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Posts Tagged ‘Using’

How to Crop to Exact Pixel Size Using Photoshop – with Phil Steele

10 May

If you’ve struggled to resize images to an exact pixel size watch this video tutorial by Phil Steele. He will show you exactly how to crop your images to fit a specific pixel size (like for a Facebook banner, etc.) using one quick step in Photoshop.

Crop to pixel size using Photoshop

Phil also mentioned that it’s a good idea to sharpen your image after cropping. Here is some help on that topic:

  • Photoshop Tip: Using the High Pass Filter to Sharpen Images
  • Smarter Sharpening in Photoshop using Adobe Camera Raw

If you want more Photoshop tutorials, try these:

  • How to Understand the Curves Tool in Photoshop
  • How to Use the Levels Tool in Photoshop
  • How to do Digital Blending in Photoshop to Create a Composite Photo
  • How to Create a Rim Light Effect Using Photoshop
  • How to Add a Sun Flare to Your Images Using Photoshop
  • How to do Non-Destructive Editing in Photoshop

Want more from Phil? Check out his Photoshop Basics course here. 

The post How to Crop to Exact Pixel Size Using Photoshop – with Phil Steele by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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How to Create Abstract Images With a Soft-Focus Look Using Vaseline

09 May

As a rule, sticky substances and photography don’t mix. For a beloved camera, any liquid substance is a cause for concern. So naturally, I was surprised when I stumbled upon a neat trick used by glamor photographers back in the day. Actresses of the 1920s and 30s were photographed in the soft-focus style that photographers like Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen developed.

Arnold Grethe and Victor Georg, photographers of Vanity Fair used hazy focus, diffusion filters, and other techniques to soften the portraits of actors, particularly women. This stylized softness was adopted by American filmmakers who before then had stuck to the sharpest focus possible. Doris Day, queen of romantic glamor portraiture was rumored to have insisted that photographers use diffusion filters to soften the focus of her photographs. And sometimes, in a pinch, photographers applied Vaseline or petroleum jelly to the lenses.

How to Create a Soft-Focus Look With Vaseline

An abstract photograph of yellow flowers, taken with Vaseline or petroleum jelly applied to a clear filter. The waves in the image reflect the density of the petroleum jelly applied to the lens.

How to make a soft-focus look with petroleum jelly

Creating a diffusion filter with petroleum jelly is actually quite simple, and a lot less messy than it sounds. First, raid your bathroom cupboard for some Vaseline. If you don’t already have a supply, you can purchase a tub from your local pharmacy.

Next, you’ll need to apply the jelly to your lens. There are two ways to go about this. One method is to first stretch a layer or two of cling wrap over the front of your lens, forming a barrier between the jelly and the lens. Fix the cling wrap with a rubber band and double check for holes in the plastic before you start applying the jelly. The potential risk of this method is that the plastic might rupture, causing the jelly to ooze all over your lens instead.

How to Create a Soft-Focus Look With Vaseline

Alternatively, if you have a spare clear filter handy, you could smear petroleum jelly all over that instead. This is a little simpler and you can remove the jelly with alcohol wipes later. Either way, DO NOT apply the petroleum jelly directly to your camera lens – it won’t end well.

How to Create a Soft-Focus Look With Vaseline

This abstract photograph of water was taken with only a thin level of petroleum jelly applied to the center of the lens filter.

Method of application

Start off by adding very small amounts of petroleum jelly to your lens or cling-wrap rig. You can apply the petroleum jelly with your finger, a brush, or some additional plastic for varying results. I’ve found that if you use your finger to apply the jelly, it can leave abrupt areas that affect the softness of the resulting image. Even in very small amounts, the softening effect of the petroleum jelly is quite pronounced. The more you add, the more abstracted the resulting photograph will be.

How to Create a Soft-Focus Look With Vaseline

The direction in which you apply the petroleum jelly also has a significant impact on the outcome of your photograph. Swiping the petroleum jelly in one direction could result in a completely different effect to that of jelly applied in the opposite direction. Experiment with different application methods by tracing different shapes into the lens with your finger.

I also pack some alcohol or glass wipes in case I want to remove a portion of the Vaseline for artistic purposes.

How to Create a Soft-Focus Look With Vaseline

How to Create a Soft-Focus Look With Vaseline

The direction that the petroleum jelly is applied impacts how the resulting photograph will look. For this image, I applied streaks of petroleum jelly around the outer edges of the filter. I then used a tissue to clear the center area. This resulted in a clearer view of the subject in the center of the photograph, and streaks of color on the edges.

How to Create a Soft-Focus Look With Vaseline

A balance between abstraction and soft-focus, this effect was achieved with different densities of petroleum jelly distributed over the lens filter.

How to Create a Soft-Focus Look With Vaseline

For this effect I used my finger to draw zig-zag patterns in the layer of petroleum jelly on my filter. The resulting image is clearly shaped by the sharp edges I traced.

How to Create a Soft-Focus Look With Vaseline

An abstracted image of tree branches with diffused light peaking through the leaves.

