Tuesday, March 29

FCCP: Learning Lightroom Series 2016: Develop Module (part 1)

The 2016 Learning Series continued Monday 3/28/16 at Suite 4K. In addition to notes captured in the 2015 Learning Series - Jumping In to the Develop Module, below are additional tips and information provided by Jeff at the meeting.  Here are highlights captured:
@ Google Nik Collection now Free - Nik Software is offered by Google as a free download. Nik offers seven plug-ins that are complementary to Lightroom (and PS/PSE) that is worthwhile to explore so you decide if you want to make it a part of your work flow.
@ The Develop Module is where the 'fun' begins, so ... starting on the right panel ...
1. Crop is the first step in your post process, non-cropped image data can influence the Histogram (see - How to Crop)
2. Tip - Command Z (or Control Z) will backup an edit one step
3. The Basic section is the core of enhancing your photos ... start with White Balance and to the right of 'WB' check out the drop-down to see if any options enhance your photo. Of course you can use sliders or eye dropper, but Adobe these white balance options)
4. Tip - WB works best with RAW images where all the data is available
5. Tip - Set camera to AWB - auto white balance since there are few situations where you need to do differently  
6. Tip - typically with Adobe, it is best to post-process left to right and top to bottom for tools and sliders
7. Tonal Adjustment can be achieved by using a) sliders, b) using Auto and c) Tone curve. Try the 'Auto' to see what Adobe suggests and adjust to your liking or adjust the sliders To Make Your Photo Pop

After answering member questions, Jeff selected 1 of his 894 moose photos (note: same moose) and demonstrated how the sliders in the Develop Module complement each other. He reminded members that Lightroom is non-destructive and if you make a mistake you can always go back in your edit history. 

8. Tip - if you have many similar photos taken in approximately the same lighting conditions you can use 'Copy and Paste'. So, after you achieve the look you desire, right click the photo and select Settings > Copy Settings, then review the Setting Dialog box and click Copy. Now, go back and select the photo(s) you want copy those settings to be applied to > right click on the photo > Setting > Paste Settings. This could save you lots of time! 

Monday, March 28

Learning Lightroom - for the Beginner (intro) and the Experienced (refresher)

If you're interested in learning more about Adobe Lightroom and how you can use it to improve your photos, PhotographyPla.net has a huge collection of articles and tutorials available for free. They have complied a 25-Part Series Lightroom 101 to provide an introduction to Lightroom's Library and Develop Modules. 

The Library Module is extremely helpful for keeping your digital photos organized, which can save a lot of time and headaches. The Develop Module provides powerful tools for post processing. Lower on this page you'll also find a collection of tutorials that show step-by-step how you can create certain looks and effects in Lightroom. If you want to view any 'one' part see Lightroom 101.

Saturday, March 26

F-Stop Matters (in controlling Depth of Field)

I recently purchased a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens to use for portraits and provide more control of Depth of Field (DOF). Today I wanted to test the concept directly and took two photos. Aperture settings were f/1.8 and f/22. The results demonstrate (and reinforce for me) controlling DOF can focus a viewer's attention to the subject versus the entire scene. Left hand photo was shot at f/22 and right hand photo at f/1.8. Note: basket is sharp and background is blurred.

Notes: An Interview with Joe McNalley

Below are notes from a recent video reviewed at the FCCP Meeting
1. Compose your shoot to draw the viewer into the scene or moment
2. Ask yourself when you are about to shoot:
.. what will make THIS shot compelling
.. what is the 'story' that makes it special and different
.. will this be a photo a viewer will pause and look at - or just 'turn the page'
.. will this shot 'speak' for itself or will I have to explain it or flaws within it
3. Don't just point, shoot and leave - stick with the subject for more than a shot
4. Isolate the subject and blur distractions 
5. Study and recompose to control distractions 
6. With people shots, make it emotional... capture a moment in time 
7. Use leading lines (add a subject) to provide scale 
8. When shooting people - put in the effort ... since you ask them to put in an effort

Friday, March 25

Google's Nik Collection - now Free

On March 24th, Google made the $150 photo editing application Nik Collection - FREE! Quoting Google "The Nik Collection is comprised of seven desktop plug-ins that provide a powerful range of photo editing capabilities -- from filter applications that improve color correction, to retouching and creative effects, to image sharpening that brings out all the hidden details, to the ability to make adjustments to the color and tonality of images".

