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Posts Tagged ‘Give’

AI-powered Google Lens can identify types of flowers, give info about restaurants

19 May

At Google I/O 2017 the company showed off its new Google Lens technology. This AI-powered capability uses visual recognition to provide information about whatever your smartphone’s camera is pointed at. Examples given by the company include identifying a type of flower or providing reviews and other information about a restaurant.

You will also be able to point the camera at a concert sign and have the opportunity to buy tickets, or get connected to a Wi-Fi network by aiming at the router’s ID ‘setting sticker.’

Google Lens will be incorporated into the company’s Photos and Assistant apps, but specific release dates aren’t given.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Adobe’s Lightroom Coffee Break videos give quick time-saving tips

11 May

It’s over ten years since Adobe’s Lightroom emerged from beta, and it’s evolved a lot since then. The company’s ‘Coffee break’ series of videos introduces features you might not know. For a minute of your time, these tips can help speed your workflow.

For instance, the video above (as highlighted on PetaPixel) shows you how to set the default processing applied to all your files. You can set it to a different preset per camera or even per ISO setting, if you have a preferred noise reduction and sharpening system.

In this video, Lightroom team member Benjamin Warde explains (in 46 seconds) how to define a new starting point for when you work with new files. That’s got to be worth a moment of your time, hasn’t it?

Click here to see the Coffee Break playlist of 34 sub-minute video.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Microsoft’s HoloLens may give surgeons virtual help during spinal surgeries

06 May

Scopis, a maker of navigation tools for surgeons, has introduced a new platform that utilizes Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed-reality headset. The benefits are pretty obvious – useful information can be projected in onto a patient, hands-free, and virtual monitors can be displayed within view for quick reference. Take a look at a simulated demo in the video above.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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A Passion for Wrecks and Images Give a Photography Enthusiast a Second Career

21 Apr

photography-wrecks

Image: Pongsatorn Sukhum

Pongsatorn Sukhum was on his way to becoming a professional photographer. A long-time camera enthusiast, he took a year off college while studying in the UK to work in a studio that shot advertising photography. He then moved into editorial photography, shooting for travel magazines and building up a collection of underwater stock images that combined his love of photography with his passion for Scuba diving. In the mid-nineties, his work was shown in a group exhibition in his native Thailand. Today, Pongsatorn runs an engineering business in Bangkok but his continued work in underwater photography, and in particular, his images of World War II wrecks off the coast of Thailand are an example of how talented enthusiasts can keep their professions while maintaining their passion for image-making and even contributing to the preservation of the subjects they love to shoot.

Pongsatorn now produces fine art prints of his photography which he sells through his website. But publications call him whenever they need images to complement their editorials on wrecks in the region and he is still commissioned occasionally for advertising work. If he’s not working on an engineering project, he’ll dive one or two weekends each month and when he’s not on the water, he’ll find time each week to process images and research ships.

Artistry Meets Expertise

That demand for professional imagery from a photographer who only works in the profession part-time continues for a couple of reasons. The quality of Pongsatorn’s photographs is certainly one factor. Pongsatorn may not be a full-time photographer but his images are professional quality. He shoots in black and white to convey the sense of being in an environment in which color has been stripped away by the water, and to convey the mood at the depths where the ships rest.

“I feel that the characteristics of high-speed b/w film faithfully capture the light and ambiance at these great depths,” he told us by email. “I also believe that entering the water loaded with b/w film is a mindset.”

The result is a collection of atmospheric shots in which the fragility and graceful lines of the diver are set against the solidity of a slowly decaying steel hulk placed in front of a backdrop of silty grays.

But the continued demand among buyers for Pongsatorn’s skills can also be put down to his expertise. Underwater photography is demanding. Photographers have to be skilled in diving as well as in image-making. They need to understand their equipment and the environment as well as the subject of the shoot.

“Underwater, we can’t change lenses, add filters, or replace batteries so advanced planning is required,” says Pongsatorn. “Familiarity with the layout of the wreck is crucial to avoid delays associated with orientation.”

