Posts Tagged ‘digital photography’

Special two-for-one Sale on my eBooks

November 7, 2009


I’m holding a SALE for both of my eBooks this week. You buy either one of them and you get the other free. So, folks, anyone who hasn’t got these yet, now’s your chance. The offer lasts from November the 7th to the 14th.

Here’s the LINK or click the image above. Just click the “buy” button, under either eBook and after payment you’ll be automatically directed to a URL from which you can download both eBooks.

To get a better idea of what the eBooks are about see my past posts.

Understanding Post – Processing and Seeing the Light.

Now to what I’ve been up to. Over the past few days I’ve driven from Belarus to Hungary. I’m on my way to Romania and that’s where I hope to meet up with a couple of fellow photogs and explore some of the country’s most picturesque regions. I have to say – it’s fascinating seeing Eastern Europe this way, the only downside is that my wife isn’t with me for this part of the journey.  Due to some visa difficulties she’ll have to meet me later. In any case, I’m enjoying the trip. Traveling by car is much less exhausting than the motorcycle travel I’m used to. Heck, you can even sleep in the car. 🙂

Off to continue my drive. More to come soon.

The silly little things that come back to bite you in the …

July 9, 2009


The image above is from a spread of my photos in the “Gallery” section of “Digital Photo” magazine. The issue should be out in the UK in a week or two.

That’s great and all, but here’s a short story with an important point.

The pay for being featured in this particular section of the magazine, is not significant, it’s better than what most magazines will give for something similar, but it’s insignificant nevertheless. My main motivation for sending images in was not the money, but the exposure. “Digital Photo” is one of the most widely read photography magazines in the UK and probably Australia. It’s a great platform for spreading the word about what I do to thousands of people.

Ideally this is what I would want to happen – readers see my images, they like them, they go to my website and see what else I do. Hopefully someone wants to buy a print, someone else might be interested in a workshop and a few others may want to buy the ebook tutorial. Good idea. Well, not so fast. Why? Because the website URL is not there! Why is it not there? Good question.

When submitting images to “Digital Photo” you have to provide all your contact details, as well as a website URL, if you have one. All that info goes to someone, though I am not exactly sure to whom. I thought that since I had provided the URL of my website it would automatically be included, along with my images. Incorrect!

My initial reaction was a good amount of cursing, out loud. That’s my reaction to many things that frustrate me or make me angry, but once I get that out of my system, 🙂 I take a deep breath, relax and analyze – what went wrong? The answer is simple – I assumed without actually communicating what was important to me, without verifying anything. I assumed wrong. Good opportunity wasted, lesson learned.

Editors have a lot of stuff on their hands and including my website info into a publication is likely not on their “to do list”, especially not if they haven’t been requested and reminded. Even when they are requested and reminded, things can and will go wrong and in that case the editor in question should have a good kick up the butt. Not the case here, instead, what I thought was common sense, a silly, little insignificant thing, came to bite me in the place where the uncooperative editor should be kicked.

The lesson is one that applies to anything in life – if something is important to you, go after it, let the relevant people know, remind them and remind them again. Sure you there’s a chance that you may come across as annoying, but I’d rather come across as annoying and have an opportunity to maximize the return from my efforts than be a nice, complacent fellow who gets almost nothing for his hard work. Simple as that. Don’t do what I did. 🙂

Understanding Post-Processing – The Tutorial

June 9, 2009


Well, it’s finally here. I’ve spent the last couple of days finishing off the tutorial that I promised what seems like a long while ago now.

The preview PDF (1.5mb) is HERE.

You can buy it HERE.

The idea behind the tutorial was born from countless e-mails where people would ask me what I do to my images in Photoshop/Lightroom. Although how I post-process images is no rocket science, it is not necessarily something that can be described briefly in an email.

And so I have come up with a fairly comprehensive e-book, which goes right to the heart of what I do to my images in post. The instructions are detailed and should enable even a beginner with some basic knowledge to achieve the same results as I, with some practice.

I think that the content of this e-book may change the workflow for many photographers. The techniques are simple enough, yet they enable you to achieve dramatic results without spending too much time on each image. To me that’s important, as much as I enjoy the post-processing, I love shooting much more. Less post-processing equals more shooting.

I mentioned some time ago how much I loved Capture One and I still do, but I have found myself using Camera RAW in Photoshop CS4 and achieving great results much, much quicker than before. Apart from some interface differences, Lightroom is identical to Camera RAW in what it does. As a result I ended up writing this e-book tutorial for Lightroom and Photoshop users. The instructions for working with the RAW files are for Lightroom (I do provide screen-grabs from Photoshop, for parts where the interface is a little different). The instructions for work that can’t be done in Lightroom and additional touch up work are for Photoshop (CS3 and after).

