Tutorials Archives

January 25, 2016

Getting Started with Capture One Pro: Create Your Own Interface

By David Grover

Capture One Pro is a raw file converter, image editor and asset manager, popular with pro photographers who want both the best in image quality and a specific suite of tools to enable precision results.

Phase One Capture One Pro is different from Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture in that the interface can be completely customized to your own preference. You can remove tools you don’t really use and position the various elements of the interface, like the Viewer and thumbnail Browser, in different locations or even spread over multiple monitors.

The Capture One Interface

The interface consists of four key sections.

1. The toolbar: This contains clickable action buttons and the cursor tools (in the center), which change the behavior of the cursor. 

2. Tools placed in Tool Tabs: The tabs are divided into different groups. Hover the mouse over the tabs to display the name. Each Tool Tab contains a set of Tools that can be changed and reordered.

3. The Viewer: The selected image(s) in the browser are shown here.

4. Thumbnails displayed in the Browser: All the thumbnails in the current selected collection are shown here. Collection is the term used to describe any group of images, such as images from an Album, a filtered search result, or a folder.


©Drew Altdoerffer

Figure 1  

There is a number of different ways to configure each area and also to arrange these areas in your chosen monitor or monitors.

Starting with the toolbar, by right clicking and choosing ‘Customize Toolbar’ (Figure 2), various action buttons, cursor tools and spacers can be dragged into position anywhere on the toolbar. 


Figure 2


Figure 3

The gateway customization in Capture One is in the View menu. This menu allows you to change the position of the main elements (Tools, Viewer, Browser) and, to a greater extent, how they are configured. Shortcut keys, which can also be customized, are shown to the right of the options too.

For example, the Browser can either be at the side (left or right) or at the bottom (Figures 4, 5, 6).  The Tools will naturally be on the opposite side of the Browser if you have elected to place that at the side. 


©Drew Altdoerffer

Figure 4


©Alexander Flemming

Figure 5


©Alexander Flemming

Figure 6

Configuring the Tool area

As well as its position, the contents of the tool area can also be configured. Tools are displayed in a number of tool tabs that can contain any number of tools of your choice. The Default workspace contains suggestions for good starting points, and it’s easy to change from there.

Hovering over any Tool Tab indicates the name and shows a reminder of how to reorder the tabs. With a Mac, command-drag will reorder and in Windows control-drag.


Figure 7

Additional tool tabs can be added by right- or control-clicking on any tool tab. The standard tool tabs can be added, and you can even add a Custom tab.


Figure 8

Tools can be added or removed from any tab in the same way, but this time choosing Add Tool or Remove Tool.


Figure 9

Tools can be reordered by dragging and dropping.


Figure 10

Floating tools can also be created, simply by dragging them out of the Tools area.

This can be very useful for workspaces that need only a couple of tools available but with maximized image area. Some tools, like the Curve tool, Color Balance Tool, and Color Editor tool, can also be enlarged to enable more precise adjustments.


Figure 11

Both the Browser and Viewer allow further customization. For example, thumbnails can be shown in a Grid, Filmstrip, or Detailed list form, and labels (exposure information, see below) can be hidden or shown in the Viewer. 


Figure 12 

Once you’re happy with your Workspace, save it to be able to return to it again. Go to Window > Workspace and Save or Delete.

If you regularly want to switch between different workspaces, you can place the Workspaces icon on the toolbar to give you fast access to all your workspaces. 


Figure 13 

Customizing Keyboard Shortcuts

Using keyboard shortcuts can save a lot of time in your workflow. Capture One has a default set of shortcuts, but it can also be changed. The Edit Keyboard Shortcuts menu (Figure 14) shows the Default set and the opportunity to duplicate this set for further customization.


Figure 14

Locate the item in the command list, click on the current shortcut (if displayed) and type in a key or key combination. A current list of keyboard shortcuts can be displayed from the Help menu.


Figure 15 

Basic Workflow in Capture One 

In the default Workspace, tools for adjusting Exposure reside in the Exposure Tool Tab and Tools for adjusting Color in the Color Tool tab. 

Each tool functions in a similar way.

  • Drag a slider to change the value 

  • Double click on a slider to reset it 

  • Use the cursor and keys to change value or enter numerical data. 

  • Click for help 
(if present)
  • Click for Auto adjust 
(if present)


Figure 16: Copy, reset, and save/recall preset icons

  • Copy the selected values to the adjustments clipboard  

  • Reset all values in the tool (option/alt-click this icon for a 
temporary reset to preview the effect) 

  • Save and/or recall preset values 


Figure 17: The cursor toolbar at the top of the screen

The cursor toolbar changes the behavior of the cursor. For example, Panning, using a Loupe or Cropping. Most cursor tools show additional options by clicking and holding.

Copying and Applying Adjustments

To copy adjustments from one image to another, first edit one image and then click the Copy Adjustments icon in the toolbar (circled below).


Figure 18 

Then select additional images in the Browser. (Either shift-click a group of images or ctrl-click (Windows) or cmd-click (Mac) for individual images). 

Then click the Apply Adjustments icon, also in the toolbar: (Figure 19)


Figure 19

Exporting Images

Images can be exported into final formats in two ways. Either with File > Export Images > Variants or via Process Recipes.

From the File Menu

  • Select the images to be exported 

  • Go to File > Export Images > Variants
  • In the export dialog, decide on the Location, Naming and Recipe for the 
exported images. 


Figure 20

Via a Process Recipe 

Process Recipes offer a more powerful way to export images. Different Recipes can be created and recalled to export images to any location and in any format. More than one recipe can be used simultaneously.

1. Go to the Output tool tab 

2. Select one or more recipes from the default list. The function of that recipe 
is shown in the Process Recipe tool. (New recipes can be created by 
clicking on the + button in the Process Recipes tool). 

3. Decide on the Output Location and Output Naming in the corresponding tools.

4. Click on the Process button in the Process Summary tool. 


Figure 21 

More Capture One resources are available at Capture One Tutorials and the Capture One Community

April 23, 2015

Color Grading Basics for DSLR Filmmaking

By Ron Dawson

Every Hollywood movie, every TV commercial, and every original series you binge-watch on Netflix is professionally color graded. Doesn’t matter how simple or “normal” a scene may look, before it hits the airwaves or the silver screen, a colorist sat in a dark room, turning knobs or tweaking software parameters to make the scene look and feel the way the director wanted.

Fortunately, many photographers are better prepared to enter the world of color grading than videographers were during the rise of DSLR filmmaking. Most of you are already familiar with levels and curves in Lightroom or Photoshop. You can take those same skill sets and apply them to filmmaking.

Shooting Flat

As is usually the case when it comes to filmmaking, the work you do in post-production starts long before you enter the editing room. When it comes to color grading, it starts with how you capture your image. There are a number of considerations to be best prepared to color grade.

Saturation, sharpness, and contrast all play a significant role in the color grading process. In order to have the most flexibility, experienced filmmakers shoot their footage “flat,” meaning saturation, sharpness, and contrast are slightly to significantly reduced in-camera.

With DSLRs I use a custom setting with sharpness and contrast set as low as possible and two notches down on saturation, a setting made famous by filmmaker and colorist Stu Maschwitz in his blog post


© Stu Maschwitz.

The image you capture will essentially look lifeless, but you will have the most latitude for making color enhancements in post.

Levels and Curves

One of the first places to start in color grading is levels and curves adjustments. I typically use Nattress Levels and Curves plug-in for Final Cut Pro X (FCPX), but what I’ll explain is applicable to any non-linear editor (NLE).

There are four plug-ins that come with Levels and Curves: Curves, Curves Luma, Curves RGB, and Levels. I’ll show you each using a clip from the raw footage of my short film “S3P4.” Here’s the untreated footage shot with a flat profile on a Canon EOS 7D:


Curves tweaks the blacks, midrange, and whites along the whole color space. When you first apply the plug-in, a diagonal line appears on the clip. From here you can adjust the whites, mids, and blacks (as well as the “toe” and “knee” values).


Curves Luma just affects the luma values, not the color. You might use the plug-in if you’re concerned with exposure levels only and don’t want to change saturation or the color temperature. You’ll notice that the color temperature of this is closer to that of the original raw footage. The key difference is the contrast.


A straight-forward S-curve, commonly used for a cinematic look

Curves RGB allows you to tweak the levels in each of the primary colors: red, green, or blue. In this particular instance, I selected the preset “Cool Highlights, Warm Shadows.”


Finally, we have the Levels plug-in, used to manipulate black, gamma and white levels in your image. At its basic, gamma is the setting of the greys in your image. Differences in gamma setting is why one image or video may look one way on a Mac and darker on Windows. Often you can “lighten” an image by changing the gamma. This will tend to preserve more of the details than just boosting the highlights.


Tools of the Trade

There are a wide variety of tools on the market for color grading. All of the major NLEs like Adobe’s Premiere Pro and After Effects, or Apple’s FCPX have built-in color tools for doing basic grading. Typically you’ll use color wheels, HSL sliders, contrast adjustments, etc. One benefit of using these tools is that they usually require less render time than plug-ins and filters.


FCPX’s “Color Board” is Apple’s replacement of the traditional color wheel.

If you want to beef up your color-grading arsenal, the next step is plug-ins. Some enhance your ability to manipulate levels and curves. Some give you extreme looks that allow you to make significant changes across the board to color, contrast, saturation, etc.

On the Mac, I highly recommend FxFactory by Noise Industries ( Think of it an App Store for your NLE. Once you purchase a plug-in via the free FxFactory software, wherever you log on to a computer, you’ll have access to those plug-ins. They have plug-ins for FCPX, After Effects, Apple Motion, and Adobe Premiere. Other popular FCPX plug-in providers include and

fxfactory screen.png

One of the most respected plug-in developers for both Mac and Windows NLEs is Red Giant Software ( Their Magic Bullet Looks plug-in has nearly 200 presets that replicate popular movie and television show looks. Each preset is then customizable, or you can create one from scratch.


Plug-ins range from as low as $30 to $399 for Magic Bullet Looks ($799 if you opt for Red Giant’s full suite of Magic Bullet products).

If you want to play with the pros and have the most power at your fingertips, then you’ll want to learn one of the stand-alone color grading tools like Black Magic Design’s DaVinci Resolve ( or Adobe’s Speedgrade . The learning curve on these programs is more steep, but if you master them the sky’s the limit with where you can take the look of your films.


DaVinci Resolve is perhaps the leading stand-alone color grading program.

DaVinci Resolve Lite is free, but the full program is just shy of $1,000. I would guess, though, that the Lite version has more features than most of you will ever need.

Scopes are Your Friend

To effectively and precisely color grade footage, it’s important to use your NLE’s built-in scopes, which are virtual monitors used to analyze color and luma levels in your video. My go-to scope is the RGB parade waveform monitor, which will show you the waveform pattern for the three primary colors.


RGB Parade waveform monitor. 

Another popular one is the vectorscope, often used to gauge the distribution of color in a shot.



Matching Your Video to a Photo or Another Film

If you see a video whose look you really like, take a screenshot of the scenes you like, import them into your NLE, open your scopes, then tweak your video’s RGB curve settings to match those of the imported scene. I did something similar with a photo to make a “beauty” film I shot as a gift for my wife. 


The photo I used as the basis for my color grade with the RGB parade waveform of the photo in FCPX (photo ©Atil Inc)


The RGB parade of the raw footage 


This is the look of the film after making RGB curve adjustments to match those of the photo. The pattern and values are much closer to the original photo now.

Color Grading Resources

There is so much more to cover, such as LUTs, color space, and bit depth, but these basics should be enough to take your color-graded videos to the next level. Here are some additional resources if you would like to delve deeper into the colorful world of color grading.

Color Grading Central by Denver Riddle

Ripple Training’s Color Grading Tutorial for Final Cut Pro and DaVinci Resolve 

Anything by respected instructor and colorist Alexis Van Hurkman 

Stu Maschwitz’s blog,

January 21, 2015

Gateway: Painter Essentials 5 Lets You Jump Right In

By Betsy Finn, M.Photog.Cr.,CPP

For the photographer who wants to offer an upsell, painted photos are sometimes a nice option. The problem is, they can take a lot of hours to complete, which drives up the cost. So, the question is, how to create painted photos with minimal time investment?

Corel Painter 2015 is the workhorse of the industry. You probably know several photographers who have spent many hours learning the art of digital painting. Yes, it looks awesome, but learning Corel Painter and practicing your art is a significant commitment in time, and you’re busy running your business.

Enter Corel Painter Essentials 5. It’s built on the code of Painter 2015, so it supports some of the functionality that 2015 does, such as Intel 2-in-1 support and 64-bit for PC and Mac. You’ll even find a number of the Particle Brushes from 2015 in Essentials 5. While Painter 2015 appeals more to professional artist, Painter Essentials 5 is for the more casual user, with a simplified interface.

Upon installing Painter Essentials 5, I decided to jump right in without any training, just to see how intuitive everything was. The welcome screen made things seem pretty easy.


I wanted to try an auto painting, so I chose Start new Photo Art. The application asked me to open a source file, which needs to be an 8-bit file. I re-saved one of my portraits as 8-bit, and I was in business.


After opening a file, you’ll see the following menu appear on the interface. Note that there are a couple different options.


My next step was to select the preset style. I chose Detailed Painting.


Then I clicked the Play button and waited for my auto painting to be created. On my computer at least, I couldn’t run the application in the background, but the process didn’t take that long to complete, so I waited patiently.


Once the auto painting was complete, I checked things over. The painting was decent, but obviously needed some touching up. I decided to refine the facial features. Here’s what it looked like before any manual adjustments were done.


Painter Essentials 5 comes with a number of Photo Brushes. These will paint from your source image, but apply the textures and properties of the media that you select.


Things worked okay, but then I ran into a glitch. I think my Wacom tablet was causing the problem because the glitch disappeared after I restarted the program and adjusted my tablet’s stylus settings. So you may need to set up your stylus after installation.



I spent some time playing around with the different brushes, adding detail, and refining the textures and brush strokes in areas until it looked decently finished. (One experience I remember from when I was painting on canvas was that I could never decide when a painting was “done.”)


Then it was time to save. The output (Save As JPEG) gives you some options, as seen below:


To save all the layers, source image, and other Painter-specific stuff in the file, you’ll have to save as a .RIFF file. You can save straight to one of many formats, such as .JPG, but if you select something other than .RIFF, it will remind you:


And that’s that.

I also wanted to try out two other options that you may find of interest. First, painting from scratch. You can choose to create a new blank canvas, and it will give you the setup interface below.


I’m not going to pretend that I created some photo-realistic masterpiece from scratch in under an hour, but I did spend 15-20 minutes playing with the brushes and creating an abstract painting that evokes the stamen of a flower. At any rate, it was relaxing and I had fun getting to know how my stylus worked in Painter Essentials.

2015-01-06 Abstract Strokes of a Flower.jpg

Now there’s one more option you can do, which is paint “from scratch” but with a source image. For this option, I selected New Photo Art again, but this time, after setting up my source image, I did not start auto paint. Instead, I selected a photo brush and started painting freehand. Each of my strokes revealed the colors and values from the source image, but was able to leave me with a completely custom looking painting. Take a peek at my original image, the progression of the painting, and the final painting:


I absolutely love how this turned out. This was my first painting done this way, and approximately my fifth painting in Painter Essentials 5.

So, while it may take acclimation, it’s totally possible to produce saleable images after a short learning curve with Corel Painter Essentials 5. I’d say my total time invested in the portrait painting was under 15 minutes, and I probably spent slightly longer on my painting of the flower (I didn’t time that one).

I know I’ve only scratched the surface of the software’s capabilities, but my goal with this review was to see how quickly I could acclimate myself to using Painter Essentials to create a potential upsell item or usable accent art. And on that front, it most certainly delivers. Corel also has free video tutorials online to help you get started.

Bottom line? If you’re considering Corel Painter 2015 but aren’t sure it will be your cup of tea, you could always start with Corel Painter Essentials 5. It is a great learning tool for those looking to enter the digital art world, and can be used as a stepping stone into Painter 2015. Painter Essentials 5 is $49.99, whereas Corel Painter 2015 is $429; a trial of either program can be downloaded at

Betsy Finn, M.Photog.Cr.,CPP lives in Michigan. Her studio, Betsy’s Photography, can be found on the web at 

October 27, 2014

Looking for that "Yum!" Factor

By  Jim Scherer

Try this exercise: Close your eyes and imagine something really really delicious, something that makes you crave. Write down the specific attributes of that mental image. Then cross out everything on your list that relies on senses other than sight. Whatever you finally come up with, those are the things a food photographer has to work with in making an effective image.

What’s on your list? I come up with color, texture, glisten, moisture, and so on. Those are the obvious ones, but there are others. Point of view (where is your eye?), scale (how close are you?), composition (does your eye know where to look?).  What about implied motion—like a drop about to fall, or anything just on the verge of happening. Light itself can sometimes imply motion. Let’s go on … what else is on the list? Mood, which is a broad term, can definitely affect whether something is mouthwatering. Mood comes from a combination of lighting, camera point of view, color, and surroundings, surfaces, and props. 


In the photo above, bright clean light conveys a happy morning while the softened butter patty says the pancakes are still hot. Each blueberry looks perfectly round, so the viewer knows the skin will pop in the mouth and burst with sweet juice. Even the syrup is ladled on in just the right amount, not too much and not too little. ©Jim Scherer

And of course, there is styling. The presentation of the food, often done by a food stylist,  is a huge factor in appetite appeal. Think of a muffin whole, compared to a muffin broken open with butter melting and some crumbs on the plate. This line of thought leads to lots of new things for our list … seeing inside something, seeing the bits and ingredients, and presenting a plate with the invitation to dig in.


This photo of coffee-rubbed steak speaks to getting the look of authenticity right. The amount of juice and rub on the cutting board matches the cut pieces of steak, and the antique cutlery adds mood to the image. The overhead angle is bold.  ©Jim Scherer

Here’s yet another aspect of getting appetite appeal—authenticity. Does what you’re looking at look fake? Does it look too perfect? Is it a Disney World simulation of some ideal? These are all unappetizing. Looking real means seeing the imperfections, the personality, and celebrating the fact that a dish looks different every time it comes out of the oven.

As you continue developing your food photography, begin considering all these factors. That’s what will make your viewers say, “Yum”!

When it comes to acquiring the skill it takes to capture food photography that will get you noticed, you must start with the basics and build from there. Here are 13 simple steps you can take to begin to be a better food photographer.

13 Ways to Improve Your Food Photos  

  1. Use a tripod or camera support when possible
  2. Adjust (or correct) your white balance accordingly
  3. Avoid on-camera flash at all costs!
  4. Simplify your composition and decide where you want the eye to look
  5. Come in closer, and sometimes lower!
  6. Pay attention to your background
  7. Learn to use your camera in manual mode
  8. Shoot raw, and learn how to optimize each file for web use
  9. Shoot tethered, unless you are roaming around a market or other location
  10. Try using some silver and white reflector boards, as well as black cards, to modify and shape your light
  11. Buy a simple light source to supplement your window light
  12. Keep shooting, and be sure to take shots from alternate angles, so you can self-critique afterward and learn from your mistakes and successes
  13. Take a workshop


Jim Scherer has been the photographer of record for the food pages of the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine for the past 32 years in addition to scores of other commercial projects. His work was recognized as some of the Best of 2014 by the American Society of Media Photographers this year. You can see more of his work at

November 12, 2013

Ease Into Video Editing with Adobe Premiere Elements 12 Guided Edits

By Stan Sholik 

201311we_PEboxshot.jpgWith every smartphone and consumer digital camera capable of video as well as still captures, clients expect professional photographers to be able to capture video on their cameras. However, many professionals are not taking advantage of this potential profit center. It's not that the process of capturing video is the issue for photographers; that is pretty straightforward. The issue is editing the video clips once they are captured.

Video editing can certainly be challenging to learn. Adobe recognizes this and has introduced a new feature, Guided Edits, in Adobe Premiere Elements 12, to guide the user through a logical workflow and lower the slope of the video editing learning curve. Guided Edits is a well-designed and welcome new feature for Premiere Elements. After using Guided Edits for a few videos, you are prepared to advance to the Expert mode of Premiere Elements, which includes the full set of tools you need to edit and output videos for your clients.

A good starting point for video editing is shooting video clips of your family using the camera you would use to shoot video for your clients. You can use the Elements Organizer included with Premiere Elements or another program to move the clips onto your hard drive.

When you open Premiere Elements 12, you select New Project after clicking the Video Editor tab. Premiere Elements 12 opens in the Quick Edit mode. Immediately select Guided from the mode selection bar to enter the Guided Edits mode and open a dropdown list of common edits that are often needed with videos.


Start your first video editing project by choosing Video Editor, then New Project, in the Premiere Elements 12 welcome screen. Click on Guided in the mode selection menu bar to enter the Guided Edits mode. [Click any screen grab for a large view.]

The first guided edit, Getting started with Premiere Elements, quickly walks you through an overview of a simplified edit. You will find it useful to perform the tutorial with a couple of video clips that you have imported to get a feel for the entire workflow, and then to close the tutorial without saving your work. Having seen how simple the process can be, you are ready to proceed.

The first step is to bring the video clips into Premiere Elements. Utilizing the tip from the Getting started tutorial, you click Add Media from the mode selection bar to open a dropdown panel of import options. Since the videos are already on your hard drive, you select Files and Folders, navigate to the files, select them all and click Import.


The first video in Guided Edits guides you through the entire process. The first step is to Add Media to a project.

The clips appear in the timeline below the main preview window. Since the process of adding media returns you to the Quick mode, you may want to tap the spacebar or click the right-facing triangular Play button to see a quick playback of the clips. Don't worry if the playback isn't smooth at this point. Once you click the Render button to the right of the playback buttons the video will play back smoothly. But it isn't time for that yet. As the video clips play back, the Current Time Indicator (CTI) shows the position of the playback within each clip.

Select Guided again from the mode selection bar to return to Guided Edits mode and continue the process. The first step is to trim unwanted pieces out of the beginning, end, and middle of each clip.

Click the Trimming Unwanted Frames tutorial in the Guided Edits list to begin. The clips expand in the Timeline and an animated yellow arrow at the beginning of the first clip appears. The Guided Edits instruction window advises you to drag the CTI to the location where you want the trim. Click the scissor icon attached to the CTI to make the trim. The trimmed portion is not deleted from the clip. It is only edited out of the current project.  Click the Next button in the instruction window for information on trimming the end of the clip, and for trimming in the middle of the clip. Drag the CTI through all of the clips and trim each one as needed.



With video clips added to the project, the next Guided Edit step gives you instructions on trimming unwanted frames from the beginnings and ends of the clips.

You can drag a clip to a new position in the timeline to rearrange the order, or click on a clip to select it and then right-click and select Delete and Close Gap to remove the clip from the project. Tap the backslash key to compress the clips to the available space in the Timeline. With this rough cut completed, it is a good time to save the project. Click Save in the mode selection bar and save the project on your hard drive.

Click Guided again to reenter the Guided Edits mode. The next step is to add transitions between the clips. Select Adding Transitions between video clips from the guided edits list. The guided edits instruction window opens and the animated yellow arrow points to the Transitions panel in the Actions bar below the preview window. Click Next in the guided edits instruction window to open the transitions panel. Select one of the nine transitions and drag it between clips. Select a duration and an alignment for the transition in the Transition Adjustments panel and click Done to save the transition. Repeat this to add transitions between each of the clips, and at the beginning and end of the project if you desire.


Adding transitions between video clips is the next step in Guided Edits after trimming the clips.


Premiere Elements 12 offers a variety of possible transitions between clips. Guided Edits shows you visually how to add them.

