Monthly Archives: April 2008

PhotoDump 04-20-2008

More great photos this week from the Epic Edits Flickr Pool! And now with the introduction of videos to Flickr, we have a decision to make for our group. One of our group members (javiy) came to me and asked if videos would be appropriate in our group. Javi’s video (embedded in this post) seemed appropriate enough and I figured it would get the discussions rolling.

So I leave it up to you readers, onlookers, and group members to decide if videos will be accepted in our group. I’m fine with it either way, but if we do have videos I’d like to see artistic works or well constructed slideshows appearing in the pool. Then each week I could pick out one video to post below the photos like I’ve done here. What do you guys think?

sail by stephiedeeaphid reconasense by p3nPolvareda 2.0 by Miguel_Leóna travesty by xgraywaiting ! by RamNon the swing by s-t-r-a-n-g-eCelebrate with me by lilahpopshulk by tomaschek.trike by ojoyous1Mercat de la Boqueria, Barcelona Spain by tysonwilliams.comnatural beauty by LowLghtShapes by BrightonJel“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” (57 of 365) by vandyll.netHolgaesque? by the_wolf_brigadeSwans at Isar by sneuwegersalt shaker family by rickabboapx_roll22_06 by mathias.pastwabanksy One Nation Under CCTV in London-4 by max.milionRadially by auer1816Finch by bryanvillarinWater Marble by Ben Baileybanksy-CCTV panoramic by max.milionDay 104 - Take Me Out to the Ballgame by Marco From HoustonLos Angeles Sunrise II by jimgoldsteinjosie by mrpittmanSemi-Precious Weapons @ Cobra Lounge by As The Picture Fades Photographystruggle by dawn m. armfieldAshley Profile by AIA GUY..Rwoodtouch the clouds by ron_mcOn the prowl... by Aperture Image.comwww.jenweaverphotography.com 1 by JenWeaverPhotography.commr. frosty by peter.dkSmokin' by Cayusacouch. blue-ish. by mrpittmanwhite star by ilva-sableye04/14 by arlo_batesA ghostly self potrait with the unexpected bonus of a light trail. by the_wolf_brigadeOcean View by Steve CraneFriends by fromBrandonHidden Promise by BrightonJelhump! at plush by xgraybuilding shadows, study 2 by wasabifish

Link Roundup 04-19-2008

PROJECTS

  • Share the Love
    Neil Creek
    Neil has another great project starting up this month, and he’s asking you to take a photo of something in your life that you love.
  • Blog Statistics – Most Popular
    photonovice.net
    Photography related bloggers and photo sharing enthusiasts are invited to share which of their articles/pictures were read/seen the most.

ARTICLES

Radially

Radially

Brian Auer | 03/08/2008 | Venice Beach, CA | 75mm * f/4.0 * 1/60s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This was shot using all natural light (it was in the shade on a very sunny day) and the camera was handheld with a 50mm lens. This plant caught my attention as I walked the canals of Venice, California — it was along the sidewalk behind the houses. The pattern was so very strong, and the colors so deep that I couldn’t pass it up. The water droplets on the plant were just icing on the cake.

Radially Post-Processing

  1. Unprocessed RAW
    Straight out of the camera — untouched.
  2. Processed RAW
    I did a few basic adjustments to get the white balance correct and to bring up the contrast and saturation. Nothing very extreme though.
  3. Dodge & Burn
    Here, I used non-destructive dodging and burning techniques to really make the contrast stand out where I wanted it.
  4. LAB Saturation
    Using the technique I outlined previously for boosting saturation via LAB color mode, I strengthened the greens that are so inherently present.
  5. High Pass Sharpen
    I used a very subtle sharpening by running the high pass filter and setting the blend to overlay at 50% opacity.

As you can see, lots of little changes really add up from start to finish.

Dreaming of Photography — Unleashed

Last week I asked the readers “What Would You Do… If You Could?” as part of our weekly poll. This one was an essay question though, and we had a lot of great answers come out of it. The question was based around the notion of having no worldly obligations and what you would do as a photographer.

