Friday, April 29

Pause: Incorporating Lessons of Feedback

I thought I would pause, and take a few minutes to take a previous 'good' photo and post-process (PP) again using lessons learned this past month. These include: 1) make horizon .. horizontal 2) move horizon 'off-center' (Rule of Thirds), 3) remove distractions (red blanket, boat mast), 4) enhance skies, 5) Dehaze, and 6) finish with post-process vignetting.

Tuesday, April 26



Introduction to the Nik Complete Collection

FCCP Apr 25th Lightroom Learning Series 2016

Nearing the end of the Learning Lightroom Series, Jeff reviewed right panel tools like Effects, Camera Calibration, Brush features and more of the Develop Module while sharing post-processing examples of workflows and tips. Below are meeting highlights and links to all FCCP Lightroom Notes for meetings held at Suite 4K Meeting. So, picking up from Effects/Post-Crop Vignetting:

.. everyone should consider adding post-crop vignetting to focus the viewers eye on the photo's subject (Scott Kelby shared he does vignetting of -17 on all his PP)
.. other sliders in post-crop vignetting become active once the 'Amount' slider is initiated
.. Grain is an effects feature that is used quite often to make a B&W digital image appear 'aged' (like at Civil War Re-enactment)
.. if you print photos, it has been found that adding a 'small' amount of grain actually causes the eye to see a sharper photograph
.. a great feature in Lightroom CC is Dehaze, which Jeff now uses on all photos. Jeff typically adds +5 Dehaze. It does more than add contrast when used in combination with contrast manipulation - check it out!
.. a right panel feature called Camera Calibration was reviewed. Essentially this allows users to apply varied camera JPEG settings to your RAW image upon selection. Read more via Google search but it can provide an effective means to start your PP workflow (see CC Presets).   

.. use Heal in the Spot Removal Tool for spot removal and don't forget to use opacity to blend or feather in the removal ('/' moves selection to another area
.. remember Command or Control Z is undo
.. besides basic spot removal, use the Spot Removal Tool to 'fill-in' or remove the dreaded 'triangle  in the corner' (see item #3 in article)
.. make your own blur tool, using the adjustment brush: launch the Adjustment Brush and 1) bring Sharpness down, 2) bring Clarity down, 3) move Dehaze to -4, bring Noise up and now brush the area. USE CAREFULLY.
.. oh, and don't forget the Red Eye Correction tool Red Eye and Pet Eye (choose the right one)

1. See how Scott Kelby post-processes an image from Start to Finish

2. Lightroom 101 25-Part Series - the Library and Develop Modules 
3. FCCP Lightroom Learning Series Notes - a collection of all FCCP meeting notes (tip: open the link to my Blog, and in the first post click FCCP in Labels, and now browse all the posts having content related to FCCP). Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 19

FCCP 2nd Qtr Photo Competition

The 2016 2nd Quarter Photo Competition was held at Suite 4K April 18th. Print categories were Portrait, Landscape, HDR and Open. This event was an excellent opportunity for members to share their 'best' and receive feedback, as well as a valuable experience for those attending to better understand how photos are judged. My congratulations to the winners and all who participated. I capture some of the judges overall comments and offer those below:
The judge's top recurring suggestions and feedback were ...
#1 focus on the subject and make it unquestionably obvious
#2 avoid capturing distractions - especially bright areas that draw the viewer's eye away from the subject

#3 fill the frame (the rule is 2/3's of the photo should contain the subject)
#4 avoid the 'triangle in the corner' (see tip 3 in Common Mistakes)
#5 avoid centering the subject, repeat avoid centering the subject - ROT

Additional observations (and tips):
.. horizons must be horizontal
.. move beyond being technically correct - capture/make a story or emotion 
.. close your eyes and then open them - do your eyes go directly to the subject?
.. shoot for the image not the frame - aspect ratio does not have to be fixed
.. use and not over-use 'Negative Space'
.. use vignetting
.. when using crop, don't make the crop look like a mistake -and- when cropping it is okay to actually cut-off part of the subject
.. when shooting people, shoot lots of images to capture that 'one' emotion
.. don't shoot food 'head-on'
.. for people and animals - focus on the eyes

Sunday, April 17

Free Zonerama Gallery - A Google Photos Option

How would you like a *free* unlimited, online backup service for your JPEG photos? You can with Zoner's online Zonerama

Background: I was introduced to Zoner Photo Studio several years ago when I was a JPEG 'photographer'. I was using Picasa and needed a better way to view and organize my photos. Installing (Windows only) free Zoner, I found it to be an great photo organizer since at that time I was strictly a folder organizer (today I am a hybrid folder/database guy using Lightroom). Now, Zoner announced a quick and easy feature that is perfect for Picasa folks: a 2-3 click upload of all your Picasa Web Albums before Web Albums is shut down.