The next step in the Guided Edits list allows you to add sound (a music score or sound effects) to your video. By following the directions in the Guided Edit, you open the Audio panel in the Action bar. Premiere 12 includes seven categories of music available for download. You can click on each of the icons to preview the music. When you find the appropriate music, drag it onto the audio line in the timeline. It takes a few minutes to download and size to the project. The soundtrack adds to any ambient sound you recorded in the video clips. In the Expert mode you can remove the ambient sound if you prefer. You can also use Guided Edits to add a narration track with the option of muting the existing audio while adding the narration. You are guided through the narration process just as you are with the other Guided Edits.


Adding a music score is another of the Guided Edits options. Premiere Elements 12 includes seven categories of music with downloadable options in each category.

Also available as a Guided Edit is the ability to adjust brightness, contrast, and color, to add a title, to create a picture-in-picture effect, and to animate graphics in your video. And when you are comfortable with the workflow shown in the Guided Edits, you are ready to move on to the video effects in the Action bar, and then to the Expert mode.

The Export mode offers a more detailed Timeline with the ability to add additional audio and video tracks. Here is where you can alt/option click on the ambient audio track to unlink it from the video portion, then right click on it and unclick the Enable checkmark to silence the ambient sound you recorded.


In the Expert mode you can unlink and mute the ambient audio recorded so that the added music track  is heard, along with any narration you may have added using Guided Edits.

When you are satisfied with your efforts, click the Render button to put everything together into a smooth running video. Click the full screen icon and tap the spacebar to play your video. If it looks good, click Publish+Share and choose and output format appropriate for your needs. It really is that simple.


After rendering and reviewing the video, clicking Publish+Share opens a panel of output options.

The new Quick Edit mode of Adobe Premiere Elements 12 provides the instructions that still photographers need in order to provide a comfortable transition from still to video editing. The look and feel are similar enough to Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Photoshop that Premiere 12 doesn't appear completely foreign. And when you are ready to move on to professional level video editing, you will find the transition to Adobe Premiere Pro equally comfortable.

Adobe Premiere Elements 12 is available as a standalone boxed program for a street price of less than $100. Adobe provides the usual wide array of video tutorials and helpful information on Premiere Elements at

Stan Sholik is a commercial/advertising photographer in Santa Ana, Calif., specializing in still life and macro photography. His latest book, "Photoshop CC: Top 100 Tips and Tricks" (Wiley), is available now.


System Requirements


2GHz or faster processor with SSE2 support; dual-core processor required for HDV or AVCHD editing and Blu-ray or AVCHD export

Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 3, Windows Vista with Service Pack 2, Windows 7, or Windows 8 (Adobe Premiere Elements Editor runs in 32-bit mode on Windows XP and Windows Vista and in 64-bit or 32-bit mode on Windows 7 and Windows 8; all other applications run native on 32-bit operating systems and in 32-bit compatibility mode on 64-bit operating systems)

2GB of RAM

4GB of available hard-disk space to install applications; additional 5GB to download content

Graphics card with the latest updated drivers

Color monitor with 16-bit color video card

1024x768 display resolution

Microsoft DirectX 9 or 10 compatible sound and display driver

DVD-ROM drive (compatible DVD burner required to burn DVDs; compatible Blu-ray burner required to burn Blu-ray discs)

DV/i.LINK/FireWire/IEEE 1394 interface to connect a Digital 8 DV or HDV camcorder

QuickTime 7 software

Windows Media Player (required if importing/exporting Windows Media formats)

Internet connection required for product activation



64-bit multicore Intel processor

Mac OS X v10.6 through v10.8

2GB of RAM

4GB of available hard-disk space to install applications; additional 5GB to download content

Graphics card with the latest updated drivers
1024x768 display resolution

DVD-ROM drive (compatible DVD burner required to burn DVDs; compatible Blu-ray burner required to burn Blu-ray discs)

DV/i.LINK/FireWire/IEEE 1394 interface to connect a Digital 8 DV or HDV camcorder

QuickTime 7 software

Internet connection required for product activation

October 11, 2013

Behind the Scenes: Jaime DeMarco Workflow with Capture One Pro 7

JAIME DEMARCO, fashion and lifestyle photographer

Jaime DeMarco began his career as senior photographer for Urban Outfitters at age 22. Today as a successful fashion and lifestyle photographer, with clients such as DKNY, Free People, E! Entertainment Television, and People Magazine, Jaime is known for his ability to bring to life the unique character of each of his subjects. Like his idol Helmut Newton, he plays the role of a professional 'hired gun,' bringing with him the highest level of creativity, energy and photographic experience to every single assignment.

“What is remarkable with Capture One Pro is that people shooting today who are using the Nikon D800 or Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera can get the same software functionality as I get with a $40,000 Phase One digital back. Granted, the camera itself makes a difference—the hardware, lenses, 16-bit capture. But basically, the software will take whatever you throw at it —whether it’s raw from Leaf, Canon, whatever, no hicupping … From a workflow standpoint it’s unbelievable that it can work in all formats so seamlessly.” —Jaime DeMarco



EQUIPMENT: Nikon D800e, Capture One Pro 7

BACKGROUND/INTRO: Capture One Pro 7 has an exceptionally versatile workflow. It was designed originally as one of the first available ‘digital presses’ and was created for professionals and agency people who needed to capture and process as quickly as possible. I’ve been using the software for many years. Some people still don’t know that it supports more than 300 different DSLR camera models (as well as medium format).

Capture One Pro 7 now offers two different ways of working: its traditional Sessions and a new Catalog structure. I prefer to work with Sessions because I can control everything from one pane. (Though if I were a stock or wedding photographer, the catalog feature would make a lot of sense, because I’d want to use tag and search, and it would save me time doing that.)

For this workflow, I am describing how I worked with my client Empire Beauty Schools and Nick Arrojo, who joined forces for a collaborative advertising project. I chose to use a Nikon D800E tethered to Capture One Pro 7 and strobes to accomplish it. The shoot took place in a room in the Hershey Convention Center that was made into an impromptu photo studio. I dropped canvas backdrops instead of using set paper. The shoot took place there, because it was the only time both creative teams could get together during a large hair show. 


Step One:
Create New Session

The first step on this or any other job is to create a new session. I clicked the plus button in the Library/File pane and named the session because I split the job into 4 sessions. There were a lot of planned looks, so I wanted to make sure it was easier to find them later. I also changed the capture name to a simpler one from the same windows. Finally, I selected where I wanted the images to go.

Where I store images depends on the client and how critical the save is. Right from the initial Session setup paneI I can choose to capture images on the laptop SSD or send them through to my RAID drive, bypassing the computer’s main SSD entirely.



Image 1_Session Dialog.jpeg

Click any image in this article for larger view.

Camera Set-up

I navigate to the camera pane, which I have customized with the tools that I use during capture.

Capture One Pro 7 allows me to set up and save multiple workspace configurations—my tabs and tools—the way I want them and then save the workspace. This is extremely useful because different shooting situations require different tools, some more and some less. I’m able to avoid having unnecessary distractions during capture, but can have all of the tools available during production.

I navigated to Window > Workspace and selected Beauty Tethered, which is my custom workspace for beauty shots. It moves the browser to the right, and then reconfigures the main categories, capture, color to include only the tools that I use for beauty shoots. My custom workspace includes the following tools under the Capture pane: exposure evaluation up top and capture naming underneath it, along with camera controls, information, and capture pilot. Under the Color pane I have base characteristics, white balance, color balance, and color editor. (I have the option to include or eliminate each tool from my workspace. If I find I need it for some reason, I can always add it again with a right-click.) 

I then look at my capture pilot and camera controls, and create a new server name. I use the basic capture version and create an ad hoc network—basically a private network originating from my MacBookPro—and I start the image server and log on my iPads.


Image 2_ColorCard and CapturePilot.jpeg

Next, I also check camera controls, ISO, and make sure the camera is tethered, etc.

Then I check to make sure the ICC profile is what I want it to be. I have created my own custom ICC tool that I’ve named d800e Generic. It has my basic, tweaked D800E color profile, which I created in Capture One Pro 7 using the Color Editor.

I shoot a color target, and once that’s in the camera I go to white balance gray, highlight the dropper, and pick middle gray. Then Capture One Pro 7 will set the balance and temperature of the shot.

For this job the creative director wanted me warm the images and push them a bit yellow. I simply pushed the color temp a few hundred degrees higher than the color picker gray balance detects.

Color Editor Tool


Image 3_ColorEditor during Capture.jpeg

This tool allows color editing independent of the simple gray balance; they are separate tools and do different things. The Color editing tool creates a custom profile or LUT for my cinema friends. Basically this process alters how Capture One Pro 7 interprets color information captured by the sensor. This tool lets me fine-tune that whole process and further refine the basic ICC profile correction I have custom made for my cameras.

Assuming you have a calibrated monitor, this is an essential step and probably my favorite tool in Capture One Pro 7. It provides color swatches that correspond to the color swatches on a GretagMacbeth color card. I take the basic color picker to select the color range that corresponds to the square on the color card and adjust the reds, blue, green, etc.

I do this for all of my cameras, but especially with 35mm DSLRs; these cameras just don’t have the same color accuracy as the 16-bit sensors in the medium-format cameras. With medium format, I can just go with the basic profile and the color is close to perfect. With 35mm DSLR sensors, I need to go farther than the profiles provided by the camera manufacturer to get the best result. Properly using the color tool will let you get as close as possible to accurate color and even closely match the color of different cameras used on the same set.

I then go and save it as a user preset, I could also send it out as an ICC profile if I wish.

If I change lighting or location, I can do it over again—it only takes about 5 minutes.

This whole process can also be done later as long as you capture a raw file. In fact, I always repeat it and do a final color pass before final file processing in controlled light on a calibrated monitor.

Set up shooting parameters 


As you can see, I use a simplified workspace for capture without a lot of junk on screen. Tools can always be added separately (and saved later as another capture workspace). It saves me a lot of time to be able to save a customized capture space to the needs of each job. My workflow changes as the situation changes, and different tools are relevant for different jobs, but here are some of the key tools that I use:

I select my base style from the adjustments pull-down, which places all of my pre-settings on the following tools. I then just tweak the settings for the job; the whole process takes a few minutes. Capture One Pro 7 allows me to save and name multiple styles so that I save time when working with files, and I can preview and switch on the fly. I can show two options to a creative director with one click instead of having to change multiple setting while they wait.

A) EXPOSURE, CONTRAST, SATURATION I like to add a bit of contrast depending on the camera and how my S-Curve has affected the capture. For this shoot I felt it needed a bit more contrast. I then desaturated the captures a few points. I almost always push the exposure 3/10 or a bit more. I prefer to shoot dark and underexpose, then bring it up in Capture One Pro 7.

It’s a leftover habit form shooting Velvia film 1/3-stop dark and pushing it in the darkroom. With the Nikon D800 and Canon EOS 5D Mark III, the HDR slider comes in very handy; you can cheat and get back some dynamic range that would normally be lost when adding the contrast of a curve. This ability to unlock more of the dynamic range of the high-end DSLRs brings them a step closer to medium-format backs and allows me to use them on a broader range of jobs.

B) CLARITY TOOL I selected Punch mode as opposed to Neutral or Classic. I set Punch to Clarity-18 and Structure-8, which added some artificial contrast to the edges of the images for more of a medium-format look. If used properly it can do a nice job of drawing out eyes in beauty shots. 

C) CURVE I made a basic S-Curve to add some more contrast to the images. I have a base setting that I always use that I didn’t change.

The Shoot

After I shot a few test shots for lighting and composition I pulled the best test shot up on the iPad with Capture Pilot and spoke about it with the creative director to make sure it works for both clients and the rest of the creative team. Once we were sure we were all on the same page, I called for final hair, make-up, and styling touches, and I began to shoot. I shot until I felt I had a few strong final options and then gave the creative director, her team, and clients the time to make sure they have the options they need for final selection.

The first round of selections were made with Capture Pilot using the rating system to get the top choices, and they ended up with quite a few selects. Once everyone was satisfied that we had a lot of potential winners to choose from we moved on to the next look.

I use Capture Pilot, because it seems like everyone has an iPad and iPhone. I just have the clients download the Capture Pilot app from the App Store. They start the app and select the Job Name. Then the creative director and everyone else can follow the shoot in real time without crowding around the capture computer. It’s great because I don’t have to worry about a client accidently touching a setting or asking the digital tech or me to navigate and star files for them. It frees us up to do more worthwhile things. The client and creatives can select right from their device independent of what we are doing in Capture One Pro 7.

Finally, I backed up everything to a second SSD after each look is selected. I captured the D800E fils as raw NEF and then converted them all to Phase One EIPs once the day wrapped. I convert all of my captures to EIP whether shooting a Phase back or DSLR because it ensures that when the files are opened or moved to another computer, Capture One shows the images as I intended. My settings and copyright information ae saved as part of the file and it retains all of the raw file information and quality. I also know that my raw (EIP) files are not accessible to anyone with Photoshop. This helps limit the people with access to my raw files.

Web Gallery Export


Image 7_Production Web Contact Tool.jpeg

After we wrapped for the day I made a web contact sheet of the first round of selects and uploaded them to my server with a blind link from Capture One Pro 7. The client reviewed and narrowed down from the first round of selects made on set that evening. I then remade the contact sheets with their top 10 selects from each look and allowed them a few days to make final selects for processing and retouching. Using the web contact sheet has become my method for allowing clients to select images. It makes my life easy and clients love that they can see the results in the gallery as soon as it's uploaded. It takes less than 15 minutes to build a gallery and does not cost extra because it’s part of Capture One Pro 7. The web contact sheet tool automates the process, making a preview from the selects for web and letting me choose how big (and therefore how much quality is shown).

Production and Processing


Image 5_ProductionCorrections.jpeg

After final selections are made I begin final production and processing. I work on a 10-bit 30-inch color-calibrated monitor. I go through the same steps as earlier and make sure I’m still happy with all of my color and exposure settings. I then go on to correct

A) NOISE REDUCTION I turned this off. I always turn this off when shooting at the native ISO and proper exposure and light with the Nikon D800E, Phase One IQ160, or Mamiya Aptus II.

B) LOCAL ADJUSTMENTS This is a key thing, especially for hair assignments. I can draw my mask over the hair and from there add contrast and exposure. Then, if I get moiré in the clothing, I can correct only the garment. I had seven different zones in one image.  By doing this I’m able to use raw sensor data to add or subtract light and contrast from isolated areas and control light in small areas. No other editing program allows me to edit raw data from the sensor, and it allows so much more latitude than working with a processed file.

C) LENS PROFILES I used the correction filter to add a bit of distortion to narrow the center of the faces. I know it’s the opposite of what the tool is supposed to be used for, but breaking the rules can sometimes bring excellent results.

D) COLOR EDITOR ROUND 2 I fine-tune all of my on-set adjustments in a controlled environment.


Image 4 _ColorScreen Production.jpeg

07_Image-8_Production-Final-Proscessing.jpgImage 8_Production Final Proscessing.jpeg

E) PROCESSING I processed the final images as .psd files (from the process pane). I used the Adobe 1998 color profile, which is more suitable for Nikon which uses it as its native color space. I processed the finals as a 16-bit file at 100% size for skin correction in Photoshop. I then embedded my copyright info; a nice feature of the processing in Capture One Pro 7 is that files can be output with copyright and camera information embedded. I then renamed the files EmpireArrojoHershey2013_ with a 2-digit counter to the location that I specified (in this case it goes to the default output for my session).

That completes my workflow with Capture One Pro 7 for this job, and I’m ready to send the files to post for skin, liquify, and fly-away hair. My process keeps color and exposure in my control and not in the hands of a retoucher. That’s something I prefer as someone who loved the darkroom.

For me, Capture One Pro 7 is invaluable; I actually could give up Photoshop at this point for all levels and color correction. I rely on the fact that Capture One Pro 7 accepts so many different cameras—I can plug and unplug them and keep shooting tethered (true plug-and-play).

# # #

An editorial note from Jaime DeMarco:

I’m a Creative Cloud member and have downloaded Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and it’s a decent program, but not for a professional studio. I could not set up an agency shoot with Lightroom and be taken seriously, at least with my group of clients.

I don’t like Adobe’s new strategy. I don’t like that now I’m renting the software and am forced to keep paying for the ability to use it. That’s what I like about Capture One Pro 7—it’s mine for life, it’s my choice to upgrade. I don’t lose my right to use the program I’ve paid for.

I’ve experienced a few Creative Cloud issues during its monthly check to make sure I’m paying my fees. I’ve had Creative Cloud tell me that I’m not registered to use my products at log-in and had to fiddle with it to make it realize that I’m a licensed user. I don’t need another thing to fix; time is money for most of us using stuff at this level. My purchased version of CS6 opened every time once it was registered. 

October 10, 2013

Excerpt: Color, Dodging, and Burning Tips from "Digital Image Editing and Special Effects"

The following is an excerpt from Michael Freeman's "Digital Image Editing and Special Effects" (Focal Press, $24.95). 

Color adjustments

There could be any number of reasons why you may feel it necessary to adjust the colors in an image. It might be that you simply want to boost the overall color of an image for a more saturated look; alternatively you may want to single out one particular color to increase or decrease saturation without affecting the rest of the colors in the image. Whatever color adjustment you want to make, you’ll get the best results using the Hue/Saturation command. This is a powerful tool that lets you make color changes quickly and easily.

When you choose your camera's user settings, it's advisable to set the color saturation control to a minimum, unless you're intending to print directly from the camera. Although this will usually result in images that lack color right out of the camera, it does mean that you can color correct the image in a much more controlled manner using image-editing software, rather than relying on your camera's processor to get it right for you.

Once the camera has embedded the color settings, it’s often difficult to change them should you want to—especially if you’re shooting JPEGs—without degrading the image. Here a Hue/Saturation command was used and the Saturation slider moved to the right to boost the overall color. A fairly strong setting was used to make the most of the warm reds of the sunset.

1: This photograph of fishing boats has attractive, nicely saturated colors, but the yellow nets in the foreground are not as vivid as they seemed at the time of shooting.


2: If we increase the overall saturation of the image so that the nets are brighter, the result is distinctly oversaturated colors across the board. Not the result we want.



3: One of the benefits of the Hue/Saturation command is that you can select specific colors to enhance using the pull-down menu. By selecting “Yellows” we can increase the saturation of the yellow hues in the image without oversaturating the rest of the image.



4: If you’re working with raw files, Lightroom offers a powerful color control panel that features three sliders—Hue, Saturation, and Luminence—for each of the key eight colors—Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Aqua, Blue, Purple, and Magenta. The sliders let you target specific color adjustments with accuracy.



Fine-tuning color

Although the Hue/Saturation dialog is a powerful and relatively versatile tool, when it comes to making really specific color corrections it’s necessary to use the command in combination with other tools. In this example, we need to select and correct a very specific color without affecting any of the other colors in the photograph. This is a good example of a very localized correction that simply would not be possible to accomplish using a raw conversion program.

This striking image of a humming-bird hawkmoth in flight has captured the insect well. However, the Valerian on which it is feeding appears too red (perhaps reflected light from a red colored wall). The Hue/Saturation command on its own will not be able to isolate the color of the plant as it is a mixture of a number of subtle hues.


Instead, we select the Eyedropper tool from the Toolbox and click on a particularly red part of the plant. Having sampled the color, we’ll next go to Select > Color Range. This brings up the Color Range dialog box. This shows all the elements of the picture that share the sampled color in white. Moving the Fuzziness slider to the right will widen the selection. Here we’ve set the slider so that most of the plant has been selected.



Having set the Fuzziness slider, clicking OK will make the selection, outlined by the familiar marching ants.


Now that we’ve isolated the offending color, we can use the Hue/Saturation command to change the color of the selected area. Hiding the marching ants selection by pressing Ctrl/_ + H provides us with a clear view of the plant as we’re making the adjustment.

Experimenting with various Hue settings, and reducing the saturation a little, provides us with a much more accurate color— important to keep the botanists happy! Using the Color Range command is an excellent way of selecting an area of an image for corrections other than just color.



Dodging & burning

Dodging and burning are old darkroom terms and involve making specific areas of an image either lighter (dodging) or darker (burning). In the days of black-and-white printing, the dodging and burning process was considered a fundamental creative process in order to arrive at the final printed result. Conventionally, dodging was carried out by masking certain areas of the print so they would receive less light as the photo was being exposed, thereby making them lighter.

Other areas that received additional light during exposure became darker when the print was developed—and these areas were said to be “burned” or “burned in.” Using the digital Dodge and Burn tools has the same effect, but they are much easier to control, and you can always go back a step if you don’t like the result.

This photograph of ferns was shot in dappled sunlight, with light scattered by the canopy of the tree’s leaves. The fern shows up quite brightly against the relatively dark bark of the tree behind, but we can use the Dodge and Burn tools to emphasize the effect.


With the Burn tool selected, a fairly strong exposure was set in the Tool Options bar, and the Range kept to the default Midtones. Next, with an appropriately sized brush, the Burn tool was painted over the trunk of the tree to darken it.



Once all the areas that needed darkening were burned in, the Burn tool was replaced by the Dodge tool. Similar values were set in the Tool Options bar, and another brush size selected, which covered just the ferns.


It’s better to Dodge and Burn gradually, making several passes over the relevant areas. That way you remain in control of the adjustment. The finished result picks out the fern, making it stand out against the backdrop.


TIP You’ll find you’ll get much better results using the Dodge and Burn tools with images in 16-bit mode. So don’t convert any images you’ve opened as raw files into JPEGs (or reduce them to 8-bit) if you’re intending to use these tools. Alternatively use the Adjustment brush in Lightroom or Aperture and adjust the exposure to lighten or darken selected parts of the image.


Michael Freeman is a veteran professional editorial photographer. While he has written 66 books on the craft of photography, Freeman has also released a total of 135 books selling more than 4 million copies. Freeman is also the author of "The Black & White Photography Field Guide" and newly released "The Photographer's Eye: A Graphic Guide" and "The Photographer's Eye Course," a book and DVD package, all published by Focal Press.

July 10, 2013

Tutorial: Nikon R1C1 Close-up Speedlight System

By Stan Sholik

The field of photography encompasses many disciplines, and each has its niche. Manufacturers support those niches with products to simplify the technical side of photography and allow the photographer to concentrate on the creative side. For close-up and macro photographers with Nikons, Nikon created the R1C1 Close-up Speedlight System.


The R1C1 with two SB-R200 Speedlights with ultra close-up diffusers and the SU-800 Commander attached. Product photo courtesy of Nikon


I captured this female Monarch butterfly with a 3:1 ratio and the camera hand held. I pointed the flash unit on camera right as far as I could to the left to feather it off the wing, and set its power the lowest. ©Stan Sholik

At first glance, the 30-plus pieces in the kit seem impossible to sort out, even when placed in the case supplied with the kit. But all you need to do in order to start taking beautifully lit close-up and macro photos is screw the adapter ring onto your lens, screw the attachment ring to the adapter, attach the two SB-R200 Remote Speedlights, slide the SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander into your hot shoe, make a few simple settings, and shoot.


For most of the photos I took this day I used a 3:1
lighting ratio. But for this photo of an adult and
juvenile milkweed beetle on an open milkweed pod,
I dropped the ratio to 2:1 to better see the juvenile.
©Stan Sholik

You can use the R1C1 with any Nikon that triggers through its hot shoe, but camera models that do not support the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS), my N100 film camera for example, require additional connection cords and manual operation. The system takes advantage of Nikon’s i-TTL through the lens metering system in CLS-compatible cameras and requires no connection cables. The SU-800 is not needed for cameras with a Wireless Commander built into the camera’s onboard Speedlight system, and Nikon offers the R1 system for those cameras.


With a ringlight, this monarch butterfly pupa would
be flat and dimensionless. With a 3:1 lighting ratio,
the shape is defined and the texture of the pupa is
 ©Stan Sholik

The R1C1 adapter, attachment ring and two flash units add surprisingly little weight to the lens, about 6 ounces. With these attached to the lens and the subject framed, you position the flash heads where needed on the attachment ring. They securely lock into place, and tilt forward through 60 degrees with click stops every 15 degrees.

