Can you photoshop me?

Anybody who photographs “normal people” will hear this question – every single shoot!

It’s our “question everyone asks”.

People want to look their best and they put their trust in you, also a great Icebreaker. 

The answer is “Yes of course”, we always do “something” to the photograph, just how far and how long we spend on the shot is a budget consideration – and that’s the purpose of this blog to show a few things we can do.

There are LOADS of tools and techniques available to us these days:-

  • some quick “make you look amazing” filters, which are fast and affordable – but can make you look a little plastic
  • some have clever filters to find and brighten your eyes and teeth
  • some use machine learning and advanced artificial intelligence – these can do do a cracking job, but cost a fortune! 
  • Some high-end Photoshop techniques (e.g “Frequency Separation” and “Dodge and Burn”) can take a skilled Photoshop retoucher hours, with results that look amazing – it’s how cover images for fashion magazines are created

Andy Taylor Boocock

Let us have a look at the progress of this photo of Andy.

Above, straight out of the camera it is quite a dark and Moody photo. The reason is that I want the background dark and mysterious for the photo. I had to lower the power of the flashes to stop them from lighting the background. It’s one of those challenges of “location shooting”. Stopping light going where you don’t want it!

Step 1 

I send the photo to dxo photolab – I really like its lens correction and sharpening, seems more refined than Adobe have managed so far. You will not see a huge change from the original at this resolution, but the “detail” is amazing from this step – especially for prints.

Step 2

I’ve changed the background to be cooler and slightly purple using Lightroom, I thought it would contrast with Andy’s outfit. I’ve also brightened Andy quite a bit to make him pop out of the background.

Step 3

This is where we look at the skin in Photoshop.

Andi doesn’t have many blemishes, so we didn’t need the healing tool in Photoshop.  I used a technique called dodge and burn which is designed to even out skin tones, giving a natural look.

We are not “blurring the pixels” so make things softer, as many techniques do,  but hanging how neighbouring pixels are so they look more even. It’s a more natural way to soften skin – though more time-consuming.

Step 4

I returned to Lightroom to add final tweaks – if you notice I have darkened the edges of the photo a little (called a vignette), slightly lightened the shadows from his glasses on the cheeks, and sharpened up the texture on his jacket.

And that’s as far as I’d go with this one.

Jana – Dental Nurse

Here’s a shot from a busy Dental Surgery in Huddersfield

It’s taken in Reception with the company logo in the background – I positioned a couple of lights to brighten the area and light Jana.

Step 1

Straight out of the camera, the RAW file. Just the baseline.

Step 2

Send the RAW to DXO to sort out sharpness and lens corrections, again you won’t see much difference at this resolution, but if it ever gets printed, it’ll add a bit of magic to the shot.

Step 3

Basic edits in LIGHTROOM – so basics like:-

  • get the white balance correct, easy with a white wall
  • Brighten the background in this case – it’s a white wall, so make it very bright
  • Adjust the brightness and colour intensity on Jana

This is often where “basic editing” would end – you’ve got the colour, contrast and brightness correction, and the shot looks good to go for many use cases.

Step 4

Next would be to look at the skin, as with Andy above, Jana has great skin so it may be hard to compare – but I’ve applied Dodge and Burn, and Blemish removal, to this next shot – it’s subtle but does look more refined. Look at the cheeks – it’s just a little more smooth and balanced after D&B.

Step 5

So now we can “tidy up” a little – in the background, we can see a cupboard handle and the pegs that hold the sign in place. There’s nothing “wrong” with them, but we can easily remove them to clean things up.

Also, just used a little bit of “frequency separation” to soften a few smile/laughter lines – very subtle again. See if you can spot them.

Step 6

And the final step in here was to brighten teeth and eyes, we use masked Curves Layers to do this so we can finely adjust how bright they are.

Sometimes you go too far with this and they look like vampires. When you come back the next day and realise you got carried away, you can adjust the curves down to something more human!

So…. Can you Photoshop me?

Yes – and hopefully these show one of the workflows photographers can do for you. There are many, some may just use Portrait Professional which instantly makes you look like a doll (flawless skin, bright eyes and teeth etc.) or go through these more intricate techniques.

It’s all down to the budget which route you choose – some more challenging photos could take a day if you used Frequency Separation and Dodge and Burn, or a couple of minutes in other tools!

Photoshopping Sunrays with Curves

Sometimes you only get a fleeting second of light and you’ll have to grab what you can with the camera you having your hands.

The story behind this photo is that we were walking to a limestone pavement to capture photos of trees growing out of rocks when one of the clouds opened and let the sun shine through for what was only a few fleeting seconds. This is the image I grabbed.

Luckily I did have a 2 stop neutral density grand filter on the camera so could protect the highlights to some extent but as you will see in this video the foreground is pretty much black and the sky is almost burnt out.

In this full length tutorial I take you through the steps to rescue something from this grab shot, starting from the raw file in Adobe Lightroom and working 2-in Photoshop with luminosity masks and curves layers to lighten the darks and enhance contrast.

Lencarta Beauty Dish Test Shoot

I recently bought the “MOD048 | 60cm Folding Beauty Dish Silver Mk.2” as a small, portable light modifier. These are available (or will be when stock arrives) on their website (https://www.lencarta.com/all-products/light-shapers/studio-beauty-dishes) or if you’re in West Yorkshire, you can order on line and pick it up in Bradford, which is what I did.

Folding Beauty Dish | Silver | Lencarta / Bowens Fitting | 100cm

Couple of things to note about this particular mod.

  • Silver – so potentially a bit more sparkly than the white version
  • 60cm – so in the middle, you can get tiny or huge, this is hopefully going to work outside without catching too much wind
  • Comes with velcro softbox/grid adaptors – so you can make it pretty directional.

Andy Taylor Boocock

The man in the photos is Andy – a top muse at McFade, always great fun to shoot with, a great look of course and always patient and excited to see the photos when we’re testing new bits of kit!

Scene 1 – Grey Wall

First up, this was a grey painted wall next to Clarence Dock, the Beauty Dish had no modifiers added – so the GODOX AD200 flash was hitting the beauty dish bounce disc, then into the silver reflector and straight out on to Andy.

I’ve included this shot to show the edge of the light on the wall – in this mode, there actually is quite a sharp edge so you can control what is by changing the angle of the flash. In this case the flash is around 4 o’clock and just above head height. If we put one of the diffusers onto the front of the dish, that edge would be diffused and softer.

For the next one, I’d added the grid, a fabric set of squares which reduces spread of the light width-ways, this one’s to show you the reflection in shades – it’s not quite as appealing as a lovely round disc or square reflection, so be aware of this. If your model is wearing shades, maybe it’s time to put the white diffuser on.

Here we have a back light on Andy’s hat/shoulders, GODOX AD200 through a gridded reflector.

Scene 2 – Round Tower Background

50m away we used these round mill things as a background, attempting to frame Andy between the lamp post and the building.

Same lights as above – this time, andy’s looking in the general direction of the beauty dish. Gone for a fairly dark, dramatic background (for a change!) and fairly flat light on Andy – because he was looking at the light.

He’s looking away from the Beauty Dish on this one, so you get a lot of hard rim light on the side of his head.

Scene 3 – Shooting into the Sun

I love a dark, moody sky as a background, so for these we just stayed in the same spot and shot with the sun in the background – upped the power of the flashes A LOT and moved the lights in pretty close.

So with this gridded beauty dish, you can see the reflections in the shades – the dish was pretty close. But you can also see the way the light falls on the face a bit more, the angle was a bit more contrasty than the previous shot. Under chin, by the nose and the near-side cheek are all in shadow, with the rim light adding a little sparkle on the shoulder and hat.

So you can get a nice shadow look from these dishes.

A closer look – soft-edged shadows under the shades/chin. The silver reflector looks quite vibrant too.

Scene 4 – Against the Corrugated Steel Wall

We were not adventurous – I think this involved picking the kit up and walking 10 paces.

The first shots were straight on to the wall with a 70-200mm lens – the beauty dish is at around 4-5 o’clock and just above head height. The grid is on.

One thing you can see is the 2 distinct lines to the right of the shot – that’s where the light edge occurs – you get 2 lines because of the grid I assume. Again, I assume if you wanted to get rid of this, you’d put the diffuser panel over the front and that’d soften things.

Other than that, pretty unremarkable lighting on this one. The dish did it’s job 🙂

Leaving everything in the same place, I moved 90 degrees (to 3 o’clock) and shot along the metal wall instead. Created a more dynamic image – you can see the shadow on the right of andy’s face, not a huge amount but enough. There’s also the rim light on this, which causes a hard shadow in the bottom right of the shot.

Scene 5 – The Gate

Just past the brick walls in the shot above, there’s a gate, that’s where these shots are from.

Swapping over from the 70-200, I put the 85mm F1.8 on – and set it to f1.8 for that milky background. I focussed on Andy and exposed the camera for the background – think it was around 1/5000th sec – then used High Speed Synch on the flashes.

Aware of the reflections on the shades, I had Andy look to my right which worked, nice black shades. The light was pretty close – maybe 1m – so the shadow was quite soft as you can see on his cheek

A slight head movement and you can see the grid reflected.

This one has a rim light added, I’d also darkened it down a little with a faster shutter speed.

Scene 6 – Black Brick Wall

The final scene was a black wall with light cement between the bricks, they looked like a potential source of lead lines, and they proved to be pretty useful in this final set up.

Again we have the 85mm F1.8 fully open, I’ve added the front panel over the grid so we get the directional beauty dish light, with a bit of diffusion. The reflection in his shades is a bit less messy!

The light is at around 4 o’clock in this one, you can see the edge of is mid-left.

We’ve got split lighting on this shot – Andy’s turned to face me, the light is still around 3-4 o’clock. Really dramatic look when you get contrast like this – maybe 3-4 stops difference between sides of his face.

This shows the rim light – we’d been shooting at high power for ages and the main AD200 needed a battery refresh – but thought this one showed what was happening quite well.

The very next shot – we got both flashing.

