Delighted to be working with Artisan du chocolat – check out the front page of their web-site to see my images and their amazing chocolates!
Delighted to be working with Artisan du chocolat – check out the front page of their web-site to see my images and their amazing chocolates!
Extremely pleased to have one of my portraits displayed on the front page of the Photographers Direct Web-site today…..
If you are after a stock photo then this is a great place to look. Professional images from professional photographers. The thing I like about this Company is they rate your images on quality. The higher your image rating the more space they give you free of charge. The lower your rating and you use up all your space. …. + the higher the rating the more likely it is your image will be on the front page for your chosen category so that image buyers are more likely to find one of your images……all in all this means the quality of images you get on their site are considerably better on average than many of the other stock image sites.
I’m pleased to say that the majority of my images have been rated very highly and my space is growing rather than decreasing.
If you need a stock image then this Company is a great place to start….that is after you have checked out my images first !!!
Looking forward to attending the Ashford Arts and Technology Festival in September along with Ashford Photographic Society – Pop the date in your diary now – it will be an annual event and one not to be missed – see the following link if you are keen to find out more – http://www.ashfordfestival.org/showcase-your-craft and http://festivalmarket.eventbrite.com to book your table.
If you are a fan of facebook why not check out my page here www.facebook.com/GalileoSolutions. It will feature some of my recent work and I’m hoping to add some more tips and techniques soon….
Last week when I was in Aberystwyth with hubby Gordon and daughter (who was Uni visiting) I had a 1½ window to do some photography one morning. Not perhaps the best time between 10.30 am and noon but better on a Winters day than mid-summer that’s for sure. As luck would have it however, the weather was very changeable with a mix of dark moody skies and bright sunny intervals; all I needed was a great foreground!
Initially I ventured out to the harbour end of Aber and walked along the pier. Being so cold and windy there were few people mad enough to be out walking so the place was pretty much deserted. After taking a selection of shots here the next stop was on the far side of the harbour, then we drove down a small road leading to a dead end when suddenly the sun came out and as we were turning around to drive back to “home base” I suddenly spotted an old shack with a bath in front of it. Perfect. A great back-drop, great lighting and a moody sky – what more could one ask for!
Herewith 3 of the images, the latter two being the same image with different processing.
Since getting CS6 one of the things that puzzled me when saving Tiff files was the default setting itself to the Macintosh instead of IBM PC for the byte order. I have a PC so naturally assumed that I should be using the IBM PS setting and wondered how to go about setting this as the default value. Problem being you can’t seem to!
Seemingly however, (after reading the article linked below for those of you interested in the technical details) it just isn’t important these days.
Whether or not you have a PC or a MAC you can save it as one or the other and will both be fine. Why Adobe can’t set it to the IBM PC setting as default as the majority of users have PC’s I have no idea but that’s life I guess.
The summary from the article is that Adobe are keeping the option there simply for backward compatibility. If you happen to be using old software made for one platform to read a file saved in the byte order that originated on the other platform then you might just need it, but otherwise you are unlikely to suffer any problems.
This is the link for those that want to know more….
Another question resolved!
Starting work with a new Company today photographing some amazing chocolate – watch this space
If you’ve ever tried dragging layers up and down one place you know what it’s like – sometimes they don’t move at all and at other times they move up or down two layers instead of one!
Well here is a quick an easy way to move a single layer up or down one
1) Ensure you have the layer highlighted that you want to move
2) Hold down the Ctrl key and either press the [ key to move the layer down or ] to move it up
Easy and quick.
One of my favourite suppliers of plug-ins – Redfield have given us all another freebie to experiment with and it’s well worth a go. Click here to take a look at the styles available and to download the plug-in. Experiment and enjoy.
How many times have you been on holiday and seen a dramatic waterfall and wanted to capture its beauty, only to find when you look at the images, you are a bit disappointed?
Below are some simple tips and examples that will help you to get better shots next time.
Photography is all about light and, when it comes to photographing a waterfall, you’re up against it from the start. Waterfalls will have very bright highlights (the water splashes) and very dark areas (typically rocks and both dry and wet shadow areas), hence the dynamic range of the scene is wide. If the waterfall is in direct sunlight there’s a strong possibility that this range will be outside that of your camera’s sensor.
So you may need to ‘compress’ the dynamic range. Take a few test shots, assess your histograms for clipping of the highlights and shadow areas. The main interest in a waterfall photo is in the highlights of the splashing/running water so you must hold in the detail there by protecting them. The danger is that you will do this at the expense of shadow detail and the rest of the scene will appear very dark and bland.
So, here is what you can do:
My preference is to try a different time of day as this is technically much easier and will give you the best results – of course, you may be in the middle of nowhere and returning at another time might be impractical.