When finished, carefully remove the cling wrap or filter. You can wipe the filter down with some alcohol wipes before stowing it away for later use.

Try it

Give this fun abstract soft-focus technique a try and share your results in the comments section below.

The post How to Create Abstract Images With a Soft-Focus Look Using Vaseline by Megan Kennedy appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Let’s Have a Laugh! – Using Humor in Photography

05 May

Go on! You know it is good for you! Let’s have a laugh! This article is about using humor in photography.

Let’s Have a Laugh! - Using Humor in Photography

Clearly, somebody has something to laugh about – even in the rain.

This article is not so much Five Handy Tips, as it is more a case of Three Gentle Nudges. Maybe you are like me and can be a bit too serious about your photography. I am suggesting that you let go a little. Even one photograph which makes you smile has got to be worth letting go, relaxing a little. It may be that it is only you who is caused to smile, but I absolutely think that is worth it on its own. Then again, you might make tens, hundreds, even thousands of others smile. That has got to be a good thing, hasn’t it?

1. It is not that funny

Please notice that above that I said smile, I did not say laugh.

Let’s Have a Laugh! - Using Humor in Photography

You think you’re funny, don’t you?!

I once asked the teenage daughter of a friend of mine why she liked a particular teacher. She said that the teacher was funny. She gave the example that he would lean against the board, put a piece of chalk in his mouth, and pretend to smoke it as if it were a cigarette. Even 20 years ago, this was a bit dodgy, but the thing which really struck me was … it was NOT that funny! Mildly amusing, worth a smile, but not really what you would call funny.

Let’s Have a Laugh! - Using Humor in Photography

Captions for a postcard, please.

That may be the first lesson which we need to learn in respect to seeking humor in photography. It is unlikely that you will ever, in your whole life, take a photograph which is going to cause people to roll on the floor, kick their legs in the air, and clutch their ribs with laughter. You will have done very well, to even cause a mild chuckle.

Much more likely is that you will raise a smile. But, frankly, that is enough. I think you should relax about it and be happy to raise one single smile. Surely, if you manage to make just one other person smile, that is a good thing.

2. The great snapshot!

Though I have admitted above that I can be too serious about photography, I have long been a strong advocate of the snapshot. That is a photograph, taken quickly, with little premeditation, with no great artistic pretensions, with any camera which is at hand.

Let’s Have a Laugh! - Using Humor in Photography

Those girls do!

If you have a daughter, it is very likely that you have an image like one the above. I wonder, though, is that image in your mind, or did you actually take the photo? Whether it is your big “proper” camera, your phone, or pocket camera, I would encourage you to abandon all other thoughts. Just get on with it, and take that snapshot.

Let’s Have a Laugh! - Using Humor in Photography

Pink Cadillac? Taken through a window, with whatever phone I had 10 years ago.

I would have thought that the above meets most peoples’ definition of a snapshot. It certainly lacks any artistic pretentions. But, a pink Lamborghini has got to be something which makes most people smile, even if they have very little interest in cars.

The fact that it is parked in handicapped reserved parking is only funny because the evidence would seem to be that there was, in fact, plenty of parking available. The whole thing is also somewhat of a reflection of the culture of the location in which it was taken.

Listen to Wayne

One of my favorite quotations was born in ice hockey, but very applicable to photography.


I think this is a good thought to have in your mind for any type of photography. It is especially pertinent in respect of these type of snapshot photographs. Just for a moment, abandon your aspirations as a serious photographer, and simply take the shot. There is almost zero chance of any downside, no negative consequences, and you might just manage to create an extra smile or two in the world.

3. No thinking here, please

This is an extension of the above point. It is consistent with saying, “take the shot”. However, can I urge you further in that direction?

Do not question the process of taking the photograph in any way at all, please. Don’t think about it, just point the camera and push the button. I think we are in the territory of sports again, and the Nike slogan “Just do it” applies here. Take the shot. (Is anybody else hearing Judi Dench as M, from a recent James Bond film, or is it just me?).

Let’s Have a Laugh! - Using Humor in Photography

Al-fresco hairdressing.

You should not overthink it. If you see something which pricks your interest even slightly, which even starts to elicit a smile … raise the camera and take the shot. You don’t know why it might be funny, you do not even know for sure that it is funny. Again, my advice to you would be, take the shot.

Let’s Have a Laugh! - Using Humor in Photography

Do as you are told!

Just enjoy it

I took the above photograph a few years ago, in Malaysian Borneo. It is not printed and displayed on my wall, nor is it of great importance to me. But it does pop its little head up now and then, and when it does, it makes me smile. Does it make you smile at all? If so, why does it make you smile?

It makes me smile because of what I assume is the obvious reason, the irony of telling people to walk by means of a notice on a motorbike. That is why I took the shot. Years later, I realized that it is also the declamatory nature of the exclamation mark which makes me smile. You are not being asked, you are being told to walk, by someone from the comfort of sitting on a motorbike.

