Archive for photography

Photoshop: Technique: Copyright Watermark

Protecting your work with some sort of watermarked copyright symbol that prevents the images being used elsewhere is common practice in the world of photography. While no protection is fool proof, a well placed “ownership” message can stop others form using your layouts and photographs for purposes you did not intend.

Click HERE to download the PDF tutorial.



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Photoshop Tutorial: Photo Editing: Sepia Photo Effects

As always in Photoshop there are many ways to complete any one task. Applying a Sepia effect is no exception. You can employ a color overlay, or use Hue and Saturation or the presets available in Photo Filter. For more control over the results the addition of the Black and White filter is one of the better options. Click on the image to download the PDF tutorial.

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Photoshop Tutorial: Photo Editing: Sharpening: Smart Sharpen and USM

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Photoshop Tutorial: Photo Editing: Straightening Horizons

A crooked horizon can really detract from a photograph. It usually occurs accidentally because of the downward pressure on the shutter button. There are several methods to fix this problem in PS yet the method described here is probably the quickest and easiest.

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Ready for your Close Up!

Ready for your close up!

By Shelleyrae Cusbert

It is easy to fail to include our self in our pages. Many of us are far more comfortable behind the camera rather than in front of it. However it is important that you are represented in your layouts, not just your thoughts and feelings but also your physical image.

With digital cameras now equipped with self timers, you have the perfect opportunity to control the image of yourself that you share. Taking self portraits can sometimes be difficult however the following tips for taking self portraits, should result in success.

The easiest method is to place the camera on a tripod, and position an object as a stand in for your self. Use focus lock before setting the timer and moving into the space. If you have a remote shutter release this process is even easier.

Use a small aperture so that focus is less critical, if you let the camera auto-focus on your face while using a wide aperture, you’ll probably find that your nose is in focus but your eyes are not.

For precise focusing, use string to measure the distance between the camera and your position and then use the distance to manually control focus.

Lie down on your back and hold the camera at arms length slightly over your shoulders, tilting your head up. With no background distraction, focus is less likely to be an issue and the pose has the added benefit of smoothing out extra flesh.

Photograph just small parts of your self. Many of us are self conscious of our appearance so taking images of body parts may be a more comfortable process with abstract forms.

Use your software to create art with your portrait, convert the image into a sketch, or overlay abstract designs.

We all have flaws and if you are very uncomfortable about sharing them, small fix ups may make you feel better about your portrait. Whiten teeth, brighten eyes and smooth a few wrinkles. Change a photo to black and white for a striking image which tends to be more flattering.

Include props that make you comfortable. Hold a pillow against your mid section to disguise those few extra pounds, straddle a chair, or lean out a window, to distract the viewer and add interest to the shot. Holding a camera to your eye, and shooting into a mirror is a popular self portrait image that says something about you as well as provides disguise.

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Photographing Texture

Photographing Textures

Digital scrapbooking products rely on texture to give them dimension and realism. The basis for that texture is most often derived from photographs of real life materials. Photographs of subjects such as concrete, wood and fabric are converted to overlays or brushes and used to create textured papers, tags and more.

Building your own texture library is fairly simple, take a walk around your home and you can see the possibilities emerge. The wooden floorboards, granite kitchen bench, the carpet, peeling and chipped paint, denim jeans crumpled on the floor, bathroom towels – the list is endless.

The only things you need are a camera capable of high resolution, a macro function can come in handy too and good lighting.

Use the largest resolution your camera is capable of to give you more flexibility with the image, particularly when you wish the result to be used at 12×12”.

When photographing texture you need lighting that emphasizes its surface characteristics in fine detail, creating a pattern of highlight and shadow. Low angle sunlight is best outdoors – either early morning or later afternoon.

Indoors, place the main light so that it lights the subject from one side and creates contrast. Manipulate the angle of the light to find what works best for capturing the subject’s texture. Overhead or front on flash should be avoided.

Try shooting textures using the black and white setting on your camera, without the distraction of color you can focus more on the details of the image.

Correct exposure is important for capturing texture details so consider using manual, rather than automatic settings to account for light and color.

When you photograph, consider the scale of the texture. If you get too close, texture may be distorted with unrealistic scale, as with, for example, fabric weaves.