Now you power on the flash units, your camera, and the SU-800 in your hot shoe. The SU-800 display shows you are in wireless close-up mode with a CLS compatible camera. The Select (SEL) button on the SU-800 is the main control button. You press this until the channel number flashes if you want to set the wireless channel to a channel other than channel 1, the default. Set the channel on each flash unit to the same channel you set on the SU-800.

The SU-800 can control multiple flash units in three groups. With just two flash heads, set the rotary switch on one head to A and on the other head to B. Press the SEL button on the SU-800 and the display of the output ratio of group A and group B flashes. Pressing the left-facing arrow to the left of the SEL button changes the lighting ratio from the 1:1 default. The options are 1.5:1, 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, 6:1, and 8:1 ratios, with the A flash unit increasingly more powerful than the B. Pressing the right-facing arrow to the right of the SEL button, changes the lighting ratio in the same way, with the B flash gaining the power. Optionally, by pressing the A – B button above the SEL button, you can set the lighting ratio using exposure values (EV), from -3.0 EV to +3.0 EV in 1/3 EV steps.


(1.) With the camera, Speedlights, and Commander powered on, the Commander LCD screen confirms wireless close-up i-TTL operation on channel 1 with the speedlights set to a 1:1 ratio. (2.) Pressing the Mode button switches the Commander from i-TTL mode to Manual mode. In Manual, you can adjust the power of each group from full power to 1/64 power. (3.) With a third group, you can adjust the power of speedlights in that group from full to 1/64 also. (4.) By pressing the left arrow button, you adjust the lighting ratio. Here the speedlights are set to a 3:1 ratio. The bars show which group has the higher power. (5.) The lighting ratio are adjustable from 1:1 to 8:1, with either flash unit having the greater power. (6.) Each SB-R200s must be set to a group, and all of them must be set to the same channel number.  ©Stan Sholik

And that’s all there is to it. Take pictures. Adjust the lighting ratio at will for different looks. It’s that simple.

But the creative capabilities of the R1C1 system only begin here. There are diffusers in the kit, filters the for the SB-R200 flash units, and stand mounts for using the flash units off the attachment ring. And by pressing the Mode button of the SU-800, you can control the power level of each flash unit from full power to 1/64 power. Since the SU-800 controls other Nikon Speedlights such as the SB-910, these can be added into the lighting for additional effects. The creative possibilities are endless, but the simplicity of its basic use, two light sources with easy ratio control, makes it the ideal tool for close-up and macro photography.


 ©Stan Sholik

Street price of the Nikon R1C1 Close-up Speedlight System is about $720. 

Stan Sholik is a commercial/advertising photographer in Santa Ana, Calif., specializing in still life and macro photography. He is currently working on his second book about close-up and macro photography for Amherst Media.

June 7, 2013

How To: Prepare Photos for Video

By Ron Dawson

Photographers often ask me what resolution setting to use when they prepare photos to be displayed along with video in a fusion presentation. 


The simplest way to think about this is to understand the pixel ratio of video relative to a photo.

Canon’s 5D Mark III is a 22.3-megapixel camera. A full-sized image from this camera is 5,784 pixels wide and 3,861 pixels tall. Now compare that to a full-sized 1080p high definition frame: 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. The photo is just over 3 times the width and height of an HD video image. If you’re shooting at 60 frames per second on this camera (in order to achieve “pure” slow motion), then the video resolution drops down to 1,280 x 720 pixels. Now that same photo is just over 4.5 times the size of the image.

Why is all of this important? Because knowing this information will help you determine the pixel size and dimension of images you plan to use in a video. I’ll get to that answer in shortly. First, we need to consider aspect ratio.


Aspect ratio is simply the ratio of your horizontal length to the vertical. HD video has a 16:9 aspect ratio (also written 16x9 and verbally expressed as “16 by 9”).

1,920 / 1,080 = 16 / 9 =  1.7778

Most photos have completely differentaspect ratios. For example, 4x5 and 8x10 images come out to a 0.8 ratio. The aforementioned 22.3-megapixel image has a 1.49 ratio. So, when you export an image and maintain its aspect ratio, you know from the start that when you drop it into a video, it will not fit nice and neat.

But, depending on the project, fitting nice and neat is often not necessary. So this is where we get to the nitty-gritty.


When exporting photos for video from Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, you should determine ahead of time how you plan to incorporate the photo. If it will be a static image (no movement or growth), just export it constraining the ratio to 16x9 and selecting the width to match pixel width of the video, either 1,920 or 1,280 pixels wide. This will result in the image being cropped. If you don’t want that to happen, then you must settle on having black space on either side of you image in the video.

In a Photoshop workflow, use the Crop tool's aspect ratio drop down menu to select your ratio (or create a custom one). In the fields next to it you can set a specific pixel size by entering the number followed by px. Use File > Save for Web to minimize the file size while keeping the onscreen quality high. Assign a new file name to avoid overwriting your original.  

Here’s a video I produced for Canadian wedding photographer Gabe McClintock. Gabe specifically asked that I not put any movement on his photos. As much as possible he wanted to preserve their original look, minimizing any cropping. So where the aspect ratio didn’t allow for insignificant cropping, I added a white background to match his website so that the image presentation would appear seamless with no borders. 

Making the Connection - PerspectivEye Promo Film from Ron Dawson | Dare Dreamer Media on Vimeo.

If you plan to do any movement of the photo, Ken Burns-style, then you will want a photo that is larger than your HD video so that you zoom in on it without losing quality. The question is, how much bigger. There is no single answer to this. It all depends on how much you want to “zoom” into the photo. But keep this in mind: the bigger the photo, the more taxing on your computer it will be. Try importing twenty photos 4,000 pixels or wider into a video project and start adjusting the size. Unless you have a super-fast, ultra-powerful computer, it will be sluggish.

This video I did for Yosemite photographer Shawn Reeder did include the zooming in and zooming out I traditionally do with photos. In these cases, I used photos significantly large enough to zoom in and out without losing quality.

Shawn Reeder Photography Promo from Ron Dawson | Dare Dreamer Media on Vimeo.

I will typically export JPEG images and aim for a photo size that is in the neighborhood of 2,500 pixels on the wide side. These photos come in around 880k to just under 2MB in file size. Whenever a client gives me photos for a video and I see they are all 5MB are larger, I know right away they’re going to be way too big and I’ll need to shrink them all down to a more manageable size.

I should note at this point that dots per inch (dpi) does not matter when exporting. Meaning: you don’t need to worry if your photo is 300 dpi or 72 dpi. It's a setting that's only relevant to printing. All you need to know is the horizontal and vertical width in pixels. An 8x10 image at 72 dpi is only 576 x 720 pixels. Too small for HD video. However, a 4x5 photo at 600 dpi is 2,400 x 3,000 pixels. That’s larger than HD.

That’s basically it. Know your pixel dimensions and intended use, and aim for a size that won’t be too taxing on your system.

May 16, 2013

Lensbaby + Video = Dreamy

By Ron Dawson

Every now and then you see one of those films that is a total gem. A film that makes your jaw drop in awe and your heart pound in anticipation of watching it again. “Last Day Dream” [below; brief explicit language] by commercial director and photographer Chris Milk is one of those films for me. It was made four years ago for the 42 Second Dream Film Festival and shot on a Canon 5D Mark II with Lensbaby lenses.

Last Day Dream from Chris Milk on Vimeo.

Lens-what? That’s what I thought when I first heard the word Lensbaby. Was it a lens for tiny cameras? Was it a sort of training-wheels lens for kids? Most of you reading this probably have at least heard of Lensbaby. The best way I can describe them is as a kind of funky-looking, tilt-shift lens.


Like a tilt-shift, the Lensbaby has a selective focus, creating a dreamlike blur around the perimeter of the focus spot (or sweet spot). It’s a great lens to use if you want to add a dream-like aesthetic to your photography, or if you want to draw attention to a particular part of your image.

Shooting with Video

As you can see from the Chris Milk film, the Lensbaby can achieve an ethereal effect that takes the look of your video to a different level. In using it for video though, keep a couple of things in mind.

First, how does the use of the lens contribute to the story? The selective-focus, dreamy look can easily be over-used and veer into cliché. But as long as you’ve given thought to your story, the Lensbaby can truly enhance it.

Filmmaking story scenarios where you might use the Lensbaby:
Dream sequence
Flashback or flash-forward
Showing a character’s imagination or what they’re thinking
An exaggerated shot of character's visual point of view (e.g. a guy in a club zeroes in on a woman he wants to pick up; a sniper on a building top zeroes in on her target)
Music video
Illustrate a character’s disorientation
Creating an “otherworldly” experience

The second thing to keep in mind is controlling where the sweet spot is when shooting a moving or tracking shot, or shooting a moving subject. If you’re shooting a still image this isn’t an issue. You adjust your camera settings, find your sweet spot, then shoot. But once you introduce motion into the picture, you as the director need to be mindful of how that motion affects your sweet spot. If at all possible, use an external monitor to facilitate monitoring your image and the sweet spot location.

In-camera vs. In-computer

Some of the effects created with Lensbaby can actually be created in post production—Photoshop for stills or a non-linear editing system like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere for video. So you may ask, “Why do this in-camera if you can just add it in post?” That’s a fair question. There are three reasons why I think it’s better to create these effects in-camera.

Focus on Story. As I mentioned before, this (or any) effect in a film or video should be done with a purpose in mind. Creating the effect in-camera forces you as the director to be mindful of that purpose and to compose your shots and direction accordingly. If you wait to do it in post, you’re apt to get lazy, or you may discover that you’ve shot it in a way that makes adding the effect in post less effective due to distractions in the shot that take away from the effect.

Realism. I think shots composed in-camera look more realistic than when something is added in post. They have a more organic feel that subconsciously translates to authenticity. I liken it to shooting slow motion. If you shoot at a higher frame rate (60 frames per second) then convert to a slower frame rate in post, your slow motion looks more smooth and realistic than having the computer create “fake” slow motion.

Render time and quality. Last is the practical consideration of render time and quality. If you achieve your effect in-camera, the computer doesn’t have to render it. Also, depending on the computing power and graphics card you’re using, a lot of heavy effects rendering can result in muddy looking video.

Rookie Moves

It is very important to learn how to use a Lensbaby correctly. The first project I ever used it on was a short, edgy documentary film about celebrity wedding photographer Joe Buissink back in 2010. I was using the Composer and noticed that it came with this little magnetic thingamajiggy connected to a round doohickey. I had no idea what they were for and didn’t bother to find out. So on the day of the shoot, which was a very hot and bright day in Beverly Hills, CA, I started shooting with it and noticed that there was no aperture adjustment on the lens (and naturally you can’t adjust aperture via the camera, which at the time I was used to). So I ended up shooting the Composer scenes wide open and I just increased my shutter speed to compensate. Lucky for me, the high shutter speed combined with the dreamy look actually worked out quite nicely. (It was a perfect example of a happy accident).

Mirrors & Shoes: Celebrity Photographer Joe Buissink Uncensored from Ron Dawson | Dare Dreamer Media on Vimeo.

Later I opened the round doo-hickey and found a stack of metallic rings with holes in them. The rings were numbered: 2.8, 4.0, 5.6, etc. This is where I slapped my forehead and exclaimed a loud, Homer Simpson-esque “Doh!” The aperture was controlled by dropping the metallic rings into the front of the lens using that metallic thingamabob. Lesson learned.


Nowadays, there is no excuse not to learn all you can about using a Lensbaby. They have a full set of instructional and inspirational videos on their site. After you’ve watched the videos, you should practice. The more the better. It really takes getting used to hitting that sweet spot correctly, especially if you’re going to tilt the lens. With your early tries you may want to avoid the wider aperture settings to keep a deeper depth of field. The wider the aperture, the smaller the sweet spot and the harder it is to find.

The Swivel vs. the Squeeze

There are two primary types of Lensbaby lenses: one where you focus with a traditional focus ring and one where you squeeze the lens. The Composer and Composer Pro (below, with Sweet 35 optic) have the focus ring and are perhaps the most popular. Once you focus, you can move the sweet spot by tilting the lens up, down, or side to side. Once you have your sweet spot, you can lock it in then let go of the lens. So the Composer lenses are great for shooting videos.


The Spark and the Muse (below) are squeeze lenses. You focus by squeezing the lens toward or away from the camera body. Once you get the focus you want, you can adjust the sweet spot by tilting accordingly, but you cannot lock in that sweet spot. You have to manually keep it in place. This may be a good way to grab some quick and experimental still photographs, but it’s a terrible combination for shooting video (unless your story calls for the focus spot to move around sporadically). For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend either of these for video work.


Optic Systems

Lensbaby has a whole line of optics to enhance your user experience. While shooting a short film about Jerry Ghionis this past March, I had an opportunity to try the latest Composer Pro using the Sweet 35 optic. Without this optic, the Composer and Composer Pro have a 50mm focal length and you adjust the aperture by inserting the appropriate metallic ring (the optic used in place of the 35 is the Double Glass optic). With the Sweet 35 optic, the focal length drops to 35mm and aperture is adjusted with a 12-blade aperture ring that ranges from f/2.8 to f/22 (in full-stop increments). Remember to keep crop factor in mind if you're shooting a camera with an APS-C size sensor instead of a full-frame sensor. So a Composer with a Double-Glass optic on a 60D, for instance, would have the angle of view of an 80mm lens when factoring in the 1.6X crop.

Depending on the optics you use, with full-frame cameras like Canon’s 5D Mark III or Nikon’s D800, you may get varying results. For instance, with the 12mm fisheye optic, you’ll get a nearly full circular image on a full-frame camera, while on a smaller-sensor camera you’ll get some vignetting around the edges. These two looks would render a very different feel when used in a video. Again, it's about the story you want to tell. I could see using the fisheye lens on a full-frame if you want to emulate someone looking through the peephole in a door. The same lens on an APS-C sensor might create a more dreamlike look and feel.

Motion Picture Mounts

Most Lensbaby lenses come with EF-compatible mounts for Canon cameras and F-compatible mounts for Nikon cameras. Now that more filmmakers are using these lenses, they’ve created PL-mount versions that you can use on digital cinema cameras like the RED, Arri Alexa or a PL-mount version of Canon’s C300.

The Price is Right

Lensbaby lenses are relatively inexpensive, ranging from $80 for the Spark to $380 for the Composer Pro with the Sweet 35 Optic. The PL-mount versions are considerably more expensive though: $1,200 for the Composer Pro PL and $400 for the Muse PL. If you’re only going to selectively use the lenses for various projects, consider renting.

Last Word

Lensbaby lenses can be a lot of fun to use and—in the hands of a competent director who knows her story, has taken the time to practice, and has a creative imagination—the results can be magical.

April 15, 2013

Tutorial: Simple Portrait Retouching, Staying in the Realm of Reality

Mark Levesque, CPP, M. Photog, Cr.

If the goal of a professional portrait is to portray the subject in a realistic yet somewhat idealized manner, post-production provides the finishing touch to a properly lit portrait. This tutorial shows you just a few simple Photoshop steps that take a solid photograph and elevate it to a pleasing portrait. While I use particular plug-ins in my workflow, the general treatment can be accomplished in Photoshop itself.


Subtle retouching enhances your client’s portrait without taking away character or completely shattering a semblance of reality. [Click for larger view.] ©Mark Levesque

My goal is always to accomplish as much as possible in camera, providing the best possible image to begin with. In this portrait I started processing with just a few minor adjustments to the white balance, vibrance, and saturation in Lightroom.

Next, open the portrait in Photoshop. In general, I try to work as non-destructively as possible. I've done this enough times that I'm comfortable working on the background layer with a copy of the original file safely stored away. Alternately, you can make a copy of your background layer (cmd/ctrl + J), turn off the background layer and begin your work on the copied layer. 

First I eliminate distractions such as stray hairs, dust specks, and blemishes. Set the spot removal brush to a size slightly larger than the spot you're modifying and apply. Try Content-Aware mode first, and if that introduces artifacts, try Proximity Match.  

Once the obvious distractions have been eliminated, I work around the eyes. Whether we are concerned with indications of aging or simply minimizing natural darkness under the eyes, the remedy is the same: Replace the affected areas with pixels from elsewhere on the face that do not have the issues. Depending on the image and what areas are available, I use either the Healing Brush or the Patch Tool. In either case, you'll want to reduce the effect by fading the result. Immediately after painting a stroke with the healing brush, press shift + cmd/ctrl + F to bring up the fade dialogue. Here I fade the result to 55%. This reduces creases in the skin without obliterating them completely, for a more natural look.



Once the wrinkles have been reduced sufficiently we will examine the teeth. Many photographers like a slightly warm white balance to give a healthy color to the skin tones. Warming the skin tones may exacerbate the yellowing of teeth. To address this issue, use the lasso tool to make a selection around the teeth. It’s OK to go a little bit into the lips as they are rarely affected by the adjustment we are about to make. Create a new hue/saturation adjustment layer. Select yellows as the targeted color range and reduce the saturation. This will remove the yellow from the teeth, but they may simply look gray. To reduce the gray, increase the brightness of the yellows by moving the slider to the right.


If the teeth were really yellow, you can simply stack on another adjustment layer by dragging the hue/saturation adjustment layer to the new layer icon. This doubles the strength of the adjustment. If this turns out to be too much, dial it back by reducing the opacity of the layer. When you are satisfied with the result, flatten the image. You now have your base layer.

The next step is to duplicate the background layer twice (cmd/ctrl + J). Double-click on the top layer and change the name to portraiture. Double click on the middle layer, and change it to sharpening. Turn off the visibility of the top layer, select the middle layer, and change the blending mode to luminosity. We will be sharpening this layer, and putting it in luminosity mode will prevent the sharpening process from introducing any color shifts. I use the Nik Sharpener Pro plug-in for this, but Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen in Photoshop will provide a similar effect. The idea here is to sharpen the image to counteract the softening created when the light passed through the low-pass filter in the camera. Don’t overdo it.


Now we will soften the skin. Turn the visibility of the top layer back on, and select it in the layers palette. I use the Imagenomic Portraiture 2 plug-in. It does a nice job of softening the skin while maintaining some of the skin’s texture. Portraiture allows you to indicate what the flesh tones are by sampling within the image, and will show you what tones will be targeted by the filter. The settings shown here will usually produce a little more softening than needed, but we’ll take care of that.


Once the filter has run, I mask off the result by adding a layer mask and painting in with a soft edged black brush. Set the brush to 45 to 50% opacity so the masking effect is not overly harsh, and so that you can make subtle increases in the masking with multiple strokes. Mask off the portraiture layer over the eyes, brows, lips, hair, and anything else that you want to stay sharp. To complete the effect, dial down the opacity of the portraiture layer until the skin looks great, but real. You can expect to find the right balance in the 60 to 80% opacity range depending on the strength of the filter’s effects in any particular image and on your taste.

For the final touches I create two curves adjustment layers for non-destructive dodging and burning. First, create a new curves adjustment layer, and pull the curve down about 30 points. Label this layer Darken, and type cmd/ctrl + I to fill the layer mask with black, effectively hiding the effect of the adjustment. Now create another curves adjustment layer and pull the curve up about 30 points or so. Label this one Lighten, and fill its mask with black as well.

Now we can use a soft-edged brush to selectively lighten and darken specific areas of the portrait to subtly complete the enhancement. Set the brush opacity to 40 to 50%, and select white as the color to paint, then carefully paint a half moon shape in the irises of the eyes opposite from the catchlights. Your brush size should be smaller than the width of the iris. If there are any additional areas where you would like to lighten the image, paint with an appropriately sized brush. This is a pretty subtle change, and you may need to toggle the visibility of the adjustment layer to see if you are really doing anything. Once you've finished lightening, select the Darken layer and paint anywhere you would like to darken the image. For example, you might want to use a large brush and add a bit of vignette. Finally, save your master file.

With these techniques you should be able to provide your clients with the portraits that exceed their expectations.

April 12, 2013

Lighting Shop Talk; More Garage Sets and Setups

By Fuzzy Duenkel

In a previous article—“Park it right here,” Professional PhotographerFebruary 2013—I discussed how to set up a portable background in a typical residential garage and rotate it for various lighting effects using the open garage door as your main. But garages offer more than a large light source and a place to put a background. They offer a wealth of fun stuff to use for themes and backgrounds, such as tires, tools, sports equipment, vehicles, walls, windows, and random things that can inspire you in ways you’d never expect.

You’re already familiar with the lighting techniques I use in garages, so let’s apply that skill with some real backgrounds.

In the first image, I used an open door as the sole source of main light. No other light control devices were needed. My back was to the open garage door. This light can be a bit flat, but sometimes low-contrast light is perfect for the result I want. I added a slight texture to the image to enhance the “oldness” feeling. This image was done in 2006, and textures were more in vogue at that time. But as long as the technique is done appropriately, without drawing attention to itself, enhancements should be able to stand the test of time.


The next image was lit from the open garage door, but with the door at a 90-degree angle to my camera. This causes more contrast and “modeling.” I had the subject turn his head toward the light to avoid a shadow problem on his face. The refrigerator suggested a nostalgic theme, and I noticed in their house that they had an old Coke bottle to use as another prop.


The next photo was set deeper in the garage, which produces a bit more specularity in reflections, but it's still flat, which can be an interesting combination. Because of the theme, I gave it some edginess with Nik’s Tonal contrast and reduced the saturation to complete the old, gritty feel. But with the addition of an accent or separation light that was caused by a window. It’s important to recognize and properly utilize existing light sources.


I love walking into a situation not having a clue what to do, and discovering buried treasure. At one location there was some construction materials were leaning against the wall, but I spotted some peeling drywall behind it and thought it might offer an interesting background. I moved it, and liked it, so I asked the senior to wear something white. All she had that was white was a robe, but it was perfect. Seniors have lots of great clothing … just not always what you might have had in mind. Those surprises and tangents are what makes working at their homes a treat. I wanted to accentuate the details, so I chose LucisArt Sculpture, but still wanted softness on her skin and used Imagenomic Portraiture.



Let’s turn our attention to secondary lighting. I created the next image on film in 1998. I want to point that out because good lighting, composition, and quality don’t change. Clothing or hair styles may, but an image should not be dated by a photography fad. There were two open doors contributing light for this image … the main to my left and the accent to my right. I placed her in between them, allowing the right garage door’s light to accent her figure.


Let’s shift our attention and point of view to using an open door or window from the side. There was skylight and sunlight coming through a window to our left in photo below. Sunlight striking the wood floor reflected back up to the shadow side of the young man’s face, giving me a more unconventional result.

It's a good idea to walk around our original setup to look for other viewpoints and options. Other vantage points can give us a different style to the lighting, pose, and composition.


Part of the process of working on location is to not only create images in a proactive way, but also to be open to inspiration that will let you see possibilities in a reactive way. If all we do is go in with preconceived ideas, we’ll produce images that are simply repeats of what we’ve done before. The beauty of working in new places with every session is the endless stream of discovery.

The capture below happened because I saw the shadows on the wall from the stairway. I asked the senior to find a simple shirt that he’d use to work on a car. The open garage door from the right provided the main light, and the accent light was from a window on our left.


Garages offer a wealth of “stuff” to use, but the lighting where that stuff is isn’t always ideal. I use many different kinds of lighting for my senior portraits because throughout a session, there are many different challenges to overcome. For Image 9, it was easy enough to reflect the light coming through a window behind him onto his face using the mirror side of my Fuzzyflector. Converting the image to brown tone and adding a bit of Nik Tonal Contrast, combined with the low light direction, gave me the tough look the image suggested.


I don’t always use a low reflector as a main light, as in the previous two examples. Here I used it for fill light (below). A window to my right already provided a good main light, in a split light pattern. Since that leaves the other side of the face in shadow, we can fill it with any kind of light we like. I happen to like a low reflector for that touch of drama. I loved the old tools in that workshop/garage.