Yes, of course, in this context, “walk with” has a different meaning, but you should not worry too much about letting the facts get in the way of a bit of humor, should you?

Let’s Have a Laugh! - Using Humor in Photography

Relax!

I did not think about anything like all of the above as I was taking these photographs. As I suggest, if you see something which even makes you think about smiling – photograph it! It is not likely to be that funny anyway, the humor might only fully reveal itself later, so take the shot, it’s only a digital file.

Let’s Have a Laugh! - Using Humor in Photography

Which way are you going?

Further thoughts

I would like to talk about unguarded moments, juxtapositions, discovered photographs, constructed photographs, kids, smiles eliciting smiles, distortions of reality, and the strange things people do. But for now, can you please just take this article as a firm nudge to be open to possibilities.

In summary

  1. Do not worry about trying to be funny. It is unlikely that you will take a photograph which will actually make people literally LOL (Laugh Out Loud, just in case anyone is not sure).
  2. Stop being a serious photographer for a moment. It is a snapshot!
  3. Take the shot! Do not think about it for one millisecond, just do it.
Let’s Have a Laugh! - Using Humor in Photography

Let’s dance! 

Go on! Have a go! I hope you have been nudged in the right direction. I don’t think I am alone in wanting to see something of a humorous nature from you. Please share your humorous images in the comments below.

Editor’s note: keep it clean, please. No nude or partial nude photos, or images which are disparaging, disrespectful, or hurtful to any other person. 

The post Let’s Have a Laugh! – Using Humor in Photography by Richard Messsenger appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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How to Photograph People Outdoors Without Using a Reflector

28 Apr
How to Photograph Outdoors Without Using a Reflector

Subject: Kota Wade

You just got booked for a marvelous portrait photo shoot out in a gorgeous natural landscape. You run out the door, with camera gear in tow. Then you arrive at the location, the fresh air filling your nose, the beautiful natural world flourishing all around. You meet with your lovely portrait subject. The sun is beating down on you from above. Then it hits you… you forgot your reflector at home.

Or maybe you don’t have a reflector, maybe you just never felt the need to spend money on one. All of this is totally okay because there are some tips and tricks to take stunning photographs without the use of a reflective disc! Keep reading to learn more.

How to Photograph Outdoors Without Using a Reflector

Subject: Bina Monique

What is a reflector?

A reflector is a simple tool that redirects existing light. A reflector does not illuminate, it merely allows you to manipulate the light that you already have.

Photographers use reflectors to fill shadows, which is why you often see them used in outdoor settings where you cannot control the light. Being at the mercy of the sun, you add a level of control to your situation with the use of a reflector. However, there are ways to take advantage of your situation without one.

How to Photograph Outdoors Without Using a Reflector

Subject: Skylar Roberge

Find even lighting

Essentially, part of the trouble with shooting outdoors comes from the lighting. Clients often see a clear blue sky with the beaming sun and think that is an absolute joy for photographers. But we shooters silently scream in agony at the prospect of overblown highlights, underexposed shadows, and the dreaded contrast.

What’s the best solution for this? Find some even lighting!

Positioning your subject under a tree, in the shadow of a building, or simply positioning yourself so that the sun hides behind a mountain can all make for some nice even lighting. Although the background might be overexposed if you are simply using a small patch of shadow, try to change your perspective to make the most of the situation.

How to Photograph Outdoors Without Using a Reflector

ISO 400 – Shutter Speed: 1/100 – Aperture: f/2.8
Even Lighting: Rooftop overhang

Make even lighting

Are you out in a field or a desert and don’t have access to any form of even lighting? Is the sun too bright to have on your subject’s face? Then it’s time to get creative!

You can make your own even lighting utilizing things you may already have in your car. Use an umbrella and position that over your subject, or to block out the sun in your frame. You can use a vehicle windshield cover or shade to do the same.

How to Photograph Outdoors Without Using a Reflector

ISO 1250 – Shutter Speed: 1/500 – Aperture: f/2.8
Even Lighting: Umbrella

Use the contrast to your advantage

Are neither of the aforementioned tips applicable to your scenario? Well then, this is where we get inventive.

Photography is an art form, and artists are creative, imaginative, and inspired. Instead of fighting against the contrast, why not use it to your advantage? Work your shoot around the contrasting shadows and highlights, and create dramatic photographs. Several well-known clothing designers, such as Prada and Dolce & Gabbana, use contrast in their fashion editorials to stage a theatrical scene and illicit an intense response in the viewer.

How to Photograph Outdoors Without Using a Reflector

ISO 200 – Shutter Speed: 1/1000 – Aperture: f/2.8

Shoot at the right time of day

When a choice presents itself, shooting at the correct hour of the day can ease your lighting woes. The golden hour is infamous for being an excellent time to photograph. Aiming to photograph when the sun is low and producing a more even light removes the need for a reflector.

