A Journey From Novice to Natural Light Portrait Photographer

Posted by on Mar 1, 2016 in Adobe Photoshop, canon, Fashion, Featured, landscape, lightroom, Photography Tips, photoshop, portrait

A Journey From Novice to Natural Light Portrait Photographer

I’m here to share my photography journey that started few years ago as a novice, to where I stand today. As am amateur or hobby photographer, you may relate. The journey from novice to advanced photographer About two years ago, I bought an entry level DSLR, to use it as an expensive point and shoot camera. The camera decided the fate of most of my pictures. On innumerable occasions, the pictures were blurry, under or overexposed, and were of poor quality. The urge to work on my photography skills blossomed, when I was blessed with a little girl. An utmost desire to take only the best pictures of my angel, had taken roots in me. As you may also do, I started searching the internet fervently, for ways to capture the best shots. This is the kind of natural light photography I do now, but that’s not where I started. Read on to find out how I got here, and you can too. I realized, other than going through basic photography tutorials on YouTube, the thing that helped me the most was Flickr’s discussion groups. It has large community of knowledgeable professionals, and semi-professionals, who love to take a look at your picture and provide valuable feedback. Positive suggestions and encouragement I received on the forums, helped me to experiment further, and escape out of automatic mode. If you are in the same mode as I was two years ago, I strongly recommend getting feedback for your photos, through the online forums. Moving out of auto mode and kit lens limitations The very first step towards improvement for me, was shifting to Aperture Priority (Av/A) mode. Initially, pictures were blurry even in Av mode, but I could see that inside my home, my kit lens at f/4.5, ISO 6400, was still unable to shoot faster than 1/30th of a second. Such a slow shutter speed caused the motion blur. Shooting outdoors normally helped me to avoid blurry pictures, but I was not sure why my images didn’t have a blurry background like I saw online. Eventually, I understood the limitations of my kit lens, in not being able to shoot at a larger f-stop, to achieve shallower depth of field. This image is very noisy, focus is on her dress rather eyes/face, the out of focus raised hand actually distracts the viewer a lot. One thing I would realize after many months of shooting, is that the exposure triangle (aperture, shutter speed and ISO) is easy to comprehend theoretically, but really hard to apply in the field. I went out for a shoot almost every day, and started experimenting with aperture and shutter speed to get a more desired shot. On returning home, I always got an impression I should have used a different aperture or shutter speed for a better shot. The ability to learn through your mistakes...

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4 Quick Ways to Add a Vignette to Your Images in Post-Processing

Posted by on Feb 22, 2016 in Adobe Photoshop, Featured, lightroom, Photography Tips, photoshop, portrait

4 Quick Ways to Add a Vignette to Your Images in Post-Processing

What is a vignette? The word vignette comes from the root word vine, which originally was taken to mean a decorative border on a page. In photography, this translates to a border around the edge of the image. This border is caused by a reduction of light from the center of the image, or a light fall-off. Light fall-off can be due to a variety of reasons: the amount of light hitting the sensor, the type of lens used, or an intentional addition in post-production. This article will focus on the latter. In adding vignettes in post-processing, you have two choices: darker or lighter, and soft-gradual or hard-edge. Why add a vignette? The addition of a vignette in post-processing comes down to your personal taste. It would also largely depend on your photography style, and the type of image you are editing. Generally speaking, high-key images do not need a dark vignette. If you want to add a vignette to bright images, most often a lighter one looks better, but I would still be very careful about adding one. A vignette helps draw the viewer’s eye to the center of the image. This is particularly useful if the image has plenty of clutter, or distracting elements around the edges. Similarly, if the edges are pretty bare which makes the image look flat, a vignette adds an illusion of foreground, or another layer to the image, giving it more depth. Be gentle and sparing when adding a vignette, it can enhance or ruin an image. What works often, and best, is a gradual and very subtle vignette, especially for portraits. More exaggerated vignetting may be required on some artistic images – the choice is yours. If you want to add a spotlight effect to an image, then adding vignettes can be essential. A hard-edged vignette, if done unintentionally, makes your image look like a view through a periscope and can burn your image, like a moth to a flame. Here are four quick ways to add a vignette In Adobe Camera Raw The quickest and easiest way to add a gradual and gentle vignette in your image is via Adobe Camera Raw (this works in both Photoshop and Lightroom). My previous article on batch editing with Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw explains how you can open your file in Camera Raw and make your initial edits. 1. Using the lens correction tab On the image below, you will see the lens vignetting slider under the lens correction tab. Move the sliders along to add, and remove vignettes to your image, according to taste. 2. Using the radial filter tool You can also add a dark or light vignette using the radial filter tool. On the adjustments panel, you need to specify where you want the vignette added – whether inside or outside the radius, then adjust the exposure to lighten...