So why do I offer this: 1) it releases your dependence on Google Photos for photo sharing, 2) provides backup for your JPEG images you don't have to maintain on your hard drive, 3) allows full resolution backup of your JPEG's where Google Photos limits free backup to 2048 pixels widths and 4) it's cool to have an alternate sharing option (I use Google Photos Desktop Uploader)

Installing the FCCP Photo Export Lightroom Plug-in

A Lightroom plug-in is 3rd party or Adobe software that allows users to perform operations and/or enhancements 'automatically' from within Lightroom. FCCP has a Meetup Plug-in  that allows a member to quickly export photos directly to a selected Meetup event.

Here are some tips that can help make the Plug-in operational.
1. go to the Plug-in file at the link above and download the file

2. open the .zip file and locate the application in a location you file plug-ins
3. once opened, in Lightroom go to Plug-in Manager and open Manager
4. in the Lightroom Plug-in Manager (left side), under the Plug-in list click Add
5. locate the Plug-in you saved in #2 above and Add Plug-in
6. now after editing the event photo(s), use top menu and click File > Export

7. at top of dialog select from drop-down Export to Meetup Event Album 

Thursday, April 14

"If You Don't Like Your Picture - You're Not Close Enough"

Frequently, I capture a shot and then in post-process I see I really don't like it. Distractions, unclear subject ... whatever. Then, at an FCCP meeting, as we viewed documentaries on photographers that impacted the industry, we discussed the Robert Capa expression (post title). Hmmm, "I can buy that". Then, I heard another phrase "fill the frame until you feel something is missing". So, I am in the McDonald's parking lot and decided to take several photos of a 1948 Roadster. You make the call. But, I found those 'lessons' can make a photo that I don't like ... to one I do. Great lesson!

Wednesday, April 13

Burst versus Bracketing Shooting

I had an opportunity to ask a question at a FCCP Tuesday evening Camera 101 meeting this week. "When should I shoot in 'burst' or 'rapid fire' and when do I 'bracket' a camera shot?" Here is my take-away:

'Rapid Fire' is best when shooting a scene where there may be movement, or when the scene/subject is a moment you don't want to miss. Examples include: sports, children running and even family portraits/events where expressions can change in an instant. The no-brainer to me is "why take a chance and only take one shot, when it costs you nothing to take multiple shots where you have a better chance to capture the moment?" More shots - better odds!

'Bracketing' on the other hand is used to take the same photo more than once, using different exposure settings. Typically one takes 3 or 5 shots of the exact scene to capture the full dynamic range of the scene, like landscapes and streetscapes. You then combine the multiple shots (HDR) using Lightroom or 3rd party software like Photomatix. Remember: the eye sees more than what a camera captures and by taking multiple shots at different exposures you are able to blend extreme lights and extreme darks to create an image with 'full' dynamic range.

Tuesday, April 12

FCCP: The Develop Module Continues

At the FCCP meeting April 11th at Suite 4K, we got 'down and dirty' by with the Develop Module. With discussion and hands-on examples in using Sharpness and Noise Reduction features in Lightroom, everyone walked away with more tools in their post-process toolbox. (Note: we want to wish all our Canadians friends a safe travel home. Stay connected with us on the FCCP website and photo Meet-ups)

.. set Navigation to at least 1:1
.. do not globally sharpen people's faces but eyes, lips, jewelry may be appropriate

.. typically there is no need to sharpen the sky, or snow 
.. sharpening bird's feathers and eyes is appropriate
.. use Masking Slider to 'see' Sharpening application: White = everything sharpened; Black = no sharpening
.. to selectively more or a specific area - use the adjustment brush
.. Read more at Learn to Use Sharpening Tools
.. Review: three types of Sharpening Global (Detail Panel), Creative (Adjustment Brush) and Output (for Screen or printing) Note: for Output select 'Standard'

Noise Reduction:
.. two types of 'noise' luminance noise (high ISO) and color (chrominance) noise
.. many cameras allow you to turn off Noise Reduction (Jeff does, but low is OK)
.. See one author's view on a Primer on Noise Reduction

Lens Correction:
.. Each lens can create barrel distortion, vignetting at big apertures, chromatic aberration, and more.
.. In Lens Correction > Basic > Enable Lens Correction and Remove Chromatic Aberration and under Profile lens is selected. 

.. In same section Manual allows independent correction See Four Under Used Lens Correction Tools.
 Tips and Answers to attendee questions ...