Conclusion…

I do like the quality of light this produces, most of my kit has white reflectors so nice to have something silver, which just feels edgier.

The build quality seems superior to some pop up beauty dishes I’ve used in this price range – there are 16 springy rods rather than the usual 8, so it is rounder, rather than octagonal.

The reflections from the open or gridded beauty dish are not attractive – so be aware of that it you can see reflections and put the diffuser panel over it to get a nicer round disc.

I’ll be using this on commercial and fashion shoots to see how it performs, so watch this space!

More Photos

Tilt shift lens for portraits of Andy Taylor Boocock

Who on earth uses a tilt shift lens for portraits?

A nurse by day, a fashion model by – well any time he’s not being a nurse really – on this winters day we had a go at using my tilt shift lens for a portrait/fashion shoot…

We met up for a walk this sunny winters day – I’d “really” come armed with the 24mm tilt shift lens as was going to do some architecture shooting, but decided to keep it on for the portrait session. Try something a bit different.

About Tilt Shift

If you want to know more about Tilt Shift, I’ve done this explainer blog – also this one shows some of the effects on depth of field using TILT – this one has lots of architecture using “SHIFT”.

If you want to see more about the lens, or by one, here it is on WEX.

Here’s what happened

Using TILT in portraits

The first 2 images in this blog use the “TILT” function, so you’ll see a different kind of blur to a normal lens. Shot 1 has a diagonal plane of sharpness, so the top left and bottom right are particularly blurry. The second and third ones are similar. It’s not an effect I’d use too often, but does give a pretty cool new look – and if you’ve got it…

Using SHIFT in portraits

Most of the other images use the “SHIFT” function. In a nutshell, this allows you to keep anything vertical in the shot, correctly vertical. You keep the camera perfectly level when framing a shot – with a normal lens, this would mean I’d probably be chopping off Andy’s feet. However with the shift function, you can move the whole lens up or down – shifting what’s in the frame up or down… so everything’s still perfectly level AND you get the stuff in the shot which you want!

Anyway, it’s harder to explain than use 🙂

The Light…

You may notice that these are NOT lit by flash… Very unusual for me, but we were on a walk (our lockdown walk) and kept kit to a minimum. Many of these shots are made of 2 bracketed photos – each 2 stops apart. The darker looked after the sky – an amazing blue with clouds – and the bright shot, which was 2 stops brighter, was an insurance as it got Andy exposed about right in most shots.

So to frame the vast majority, we had Andy in the shade with a really bright background.

We did get some sunlight on Andy too – for these I carefully angled him so the sun was a powerful rim light. You’ll see the last 4 shots are examples of this. I’d swapped to the 70-200 for this too.

Remember – use the direct sun as you would a flash – it’s like a small light source you can’t move… so you need to move your model and yourself instead.

Anyway – something totally different for me, hopefully a few useful tips in there for your next natural light shoot, with a tilt shift lens 🙂

Here are the photos

Fast photo editing software – Luminar AI

Imagine a world where you could click one thing and your photo would be edited to your personal taste – fast photo editing software is the ultimate productivity booster, is Luminar AI the tool for this?

Obviously 1-click editing isn’t really possible because every photograph is different and every situation as different lighting and composition, but what about using an artificial intelligence program like Luminar AI to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you?

Having used luminar AI for a few weeks since it’s release, I’ve notice many of it inbuilt presets are very stylized and will probably date badly, so I decided to to create a generic template of my own which uses the Artificial Intelligence controls to create a landscape edit.

In this video I talk you through how how I created The Preset, show you lots of examples of it in use and also how to save and create your own presets in Luminar AI.

How to get Maximum Sharpness with Focus Stacking

Sometimes you just cannot get everything in Focus in one shot…

This happens a lot when you are photographing landscapes with a very close foreground, the background becomes blurry if you focus on the foreground, and vice versa.

In this tutorial I show you two photos I took of the exact same scene, all the settings were absolutely identical except in one photo I focussed On The Rock in the foreground, and the second photo was focused on the end of the rock a little bit further away.

This tutorial takes you through the process of blending the two to images, using Lightroom as your start Point and Photoshop to do all the clever blending.

All the editing before the tutorial starts was standard Lightroom tweaks, and and the tutorial leaves you in a position to do whatever you like with the image in Photoshop or Lightroom.

Blending Light Painting Photos in Photoshop

 Usually when doing light painting workshops, I have several people with torches all lighting the scene at the same time so we catch everything in one frame which you can view there and then on the night. 

But when you are alone, or in small groups, often it isn’t possible because you just cannot get around the subject and surroundings quick enough for one exposure, and also you are almost inevitably going to have some accidental lighting “blobs” here and there as you move around. 

So, in this tutorial I have a series of photographs I photographed alone in the Peak District. 

I used an intervalometer which is built into my camera (you can buy them for cameras which don’t have them inbuilt on Ebay and Amazon), it was set to 15 seconds at ISO 200 with an f-stop of F8 so I could get most things in the foreground Sharp. 

However, the first photograph I took was for the sky, making it as bright as possible so I could get at least a few stars in the image – I think the ISO was upped to around 3200 for this. 

Next I started the intervalometer taking photos (set it to keep going indefinitely and switch it off when you get back to the camera) and walked around the area with my torch painting things as I went along.  This gave me around ten photographs, all with different things lit. 

The tutorial takes it from that point –  starting with the raw files in Lightroom and talks you how to use Photoshop, layers and layer masks to show and hide the bits you want and get the final result.

Affinity Photo for Businesses

After talking with the Yorkshire Garden Designer, Sally Tierney, I learned that business owners occasionally need to do stuff a photo editor or designer would do. Clearly, they would benefit from an affordable photo editing package, which allows you to add text to things like PDF documents and photographs or brighten a dark shot up a bit.

Adobe Photoshop or InDesign would be fantastic tools to do this. They are subscription services which most people don’t need or want to pay for (never mind the learning curve!!) so I demonstrated Affinity Photo as an alternative.

For the current price, £49, this is a fully-featured photography suite which can do pretty much anything Photoshop can do – and it also has a really nice way of handling text which I will show you in the video below.

It will handle most file formats you throw at it and you can export the final result in all the major formats ready for delivery to clients or uploading to your websites.

So in this 5-minute video, all I’m going to do is is show you how to open a PDF file and use the text till to write some words on top of the PDF. It’s pretty simple and we show you the concept of layers whilst doing it.

If you think you would be interested in learning more about affinity photo I can help over ZOOM to get you going. Just drop me a note in the form below.

Here’s the video!

So that shows a very simple example of adding a layer and some text.

To add value, Sally could also photograph the garden she is designing from all angles, the then add the photos to the PDF as illustrations. THis may help the client or the contractor visualise what they are seeing on the plan.

Hopefully, small all additions like this can make a big difference to the final product.

Transforming Websites The Easy Way

Here’s a quick “video blog” on solving the problem of poor looking websites the easy way…

The text is below if you prefer to read or can’t have the sound on right now

Our Video Blog

I read a Pearl of Wisdom on LinkedIn yesterday which was

“Business is  all about finding a problem then providing a solution to it”

Thinking about the problems I solve as a photographer, one BIG one is making websites far more attractive, with very little effort.

A problem with websites is they go out of date pretty quickly,  or or your first website was done on a tight budget just doesn’t look that great. 

 We all know the nightmare of getting a new website –  both in terms of time, having to think about content, and the financial Investment.

The quickest way to improve and update a website, is to create stunning new images to replace the old ones. 

If you are tech-savvy, you could also change the web page layouts to make the images look bigger. Big images have a wow factor, show visitors who you are and what you do, and create a fantastic first impression when people land on your site. 

Not only that when you get new photos for your website you can of course use them in 1001 other places,  so they really are the gift that keeps giving. 

Now we are fast entering the final quarter of 2020,  how about getting some updated images  created to  bring your business to life.

Try these 3 Things RIGHT NOW to improve your phone photos

You can definitely take great phone photos these days. The technology has moved on massively since the early days, and the app software is truly amazing. 

 There are probably dozens of phone photos tips you could give, but realistically these three things will make the biggest difference.

 1 – Where is the light

photo – Setting sunlight

This may seem a bit of an odd question but have a look around you right now.

What is the main source of light where you are right now?

Where is it coming from?

photo – Sunlight!

I would guess that you’ve either got 

  1. the cloudy sky above you if it’s overcast,  
  2. at the sun if it’s a bright day,  
  3. a window if you are inside 
  4. or a ceiling-light if it’s dark outside
photo – window lighting

Here is a secret,  switch off the flash on your camera phone because it is always rubbish and unflattering….  Use the ambient light instead, point 2 tells you how. 

2 – Move whatever you are shooting to the light… 

photo – Light falling on Arthur – dark background

 I’m guessing you are probably photographing either 

  • something you can put on a table or 
  • a person. 

So get them to move so that the light (from the sky, sun, window or light)  is now falling upon  their face,  or maybe so they are at a slight angle so you get a small shadow across their face. 

If you want to photograph a plate of food,  then choose a table by a window to put the plate on

If you want to shoot pretty much anything with which to create a meme, just move it towards a window and you will get lovely soft light falling over it, creating a beautiful photo

What you are doing is what Rembrandt used to do, and use the natural light available, wherever he was, to light his subjects. 

But we are not quite there yet…. 

3 – What is in the background

This is usually how you can differentiate snapshots and crafted photographs. 

Snapshots may have busy distracting backgrounds, whereas, proper photographs will have backgrounds which have little influence or enhance the subject. 

photo – Clear background

For the phone photographer the easiest thing is to look for a plane background. Now this does not mean we take our subject away from the light source we found because we can’t find a plain background.  keep the subject there but move the camera around. Try these

  • move the camera lower –  if you are shooting upwards the background tends to be the ceiling or Sky which is almost always pretty featureless and a good background
  • move the camera higher –  if you point down,  this is often very flattering for portraits and why the Instagram generation always hold the camera up high for selfies.  But also floors tend to be dark and fairly featureless so could be an option
  • Move around the subject from left to right –  leave your person or plate where it is and you do the lead work,   hold your camera phone in position to take a photograph and then just walk around them looking at the back of the phone all the time to find the best background. 

