Monday, July 30, 2007

Adobe Lightroom 1.1...

This installment of Weekly Photo Tips is all about Adobe Lightroom. No, not one long run on story, but a bunch of little snippets, so buckle up and get ready to take notes and click on links.

1. If you haven’t done so already, go directly to the Adobe website and download the upgrade to Lightroom version 1.1.

2. If you have Lightroom, you most likely have the Scott Kelby book Lightroom for Digital Photographers. Well, his book also has an upgrade for version 1.1 and you can (and should) get it here.

3. Terry White has a 1 hour and 20 minute podcast “Lightroom 1.1 Workflow” it's a phenomenal walkthrough of Lightroom from start to finish, of such quality you would expect to pay for it, but put your wallet away because this one is free, you can download it here. You will also find more podcasts for Lightroom, Photoshop and other Adobe products @ Terry's website.

4. Michael Tapes also offers almost two and one half hours of FREE Lightroom tutorials. These are divided into small 10-15 minute segments and are subject specific. You can also buy all of the tutorials on DVD for a small donation ($9.95). Be sure to bookmark this site as there are more tutorials on the way!

5. And for almost free ($49 for NAPP members – yet another great reason to join) you can take Matt Kloskowski’s 21 day online course “Photoshop Lightroom 1.1 Basic Training”.

6. Speaking of Matt Kloskowski, you have to check out his blog/podcast Lightroom Killer Tips for tutorials, shortcuts and “undocumented tricks”.

7. Another Podcast you should be sure and check out is “Lightroom for Digital Photographers”. This is another podcast will take you step by step through the entire Lightroom application.

8. Still need more, then pay a visit to “Inside Lightroom”. There is a great deal of Lightroom information, tips, tricks, and other resources, including a printable .pdf on how to develop, edit and save your own presets. You will also find a large assortment of other folks Presets that you can download and install.

9. And lastly you can get 86 free PhotoPresets by Jack Davis, which also come with an hours worth of video tutorials so that you can make the best use of them.

If you know your application well, you can use it to its fullest ability to produce the best possible product for your customers, you will also spend less time "hunting and pecking" in the application and more time shooting. Both very good things.

Knowledge is power, and these resources will make you feel like a king, so go for it!

I think this will conclude the all Lightroom, all the time segment, should you have a useful Lightroom tip or link, please, please, please share it with us.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Money saving tips...

If you are like me, you're getting older and wider.... no, wait, that's not what I meant to say... if you're like me you don't have an unlimited budget when it comes to your photography, so here are some great deals, but the the sale ends July 28th so you have to move quickly.

Staples has a few items of interest to photographers:

2 GB SanDisk memory cards for $29

4 GB SanDisk memory cards for $49

500 MB Seagate external (USB 2.0) Hard drive for $129 to backup all those digital images on.

Go save some money, then go take some pictures!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Scott Kelby Came To Town...


What a week I just had!

I was reading Scott Kelby’s blog and he mentioned that he was coming to Maine for his family vacation. I dropped him an email, asked where his vacation was going to be, and you could have knocked me over with a feather when I got his reply!

Come to find out he was vacationing just a few miles from me, so I recommended a handful of places for them to eat and for him to photograph (and told him should he need a lackey to carry his camera bag and shine up his lenses, I was the guy who had his arm up high, furiously waving it back and forth) - didn't he try every suggestion on both lists AND then called me to go shooting!

We went out last Thursday (July 19th), it poured cats and dogs but we went anyway, you can see some of his shots here. I took him to an old country mill that has a cool waterfall, we had a great time. Scott was personable, funny, and has forgotten more about photography and Photoshop than I will ever know.

On Saturday I shot a wedding, beautiful couple, handsome bridal party, and great location (take a look for yourself).

Then Sunday I shot a new model, (again, got some good stuff), and what do you know - I got to shoot with Mr. Kelby again Sunday evening (see the images from that shoot here), I took him on the rusty truck tour of southern Maine.

After the sun went down he treated me to dinner, I had the best steak in quite some time and got a way cool demonstration of his iPhone.

I included the picture not to prove just how darn fat I've gotten (way too painfully obvious), I included it just to remind myself that I got to go shooting with "Mr. Photoshop".

Life is good (said to the tune of na, na, na, na, na, na)!

;)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The work of which I am most proud...

Robert N. Dechene, 23 / Army – Tour of duty 7/16/67 – 9/17/67

Raymond A. Borduas, 20 / Marine – tour of duty 5/5/68 – 6/4/68

Of all the work (photographically) I have done, these two mages are what I am most proud of.

Though they have little to do necessarily with photographic skills, the families thought them to be wonderful “pictures”.

I was a green beret during Vietnam, so the fact that seven boys (literally) from the small town in Maine where I live did not come home is of significance to me.

