I’ve said it a hundred times… then didn’t do it!

I’ve told students and fellow photogs over and over that the best protection for your lens is your lens hood.  In fact, I’ve written about using the lens hood and NOT a protective filter.  Well, yesterday, during my street photography class, I let someone shame me into not using my lens hood because Jay Maisel says it is the only way to shoot street photography.  In this rare instance, I acquiesced and paid the price… dearly.  Walking along with my camera at my side and my Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 attached, my camera brushed by a tree.  Honestly, it seemed to be barely a tap.  Well, upon inspection of my lens, the filter ring portion of the barrel had a 1/2 inch chip taken out.  Had I had the lens hood attached, nothing would have happened and all would be well.  The initial estimate from Nikon… $350-700!  Lesson learned the hard way.  So my point here is to always, always have your lens hood on your lens. 

By the way, because I have an insurance rider on my homeowners covering my gear, insurance will cover this.   Another lesson to be learned.  Check with your homeowners insurance company.  It’s well worth the price.


Adobe Lightroom Tip of the Week


One of the most confusing things I hear from teaching Lightroom classes around town is the difference between folders and collections.  Folders are where the actual photos that you imported are stored on your hard drive.  This is everything you import from your card, other drives, etc. into Lightroom.  The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  After you do your importing, the most important thing is keeping track of the “keepers”, right?  Well, this is where Collections come in.   My recommendation is to create a collection for all your keepers.   In fact, Lightroom already has a smart collection that automatically tracks all your 5-star rated images.  So use the 5-star rating sparingly and only for your absolute best.  Then, they will all be right there in one collection.

To Crop or Not To Crop

There were interesting discussions tonight during my Street Photography workshop at Bellevue college surrounding cropping versus getting it right in camera.  Though I do crop when I have to, I’d say that I’m in the “no cropping” school of thought.  While I’m in this category, that’s not to say that I don’t take advantage of my 36 megapixel D800 and crop like crazy when it benefits the image. 

That said, my goal is to get it right in the camera so I have a fully visualized image from the get-go.  This attitude has sharpened my vision, honed my technical skills and made me a better photographer by taking my time to compose in camera.  It also gives me more exercise because I have to use my feet to move around or get closer!  When I look at a scene, even without the camera, dog-picture2I am able to visualize what it is I want to convey in an image and how I would compose it within the frame.  This drive to get it right without cropping has, indeed, improved my technique and skills as a photographer.  I’m forced to look around the edges of the viewfinder and make sure there are no unwanted objects.  It slows me down, which in this case, is a good thing.

Then, there are those, like my student tonight, who sees nothing wrong with cropping.  He’s also right.  I personally like the 4×6 ratio that comes out of my camera.  But, admittedly, there are images that benefit from a 1×1 square crop or a panoramic crop.  And, yes, there are times when I just can’t get the shot I want because I don’t have the right lens or can’t get close enough to my subject.  OK, I admit it, I’ll crop to get what I want instead of hitting the reject button.  That doesn’t replace the feeling of accomplishment when I get it right in the camera!  And, I don’t want to be a sloppy shooter because “Hey, I’ve got 36 megapixels.  I’ll just shoot away and fix it later.” 

So, in the end, my goal is to do less and less cropping as I become a better photographer.  Maybe someday I won’t need Lightroom or Photoshop at all.   Hey, I can dream, right?

Tulip Festival

OK, so I’m not thrilled with shooting flowers, but today was such a beautiful day here in the Northwest (yes, 59 degrees with clear skies is a treat), that I piled in the car with some good friends and headed north to Le Connor for the Tulip Festival.  When we arrived, there was a sea of people and about a football field of flowers.  They had guards (not sure they were armed but they might have been) making sure nobody stepped near a tulip.   I actually saw a family trying to get a jumping photo inside a tulip bed!  Anyway, though we were there at full, high-noon sun (which in the NW, is about 3:00pm), I tried to get some shots.  Back down in the mud, I laid upon the soil attempting to get a shot that was somewhat different than the 1,300, 483 images taken before me.  Not sure I succeeded but, hey, at least I was out with a camera in my hand.  The results?  Well, not spectacular, but here they are.

Lightroom Tip of the Week

Soft proofing gives you the ability to see what your image will look like when uploaded and viewed on a monitor or when printed.  You can input the type of printer and paper and Lightroom will simulate the outcome so that you can tweak it by lowering the saturation of out of gamut colors or increase the contrast for a better printed image.  You can turn this on quickly in the develop module by hitting your “S” key.  The left icon in the histogram panel is to see where your monitor can’t produce color correctly.   Hover over this icon to see where your monitor may have trouble and then make the corrections.  The right icon is for paper.  Select the type of paper you want to use and you will see out of gamut warnings showing up in RED.  Lower your saturation until the warnings are gone.  You can also make contrast adjustments as needed.

Lightroom Soft Proofing

Fun with Portrait Professional

One of my students sent me a photo that she took of me so I thought I’d have a bit of fun with Portrait Professional Studio 11 which just had an update.  This took about 2 minutes and was a ton of fun.  You can do amazing things with this software.  Anyway, here’s the original (LEFT) and the after (RIGHT).  I thinned out the face, reduced some of the wrinkles, added the smile, brightened and upturned the eyes to match the smile and added a bit of color.

Before & After with Portrait Professional

Lightroom 5 Beta Available

The new Lightroom 5 Beta is available for download.  You DO NOT want to convert your current catalog to Lightroom 5, in fact, it will not allow you to.  So, my suggestion is to download it, import some images and play with it.   You do not have to own Lightroom to download and use the Beta.  Here’s a link:  http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroom5/

New Features in Lightroom 5 Beta include:

  • Advanced Healing Brush – Easily remove objects and fix defects—even those with irregular shapes such as threads or lint—with a single brush stroke. Take precise control over what’s being removed as you make unwanted objects just disappear.
  • Upright – Straighten tilted images with a single click. Upright analyzes images and detects skewed horizontal or vertical lines. You choose one of four correction methods, and Upright can even straighten images where the horizon is hidden.
  • Radial Gradient – Lead your viewer’s eye through your images with more flexibility and control. The radial gradient tool lets you create off-center vignette effects, or multiple vignette areas within a single image.
  • Offline editing with Smart Previews – Easily work with images without bringing your entire library with you. Just generate smaller stand-in files called Smart Previews. Make adjustments or metadata additions to Smart Previews and your changes will be automatically applied to the full-size originals later.
  • Video slideshow sharing – Easily share your work in elegant video slideshows. Combine still images, video clips, and music in creative HD videos that can be viewed on almost any computer or device.
  • Improved photo book creation – Create beautiful photo books from your images. Lightroom includes a variety of easy-to-use book templates, and now you can edit them to create a customized look. Upload your book for printing with just a few clicks.