Garages are usually filled with not only tools and clutter, but also vehicles. When it’s something a bit more interesting than a minivan (sorry, minivan owners), I like to incorporate it if possible. This subject's dad’s Harley definitely qualified. I reflected the open garage door light with my Fuzzyflector for the two images images below. I thought some smoke below the Harley might be fun, so I used a bug sprayer with fog fluid in it for the second image. Even though there’s a trigger to send fog, this kind of fog machine sprays pretty much when it wants to and longer than you want to! I use a battery-operated leaf blower to clear the fog between shots when there isn’t enough of a breeze already.




Clients often ask if they need to move their vehicles out of the garage for the session, but I usually decline because I can work the light better that way. I use all kinds of lighting techniques, depending on whatever gets the job done. Sunlight through an open window gave me plenty of light for my subject, below, but he needed sunglasses to avoid squinting. The back of the Corvette was in deep shadow. I wanted more definition to show it’s a car, so I fired a small strobe in Auto. I usually start in auto eTTL, and if I need to make change, I will. The second photo shows the effect of that additional flash. 




The next two images were done later in the day, without a lot of ambient light. As seen in the pre-lit image below, there isn’t anything about the light that’s good for portraiture.



I set up a main light, a Canon 580 EXII with a Larson 22 inch soft box. I also added an accent light with another canon 580 EXII without any light modifier. The accent light touched her cheek and lit the side of the old Stingray. Tonal contrast and some Photoshopped grease on her face, arm, and leg completed the story. 



This image with the bike and pink umbrella was done in a garage, not a high key studio. As shown in the setup photo, I used a main flash, fill reflectors and two background lights to evenly light the white drywall. Why the umbrella? I don’t know! I guess because the colors matched.



We can easily gel small strobes for creative color. Just don’t illuminate the surface you want to gel with the main light. The first image below shows where I started, using a strobe behind her to gently light the drywall. But because the jukebox suggests a more neon feel, I wanted more color. I moved my main light more to the side so the jukebox would shield the drywall from the main light, and I put a blue gel on the background strobe.



We can experience a fun color shift when using tungsten light in an environment where there is some neutral ambient light. The first photo shows the traditional capture that I started with, but I was bored with all the beige and wanted to try something else. I grabbed my tungsten spotlight and lit her face. Partially compensating for that warm color means that any ambient light will shift toward blue. You can also create this effect by placing a gel on an LED main light. Try different colors, but be sure to start with a gray balanced image to make your life easier in post production.

Most important, have fun discovering the endless potential of working in garages.

February 15, 2013

Add Textures to Your Images with a Photoshop Action

By Gavin Phillips

You can create unique and elegant imagery by adding textures to your photos in Photoshop. It can be quite time consuming to do it manually by opening the texture, draging and droping it into your image, and changing the layer blending mode. If you want to add another texture, you have to repeat the steps.

There is a much faster way to accomplish this, and that is by adding textures in an automated Photoshop action. This is how to do it.

Open a texture in Photoshop. Make certain the resolution is high, I make mine at least 4,500x3,600 pixels. In Photoshop go to Edit > Define Pattern. Name your new pattern and click OK.


Creating your texture action

Open an image and make certain your Actions palette is active. Click on Create New Action and name your action. Click Record.


Photo ©Shutterstock

Now you are recording your steps in Photoshop. The first step is to duplicate the image so that you're not working on an original photo. Go to Image > Duplicate.

Next, duplicate the background layer, ctrl/cmd-J. Click on Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of your Layers palette. From the pop-up menu select Pattern, and select the pattern you just created. Now change the layer blending mode of the pattern layer to Soft Light.

The next step is to Rasterize the pattern layer. Make certain that your Pattern layer is selected, and click on Layer > Rasterize > Layer. The reason for doing this is so that you can use Photoshop’s Free Transform tool (ctrl/cmd-T) to resize the texture if you need to, after the action has finished.


Now go to your Actions tab and stop the action. Run the action on an image to test it.

I usually use two to five textures in an image. You can turn many of your favourite textures into Photoshop patterns using this technique, and then add them using this action. When a texture doesn't work with an image, you can simply delete that layer or turn it off.

Experiment with different texture combinations and layer blending modes

The layer blending mode I use most often is Soft Light, but I sometimes use Overlay or Hard Light, and reduce the opacity of the texture layer.

You can also have a duplicate of your photo on top of your textures in the layers palette and change the layer blending mode of the duplicate to soft light. This will give you a different effect.

Brush away, re-size, Gaussian Blur

You can easily brush on your textures layer mask to reduce its effect anywhere in the image. I usually brush away most of the texture from people in an image.

I use one of Photoshop’s standard soft brushes and set the opacity to about 60% then brush away the texture and/or reduce the opacity of the texture layer.

Sometimes it’s faster to drag part of the texture off of the image using the Free Transform tool.

If you apply Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) to any of your texture layers when they are in the Soft Light or Overlay blending mode, it will nicely soften the texture and give your image a smooth look. I sometimes do this to one texture, while leaving other textures alone.

Add a black and white adjustment layer

By adding a black and white adjustment layer you will not only see if black and white suits your image. You can reduce the opacity of the layer and have some color showing through for an antique color effect.


Gavin Phillips has been developing complex Photoshop actions for photographers for over 12 years. Professional Photographer magazine readers receive a 60% discount on the latest set of 'Vintage Color' texture actions.

November 5, 2012

Horse Sense: 12 Tricks for Better Equine Photography

By Ann S. Gordon, CPP

All images ©Gordon Photography

When I was 8 years old, I was photographing horses with my Brownie Flash Six-20. The camera had two settings: 5 to 10 feet and “Beyond 10 feet,” which I probably didn’t use reliably. The horses in those images had bulbous noses, large heads, and very long back legs.

Today, more than 50 years later and having photographed hundreds of equines in my animal portraiture business, I know how to make the animals look their best and reflect the breed or equestrian sport their owners enjoy.

Even if you don't specialize in animal photography, you may be asked by clients to include a horse in a portrait, as was a friend of mine recently. If so, you’ll find the following tips helpful in capturing wonderful images of the large, easily distorted, incredibly beautiful animal that is the horse.

1. Use a long lens. Try a 200mm or 300mm lens, and stand back as far as 1 foot per millimeter. In other words, when using a 200mm lens, shoot from 150 to 200 feet. This helps minimize the distortion that can happen when photographing such a large animal.

2. Use a fast shutter speed. A minimum of 1/250 to 1/500 second is best. You can use shutter priority to make sure things don’t blur if you’re working in an arena where the light is constantly changing, but I like to use my manual setting for most things. Even with a standing horse, those ears move, as does the tail.

3. Have an assistant. You’ll need one to make noises, move horse feet, rattle buckets, and hold onto a fractious horse so the owner can look relaxed. In order to keep the animal calm, the assistant needs to be very comfortable with horses.


An assistant who is very comfortable with horses helps keep the
horse and owner calm and looking their best.

4. Get down. Your lens should be at the mid-shoulder of the horse. Any higher than that, and the animal’s legs will look short. If you’re too low, the legs will appear long—really long. I wear gel kneepads so I can move quickly without hurting myself.

5. Start with a groomed horse. Make sure the owner understands the horse has to be clean, clipped, brushed, braided (if appropriate), feet painted, and ready to go when you show up. Use Show Sheen and lots of it, except where the saddle or person will sit—you don't want anyone slipping and sliding.

Continue reading "Horse Sense: 12 Tricks for Better Equine Photography" »

September 10, 2012

Shooting Stars: How to Photograph Meteor Showers

By Stan Sholik

Photographing meteors during a meteor shower isn’t as difficult as you may think. All it requires is a little advance planning, a little preparation, a little luck and the camera gear that you already own.


This is a composite of five captures: four meteor streaks and the foreground hillside. The image shows the meteors radiating from a point that lies close to the constellation Perseus. Nikon D800E, ISO 1600, 25mm f/2.8 Zeiss ZF, 20 seconds at f/2.8 each capture. ©Stan Sholik

Advance Planning

Meteor showers occur for a number of reasons, but the predictable showers happen when the Earth passes through the remnants of a comet or through its tail. Knowing when these meteor showers occur is the easiest part. There are three major events visible in the US: the Perseid shower in August; the Leonid in November and the Geminid in December. The International Meteor Organization publishes detailed information and dates on its website,


These events are named for the closest constellation from which they seem to radiate: Perseus for the Perseid, Leo for the Leonid and Gemini for the Geminid. Picking out these constellations from a dark sky full of stars can be tricky. There are laptop and smartphone apps to help, but my favorite astronomy app is StarMap 3D Plus on my iPad. Not only does it have all of the needed astronomical visuals and information, there is a setting that displays the information in red on the screen. The red display preserves your night vision far better than the bright white of a laptop or smartphone screen.

Most meteors during the night are faint streaks in the sky. The darker the sky, the more visible the meteors. That means finding a place where the sky is dark. The best website I have found for this is It lists thousands of locations in the US, Canada, and Mexico and updates conditions daily for cloud cover, atmospheric transparency, darkness and several other factors. It’s a good resource to check before you head out hoping to see meteors. And of course, the presence of the moon, combined with other atmospheric factors, can severely limit your ability to see meteors.



I prepare my camera gear before I leave to save myself the struggle and the possibility of mistakes trying to load film cameras and adjust settings on digital cameras in the dark. I take as many cameras as I have tripods and fast manual-focus wide angle lenses.

Although you know the point of origin of the meteor shower, it’s impossible to predict where in the sky the meteorite will strike the atmosphere. Fast f/1.4 to f/2.8 wide angle lenses with focal lengths from fisheye to 28mm are the best choices. I prefer manual-focus lenses because the infinity setting is at one end of the focus scale and is easy to set in the dark. The infinity position on an autofocus lens is never obvious.

Continue reading "Shooting Stars: How to Photograph Meteor Showers" »

August 15, 2012

Photoshop CS6: Content Aware Move and Patch Tools

By Marianne Drenthe 

Content Aware, introduced with Photoshop CS4, is considered one of the best tools for editing within Photoshop. In CS6 Adobe has updated the algorithm for Content Aware, has added Content Aware technology to the Patch tool, and has added the Content Aware Move tool to the Healing Toolset. In this tutorial we will explore each of these exciting new additions to the newest incarnation of Photoshop.


One of the cooler innovations in CS is the addition of the Content Aware (CA) Move tool. The CA Move tool allows you to reposition and recompose a part of an image faster and easier than ever before. You can use it for actions that used to require selecting, masking, and advanced compositing—all by simply selecting the image and moving it to another portion of the photo. Content Aware does the rest by filling in the background of the image automatically, the end result is a change in composition of the image. Let’s take a closer look.


In this image the woman and baby are composed in the center of the image in front of a large window, I don’t necessarily love this composition, so let’s make a selection around them and move her to the left hand side of this photo.

1. I first selected the area around the subjects with the Lasso tool set at 15-pixel feather. I loosely encircled her to allow a little background into the selection. Sometimes the CA Move tool likes to take out parts of the subject, so creating a loose lasso works very well in images where moving the subject on the same sort of background is what you intend to do. 


2. I selected the CA Move tool from the Healing Tool subset (you can also access it by using Shift+J until the tool icon looks like two arrows overlayed like an X). 
3. In the Options Bar at the top of the screen I selected the Move mode and set Adaptation to Strict. Adaptation determines how well the moved object adjusts to its new background.
4. I moveed the selected object to its new place on the image.


5. After Photoshop finalized the move I selected the part of the image that was previously above my subjects’ heads by loosely lassoing that area and went ahead and cloned the area, choosing white background with the Clone tool. 


While the immediate results from using the Content Aware tool are not completely perfect, they are great starting point to finish out edits for most photographs.

Continue reading "Photoshop CS6: Content Aware Move and Patch Tools" »

August 7, 2012

How To Plan, Produce, and Sell Your Photo Book: Part 3 - Selling

Selling Your Photo Book

By David FitzSimmons

In Parts 1 and 2 of this feature I discussed planning and producing your own photo book. In this final installment, I will cover what you need to do to sell your product, including building a web site, hiring a publicist, finding a distributor, working with bookstores, planning book events, and working with corporate and nonprofit partners.

1. Build A Website
An engaging, eye-catching, and useful website is the cornerstone of your book's marketing plan. As you, your publicist, reviewers, and readers talk about your book, you need a place to send them for more information. Today that place is a website.

Hire a professional web site designer, and then work together to build a site that you can maintain over time. For "Curious Critters," I worked with my friend and Web guru Brett Mitchell, who helped me set up an attractive and functional Joomla!-based site. Similar to WordPress, Joomla! allows everyday users the ability to update and change content easily. Pre-made templates in both Joomla! and WordPress make putting together your site a snap.


The home page for my children's picture book, "Curious Critters," matches the design of the book: high key, bold colors, and simple layouts. Created using Joomla!, I can update, add, or subtract content as needed. A slide show of "Curious Critters" images engages visitors to the page, and a limited number of legible links help in navigation.

Your book's website needs to be eye-catching and useful. Make your photos the centerpiece of the site, but pay close attention to including what users will want. Include "In the Media" and "For the Media" pages, the former listing all the places your book has been reviewed (with links). The latter should have downloadable files, including JPGs of your book's cover and PDF copies of your press releases and bio. Other standard pages include "About" and "Contact."

A nice touch is to add sample flipping book pages. To show readers a 12-page teaser of "Curious Critters," I used Flipping Book Publisher to create and upload a portion of my book. If you don't want to buy Flipping Book software, there are free alternatives, such as Issuu or the free version of Flash Page Flip.

Also try to include free downloads for readers. For "Curious Critters" I included PDF coloring pages and word searches along with eCards. You might make several of your photographs into downloadable wall paper or offer a short e-book version.

Continue reading "How To Plan, Produce, and Sell Your Photo Book: Part 3 - Selling" »

How To Plan, Produce, and Sell Your Photo Book: Part 2 - Producing

Producing Your Photo Book

By David FitzSimmons

In Part 1 of this series, I covered planning your photo book, namely picking a subject, identifying your audience, determining how many books you can sell, selecting your publishing option, and researching publishing. Here I will talk about writing, revising, and finding assistants, such as book shepherds, editors, designers, and printers.

1. Write Your Book
Before you begin writing, find books similar to the one you will produce. Visit local libraries and bookstores, and search online. Get a hold of copies to see what other authors do well and to look for areas of improvement. Look especially hard for aspects that no one else has covered. If you fill this gap, then you can point out to your audience how your book is unique.


Before I wrote Curious Critters, I had a vision: a children’s picture book featuring boldly colored animal portraits (one per page or per two-page spread), lots of white space, and fun, educational text. In surveying the market, I found some books with white-backgrounded animal images but none for ages 4-8. I had found an unfilled niche.

When you sit down to write, always keep in mind that you are creating a product. Focus on what Kitty Locker’s business communication handbook calls “you attitude”: Consider the needs of your audience above your own. What does your audience want and need to hear (as opposed to what you want to say)? Meeting their needs will help you sell your book; you will be able to demonstrate how your product benefits them.

When I wrote “Curious Critters,” for example, I kept elementary school teachers and librarians in mind. I researched national and state life science education standards and then wrote my book to meet all K-8 standards. Now I can demonstrate to educators how “Curious Critters” benefits them.

What if you are not entirely comfortable writing? My advice is to work with others to develop your skills. Identify family and friends who are good writers and seek their help. Enroll in a class at a local adult education program, college, or university. And look for writing groups in your neighborhood or within professional organizations. In writing “Curious Critters,” I sought the advice of other writers in the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, for example, and I asked for help from my colleagues at Ashland University, where I teach writing.

Continue reading "How To Plan, Produce, and Sell Your Photo Book: Part 2 - Producing" »

June 13, 2012

"Adobe Photoshop CS6 for Photographers" Excerpt: What's New in Camera Raw 7.0, The New Camera Raw Workflow


The following has been excerpted and edited from the 10th edition of Martin Evening's book, "Adobe Photoshop CS6 for Photographers." The book is currently available for purchase for $54.95 at, and, as well as in major bookstores. To view CS6 video tutorials based on the contents of this book, click here.

(From Chapter 1)

What's new in Camera Raw 7.0 

Camera Raw 7.0 offers some further image processing refinements. In particular, there is now a new Process 2012 option in which the main Basic panel controls have been completely revised to provide more extensive editing capabilities for both raw and non-raw images. In fact, if you are familiar with the image editing controls in Adobe Revel for tablet devices, you'll already have seen how these work. The main Process 2012 sliders are also available as localized adjustments, along with new Temp and Tint adjustment controls. Lastly, the Tone Curve panel now also offers an RGB point curve editing option.


Figure 1.104 When you select a single raw image in Bridge, and double-click to open, you will see the Camera Raw dialog shown here. The Basic panel controls are a good place to get started, but the Auto button can often apply an adjustment that is ideally suited for most types of images. Once you are happy, click on the Open Image button at the bottom to open it in Photoshop. TIP: If you click on the Full Screen mode button in Camera Raw (circled above in blue), you can quickly switch the Camera Raw view to Full Screen mode.


Saving from raw files

If you save an image that's been opened up from a raw file original, Photoshop will by default suggest you save it using the native Photoshop (PSD) file format. You are always forced to save it as something else and never to overwrite the original raw image. Most raw formats have unique extensions anyway like .crw or .nef. However, Canon did once decide to use a .tif extension for some of their raw file formats (so that the thumbnails would show up in their proprietary browser program). The danger here was that if you overrode the Photoshop default behavior and tried saving an opened Canon raw image as a TIFF, you risked overwriting the original raw file.


Opening photos from Bridge via Camera Raw

If you double-click to open a raw or DNG image via Bridge, these will automatically open via the Camera Raw dialog shown in Figure 1.104, where Photoshop will host Camera Raw. Alternatively, if you choose File ➯ Open in Camera Raw... via the Bridge menu, this will open the file in Camera Raw hosted by Bridge. The advantage of doing this is that it allows you to free up Photoshop to carry on working on other images. If you choose to open multiple raw images you will see a filmstrip of thumbnails appear down the left-hand side of the Camera Raw dialog, where you can edit one image and then sync the settings across all the other selected photos. There is also a preference setting in Bridge that allows you to open up JPEG and TIFF images via Camera Raw too.

I would say that the main benefit of using Camera Raw is that any edits you apply in Camera Raw are nonpermanent and this latest version in Photoshop CS6 offers yet further major advances in raw image processing. If you are still a little intimidated by the Camera Raw dialog interface, you can for now just click on the Auto button (circled in red in Figure 1.104). When the default settings in Camera Raw are set to Auto, Camera Raw usually does a pretty good job of optimizing the image settings for you. You can then click on the 'Done' or 'Open Image' button without concerning yourself too much just yet with what all the Camera Raw controls do. This should give you a good image to start working with in Photoshop and the beauty of working with Camera Raw is that you never risk overwriting the original master raw file. If you don't like the auto settings Camera Raw gives you, then it is relatively easy to adjust the tone and color sliders and make your own improvements upon the auto adjustment settings.

Easter eggs

There are some hidden items in Photoshop. If you drag down from the system or Apple menu to select About Photoshop..., the splash screen reopens and after about 5 seconds the text starts to scroll telling you lots of stuff about the Adobe team who wrote the program, etc. Hold down opt/alt and the text scrolls faster. Last, but not least, you'll see a special mention to the most important Photoshop user of all... Now hold down cmd/ctrl-alt and choose About Photoshop... Here, you will see the Superstition beta test version of the splash screen (Figure 1.105 below). When the credits have finished scrolling, carefully control/alt-click in the white space above the credits (and below Superstition) to see what are known as Adobe Transient Witticisms appearing one at a time above the credits. Being a member of the team that makes Photoshop has many rewards, but one of the perks is having the opportunity to add little office in-jokes in a secret spot on the Photoshop splash screen. It's a sign of what spending long hours building a new version of Photoshop will do to you. And if you are looking for the Merlin begone Easter egg, associated with the Layers panel options, well, Merlin is truly begone now!


Figure 1.105 The Superstition beta splash screen.

Continue reading ""Adobe Photoshop CS6 for Photographers" Excerpt: What's New in Camera Raw 7.0, The New Camera Raw Workflow" »

May 21, 2012

Choosing and Using Macro Lenses for Portraits

By Stan Sholik

Without question, macro lenses are among the most versatile type of lens for general photography. All true macro lenses focus from infinity to half life size, and most focus all the way to full life size. That ability allows you to fill the frame with the subject’s eye if you desire. In portrait sessions, a macro enables you to frame and compose your subject without being restricted to the minimum focusing distance of a non macro lens. Don’t be fooled by zoom lenses with “macro” in their names. These are not true macro lenses as they don’t focus to at least half life size and are not well corrected even for close-up photography.

True macro lenses as a class are the sharpest lenses available. Sharpness can be a blessing or a curse in portraiture, depending on your subject’s skin. But with the vast array of software tools available for softening and smoothing skin, this is not really the issue it was in the days of film. With digital capture, it is far easier to remove blemishes and smooth skin in a natural way than it is to sharpen the subject’s eyes and retain a natural look.

The biggest photographic disadvantage to using macro lenses for portraiture is their maximum aperture. While there are many portrait lenses available with apertures of f/1.4 to f/2.5, there are only a few macro lenses available with apertures larger than f/2.8. If you prefer shooting wide open to give maximum separation of your subject from the background, or your portraiture style is journalistic or uses available light, macro lenses may not be right for you.

You must have precise focus with a macro lens, so it is always best to use a tripod or camera stand. Many of the latest macro lenses incorporate image stabilization now, and this is a real advantage if you have to hand-hold the camera for a portrait or you're not using flash as your main light. If you aren't using TTL metering, remember to correct your exposure as you move closer: increase exposure by one EV step at half life size and two EV steps at 1:1.


Full frame head and shoulders portrait with the D3s and Nikkor 105mm f/4 macro lens, hand held at f/11 with studio electronic flash. Skin retouched in Lightroom 4 by brushing on negative Clarity. ©Stan Sholik


Walking closer to the model, I took more photos at various distances. This is my favorite. Same lens and exposure with a small exposure compensation and skin retouching in Lightroom 4. ©Stan Sholik

Continue reading "Choosing and Using Macro Lenses for Portraits" »

April 6, 2012

Expert Web Design Advice for Photographers

Photography is a visual medium. Promoting photography requires a visual media, one that not only lives up to the aesthetic appeal of the imagery but also provides the functionality to help photographers succeed. In today’s world, that means a website—a striking, easy to use, secure, professional website. Whether you prefer a blog style setup or a traditional portfolio site—or both—the design and development of your Web presence is critical to your business.

With all this in mind, Professional Photographer surveyed some of the industry’s leading Web experts on what it takes to develop a professional presence in the virtual world. The following are their recommendations for photographers on the World Wide Web.

What are some common design mistakes that photographers make when they try to do their own design? What should they do instead?
What’s the best way to protect your online images from theft?
What resources can photographers use to choose their color scheme for their website if they don’t already have one for their business?
What information should be on my home page? What can be one or two layers in?
If I create a video slideshow without music, what’s the best pace for photo changes?
What do I need to know about Flash, HTML5 and how they affect my SEO?
Does a splash page hurt my SEO?
What sort of products work well if I want to use an online shopping cart for my clients?
What can I do to make my purchase options as easy as possible?
What can I do to make my website look good on a mobile device?
How often should I put up fresh content?

What are some common design mistakes that photographers make when they try to do their own design? What should they do instead?

"The most common mistakes usually come from the opposite ends of the design spectrum. Photographers either go too minimalistic and design a site that could belong to anyone, or they go overboard with custom elements and create something that’s very hard for their visitors to navigate.