The e-book is priced at $US12, but I feel that it will give infinitely more value to those who use it. 🙂

If you like the e-book or know photographers who may find it useful – spread the word. Any income from this will be used for good 🙂 – i.e. photography and more travel, which will also result in more photography and more viewing pleasure for the readers of this blog. 🙂

Everything you need to buy the e-book is HERE.

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My Digital Workflow and Why I don’t use Lightroom

March 14, 2009

workflowOk, so I thought it might be useful to let people know how I go about working on my images after I have captured them with the camera. This is not a tutorial, just some steps that I take, a word on the software that I use and some thoughts behind why I use it.
I’ll start with a statement that will likely surprise many photographers; I don’t use Lightroom, at all.
In a perfect world things would be much simpler than they are and I would absolutely love if Lightroom was my answer to everything, but it’s not. “Why?” You ask. I’ll try to make it as short as I can: I really don’t like certain textures that Adobe Camera Raw creates (this is what both Photohshop and Lightroom use to interpret RAW files) and I don’t like how it handles color. The textures often look “too computer generated”, progressions of really dark tones to a really light ones are a little too harsh, too sharp and sometimes pixelated. The colors and the tones often seem to blend with each other and the image takes on a somewhat de-toned, de-saturated look. 
I feel that Capture One 4 Pro handles RAW better, it’s not perfect, but for most part I find it superior to anything else. I must note that the aim of this post is not to start a debate on which software is better; I’m simply sharing my thoughts. If you want to see for yourself, download a trial of the current Capture One, experiment and see if it’s for you. I came across the software after being unhappy with Lightroom’s and Photoshop’s handling of RAW files that I wanted to make into rather large .jpegs, which would later be turned into 20X30 inch prints. Sometimes it takes a large print to see whether an image holds up or not in terms of quality. I could create large prints from images made with Lightroom and I have done it, but boy did that task take a lot of unnecessary time.
And so as a result of living in a not so perfect world of computers I use a combination of programs to achieve my goals:
iView, (now Microsoft Expression Media 2) – to sort through the files and catalog them.
Capture One 4 Profor conversions from RAW to jpegs.
Photoshop (still CS3, although that may change soon) – for in-depth editing of images.
Adobe Bridgefor keywording and descpriptions.
expression-media-21After I download my day’s shoot onto the computer I create a “catalog” in Expression Media 2 and import all the photos there. Then comes the selection process. In Expression Media 2 you can assign colors to images. I usually only assign colors to the images I want to keep – green, basically every image which I think is pretty decent is marked green. There is an option that lets you sort images by color and by the end of my selection I choose this option to bring up all the images that actually don’t have a color under them – these go directly to the recycle bin. I look through the decent, green images again, pick some standouts and assign another color to them. If I want to make the selection even tighter I simply repeat the steps and use a new color. I love Expression Media 2 because it’s very simple, fast and it doesn’t eat up HDD space with its catalogs.
capture-one-proNext comes the RAW to JPEG conversion. All the images that I want to work on are downloaded into a temporary folder. This folder is opened in Capture One. The software has a great option called “variables”, it let’s you create multiple copies of an image and allows you to compare these copies/variables side by side. For quite some time I have been doing a thing that some people on the net call HDR portraiture – all this means is that I create multiple images from a single RAW file. I do this because the tonal range of all digital SLRs is still somewhat limited – if you shoot a person against a bright sky, either the person will be really underexposed (very dark) or the sky will be really overexposed (very bright). I shoot such situations in a particular way, you could say that I expose in the middle, so the person is not too dark and the sky is not too bright. When I bring this RAW file up in Capture One I will usually make three images from it – one underexposed, one overexposed and one neutral. That’s basically what I use Capture One for.
These three files are opened in Photoshop and are “blended” into a single image that now has a greater tonal range than anything the camera can produce by itself. I use curves or levels adjustment layers, as well as dodging and burning tools to apply the finishing touches.
The finished images are key-worded and described in Bridge and the RAW files are sometimes copied from the temporary directory into a permanent one, which is basically a backup of all the images that I consider good.
That’s about it. As I mentioned this is not a tutorial, I haven’t gone into much detail on anything, but these are the steps that I go through. Perhaps, if people are interested, at some stage I will release an in-depth tutorial on post-processing images with techniques that can also be used with Lightroom and Photoshop. I don’t want to just post something “half-baked”; I’m against formulas and quick fixes and all for in-depth understanding of each process.
One question I get asked quite often is: “How much post-processing do you do? How do you achieve a particular look in an image?” I guess this post has shed some insight on how I achieve the “particular look”. In the next post I’ll share some “before” and “after” images that will give a better idea of just how much or how little post-processing I do.