Photoshop Seminar April 29, 2017

A reminder that next Saturday, April 29th, 2017 is the Photoshop Seminar at the Hershey Public Library, in Hershey, PA. Doors open at 9:30. The seminar is three hours and will cover a number of Photoshop techniques for enhancing images including blend modes, selection techniques, and creating and modifying masks.

The library asks that you sign up and pay in advance. The fee is $45. Hope to see you there.

The abstract image above has been selected for inclusion in the online gallery of images by the Cultural Center of Cape Cod. It was selected from 711 entries from the US and Canada. I am delighted to be included.

Information on Photoshop techniques are always available on my Learning page at my website.

Much Ado

There are many things happening in April. Here are some reminders.

Saturday, April 1st, 2017 – Harrisburg Camera Club, Light and Creativity Workshop at Central Penn College in Enola. Information Here

Saturday, April 1st through 3rd – PPA of PA Convention at the Comfort Suites Hotel in Carlisle.Information Here

Doshi Exhibit at Susquehanna Art Museum – running currently and extended through  Sunday, May 21, 2017 with free “Third in the Burg” admission for the reception on Friday, April 21st from 6-9pm..

Sunday April 23, 2017 – Outdoor Lighting Workshop – Master Photographers Terry Blain and Bryson Leidich will offer tips on posing and off camera flash techniques at Terry’s studio in Carlisle, PA. Information is on my web page for the workshop.

Saturday, April 29th, 2017 – Photoshop Seminar – I will be teaching Photoshop image editing techniques at a workshop in the Hershey Library. Doors open at 9:30 a.m.

Learning Lightroom

Lightroom is an image mangement tool and a file processor.

Lightroom is an image management tool (database) and a file processor. This means it can manage your images for you allowing more efficient filing and retrieval of images as well as defining the parameters to use to process raw and other files for export either into an editor like Photoshop or a final file for printing or sharing. By defining parameters I mean that Lightroom writes data to a file that tells the processor what to do to that file on export. It does not directly modify the file – it creates instructions on how to modify the file. That is the database part, along with remembering where files are located.

Think of Lightroom as a library card catalog. The card catalog does not contain the books, but references to where the books can be found. Lightroom references where your files can be found on a hard drive. The Lightroom catalog is metadata; information about other data, which is your image file. Initially, the information is location of the file, resolution, color space, copyright, keywords, etc. As you process an image, more data is written to the catalog as instructions on how to process your image. I suggest you also set preferences to export settings to an XMP sidecar file. This copies the processing, ratings and other information to a file that accompanies the raw file in your hard drive and gives you an additional measure of backup, and the ability to open the file with modifications intact in Bridge or ACR.

If you modify a file outside of Lightroom the XMP file for that file will contain the changes, but Lightroom will not automatically update the database to reflect those changes. An icon will appear in LR (up arrow with lines at top right) indicating that the XMP file has changed. Click on the icon and you will be asked whether to import the modifications from the XMP file or not.

I will be presenting a 3 hour seminar on Lightroom next Saturday, March 11, 2017 at the Hershey Library starting at 9:30 a.m. You will need to sign up through the library. Sign up for the seminar at the Hershey Library. The cost is $45.

I will be presenting a Photoshop seminar at the Hershey Library on April 29th (same time, same channel). Hope to see you.

Resolve to make better images in 2016

You are the first obstacle to better image making.

All of us make New Year’s resolutions, and they usually involve something like “make better images”, lose weight, stop smoking, etc. I will give you better odds on the images if you approach the issue as a problem to be solved and work methodically toward a goal. There are several steps to image making and you have to break your photography into those steps to find the weak links and repair them.

The Photographer: Yep, you are the first obstacle to better image making. You need to analyze the images you are making and attempt to understand the weaknesses. This can be difficult depending on the amount of experience you have and how much time you invest in the process of looking at images, shooting, and processing. One aspect of this we can analyze is the mechanical process of capture.

Not everyone’s photography is suited to a tripod, but no matter how you shoot you need to fully understand certain physical limitations that might influence your image making. Images that are unsharp from camera movement are common with hand held shooting. Often there are mistakes made in decisions of shutter speed, choice of ISO, aperture and the physical way you hold and fire your camera.

The Hardware: The camera you own, the lenses you use, the flash, even the tripod you thought would solve the problems can all be a plus or minus in the capture. You don’t want the equipment to be in the way of a good outcome. If the camera can’t make a good image, you will not overcome that primary step in the image making. This doesn’t mean you need to own the newest, best, most expensive equipment. You do need to be aware of the ability of the camera system to make a good capture. Yes, good images can be made with small point and shoot cameras and mid-level equipment if properly used. But there is a lot of “junk” on the market and careful attention to competent reviews can mean a lot.

The Software: This should not be a problem as the processing software that came with your camera or a move into good quality software like Lightroom should mean that processing the image has the potential to produce a quality image. Secondary finishing in Elements or Photoshop is another level of control and refinement. The software available today is way more powerful than anything in the past and the biggest obstacle here will be the learning curve. There is more to processing than most people realize. Here again, you become a limiting factor and better processing means better images.

The Print: Print quality is essential to a good final image. Making the prints yourself sounds like a good idea until you realize that the printing process is anything but a button push away and you are back to a steep learning curve and the possibility of a lot of questionable decisions. Good printing is an art form.

Whether seen on a screen or printed the final representation of your vision very much depends on you. The processing step in digital image making is both a difficult task and a very important part of the process. It is a challenging part of better image making. If you have ever heard a piece of classical music performed by a junior high school orchestra you know that the performance is the issue, not the composer. If your captures are good and you see well, your images deserve the best possible performance. Training yourself to perform well is the hard part.

