Thailand Tsunami Then and Now Comparison Series ZORIAH
A stunning display of imagery from the Thailand Tsunami disaster. Zoriah travels back to the areas hit by the tsunami to take photos of the same scenes he photographed immediately after the event.
Those who have used Photoshop probably know the power of actions. Some also know the power of LAB color mode. The problem is that LAB can sound like a scary thing, and most actions are “one hit wonders.”
Neil Cowley has created something that will blow you away — The ONE Action. It’s an action set that guides you through the LAB colorspace workflow. I’ve worked in LAB for a few little things in the past, but I hadn’t realized the full potential until I started working with the ONE Action.
Neil is sponsoring our most recent project, the “Action and Preset Extravaganza“, and the top 3 prizes include the ONE Action. I’ve been toying around with it for a couple weeks, and this is my introductory take on it. I should also state that I have much to learn about using this action and working in the LAB color space, so this is by no means a comprehensive review.
The ONE Action package includes several handy items. Obviously, the Photoshop Action is at the heart of it all. You also get an ACR and Lightroom preset, an HDR action, LAB curve presets, an instruction manual, a really great walkthrough video, and some sample photos.
The video is a great place to start after you’ve loaded up the actions and/or presets. Neil goes through the capabilities of the action, how to use it, and the thought process behind the actions. He explains rather quickly that the ONE Action is more than just a “push and go” type of action — it’s a workflow process.
Here’s another video from Neil that shows an example of how the action can be used. This is not the video included with the action.
HOW IT WORKS
The action “forces” you to work in the LAB color space (which really isn’t a bad thing at all). This gives you the freedom to manipulate the luminosity and color of the image separate from each other. It also gives you the ability to pinpoint specific tonal ranges and apply adjustments only where you desire.
There are a lot of individual actions contained in the set, and each one is intended to target a very specific region of the image. The main idea, though, is to understand the adjustments produced by the actions and apply them in small steps as you work through the image. Masking and tone-mapping are important parts of the ONE Action workflow.
Honestly, once you start working with this action set you’ll really start to understand the power of working in LAB color space. As I went though several of my own photos, I was surprised and amazed at the results that could be achieved with just a few little adjustments.
Each of the images below show the unprocessed raw file, the processed raw file, and the final photo after processing with the “ONE Action.” I chose to use the action on a few particular photos from a recent photowalk that turned out less than optimal but had potential. I used the action with the intent of reproducing the scene I saw with my eyes (and in some cases introduce a bit more “life”), and in most cases the ONE Action saved my butt. Click on the photos for a larger view.
Understanding Camera Exposure Modes Beyond Megapixels
Although your camera may have a light meter built right into it, you still have some options for how that meter reacts to different situations. Here are some of the basic modes for exposure.
Thomas Hawk’s Photography Workflow Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection
Thomas offers up some insight to his photography workflow using Bridge, ACR, and Photoshop. Definitely some good tips and insights — especially coming from a guy who posts around 30 new photos each day.
My new geotagging workflow All Narfed Up
Bryan guides us through his new geotagging workflow using the Amod AGL3080 and Lightroom on Windows. If you’re thinking about adding geotagging capabilities to your workflow, definitely check this out.
10 Steps to Maintain Your Camera HyperPhocal
Cleaning our gear is something we should all consider making a part of our recurring activities. Here are 10 tips for keeping your equipment clean and clear of problems.
10 things I hate about Flickr (and its users) Neil Creek
Neil posted a very interesting article about Flickr, Flickr comments, and Flickr users in general. Though he mentions the things that he “hates”, the article is intended to point out some of the flaws in the system and the way people use that system.
And here’s a fun theme slideshow that I found to be extremely creative. Found via Photojojo.
Some really cool stuff going on out there this week!
Perennial Images Tim O’Rielly
I was in Little Italy today dropping off some film at my camera shop and I encountered another photographer shooting in my general vicinity. I struck up a conversation with him and he turned out to be a pretty interesting guy. He’s mainly a travel photographer and he likes to focus on people in their environments. Check out the photos in his website — this guy’s been all over the place!
digital workflow: preserve those captures pro photo life
If you think you’re doing enough to backup your photos, take a look at this article by Jim Talkington. From a pro’s perspective, this is all just a part of doing business.
