Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Photoshop: defining a style

Another long break. Hoping once again to be better.

I did an impromptu shoot with Lucy in the yard today. It was a gorgeous day and the light was pretty and at a good angle for some more back lighting. Unfortunately, my background options are snow, asphalt, or dreary bare trees. Here I am just playing with some different editing styles.

Some questions that come up...

Is this part of defining my style?  Is it ok to have a variety of styles like this?

Part of me says,  oh sure, of course.  

But part of me says,  look at these photos on display together...  they aren't cohesive.  They aren't telling a story.  Together they don't work. 

Therefore, in a presentation to a client they should be much more similar in style,  or broken into different clusters.  This is my homework,  due later this week.

What say you?

Interestingly, or perhaps I should say that I find it interesting that the images were all a bit more blue hued in their original state.  Like the one pictured below.  Clearly, I prefer warmer tones when we are talking about a little girl on a winter's afternoon.

And you,  my 3 readers...  how are you? :-)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Black and white conversion

Clickinmoms.com had a photoshop tutorial on black and white conversions.  I muddle through conversions but it's not often I am really excited about how a conversion comes out.

I did something stupid with this effort and started with a photo I wanted to "save"  It was a cute expression and I knew mom and dad would like it.  But it took cloning and fussing and I couldn't really get it all right.


So,  I did what I could with the back blurred it out a little and just went on with the conversion.  The conversion part was simple,  but new to me.

1. desaturate the image completely
2.  add a "soft light" curve
3.  Add a level adjustment ( 20/.80) to darken the midtones/shadows
4. Add a level adjustment (10/1.4) to then brighten the midtones for contrast.

Then because every image is different,  I played with the opacity of the layers.   Then I did a quick eyeball sharpen.  I liked the outcome for this one (at least in terms of the BW conversion.  The background is another story.):

Do you have a "go to" process for BW conversions?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

More backlighting

Ok,  so the ever patient Lucy was a trooper again today.  I should mention that I am really looking at exposure and not composition...  Today I really wanted to see what it would look like if I exposed to capture more details in the sun-lit hair.  My goal is to love what I get sooc.  Then use Photoshop to enhance it.

Here's what I started with...

f/5.6 1/160 ISO 200  My focal length was 130,  so maybe if my ss was 1/200 then it would have been sharper.  Or maybe there was camera shake.  Or maybe the sun flare.  

Ok,  so what I like about this is that the highlights aren't completely blown.  Her messy hair still looks like hair.  What I don't like is that its so dark on her face and in her shirt that it's just not working.  Her eyes are flat with no catch-lights to speak of. 

What could/should I have tried?  Maybe a touch of fill flash-  or maybe hanging a big white blanket behind me.  Or maybe my reflector.

What did I do?  I photo-shopped it.  Of course my goal is to be way closer to this IN CAMERA,  so I don't have to tweak so much to "save" it.
  Finished image:

And,  the before and after:

Saturday, November 5, 2011


(Annette made my day,  so I'm back tonight.  I'm easy like that.)

This is a backlit photo of Lucy taken around 430 this afternoon.  It's SOOC (straight out of camera with zero editing.)

Pretty girl, and she does not look like she's been coughing nonstop for a week.

Here's the technical data:
Nikon D300s
Nikkor 18-200 mm lens 
Focal length 70 mm
ISO 500
My understanding is that for crispness, technically,  my shutter speed should have been at least 100 with a 70 mm focal length,  but I can't take the noise of a higher ISO.  That's not crispy.  It's noisy.  Also,  I was using my Polarizing filter because I read that it might help in sunny hazy situations. I don't know if it helped.  Plenty of the other shots had much more haze.  I don't have a hood for this lens.  I was blocking the glare with my hand.

So, when I'm getting ready to take a picture like this I'm making sure that I'm metering off her face, but I'm going to set it to under-expose a pinch so that there aren't a ton of blown highlights. If you over-expose a photo, even in camera RAW format, you are capturing sections of the photo that have zero detail. Nothing but white.  Look at the bright part of Lucy's hair.  Blown out.  No matter how closely I zoom in,  I can't see strands of hair.

