Saturday, 30 January 2010

Creating the Dave Hill Look

Creating that “Dave Hill” Look
A tutorial for Adobe Photoshop™ CS2, 3 or 4

Skill level: Intermediate/Advanced

Dave Hill is a conceptual portrait photographer based in Nashville, Tenessee, USA and renouned for his distinctive edgy looking portraits created with superb lighting and a lot of post production. You will probably not heard of Dave Hill as he has never won an award, nor is he a member of any photographic body (as far as I know), unless you follow any of the American photography or Photoshop blogs.

Just one interpretation of the finished image - download the PDF tutorial for more variations!

What I will demonstrate is my interpretation to the basics of the post production using Adobe Photoshop. Once you have mastered this, you can then adapt the technique to your particular style or needs. The lighting for this tutorial is fairly simple as I was testing the Orbis Ring Flash. If you look closely at Dave Hill's work, much emphasis is placed on the lighting combined with extensive post-production.

When I get a chance I'll organise a shoot with the necessary lighting to demonstrate the whole process of creating some images in the Dave Hill style. If you're interested in getting involved, feel free to contact me by using the contact page at my website.

For your convenience I've created a PDF file of the tutorial which can be downloaded here to print or view at your convenience.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Apple iPad

Apple founder Steve Jobs has officially launched their latest block busting device, the iPad. Could this be the future for photographers portfolio presentations? To quote Strobist, earlier on Twitter "If I were a custom Corinthian Leather-Bound photography portfolio manufacturer, I would be defecating myself right now." Um!

The pricing seems fairly reasonable $500 for the basic version, ranging up to $829 for WiFi, 3G and 64Gb. To see the iPad in action visit the Gizmodo website.



Monday, 25 January 2010

Making Art

This is a quote from Seth Godin, American Marketing guru:

Art is made by a human being.

Art is created to have an impact, to change someone else.

Art is a gift. You can sell the souvenir, the canvas, the recording... but the idea itself is free, and the generosity is a critical part of making art.

By my definition, most art has nothing to do with oil paint or marble. Art is what we we're doing when we do our best work.

Food for thought!



Friday, 22 January 2010

Photographing Garden Birds

There are many ways to capture stunning wildlife images images including sitting in a hide or blind for hours on end freezing your butt off - or alternatively the easy route, attract birds to your garden or terrace with regular feeding, set up a remote camera and sit in the comfort of your home. I chose the latter, but from my studio window!

In between the rain of the last few days we had a welcome day of sunshine. From my studio I have a view of various bird feeders which attract numerous species of British garden birds which I have never taken the trouble to photograph. So during my "break" I set-up my Canon EOS 50D with the 100 - 400 mm f5.6 IS L Series zoom and connected to my MacBook pro with a long USB* lead.
Canon EOS Utilities Showing the 50D Live View Image
with camera outside window covered with a piece of army surplus camoflage scrim net

As soon as you switch the camera on with the USB attached it kicks in Live View mode so that you can monitor with Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP). The thing to remember when doing shots like this is to pick a spot where the birds perch frequently, you can do this with patient observation or looking for signs such as poo deposits on a branch.

Black Cap, female (Sylvia atricapilla)

Alternatively, you can prepare a perch some time before you intend shooting by using an old branch attached to a lighting stand or whatever. Just remember to leave the branch in place for some time in order that the birds become used to its presence.

Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

The camera sensor was (I guess) about 7 feet away from the branch with the lens switched to manual focus and pre-focussed on the branch. I did tidy away a few stray leaves and twigs to get a cleaner shot. I set the camera to Av (aperture value) and set a stop of f11, which at this close distance gave me enough DoF (Depth of Field) to keep the birds sharp and throw the background out of focus. Set the camera shutter to continuous frames - in this case I set it to high speed continuous.

Gold Finch (Carduelis carduelis)

It's then just a case of waiting. I my case I carried on working with a cup of coffee to hand. But there's nothing to stop you chillin' with a cold beer whilst watching the footie;-) Who's to know any different, that is unless "they" check your meta data?

*Take care when using long USB leads as the signal may degrade significantly. Make sure you use high quality lead such as Belkin or look for a lead with an in-line booster or amplifier when working over long distances. Alternatively, you could look into using On One Software's DSLR Camera Remote app for the iPhone. I'm trialling this at present and will keep you posted.



