Tips for Processing Winter Landscapes in Lightroom

Posted by on Apr 20, 2016 in Featured, landscape, lightroom, Photography Tips

Tips for Processing Winter Landscapes in Lightroom

I see a lot of winter. The interior of Alaska, where I live, gets a solid six months, often seven, of the white stuff. Essentially anytime from October to mid-April, we are likely to have snow on the ground. Unless I put the camera down for most of the year (which I don’t), I end up with a lot of photos on my computer of snowy mountains, forest, and tundra. Come the early-spring, brown season, I have a lot of computer work to take care of. Though the method of processing winter images is largely the same as many other types of outdoor images, you’ve got to approach snowy images with cold focus (insert laughter here). I jest, but actually the cold, and bright blue tones of winter, are elements that should not be forgotten (or overdone). My Approach When I come at an image in Lightroom, I don’t tackle it with a standard formula. Rather, I consider the time and place I made it, what the landscape looked like, and just as importantly, how it felt. Those memories play an important role in my vision for the final image. With that in mind let’s dive into the first of the three winter images I want to walk you through my processing steps. Brooks Range, Alaska – Early winter On a river trip in early September, down the remote Kelly River of the western Brooks Range, my clients and I were hit by the first snowfall of winter. It started the evening before I made this image, with a few big, wet flakes falling from the overcast sky. By the following morning, my tent, the gravel bar on which we were camped, and the entire landscape, was covered in six inches of fresh snow. The snow was tapering off, and I could see breaks in the clouds where patches of blue sky shone through. It didn’t take long before those patches were turned into beams of sunlight on the mountains. I walked down to the river with my camera, and started making images of the shifting light on the land. This shot came out of that session. The light and color is typical of many winter images, bright, with lots of blue. Take a look at the histogram in the upper right, and you can see how it’s pushed to the right, meaning the image is on the bright side (but no blown-out highlights), exactly what I want with an out-of-camera winter shot. Step One – White Balance The first thing to consider is the white balance. Cloudy days tend to cause warmer tones, and snow, particularly under-exposed snow, can take on a yellowish hue. This can be off-putting, so pushing your white balance toward the blues can help provide a more pleasing, and accurate tonality. In this case, my camera selected an appropriate White Balance in the field,...

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Creative Studio Lighting: High Key Wrap Around With Grid

Posted by on Apr 14, 2016 in boudoir, canon, Featured, lightroom, Photography Tips, portrait

Creative Studio Lighting: High Key Wrap Around With Grid

I’m in love with light. I’m infatuated with a beautiful highlight and drawn to a mysterious shadow. I love the freedom and control of creating light that expresses my vision, mood or story whether in the studio or on location. After I first mastered traditional lighting setups, I sought to learn about more advanced, challenging or creative approaches to lighting. Upon researching, it seemed that there really were very few advanced or extremely creative tutorials, but instead only some behind the scenes. For this reason, I created my newly released, 135-page ebook, “Creative Studio Lighting Guide” with 30 creative studio lighting setups. This is your guide to creativity in the studio whether you are trying out a new modifier or using usual tools in an unusual way. I’d like to take a moment to walk you step-by-step through one of these setups from the free segment of my guide to show how basic studio lighting modifiers can be utilized for creative results. Lighting Gear Used 2 Profoto D1 Air 500 Watt Light 1 – Profoto 5 degree Grid Light 2 – Profoto 3x4ft Softbox Other Gear Used Cinefoil (optional) Avenger D600 boom arm Setup Light 1: Distance from subject: 9 inches Distance off center: 0 inches Height above eye level: 5 inches Power (F stops): F/11 Light 2: Distance from subject: 0 inches Distance off center: 0 inches Height above eye level: 0 inches Power (F stops): F/22 Camera Gear & Settings Camera: Canon 5D Mark III Lens: Canon 70-200mm 2.8 II at 130mm ISO: 100 Shutter Speed: 1/200 Aperture: 11 The goal of this setup is to create lighting that has both high key elements (glowing background) and dramatic shadows. This setup is perfect for a variety of subject matter whether portraits, beauty or even boudoir. The highlights allow you to define your subject’s form while the shadows establish the dramatic mood. Let’s take a look step-by-step at considerations for building this dramatic two-light setup. Step 1 First, place a strobe with softbox directly behind and against the subject to create a pure white background with highlights that wrap around the body and jawline. The closer you have the softbox to the subject, the more the light will wrap. Here a 3x4ft softbox has been utilized. You may alternatively light a white seamless paper to create a white background effect if this is what you prefer, or if shooting full length. For the beauty images I am creating, I want my subject as close to that softbox as possible and really love the wrapping highlights. Keep in mind that there are a few challenges when shooting into a light source. First, if you are using a large softbox, be sure to add the inner piece of diffusion to the softbox if it comes with your modifier. By adding this diffusion, you allow the light to spread out even...

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How to Remove A Soft-Edged Object Using The Pen & Clone Stamp Tools In Photoshop

Posted by on Apr 13, 2016 in Featured, Photography Tips, photoshop, portrait

How to Remove A Soft-Edged Object Using The Pen & Clone Stamp Tools In Photoshop

Last week I came across a photo by Adolfo Peñaloza in the Constructive Critique section of our website. It was a nice portrait and just needed some minor changes to polish it up. A couple things I suggested were to 1) Adjust the white balance, and 2) Remove the loop of hair that was distracting from his face. Adolfo replied saying he hadn’t yet learned how to remove items in Photoshop, so I suggested he send his photo to me and I’d post a tutorial showing him how to clone out hard-edged objects using the pen tool in Photoshop. Learn How to Use the Pen Tool in Photoshop There are multiple ways to remove objects in photoshop. I generally prefer the clone tool, but in this case, since the hair is next to the ear, it’s advantageous to make a selection around the adjacent objects before using the clone tool so you don’t end up with a soft edge around the ear or accidently take a chunk out of it, and the pen tool, with its large degree of precision, is ideal in these scenarios. If you’re not familiar with how to use the pen tool, take a moment to watch the video tutorial below by Phlearn’s Aaron Nace, which was originally posted in the article HOW TO USE THE PEN TOOL IN PHOTOSHOP. You can find it at the foot of the article. Don’t be discouraged if it feels uncomfortable at first. After years of creating digital illustrations as a graphic designer, it’s my favorite tool and it’s used the same exact way in Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. adjusting the white balance After opening the file in Photoshop, duplicate the layer. This is a standard practice, just in case I need to go back to the original file for whatever reason and to work non-destructively. To adjust the white balance in this instance, I used the color balance dialog box found under Image > Adjustments > Color Balance. Using the sliders in the Color Balance dialog box, I cooled down the image a bit. It looked too yellow to me. Knowing a little about color theory can help you in this situation. As a general rule, if it looks too yellow, move the yellow/blue slider toward blue. If it then looks like it has too much magenta, move the magenta/green slider toward green. Learn more about color theory by clicking here. Make a Selection Using the Pen Tool Before you can clone out that loop of hair, I suggest you make a selection around that little piece of ear so you’ll end up with a nice even line. Here’s a step by step look at how to do it.Note: There are numerous methods of object removal in Photoshop and you can see many of those here. First, you need a clear view of the edges so zoom in...

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Step by Step How to Use HDR Merge in Lightroom