In this shot I used a very slight fill flash so that her face wouldn't be totally and completely under-exposed.  We were in the woods.  Sure,  there was sunlight,  but I'm still pretty surprised by just how much light you need in a setting like this.  That reminds me.  I was supposed to try my 50mm with this today.  Ooops.  Maybe tomorrow.

So,  I popped the open Photoshop and did some popping.  Brightened her face a touch,  reduced the red in her face, warmed up the haze, sharpened the eyes a bit and here is the final image:

 Once more-  the before and after:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Back: Proper Exposure

I joined the Clickin Mom's forums at the suggestion of a hobbyist-gone-pro photographer that I know.

I've been poking around and one thing has become very clear very quickly. I've been technically lazy when it comes to shooting.

So, I'm back. I am going to write here and give examples of what I am working on because I think it'll help me to grow.

The 1st thing I am tackling is in camera exposure. I want the tweaking of light to be minimal in post production. That means really assessing my location and slowing down. It means shooting more and using my histogram to show where I am.  It means trying to use my reflector and diffuser more.

Today I dragged the boys out into the yard for the late afternoon light. As luck would have it the glow was gone and for the most part the light was pretty flat.  We bounced some light around on my white vest and on my reflector.  I got about 10 minutes before they were off doing their thing.

So,  I really worked on metering for proper exposure.  I worked on playing with focus approaches to get nice sharp eyes.  But it was around 4 and not very bright,  so I had to punch up my ISO which ruins everything.  Next time I'm playing around in the flat light I'll try nailing the fill flash.

Anyway... this is what I came up with, and while they aren't great pictures, I think that technically they are pretty accurate in terms of exposure and focus.  Eyes are sharp,  no enormous clipped highlights,  and the barest bit of blowing the blacks-  but that happens with black shirts-  and I don't care if the inside of his shirt sleeve is underexposed.

I am hoping for some sun tomorrow so I can practice my back lighting a bit.  If not,  the flash comes out.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


After the last PCC meeting I decided to try shooting in RAW again.  I need to work on my processes though.  Shooting in RAW means that the camera throws away less information than if you shoot in Jpeg.  It also means that every image needs to be tweaked a little,  but the end result ends up looking more...  well...  more.

So when we went to the Sea Dog's game the other night,  I should have switched out of RAW and shot in Jpeg.  They were a few snaps to remember a moment...  not an effort to really create a photo.  So,  jpeg would've been easier to deal with after the fact.

Blogger won't let me upload a RAW or dng file because they are too big.  But following is an edited RAW image and an edited jpeg.  The advantages of the RAW file as I see them are:  a truer color, more detail in the highlights, and a wider color palette which allows for a less "choppy" background.

If I knew my way around CS3 better I feel like I could make the RAW image more distinctive- better than it is.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Twice I've taken pictures that made me cry.  (I've seen quite a few pictures that have brought a tear to my eye,  but twice I've been the one holding the camera.)

The first time was almost 2 years ago and it's one of the moments that planted the passion in me.  I immediately saw the story.  The story began when he was called to duty and ended when our eyes met through the camera.  That story should be written.  I connected deeply and immediately to that tiny moment.

Months later I tracked down Mr. Rogers (no, really), gave him a copy of this picture, and he (and his lovely wife) gave me a tour of their home (one of the oldest in our town).  He has warm eyes and warm hands.  He has stories to tell.  I keep thinking of going back.  To ask questions I never asked my own grandparents.

Mr Rogers has been in every Memorial Day parade since he returned from the war.  Each year he has worn the same uniform.

The picture:

The second one happened today.

I expect it might not make sense to many people.  That's ok with me.

From time to time to time to time I get wrapped up in what I'm not doing.  What can't be done.  What should be done.  It tangles me up.  Hard.  Stupid things start to weigh more in the scale of life.  I fret.  I remain still (but not in the good way).

So today this picture told me a story of hope and possibility and promise and openness and understanding and forgiveness.

Or I am just nuts.

Oh,  and I am reading the manual.  It is complicated crap,  but this camera can perform exorcisms.  I expect.