Pongsatorn keeps a collection of construction blueprints related to the wreck he’s about to shoot, as well as sketches that he updates regularly. Before the dive, those plans are transferred to a waterproof slate for use underwater so that he’s not trying to communicate a new idea to a co-diver or assistant while they’re swimming. The choice of shots, too, poses a range of different problems. Wide angle images mean keeping other divers and their bubbles away from the scene long enough for Pongsatorn to get his shots. That’s not usually an issue when shooting wrecks that aren’t popular dive sites but for well-known locations, Pongsatorn usually pleads for a ten-minute head start. Before some shoots, he’s even asked the Thai Navy to cordon off a wreck for a day.

While underwater photographers don’t have the same daylight worries as landscape photographers, they do have to cope with other challenges. Weather conditions can restrict accessibility to remote sites to certain times of the year, and sediment raised by the actions of a swimming photographer can reduce visibility.

“This happens frequently as the wrecks are naturally on the sea bed (with the exception of the so-called vertical wreck) where there is a great deal of sediment just waiting to be disturbed,” says Pongsatorn. “Diver buoyancy control and proper finning techniques need to be practiced.”

Learn How to Fin

Often, the constraints of time and the limitations of depth mean that Pongsatorn can only make one or two dives to a low-lying wreck on any given day. Some dive profiles, he says, are so deep that he’ll only be able to stay at the site for as little as five minutes.

“As you can imagine, deep wreck photography is a very low-yield activity. However, these challenges make it exciting and create opportunities for some truly creative work.”

For other photographers looking to specialize in underwater photography, Pongsatorn notes that while no official training is required, there are numerous basic courses and workshops available that will explain how light behaves underwater and how to set up and look after equipment. Photographers who happen to live in tropical areas can start by photographing clown fish, he recommends, as they’re easy to find and tend to stay in one place. Once they’ve mastered finning and have control over their stability, photographers can pick a subject and study its behavior.

Most important though is to respect the environment in which you’re shooting. On his blog, Pongsatorn has highlighted campaigns for shark preservation and attacked dive operators who remove artifacts from the wrecks they visit.

“There are several operators who specifically set out to loot. It’s in their literature. They abuse the legal loopholes and lack of enforcement. It’s sad to see all these artifacts being hauled up day after day. These people need to be educated.”

Similarly, divers who venture into a wreck exhale bubbles which can get trapped below decks and under bulkheads. In time, these air pockets corrode the metal and exert an upward pressure on the metal plates, causing them to collapse, Pongsatorn warns.

It’s that kind of knowledge and that level of concern that combines with creativity and artistry to produce images that are attractive to buyers — both of art prints and for commercial use. Find a subject for which you feel passionate enough to want to study and understand completely, bring to it your photography skills, and you also won’t need to give up the day job to earn money from your photography.


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Olympus to give away OM-D E-M1 ll and 1M Yen in global competition

15 Nov

An Olympus OM-D E-M1 ll with a 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens and ¥1M is up for grabs for the winner of the 2016-2017 Olympus Global Open Photo Contest. The competition is open to amateur and professional photographers alike, and the company has placed no restriction on the equipment used to take entered images saying ‘Any photographic device from a DSLR to smartphone may be used.’

There are four categories with these themes:

  • Power of life
  • Connections to Cherish
  • Places that Inspire
  • Perspectives Often Missed

There will be three prizes for each category with first place images winning an OM-D E-M5 ll with the 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens, second placed winners getting an OM-D E-M10 ll with 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ and those coming in third receiving a Pen E-PL8 with 12-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ. The overall winner will get the OM-D E-M1 ll with the 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens and the cash.

Entry is free and entrants may submit up to five pictures for each category until the closing date on January 10th 2017. Winners will be announced in April 2017. At current exchange rates 1,000,000 Japanese Yen is worth about $ 9200/£7400/€8600.

For more information visit the Olympus Global Open Photo Contest website.

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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How to Give Your Images the Hollywood Treatment Step by Step

27 Mar

fig 1-1

Do you have an image that you would like to give the Hollywood treatment to, and really help make it pop? In this article, I’ll be showing you a method that you can use to give your images the blockbuster treatment, and take them to the next level. The best part about it is that you don’t have to be a Photoshop genius to do it!

The technique that we’ll be exploring is referred to as color-grading. The term color-grading is generally reserved for motion pictures where the editors would apply a creative color correction to films, but now it’s something that is appearing more and more in the vocabulary of still photographers. Color-grading is not to be confused with color correcting; it’s something quite different. Where color correcting is the process of ensuring that color casts are removed and colors are more accurate as a result, color grading is the process of altering and/or enhancing colors in specific areas in your image, such as shadows and highlights, to communicate a particular emotion or simply make the subject pop more, for example. If you have seen a movie then chances are extremely likely that you have seen color-grading at work.

