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Posts Tagged ‘easy’

Easy free pdf viewer reader

05 Sep

XChange Viewer is easy free pdf viewer reader best non, It is normally slow to start up, user needs and it’s great! Small in size, now click on the “Enabled on this site” checkmark. Any program that can print, reach Zathura PDF Viewer through the link. Free download and software reviews, then you’ll love Aiseesoft […]
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Posted in Equipment

 

CamFi Matrix Time software makes it easy to shoot the ‘bullet time effect’

15 Jul

China-based camera trigger company CamFi has announced the launch of CamFi Matrix Time, a software application that is free for all of the company’s users. As the name suggests, the software is designed to produce the ‘bullet time effect’ made famous by The Matrix, doing so without the high cost typically associated with this effect.

CamFi makes wireless digital camera controllers, and its new Matrix Time software works in conjunction with those controllers. With the software, users can set up a multi-camera arrangement to shoot one after the other with less than a 1/100th-second delay. The images captured by each camera are then automatically grouped and compiled into a video featuring this special effect.

The company explains that its Matrix Time product can easily set all of the cameras in the multi-camera setup to the same shutter speed and aperture; a live view from the cameras in the software, meanwhile, enables operators to arrange the angle of each camera before shooting. All in all, it seems like a very simple and straightforward way to capture a complex special effect.

Of course, there is a catch… actually two. First, while the Matrix Time software is free, each CamFi Wireless Camera Controller costs $ 130 USD / $ 185 CAD / £110. And second, for now, CamFi Matrix Time is only available for the Windows operating system.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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The Laowa Magic Shift Converter brings easy lens-shifting to the Sony E-Mount

11 Jul

Venus Optics, the Chinese maker of the Laowa lens brand, has launched the Laowa Magic Shift Converter (MSC). The Magic Shift is designed to be used with Canon or Nikon mount lenses and Sony Full Frame E-mount cameras, and adds shift capabilities to your super-wide-angle lenses.

According to Laowa, the Magic Shift works specifically well with the company’s own Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D ultra-wide angle lens, which it converts into a 17mm f/4 Zero-D lens with a +/- 10mm shift capability.

Laowa says that, thanks to a patented internal optics system, there is no vignetting even at maximum shift and the impact on image quality is minimal as well. In addition, the MSC comes with a 360° rotation structure which allows photographers to shoot in both horizontal and portrait orientation.

Like conventional shift lenses, the Magic Shift Converter is aimed at architecture photographers, allowing them to compensate for converging parallels when shooting tall buildings or other structures with the lens angled upwards.

The Laowa Magic Shift Converter (MSC) Canon variant is currently available to pre-order on the Venus Optics website and at authorized resellers. Shipping is expected to start in late July/early Aug. The Nikon variant should be available two months later.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Water Splash Photography Made Easy

22 Jun

How exciting is it to freeze things in action? High-speed photography and water make the perfect recipe to get stunning images – and creating them is incredibly fun and easy too! Here are some tips for doing your own water splash photography.

Water Splash Photography Made Easy

What will you need to do splash photography?

You will definitely need an assistant. He/she will make your life much easier. It’s true that you can do everything by yourself but it’s way more productive if you have some help, a person who can throw the objects into the water, get them out and then throw them again. And again. And again.

Water Splash Photography Made Easy

  • Next you want a glass aquarium with a minimum size of 24x12x16”, preferably made of transparent glass.
  • Set up a table covered in black fabric.
  • Use a black background (paper or textile) standing at a minimum of six feet away from the aquarium.

Setup

Fill the aquarium with tap water, half or 2/3 full, depending on how deep you prefer the subjects to fall. Please keep in mind that if you fill the tank too high, every splash will probably result in water spilling. Please be careful with both flashes and your camera, when working with water.

Gear

Setup Water Splash Photography Made Easy

Any decent camera will be okay, but to obtain better quality you would probably like to use a crop-sensor or full-frame DSLR – or a mirrorless camera, with a good lens. Shooting from a distance, I used a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens at 200mm in order to obtain as much depth of field as I could.

As subjects you can use anything you like. I personally prefer fruits and vegetables because they vary in size, shape, and color.

Water Splash Photography Made Easy

Always use a tripod for your camera. Set the camera at a position where you have the desired framing of the aquarium, leaving enough space up, down and on both sides to capture most of the splashes. After you have positioned the camera, set the focus manually.

