Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Posting Six

"Snow and Your Camera"

The Blizzard of 2010 left behind more than a foot or so of frozen flakes, it also left us opportunities to capture Mother Nature's beauty. So prep your camera, grab a few spare batteries, dress in layers and head outdoors.

As you know incorrect exposures can result in gray - not white - snow. Here is a link to help you with the challenges of shooting snow:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Posting Five

"Highlights / Blinkies"

The second most looked at screen on my camera is the Highlights or Blinkies. Check your camera menu to see if your model offers this screen. If an image has areas that are blown out (over-exposed), then  that part of the screen will blink. In my readings I have learned that blown out highlights are much worse than clipped shadows.
Scott Kelby in his “Digital Photography Book I” recommends using your exposure compensation control to “back down” the exposure by a third or even a half stop. If the “blinkies” continue drop your exposure another third or half stop.
Here is an article from Ralph Nordstrom’s Photography Blog on this matter:
Clipped highlights are perhaps a worse sin than clipped shadows. As with clipped shadows, you don’t have any detail in the highlights. If the highlight is a brilliant cloud you just lost all of its shape and texture. Now the beautiful, dramatic cloud is a flat, featureless white blob. And there’s nothing you can do about it, even with the most sophisticated post processing.
Clipped highlights ruin more photographs than clipped shadows. When the image is printed all you see is the pure white of the paper. There is not a drop of ink on the paper and ink jet printers make really small drops. Aesthetically, we find deep shadows more appealing than featureless highlights.
Camera manufactures recognize this and have a feature built into their histograms. The highlight areas that are clipped will flash. This provides us with a dramatic warning that something is wrong and we probably need to decrease the exposure and re-shoot the image.
But now there are circumstances when clipped highlights are all right. This is when you are photographing what is referred to as ‘specular highlights.’ The sun glinting off of brightly polished chrome is an example. There is no detail and we wouldn’t expect any. In this case clipped highlights are not only ok; they are what we would expect. And of course, don’t forget the famous picture of two polar bears fighting in a snowstorm.
Shooting in the snow is a classic example of needing to move the histogram to the right. Your camera’s built in light meter will want to put the histogram in the center of the range and that will make the snow like dingy and gray. You’ll need to increase the exposure to move the histogram back up to the right so that you get bright, white snow.

I had a most difficult time finding links on this matter that weren't overly technical - here is the sole survivor of that quest:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Posting Four

"The Mighty Histogram!"

Have you ever wondered why some photographers take a shot and then quickly look at their LCD screen? They are probably not checking how the image looks as the screen is quite small. Instead they are reviewing the tonal qualities in that particular image to see if adjustments need to be made. Two screens that are invaluable to photographers are the histogram and the highlights (blinkies). I’ll address the former on this week’s blog.

Most cameras will give you choices as to which screen to look at after the picture is taken and processed in the camera.  See if your camera has this option. If so, make sure HISTOGRAM is selected. Histograms can have different looks depending on the exposure of your image. Some photographers claim that the perfect histogram will have a bell-shape to it. 

This is not always the case, especially if you have a scene with fog, snow, nighttime, etc. These images will dramatically alter that bell shape by having more information on the left (shadows) or the right (highlights).

Of course, this has been a very simplistic look at this most important digital tool. There is much more which can be found at these sites:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Posting Three

Meet Bert Monroy - Digital Photo-Realist Artist

Several years ago I signed up for my first NAPP (National Association of PhotoShop Professionals) hoping to pick up some helpful hints on how to effectively run my images through the program.  What I got instead was a rude awakening in the person of Bert Monroy, self-proclaimed Digital Photo-Realist Artist. I knew I did not belong when Bert projected his latest endeavor, "Damien." It was a great image of a Chicago Elevated train station.  But why did it take him nearly eleven months to create? I thought PS was a lot more efficient than that. Truth be told, "Damien" wasn't an image at all, the entire projection was created in Illustrator and PhotoShop. The hundreds of real professionals in attendance let out one large gasp when Bert mentioned "Damien" needed some fifteen thousand layers, which collapsed into a file of 1.7 GB (you read it correctly GIGABYTES). I didn't want to draw attention to me by asking, "What was a layer?" I did remain for the entire presentation realizing that I had a long way to go before I could effectively use PhotoShop and its tools on my images.

Today, I have advanced my PS skills to include the use of layers - not the 15K that Bert needed - and masks, and other PhotoShop techniques. NAPP has been a huge help in my learning curve.

Check out Bert's website and his photo-realistis artistry: http://www.bertmonroy.com/