Monthly Archives: February 2010

Link Roundup 02-28-2010

I’m thinking about doing these link posts a little differently, and I’m hoping that the change will benefit all three parties involved (this blog, the linked blogs, and the readers). Over at FeelingNegative.com, we’ve been posting noteworthy links one at a time with additional commentary rather than just a list of links. The posts really don’t take much time to put together, but they’re so much more interesting than a big list as shown below.

So I’ll probably give it a try here on Epic Edits for a week or two and see how it works out. What do you guys think? Good idea? Or would you prefer I keep it as a list post like this?

Tone Curves: Final Tips, Tricks, and Things to Avoid

[tweetmeme]We’ve had quite a journey with this whole histogram and curves ordeal:

And now I’d like to wrap things up with a few tips, tricks, and things to avoid when using curves. It’s a fairly simple tool once you begin to work with it and understand it, but there are a few non-obvious items worth pointing out.

what lies within?
Creative Commons License photo credit: Fifi LePew

TIPS

We’ll start off with a few generic tips for working with curves, then we’ll move on to the some of the more detailed stuff.

TRICKS

Here are a few tricks for the ACR/Lightroom interface under the “Point” curve.

  • Hold Ctrl and mouse over the image to see where the tones lay on the curve/histogram.
  • Ctrl+click over the image to set an adjustment point on the curve.
  • Ctrl+select adjustment points on the curve to delete them.
  • Ctrl+Tab to move between adjustment points without using the mouse.
  • Shift+select multiple existing adjustment points if you want to grab more than one at a time.
  • Shift+click over the image to set your neutral point for white balance (this works outside of the curves dialog too).
  • Shift+arrow keys to move selected adjustment points by 10 rather than 1.

And then we have a few general tricks:

Danger of Death By Failing
Creative Commons License photo credit: AlmazUK

THINGS TO AVOID

  • Watch for vertical sections in your curve — that produces an extremely high contrast and you lose all midtone data in that area.
  • Watch for horizontal sections in your curve — that produces zero contrast and you lose all midtone data in that area.
  • Too many adjustment points will be difficult to manage, just use what you need.
  • Avoid inverted slopes, they invert the tones. Can you roll a ball from the upper right point of the curve to the lower left (without relying on momentum)? If not, you’ve inverted a section of your curve.
  • Don’t clip your shadows and highlights (unless that’s what you really want to do). Keep an eye on your histogram for this one.

I’m sure there are a few hundred other tips and tricks out there for using curves, but I don’t know them all and I couldn’t cover them in one article even if I did. These tips, combined with the previous articles linked at the top, should keep most of you busy for a while. And if you’re looking for more, here’s my final tip on the subject:

Experiment. Try things out, push buttons, make mistakes, and keep learning.

PhotoDump 02-23-2010

More great stuff from the Epic Edits Flickr Pool! This selection of photos is from those entered in the pool between 02/08/2010 and 02/23/2010.

Ghost of an Oak Tree by jtkreu*magic by 36rokkoDay 81 - Magic Hat by somedesignerguyJumping On Ice by danikapierceWinter Morning II by Alexander S. KunzMiss Warhol by mathewmHockey, eh? by Yury TrofimovVisite Médicale by Guillaume Lemoine3 Oaks by bestgramps by Twitching EyeBirdies by whalenmdwNatasha by croxfordrIMG_0069 by jrodgersartLe voyageur flou by pawoli2010 Parker 425 Car #TT18 by Brian Auerthe time ahead by evolution of rayzrchange your perspective. by Will Foster PhotographyShall We Dance?.. by SonOfJordanLithe by cabbitshadows #3 by BadrSMundos distantes ... by portafolio fotográfico - William Lópezhappy family! by .f_}x{Wash by keithpytPelican Bar - Lando, our boat Cap'n by CharleneCollins.Jamaica

Feeling Negative? Check Out This New Film Photography Blog!

[tweetmeme]OK, so this thing has been in the works for many months now. I’m pleased to announce the launch of a new blog aimed at film photographersFEELINGNEGATIVE.COM

As many of you know, I’ve been heavy into film photography for the last few years. I post a few film-related things here on Epic Edits from time to time, but I never felt really comfortable pushing a ton of it because we have a mixed audience.