 

photo – Low angle – puts Andy’s head in a plain background – the sky
photo – High angle – just gets a concrete background, not the railings at the beach

For the vast majority of photos the best background is one which you don’t notice.  So as soon as you find the blandest background take a shot,  stay in that position and get them to pose or do whatever you like. 

Try it RIGHT NOW

There you go, 3 things you can try right now, grab a person, walk them to the window and give it a go!

FREE Luminosity Mask Extension in Photoshop

Photoshop now comes with lots of “extensions” you can install – either paid or for free – you get to them from this menu item
 
 
That opens up a web browser – you need to be logged in to your Adobe account if you’re not on Creative Cloud this may not work. 
 
 
So if type in “luminosity mask” like I’ve done in the screen shot – it’ll do a search… the results are like this:-
 
 
The one I’ve got is – Luminosity Masking Panel by Greg Benz
 
You click on that and can install it – I can’t do to screenshot it as it’s already installed, but here’s the extension info page.
 
 
Once you’ve got it installed – to use it you need to click the following menu item:-
 
And a small box will open up with just a few buttons – you click on “create masks” to start.
 
 
then open your CHANNELS panel to find about 20 new channels all named “lights”, “darks” and “midtones”. 
 
To select a dark area, hold down your CTRL key and click on one of the dark channels – you’ll get that mask selected as you can just about see here
 
Now you can open up any Adjustment layer you like and the mask will be automatically applied – so if you wanted to make the “darks” darker, you can use curves/exposure/levels, for example. Look at the Curves 1 layer, the mask is a black and white representation of the selection. So if you do anything with the layer, the effect will only happen to the white parts, leaving the black alone. 
 
That’s how to install and use it. 
 
For example, if you wanted to lighten the mid-tones a bring out some detail, then you can control-click on the mid-tone channel, create a curved line and then pull the curve up in the middle of a little bit. You’ll see just the mids changing – the lights and darks stay the same. 
 
It’s really useful and something you can’t really do so well with Lightroom. 

How to organise your photos like a pro

Finding old photos can be a pain – if someone asks if you’ve got photos of Liverpool (or something like that) in future, how quickly could you locate them in your file system?

Or if you’re looking to create a print of Ingleborough, could you find all your photos of the hill and quickly make a decision on which to use?

Well if you’re ever in this situation, this video may help.

If not, it’s useful anyway to see how others work – and this is my workflow from getting photos off the memory card through to importing and giving the files meaningful, findable names.

NEVER use direct flash

I know – sometimes it’s too dark to shoot and you don’t have any off-camera kit, so you have to use your flash “on camera”

But the light you get off a direct flash is horrible – there’s an example in the video below. It serves a purpose, but it creates a passport photo look rather than that creative look we’re all after as photographers

So what can you do?

Well with most Speedlites, you can point the head in almost any direction, so the light doesn’t go straight to the model – that way it looks a lot better, but you do need a reflective surface for the light to bounce off.

Most indoor locations have white ceilings, so you just point the flash straight up and it’s job done.

Some have white walls, so you can point them straight at the walls instead (we demonstrate this in the video too);

But when you’re out in the open, you’ve nothing to bounce off – hence we take reflector with us, get someone to hold it next to the model and then point the flash at it.

This short video shows photos from our workshop to illustrate exactly this point – we hope it’s helpful

Nightscapes 1 – The Art of Light Painting

NIGHTSCAPES 2018/2019 Begins!

It all started last night in Roundhay Park – our winter of light painting around Roundhay Park saw us using torches and gels to colour the world!

New for 2018 is a “Manker MK 35” torch – this claims to have a 1.4Km beam – it does shine a hell of a long way, and with its very narrow beam, its great for detail work. Think of it as a fine brush, whereas other torches are more like thicker airbrushes. 

This photo was just the MK35 torch pointing at the ground as I walked to the bandstand – you can see how narrow the line it makes is. 

I’ve been looking for a torch like this for years – hopefully, the high price tag will pay off when we go to Gordale Scar, where I hope to paint cliffs hundreds of yards away. 

Technique

NIGHTSCAPES is a course for experienced photographers, so we assume you know all the “techy” stuff – you can set ISO/SHUTTER/APERTURE, read your histogram and make changes etc. You do know how bulb mode works to get a 2-minute exposure etc. etc. 

So the technique really was all creative and torch-based. Here’s the process in a nutshell

  1. get a focus sorted
  2. compose the shot
  3. discuss the scene and what we could light
  4. work out colours – essentially we have yellow, orange, light red, dark red, purple, dark blue, lighter blue and green in the bag
  5. work out a route
  6. start the cameras and walk into the scene and do the lighting
  7. review the results – did it work? too bright? too dark? 
  8. learn from the first shot and adjust!

It’s really as simple as that – but all creative things can be boiled down to a few steps like that, a painting could be described as “1 dip brush in paint, 3move brush over canvas, 3 goto step 1” 😉

Some results

We started at the top pond in the park. 

It’s got a fountain which you can colour with your torch if the “throw” is long enough – throw is the term for how far the beam goes. On this photo, the XM35, a “long thrower” was green, and the foreground (using my 3-LED Sky Ray wider thrower) was orange. This was the first shot with 2 torches in action. 

Next to test the XM35 with a very thick red gel, one which reduces the brightness of the torch massively, I shone it at the fountains for a full 30 seconds. Considering it’s one of the most powerful throwers you can buy, it’s not massively bright, so beware when using red gels – they do need a lot of lumens! (Lumens is a measure of torch power).

Next the band stand. 

This first one had us walking around with torches pointed at the floor to create a pattern of coloured lines. Then Lee went into the bandstand with the Sky Ray at the end to light the inside, I used the purple gel and XM35 to add a bit of colour to the outside. 

A pure shot, the outside was lit at the top with the XM35 from a distance, the lower parts with the SKy Ray and yellow gel at close quarters. A little light spill in the foreground created texture in the leaves and grass. 

On the way to the water tower, we stopped for a shot of the avenue – here we split up, green sky ray to the right, red XM35 to the left – this gives a nice mix of colour as you go into the distance. 

 

At the water tower, we started with lots of colours to create this early shot – it’s a bit like a Pride flag!

The idea was a red interior and blue top with the XM35, then green steps and yellow ring on the “patio” at the top of the steps. It came out very jolly!

 

Later on I tried just the purple gel, shooting inside the water tower. This was a 4-minute exposure allowing the stars to leave little light trails if you look carefully

Simplicity is often worth trying!

Another simple shot but with the green gel instead – this time you can actually see green in the oculus at the top of the tower

And finally an RGB shot – red was from behind the camera with the XM35, green with the sky ray from 9 oclock, blue with the XM35 at 3 oclock

And finally on the way back to the cars, we found this stunning leafless tree – so I demonstrated my shadow technique. 

Do you want to join us?

All in all a fantastic night – not too cold either – lots of torch work and virtually no need to teach any camera skills, which is the purpose of this workshop series. 

We are aiming it at experienced photographers who enjoy a new challenge – and don’t mind standing in fields, in the dark, in winter!

It’s amazing fun and well worth the effort.

 

Summer Night Photography Workshops – 2018 Review

Another series of Photography Workshops drew to an end in Manchester on the 26th September. It seems like ages since we started on our beginners evening in Leeds, which turned out to be the only evening where it rained! 2018 was amazingly dry and hot – it made the whole 10 workshops a joy. 

So here’s a quick review of what we covered in our Photography Workshops – I’d designed them for absolute beginners to gradually learn technical and creative skills over the months. 

Photography Workshop 1 – Leeds

“Creative camera control”

Leeds was a wet night – we met around the corn exchange and used the arches as cover. The night was all about how F-stops and focal lengths can be used creatively – blurry backgrounds and crazy close up photos were the theme! We even went into a pub for shelter – Aire Bar. 

Here are a few shots from the evening. 

Photography Workshop 2 – Bradford

“Seeing like a photographer”

Session 2 was about looking – we walk around in our daily lives and pass by literally millions of potential photos each day. So in Little Germany, we took our time – we found things like bollards and thought about how they could be used in an image. Would you use a long lens and stand back, or a wide lens and get very close? 

Seeing images is something which comes with practice, time and patience – it’s not an easy one to teach, other than to find things myself, then show them the photo I’d just taken!

Low shots from the floor, wide shots with lots of stuff in, zoomed in shots with just 1 focal point… a real eye-opener of a workshop.

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Photography Workshop 3 – Burley and Ilkley

“Landscape photography – Filters”

Landscape is popular and if you’re in a decent location, you can get some fantastic shots with basic skills. So on this workshop, we built on the first 2 workshops by showing the group how Filters work. 

I demonstrated the polariser effect on water – making the reflected sky appear and disappear as you rotate it. Also ND grad filters and how they darken the sky, leaving the land alone. I even got the 10-stop filter out and showed them a 30 second shot in daylight.

The wier at burley is great – you’ve got the curved steps for starters, plus the stepping stones to use. 

Half way through we went to the Cow and Calf on Ilkley moor – the sun was going down fast so we made silhouette photos of the famous rocks, with bold red skies behind. The ball of the sun became a great focal point.

To end we went on to the rocks to find carvings – they make great foregrounds for a landscape

Photography Workshop 4 – Almscliffe Crag

“More water and boulders”

The second landscape evening started near Harewood House in at a wier on the river wharf. Here we created long exposure photos of the bubbles as they spiralled around – these leave trails and spirals, so quite surreal. 

We concentrated more and more on metering and how to use manual exposure on this workshop – quite a baffling process at first, so best to introduce it slowly over the weeks! 

After the river we went to another famous Yorkshire Crag at Almscliffe – we were treated to the best sunset of the summer to that point, it was amazing how red the sky went – right past 10PM! 

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Photography Workshop 5 – Location Portraits

“How to photograph people outside – and use the location creatively”

We’d not done any portrait workshops for a few years, so invited along 5 friends to model for us around the Royal Armouries area of Leeds. We had the best turnout of the summer for this one – so split the group in to 5 pairs, each with a model. 