Like a good frame and matting, a good photography website complements the photos displayed rather than distracting from them. Allowing the work to speak for itself is always a safe approach. Picking a color palette of three or four distinct colors and using them consistently throughout the site will create a professional, well-branded look."
—Nataly Livshits, Zenfolio,

"Getting too fancy. The focus instead should be on usability. Does your site load quickly and without plug-ins like Adobe Flash Player? Do you have a separate site optimized for a smart phone?  Music can be very distracting, especially when your clients already have Pandora running in the background or try to watch a slideshow on your site that also has music. Keep it simple, and focus on getting a potential client to love your images and contact you."
—Mike Smith, MorePhotos, WeddingDetails,

"A common mistake is a gallery with too many images in it. Your portfolio site's galleries should be a display of your best images. Generally, 30 to 50 images per gallery is a good range. If you need to show an entire shoot, your portfolio site is not the best place for it. Those are better displayed through a proofing application or a slideshow tool."
—Mike Caston, BIG Folio,

What’s the best way to protect your online images from theft?

"The best way is still watermarking the image using either a built-in tool from the website admin or from Photoshop. Right click protection provides minimal protection against the basic user, but anyone who truly wants to steal the image will be able to using a screen capture. One of the biggest reasons clients take the images off a website is to post them to social media sites. This has started a new trend of providing low-resolution (about 500 pixels on the longest side), watermarked images for use on social media sites with the request that the poster links them back to your site. This helps your clients to show off your images at the best quality while building a potential referral source."
—Jenifer Martin,


©Amanda Gros Photography

Amanda Gros uses a discreet logo watermark on her gallery photographs that deters theft or uncredited posting of her photographs.

"There are services that can monitor your photos and tell you if they are being used anywhere on the Internet. That can help ensure that your images aren’t being used in a manner to which you object."
—William Bay, Flaunt Your Site,

What resources can photographers use to choose their color scheme for their website if they don’t already have one for their business?
"Using color swatches that are already paired together will ensure your site looks coherent and professional. Some good options include Adobe’s Kuler tool ( and Pantone ("
—Jenifer Martin,

" is great site for color inspiration as well."
—Michael N. Caston, BIG Folio, Inc.

"If you're just starting your photography business, finding a web design that doesn't detract from your photography is really important, so a black or white background is most definitely the way to go. However, as your business is growing, you'll find that establishing a unique brand will get you the higher paying clients, and build more loyalty. At that point in your business, being different and being 100% custom is the most important thing. is a fantastic resource for both website inspiration and design tutorials, and for color combinations, Adobe's Kuler tool is really inspiring."
—Caroline Tien-Spalding, SmugMug,

"The best resource would be a skilled designer. Not only could they help in a color palette creation for you, but they can also help determine where colors can be most effectively used on your site. They would also have an idea of what types of colors go well for certain designs (retro, art deco, classical, etc). For the DIYers, there are color palette generators online. You can start with a favorite color and it will define for you complimentary colors to go with it."
—William Bay, Flaunt Your Site


©Froxy Photography

Photographers Naomi Frost and Xanthe Roxburgh hired Flaunt Your Site to design their page. It uses bold colors to reflect their quirky image, and the keyword-rich and brand-building content on the home page helped it rise to the number-three result for "Newcastle wedding photographers" in the first month it was live.

What information should be on my home page? What can be one or two layers in?

"A slideshow of the photographer’s signature images on the homepage is the easiest way to capture the visitor’s interest and represent the style of photography. The logo should be clearly visible, so that the viewer can easily identify who owns the website. A tagline (whether part of the logo or part of the welcome message) will tell the visitors more about the type of work. A concise, keyword-rich welcome message will speak to the visitors and improve SEO. Contact information and a call to action are final must-haves for the homepage. Whether there’s a contact form directly on the homepage or a link to 'book your session,' the visitor should never struggle to find a way to reach the photographer.

“Additional information such as 'about me,' 'contact,' 'client area,' 'pricing,' and 'testimonials' can be listed on separate pages, but needs to be easily found. A consistent site menu with links to specific galleries, pricing information and other details will keep the homepage clean and the site information well-organized."
—Nataly Livshits, Zenfolio,

"Any question you get within 10 seconds of introducing yourself in person should be available as level-one information, which should be visible on your home page or in the main site navigation. Who are you? Answer with 'About us' section. What kind of photography do you do? Offer links to categories of work. Do you have examples? Display a portfolio or gallery. How do I contact you? Provide a contact form. Things like accolades or side projects can definitely be a second level of content."
—Caroline Tien-Spalding, SmugMug,


©Laura Tillinghast Photography

A good home page delivers a message to the reader and search engines. Laura Tillinghast Photography shows the photography in large format, with information supporting the images, but not competing with them visually.



©D. Host Photography

The D. Host Photography home page includes information about the studio, and the slideshow illustrates four styles: classic, creative, contemporary and cool.

If I create a video slideshow without music, what’s the best pace for photo changes?
"Rhythm for your slideshow is everything—go too fast, and the prospective client won't have time to savor your shots, and go too slow, and your prospect client will move on to the next photographer. I've found that .7 second per slide is a nice moving but relaxing pace."
—Caroline Tien-Spalding, SmugMug,

"For a standard website portfolio slideshow, 2-3 seconds is perfectly fine. You just have to gauge interest levels of your particular audience. What works for some target markets or parts of the country might not work for others. This is where having tools like Google Analytics can help you figure that out. Are people getting bored and leaving your site before the slideshow is over? Well, the slideshow might be too slow, or too long. If you have access to this information, you can make informed decisions about it."
—William Bay, Flaunt Your Site

Continue reading "Expert Web Design Advice for Photographers" »

February 9, 2012

Making Large Format Photo Negatives from Digital Images

By David Saffir

Until recently, our main options in photographic printing lived in two worlds—analog and digital. It didn’t seem possible that we’d ever have an option that would let photographers easily move back and forth between them. HP has introduced a solution that extends a bridge between those worlds, one that lets us print our digital images using traditional, darkroom-based silver halide/silver gelatin process. HP calls this the Large Format Photo Negative solution.

It all begins with a digital image. This can be created using a digital camera, or a scan. This digital image can be edited and manipulated in Photoshop or similar application. This original image can start in color or black and white.

To create the negative, you load an HP Designjet Z3200 printer with a transparent or translucent inkjet film manufactured for this purpose. Companies like HP, Pictorico and others manufacture this material. It's readily available; I purchased a roll of the Pictorico material at Freestyle Photographic Supplies in Los Angeles. It's also available at online retailers like B&H Photo and Adorama.


©David Saffir

This image shows the film coming off the printer. I placed a white background underneath the film to help visualization. 

Additionally, HP has created special printing pre-sets that are used through the normal printer driver. Install these on your host computer before the next step.

in Photoshop, create a simple adjustment layer that alters the tone curve of the image, which will optimize the negative for darkroom printing. The positive image is inverted and reversed to a negative, and sent to the printer.

The result is a black-and-white negative printed on the transparent film, which can be used in a conventional darkroom workflow. A contact printing frame is used to "sandwich" the large-format negative and printing paper, and standard chemistry can be used. Any color balanced light source can be used, although I recommend using a color enlarger with a lens and dichroic head.


©Tony Zinnanti


©David Saffir

Continue reading "Making Large Format Photo Negatives from Digital Images" »

December 9, 2011

Damon Tucci's Essential Techniques for Location Lighting, Part 2

By Damon Tucci
All images ©Damon Tucci

Want to achieve a beautifully lit image in any conditions? Master three lighting techniques and you can make it gorgeous anywhere.

In today’s fast-paced world of photography, you have to produce on demand, no matter what the conditions may be. This is especially true for wedding photographers. You can’t change the date of the shoot, so you must be able adapt to ever-changing lighting and weather conditions.

But whether you’re a portrait or wedding photographer, time is money; the more efficiently you can use your surroundings and enhance the light, the more effectively you can deliver above average consistent results. We practice and perfect our capture and lighting strategies so that we can tackle any assignment. We know them backward and forward so that we can implement them seamlessly.

Three lighting techniques should be part of any modern photographer’s repertoire: the use of available lightoff-camera flash, and video light techniques.

Available light techniques revolve around working in open shade and using a reflector to accentuate and shape the light on the mask of the face. I use Radio Poppers and Nikon SB800 flashes for my off-camera flash and employ the camera’s high-speed sync capabilities to transform any average scene into a very dramatic one. Video lights enable us to capture images in modern hotels and subtly light the subject’s face without overpowering the background. This method is very fast and what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG).

In these two examples, you can easily see how good dim hotel lighting can look when you add a video light.


I was covering a wedding at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando, and I was very attracted to the lighting fixtures in this restaurant. By borrowing the videographer's light, I was able to get my shot in three mintues.


I could not get the light right in her face, so I asked her to look down at her flowers, thus creating a cool full-length image that shows off her dress and provides an establishing shot of the wedding venue. I used a Nikon D700 with a 24-70mm lens at 38mm, and the exposure is 1/60 second at f/2.8, ISO 1250.

I chose the setting below to capture an image for a different hotel.


I had an assistant hold a Lowell id-light off camera, up and to the left, to light the mask of her face.


I used the Nikon D700 with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, this time at 24mm, exposing for 1/60 second at f/2.8, ISO 800.

Look for more examples of Damon Tucci's location lighting in the February Wedding Issue of Professional Photographer magazine.

Damon Tucci has been a professional photographer in Central Florida for the past 20 years and has photographed over 2,500 weddings. His award-winning work has been published in Professional Photographer, Rangefinder, Studio Photography and Design, InStyle Weddings, People, Brides and a host of other publications.

Come learn from Damon Tucci at Imaging USA, January 15-17

In My Head: Tapping into the Photographer Mindset
Tuesday, Jan. 17, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
Want to create beautiful images anywhere, anytime? Who doesn’t? Join celebrity wedding and portrait photographer Damon Tucci to learn a methodology and mindset for producing exceptional images on demand. He will delve deep into the psyche of the photo creation process to show you how simple it can be … if you have the acute understanding of timing and technique that he’ll share! You’ll also learn about modern posing and lighting techniques, including off-camera speed lights, available lighting, strobe and video. Come learn Damon’s tried-and-true formula (and reap the benefits).

November 9, 2011

Damon Tucci's Essential Techniques for Location Lighting, Part I

By Damon Tucci
All images ©Damon Tucci

Want to achieve a beautifully lit image in any conditions? Master three lighting techniques and you can make it gorgeous anywhere.


In today’s fast-paced world of photography, you have to produce on demand, no matter what the conditions may be. This is especially true for wedding photographers. You can’t change the date of the shoot, so you must be able adapt to ever-changing lighting and weather conditions.

But whether you’re a portrait or wedding photographer, time is money; the more efficiently you can use your surroundings and enhance the light, the more effectively you can deliver above average consistent results. We practice and perfect our capture and lighting strategies so that we can tackle any assignment. We know them backward and forward so that we can implement them seamlessly.

Three lighting techniques should be part of any modern photographer’s repertoire: the use of available light, off-camera flash, and video light techniques.

Available light techniques revolve around working in open shade and using a reflector to accentuate and shape the light on the mask of the face. I use Radio Poppers and Nikon SB800 flashes for my off-camera flash and employ the camera’s high-speed sync capabilities to transform any average scene into a very dramatic one. Video lights enable us to capture images in modern hotels and subtly light the subject’s face without overpowering the background. This method is very fast and what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG).

In these two examples of off-camera light usage, you can easily see how underexposing for the ambient light and adding off-camera flash can dramatically improve the look of your image in bland lighting conditions.


Here we start behind my house against the fireplace on an overcast day. I used a Nikon D700, an 80-200mm lens at 80mm, two Nikon SB900 Speedlights and a RadioPopper to control the flash.  I underexposed for the ambient light 1 to 1.5 stops at 125-second at f/5, ISO 400. The overhead Speedlight is zoomed to 85mm. 


Below, I had a drab cloudy Orlando day to shoot this couple’s portrait.


By underexposing the ambient light 1 to 1.5 stops, I get a dramatic sky. I add light from the upper left with an SB800 Speedlight and use the RadioPopper and the camera's high-speed sync to make the exposure 1/2,500 second at f/4, ISO 400, to illuminate the couple. 


Look for Part II in December’s Web Exclusives, and even more in the February issue of Professional Photographer magazine.

Damon Tucci has been a professional photographer in Central Florida for the past 20 years and has photographed over 2,500 weddings. His award-winning work has been published in Professional Photographer, Rangefinder, Studio Photography and Design, InStyle Weddings, People, Brides and a host of other publications.

Come learn from Damon Tucci at Imaging USA, January 15-17

In My Head: Tapping into the Photographer Mindset
Tuesday, Jan. 17, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
Want to create beautiful images anywhere, anytime? Who doesn’t? Join celebrity wedding and portrait photographer Damon Tucci to learn a methodology and mindset for producing exceptional images on demand. He will delve deep into the psyche of the photo creation process to show you how simple it can be … if you have the acute understanding of timing and technique that he’ll share! You’ll also learn about modern posing and lighting techniques, including off-camera speed lights, available lighting, strobe and video. Come learn Damon’s tried-and-true formula (and reap the benefits).

November 3, 2011

Lighting Styles and Setups from "Kevin Kubota's Lighting Notebook": Kid In A Candystore and More

The following is excerpted from “Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook: 101 Lighting Styles and Setups for Digital Photographers” (Wiley). Look for three more informative excerpts in the November issue of Professional Photographer magazine.


Kid In A Candystore


The final image was processed in Lightroom with my Vintage 2 preset, from the Vintage Delish collection. I like the added warmth in the shadows, which feels like chocolate!

One of the best ways to get children to cooperate on a photo shoot is with good, old-fashioned bribes. Candy works really well, so why not do the entire session in a candy store and save a trip! The image I had in my mind was of this little girl sitting on the counter licking a giant lollipop. When we got there, however, the lollipops they had were not actually very giant. I knew I needed a wideangle lens to exaggerate the perspective and make the lollipop look larger than life.

The RayFlash ringlight attachment is an innovative photo tool. It fits to the front of any camera speedlight and encircles the lens. Unlike most other ringlight setups, the RayFlash is completely portable, allowing you to move about and try different angles. It also allows for normal TTL flash operation, so you don’t have to worry about adjusting the light manually. Normally, the RayFlash is used with semiwide to normal perspective lenses, but I decided to use it with a 10.5mm fisheye lens, which has such a wide angle of view that it actually shows the edges of the ringlight. I loved the effect as it felt like looking through a portal to a fantasy world of delectable treats.

A portable speedlight was placed behind the subject to add an edge light and separation from the background. A PowerSnoot from Gary Fong was used to constrain the light to a narrow beam. I balanced my flash exposure with the existing light in the shop using TTL mode on the oncamera flash and manually for the backlight. The second speedlight was triggered by the built-in optical slave, which works fairly well when in close proximity and indoors.

After taking a few images of our little lady delightfully devouring the lollipop, the candy smeared all over her face and an even better image came to light than I originally imagined. Can you say “sugar rush”?


I asked Mom to stand very close and keep an eye on her daughter in case she started to scoot off the edge of the counter. Fortunately, she wasn’t going anywhere—as long as the lollipop lasted.


The original image from the camera


Exposure Info:
10.5mm lens setting
f/4.0 at 1/160 sec. ISO 500
Exposure comp. +/– 0

Tools Used:
Nikon D300s 10.5mm f/2.8 fisheye Nikkor lens
RayFlash ringlight from Rogue Imaging
Nikon SB800 Speedlight
Gary Fong PowerSnoot

Go to the jump for two more tutorials!

Continue reading "Lighting Styles and Setups from "Kevin Kubota's Lighting Notebook": Kid In A Candystore and More" »

August 8, 2011

Men In Black: Posing and Lighting a Profile Portrait

By Don Chick, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

I love creating beautiful portraits. When I create a portrait, the full-face and two-thirds view are my go-to views of the face. My clients never arrive at the studio saying, “I want you to create a profile portrait for me.” Usually, the profile setup happens by accident. I’ll walk around the subject, adjusting the lighting, then realize just how beautiful his profile actually is. Then with newfound enthusiasm, I position the lighting to create a profile of my subject. Often the subject doesn’t think he has great profile potential, but most of the time a little sincere encouragement is all that’s necessary for him to trust me.

Creating a profile portrait is so easy with a large light modifier. Most of the time I have a 4x6 foot soft box on my main light. You can see in Figure 1 how to position your subject. Bring the subject to the front edge (nearest the camera) of the soft box position turn the body approximately 45 degrees away from the camera. If the body is facing the camera, as in Figure 1, they are in a front profile position. If the body is turned away from the camera, then they are positioned for a back profile portrait. Sometimes I’ll photograph the subject in both positions as it adds more variety, and more variety can lead to increased sales.


Figure 1

There are two ways to control highlight-to-shadow contrast when using a large soft box. You can move the subject parallel to the soft box. Moving the subject away from the camera and toward the center of the soft box adds more light on the shadow side of the face, decreasing contrast. If you want more contrast—darker shadows on the shadow side—move the subject parallel to the soft box but closer to the camera. This will move the subject into the edge of the light from the soft box, and increase the shadows. A second way to control contrast is to use a reflector. In Figure 1 you can see how to position a reflector on the shadow side of the subject to control the amount of shadow contrast. Moving the reflector closer to the subject will decrease contrast, giving you lighter shadows, and moving the reflector back or away from the subject will increase contrast. Either method works well, but sometimes it’s easier to leave your subject in position rather than making him move and simply use the reflector to control contrast.

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June 28, 2011

Video Tutorial: Learn How to Clone with Tracing Paper in Corel Painter 12

By Melissa Gallo

The tracing paper slider is one of the exciting new features of Corel Painter 12. That may seem like a small thing, but it packs a big punch. Now you can control the opacity of your tracing paper to the finest degree, allowing you to see the photo under your painting in varying degrees. This greatly increases your control over how colors and shapes are extracted from the photo underneath and applied to your canvas.


Look for Melissa Gallo's review of Corel Painter 12 in the July issue of Professional Photographer.

Melissa Gallo is conducting digital painting workshops on Sept. 16-17 and 23-24, Oct. 7-8 and 21-22, and Nov. 4-5. Classe size is limited to four attendees for each workshop. Please visit Gallo's Digital Painting Workshops page for more information. 

May 6, 2011

Tutorial: Softening Skin and Adding Texture Back In

In "Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop," Scott Kelby offers 13 fantastic skin-retouching techniques in Chapter 2, plus practice images available for download from his Kelby Training site. These are not "plastic skin," super soft, glowy retouches. They are subtle and natural looking. And not only are there techniques for making skin look better, but reducing wrinkles, balancing skin tone, and reducing the stubble of men's beards.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of "Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop," by Scott Kelby.

This one takes a few steps, but it’s not hard at all. In fact, it’s simple, so don’t let the number of steps throw you. Also, at one point it does have a teeny, tiny bit of blur in it, but not enough to hurt anybody. It uses the Surface Blur filter at one stage, but don’t worry, the whole idea of this technique is to have loads of texture, so don’t freak out when you see the Surface Blur filter.

Step One: As always, before you do any skin softening, remove all the major blemishes using the Healing Brush (see page 86). Here, I removed them already, so we can just focus on softening the skin. Start by pressing Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) to duplicate the Background layer, as shown here.


Step Two: Go under the Filter menu, under Blur, and choose Surface Blur. There are big advantages to using this filter over Gaussian Blur, and one is that it does a better job of preserving edges (rather than Gaussian Blur, which just blurs everything equally). I set the Radius (which controls the amount of blur) to around 39, and I make sure the Threshold slider (which controls the tonal values that get blurred) doesn’t get higher than the Radius amount (here, I have set it to 31, and I usually have it between 5 and 10 lower than the Radius setting). This gives a blocky, almost posterized look to your subject’s skin at this point. Go ahead and click OK to apply this filter to your image (it’s doing a lot of math to make some parts blurry while the edges maintain detail, so don’t be surprised if a progress bar appears onscreen, as this one usually takes a few extra seconds to apply).


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No Need for Plug-ins; Create a Vintage Preset in Adobe Camera Raw

By Marianne Drenthe

Vintage processing seems to be the hot thing right now. Vintage washes (where the image looks like a faded print) have long been a favorite of mine. These processed images may be popular because we long for simpler times when Polaroids ruled the instant gratification world. It could also be that creating a signature vintage look that’s all your own is a quick way to customize your own work to be unique to you. Either way the trend is hot.


Yes there are tons of ways to create this look for yourself, but my preferred method is right in my workflow. There is nothing easier than having your go-to preset created in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and just click on the drop-down menu and batch several images right there, saving your precious pixels in the process.

I use ACR for so many conversions—it’s truly an integral part of my workflow, so quick and easy (as well as non-destructive). Here is my quick and easy method to create beautifully washed vintage photos via ACR.

This image is from an on-location session, and I used bounced flash to capture some storytelling images in this little girls’ room. Your settings vary depending on your lighting situation and exposure.

1. Open your image up in ACR. Tweak your exposure as you see fit, adjusting for your usual color workflow. You can tweak for contrast, I usually bump mine down a bit and bump my brightness up just a notch when creating vintage-look images.


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January 31, 2011

Setting Up a Color-managed Workflow with the Epson Stylus Pro 4900 Printer

By David Saffir

You’ll get the best image quality from your inkjet printer using a color-managed workflow. This includes a calibrated and profiled display, correct software setup, and image-editing software that can handle application-managed color when printing. (In this article I’m referring to color, RGB-oriented workflow.)

This might sound like a lot of work, but once you get your color locked down and you’ve had a chance to practice a bit, you’ll find that color managed workflow requires little time in execution. And the results are worth it!

I have been working with a demo unit of the new Epson Stylus Pro 4900 printer at the Santa Clarita Valley Center for Photography near Los Angeles, and so far it has been a positive experience.


Out of the box, setup is logical and relatively easy. Image quality on photographic-style and fine-art media, in color and black and white, has been very good. Paper handling has improved from earlier models; the roll paper feeder, paper tray, the upper single sheet feeder, and the lower single sheet feeder all work well. The roll feeder accepts both 2- and 3-inch cores. The Stylus Pro 4900 can handle cut sheet media up to 17x22, and 1.5mm thickness.

The Stylus Pro 4900 has eleven 200ml ink cartridges using the Epson UltraChrome HDR Ink; this includes both photo and matte black. A switch from photo black to matte black ink requires the operator to push a button on the printer control panel. Switching takes a couple of minutes, and seems to use a small amount of ink.

The instructions regarding the hands-on operation of the printer are straightforward and clearly illustrated. Overall, a flexible, pro-level machine.

Continue reading "Setting Up a Color-managed Workflow with the Epson Stylus Pro 4900 Printer" »

January 4, 2011

Two Paths to Retouching

By Stan Sholik

Is portrait retouching software worth the investment or should you stick with what you have? We compared the process, advantages and limitations, comparing Anthropics Portrait Professional and Adobe Photoshop CS5 (and a subsequent comparison using Craig's Actions).

Portrait retouching is far more art than science. Even with a firm intent in your mind for the final form of a project, there are many paths to that end. This article will explore two popular portrait retouching paths, Anthropics Portrait Professional v9 and Adobe Photoshop CS5. I hope when we are finished that you will see the advantages and disadvantages of each technique and maybe learn a few tricks along the way.

The image I have chosen is a capture I made in the studio of a high school student. She’s a California girl with freckles and skin issues that will make the retouching interesting. My intent is not to produce a poreless high-fashion portrait, but rather one that is faithful to reality while minimizing any skin issues. Admittedly, once I was into it, I did take liberties to tweak reality. My goal was to complete the retouching using Portrait Professional and Photoshop in the same amount of time, though I doubted it could be done. I’ll start with Portrait Professional.