18 photographers chimed in to share their dreams and aspirations with the camera. I love the diversity in the answers from each of the photographers, and it’s difficult to say that any of them sound more enticing than the others. But I did say I’d pick a few of the comments and feature them in an article. Here are five exceptionally inspiring responses — plus my own response to my question.

Niels Henriksen

If I had my way and obviously money was not an issue I would hire some of the great photographers and travel with them to understand how they see and their approach to capturing images. I would not limit it to one type of genre, but would take it all in. Can you just imagine the dialogue you could have with them. I would want to go with them on professional shoots or just to their favorite places. This would be my nirvana.

Chica

Wonderful question this week Brain. My answer is pretty simple. It stems from my background as a CNA. If I could get over my shyness (which would be huge) I would work with people who don’t have a voice. Not mutes, but people in a restricted situation. I would document people in prisons, senior homes, mental hospitals. So often they are thought of as there labels. You don’t get to know the person behind that label. I’ve seen a ton of the elderly in senior homes, with their only family being their caretakers. No family ever comes by to see them. Most often they can’t socialize, but with their eyes. With prisoners, it would be a whole different issue, I’m not sure that I would have the guts to do it, but I’d love to meet them, and document their stories, and try to understand the psychology behind why they committed their crimes. With Mental patients, it would be trying to understand the person behind the illness. They are their illness, but it’s out of their control. I believe there is someone under that illness, but they can’t communicate it. Breaks my heart to think of it. I’ve got a dad with a severe bipolar problem, and he went through many mental hospitals, saw all sorts of crazy things, and thankfully all these years later, he is stable, and living in a home alone, and now can function normally, with medication. I don’t want to photograph models, or people that are already in the public eye, I want to show who it is, that we aren’t looking at. Of course if I ever partake in all this, it will be in a few years if ever. It’s just a dream right now, and I’m comfortable with it.

Janne

Take any long, complex process and follow it from start to end. Planning, construction and deployment – or decommissioning and tear-down – of a ship, oil platform, sewer system, bridge, particle collider, industrial plant … Or start to finish of an industrial development process, from R&D to the marketing of the finished thingy. Follow something longitudinally. Then, since I’m an utter hack and the sky’s the limit here, I’d have some of my favourite photographers in a Rolodex (I’d have to actually _get_ a Rolodex first, of course) to call on for advice and impromptu ideas on how to approach any specific situation or phase of the project, as well as blunt advice on my own attempts.

Shawn

I would definitely do photojournalism. It has never been so easy for human beings to communicate and, yet, I think most of us (at least in the US) are more sheltered than ever. Sure, we have streaming video, podcasts, webcasts, but I still don’t think anything packs the same punch or tells the same story as the right photograph. Years from now, when we look at the conflicts and events that changed our lives and the world around us, we don’t remember videos. We remember single images… The young Vietnamese girl running from a napalm attack, the US flag being raised over Iwo Jima, the “Times Square Kiss” after World War II, a young Chinese student standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square. The list goes on… That being said, I’d travel abroad to conflict zones and poverty-stricken areas of the world and do my best to tell the story of the voiceless. I want to put images in front of people that make them finally say “it doesn’t have to be this way”… I want to be able to make people leap out of their comfortable chairs and coddled lives to do something, anything, to make their world a better place. _That_ would be true success.

Luis Cruz

If I could, I would take portraits of street kids, beggars, and basically the people who roam the streets. Taking that a step further (and if I dare), I would follow them around for a week or so and document their daily lives. We pass these people almost everyday – on the way to work, school, or wherever else we go – but we barely realize they’re there. Worse (and I’m guilty of this too), we deliberately ignore them (especially when they tap on our windows and beg for loose change or food). I’m not sure how common this sight is in your area, but beggars seem to live on every major intersection here in my city. If I didn’t care about making a living (and wasn’t so worried about my safety), I’d be out there doing this now.