How to Photograph Outdoors Without Using a Reflector

ISO 1600 – Shutter Speed: 1/640 – Aperture: f/2.8

Fill shadows by finding a natural reflector

Various surfaces can double as reflectors, such as water or windows from a building. Positioning your model just right can garner the same effect as if you had a reflector yourself.

How to Photograph Outdoors Without Using a Reflector

ISO 2000 – Shutter Speed: 1/320 – Aperture: f/2.8
Reflector: Car windshield, parked to his right side

Fill the shadows in post-processing

The computer is your friend, and it is okay to use programs to help you bring your vision to light (no pun intended). Shooting in RAW format (an image file that contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of a camera – Raw files are named so because they are not yet processed) gives you better control over your image when you edit it. RAW files have more shades of colors compared to JPEG files, higher image quality, significantly better control over editing lightness, white balance, hue, saturation, etc., and all of the changes made on a raw image file are non-destructive. You can use any post-production software to lighten the shadows in your image and darken the highlights.

Original image before processing.

How to Photograph Outdoors Without Using a Reflector

After processing.

There you have it, sounds like you have a solution to your no-reflector problem.

The post How to Photograph People Outdoors Without Using a Reflector by Anabel DFlux appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Lighting 103: Using Gels to Shift the Ambient

21 Apr

Abstract: By combining a white balance shift in your camera with a complimentary gelling of your flash, you can easily and efficiently alter the ambient color temperature of an entire environment.

In addition to controlling the color of light from your flash, gels can also allow you to control the color of the ambient areas of your frame. This can allow you to tweak, enhance or drastically an ambient color environment. Read more »
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How to Create a Retro Faded Look Using Lightroom or Photoshop

15 Apr

You’ve probably seen images floating around because it’s popular these days, you know, the ones with the retro faded look. It’s pretty popular with the instagram and wedding photography crowd. It’s not my fancy but I am all about empowering photographers to shoot what they have in mind. If that happens to be retro-faded here’s how to achieve that look in Lightroom and Photoshop.

How to Create a Retro Faded Look in Lightroom and Photoshop

Why this look is so popular

Here’s why I believe this look is very popular, it’s a quick and easy way to de-digitalize digital images. When you click that shutter release button, you get a straight, clinical, boring representation of reality. The faded retro look makes the images seem dreamy and ethereal because the colors are muted. Since it’s easy to do and already built into apps like Instagram, you have a recipe for popularity.

How to Create a Retro Faded Look in Lightroom and Photoshop

How to get this look using Lightroom

In Lightroom go ahead and process the image the way you want first. Once you are done, go to the Develop Module and scroll down until you reach the Tone Curves panel. Click the button on the bottom right.

How to Create a Retro Faded Look in Lightroom and Photoshop

First, click the button on the bottom right. Next, click on the little circle on the bottom left of the graph and drag it up. The higher you put it, the more faded the look. Adjust to your tastes and you’re done!

What you are essentially doing is putting a cap on how dark the black pixels will be. Imagine you had 3 groups of students with black, gray, and white shirts. The darkest shirt is black. But if you tell the group of students in black to become grey, the darkest shirt will be grey. It’s the same principle here, you are taking pixels that would normally be black to become dark gray.

How to get this look using Photoshop

In Photoshop the principle is the same. After you have processed the image, go in Image>Adjustments>Levels. You could also alternatively make an adjustment layer to do non-destructive edits by going to Layer>Adjustment Layer>Levels.

How to Create a Retro Faded Look in Lightroom and Photoshop

Drag the black output adjustment to the right to taste and you are done!

Examples

So to recap, take your straight image:

How to Create a Retro Faded Look in Lightroom and Photoshop

Straight original image.

Post-process to taste:

How to Create a Retro Faded Look in Lightroom and Photoshop

Post-processed with basic adjustments.

Then edit the blacks using Levels/Curves:

How to Create a Retro Faded Look in Lightroom and Photoshop

Black level lowered using Levels or Curves.

Further customization

Just like for any new technique, the trick is in experimenting, mixing, and finding your own favorite style. You can add some grain in Lightroom (My favorite, de-facto settings are 50-50-50 for Amount, size, and roughness) but you can also play around with the colors of the photograph for an added effect.

Under the Develop Module, you will find Split Toning in the right-side panel.

How to Create a Retro Faded Look in Lightroom and Photoshop

Split-toning adjustment panel.

The top is where you color the highlights of your image, the saturation controls how strong that color will be. The bottom is where you select the color for your shadows and saturation does the same as above. The Balance slider adjusts which direction you want the colors to lean more toward. If you push that slider to the right, the image will lean more towards the color you have chosen for highlights. If you push the slider left, the overall image will lean more towards the colors selected for the shadows. It’s usually best to keep it at 0 (in the middle) and play around with it after selecting the colors.