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A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Right Post-Production Software

Posted by on Jan 13, 2016 in Adobe Photoshop, Featured, landscape, lightroom, Photography Tips, photoshop

A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Right Post-Production Software

When it comes to choosing your first piece of post-production software you may find yourself spinning in circles. There’s so much to choose from, and the whole idea of learning to do something new can be intimidating. This article will cover a number of the most well known software options available, and hopefully lead you towards the right decision for you. Adobe Photoshop CC Over the years no one has truly been able to displace Adobe’s dominance of the photography software market. Both Lightroom and Photoshop are hugely popular pieces of software and regarded as the go to platforms for professionals. Let’s break down both Lightroom and Photoshop individually to see what makes them so popular. Adobe Lightroom Lightroom is the most popular tool available for post-processing your images. It can be used as an all-in-one solution for post-processing, image storage, and printing. Due to this all-in-one nature, Lightroom becomes a convenient and powerful option for both new photographers and pros alike. One of the biggest differentiating factors of Lightroom verses other post-production tools is that it is widely supported by third party developers. What this means is that you can find a number of plugins for Lightroom that will allow you to extend your workflow beyond the core program. You’ll also be able to find a number of Lightroom presets, which can help you speed up your workflow by saving time for tedious edits. On top of that, sites like Smugmug and Zenfolio allow you to hook right into Lightroom, enabling you to share your photographs directly from your Lightroom catalog to your website. Finally, due to the popularity of Lightroom, there is no shortage of support for you on the web. If you have a question about something related to processing an image with Lightroom look no further than YouTube or the many eBooks written on a number of different aspects of Lightroom’s features (including Loving Landscapes, a dPS ebook about processing your landscape images in Lightroom). This whole package of features, extendibility, and resources, is why I’d suggest Lightroom as the first program for any new photographer looking to get into post-production. Not only are you getting a very capable program for editing and organizing your images, but you have the ability to extend the core features as your skills develop. You also have an endless supply of help from the many tutorials written on the platform over the years. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom may be the best place to start as a new photographer, but Photoshop is a close second. The only reason I place Photoshop second on this list is due to its complexity. You still get the same great community of professional photographers, which enables you to learn more quickly, and you’ll still find a wealth of Photoshop Actions to help you speed up your workflow, but the learning curve for Photoshop is quite...

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How to Create Your Own Desktop Calendar

Posted by on Jan 7, 2016 in Adobe Photoshop, Featured, landscape, Photography Tips, photoshop, Wildlife

How to Create Your Own Desktop Calendar

Ansel Adams once said “12 significant photographs in any one year is a good crop”. Creating a desktop calendar is a fun way to share your photography with family and friends, and they make great gifts. These calendars can feature any and all subjects; family members and gatherings, vacations, wildlife, landscapes, or whatever you enjoy shooting. Small enough to set on a desk or mantel, this type of calendar displays your best images all year long. What do you need? Software – Creating these calendars requires some type of design software such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Publisher, CorelDraw, Mac Pages, or Microsoft Word. If you have no other design software, Adobe Photoshop may be used, though it presents more challenges than the others. You can also do a Google search for “2016 desktop photo calendar templates” and you will find several like these, or these for MS Word. Inkjet photo printer and 4×6″ photo paper – Depending on the number of calendars you want, you may choose to send out the calendar pages to be printed by an online printing service, such as Mpix. Paper cutter – To easily and accurately trim your calendar to its finished size, a paper trimmer works better than scissors! Jewel case – The jewel case (CD case) is used to package and display your final calendar. Instructions Select 12 photos: Sometimes selecting your images can be the toughest part of creating a calendar! Finding 12 images of which you are really proud, or having too many favorites to whittle them down to just 12, may present something of a dilemma! Not only do you need 12 photos, you need to select which photo to feature in any given month of your calendar. Try to choose photos that depict a season or month in which you plan to place it, such as choosing a snowy landscape for winter months, or budding flowers for spring. Collect your 12 final images into a folder for use in your calendar. Set up your page size: In your design software, set up for a 4×6″ page. (If you’re using Photoshop, set the dpi to 300 which will allow for sharp resolution for printing.) Be aware that the size of the jewel case is actually only 5.5″ tall, which means the 4×6″ prints will need to have half an inch trimmed off the bottom for finishing. Design the layout: The layout can be as simple as placing your photo at the top of the calendar and placing the calendar dates below. Be creative and add interesting elements to your page by adding rules or borders around your photos. Keep in mind the font you use is a factor in the calendar design. (Setting the text for the calendar is much easier in software like Adobe Illustrator.) You will need to keep your calendar high enough on the...