But before we get started I want to have the original image correctly color balanced. I had the model hold an X-Rite ColorChecker Passport for one of the captures (above, click image for large view). After importing the RAW files into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, I used the eyedropper to select a neutral balance with one of the gray patches. Then using the exposure slider I adjusted the lightest patch (red circle) to 95%/95%/95% and the darkest patch (blue circle) to 10%/10%/10%. But neutral color balance is always too cool for a portrait in my opinion, so I selected the eyedropper again and clicked on one of the warming patches (orange circle) for my final color balance. I then processed the portrait to an 8-bit RGB TIFF.



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January 3, 2011

Fay Sirkis: Painting Magic, Adobe Photoshop CS5

The following article includes additional content from Fay Sirkis that had to be edited for length in the January issue of Professional Photographer.

Fay Sirkis presents “The Art of Portrait Painting” at Imaging USA in San Antonio, January 16-18.

A picture's worth a thousand words, a painting is worth so much more!

There is no better way to capture the essence of a person than from photos of the subject, and there is no better way to portray a subject than through a beautiful painting.

From the beginning of art history, there has been a universal fascination with the representation of the human face. Many of the greatest and most endearing works of art ever created are portrait paintings!

When people refer to the history of art, they often mean the history of portrait painting. Many of the most famous paintings by masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Edgar Degas and John Singer Sargent, were portraits.


Digital artists face two main challenges in trying to simulate traditional art.

1. Achieving the blending of different colors of paint so that in the fine shading it produces soft transitions between colors and tones.

2. Having the brushstrokes look as realistic and as close as possible to traditional brushstrokes, no matter the medium.

In CS5, Photoshop has overcome both of these challenges in a very big way. With the new Bristle brushes and Mixer Brush, backed up by a powerful new painting engine, photo painting has never been as much fun and as accessible as it is now.

What is Photo Painting?

Photo painting, is a simulation of the painting workflow, tools and brushes, based on the traditional painting styles of the Old Masters and the lessons that we learned from art history.

For centuries, artists have been using the photograph as a reference for their paintings, and the camera or some form of lens to capture their image. Photo art, referred to today as photo painting, was and always will be a sought after art form, only accomplished differently at different times, according to what was available at the specific time period. With the introduction of new painting tools in CS5, it is possible to transform photographs into many different styles of art!

Using Photoshop to transform your photos into paintings is similar to how the Old Masters used the camera obscura, or to Norman Rockwell's technique, hundreds of years later. He used the photograph as a painting reference that enabled him to paint with such amazing detail. Using a balopticon, Rockwell would project a photograph of his subject onto a large sheet of canvas, then trace it in great detail, after it was all sketched out, he would begin adding in his paints, and that is how he created his masterpieces!

If you look back and study the art history of the Old Masters, you will see that nothing has changed, and yet everything has. One thing is for sure, we have not reinvented the wheel! Art today is the same as it was hundreds of years ago … we just use the tools available to us today to create it.

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December 1, 2010

Audio Acquisition for Photographers

By Ron Dawson

Have you ever seen “The Greatest American Hero?” It was an ’80s television show in which a mild-mannered teacher is visited by aliens and given a suit that gives him super-human powers, but he doesn’t know how to use it. Instead of looking heroic when he flies, he flops and flails as he zooms through the air.

As a filmmaker who does quite a bit of work in the professional photography industry, I get to see a lot of videos shot by aspiring photographers-cum-filmmakers. But like the hero, they have this powerful filmmaking tool in their hands, but they aren’t quite “flying right.”

With the flood of HD DSLR cameras, many of you have taken on the role of capturing video segments to enhance your artistry. This article will help you with one of the most crucial aspects of video production: audio acquisition.

AUDIO CAPTURE: Perhaps the single most prevalent issue I’ve seen with HD DSLR videos by newbies is poor audio acquisition—the audio recorded and used in the final production. Many photographers are using only the on-camera microphone for audio acquisition. The resulting end product sounds echo-y, or there’s significant obtrusive ambient noise (air conditioners, traffic noise, extraneous conversations). Even if you use a directional microphone like the Rode (a popular choice), you don’t always get the best results.

The reason is that the audio captured by DSLR cameras is highly compressed, and in many models there is no way to control the audio recording level. Many DSLRs are set to auto-gain, which means the volume of audio you record will go up and down depending on how loud the source is. If the source is very soft, the camera will automatically boost the levels and you get a hissing background sound, which is to audio what visual noise is to a high ISO setting. Some of the cameras (like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II) have released firmware updates that at least allow you to set your audio levels. But even so, you still get the compressed audio issue and that echo-y sound.


The Zoom H4N is a popular video recorder choice
for filmmakers and videographers.

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November 8, 2010

Tutorial: Textures as Layer Styles

By Thom Rouse

Texture layers and blending modes have become a standard method for post-production image enhancement. When you find yourself using a favorite texture over and over, it’s time to save time, and streamline the production. Here’s a method for using textures as layer styles for speed and efficiency.

Step 1. Find and open a texture you use regularly. Either select the entire image (command/control + A) or select a portion of the texture with the rectangular Marquee tool. (Fig. 1)


Figure 1

Step 2. From the edit menu choose Define Pattern … and name it descriptively so that you can identify it when you are looking for it. For instance “beige rock” or “green stucco wall”

Step 3. Open a subject image and create a duplicate layer above the original (command/control + J). (Fig. 2)


Figure 2

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October 25, 2010

Review: Photodex ProShow Producer and Gold v4.5

By Kirk R. Darling

I’ve had a longstanding love-hate relationship with Photodex ProShow Gold. I love the degree of control it gives me over the slideshows I create as sales tools and final products; I hate the time and effort it takes to create even simple slideshows. I tried Animoto, which is quite quick and easy, but those slide shows always left me with a desire to tweak them just a bit here and there. I wished for something that would give me push-button ease with as little or as as much control as I wanted.

Photodex has released version 4.5 of ProShow Gold and ProShow Producer with a great deal of hoopla over their new Instant Show wizard. (If you're not familiar with the term, a wizard is software application feature that guides you through a process.) So I downloaded the upgrades and was off to see if Photodex's wizard could grant my wish.

The wizard operates the same way in both Gold and Producer. It opens with a default dialog box providing a choice of the Instant Show wizard, opening an existing show, or creating a new show manually (Figure 1).


Figure 1 

Creating a new show with the wizard is a four-step process. The first step is to add the images to the show. If you want a text-only title slide, click first on the Text button and type the text you want. You cannot format the text; the wizard will select a text format and style according to the show theme you'll select later. Press Add, and a navigator window opens to search for images. In the wizard window, you can drag images to the sequence you want or click the "Randomize button to let the wizard decide the order. The Rotate button allows you to rotate an image.

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September 15, 2010

Shot in the Dark: Night Photography

By Kevin Adams

Someone once asked me what you can photograph at night. I was dumbfounded. That’s like asking what is there to shoot during the day. The answer is everything! If you can see it, you can photograph it. But the really cool thing about night photography is that you can also shoot things you can’t see.

Night photography is unique in that many subjects look totally different in the photo than they do when you shoot them. The long exposures typically used at night cause any moving lights to record as abstract streaks. The key to making the best images is to pre-visualize the effect for any given subject. In fact, with many night subjects, planning ahead is the only way to get the shot.

I enjoy all types of night photography, but light streaking is my favorite. If an object emits light and it moves, it’s a candidate. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Vehicle Lights

Recording lights from moving vehicles is the easiest type of streaking you can do. Like most nighttime lights, vehicle streaks do not normally make good photo subjects by themselves, but they can make a strong compositional element in any scene. Cars are the obvious sources, but think about other possibilities. Set up near an airport and catch the lights from arriving and departing planes (though be careful of the potential for a “photographer = terrorist” security situation). Shoot boats in a busy harbor. Catch a train crossing a trestle or coming out of a tunnel. Get the neighborhood kids to ride around on their bikes with a headlight attached.


In this nighttime snow scene, the light path from hiker's headlamps is traced along switchbacks on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail north of Asheville, North Carolina. This section of the MST is located within the boundaries of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Exposure: 1,122 seconds at f/22, ISO 200.

Optimum exposure varies according to the brightness and number of the lights. Typically, you will choose aperture first, based on depth of field requirements, then balance the ISO and shutter speed. In some situations, even with the smallest aperture and lowest ISO, you can’t set a shutter speed long enough to record the light streaks without overexposing the overall scene. Try using a polarizing or neutral density filter to cut the light and allow longer shutter speeds. Also, shoot at twilight, when light from the sky is balanced with vehicle lights.

Star Trails

Back in the film days, we could load ISO 100 film in a camera and open the shutter for hours, never worrying about noise. Try that with digital and you’ll hit the delete button afterwards. However, pro digital cameras are fully capable of producing noise-free images at shutter speeds of several minutes. By shooting a lot of exposures and stacking them, we can achieve an even better result than we could with film.


Star trails streak across the night sky sky above the telescope known as 26-East. The radio telescope is on the grounds of Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) in the mountains of western North Carolina. Exposure: 41 exposures stacked, each 180 seconds at f/4, ISO 400.

A photo of nothing but star trails might look cool at first glance, but the novelty wears off fast. You need something interesting in the foreground. Try campsite scenes, lighthouses, bridges, and striking buildings. I typically shoot star trails at ISO 200 and f/4. Shutter speed is based on the sky-fog limit, the point at which light pollution or skylight causes overexposure. At very dark sites, you might get by with 30 minutes or more, which would allow you to shoot a star trail scene in one exposure if noise weren’t an issue. In a heavily light-polluted region, you might not get a minute before it blows out. At reasonably dark sites, I’ve found that an exposure of 4 to 6 minutes works pretty well.

Stacking star trails can be extremely simple. If you have a compatible Windows system, you can download the free Startrails application from the website. Just load your images and let it do all the work. Or you can stack in Photoshop by loading the files into layers and setting the blend mode to Lighten.

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June 30, 2010

10 Video Tips for HDSLR Beginners

By Lindsay Adler

If you have an HDSLR camera, video is a great way to add an extra dimension to your work and even offer value-added services to your clients. Some photographers are beginning to differentiate themselves through their video capabilities, and others are finding video an exciting new realm for creativity.

If you are just getting into video, here are a few basic but essential tips to keep in mind.

1. Don’t Forget the Rules of Photography: Don't forget everything you’ve learned as a photographer. That the same rules of composition and lighting apply here. Just because you add motion doesn’t mean you should drop in visual quality.

2. Add Movement: We are often used to posing our subjects to capture a still moment in time. If you try this same static approach to video, it might as well have been still images. Add motion, action and interaction to your video. You don’t just have to focus on the movement of the subject, but you can also try moving the camera, like including pans (lateral movement of camera). In video, using zoom may have an amateur look; used correctly, it emphasizes tension or intense focus on a subject.

3. Get the Angles: Try to capture all the different angles for variety. It is often suggested to capture a wide shot to establish the scene, a medium shot to meet the subjects, a close-up to interact with the subjects, and super close-up for visual interest and variety. Instead of zooming in, you capture different angles and draw the viewer into the scene. In many cinematic productions, each shot is only on screen for a matter of seconds, which helps keep up the momentum. Use your different lenses—everything from wide angle to macro.

4. Tell a Story: It is even more important to tell a story in video than with photography because you must engage the viewer for a period of time. When you are telling a story with a plot, quest or some end goal, you will be better able to hold the relatively short attention span of today’s Internet generation.

5. Prepare: Video requires more thought and preparation because the segments must be stitched together into a cohesive piece. Summarize the story you want to tell, and figure out what shots you need to tell the story. Consider drawing out a storyboard to figure out which shots you’ll need, and how you can accomplish these shots.

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March 4, 2010

How To: Large File Transfer

By Zack Davis

As typical image file sizes increase, many photographers are finding it harder to move, share or deliver their files digitally. Whether delivering the final edit to a commercial client, submitting a print-resolution image to a magazine, or wanting to send work to your home computer from the studio, there are simple solutions available. We’ll cover just a few of the more popular services here including,, and These services allow you to send large files as easily as you send an e-mail and access your files from multiple computers whether you’re on Windows or Mac. works nearly seamlessly on Windows because it appears as a folder inside your computer. Anything inside this folder is automatically sent to the Dropbox servers, which allow instant online access on any Windows or Mac computer. Dropbox also has a complimentary iPhone app that allows you to access and edit your folders on the go.


If you’re using Dropbox and sharing a folder with other people, you’ll be instantly notified when a new file is added or modified as well. This is great if you often find yourself sending files to a few people over a chat program like Yahoo Instant Messenger.

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Uploading Videos to the Internet: Six Easy-to-Follow Steps

By Philip Bloom

In general, uploading videos to websites is a fairly easy process but there are a few steps you should take to ensure your videos are uploaded properly and offer the best quality possible. Personally, I use Vimeo for sharing my video content and their process for uploading videos is quite easy.

There are many formats you can use to upload your videos, but it is always a good idea to compress your videos before uploading them to the web. Uploading raw, uncompressed files will take a long time and eat up a lot of bandwidth, and the quality will not be that much better than a wel-compressed file. For me, the ideal combination of quality and speed are .MP4 or .MOV files using the h.264 codec. Although Flash streaming is a good compromise of quality and speed, H.264 QuickTime MP4s is a great alternative for great quality.

I have outlined a video upload workflow based on the Mac computer platform, but you can easily apply it to a PC as well. While my own personal workflow is based around Final Cut Pro— and that process is very specific— the following steps will work with most systems.

STEP 1: Secure a free piece of software called MPEG Streamclip from Once you’ve downloaded it to your computer, open the software and drag-and-drop your finished edit into its main window.

STEP 2: From the top menu of the software, choose Export as MP4 and click.

STEP 3: The next step is to determine which file format and resolution you’d like to use for your video. This depends on whether your video footage is in SD (standard definition), 720p (720 pixels vertical resolution) or 1080p HD (high definition).

My suggestion when using MPEG Streamclip is:
• Go to File, then Export to mp4.
• Select the codec you want the MP4 to be. MP4 is purely a “wrapper” for the video, allowing it to be compressed in all sorts of ways. Personally, I recommend you select H.264.


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March 3, 2010

Search Engine Optimization: Getting Started

By Ellis Vener

SEO is Search Engine Optimization. After either working long and hard designing, coding, debugging, and selecting images for your website, or spending a lot of money for someone else to do the design and coding work, you want your website to be easily found and that means making sure it ranks high, preferably on the first page, on a search engine’s list for photographers with your specialty in your town and in your region. An effective SEO strategy can be a powerful and cost effective marketing tool as the investments you have to make are merely ones of intellectual capital and time. SEO is only one component of your marketing strategy, of course, and all marketing is about building awareness. The fundamental point of marketing is to let potential clients know you exist and then to show off what you can do. Even if you are the most talented and sensitive photographer within 100 miles, if potential clients can’t find you, how will they know you even exist?

After researching and examining a lot of available SEO expertise, Professional Photographer turned to two photographers who successfully use SEO marketing to consistently rank high in different specialties. J Sandifer of emilie inc., a location wedding photography studio based in Portland, Maine, who is also the wedding development manager at liveBooks, and Jon Cornforth, a nature photographer and teacher. 

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September 17, 2009

Guide to Quantum Instruments Trio QF8 System Situational Setups

By Stan Sholik

The Quantum Instruments Trio QF8/Pilot QF9/Qflash T5d-R equipment forms a powerful and versatile wireless system that can handle many of the tasks that up until now have required larger, less portable lighting equipment. I found that the system will perform extremely well when it has been set up properly. But I also encountered a fairly steep learning curve in setting the units up to perform the way I wanted.

For others who may be trying to work out settings for some common photographic situations, here is what I have found.

1) How to set up a Trio on the camera hot shoe and a T5d-R as a remote to use the camera’s built-in TTL system to determine the exposure.

The T5d-R remote flash must be set to the same Wireless Group and Channel as the Trio, in this case Wireless Group R1 and Channel 1. The remote flash must ALWAYS be set up before the on-camera Trio is turned on.


On the Trio, you set the mode to QTTL, the first setting in the menu bar at the top of the LCD.


Continue reading "Guide to Quantum Instruments Trio QF8 System Situational Setups" »

April 6, 2009

Lighting Tutorial: The Double Profile

By Jeff Lubin, M.Photog.Cr.

One of the most interesting and challenging but least-taught studio lighting patterns is the double profile. All effective portraits attract the viewer’s attention to where the artist wants to draw the eye. In the case of this portrait of 5-year-old twins, we want to enjoy the great expressions and interaction of the subjects.

In most portraits the photographer wants to light the mask of the face. When the subjects are in profile, the mask is a very slim area showing the forehead, outline of the nose, and chin. Because the subjects are facing each other, a single key light can’t outline each face, and the scene will require lighting from separate light sources. Let me take you through the setup and settings to achieve this high-impact but subtle result.

We are using four lights for this setup, a 60-inch Larson umbrella, a 36-inch Larson strip light and two Photogenic parabolics with white diffusers and 16-inch barn doors. The camera is a Hasselblad H2 with a 39-megapixel digital P45+ back by Phase One. The background was painted by Ron Dupree.

©Jeff Lubin

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March 19, 2009

Droplets No Longer An Unsung Automation Feature

Press Release—Digital imaging master and unlikely crooner Deke McClelland tenders an original new love song to kick off the next round of his popular video podcast series, dekePod. Titled "The Droplet Song (A Love Song to a Lost Feature in Photoshop)," Deke's goofily romantic new tune honors one of Photoshop's most arcane but useful automation features.

Why devote a romantic ballad to Photoshop?

"I wanted to kick off the new round of dekePods with a kinder, gentler Deke. And what better way to do that than with a love song? A love song that just so happens to be about a Photoshop automation feature called droplets," explains Deke, author of over 80 books and a popular lecturer on Adobe Photoshop and the larger realm of computer graphics and design. Sponsored by O'Reilly Media and, Deke's all new, sentimental yet laugh-out-load music video not only entertains, but also captures the intense enthusiasm essential to most (if not all) creative endeavors.

"The thing about droplets is that they're actually really useful, but there's virtually no documentation about them, which makes our music video one of the rare training pieces on the topic. And even though it's wrapped up in this over-the-top love song, the way you make a droplet, my recommended settings, and how you use the finished product are all there," adds Deke, the creator of O'Reilly Media's bestselling One-on-One book and video series. "I wrote the melody and lyrics, and my buddies at The Jellybricks put together the music. Someone showed me a few videos from 1960s folk singer Rod McKuen, and everything fell into place."


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March 16, 2009

Tutorial: iDC Textures v2

By Joe Farace

The use of texture screens is nothing new for portraiture and has been around for more than seventy years. In the traditional darkroom, a texture screen is a piece of film that has a texture printed on it and is placed over photographic paper or sandwiched with the negative during exposure. In the digital darkroom, you can accomplish this effect using Photoshop layers, but in a busy studio where productivity is as important as creativity, there’s an easier way.

IDC Photography offers a set of Photoshop actions and a plug-in that not only makes the job painless but lets you be creative, too. iDC Textures v1 Actions is set of 16 art textures that add interesting surface effects to your photographs, producing a layered Photoshop file for further processing. Included in the package are also seven workflow actions called Hollywood Glam, Silent Movie B&W, ShowBiz Snap, Faded Technicolor, Colortone and Uninhibited Resize.

Textures v2 is a Photoshop-compatible plug-in that includes 18 different textures and requires Adobe Photoshop CS3 or CS4. The interface provides a visual reference thumbnail for each texture. All you have to do is click on the one you want to apply, position it for the best effect, and brush away texture where you don’t want it.

Continue reading "Tutorial: iDC Textures v2" »

January 20, 2009

Tutorial: New Adjustment Panel in Adobe Photoshop CS4

By Ellis Vener

Modern raw processing software is very capable. You can use it to manipulate both global and local tone and color; remove some image defects; and create Web galleries, Web-ready JPEGs, and prints. What does Adobe Photoshop CS4 (PsCS4) still have to offer the busy working photographer that these products—particularly Adobe Photoshop Lightroom—do not?

fabulous parties! It ALL begins in January, join
This tutorial covers the update of one of the more powerful Photoshop tools—layers—in conjunction with the new Adjustments panel (what we used to call a palette). If you do not already use layers in your way of working with photos, then you should, and PsCS4 makes working with layers and masks far more user friendly than before. Working in layers gives you the power to make progressive changes to an image without losing track of where and when you did what, which in turn makes it far easier to fine tune the photo and, as necessary, revisit a step. If you follow the strategy advocated by R. Mac Holbert of Nash Editions—work on global processing first before solving localized problems—and keep the layer stack tidy, you can substantially shorten your image processing time. The new Adjustments panel is a great boon in this respect.


There are 13 Adjustments panel options—Brightness/Contrast, Levels, Curves, Hue/Saturation/Lightness, Color Balance, Black and White, Photo Filter, Channel Mixer, Invert, Posterize, Threshold, Gradient Map, and Selective Color.

Access each option through the icons in the Adjustments panel. Clicking on any of the icons creates a new adjustment layer for that effect, including a built-in mask, and converts the Adjustments panel into the menu pane for each. To return to the main Adjustments view click on the arrow in the lower left corner of the pane.  

Starting with a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II raw file made by former PPA president Jack Reznicki, the photo was opened in Lightroom 2.2. White balance was set to Flash and capture sharpening was done in Lightroom. The image was then exported as a 16-bit per channel TIFF using Adobe RGB (1998) as the color space, and opened in PsCS4, as seen below.

Image ©Jack Reznicki

Continue reading "Tutorial: New Adjustment Panel in Adobe Photoshop CS4" »

January 19, 2009

Lighting a Space Effectively and Efficiently

By Jim Benest

The following is partially excerpted from Andrew Darlow’s "301 Inkjet Tips and Techniques: An Essential Printing Resource for Photographers" (Course Technology, PTR).

There are many ways to light artwork. You can choose different types of light (traditional halogen, fluorescent, LED and others), and many different strengths and focus types (direct, indirect, spot, flood, etc.). These tips offer some suggestions for lighting a commercial gallery, but the suggestions can be used for any location where artwork will be displayed, such as a doctor’s office, home or office building.

TIP 229
Determine how many pieces you will put on each wall.

Depending upon whether you will have one piece in the center of a wall or three or more stacked (like in our gallery), your lighting will be different. Also consider the mood you want to have in the space. You can choose from dark ambient lighting with dramatic spotlights on every piece of art, or you can select a more broadly lit effect, as we use in our gallery.

A view of one side of The Collective Fine Art Gallery, with multiple types of lighting shown in the track lighting system. Photo ©Andrew Darlow

Continue reading "Lighting a Space Effectively and Efficiently" »

January 1, 2009

Tutorial: High Dynamic Range, Even With Moving Subjects

By Gavin Phillips

High Dynamic Range Imaging  (HDR) enables you to capture stunning images that display all the vivid color and contrast that is usually only visible to the human eye. You cannot duplicate HDR by manipulating a single RAW image in Photoshop.

©Gavin Phillips

Business Applications

Contrary to popular belief, you can photograph people and moving objects using HDR. It requires more editing time in Photoshop, but not as much as you might think.

This significantly broadens the commercial applications for you in your business. You can offer your wedding clients unique images of the church and select outdoor locations. Your commercial clients will see the enormous differences between HDR and regular digital images.

Offering HDR also separates you from the competition, but more importantly, places you far ahead of the ever-growing amateur photography crowd.

©Gavin Phillips

How to take an HDR Photograph

HDR images are created by taking 3, 5, 7 or more photographs at 1 to 2-stop exposure increments per photo. The photographs are then merged into a single image.

I shoot sets of 5 or 7 images at 1-stop increments. I generally shoot in sets of 5 for outdoor locations during the day and sets of 7 for indoor settings, like churches or hotels. The darker the scene, the larger the set of images. Ideally, you want shadows blown out in the overexposed image and highlights made dark in the underexposed image.

Continue reading "Tutorial: High Dynamic Range, Even With Moving Subjects" »

September 8, 2008

Lighting Essentials 3: Hair Light

A thorough understanding of lighting fundamentals is vital to your growth as an artist. Learn how to add dimension to your images with hair lights.

