Posts Tagged ‘easy’

Easy Color Grading With LUTs and Luminar 2018

20 Feb

Focusing on color can help you communicate style and emotion. This approach is often referred to as color grading.

Color grading versus color correction

You may have wondered how this differs from color correction, which is more of a technical adjustment. A tungsten bulb, for example, will produce a color shift in your images that’s warmer than what you’re accustomed to seeing with your eyes. Often you want to adjust that hue, cooling it off a bit so that it appears more natural. That’s a correction.

Color grading, on the other hand, leans toward the artistic. You may want to add or enhance orange tones and teals to create a mood similar to what one would experience in the movies. Exact reality isn’t the goal. It’s more about a creative look that elicits a feeling.

Here’s a simple example. Compare these two portraits. The first picture seems perfectly fine. The rendered colors are similar to what we would perceive if standing there during capture.

Color Corrected Portrait - color grading in Luminar 2018

A reasonably color correct portrait.

The second image is color graded to communicate a style, a look. And even though it isn’t natural by everyday lighting standards, it’s interesting – and probably more engaging than the “correct” color version.

Color Graded Portrait - color grading using LUTs

This version was color graded in Luminar 2018 using Chrono-Steel LUT by

All image editors are equipped to correct color. But some are better than others at providing the means to manipulate it stylistically. Luminar 2018 is one of those creative applications.

The Power of LUTs

Lookup Tables (LUTs) sound like a technical adjustment. And indeed there is plenty of color science at work under the hood. They are used to precisely shift colors from one spot to another. But those shifts can be stored in a container, such as a “.cube” file, that can be used to color grade an image.

So even though LUTs are precise color science, their recipes can be wonderfully artistic.

Las vegas comparison - Easy Color Grading With LUTs and Luminar 2018

A side by side comparison of this Las Vegas scene shows how color grading can breathe life into an image.

The original version of this Las Vegas scene was serviceable, but certainly not exciting. Nor did it convey the majesty of the building. By color grading with a teal and orange LUT, suddenly the scene comes to life.

Does it look exactly like that in reality? No. But does the image feel like Las Vegas? Definitely more than the original.

Applying LUTs in Luminar 2018

Your gateway to this type of color grading in Luminar 2018 is via the LUT Mapping Filter. You can add this adjustment to your workspace by clicking on the Filters button, and by choosing LUT Mapping from the Professional category.

Adding LUT Mapping - Easy Color Grading With LUTs and Luminar 2018

LUT Mapping is available via the Filters menu in Luminar 2018.

Once the filter has been added to the workspace, click on the popup menu inside the panel to reveal the built-in LUTs (such as Tritone and Kodack chrome 3), or to access LUT files that you may have already added to your computer via Load Custom LUT File.

Before After Color Grading

LUT Mapping Filter - Easy Color Grading With LUTs and Luminar 2018

Luminar comes with built-in LUTs, or you can add your own.

Once you select a LUT, the image is color graded via the LUT’s recipe. You can fine-tune the recipe using the Amount, Contrast, and Saturation sliders. Also, a good companion filter for this color grading with LUTs is HSL, which provides color adjustments for hue, saturation, and luminance.

HSL Filter - Easy Color Grading With LUTs and Luminar 2018

Tips for Effective Color Grading with LUTs

Creating a separate adjustment layer for your color grading provides lots of flexibility. The base layer is used for basic adjustments via the Develop filter and the other tools that you need to establish a good range of tones. The adjustment layer (Layers > Add New Adjustment Layer) contains the LUT Mapping, HSL, and other creative filters. You can then use the blend modes and the opacity slider for precise control over the grading.

Custom Preset - Easy Color Grading With LUTs and Luminar 2018

Saving your LUT as a custom preset provides you with a preview thumbnail as well.

Another handy technique is to save your LUT color grading as a custom preset. Luminar makes this easy. Once you achieve a look that you want to use again, save it as a custom preset. Use the “Save Filters Preset” button in the lower right corner of Luminar. This provides the added benefit of a preview thumbnail for the LUT and its accompanying adjustments. You can create custom presets for all of your favorite LUTs. That’s a real time saver.

LUTs are also terrific for film emulation. There are LUTs for Kodachrome, Polaroid, and B&W film looks. This is a high-quality way to build your own Instagram-like filters, with a pinch of your own creativity added.

