Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rick Sammon says, "Make a picture". So I did.

Click on the image to see it larger

Rick is one of my favorite photography teachers. He's smart, funny and imparts lots of "number one" tips. Here are 2 of them. "The camera looks both ways" and "don't just take a picture, make a picture".

Recently my wife and I were in Dominica (not the Dominican Republic). Walking down a street in the capital on a very hot and sunny day we saw this woman beautifully dressed. We stopped and talked to her for a few minutes. After asking each other questions I politely asked if I could take her picture next to my wife. She smiled and agreed. I showed her the image on the back of my camera. I then asked if I could now take her picture alone just a few steps away, in the shade.

Much better lighting. Thanks Rick. Check out his blog, here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Trey Ratcliff at Google

Trey gave a lecture at Google headquarters. You can see it here. I've heard him speak on a few occasions and each time there are a few words or sentences that clarify some issues that I'm having while processing my HDR images. Listen closely and I'm sure you'll pick up a few pointers. He also shows many of his images and that helps me with subject matter and composition. I know you'll enjoy it.

In other news, Photoshop is 20 years old. Click the above to watch a short documentary and see how it all got started.

Monday, February 15, 2010

And the HDR beat goes on. . .

I've been away for the last 2 weeks. Not all by my choice. We couldn't get home because of the large snowfall on the East Coast. But even while I was away there has been more discussion about HDR. For the life of me, I don't understand what all the fuss is about. It's just another tool to use if the lighting situation calls for it. I took the image above for the owner of the hotel we stayed at. Now can anyone tell me they could get all those exposures with 1 image.
I see that Dave Cross and Scott Kelby, on Feb. 15, have posted some interesting thoughts on the subject. Please take the time to see the comments that they got back.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Color correction - a tutorial

I realize there are many ways to color correct your pictures. Here's the way I do it.

Before we start there are a few "one time" steps that should be done.

From the Tool Pallet, open the "color sampler" tool. At the top you'll see "Sample size". For high res images, set it to 5x5. For low res, 3x3.

  1. Open a "curves adjustment" layer. There are 3 eye droppers on the left hand side. Double click on the top eye dropper. Set the RGB numbers to 7,7,7 and click OK. Next click on the middle eye dropper and set the RGB numbers to 128, 128, 128 and click OK. Last, click on the bottom eye dropper and set the RGB numbers to 247, 247, 247 and click OK.

    This is the only time you will will have to set these numbers.
In the Layers Pallet, open a "Threshold" adjustment layer

Move the little white triangle all the way to the left, the "Threshold level" is 1. Slowly move it back to the right until a meaningful shape appears

In the tool bar, I choose the "color sampler" tool. Hold down the shift key and click inside the meaningful black area. This places a circle with the number 1 at that spot. This is my Black point

Now I move the same white triangle all the way to the right. The "Threshold level" is 255. Change the "Threshold level" to 254 and look to see if any new white pixels appear. If yes, I hold down the shift key and click on that pixel. A number 2 appears. This is my White point. If no pixels appear at 254, I move to a lower number until one does appear. (Note: There are times that I have to zoom in on the picture to see the areas while looking for this white pixel) I'm looking for the first white pixel below 255. If I use the white pixels showing when the "Threshold level" is 255, no correction will occur in the next step.

In Versace's new book, "Welcome to Oz 2.0", he adds the following step to find the mid-point. Actually, he learned this from Dave Cross, one of the Photoshop Guys. It works great.

Creat a new Layer > Edit Fill, select 50% Gray from the Contents dropdown menu > click OK.

Change the blend mode to Difference

Select the Threshold adjustment layer and move the slider all the way to the left

Move the slider to the left until you see the first or second black pixel

Zoom in and place a sample point on the pixel

Discard the Threshold and 50% gray layers

Your image should now have 3 sample points

I have located my Black point (1) and my white point (2) and mid-point (3)

Next, I open a Curves adjustment layer again

On the left hand side I again locate the 3 eye droppers. Click on the top eye dropper. This will set my black point. I move the cursor over the point #1 and click. I see a change on the graph in the Curves dialogue box.

Click on the bottom eyedropper back in the Curves dialog box. Move the cursor over the second point I set (2) and click. This will set our white point.

Do the same with the middle eyedropper to set your mid-point

Vincent even goes so far as to use 3 individual Curve layers so he can go back in and make some additional correction if needed. I understand that for the type of work he does, but for my work I don't find that necessary.

The image is now color corrected.

This process takes a few more steps, however I find it to be very accurate.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Another Editor's Pick on HDR Spotting

I'm pretty excited about this.
HDR Spotting is a great site for those of us who shoot and process images in HDR. At this point the site is in beta testing and you would need a special code to upload images. If you email me at I may be able to get you a code number. Check it out here.
You can see larger images at: