The Photographer’s best tool is light, and there are many choices. Light is used to mold, define, describe and set the mood of a portrait, so knowing how to recognize the light or control it, is of ultimate importance to the artist. I’m both a natural light, or “Portraits Unplugged” kind of photographer, and also have a lot of experience with using studio strobes or portable flash, which gives me huge control. Which kind of light to use? Knowing how and when to use artificial vs natural can be a challenge. I recently photographed Ceasar … [Read more...] about Shooting Portraits on Location: Natural or Flash?
Funerals are a good time to make family pictures because people who haven't seen one another in decades are together. You should take advantage of the opportunity. I attended a funeral yesterday, and amidst the memory sharing I took a few minutes to make portraits. Let me show you how I made the most of a difficult situation with minimal gear. This setup will work well in many event situations. The Backdrop: Put It Farther Back There was a luncheon for the family held in the multipurpose room of a church, which happens to be … [Read more...] about Minimal Lighting for Funeral Portraits
Digital capture technology is really awesome and has truly changed photography, improving it in a multitude of ways. But sometimes, digitally captured images have a certain exaggerated colorfulness, that just looks a little off, for those of us raised on the old fashioned film days! I have found that this has to do with the way color gets saturated as contrast increases. Even standard rendering presets increase contrast a bit through a global RGB composite curve, often indirectly. It seems that when contrast increases this way a … [Read more...] about How to Desaturate Shadows in Photoshop, for 3D Contrast
By default, pressing the shutter button down half way activates the autofocus feature. It's handy, quick and can lead to some compositional issues. Center of the frame syndrome The autofocus sensors are most accurate at the center of the viewfinder. Because of this, there are a lot of photographs with the subject placed in the exact center of the frame. Usually, a subject in the dead center of the frame is a poor composition. Not to mention that much of the frame is wasted because of the extra room above the subject's head. Yes, the camera … [Read more...] about Take Control with Back Button Focusing
Making your own Photoshop brushes can open up lots of creative possibilities. Photoshop can create a brush out of pretty much anything, but the first thing that’s important to know is that the brush can only be one color. In other words, you could create a brush from a photograph, but when you use the brush it’s a grayscale brush that uses the current foreground color. When defining a brush, the shade of gray is equivalent to opacity, i.e. Black will be 100% opaque, white will be 0% and shades of gray will be somewhat see-through. Another … [Read more...] about Creativity through Photoshop Brushes
I'm a photographer and a dad, and when those two roles meet I'm a happy man. One of the fun things about photographing my own kid is creating pictures of her having fun. I believe that having pictures of your kids being happy and having fun hanging on the wall helps remind them that they are happy. This is far more important than having pictures of them in matching outfits. I'm enjoying creating a series of my daughter on swings through the years. Pictures with apparent movement help us feel the fun every time we look at the photographs. Here … [Read more...] about How To Photograph Kids In Action: Swings
The photo above is the normal exposure of a Waffle House near my studio. Periodically the company remodels one of their restaurants. I saw this one was under what looked more like destruction rather than renovation. I noticed a pair of children with their father standing in front of the remains of a favorite place to eat. I made a quick set of 3 bracketed exposures at 2 stop brackets to use Photomatix Pro. Opening a bracket set in Photomatix Pro Before jumping into presets, here’s a quick start for opening a series of bracketed photos.Once … [Read more...] about New to Photomatix? Start with a Preset
Like black and white, HDR photography is a terrific tool. It can both save the day technically and also allow us to be creative in unique ways. But how do you know when you might need to use HDR to make you photograph look it's best? The Name Says It All HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and in photography, that means there's a big difference between the proper exposure in the dark areas and in the highlight areas. An example of a scene with low dynamic range would be a picture of a pen sitting on my desk. The light shining on my desk from … [Read more...] about HDR 101: How Do You Know When To Use HDR?