By Don Chick, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

[Editor's note: To our regret, the last sentence of this article was truncated in the September issue of Professional Photographer. This is the article in full.]

Third in a series on the fundamentals of studio portrait lighting.

We’ve discussed the use of foundational lighting in creating a portrait; now we’ll cover the use of additional lights to add impact to your images.

A hair light in a portrait setup adds dimension and drama to the image by accenting the shoulders and crown of the subject. Like adding spice to a dish, adding a disproportionate amount of hair light can overpower the other lighting and ruin the final image. The brightness of the hair light should never be the first thing you notice about a portrait (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The inset shows excessive hair light. The larger version shows hair light that complements rather than diverting attention. ©Don Chick

The hair light should complement the rest of the image, not divert the viewer’s attention from the center of interest. Notice in Figure 2 how the hair light adds a nice bit of separation for the hat, as well as the subject’s shoulder. Imagine how bland the image would be without it.

Figure 2

©Don Chick

Because the hair light is positioned above and behind the subject, its output should generally be less than the main light—one stop less is a good starting place. For example, if the main light at the subject’s position meters at f/8, you’d adjust the hair light to read f/5.6, one stop less. For the most accurate light measurement, turn off or block out all other light sources. Point the dome of your meter at the light source you’re measuring and take the reading. If the results aren’t to your liking, adjust the hair light output accordingly.

Continue reading "Lighting Essentials 3: Hair Light" »

September 1, 2008

Lightroom's best-kept secret

By David Ziser, M.Photog.Cr., F-ASP

Editor’s note: In his new column in Professional Photographer magazine, renowned wedding photographer and popular instructor David Ziser shares his insights on the art and business of photography.

I have to tell you that I'm becoming a really big fan of Lightroom 2. There are a couple of features in the new version that simply make it one of the most remarkable pieces of software on the planet earth. Watch this video from my blog and see if you don't agree with me. 


The full release of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 is now available for purchase ($299, $99 upgrade), or you can download a free trial version.

August 1, 2008

Portrait Lighting Tutorial: Character Study

Capture the essence of a male subject in a single image.

By Don Chick, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

Though colleagues often kid me about my portraits of “old men with hats and beards,” I’ve found photographing men to be interesting and rewarding. Images of beautiful women dominate magazines and exhibitions. When you do see a male subject, it’s most likely a child, high school senior or groom. Yet every man has a unique personality and a story all his own. A portrait should honor the man and the life that’s made him who he is.

Emerson, an elderly gentleman in our neighborhood, was surprised when I wanted to create a portrait of him. He had a compelling look I wanted to capture, I explained. I promised to delete my images if I didn’t make him look good. At my studio the next day, I asked him about his life as I photographed him. He spoke of the places he’d lived, of his family and the jobs he’d held, and about being in the Navy during World War II. Talking helped him to relax into his natural stance and unstudied gestures. From time to time I would ask him to lift his chin or turn his head to refine the pose. I was especially pleased with a particular image from that session (Figure 1).

Figure 1: "Old Habit" ©Don Chick

For character study portrait lighting, I use a 3x4 Larson Soff Box as the main light; a stand-up reflector with white fabric for fill light; a 10x36 Larson Soff Strip with louvers for a hair light; a Photogenic 1250 deep conical parabolic with barn doors as a background light; a 42x72-inch Larson stand-up reflector with silver fabric for accent lighting, placed on the side opposite the main light; and a Photogenic 2500DR in a 10-degree fine honeycomb grid to add a bit of spot light to the background (Figure 2). I prefer to handhold the camera for these sessions so I can capture angles and moods spontaneously.

Figure 2: Lighting diagram for character study portraiture


Continue reading "Portrait Lighting Tutorial: Character Study" »

June 2, 2008

Tutorial: Simple Composite

By Bob Coates, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

It’s not a bad problem when you’ve captured so many good images that the client can’t narrow the selections down. It gives you the opportunity to sell more and different kinds of product. You can use the techniques in this tutorial to design pages for senior, family and wedding albums as well as framed prints. These images are from a senior portrait session with Heather, who wanted lots of different looks, from casual to fashion.

©Bob Coates

Don’t use too many images on one spread. Usually odd numbers of images work better in design. This helps to keep the eye moving around in the image. Even numbers of images tend to make the layout too static. Here we’ve combined five images to show different composite techniques.

Open all the images you’ll include in the layout. Create a new document at the final print size and resolution you want. Select the Move tool (V) and drag and drop your base image(s) to the new document window. I chose two fashion images to be the base and blended them together using a Layer Mask and Gradient Tool (below).


©Bob Coates 

Continue reading "Tutorial: Simple Composite" »

May 30, 2008

Light: Learn to See

By Don Chick, M.Photog.Cr., CPP
Image ©Don Chick

Looking is not seeing.

Seeing involves asking what, why and how as your eyes take in a situation. Seeing is what an artist does while taking in the world around them.

The journey from looking to seeing is part of artistic growth. It’s a conscious decision at first, and with time and experience it becomes a subconscious act of the mind. If you are open to growth, the seeing process never ends. It’s when you think you’ve arrived that you lose the ability to grow and continue to see.

Growth is a uniquely personal experience, but there are ways to facilitate the process. One object lesson is an art classic: photographing a white egg on a white piece of paper. An egg is a perfect piece of sculpture, a gift of nature, that is most likely sitting right in your refrigerator. You don’t even need a large piece of paper.  Simply take a sheet from your printer to use in this lesson.


The first element of the lesson involves caring. “Why should I care about an egg?” you ask. The reason for caring is that if you don’t think you can learn anything from the egg, you’re right. You won’t learn a thing. If you think you can learn something from the egg, you will.


Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “If you think you can do a thing or you think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” Caring in the beginning and throughout the entire course of your career as an artist is crucial to growth.


Continue reading "Light: Learn to See" »

May 1, 2008

Tutorial: Measuring and Adjusting for Light Falloff

By Don Chick, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

Have you recently purchased a new light modifier for your main light? Maybe you have one that you’ve had for awhile, but you’re still not happy with the results you are getting. Your pictures just don’t look anywhere close to those dramatic images shown at the seminar where you ordered the product. The light falloff (decrease in the intensity of the light) across the scene just isn’t right! The part of the subject nearest to the main light is over exposed, while the other side of the subject is underexposed.

You’re frustrated. Now what do you do?

Do you send your new light modifier back for a refund? Do you put it in the closet with all of the other pieces of equipment that “don’t work”? Before you do anything else, go right to your camera bag where you will likely find a very simple solution to this common problem. Your light meter.

A light meter is a professional photographer’s best friend. If you’re not getting the results you expect, stop first to measure the amount of light output coming into your scene. Think of your light meter as being like a thermometer. A thermometer tells us if a temperature is too hot or too cold. Too high or too low means that you have a problem to take care of.

In similar fashion, your light meter is a gauge to show you whether there is too much or too little light falling into your scene. The good news is that you probably do not need to return your new light modifier or stash it away. This tutorial shows how to use your light meter to determine how a modifier affects the light. This one simple tool may just solve your lighting dilemma.

Continue reading "Tutorial: Measuring and Adjusting for Light Falloff" »

April 1, 2008

Video Tutorials: Lightroom 1.1 New Features from Chris Orwig,

As a special bonus for Professional Photographer Web Exclusives readers, we’re pleased to present two Adobe Photoshop Lightroom video tutorials from Chris Orwig and, Applying presets and Converting to black and white, from Photoshop Lightroom 1.1 New Features.


Applying presets



Converting to black and white

In Photoshop Lightroom 1.1 New Features, instructor Orwig covers the latest additions to both version 1.1 and version 1.2. He explains how to work with each of the application's new features, including the updated interface, database catalogs, and modules. Chris also shares some useful tips and tricks along the way. Exercise files accompany the tutorials. The full set of tutorials is available at, the award-winning provider of educational materials and online training.

Chris Orwig is a faculty member of Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA. He is a professional freelance photographer, interactive designer, educator, and consultant. Included among his clients are companies such as Disney, Nissan, Activision, and J-Records.

The Online Training Library® and CD-ROM titles include such subjects as Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Office, digital photography, Web design, digital video, and many others. Library subscriptions begin as low as $25 a month, with no long-term commitment required.


March 1, 2008

Tutorial: Lighting for Impact

By Don Chick, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

Let’s face it, photography is about lighting. Yes, composition is important and emotion is important, but without lighting, you have nothing. Light is everything … almost.

As a piece of music has rhythm, harmony, and melody, so there are elements to lighting that must be included for the image to have impact. Light has the ability to invoke emotion on the part of the viewer. We relate emotionally to different types of lighting and even our moods are affected by light. Light is necessary to our very survival and existence.

Light is a force to be harnessed for our photographs as well. One difference between a professional and an amateur photographer is that the professional is in control of the light. On location, the professional photographer has to position the subject within the environment as it exists. They have no control over where trees have grown or where buildings have been built. They must utilize the existing surroundings and lighting conditions, and the client expects beautiful images. Most photographers make the environment the primary factor and then position the subject within that environment. They make lighting secondary to the location.

The correct approach makes lighting the determining factor for the location and then positions the subject within that environment. Often in the first scenario the lighting is flat and diminishes the features of a beautiful environment. By looking for the “sweet” light first and then carefully placing your subjects in the best possible light, you create a better portrait that has both elements working for it: pretty lighting and a beautiful environment.

Continue reading "Tutorial: Lighting for Impact" »

How To: Saving Images for Web Viewing

By Josh Kill

As a serious modern photographer I am obsessed with controlling every aspect of color management, from camera to monitor to print. With careful attention to the details I can recreate the exact colors that I saw through the viewfinder or accurately print specially brewed color and contrast tweaks. Ahh … perfection!

It would be nice if portraying your images on the web could be that precise. But, alas, it is not so. As with most objects for mass consumption, the final quality is out of your hands. So … What do you do for all of those millions of people (real or imaginary) who will want to view your beautiful creations online? Online portfolios are essential, and you will be judged on the way they look, despite the known issues of onscreen viewing.

Is there any hope for our poor images as they go out to be viewed on monitors with stock calibration, laptops in direct sunlight, fluorescent-lit cubicles, Wii’s, PS3’s and cell phones?

Maybe. We can hope.

As I see it, there are two approaches that can help:

Approach #1: Denial.

This approach is simple and effective.

Step 1. Post images to your Web site (or Flickr, Smugmug, etc.)

Step 2. Walk away.
DO NOT view your images with a web browser (not even your own). Doing so will utterly ruin this approach and immediately force you into approach #2!

Approach #2. Process your images for the web.

A few extra steps will give your images the best shot at accurate web rendering. There are a few common issues that I come across when rendering my images on the web. I will now describe my personal methods for preparing images for the web.

Step 1. Initial edits.
Prepare your image from RAW (basic contrast, color correction, and input sharpening). Open in Photoshop as an 8-bit image with sRGB as your color workspace.

Step 2. Resize.
Since I am working on a copy of the image (you always work on copies, too, right?) I resize my images right away to enhance editing speed and give me a clear view of the image details at the target size. Typically, I stick to the standard resize method in Photoshop: Image > Image Size - set resolution to 72 pixels/inch, set the target width or height in pixels, and choose Bicubic Sharper in the Resample Image drop-down menu. The resized image will usually need a bit of sharpening at this point to bring out the little details that are lost in the resize. Something like Unsharp Mask (Amount: 30%, Radius: 0.5 pixels, Threshold: 0, will get you close)



Step 3. Preview your image without color management.
Selecting View > Proof Setup > Monitor RGB. You should immediately see some changes to your image on screen. Generally the image contrast and color saturation increase (which is pretty much the opposite of what happens when you are printing an image!)


Continue reading "How To: Saving Images for Web Viewing" »

January 3, 2008

Painting Portraits from Collaged Photos in Corel Painter

By Karen Sperling

Many photographers now offer photos with brushstrokes added in Corel Painter as a special high-end product, but the application’s versatile tool set offers much more to the portrait photographer beyond this basic  technique.

For instance, you can create a painterly collage to commemorate the events in someone’s life. Take several photos, collage, paint and you have a fitting tribute for everyone from corporate executives to brides, seniors or children.

You might charge a premium for this sort of portrait above what you'd charge for the basic portrait with brushstrokes because of the additional work done for the collaged background. You can get the photos you need for the background by getting a variety during the photo shoot, whether it's in the studio, at the subject's location or at a wedding. You can also add old family snapshots or mementos, which you can scan, or favorite digital photos that the subject has on hand. The possibilities really are limitless.

I painted this portrait of Laurence Gartel to commemorate the debut of Digital Long Island (DLI), an event he founded to celebrate digital art.

Painting and photos ©2007 Karen Sperling

Continue reading "Painting Portraits from Collaged Photos in Corel Painter" »

January 1, 2008

Posing and Lighting to Flatter Your Subject

Please enjoy this bonus for Professional Photographer magazine readers, a free lighting lesson from Web Photo School.

By Norman Haughey, Web Photo School Contributor 

The impact and success of a portrait can be the result of lighting, composition, body language, lens choice, camera angle, clothing, color, texture or even luck. With a few portrait techniques, your luck will improve dramatically. There are many stylistic methods which can make a photographer's work a little unique and help your own style develop over time.

In this lesson, I will merely try to pass on some basic tips that will bring immediate positive results to your photography.

Many of the techniques shown are subtle and require only a slight adjustment to the subject to create a more pleasing and natural representation. I will touch on some common techniques to affect the viewer’s impression of the subject's personality.

Topics Covered:

  • Facial Analysis
  • Double Chins
  • Narrow Lighting
  • Broad Lighting
  • Split Lighting
  • Profile
  • Masculine & Feminine Pose
  • Eye Problems
  • Glasses Glare
  • Portrait Lens Choice
  • Expression

Go to Posing and Lighting to Flatter Your Subject at Web Photo School.

A lesson produced by 


A Simplified HDR Technique

By Ellis Vener

There were three major problems to solve for this view of the State Capitol Building in Atlanta, Georgia:

  • It is a large multi-level space with lots of fine detail.
  • There were multiple light sources: daylight, fluorescent and tungsten.
  • The interior composition spanned a broad EV range with important detail at both ends.

Solving the first two problems was straightforward, solved with a Nikon D3 and an AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikkor lens set to f/8 at 14mm. I chose f/8 for depth of field and optimal resolution. I set the Nikon D3 to manual focus, ISO 200, and aperture priority 3-D Matrix metering. Once I secured, checked and doubled-checked the camera settings and position, I took seven exposures, bracketing from +3 to -3 stops in one-stop increments. Given the total spectrum hash of light sources, I thought it best to give Auto White Balance a try.

Image ©2007 Ellis Vener 

Continue reading "A Simplified HDR Technique" »

December 1, 2007

How To Read and Understand a Histogram

By Ellis Vener

“The map is not the territory” – Alfred Korzybski

What is a histogram and what does it tell us about a photograph?

A histogram is nothing more than a bar graph. It shows how the luminance values in a digital or digitized photograph are distributed. The linear scale in a histogram runs from black at one end to white at the opposite end. With the exception of a scanned negative, the scale runs from left (black) to right (white). About 99 percent of the histograms we use in photography today have 256 increments, corresponding to 8-bit data depth. The histogram maps the distribution of the luminance values either as a composite of the red, green, and blue channels or in each channel, as you may have seen in the histogram display on some cameras and as option in Photoshop.

The horizontal scale of the histogram measures exposure latitude, and the vertical scale measures quantity: it tells us how many pixels in the image have a specific luminosity value. While the horizontal scale is measured in absolute values  (0 to 255) the vertical scale is effected by several factors: the color space, bit depth, and if you are shooting jpegs, the compression level.  


Above, the histogram display from Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw shows channels represented by different colors.  

Continue reading "How To Read and Understand a Histogram" »

November 1, 2007

Creative Color Temperature and Raw Processing

Excerpted by permission from the forthcoming book, "The Creative Digital Darkroom" by Katrin Eismann and Sean Duggan (O'Reilly Media), available Dec. 15.

Color is the musical score of the image, and just as the musical score changes how you feel about a movie scene, the image’s color treatment will influence or, more fittingly said, will “tint” the viewer’s emotional response. The ability to experiment with image adjustment layers and creative color interpretations is a source of inspiration for me, and it is often surprising how the subtlest color adjustment can shift the emotional impact of an image.

We’ve all made the effort to wake before sunrise to take pictures in dawn’s golden hour or skipped dinner to shoot during dusk when the light is raking across the landscape. Although Photoshop can’t change the time of day in which you shot the image, it can influence the image’s color rendition to infer moods and emotions.

Neutral is highly overrated

In most cases the goal of processing digital files is to create color-neutral and well-exposed images, but in many cases neutral is simply not the best choice for an image. Take a look at the comparison in Figure 8-33, which shows how Katrin saw, and the camera recorded, the pre-sunrise shot of the Brooklyn Bridge, and then how a raw converter set to automatic sucked all the passion out of the scene. Adding creative color interpretations during raw processing is a very subjective and emotional progression that can be a welcome break from the dogma of neutral, picture-perfect image production.


Figure 8-33. Raw conversion, set to automatic, can suck the passion from a scene.

Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop Lightroom are tremendous tools to enhance the emotional aspect of images by letting you bend the rules of reality-bound image processing to create subtle and moody images. The advantage of doing creative work in Adobe Camera Raw or Photoshop Lightroom is you can rework and reinterpret the same image many times without ever degrading the original file. Additionally, the benefit of experimenting in the raw processor is that all the controls to influence color, contrast, and exposure are close at hand, enabling you to work very fluidly as you tweak one setting and then refine another.

Working Smart with Smart Objects

Before we dive into the world of creative color, always put on your water wings or life preserver to keep your head above the raw waters. In this case, we highly recommend working with Smart Objects, which in Photoshop CS3 with Adobe Camera Raw 4 (or later) is both an easy and convenient feature that gives you access to Adobe Camera Raw controls even after the image has been brought into Photoshop.

Continue reading "Creative Color Temperature and Raw Processing" »

September 1, 2007

The Designer's Apprentice: Automating Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign in Adobe Creative Suite 3, by Rick Ralston

The Designer's Apprentice

Rick Ralston's "The Designer's Apprentice" (Adobe Press, $39.99) shows you how to use the Automation tools in Creative Suite 3 to save time and effort, freeing you for more creative work. Though written for a graphic designer audience, this book has valuable information for professional photographers as well.

Though automation may seem intimidating, it doesn't have to be. You can make your computer and software work better for you. Learn how to combine your customer data with images for personalized communications. Learn how to record macro-like Actions with Photoshop and then reuse them with multiple files.

Also, keep an eye on the magazine for more information from Rick Ralston, written exclusively for the Professional Photographer audience. He'll explain what automation can accomplish for professional photographers, what ROI you can expect from incorporating automation into your workflow, and how you can get started.

In the meantime, enjoy this excerpt that teaches you how to make a Photoshop Action that gives your images the Reflecto effect, familiar from Apple's marketing and featured on the book's cover.

Download the Reflecto Action tutorial from "The Designer's Apprentice," by Rick Ralston 

Excerpted from "The Designer's Apprentice: Automating Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign in Adobe Creative Suite 3" by Rick Ralston. Copyright © 2008. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and Adobe Press.

July 10, 2007

Tutorial: Fix Optical Distortion from Prescription Eyewear in Portraiture

200707we_glassesimage01 By Tony Hopman, Cr.Photog., CPP, API, FDPE, FSA
All images ©Tony Hopman

Prescription glasses for nearsighted people cause a distortion that makes the portion of their face seen through the lens look as though it's farther away than the portion not covered by the lens. Many people are so accustomed to seeing it that it doesn't register in face-to-face interaction, but it becomes more noticeable in a portrait.


“Can you fix that?” my client asked when she saw the distortion through her husband's lenses in their portrait. "Of course," I said. "We can fix almost anything!" That was easier said than done. After several unsuccessful attempts at cloning and painting the missing cheek within the glass frame, I decided there must be a better way. I finally arrived at a method that works well without adding too much work.

Continue reading "Tutorial: Fix Optical Distortion from Prescription Eyewear in Portraiture" »

July 1, 2007

Making Digital Negatives

All contents and images ©Dan Burkholder

Digital negatives have pumped new energy into the alternative printing arena. Since the first edition of my Making Digital Negatives for Contact Printing was published in 1995 (I call that long-past period the Paleolithic era in digital imaging), I've heard from people all over the world who are thrilled with their new power to combine the old (chemical-based photography) with the new (digital capture and control).

Today the friendliest way to make digital negatives is with Photoshop and modern inkjet printers, using these inkjet negatives to print on classic photosensitive materials like cyanotype, platinum/palladium, and silver gelatin. When we do the steps properly, we can make contact prints that rival the quality of prints made from camera-original negatives. You gotta admit, this sounds like fun!

Figure 1: Windmills, Spain, Platinum/Palladium Print from a Digital Negative, by Dan Burkholder

Continue reading "Making Digital Negatives" »

June 1, 2007

Ringflash technique

200706we_ringflashsholik Ringflash becomes a more versatile lighting tool

By Ellis Vener

Popular with fashion and celebrity photographers, ringlights create a singular look. Typically ringflash illuminates the subject in a clinical light that looks like the camera was mounted in the center of a spotlight, leaving nothing concealed. The effect offers none of the tricks of shadowing and highlight and chiaroscuro we normally use to create the illusion of three-dimensional depth in a two-dimensional medium.

Until recently, most ringlights were designed the same way, with a circular or pair of semi-circular flash tubes wrapped around the barrel of the lens. Some ringlight manufacturers include a larger outer reflector and inner deflector to spread the light out a bit more and soften the light's hardness. But now at least three manufacturers—Broncolor, Profoto, and AlienBees—are looking to make the ring a more versatile lighting tool. AlienBees has been especially creative in this regard, devising an entire set of light modifiers to use with their ABR800 AlienBees Ringflash and the similar head for the forthcoming Zeus system. I’ve used the ABR800 for this tutorial.

AlienBees Ringflash photo above ©Stan Sholik

Continue reading "Ringflash technique" »

March 15, 2007

Basic Strobe Portrait In Studio

200703we_wpsportrait Professional Photographer magazine offers our readers free lighting tutorials from Web Photo School.

The basics of portrait photography could fill many large books. Many pro photographers who typically shoot using only available light want to advance their studio lighting skills. In such cases, it's always good to start with the basics. This Web Photo School lesson concentrates on one application with a few variations on the theme for this lesson.

Topics Covered:

  • Using portable flash units
  • Creating drama with one light
  • Using reflective fill
  • Background lighting effects

Go to the Basic Strobe Portrait in Studio lesson at Web Photo School.

March 1, 2007

Masking Software, a Closer Look

By Stan Sholik
[This feature elaborates on "Hideaway," the masking software review by Stan Sholik in the March issue of
Professional Photographer magazine.]

Every image that requires masking in order to composite it with another image, or to create a layer mask for image enhancement, seems to present a unique set of problems. Some of these problems can be handled with the tools in Photoshop, but the tougher ones are generally handled quicker and easier with third-party software optimized for the needed task.

onOne Software Mask Pro 4

This wedding image was made with available light in the church, but I want to eliminate the busy background and replace it with an Old Masters digital background from Owen's Originals. The problem is the original image has a lot of the same hues in the areas that I want to keep and the areas I want to drop. What I need to do is outline the couple with the Pen tool rather than try to use “keep” and “drop” colors. Mask Pro’s Magic Pen tool is perfect for this.

Open the image in Photoshop, unlock it by double-clicking and rename it. Then make a copy of it as a precaution. It’s always best to work on a copy rather than the original. I add a Layer Mask at this point and leave it highlighted. Mask Pro will create a layer mask. If you don’t create a layer mask, Mask Pro will eliminate the background in the image file itself. If you choose to work without a layer mask, be sure to work on a copy!