To capture some interesting effects you will want to shoot at different shutter speeds, so it makes sense to shoot in Shutter Priority (‘S’ or ‘Tv’) mode. To ‘freeze’ the movement of a fast-flowing fall you will need to shoot at 1/1000th of a second. Note: You may have to bump up your ISO to achieve this in shady conditions.
At the other extreme, to get that really milky/misty effect, a shutter speed of 20 seconds is not uncommon. For this you may well require a neutral density filter (I carry 3-stop and 10-stop filters with me all the time).
My personal preference is not to include any sky in the shot – I just want to see the waterfall. This means getting a vantage point at a similar level to the top of the fall (not always possible) or choosing to photograph what I would term a ‘cascade’, where you can pick out detailed areas rather than the whole fall. This way, you can ensure that the dynamic range is kept narrow.
Think about the normal composition rules of photography (rule of thirds, leading lines etc) when composing the scene.
Using a tripod is a given – I hope I don’t need to explain why!
Make sure that you are comfortable with using your camera in Shutter Priority mode and that you know how to dial in exposure compensation. Once you have decided on the scene take a few test shots so you can get the exposure right – i.e. a small amount of clipping of the highlights – by using exposure compensation.
Next, decide which shutter speeds you would like to shoot at and dial in the first of these (I normally start at the fast end and work down), say 1/1000. I then try somewhere around 1/8 to 1/4 and then a long one – anything between 2 and 20 seconds.
Bear in mind that there may be 15 stops difference between your fastest and slowest shutter speeds and your lens may have only 7 or 8 aperture stops. In fact, you may only have 4 or 5 usable stops such that you can maintain enough depth of field to keep all the scene in focus. This is why you will need to adjust your ISO setting and possibly use an ND filter to achieve the very slow shutter speeds.
The examples below were shot with a focal length of 45mm at a small roadside cascade near the Dordogne river in France. Note the shutter speeds and how they affect the appearance of the water – also included are the other settings for reference.
I hope this was of some help and that you will tackle the challenge with more confidence next time.
Ever got frustrated when you’ve been working in Photoshop having produced a multi-layered file and want to do a quick check to see what your original background layer looked like without having to click on each eye to turn off all the layers above?
Simply Hold down the “ALT” key then click on the bottom eye of your base layer and all the others will automatically be turned off.
To turn back on again repeat the above command.
A fellow photographer said that they use the Highlight Tone Priority (HTP) mode on their Canon dSLR as it helped to prevent clipping of highlights. I never blindly follow anyone’s advice these days but decided to do some digging around on the Internet to see what all the fuss was about.
If you search ‘highlight tone priority’ on the web you get a whole raft of articles (see the references section below for a few examples) which explain the theory behind this mode. Some things were clear from reading these. Firstly, it does not magically increase the dynamic range of your sensor and secondly, it works differently depending on whether you shoot JPEG or RAW (even which RAW converter you use). So, it was time to do some experimentation with my own kit and software to find out what can be achieved.
Before reading on please be aware that HTP is part of the camera’s internal image processing algorithms that take the data from the sensor and transpose it into the digital file on your memory card. There are many Canon cameras with this feature and I don’t know how similar the implementations are across the product range.
Note: For Nikon owners, the equivalent technology is referred to as Active D-Lighting.
My objectives were quite simple:
My test kit was a 1D Mk IV with a 100mm macro lens. I set up a very simple still life scene (from what was readily available; namely a tea cup, tea pot and a remote trigger). The items were assembled in the studio, with controlled side-lighting.
I set the ISO to 200 and shot in aperture mode at f/8. The camera was tripod mounted as exposures were under a second.
I captured three images, each being saved as JPEG (‘faithful’ mode) and RAW, giving six image files in total.
- HTP disabled – the control
- HTP enabled
- 1 stop underexposed
Images and histograms from JPEGs shown via the ‘Levels’ control in CS5
When HTP is turned on note how the brighter areas (the china of the mug) are rendered darker. The highlight area of the histogram has been being shifted to the left, whilst the shadow area is largely the same as with HTP off. So, pretty much as claimed by Canon.
Now let’s look at the image shot 1 stop underexposed. This looks very different to either of the first two shots and to my eye just looks like a slightly underexposed image – certainly anyone who regularly ‘shoots to the right’ would say so.
For my raw processing I use Lightroom 3 exclusively, so I installed V3.9.3 of DPP to complete the experiment.
There are claims that Canon’s own DPP software will interpret the RAW file ‘properly’ and the HTP effects that are seen in JPEG mode will be evident.
The images you see below were loaded into Lightroom and the histograms taken directly from there with the default settings I use with my 1D camera. The corresponding histogram from DPP is shown below.
Comparison of the two histograms shows that DPP brings the highlights safely back from being clipped, whereas Lightroom does not.