This 'Collection" is not made to replace PhotoShop or Lightroom or Aperture but is a set of image enhancing plug-ins that are made an integral component within a 'hosting' compatible primary application like Adobe's image tools. Therefore, this will not replace my workflow using Lightroom CC, but adds several 'enhancing' plug-ins like HDR (that Lightroom currently does not excel at) and others. Check out this 60 minute Introduction to the Nik Collection. Google also has a Nik Help Center for users to understand how to Get Started as well as provide overview of the seven plug-ins and FAQ's.  

View: How to install Google's Nik Collection on a PC or Mac.

Thursday, March 24

Developing (or identifying) Your Photographic Style

Seems like a simple question "what is your photographic style?". So I said "that's easy" ... it's people ... no, it's sunsets ... wait, maybe it's birds. Okay, I don't have or know my style. So let me answer these four questions:

1. What do I like to shoot? landscapes, people, nature, structures, memories
2. Where do I like to shoot? outdoors versus Indoors 
3. How do I like to shoot? candid, as-is, posed, in the moment, multi-lenses
4. What draws me into a shoot? emotion, geometry, b&w, color 

As I review these answers, I find myself leaning towards photo ops that 'pull' or 'draw' or 'surround' me into and within the scene (as I remember it) using lines, framing, repeating elements. Therefore, let your style define your images and ask yourself three questions:

1. What my medium of choice? color, b&w, HDR
2. What will be my signature? order, symmetry, other 
3. What and how will I create consistency of my style? scenes, software or when family and friends view your portfolio, what theme will identify my work?

My initial conclusions: in additional to capturing family and travel memories, the style I plan to explore further  a) draw and surround the viewer, b) have symmetry and lines and c) provide post-process opportunity to make colors 'pop' ... with 'soft' HDR. Therefore this gives me an opportunity to take advantage of Lightroom's Collections by creating several 'Style' Collections: Lines (converging and non-converging), Landscapes, Sunsets and Horizons, Structures (natural and man-made) and Frames. PS: for memories (family and travel) the challenge is to capture emotion (family) and a single (travel) image that captures the 'essence' of the trip/event. 

Wednesday, March 23

FCCP: Learning Lightroom Series 2016: Library Module

The word from my FCCP 'moles', (I was not able to attend) at the Suite 4K meeting on Monday March 21st was an engaging experience as always, on several key topics. Besides, Jeff walking us through the Library / Import features), key topics also discussed were:

.. The Library Module (of course) - see Library Module

.. Backup Your Photos - backing up your photos is the best way to insure your life-time memories are secure and available to restore in the event of calamity. Whether you 'primary' location for Lightroom is on your computer or an external drive, it is essential a second or third backup is physically located away your primary location. There are many options and all are 'correct', so I would like to share my approach for your review/consideration ... which may be overkill!
1. primary photo location is my MacPro HD
2. first backup is a daily backup to Apple's Time Capsule via daily Time Machine image
3. second backup is a cloud based daily backup of photo folder to Crash Plan (paid service), but they offer a free backup service to external drives or even a friend's computer with their permission
4. third backup is a monthly copy of all images from MacPro HD to an external drive via Compare and Sync Folders for Mac
5. fourth backup 'can be' Flickr (1 Tb) using Lightroom's Publish Services that works great
6. Google Photos Backup tat I use to automatically backs up exported JPEG's to Google Photos
7. See one author's suggestions at Backup Your Photos

.. Catalog Backups - I backup my one Catalog daily to Dropbox, if I lose my primary Catalog, the backup Catalog is on 1-2 other devices where my DropBox is installed. See Adobe's Backup Photo Strategy and Catalog Backups.

.. Applying Keywords to Photos - Keywords are the essence of fast search and locating. In this blog, Google calls Keywords - Labels, but when you understand the concept ... Life is Good. 'Keywords are customer-added image metadata that describes the contents of a photo. They help you identify, search for, and find photos in the catalog'. Lessons: 1) make Keywords your friend and 2) apply Keywords during Import and later, 3) don't be shy and add Keywords you think will better aid you in locating that special photo. This is what Adobe has to say on Using Keywords.

Reminder: Notes and Subject references are also available at My Digital Photography Journey my personal web notebook.

Monday, March 21

Learn to Compose: 13 Basic Rules

What's Composition?