Downloading and Organizing More LUT Files

Skylum maintains a LUT downloads page that you can access through Luminar. Click on “Download New LUT Files” in the LUT Mapping popup menu. This will take you to the Skylum LUT catalog.

Download New LUTs - Easy Color Grading With LUTs and Luminar 2018

Once you download a new collection of LUTs, store them in a place that you will remember, such as a LUTs folder in Pictures or Documents. You’ll have to navigate there when you use the “Load Custom LUT File” command in Luminar. The application doesn’t store LUTs for you, so you have to remember where you are.

Bonus tip! Store your custom LUTs in Dropbox so you can access them from any computer.

Save Your Work

If you’re using Luminar 2018 as a standalone app (as opposed to a plug-in or editing extension), then save your favorite color gradings as a Luminar file. This allows you to return to the image and its settings at a future date to continue your work, or to change the color grading to another style.

Make it Look Easy

Your viewers may not realize the techniques that you used to create the enticing color schemes in your images. What they will notice are your style and creativity. Using LUTs can contribute greatly to that pursuit.

Disclaimer: Skylum (formerly Macphun) is a paid partner of dPS.

The post Easy Color Grading With LUTs and Luminar 2018 by Derrick Story appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Microsoft Photos Companion app offers easy photo transfer from smartphones to PC

17 Feb

Microsoft has launched a new app to facilitate easy photo transfer from mobile devices to a Windows 10 PC, without using the cloud. Photos Companion is available for iOS and Android and deposits your mobile images in the Windows Photos app on the desktop or laptop PC using just a WiFi network.

To get started, you have to scan a QR code in the Windows Photos desktop app to pair smartphone and computer. Both devices have to be connected to the same WiFi network, which in turn allows you to send individual images or entire batches across very quickly. It is, in essence, the exact same system as Apple’s AirDrop, but limited to photos and videos.

Pairing isn’t permanent, and will have to be re-established for each sharing operation. Still, that’s easily done and the app looks like an interesting solution for collecting media files from multiple mobile devices on a single PC for working on collaborative projects.

Once on the PC, images and videos can be shared and edited in the Windows Photo app as usual. If Photos Companion sounds like an app that could potentially improve your workflow, you can find more information and app store links on the Microsoft website.

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Getting Started with Landscape Photography – 4 Easy Tips for Beginners

13 Feb

One of the things I like most about photography is that there is always more to learn. It keeps the mind active and the creative juices flowing. But the wealth of information out there can be overwhelming for beginners in landscape photography. Where do you start?

There are a few easy things you can do that will have an immediate impact on your photography so you can start making better images right away. Let’s focus on those and leave the more technical stuff for later.

1. Pay attention to the light

There is no such thing as bad light. The key is to understand what kinds of images are suitable under various lighting conditions.

Red Rock State Park, Arizona by Anne McKinnell - Getting Started with Landscape Photography - 4 Easy Tips for Beginners

During golden hour, the day’s last light makes the rocks glow.

The Golden Hour

This is the time right after sunrise and right before sunset when the sun is low in the sky and casts beautiful golden light. Start here! It’s hard to go wrong with golden light, which is the most popular time of day for photography.

Ajo, Arizona by Anne McKinnell - Getting Started with Landscape Photography - 4 Easy Tips for Beginners

The cactus in the foreground is in the shade while golden hour light reflects off the mountain in the background.

Bright Midday Light

The opposite of golden hour, the harsh direct light you find at midday can be the most difficult to work with – unless you photograph in the shade.

Just look for interesting subjects that are in the shade and leave the sky out of the frame. The even soft light is great for close-ups and flower photography.

Bush Lupin - Getting Started with Landscape Photography - 4 Easy Tips for Beginners

Flowers photographed in the shade.

There are more types of light to work with and different times of day to photograph, but start with these for the quickest results.

2. Remove distractions

Pay attention to the things in the background of your images and try to simplify the background as much as possible. Sometimes there is an unwanted object, like a trash can for example, that you might not notice unless you are looking for it. These things can often be hidden behind your main subject simply by moving to one side, photographing from a higher or lower perspective, or getting closer.

Try to simplify your composition as much as possible with fewer items in your scene. Find a way to photograph your main subject on a clean background.

Big surf on the Oregon Coast. Getting Started with Landscape Photography - 4 Easy Tips for Beginners

To make this image, I had to change my perspective to eliminate debris on the sand as well as other rocks and birds from the frame.

Beware of tree branches or other things that poke in to the edge of your frame. Before you take your shot, try to remember to do an “edge check”. Look around the edges of your frame and make sure it looks clean.