I will be speaking on these issues and detailing many of the aspects of shooting and processing at a meeting of the Hershey Camera Club this coming Thursday night, January 7th, 2016. The meeting is at the Country Meadows Retirement Community room on the second floor. The doors open at 6:00. All are welcome.

New image galleries are almost ready. I hope to have them on line in the next day or two.

Lenses and Perspective

Photography and Perspective

As a photographer you should realize that perspective is not a function of lenses. The “wide angle perspective” we talk about as photographers is an effect that is simply an exaggeration of the relationship of a foreground object to the background or other parts of the image.

Perspective is simple. It is the relationship of foreground to background objects based on the position of the photographer relative to the scene. If you want to change the perspective, you have to physically move in relation to the subject.

Lenses simply allow us to include (wide angle) or exclude (telephoto) parts of the scene in front of us. The misconceptions of distortion come from the peculiar “effect” that we see in the two dimensional representation of the subject if it is different than what we normally perceive. Our eyes are essentially fixed focal length lenses. What we consider “normal” is simply based on the way we perceive reality. Get close to a subject with a wide angle lens and you create a distorted visual relationship, but not a change in perspective.

Architectural photographers do this with buildings as the spacial relationship creates dramatic receding lines. If the subject is far from the camera as in a landscape, the effect may not be noticed. Using an object close to the lens in a landscape image can be used to dramatic effect as the near to far relationship helps the three dimensional feeling.

Ansel Adams illustrated this in “The Camera” (Previously “Camera and Lens”) photographing a fountain with a building in the distance. The relationship between the two is not changed with a change in focal length which is essentially cropping the image at the capture stage. To change the perspective you need to physically change your position in space relative to the closer object. The difference in perspective then appears as a change in the relationship to the background regardless of the focal length used.

This is pretty easy to learn. Choose two objects with a distance between them and make some photographs with different lenses or both ends of a zoom. Do the same at a closer distance to the foreground subject. With changes in focal length the relationship of the foreground subject and the background will remain the same. When you change your position in space relative to the foreground the perspective of the images will change compared to the first position. The foreground to background relationship in each set of images will remain the same regardless of the focal length.

To further illustrate the point, crop your wide angle lens image to match the amount of the scene captured with the longer focal length from the same position and you will see that the final image is identical. The lens focal length is simply including or excluding a portion of the scene. It does nothing to change the perspective.

In practice this becomes important as the first thing you should do when deciding how to photograph a subject is to determine the perspective or “point of view” you want or need based on the foreground to background relationship of the subjects in the image. Then the focal length of the lens is simply how much of the scene to include in the capture.

Off Camera Flash Seminar – September

Final plans are underway for this 5 hour hands on seminar. I will be working in conjunction with Master Photographer Terry Blain who will be offering tips on posing and producing competition worthy images. The seminar will be held at her studio in Carlisle, PA.FS_Sample_9962_fs

This workshop is for advanced shooters and professional photographers alike. It will likely be limited to 6 to 8 people to make it practical for all to shoot.Techniques that will be addressed are for using small portable flash units from cobra style (on-camera hot shoe) units to units such as the Q-flash/Godox units with an external battery. Make images with one or two flashes and ambient light by learning to control the balance between ambient and flash.

You will earn how to control image contrast and mood. You will learn how to make more consistent exposures. You will learn to understand good light vs bad light. You will learn that this is both easy to do and a fast way to work.

If you are planning to buy flash equipment I suggest you attend this seminar first as you may change your mind about what you need and save a lot of money. More information will come very soon as final arrangements are made.

The Value of Critique

Watching a program on N.C. Wyeth, I was struck by a comment by his son Nathaniel about a miniature he had made of a chair. After looking at the model, Wyeth quietly told his son that the work was not really very good, and that he needed to try harder. After his initial emotional response (crushing the model beneath his feet) he started over again and created a far better model than he had the first time. I was reminded of a story told to me by a friend who took his portfolio to a photography workshop where he had an opportunity to have it reviewed by a well known photographer. After looking at the images the photographer asked, “do you want me to say something nice, or do you want the truth?”

Grand Canyon View
Grand Canyon, Arizona

The importance of the critique over simple praise goes to how much you care about advancing your craft. Praise can lead to complacency, stopping you from making the refined corrections to your images that may make them break away from the simple capture handed you by the camera. Therefore, criticism can be constructive in that it gets you to pay attention to aspects of your images that you may have overlooked, or ways to polish your images that go beyond your initial reactions. It is easy to look at your own work and have the pride of creation blind you to details that someone else may see as they do not have the disadvantage of having created the image. The emotional distance of a viewer compared to your own has value.

In addition to the reaction of a viewer to a particular image, you need to learn to watch for signals about the conceptual aspects of your image making. Ignoring image content, are there reactions to your handling of tone, contrast, sharpness, and composition that you should take into account in a more general sense. Composition, for example, is an important means of leading the eye of the viewer to where you want them to look, and controls the balance of the image. Minor refinements can make big differences, and paying close attention to the edges of your images as well as the areas of primary interest can strengthen the final impact. How does your control over contrast or color add to or detract from the message of the image and how the image is perceived by the viewer.

While not all criticisms will be helpful, depending on who they come from and the spirit in which they are given, all criticisms come from a point of view other than your own and should be considered simply for that reason. At the same time, praise can be both valuable in boosting your ego, but dangerous if it gives you too much comfort. Creating photography, or any other art, is a process which should be constantly refined and polished.