Sunday, January 31

Lightroom Mobile

Never thought that I would want to post-process anything on my phone or tablet, but after viewing Adobe Lightroom Mobile videos and doing an actual install - I am convinced this is useful app for:
1. putting iPhone and iPad photos to a Collection(s) in Lightroom on my computer
2. simple way to move Lightroom photos to the mobile devices for viewing/sharing
3. performing basic post-processing actions as delete, crop, basic edits, rate and more ...

Basic rules: works via Lightroom Collections, uses Smart Collections, does not hog mobile device space, only works with Adobe CC. (contacted Adobe support: they verified Adobe pulls mobile images to their servers, which in turn downloads original photos to a folder on your computer). 
Conclusion: this feature within Adobe CC is a winner.

Learn more: click 1st Look at Lightroom Mobile and Julian Kost's Intro

Saturday, January 30

Faux HDR - Expanding Dynamic Range Using One Photo

Standard HDR technique includes capturing 3 photos of the exact same subject at three or more exposure settings: Under/Normal/Over. Then using 3rd party software like Photomatix, the software creates a single RAW image capturing the full dynamic of the scene. In Faux HDR, you can use the tools within Lightroom and simulate an HDR image with only one image source. This can be useful for me since right now 90% of my photos are NOT 3-image HDR ready, yet I do want to add 'Pop' to liven up the colors. Here is one image I applied using the approach found in Creating a Faux HDR in Lightroom.

I am beginning to like HDR (not over-powered) to enhance photos.

Tuesday, January 26

DIY: Notes from 'Morning Coffee and Photography at the Independent'

I had a chance to join a 'renegade' <just kidding> group of photography enthusiasts this morning in Tampa. The format was casual with open discussion & sharing by both experienced and not-so experienced photographers (me). Good topics were discussed with everyone participating. 

Here are some of the topics discussed with my standard links to subjects I want to learn more about.

.. one member share his experiences when attending FOTO Fusion 2016  
.. some of the seminar's take-aways were: know thy camera inside and out, the buying market seems to be demanding tack-sharp photos over artistic renditions that 'Pop' but are not overdone with HDR, and the importance of knowing your subject and most important knowing why you are taking the photo and asking "does this capture say something?, does it move me?, does it make a statement?, does it strike any emotion?, does it tell a story?
.. we continued discussion on sharpness, Depth of Field, Circle of Confusion and what one can do to influence or control DOF when shooting
.. also how Focus Stacking can expand DOF and it's use in macro photography
.. there was overwhelming desire to have the FCCP members comment more than 'Nice Photo, Great Shot" on photos that are uploaded to the FCCP site. It was fairly consistent among those in attendance that we all want to improve our photography skills and are more that willing to accept constructive criticism
.. further, the group discussed how all lens perform differently, and as one develops their skills and focuses on 'sharpness', they may consider lens calibration. (Now I am not saying we should all go out and calibrate our lens, but if you are interested in learning more about lens calibration, check out Lens Calibration Explained)

18 Things Google Photos Can Do

Google Photos may seem like a simple image hosting service, but it's actually quite powerful. Google Photos bridges the gap between cloud storage, image hosting, and image sharing services, giving stiff competition to Flickr, iCloud, Dropbox, and OneDrive. 
.. Get unlimited 'storage' for high quality images (max width resized to 2048 pixels)
.. Search for People, Places and Objects

.. Backup Photos from Other Apps
.. and more -see 18 Things Google Photos Can Do

Tip: Auto JPEG Photo Backup - one trick I am considering (which I use on my iPhone today) is to also install Google's Desktop Uploader on my computer. This way, any photos exported from Lightroom to a specific folder will automatically be backed up to Google Photos and therefore I will not to save a JPEG copy on my drive and allows me quick access to them without re-exporting if I need a quick copy to share. 

Friday, January 22

One Way to Use Ratings (Stars)

Here is a system I sorta-kinda use to 'Rate' my photos in Lightroom:

0 stars/un-flagged – haven’t sorted, but imported
Reject flag – delete it
.. 1 star – high probability to be deleted, will probably never see the light of day again, maybe crop but little additional editing. Maintained in a subject folder on my external drive, should I want to reminisce and 'look back'  
.. 2 stars – an average photo, may get a quick post-process pass through the Develop Module for a minute (such as horizon, crop, exposure) just to make sure it should not be rated 1 Star,  at least two keywords and other metadata 
.. 3 stars – good photo, a share-able memory for family and friends, has good metadata to find in the future, will edit/enhance further (personal: okay for Weebly websites Photo Ventures and Life Beyond New Jersey, Tackks, Flickr)
.. 4 stars – great photo, maybe framed or canvas for wall, only upgraded to 4 stars after a second pass through 3 star photos. Flickr-able for public viewing and sharing, perfect for my photography website
.. 5 stars – reserved for the best photos I take, a 'share-able anywhere' photo

Tuesday, January 19

FCCP #9: Lightroom Series 2015-2106: Develop Module 'Enhance'

This week (Jan 18th) was a 'Let's now apply what we learned' meeting with an opportunity to hear and see the FCCP Edit Master - Jeff ... do his thing! Using several member's photos as subjects, everyone learned first hand the real power of Lightroom. The meeting was essentially a two-hour demo of Lightroom's tools, below are highlights of meeting 'Tips' offered.