It seems like everybody has an opinion when it comes to RAW vs JPEG photo formats — myself included. In preparation for the next article in the “Adobe Bridge” series, I’d like to get this out of the way so we can just refer back to it. I won’t try pushing one format over the other due to my personal preference, I’m just going to present you with a few images. It’s up to you to decide what looks best and if that format fits into your own workflow.
The following image is from my archives back when I used to shoot RAW+JPEG. The files were processed using Adobe Camera RAW software, and we’ll be covering the basics of that in the next installment of “Your Guide to Adobe Bridge“.
1. JPEG, Unprocessed
2. JPEG, Auto Adjustments
3. RAW, Unprocessed
4. RAW, Auto Adjustments
So which would you rather have as a starting point?
If you’re interested in learning about RAW workflow — stay tuned. I’ll show you how working with RAW files is no more difficult than JPEGS. And if you choose to stay with JPEG — you should also stay tuned. I’ll show you how to improve your photos with the latest version of Adobe Camera RAW. All this in the next post from the “Adobe Bridge Series”.
In the last post of this series we talked about the basics of Adobe Bridge. What it is, what it can do, why it’s a good thing, and some of the computer requirements. I’m sure some of you are quite anxious to start digging in to the finer details of the software, but before we go anywhere I want to talk about the Bridge Workspace.
A workspace refers to the layout of features and controls available in a piece of software. Adobe Bridge has several predefined workspaces, each having a unique purpose in the photo management process. Different workspaces mean different views, panels, and controls. I’ll lay out the various workspaces, then we’ll dig into each of their components (many of which are shared across workspaces).
Adobe Bridge has six predefined workspaces. You can also create your own space and save it if you find something that works better for you.
And here are a couple of my own custom workspaces. They’re only slightly different than the predefined workspaces, but sometimes those little things can make a difference in your productivity. I’d encourage you to make your own workspace by dragging the various panels around until you find something you like.
After looking at a few of these workspaces, you ought to notice that they consist of the same parts (aka “panels”) but rearranged. So let’s dig into those panels and explore what they do.
THE SEVEN PANELS OF BRIDGE
For the purpose of this section, I’m using a screenshot of a workspace that has all seven panels visible. I don’t usually work with such a layout since tabbed panels are more space efficient. Refer to the colors in the image as I step through each of the panels.
Similar to a “Favorites” or “Bookmarks” folder on a web browser, you can keep your most helpful items in here. Favorites can include folder locations, files, collections, previous searches, Version Cue, Adobe Stock Photos, downloaded comps, Bridge Home, and a bunch of other stuff that can be set in the general preferences (Edit >> Preferences… >> General). Personally, I find it handy to keep my most used collections in there (we’ll get to what those are another day).
If you’ve ever browsed a directory tree, this one should look familiar — It’s just your folder structure on your hard drive. Folders can also be navigated in the “Content” panel, but the “Folders” panel provides a quick method of changing locations.
I love this panel. I think it’s one of the best things in Bridge that sets it apart from other software. Filters are a way to exclusively view photos that meet a specified criteria. Want to see only your RAW files? Or how about images with a certain keyword? Maybe you’re looking for an image with a vertical orientation? Easy — just click on the filter and you’ll only see those images. If you sort-of know what you’re looking for, filters will allow you to find it a hundred times faster than scrolling through tons of images.
The content panel is a window to the contents of your current folder, not unlike a file browser on your OS. But the content panel provides more functionality than your operating system can. Thumbnails can be resized from very tiny to very large, and they can be set to scroll horizontally or vertically. Bridge caches the thumbnails for super-speedy viewing. Thumbnails also show star ratings (which I don’t typically use), labels (which I definitely do use), filename, and a few other things depending on what the photo is and what’s been done to it. This panel also allows you to access a large number of controls and commands via the right-click menu.
The preview panel is similar to a slideshow, but a little more powerful. It’s very handy for inspecting images at larger scales, comparing multiple images side-by-side (just select multiple files in the content panel), checking for sharpness and whatnot between 100% and 800% zoom (click on the image and a magnifying loupe pops up – scroll to change the zoom). The other great thing about using this preview is that everything is color manged, so your Photoshop files and RAW files will appear EXACTLY the same as in Photoshop.