Starting points and examples

I personally keep my saturation levels around 10 for Highlights and Shadows because too much saturation will make the image go completely one color. Color images, I find 35 maximum saturation fit my tastes. Here are some results:

How to Create a Retro Faded Look in Lightroom and Photoshop

Playing with split-toning to add to the retro look. Top left is the original faded image.
Top right: Highlights color 299, Saturation at 25, Shadows at 99 and Saturation 31 (Balance at 0)
Bottom right: Highlights color 101, Saturation at 25, Shadows at 47 and Saturation 31 (Balance at 0)
Bottom left: Highlights color 30, Saturation at 25, Shadows at 253 and Saturation 31 (Balance at 0)

Yes, that is indeed how you get a cross-processed look in Lightroom. It fits in well with the overall retro faded look.

Conclusion

That’s it. It’s pretty easy to do if you ask me. It probably takes a bit more time (and you have more control) than using Instagram filters but it’s worth the time to learn if the look resonates with you. You will quickly learn “the numbers” that you like most and be able to be consistent throughout your images. Be yourself, stay focused and keep on shooting.

Please sure your faded retro look images in the comments below and tell us how you achieved it.

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Lighting 103: Using Gelled Flash to Correct Ambient Light

07 Apr

Abstract: You can alter your camera's white balance and gel your flash to "correct" nearly any ambient light color shift. But should you?Read more »
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How to Simulate the Look of Analog Film Using Lightroom

06 Apr

The tones and organic nature of analog film are things many of us have began to long for in our digital age. Don’t worry, though, this will not be an article about the merits or disadvantages of digital photography or whether film is better or worse than digital. The purpose of this tutorial is to deliver what might be called the best of both photographic worlds. And if not the best, a very liveable compromise between the charm of analog film and the convenience of digital imaging – how to simulate the look of analog film using Lightroom.

How to Simulate the Look of Analog Film Using Lightroom

Photography, like most everything else, is invariably on a forward march of advancement. Always looking for the next best thing; better cars, better computers, and for us photographers…newer digital cameras. Intriguingly enough, often times we end up missing the “old school” feel of the very things we sought to replace with successive newer versions.

Imparting our digital photos with the great look of film is not only but possible, but simpler than it has ever been before. Furthermore, we can conduct all this retrograde post-processing alchemy in Adobe Lightroom. Yes, I promise it’s easy.

How to Simulate the Look of Analog Film Using Lightroom

Things to Note

Now is a good time to pause and make a small disclosure. There are many other variables that exist which determine the final look of a print made from analog film. These variables range from the type and temperature of the chemistry used to develop the film, to the way it was printed and scanned. Even the age of the film when it was shot can change the look of the final results. So remember that while exact accuracy might not be possible the fun of the process itself certainly is!

First Things First – Find a Film You Like

The first step in the process is to find the film you want to replicate. There are a number of ways to go about this. If you happen to be one of those glorious hybrids who shoot both digital and film then you likely have some examples readily available. But the easiest way I’ve found to discover a multitude of images made with analog film is to have a look at Flickr.

There are quite a few groups there that specialize in “film only”, so each image posted is shot on analog film and then scanned into the computer. Some of these groups, such as Film Database require participants to post their images with the film type indicated. Once you find an image with a grain and tone you like, it’s very simple to learn which film was used to create that image. The more images you can find that were shot with that film, the better you can understand the general feel of it.

How to Simulate the Look of Analog Film Using Lightroom

Moving to Lightroom

Once you’ve found the film-look that you’d like to replicate, it’s time to move into Lightroom and let the fun begin. First, we’ll look at the three key things to pay attention to when it comes to simulating the characteristics of film color tone, contrast, and grain. Then, we’ll walk through creating the look of film with a sample image, so you can see just how easy the process really is!

Color Tone

Color tone is a broad term that, for our purpose, describes the overall color temperature of a film and the saturation of those colors. Analog films come in virtually every color tone under the rainbow (pun intended). Some films are very warm toned with rich, vibrant colors. While others are more subdued, with cooler tones and less color saturation. Even black and white films have certain color tone variations.

When looking for the chromatic characteristics of a film, be sure to take note whether the overall tone is warmer or cooler in temperature. Then, look to see if there is any color cast to the image such as blue, red, green, etc. If the film you’re replicating is black and white, still pay close attention to any coloring that might be present. Black and white film is always more than just black and white!

Contrast

This is perhaps the most straightforward aspect of the entire replication process. Contrast is simply the difference between lights and darks within an image. Films carry different contrast latitudes (again, development is key) which you can observe. Are the blacks dark and dense or are they lighter and more faded? Are the highlights bright and contrasted or is the photo flatter and less punchy? Later in Lightroom, the contrast slider will do a lot of the work for you.

Grain

Perhaps the most fickle property of analog film is the presence of grain. Grain is brought about by the size and number of the tiny light-sensitive silver crystals found in the film’s emulsion. Higher ISO film has more grain and lower ISO films generally have less grain. Depending on the film these grains can be larger or smaller, rough or fine, and literally everything in between. It’s a good idea to view the image at the largest size available when examining the grain of the film. Pay special attention to the amount, size, and coarseness of the grain when taking your notes. You are taking notes…aren’t you? Of course, you are!

