Monday, August 31, 2009
What seals the deal for me are the prices. I have normally used ProFoto softboxes and for my use, these are equivalent or better at 55-60% of the cost. Moreover, the MAC Group offers Light clients some even better deals (as many of you have taken advantage of!) With the MAC/Light deals the cost comes down to 40-50% of a ProFoto option.
Ya'll know I am a big fan of effective, efficient, and economical solutions. In my simple, ex-fighter pilot opinion Creative Light softboxes are all three.
Cheers and see you at Monday Night Light!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
This week's topic is image resizing. Just one of the most interesting and heatedly debated subjects out there.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Last week we enjoyed Charles Cramer's Digital Printing for the Fine Art Photographer and the number one question during all those Curves and Masks was, "Where is my brush?" In this simple fighter pilot's opinion this is one of the most asked Photoshop questions of all time. 99/100 times the answer is "Check Caps Lock." When Caps Lock is on the normal brush symbology disappears. Sometimes even this small difference from the norm is enough to throw off the workflow. So when the brush disappears, first look to Caps Lock.
We'll make it a two-for Wednesday, the second most asked question last week was "Why isn't anything working?" How is that for general? Interestingly, there is usually one answer that remedies this common Photoshop roadblock. Hit Ctrl/Cmd + D to deselect (control for Win and command for Mac.) When he have an active selection Photoshop will only allow changes to that selection. Where this sometimes trips our workflow is when a very small selection is active and we don't know it. Sometimes the selection is so small the "marching ants" are very hard to find. If it seems that nothing is working try a quick deselect and assess.
As a quick addendum to the previous paragraph, sometimes being stuck in Quick Mask will cause strange happenings as well. You will most easily recognize an inadvertent Quick Mask situation by checking your Layers Panel. Highlight a layer and see what color or tone is used to highlight. If you see a dark grey, you are probably in Quick Mask. Hit the "Q" key to get out.
If you have run across a common question or occurrence that others should know about please send to Hal@LightWorkshops.com
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
This mask creation workflow gives you a starting point to build a very detailed mask to use in conjunction with your sharpening layer. You may go a step further and create an action to do this for you.
-Copy your background layer and rename the layer “Sharpen”
-Go to the Channels Panel and choose the channel (red, green, or blue) that has either the best contrast or is the best black and white image. Play around with all to see which you prefer.
-Copy the desired channel by dragging the channel icon to the Create New Channel icon at the bottom of the Channels Panel.
-With the “Copy” channel active, go to Filter>Stylize>Find Edges
-Invert the “Copy” channel by Image>Adjustments>Invert or by typing Ctrl/Cmd + I
-Remember the basic rule of masks – white reveals and black conceals. As you use Levels and your brush you want the image to be white where you want sharpening and black where you don’t.
-Open a Levels adjustment and increase the contrast by going to Image>Adjustments>Levels and move the white and black sliders.
-Paint with black or white as necessary.
-Go to Filter>Noise>Median and enter 3ish pixels.
-Blur the channel by going to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and enter a value from .5 to 5 pixels depending upon image size.
-While holding the Control or Command key, move your cursor over the Copy channel icon and click the mouse, this will load a selection.
-Throw the channel copy away.
-Go back to the Layers panel and add a layer mask to your Sharpen layer.
-Sharpen the image. The layer mask will determine where the sharpening is effective. At any point you may paint on the layer mask with black or white to change the effective sharpening.
I was fortunate to speak with Allan and his club earlier this year and we discussed HDR capture and processing techniques as well as some Lightroom. It is always great to receive work from photographers who attend my seminars and then put the info to good use. Nice work creating a great image!
I also attached Allan's three component files below.
We'll be covering HDR here at Light again in September. Check out http://lightworkshops.com/HDR_LosOsos_Workshop.html for details.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Hal will continue a discussion of output sharpening, actions, and more.
See you online!
The “LIGHT Border” step-by-step
Finish the image
Create a new layer
Select all (CTRL A)
Enter 1 pixel width
Choose Black as the color
Ensure “Inside” is checked
Enter 1 into Width and Height (you can change the size as desired)
Ensure Canvas Extension color is white or black
Create a new layer
Enter 20 - 40 pixel width (you can change the width as required)
Click on the color square. A “Select stroke color” dialog box opens.
Move your mouse into your image and a select a color for the border (color should be light enough that black will show up)
Ensure “Inside” is checked
Click the Fx tab on the Layer palette.
Click “Inner Shadow”
Adjust Distance, Choke, and Size until desired effect is achieved.