This new blog will give me a chance to write about film photography uninhibited. And the best part of this new blog… I’m not doing it alone. My good friend Tomas Webb will be joining me as an equal partner/mastermind. We’ve been brewing ideas and organizing this thing for several months and I’m confident that we’ll be able to provide outstanding content in this particular niche of photography.

WHAT DO WE HAVE IN STORE?

I assure you, we have a bunch of great topics and themes that we’ll be talking about over there. The site is organized into five main sections: Camera Bag, Darkroom, Digital Darkside, Community, and Other Stuff. Each main category has several sub-categories yet to be announced, and they’ll roll out as we publish more articles. At launch, we have one article per main category to get you started.

In the first few weeks, we’ll also be talking about the various ways you can get involved with the new website. One of our main goals is to create a thriving community of film enthusiasts, and we’ll have plenty of ways for you to get in there and take part. Right now, you can join the Feeling Negative Flickr Group and contribute photos that will be exhibited on the site.

You might also notice that the site design is somewhat mild… we’ll work on that eventually. Our thought was to get the content rolling and focus on the frilly stuff later.

WHO IS THIS SITE FOR?

This one is pretty simple: anybody that is already or wants to be involved with film photography. That includes everyone from beginners with a small interest, way out to the seasoned pros with tons of experience.

For the beginners, we’ll be covering the basics of shooting, developing, printing, scanning, etc. For the ol’ timers, we’ll be digging into alternative techniques, various pieces of equipment and film stocks, DIY stuff, and new ways of working with an old process. I’m hoping we can keep a wide variety of photographers engaged in the discussion.

LAST THOUGHTS…

I don’t want to run on for too long about this thing, so get over there and check it out. I would encourage anybody interested in film photography to give it a chance and watch how it “develops” over the next few weeks and months. We have a lot of stuff to talk about over there and it’s going to take some time to get everything up and running.

Again, if you have any inclination toward film photography whatsoever, please check out the site and/or subscribe to the RSS feed:

FEELINGNEGATIVE.COM WEBSITE

FEELINGNEGATIVE.COM RSS FEED

What do you guys think? Is this a good idea worth the effort, or are we just wasting our time in a diminishing medium?

Also feel free to leave any comments, questions, concerns, etc, right here on this post. And have no fear, Epic Edits will continue on as it always has.

Using Curves to Enhance Composition

[tweetmeme]We’ve been on a roll lately talking about post-processing curves: video tutorials, linear adjustments, and nonlinear adjustments. I have one more in the works, but I wanted to take a little break from all that technical software stuff.

I also wanted to stay on topic with the theme of “curves”, so here’s a slightly different take on it. Curves are also a key component of composition. In this article, you’ll find eleven tips for using curves in composition along with sample photos.

1. LEAD TO A COMMON FOCAL POINT

Leading lines are a basic compositional technique, and curves can be used in place of straight lines. Try using natural curves to force the eye of the viewer to a common focal point. In the image below, the main draw is toward the intersection of the curves.

Entering Hyperspace
Creative Commons License photo credit: Éole

2. RADIAL CURVES AND SPIRALS

Curves can take on many shapes and forms, including circles and spirals. These forms also force a natural point of focus to their center. This particular photo also uses straight lines aimed directly at the center for a stronger effect.

Argento Spiralis
Creative Commons License photo credit: ramyo

3. CURVE REPETITION

Repeating curves tend to make a stronger compositional impact than a single curve. Bonus points if you can get an odd number of them like 3 or 5 — odds tend to be more attractive than evens. This photo shows triple repeating curves with nearly identical shape. The simple color scheme also helps to not distract from the composition.

Green curves
Creative Commons License photo credit: tanakawho

4. HUMAN FORM CURVES

We’re basically nothing but curves. If you have the opportunity to photograph people in a revealing manner, be sure to look for the natural flowing curves. In this photo, the soft curve is accentuated by the lighting, and the placement of the hand interrupts it to provide some amount of tension in an otherwise relaxing shape.

Curves
Creative Commons License photo credit: Ozyman

5. CURVES AND LINES

I mentioned this in tip #2, but I’ll mention it again. Combining curves and lines can be a powerful compositional technique. The intersections can create compelling patterns, while the lines and curves provide pathways for the eye to travel. In this photo, there are far more straight lines than curves, but the curved sections draw the eye because they stand out from the rest of the pattern.