The main thing I wanted to share was that the easiest way to get a decent portrait is to use a long lens, zoom right in and then walk back to get the framing right – this cuts out all the background distractions you don’t want and blurs things beautifully. 

Another beautiful summers evening meant we could shoot till 10PM – so we got hundreds of great shots between us

 

Photography Workshop 6 – Location Portraits 2

“2 very different locations…” 

For the second portrait session, we had Nicola and Chloe doing their thing – and a little later, Andy Blue Maclaren joined in. Location 1 was park square, a sea of flowers and green – so very soft and pastoral look. In here we used trees and benches to start with – then moved on to the old police station building which was a couple of minutes away. 

The building has lots of graffiti over it, so great for a grungey background to the portraits. We did narrow depth of field portraits, looking along a wall to Chloe peeking around a corner. 

We finished off with a flash photo demonstration at the old swimming pool car park – a little taster of what you can do with speedlites

 

 

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Photography Workshop 7 – Cars

“Wide shots, detail shots and flash shots… “

After 6 workshops, everyone was getting to grips with camera settings so it’s the perfect time to do the car workshop so they can try their new skills out on something totally different. 

Our friends at WY TVR Club had their meeting at the Manor Golf Club, so we met there at 7 and shot through till about 9:15 – then i got a pair of flashes out to show what you can do with 2 lights.

 

Photography Workshop 8 – Saltaire

“World Heritage Site – Landscape and Architecture in the same night!”

Saltaire is a real mix for the photographer. You have the river and canal for the landscape guys, the mill and chapel for the architecture people and the model village for the urban photographer. 

This workshop was a little wet at the start so we took shelter on the tow path under a bridge for a while. Here we had great refelctions of the mill in the water, so all wasn’t lost! 

After that we crossed the foot bridge over to the wier, this leads the eye to one of the mills, so its a great setup. Lots of trees have grown there recently, so the space to shoot is getting smaller each year. 

To finish off we went to the cobbled streets and captured reflections in the watery lanes. 

 

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Photography Workshop 9 – York

“Old walls and a shambles”

By this stage, 8 workshops done, things are starting to click – exposure makes sense, composition seems easier and it’s an evening of putting it all toghether. We met near the train station this year and went to the walls for the classic view of the Minster. This gave us options to use the wall in our composition, and gradually as the sun went down, we could do longer and longer exposures to add in car light trails. 

The Minster area was closed, unfortunately, so we spent more time on the Shambles and just trying different techniques. When we got to the Shambles, we had Nicola Papperazzo on hand to do some great poses for us – we tried this both with ambient light, which was VERY low, and with a couple of bare SPEEDLITE flashes which we sat on door frames and steps! A lesson in improvisation and being flexible. 

 

Photography Workshop 10 – Media City

“Sunset, blue hour and night photography in the north’s canary wharf”

And the final one… the sunset and night shoot at Salford Quays. 

This was about coping with the changing light – we showed the delegates how to use LIVE VIEW and the live histogram to constantly check the exposure. 

It was also about composition. It’s an area full of features, lights and structures. So to make the most of it, you need to remember right back to lesson 2  in Bradford and use the Rule of Thirds and Lead Lines to piece together your images. 

Once it was dark, the sky became too dark for most images, so we included less and less of it as it really was wasted space. And as usual, we stayed an fair bit after 10PM – it really is that absorbing down there!

 

All Done

So that’s the summer in a nutshell – we’ve taken beginners and shown them the basics first, then introduced new subjects to try them on, week after week, until they leave with a firm platform from which to take their photography forward. 

We’ll be doing a similar series over the winter, maybe one per month, where we start in the cities and then take groups in to parks and maybe even moors and landscape locations to shoot at night with torches!

Watch this space

Correct Skin Tone in 1 Second

When you’ve done a shoot and have hundreds of shots to trawl through, you need a quick way to get the skin tone the right brighness on your subject.

It’s not straightforward enough to use Auto Settings – that will take account of the background as well as the foreground and skin – so you can end up with all kinds of problems!

Here’s an unedited shot of Brad – the lighting’s pretty cool, but I’m, not sure whether his skin’s right or not. 

Image from camera – not sure whether it’s the right exposure… 

In general, Caucasian skin will be at +1EV (other skin tones vary so this may not work with african or asian skin tones – you’d need to use 0 or -1EV instead). 

After a super-fast curves change, we have the correct skin brightness

After this tweak, we now know that Brad’s face is at the correct brightness, and can continue to do whatever edits we like – but this is a great start point!

Here’s how it’s done….

The Reality of Running Workshops

One of the most common issues we get are people asking to cancel (or come on a different workshop for no extra cost) – it could be work related, or a sick pet or anything life throws up. We have to say no in order to stay in business – hope this explains why! 

We love running workshops at McFade – it’s our way of doing photography we love AND sharing our passion for all things camera related.

But for our workshops to be worthwhile, we need to keep an eye on the numbers. Whilst it’s “fun” to do, it has to be done as a business.

This means that we always need to make decisions on whether to go ahead with a workshop based on how many are booked on the session, so I thought I’d explain how it works. 

The Base Numbers

To create a workshop, we need to work with numbers:-

  • Costs of the workshop – petrol + location hire + models + facebook adverts + misc (£)
  • Number of delegates needed
  • The actual number of delegates booked
  • “Worth doing” workshop rate (£/hr)
  • Workshop Length (h)

Example Workshop

So here’s how it works – the numbers are chosen for ease, rather than actual real values 

The plan –

  • Portrait workshop,
  • 4 hours,
  • 4 photographers and
  • 1 model

Costs = £5 (petrol) + £15 (hall hire) + £20 * 4 (model for 4 hours) = £100 COSTS

Lets say we need to make £25 per hour to make it worth while

We get the following numbers – Apologies if you’re not into spreadsheets…  

Number of delegates needed4
Number of delegates booked
“Worth doing” workshop rate (£/hr)25
Workshop Length (h)4
Model Rate20
Location costs15
Other costs5
Costs of the workshop – petrol + location hire + models + misc (£)100
Worthwhile if full (hrs * worth doing + costs)200
Costs per delegate (if full)50
Actual No. DelegatesTakingsProfitRate
420010025
31505012.5
210000
150-50-12.5

So in the above workshop, we have to calculate whether it’s worth running or not.

  • With 4 delegates – £25 – definitely yes
  • With 3 delegates – £12.50 – not ideal, but maybe
  • With 1 or 2 – £0 or -£12.50 – we are making nothing or losing money, so this would be cancelled

Hopefully, you can see the impact of cancellation – in this scenario we either half our rate or would work for £0. We could of course charge

We hate saying “no” to people who have to cancel – but if we did refunds, it’s pretty likely that we’re moving from a “worthwhile” workshop to working for nothing or losing money. 

2018 Portrait Workshop 2

Our second portrait workshop the summer was with Nicola Papperazzo, Chloe Mason and Andy Blue McLaren.

We split it into a couple of locations on the west end of Leeds city centre. Starting in the flowery Park Square, where I showed people how to use flowers in the foreground to add blurry texture – like this one of Nicola

The sun light was low and warm, so we also made use of that with shots like this one of Chloe, where she’s looking straight towards the sun

The sun soon left the square, so we moved on to a spot with some fantastic graffiti – a building which used to be the police station many moons ago!

Here’s one of Chloe, I’ve used a technique of shooting along the building, focussing on the model, so the foreground blurs as does the background. There’s a little texture added to this in post processing too, just to add to that urban feel. 

Here’s one of the front of the building with Nicola – showing how you can use the environment as the main feature and the model only forming a small part of the image.

Next we moved to the footbridige over the A58M, Leeds inner ring road. Its not the prettiest of things so not immediately obvious a location for a shoot, but I’ve always liked its long lines, hard concrete and hand rails. It lends itself to portraits – here’s one of Andy, framed in the concrete and steel of the structure

Here’s Chloe on the bridge itself

At the end of the evening, once the light had dwindled, I captured a few shots of Chloe using just street light – you need street lights to focus for starters, plus once it’s dark, it lifts the model out of the background

Then to finish the evening off, I did a flash demonstration – this used 4 speedlite flashes – compact and cheap to buy, but really effective. 

These next two of Nicola used just 1 softbox, quite high up to the right of her, so you get the shadow on the right of her face. Nearly Rembrandt Lighting. 

We then stopped Andy from leaving by putting him in the spotlight, which he loves! Here we have the same softbox, and 2 rear lights giving them a glowing “rim” light. 

And then we got all 3 together for a final few – this is my favourite of the 3 of them

Though to get this shot, we had a laugh first…. 


My Favourites from the night

Maximising your photography investment

Our little secret!

All photographers and designers know how to do this – and it is REALLY easy to do – and it really can leverage that photography investment to your advantage. 

We use Adobe LIGHTROOM to do it at McFade, but there is a free tool called “IfranView” which does it as well. 

 

Leverage your investment

Get 30 for the price of 10

Imagine you’ve invested in a shoot and received 10 amazing edited photos. How do you make this into 20 or 30 photos without actually “editing”*** the image? 

This video shows how cropping and saving different versions gives you dozens of extra images to fuel those social media streams and marketing collateral. 

https://youtu.be/STq8cZZZv9I

 

*** (Note that photographers will have something in their contract to stop you editing them – because most people make a mess and it damages a photographers reputation. Cropping is always fine with McFade, but do check first with your photographer if you’re unsure). 

AMAZING Panoramic Photos Made Easy with LIGHTROOM

Gone are the old days… 

Stitching panoramic photos used to be a pain. you’d have to do all kinds of prep on each photo in LIGHTROOM first, then export them as high res files, then create a stack in PHOTOSHOP and merge them…. and it’d probably go wrong at some stage!

The panoramic world has moved on

Happily, this has all moved on and you can stitch photos in seconds using LIGHTROOM and no other program. 