The Process of Simulation

How to Simulate the Look of Analog Film Using Lightroom

Fujifilm Provia 400X (Image courtesy of Fujifilm)

Now here comes the good part. We will take a digital image and give it the look of a particular analog film. In this case, I’ve chosen a mid-range ISO film, Fujifilm Provia 400X. It’s a moderately saturated film in terms of color, with nice contrast. At ISO 400 the grain is apparent, but not as coarse as some other mid-range ISO films. In most of the images that I viewed from this film, there exists a slight blue color cast present.

Make a Roadmap

So, before I do anything in Lightroom, I make a road map to help me along the way during my processing. It will list the core attributes of the film I’m hoping to replicate. Do this for your film now:

  • Color Tone: Slight blue hue especially in the shadows. Color saturation is moderate. Color temperature is slightly cool.
  • Contrast: Moderate to strong contrast with deep blacks.
  • Grain: Quite apparent but relatively smooth.

Do Basic Adjustments First

We begin with a photo that has been corrected for exposure but no adjustments for color or contrast. This is the best place to start for replicating analog film.

How to Simulate the Look of Analog Film Using Lightroom

Image before processing.

I crop the photo slightly and then move back to the Basic Panel.

How to Simulate the Look of Analog Film Using Lightroom

Follow the Roadmap

Going back to the road map list I made earlier, contrast is the first adjustment. I increase the contrast slider to +81 but this still doesn’t give me the depth in the shadows I’m after, so I go further and darken the blacks by -40. While I’m here, I reduce the saturation to better match the moderate qualities of the Provia 400x. Since the image needs to be slightly cooler, I decrease the temperature a very small amount as well.

To add a little more blue to the shadows we will next use one of the great unsung hero of Lightroom, the tone curve. Click on the tone curve panel and be sure it’s set to “channels” view. Since I want to add a blue color cast, I select the blue channel (see below).

How to Simulate the Look of Analog Film Using Lightroom

Since I want to apply the blue toning mostly in the shadow areas of the image, I raise the leftmost end of the curve upwards slightly. This will introduce a blue hue to the blacks. Be careful not to overdo it here. A little goes an incredibly long way.

How to Simulate the Look of Analog Film Using Lightroom

Using the Curves Adjustment, in the blue channel – adjust the blacks as shown here to add a cool tint to shadows.

Adding Grain

All that’s left now is to focus in on our grain situation. My original digital image was shot at ISO 500 which is close to the ISO 400 of the Provia. Here’s a 1:1 zoom of the original image.

How to Simulate the Look of Analog Film Using Lightroom
But film grain bears many more nuances. So let’s adjust the grain in the effects panel based on our notes from earlier. We observed that Fujifilm Provia 400x sported grain that was moderate, but rather fine. So I experiment with the Amount, Size, and Roughness sliders until I reach a grain effect that approximates the appearance I’m after. Don’t be afraid to manipulate these sliders into submission! The correct combination only comes from visually comparing the adjustments.

How to Simulate the Look of Analog Film Using Lightroom

Here is the grain we’ve added compared to the original image. At a 1:1 view the difference because readily apparent.

And now, you’re all done!

How to Simulate the Look of Analog Film Using Lightroom

Final image.

Don’t hesitate to go back and tweak the exposure or other adjustments to get the look you want. But remember if you change the contrast or color edits your photo might distance itself from the analog film you’ve attempted to simulate.

*Bonus* Try increasing the color noise reduction slider to remove any traces of color noise. Color noise is a trait exclusive to digital imaging and is not found in analog films.

Here’s the finished simulation of Fujifilm Provia 400x film compared to our original digital photo.

How to Simulate the Look of Analog Film Using Lightroom

Before and after.

Conclusion

While we can’t exactly replicate the look of film due to variances in the development and printing processes, we can achieve very similar looks. In a way, we have more versatility since we can strive to achieve the look of a multitude of films in our digital darkrooms. Show us your own analog film simulations in the comments section below!


Want to get a jump start at creating your very own analog film simulations? Take a look at these presets developed by myself, which replicate the looks of numerous classic analog films. All with just a click of the mouse!

  • Analog Film Simulations: Volume 1
  • Analog Film Simulations: Volume 2

The post How to Simulate the Look of Analog Film Using Lightroom by Adam Welch appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscape Photography

30 Mar

Juxtaposition – it’s one of my favorite words, and also one of the most important aspects of successful photography. It’s used in portraiture, outdoor adventure, and frequently in travel photography. In images of the landscape, however, juxtaposition is often overlooked.

I say overlooked because many photographers integrate juxtaposed elements in their landscapes without even being aware of them. You see, juxtaposition, or the way different elements conflict and contrast, is a key feature in most good landscape photographs.

Though there are a dozen or more different ways juxtaposition can occur in an image, in this article I’m going to concentrate on three; color, texture, and subject matter.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

Juxtaposition – Color

You are probably familiar with the color wheel. Likely you were introduced to the concept in grade school when you learned the difference between primary and secondary colors. More recently, if you have selected a new font color on your word processing program you’ve likely seen some form of the color wheel.