I also create a layer with my new background. When the mask is completed in Mask Pro, the software will then allow you to preview it against this background.

All images ©Stan Sholik; click for larger view.

Continue reading "Masking Software, a Closer Look" »

Tutorial: Collage Portrait

All Images ©2007 Jeremy Sutton

The art of making "San Francisco Heart" with Corel Painter X

By Jeremy Sutton

[Due to space constraints, we could not include every step of the Collage Portrait tutorial that Sutton wrote for our March issue of Professional Photographer. Here, for our readers, is the complete version of that tutorial.]

I created San Francisco Heart, a collage portrait of San Francisco, using the recently released Corel Painter X . The principles, strategies, workflow and techniques shared here can be applied to creating a collage portrait of any subject—a person, family or couple; a vacation destination, event or city. My goal is to inspire and empower you to create your own personal collage portraits.

The term collage portrait refers to a portrait painting of a subject in which there is usually one main foundation image interwoven with a multitude of subsidiary images, some more subtle than others, but all relating to the subject and contributing to the whole in a harmonious and meaningful way.

San Francisco Heart was inspired by my experience of living in San Francisco and wanting to express my appreciation of the beauty, diversity, creativity, excitement and richness of this City by the Bay.

Read on or DOWNLOAD a PDF of this tutorial.

Continue reading "Tutorial: Collage Portrait" »

February 1, 2007

Shooting on the Beach with LitePanels

200702bc_wpsbeachsm Professional Photographer magazine offers our readers free lighting tutorials from Web Photo School.

There are many things to consider when you leave the studio to shoot portraits outside: weather, time of day, and the background to name but a few. With its LitePanel system, Photoflex offers a way to take the control you have in the studio with you on location.

Topics Covered:

  • Assembling an Outdoor Shooting Tent
  • Adjusting the Tripod for Low Angle Shots
  • Programming the Camera Settings
  • Using LitePanels for Fill
  • Balancing Light Outdoors

Go to the Shooting on the Beach with litePanels lesson at Web Photo School.

January 1, 2007

Shooting Glamour in the Studio

200701bc_wps Professional Photographer magazine offers our readers free lighting tutorials from Web Photo School.

Modifying the standard approach to portraits can add more life and interest to your shot if you know what you're doing. When it comes to shooting glamour, rules should be considered guidelines.

The most interesting glamour shots out there are taken by photographers who have veered from the rules to come up with their own bag of tricks for shooting.

This lesson will show you a couple of simple modifications you can make to a standard portrait lighting setup to enhance the appeal of your images.

Topics Covered:

  • Setting Up the Background
  • Setting Up the Quantum Q Flash
  • Installing the Radio Slaves
  • Setting Up the Main Flash
  • Programming the E-300 Camera Settings
  • Setting Up the Fill Light
  • Setting Up the Separation Light

Go to Shooting Glamour in the Studio at Web Photo School.

Continue reading "Shooting Glamour in the Studio" »

December 1, 2006

Achieving a Pure White Background

200612bc_webphotosch Professional Photographer magazine offers our readers free lighting tutorials from Web Photo School.

Achieving a pure white background may seem simple, but it's not so hard to foul it up. A new photographer usually goes too far in one direction or another when attempting to create a perfect white background.

A) An insufficient amount of light on the background creates a shade of gray.

B) Too much light on the background turns the subject matter 'milky' and saturation is lost.

This lesson shows you the techniques necessary to control your white backgrounds.

Topics Covered:

  • How to prepare for an indoor sports portrait
  • Setting up proper lighting ratios
  • Techniques on using a light meter
  • Special effects using Plexiglas

Go to Achieving a Pure White Background at Web Photo School.

Tamron Produces Pro How-To Videos

4-Minute videos debut the December 1 in the Tamron Pro Learning Center

Press Release—If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a how-to video must be as good as a book, especially if it compresses the knowledge contained in a 45-minute lecture into a concise, well-focused, viewer friendly 4-minute format you can download to your iPod or computer. That’s the exciting concept behind the incisive, entertaining, and informative new podcasts posted in the Tamron Pro Learning Center at

Hosted by leading photographers, each one gives clear step-by-step pointers on shooting everything from surfing to portraits to macro in Central Park. The information is presented in simple, direct language with verbal hints and tips immediately illustrated by concrete visual examples. Watching one of these podcasts on the screen feels more like being at a hands-on photo workshop in the field than sitting in the classroom. And by mixing video footage with outstanding still photographs, each technique becomes crystal clear. It’s easy to hook up with this incredible learning experience—just make sure you’ve got QuickTime on your 'pod or PC, click on podcasts at the Pro Learning Center and take a few minutes to download the videos.

Continue reading "Tamron Produces Pro How-To Videos" »

November 15, 2006

Documentary photographer Colin Finlay shares lighting techniques

Press Release—Kingston Technology's ‘Icons of Photography’ Web site this month features award-winning documentary photographer Colin  Finlay, offering tips on making the most of existing lighting. “As a photojournalist I’ve learned to use whatever is available to me to capture my images—this includes lighting. I rarely have the luxury of bringing portable strobes on assignments, even my commercial advertising jobs,” Finlay notes. “Keeping the lighting simple is something I always tell students, whether in the studio or on location. Doing this minimizes complications and forces you to look at your subjects from varying angles and perspectives. Many of my best shots were produced because I was forced to move around a subject and change my perspective; the light was stationary and I was the one that needed to move. It is a great exercise and one I am constantly sharing with students.”


Continue reading "Documentary photographer Colin Finlay shares lighting techniques" »

November 1, 2006

Tutorial: Digital Infrared and Hand Coloring for Portraits

200611bc_handfinishlg Give your portrait an infrared look with delicate digital hand painting (includes downloadable Photoshop action and Flash tutorial)

By Gavin Phillips

I've always been intrigued by the melancholy beauty of certain photographs shot with infrared. The only issue is you either have to convert a digital camera to shoot infrared or use infrared film. This is both cumbersome and costly. Enter Photoshop.

Whilst researching infrared techniques in Photoshop, I found many that worked well replicating infrared for landscapes, but not with portraits. After much experimentation, I created an action that has the speed of an 'action' along with the ability to customize crucial steps, so photographers can tweak it to suit their own photographs.

Photos ©Peter Roberts

Continue reading "Tutorial: Digital Infrared and Hand Coloring for Portraits" »

Painter tips from Karen Sperling

200611bc_sperlnov_02_1 Painterly Brushstrokes with a Click

By Karen Sperling

Corel Painter IX.5's Auto-Painting palette in the Window menu has many useful tools for turning photos into paintings. One technique for using the Auto-Painting palette is to deselect all the boxes under Randomness and then paint with the Artists’ Sargent brush.

Photo ©2006 Felicia Tausig
Painting ©2006 Karen Sperling


Continue reading "Painter tips from Karen Sperling" »

Using Umbrellas in High-Contrast Fashion Shoots

200611bc_wpsumbrella Professional Photographer magazine offers our readers free lighting tutorials from Web Photo School.

Using a softbox gives your subject the soft treatment, but sometimes you want more contrast. Because the umbrella is a bounced light the results have more punch. This lesson uses two Photoflex 45-inch umbrellas (the white ADW and silver ADH) and demonstrates the versatile look they can add to your photo shoot.

Topics Covered:

  • Advantages to the umbrella
  • Contrast comparison
  • Umbrella as a key light
  • LitePanel for fill
  • Lighting a background with an umbrella
  • Using an umbrella as a "split light"

Go to Using Umbrellas in High-Contrast Fashion Shoots at Web Photo School.

Continue reading "Using Umbrellas in High-Contrast Fashion Shoots" »

October 1, 2006

Contrasting Colors for Vivid Results

200610bc_webphoto Professional Photographer magazine offers our readers free lighting tutorials from Web Photo School.

Fall is here, bringing a riot of rich, natural color. Do you want to push your color palette beyond khaki, denim and black? In this lesson, learn how to determine what color to use, how colors interact with other colors, and how to control saturation.

Topics Covered:

  • Working with a stylist to create a specific look
  • Setting up a high color-contrast set
  • Using props to bind the look of a shot
  • Shooting and reviewing images digitally
  • Using Louvers to control soft light
  • Creating a colored background spotlight with a Dedolight
  • Tips on capturing natural-looking poses

Go to Contrasting Colors for Vivid Results at Web Photo School.

Continue reading "Contrasting Colors for Vivid Results" »

Painter tips from Karen Sperling

200610bc_sperlingfiga Adding drop shadows in Corel Painter

By Karen Sperling

Painter has an automatic drop shadow tool like Photoshop, but I find a manual approach works better. Read on to see how to do it.

Caption: Photo ©2006 Mary Wynn Ball. Backdrop ©2006 Laurence Gartel.

Continue reading "Painter tips from Karen Sperling" »

September 1, 2006

Finessing Soft Light for Fashion

200609bc_wpsfashionlight In this and future months, Professional Photographer magazine offers our readers free lighting tutorials from Web Photo School.

Project Runway is one of the hottest shows on television and New York Fashion Week begins Sept. 8. What better time to brush up on the haute couture of photographic technique by exploring the use of delicate, soft, flattering light?

This month's lesson covers the advantages of using stylists, setting up a white background sweep, setting up and positioning lighting elements, and using lighting ratios to knock out the background naturally.

Go to Finessing Soft Light for Fashion at Web Photo School.

Continue reading "Finessing Soft Light for Fashion" »

Painter tips from Karen Sperling

200609bc_sperljuly06wcphotPainting watercolor hair

By Karen Sperling

In Corel Painter IX.5 I used Digital Watercolor’s New Simple Water and New Simple Blender to turn this photo by Scott Stulberg (left) into this Winslow Homer-style watercolor painting (below).

Caption: Photo ©2006 Scott Stulberg

I made some adjustments to get brush strokes that blend more like watercolors, based on some discoveries by watercolorist Nomi Wagner. I changed the Stroke Type from Single to Rake in the General palette (Window > Brush Controls > General palette) and moved the Opacity slider to 20% and the Wet Fringe slider to 50% in the Property Bar. (You can also highlight the fields where you see the numbers, type in the values, and press return/enter.)


Caption: Painting ©Karen Sperling

I also accessed the Angle palette (Brush Controls > Angle palette) and moved the Squeeze slider to 39% and the Angle slider to 199 degrees.

The secret to painting hair is just to suggest it rather than paint it strand by strand. Painting the girl’s hair was a three-step process.

Continue reading "Painter tips from Karen Sperling" »

August 1, 2006

String Method Lighting Lesson

200608bc_stringmethod In this and future months, Professional Photographer magazine offers our readers free lighting tutorials from Web Photo School.

In this lesson we show how you can rig your portrait gear to save time and make lighting those school portrait jobs (or any set of similarly posed individual shots) a snap. All the preparation you need to make this lesson work for you is a quick and cheap trip to a hardware store.

The "String" method refers to simply attaching a length of string to each piece of gear you use to shoot your portraits.

Go to the String Method lesson at Web Photo School.

Continue reading "String Method Lighting Lesson" »

Illumination: supplement

200608bc_amesintro An excerpt from Kevin Ames' "Photoshop CS2: The Art of Photographing Women" (Wiley Publishing, Inc., avail. Sept. 2006)
All photos ©Kevin Ames

In our August issue of Professional Photographer, we printed an abridged chapter excerpt from Kevin Ames' informative and instructional "Photoshop CS2: The Art of Photographing Women." The following is a collection of sidebars, tips and notes that we couldn't include due to space limitations.

Continue reading "Illumination: supplement" »

July 1, 2006

Tutorial: Creating unique paintings with automated Tools

By Karen Sperling

Corel Painter IX.5, the latest version of Painter, has new tools that speed up the process of turning photos into paintings, making them ideal for the professional photographer who wants to offer his or her clients painted portraits. These tools let you automate the blending and painting process so that you can produce unique portraits without having to close your photo studio for three months while you paint them.

This tutorial shows you how I turned this photo by Mary Wynn Ball into a painted portrait.


Photo © 2006 Mary Wynn Ball; Painting © 2006 Karen Sperling

Continue reading "Tutorial: Creating unique paintings with automated Tools" »

June 2, 2006

Painter tips from Karen Sperling

"Secret" oil-painting brush revealed!

One of my favorite oil-painting brushes in Corel Painter is not filed under Oils but hiding in the Blenders brush category—the Water Rake variant. As a Blender brush, the Water Rake blends colors in an image in the form of oil-paint strokes.

You can also use it to paint color. To do so, set the Resat slider in the Property Bar to 33%, choose a color in the Colors palette and paint. The brush stroke resembles an oil painting technique.


The image at right shows the strokes as I began to turn a photo into a painting in the style of artist Pino Daeni. On the left is a detail of one of his paintings. You can see that the Painter strokes on the right are a good facsimile of the ones in the painting on the left.

Continue reading "Painter tips from Karen Sperling" »

May 9, 2006

Painter tips from Karen Sperling

Blending the "Smart" Way

Corel Painter IX.5, a free download from the Corel site for owners of Painter IX, has some nifty new palettes for speeding up the steps for turning photos into paintings.

The new Smart Blur feature streamlines the process of blending, which many photographers use to give faces a painterly look. Blending involves painting stroke-by-stroke with one of the Blenders' category brushes. Now Smart Blur does the blending for you. Here is a photo by Mary Wynn Ball before and after Smart Blur was applied.


Continue reading "Painter tips from Karen Sperling" »

May 8, 2006

Outdoor Portrait Lighting Lessons

In this and future months, Professional Photographer magazine offers you free lighting tutorials from Web Photo School. To kick off the feature, we've got two great lessons.

Senior Portraits Using Litediscs Outside


Outdoor Bridal Portraits

Please use the Comments section below to let us know if you found the lessons valuable and to offer topics for future lighting tutorials.

May 1, 2006

Soft proofing in Adobe Photoshop

In the May issue of Professional Photographer, color management columnist Andrew Rodney references his column from Sept. 2004, "Soft proofing explained." For your convenience, we provide it here for download (PDF).

April 5, 2006

Painter tips from Karen Sperling

Charcoal shading

Shading is one of the nicest ways to add a painterly effect to photos and paintings in Corel Painter.
I like to use the Charcoal category's Charcoal Pencil 3 variant as my shading brush.  I have altered it slightly, lowering the Grain slider in the Property Bar to 12, which puts more texture into the stroke.

200604bc_sperlcharcpaint    200604bc_sperlcharcorig
Click the painting for a larger view. Photo and painting of Laurence Gartel ©2006 Karen Sperling.

Continue reading "Painter tips from Karen Sperling" »

April 1, 2006

Retouching Brushes

Concluding in April, Professional Photographer magazine ran Making Eyes, a three-part tutorial on eye enhancement in portraiture from Jane Conner-ziser. Click here to download the custom set of brushes Jane uses in Adobe Photoshop. To use the brushes, navigate to your Photoshop application folder > Presets folder > Brushes folder. Place the file JanesRetouchingBrushes.abr in the Brushes folder. From Photoshop, choose your Brush tool and click on the Brush Preset dropdown menu in the Options bar. Click on the reveal triangle to the right of the Master Diameter slider and choose Load Brushes.... In the Load window, navigate to the Brushes folder where you placed the file, choose janesretouchingbrushes.abr, and click Load. The brushes will appear at the bottom of your current brush preset selection.

March 10, 2006

Lighting Technique: Make the best of a bright day

200603bc_alyson Why one photographer loves the sun

By Steve Bedell, M.Photog.Cr.

For years, photographers have extolled the virtues of taking portraits on overcast days or during the magic time that occurs near the beginning and end of every day. On cloudy days, the contrast range is reduced, allowing you to capture detail throughout the image, from the brightest area to the deepest shadow. Near sunset, you also get a reduced contrast range, with the added benefit of directional lighting, a wonderful bonus. And while I won't argue that the first and last light of the day offers perhaps the best lighting conditions, I can tell you that I actually prefer sunny days to cloudy ones when shooting. Let me 'splain.

Caption (above right): Sun bouncing off a yellow building across the street created my main light for this image, with trees also blocking overhead light. Open sky behind her also creates a little kicker light on her hair.  This is one of my favorite shooting situations. Model: Alyson Perreault

Continue reading "Lighting Technique: Make the best of a bright day" »

March 1, 2006

Painter tips from Karen Sperling

200603bc_sperlingdetail Seeing Stars

A quick way to add a special painterly touch to your photos and paintings with Corel Painter IX is to paint in stars using the F-X category’s Fairy Dust variant. You can just pick a color and paint, but for a more interesting result, add the stars in varying intensities by adjusting the Resaturation and Bleed sliders.

With some color already in the background, I chose the Fairy Dust variant, and I turned Resaturation down and Bleed up in the Property Bar and painted some strokes, creating very subtle stars. Then I raised Resaturation and lowered Bleed slightly and painted again, which brought in the stars with more color. I proceeded to raise Resaturation, lower Bleed and paint until I had varying degrees of stars.

Continue reading "Painter tips from Karen Sperling" »

January 1, 2006

ACDSee Pro Photo Manager: Organizing and editing for wedding photographers

200601bc_acdsee01A Wedding Photographer's Dream: How to effectively organize and edit your photos

By Paul Ellis

Shooting digital photography is both a blessing and a curse. For example, following a wedding party from 5am until late in the night can easily leave a trail of photographs numbering in the thousands; even more so when you factor in a second shooter and an assistant. Throw in the ever-demanding goal of trying to capture all the moments, unexpected delights, and emotions of a wedding day and you end up with a lot of hits and misses. The wedding may be over, but your work has just begun. Reviewing all of these images to identify the keepers, toss the rejects, and ultimately make the client happy are not easy tasks. The end of the shoot marks the start of the tedious post-production workflow process.

This “how-to” will help explain how ACD Systems’ new professional product, ACDSee Pro Photo Manager, can facilitate easy organization and editing of your photos after the shoot.

Read the full tutorial.

Painter tips from Karen Sperling

Impressionist style

Painting ©2005 Karen Sperling

This is a painting I created in the Impressionist style in Corel Painter IX from a photo by Zarek. I wanted to put the little girl into a chair in a garden, so I composited the original photos before painting it.

Continue reading "Painter tips from Karen Sperling" »

October 1, 2005

Painting tips from Karen Sperling

200510bc_sperling03 Composites

By Karen Sperling

When I turn a photo into a painting in Corel Painter, I often composite the photo, adding elements from other photos if necessary, before painting. If you want to combine photos, do the compositing as your first step.

For instance, I wanted to add flowers from another photo I took to the original photo from a wedding I photographed with a Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro digital SLR and a Nikon 24-120mm lens from Alkit.

Painting ©2005 Karen Sperling

Continue reading "Painting tips from Karen Sperling" »

September 1, 2005

How to Do Everything with Photoshop CS2

200509bc_everythingcov In this full-color, easy-to-use book, award-winning designer and best-selling author Colin Smith teaches the fundamentals as well as the more advanced features of Photoshop. Smith shows how to use traditional drawing and painting tools ranging from pencils to airbrushes, how to add and manipulate text, retouch photos, create special effects, and more. A bonus "Behind the Scenes" gallery demonstrates the Photoshop techniques used by professional artists. Read more of Smith's Photoshop tips at

"How to Do Everything with Photoshop CS2" by Colin Smith, publisher McGraw-Hill Osborne, ISBN: 0-07-226160-9, $29.99 USA

Read Chapter 9: Save time with automation.

Painting tips from Karen Sperling

200509bc_sperpnt The trick to painting hair

When turning photo portraits into paintings in Corel Painter, photographers frequently wonder how to paint hair. The trick is to keep in mind three traditional art concepts:

1. Simplify. The difference between a photo and a painting is that a painting has less detail. The natural tendency when you first start painting is to paint every strand of hair you see. Instead, simplify. The way to simplify brings us to the second art concept.

2. Paint areas of light and dark. Instead of painting each strand of hair, identify the areas with the highlights, midtones and shadows, and paint those.

3. Use the colors in your color scheme. Another difference between a painting and a photo is that a painting has a chosen color scheme. Paint hair using the colors in your color scheme instead of the colors that are in the photo.
Painting ©2005 Karen Sperling

Continue reading "Painting tips from Karen Sperling" »

August 1, 2005

Painting tips from Karen Sperling

Create custom palettes in Corel Painter IX

Creating custom palettes in Corel Painter IX is useful for choosing brushes without having to go into the Brush Selector menus.

Unfortunately, you can’t name the brushes in the custom palettes. So if you have several variants from one Brush Category, you will have a bunch of indistinguishable icons in the custom palette.

Instead of putting all the brushes on one custom palette, create a custom palette for each brush and name them individually.


Continue reading "Painting tips from Karen Sperling" »

July 1, 2005

How to copy glass plates, negatives and transparencies using digital tools

200507bc_copywmdig By Kathy Falls, PPA Certified, M.Artist, MEI.Cr.; Photography ©Dan Falls

With the new digital tools available, it is now possible to copy old glass plates, negatives and transparencies with great results. There are a few principles in the process that you must follow.

But with a little practice you can be well on the way to saving those old negatives!

The materials to use:  Adobe Photoshop CS or CS2, a digital camera that can shoots in RAW format, a Logan A-6A Slim Edge Light Box ( that is balanced at 5400K, an ExpoDisc ( for creating a custom white balance, white gloves.

To begin with, I used the Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro camera with a macro lens. I chose the Logan A-6A Slim Edge Light Box. model because it is color balanced at 5400K and closely  matches the balance of film (5500K). I purchased my light panel from B&H Photo Video ( 1-800-947-9950), but Logan light boxes are available at many art supply and photographic stores. I really like this panel because of its even light, and the 5x7-inch size is easy to handle.

Read the full tutorial.

Painting tips from Karen Sperling

200507bc_painting02_1  This is a commissioned portrait I painted in Corel Painter IX from a snap shot taken by the child's father.

When turning a photo into a painting, one of the things to keep in mind is that a painting has a chosen color scheme, unlike a photo, where the colors are random. I chose a red-orange/blue-green color scheme for the painting as these colors are complements, or opposite one another on the color wheel.

Continue reading "Painting tips from Karen Sperling" »

June 1, 2005

Painting tips from Karen Sperling

200506bc_sperling01_1 Traditional art concepts
If you want to give your photos a painterly touch, whether you use Adobe Photoshop or Corel Painter, or both, knowing some traditional art concepts can help.

For instance, there are millions of random colors in an average photo, so the more you limit the colors, the more your image will look like a painting.

That’s why just cloning an image, where you paint brush strokes using the colors from the photo, really doesn't make the photo look painterly.

Instead, choose a color scheme in which the colors are related to one another and repeat throughout the painting, creating what's called color harmony.

A simple rule for choosing colors is to pick one color and its complement, meaning the color opposite it on the color wheel. If you want to add more colors, I find including the complement pairings gives the image a pleasing look.

Continue reading "Painting tips from Karen Sperling" »

May 1, 2005

Seniors: Look Homeward

The benefits of photographing anywhere but your studio

By Fuzzy Duenkel

Your clients reveal themselves where they're most comfortable, in their own homes with familiar surroundings—so why drag them into the foreign territory of your camera room? Try making a house call.

Here are three more images illustrating the places where inspiration might lead you outside your studio.

200505bc_duenkel03 Hallways often provide an interesting lighting mix. With cross-lighting, it's usually best to have the subject turned to directly face one of the lights. Halls with bare walls allow for creative montages.

See more examples.

April 1, 2005

Rick Souders' Lighting Diagrams

200504bc_soudersbar Souders Studios is a commercial house of photography in Denver, Colo. Rick Souders' food and beverage imagery appears worldwide in advertising print campaigns, cookbooks, annual reports, and the Internet. His most recent book is "The Art and Attitude of Commercial Photography" (Amphoto Books). To see more of Souders' work, go to

Download the original article from Professional Photographer.

About Tutorials

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in the Tutorials category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Professional Photograper Magazine is the previous category.

Video is the next category.

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

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