Focusing

For this step, ask your assistant to hold the subject in the water approximately where you want to make the splashes happen. Leave the camera on manual focus (or use back button focus). This way, the camera won’t need to refocus every time you make a picture, and you’ll know that the subject will be in focus every time the object is thrown into the same location.

Freezing the water splash

You have to know that freezing the motion (in this case) is done by the flash and not by the camera. Here’s a little bit of theory to explain this.

You have probably already made pictures where you stopped a human or an animal in motion. You’ve achieved that result by using a really quick shutter speed, somewhere between 1/4000th or 1/8000th of a second. But in the studio, where you use flashes or strobes, things change.

Water Splash Photography Made Easy

Your camera has to be in sync with the flashes (sync speed) and in most cases, this results in a shutter speed of 1/125th – 1/200th which is way too slow to freeze fast action. Luckily, there is this magic word called “flash duration”. This is the short period of time when the flash emits light which, if short enough, gives you the freezing effect you wanted.

You can use hot shoe flashes (speedlights) as they generally have pretty short flash duration, but only at very reduced power settings of 1/32 or 1/64 of full power. That results in low light, but you can compensate for that by increasing the ISO and opening the aperture.

The other option I prefer is using strobes with short flash durations. Most manufacturers make the flash duration of their strobes public information and the power at which you get the shortest flash duration. For the pictures of this article, I used Elinchrom ELC Pro HD 500 strobes, which have the shortest flash duration – 1/4000th of a second – at power 3.1.

Setting up the flash and camera

For your water splash setup, you will need two flashes, one on each side of the aquarium, aimed directly at your subject. I prefer to use light shapers which restrict the light to hit only the subject, so it doesn’t spill all over the scene, thus avoiding unwanted reflections and highlights.

For this shoot, my camera settings were ISO 100, 200mm, f/16, at 1/125th of a second.

Water Splash Photography Made Easy

Taking the pictures

This is the fun part! If you an assistant you’ll have to synchronize your movements. As he drops the objects in the water you’ll need to capture the perfect moments. In practice, this means that you will count to three, after which he’ll drop the object while you press the shutter release and pray to get the moment just right!

I sincerely suggest you repeat these four steps for a few hours. I prefer to set my camera to continuous or burst mode (my flashes recycle very fast) and record three or four pictures per drop. That way I increase the probability of capturing the subject and the splash of the water.

Water Splash Photography Made Easy

Some quick tips:

  • Use subjects with vivid color, this way you will have good separation of the subject from the black background and the white/blueish splash. This makes your pictures really pop.
  • If you photograph small subjects, try to use a minimum of 6-10 pieces at once.
  • Try to combine subjects of different sizes, colors, and shapes.
  • The heavier the subject, the faster it will fall, making it harder to capture at the right moment. So take that into consideration.
  • To get larger splashes, use subjects with a larger surface are, or let them fall from a higher position.
  • Wash the fruits and vegetables well before you use them, this way you can keep the water cleaner for a longer period of time.
  • If the water starts becoming dirty, change it. It’s pretty unpleasant as the tank is heavy and you’ll have to do that a couple of times. But the good news is that by doing so, you’ll have to work less in the post-processing phase, while also getting sharper, more cleaner images.
  • Frequently clean the front glass of the tank to get rid of the water drops that tend to accumulate on it.

Water Splash Photography Made Easy

Post-processing tips

This part is crucial! Despite all the efforts you have made to capture the perfect splash, the raw images you’ll get will definitely still need a little bit of polishing and processing.

Water Splash Photography Made Easy

Raw unprocessed image.

I only use Lightroom and Photoshop for post-processing, but you can achieve the desired effects in any preferred image processing application.

Clean up the water

After you’ve selected the image you want to retouch, you’ll first need to clean the water. I suggest that you use the Adjustments Brush, with Blacks set to -100. Apply this brush everywhere on the image except the subjects (that would make the subject too dark).

Water Splash Photography Made Easy

Adjustment Brush settings to apply to the water.

You can use the brush even on the splash itself, because this will make it cleaner and sharper, but be careful not to over do it because you can lose some details on the splash.

Water Splash Photography Made Easy

After the Adjustment Brush has been applied.