If you start off with 2 photos like these:-

TOP PART OF PANORAMIC

BOTTOM PART OF PANORAMIC

Merge panoramic in seconds

Then open up Photo Merge (as shown in the video below) – Lightroom will do the rest for you. 

You end up with a large shot, pretty square in this example, which you can then use in many ways – how about a tall portrait crop, or a square, or a traditional landscape orientation… 

With the file never leaving LIGHTROOM, you can create dozens of versions if you like!

Examples of the finished shots

See how it’s done

Night Photography at Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds

Night Photography at Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds

Ok, we’re really lucky to have a ruined abbey right on the edge of our city – and it’s got lots of free parking!

So each year I take a new group of photographers down there to light it up with powerful torches and sparks.

Here’s what we got up to this year – this is Feb 2018.

The group really enjoyed Light Graffiti – that’s drawing things with torches if you keep moving your body doesn’t appear in the photo, just the trace of where the torch went!

 

LIGHTROOM Bright Sky Rescue!

The bright sky problem…

We’ve all done it – had a great scene to shoot but not got the right filters to balance the bright sky and land!

We end up with a boring bright sky and really dark foreground – it’s not ideal, but with most camera RAW files you can now fix this quickly in Lightroom.

The bright sky solution

In a nutshell, you can only do this with files where the sky isn’t totally blown out – there has to be some detail in there or nothing can be rescued.

The process is:-

  1. Use a grad filter in Lightroom to darken the sky
  2. Use the luminosity mask to keep the hilltops looking normal
  3. Close the GRAD
  4. Edit using your normal techniques

See it done…

Here it is done on a photo from the Yorkshire Dales – aimed at the user with some experience with LIGHTROOM.

Instant Vintage Effects in Lightroom

Age your photos in seconds!

I’ve tried using “bought” LIGHTROOM presets many times and they all seem to have one thing in common…

The secret behind most lightroom presets....
They use Tone Curves to add colours to your photos! 

This makes perfect sense to any seasoned Photoshopper or Lightroom expert – but I guessed that most photographers don’t know about this. So here’s a video explaining how you do it – a quick “how to” guide so you can start making your own toned presets for free!

 

How to make a soft, dreamy, black and white waterfall photograph in LIGHTROOM

Using LIGHTROOM to make a dreamy waterfall

Here’s a shot from a recent workshop at Swaldale – it’s Crackpot Force, yes, that’s really a thing!

The shot was underexposed, but I liked the shape – so gave it a go in Lightroom anyway.

Things we explain:-

  • black and white conversion
  • basic controls like Highlights, Whites, Shadows 
  • Clarity for a soft look
  • vignetting
  • cropping
  • sharpening

Kit Used

 

Canon 5D Mark 4

Canon 70-200 F2.8 L

The video above shows what steps we did – and this is the before and after…

A Stunning Yorkshire Dales Day – Ribblesdale and Malham

A 1-2-1 Workshop on a Perfect Yorkshire Dales Day

You always book workshops in the Yorkshire Dales with a sense of trepidation, and prepare yourself to explain what each location looks like “when it’s not grey, raining and grim”. No such worries for this 1-2-1 session with Jonathan – perfect weather for afternoon landscapes.

Perfect for me is a breezy day where sparse clouds pass in front of the sun making patches of light and dark. We got that in spades, so instead of starting at Gordale Scar, I decided to go to Winskill instead.

This is high above the Ribble Valley, a bit of a mecca for landscape photographers these days and has:-

  • fantastic views over the valley bottom
  • limestone pavements (small ones)
  • lots of interestingly shaped walls
  • a cattle grid
  • sheep pens
  • trees and bushes

So lots of elements to play with.

Winskill Photos

These show the changing light, shot with the 70-200mm, 90mm TSe and 16-35mm lenses.

From Winskill, we headed on towards Yorkshire Dales gem Malham Tarn, a lovely drive of a couple of miles – we stopped to capture a long straight on the road. It just reminded us of the shots of American desert roads, long straights. The clouds helped too of course

 

To the left, was a long wall which led to a farm and tree, so we got a shot of that.

Then changing lenses to the 16-35, I used the wall to lead the eye to a shadowy Pen Y Gent in the distance

Malham Tarn

Yorkshire’s second largest lake – of 3 apparently – is Malham Tarn, it’s a barren place with a cold, windy feel to it, and can be really dramatic with the right sky.

We got a decent sky alright, and really strong sun. This is where I showed Jonathan how to use the 10 stop filter. I use a Haida 10 stop – it’s a really thin screw in filter which allows me to add on top of it my Cokin Z-pro ND Grad system, without too much vignetting even at 16mm.

Anyway – here are a couple of shots with the 10-stop

This one is with the tripod almost in the water

This is further up the bank, so you don’t get too muddy!

Also around the Tarn we got some shots of rocks which were being lit by the low sun, and a couple passing by…

This as shot at F2.8 with the 70-200, just to do something a little different to most landscapes, where you’re getting everything sharp. You can still see the second rock and wall in the distance, but the main thing is the sharp foreground.

These 2 were just walking along to the lakeside – there was a decent sky – so got this at 70mm, then converted to black and white in Lightroom

Malham Rakes

It’s definitely the most photographed tree in the dales, maybe the UK or even the world!

But it is a great place to teach people who’ve never been – so I keep going back.

The sun was perfect as we walked across the field – low, bright, orange, it was going paint one side of the rocks a lovely warm tone…. We missed it by about 30 seconds. A bank of clouds engulfed the sun leaving the scene totally in the shade. Absolutely gutted and regretting eating that sandwich earlier, we kept going anyway.

Here’s proof that the light was amazing as we approached – this is looking down the valley from the tree we were going to shoot – but you can see the light.

The classic view, where the sun is to the right and should have been lighting the right sides of the rocks… alas it’d had gone.

This was my first tilt shift shot from here – so this is 2 landscape shots stithced together. The lower one got the rocks, the upper the tree and sky.

This is from the other side – with the sun on the left of the photo. I’ve used a bit of a coloured effect on the sky for a hint of warmth…

This is the shot above without any colouring – and a tripod leg

This photo is taken facing into the sky where the sun should be – you did get a bit of warmth in the sky. I’d got bored editing it though, so put it rhough Nik Ananlog EFEX and added a warm light flare to get the misty look!

This is the natural look from the usual side – again, tilt-shift lens creating a square shot with 2 landscape shots.

End of a perfect day

We ended at the rocks as the light had abandoned us, it really was a great day and the shots in this blog are just a few of the great variations the light gave us

Do you want a day out with McFade

If you want a similar day of learning in the Yorkshire Dales, we’re always delighted to take you out for a drive around our favourite locations.

During the day we can show you everything we do, give tips on everything from using your tripod to bracketing images for HDR. It’s definitely the best way to learn if you want to get to the next level with your photography.

Just drop us a line at training@mcfade.co.uk and we’ll organise a great 1/2 or full day out for you. 

How to fake an ND Grad filter with LIGHTROOM

Flash of inspiration

This technique came to me one night – just watching sunset on a road bridge and thought about it. It applies to Tilt Shif lenses mainly – but I’m sure you can do it with a normal lens, or telephoto. Maybe not an ultrawide 16mm though.

The Problem

So you invest £2000 on a 17mm TS lens and realise you can NEVER use an ND grad on it… the end of the lens is like a tennis ball, you just can’t fit the darn things on.

So you have to use HDR to get balanced shots, which can mean using 6 or 9 shots once you’ve done your shifting. The problems are, when shooting with a 5D4…

  • Masses of hard drive space – 6 or 9 40Meg RAW files, ouch
  • Need to use HDR – can introduce problems if you don’t know what you’re doing
  • Time… wow, even on a powerful computer you’re waiting around

But yeah – I’d been doing this ever since I got the 17mm TSe

The Idea….

It’s far from genius really.

But I found this whilst shooting light trails over the M62 – the camera levelled on a tripod.

  • I could get the whole scene in 2 shots – a low shot and a high shot
  • The low shot was dark mainly – had the road in it
  • The high shot was bright mainly – had the sky in it.
  • I WAS taking HDR brackets at the time then thought…

Would LIGHTROOM stitch 2 shifted shots at different exposures… and would there be a tide mark?

The source files

The first shot is the lower one – this is 30 seconds, so you get long light trails – and lots of them

LIGHTROOM Grad - how to fake it using 2 photos in lightroom

Next, I shifted the camera up to get mainly the sky – but leaving a bit of road for Lightroom to blend with. This was just 6 seconds long so we got a nice dramatic sky.

So here goes – highlighted them both and did a Panoramic Blend.

I’ve obviously done a few tweaks with lightroom to get it a bit brighter.

So here is the unedited blend

As you can see – lightroom just did its thing and got it right!

A video on how it’s done

GoodSynch keeps your work safe & SYNCHRONISED!

The Problem GoodSync Solves….

As a photographer, we’re dealing with huge files ALL the time, many of which we bin after we’ve finished a project – these fill hard drives, meaning you’ll waste £££££ on hard drives.

We’ve found GoodSync solves this problem so quickly and easily – for $29 for the pro version!

Many photographers will use a RAID system of hard drives to make sure if a disc goes down, they are safe.

This system is about making backups which SAVE SPACE 

 

This tends to happen…

  1. Get the photos off your camera and into your working drive – usually a fast SSD drive
  2. Make a backup copy – just to be safe! 
  3. Do your work – usually over a few days, or weeks, depending on how long clients take to choose etc.
  4. More daily backups of everything
  5. Eventually, when you’ve finished “work”, you’d have a quick tidy up on your working drive – delete intermediate files etc. 
  6. Finalise backups and move the files off the Working Drive to a different one – not an expensive SSD.

Now the problem is keeping those backups in sync

What you’d normally do….

You’d typically just copy the entire folder  (using Windows explorer or finder on a mac) – but you’re copying EVERYTHING, but not deleting the garbage.

In step 5, the “tidy up”, you will delete many GBytes of files, BUT you will not delete that backed-up garbage, meaning your drives will be massive, you will waste space, you’ll have to spend to get more drives.