Simply, a color wheel shows the three primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) occupying three slices of the circle with all the mixing iterations of color blending together between them. The result is a continuous blur of colors, encompassing just about everything on the visible spectrum.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

Many landscape images will have multiple juxtapositions. In this case, color is foremost with the warm tones on the salt mounds against the deeper blues of the water and sky. But the shape and texture also stand out. (Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia).

Colors that are opposite from one another (complementary) on the wheel like; blue and yellow, red and green, or orange and purple, for example, will juxtapose. That is, they will stand out from one another; some in a pleasing way, some in a conflicting way. Both can work in photography, depending on your goal, but you need to be aware of the way colors communicate in an image to assure your final result is what you intend.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

In this aerial image of the Baird Mountains in northwest Alaska, the turquoise tarn in the foreground stands out as the brightest patch of color in the frame, juxtaposed from the muted grays and browns of the mountains.

Reds and blues, for example, are very commonly blended in landscape photography; blue water with sunset sky, red flowers on a bluebird day, autumn colors against a dark backdrop, etc. Color plays an important role in landscape photography, and we recognize pleasing color combinations as soon as we see them. But recognizing WHY they are pleasing, is different from seeing that they are. Look for those relationships in your compositions, and concentrate on their placement. Some colors, red for example, are extremely effective at drawing the eye. But to be most effective, red needs to be counteracted by cooler tones, balancing the image. Mind how the colors are distributed in your image. It matters.

Juxtaposition – Texture

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

A long exposure softened the water which creates a juxtaposition with the rough stones of the cliff. (Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.)

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

In this image, both the color and the rounded texture of the autumn Bearberry in the foreground creates a juxtaposition with the blue sky and the sharp, upright trees in the background.

Juxtaposed textures are abundant in any landscape; spiky bushes against a smooth landscape, water flowing over rough rock, or just a jagged boulder in the middle of an otherwise soft, grassy meadow, etc. Textures, as like color, are easy to observe in the field. Like bright colors, aggressive textures too need to be used in moderation. Like reds and oranges, sharp, rough, textures will dominate an image if used too liberally.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

The antlers of this caribou skull and the bright white against the dark tundra make the subject leap out from the image.

Overwhelming textures, just like overwhelming colors, might be exactly what you want. Just be aware of that decision when you make the image. Make the harsh textures the point of your image, because the wrong balance, or aggressive textures placed too dominantly by accident, can ruin the balance of an image. Consider how they relate, the story you want to tell with their use, and place them in the frame accordingly.

This is a tough one to put to use because there are no clear rules about texture. You may not always realize when you’ve gotten this balance right, but you’ll definitely know when it’s wrong.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

In this image of Denali, in Denali National Park, Alaska, the two rounded forms, one green and spiky, one blue-white and more smooth echo one another, while providing wildly different textures, colors, and implications for the image.

Juxtaposition – Subject

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

Bright flowers on a gray day on a barren dune. Few things can create more juxtaposition in this image.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

Without context, this image would not have an obvious juxtaposition, it’s just an image of a lightning strike. But, when I tell you this photo was made on the arctic coastal plain of northern Alaska where thunderstorms are as rare as unicorns, then the juxtaposition of location and lightning are more clear.

The first two examples, color and texture, are more nebulous and tougher to apply in the field than the subject of the image. In landscapes, juxtapositions within the subject matter are easier to apply, and will almost always add interest to your images.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

A rare rain storm in the Altiplano of Bolivia catches the last rays of sunlight. Both color and subject juxtapose here.

As I sat down to write this article, the first thing that came to mind was the weather. Storm light, that rare sunlight that appears despite the dark clouds, is a perfect example of subject juxtaposition. Few things contrast as much as a stormy day, and sunlight.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

Rainbow in the dry desert, another clear example of the way juxtaposed subject matter can add interest to an image.

Tying weather to elements of the landscape is another way to create juxtapositions. A few years ago, I was hiking in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park, Texas when I was treated to a rare thunderstorm. As the very brief storm cleared the mountains, a rainbow appeared. The desert landscape, topped by a rainbow against a blue sky, leads to an undeniable juxtaposition.

Similarly, last summer I was leading a wilderness photo tour in the Brooks Range of northern Alaska. On the summer solstice, it snowed four inches overnight, and the following morning the blooming flowers were covered in snow. Summer flowers and fresh snow juxtapose nicely.

Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscapes

Summer flowers the day after a snow storm.

Summary

Juxtaposition, the way elements compare and contrast each other, is as important in landscape photography as it is in any other discipline of the art, even if it is more difficult to use. Pay attention to the way color, texture, and your subject interrelate within your image and you’ll find greater success with your landscapes.

Have you explored juxtapositions in your landscape photographs? Tell me about it in the comments, and share some of your successes.