Question: How do I add the same keywords to multiple images?
   # select the first image of series > hold shift key > select last image of series > enter keywords (applied to all images) -or- 
   # hold down Cmd/Control key and select each image you want to apply Keywords to
   # use the Painter tool or Spray Can  > enter Keywords
   # to de-select an image hold Cmd/Control and click on image

Question: Why are my photos all out of order or not grouped together
   # in the Library Module, Grid view set 'sort' to Capture time or other desired sort order to locate your edited images

Question: How do I remove JPEG images on my drive that I have RAW originals without removing JPEG's?
   # this is a little involved, but essentially we take advantage of the Library Filter > MetaData and adding columns, you can filter by File Type, Camera, etc to define what photos are to be deleted and which are to remain

Question: What are recommended Info (keyboard letter 'I') settings? Jeff's are:
   # Info 1 set as Default
   # Info 2 set as Common Photo, Camera Model, Exposure Bias

Sunday, April 10

Taking an Image from Flat to Fabulous

Scott Kelby ... "something different – it’s a start to finish video tutorial on taking a flat looking out-of-the-camera image and bringing it to life without using HDR, without using any plug-ins, and just simple stuff right in Lightroom. See Flat to Fabulous

Friday, April 8

Lessons Learned: Critiquing My Photos

I shared photos on the FCCP website and to experienced photographers for feedback. Frankly, obtaining feedback probably provides the best way to improve and I hope to look for opportunities for sharing and getting more.

Below are the (my) 'reminders' to keep in mind for future shoots. 

1. separate elements, where it makes sense - don't crowd subject
2. check for distractions
3. horizons are supposed to be 'horizontal'
4. Use subject's lines, geometry, symmetry - when available 
5. use framing to 'aim' the viewer's eye to the subject
6. use grid lines - both in camera and in post-process
7. fill the frame - originally in composition or in post-process crop
8. control depth of field - don't just shoot the subject, take a moment and decide shallow or deep
9. take multiple shots - walk around, change angle and/or elevation
10. go for detail - sometimes you don't have to get 'the whole shot' where there is background distraction 
11. keep borders distraction free - don't 'cut off' heads, photo elements, etc.
12. don't forget to apply 'some' vignetting

Tuesday, April 5

FCCP: Develop Module Review Continued - Apr 4th 2016

The April 4th, 2016 Develop Module Learning Series continued at Suite 4K with Jeff's emphasis on Lightroom's Develop Module - right panel. Image enhancing techniques using the module features provided attendees another opportunity to further visualize the overt and covert features and tips that can make your photos 'Pop'. Key areas explored together were:

HSL - Hue/Saturation and Luminance:  (Tip) Always Use HSL versus options
.. Hue is another word for color. 
.. Saturation refers to the strength of a color (and is not used much)
.. Luminance is the brightness of a color (it has global effects). Only using Lightroom brushes can you control editing specific image areas.

Detail sub-panel - Sharpening and Noise Reduction
.. when Sharpening always select 1:1 in Navigator 
.. most cameras have Anti-Alias filters to avoid wavy lines called moire), all images need sharpening.
.. people photos don't need lots of sharpening (who wants sharp wrinkles)
.. Slider Guidelines (not the Rule)
Sharpening 'Amount': People 25-50; Wildlife 50-100; Landscape 100+ OK
Sharpening 'Radius' (makes darker/lighter edges increasingly/decreasingly thicker). People .7-1.0 max; Wildlife and Landscape 1.5/1.5 Max
Sharpening 'Detail' People 25-50; Landscape ~ 50

.. Q1: Is 16 Megapixel sufficient? Yes - if printing 8x10 or viewing online. No - if printing 16x20 or typically 'fill the frame' by cropping often.
.. Q2: Should I Expose To The Right to avoid/reduce noise?: Yes - 'Noise is in the Shadows' Read: Wiki-ETTR
.. Q3: What is a good lens evaluation website?:
.. Q4: Is there a macro or one-key shortcut to expedite opening imported images at full screen for image vetting?: Almost, use the shortcut features already built within Lightroom. So, 1) hit Tab to hide left and right panels, 2) tap keyboard letter 'L' once or twice to go 'Lights Out' and darken side panel areas, 3) Tap spacebar for sizing -- now vet your images.
Full Screen Photo vetting: seems an uniformed enthusiast asked "is there a preset that allows Lightroom user to quickly 'go full screen' to vet photos?"Shortcut is Shift-Cmd-F (then use 'L' to change Lights). Read Viewing Images Full Screen.

Friday, April 1

Resources for Using the Nik Collection

Below for those interested in learning more about how to integrate one or all of the Nik Collection in their workflow, I have listed available resources.

Google's Nik Collection - Google Intro
An Introduction to the Nik Collection - 60 Minute Video
How to Install the Nik Collection - for Mac and PC
Troubleshooting Tips - Solutions Others Found Useful
Nik Software Lessons - Archived Videos - Pick and Choose
Nik Plug-in Tutorials - 2012-2013 Tutorials
Using the Nik Collection - The Kelby Way

Getting Started Manuals - Six PDF Manuals
Color EfexPro (Download 
dFine 2.0 (Download 
Sharpener Pro (Download

Vivenza 2.0 (Download)
Silver Efex Pro2 (Download)
HDR Efex Pro (Download)