The most common, and easiest color-grading, is the use of  complimentary colors; for example teal/blue tones in the shadows and the opposite color, yellow/orange, in the highlights. These two groups of colors sit opposite each other on the color wheel and being complimentary colors, they work harmoniously together and help the subject stand out more. See these other examples of complimentary colors in action. There are other types of color-grading using different color theory methods, such as analogous and triad, however complimentary is the simplest to learn and it can provide great results.

Before you begin, please ensure that the image you wish to work on has no color cast already, as this will affect the final result. Correcting your white balance is a great place to start. If you are unsure how to do that, 3 Ways to Change White Balance in Lightroom may help you.

In this article, I’ll be using curves in Photoshop to add the color-grading, so if you are unfamiliar with curves, How to do a Quick and Easy Curves Adjustment in Photoshop. As with many other things in Photoshop, there is always more than one way to get the job done, but for a straight forward process that gives fantastic results, you cannot beat curves! (Curves would have to be one of my favourite adjustments in Photoshop, as you can control so many aspects to your image with this function alone.) I won’t be giving you exact numbers to dial in with each adjustment, as your tastes may vary to mine, and you will also be working on an image different to mine, so what will work for my image will not necessarily work for yours.

Step 1: Add two adjustment layers

Base Image

I have the image that I would like to color-grade, and I want to add the teal/orange color combination, to give it that blockbuster look. I’ve ensured that there are no color casts already so I am good to go with this file. Get your image ready, and follow along.

The first step now is to add two curve adjustment layers; name the first one Luminosity and the other Color (I always like to name each of my layers as part of my workflow as it quickly helps me remember what each layer is doing). Now change the blend mode of the Luminosity layer to Luminosity. To do this, simply click on Normal in the layers panel; this should bring up a drop-down menu. Now scroll all the way to the bottom and select Luminosity.

Next, do a similar process with the Color layer selected; only instead of selecting Luminosity blend mode, you’ll be selecting Color. What these two steps are doing is very helpful when making adjustments to the curve in each layer. By changing one layer to a luminosity blend, you are effectively making only adjustments to the luminosity, or light levels of the image, and not adjusting color in any way. This is very help when increasing contrast, for example, as increasing contrast can alter the saturation of colors in the image.

Conversely, altering the blend mode of the Color layer to Color ensures that only color adjustments in the curve layer will be applied, and it will have no affect on the luminosity values of the image at all.

Step 2: Adjust the curve layers

Now that you have the two curve layers made and named, it’s time to adjust them and let the magic happen. Firstly, we want to increase the contrast of the image. So with the Luminosity curve layer selected, add a simple S-Curve to the curve layer. This is referring to a curve that is in the shape of an S, and this style of curve increases contrast.

Contrast Curve Layer

As you can see, I have made a very slight adjustment with contrast here; the shadows have been darkened slightly and the highlights increase slightly. The image was already quite contrasty so I didn’t want to add too much more to it.

Contrast Curve

Here’s the effect of adjusting the contrast curve.

Step 3: Add color-grading

With the overall contrast of the image looking pretty good, it’s now time to move on to add the color-grading. To add teal to the shadows and yellow to the highlights, select the Color curve adjustment layer and click on the RGB drop down menu. First up is red. we need to remove red from the shadows, but add some to the highlights. If you click on the bottom left of the curve and drag the shadow anchor point to the right, you will see a drop in red from the shadows and green begins to appear. To add red in the highlights, simply click the anchor point at the top right and slide it toward the left.

Repeat this step for each of the green and blue colors in the drop-down menu.

There is no set amount as to how much each should be moved. Start off with small amounts and increase as, and if required. To prevent the skin tones from being affected, I added an anchor point to the middle of the curve. To do this, I simply clicked on the curve in the centre of each color curve. This will lock that specific part of the curve and skin tones are around the mid-tone area.

Curves

Here is how each of the color curves looks with this image.

If there are areas where you feel the color has been affected too much – perhaps you have too much red in the face, for example – clicking on the targeted adjust tool (TAT) will allow you to pinpoint the exact area on the curve that needs adjusting. Simply select the TAT and click in the image, on the area you want to target, and this will place an anchor point on the curve. You can now move that anchor up or down to suit. Using the keyboard keys to move up and down is most accurate.

