Friday, August 31

Photoshop for Lightroom Users

With the Adobe Lightroom CC Classic, we get Lightroom and Photoshop. However, what post-process tools or features are better in each one. Matt K (one of my favorite web instructors) has a 20-minute video (below) that answers that question and great how-to tips. Here is a quick summary.

Post-Process 'Best Tools' - Lightroom (Lr) vs. Photoshop (PS)
.. Toning - Lr
.. Sharpening and Noise - Lr (better than 3rd party plugins)
.. Dodge and Burn - PS
.. Vignette - Lr (if you really like the photo and want to spend time)
.. Remove distractions - PS
.. Spot removal - Lr
.. Special effects - PS (combine two photos, add flares, replace the sky, etc.)
.. B&W - PS (if you're into B&W, otherwise use Lr)
.. Lens Correction, Distortion - Lr
.. Print - Lr

Camera Settings - sRGB or AdobeRGB

Color space is just a specific range of colors that can be represented in a given photo. JPEG images can contain up to 16.7 million colors, though neither color space actually uses all 16.7 million colors available. Even though AdobeRGB is able to represent about 35% more color ranges than sRGB is able to, set your camera to sRGB. Bottom line: it's less complicated, your workflow is simpler and the color space is 'made' for the web.  So, unless you print most of your photos, follow this rule "sRGB - set it and forget it".
Source: Fstoppers AdobeRGB vs. sRGB

Monday, August 27

How to Shoot Macro and Achieve Bokeh (part blur) in your Photos

In some photographic situations, I need to blur parts of a scene to emphasize the main subject. This is especially true in macro (flowers and food photographs) as well as portraits etc. This week I visited a botanical garden to experiment with photographing flowers and see just what I can do to merge macro and blur backgrounds. Oh, I don't own a macro lens. After some searching the web and experimenting I came away with a few lessons and a low-cost surprise. They are: 

# use a macro lens if you have one
# use a telephoto lens (150 mm and above) 
# use a standard focal length lens and after achieving focus, place a magnifying glass in the front of the lens 
# all achieve the Bokeh (blurred background) 

Wiki -
Acheive Macro without a macro lens

Monday, August 20

Lightroom Grid Overlays - Golden Ratio or Fibonacci Spiral

I default to the Rule of Thirds for defining my composition layout most of the time. It's easy and provides decent composition 'in camera'. However, I know I have post-processing to fix my mistakes, Well sometimes, even the Rule of Thirds doesn't just do it. Well, I learned today (see video at 3:45 mins.) that there are Grid Overlays in Lightroom that can REALLY help to define where your subject needs to be. It's called the Fibonacci Spiral ... and it works as you can see in the photo (taken on Daytona Beach recently).

Additional Reference: Why is Fibonacci Spiral Better than Rule of Thirds.

Sunday, August 19

Destination: Jacksonville, Florida - Main St Bridge

Jacksonville, Florida - Main St Bridge 
500 Main St
Jacksonville, Florida

# View from Friendship Park (this view is north)
# Best taken from the west side of the bridge (bridge on the right)
# Allow 30 mins to locate/setup
# View the Friendship Fountain if lit

Saturday, August 18

Noise in 3 Image Bracketed Exposure

As my experience in low-light photography continues, I find that the more I learn the more I don't know. I do know that low-light photography requires me to shoot exposure-bracketed images via different shutter speeds. In the three exposure-bracketed images (I shoot -2/0/+2 EV, I am seeing unacceptable noise in the longest exposed image. My assumption is that the sensor must be heating up during the extended exposure, causing the pixels to ineffectively capture light and detail cleanly. The articles below generally supports my understanding and offers some options to avoid and/or reduce noise in the camera and in post-processing.

In summary, the author suggests 1) use in-camera noise reduction if available, and 2) correct the noise in post-processing (Lightroom and Photoshop settings offered). Additionally, I will place in my workflow first reviewing the 3 images and adjust for noise before merging/creating HDR image, boost ISO to reduce the duration of the -2.0 EV image, and even eliminating the noisy image and merge the remaining two images.

