Friday, 28 December 2007

Classic looks.

I am a real fan of the classic look photo, so thats what today's shot and preset is all about. This shot is lit with natural sunlight and (my new toy -thank you santa) a softbox. Its the first time I have used any artificial lighting that was not onboard my camera and am quite pleased with results. Straight black and white conversion with lightroom's own high contrast B+W setting is stunning but I prefer the slightly softer look. The preset (which can be downloaded by clicking the title link) will give a sepia conversion and some background lightening to emphasise the subject.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Loads of photos to process?

Yes me too. Christmas shots are so difficult to process I think, by the very nature of the holiday the are very busy shots and difficult to isolate your subject in. I don't claim this preset will help you do that but it will add some interest to those that are a bit flat. You can download my 'rocket man' preset by clicking the title link.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Merry Christmas everyone!

Hope everyone had fantastic day.

Friday, 21 December 2007

More Christmas goodies..

'Tis the season to do some standard shots, Christmas bokeh (check, covered), family shot under the Christmas tree (check, covered) and candy cane hearts. As all my contacts have moved on from bokeh light shots onto the candy canes I have made another lightroom preset to make your canes pop out of the shot. This preset is available for free download through clicking the title link. Have fun, and C+C welcome!

Monday, 17 December 2007

Merry Christmas!

As its Christmas and I'm feeling particularly festive after carol singing last night I have my first free gift ready to download. This is a preset for lightroom design to enhance your Christmas bokeh shots. All my contacts on flickr are going bokeh mad so I though why not add some extra sparkle to those Christmas shots?
While adding some extra depth to bokeh its subtle enough in most cases not to destroy the foreground focus so will not black out your subject and need not be reserved for pure bokeh shots. Enjoy, I know I will!
Preset download at: or click the title link.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Back to basics

Have you ever done something disasterous to your computer? Well, yesterday I managed to drop a cup of juice onto my macbook. I consider this fairly disasterous. Generally I do back up every month (only once a month though) everything important, I learned this the hard way from having to formatt the hard drive on my last, 8 month old, windows PC. Its something I continued on my ultra-reliable mac, what I did not account for was my own stupidity of course! How many times have I stressed at the kids for moving drinks close to my shiny white macbook while I am working, thousands probably. So it's the ultimate irony that I should be the one the ultimately kill it off. Currently its drying out and I'm hoping the sticky sugar in the juice hasn't done too much damage. I could not bring myself to follow the (very sensible but gut wrenching) suggestion of a fellow mac-addict to pour more water on it to rinse the sugar out off components.
So I find myself without any PS actions, and actually without lightroom at all so am having to shoot in JPEG again. That said sometimes its good to be unable to rely on LR to correct your mistakes, it's good practice to think better about what's through the lens before pushing the shutter release like I used to with a film camera. So here's my back to basics shot, anyone with a spare windows copy of LR is my new best friend.....

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Photoshop brushes - the essential companion to any long running challenge!

As a said in my last post I am conducting an advent challenge, to photograph whatever my children find behind the doors of their advent calenders each day during advent.

I have to admit that I have modified my brief a little since then.  I will now make an image of that object from a photograph and I have also decided that I will link it with a relevant bible verse.  This will support my own daily reading and it helps me ensure that my challenge does not become a preoccupation for its own sake and that God will remain at its centre.

I found these fabulous brushes on (link through the title) without which my challenge would have faltered on only day 8!  My photoshops skills are not as fabulous as they should be so this will be an excellent opportunity to develop them.

Why not check out our new 'who's online' map?  See who else is having a look!


Friday, 7 December 2007

What inspires you?

What makes you want to grab your camera?  What do you see and know it will make a fabulous photograph?  Why do you take photographs?  This advent I am challenging myself to photograph whatever turns up in my kids advent calendars everyday.  I'm doing this because I have taken December to concentrate on my own family, but I still want to be challenged artistically and technically during this time and, so far, I have found few other opportunities to draw my faith into my photography.

This shot, in all honesty, was mediocre SOOC.  I had envisioned beautiful light, a dramatic sky... what I found was blankets of cloud, low light levels and an uninspiring flat colour.  To process this shot I used several adjustment layers in PS, one to render the sepia, another for dodging and burning and another to add the vignette.

So in those times between jobs, when you're driving to the supermarket, keep that camera close because you never know what will make you want to grab it.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Emphasising in images.

Planning composition in photography cannot be underestimated, however there are times when further adjustment is necessary after shooting I made the adjustments to this image using PS on the mac. In the original the poor dragon fly is a bit rusted and a bit drab, plus I an only so tall so am limited as to how much distance I can get when I used a zoom lens to increase the bokeh on the shot which is fairly close range.