Working Late
Creative Commons License photo credit: Thomas Hawk

6. SEPARATION OF FOREGROUND

A plain foreground or background can be good in some instances, but other instances will benefit from a subtle break. Curves can provide that soft break in an otherwise flat foreground or background. In this photo, you can see that the foreground curves provide areas of higher contrast to break up the low contrast midtones of the snow.

snow curve
Creative Commons License photo credit: extranoise

7. CONVERTING 3D TO 2D

Obviously, the typical camera will capture any scene in 2D. But 3D curves and spirals can change their shape and appearance when flattened. This photo shows spirals and loops of smoke being converted into repeating sinusoidal curves on a 2D plane.

Fading Flower
Creative Commons License photo credit: Dude Crush

8. INTERSECTING CURVES

Intersecting curves can create a sense of depth and give some extra notion of the 3D layout of the scene. Notice that this image exhibits several levels of intersections — roof structure, shadows, and straight lines. Also notice that the radial curves draw your attention to their center while the sweeping curves and band of sunlight draw your attention to the same location.

swerve
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jasmic

9. HUMOR BREAK

This one popped up when I was searching for “curve” photos… I couldn’t resist putting it in here. Rock on.

Rocking the Curve
Creative Commons License photo credit: Marvin Kuo

10. CURVES AND CONTRAST

When you have multiple curves or repeating curves, play on the contrast between them to create a pattern of stripes. This high contrast helps to define the curves as a strong point in the composition. In this photo, you can see the very strong contrast between the steps as they sweep along the buildings.

Curves & Curves
Creative Commons License photo credit: Pieter Musterd

11. MULTI-LEVEL CURVES

Curves can be presented within the composition at may levels. Small curves, big curves, lazy curves, tight curves, loopy curves, etc. Finding a scene with more than one type of curve can present your viewer with an interesting piece to digest. In this photo, you can see the big curves separating sand from sky, curves separating the foreground, and lots of little curves providing texture.

Diminishing Lines
Creative Commons License photo credit: Appy29 (very busy away)

12. FRAMING WITH CURVES

Natural frames are also a good way to help your composition, so look for any curves that can provide a stronger focus for your subject. Here, you can see that the curve of the bench draws your attention toward the may laying on it and away from the lower left corner.

benched
Creative Commons License photo credit: paul goyette

How else can you use curves to enhance your composition? And be sure to share your own example photos in the comments below!

What Would You Like to Learn About Film Photography?

Most of you know that I’m a big fan of film photography and I’ve posted a few articles here on the blog. I started with digital, but I’ve been doing the film thing for about the last 2 years now. At this point, I’m fairly comfortable with discussing most film photography topics from shooting to printing and everything in between.

The poll this time around will be another open-ended question because I’d like to get some open-ended feedback from you guys. I know that quite a few of you are film buffs and/or upcoming film enthusiasts, and I know that there are a lot of questions out there on the topic. So open it up and ask away! What film photography topics, tips, techniques, and methods would you like to learn more about?

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT FILM PHOTOGRAPHY? REALLY… ANYTHING!

Seriously… don’t be shy and don’t blow it off. I can’t answer if you don’t ask. And for those of you interested in film, stay tuned for a BIG announcement next week.

Link Roundup 02-14-2010

Nonlinear Curve Adjustments and Histograms

The last article on curves looked at linear adjustments and how those adjustments affect the image and the histogram. So now we’ll take a look at some nonlinear adjustments within the curves adjustment tool found in many photo editing software packages.

We’re basically building on our basic understanding of the histogram and our knowledge of linear curve adjustments to take the next step into nonlinear adjustments (the curvy curves).

NONLINEAR MANIPULATIONS

What I’m going to show here are some very basic curves at each extreme. The single bend and double bend curves are most commonly used during post-processing, but these are not the only options. Curves can have a large number of set points, bends, and inflections — it’s just not feasible to cover every possibility in an article like this.

SINGLE BEND CURVES

The simplest form of a nonlinear curve is accomplished by moving a mid-tone location toward the upper left or lower right corner, forming a basic arc with a single bend. Essentially, your black and white points remain fixed while your mid-tones become lighter or darker (aka: brightness). Also note that one end of your tones will take on more contrast while the other end will lose contrast due to the change in slope of the curve (remember: vertical = high contrast, horizontal = low contrast).

This can be used to brighten or darken the overall image if you want to maintain your highlights and shadows at their current values.