Final touches

Now open the image in Photoshop, create a new empty layer, select the brush color black, and start painting the new layer black. Be careful near the subjects, to avoid painting them also. This way you can achieve a clean black background around the subject. You can even paint away small drops of water that you consider unnecessary. Try to preserve a little bit of the surface of the water though.

If you like the painting you applied, it’s time to add sharpness to the image using the Unsharp mask at the level of your taste. You can also add some contrast or saturation depending on the final look you want to get.

Water Splash Photography Made Easy

Water Splash Photography Made Easy

Water Splash Photography Made Easy

Your turn

Are you ready to give water splash photography a try? Here’s another dPS article that can give you some more splash tips, How to do Creative Water Splash Photography with Off-Camera Flash.

If you have any questions please post them in the comments section below, and also share your images so we can see your results.

Bio

Stefan Mogyorosi is a photographer based in Oradea, Romania. He works mostly on commercial projects for the beauty industry, but also likes to do personal projects photographing still life, macro, fashion, portraits, or glamour. Experimenting with freezing motion and working with liquids are his top priorities right now.

Personal page – http://www.mogyorosistefan.ro
Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/mogyorosistefanphotography/
Instagram page – https://www.instagram.com/mogyorosistefan/

The post Water Splash Photography Made Easy by Stefan Mogyorosi appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Just Pull Some Strings: 8 Easy Transforming Furniture Designs for Lazy People

21 Mar

[ By SA Rogers in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

gesture controlled transforming furniture

When you’re lazy, even the most intuitive transforming furniture isn’t easy enough to operate unless it’s on the same level as clapping your lights on and off. Luckily for those of us who fall into this category, some furniture makers are creating multifunctional designs for small spaces that work their magic at the push of a button, the pull of a string, a flick of the wrist or even a mere gesture.

Retractible Ollie Chair by RockPaperRobot

ollie chair gif

ollie chair flat pack

ollie chair

ollie chair

You really have to watch the video of how this chair works to fully appreciate its brilliant simplicity. It starts as an entirely flat panel of slatted teak wood with a slight curve at the top. Pick it up, pull a string and the whole thing unfurls into a seat in a single fluid motion that’s very satisfying to watch, and it works the same way in reverse. The slats are affixed to a textile canvas to make the seating flexible, and the rest takes folding inspiration from origami.

A-Board Flat-Pack Shelf

a-board

a-board 2

This bookshelf starts as a flat piece of laser-cut plywood. Yang the orange ribbon on the back, and it will pull the shelves down perpendicular to the face so you can rest the whole thing against a wall and use it as a bookshelf. Designer Tomas Schön used a laser-cutting technique to bend the wood instead of hinges, and there’s no other hardware or even glue involved.

MIT Media Lab CityHome

MIT cityhome

MIT cityhome 2

MIT cityhome 3

Still not easy enough for you? How about commanding your bed to slide out with a gesture of your hands? MIT’s robotic ‘home in a box’ can pack a full, spacious-feeling apartment into 200 square feet of space, including a bed, workspace, dining table for dix, storage and a mini kitchen. The box uses built-in sensors, motors, LED lights and low-friction rollers to respond to your voice commands or gestures.

Ori Robotic Home Controlled via Smartphone App

ori robotic home

ori robotic home 2

ori robotic home 3

There are all sorts of complex transforming furniture systems designed to fit maximum function into small spaces, but how many of them are operated through a smartphone app? The Ori system (taking its name from the prefix of ‘origami’) runs on robotic technology, featuring an on-device user interface as well as an app for your handheld device so you can press a button to initiate various configurations, like the bed sliding out, the table folding down or the entire unit moving to tuck itself against a wall to open up the floor area.

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Just Pull Some Strings 8 Easy Transforming Furniture Designs For Lazy People

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[ By SA Rogers in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

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Blackmagic Web Presenter makes it easy to use any camera for live webcasting

12 Feb

Have you ever wanted to use your DSLR, mirrorless, or other high quality camera for live video streaming on platforms like Facebook Live, Skype, or Periscope? If so, you’ve probably discovered how challenging it can be to get some of these programs to work with something other than a webcam or smartphone camera.

 
This week, Blackmagic Design announced what appears to be a great solution to this problem. The Blackmagic Web Presenter is a device that captures video from any camera and relays it to your computer, making the video appear as though it originates from a webcam. Blackmagic claims that it should work with Mac, Windows, Linux, and even Chromebook computers automatically without installing any drivers.
The Web Presenter supports video output from cameras up to Ultra HD resolution. The device scales output signal down to 720p for web streaming using Teranex conversions, which should result in very high quality scaling. It supports both HDMI 2.0 and 12G-SDI connections, and also includes XLR and component audio-in.
 
