Monthly Archives: May 2008

At My Home Photo Contest

There’s a little contest/project happening over at DIYPhotography.net right now. You get up to three photo entries and the goal is to capture your home.

At My Home contest is about the most important place in your life: home. The emotions of home: the distinctive rituals, the intimate moments, and all the myriad ways in which you work, play, learn, conduct your life, and interact with friends, family members (and pets!) as you transform your dwelling into your home.

And the prize for winning this contest? Five winners will receive a custom-covered America At Home book. I bring up this contest because I’m one of the five judges and I’d love to see some folks from Epic Edits head over there and participate.

At My Home Photo Contest

Blog Statistics Project Results

A little while back I blogged about the 16 Month Statistics for Epic Edits. That was a project entry with a fellow photography blog: photonovice.net. 8 other photography bloggers also participated in the project, sharing their most popular articles.

So if you’re looking for some good reading material, check out the articles and see some of the most popular content from these different sites. And be sure to check out the project pages at photonovice.net.

Project Results – Blog Statistics – Most Popular
Blog Statistics – Where Are You From?

Retouch Tool in Adobe Camera Raw

Retouch Tool

As promised in the Spot Healing Brush Tutorial, we’re now taking a look at the Retouch Tool in ACR (and Lightroom?). This tool is a little more “hands on”, so I figured the best way to show it would be with a screen capture. I’ll outline a couple things here in the text, but the bulk of the information is in the video embedded at the end of the article.

HOW TO ACCESS THE RETOUCH TOOL

It’s only accessible from within the Adobe Camera Raw interface — so don’t start looking in for it in Photoshop. There’s a little icon along the top menu that looks like the image shown above. You can click on it to bring up a sub-menu, or you can access it by pressing “B”.

HOW TO USE THE RETOUCH TOOL

The retouch tool is used in a very similar fashion to a clone stamp or a spot healing brush. In general, you click on the spot and you’ll see a set of rings appear (one red and one green). The red ring is the target and the green ring is the source. They can be moved and resized with the mouse. The sampling mode can also be switched between “heal” and “clone”.

WHEN THE RETOUCH TOOL FAILS

Like with the Spot Healing Brush, hard edges can present a difficult fix, but this tool allows you to move the source sampling spot to a location of your choice. Hard edges are easier to deal with, but you may still run into difficult situations when very complex geometries are involved.

PhotoNetCast Episode 3 Now Available

I totally forgot to mention this item in the last Roundup, so now I’m taking the opportunity to start up a “News” section on the blog. The news items will be interesting, “hey look at this” kind of stuff that doesn’t really fit anywhere else on the site. So on with the news…

In case you missed it, Antonio posted the third episode of the PhotoNetCast. In this episode, the four of us talk about the relationship between blogging and photography. We also dive into the topic of photo organization. At the end of the show, each of us selected a link from around the web to an item that we found particularly interesting or inspiring. And as always, the show notes contain lots of great links to various articles and resources that we talk about in the podcast.

Episide 3 of the PhotoNetCast

Fine Art Photoblog Opens the Door to New Photographers

I’ve been hinting at this for about a week, but it’s now official. The Fine Art Photoblog will be accepting portfolios for review in search of one or two new photographers to join us. Before you get too excited, be sure to read this entire post and soak in everything that we’re asking for.

Back in December, I posted the first call for portfolios. We had 30 people submit their work, vote on each other, and 6 of the top photographers were accepted. By early February, we had finished building and testing the site and we had a hugely successful site launch thanks to the help of many people in our community. OK, so that’s the history in case you missed it a few months back.

And now we’re doing it again. But this time, we’ll only be bringing on a few new photographers to supplement our existing team. We’re looking for upcoming artists who want to gain exposure for themselves while contributing to something larger.

WHAT WE’LL EXPECT FROM YOU

Before we even talk about portfolio guidelines, we want to bring up a few thoughts about what is expected of a “Fine Art Photoblogger”. We don’t require many things, but we’re very passionate about the guidelines we do set. Here are some basic commitments you can expect within the group:

  • Post at least one new photo per week.
  • Have the ability to sell unsigned prints on your own via “print on demand”.
  • Have the ability to produce signed (and optionally) limited edition works.
  • Participate in our private forum by bringing up issues, voicing opinions, etc.
  • Come up with new ways to market the site and put the plans into action.
  • Plan on sticking to it for at least 12 to 18 months.
  • Be a team player and treat the website as an equal share democracy.

If you’re still interested in being part of the team, read on.

HOW WE’LL RUN THIS SHOW

This time around will be a bit different from the first time. Portfolios will be accepted for a period of two weeks from now (DEADLINE: June 2). The seven of us at the Fine Art Photoblog will judge the portfolios alongside a few guest judges. Then we’ll bring in the selected photographers as outlined by the “Break-In” period. Here’s the basic rundown:

  • You submit portfolios
  • We select up to 2 photographers
  • The new photographers will be “broken-in”
  • If everything works out, they stay
  • If not, they don’t

We know it’s a little different from the first portfolio review, but the site is in a different place too. So if you’re alright with the terms so far, read on.