What Good Synch Does

It adds AND deletes files to your backup drive


Benefits of Good Sync
You get an exact copy of your working drive on the backup – saving you TIME, gigabytes AND ££££.


Here’s how it works

Create a “Job”

Use Goodsynch to intelligently backup your photos - or any work

Just give it a name… meaningful so you know what it does

Set up the JOB

Use Goodsynch to intelligently backup your photos - or any work

Here you pick the source folder (where your working files are) – click the folder buttons at the top where it says “Please click here to select folder”. The left one is the source

Then pick where you want them to go – to the right folder.

So here I’m copying everything from my August 2017 folder to August 2017 on my “I Drive” – which is a backup.

Use Goodsynch to intelligently backup your photos - or any work

Click on Analyze

Next the clever bit – when you click Analyze, it works out what’s is new and needs to be copied to your backup AND what needs to be removed!

Use Goodsynch to intelligently backup your photos - or any work

It can take a little while on big folders – but when you’ve run it a few times it seems to “remember” stuff and speed up.

It gives lots of stats and a little update on every file – for the geeky, this is heaven, for the rest of us we can ignore most of it.

Hit Synch

Now just hit the sync button – GoodSync then just works down every file and does one of 3 things:-

  1. copies it to the backup folder
  2. ignores it altogether
  3. deletes it from the backup folder

And that’s it

How to keep backed up all the time

Above we set up that job – that’s not actually the end of the story, we can set GoodSync up to automatically run these jobs whenever we like.

At the top right of the program, there’s a picture of a clock with “Auto” below it – press this to get the following box.

Use Goodsynch to intelligently backup your photos - or any work

Ok – it’s a big box, but it gives you lots of options on when to Automatically run backups.

So if you”re paranoid, it can run every time you change a file!

Periodically would be more sensible – maybe every hour, or every few hours, or if you’re on mission critical stuff, every 10 minutes.

You can even do a timed schedule – maybe at 3 AM when you’re tucked up in bed.

Integrations with stuff you love

And finally, I’ve just covered backing up to hard drives – but you may also want to backup to remote things like:-

  • Google Drive
  • DROPBOX
  • An FTP Location

Well you can see them all here:-

Use Goodsynch to intelligently backup your photos - or any work

So if you want to keep those vital files save on a remote server, then you can send them to many different platforms.

Why we love it…

In a nutshell, we have always tried to intelligently back things up regularly – and that means only backing up stuff we actually need.

This never happened, we have probably terabytes of TIFFS, HDRs and PSDs we just don’t need.

With GoodSync that is all taken care of – without us ever having to do anything anymore!

 

Mind Blowing Depth of Field – Tilt Shift Lenses

Tilt Shift Effect…

Most people have heard of Tilt Shift because of the miniature filters you get on camera apps. Ones taken from high up to make the world seem like a toy town – or like this where just a bit is sharp.
It’s a cool effect and very handy for creative souls – though for landscape and architecture people, getting MORE depth of field is usually the goal.

What Tilt Does

There are dozens of youtube on the subject if you google it, I did and ended up buying 2 lenses so be careful.
It’s actually a lot harder to explain than demonstrate, here’s an attempt…

  • Normal lenses have a “plane of focus” (the sharp bit of a photo) which is parallel to the camera sensor – so when you take a shot, everything at the same distance away will be sharp.
  • Tilted lenses have a plane of focus which is not parallel to the sensor. This creates a “line of focus” across the image, with anything either side of the line being blurred. The line can be any angle and the effect can be increased by more tilt or wide apertures

See – really hard to explain.

This video is long but he does explain what happens

 

My experiments in a field

Here are a couple of examples from a trip last night:-

  1. Close up wheat field using the Canon 16-35 and the Canon 17mm-TS – compare the depth of field
  2. Opposite tilt using the Canon 90mm TS e – lots of foreground blur and infinite DOF

If you want lots of depth of field then you can tilt the plane of focus to get the front to back sharpness.

If you want the exact opposite, less DOF, then just tilt it the other way and use the focus ring to move the line of focus around.

Conclusions

Would I recommend you buy one?

  • Well the elephant in the room is price – they start at around £1000 and go up from there. They are not really for the enthusiast – you need to be pretty serious to buy one, or better, HIRE one for a day and make the most of it.
  • Once past that – watch lots of YOUTUBE tutorials before you get it and be prepared for it when you get one. I’ve used one in the past without doing this and just got frustrated with the knobs and got nothing.
  • The creatives will love the blurring capability – food photography will be a different experience now I’ve got one of these
  • The purist techy photographer will love the infinite DOF you can get with tilt

Super-Fast Spot Colouring in LIGHTROOM

Learn Spot Colour in Seconds

Using Adobe Lightroom

Spot Colouring is where you make a black and white photo but leave a part of it coloured. You may see it in wedding photography, and most famously in the film, Schindler’s List – a girl in a red coat dominates one scene.

The technique used to involve masks and photoshop – and a certain level of understanding for it to work.

However, with a few seconds tweaking, you can create the same effect without opening Photoshop or learning about layers and masks

Here’s the example of spot colouring

In this street scene the red coat really stands out, but the shot it pretty ordinary – so to try to make it more interesting, we made a spot colour with just the red coat

Here’s how we did it – in 3 minutes!

The spot colouring technique is very easy for this shot where the coat is bright red. It may be a bit more involved for different colours…. but hopefully, this 3 minutes will show you the basics of spot colouring so you can try it yourself.

A Wet Workshop at Malham

January’s Malham Workshop 2017

We always run a landscape workshop at Malham in January fo those who’ve got a new camera for Xmas and want to learn how to take great countryside shots in the best area of the dales.

It’s also pretty close to Leeds and Bradford, so not far to travel.

This year we had pretty grim weather, not raining all the time, but a lot of grey skies and the occasional shower.

A Slight Deviation

So when it’s grey and wet, you need a Plan B destination, for this one it was the stunning Scalebar Force, about 8 miles from Malham in the Settle direction.

Here I firstly taught the group about manual exposure – how using spot metering and a hand, can get the right exposure for most scenes! They’d never seen the technique before, so that was great.

Then we descended to the waterfall and got the shots you see here. These were my demo shots – just to show them a few ideas. I’ve got about 1000 shots of this waterfall…. so just packed the camera away and helped each delegate individually.

They’re all taken on the 5D Mark 4 with a 16-35F4 L and polariser

 

Here is a detail shot of the far side of the waterfall – used a longer lens to get this.

Road to Malham

After Scalebar, we headed over the Kirkby Malham road, stopping to get a few shots of the highland cattle by the road.

Just before Malham itself we stopped by the roadside to go over the metering methods again, and show them a few composition ideas. Here we have lead lines from the bottom left walls – they lead the eye to the cliff which is off centre (kinda the rule of thirds. This was taken with the 70-200mm lens.

Next we headed down to Gordale Scar – a few hadn’t seen this before, so it definitely got a WOW as we entered!

Above the main waterfall is this hole – always looks great with the stream pouring thorugh

 

On the way back to the cars, we got a few shots of the greens in the stream – you can see just how grey it was, note that this has been processed a LOT to get that sky detail… and has suffered a lot with halos on the sky line.

Next down to the lovely Janet’s Foss – this is around 15 feet tall and very pretty.

At the end, we were going to the famous tree on Malham Rakes, but the weather up there was horrendous – I did ask the group if they wanted to do it – but it was a resounding “no chance”. For once, I think it wasn’t worth it – the weather would have soaked the cameras and all the photos would have water spots on them.

Last Blast of Light

On the way back down from the Rakes, we got 10 minutes of warm light – really diffused through all the clouds and distant rain. We pulled over and got a few shots – all with Long Lenses.

Castlefield Manchester – Canals and Viaducts

Water and Rail Meet at Castlefield Manchester

Castlefield is incredibly central in Manchester, a stone’s throw away from the massive Beetham Tower and Deansgate Station. It’s a stunning place for every photographer to enjoy, be that shooting the architecture reflected in still waters, taking a model down there and using the industrial backdrops or shooting a car down there – with girders and bricks reflected in its shiny bodywork.

Great on a Dull Day

Castlefield Manchester is one of those places where you don’t really need bright sun to enjoy it – when you’re below a bridge, the sky can be flat and boring and will create a fantastic shot. It may be worth bracketing your photos to create an HDR later – a with this first photo.

Practice your HDR

The dynamic range between the sky and the arch to the right was pretty huge, so I did need 2 shots – each 2 stops apart.

Other stuff, like bikes on walls, are all over the place.

The canal leaves the basin and heads into the City

A perfectly placed Peroni!

A bright red boat outside the basin… and a friendly mallard

Just about managed to frame the background with the arches using a 16mm lens!

The industrial museum is a gem of a buildings

Below the foot bridge over one of the docks

 

Massive girders! 

Footbridge and 2 railway lines

There is a road way through the area too – you can see the size of these grey columns with the cars to the right

Old beer barrels behind an abandoned pub

Fantastic place for reflections

HDR detail of the cobbles

Mix of new architecture around the dock area

LIGHTROOM tutorial – Landscape – Swaledale Waterfall

Is Swaledale the best Dale? 

There are so many dales, all with different character, all with different features. 

Swaledale is known for its steep sides, lead mines, waterfalls and 1000 barns – so lots to go at for the photographer

We went up there yesterday – Richard Spurdens with his new Canon 5D mark 4 and me with the huge 500mm lens. Boys and their toys. 

Here are a few from a quick play in LIGHTROOM – you can see the autumn colours were strong, and we found some really dramatic view points. That’s at the cost of being knackered after a long walk of course. 

 

The tutorial bit

Here’s the before and after of the photo we edit for you

At the end of the shoot the light died pretty fast and there was no sunset – so we found this waterfall. 

The sky and water were really bright compared to the surrounding leaves and rocks – I purposely shot the shot to keep detail in these bright areas, at the cost of underexposed “everything else”.

In this tutorial we explain

  • how to recover hightlights and dark areas
  • how to quickly and easily enhance areas with the RADIAL tool 
  • why it’s worth underexposing in these situations
  • why you should think VERY CAREFULLY before handing out your RAW files. 