If you’ve longed to use your favorite DSLR or mirrorless camera instead of a mediocre webcam or smartphone for live webcasts, the Web Presenter looks like it could be a great option.
 
The Blackmagic Design Web Presenter is available now for $ 495.
 
Press release:

Blackmagic Design Announces New Blackmagic Web Presenter

Now it’s possible to make any SDI and HDMI video source appear as a USB webcam for high quality streaming on the internet.

Fremont, California – February 6, 2017 – Blackmagic Design today announced the new Blackmagic Web Presenter, which allows customers to use their professional SDI and HDMI video sources with streaming software and services such as YouTube Live, Facebook Live, and more.

Featuring 12G-SDI and HDMI connections, Blackmagic Web Presenter will down convert any SD, HD and Ultra HD sources and make them look like a 720p USB webcam. As all streaming software works with webcams, Blackmagic Web Presenter also makes it easy to work with any streaming software, but with dramatically higher quality. Streaming in 720p ensures customers get the quality of HD and a 16:9 aspect ratio, but with very low data rates so uplinking streams to the internet is easy from any computer.

Blackmagic Web Presenter can also live switch programs using its built in 2 input production switcher when the optional Teranex Mini Smart Panel is installed, making it a full live production solution for location broadcast.
Blackmagic Web Presenter is available now for US$ 495 from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide.

Blackmagic Web Presenter is the fastest and easiest way to get high quality video directly on the web for a new generation of web broadcasting. It replaces expensive and hard to set up dedicated streaming encoders and lets customers or broadcasters use professional cameras to stream high quality video through their favorite software and websites. Because Blackmagic Web Presenter looks like a simple webcam, any webcam compatible software will be able to capture this USB video and audio from any broadcast quality source without the need for additional drivers.

Blackmagic Web Presenter is designed for both the high end broadcaster as well as a new generation of web broadcasters. Traditional broadcasters can use Blackmagic Web Presenter to get content online quickly to a global audience from any location. AV professionals can create high quality live streams of seminars and conferences, educators can stream school performances and recitals to family members around the world, and gamers can share their gameplay with massive online communities of players.
Blackmagic Web Presenter also completely revolutionizes online webinars because customers can use it as a full featured, professional live production switcher simply by adding the optional Teranex Mini Smart Panel. That means they can create webinars using multiple sources so the finished program looks better and is far more dynamic than ever before.
Blackmagic Web Presenter features Teranex conversions that provide high quality image scaling for incredible looking web video. Incoming SD, HD and Ultra HD sources are automatically converted to 720p and output via USB to the computer for streaming on the internet. Converting sources to 720p is ideal for streaming because it delivers HD resolution and incredible quality at the lowest possible data rate. If the streaming software detects a slow internet connection, it can command Blackmagic Web Presenter to reduce the frame rate to 20, 15, 10 or even 5 frames per second.
Customers using Blackmagic Web Presenter don’t need to install any additional drivers because it is a standard UVC and UAC compatible USB video device. That means Mac, Windows, Linux and even Chromebook computers will automatically recognize Blackmagic Web Presenter as a standard webcam. This allows customers to use professional cameras to get far superior video quality, while maintaining compatibility with all of their existing software because the computer sees it as a simple webcam. Blackmagic Web Presenter works with software such as Open Broadcaster and XSplit Broadcaster, as well as popular sites like YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Skype, Twitch.TV, Periscope and more.
 
When used with the optional Teranex Mini Smart Panel, Blackmagic Web Presenter can be used as a broadcast quality, 2 input live production switcher. The panel adds push button controls, an LCD screen and spin knob for quickly cutting between sources. Blackmagic Web Presenter features re-synchronization on the HDMI input, so cutting between sources is always smooth and glitch free. For example, customers can connect an SDI camera and an HDMI laptop, and then use the front panel to switch between them while broadcasting live on the internet, complete with smooth, professional looking dissolves.

Blackmagic Web Presenter features 12G-SDI and HDMI 2.0 connections for working with all formats up to 2160p60, loop out to send the input signals back out to other devices such as a projector, and a program output to send full resolution SDI to a recorder or monitor. It also has XLR and RCA HiFi inputs for connecting microphones and other audio devices, along with a built in 90V – 240V AC power supply so customers don’t have to carry around extra power bricks or cables.