The post Using Juxtaposition for More Compelling Landscape Photography by David Shaw appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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How to Create an Antique Photo Look Using a Lemon and Layer Masks in Photoshop

17 Mar

Layers were presented for the first time in Adobe Photoshop in version 3.0, which launched in 1994. We take them for granted nowadays, but they were a total game changer at the time as they allowed image composites to be taken to a whole different level with image stacking and transparencies.

Layer Masks may seem like a scary monster for a Photoshop newbie, but they are in fact quite easy to understand as they work the same way as layer transparency. But layer masks use a non-destructive way to reveal or hide portions of a layer by defining pixel opacities without affecting the original data.

It all happens with greyscale data: think of black as transparent, white as opaque and gray as different levels of opacity depending on if they are lighter or darker. Following this theory, this also means that you can convert any greyscale image into a Layer Mask and use it to create many types of effects on your image.

This tutorial is a step-by-step example on how to use this technique.

How to create your own Layer Mask

Create an old school effect

For this particular image, I wanted to create an old-school or antique effect, like an alternative darkroom process of developing a black and white image with a brush. This mask could be done in many different ways, but, because I wanted to make it really textured and as authentic as possible, I used an oxidation process.

Prepare the paper first

To give this process a try, you will need a paper sheet and some lemon juice.

02 How to create your own Layer Masks

Brush the paper with the lemon juice and create you mask area

03 How to create your own Layer Masks

The lemon juice will oxidate upon contact with air, but it will take a long time. To accelerate the process, you can put the paper near a heat source like a tungsten lamp or if you want it even faster, you can use an oven at a low temperature setting like I did here.

04 How to create your own Layer Masks

The lemon juice will start to turn a brown color. Remove the paper from the oven when you get the color and texture you intend, and your paper sheet is ready to be scanned or photographed to create an image file like this:

05 How to create your own Layer Masks

Photoshop technique

Now open Photoshop and the image on which you want to create the mask.

06 How to create your own Layer Masks

Convert the layer to a mask

Now click on the layer mask icon on the bottom of the layers’ palette and your background layer will be converted into Layer 0 with a white mask next to it.

Press the alt/option key on your keyboard and click on the white mask to make it visible and active. This is a very important step! If you miss this step the image itself will be active and visible instead of the mask, that is what you will be working on.

Once you have done this, the image itself will not disappear, it will just be hidden.

07 How to create your own Layer Masks

Convert to greyscale

Now it’s time to open your mask image and convert it to greyscale. One easy way to do it is to use the desaturate function located in: Image > Adjustments > Desaturate (or keyboard shortcut Control/Cmd+Shift+U)

08 How to create your own Layer Masks

The final image you want to create is white around the edges, so your mask should be the opposite. You can use the invert function for this: Image > Adjustments > Invert (Control/Cmd+I)

09 How to create your own Layer Masks

Put the image into the mask

Next, it is time to paste the image into the mask with these simple steps:

  • Select > All (Control/Cmd+A)
  • Edit > Copy (Control/Cmd+C)
  • Now click on the original image where you created the layer mask and go to: Edit > Paste (Control/Cmd+P)
  • Click on the eye icon on the left side of the layers’ palette to see the image and the mask working together.

10 How to create your own Layer Masks

Add a white layer

As you can see the mask creates different levels of transparency on the image. To be able to see the transparency as white we can create a new white layer to use as a background.

  • Go to: Layer > New > Layer (Control/Cmd+Shift+N)
  • Edit > Fill > Contents: White; Mode: Normal; Opacity: 100%

11 How to create your own Layer Masks

Now just drag the new white layer to the bottom position of the layers panel, and you will have a full view of the final image appearance.

12 How to create your own Layer Masks

Fine-tune the effect

Now it is just a matter of a few adjustments to fine-tune the effect you want. In this particular image, I will adjust the size of the mask. Click on the mask icon in the layers’ palette and then click on the chain between the image and the mask icon to unlink them.

13 How to create your own Layer Masks

Next go to: Edit > Transform > Scale (Control/Cmd+T). Drag the image edge lines to transform the shape of the mask and adjust it to the image size.

14 How to create your own Layer Masks

The size of the mask is right, but the image looks to washed out. We can increase the contrast of the mask to make the blending with the image look better.

Go to: Image > Adjustments > Levels (Control/Cmd+L). Adjust the sliders on the levels dialogue box to create the effect you want.

15 How to create your own Layer Masks

Lastly, for the old image look, you can use the black and white function. Click on the image icon in the layers’ palette so that you are editing the image and not the mask, then go to; Image > Adjustments > Black & White (Control/Cmd+Alt+Shift+B). Adjust the sliders on the Black & White dialogue box to create the effect you want.

Note: You can also add the black and white as an adjustment layer to keep your editing non-destructive. Additionally, you can paint on the mask with a black brush, over any areas you want to keep clear (such as her eyes or face). 

16 How to create your own Layer Masks

There it is, a quick and easy way to create your own layer masks. Give it a try and share your images with us in the comments below.

The post How to Create an Antique Photo Look Using a Lemon and Layer Masks in Photoshop by Ivo Guimaraes appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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