The 1 stop underexposed image just looks like its JPEG counterpart – underexposed.
The biggest thing to notice is that if anything, the one taken with HTP on actually looks more overexposed that when it is turned off! This may indeed be due to Lightroom not being able to interpret the HTP nuances in the RAW file.
My findings are as follows:
1. For JPEG shooters
HTP appears to protect the highlights with little or no change to the mid or shadow tones. So, if you are a JPEG shooter it may be worth turning HTP mode on if you find that your highlights are being clipped.
2. For RAW shooters
If you use DPP it’s possible to open the file and for the HTP effects to be visible (making it appear similar to what is achieved in JPEG mode).
Using ACR or Lightroom the effect appears to be ‘lost in translation’ and the resultant image/histogram clearly show that highlights are clea still clipped. I’ve been in this game to know that all that glistens isn’t gold and I’d like to find out whether it’s a real gain or just smoke and mirrors.
3. HTP compared to underexposing by 1 stop
It is clearly evident from my findings that the effects of HTP are quite different to what is achieved by underexposing by 1EV, which simply gives an underexposed image.
My initial findings lead me to conclude that HTP can be a useful tool in protecting those important highlights for JEPG shooters. If you are a RAW shooter and you use DPP then you can achieve the same benefit.
My next task is to spend some more time investigating the differences between DPP and ACR/Lightroom to determine whether there is a real world advantage to using DPP.
You’ve read Martin’s Top Ten Photography tips and here is my Photoshop Top Ten.
Don’t be afraid of the program! At first sight mild panic is often followed by clicking the little red cross in top right hand corner. It might look complicated at the outset but when you start to break the interface down it really does start to become far more logical. (I’ve had it compared to an airplane instrument panel on several occasions). After some simple instruction you will soon start to fly.
On the assumption that you have taken your images in RAW, make sure to optimise your images in Adobe Camera Raw. Investing time understanding how to effectively use the adjustments possible here is a must before you start working in Photoshop.
Layers are fundamental to efficient use of Photoshop. Learn how to use layers and it will not only save you time but will make your work-flow more efficient. Always select “adjustment layers” when changing things such as levels, curves, hue & saturation etc. so that if you wish to edit or delete the adjustment it is all contained in that layer.
Once you have mastered layers add layer masks to your repertoire of skills. You will never use the eraser brush again and life will become much easier.
Always clone onto a separate blank layer; then you will be able to move, rotate, and transform your cloned area to your heart’s content.
Purchase or borrow some photoshop magazines to pick up project ideas. Start with some of the simpler techniques and work them through. My favourite two magazines on the (UK) market are Digital Photo and Photoshop Creative
Learn my Top ten short-cuts. They will save a serious amount of time when editing your images.
There are numerous ways to create monochrome images but my favourite is to select the Black and White adjustment layer and then tweak each colour until the overall contrast is to my satisfaction. There is no such thing as a standard setting here; every image is different and will need to be adjusted to suit the overall tones and colours to optimise your final creation.
The benefit of this approach is that it will automatically give you a layer mask. If you fancy adding a little colour tone to your image you can also click on the tint box at the top and select the colour of your choice. Sepia is a popular choice but do keep it subtle!
Ever spent half and hour or more carefully selecting an object then get called to tea, saved your image and lost the selection? Never again! Make sure you save your selection so that you can reload them as and when necessary as shown below.
As with anything, if you want to keep up to date with all the current and future tools in Photoshop it’s practise, practise, practise.
Experiment along the way. Check out the filters for some different creative effects.
Try clicking on something new every day for a week and reap the rewards.
If you are still getting stuck and frustrated then why not check out our 1-to-1 Photoshop tuition.
The aim of this article is to provide ten key areas to work on to improve your photographs.
Firstly, we need to think about the factors that contribute to a great image. I try to photograph common objects that people can relate to, but the twist is to present them in a way that is different and to stimulate the imagination of the viewer.
Of course, photography is a mixture of art and science so there are a range of compositional and technical skills to master.
Check out our hands-on photographic tuition offerings at Galileo Solutions Ltd or call us on 01233 646263.
Get used to building an idea of what you are going to photograph before you leave the house. Don’t just go out aimlessly clicking away. The more you visit the same place the more new things you will see to photograph and each time you go, try something different. You don’t have to travel the world to get great photos.
Do you know how your camera evaluates the exposure of each shot and how it is easily fooled in different situations?
Ever wondered what that graph on the rear LCD next to the image when you preview is?
By understanding exposure compensation and interpretation of image histograms there is no excuse for poorly exposed images.
One of my pet hates is ‘grey snow’ – the image below has +1.7EV of exposure compensation to render the snow white, just like nature intended.