Blackmagic Web Presenter is portable enough to take anywhere so customers can broadcast wherever there’s an internet connection. The compact 1/3 rack unit size is perfect for equipment racks and can be placed alongside other equipment such as Teranex Mini Converters, HyperDeck Studio recorders and even ATEM Television Studio HD.
“Blackmagic Web Presenter lets customers create incredible looking online broadcasts using their professional SDI equipment and HDMI sources such as cameras, laptops and gaming consoles,” said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “The exciting part about it is that there are no drivers, it just works with all of the most popular webcam software and sites such as Open Broadcaster, XSplit Broadcaster, YouTube Live, Twitch.TV, Facebook Live and more. Plus, it can be turned into a full featured live production switcher simply by adding a Teranex Mini Smart Panel. Blackmagic Web Presenter is revolutionary because it makes global broadcasting available to anyone, which has been our dream for a long, long time!”
Blackmagic Web Presenter Key Features

  • Converts any SDI or HDMI source to USB webcam video in 720p HD format.
  • No drivers required, works with popular streaming software such as Open Broadcaster, XSplit Broadcaster, YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Periscope, Twitch.TV and more.
  • Supports all SD, HD and Ultra HD input sources up to 2160p60.
  • 12G-SDI input with 12G-SDI loop output.
  • 12G-SDI program output, ideal for recording masters when doing live switching.
  • HDMI 2.0 input with independent HDMI loop output.
  • HDMI video input re-sync for live switching.
  • XLR balanced mic/line level audio input.
  • Consumer HiFi connections for 2 channels of audio input.
  • Teranex quality down converter.
  • Built in 2 input switcher when used with optional Teranex Mini Smart Panel.
  • Desktop design or can be rack mounted using the Teranex Mini Rack Shelf.

Availability and Price

Blackmagic Web Presenter is available now for US$ 495 from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide.
 

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners

11 Feb

It’s the easiest thing in the world to take a photo. You aim and press, and you’ve captured a moment, which in time will turn into a treasured memory. But did you know that with just a little bit more effort and barely any time, you can turn those captures into something more? Something that offers the subject the respect it deserves. Something that is a pleasure to look at even before the shimmer of nostalgia is sprinkled onto it by time, and something you’ll be proud to share.

With these five basic steps, you will notice an immediate improvement in your photos. Once you’ve started giving it just a little bit more thought, it’ll become a natural part of your photography.

Let’s begin!

1. Get low, get high — it’s all about perspective

The easiest and most natural way is to photograph from the level of your own eyes. There is nothing wrong with that, but it’s just one of many viewpoints — and perspective is essential to the way we relate to a photograph.

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners - perspective

Shot at human eye level.

Want to expand your perspective? Don’t be afraid to move, crouch, or if you’re up to it, lie down before taking your photo. Climb up on a chair even. If you’re photographing a child, get down to their eye-level and see what a difference it makes to your photo.

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners - perspective

Shot at bug level.

2. Less space, more content

Do you tend to point and shoot, without composing the photo? This leads to two very common outcomes. One of them being a lot of unnecessary space around the subject, the other we’ll discuss in step three below.

Does the person you’re photographing take up only a small portion of the image? Most of the time, that’s unintentional, and it just makes it harder to enjoy the look of the subject, whether it’s a person, flower, or a sculpture.

Try filling the frame with a face. Don’t be afraid to get closer (unless you’re photographing a venomous snake).

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners - get close 5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners - get close

3. A view askew (off-centered)

The other common result of pointing and shooting is that the subject almost always ends up being in the center of the frame. Sometimes, that works beautifully, but most of the time it’s just boring.

If you’re photographing a person, try to place them (particularly their eyes) off-center in the image. Be aware of their movement or line of sight, and leave room for that. Meaning, place the subject to the side they’re not moving into or looking at, and put more space in front of them in the direction they’re facing.

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners - off-center

The statue is entered in the frame here and the image is very static (boring).

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners - off-center

In this image there is more room in front of the statue in the direction the hand is pointing, leaving room for the little bird to “fly”.

To learn more about composition, check out these composition tips.

