Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday, May 29th

Don't you just love parades? I took this shot above while on assignment for the local American Legion. There are so many neat vehicles in these parades.

I'm getting ready to head to Chicago for the weekend, then enjoy a week of vacation at home after that. There are a couple of things that I wanted to tell everyone about before I leave for the weekend. First Capture Cincinnati is going on again. If you're not already involved check it out. You can click Here to see my page and vote on some of my images. Or click that link and navigate at the top of the page to set up your own account.

Second next Saturday (the 6th) is the Grand Opening of Sway Dance Studio in blue ash. Don't miss it! You can get more info and directions by calling 513-469-7929. Danelle will give you all of the info. It's going to be a blast, don't miss it!

Rumor has it, Nikon will be releasing the D300s soon. It will have all of the same features of the D300 adding video capabilities, 1fps more than the standard D300, and some minor other things... So look for that soon from Nikon.

Last thought for the day, go back up your stuff. Back up your hard drives, before you forget and before you loose everything. See you all Monday... I plan on getting some nice shots from Chicago but we'll see. Jason Read more on this article...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday, May 28th

Good morning everyone. It's been a few days since I saw you last. Lots have happened since then. My photo walk for theWorld Wide Photo Walk got approved, then got unapproved. It seems that David Ziser was the walk leader last year and he was already "pre signed up" to do this years walk in Cincy. The good news is that my walk will go live as soon as David Ziser's fills up. I don't think it will take long since there is a 50 person limit. I'll keep everyone posted.

We just found out two days ago that one of our designs won the "best comp card" category at a regional beauty pageant. Pretty excited about that. Thanks to Mya the beautiful model that made it so easy to take good photographs.

It seems the problem with the new pocket wizards has been sorted out. David Hobby reported yesterday that pocket wizard has determined there is a quality control issue with Canon's flashes that is causing some extreme IR "noise". This is effecting the range of the transmitters. Imagine that...

There is a new Dance studio in town that I want to tell everyone about. I know that this is a photography blog, but it never hurts to mention it. The image above is Danelle the owner of the New Dance studio Sway. We photographed her as well as did a logo for her signage. If you have ever wanted to learn to dance, she is the one to help. She teaches everything from ballroom, to pole. She has a beautiful studio, and a great setup to make your learning experience as enjoyable as possible. Check her out by clicking the link above, or by clicking the Sway logo on the right side of this blog. That's it for the moment people. I've got some editing and planning to do today. See you all later. Jason Read more on this article...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday, May 21st

Attended a workshop last night put on by Tammy and Tom Byran, well really it was an engagement shoot where they let the camera club follow them around and see how they did it. After that we went out to an Irish pub and talked. I had a great time. It was nice to see what others were doing and how they went about things. No matter how good you are at something, it's always important to keep fresh and see what others were doing. You can always learn. I know the shot above isn't anything to write home about (I took it with my Blackberry Storm) but it shows the people that were there. Glad I could make it!

So yesterday we talked about the basic section of the develop module of Lightroom. We covered what everything was and how to use it(with exception to the gradient tool and adjustment brush). Today we're going to finish the develop module.
The next drop down we come to after the basic is the tone curve adjustment drop down. Anyone that is familiar with Camera raw should feel right at home here. There is a tone map that can be clicked and drug up or down to adjust for contrast. I tend to go to the drop down that says Linear circled in red here:


In that drop down you have three options: linear, medium contrast, and strong contrast. I generally choose medium contrast for Jpegs and strong contrast for Raw files. There are sliders underneath that can be adjusted for fine tuning as well. I generally don't go that route though. There is one more tool inside of tone curve that you may or may not even know is there. It's called the TAT. TAT stands for target adjustment tool. It is circled in red here:


The TAT works like any of the other tools. You click it to "pick it up". Once you do, move it over the spot in the image that you want to adjust, then click and hold your left mouse button. Now drag the TAT up or down on the image and you will see the tone curve adjust and the image change. Once you have gotten the desired result, just return the TAT to it's original place and you're done. Pretty easy huh? That's it. That's all there is to the Tone Curve drop down.