Composition is the structure of a photographic image or placement of the subject within the image—i.e. where it is in relation to the edges of the photo and to its remaining elements. So here are some tips and rules that will prevent 'disaster'.

1. Make your subject stand out - control focus and avoid distractions
2. Keep scene elements from touching - keep spacing btw elements and edges
3. Fill the frame - simple: identify the subject and fill the frame
4. Place the subject on a 'golden' crop spot - not everything needs to be centered 
5. Use the Rule of Thirds - not 100% but often (and be sure horizons are level)
6. Turn viewer towards the subject - use lines, structures, framing  
7. Place something in the foreground - allowing dimension (foreground, subject and background)
8. Clean up the edges - avoid distractions (i post process)
9. Seek contrast - find a background that contrasts the subject (color, blur, etc.)
10. Seek a rhythm - look for repeating patterns
11. Compose on the diagonal - tilting horizon slightly is bad, but dramatic tilt can be dynamic 
12. Balance the composition - don't have elements overpower each other
13. Compose for you final output - tilting, distortion, etc.

Observe the basic rules of composition, and your photographs will be more pleasing and attractive to your audiences, because they’ll find them easier to understand. If it’s immediately clear what the photo’s main subject is, and the photo’s other elements aren’t in the way, they’ll enjoy it more. Read more [Here]

Sunday, March 20

Flickr (free) Auto-Uploadr Expires ... Helloooo Google Uploader

Flickr announced today that its desktop Auto-Uploadr photo uploading app is now a Pro-only feature that is only available for Pro members. As free user, this has served me well, especially when I export edited RAW images as Jpegs to my Desktop for sharing. With it, all my exported Jpeg's are saved to the cloud. 

To the (my) rescue - Google's Desktop Uploader! Read all about it here at All Things Google ... I am uploading 270 photos at 2048 pixels wide now.

Thursday, March 17

So You Want to Photograph the Moon ...

Here are settings to use with your digital camera to have success in photographing the moon:
1. Set your aperture to f/16.
2. Set the ISO to 100.
3. Set the white balance to daylight.
4. Set the color mode to landscape.
5. Set your shutter speed to 1/125 of a second.
See Photographing the Moon

Monday, March 14

FCCP: Lightroom Learning Series 2016 - Preferences

At the March 14th Learning Lightroom Series at Suite 4K, Jeff reviewed Lightroom Preferences and provided tips and suggestions for the beginner and the experienced Lightroom user. To refresh ourselves, visit the notes from the 2015 Lightroom Series and additional recommendations below click [Here]

The link contains:
1. Tips for Setting Up Lightroom Preferences provide a tab by tab review Jeff reviewed with the members and 
2. Important Lightroom Preferences and Catalog Settings is a short video of one author's approach in setting up Lightroom that he uses

Additional tips and reminders shared when you open Preferences and walk yourself through each tab 
.. if you shoot RAW plus JPEG be sure check treating JPEG's as separate photos
.. review the sound preferences and add sounds when operations complete
.. it is recommended you allow automatic check for updates (unless you attend Monday meetings where members remind each other)
.. a nice option in Interface tab is to add a small flourish
.. check out background setting to darken main display in Lightroom
.. keyboard letter 'L' steps down background when in Loupe view
.. 'Tab' is a nice feature that hides left & right panels - tab again and they return

Next Week - March 21st, the 2016 Learning Series begins with the Library Module and Importing Photos 

.. Check out and record this link Photoshop Lightroom Reference and preview the sections for a good Adobe Reference for Lightroom 6 

Thursday, March 10

All About Google Photos

Google Photos is impressive, but it’s not totally new. The service was previously pretty tightly tied to Google+ but still let you do tons of awesome things with your photos. Quick photo editing using Snapseed’s powerful tools, photo filters, auto-upload and “auto-awesome” (which creates GIFs and short videos from your photos,) were all features that Google+ fans will recognize, but everyone can use now, whether they have a Google+ account or not. 
Read Make Your Photo Library Awesome

Wednesday, March 9

7 Advanced iPhone Camera Controls For DSLR Photographers

Continuing my 'pursuit' of photography using the mobile phone camera (does indeed reinforce my DSLR learnings), here are some great tips. Just a note: your best camera is the one you have with you ... and 9 times our of 10, the mobile phone is with me.