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6 Photoshop Tools Every Newbie Should Learn

Posted by on Dec 14, 2015 in Adobe Photoshop, Fashion, Featured, Photography Tips, photoshop

6 Photoshop Tools Every Newbie Should Learn

In the days before digital imaging, if you truly wanted to elevate your photography to the level of art, you learned how to process your images in the darkroom. You learned dodging, burning, masking, sandwiching negatives, flashing and fogging – all designed to get the most out of your images, and deliver your artistic vision to your viewers. The finished image after Photoshop, using the tools discussed below. With the advent of digital imaging, photographers have a new way to bring their artistic vision to life, known as the digital darkroom. While there are several different applications available for photographers, one has become synonymous with photo editing, and that is Adobe Photoshop. Many of the tools in Photoshop can trace their origins to the wet darkroom of yesteryear. If you’re new to Photoshop, it can seem overwhelming the first time you open an image in the program. I’ve created this list of six must-know Photoshop tools to help you get started editing your images. These aren’t by any means the only tools needed, and there are of course tools within the tools to figure out, but this list should give you some idea of where to start. The great thing about most tools in Photoshop is that there are a lot of sliders, meaning you can experiment and see what each tool does, then undo it if you don’t like it. 1 – Adobe Camera Raw Adobe Camera Raw is a series of sliders and tabs used for processing RAW files. The beauty of the RAW file is you can make changes to the file non-destructively and change them again later if you choose. It is my personal belief that if you aren’t photographing RAW images, you are doing yourself a disservice as a photographer. When you allow your camera to process your image into a JPEG, you are throwing out potentially critical information from your image. You are trusting your camera to make creative decisions for you about the color, contrast, tone, and more, with regards to your image. To get the most out of your image, you’ll want to set your camera to capture the image as a RAW file. A RAW file contains unprocessed, uncompressed, grayscale data from your camera’s image sensor, as well as metadata about how the image was captured. Adobe Camera RAW is the plugin for Adobe PhotoShop that can take this information and process a color image. When you open a RAW image in Adobe Camera RAW, you’ll be presented with a toolbar across the top, and a tool palette on the right side. The tool palette is divided into 10 tabs: Basic, Tone Curve, Detail, HSL/Grayscale, Split Toning, Lens Corrections, Effects, Camera Calibration, Presets, and Snapshots. The tabs I use most in my workflow are Basic, Lens Corrections, Effects, and Camera Calibration. The beauty of a RAW file is that you...

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Photoshop Now Offers 4 Variants Of Healing Brush | Here’s What They Are & How To Get Them

Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in Adobe Photoshop, Featured, lightroom, Photography Tips, photoshop

Photoshop Now Offers 4 Variants Of Healing Brush | Here’s What They Are & How To Get Them

Are you one to stand in the way of progress? I think not. It may be our most ‘human’ quality, the need to relentlessly move forward. Actually, maybe it’s not human, but rather an evolution. Either way, in its pursuit of advancement, Adobe seems to be trying to push out new things all the time, even when they may not be ready. I don’t know if I can actually fault them for this considering any mover and shaker tends to preach that the most important thing for positive change is just to start. I believe I recall Sir Richard Branson saying, and I’m paraphrasing here, that the key differentiator between those who succeed and those who don’t, is that those who do begin before they’re entirely ready. Anyway, what this means for Adobe is that they’re racing new tech before the tech can walk, and that’s made picking at them easy since it’s all low hanging fruit. We’ve seen it with Lightroom mostly, but aside from the noise of discontent with Lightroom, there have been some Photoshop issues also with their latest releases. You can see the mess they’ve made of the Liquify tool in this post from just days ago, and now there’s something else. There’s a ‘Healing Brush’ issue. Well, there has been an issue since an earlier update to Photoshop, which saw the healing brush engine changed to work quite differently than we’d been used to. It’s been dubbed as a ‘live’ healing brush that began to ‘heal’ as you began painting over the area to be healed. Prior to this in older versions, the change wouldn’t appear until you’d finished with your selection, but that’s not the case anymore. Oh it sounds good, and I’m not entirely sure that it isn’t given the immediacy of the feedback to be honest, but it took a bit of getting used to, because as it wasn’t waiting for the selection to be made in full, it wasn’t essentially correcting the area based on all the selection, so it initially would look a bit off, and then more complete once the selection was done. You sort of just had to trust that it would look ok at the end. Of course, there were many that didn’t care much for the change, some claiming it slowed down their workflow (likely due to a less powerful system), and others just didn’t like the results. Personally, I hadn’t been bothered by it too much, but in an effort to please the masses, Adobe has released some options for everyone, effectively giving us access to 4 variants of the healing brush. Here they are: Healing Brush As Per Photoshop update 2015.1 If you’ve done the update, this is what you got ‘outta the box.’ It is a healing brush that does have the ‘live’ view healing, but can be tempered with a ‘Diffusion’...

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