Monday, 18 January 2010

Lowepro Pro Runner AW Backpacks

Earlier in the month Lowepro announced that they will shortly be introducing a new series of photo backpacks the Pro Runner AW series.
Watch this space for more information and a real-world test in the near future.


Friday, 15 January 2010

Macro Photo Workshop

A big thank you to everyone who attended the Macro Photography Workshop which I led for Park Cameras today. It is a pleasure to work with a group of good humoured people with a desire to learn new skills.

For those of you who participated in the workshop that have photographs that they would like to share with others in the group, please upload them my UK Photo Walks Flickr group.

And remember, now is the time to go away and put into practice what you experienced today. If any of you have any questions, feel free to email via the address on my UK Photo Walks website contact page.

Also, a few participants expressed an interest in forthcoming Photo Walks. These will be posted on the website within the next couple of weeks. Again, if you'd like me to contact you as soon as the dates are available, do email me via the UK Photo Walks contact page.

Have a great weekend. Tomorrow I'm off to the SWPP Show for a mooch around.



Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Converting a Digital Colour Photo into Black and White

A tutorial for Adobe Photoshop™ CS2, 3 or 4

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate

This tutorial may also be downloaded as a PDF file.

There are any number of ways in Adobe Photoshop to convert an image to black & white, and just about everyone will tell that their way is best! I not saying that the following way is the best, but it suits the way Ben & I work at the studio. It’s quick and retains the image colour information so that you can print your images through a conventional mini lab or kiosk or even prepare an image for a digital or offset litho press.

The original file after processing in ACR
How not to do it!
Most people when they start converting images to monochrome or black & white make the mistake of throwing away the important colour information by either using the camera black and white function or by converting to grayscale in Adobe Photoshop or whatever imaging post-production software they use. Don’t do it. Remember that if you shoot in black & white or convert to grayscale you only have a black & white image. And, if you try printing a grayscale image through an RGB printer, who knows what will happen to the image? You’ll more than likely get a colour shift you don’t want.

The Pack Shots Method
Open your image. Go to the layer palette crtl/cmd F7, at the bottom of the palette select the circular black & white icon. This will open the adjustment layers menu. Select Hue/Saturation. A new dialogue will open with three sliders. Move the middle slider all the way to the left - this gives you the black white effect.

Hue/Saturation palette with the middle (Saturation) slider to the left, making the black & white image.

Screen shot showing the effect of the Hue/Saturation layer

At this stage the image will look a little flat and will need contrast adding. To do this we add a Curve adjustment layer.

Curves dialogue showing the shallow S curve that increases the contrast for this image.
Go to the layer palette crtl/cmd F7, at the bottom of the palette select the circular black & white icon. This time select Curves. You’ll need to create a shallow S type curve by clicking and dragging the points at the bottom (shadows), middle (mid tones) and top (highlights). No one curve will suit all images so don’t be affraid to play with the curve until you get a result that you’re happy with.

Once you get the hang of this technique, you’ll be able to create black and white images in minutes - literally.

The finished black & white image. All you need to do for printing is crop and resize to the required size.

You can add a simple coloured tint to the image by adding a Colour Balance adjustment layer. Go to the layer palette crtl/cmd F7, open the Adjustment layers menu & select Colour Balance.

Move the top slider 10 points to the right and the bottom slider 10 points to the left, giving a subtle sepia brown effect.

The finished image with the sepia tint applied.

As this is a snow scene maybe a cooler tint would be more appropriate! Move the top slider to the left 10 points and the bottom slider to the right 10 points to give a cooler effect. Don’t be afraid to experiment, it’s a great way to learn.

When preparing a file for printing by a mini lab or kiosk, unless told otherwise, resize your image to the desired print size (i.e. 10” x 8” etc). That way you control the cropping. Differing print sizes will crop your images differently. Save the file using Adobe RGB 1998 colour space, at 300 dpi and Save As a JPEG file at level 9 or 10. Doing this increases the probabilty of getting a print looking the way you want it and makes life easier for the lab manager!

This tutorial may also be downloaded as a PDF file.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Joe McNally's Blog

Joe McNally is one of the best photographers around. I count him amongst my influences and follow his blog avidly.

Take a look at the latest entry on Joe's blog - I found it funny and hope that you do too! It's a five minute video taking to form of a confessional. I especially like the bit about the histogram;-)

Click here to view.