« November 2012 | Main | January 2013 »

December 2012 Archives

December 3, 2012

Review: "The Color of Light"

By Ellis Vener

“The Color of Light”201212we_coloroflight.jpg
By Arthur Meyerson
Published by Arthur Meyerson Editions, 2012

(Disclosure: The reviewer is acquainted and friendly with both Meyerson and the book's designer.)

Arthur Meyerson’s "The Color of Light” is an inspiring book that fits comfortably in your lap and invites you to enjoy, contemplate, and share the passion and warmth of the photographer’s personal work. Not only are the photographs beautiful, but the book itself is well crafted with skill and expertise applied to design, typography, printing, image selection, and flow. The images are framed by clean white space, presented as if each page is a print in a portfolio. All this is in service to Meyerson’s vision that endless photographic possibilities and beauty surround us.

While Meyerson has long been a successful commercial photographer, “The Color of Light” collects photos he made for himself. There are no fancy lighting or camera techniques, no Photoshop alchemy. What you see is the result of light, space, timing, and color. But more than aesthetics, there’s his good humor. His work is imbued with the unleashed enthusiasm of a kid playing with a camera and all of the formal elements of photography to see what might result.

Many of the photographs embrace a sense of visual humor. In one, a giraffe’s neck divides a cloudless blue sky. The contrast of color and texture and the composition’s symmetry are interesting, but it would be just an academic exercise without those ears at the top of the frame. His “Motor Scooter Rental, Victoria 2009” shows the photographer’s unique observational wit in a way that puts a smile on my face. A vibrant green living cactus frames a near monochromatic mural of cattle on a high desert range. The book pairs of a shot of cattle branding on a Texas ranch with a gigantic Marlboro Man advertisement looming over the Hong Kong cityscape as if he’s peering into tiny little windows.

Meyerson approaches people with sensitivity and sweetness that extends to the viewer as well. A girl in Italy laughs, spied through out-of-focus racks of postcards; with a face painted bright red, an elderly person gazes intently, looking weary; Japanese schoolgirls line up at a railing, all with their backs to the camera save for one girl laughing. In one image a child scales the granite plinth at the base of the Statue of Liberty, the gesture of his body against the stone expressing freedom in a way no monument can.

I could easily go on, but I’ll stop here and simply say that you should buy this book.

December 4, 2012

StickyAlbums: Practically an App for Instant Referrals

By Cate Scaglione

When our friend and fellow PPA member, Kristi Sutton Elias of Long Beach, Calif., told us about StickyAlbums, we knew we had to give it a try. At her suggestion, we did the free trial and were immediately hooked on the concept.

The bottom line is this: If you need a tool that lets your clients enthusiastically share your work with their entire social network, StickyAlbums are the way to go.

In our studio, Je Revele, we believe there's only one thing that generates business more than a solid referral: the solid visual referral. An online endorsement with an accompanying visual is as good as gold. That's the premise behind StickyAlbums. If you want your studio and your work to go viral, StickyAlbums could be the tipping point. Global retail brands and major marketing pioneers are always looking for new ways to infiltrate the mobile communication space. StickyAlbums, founded by photographer Nate Grahek, gave us a leg up in our own industry. So, enough hype.

201212we_sticky_1.jpg

HOW IT WORKS
A StickyAlbum is a mobile smartphone app that allows you to share your client's session images in a mobile "mini-website" format, complete with your studio's own branding. In turn, your client can show off your work to family and friends straight from their mobile phone or tablet. It gives clients the choice of several social media platforms to share their album using text message, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or email. Your images can be passed forward and shared in a crisp format, without the ability for a client to download, or right-click copy. Genius.

Here's a simple run-through:

1. You set up your album from the user-friendly StickyAlbum site according to your branding and specifications. They even provide optional downloadable branding template files to help you design it. They also provide a great tutorial online to guide you through your first album. You need to think strategically about where and how your customers will get to link to your website, because that's where the new site traffic flow begins.

201212we_sticky_2.jpg

201212we_sticky_4.jpg

2. Once your settings are arranged, you can create individual client albums and upload your images. It allows a maximum of 30 to 40 images per album, which could be considered a drawback. But still, a great sampling of your work. Images must be resized to meet StickyAlbum dimensions. Here at Je Revele we set up a batch Photoshop action to resize for us. StickyAlbums can resize images for you, but it doesn't always work with large files or images you want to appear at a specific ratio. I'm optimistic that this function will be improved in future; StickyAlbums upgrades frequently. According to Grahek, "The StickyAlbums Builder ... creates a lower-res image (1,600 pixels) that is delivered to users on phone-sized screens and then a 2,048-pixel image for users on a computer or iPad 3. However we recommend users process their images down to 2,048-pixels on the longest edge before uploading to the builder to save upload time."

3. Next, you have StickyAlbums’ latest feature, the option to embed YouTube or other site links. We embedded our Animoto slideshow set to music into a client's album recently, and she loved being able to access her slideshow presentation to share with friends. It's great to be able to use two vendors that we use frequently in tandem and have it work so well. It could also be a great way to visually promote our client experience in the future.