This is one of the most common issues for those new to photography. Essentially, all the time the shutter is open, the sensor is capturing what comes through the lens. If the camera moves, even slightly, during this period the resultant image will be blurred.
As a general rule, when hand-holding, maintain a shutter speed faster than the reciprocal of the lens focal length. OK, that’s a bit confusing; for a 50mm lens use a shutter speed faster than 1/50th, a 200mm lens use faster that 1/200th – got it?
Of course, for the ultimate control, use a tripod.
There are three factors that control depth of field: lens focal length; focal distance; lens aperture. Once you have mastered how to use these effectively (it won’t happen overnight), together with ensuring that you focus on the right part of the scene, you will be well on the way to better images.
My dSLR will take 10 frames a second, but this mode is reserved for moving subjects such as birds in flight or motor sport. As a general rule, it’s far better to come back with 20 really good images than 200 average ones. Don’t take the shotgun approach; think QUALITY not QUANTITY!
When working in tricky back-lit situations, or taking photographs of people outside, fill-in flash is an often overlooked and undervalued technique. It’s really not that difficult to do and the results can be stunning. Take time to add this to your photographic toolkit.
If you are new to photography, all the things you need to consider, both compositional and technical can be overwhelming. By developing a work flow you can tackle each of these in a systematic way such that you are only thinking of one thing at a time.
By surrounding yourself and engaging with like-minded people you can quickly improve your skills. Sitting through a competition and listening to the judge’s comments will help you understand what makes a great image.
In my local areas (Kent) there are a large number of clubs. Check out a list on the Kent County Photographic Association website.
Finally, don’t underestimate how impostant the image processing phase is, because in the digital age, capturing the image on your memory card is only the first step. This will be the subect of a future blog post.
Here at Galileo we are great fans of the Topaz range of plug-ins (our favourite being the “Adjust” variant which is brilliant for HDR effects and all manner of other lighting effects, detail control and so much more)
Anyway, just thought we would let you all know (if you’re not already on their mailing list) that they recently introduced a new plug-in called “Creative Star and Lighting Effects”. We’ve just downloaded the free 30 day trial version so thought we’d try it out and show you a few examples.
Herewith a few examples showing some of the variants available. Once you have selected a pre-set on the left hand side you can then move to the right, where you will find further adjustments that may be used to fine tune or enhance your image still further.
Experiment and see which star shape suits your image the best.
If you have already tried out this new Topaz plug-in please do let us have your comments. We’d love to see some of your images too so please do send us your flickr link.
A 4 pointed star for this shot
Using the “candlelight” setting
Using the “stars 5″ setting
Using the “purple stars” setting (my favourite of the bunch)
I’m truly sorry to say this Topaz but, after trialing for a few days, I won’t be purchasing it just yet. The idea is great, but somehow it just doesn’t work for me. I will be sticking with the brushes in Photoshop and making my own star variants as and when I really need them.
Priced at $29.99 it isn’t expensive so if you fancy a flutter then give it a go. I will still be highly recommending all of their other plug-ins though which are truly superb.
See their web-site at http://www.topazlabs.com/stareffects/ for further details
Whilst this document is written with landscape photography in mind the process can be applied to many other situations when you are working with a tripod (e.g. still life or macro photography).
The idea of having a workflow is that it breaks the key parts of the photographic process down into ‘bite-sized’ chunks that are executed in order. This simplifies matters so you are less likely to make mistakes and will have more ‘keepers’ from your outings.
The workflow consists of the following steps:
- Taking the photograph
This is a very important phase that is often overlooked by those new to photography. If you just go out with your camera hoping to get a good photograph, the chances are you probably won’t!
If you have ‘the image’ you want to take in your mind before you start your trip you will have a far better chance of success. Things to think about are:
If you are starting out, there are many ‘top landscape destination’ articles in magazines and, with the advent of geo-targeting, there is much on the web now too. This approach is all well and good but be aware that if you follow this path you may end up becoming frustrated that you can’t recreate something as good as David Noton.
My personal preference is to find my own subjects and locations as I get more satisfaction from this than creating just another ‘me too’. When I’m out and about I’m always keeping an eye on the landscape and making mental notes of places to come back to.
Most landscape photographers work in the hours either side of sunrise and sunset and will rarely be seen out in the middle of the day in direct sunlight. This is because the light at the extremes of the day has less contrast (lower dynamic range) and it is much easier to manage your exposures. Also, the ‘colour temperature’ of the light is such that you will have some more pleasing tones (e.g. warm/yellow light before sunset). Shadows will be softer and easier to work with too.
If you are going somewhere new, check it out on Google Earth first and see which direction the sun will be at during the day. Also, if you are going to the coast, make sure you know when high and low tides are. I purchased a Kent tide table for the whole year from a local fishing shop for £1 – now that’s value. There are also some internet resources such as the BBC which will give you tide tables for the whole of the UK up to a week in advance.