Enter 1 into Width and Height (you can change the size as desired)
Ensure Canvas Extension color is white or black
To change the stroke color
Select the layer with the thick stroke
Click the Fx tab on the Layer Palette and select “Color Overlay”
i. Click the color swatch and select a new color from the image
ii. Click “Ok”
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The Winnie above is a 5 shot HDR image taken out at a local ranch. I processed in Lightroom, Photomatix Pro, Photoshop, and Lightroom.
For the Canon shooters out there the G11 was announced this morning. Looks like a nice upgrade to the high end of the Powershot series. Check it out at http://www.dpreview.com/news/0908/09081908canong11.asp
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Thanks to the Duval Ranch for positioning some amazing vehicles around the property so we could shoot at will.
We just added another HDR Intensive course in September so come on over to LIGHT and check it out! Whether realistic, hyper realistic, grungy, mixed, or whatever your creative heart desires we will learn how to shoot, process, and print it.
Dinner break day two of Charles Cramer's Fine Art Printing for the Digital Photographer. If there is one thing about our digital darkroom it is we are equipped to teach and execute high end printing. With eight Canon ipf 5100s, a couple of Canon 9500s, and a 44" Canon ipf 8100 we are dialed in.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
- ISO: 100 Canon / 200 Nikon
-Constant Aperture = vary shutter speed only
-Constant White Balance
-Continuous shooting drive mode – high if you have it
-Focus – One shot or one time.
-Use AF to assist and either hold AF-On button continuously through the shots or switch to manual focus after focus lock is achieved.
-Use auto exposure bracketing (AEB) functionality as much as possible
-Know your camera’s capes and lims
-Use +/- 2 EV jumps (new Nikons only have 1 EV jumps available)
-Some scenes may use +/-1 EV for better results
How Many Shots?
-Depends on the scene’s dynamic range (DR)
-Meter the highlights and shadows and determine the difference between the two in stops
For example, with a constant aperture and ISO the highlights are exposed properly at 1/8000 and the shadows at 1/15, there is a 9 stop difference.
-Shoot the required number of shots at your desired interval. In our above example, take nine shots 1 EV apart or 4-5 shots 2 EV apart (sometimes even with a 9 stop difference as above you can cover with a three shot sequence at 0, +2, and -2 EV)
-Use AEB to capture the full range for increased efficiency.
-First shot determines the starting point of the full DR captured with your series of shots
-In the example above (highlights at 1/8000 and shadows at 1/15,) full stops between are shown below. 1/500 is the center point of the dynamic range. Only whole stop increments are depicted. Each green bar shows one shot and the associated range.
-We arrive at the efficient method by shooting our first shot in the middle of the range and then shooting two addition images at +2 and -2 EV. New Nikons will need to shoot 5 images at the max 1 EV spacing to generate the 9 stops of usable data.
-Biasing the initial capture EV will skew the range as well.
-AEB may be used in series to expand range even further
-For example take first 3 shots at -2, -4, and 0 take second three shots at +2, +4, and 0
-Total range will be 13 stops of data (-4 to +4 = 8 stops plus 2.5 usable at each end.)
Part 3 next week.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
When Tone Mapping is complete and you click Save and Re-import Photomatix will process the results and bring the image back into the LR catalog. If you clicked the stack with highlighted photo option, LR will stack the tone mapped, processed image with one of the source files. Every now and again the stack symbology will show up but the stack will not expand. This is a bug on the Mac and on Windows.
To regain full stack functionality, go to the Left Panel Folders Tab and click on the folder that contains the stacked images. When you highlight the folder, the stack will work properly.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The "C" options are programmable with just about every function on your camera. At LIGHT, we have found setting these custom modes is a huge benefit when shooting. When properly configured switching between shooting modes does not get any more effective or efficient.
LIGHT recommends setting the dials as follows (this is, of course, our recommendation and your own settings may vary)
C1 = Portrait. We consider "portrait" to be a broad category when we the shooter and the target, make that subject (old fighter pilot habits sometimes die hard) are both stationary. This applies to actual portraits, landscape, sea scape, macro, etc.
C2 = Action. We define action as either shooter, subject, or both in motion.
C3 = HDR Auto Exposure Bracket. We use the bread and butter setting of 3 shots 2 E.V. apart.
(Since 50D shooters do not have C3, LIGHT recommends setting C1 to Action and C2 to HDR. The normal M setting is used for "portrait.")
It is fairly straightforward to set the custom user settings. LIGHT offers the following initial parameters. We will assume shooting RAW.
