Archive for category Photography Tips

Photoshop’s cool new tool

As if Content Aware fill wasn’t enough, Adobe has unveiled a significant upgrade to their lens correction technology. Now included in Lightroom 3 and Camera RAW 6.1 (shipping with the CS5 Suite), is the ability to easily correct lens distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignetting. Now some of these controls have been available in earlier versions, but not in a one-click tool that also provides a great deal of manual overrides and the inclusion of both preset and custom profiles.

For  the latest direct from Adobe

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Adobe CS5 reviewed

I had the opportunity to review the groundbreaking  new suite of media tools from Adobe, CS5 Production Premium, for Videomaker Magazine. For the last month I’ve been testing what I really believe is a revolutionary upgrade. For certain key tasks, like editing multiple layers of HD video, I’m seeing between five an ten fold increases in performance. When was the last time THAT happened in a mere dot upgrade? Check out my full review at Videomaker.

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Rock Photography

It’s not often you get paid for taking pretty pictures of rocks. But that’s part of the fun of being a photographer; you never know what your next assignment will be.

I was lucky to again be called to shoot some commercial images for the company, LW Stone, a leading provider of natural stone products based here in Northern California. Today was a full day of shooting these very cool looking stone veneers (if my wife had a clue how perfect this product would look around our house, I’d be committed to doing only trade!). We just finished shooting an interior fireplace in a gorgeous home built by local contractor Jerry Tucker. Jerry commissioned a mason to artfully apply these laser-cut stone slabs onto an interior surface that is the centerpiece of the home’s Great Room living space.

It was challenging to photograph as it was important to retain the natural color and texture of the stone, while maintaining a warm “lived-in” look. This required me to cover most of the surrounding windows that were letting in normally desirous North light and substitute them with 3200k Fresnel video lights. Each had a 1/4 CTB filter on so that the glow in the fireplace still looked adequately warm after white balancing to the CTBs. I exposed a series of images for various parts of the subject; a long exposure to strengthen the weak gas fire; an even longer exposure for the shadows; a short exposure for the highlights in the stone veneer; and several others to use in a high dynamic range composite. Taking this many images allows me the greatest flexibility in post to paint in the look I want without having to resort to any PS trickery outside of deftly wielding an erase brush.

After the interiors it was off to shoot the backyard of one of the principles of the company, Scott Lane. This is a place straight out of Sunset Magazine. In fact, I have plans to shoot Scott’s place for Sunset as soon as the finishing touches are completed. Their place truly has the kind of landscaping that challenges any photographer by simply demanding technical perfection on a par with the beauty.

With today’s shoot, we captured a half dozen angles featuring specific aspects of the natural stone for immediate use in web and brochure marketing. I relied on mostly natural light and bracketed exposures of which I will composite in PS to creat high dynamic range images. Of course, at five minutes before and after sunset I was hustling to get every last angle I could imagine before the Magic Light extinguished. When I returned to the studio tonight, I dumped all the files to an array and a backup drive and saw that each of the images were just what I was expecting. Hopefully, the client will agree.

Stone Patio from LW Stone

Stone Patio from LW Stone

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Choosing a Photographer

Personality counts.

Few professionals will work as close with you than your photographer. That’s why it’s important that you not only like the photographs of your photographer, but their personality as well. So if you like the quality and style of a particular photographer, and their fee is withing your budget, what more is there to decide?
Often, when new acquaintances ask me what I do, they immediately recount stories of their own or a close friend that had a horrible experience with their photographer; “they were bossy, dictatorial, or downright rude. Plus the pictures came out bad.”
So how can you tell if you’ve got a photographer that’s going to be both professional and easy to work with? Here’s a quick 5-point checklist I always ask myself – see if they work for you:
1. What does your “gut” tell you? Some people call it intuition, a sense, or a first impression, but how you feel after your first few interactions with your photographer should be a big part of your decision. Don’t let a low or even high price temp or sway your choice if you can’t shake an uneasy feeling that things might turn sour at some point.
2. Meet at least twice before making a decision. First impressions are usually a good guide, but maybe your first meeting was at a bridal show, and there wasn’t enough time to get a sense of what the photographer is like. Schedule at least one additional follow-up meeting where both of you will not be distracted.
3. Do they listen at least as much as they talk? This is critical. You never want to feel like you’re being “sold.” You are not buying a car or an insurance policy. Be sure your photographer understands what you want; this includes everything from the style of photography to what they wear.
4. Ask questions. Especially in this new era of digital photography, it is important to be very clear about what you are actually purchasing. Will your photographer allow you to make personal copies? What kind of album, if any, is included? How long will it take before the proofs are ready? How will the proofs be delivered to me? One of the best ways to ensure you are not disappointed is to align your expectations with their service and the package you are purchasing.
5. Do they appear to be genuinely interested? This may make up a large part of your good or bad feeling in general and can be difficult to put your finger on. But sometimes you can just tell that they are not attentive to really helping you make your special day, special. There can be all sorts of reasons for this; maybe they’ve burned out on doing weddings or they talk too much about their expensive equipment or qualifications, or simply they don’t seem to care that deeply.