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