Brian Auer

At the moment my passion is for street photography and photowalking (which go hand-in-hand nicely). There’s something magical about a well executed street photo, and I need lots of practice before I can consider myself to be a street photographer. Over the last year, photowalking with local photographers has been a highlight of my life — so much inspiration and creativity can be captured just from being around other photographers in a relaxed setting. In addition to these two things, I love to travel — I’ve been all across the U.S., parts of Mexico and Europe, and I’m heading to Japan this fall. I want more. In my ultimate situation, I’d travel the world to meet up with local photographers and explore the places that they call home. Travel… make friends… take photos… have fun.

Thanks again to everyone who answered the poll question. We’ll have to do another essay question sometime in the future — this worked out better than I figured it would.

What’s Your Choice Brand for Digital Cameras?

It’s interesting to revisit some of the old polls after 6 to 12 months — we ran one very similar to this back in August. This time, however, we’ll limit our choices to digital cameras.

As photographers, we’re typically very brand loyal because of the incompatibilities between different brands of equipment. I’m curious to see the poll results after some time has gone by and Sony is more of an upcoming competitor. I’d also like to get some numbers based on more than 100 votes, so join in!

Nikons vs. Canons
Creative Commons License photo credit: penmachine

If you use multiple brands of cameras, choose the one that you’re most invested in or the one that you’re most likely to continue using. If you shoot only film… um… I suppose you can vote for the brand that you could envision yourself using.

{democracy:43}

I’ll post last week’s poll results tomorrow as a feature article — it should be good; we had some great written answers to my question. And don’t forget to check the poll results from a few weeks back when I asked “What’s Your Favorite Film?” It’s looking like Velvia, XP2 and Tri-X are the winners.

How to Create Monster Photoshop Files

A recent comment by reader Libeco got me thinking about something I discovered a while back. The comment had to do with opening RAW images as “Smart Objects” in Photoshop and duplicating them for certain effects. My response: beware your file size.

Photoshop Documents (.PSD files) can become very large if you’re not careful. I’ve managed to create files that were over 500MB in size (I’ve even had some approach 1GB). This can be a serious issue if you have many Photoshop Documents hiding in your archives. Think about this: if you shoot 4GB of photos in a single outing, it would only take 8 Photoshop files (at 500MB) to double your used hard drive space. So however many photos you thought you could keep on your hard drive, cut that number in half… or more.

As I go through some examples of file sizes, keep in mind that I’m using 12MP photos brought into Photoshop with 16 bits/channel and Adobe RGB color space. So without further ado, here are five great ways to create monster Photoshop Documents that will devour your hard drive:

1. CREATE A PHOTOSHOP DOCUMENT

Photoshop can turn a 18MB RAW file into a 70MB PSD file in no time flat — and that’s without even doing anything to the photo! So here’s a tip: if you can create a finished photo with Lightroom or ACR, don’t push it into Photoshop out of habit. One of my unprocessed RAW files takes up 18.2MB of disk space. Once I’ve processed the file in ACR it takes up 18.2MB — plus it’s completely non-destructive.

Photoshop is intended to give you the ability to apply localized image adjustments via layers and layer masks. It also has other uses such as blends, effects, and some other Photoshop techniques you can’t get from ACR or Lightroom. But if you’re using Photoshop to apply some curve adjustments and maybe boosting the saturation, you’re missing the point of the RAW processing software.

2. USE UNNECESSARY SMART OBJECTS

Smart objects are great tools in Photoshop — they allow for added flexibility with certain features and effects within Photoshop. But that luxury comes at a small cost in file size. Using the previous example, but with a smart object as the base layer, our 70MB PSD file turns into a 74MB PSD file. While an extra 4MB isn’t going to kill you, too many unnecessary smart objects will start to add up.

3. DUPLICATE LAYERS NEEDLESSLY

Sometimes duplicate layers are needed to ensure non-destructive adjustments. But duplicating an entire layer of information seriously bulks up your file. Going back to the original example file, I added a single duplicate layer. This resulted in a 109MB PSD file as opposed to our 70MB file! So you can see how just a few of these duplicate layers or copies of layer merges can turn your file into a little monster.