Because I’m looking for optimum image quality I will typically shoot at 100 or 200 ISO.
I always use mirror-lockup and a 2-second timer delay. Instead of the timer delay you can equally use a remote release cable/wireless trigger. With these methods we are just trying to make sure that the camera doesn’t move whilst the shutter is open so that we get a pin-sharp image.
One thing that you need to be aware of is that when you are not looking through the viewfinder, light can enter through it an affect the camera’s in-built exposure meter. This can lead to your images being under-exposed. When setting your exposure (in Manual mode – covered in section 4 below) it is best to do this through the viewfinder or to blank it off with the back of your hand (if your camera does not have a blanking switch).
Start off by working round the location, looking through the viewfinder of your camera, to find an aspect that pleases you. As well as trying different focal lengths, don’t forget to explore different heights too.
What to include
Particularly when working with wide angle shots, make sure that you have foreground, mid-ground and background interest in the picture. Try to avoid having large areas of the image with little in them (e.g. uninteresting grass/sand or a bland sky) as these will kill the image.
Not all landscape images are taken with a wide angle lens. Indeed, my favourite lens is a 70-200 and, because perspectives are flattened at these focal lengths, foreground/background balance is less important.
Once you have identified what will be the main components of the image you will need a vantage point and focal length that will allow you to separate these in the frame. Think about what is crossing the horizon and whether changing height will improve things.
Avoiding overlapping components in your images is a key skill that you need to acquire.
Rule of thirds
The rule of thirds says to place important structural elements on an imaginary third or an intersection of thirds. This really works so get used to framing things off-centre rather than positioning things in the middle of your shots.
Think about your horizons too. If the sky is offers little interest then look to have the horizon on the upper third. If the sky is full of moody or interesting clouds, look to put the horizon on the lower third. Some of my very best landscape shots have no sky in them at all!
Once you have settled on your chosen composition, put your camera securely onto your tripod, making sure that any key vertical or horizontal components are correctly aligned.
Decide on how much of the scene you wish to retain in focus. Generally, in landscape photography, we want it sharp front-to-back. To achieve this you will need to understand the three parameters that determine depth of field, namely: lens focal length, focal distance and lens aperture. There is too much to cover in this article but you will typically be looking to focus about a third of the way into the scene with an aperture between f/8 and f/16. I prefer to work in ‘live view’ mode with manual focusing when shooting landscapes.
Now that the composition and focusing are taken care of we are getting towards the end of the process. The penultimate phase is to tackle exposure. Nowadays, with dSLRs having the ability to show a histogram of your image there is less of a need for a light meter.
In Manual mode, I start by assessing the scene and adjusting my shutter speed to what I think will give me a good exposure (having set my aperture as part of the focusing step above). I’ll then take a test shot and look at the histogram. This will show me the dynamic range of the scene and give me all the details I need to determine whether any filtering is required. As you get more experienced you will soon develop a feel for filtering requirements before you even take a test shot.
I regularly use polarising or graduated neutral density filters (and occasionally both) to manage my exposures, to reduce the tones in skies or other bright areas. If you opt for using a polariser just remember a few golden rules.
With graduated neutral density filters, choose a combination that will allow you to reduce the dynamic range sufficiently to give a good tonal range across the scene.
Remember when using either of these types of filter that you will reduce the total amount of light entering the camera which means that you will need to move to slower shutter speeds to maintain the optimum exposure.
Try to get your histogram so that the highlights (RHS) are pushed so that they are almost or slightly burnt out (the latter can be brought back in Photoshop) – so called ‘exposing to the right‘.
All that is left now is to take the photograph.
It won’t happen overnight, but if you can put this process into practice, it won’t be long until you start seeing an improvement in your images.
I hope you find this article interesting.
We are often contacted by people who are grateful to find that many of the services they received from GZ Computers are still available in Ashford at Galileo Solutions, including the Epson Repair Centre and expert PC, laptop and printer repairs.
On occasion, we also get calls from customers who had an email account via GZ. We have put together a support document on our website that gives all the contact information for both GConnect and Entanet mail providers.
If you have any queries don’t hesitate to call us at Galileo Solutions.
Sooner or later you will be in a situation (e.g. low light) where you cannot hand-hold your camera without your images suffering from the effects of camera shake. As a general rule, your shutter speed should be faster than the reciprocal of your effective lens focal length – i.e. with a focal length of 200mm you should be shooting at a minimum of 1/200th of a second. Of course, if your lens (Canon/Nikon) or camera body (Sony) has technology to reduce camera shake (Image Stabilisation / Vibration Reduction / Steady Shot) then this will give you more latitude. So with a 200mm lens you may be able to get reasonably sharp images down to 1/25th of a second.