Avoid and Reduce Noise in Your Images
Fixing Problems Resulting from HDR

Thursday, August 9

Destination Walk: St Pete Cityscapes and Sunset

I had a great outing last night with Eddie, the photographer whose work and support encouraged me to explore low-light and nighttime shooting. The sky did not appear to work with us for a colorful sunset and a slight rain could have dampened the nighttime walk - they didn't. Many opportunities came forward and it was a great time capturing St Pete nighttime and water scenes. Lessons to remember:
.. always bring a plastic bag to protect the camera in case it rains
.. bring water, Gatorade or whatever - summer nights are hot and humid
.. when photographing vertical/portraits of buildings, allow dead space around subject since in post-processing lens correction and transform 'eat up' pixels
.. bring change for parking meters
.. use trees, buildings or structures to avoid lights hitting lens and prevent street light flare in images
.. consider knowing in advance or having an 'idea' about what one or two things you would like to capture (doorways, sunsets, people, murals, etc.). This aids in finding unique opportunities.

Monday, August 6

So You Got Noise in your Photo?

I have seen an increase in image noise (a sort of grainy veil that obscuring image details) as I embarked on low-light and night time photography. There are precautions one needs to incorporate in the camera when shooting and there are post-processing operations that can help reduce the noise after the fact. Here are a few sources to understand 'Noise'.

What is noise in photography? (grainy pixels)

Photo Noise Reduction Tutorial (using Lightroom or PhotoShop)

Topaz recommendations on reducing noise in your PP work (remove it early)

Sunday, August 5

HDR Software Test

(under review) Always curious about how different HDR software applications perform: is one better than the other, how are they different or the same, what do I like or dislike? I performed a test today with three images exposure bracketed -2 EV/0 EV/-2EV. and compared the default images. Initial results (IMO) when accepting default outputs were 1) Lightroom's Photo Merge (free with Adobe Lr) is an acceptable HDR feature, 2) Nik's HDR Efex Pro (was free now DxO $69) showed most, not all the time was better than Lightroom, 3) easyHDR ($39) showed best results most often, 4) and one comparison of same original images processed through Photomatix ($89) did not match easyHDR's default output. See initial results - here ... more planned. 

Saturday, August 4

*Feedback Friday Notes* Our first critique event was a success! Ten+ members of Photographic Destinations - Florida (PDF) provided feedback to members who posted photos this past Friday. Here is my summary of lessons/observations:

* be sure your photo leaves no question what is your subject
* use a tripod for low-light photos to reduce/remove blur
* consider an appropriate caption or title to define a story, emotion or subject
* the horizon must be horizontal
* check for and reduce distractions - watermarks, trees, lighting
* shoot at different and multiple angles
* use exposure bracketing (when doing HDR or to protect against unusual lighting conditions)
* consider leading lines
* if a symmetrical composition is desired - use the camera’s grid to confirm
* don’t discount B&W as an option to color
* where applicable - keep the scene ‘clean and simple
* shoot multiple photos of the same scene

Wednesday, August 1

Critiquing Photographs

Here are a series of 'critique tips' when 'judging' your own photographs or offering feedback to others.

Things to look for in your/the technique used:
– Focus: Is the image sharp? If not, is it intentionally soft?
– Exposure: Is it too light or dark? Are there blown out or underexposed areas?
– Depth of Field: Is DOF used properly to control the viewer’s eye?
– Lighting: Is the lighting too contrasty, too flat or just right?
– Colors: Does it have neutral colors or a strange or unusual color cast?
– Cleanliness: Is it free of scratches, dust spots, stains, lens flare, etc.?

How’s is your/the composition?
– Does it need a bit of cropping?
– Is your eye drawn to the main subject immediately i.e. is there a strong center of interest?
– Is the image aligned correctly or is it crooked? Is the horizon - horizontal?
– Does it follow the Rule of Thirds - should it?
– Is the arrangement of the elements positioned effectively?
– Is it simple, yet complete and without distracting elements?

How is the emotional appeal?
– Does the image evoke any emotion? Does it excite the imagination?
– Does the photograph tell a story?
– Does it show a familiar subject in a new or unusual way?
– Does it grab and keep your attention – have the “wow” factor?

Note: The elements shared above have been modified or simplified for use with Photographic Destinations - Florida low-light theme. Source: Apogee Photo