4. USE RGB SPACE IF IT’S B&W

Oh, cookie!
Creative Commons License photo credit: esti-

The thing about RGB color space is that it contains color information for the red, green, and blue channels. The thing about black & white photos is that the RGB channels are identical, which is what creates “grayscales”. So when you save and work with a b/w image as if it were a color image, you’re wasting 2/3 of the color information and increasing your file size by 3 times.

Opening the same file as a grayscale image through ACR (and keeping the 16 bits/channel on our 12MP image), we end up with a 23MB PSD file as opposed to our 70MB file. So my suggestion: do the grayscale conversion with your RAW processor rather than Photoshop if at all possible. Certainly, there are instances when you’ll want to use black and white conversion techniques that require the use of color channels in Photoshop, but just be aware that your file size will be larger.

5. MAXIMIZE COMPATIBILITY FOR OLDER VERSIONS

This one is a real killer, and it’s easy to overlook. Photoshop allows you to maximize compatibility of your files so they play nice with older versions of the software. This is handy if you are working with clients or customers who are not up to speed with their software updates, but most of us will never need such a feature.

There is a setting under the “File Handling” option in the “Preferences” dialog for this compatibility issue. Allowing Photoshop to maximize the compatibility will turn our 70MB PSD file into a 123MB PSD file. So if you don’t need that added feature of backward compatibility, turn it off and save yourself some disk space.

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?

The big message I want to get across is not that Photoshop is a bad thing or that you should avoid big files at all cost. My main point to all of this is that you should be aware of what you’re creating while using a tool like Photoshop. Keep an eye on your file sizes, check your settings, weed out the unnecessary stuff, and use leaner methods if at all possible.

What else can you do to ensure a smaller footprint on your hard drive?

PhotoDump 04-13-2008

More great photos this week from the Epic Edits Flickr Pool! I love that each week is so very different from the last — it’s always a pleasure to see all the new work from the group. Keep ‘em coming!

we are the mighty pink tulips, bow down before us by poopooramaOIP Pinching Prison Windows by Chica-XFlower by libeco18A romantic notion. Crushed.  by the_wolf_brigadeDisintegration by henrikjBoots by laanbaOld Gas Pump by As The Picture Fades Photography© lisman_0893 by Rex Lisman PhotographyWhite Hunter! by Aperture Image.comHurry up and pose (96/366) by bryanvillarinLook by Android9Three Bears ... Plus One by BrightonJelTriptych 4 by Magical Places.spoon it up by ojoyous1The Erhu-ist by mustanirfeel so Down by javiyGraffiti Artists by auer1816A child with the ghost by henrikj*CZJ Bokeh. More intense than a short black. by the_wolf_brigadeB&W Farm Tools by AIA GUY..RwoodLast Fast Action Portraits by As The Picture Fades PhotographyStories Told In The Dark by Dave MacIntyreLast sin by henrikjVotre Météo by Miguel_Leónsynchronization  by s-t-r-a-n-g-eKeep Off by auer1816Addiction: Photography? (47 of 365) by vandyll.nettired by dawn m. armfieldFrancis Scott Key Bridge by hitkaiserCliché by Chris NixonThe moment it stops by Daria Sukhanovskaolimpic torch day 06.04.2008 in LONDON-20 by max.milioncouch. 2. by mrpittmanJames with frame by rickabbo2008.01.12 18.25.36 by Lucas Bernal{E} is for Evening Sunburst by {Kimberly.W}xoxoxo by lifeographyeye of the desert - 10/21 by wasabifish

Link Roundup 04-12-2008

More stuff… about photography… from around the web.

Abused and Ignored

Abused and Ignored

Brian Auer | 03/08/2008 | Venice Beach, CA | 75mm * f/2.5 * 1/8000s * ISO200
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

I found this beautiful lady in Venice Beach. She didn’t say much, but I think she was into me. Don’t let her distant stare fool you, she had quite the personality. Underneath of her “I’m sexy and I know it” facade, she’s screaming for attention. Because she is, after all… abused and ignored.