There are other advantages to using a tripod, in that it forces you to slow down and gives you both hands free to change your camera/lens settings.
There is a bewildering range of tripods on the market ranging from the cheap-and-cheerful to the unaffordable. Somewhere within that range will be something for you.
There are a number of factors that you should consider when choosing a tripod:
Aluminium and Carbon Fibre are the two main materials used here, with the latter being roughly double the cost of the metallic option. For the extra cost however, you get a weight reduction of around a third and increased rigidity. If you are going to be lugging it long distances I would recommend going for Carbon.
Leg locks are normally either twist-lock or lever type as shown below.
With the lever type you are more certain that you have the legs securely locked but the twist type work fine once you get used to them.
You should look to get a tripod that will allow you to use it effectively when standing up; so if you’re 6 feet tall, don’t waste your time buying a 5 foot tripod. Remember also that if it has a central column that can be raised, this will introduce some instability to the setup and will have an adverse effect on your images.
I would also recommend getting one that will go flat to the ground. Getting low down and seeing the world from a different perspective will really improve your photography.
If you have a compact camera your needs are going to be very different to someone with a pro-series dSLR and lens, which could easily weigh in at 3kg. All tripods will have a maximum weight limit but, so well as taking this into account, you should err on the side of caution and go for the more substantial option if unsure.
Some tripods (and heads) have a built-in spirit level that will assist you in getting your horizons straight. This is particularly useful when working low down when it is difficult to look through the viewfinder or see the rear LCD screen.
Most tripods have legs that have either three or four sections. Like-for-like, the more sections, the smaller they will collapse down for storage.
Rubber feet are the norm but you may opt for metal spikes that give better stability in muddy ir icy conditions. A number of models come with rubber as standard with spikes as an optional extra.
Never buy a tripod with an integral head. The screw threads on tripods are universal so you can mix-and-match tripods and heads. There are many types to choose from – here are some examples:
Pan and tilt heads allow you to change horizontal and vertical adjustments independently; useful if you are doing panoramas and don’t want to change the vertical adjustment.
Ball heads move in all directions once you have released them, but mean that you have only one adjustment to turn rather than the two you get with a pan and tilt.
The ‘Joystick’ head (from Manfrotto) uses a grip-release in combination with a ball joint to give a quick and easy way of changing the camera angle in all directions.
Gimbal style heads such as the ‘Wimberley’ shown in the video below, are the best way to use a long/prime telephoto lens from 300mm upwards.
In my previous blog I showed you how to create type filled with an image and promised I would continue with the next step of adding further enhancements such as a stroke (key line/border), outer and inner shadows etc. So here is how it’s done……..
1) Firstly, let’s take an image and process it as before, merging the layers so that we only have type sitting on a transparent (indicated by the chequered pattern) background layer
2) In the Layer palette, double-click on the text layer and an additional box will appear. At the top on the left hand side under the word “Style” you will see that it defaults to “Blending Options Default”, which will be highlighted in blue. Below this are a number of styles from which you can choose and then tweak as desired.
3) Click on the one at the bottom that says “Stroke”. A new dialogue box will appear on the right hand side.
Any colour stroke may be added. I often like to chose either plain black or pick a colour from the image itself to ensure co-ordination.
4) The next thing to do is experiment with the settings within each of the dialogue boxes. I like to use thin strokes around images as they look smarter (something between 1 and 10 pixels dependent upon the size of the original image). If you want a bold look to make the wording really stand out then go as high as you need.
Herewith the settings I used for the above image.
5) Now select the drop shadow on the left hand side. Again you can choose any colour of shadow that you want, the angle, the profile, the opacity and more! My favourite setting for the angle is about 130 degrees which will drop the shadow to the South East side.
6) Now add the bevel and emboss (One of the most impressive I think is the inner bevel set on the chisel hard setting)
7) Try changing the contour and an amazing array of new effects will be produced.
As you have probably already deducted I have only shown a few of the settings so far. There are many more to check out and experiment with: Colour, Gradient and Colour overlays etc. We’ll use some of these on another blog.
If you do have any questions about any of these tutorials please do feel free to give us a call or why not book up on one of our Photoshop courses and improve your skills the fast track method.
From a photographer’s perspective I’m reassured that the key developments in both cameras are geared towards improvements in image quality and performance, rather than the ‘megapixel’ race which we have seen over the last few years.