4. When too much is just right

If you’ve been doing photography for a while, you’ve probably heard how important it is to control the exposure of your images correctly (in other words avoiding both too little and too much light. It’s a basic rule of photography, but let me suggest that you try breaking it.

In my experience, too little light is more of a problem than too much, and sometimes, too much is just perfect — especially if your subject is backlit.

Try it and see what you think!

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners

5. Space is cheap

Don’t worry about taking too many photos. Really! One of the great things about digital photography is that you can snap loads of shots and choose among them later for the best ones to keep. Don’t miss a moment because you hoped to capture it perfectly in one go.

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners

Try taking photos the way you would normally, then experiment with the steps presented above. When you look through your photos, choose the ones you like and delete the rest. Think a bit about why you like the ones you kept and why you chose to delete some. It’s a fun, easy, and cheap way to learn and to find your own style.

Lastly

As always, rules are meant to be broken! But remember that the more familiar you are with the rules, the more creative your breaking of them can be. If you try out any of these steps, I’d love to see your creations in the comments below!

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The post 5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners by Hannele Luhtasela-el Showk appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Google’s new PhotoScan app makes digitizing prints super easy

16 Nov

There are plenty of existing methods for digitizing printed photos, and most of them fall on a spectrum between ‘arduous with good results’ and ‘quick with terrible results.’ Google’s new PhotoScan app aims to aims to bridge the gap with a method that’s easy and produces good results by employing computational photography. 

The free app, available now for Android and iOS, requires the user to place their photo on a flat surface. After snapping a reference frame, the app directs the user to move their phone around the image to capture more data and, critically, move around the glare that the photo is almost certainly reflecting.

After you’ve made a successful pass, the app will work its magic and spit out a digitized, glare-free rendition of your photo. Images can be saved to your phone’s camera roll and to the cloud. In less than a minute, you’ve got a shareable digital photo that’s way better than the quick-and-dirty version.

Decent scans of instant photos with minimal effort? Sign me up. I scanned these Instax prints with Google’s PhotoScan app and they are gloriously glare-free.

The app analyzes your photo and identifies reference points so it can merge multiple versions of the same image, and compares pixel-level details to judge which image is free of glare. It’s based on technology Google and MIT have been developing to help remove unwanted reflections and obstructions from photos.

The app automatically crops, straightens and rotates your photo, but you can rotate and adjust the corners after capture if needed. My first few tries show surprisingly good results, with glare nearly totally removed in each image. The app uses your phone’s flash to provide illumination, but even so, using better available light produced the nicest results. The results look good enough for social sharing, but if it’s high resolution, high quality digital conversions you’re after, you’ll probably still need to go about it the hard way.

For more information you can watch Google’s Nat and Lo interview researchers about how it all works.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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How to Give Your Landscape Photos Extra Punch in One Easy Step

09 Nov

Have you ever felt that your landscape photography is missing a little punch? You look at other photographers’ images and their colours have a very appealing amount of contrast. But no matter how much you play around with HSL (Hue, Saturation, Luminance), Contrast, Vibrance or Saturation, your colours just don’t get the same depth and contrast and end up looking fake and oversaturated.

The quality of the lens being used affects color greatly (more expensive lenses generally give a much better colour contrast than entry-level lenses). But there is a step that you can do when post-processing your recent landscape photos to give the colours an extra little bit of punch and contrast and more importantly, keep them from looking overcooked.

before-after

Color space

You may be aware of a term Colour space which essentially determines how devices represent colour. The two most common colour spaces are Adobe RGB and sRGB. Adobe sRGB is used on the web and for many smart devices. Adobe RGB is a little bigger than sRGB and can show more colors. However, these are not the only colour spaces around. Lightroom, for example, uses one of the largest (able to produce a larger amount of colours) called ProPhoto RGB.

But enough about colour spaces! I can already see your eyes glazing over, mine are already as I type this. But knowing that there are different colour spaces can be helpful. Knowing exactly how they work isn’t necessarily all that important.

Convert to Lab Color

The colour space that you’ll want to recognize is LAB Color. How does it work? Doesn’t really matter. But how can you use it give your images that extra punch? In this article, I’ll explain how a very simple step (and I mean simple!) that will help give your images that extra punch using the LAB colour space in Photoshop.

Okay, so first up you’re going to want to bring your image into Photoshop. Before you do this, you may need to develop the image a little in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom. Fix up any exposure issues, correct the white balance, etc.