.. Use Collections - not Folders. 

.. Assign or create a new Collection directly during import
.. Import photos into a single My Pictures folder 
.. Note: you can assign any photo(s) to any number of Collections without duplicating photos or using hard drive space. 
.. Add Keywords during import (you can add more anytime)
.. Don't forget the Spray Can to quickly Keyword photos (and Ratings, etc)
.. One shot HDR workflow was reviewed. This method can be used when the shoot did not captured
bracketed shots were not taken: To start, try this: Highlights-Down; Whites-Down; Shadows-Up, Blacks-Up; Tone Curve-S; Clarity-Add; Vibrance/Saturation- Add; Sharpness-100; Radius-1.4; Detail-50 ... then 'play' with sliders to adjust to YOUR liking (see another approach for Faux HDR)
.. Masking tools provide a another visual aid to check and adjust just where sharpening will be applied. White highlights = all areas sharpened, Gray highlights = some sharpening, Black highlights = no sharpening. See How to Sharpen in Lightroom
.. In Lightroom CC a new tool De-haze is becoming popular for users - try it
.. Adjustment Brush is a key tool to enhance, lighten, modify specific areas within a photo ... a must we all need to learn. Some additional resources: Adjustment Brush Basics and Three Tools for Making Adjustments (see video at 6:50 for Adjustment Brush)
.. When starting out adjusting sliders in several tools, try 'over adjusting' initially to understand what the tool/slider offers and adjust properly as needed.

Jan 25th, we will finish the Develop Module and review the remaining Modules.

Tip: Start Over ... Remove Edit History

After many attempts to enhance a photo in the Develop Module, I want to 'start over'. I would like to remove most or all of the history except for the original image. One way to remove all history is to click the 'X' next to History (that removes ALL history but keeps the latest edit). Alternately, I found I can scroll down to the original imported entry, click it, make a small edit. This action will remove all the history except the original photo and that small incremental change you just made. Perfect!

Friday, January 15

Article: 10 Surefire Ways to Get Sharp Photos

One of the first rules of photography is that the subject should be sharp. Most modern digital cameras offer a number of ways of achieving sharp photos, and in this post we’re going to look at the most important digital camera focus techniques and the best settings to use. Check out 10 Ways.

Wednesday, January 13

FCCP #8: Lightroom Series 2015-2106: Develop Module

Our Monday evening Learning Lightroom 2015-2016 Series continued Monday January Suite 4K. This meeting expanded on several of the tools within the Develop Module with 'hands-on' demonstration of editing that provided real examples of how the tools in Lightroom can support post-processing.

Introducing the meeting, Jeff reinforced several important Lightroom tips to incorporate into our own personal work flows including:
.. shooting in JPEG only WILL limit one's ability to access image detail
.. first check White Balance and adjust before any editing
.. tools available are a) the eye dropper, b) the drop-down c) the Temp/Tint sliders and of course d) all three 
.. observe the Histogram to check for blown out highlights and shadows
.. check the ISO (use the info under the Histogram or tap the keyboard 'I')
.. if a high ISO used (maybe greater than 400) Noise is most likely in the photo (to quote Jeff "Noise is in the shadows")
.. don't 'jump' to Crop - work with the full image - but level the horizon
.. use the 1:1 view (by the Navigator) when doing specific editing

The next area we discussed in detail was Sharpening located in the Detail sub-module (I don't know about you but this tool was one that I always used without any clue what I was doing!). After seeing how the Sharpening tools and sliders can be applied on 'real' photos from the members. I have become an Evangelist.