ABOUT THE “BREAK-IN” PERIOD

Maybe this sounds bad, but it’s just something intended to protect the photoblog and those already involved with it. After some discussion, we all decided that the following plan would be best for any new photographers brought into the website. If you are selected to join us, here’s the process you can expect to go through:

  • You will post 3 photos under a guest account. This will help us evaluate how well you fit in with the blog.
  • After your first post, you’ll be brought into the private forum. We’ll then be evaluating your interactions with the other photographers and getting a feel for your level of commitment to the site.
  • After your 3 photos are posted and you’ve been active with the forum, the seven of us will decide if it’s right to bring you on full time.
  • If you’re asked to join, we’ll make you a full account on the blog and transfer ownership of your 3 photos to your account. You’ll also get an email address and we’ll add your contact information and bio to the website.

I know, it’s probably a bit like a hazing period with a fraternity, but it’s just to give us some options in case things don’t work out. So if this still sounds like something you want to do, read on.

AND ABOUT THOSE PORTFOLIOS

We’re going to be a little more strict with the portfolio entries this time around too. If portfolios don’t meet the requirements outlined here, they won’t be considered for review. In addition to some general portfolio guidelines, here are the requirements:

  • A maximum of 20 photos, and a minimum of 10 photos.
  • The photos must be your own work and should represent you as an artist.
  • Must be accessible in the form of a web address — don’t send us loose photos.

That’s it really… just a small set of photos. We’re limiting to 20 photos because we may end up with more than 30 portfolios for review — even at 30, that’s 600 photos that all of us have to review.

Once the portfolios have been reviewed, I’ll post all the entries we have this time around — that way everybody can see some other portfolios and see all the great work. We’ll also announce the photographers who will begin their trial period.

SUBMIT YOUR PORTFOLIO HERE

DEADLINE: June 2

UPDATE: The entry form has been closed and portfolios are no longer being accepted. Keep an eye out for the results in the days to come!

CURRENT PORTFOLIO ENTRIES

PhotoDump 05-18-2008

More great stuff this week from the Epic Edits Flickr Pool! And guess what? We finally topped the 500 member mark when rochpaul5 joined up.

In other news, it’s springtime in the northern hemisphere — Flower photos in the pool were in abundance. That’s cool though… lots of great work.

Lone Puffin by bassqeeMysterious beauty ( old Nature Minimalism) by javiySleep well.. by Tarantin0Nobody cuts us off (130/366) by bryanvillarin by TravisTrumancontemplation I by wasabifish by PfenyaF1020022 by mathias.pastwabaseball for baby bob by ryan loucks photographymemoirs in sand by RamN20080514_192315_FRA_Airport__CRF5744-4 by topfloor  (former geopirat)One of the best drummers I know by bryanvillarinRainy Focus Friday by vandyll.netIt'll be alright on the night.  by the_wolf_brigadeCrystalline! by Aperture Image.comPresident floating in the dawn fog by tcmmanA Roadtrip... Part I by As The Picture Fades Photography.swing by ojoyous1no loitering by rickabboAaron by gavinjensenAshley in  B&W by AIA GUY..RwoodCoast is clear by bryanvillarin20080430_edit by davewjrdeep blue by photographie.inDahlia B&W Abstract by Bernie KasperStorm tower by rdstokerIndecent Exposure by PatriciaPixPlaça Reial, Barcelona, Spain by tysonwilliams.comwo sind die vögel? by felicity crewHow to play pool by TimTim74080506_0088 by AIA GUY..Rwood.thrift store find... by ojoyous1Purple Clematis and bokeh by vandyll.netthat sinking feeling by pragnyanSideways by Argos (Old Dog Photo)in a dark place by poopooramaPastel Bowls 2 by sneuweger by BluTat2Gorilla Gaze by auer1816don't wait by dawn m. armfieldIt's All About the Hood Ornament B&W by Champlooteardrop by smiles4angelsSutro Baths by wbeemthe same, but different by xgrayMan on Subway by rsplatpcOnly the most ecological tourists leave nothing behind besides their ghost.  by the_wolf_brigadeWe are choosing hope over fear. by sharaffFantastic Feathery Fern by skedonkdelicate by wasabifishHarijan woman by orange tuesdayThirsty... by amathadYellow tulip after rain by IPS Photoscrosses 01 by mrpittmanFast by javiyHothouse Flowers by Chris NixonFruska Gora by mcvejaOne-way conversation by henrikjDay 81: Why I hate the rain by vandyll.netFireworks in the Fog by Bryan_Tthe hill by photographie.inI have only one wish by Chica-XPelicans, California Coast by secondcareer20080327_009 by davewjr.echinacea palida by ojoyous1 by | GW |T by javiy

Link Roundup 05-17-2008

My Attraction to A World Without Color

A few weeks back, I posted a poll asking what I should write about. One of the more popular questions was “What’s the attraction of B/W and how do you pick which photos to process that way?” asked by Neil Creek.

