Friday, November 19, 2010
This post is a bit of a two-fer: you get two great photography recommendations for the price of one. That's because it's both a link to a simple collection of gorgeous black & white portraits from photographer Nelli Palomaki, as well as an endorsement for the blog that introduced us to her work. Simple, timeless and striking, these portraits of children are inspiring for their sheer beauty. If you are at all interested in portrait photography, this series is a must-see. As for the blog that brought her work to us, it's Jorg Colberg's Conscientious photo blog. Jorg stays on the cutting edge of contemporary fine art photography from around the world. With book reviews, show critiques, and simply pointing out the works of great and largely unknown photographers—much like Ms. Palomaki—Jorg's blog is an absolute must-read for anyone interested in what's going on in the world of contemporary photography.
How to tell if a photo’s been faked
Thursday, November 18, 2010
A few weeks ago I saw a video online showing what appeared to be a dumpy old woman (or maybe even man in drag) speaking on a cell phone in an old film from 1928. Turns out it’s part of this whole new wave of "time traveler" photos and videos. Basically, people find these clips and shots from throughout history with inexplicably modern people or elements in the frame. Now there's this photo of a dude wearing a Nine-Inch-Nails T-shirt and sporting an SLR and sunglasses—even though the photo is from the 1940s. Weird, right? Even though it’s probably not really a time traveler, it’s neat that nobody really seems to know what exactly is going on in these pictures. It gets really fun when you start throwing science at the photos, and when the science says it’s not faked. There’s this software called the Error Level Analyzer which can unearth composited and faked photographs by searching out differences in the level of JPEG artifacts that occur in composites. Read all about it, including links to those old time-traveler photos, at Photojojo.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I like this. File it under ‘simple idea, valuable product.’ So for years, the way you gelled your strobes—particularly your handheld and hot-shoe mounted Speedlights—was to cut a piece of a big gel and tape or Velcro it to the flash head. But this is a great product that eliminates the need to do it yourself—and it makes it work much better with increased functionality. There’s only one problem: this sticky filters set works out to ten bucks for a little square of gel, and that’s pretty steep. I especially like that the chart tells you this particular gel will make your flash look like this type of light. That makes it really simple to balance your flash with other sources. I wholeheartedly approve. But did I mention how they're so darn expensive? Check out the review at SLR Lounge and decide for yourself if it’s worth it.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I'm a big fan of time-lapse video, though I've only dabbled with creating the effect once or twice. With everybody making videos on their DSLRs these days, it's a nice way of bridging the gap between still photography and video. What I especially like is it's a great effect; nothing else looks quite like a time-lapse video, and you can’t really fake it in post. If you want a time-lapse look, you shoot a time-lapse. What a great way to turn a boring vacation landscape into a more interesting memory, or an ideal way to tell a story that stills just won't do or a video wouldn't capture in quite the same way. But time-lapse isn't quite the same as still photography, and it's not quite the same as video. The techniques are a little specific to time-lapse: things that would work in a single still image may not work in a time-lapse series of hundreds of images. So here's a collection of simple tips to help you make great time-lapse videos.
iPads as light sources
Monday, November 15, 2010
Doesn't everybody use iPads as portrait lights? I know I do. Oh wait: that’s not me. That’s the dude in this video. It’s him who’s built his own array of nine iPads that he uses in place of a softbox. Sure, the cost is about five grand, and I know I could get a heckuva studio strobe system for that price, but the light is soÖ digital. Okay, so in reality I don’t know if it’s a good idea or not. (Actually, I do. And it’s not.) But it sure is neat. A great way to flex creative muscle, both in the building of the iPad lights and the shooting of this neat video.
More Lightroom Control Tips
Friday, November 12, 2010
After reading Helen Bradley's advice for localized tonal control in Lightroom that I mentioned yesterday, I continued digging a little deeper for specialized tools to provide more control over local adjustments within Lightroom. Sure enough, DPS came through again with a tutorial about using a couple of existing tools together for a brand new effect—erasing graduated filter effects with precision. Let's say you've got a portrait of a person on a blue background. You could use a graduated filter to darken the top of the background, blending it downward with the natural effects of the filter. The problem is, you might darken the subject's face as well. As Elizabeth Halford points out in her DPS post, you can effectively erase the graduated filter by using the adjustment brush. If you dropped brightness -20 with the graduated filter, you can boost it +20 with the brush to selective erase the effect. It's a simple trick, but a great one for extending the value of Lightroom local adjustments—which is always a bonus if you're looking to streamline your workflow.
Lightroom Tonal Control
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Helen Bradley sure knows her Lightroom. In a recent post at Digital Photo School, Helen taught me another great thing about the photo management and RAW processing program I've slowly been learning this year. Normally, in my RAW processing workflow, I reach a certain point at which I output the image into Photoshop to make targeted adjustments to particular tones within a picture. Often these are as simple as pulling down nearly blown out highlights, or saturation and contrast adjustments to particular colors. I've long used gradient tools in Lightroom to help make adjustments in various regions of the frame, but not until I read Helen's wonderful piece did I really understand how to put adjustments to work across particular tones in any part of the frame. Reading Helen's DPS piece gave me a better understanding of how I can make finer tonal adjustments within Lightroom. Anything that makes Lightroom an increasingly efficient image editing tool can simplify your workflow without compromising image quality.
All about model releases
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Do you ever photograph people? I thought so. Do you always get model releases? I didn't think so. I'm no model release expert, but I'm working on it. I know I need to request model releases from more of my subjects, but I don't always do it. You should too, especially since the ASMP is always offering assistance for photographers who want to utilize releases to make photographs more commercially viable. In a series of recent posts, the ASMP has provided further examples of why we should get model releases whenever possible.
The first real world story comes from a famous photographer who profited greatly, and legally, from the sale of an image portraying a subject who ultimately sued. True, the photographer eventually won the lawsuit, but the idea that you'd win in court because the law is on your side is not a suitable replacement for a model release. It could very well be the case that you'd win, but if your subject is wealthy enough and committed enough, it could get incredibly expensive and time consuming along the way. A model release may have prevented the suit—or at least cut it significantly shorter.
Another ASMP post offers answers to photographers' most frequently asked model release questions—such as when and where you're at risk for losing a lawsuit from someone who doesn't approve of the manner in which you've utilized their images.
Lastly, lest you think you need to create a release that covers you at all times regardless of the rights of the subject being photographed, consider one important thing: would you sign the release you're asking others to sign? If not, review your terms and conditions and make the necessary adjustments to create a document that's fair to all parties, and one that you won't have trouble convincing your subjects to sign. Maybe then you'll be better about getting those releases all the time.