Colour Curve

Now I have adjusted the colors in the curve to how I would like them to look. Switch this adjustment layer on/off to see what impact the adjustments have for you. You may need to revisit each of the color curves and readjust slightly.

Step 4: Add a Channel Mixer layer

The final step in this is to add a Channel Mixer adjustment layer. For this image, I selected the Black and White with Red Filter, but feel free to experiment with different options for your image. You want to use one that creates a nice amount of contrast in your subject and background. You can also adjust the RGB sliders to suit, and finally, reduce the opacity of this layer (I usse 34%).

Here is the final product.

fig 2

There is quite a difference when compared with the original image below.

Base Image

Let’s look at them side by side:

Before

Before

After

After

Where to now?

Now you have an introduction to color-grading using curves in Photoshop. With this example I showed you how to add a teal cast to the shadows, and a warmer orange tone to the highlights, but don’t feel that you are trapped with just this color combination. Experiment with moving the shadow and highlight anchor points in each color channel in a different direction; not just horizontally. Just remember that as a general rule, cooler colors such as greens and blues are more prevalent in shadow areas, and warmer colors such as reds and yellows should be in the brighter areas.

Here is a run down on the effects of moving the shadow and highlight anchor points for each color channel:

Table

If you ever forget what the opposite colors are, here is a handy color wheel.

Color Wheel

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How to Give Your Macro Photography a Fine Art Touch in Post-Processing

21 May

Editor’s Note: This is part a series on macro photography this week. Look for a new one each day. The next newsletter will have them all if you miss any!

Macro photography is very popular and you will find lots of images, of all sorts of subjects on the internet. People spend a lot of time taking the photos, planning them, setting them up, and getting all the gear they need to get all the shots they want. Then the photos are loaded onto the computer and minimal processing is done to them.

With this tutorial we are going to look at how you can get your macro images from this:

1-fitzroy-gardens-succulent-marco-original

To this:

2-fitzroy-gardens-succulent-marco-fineart

There are many things you can do to your images; what I’m going to show you is only one way. You can try anything really as it’s up to you, it’s your image.

This image was first opened in Adobe Camera Raw and some processing was done to it, just to get the exposure right. From there the macro was opened in Photoshop CC (2014). To explain what some of the instructions are for Photoshop I am including an image below that has the various areas of the interface pointed out, especially the sections that we will be using for this tutorial.

Here is the screenshot of Photoshop with all the various places to find the tools, options, layers and adjustments that were used.

photoshop-setup-2

Step #1 – Curves

At this stage we are going to do several adjustment layers using Curves to change the lighting and bring the centre of the flower out more.

Work in adjustment layers so if you decide further down the track that you should have changed something you did earlier, then you still can go back and fix it, change it or delete the layer. The best way to do this is to use adjustment layers. The adjustment layers are often found above the layers panel on the right of your screen or in the layers menu at the top of the Photoshop window (if you don’t see them go to Window > Adjustments and place it above your layers panel). You will also need the brush tool for this, which is in the tool panel, usually found on the left of the window.

3-adjustment-layer-brush-tool

Once you know where each one of those are, you can start doing your layers for the image.

Click on the adjustment curves layer, as in the photo above. Then in the window that pops up, move the curve down to the dark area just a little, like the image above (just click on the straight line and hold the mouse button down while you drag to move it).

Grab your brush tool from the tool panel. Make it the size that you will need for your image. You can change the size by using the square bracket keys on your keyboard – [ or ] , or right click and in the pop-up window moving the slider for the size. The same changes can be made in the options bar for the tool at the top. Click on the second option from the left, the one that has the size of the brush, and you will get the same panel to change the size and hardness of the brush. For this tutorial a brush towards the soft end was chosen so the edges wouldn’t be too hard (Hardness set to 30% or lower).

You will need to click on the layer mask within the layer, it is the white rectangle in the curve layer. When the mask is white it means the adjustment is being applied to the image below, and when it is black it the change has been hidden. If you paint black onto the mask with the brush you are hiding the adjustment. Black on a mask conceals – white reveals. If you make a mistake and hide a bit you want, you can just paint it back in with the opposite color, white.

