From Flat To Fairy Tale

When you photograph and process your images in the digital darkroom, try to think like a painter

When I teach digital enhancements, I suggest to my students that the subject itself often recommends a certain special effect, filter or plug-in. For example, a grunge effect may look great on an image of an old car in a junkyard, but that same effect probably wouldn’t look so great on a beautiful landscape. When you photograph and process your... Read more

Road Lighting Hacks

In a pinch, almost anything can become a light modifier

There are a lot of great light modifiers out there. From scrims to grids, diffusers to flags, if you’ve got the money, you can buy some beautifully constructed items from any number of manufacturers for shaping, modifying and controlling light. At my studio we own quite a few versatile light modifiers, but still sometimes my pea-sized brain gets... Read more

Photo Exercise: Something You Collect

Every collection tells a story

"Her umbrella was filled with rain she had collected in her travels & on hot summer days she would open it up for the neighborhood kids & we would splash in the puddles & then it would smell like Nairobi or Tasmania & later on we would sit on the porch & eat ice cream & watch for tigers in the bushes." —StoryPeople ... Read more

Ends Of The Day

Saving and enhancing sunrise and sunset shots

We all love photographing beautiful sunrises and sunsets. When everything comes together—the correct camera settings, the light, the composition, the foreground subject, the background, the mood and the all-important clouds—we get a near-perfect in-camera photograph. Of course, there are times when our photographs need a bit of workin’ and... Read more

Master The Meter

Improve your exposure accuracy with a handheld light meter

When the photography world made the switch from film to digital, one casualty of the conversion was the handheld light meter. Those LCDs on the backs of cameras made handheld meters (in the eyes of many, at least) obsolete. But in fact, there’s almost as much reason to use a handheld meter today as there ever was. For exposure accuracy and for... Read more

How To Use A Large Format View Camera

An introduction to how 4×5 film cameras work

I recently sold a camera on eBay. It was a Linhof large format 4×5 studio camera. In the process, a potential buyer emailed to inquire about how to use the camera because his plans were to learn the process of using a view camera with this Linhof. It occurred to me that as simple as large format cameras might be, they might be daunting to photographers... Read more

Learning to See in Black and White

Simple techniques to turn a platitude into a practical bit of photographic advice

It’s a cliché that even I have used from time to time: to become a better black and white photographer, you’ve got to start to see the world in black and white. I don’t mean moral extremes here. I’m talking about physically interpreting a scene in the unique ways that black and white film would render that scene. That means... Read more

Pro Black & White Printing

Tips for getting the best results when working with a professional photo lab

Before digital, enjoying and sharing photographs meant either slideshows, or more commonly, prints. Printmaking is an art unto itself, and that’s no less true in digital photography. Some photographers prefer to master this part of the craft and make their own prints with a fine-art photo printer, but others prefer the convenience of working with... Read more

Using Lightroom’s Radial Filter

The radial filter is a great tool for vignetting and blurring off-center subjects.

One of the best ways to edit images inside Lightroom’s Develop module is to put adjustments to use with the Graduated Filter and the Adjustment Brush. With the addition of the Radial Filter to this lineup, powerful adjustments now have a new level of control, and one that makes vignetting effects—whether based on exposure or sharpness—easier... Read more

Save Retouching Notes Right In A File

Photoshop is a powerful program, made even better by the addition of simple note taking

Way back in the early 1990s, one of my first digital imaging instructors talked about the importance of making recipes for the digital edits we were making in Photoshop. That way we could always go back and adjust those changes later, or recreate them on a different image file. That instructor was advocating writing good notes on paper, but today Photoshop... Read more

Deciphering Memory Card Tech

There’s a lot of cryptic code on CF and SD cards. Here’s what it all means.

How do you know what kind of memory card you should use in your camera? Check the owner’s manual right? Well sure, that will tell you the appropriate format, but what about all the other variables that come with flash memory cards—like speed ratings, classifications and the many acronyms plastered across most cards? Here’s what all those... Read more

Delivering Digital Image Files, Part 2

Sending High-Resolution Finished Image Files

Last week we addressed my favorite methods for sending low-resolution proof files to subjects and clients. This week I’ll explain part two of the delivery process: sending those pesky high-resolution finished digital image files. In the early years of the digital revolution, I found myself delivering high-resolution image files to clients on physical... Read more
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