This is the image that I’ll use as an example.

before

This image has had very little done to it prior to Photoshop. A simple crop, general contrast and exposure correction were all that was applied.

Now that your images is open in Photoshop, the very first thing you need to do is convert it from Adobe RGB or sRGB (depending on what you have set as the working colour space in Photoshop) to LAB Color.

To do this, go to: Image > Mode > Lab Color.

The tick next to RGB Color means that Adobe RGB is currently being used.

The tick next to RGB Color means that Adobe RGB is currently being used.

Now Photoshop is using LAB instead. You won’t notice a change at all at this step because nothing has changed on your end. All you have simply done is tell Photoshop which method to use to display colours.

Add a Curves Adjustment Layer

With your image in LAB Color, the next step is to create a Curves Adjustment Layer. Once this layer has been created, you should see something like this:

lab-curves1

Generally, this doesn’t look any different to any other Curves Adjustment Layer except for one thing. Instead of having RGB in the drop down menu, you will see Lightness.

With this adjustment layer created, the next step is to click on the Lightness drop down menu. This brings up Lightness, A, B; which is what LAB is short for!

lab-curves

Adjust Channel A

Now, you need to select the A-channel. With the A-channel selected, bring in the shadows anchor point at the bottom-left corner toward the bottom-centre. You will notice the Input numbers increasing from -128. As a starting point, I like to bring this value to -100. Now, find the highlight anchor point (top-right) and bring that toward the top-centre by the same value; for -100 set it to 100.

Notice the anchor points have moved toward the centre equally?

Notice the anchor points have moved toward the centre equally?

You’ll notice strange things happening to your colours as you slide the anchor points along. Don’t panic – this is supposed to happen.

Adjust Channel B

Now do the same steps by the same values for both shadows and highlights for the B-channel.

Same steps have been done for Channel B

Same steps have been done for Channel B

NOTE: make sure your Output value remains at -128 for the shadows and 127 for the highlights. If these numbers are altered it means that the anchor point is being lifted from the bottom for shadows and dropped from the top for highlights. You just want to drag the sliders along horizontally (not move them up or down).

With both A and B channels having been done now, the colour and colour contrast of your image should look different from the original. This is how my original image looks after these steps.

This is after setting A/B shadows to -100 and highlights to 100.

This is after setting A/B shadows to -100 and highlights to 100.

Fine tuning

For me, that is looking a little overdone. But no problem! To change this, all you have to do is reduce the amount you moved the anchor points in both A and B channels. I generally find going by increments of 10 is most helpful.
If you feel your image needs more punch, then you will want to bring the anchor points closer to the centre. Just remember to keep each value across the shadow/highlight, A/B channels the same.

After increasing the numbers in my images, I felt that -110/110 in A/B worked the best (see below).

after-110

Convert back to RBG

Once you are happy with how your image looks, it’s time to change it back to RGB. To change your image from LAB to RGB, go to: Image > Mode > RGB color.

change-to-rgb

You’ll be alerted that changing modes will discard adjustment layers, but that is fine. Select OK and you’ll be brought back into RGB. You’ll notice that the Curves Adjustment layer is now gone and that your image is now the background layer. However, the effect on the colours should remain. Now you’re free to go about editing the photo as much as you like.

So that’s a very simple technique to add more colour punch in your images. Just remember these two points:

  • This is something that you should do at the beginning of editing your image in Photoshop and not the end as you will lose all your adjustment layers when changing modes.
  • Remember to alter the anchors points from A/B b by the same value to eliminate strange things happening to your colours.

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The post How to Give Your Landscape Photos Extra Punch in One Easy Step by Daniel Smith appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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5 Easy Tips for Photographing Babies Outdoors

10 Oct

When it comes to photographing babies under two years old (and newborns), most people immediately think of studios with elaborate backdrops and lots of available headbands, hats, and props. There’s nothing wrong with that type of photography for children, but if you don’t have access to a studio space of your own, you have to get a little creative.

outdoor-newborns

More and more, I’m discovering that I love to photograph both newborns and young babies outdoors. Yes, I often take even 5-10 day old little babies outside for at least part of their session. If you’d like to give it a try as well, here are five simple tips to help get you started while also keeping the little guys and gals safe.