3. Look for one thing

Your photograph cannot be about everything. You need to decide what is most interesting in your scene and make your photograph about that. Get closer to it.

One exercise that will get you in this habit is to go on a photo walk with the purpose of looking for one particular element of design. You’ll find that when you set your mind on one thing, you’ll start to see it everywhere. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Textures and Patterns

Often beginning photographers will try to capture an entire vista in one photograph and don’t notice the details. But the more you train your eye to notice the details, the more interesting your photographs will become.

The best thing about photographing textures and patterns is that you don’t have to go far to find them. Your subject can be anything from rocks to grass or peeling paint. I’m sure you can find subjects with wonderful textures close to home. Try to fill your frame with the pattern.

Weston Beach, Point Lobos State Reserve, California - Getting Started with Landscape Photography - 4 Easy Tips for Beginners

Filling the frame with the pattern of colorful rocks.


Look for horizontal lines, vertical lines or diagonal lines. Try to find lines that lead the way to some interesting subject.


Take a look at the color wheel and notice complementary colors. Those are the ones that are opposites on the wheel such as blue and orange, red and green, or yellow and purple. Any scene with complementary colors is always striking (which is why so many photographers carry around a red umbrella or a red jacket for their partner to wear in a grassy or forest scene).

Bamboo Forest - Getting Started with Landscape Photography - 4 Easy Tips for Beginners

Complementary colors plus diagonal lines.

4. Make time to practice

It doesn’t take long to develop good habits and learn what makes an interesting photograph. But it can be hard to remember if you only go shooting once in awhile. Try to make a habit of doing it every day, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes. By doing this, you’ll reinforce the habit and find yourself seeing the potential for great images all around you all the time.

Spider Rock, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona - Getting Started with Landscape Photography - 4 Easy Tips for Beginners

Golden hour – there is still enough light to photograph the depths of the canyon while the last of the day’s light reflects off the top of the highest rock.


There are more technical things that you’ll want to start learning soon such as; how the exposure triangle works, understanding depth of field, picking the right shooting mode, focus settings, and more. It’s endless (which is a good thing).

But for now, these tips will get you on the right track so you are happy with your images right from the beginning. Have fun!

The post Getting Started with Landscape Photography – 4 Easy Tips for Beginners by Anne McKinnell appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Switching from Lightroom to ACDSee Photo Studio: Making the Jump Easy

14 Dec

Let’s be honest – over the past couple of months, more than enough has been said about Adobe’s recent change in policy regarding how the latest versions (yes, all two of them) of Lightroom are to be purchased and used. Articles have been written, disappointment expressed in some volume, silver linings spotted where there seemed to be none.

There’s also a good chance that you have made up your mind regarding the change to do one of the following:

  • To stick with CC and Classic.
  • To start the fairly painful process of moving on to a different piece of software.
  • Or to put off the decision for as long as the already-purchased version of Lightroom supports RAW files from your camera.

From Lightroom to ACDSee Photo Studio: Making the Jump Easy

Thus, we are not here to discuss Adobe’s brilliant decisions or lack thereof. This article is meant for those who chose the second option. Specifically, for those, who have decided to switch from Lightroom to ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate. Hopefully, the last article I wrote on ACDSee Photo Studio has helped you make up your mind whether or not this software is suitable for your needs. If it is, I will try to help make the transition as painless as possible.

An important disclaimer: as before, the license for this copy of ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate has been provided by ACD Systems. Having said that, even though ACD Systems has asked me to write this article, it has not been dictated by the company in the slightest. My words are always my own, as are your reasons for switching or otherwise. More than that, ACD Systems never implied they expect anything but integrity.

Direct transfer from Lightroom

I am afraid I will have to start with some disappointment, so I will try to rip off the bandage as quickly as possible. As of today, there is absolutely no way to transfer editing data from Lightroom to any other post-processing software or vice versa. It’s the result of closed-standard tools and database format that each software developer uses – not even sharpening is equivalent, let alone tonal adjustments.

So, the progress you have made with Lightroom is bound to remain accessible via Lightroom only, at least as far as RAW files themselves are concerned. For all the convenience catalog systems provide, this is one of the downsides – switching to a new RAW converter can really be a hassle.

From Lightroom to ACDSee Photo Studio: Making the Jump Easy

It may not be possible to transfer edits from LR to ACDSee, but Photo Studio sure has a lot of tools to cover most post-processing tasks.