Capital of the World

That’s a really great question, but its one that I hadn’t thought about prior to being asked. I suppose I am a little heavy on the black & white stuff on my Flickr Stream, and it’s not unusual for me to post long stretches of grayscales. In fact, my “Black & White” set is one of my largest sets with over 225 photos. Its not that I’m trying to force all those black and white photos… they just happen. So Neil’s question got me thinking about why I hold such a preference.

MY ATTRACTION TO BLACK & WHITE

Ice Cold

Describing my own attraction to black & white photos is probably somewhat pointless. Many of the things that attract me to the medium I haven’t found the words to describe. Even so, I’ll do my best to tell you what I know.

Black and white photos are timeless and classic. So many “Masters of Photography” before us have laid down such a huge array of great work in black & white. These grayscale classics have been burned into our minds as representations of great work. And without a doubt, many of these works will live on for quite some time.

Black and white photos are simple and elegant. The lack of color forces the eye to concentrate on the core of the photo – composition, textures, patterns, and subjects. The utter simplicity of black on white or white on black has no match. Not only that, but a black and white photo can be placed on almost any wall in any home and not look completely out of place.

Zig Zag

Black and white photos allow for greater artistic flexibility. Those of you who follow my photography will know that I’ve been toying with high contrast black & white photos, both film and digital. The great thing about a grayscale image versus a color image is that the reality of the photo can be stretched much further. Take one of my high contrast b/w photos and bring the color back – it looks like crap. Most color photos have to adhere to a higher level of realness or they just come off as being over-processed by an under-skilled photographer.

DECIDING WHEN TO GET RID OF COLOR

For me, this decision is usually pretty easy. If you flip through my photostream on Flickr, you’ll mainly notice three type of photos: black and white, bright colors, and cross processed (which I won’t get into right now).

Hostile Takeover

The color photos you see rolling out of my Flickr account are typically focused on the color as the main subject. The colors are bright, bold, brilliant, and a major part of the photo. If I’m deciding how to process a photo and I don’t see some amazing colors popping out of the screen, it’s off to black and white. So basically, if the color isn’t providing a strong benefit to the image, it’s probably just distracting from the other elements. The Online Photographer had a good article on b/w versus color too.

Of course, there are exceptions to my “rules” of deciding these things. Some photos just don’t work as black and white because they actually become less simplistic. And some photos won’t look good no matter what you do to them.

Simply Religious

Simply Religious

Brian Auer | 02/09/2008 | La Jolla, CA | 75mm * f/2.0 * 1/8000s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This church in La Jolla, California caught my eye for its stunning white simplicity. The clear blue sky also helped to compliment the building and its elegance. I was on a photowalk, and we had just started down the road toward the beach and everybody was excited to get shooting. And so, I framed the building to include mostly sky while leaving a good portion of the church (and its surroundings) left to the imagination. I took two shots with different compositions of this church top, and this one turned out best.

Simply Religious Post-Processing

  1. Unprocessed RAW
    This one turned out a little overexposed. I shot it at f/2 with my 50mm lens and it pushed my shutter speed up to 1/8000, maxing it out. I probably should have set the f-number to at least f/2.8.
  2. Processed RAW
    Mainly I just recovered the highlights and darkened the overall image, getting it ready for Photoshop.
  3. LAB Saturation
    I saw that the blues were a little muddy, so I ran it through my LAB Saturation Photoshop Action and brought out the color while adding a bit of contrast.
  4. Clone & Sharpen
    Somehow I sort of forgot to deal with the little bit of brickwork on the bottom edge, so I took that out with the patch tool. Then I sharpened it up a bit.
  5. Curves Adjustment
    I wasn’t totally happy with the tones and colors, so I added a curves adjustment to bring up the highlights and push the shadows down. I left the blending mode to “Normal” so the blues would get a little punch too.

Enjoy!

New Partner: wowApic

wowApic

Please join me in welcoming wowApic as our first “real” publication sponsor! You may have already seen their banner on the site over the last week — they were on a one week free trial. After testing things out, they’ve committed to purchasing a banner spot on the sidebar.

wowApic offers a professional photo editing service for a wide variety of photographers and other clients. They cover everything from minor touchups to serious enhancements to photo restorations. They even have a service for professional photographers and studios.

wowApic’s “partner program” aimed at these professionals allows them to outsource photo processing and focus on the other aspects of their business. And as part of this partner program, new customers will receive 1 order (of up to 3 photos) for free — just for trying them out (subject to verification that the customer is a professional photographer or photography service). Preferred pricing and volume discounts also apply to these photographer accepted into the partner program.

The process of working with wowApic looks to be simple and intuitive. You can upload photos from your computer or tap into one of your online accounts such as Flickr, Smugmug, and others. You tell them what you want done to the photo(s), and you receive an instant quote. Once you place the order, the folks at wowApic go to work.

So if you have an image that you can’t nail the processing on, an old beat up restoration photo, or if you’re a pro looking to offload some work, you might check into wowApic and see what they can do for you. And if you decide to give them a try, use the coupon code “epicedits” through the end of May 2008 and you’ll receive a 10% discount.