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Getting Colour Temperature – do we need to get it right?

White balance card

If you shoot jpeg then yes get it right in camera, but for us RAW shooters why should we bother?

Its easy to fix it post but come on, who wants to have to colour correct all the images you took on your last shoot, yes with Adobe Lightroom you an fix one and then replicate it across, but its just another job you have to get done.

Get it right in camera.

Once you have everything correct its then easy to work from a common starting point and colour grade to how you want it.

How card slots do you need in a camera

CF Cards were relatively physically robust, SD cards less so. Many pros and amateurs like having two card slots. Writing RAW to one and Jpg to another for backup. A few recent cameras have had a lot of flack for not having two card slots but card technology has improved a lot recently.

While CF and SD cards are prone to failure the new designed XQD and CFexpress have had no recorded failures due to hardware. Now all cards have a recommended number of read writes, and it is when you exceed these you start to get errors. Errors with these new cards are due to exceeding these recommendations.

If your camera uses one of these new types of card I would be less worried about needing two slots for safety. Some photographers who after a shoot hand a card to a third party but also need a copy for themselves then yes there are ways cases for two slots, sometimes event photographers will print out a quick jpg and sell to the client on the day so having jpegs to one card and raw to the other is handy from a work flow perspective, but for many of us one card slot is now enough.

No matter how many card slots you have I would recommend you replace your cards regularly. It is likely now age and exceeding the number writes that will get you rather a the card failing early.

Focus Stacking

Fountain Pens

When shooting still life or macro, depth of field is limited. This was shot with daylight, and a little bit of fill flash from a low power studio flash head and a shoot through umbrella.

I wanted to shoot at f/8 which would give me reasonable quality, depth of field and not have the shutter speed drop too much. But even f/8 would not give me enough depth of field. so I decided to have a go at a technique that I had read about and see a landscape photographer user on a Youtube video but never tried my self.

A technique I do use is to merge several images together to create large panoramic. The technique I chose to use this time was to create more depth of field. Its called photostacking and is automated now in Photoshop.

I took several images in succession but focused at different points in the image. After a quick edit for colour, contrast and exposure. I imported these as separate layers into Photoshop.

Once in Photoshop, the first step is to make sure they are all aligned correctly. Now I was shooting on a tripod, but sometimes even the best lens do something called ‘focus breathing’ and the field of view changes ever so slightly.

With each layer selected go, Edit , Auto-Align Layers and I chose Auto. This will then line up everything to the best of its ability.

Now you are ready to merge the layers into a single image layer taking the parts that are in focus from each layer. Its quite easy and automated.

Again with all layers selected, go to Edit and select Auto-Blend Layers.

Select Stack Image and ensure that the Seamless and Content Aware tick boxes are selected.

It will now generate a new layer based on the parts in focus. It will do a reasonable job but will not be perfect, you may have to tweak the layer masks it generates slightly. Save it and go back into Lightroom for a final edit.

NSW – Reworking Old Photographs

Candy – Art Nude: Nikon D200

Its not something I do often, but with software advances, it can sometimes be interesting to take old photographs; the original raw images, and re-edit them in the latest software.

Adobe Camera RAW

Lightroom has come a long way since I last edited this black and white set of Candy, that I took at Worksop Studio back in 2007.

Most of these were processed in an early Adobe Camera RAW. Fourteen years is a long time in software development and the improvements were considerable. It was also interesting to see how I have developed as a photographer. I feel my work now is of a considerable higher standard.

Having a mini project – Lamp Posts

Leica M10, 50mm Sumilux-M

While I shoot professionally, mainly corporate and events plus model portfolios and the odd wedding I also try to have a walk around Lincoln at least a couple of times a week.

Its a very photogenic little city.

I often have a number of projects on the go, my main ones are drinks and doors at the moment, plus people on the on the phone, but I also have a lamp post and signs project. Simple little projects like this give you a focus when you are lacking in direction.

Its an easy thing to do and can lead to some interesting future ideas and keeps your interest when you need some inspiration.

Late Autumn Light

OK I know its Winter now but was Autumn when I took this pictures and wrote this blog post! Silly fact, those of us in the UK call it Autumn but in America its called Fall. In general we often rightly assume are American friends are wrong (joking) but in this case they are correct. In the past here in the UK we called Autumn Fall but at some point changed the season’s name.

Welton Church

The weather and the light over the last month has generally been awful but we have had the odd nice day, and the latest one I took the car to a pretty little Lincolnshire village and photographed the church and surrounding area. With the bright low warm light the colours did not look real, they were so intense.

I had an enjoyable hour photographing the village and came back with some nice pictures.

So if you get some nice light, even if only a few hours at this time of year its well worth going out and making the best of it.

Apple True Tone and Night Shift

All new Mac’s for a while now have had True Tone and Night Shift, but what does this mean for photographers.

For my main office MacPro and NEC Pro Reference monitor I have it all turned off, I have the screen calibrated with an X-rite i1 Display and I monitor the light in the room and have the profiler device adjust my monitor as I work.

My old laptop had no True Tone or Night Shift but now my new MacBook Pro 16 inch has all these new features.

First can I say that you should definitely switch off Night Shift, it definitely colours the screen and makes it warmer and more pleasing at night.

When it comes to True Tone then it is a little more complex. True Tone attempts to keep the colours neutral no matter what the colour conditions around you.

For general editing and producing pictures for my blog or for customer edit reviews then True Tone is not going to make a lot of difference. For my final edits that are going to be published or I’ll print then the edit should be done with True Tone switched off; but then I should not be making those final edits on my laptop but in my office where I have the tools to edit properly.

Light – Part 6 of 6

What flash to buy – Recommendations

Small flashes; well you cannot go wrong with your camera manufactures flash units. The Nikon units are particular good if expensive, which is the general problem with camera manufacturer’s lights.

For third party units I would recommend Metz or Quantum, there are a lot of new companies doing units now but I have no personal experience of them.

Studio flash units; low end I have no real experience but I will add that I had a cheap unit lighting the background on a studio shoot. It was struggling to keep up and caught fire! Midrange I use Elinchrom, high end the latest Profoto is hard to beat but you do pay a high price, I have heard some wonderful stories about how good their customer service is and assisting when there are issues.

Again like small flash, there are a lot of new companies doing studio flash like GoDox/PiXAPRO. The above shot was taken at a local location using some loaned PiXAPRO studio heads.

What ever you pick think about the accessaries you may need later and if its easy to get the unit repaired locally.

Mixing units; if you are doing anything that is colour critical then having all the units from the same manufacture help for consistent colour.

If your slowly building a system, may be a low-end light from the system you choose first, then add a second when you can afford it. This will last you a while, then maybe add a more expensive light as your main light and the others become background and hair lights.

Light – Part 4 of 6

Nikon D800, Nikkor 105mm

Studio mains powered flash

This is where for most people it gets scared. How do you meter, using mutilple modifiers, just where do you start.

Well I would suggest watching a few YouTube videos as a start, then book a good local studio.

If you live in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, then I would suggest you book Worksop Photographic Studio. The above shot was taken there.

Book the studio for a couple of hours and the house model and get a lesson on lighting. Many studios offer courses and you will learn a lot.

The key thing is to learn how to meter, and about soft and hard light, and specular and defused light.

The bigger the light source in relation to the model the software the light. Things like soft boxes give you more defused light then something like a beauty dish which being more direct and specular light source.