Abused and Ignored Post-Processing

  1. Unprocessed RAW
    There you have it, straight out of the camera.
  2. Processed RAW
    Minimal processing for white balance and exposure (using the “Auto” setting in ACR).
  3. Color Curves
    I used the technique from my “Redscale Process” described some weeks ago. After adjusting the curves, the blend mode was set to “color”.
  4. Color Fill
    Again, from the mentioned Photoshop technique. Opacity set to 20% and blend mode to “color”.
  5. Luminosity Curves
    Added some contrast to make it a little more punchy. Blend mode was set to “luminosity” to preserve previous color adjustments.

Now if I could figure out how to create the same effect in ACR I’d be pretty clever.

Your Guide to Adobe Bridge: File Processing

Adobe Bridge: File Processing

Last time we talked about preparing our files to be processed. So now it’s finally time to start doing some photo editing! In this article, we’ll be focusing on the first round of processing using Adobe Camera RAW software.

Be aware that I’m using my own RAW workflow as an example for our series of articles. There are some differences between RAW and JPEG, and I’ll try to point them out along the way. The way that I intend to present this material should help close the gap between the two formats, but call me out if I miss something on the JPEG side of things.

FOLLOW THIS SERIES OF ARTICLES!
VISIT THE TABLE OF CONTENTS
BACK — ADOBE BRIDGE FILE PREPARATION
NEXT — ADOBE BRIDGE ORGANIZING

THE FORMAT WARS

RAW vs JPEG Comparison

In our last article, I mentioned I would be using a RAW workflow for this step. Processing RAW files is really a snap with Adobe Camera RAW (ACR), and it doesn’t have to take a lot of extra time or effort.

Also in a recent article, I showed the difference between RAW and JPEG, unprocessed and processed with ACR. The purpose of this article was two fold: to show the difference between JPEG and RAW, and to introduce the notion of processing JPEG files with a RAW processor such as ACR. So regardless of which format you prefer, the following steps are still applicable. Do note though, that processing JPEG files with ACR is a new feature found in the CS3 bundle.

BULK PROCESSING

Adobe Bridge White Balance Filter

If you recall in our last installment of this series, I pointed out that I keyword my photos with lighting conditions. I also said that this would save us some time when it came to processing the files. Here’s why.

Similar lighting conditions will result in similar white balance. By grouping photos according to the lighting condition, we can process each group more quickly by bulk processing the white balance settings.

With that in mind, to begin the bulk processing I’ll filter my photos by lighting condition, select everything that is similar, and open them in Adobe Camera RAW. This can be done with a right-click and choosing “Open in Camera Raw…” or via the menus (File >> Open in Camera Raw…) or by pressing Ctrl+R. This loads all the selected images into ACR, and you can see their thumbnails at the left of the screen.

SETTING THE WHITE BALANCE

On the ACR basic adjustments panel, you can basically start at the top adjustments and work your way down. So white balance is one of the first things you want to establish. There are four basic ways to set white balance, but whatever method you choose, it would be wise to have a calibrated monitor.

ACR Editing Window

At this point, if you’re processing photos with very similar lighting conditions you can select all the images and apply the white balance and other settings to the whole batch. I won’t go through each method of setting white balance in ACR (because this series is about Bridge), but here’s an overview:

The first (and simplest) method for setting white balance is with the “Auto” setting. This tells ACR to do its best in determining the correct white balance for each photo on an individual basis. The second method for setting white balance is with one of the “Presets” (not available with JPEG) — daylight, cloudy, shade, tungsten, fluorescent, etc. These settings are usually close enough to use as a starting point, but I’ve noticed that they often need some tweaking to get them spot on. The third method for setting white balance is with a “Custom” setting on the adjustment sliders. Here, you can warm things up (yellow) or cool them down (blue), and add some green tint or magenta tint. With this method, a calibrated monitor is especially important. The final method for setting white balance is by sampling a part of the photo. To do this, use the “White Balance Tool” and select something that you know to be neutral gray. This is why studio photographers will shoot a “gray card” prior to photographing their subjects — it makes setting the white balance a no-brainer.