1. Get your subject in sharp Focus (and consider using  3rd party app like Camera+)
2. Get Exposure correct so you are NOT over or under exposed
3. Know Shutter Speed to control exposure and any subject motion (article below discusses the 3 legs of exposure
4. Control ISO thus allowing you to use faster shutter speed in low light situations
5. Understand Aperture (can't change phones fixed aperture ... but lens to subject distance matters
6. Control White Balance so whites are white and the rest will be correct (use Camera+)
7. Zoom to fill the frame with the subject - how? get closer (do not use digital zoom)
Article source: 7 Advanced iPhone Camera Controls

Tuesday, March 8

Introduction to Lightroom: 2016 Series

We never stop learning! Monday, March 7th, Jeff (FCCP Director) introduced the 2016 Learning Lightroom Series with a high level fly-over of Lightroom's Panels, Categories, ToolBar and more to tickle the interest of new and returning members to what is in store for the next 9-10 weeks of education and learning at Suite 4K. Lots of information and several Jeff's Killer Tips were shared. 

I offer this for those new to this meeting ... you will get lost, you will feel over-whelmed, you will get writer's cramp and when you get home you will forget 90% of what you learned. Fear Not: the Learning Series will explore the features in great detail over and over, so everyone, with a little practice on their own will become fairly proficient at the end of 10 weeks.

So for those of you who were unable to attend this meeting, or feel a little lost, I am sharing some links below to several items Jeff touched on and some great tips for you put in your Lightroom shortcut notebook.

1. General introduction to Lightroom click [Here]
2. Library Module Overview: the Navigation Panel click [Here
3. The Right Panel: Basic Panel click [Here]
4. The Toolbar click [Here]

Tips & Shortcuts shared (and captured) during the class:
.. use the built-in features of Lightroom, especially Collections
.. tag, tag, tag - add keywords to your photos during importing to allow you to use Lightroom's search feature 
.. keyboard letter 'G' shows a Grid view of your photos
.. keyboard letter 'E' shows Loupe (single photo) view (what E = Loupe !!!)
.. keyboard letter 'L' is Lights Out and turns off 'lights on left and right panel
.. keyboard letter 'F' shows Folders (just kidding !! ... I am folder Bob)
.. Tim made available Lightroom Shortcuts click [Here]
.. here are 2015 Class 100 Tips click [Here]

Disclaimer: Links to tutorials and videos above are informational only, and represent that author's or presenter's opinion and style that works for them. Use these for review and information as you like.

Thursday, March 3

Notes: Feb 29th Week with FCCP

This week's meetings provided an opportunity to 're-acquaint' ourselves with the basics of what we learned attending FCCP meetings, as well as walk away with tips and resources. So from Monday's Lightroom Learning at Suite 4K, Tuesday's Photo 101 at Tony's and the Shootout (photographer greats videos) at O'Keefe's ... my take-ways to share are:
.. every lens has some level of distortion - use Lightroom's lens correction
.. posting photos on Facebook is as simple as 1-2-3 using Lr Publishing Services
.. control camera exposure via ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed - see Exposure
.. see live action CameraSim to view ISO, Aperture and Shutter controls
.. phone mobile apps are available to provide GPS 'mapping' of photos 
.. Google's Panoramio allows you to map your photos on the web 
.. Mac Photos and Keynote and Windows ProShow Gold offer improved Slideshow features over Lightroom's Slideshow
.. check out LensTip.com for cameras and lens reviews

.. Video: Interview with Joe McNally by Scott Kelby

1. embrace feedback (and give it honestly)
2. post or share only your 'best' photos
3. your photo(s) have to 'speak' to the viewer - independent of you 
4. a photo has to move the viewer ... does it move or say something to you?
5. ask yourself "what connection to my life does the photo communicate?"
6. make shadows (light) your friend
7. make photos to be about you ... pathway to your heart
8. remember: your eye is brought to light and bright (be careful of distractions)
9. your photos must get the viewer interested - if you want them to spend time looking at them, then you should have spent time making them

Tuesday, March 1

Improve Photos (with Your Camera Phone)

Whether you use a smartphone or a DSLR as your go-to camera, these eight tips from Marc Silber will help you 'make' better photos:
1. You don't take photographs ... you make them
2. The most important part of photography is you, and not the camera
3.  Tell a story
4. Focus on the key element of the image
5. Frame your photos
6. Use your feet to zoom
7. Take care of your camera
8. Adjust your focus and exposure
See Picture Correct for additional explanation.