Start brushing the image, if nothing changes, then the foreground color (which the brush uses) is likely set to white. You will need to change that colour to black. You can also press X on your keyboard too, it will swap the foreground and background colours around.

For each different curves layer I took less and less of the adjustment from the image. The following image will show you what I did to each layer. The white areas are where the curves layer still applies, and the black shows where it was hidden.

4-macro-curves-layer

This image was done with curves layers. You don’t have to use the same number of layers, it is up to the image. Some of the background leaves were brought back in the last couple of layers as they were getting too dark. It is something you should be aware of, take notice of what is happening in the background as well.

The centre of the flower is now the same as the original but everything else is darker. The changes should be subtle.

Step #2 – Gradient Map Adjustment Layer

Once the curves were done a gradient adjustment layer was added. The gradient adjustment will change the highlights and shadows; you can decide what colours you want to use.

When you click on the gradient adjustment layer often the black and white gradient comes up and you will notice your image turns to monochrome. If you click on that bar in the window that comes up, you will get a lot more options for the gradient. For this tutorial I used the orange and purple gradient.

5-gradient-adjustment-layer-01

You will see all your highlights turn orange and the dark areas will go purple. You don’t want your image to remain like this, so now you need to blend it. In the image above you can see the blending modes that are above the layers, normal is the default. Click on that and go down to select Soft Light. You will notice the gradient layer is now blended and doesn’t look so horrible.

5-gradient-adjustment-layer-02

Just because that gradient has those colours, doesn’t mean you have to stick with them. They are easy to change them to give your highlights and shadows the tones you want.

In the bottom part of the gradient editor you can see the colour slider which is how the change goes from one colour to another, and directly underneath you can see little colours. If you click on one of those, the colour comes up at the bottom.

6-gradient-adjustment-layer-2b

Click on that, you will see the Colour Picker window open up. You can change the colour to whatever you want, and as you do so you should be able to see the effect on your image straight away. If you can’t, then it is likely because you forgot to blend the layer. See the following image.

6-gradient-adjustment-layer-2c

You can see from the images what I changed the colours to; you don’t have to use the same ones. I would recommend trying a few colours to see which ones you like. Purple is my favourite colour, so I use it a lot.

The next step is not always necessary, but often nice to do. All the work that has been done can mean losing the highlights, so to help bring them back you can use a Curves Adjustment Layer.

Step #3 – Adjusting the Highlights

Open a new Curves Adjustment Layer. In the Curves window go to the top right corner and move the line across the top. Watch as you do it and notice if you can see the highlights changing. Sometimes it is good to go too far and then bring it back, just to see what it does. Just be careful not to blow the the highlights out, making them solid white with no detail. Check out the image before to see what to change.

7-curves-highlights

Step #4 – Adding Another Gradient Map Adjustment

Next another gradient map adjustment layer was added, time time using a different one.

From the above image you should be able to see what colours I choose and follow along the same steps as previously. This time I chose a gradient that changed three areas.

8-gradient-adjustment-layer-3

Step #5 – Dodging the Highlights

One thing that I like to do on many of my images is to bring out the highlights, in small ways, with the dodging tool. The dodging tool is a touchy one, to be used carefully.

It is always best never to do anything straight onto your original image layer, so like with everything we have done so far it’s going to be on a separate layer. Go to the top menu and click layer, then new layer. When the window appears you can name the layer, if you want to, I called it “Dodging”.

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There are a couple of things you need to do so you can use this layer with the Dodge tool. First change the layer blend mode to Soft Light, then under the mode drop down menu you will see a box you can check to “Fill with Soft-Light Neutral Colour 50% Grey”, so check that, then press okay (see above)

Over in the layers panel you will see what looks like a grey box, this is what you will do the dodging on. Go over to the tool bar on the left and select the dodge tool.

At the top under the main window you will see Exposure, I have set mine at 26% for this image, but you can set it to anything, it depends on how patient you are. In the options bar there is also a setting for the highlights, midtones and shadows, I tend to use midtones. The more you move over an area the more it will go white. In the days of the darkroom they would using dodging to stop the light from getting to certain parts of the area. In Photoshop you can use it to put a little of the highlights back into the image, or to make the highlight pop. It should not be obvious, again subtle is the way to go.

I have changed the layer back to normal mode so you can see what I worked on. Dodging shows up as white on the layer.