When I first import photos this is where I spend most of my time. The metadata panel provides you with access to all the file info, EXIF, IPTC, RAW settings, and a bunch of other stuff you never knew existed. What’s really great is that you can select a bunch of images and apply keywords, descriptions, copyright info, location info, and other things as a batch.
The keywords panel is similar to the metadata panel, but it’s sole purpose in life is to organize and apply keywords. Common keywords can be grouped, categorized, applied in batches, and renamed with this visual interface. Keeping your keywords organized and up to date can prove to be a major benefit while keywording images — I’m alway amazed at how many more keywords I can apply by just taking a quick scan through my lists.
So that’s pretty much it for the panels. I touched on a couple of usage tips and tricks, but we’ll go much deeper in subsequent articles.
THE MANY CONTROLS OF BRIDGE
To prevent this article from getting too long, I’m not going to visually highlight all of the little buttons and menus as I did with the panels. I would encourage you to explore the software interface on your own, looking for the little icons located below the menu and at the bottom of the window. Some of the panels also have buttons and drop-down menus that provide added functionality. Right-click menus contain another wealth of options to assist you with organizing, searching, and processing your images.
One major item worth mentioning is the “saved workspace” button set. Look down at the lower right of the window — you should see a “1″, “2″, and “3″. Hold down on one of them and select a preset (or custom saved) workspace. Set all three for the ones you like the most and now you have a workspace quick-launch — hit the button and away you go!
At this point I think we’re quite familiar with the Adobe Bridge interface basics. From here out I’ll be walking through my typical workflow and highlighting all of the things I commonly use the software for. In the next article we’ll talk about importing photos from your camera or card reader straight into Bridge. This is a very important step, since it can save you lots of time once you get those file on your computer. So stay tuned!
For those of you looking to obtain Adobe Bridge:Claudius Coenen mentioned on the last post in this series that there is a way to get Bridge for free. Apparently if you download the Photoshop CS3 30-day trial, the license will expire on Photoshop but not on Bridge. Now of course one of the major benefits of working with Bridge is the ability to interface with Photoshop and ACR, but it’s also handy as a standalone file management tool. Also note that I haven’t tried this out so I can’t say that it works for sure.
Since Neil Creek started writing about Organization and Photo Management, I’ve been spending a lot of time evaluating my workflow practices. One of my major changes has been in my file format management. And Change is good.
Previously, I was shooting in RAW+JPEG. I’d use the JPEGs as a quick-view tool, and the RAW files were basically there in case I wanted to dig a little deeper and do some serious editing. This method sucks for several reasons: 1) it takes more space on your memory card, 2) it takes more space on your hard drive, and 3) the JPEGs that come out of the camera are absolutely terrible. I found out just how terrible they were by running a set of RAW files through Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and comparing the results to the JPEG files straight out of the camera. Hands down, no comparison — the JPEG files out of the camera stink.
Here’s what I’m doing now. I shoot RAW only — no JPEGs whatsoever. When you use a piece of software like Adobe Bridge, Lightroom, or Aperture, you can view the RAW files just as easily as the JPEGs. I process the RAW files with ACR with very basic adjustments (most of them are auto adjustments for exposure and color), and I’ll usually process 100-200 images at once over a very short period of time. Occasionally I’ll have to do some tweaking on the white balance, but usually just for indoor shooting. At first, I was then saving all the adjusted RAW files as full-res JPEGs… but after a few times of doing that I was questioning my own methods. Why was I saving extra files that I didn’t need? I don’t use those JPEGs for anything, and after I adjust the RAW files with ACR, the adjustment settings are saved and the image looks the way I intended.
So now, each photo has only the adjusted RAW file and an optional Photoshop file if I choose to dive a little deeper into the photo editing. If I need a JPEG, I open up the RAW or PSD and make the JPEG I need. Same thing with TIFF files — there’s no point in having those extra files ready and waiting on the hard drive. If I need to upload a photo to Flickr, I open up the original document, resize accordingly, save it to a temporary folder as a JPEG, upload to Flickr, and delete the derivative file when I’m done. No extra baggage.
If you shoot and manage your photos in RAW format, take a look at your current methods of file management. Are you creating extra files that you don’t NEED? How much time and hard disk space are you wasting if you create all those JPEG and TIFF files to keep on-hand? Is there any advantage to having those derivative files in your archive?