DOUBLE BEND CURVES

Also known as the “S-Curve”, this curve manipulation pushes one section of tones brighter and another section of tones darker (aka: contrast). Again, you can maintain your black and white points, but you also maintain some middle tone where the curve crosses the diagonal. On the note of contrast again, be aware that you will sacrifice contrast in one area to gain it in another.

This can be used to raise or lower the contrast of the overall image with a focus on the mid-tone areas. The bright/dark tone changes of the highlights/shadows are amplified by the mid-tone slope change — so it doesn’t take much to really change the contrast.

APPLYING NONLINEAR CURVES

The beauty of the curve adjustment is that you have such a wide range of possibilities — much more dynamic than a single slider adjustment. To apply curve adjustments, you simply click a location on the curve and drag it to the desired location. The curve will bend on its own based only on your set points. You can continue to add set points until you have the desired result.

Using the example image above (middle of series), here’s one possible curve that combines linear, single bend, and double bend curves. Keep in mind that I haven’t applied any basic adjustments and what you’re seeing is pure curves from an unprocessed raw file (except for the b/w conversion).

Notice that I used a double bend curve to increase contrast. Combine that with a single bend curve to increase brightness. And combine that with a linear adjustment to set my black and white points. I’ve also placed several extra points on the curve in order to bend it into the shape I wanted while maintaining a smooth transition.

As you work with curves, you’ll noticed that they sometimes have a mind of their own. Extra points will help shape the curve and provide you with the ability to make the adjustments you want. On that same note, too many set points can lead to choppy and lumpy curves. Non-smooth transitions generally begin to produce strange contrast artifacts that are easily seen in the image.

For you curves experts out there, what other tips and advice would you add to this discussion? How are you guys using curves to enhance your images?

Want to be a Famous Photography Podcaster?

PhotoNetCast

Ok… maybe not famous, but it probably wouldn’t hurt your popularity. Over at PhotoNetCast, we’re looking to bring on a few extra co-hosts to join us on a regular basis. Two of the current hosts are in need of some extra time due to changes in their schedules, and we’d like to keep our group size at 3 or 4 hosts.

What we’re looking for are fellow photography enthusiasts willing and able to spend around 2 hours every other week talking photography with us. The basic requirements are that you have some knowledge and enthusiasm for photography, a decent Internet connection, and the ability to voice opinions on a variety of topics.

For more details on this opportunity, follow the link below to the announcement at PhotoNetCast.

CO-HOSTS WANTED AT PHOTONETCAST

PhotoDump 02-08-2010

More great stuff from the Epic Edits Flickr Pool! This selection of photos is from those entered in the pool between 01/24/2010 and 02/08/2010.

photog tweetup by spudcheyneVectorial Elevation by Alison Faith by BadrS by digitizedchaosPuff by Yury TrofimovBlair by GH Patriot36/365 by envisionpublicidadThe Soloist by Twitching EyeCasey by MissyBrownDay 150 - Yellow Flowers by joel8xProfessor Starbucks by -theworldends-NoChe de PoSioN by eLPiCaVerschneites Hamburg by visuellegedankenTrees, pasture and snow by Rex Lisman PhotographySnow by AmbertureSwollen Tiber by {amsis}Wolf Moon by PatriciaPixLu Family by JeramieLu.comCoffee Break by robinn.Kenosha Lighthouse, WI #2 by JonathanRobsonPhotography.comStruggle within by analox & admiré"It took the death of hope to let you go" by vandyll.net by vanillaeyesKat by Digital Kloc PhotographyChasing the Darkness Away by rh89J.Harm by 3SonsProductions#twenty six - held captive by my art.... by Smudge ChrisDay 53 - Unstoppable, Unrepeatable, and Priceless by somedesignerguyDay 271: Soon It Will Be Cold Enough to Build Fires by __multifacetedDawn at the Racetrack, Death Valley National Park by jimgoldstein by Tomas WebbInward by GH Patriotfoggy aura by evolution of rayzrIMG_3962 by stilettowinesAbandoned winter sea by Simply Doc (away)Cute Smile by robinn.Guiding Light - Racine by JonathanRobsonPhotography.comdanny and louise's wedding by ClickClickBang PhotographySunset Palms 2 by MissyBrownYour Wildest Dreams.. by SonOfJordanChris Thomas King at Central School 3 by fotokewOneWorld by Alexander Hogstrom