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You can see that I haven’t done a lot, except bring up some of the highlights a little more.11-dodge-layer-3

Step #6 – Smudging

Finally I did a little smudging. Sometimes when you do a lot of work to images it can start to look pixelated, or you get some colour separation. I’ve found that the smudge tool can help get rid of that. You will find it in the tools panel.

I did this on a new transparent layer, again not working on the original image.

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Make sure you check the Sample all Layers in the options bar for the tool at the top, and for this tutorial I left the Strength at 50%. I went over the areas where I thought I had some colour separation to smudge them together. If it were a painting I would get my finger into it and smudge the colours together.

Here is the final image.

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It is all about personal taste, so you should do it to your own style. I like it like this, but other people might find it too much, and others may think it isn’t enough. I like the way the flower seems to be coming out of the darkness.

If you have any questions, please ask. I will do my best to answer them.


macro-coverWant to learn more about macro photography? Check out Ed Versosky’s Introduction to Close-Up & Macro Photography ebook – just $ 10 (over 30% off) this week with coupon code: DPS. You will need to enter the code to apply the discount.

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Constructive Photography Critique: How to Give and Receive with Grace

02 Apr

I’ve been in a funk lately. Just a little……off. Like I often hear other people do, I blamed it on the weather and assumed it would pass. A month later and it still hadn’t budged. This wasn’t the snow or the cold, yet completely normal, temperatures—it wasn’t even my kids who have been relatively low maintenance lately (all things considered).

There was only one thing left to do before I took complete stock of my life and started looking into some serious therapy or, dare I even consider, enroll in a yoga class, and that was to bug my husband about it: “What’s wrooooong with me? Why am I sooooooooo cranky? Why don’t you tell me I’m pretty and feed me cookies anymore?” His reply was: a) “I do tell you you’re pretty and you know where we keep the cookies”, and b) “well, you’ve taken some pretty harsh blows lately.”

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He was right. I have had more than a lions share of un-constructive criticism tossed my way these last few months. I consider myself to be fairly good at rolling with the punches. I accepted a long time ago that not everyone is going to like me; no matter how badly I want to invite them over to my house and tell them they are pretty and feed them cookies and convince them to. And not everyone is going to like my photography. I can deal with those things—I really can.

Like many of you, I saw early on that photography strikes so many chords with people, it’s very easy to get an internet debate going between total strangers about whether a random image is good or not. Whether or not it’s strong, if it’s beautiful, and the one that people seem to get hung-up on the most – if it’s correct or not. I have never heard talk of someone using the wrong paint strokes on a canvas. I’ve never walked into a debate over a songwriter using the wrong chords on his original music. I’ve never watched the internet get excited about the exact one proper way to throw pottery. But photography…photography is different with its mathematical magic and scientific reasoning. Photography is the one art that seems to have that one perfect right way.

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We will never all agree on that one right way though. It wasn’t long ago I was reading about a photography trend of the “in-between-shots”, which it turns out, I had been doing for years, I just had been calling them “out of focus shots.” So if even focus is subjective, how can we possibly come together on all the other pieces of our craft? We can’t. What we can do however, is be better for our peers and ourselves by being open to other viewpoints, and being better critics and brave receivers. This comes by giving and receiving constructive feedback, emphasis on the constructive part.

Kind criticisms can be helpful—both offering them to other photographers and being willing to hear them ourselves. I know the internet is never going to be a place where I can post an image and expect nothing but rainbows and sugarcanes of encouragement and praise to come my way, but I have to believe it can be better than what I have personally seen lately.

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Here are three questions I ask myself each time I get feedback, whether requested or not:

1) Am I really wanting other people’s opinions of this image?

Am I really? Because the truth is that there are some images we don’t need feedback on. Either they are just very special to us, are personal, or our client loved them, and for whatever reason, we don’t feel the need to hear what a friend or stranger may have to say about them.

If you find yourself in this situation where unrequested feedback has fallen in your lap over a photo you don’t need or want feedback for, move on. It’s not your job to validate the comment or engage in debate if you didn’t request it. They said what they needed to say, and what a wonderful gift you gave them of allowing them the space to say it.

If however, you have found yourself receiving feedback you asked for and decided that you actually don’t want, be honest! There is nothing wrong with saying, “I guess I wasn’t as ready to hear feedback as I thought I was.” There is no shame in not being interested in criticism, or in thinking others would enjoy your work more.

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2) Is it helpful?

