Tripod Ban Workarounds

When tripods aren’t permitted, try these alternatives
Early this year, in an effort to ease congestion on popular trails, Zion National Park authorities implemented a tripod ban for commercial workshop groups. While individual photographers would be able to continue using tripods, and workshops could still use them in certain designated areas, the ban makes difficult the use of an often-essential piece... Read more

Auto Import Images Into Lightroom

This handy feature creates a watched folder that automatically imports photos into a Lightroom catalog
Auto Import Images into Lightroom
I use Lightroom as the centerpiece of my digital imaging universe. I use it to stay organized, create batch edits of my RAW image files and output specific files built to my clients’ specifications. I have few complaints about Lightroom, but one of them is tethering. I find it a bit too quirky for my liking, so I’ve begun experimenting with other... Read more

Easy Install of a Studio Cyc Wall

The infinity look is easier than ever if you do it yourself with this highly functional studio addition
Easy Install of a Studio Cyc Wall
For years, whenever someone has asked me to shoot a full-length portrait on a white background, I roll out a 9-foot seamless paper. The problem with paper, of course, is that it wrinkles and rips and tears and you have to worry whenever someone stands on it that they’re going to pull the whole thing down. The better way to achieve this “infinity”... Read more

Selecting Subjects Super Fast

Make fast and accurate selections with the Quick Mask’s “Select Subject” feature
Selecting Subjects Super Fast
One of the most common procedures we photographers regularly do when working in Photoshop is to select the subject in order to manipulate it/him/her separate from the background. Sometimes you want to blur the background, for instance, or maybe just to create a clipping path around a portrait subject in a studio setting. In each case, the manipulations... Read more

Shooting Video With Still Cameras

A guide to adding motion to your workflow
As the saying goes, the only constant is change. With significant knowledge and skills in image composition, creation and lighting, still photographers looking at generating a significant portion of their income with video have a leg up on professionals from many other fields. Adding video to your skill set requires a lot of work and knowledge, though;... Read more

Data Protection On The Go

Great options for backing up files while you travel for work or play
Data Protection On The Go
Sony PSZ-RA When you’re traveling and taking pictures, backing up your image files becomes even more important—as well as a bigger challenge. After all, you’re away from your home system and what’s hopefully a robust approach to backups you’ve put into place for every download. But when traveling, why risk losing your data if it’s only... Read more

Find Your Lens’ Sharpest F-Stop

Test your lens to determine which apertures provide the sharpest photos
Last week, we talked about several tips for making sharp photos. One of those tips involved choosing your lens’ sharpest aperture. But how do you know which one that is? The sharpest aperture on any lens is generally about two or three stops from wide open. This rule of thumb has guided photographers to shoot somewhere in the neighborhood of ƒ/8... Read more

Six Tips For Sharper Pix

A rundown of six great camera techniques that make for sharper photos
Six Tips for Sharper Pix
If your picture isn’t sharp, it isn’t good. While there are always exceptions to the rules, this one is true the majority of the time. And the better you become as a photographer, the less forgiving you are for fuzzy, unsharp photos. So, here’s a rundown of the camera techniques that will make for sharper pictures. 1. Use a tripod. Even if I’m... Read more

New Lightroom Updates Offer Improved Raw Processing

Lightroom Classic CC has been updated for 2018, with many improvements to Raw image editing and more
I’m one of those rare photographers who are actually big fans of Adobe’s subscription model for its Creative Cloud applications. Instead of going long stretches on outdated software, now I’m always up to date with Lightroom and Photoshop, using the latest tools those brilliant engineers have designed. Just this spring, Adobe provided an update to Lightroom Classic CC (having changed the name to incorporate “Classic” last fall, in order to differentiate from the entirely cloud-based suite of applications, known simply as Lightroom CC) that adds a new set of performance upgrades and features—in particular, some tremendous new controls to RAW image profiles. Here’s what you need to know about those new RAW profiles, as well as a rundown of other neat adjustments to the application. When Adobe updated Lightroom at the beginning of the year, the company focused on faster performance—particularly when it comes to importing and exporting. Photographers had been telling Adobe these areas were lagging, and so the developer improved the speed of these processes, especially for machines running 12GB or more of RAM. It also provided new options for searching nested folders more efficiently, as well as quickly creating collections from existing folders or geotags. The tone curve has been expanded in order to provide greater control over all aspects of exposure and contrast control. For instance, now you can really dig in to shadows, midtones and highlights separately, and tweak each of them with finer controls than before. This simply offers greater precision for those photographers who want to fine-tune their images to tighter tolerances. Other usability changes include moving the Dehaze Slider from it’s former out-of-the-way location in the Effects tab to the prime real estate of the Basic tab, right under the Clarity slider, putting it in a place where this useful tool is likely to get more attention. Also, the application now provides full-size previews of the effects of Develop presets as you mouse-over a given preview. Previously, that preview appeared in the small Navigator window in the top left of the Develop module, but now as you pause your mouse over a given Develop preset, the preview appears on the full image—making it easier to determine if it is, in fact, the look you’re going for. This year’s biggest changes to Lightroom Classic CC, however, are related to Raw profiles. Adobe has augmented traditional camera manufacturer profiles with new Adobe Raw profiles, as well as creative profiles that make more impactful one-click changes to the overall look and feel of an image file. They’re the perfect place to start making adjustments to a Raw image file before other edits are made. Camera profiles had long been buried at the bottom of the develop module in the Camera Calibration tab, but now they’re right there at the top of the Basic tab. This is the perfect place for them, because selecting the Raw profile is the perfect place to start editing an image. Just as you have been able to select camera-specific profiles in the past, now you can select profiles such as Adobe Monochrome, Landscape, Neutral, Portrait and Vivid in order to change the look of an image non-destructively. The creative profiles, of which there are four sets of eight profiles, are built to ride on top of other adjustments you’ve made—to exposure, saturation and sharpness, for instance—so they won’t obliterate any Develop module edits when switching between looks. Monochrome is the default black and white profile, while Adobe Color is the new default neutral color profile for Raw images. Landscape boosts saturation all over, and especially in blues and greens, while Neutral creates a flatter, less saturated overall image. Portrait is optimized for skin tones, while Vivid adds contrast and vibrance, while still maintaining nice skin tones—great for pictures of people in landscapes. The Artistic set of Creative profiles is designed to make bigger, bolder changes to the colors in an image. Black and White Creative profiles are intended to make stronger, more dramatic monotone images. The Modern set of profiles offers a variety of looks that are currently fashionable, while the Vintage profiles mimic the effects so often seen in analog film photographs (things such as increased shadow detail, lower contrast, higher saturation). Best of all, these creative profiles come with a slider (labeled “amount”) that allows you to intensify or dial back the overall impact of a given profile.
I’m one of those rare photographers who are actually big fans of Adobe’s subscription model for its Creative Cloud applications. Instead of going long stretches on outdated software, now I’m always up to date with Lightroom and Photoshop, using the latest tools those brilliant engineers have designed. Just this spring, Adobe provided an update... Read more

Shoot The Moon

Who needs a telescope when you’ve got a super-telephoto lens?
There’s a full moon in a few nights. Why not point a camera at it? The June 28 Strawberry Moon presents an opportunity to capture photos of the full moon without a telescope. An even better opportunity appears in a few weeks when we’ll see a supermoon—when the moon is closer to the earth and, thus, appears larger in the sky. In each case, a super-telephoto... Read more