But if you are here, I am guessing you have decided to push through the process now rather than become even more tied-in with the system Adobe is sticking to, and have even more to deal with at a later date. One solution you are left with is exporting full-size JPEG images from your Lightroom Catalog for any future needs (uploads to social media or websites, for example). But should you ever need to tweak a setting or two, you will either have to go back to Lightroom, or start from zero using ACDSee or an alternative tool.

Mind you, this caveat is only really valid for two or three years at the most, since there is a good chance that after a couple of years your taste in post-processing – as well as your skill – will have changed noticeably. I know mine has. Still, it is something that you will need to accept as an unavoidable result of having been part of such a closed system.

It is my hope that, over time, software developers such as ACD Systems will work out a way to read Adobe’s (and other) databases and interpret adjustments in an equivalent manner so that none of the edits – at least not those most prominent – would be lost when switching.

Now that the bandage is off, let’s go through what can be achieved with Photo Studio Ultimate.

Importing Lightroom Catalog Data

As I have mentioned in the previous article, culling and adding metadata information is an enormous pain for me. I am sure I am not the only one who just wants to get on with post-processing. Having to assign ratings and keywords all over again for images that have been organized in Lightroom would be insufferable. It is an enormous relief that this is something ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate can greatly help you with.

Photo Studio has the functionality to import ratings, color labels, keywords, and collections from any Lightroom Catalog, thus preserving the major image organizing-structure of your portfolio. The process of importing this data is very easy to initiate and requires minimal effort.

1. Find the Adobe Lightroom Database Import tool

While in Manage Mode, select the Tools menu at the very top of the screen. There, navigate to Database > Import > Lightroom Database, which is located at the very bottom of the Import submenu. This will open the Lightroom Database Import Guide.

From Lightroom to ACDSee Photo Studio: Making the Jump Easy

2. Select Data and Catalog to Import

As soon as you launch the Lightroom Database Importer, a dialog with a short introduction to the tool’s functionality will pop up. Click Next, and you will be given options to specify which database entries you want to be imported, as well as the location of the Lightroom Catalog itself.

From Lightroom to ACDSee Photo Studio: Making the Jump Easy

2.1 Ratings

This is the star-based filter assigned with numeric keys (1 through 5) in Lightroom. ACDSee does not have stars as such, but it provides a numeric rating that is equivalent for all intents and purposes. If you check this option, ACDSee will interpret the ratings you have assigned with Lightroom and apply the same values.

2.2 Labels

This specifically refers to color labels that both Lightroom and ACDSee support. Again, by default, the labels that ACDSee provides are exactly the same as those found in Lightroom, so files marked with a Red label in a Lightroom Catalog will be marked with the same color in ACDSee after the data from the Catalog is imported.

2.3 Collections

These are a bit more complicated than Labels and Ratings and not something Photo Studio promotes as a means to managing your files, at least not by default. But if you were using Collections in Lightroom to sort your images, ACDSee will readily take over.

Simply select the Panes menu and enable Collections there and a new navigational tab will become available. Located right next to the Folders tab in Manage mode, it will list all the Collections that the imported Catalogs contained, along with the images assigned to those Collections.

It has been a couple of years since I last used Collections in Lightroom, preferring to stick with simple filters now, but it is nice to know this option is available and neatly integrated.

From Lightroom to ACDSee Photo Studio: Making the Jump Easy

2.4 Keywords

These are perhaps self-explanatory. Any keywords that you applied in Lightroom to any given RAW file will be seen by ACDSee too. This is useful for when you want to find images of specific locations, events, or people, provided you specified those keywords in Lightroom in the first place. Obviously, if you have not, ACDSee offers enough image management tools to have you covered.

2.5 Location

ACDSee will navigate to the default Lightroom Catalog in the Pictures folder on your computer, so keep in mind you may need to change the location. There is no way to select several Catalogs at once, so if you have more than one (which is very likely), the Catalog Import process will need to be repeated once for each one.

From Lightroom to ACDSee Photo Studio: Making the Jump Easy

Make sure Lightroom is not running while attempting to Import a Catalog.

Depending on the size of the Catalog being imported and your computer hardware specifications, the process might take up to a few minutes to finish. In fact, it took ACDSee over 30 minutes to process my Catalog. More than enough time to take a break from work and have a cup of coffee (you will have to wait for the Import to finish before you can use Photo Studio for anything else).