The Video

 

Lightroom and Photoshop – Focus Stacking Tutorial

Front to back sharpness

Here’s how it’s done!

Even at F16 with a wide lens, you can struggle to get everything sharp in a photo. If you like getting a foreground object such as a boulder or stream in your shot – the background may get blurry – of the foreground may get blurry… it depends on where you focus.

How about doing 2 shots, 1 focussed on the background and the other on the foreground?

That’s what we did here – the video takes you through how to automatically blend these 2 shots in PHOTOSHOP.

The Source Images

These were taken on a tripod with the exact same settings – just the focus point changed. I used LIVE VIEW on a canon 5D mark 3 – moving the little focus box from the leaves in one shot to the actual waterfall in the other. Hopefully, you can see the focus difference on these 2 shots

 

The Result

This looks pretty much the same as above, but on closer inspection, you see both the back and foreground are sharp

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See how it’s done

Lightroom Tutorial – Landscape – Ribblehead Viaduct

Yorkshire Dales Lightroom Tutorial – Ribblehead Viaduct

A sunset shot – without a great sunset

So you’re driving up a long country road with no real signs of life apart from the odd farm or bird of prey, then all of a sudden this massive viaduct pops up!

That’s Ribblesdale – it’s full of stuff to photograph, and here is the best bit, right at the top of the valley.

In the summer the sun sets over the back of Whernside, so not so good for sunsets – but in the darker months, you get the sun setting behind the actual viaduct – so far more effective.

Tutorial Contents

It’s a full LIGHTROOM workflow – quite long and discusses how to make something quite overcast and disappointing into something a bit more exciting.

We go through each of the DEVELOP panels showing you ideas and even use NIK Silver EFEX to do a final mono edit.

Sepia Conversion – Silver EFEX Pro

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The Video

Lightroom Tutorial – Landscape – Wilder Kaiser in Austria

Lightroom Landscape Tutorial – from Austria!

The Wilder Kaiser, Tirol

Here is a full editing Lightroom tutorial of an Austrian landscape – it’s the Wilder Kaiser range, which loom majestically over the farm we stop at on the McFade Austrian holiday which runs every October

At the top of the ski slopes they have these little lakes which store water for the snow-blowers. If there isn’t any snow, they just make it from these reservoirs!

So at sunset we didn’t ge the most incredible colours in the sky – but we can show you a few steps on how to get from a cold looking scene, to something a bit more dynamic.

Before and After

The Video

Editing a Landscape in LIGHTROOM – Zell am See, Austria

Lightroom Edit of Zell Am See – Austria

Real-time Lightroom editing tutorial

Here’s a 10 stop shot – taken with a very dark ND filter which makes the exposure 1000 times longer. This one has a 30-second exposure.

The filter has a blue cast, so we show how to correct this – and work through each step describing “why” we make each change.

Before and After

The Video

Here’s the video with all the steps and discussion for you to learn from

 

What else would you like to learn about?

We hope that was useful – we’ll be doing more videos to help boost your processing, so let us know it the comments below what you’ve been struggling with.

 

Ribblesdale – Yorkshire Dales Western Diamond

Ribblesdale – a fantastic photography destination

Coming from Ribblesdale, I’m obviously biased – though I’m a good 20 miles downstream from most of these destinations

The Ribble is 70 miles long, starting at Ribblehead and entering the Irish sea at Preston. It’s a stunning journey down the valley, past Settle, Clitheroe and Ribchester – though these locations are all from Settle to Ribblehead

So here’s our pictorial guide to Ribblesdale

Above the valley

These are from above Langthwaite – take the Malham Road and you’ll find them.

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Scalebar Force

A little outside of Settle on the Airton Road

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Stainforth Force

A 30 minute walk from Stainforth – or you can park next to it if you’re brave!

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Cattrigg Force

A steep walk out of Stainforth, or an amble down from the Malham road

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Hoffman Lime Kiln

Just by the train track and road, near Stainforth – very easy access and parking

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Ribblehead Station

A high station with track crossing, so you can get unique views – and park right outside it!

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Ribblehead Viaduct

The best viaduct on the Settle Carlisle route – amazing in this bleak landscape

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A Few Other Views

Yorkshire’s Best Kept Secret – Knaresborough

Knaresborough Workshop Night

Yorkshire is full of little market towns, each with their market square lined with pubs.

Most would think of places like Thirsk, Bedale, Masham or Pickering – but there is one far closer to Leeds than all of those.

Knaresborough is just outside Harrogate and has all of the above. The square is a delight, there is a historic feel to the place with its huge castle ruins, and best of all for photographers, a mirror-still river which reflects a huge decorative train viaduct.

McFade’s Knaresborough Night Workshop

In September 2016, we took a group around the river area of the town – starting by the bridge at Mother Shipton’s Cave, then moving on up to the castle and back via the railway station.

We finished off by showing the delegates how the Pixel Stick works – which is always great fun!

Unfortunately, the sunset never really set fire to the sky – as this shot shows. It is the main road bridge over the river Nidd, taken from downstream.

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Waterside

Next we walked up the little river road and captured a few views up there as we approached the viaduct.

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River Reflections

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View from the Castle

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Walk back to base

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Pixel Stick on the Bridge

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People and the Pixel Stick

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The rest of the photos

Super-Charge your Editing with Lightroom Presets

Lightroom Presets – Work Smart!

Do you always do the same editing steps?

Have you created a fantastic shot, and want to re-create it in future?

Do you want to spend less time editing and more shooting?

Making your own LIGHTROOM PRESETS

Well if you’ve said yes to any of those, then Lightroom Presets are perfect for you.

The Develop Module lin LIGHTROOM has lots of sliders and tools for you to play with – all Lightroom Presets do is record settings for you to use later.

It really is that simple. So if you have a landscape “look” you really like, maybe lots of blues and greens with a bundle of clarity and subtle vignette, instead of adding this to each shot,

So if you have a landscape “look” you really like, maybe lots of blues and greens with a bundle of clarity and subtle vignette, instead of adding this to each shot, one by one – you can save that setup forever and apply it with one click.

Here’s a video about how I use LIGHTROOM Presets

The Pixelstick – The Verdict

Was the Pixel Stick Worth it?

Having watched this cool light painting tool evolve for a while it was only a matter of time before I got one. That came on Black Friday 2015 when the offer price was right.

It arrived from the states a few days later, and I was raring to go – were it not for the rain!

How does it work… ?

Watch this!

Why did I get it?

I shoot cars professionally – I thought it’d be a cool addition to the toolkit for that.

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Also, I thought I could use it for client logos – adding those to scenes for some quirky viral click bait!

I also run night workshops, so it was an obvious addition to the “wire wool” and “gelled LED torches” I drag around Yorkshire each winter.

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I like gadgets, and wondered what I could do with it – what works, what doesn’t work, could I do anything others were not doing ?

How is the Pixelstick to use?

Uploading new files etc. to the Pixelstick

The file format and interface on the device is old school:-

  • you need “bitmap” BMP files which are 200 pixels high,
  • then rotate them 90 degrees to the right,
  • the file names can only be 8 characters long.

SO that’s novel

Photos with black edges work best – anything on a white background look a bit pants, to be honest – you get white tide mark.

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That’s why I ended up with lots of demonic heads to start with – they have black edges! I’m not a satanist or demon worshipper!

The interface itself is pretty good to use at night – just a simple controller and a fire button. A bit like an old Game Boy control really. Once you get used to the menus, you can change things very quickly

Some Photos

So you can see lots of examples there – I’ve certainly given it a good workout!

Using it in the field

Needs to be really dark!

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I find it best if you’re somewhere dark enough to get a 30-second exposure at around F5.6 – so we’re talking dark places! Any brighter, you have to work faster or lower the aperture to F8 or F11… then the brightness starts to fade. i.e. you can’t see the effect very well… or at all .

Timing is interesting

I’ve always shot with someone at the cameras – so I have to shout when to start the camera, no use of remote shutters.

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How do you get wings in the right place behind someone? It’s tricky – try it.

Also, you’re walking to trace out an image – often to fill a specific space – so how do you time that? It could end early so you have got a big black space, or you end up at the end of the scene with the stick still flashing!

Its fun

Yeah – it is good fun to use to be honest. You just run around looking like an idiot, or some star wars fan as it can look like a light sabre!

Has it any Commercial Value?

Limited – I think most clients think it’s badly photoshopped artwork, rather than something unique and creative. One, in a bout of truth-telling, explained in great depth how he thought posting it on Social Media had cheapened my work and damaged my brand!

I don’t think many would go that far, but it’s seen more as a novelty toy, than a real commercial tool help raise a company profile.

I’d definitely try an another car shoot – but as an addition at the end of the shoot, if we had time. I’d not be promoting it and don’t have any examples on the website.

Was it worth it?

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It’s definitely got some interest in workshops so has paid for itself in extra attendees, so yes, it’s a cool tool which has actually covered its cost.

I think its best when used to create abstract things – rather than trying to create actual photos or things which are recognisable such as logos.

If you get too close to the camera, it looks like 200 lines, rather than a nice smooth image – that was a bit limiting, you do need to be far away to get the most from it.

What Next?

It’s getting light late in the UK now, so it’ll probably be packed away till the Autumn – but I think the thing I’ve not done is city work. Adding strange images to “already interesting” night scenes in a city, with models or cars, will be the next thing.

I think I’ve only really scratched the surface with it – mainly down to a horrendously wet and windy 4 months since I bought it. No one wants to be running around outside with a camera in the rain…

York Photography – A Beautiful City at Night

The McFade York Photography Workshop 2016

With its walls, river, minister and castle as highlights – and hundreds of other things to discover, I’ve always loved running Photography workshops in York.

It was drizzling, then fine, then raining… and that only adds to the scene. The watery pavements reflecting colourful light into the camera adds to the magic.