Posted by on Apr 13, 2016 in Featured, landscape, lightroom, Photography Tips

Step by Step How to Use HDR Merge in Lightroom

There are lots of plug-ins that you can use with Lightroom to create High Dynamic Range (HDR) images. Photomatix and HDR Efex Pro are two of the best known, and MacPhun’s Aurora HDR (Mac only) is a new application that has received good reviews. But, if you have Lightroom 6 or CC, you can create HDR images right within Lightroom itself, without having to buy a plug-in. There are several advantages to using Lightroom for your HDR conversions: You save money. Most HDR plug-ins are not free, and are an additional cost for you. Lightroom’s HDR merge creates natural looking HDR images. Not everybody will see this as an advantage – but if you want to create garish, over-saturated images the aforementioned plug-ins will help. You don’t need a lot of bracketed images. Two seem to be enough (you can use more if you want, or if you have a really contrasty scene), one exposed at -2 stops, the other at +2 stops. The final HDR image is saved as a DNG file. Not only is this smaller than a TIFF file, but you can process it in Lightroom the same as you do with any other DNG or Raw file. The main difference is that the Exposure slider runs from -10 to + 10 stops, rather than the normal -4 to +4. There is also much more information in the file for Lightroom to work with, when you make adjustments with the Shadows and Highlights sliders (and local adjustment tools like the Graduated and Radial filters). You can take bracketed sequences hand-held, and Lightroom will align them automatically. Having said that, I’ve found the best results come from bracketed photos taken with a tripod mounted camera. There is less noise in shadow areas than you would expect from a regular, single photo. Lightroom HDR merge in action Let’s look at a couple of practical examples to see how it performs. Start in Grid View in the Library module, and select the images you want to merge. Alternatively, you can select the images in the Filmstrip in the Develop module. Then, go to Photo > Photo Merge > HDR. Or, right-click on one of the selected photos and select Photo Merge >HDR. The HDR Merge Preview window opens, and Lightroom creates a preview of the HDR image. This may take some time, especially if you have selected several images. The Auto Align and Auto Tone boxes are ticked, and the Deghost Amount is set to None, by default. Lightroom remembers the last settings used, if you have changed them. Auto Align is useful if the camera moved between exposures (for example if you hand-held the camera) and Auto Tone performs a similar function to the Auto Tone settings in the Basic Panel of the Develop module. I find HDR merge works best with the Auto Align and Auto Tone...

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JPEGmini Release The ‘Save For Web Button’ Adobe Should’ve Made For Photoshop & It’s Brilliant

Posted by on Apr 13, 2016 in Featured, landscape, lightroom, Photography Tips, photoshop

JPEGmini Release The ‘Save For Web Button’ Adobe Should’ve Made For Photoshop & It’s Brilliant

May I have your attention, please? Out of all the pieces of tech and equipment I’ve been privy to seeing, testing, using and abusing over the last year, there are two that stand up and out as truly marvelous. Neither is made of frankincense or myrrh, and both are actually a bit geeky, but damn do they ever get used! In terms of gear it’s the DxO One, and in terms of software, it’s JPEGmini. But where the DxO will likely be trumped in a year or so by a younger blonder version, it’s hard to imagine JPEGmini can get much better. But it has. For those of you who don’t know, JPEGmini is, at its heart, a program that compresses your JPEG files to the utmost point before losing any perceivable quality. That’s all it does, and it does it without much fanfare. Like a worker ant, it just falls into line with your workflow and gets on with the job with a manner of efficiency outside a Japanese car factory. If it were a Japanese worker, it would surely be prone to Karōshi (death by overwork). The software comes in 3 varieties: JPEGmini, JPEGmini Pro, and JPEGmini Server. The original is a stand-alone desktop application and works as easy as drag and drop. You drag photos in, it spits them back out significantly slimmer. The Pro version, however, has an indispensable tool in the form of a Lightroom plug-in, so anytime you export your images from LR as JPEGs it runs the software for you, and it supports JPEG files up to 60MB fast and without fuss. However, since it’s in LR, if you’re working on a TIFF file or RAW file you can still export it as JPEG and it will convert and optimize. It’s brilliant. Well, now, as of today they’ve released a new addition to the Pro package, a Photoshop Extension, and it’s lovely. For those who don’t live inside Lightroom all the time, or perhaps you use Capture One, or maybe you don’t do bulk images and you work largely with PS, it’s a Godsend. Recap Of How JPEGmini Works Last year at PPE I sat down with Eli Lubitch, previous VP at Kodak and R&D at Scitex, an image scientist, and now President of BEAMR which makes JPEGmini – a bit of a brainbox really. For about half an hour, using words I didn’t know in ways I didn’t understand, Eli tried to explain precisely how JPEGmini does what it does until he no doubt noticed the lights behind my eyes went out. So, in the least patronizing way, he broke down really what JPEGmini does, and how it behaves, We will stop short only just before there are any noticeable visual artifacts to humans because that’s what the quality measure is aligned with. Other compression technologies in programs such as Lightroom...

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