Taking photos using macro settings will ensure detail but you may sacrifice some depth of field, resulting in uneven focus. A tripod or steady surface to brace the camera is important when using macro settings. You can also try shooting the texture at a distance in landscape mode to ensure maximum depth of field.

Use your photographs create tools that allow you to evoke the sensation of texture in your layouts, to give it depth and visual dimension.

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White Balance

We rarely think of light as having a color however white light is made up of all the colors of the rainbow spectrum, red, orange, green, blue, indigo and violet. Digital devices simplify light into three main color bands of red, green and blue. Digital photographers refer to the red end of the spectrum as warm color temperature and the blue end of the spectrum as cool color temperature. Light is measured and awarded a color temperature, scaled in degrees Kelvin.

We are generally able to judge what is white and so may not be aware of the color casts that would be inherent in a photograph until we see the image. The red and oranges of both sunrise and dusk are a favorite with photographers because they warm the scene. Tungsten light, given off by common household bulbs, is also on the red end of the spectrum which is why indoor shots often have an orange cast. Photos taken under fluorescent lights may have a green cast even though we may perceive the light as white. Halogen lights, shade and cloud tend to create shifts towards the cool blue end of the spectrum. Colour temperature tends to be considered neutral (or white) on clear sunny days during mid morning and afternoon. Daylight temperature can be mimicked with daylight bulbs indoors.

It is not only the light source that causes shifts, elements in an image with strong color can reflect into  the lighter colors in the image. In the first image below the flowers have been recorded as yellow even though it was clear to me they were white.

In most cases digital cameras have become sophisticated enough that the Auto White Balance is capable of judging which color is strongest and when you take your image it attempts to neutralise the dominant color so that whites are white rather than tainted with a red or blue cast. A digital camera’s auto white balance is often more effective when the photo contains at least one white or bright colorless element. In some situations however the camera may struggle with the intensity of the light and be unable to compensate without some further instruction.

The White balance option in your camera settings may provide you with several alternatives to avoid color casts at the time of shooting rather than needing to edit the shot later.

Custom/Manual: A custom setting allows you to use a neutral reference such as a gray card that reflects all colors of the spectrum equally. They can be purchased from camera supply stores or you can make your own with household materials. When using the custom setting the camera reads the amount of reflected light and can quite accurately reproduce colors. This is crucial in situations such as wedding portraits when the white of the dress can easily be tainted with other colors.

Kelvin: This allows you to choose a span on the Kelvin scale that best fits the color temperature situation you are photographing in.

Color Temperature and Light Source (moving from red to blue)

1000-2000 K  Candlelight

2500-3500 K  Tungsten Bulb (household variety)

3000-4000 K  Sunrise/Sunset (clear sky)

4000-5000 K  Fluorescent Lamps

5000-5500 K  Electronic Flash

5000-6500 K  Daylight with Clear Sky (sun overhead)

6500-8000 K  Moderately Overcast Sky

9000-10000 K  Shade or Heavily Overcast Sky

Tungsten: Select this option when photographing indoors with normal household bulbs providing the light. It will instruct the camera to compensate for the orange cast.

Fluorescent: Choose this option in areas where overhead fluorescents are common such as supermarkets and stores.

Daylight: Telling the camera that you are shooting in clear sunny conditions will push the camera’ sensor to even out the color temperatures it records.

Cloudy: Selecting this option will warm a scene where the bluish cast is caused by overcast days.

Shade: To compensate for the cool light of shade the camera will warm the scene.

There may well be additional settings to compensate for particular scenes such as Snow where it can be very difficult to ensure the snow is white, it often becomes gray or blue. The picture on the left was taken with auto White Balance while the right was taken using the Daylight Preset to neutralise the cameras natural tendency to shift the hues to blue.

You can also use the settings to create deliberate effects by telling the camera that the light is in fact opposite so that it shifts the color balance to one spectrum or another.

Lens filters can also be used to assist in compensating for or to deliberately create color temperatures.

Post processing is also an option for correcting white balance issues. The RAW format is perfect for situations where correct white balance is very difficult to judge due to mixed lighting situations or very strong color temperatures. A RAW file must have the White Balance defined during the editing process as it does not record the information at capture. This gives the photographer the ultimate control over the result.

Images can also be edited using the color balance tools in an editing program. You can correct or enhance the color casts in the photo with tools

Take a few minutes to look at the options you have available to you in your camera and then go out and shoot to see just how White Balance plays a part in getting that perfect shot.

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