Paint Your Pictures Like Van Gogh - 8/18/08
Simple impressionistic techniques for the digital age When I was a kid I never could paint very well. Maybe that's why I became a photographer. These days, though, I get to pretend I know how to paint, thanks to the powerful features of my favorite photo-editing program. Photoshop's got a million filters and tools that I haven't mastered yet, but that just means I get the experience of continually discovering how to use new ones-like when I recently figured out that a single filter can help me turn my photos into something similar to impressionist paintings that Vincent Van Gogh would envy.
Six Steps To Eliminating Lens Flare - 8/11/08
Fighting flare one shot at a time Shooting directly into the sun-or at least with it somewhat behind your subject-is a great way to add depth to any photograph. But there's one big problem that comes when pointing your camera into the vicinity of any light source: lens flare.
Lens flare is often thought of as shafts of light that dart across a scene when a pinpoint source is shined directly into the lens. The problem is that not all light sources are pinpoint, and so not all flares are this noticeable, dramatic, or even desirable.
Turn The Worst Light Into The Best Light - 8/04/08
Shooting shadows makes sunny days more interesting Some photographers can take the extraordinary and make it look ordinary. Others can take the ordinary, and through their creative vision, make it look outstanding. That's part of the fun; you never know what you'll encounter when you're out with your camera.
When I'm faced with a seemingly impossible situation—where I can't find anything extraordinary, and I'm shooting under the horrid midday light—I remember to wait and look for something ordinary so that I can turn it into something great. It's then that I remember the most ordinary, yet almost always interesting subject: shadows. The light on these bright, sunny days also happens to provide the best shadow-shooting opportunities.
Darkroom Tips For The Digital Age - 7/28/08
Use the computer to recreate film reticulation effects Happy accidents. Serendipity. The silver lining on a dark cloud. Whatever you call it, it's the moment when something goes horribly wrong but eventually ends up being really, really right. These moments are everywhere in art and photography. Back in the days of film, there were countless mistakes in processing and exposure that creative types turned from tragedy into triumphant special effect. A leading contender in the photographic happy accident category? Reticulation.
Two Simple Steps To Whiter Smiles! - 7/21/08
With Photoshop, whiter, brighter smiles are just a few clicks away Nobody likes the dentist, and nobody likes to look bad in a portrait. Whether the cause is poor dental hygiene or just bad luck, you can now give your portrait subjects a better smile in just two easy steps. Best of all, they never have to know how you helped their smile.
There are lots of effective digital tooth-whitening approaches, but my own favorite is effective, quick and easy. I use Photoshop's desaturation sponge and the dodging tool to whiten dingy smiles with just a few clicks.The first step is to choose the sponge in the tools palette and set it to "desaturate." Scale the brush to fit easily within the teeth without overlapping onto the lips and gums, but keep it large enough to provide even coverage. Reduce the flow to 25 or 35 percent and begin the desaturation process with large even strokes. After desaturation, the smile isn't yet white, but at least it isn't an awful shade of green.
Camera Hack: Build A String Tripod - 7/14/08
Homemade image stabilization for any camera and lens It's hard enough to carry a camera everywhere you go, so how can you possibly be blamed for not always having a tripod? Unfortunately, all too often a camera is worthless without something stable to hold it. Dim lights and long exposures are everywhere. Manufacturers have long been working on ways to improve photographers' abilities to work in low light without relying on tripods-better high-ISO film and sensors, digital noise-reduction software, portable monopods, image stabilization built in to cameras and lenses-but nothing's quite like the ability to simply stabilize the camera when you click the shutter.
Gel Your Flash For Complete Color Control - 7/7/08
Learn how gelling a flash can make you look like a digital color expert Digital tools make it easy to control color effects after a shot is in the computer. But sometimes there's no better way to get a great color-whether it's subtle warming or wild and wacky saturation-than by doing it with real light while you're really shooting. It may sound daunting, but simply gelling a flash can make your photos look like you're a digital color expert.
The Secret To Perfect Travel Shots? - 6/30/08
Check the postcard rack When it comes to travel photography, knowing all about your destination is a great way to begin. In the grand scheme of vacation prep, however, photo research isn't always high on the list. For someone whose journey is sure to encompass serious photography, however-even if it's squeezed into a family vacation-a little research can go a long way.
Ideally, when you're planning your next getaway, you'll get a good idea of where you want to photograph before you leave. Notable locations, scenic overlooks, historic settings-all are common tourist spots no matter where you're traveling. Even if you like to fly by the seat of your pants, a little online investigation before you depart will help you come back with great photos.
Get Grand Vistas - 6/23/08
Using people for scale to improve your photos Sometimes great scenes aren't as powerful through the camera as they are to the naked eye. Often it's because little two-dimensional photographs can make it difficult to comprehend the size of a subject-especially if it's a big subject. In those situations, it's best to consider including something as a point of reference for scale. Be it a sailboat or a sign or a building or a car. All these things help give a sense of scale to photographs-as long as the "thing" you're adding to the picture is so recognizable that it instantly registers as a yardstick for the picture. And what is most recognizable to humans? Other humans. That's why they're the best indicator of size you could ever want.
Perfect Architecture Shots - 6/16/08
Seven simple steps for correcting vertical convergence Some photographers spend a lot of their time keeping things straight: horizon lines, roofs and walls, interior decorâ¦ No matter how straight the line started, leave it to the camera to make it crooked. One of the best ways to deal with these off-kilter angles is to correct for them in the computer.
A common example of crooked lines that should be straight is in an architectural photograph. Even if you're not an architectural pro, sometimes the goofy convergence that shows up in shots doesn't do a scene justice. When this optical distortion strikes, try these few simple steps to correct for that vertical convergence-and then apply the same principles to fix all sorts of other distortions in your pictures.
Create Faux-Infrared Images - 6/9/08
Get infrared film effects from digital shots with a few image-editing tricks Not everything in the digital era is better than the film equivalent. Think of black-and-white infrared film, for example. This analog process created totally unique results that were as much fun for the great photos they created as for the surprises they delivered along the way. When you clicked the shutter, you never knew exactly what you were going to get.
Though the surprise isn't quite the same, you can actually create similar infrared effects in the computer. True infrared film records light that's invisible to the human eye-in the reddest region of the light spectrum. Similar in-camera effects can sometimes be created digitally (depending on a particular CCD's sensitivity to near-infrared light, or whether you've had it converted to a true IR sensor), but why not skip the in-camera filtration techniques and turn any image into infrared after you've got it in the computer?