A few days ago one of my students asked "Where can I find the Keywording Panel?" I answered. "It's in the Library module's right Sidebar." She replied, "No it's not..." Sure enough the Keywording panel had gone missing. What gives??? Viewing panels... There are several methods that can hide and reveal panels. In this tutorial I'll show all of them. You'll also see how to permanently (ish) hide panels you don't use. It's also the answer to the issue above. Hide / Reveal sidebars Adobe calls the sidebars Panel Groups now. Panel Groups are … [Read more...] about Hiding & Showing Lightroom Panels
In this video I share a very interesting Photoshop technique that lets you colorize an area of a photo - without making a selection! And it can also work on video clips in Photoshop. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-D6bUPwWNhU … [Read more...] about Colorize an area without making a selection
Exploring photography with your kids? This is my second in a series of posts offering ideas you can use to help your young photographer get comfortable with fundamental concepts. Last time we walked through the very basics of photographic composition: reduce and simplify. With just those two words in mind, you and your child will both be taking better pictures. Today’s activity expands the concept of composition a bit further. The goal is to play with the idea that there’s more than one way to see an object. Equipment Keep it … [Read more...] about Photography Activities for Kids — Point of View
EDITOR'S NOTE: We would like to welcome Scott Lawrence to our team of talented writers. I have vivid memories of my dad sharing his love of photography with me. The weight of this strange object in my hand the first time he brought out his old SLR is something I’ll never forget. It’s impossible to shake the smell of the chemicals when we set up a darkroom in a guest bathroom. Unfortunately, the bathroom was sorely lacking in ventilation. All great memories, if not flawless plans. Photography is amazingly complex. You can spend a lifetime … [Read more...] about Photography Activities for Kids — Composition 101
In a previous post I mentioned the importance of using keyboard shortcuts. Here are some of my favorite little-known Photoshop keyboard shortcuts that are very useful: Select next brush in brush picker= . (period) Select previous brush in brush picker= , (comma) Select first brush in brush picker=Shift-, (Shift-comma) Last brush in brush picker= Shift . (Shift-period) Activate Layer Mask= Command-\ (PC: Control-\) Activate Layer= Command-2 (PC: Control-2) Activate next layer down= Option-[ (PC: Alt-[) Activate next layer up= … [Read more...] about Little-known – and useful – Photoshop keyboard shortcuts
The creative thinking required for photography often intersects with the creativity required for painting. When experimenting with your own style, it's often helpful to let yourself explore a bit. One thing I sometimes like to do is enhance my creative images with simple hand-painting in Photoshop. It's fun, and teaches me skills I can tuck away in my mental arsenal. It’s as simple as using Photoshop’s Brush tool, and doesn’t even require you to use a digital tablet (although it certainly helps). The technique we'll explore today is great … [Read more...] about Hand-Painting Enhancements in Photoshop
Part 1 of the Alien Queen tutorial showed how to mirror the thin part of her face and add two more closed eyes with fabulous lashes. No queen is complete without a crown and a golden background. Welcome to part 2. Extra alien-ness While the result from part 1 is alien, I decided to get rid of her ears and shoulders. I used a layer mask to hide them. Here's my starting point. ` Eliminating her shoulders lengthens her neck adds to the otherworldly look. More room to work... The current version doesn't have enough room around Arra for a … [Read more...] about Fantasy Portrait: Alien Queen part 2
It's that time of year again. Independence Day is almost here. All over the U.S. there will be amazing displays of fireworks. Photographer's naturally want to make the best possible photos of these dazzling displays of burning light. Here's how I shoot them. Gear There are a few absolutely needed things and some accessories that are nice to have. First, the gotta-have-this-stuff list Necessities DSLR or mirrorless camera that can be set on manual. Wide to Medium zoom or normal lens Study tripod 8 by 10 inch piece of black … [Read more...] about Tips for Shooting Fireworks!
There are a few key elements that create a successful silhouette. I'll say it loud and proud. It is MORE than exposure. Yes, you meter for the sky, yes, that brings the blacks black, but there is so much more to it than that. I used to say, angle, separation, and exposure. But it is even more than that. You can nail the angle, shooting from down low, you can nail the exposure, and you can even get the separation, but if you aren't telling a story, or conveying an emotion, you're not getting it. There needs to be a story. There needs to … [Read more...] about More to a Silhouette than Exposure
Recently I completed a set of studio headshots against a plain, black background. Afterwards in the editing stage, I decided I wanted my subjects to definitely pop more. After kicking myself for not utilizing more lights or a more engaging backdrop, I decided to create my own traditional-style backdrop in Photoshop that would help my clients stand out, and also give the photos more visual interest overall. I was surprised at how easy it was. In fact, Photoshop provides a very powerful tool that makes this possible, and surprisingly … [Read more...] about How To Create a Realistic Backdrop In Photoshop
When you are taking a client or friend's portrait, your job is to make them look as good as possible. It’s also your job to infuse their portrait with a certain feeling that is appropriate to the person and the moment. Varying your angle is one way to quickly and easily transform a moderately interesting photo into an impactful shot. Let’s go over three quick ways to liven up your portraits with various angles. How to Liven Up Your Portraits With Angles 1. Standing above your subject is often flattering to their face. This … [Read more...] about 3 Quick Ways to Spice Up Your Portraits With Angles