To set the C1 custom user setting. Switch the camera to Manual mode by turning the dial to M. Once in Manual, set the following:
-Auto White Balance (remember the custom mode is a baseline, you may switch if desired later.)
-One shot auto focus (AF)
-Single shot drive mode
-Aperture = f/8 This is a baseline. You will, most likely, need to change aperture based upon your desired depth of field and shutter speed requirements.
-Shutter Speed = 1/250 This is a starting point. You will, most likely, need to change shutter speed to reach the desired exposure.
-Select center AF point
-Quality = RAW
-Color Space = Adobe RGB
-Picture Style = Neutral
Once the camera is configured per above (or with your own desired settings) do the following:
-Navigate to the last "yellow" menu and highlight "Camera User Setting"
-Push the Set button inside the secondary control dial
-Highlight Register and push Set
-Highlight Mode dial : C1 and push Set
-Highlight OK and push Set
To set the C2 custom user setting we must first discuss how you shoot Action. If you are a Manual shooter set the modedial to M. If you are an Aperture priority shooter consider switching to Manual in the future and set the mode dial to Av.
Once in either M or Av set the parameters as above with the following changes.
-AI Servo AF
-Continuous or Continuous High drive mode
-Aperture = set maximum aperture (when configuring this C2 setting LIGHT recommends attaching your fastest lens so any other lens will always be at maximum aperture. For example, LIGHT's fastest lens is f/1.4 so our C2 default is 1.4. If you subsequently put a slower lens on it will default to it's maximum aperture.
-Shuter speed = 1/500 This is again a starting point.
-ISO = 1oo but consideration may be given to increasing to 200 to generate faster shutter speeds in lower light conditions.
Once the camera is configured per above, follow the same procedures as above when setting C1 with the exception of highlight C2 this time.
To set the C3 custom user setting set the mode dial to Manual. Configure exactly as C1 with the following exceptions.
-Continuous or continuous high drive mode.
-Enable Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) by pushing menu and navigating to the second "red" menu. Highlight Expo.comp./AEB and hit the set button. Move either the primary or secondary control dial (camera dependent) until the ticks are at -2 and +2. Hit the Set button.
Once the camera is configured per above, follow the same procedures as above when setting C1 and C2 with the exception of highlight C3 this time.
With all three custom user settings configured you are now just a quick mode dial turn or two away from rapidly swiching from portrait to action to HDR.
How about that for effective and efficient?
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
A quick shot of part of the class shooting interior HDR at Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. I've found that a terrific way to master the theory and practice of shooting for high dynamic range source images is to shoot in a dark room with windows. The dynamic range typically exceeds the cookie cutter 3-shot standard (0, -2, and +2) forcing the photographer to shoot series of 3-shots using exposure compensation. A tremendous learning experience.
One of the students shot a 3 segment panorama with 6 component HDR images each this afternoon. During night lab he smoothly merged the components, tonemapped, and easily photomerged the resultant TIFFs into a beautiful interior HDR Pano! Nice work!
We'll be shooting outside tomorrow to practice some more.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Shooting a scene with a dynamic range (DR) exceeding the capability of your sensor will either leave you with blown highlights or no shadow detail. Shooting multiple images to overcome the limitations of your sensor may, with sound processing, give you good highlights and shadow detail. When shooting multiple images try to ensure the exact same composition for each shot (to ensure optimum processing each pixel should match exactly!)
Different situations require more or less stability. For example, a series of bracketed shots taken with camera auto exposure bracketing (AEB) functionality and high shutter speeds may be hand held. For more challenging situations a sound tripod and ball head optimized as below will create a better series of source files.
-Use a STABLE tripod and head (a poor tripod is the number one equipment issue seen here at LIGHT.) The following tips may help make the tripod more stable.
-Remove camera strap
-Mirror lockup (more on mirror lockup's efficiency or lack thereof later)
-Cable or wireless release
-If no release, use the camera’s self timer
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
The seminars have been great and we are expanding the program with one change, every session of MNL is FREE, no catch, no hidden costs. All you need to do is sign up and tune in.
Every Thursday evening or Friday morning we will post the new link here on the LIGHT blog, via Twitter, and on our Facebook page (Light Photographic Workshops.) The sessions are limited to 1000 attendees so register early.
For the Twitter crowd follow LIGHT at www.twitter.com/LightWorkshops.
Click on the following link to register. After you register you will receive a confirmation email as well as reminders one day and one hour before the event.
Hope to see you online next Monday!
OBTW, next week's topic is creating an action to automate your luminance mask creation.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009