Just take a few seconds to look at the specifications below to see what I mean:
|Camera||Launch date||Megapixel count||Max frame rate (frames/second)|
|Canon EOS 1Ds Mk III||Aug 2007||21.1||5|
|Canon EOS 5d Mk II||Feb 2009||21.1||3.9|
|Canon EOS 1Dx||March 2012||18.1||12|
|Nikon D3||Apr 2008||12||9|
|Nikon D3x||Feb 2009||24.5||5|
|Nikon D4||Feb 2012||16.2||11|
In the days of film photography, once we loaded our film we were pretty much stuck with that ISO until we had finished shooting the 24 or 36 frames and could change to one with a different rating. With digital we have the luxury, not only to change our ISO on-the-fly between shots, but also select from an even wider range of ISO settings than was practical with film. With advances in sensor design and in-camera processing algorithms, it is now possible to shoot at high ISO ratings and end up with very little noise in our images. [I regularly shoot at ISO 6400 on my 1D Mk IV whereas my older, 1.6x crop, Canon 50D never gets taken above ISO 800]. It will be interesting to see the results of the 1D X and D4 when shooting at the expanded ISO of 204,800!
As a general rule, the more megapixels the sensor has (like-for-like) the more digital noise it will produce and, as we increase the camera’s ISO, the lower signal-to-noise ratio means noisier images.
The other problem with more megapixels is that there’s more data to process and that all takes more time (look at the maximum frame rates of the >20 megapixel Nikon D3x and Canon 5D Mk II to see this). It doesn’t end there, more data means bigger RAW files and increased demands on our image processing software and hardware.
Professional photographers want optimum image quality, fast frame rates and excellent high ISO performance. Of course, all this comes at a price and what you also get is an impeccable build quality that can survive the harshest of environments, use and abuse. For example, the D4 is quoted to have a shutter that will give 400,000 shutter actuations.
The game is changing – and for the better. So let’s hope that the direction taken with these new high-end cameras will trickle down into the ‘prosumer’ and entry-level ranges too.
One thing to watch this year – can Canon and Nikon stay ahead of the game with the Sony SLT technology giving them the edge for those wanting to use continuous/real-time auto focus tracking on their dSLR when shooting video.
If you have checked out our home page you will notice that our New Year message is type that has been filled with an image. The process to create this is fairly easy: Simply apply a clipping mask (for definition see under “Additional notes” below) to the image layer placed over your type layer. The most difficult decisions being which type face to use and which image to select!
1) Open your chosen file with the image that you want to use inside the text.
2) Select the text tool from your tool box and choose a suitable font and relevant type attributes for the text. Select an insertion point and drag your cursor across your image so that a bounding box appears. Now write your chosen text in the box.(It doesn’t matter what colour text you choose providing you can see it clearly on your image). If you want to reduce the size of the text box simply grab the arrows on the sides of the box and pull in or out as appropriate. Your text will automatically adjust itself within the box parameters.(IF for some reason you can’t see all of your characters it is probably because your bounding box is too small for the character size: Either increase the size of your bounding box or reduce your character size accordingly).
You will notice in the example above I have chosen to write the text vertically. Note when you are doing this you need to write your chosen words in the opposite way they are required. i.e. the example above was written as “leaves lovely,” as opposed to “lovely leaves”! (The icon is found to the right of the type tool just below the menu bar at the top)
3) Now select your image layer which will currently be positioned on the bottom as your background layer. Double click on it to convert it from a locked layer into a movable regular layer. (You can rename at this stage if you want to) (Note the lock sign has now disappeared)
Now pull the leaf layer so that it sits above the text layer. Don’t worry about seemingly losing your written text layer. It is still there but simply hiding underneath your image layer.
4) Now for the magic moment! Hold the “Alt” button down with your left hand, move the cursor so that it sits between the two layers and click. (Alternatively ensure that you have the image layer selected then go to the top menu and choose “Layer -> Create Clipping mask” and the same result will be achieved) As soon as you have done this your two layers will be clipped together and your image will appear through the type.
5) If necessary select the Move tool (ensure that you are on the image layer) and drag the image around to reposition it’s placement within the text until you are happy with the desired effect.
Try adding a stroke, outer and inner shadow to your text to give it even more impact (as per our “Happy New Year” image. If you are not sure how to do this check back next week to see how it is done.
A clipping mask lets you use the content of a layer to mask the layers above it. The masking is determined by the content of the bottom or base layer. The non-transparent content of the base layer clips (reveals), the content of the layers above it in the clipping mask. All other content in the clipped layers is masked out.
There are a number of challenges when setting out to photograph aircraft, namely: exposure, focusing and shutter speed. The latter is particularly important when shooting propeller-driven planes. Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Because of the way that a camera’s exposure meter works and the fact that the sky is in most cases brighter than the aircraft we are looking to photograph, there is a strong tendency for the camera to expose for the bright sky and render our plane dark (under-exposed) or even a silhouette. This is particularly evident when the sun is directly hitting the upper part of the plane and the under wing is in shadow.