York Photography Ideas

The gallery before contains a few highlights from the workshop – these include:-

Minster and walls

Northern Europe’s biggest cathedral, a gothic masterpiece which dominates the city. The walls are older still, and provide a great lead line into the Minster when taken from near the train station

Shambles

The old butcher’s row – olde worlde in the extreme, usually full of tourists, so go late at night. The upper floors almost touch, that’s how they used to build them!

River and tour boats

The river moves slowly, which means it’s great for reflections – so those night colours and boats all look great if you take long exposure shots from a bridge.

York Museum

Three great looking wings of the old museum to enjoy, though there is a tree making a mess off the best angle! And usually a few vans in the way!

Clifford’s Tower

The last bit of the castle still standing is the keep, called Clifford’s Tower. It stands on top of a conical mound and has a famous silhouette, so you can get some nice sunset skies and use that as the foreground.

Yorks ancient streets

The Shambles is the king of the streets in York, but there are loads more around the Minster area. All the better if they are wet – the pavements come alive!

Reflections in the cobbles

And finally the cobbles… they’re all over the place, they look cool if you get your camera right on the ground next to them.

York Gallery

Here are a few from last night’s workshop – just click on a shot to open the large versions 🙂

The Amazing Milky Way at Brimham Rocks

Shooting the Milky Way – If at first you don’t succeed…

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Pack up your bags and go back another night!

That’s what happened with our legendary Brimham Rocks workshop this year – the first run was a wash-out no sign of a star, never mind the milky way. Horizontal rain, cold, and no shelter anywhere saw us calling a halt on proceedings before cameras broke and people got hypothermia!

A few weeks later we returned, and wow – the results were magical!

Perfectly dark – no moon!

CT2A4430To see the milky way you need to be somewhere with little light… which Brimham is – but also if there is no moon , you’re on to a winner as the sky will be lots darker.

It was a new moon which had disappeared by 7:30.

Techy Bit

With it being so dark, and there was a chance to get the milky way, we decided to expose to capture stars – so this meant:-

  • long exposures – 30 seconds
  • wider apertures, most at F4 or F5.6
  • High ISO – 800 to 1600

This meant that the skies had enough light in them to reveal the stars in post processing.

The Light Painting Bit

CT2A4435 With the cameras set to capture LOTS of light, the light painting was very different to usual – rather than painting for 30 seconds to light boulders, 2-10 was ample, depending on the torch power and gel thickness.

So most of these shots were a quick wash of light, then we stood in darkness for the rest of the 30 seconds!

The Pixel Stick

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We took it, but only did a couple of shots with it – still learning what to do with it to get effective shots – and in this location, it wasn’t really adding much to an already-amazing scene!

Sparks

Again, we wanted to let the sky do the talking and help the boulders with a coloruful glow, so we only did a few wire wool wheels!

We did however do a few LED orbs – they were fun.

The Photos

3 Easy Steps to Photography Mastery

3 Easy Steps to Photography Mastery

You want to make friends say “wow” when they see your photography?
You want to know how to do it…. well read on!

Unfortunately there is no guaranteed path to mastering photography, but there are 3 steps you can take to help get you from boring “point and shoot” shots, to “wow” shots.

1 – Find something interesting to shoot

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Mastering photography is easier in interesting places!

This is so blatantly obvious that I’m surprised I’ve mentioned it, but so many images are dull, dull, dull.

You definitely CAN get great images from dull things, once you’ve mastered composition (see item 2) and camera control (see item 3). But to hedge your bets, find things which are actually interesting.

What is interesting?

It is subjective – but generally, unusual stuff, things out of the norm, are more interesting. Shadows are fleeting, they can be interesting. Spirals in stair cases can be interesting. Getting down low (on your belly) can make things look interesting.

Anything taken at normal head height is likely to be less interesting than taken from high up, or low down.

Also, timing is important – that’s why landscape photographers do sunsets and sun rises, the light changes with the time of day. Red skies and soft sunset light is more interesting than bright, harsh mid day sun, if you’re shooting hills and fields.

Salford Quays Workshop

Salford Quays Workshop

Media City is right on the canal network  –  so where better to teach night photography skills, a location where you get amazing architecture as well as stunning reflections in each shot.

The workshop started at sunset and went on well past the 10PM finish time… when you’re in the zone, may as well keep going!

The Technical Bit

The main skills we showed people were the basics of night shooting – which on my workshops, uses the camera’s histogram extensively. This feature baffles many – it is quite simple in reality, it’s just never been properly explained to them!

What you’re looking for is a histogram where the brightest bit (the right most end of the chart) is just touching the end. If you’re shooting RAW (and you should be!) then a little peaking is ok, this can be recovered.

With many brands, you can do this all in LIVE VIEW using a LIVE HISTOGRAM – on canon, you just press the “info” button over and over again till it appears. On Nikon, it varies a lot from model to model – we were entertained with this again on the night – yet again, it was in a new place in the menu. There were 2 Sony cameras – older ones – and we never did find a live histogram, so reviewed a shot after it was taken.

Exposure times were generally 30 seconds, especially when the water was rippling – long exposures flatten out the reflections.

The Photos

Well here are a small selection of the shots I created

 

See How Easily Focus Stacking You Gives Ultimate Sharpness In Your Landscape Photos

Focus Stacking in Landscape Photos

If you like to get everything pin sharp in your landscapes, Focus Stacking is for you.

If you shoot low with foregrounds which are very close to the lens, then it can be hard to get the background AND the foreground pin sharp. Focussing 1/3 of the way into a scene if often recommended, or using a “hyperfocal” calculator app on your phone can give you the best focus distance for a given aperture and focal length.

Taking The Guesswork Out – Use Focus Stacking

Rather than struggle to work out the best F-Stop and where to focus, we can create a “focus stack”. This is where you take identical photos, but move the focus through the photo.

In our example from Ribblesdale, we focussed on the tree in one photo, and the bottom right rocks on the second image.

The easiest way to do this on a CANON (and most other brands) is to use LIVE VIEW where you can move your focus box around on screen with cursor keys.

  • Put the focus box on the foreground, take a shot.
  • Put the focus box on the middle ground, take a shot.
  • Put the focus box on the background ground, take a shot.

You can take 2 or more – though with smaller apertures (F11 or F16) and wide angled lenses (10-28mm say), the depth of field rarely needs more than 2 shots.

The Photos

These are the 2 photos – they’ve both been processed identically in Lightroom and exported as large files – ready for merging in PHOTOSHOP.

How To Stack

It’s surprisingly easy using PHOTOSHOP – there is a feature where you create a “stack”, then you merge the stack – and it’s done.

Here is a little video to show how it all works:-

 

7 Top Tips for Low Light Photography

Low Light Photography for Beginners

2015’s summer looks to be ebbing away – certainly in the evenings as it’s dark by 8PM now!

So last night we started our summer-winter transition and showed a group how to shoot at night.

What we did…

Kicking off at Clarence Dock, or New Dock Leeds, as the re-brand calls it, we created:-

  • dusk shots of the old docks.
  • night shots of the docks – 30 second exposures, to smooth the water
  • a bit of light painting at Knightsway bridge
  • car light trails.

Here are some examples:-

The Low Light Photography Tips

  1. Using the tripod is essential
  2. Use the lowest ISO you can as this give less noise
  3. use LIVE VIEW and the LIVE HISTOGRAM to anticipate exposure. The histogram will have a “U” shape, lots to the left, lots to the right. Make sure not too much is off to the right.
  4. start at 30 seconds exposure and work out the F-Stop from that – viewing the live histogram to do it
  5. shoot, then review and understand the histogram – in a nutshell, everything off to the left is underexposure and will be noisy, everything off the right can’t be recovered and will always be white.
  6. composition in a built environment – getting verticals right, rule of thirds and use of lead lines. Set up an interesting shot then wait for cars to pass to leave light trails… light trails on their own are boring, they just add to an already good shot
  7. using road furniture (arrows etc.) and reflections as part of your composition. We tell stories in pictures, these are part of the story

We’re off to Salford Quays next – then onwards to teach you how to Light Paint and lots of other nocturnal goodies over the darker months

 

Car Photography Workshop – TVR and Porsche

Grand Finale Car Photography Workshop for 2015

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We’ve done 3 great Car Photography workshops this summer, the final one was at Temple Newsham in Leeds – where we have a huge car park full of puddles and a gritty feel. Something to contrast to the other workshops.

The cars were

  • TVR T350
  • TVR Wedge – 2 of these
  • TVR Tuscan
  • Porsche 911 – 2 of these

A great mix of colour, style and shape – all organised by Richard Lee, who runs the TVR club of West Yorkshire.

Photography Stuff…

Porsche at out Car Photography Workshop

Porsche at out Car Photography Workshop

The night was…

  1. demonstration on how to shoot cars from different angles (1/3 – 2/3 splits, front shots, low and high angles, etc.)
  2. use of polarisers
  3. group shots of the cars – see the 2 porsches and TVR groups
  4. single car shots at sunset – especially the Tuscan and T350
  5. Flash – full demonstration on setting up 3 modified flashes (softboxes)
  6. Flash shots for everyone – using long exposures, we had 8 lenses pointing at the cars, each getting a “burst of flash” ! 1 Trigger, 8 photos
  7. Reflection shots – Tuscan and Wedge by a huge pond, with 3 flashes lighting it
  8. Spark shots – same as the reflection shots, but with me creating “katerine wheel” sparks with wire wool in the background
  9. Light Painting – finally, a very quick demo of using torches to light subjects at night, with red and blue coloured “gels”

An awful lot of content and I’m hope it’s whetted people’s appetites for more night photography over the Autumn and Winter.

 

The Photos

Here they are…. a small selection from the 140 shots I got.

 

How to take better travel photos on your smartphone

Sunrise and sunset provide the best light for photography: Lauren Bath AS THE saying goes, the best camera to have is the camera you have with you. And for must of us, that’s a smartphone. Mobiles with built-in high-resolution cameras have changed the way we shoot holiday snaps. For […]

Here are the tips in summary…..

1. Light it up

2. Pick and choose

3. The professional touch

4. The phone has limits

5. Up close and personal