Our eyes are naturally drawn to the brightest part of an image. Knowing this, we can guide our viewer to focus on key elements of our photograph. This can be accomplished when we take the photo, or enhanced when we process the image. Either way, understanding the concept of how light draws a viewer in will help us develop better images. Enhancing Directional Light The subject, background and foreground were lit with one large light. This caused light to fall on unwanted areas, such as her foot and lower body. Using a light grid, flags or … [Read more...] about Use Lightroom to Paint with Light
The latest release of Lightroom CC 2015 includes a new more controllable version of Upright and a new Transform panel in the Develop module. Here's a Photofocus first look Upright has moved Upright, formerly found in the Lens Correction panel, has moved to the new Transform panel. All of the Upright modes you have grown to love-Auto, Level, Vertical and Full-are still there along with a new addition: Guided. My photograph of work being done to the town hall in Brussels' Grand Place is a great one to show how Guided Upright … [Read more...] about “Guided Upright” New in Lightroom
Canon has announced 7 new online classes priced between $19.99 and $59.99 are available on their online learning page. This marks a departure from Canon’s free Digital Learning Center or DLC. These courses contain multiple learning elements including: Video lessons, PDF guides, a user forum, quizzes, and photo assignments. Offerings Here’s a list of the first classes in the new online learning area of Canon. Understanding EOS Camera Operations Photo 101: How to Take Great Pictures Printing Basics & Beyond Great Landscapes … [Read more...] about Canon Adds 7 New Online Classes
Folks often "complain" about the results they get from the Healing and Spot Healing Brush tools. In this video Dave gives some tips on how to get the best results from the Healing and Spot Healing Brush tools. (Spoiler Alert: Often it comes down to using both tools together...with a little bit of Clone Stamp tool thrown in for good measure.) https://youtu.be/D2x0Hrs1Ua4 … [Read more...] about Photoshop: Healing Brush Tips
I hike every week with my family, and I travel by air and shoot in other cities every month. You and I both know that using a tripod unlocks picture opportunities that just can't be made without one. I can use it for super long exposures to blur the sea and clouds, or reduce traffic to trails of light down the road, and make waterfalls that pour smoothly into eternity. However, carrying a tripod can be wearisome. Just thinking about carrying it on a seven-mile hike makes my shoulders and legs hurt. I know I need a tripod, and I know my … [Read more...] about Looking for a Hiking Tripod? Platypod Max is It
I’m a huge believer in the power of experimenting in Photoshop to help discover what’s possible. One of the comments I hear a lot is “I’m too busy to experiment”. Believe me, I understand about deadlines and getting your work done, so here’s my idea: experiment for nine seconds. Generally, I think we're creatures of habit: we do things a certain way in Photoshop because that's the way we were shown at some point, or perhaps figured out for ourselves. So here's where the nine second idea comes in. If you always use the Gaussian Blur Filter, … [Read more...] about Experiment in Photoshop for Nine Seconds
Many years ago I taught a student who had decided to come up with her own names for Photoshop tools – somehow that helped her remember what the tools did. One of her more interesting ideas was calling the Option key (PC: Alt key) the “make better” key. When asked why she simply said, “every time I hold down Option it makes things better”. Although the name might be odd, she was dead on with her evaluation of the importance of the Option key (PC: Alt key) [For the sake of the remainder of this article, let’s just called it Option/Alt.] Just … [Read more...] about Photoshop: The Make Better key
This morning I woke up and had to share this with you right away. If you love photography more than you love good food then you're going to love this. There's a FREE 3-part photography training series that starts today, May24th, 2016 and ends the day after Labor Day. It's not every day we get to learn something valuable and free without putting in a lot of time and effort. I've personally been to five different seminars and workshops this year already and for each one, I had to fly, stay in a hotel, and eat out for every meal. The FREE … [Read more...] about Do you love photography more than good food?
This past March, I found myself in Las Vegas for WPPI. On Monday night, the Photofocus crew led a photo walk. It was a perfect opportunity to practice blurring the vehicle lights as they drove past us. Setting Up the Shot When I spot a vantage point that interests me, I tend to have trouble staying with the group. Such was the case that evening when I crossed an overpass bridge, and found a lovely location that allowed me a clear view of the traffic flowing along the street below me, surrounded by lit buildings. The angle and height seemed … [Read more...] about Blurred Las Vegas Cityscape – Slight HDR Effect with Photomatix Pro
Adobe’s added a brush to Lightroom's graduated and radial filters, giving us more control. We can now paint the filters' effect in or out, allowing us to be more creative. This may not seem like a big deal at first; but when you start using the brush option, you’ll wonder why it wasn’t included since the beginning! Lightroom’s Vignette Effect I like adding a small amount of vignetting to a portrait, but sometimes I don’t like how the effect darkens parts of the image – especially skin. There wasn’t much of a workaround; I either had to … [Read more...] about Lightroom Added a neat Hidden Brush
(PUBLISHER'S NOTE: We welcome Dave Cross as a new contributor to the Photofocus team.) In this video I show an example of what I mean by Smart Flow: how using non-destructive methods can save you time. In this example I show how to create a printing template that allows you to quickly print a series of photos, including adding a stroke border and sharpening the photo for output. This works in part because of the use of Camera Raw Smart Objects and Smart Filters. https://youtu.be/Vq7fSindFNk … [Read more...] about Smart Flow not Workflow