Don’t get fooled into thinking that changing your metering mode to centre-weighted or spot will make much difference; stick to evaluative/matrix.
As a general rule, photographing a plane against a blue North sky requires the least amount of exposure correction, as the sky equates to a mid-tone. In these circumstances between +1/3 and +2/3 EV (stops) of exposure compensation is required.
Shooting towards the sun will require the most adjustment, normally in the range of +1 1/3 to +2 2/3 EV (stops) exposure compensation.
Try these settings as a starting point and check your exposure/histogram on the rear LCD of your camera and adjust accordingly.
Because the plane is moving you will need to use the continuous focus mode of your camera [Nikon/Sony mode: "AF-C"; Canon mode: "AI Servo"].
Setting an off-centre focus point can also be advantageous so you can fix this on the nose of the plane. Once locked on you can pan the sky, keeping the focus point on the same part of the aircraft.
When photographing propeller driven planes the most pleasing effect is to capture a degree of rotation in the blades. This is best achieved by shooting in ‘Shutter Priority’ mode [Nikon/Sony mode: "S"; Canon mode: "Tv"].
As a general rule, a shutter speed between 1/160th and 1/60th is a good starting point and checking the image on the rear LCD between shots will allow you to fine tune your setting.
To increase the amount of blurring go to a slower shutter speed and to decrease the blurring effect, select a faster shutter speed. The Mustang below was photographed at Duxford on July 10th 2010 with a Canon EOS 50D and a Canon EF 100-400mm IS USM lens.
In terms of kit, a telephoto lens between 200mm and 400mm is ideal, but with the slow shutter speeds don’t expect all of your images to be pin-sharp as the panning technique takes a bit of practice.
Don’t be afraid to push the exposure compensation up to get the correct rendering of the plane, even if the sky loses some saturation. After all, it’s the plane we are interested in, not the sky!
When we use a web browser in normal mode the browser stores a history of the sites we have visited and may, depending on how it is set up, store data from forms (e.g. user names or even a password if we are not too careful!). Whilst this is no big deal on our own private computers there are times when we are out and may use a friend’s computer or even one in an internet cafe to access social media or occasionally our banking sites. In these situations you should always use private browsing.
When private browsing is enabled the web browser is switched into a ‘secure mode’, whereby no history or form data is stored on the computer. Once you have finished with your update or transaction you can close the private session and leave no trace of your activities.
With Firefox, click ‘Firefox’ at the top left and select ‘Start Private Browsing’. The keyboard shortcut for this is Ctrl+Shift+P
Or, if using the full menus, select: ‘Tools\Start Private Browsing’
With IE you will find it under the ‘Tools’ menu and it is called ‘InPrivate Browsing’. The keyboard shortcut is the same as Firefox – Ctrl+Shift+P
Once you have finished, just close the window by clicking the X at the top right of the window or use the Alt-F4 keystroke combination and you will be returned to the initial browsing window.
I do all my on-line ordering and banking in a private browsing session – even on my home computer. It’s a good habit to get into and, when you are on someone else’s machine, you won’t have to think twice or waste time remembering how to do it.
If you would like to save time in your Photoshop workflow then please read on…….
When I first started using Photoshop many years ago my father was constantly nagging me to try and use shortcuts. I rarely did and still don’t use as many as he does on a regular basis but I do now find that a few select are extremely useful and certainly speed up my workflow.
So in brief, what is a shortcut? Quite simply it is a keystroke or keystroke combination that will execute a command that we would hitherto use via a menu.
Utilise your other hand!
When using Photoshop your ‘mouse hand’ is kept extremely busy moving either your mouse or your graphic pen around but the other hand can be somewhat dormant unless specifically put to good use! By using those spare fingers for shortcuts you will soon start to appreciate how much faster you can work in Photoshop.
I use the mouse with my right hand and my left thumb almost permanently hovers over the “Alt” key, my index finger on the “Z” key and my little finger on the “Ctrl” key, only straying away from there when other keystrokes are required.
Photoshop has a multitude of shortcuts and it’s impossible to remember them all. Over a period of time you will gradually build up a selection that you use on a regular basis but to get you started here is my top baker’s dozen (for Windows):-
Z = Zoom
[ = Decrease brush size
] = Increase brush size
Ctrl+Z = Edit undo
Ctrl+Alt+Z =Undo multiple times
Ctrl + 0= Fit on screen (That’s a zero by the way not an alphabetical O)
Ctrl+A = Select All
Ctrl C = Edit Copy
Ctrl+D = Deselect (Gets rid of all those marching ants)
Ctrl+V = Paste
Ctrl+N = File New
Ctrl+O = File Open
Ctrl+S = Save document
Ctrl+J = New Layer via copy (just had to add this one as the 14th)!
Get practising right now and save yourself bags of time!