After more than 30 years (and for the first time) I finally visited the Vietnam War Memorial. While there I took a picture of the panels that have the names of two of those young men inscribed on them.

In Photoshop I:

1. Burnt all but their names
2. Painted their names white
3. Took one of their old pictures and converted it to digital
4. Combined their old photo with the photo of the wall that bore their name

It was difficult at times working on these images, having these young men literally “looking” back at me… and at one point the Pink Floyd song “Wish You Were Here” came on the radio… I will save you the details; suffice it to say I was glad no one else was at home.

Roberts family had been told something was being delivered to them, all of the family and friends in the area gathered at the house and were waiting… after they passed the picture around several times and looked at it for awhile, they all climbed in their cars and headed to the nursing home where his mom now resides, so she could see it.

Rays family was equally as grateful; his brother has been to my studio more than once to thank me.

I did not do these for praise or recognition, but because these boys deserve to be remembered and I wanted to do my part to make sure that happens.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Histogram, Workflow, and NAPP…

I was reading an article on workflow by Matt Kloskowski in the latest Photoshop User Magazine (reading is usually on the second pass through the magazine, the first one is "oooohh, pretty pictures"). Have you ever had one of those "DUH" moments, when you learn something and your first thought is "WOW" quickly followed by "how dumb am I that I didn't already know that?". I had one of those moments, Matt was talking about why one of the first things you do (prior to tonal or color correction) is to crop the image (assuming you are going to crop) "why leave an area in the photo that may have a large impact on the histogram if you are going to crop it out anyway". His comment made such perfect sense, and made me feel like such an idiot all at the same time. So, I wanted to share that simple (but powerful) tip with you and to reinforce that yes, at times, I'm an idiot.

A quick word about Matt, he has two websites you MUST visit, Photoshop Killer Tips and Lightroom Killer Tips, if you use either of these programs and have not visited his sites, you are missing a lot! And besides, I think it is a law or something that you have to go there.

Now onto Photoshop User Magazine and NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals), if you want to know about Adobe Photoshop, and if you want to learn what it can do and how to apply it to your photography, NAPP is the Garden of Eden. The annual membership includes a great magazine, members only access to a ton of articles, tutorials, and instructional videos on their website (and yes, I have weighed them all it is a TON), and a "Best of Photoshop User" DVD (about 3 hours of instructional tips and tricks videos).

Usually the NAPP membership is $99 (and worth every penny) but you can get it for a mere $69. How you ask?

Here is my tip for this week. If you join (which is free) the Duke University Macromedia Users Group (DUMUG), they have a discount Code that will save your $30 on your NAPP membership. They also have a bunch of other cool stuff too, enough that makes it worth joining even if there wasn't any financial incentives.

DUMUG membership will also save you 30% off any O'Reilly.com books you purchase as well. I think that officially qualifies as tip #2.

Have a great week, and please, don't talk with your mouth full.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Ya gotta love Staples...

For those of you looking to save money (I see the married men snapping their head towards the screen), here is a tip that will save you money, but good only until July 14th.

Staples has two items of interest, the first is a 2 GB flash drive ($20), extremely convenient for moving files from one place to another, plus, when you were it around your neck (oh ya, I do) the geek girls are on you like dust in an intake fan. The other item is a spindle of Memorex 100 blank CD's ($15), GREAT for backing up your digital images, and you know you have to back those puppies up.

Everyone who has lost data raise your hands. Man, that is a lot of hands, go get the CD's and PLEASE backup your data.

Later...

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Black & White Conversion…



I love black and whites, in almost any setting they are elegant and timeless (unlike my wide collars and big bellbottom pants), they can also take a mediocre image (or one that is down right crappy) and make something more of it.

Above you see a couple examples, not necessarily of crappy images, but of my black and white conversions using the technique described below. If you click on either image, they will enlarge in a new window.

Photoshop CS3 has a new black and white conversion tool as part the adjustment layer options, and I have tried it on more than one occasion but I prefer my method. And before you think “my gosh, that fat guy is a smart one!” I must give credit where credit is due, I learned this from Scott Kelby some time ago, loved the results, and have used it ever since.

So let’s get started:

1. Make any tweaks and adjustments to your image, contrast, levels, blemish removal, etc.
2. Go to the layers pallet and select Channel Mixer.
3. Select the Monochrome check box in the bottom left of the Channel Mixer dialog box.
4. Bring the Red slider to (roughly) 75%
5. Drag the Constant slider to (again, roughly) -10 to -12
6. Then play with the green and blue sliders until you get the detail and contrast you are looking for.
7. Once you’re happy close the Channel Mixer dialog box (by clicking “OK”).

Be aware that should your Red, Green, and Blue slider totals more than 100% (combined), you will see a small triangular icon with an exclamation mark it. Not to worry, your mouse won’t freeze, the image won’t explode, it’s Photoshop giving you grief that you have exceeded 100%. Why? Not a clue.