One of the most frustrating things about photography is that there are no redos. You can reshoot anything until kingdom come, but it won’t be the exact moment it was before. So, while nitpicking over a single image, all things considered, will not likely help that photograph, hearing feedback about things in general can possibly help you the next time. Can you take what they are saying and apply it? Can you rework the image in post-production to be stronger? Is there a lesson somewhere to be had in the feedback you are getting?

“You asked for it, you got it!” moments can sometimes be humbling. Remember—it’s not a reflection of you, your character, or your very soul. For as passionate as we can be about photography, for as much as we live and breathe it, criticism is just words on a page or in the air, about a piece of paper or part of a screen that somehow came from your camera. These words cannot eat you, or make you spontaneously combust, even though sometimes it can feel that way.

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3) Is it really about my image?

Some people just need to share their opinion. I get that—I have a tendency to be an over-sharer myself. In this time of social media, we over-sharers forget that not everyone cares what we had for breakfast. Not everyone is interested in knowing that when I’m stressed, I get whiny and want to be fed cookies.

Really look at the feedback you received. If it feels off, or truly doesn’t make sense or seem helpful in any way, consider that it’s not about you. The feedback you received is maybe related to a battle you know nothing about, that somehow got caught-up in the vortex of sequences and ended up under your image because it needed a place to land.

I’m not a big fan of people saying, “it’s not personal, it’s business.” This “business” has taken from my personal life every chance it got. Photography has made me friends and taken my sleep. It’s taught me about beauty and kept me away from my family. You bet it’s personal! But that’s exactly the thing—the image is personal. It gets to be as personal as you want. The feedback however? That’s just business.

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A photographic community only works if people participate. There was a time when I was desperate for feedback of my work—a time when I truly wanted to learn and needed people more experienced to be willing to share their knowledge and skills with me. What power we are giving people when we ask for this! If I could do anything, besides teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, I would create a kinder internet. An internet that remains the most helpful source in the world, something that brings us all together, but isn’t so darn mean. I believe with all my unicorn believing ways that this is possible, and that being kind is the first step to being a respected member of any community. Giving constructive criticism is almost as hard as receiving it.

Here are three questions I ask myself before I offer feedback to another photographer:

1) Is it helpful?

It does no good for me to simply tell someone “nice image”. While a pat on the back is always great, enough of them and you’ll just push the person right over. If someone has truly asked for thoughts or a response to their image, is what I am about to tell them helpful? Can they use it going forward? Could it be taken as condescending or hurtful, or am I showing the proper respect? Just because someone asked for my opinion (or the opinion of the internet at large), doesn’t mean I have to be rude about it. Remember that it does take a bit of courage to share your very personal work with the world and though unspoken, I think a photographic community works best when the rule is – to above all else be kind.

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2) Is it balanced?

Does my comment also offer encouragement along with any negative elements I’ve mentioned? Have I pointed out something that was done well, so it’s clear that I invested more than a brief second before I spoke my thoughts for the world to see? I can hear some of you now saying, “it’s not my job to tell them it’s good—they wanted honesty!” To you I say, honesty can still be kind. You don’t have to reassure anyone or lie about your feelings to be honest. One of my all-time favorite quotes:

“Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already.” – Dave Willis

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3) Am I okay with this being the only thing someone has ever heard me say?

When you comment on the internet, it is usually read by people you don’t even know. Possibly hundreds or thousands of them. The world does not know that I try my hardest to be a decent human being, but sometimes my mouth gets away from me. The world doesn’t know that my passion can sometimes come across as overbearing. The person requesting feedback doesn’t likely even know who I am. So if what I am about to offer is the only thing anyone could ever attach to my name, am I okay with that? Have I been fair? Have I been helpful? Have I been kind? I would rather be completely forgotten than permanently attached to a unnecessary comment that I wrote in haste or worse yet, an unhelpful comment that I wrote out of spite.

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Do you leave comments on images? Do you post your images and ask for feedback? What are your thoughts?

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23 December, 2014 – Give LuLa Video Subsc at 33% Off

23 Dec

If you are looking for a good gift for a photographer you know and are already a subscriber to our videos, here’s your chance to give that person an annual subscription for 33% off.

Contact Customer Service with your existing subscription name and e-mail and we will send you the 33% off coupon code.
Answers to questions about giving a digital gift can be found here.


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