Crater HDR with Nik HDR Efex Pro
3.     Instead of HDR, try double processing in Photoshop by opening the image as a Smart Object. Then Right click on this layer in the layers panel and select New Smart Object via Copy.  This will give you a second copy.  Since they are both smart objects, each can be adjusted in Camera Raw separately - such as adjust the lower one for the ground and the upper one for the sky.  You will want to keep the brighter image on the bottom background layer.  Then using an inverted or black mask on the upper layer, paint with white on this mask to expose the darker part of the upper image you want to include in your final image.  Use a medium sized hard-edged brush. Vary the brush opacity to adjust the strength of this adjustment or when done adjust the opacity of this layer to get the effect you want. Try using the gradient tool on this mask to add a gradual transition to your effect. Practice on your normally exposed middle image in an HDR sequence and see how you like it compared to your HDR image. Let me know what you think!
Double processed as smart objects

Original image_Horses in the meadow

 4.     Explore the capabilities of Lightroom 3.  You can download a trial version and have some fun.  The RAW processing is the same as in Photoshop but the workflow is better for photographers. You can then fine tune in Photoshop if you need some hi tech correction such as Content Aware Scaling or Editing.  Then just remember when done with your PS edit, to SAVE first before SAVE AS to have it go back next to your original image.   If you want to re-edit in Photoshop, make sure you select -Edit Original to see all the layers.  Let me know if you would like a list of my preferences for LR set up.

5.     Whatever downloading system you use, rename the photos during this phase and add metadata such as copyright and contact info. Keywords can be added and/or some basic processing can also be done at this time.  I use Lightroom and apply the Date, with the full year first, edit field with the name of the group or location and then the sequence number to each image.  I place them in a folder for each year under a subfolder for the date.  During the import,  I select Copy as a DNG and select  make a separate copy to  to save a copy of the RAW images under the download date to a portable or other backup hard drive.  Example of a file name would be: 20110222_MauiSurf_001 in the folder 2011 and subfolder 2011-02-22. I later rename this folder to add some descriptor such as Surf.

Surfer at dusk

Sunset HDR

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Pablo Picasso by Irving Penn
Association of International Photography Art Dealers show in NYC at the Armory is always a favorite of mine.  Classic photography as well as Contemporary and edgy work fill the space.  Happy to see there were sales going on and red dots on some walls. A good sign.  Interesting to see the display and framing options as well.

Wonderfully exuberant was Richard Avedon’s double portrait of the poets Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, naked and arm in arm, at Eric Franck. More brooding artist work was Robert Mapplethorpe’s 1976 shot of a young Patti Smith (at Contemporary Works/Vintage Works), grasping a radiator as she sits on a bare apartment floor.

Classic 20th-century images by the likes of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Berenice Abbott and Andre Kertesz were my real reason for seeing the show. The front-and-center booth of Edwynn Houk had a nicely balanced selection that includes Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Paul Strand and Man Ray, as well as some more recent work by Stephen Shore and Bruce Davidson.

Alec Soth

 How do you decide what to collect?  What you love instantly on first sight, or what you feel will have long term value?  Trends or classics?   Some ideas to help you collect:

    • 1
      Understand the art photography process. A photographer achieves a compelling shot by shooting an engaging subject using proper lighting in the best environment. The photographer then creates either a photographic print or a digital photographic print.
    • 2
      Establish price guidelines for your collection. Decide whether to collect fewer, more valuable pieces or develop a larger collection of less-expensive pieces. Your interest in subject matter or specific artist may help to set this level. More established artists' work will demand a larger investment.
    • 3
      Choose a style or photographer. Many collectors of fine art photography are drawn to a specific subject or the style of a certain photographer. Once you find a piece that you're interested in, ask the photographer about the photograph. Ask if there's a story behind it, or what connected the artist to the subject at that moment. Sometimes you're fortunate enough to speak with the artist one-on-one. At other times, you'll need to depend on phone calls or e-mails. Knowing more about the piece will give it value to you--both personally and financially.
    • 4
      Choose which piece to invest in, and make the purchase.
    • 5
      Care for your art.  Place your prints in a frame that has museum glass.  Use a acid free mat for protection and to enhance the presentation.
    • 6
      Add more pieces over time at a rate that your budget can tolerate.

2.     Go to lots of Art shows, Galleries, local Art Associations, art and photography web portfolios and look at Art - including but not exclusively showing photography.  Define your taste.  Read about photography and keep looking at images.  COLOR and B&W magazines for fine art photography is another good choice for a review of  contemporary photography. Decide if you like color or toned and B&W photography, classic or contemporary. Find a photographer you like and follow her work. AND start collecting.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

High Five Photo Tips_#!_February 2011

High Five Photo Tips

JMP Top Five Monthly tips for February are:

watefall vertical
Yosemite Waterfall
1.  Shoot more verticals.  Snapshots are usually horizontal but verticals will often help you redirect the eye to what you want the viewer to see.
2. Convert to B&W or sepia if depth, shape and textures play a bigger role in a scene than color. You can make a virtual copy in Lightroom to explore LR variation or use Nik Silver Efex Pro for another great way to convert to B&W. An update, version 2, to be released soon.
3. If unable to get sharp images due to movement, such as wind or water that you cannot control, go with it and use the motion creatively.
aquarium fish
Fish in Motion - Maui Aquarium
4. Try shooting silhouettes in the sunset on Aperture Priority using minus 1 to minus 2 exposure compensation to allow the silhouetted object to go to black while preserving your sunset.
5. Look at your histogram to learn to feel where highlights and shadows fall in your image and what you can accept - then adjust your exposure from there. Generally, you want a curve shifted more to the right (with digital vs film) while avoiding the blinkies except for acceptable specular highlights.
bird silhouette
Photo montage with silhouette of bird with rannunculus