Admittedly, the Catalog was quite large, with a year’s worth of RAW files, and stored on an external hard drive on top of that. And not the fastest sort either. Be that as it may, importing will certainly be quicker than having to apply the filters and ratings manually, and nowhere near as tedious.

From Lightroom to ACDSee Photo Studio: Making the Jump Easy

Once the process is finished, you will find (upon navigating to the corresponding folder) your RAW files to contain the same labels, ratings, and metadata entries as applied in Lightroom. Honestly, this is great. The only omission that I can think of is that ACDSee does not seem to take Flags into account, so any images you may have marked with Pick or Reject Flag in Lightroom will not have the filter imported.

Part of the reason is that ACDSee simply has no Reject Flag equivalent, even if marking a file with backslash key tags it in a similar fashion to how Pick Flag works in Lightroom. Something to improve upon perhaps.

From Lightroom to ACDSee Photo Studio: Making the Jump Easy

The ratings and labels Lightroom is showing…

From Lightroom to ACDSee Photo Studio: Making the Jump Easy

…are now transferred to ACDSee. And it gives you a good before-after glimpse too/

Plugins are added

Here is something that’s as unexpected as it is brilliant; ACDSee supports plugins designed for Adobe Photoshop. If you have been using Lightroom, this may be of relevance to you, too, as so many of these plugins are also meant for Adobe’s standalone RAW converter and image management software.

I have no idea how much work had to go into this little trick, but it is a massive attraction for anyone who is not fully satisfied with the extent of default ACDSee tools.

From Lightroom to ACDSee Photo Studio: Making the Jump Easy

Long time no see, Silver Efex. Fancy finding you here.

While I have not done any extensive testing – I rarely, if ever, use plugins anymore – I was able to verify this with one of the most well-regarded plugin packs by Nik Software (now owned by DxO after being nearly killed-off by Google). Color Efex worked like a charm. I encountered an occasional error here and there, but often to no direct effect on the functionality of the software or the plugin, so while annoying, it was rarely terminal.

I also tried a couple of plugins by Topaz some time ago and they worked without issue. The full list of officially supported tools can be found here.

From Lightroom to ACDSee Photo Studio: Making the Jump Easy

It is necessary to path the location of the already-installed plugins. To make sure ACDSee can locate the plugins correctly, first go to Edit mode. Then, select Options from the Tools menu at the top of the screen, or simply hit Alt + O. Once the Options panel is displayed, choose Edit Mode from the list on the left. There, you will be able to select the GPU that ACDSee will use to speed up processing, among other things.

What we need is the bottom-most field called Adobe Photoshop Plugin Paths. A couple of directories will be listed by default, but in some cases (as with Nik), they won’t be enough. You need to specify where the plugins are located. Since I am interested in using Nik Software, I added (click the Add button) a new path that leads to C:\Program Files\Nik Collection. The destination of your plugins might be different, so make sure you set the path correctly. Once you’re done, click OK.

From Lightroom to ACDSee Photo Studio: Making the Jump Easy

If the plugins are supported and the path has been specified accurately, you will find the plugins listed in the Photoshop Plugins section of the Tools menu (still in Edit Mode).

I won’t claim there is no chance of errors happening – after all, those plugins were never really intended for anything but Adobe. Yet the fact that they work so well despite that is an impressive and convenient achievement no matter how you look at it.

Just keep in mind that not everything might work as expected every single time, or it may take time for some plugins to be properly supported.

Final Words

Breaking and rearranging an established workflow is not a pleasant experience. Especially if the previous routine worked well and it is the company’s decisions, rather than the quality of the tool, that has become an issue. With that in mind, it is good to know that less-dominant software developers are going out of their way to show how welcoming they can be.

ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate attempts to make the transition from Lightroom as simple and straightforward as possible, not only by offering a plethora of powerful (and often similar) post-processing tools but by also taking steps towards preserving any image organizing you may have already done with Lightroom.

It’s not perfect and there is certainly room for improvement (perhaps edit transfers are not as far-fetched as they might seem?), but what has been done is by no means a small feat and will save any new user hours of rating and filtering what has already been done before.

Whichever software you will find yourself choosing next (or sticking with), there is plenty for the giant developers to learn from such attention to detail.

Disclaimer: ACDsee is a paid partner of dPS

The post Switching from Lightroom to ACDSee Photo Studio: Making the Jump Easy by Romanas Naryškin appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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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 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.

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