ACR Basic Adjustments Panel

I typically start with a preset and adjust from there. Sometimes I’ll use the sampling method, but I don’t always have a good neutral source to work with. But whatever I happen to do, I always flip through the images in ACR to double check my bulk settings — there are always a few that need some further tweaks.

BASIC ADJUSTMENTS

OK, so the white balance is set and we’re ready to move on. The next step is to adjust the exposure settings (the middle portion of the “Basic” palette). Here, you can adjust your exposure, recovery, fill light, blacks, brightness, and contrast. I won’t get into what each of those adjustments does, but I encourage you to experiment with them.

Since I’m only doing a first round of processing on my images at this point, I don’t spend a ton of time adjusting these values. The purpose of this step in the workflow is to get the white balance correct and to make the images look more “natural” rather than looking like the dull RAW files that come out of your camera.

So… I usually just select all the images I’m working with and hit the “Auto” button (and as with auto white balance, each image is set individually by ACR). This gets things to about 90% of where they need to be. Certainly, many of the photos could benefit from more detailed adjustments, but it’s not worth the time and effort if a good portion of your photos will never be seen by anyone else.

Once again, I take a quick run-through of all the photos to make sure the software didn’t make some terrible choices. Every once in a while it does, and I’ll have to manually adjust the photo to bring it to a presentable state. But again, don’t get carried away with this stuff — it’s supposed to be quick.

OTHER ADJUSTMENTS

After applying the basic settings for white balance and exposure, you can jump into some other things — I typically don’t, but you might want to depending on your camera and your photos.

ACR Panel Buttons

You can apply bulk adjustments to your saturation, tone curves, and sharpness if you’d like. Also, if you use a lens that needs consistent corrections for fringing or vignette, you can bulk process your images to save a lot of time. Honestly though, beyond white balance and basic exposure settings, I don’t mess with much. All I want at this point is to be able to view the photos in a more “natural” state so I can determine which photos will require more of my time.

When you’re all done making bulk and individual adjustments in ACR, simply select all the photos and hit “Done”. This will apply those settings to the XMP metadata and Bridge will update the previews for those photos. So you’re not actually making any changes to the photos, regardless of whether you’re using JPEG or RAW. The best part is that the new adjustments are stored along with the original settings. If you open one of your images back up in ACR it will look exactly as you left it, but you can also revert back to “As Shot” by using the pull-down menu on the palette menubar and choosing “Camera RAW Defaults”.

AFTERTHOUGHTS

Adobe Bridge Paste Settings

Let’s say you either don’t want to pull hundreds of images into ACR at once, or you simply forgot to include some photos. With Bridge, there’s an easy way to apply those processing adjustments outside of Adobe Camera RAW. This method also works well if you just want to change white balance settings across multiple images.

First, you need to select an image that you want to copy the settings from. Once you do that, you can copy those settings to memory by pressing Ctrl+Alt+C or by using the right-click menu or “Edit” menu and looking for the “Develop Settings” option. Now, select one or more images that you want to apply some or all of those adjustments to and press Crtl+Alt+V (or use the menus again) to paste the settings. This will bring up a dialog box that asks you which settings and adjustments you’d like to apply. Pick the ones you need and apply them — that’s it!

Another thing this is useful for is spot removal. I won’t get into it, but if you have a dirty sensor it’s something you might look into to help you tame those dust bunnies.

WHAT’S NEXT?

After running through your various lighting groups, you should have a full set of processed photos. They won’t be fully processed, but they should be in a better place than when you started. For some of you, this level of processing suits your needs just fine. For others, you’ll want to really dig into things and give some special attention to certain aspects of the photo.

In the next article of this series, we’ll go back to Bridge and take a look at how to efficiently keep track of your photos in their various stages of post-processing. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got some photos that are waiting to be worked on, some that are being worked on, some that are complete, and some that you want to revisit. I’ll show you how I use labels and collections to keep track of things.

FOLLOW THIS SERIES OF ARTICLES!
VISIT THE TABLE OF CONTENTS
BACK — ADOBE BRIDGE FILE PREPARATION
NEXT — ADOBE BRIDGE ORGANIZING

Here’s a video I found that goes well with the content discussed in this article.