201212we_sticky_3.jpg

4. As a final step, you simply copy and paste a link and email it to your clients. When they receive it, they'll get a prompt to add the app to their phone. When they tap the app on their screen, it is a mini-website, complete with a link to our studio phone and website. It couldn't be easier for them, or for us. When your client shares the album, the recipient must then upload your studio's app on their phone too. A small number of clients consider it a drawback when they want to share a single image rather than the entire album, but I like it. StickyAlbums is considering single-photo sharing for future upgrades.

Continue reading "StickyAlbums: Practically an App for Instant Referrals " »

December 5, 2012

December 2012 Issue

 

Photo by Richard Sturdevantsmaller size2.jpg

December 2012 Issue

 

Lowcountry splendor_Jim Crotty photo_Erin Quinn O'Briantsmallersize.jpg

December 2012 Issue

 

Lowcountry splendor2_Jim Crotty_Erin Quinn O'Briantsmallersize.jpg

December 6, 2012

December 2012 Issue

 

photo by marie labboncz sweet second act by lorna gentrysmaller.jpg

December 2012 Issue

 

Photo Marie Labbanczsmaller.jpg

December 2012 Issue

 

Sweet second act_Marie Labbancz_Article Lorna Gentrysmaller.jpg

December 2012 Issue

 

Cover Photo Decsmaller.jpg

December 10, 2012

December 2012 Issue

 

FritzLiedtke-AstraVelum-Emily.jpg

December 2012 Issue

 

FritzLiedtke-AstraVelum-Ella.jpg

December 2012 Issue

 

FritzLiedtke-AstraVelum-Foxsmaller size.jpg

December 2012 Issue

 

Fritz Liedtke-Wonderland-Blackboardsmaller.jpg

December 12, 2012

Unified Color HDR Express 2: Perfect for the Natural Look

By Stan Sholik

201212we_express2_box.jpg

Creating high dynamic range (HDR) images with most software is a complex, time-consuming task that can frustrate photographers new to the process. This is particularly true when you simply want to create a natural looking image with increased highlight and shadow detail, not a surrealistic HDR image.

Unified Color provides software with extensive controls for creating complex interpretive HDR composites with its HDR Expose 2 and 32 Float v2 software for photographers wishing to immerse themselves in the full HDR process. But Unified Color also provides a simplified but still highly capable program now in its second version, HDR Express 2. It's the perfect HDR solution for photographers getting started with HDR, and for photographers looking for HDR software that creates natural, rather than interpretive, images.

201212we_hdr_mobius.jpg

HDR Express 2 excels in quickly creating natural looking images that don’t even appear to have been processed through HDR software. ©Stan Sholik

HDR Express 2 distills the HDR user controls down to seven basic sliders: exposure, highlights, shadows, black point, contrast, saturation and white balance. All but the black point slider allow you to increase or decrease their respective settings; black point can only be increased. The contrast slider is more a control of local (micro) contrast rather than overall contrast. But even at the highest contrast setting and with the saturation slider at maximum, the HDR image just looks contrasty and over saturated, not especially "grungy."

HDR Express 2 installs as a standalone application and as a Lightroom plug-in on Mac and Windows systems running the latest operating systems, and additionally as an Aperture plug-in on Macs. System requirements are minimal compared to some HDR software, and HDR Express 2 runs far faster than the previous version. Still, a fast computer, a 64-bit operating system, and more than 4GB of RAM available ensures the fastest image processing.

Not only is HDR Express 2 faster than its predecessor, it allows you to work more efficiently. One of the new features is the ability to automatically arrange, sort and group bracketed exposures from the folder you choose. RAW files are sorted separately from JPEGs and TIFFs, and you can choose to only show the file type of your choice. This is a great feature if you shoot both RAW and JPEGs at the same time but want to use the RAW files for HDR.

201212we_hdr_exp2_2.jpg

When you choose to create a new HDR image from the opening screen, this screen opens. Here you choose a folder of images and HDR Express2 groups bracketed exposures into sets while displaying image thumbnails. Even with the sets of very similar images here, HDR Express 2 grouped them accurately. A histogram allows you to choose only those images you need.

Continue reading "Unified Color HDR Express 2: Perfect for the Natural Look" »

New Ilford Galerie Prestige Inkjet Papers

By Stan Sholik

Ilford Imaging Switzerland GmbH traces its roots back more than a century to the early days of photography. Through the years, companies under the Ilford name have produced high-quality photographic papers from darkroom days to the inkjet present. Now owned again by the British, the current inkjet paper offerings from Ilford Imaging Switzerland are grouped into two lines: Galerie Premium and Galerie Prestige. The more affordable Galerie Premium papers are aimed at enthusiasts, amateurs, and students. The Galerie Prestige line products are designed to meet the tastes and needs of professional photographers.

Prestige-Gold-cotton.jpg

Ilford recently introduced four new papers in their Galerie Prestige line: Gold Cotton Smooth and Textured, and Fine Art Smooth and Textured. At 330 grams per square meter (gsm), the Gold Cotton papers are the heaviest papers in the Prestige line except for the Smooth Fine Art Canvas. The Fine Art papers weigh in at 220gsm. Ilford’s 190gsm Galerie Prestige Smooth Fine Art paper remains available despite the similar name to the new Prestige Fine Art Smooth paper.

