Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Ever made a perfect picture except for the telephone lines running through the frame and ruining the scene? You’ve always had a couple of choices: live with it as is, or spend hours in Photoshop cloning away those tiny little lines. Well now you’ve got a third choice: the Wire Worm Photoshop plugin by developer Martin Vicanek. It looks like a marvelous little program with a powerful effect: automatically removing power lines and wires from photographs. I may not want to use it to remove zoo bars from the foreground of an image (as one example demonstrates), but I may definitely put it to the test pulling power lines from the skies of my outdoor images. If it works half as good as it looks, this free software just might be invaluable.
Selling RAW Image Files
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Digital Photography School recently published a short piece by photographer Elizabeth Halford. In it, Ms. Halford advocates that photographers who earn any part of their living licensing images never turn over to clients (or friends and family) unprocessed RAW image files. It’s a good argument too. After all, if you put your unfinished photographs into your clients’ hands, who knows how the finished product will turn out? That’s especially bothersome if you’re the one whose name will be attached to the finished photo. While Ms. Halford’s advice is certainly sound, the discussion that it provoked makes some interesting other points too. For instance, if you’re in the business of selling images to clients, wouldn’t you be well served by providing what your clients want? After all, isn’t the customer always right? Wherever you default on the issue, it’s extremely interesting and informative to consider both sides of the story. It shows how complex many professional photographic issues can be, and how they do apply to photographers at every level of the business. So if you’re a working pro or considering dipping your toe into the business waters, it’s a great opportunity to learn about one of the most common, and somewhat controversial, issues facing professional photographers today.
Behind the Scenes of a Fashion Shoot
Monday, October 4, 2010
Perhaps my favorite consequence of this whole photo/video convergence thing is how prevalent the behind-the-scenes video has become. It seems like every photographer, and every fashion house, is now producing behind-the-scenes videos that show just how complex and involved their shoots can be. Best part about all this is that we photographers can use this as a learning tool. For instance, in this behind-the-scenes look at a Forbes Company fashion shoot, I realized a few things about lighting gear that I can apply to my own shoots, and I also saw just how much work from how many different people goes into a successful fashion shoot. It may not be quite as direct as a true “how-to” video, but that’s partly what makes it so interesting. You’re not learning from examples set up in a conference room or a hotel ballroom—you’re learning from an actual fashion shoot with actual photographers and actual talent. It’s invaluable to see actual pros at work.
Must-have iPad photo apps
Friday, October 1, 2010
I just got an iPad so I’m constantly on the lookout for great photography apps I can use to make the most of this thing. From what I can tell, it appears that the UK’s Guardian Eyewitness app (free from the app store) is a must-have for folks who are interested in seeing world class photojournalism on a daily basis. The images are presented with an explanation from the day’s photographer about how each photograph was made. I don’t know where I first heard of this app, but I know that in a recent list of must-have iPad apps for photographers it topped the list and was the third time it has come to my attention. I’ll take that to mean I should go get it asap. The list I was just perusing came from BestAppSite.com. That seems like a fairly good URL if you’re looking for the best apps, no? The list is pretty great, including the Guardian Eyewitness app, Photoshop Express (another highly touted iPad app for photographers) and a couple of others I am keen on trying. The one I’m most jazzed about, though, is called LightKit. It turns the iPad itself into a light source for use during actual photo shoots. Impressive! Read all about it, and see the whole list, at BestAppSite.com.
Single Light Quick Tip
Thursday, September 30, 2010
I spend a lot of time making portraits and product photographs with multiple lights. It’s fun and challenging and almost always interesting, but sometimes I find myself drawn to the challenge of making equally powerful photographs with fewer lights. Especially when I try to do it with just one light. Just last week I made a one-light still life to illustrate the ominous effects of three red hot peppers I grew in my garden. Not only was it possible to make the shot with one light, it was actually better since the single source upped the drama. I used a light from a high angle designed to rake across the peppers to showcase their shape. I used a soft source (a fairly large softbox about two feet above the peppers) to keep the highlights from looking like specular spots that might distract from the effect. (If the subject wasn’t shiny, or if it had a lot of texture, I would have probably used a harder light source to bring out the texture and increase the drama even more.) It’s a simple shot but one that is improved with the use of a single light source. The lesson in that? You don’t always have to complicate the lighting to make a better photograph. In fact, keeping it simple increases your chances of letting the subject shine through. It’s a great exercise, no matter what you shoot or how you light. So try lighting simply to see how powerful one light can be.
Learn about depth from Van Gogh
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
There’s a lot we can learn from Vincent Van Gogh. In this case, though, thanks to an art student we can learn more about Van Gogh’s works—and that can teach us something special about photography too. This young lady has applied tilt/shift focus control techniques in her photographs of famous Van Gogh paintings. It’s weird, I know, but it’s also supercool. The student, Serena Malyon, used a tilt/shift lens to turn two-dimensional paintings into simulated 3D. There seems to be some argument about whether she actually used a tilt/shift lens to make the photographs or whether she simulated the look in Photoshop. Either way, the effect is clear: the illusion of depth is dramatically enhanced by the careful use of depth of field and a precisely placed plane of focus. If you can turn a literally two-dimensional image into such a successful faux 3D picture, imagine what you can do when photographing the actual three-dimensional world.
Shoot empty scenics in crowded destinations
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Have you ever been on vacation, or maybe just being a tourist in your own town, and while setting up a perfect shot only to have a crowd ruin your picture? Maybe you’re all set up to shoot a great scenic shot of the Eiffel Tower when suddenly some French dude wanders into your frame. This can be terribly detrimental to an otherwise perfect picture. Well Digital Photography School points out that with just a tripod and a clone stamp how you can still craft a perfect people-free photograph. It’s simple, really. By shooting multiple exposures and layering them together, you can paint away the parts with people and reveal the important parts of the scene to eliminate distractions from the frame. It’s a powerful tip that’s also pretty simple—and those are always my favorite.
Fall Color Finder
Monday, September 27, 2010
It’s not often as a photography writer that I get to cite the Christian Science Monitor, so I’m going to seize this opportunity and enjoy it. And I’m going to really enjoy telling you what the Monitor called a recent post: Fall Foliage Smackdown. What a great name for a great gallery of fall color imagery from across the globe. Besides being a great gallery of colorful autumn images, it works as a bit of a guide to help you figure out when and where you should go out to find great changing leaves to photograph. Since the images in the gallery are from last year, you can see when these peak colors happened in order to better help plan your travel this year. That makes it a worthwhile gallery because of the great photos and because of the useful info for foliage photographers everywhere.