You may want to save a copy of the image as a .psd file, in case you want to come back and play with it at another time, then save it in the file format you use for printing, emailing, etc.

For me, after I flatten the image, there is just a little more to do:

1. Create a copy/new layer.
2. On the copy layer, use your Burn Tool and evenly burn (darken, not burned black) the outside 10-15% of the image.
3. Us the opacity tool and drop it anywhere from 10-30%, depending on taste and the heaviness of your burn.
4. Again, save the image as a .psd and/or your preferable file format.

Now before I start getting email telling me that it’s called a “vignette” (not a burn), I already know that, but I was brought up in the projects on the outskirts of Boston, and we did not vignette, we burned.

And if the boys in the hood heard me using words like “vignette” the next time we got together for tea and finger sandwiches the giggling and teasing would be unbearable, Like the time I wore white before memorial day. I still tear up thinking of that.

In closing I just want to say that there was at least one report of a person running with scissors. Tsk, tsk, tsk, very disappointing.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Introduction...

I wanted to start my blog with a few words about 3 photographers who have had the largest impact on my photography career. Without a doubt I am where I am because of these folks, Lou Jones, Vincent Versace, and Stacey Kane.

Let me share a few words about each (in the order in which I came to know them).

First, Lou Jones, I met Lou when he did a workshop on posing and lighting at the Portland Camera Club, he used folks from the audience as his models, which is where I got my bio photo (how goofy am I that having my picture taken by Lou Jones makes me giddy). While visiting his studio we talked about camera clubs (in general) and it was his opinion that if you stayed to one too long, you would never leave, you would get into the routine of shooting what would score well with the judges, not necessarily what you liked. I will never forget his analogy: “Picture yourself in South America, and while in the city you get on this dirty, rusted bus, it’s got boxes and suitcases tied to the roof and is packed with workers, children, chickens, etc., you travel out of the city to the next town, a few people get off and you’re soon back on the dusty road, heading deeper into the country side, and with each stop the towns are smaller and there are less and less people on the bus, you finally get to your destination and as you get off the bus you look around and realize that you are the last person. That’s how it should be with your photography; you travel with and learn from many others, until you finally reach your own photographic destination, that one place meant only for you. If you stay too long in a camera club, you’ll never get on the bus.”

The very next club meeting seemed different to me, the city was too crowded, I needed to get on the bus, I needed to see what was down that road. Though it was a great experience, I am no longer a camera club member.

Then I stumbled onto Vincent Versace (though it is not like I discovered him, as he had arrived as a photographer long before I could spell it) I saw his work and learned that a simple flower with a dew drop or a church steeple on a misty hillside in Vermont could be a full and powerful story. Go to the gallery on his website and look at some of his flora images, you will be amazed at how long you can sit and look at one of his images of a flower, you’ll get lost in the detail and emotion of such a simple and beautiful shot. Then I bought one of his instructional DVD’s. Have you ever tried to learn from an intelligent, talented person, and the only thing they succeed in teaching you is how smart they are and just how freakin’ stupid you are? Well, that is not the Vincent Versace style, this man can teach, and quite willing to share both his knowledge and experience with you, only a fool would not to take advantage of such an inspiring opportunity. Get his Books, get his DVD's. He is also a hoot to listen to; you can find him interviewed on several podcasts, like here, here, and here.

Which brings me to Stacey Kane, visit her website, if you want to see what images of weddings and children are supposed to look like (her specialties). I met Stacey at a PUG meeting in Portland Maine (Pictage User Group – NOT a dog club), she is the group leader (be warned, she requires attendees to call her the “Master of The Universe”). We have become good friends, well, truthfully, it’s probably more like I am stalking her, but it works well for me. She has shared her knowledge, her experience, and her gear with me; she has been a wonderful mentor (not sure if manly man should be using words like “wonderful” and “giddy” in a conversation). If I was going to hire someone to photograph my wedding or my family; it would be Stacey Kane (insert sloppy butt kissing sounds here).

Theses are good people.

So, what are my plans, why should you comeback and read my blog? It could be because you're in prison and after beating up your cell mate there is nothing else do do with your day, but hopefully you will come back here because you find information, tips, and tricks that help improve your photographic life, or at the very last keep you from saying, “crap, now there’s ten minutes I’ll never get back”.

And just to prove I am a man of my word, here’s your first free tip: Until July 7th Staples has 1 gig Sandisk cards on sale for $14.98. I know that there will be some digital snobs out there holding there noses (you know who you are, and we do too!) at both the brand name and the size, but this blog is not meant for digital snobs, it’s for people who want to squeeze every dollar of their photography budget until it screams for help.

If you have something you would like to share here, please do so.

Until next week, take care, and don’t run with scissors.