Prestige-Fine-Art.jpg

The color of all four papers is the same slightly creamy white with a matte finish. The two smooth papers are indeed smooth, similar to hot press fine art papers from other manufacturers, while the two textured papers have a subtle texture reminiscent of cold press papers. Despite the smooth vs. textured surfaces, prints are virtually indistinguishable in color, contrast, and saturation when printed using the downloadable Ilford printer profiles. The most obvious difference when handling the papers is the weight difference of the heavier Gold papers over the Fine Art, and the more subtle differences in surface texture.

The Gold Cotton papers are mold-made without optical brighteners from 100-percent cotton rag. No optical brighteners are used, ensuring that the colors will not fade or shift over time. While archival information is not available, images printed on these papers should be very long lasting.

The Fine Art papers are also mold made, but rather than 100-percent cotton rag the paper contains a high cellulose content giving it a similar feel to cotton rag papers. Other than the weight difference, the Fine Art papers do feel very much like the Gold Cottons.

Despite the similarities, there is a major difference between the papers. The Fine Art papers are coated on both sides for printing, making them ideal for wedding albums or other projects requiring double-sided printing. The Fine Art papers are heavy enough to ensure no bleed through of images, but light enough to work well as pages of an album. The creamy white matte finishes, and for me the textured surface, make a beautiful setting for wedding photos.

Handling and printing the papers is straightforward. As mentioned, printer profiles for many Canon, Epson, HP, Kodak and Lexmark printers are available at Ilford.com for each paper. On Canon PIXMA Pro printers, the media type is “Other Fine Art Paper,” while for Epson it is “Ultra Smooth Fine Art Photo.” Using the correct profile and media type is essential to obtain optimum quality output with these papers. As with any heavy fine art paper, you must load sheets one at a time through the proper loading slot for the paper to feed properly.

The new Ilford Galerie Prestige papers are available in cut sizes from 4 x 6 inches to 17 x 22 inches as well as 24-inch and 44-inch rolls. Street price is about $60 for 100 sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper. 

Stan Sholik is a commercial/advertising photographer in Santa Ana, Calif., specializing in still life and macro photography. His latest book is "Lightroom 4 FAQs" (Wiley Publishing).

Review: "The Digital Negative" by Jeff Schewe

By Ellis Vener

“The Digital Negative”  201212we_digitalneg.jpgBy Jeff Schewe
Published by Pearson / Imprint: Peachpit Press 

As an admitted perfection freak of a commercial photographer, an unpaid alpha tester of Photoshop since the early ’90s, and one of the original drivers in the creation of Lightroom, Jeff Schewe belongs to an elite echelon who know the ins and outs of Photoshop and Lightroom better than anyone save Adobe’s development teams. Taking as his model Ansel Adams’ classic “The Negative,” this Schewe’s first solo effort as an author. “The Digital Negative” concentrates on the use of Lightroom’s Develop Module and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and the use of Photoshop to perfect a digital negative. What you can learn here is somewhat applicable to other image processing applications as well. Copiously illustrated with photographs and screen shots, and weighing in at fewer than 300 pages, the book does a fine job of laying out practical and useful explanations of raw processing procedures for all working photographers.

The first chapter in “The Digital Negative” defines the capture technology, what a raw file is, why “expose to the right” makes for technically better files, the components of digital noise, and why raw trumps JPEGs processed in-camera. Getting the exposure right—and by right Schewe means as much of the luminance information into the richest data fields (which are represented on the right side of a histogram—hence “expose to the right”) is the foundation everything else is built on.

After that the heart of the book explores the panels, sub panels, and individual controls and what they do in Lightroom’s Development Module (which is much like the current version of Adobe Camera Raw but with a different and more user-friendly interface). Of particular note there is a clear, short exploration of the current state of both global and localized sharpening tools and their capabilities in ACR and Lightroom. Since Schewe is co-author (with the late Bruce Fraser) of the second edition of the classic “Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop, Camera Raw, and Lightroom.” he has a deep understanding of the sharpening process.

If you want to take things a step further, Chapter Five discusses various post-processing Photoshop techniques to improve color, use creative localized sharpening techniques, enhance mid-tone contrast and texture—all involving the use of layers, masks, and blend modes. If you have ever been curious about working with the various layer blend modes in Photoshop, the two-page Blending Mode Magic breakdown is as concise as you’ll find anywhere. The very basics of retouching and compositing multiple images are also covered.

Chapter Six is unique among dozens of digital darkroom manuals I've examined because it covers something all photographers and studios must wrestle with: creating and implementing time- and resource-efficient workflows. Whether or not you think what you are doing is fine art doesn’t mean you don’t have to get it out the door as quickly as possible if you want happy clients.

So what is missing? A discussion of printing and other output methods. You’ll have to wait for the upcoming “The Digital Print” (not to be confused with Martin Juergens older work of the same title, aimed at curators and conservators).

About December 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in December 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2012 is the previous archive.

January 2013 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.


 
Powered by
Movable Type 5.2.7