The first, most obviously, adjustment to make here was the saturation of the coloured aspects of the ornament. This is fairly simple using the sponge tool on PS. I also emphasised its outline with the dodge to to brighten the edges. After this I wanted to increase the saturation in the background as it looked a little washed out, but without detracting from the ornament which is the focus of the shot. To do this I used the orton effect applied to the whole image, a tutorial on achieving this effect can be found through the title link. Before using this though I selected the dragon fly with an elliptical selection tool set to feather 20 pixels and copied it, after applying the effect I re-pasted the unaltered selection back in and flattened the image.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Composite images - advantages of shooting in RAW

Shooting in RAW & using a program like adobe lightroom has some fantastic advantages when you are shooting in difficult lighting situations in particular.  This shot for example was taken with the intention of showing the dramatic sky & gathering clouds, however because of the low light level but high proportion of white in the shot the SOOC shot is drab and uninspiring.  Using a program like lightroom several versions of this shot were created, some using presets and some just by adjusting the exposure, these were exported in JPEG format and opened in photoshop.  This allows all the most dramatic elements of each treatment to be combined into one image and produces a vastly different shot showing off the colours and textures off all the elements in it.  Although the end image I created in this case has an unnatural feel this does not have to be the case and much more subtle treatment and blending can be used.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Some movie magic in lightroom presets

Another free lightroom preset tested today.  This one brings a little movie magic, it's inspired by the visual effects from the movie 'The 300' and is available through clicking the title link.

This image came about through my involved with the flickr project365kids groups.  This is day 256 for my daughter and inspiration is running low!  When I asked her for inspiration she asked me to take her photo with the light off, hmm that doesn't exactly make for an inspiring shot as the flash on my nikon d40x is in fact as bright as the sun!  So having asked her to at least jump in the air I used a quick crop in lightroom to focus attention more closely on her then tried out this action.  This product image has no further adjustments made other than the watermark and I think it looks much more like the photo my daughter probably intended!  It looks much more like the flash has stopped time and not the bleached out version that was SOOC.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Negative space.

Negative space & atypical framing are some of my favorite composition techniques when working with children and babies.  It give a fantastic hint of their small-ness and vulnerability but also requires a good eye and technical skill to execute properly.

There are some points to note when using negative space, particularly when shooting with children.  Colour is an important factor.  In this I converted to black + white because there were two other colours in the shot that did not compliment each other.  I also chose a high contrast conversion as the last the the interest focus of the shot should be is greyscale.  It should provide a stark image against the space around it.  If you're staying in colour be careful to choose colours which are light and do not darken the shot too much and do not detract from your main subject.

There is more information on negative space and other aspects of composition through the title link.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

In a dream

This is another of Kelsey Smith's lightroom presets (accessible through the title link) which I just love.  Its absolutely perfect for portrait shots giving fantastic colour depth and drawing the focus of interest centrally.

Thanks Kelsey is all I can say!

Friday, 23 November 2007

Inner beauty - some great lightroom presets

These are some fantastic & free presets for lightroom.  This one, called lean on me, is one of my favourites.  It enhances contrast fabulously, while cutting down distractions on the edge of the frame and evening skin tone.  Together with the saturation increase gives her a cute porcelain doll look.  You can find this preset and others free on Kelsey Smith's site through clicking on the title, have a look around its a great site.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Nostalgia smells like ice cream and cigarettes

I was so sad to read that this place might be closing, I spent many, happy, greedy hours in here as a child with my grandmother.  It was a treat when relatives came to visit that we have a 'minchi's' in the cafe on the way back from the beach. Or any other day out actually.  It was always full inside & out, I always spilled syrup on the table and there was always a full ashtray on most of the tables.  Smoking seemed synonymous with ice cream.

When I heard the reason this place was likely to close was due to custom dropping since the smoking ban came into force I laughed, it seemed ridiculous that smoking was ever aloud in a place I assumed aimed to attract children as customers.

However when I think back to my time spent there it seems virtually everyone my minds eye can see had a cigarette in their mouth, even now when I taste raspberry syrup I smell cigarettes.  This might seem like a case for supporting the smoking ban, but what I realize as a parent myself now is that it was actually a place for the adults to connect and the children be safe and occupied.  These places are few and few between these days that are not covered in bright yellow plastic and branding.  Perhaps we should allow adult to take responsibility for their own behavior and not treat them like children, even in ice cream parlors.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Rain rain go away, water my wooden flowers another day...

Outdoor and well lit photography opportunities are extremely limited and all the real flowers have drown so these are my wooden roses.  Rather than showing off my manual focusing skills I believe it has actually become a dust bunny showcase, oh well!  Find your own through the title link :)

Monday, 19 November 2007

Homeward bound.

Well, I have now given up my job to spend more time on the things I love, my children and photography.  So with that in mind my first post combines to two.  This is my beautiful daughter, she's full of cold at the moment and bright red & blotchy.  I used one of michelle black's pro preset for lightroom to even out her skin & emphasize her eyes.  You can find this action free by clicking on the title of this post.