1. Settle them inside

photographing-newborns-outs

When it comes to newborns, you’ll find that they settle best when they’re very warm. This means that if you want to photograph a baby outdoors, you will typically be more successful if you begin indoors. Inside, swaddle the baby up tightly. Keep in mind that babies like to be warm, so you may want to leave them in pyjamas under the swaddle. Then rock them while playing white noise or making sushing sounds until they are nice and sleepy. Next, lay the baby in a basket or bowl that has been lined with a fluffy blanket and let them settle. Once the baby has settled in, carry the whole thing outdoors.

newborn-photos-outside

Sometimes, photographing babies outdoors can be a bit of a race against time, as any big gust of wind or loud noise can startle them awake. For best success, scout out a location that’s close to the house before you begin. Also, even in the most ideal situations, there are times when a baby just won’t stay settled outdoors. If you experience that, don’t sweat it, just move on.

Recently, I tried to take a baby outdoors on several occasions, and each time she woke up crying before I could get even a single shot. So with permission, I cut a few flowers and brought them inside, and photographed the baby inside with the flowers instead (see photo above). Just be flexible. If you can’t bring the newborn outside, consider ways to bring the outdoors in.

2. Have someone hold them

newborn-session-outdoors

If you primarily shoot on location, you’ll find that not all families have a great space for family portraits indoors. Sometimes the physical shape or size of the room isn’t particularly conducive to a group portrait, or the decor doesn’t quite match the desired aesthetic. Sometimes families just have beautiful outdoor spaces that I love to showcase.

Regardless of the scenario, I often find myself asking mom or dad to hold the baby during a few family portraits outdoors. Particularly if the family has expressed an interest in “lifestyle” or “candid” images, as nature can tend to feel less stuffy and conservative than an indoor studio setup.

outdoor-newborn-session

Even if you experience a baby that won’t settle outdoors in a basket or bowl, keep in mind that being held in mom or dad’s arms may be an entirely different story. Sometimes babies just want to be held. Don’t be afraid to experiment with both scenarios until you discover what works best for each individual baby and family.

3. Shade them appropriately

outdoor-newborn

Whether you’re placing a baby in some vessel or having a parent hold them outdoors, it is really important to make sure that they’re shaded appropriately. Both newborns and older babies have very sensitive skin, and the last thing you want is for them to get a sunburn for the sake of some photos (it’s also better light for portraits). If you’re not able to find shade naturally available, some alternative options are a large umbrella (patio or beach umbrellas work well), or even a reflector held directly overhead.

When dealing with dappled light through trees, I sometimes position mom or dad strategically just out of frame so that they block any light that may fall on baby’s face or body.

4. Try to contain walkers and crawlers

photograph-babies-outdoors

When it comes to photographing older babies outdoors, there’s a sweet spot between sitting babies and crawling babies when outdoor photography is easiest. That said, you won’t always be working with the ideal developmental stage because all babies hit those stages at different ages. So, it’s best to be prepared with a few tricks up your sleeve to make photographing walkers and crawlers a little bit easier.

photograph-babies-outside-3

I usually start by laying a quilt or blanket down on the ground. Some babies will not crawl off the blanket because they hate how the grass feels on their bare hands and feet. This is typically not a solution that lasts for the duration of the session without causing frustration, but can sometimes buy you a few stationary minutes. Other than the blanket trick, I have used galvanized wash tubs, old crates, toddler sized chairs, and wagons, to help contain older babies outdoors.

When using any of these props, please be safe. Use a spotter if necessary to prevent tumbles, and don’t be afraid to use composite images (combine two shots) if needed so that someone can have a hand on the baby at all times.

5. If you can’t contain them, entertain them

photograph-babies-outside

If sitters, walkers, and crawlers aren’t happy being contained, your next best bet is to just roll with it. Don’t push things, or you’ll likely to end up with a baby in tears, and nobody wants that at a photo session.

At the first signs of frustration, transition to games or activities that will entertain the baby, then keep taking pictures. Many babies and early walkers love to hold hands and stand or walk, so let them. Have mom or dad pick up the baby overhead and play airplane. Play a game of chase. You’ll be surprised at the opportunities for candid images of the family having fun together, as well as the number of opportunities for images that have a portrait feel to them as well.

photograph-babies-outdoors-

Do you have any other tips for photographing newborns or young babies outdoors? If so, please chime in the comments below.

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The post 5 Easy Tips for Photographing Babies Outdoors by Meredith Clark appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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