.. several tools are available: Amount, Radius, Detail, Masking
.. Amount = just that how much sharpening will be applied
.. Radius = how hard the edge of pixels will be (soft or hard)
.. Detail = enhancing finer details of the photo
.. Masking = shows where Sharpening will be applied (use the alt/option key with the Masking slider to see just where Sharpening will be applied)

.. sharpening a JPEG should not be applied since it is already baked in by the camera's software
.. sharpening portraits is to be avoided since it may emphasize blemished and facial lines more than the individual would like to show
.. sharpening eyes via Adjustment Brush is appropriate
.. going back up to the Basic sub-module, Jeff noted he will use Presence for bird and landscapes to 'sharpen' but not for people)

One last Quick Tip: say you have several photos with generally the same lighting, background etc. You start enhancing the first image to a point where you are pretty happy with how it looks. But you see ahead of you 10-15 more of the same photo Ugh!! Wait, use Command + C (Mac) or Control +C (Windows) and 'copy' the image. A Copy Settings pop-up shows and now just check which edits you want applied to the photo you will apply those same edits (of course, an edit like Crop is not appropriate since the image composition may be different). Now open the next photo (or selection of photos) and apply 'paste' to apply those same settings to those images). Cool! See Copy Settings #2

Sunday, January 10

Don't Forget the Foreground

Took a sunset photo and did not take into account that the foreground can add a little depth to the scene. With a suggestion from Jane, a FCCP supporter/member, I grabbed the Adjustment Brush and painted just the foreground to show a little 'sand'.

Wednesday, January 6

A6000 Back Button Settings

The camera usually focuses when the shutter button is pressed half way down, and then the photographer takes the picture when the button is pressed in fully.  Back button auto-focus makes it so the shutter button doesn’t control the focus activation at all, but instead assigns another button on the back of the camera (hence the name) to activate focusing on the camera. Note: this will take a little getting used to BUT - great setup. Settings for A6000 Back-Button Focus

Tuesday, January 5

FCCP: #7 Lightroom Learning Series 2016 The Basic Module +

Hi Ho ... hi ho it's off to the Basic Panel we go! Now we get down to 'fixin our Pics'. Just below the Histogram in the Develop Module, you will find the Basic sub-module. Of note is that as you roll your cursor from left to right across the Histogram you will notice several 'areas' within the Histogram that match directly with the Tonal section of the Basic sub-Module: Blacks, Shadows, Exposure, Highlights and Whites. If you move any of these sections in the Histogram you will see the slider in the Tonal tool move left and right. Cool! Here are some Tips:
.. turn on (click) the clip alerts in left and right corners of the Histogram to show clipped areas
.. you can also use Alt/Option + Whites and Blacks sliders to accomplished the same
.. if you get confused about where you started, simply go to the left Panel and view History

Expanding the Basic Panel will reveal a number of basic controls offered by Lightroom. These controls show you the most obvious benefits of shooting in RAW, such as White Balance and Exposure Compensation adjustments. In this Panel, Jeff walked the group through several photos, demonstrating in real time how each of the tools can enhance or de-enhance (is that a word?) a photo. For a good summary of the tools within this Panel check out FCCP: #6 Develop Module - Jumping In 

Let's jump to key Tips shared that may be of value as you travel down the Basic Panel:
.. White Balance adjusts tone values when the camera's setting Auto White Balance just didn't do it
.. You can chose the eye dropper or select the drop down to the right of WB and click presets and see which you prefer - then use the sliders for further 'correction'
.. The Tonal tool is next. You can adjust each slider, but for a first attempt click Auto - then modify
.. Presence includes: Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation for adjusting sharpness, contrast, saturation.
.. Clarity provides mid-tone enhancement: right = more detail; left = softer. Clarity - good for landscapes, not good for portraits

.. Vibrance will enhance or make more vibrant your photo - without affecting skin tones
.. Saturation will add a little pop - too much and colors will shift and you will lose detail.

Jeff shared multiple ways available to us in Lightroom to enhance skies. many many adjustments and details ... however, I walked away with one conclusion: Lightroom provides many options to Photoshops layers by taking advantage of the tools like the Graduated Filter and the Adjustment Brush that allows you to paint skies and adjust as needed. 

Time permitting check out Basic Panel Tips.

Monday, January 4

To Flash or Not To Flash

I have an old Sunpack 422D flash unit that has not been used for years (and I considered trashing, but as a closet 'hoarder' I kept it just in case). Then recently a FCCP offered me her Nikon D5100 compatible Neewer 750II Speedlite for next to nothing. In discussing my newbie status in flash photography, Paul (FCCP member) offered to share his notes and experiences to get me started:

.. aperture controls flash exposure; shutter speed controls ambient light*

.. soft light - large light source (diffusers, bounce light, umbrella)
.. seek soft lighting versus 'hard' flash on portraits
.. where practical, keep light source off the camera
.. in the beginning use Program Mode and adjust exposure (ISO and EV)
.. use TTL (eTTL) for syncing flash and camera
.. if using non-TTL mode (or old flash) reduce output manually and EV
.. use shoot/check/adjust/shoot/adjust/shoot
.. if your camera has 'blinkies' feature, use it and/or Histogram
.. never completely remove shadows