Moving on to the HSL/Color/Greyscale drop down. When you open this drop down you see a number of things(depending on which option is selected. If you have the HSL selected you will see Hue, Saturation, Luminance, and ALL with color sliders below them. These are all just as they seem. You slide them to the left or to the right to increase or decrease that particular color in the image. Kind of blunt in my opinion. Again there is a TAT next to the box that can be used anywhere in the image to adjust these things. This is the best way to adjust the colors because whether you know it or not the color you want to increase usually has other colors in it. So when you use the TAT you can adjust all of those colors instead of just one. It saves a whole lot of time and effort. Click on the color option and again you have some fine tuning options for the colors. Greyscale is exactly as it sounds. It converts your image to black and white and gives you the color channels to adjust so that you can increase contrast.

The Split Toning drop down is next. I don't use it. I haven't had a need to do a split tone, and until I get a client that wants that particular service, or I get the sudden urge to make my photos look like they are from the 70's, I probably won't use it. Since I don't use it, I don't want to send you in the wrong direction with it, so I'm going to say go read Scott Kelby's book if you want to know how to use it.

Detail drop down is very important. This is where your sharpening lives, as well as your noise reduction. I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time here because quite honestly this is self explanatory. You drag the slider to the right to increase and the left to decrease. Now you're a pro in the detail department.

Vignettes has a new feature that is awesome! The first set of sliders we see in the drop down is the Lens correction slider. This slider does the normal vignette adjustment to the image. It will add darker edges by sliding it to the left, lighter edges by sliding it to the right. Simple. The next section down though is really where the power of this control is. The "Post-Crop" is just as it implies, post crop. You can make a vignette adjustment here and no matter what size you crop the image to, the vignette stays with it. I don't know about you, but I think this is great! I don't like having to add a vignette twice(which I used to have to do in PS if I forgot to crop before I added my vignette). This makes things easy.

So that's it for the drop downs. On to the two tools that I left out above. Gradient, and adjustment brush. Lets start with the gradient tool.

You select the gradient tool like you do the other tool in Lightroom(by clicking it and "picking it up"). Once you do, you will see some controls below it appear. The first thing you need to do is select what you're going to adjust. Click where it says Exposure. I circled it in red here:


I also circled what looks like two small squares. These are the "on/off" for the rest of the controls. Make sure that the small right box is selected. This allows you to adjust all of the sliders for the selected area. Now that you have what you want selected you go to the image and start at the top(or wherever you want your gradient to start) and while holding the shift key, drag down. This tool is used mostly for adjusting sky's like in my example image. I usually select exposure as the adjustment that I'm going to make, and I usually decrease the exposure. Now look at this image:

Notice the difference between this one and the first one? You can see that I increased the saturation a little as well as decreased the exposure. If you don't like what it looks like make sure that the dot in the middle of the screen has the smaller black dot inside of it(which selects that adjustment) and hit delete. This will delete the selection.

The adjustment brush works just the same. Select the adjustment brush and you will see the same drop down and list of adjustments below it. Again make sure that the small box is selected on the right so that you can adjust all of the sliders for the selection. In the image below you will see that I increased the exposure on the sand to lighten it up a little. This is apparent by the small "pin" on the left side of the screen in the sand. You will see that it is the pin selected because it has the small black dot in the center of it. Again if you want to delete the adjustment just make sure that the pin you have selected is the one that you want to delete and hit the delete key.


Now here's something nice about using the adjustment brush. You can view what you have "painted" with it by moving your cursor over the selected pin. When you do, the area that you have "painted" will glow red like this:


A couple of things to note about using this tool; first the brush size can be adjusted by pressing the left and right bracket keys ([ ]). Also if you look below the size, feather, and flow sliders, you will see a box marked auto mask. This is the best part about the adjustment brush. When it is checked, the brush will only "paint" an area with similar color to the area that you first clicked on. So in my example image, I just clicked in the sand first and then I didn't have to worry too much about getting too close to the water because it was a different color. This function works really well. Like with the gradient tool, once you have made a selection, you can adjust multiple things inside of that selection by sliding the sliders. That's all there is to it folks. It's pretty easy once you know what everything does.

Well that's it. Those are the major components of the Develop Module. I hope this has helped you have a better understanding of how to use the develop module. I'll be back tomorrow with a guide to the Slide show section. Until then, have a good one. Jason Read more on this article...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday, May 20th

Good morning everyone. Happy Hump Day to you all. I wanted to take a moment today before we get into the article on the Develop module, to tell everyone about a great resource I found last night. Click Here for a complete list of the lightroom keyboard shortcuts. I will talk about some throughout these articles, but it's a great reference. I have it book marked, I like it so much. Alright then, lets get to some (hopefully) interesting stuff.

After you do your sorting in the LIBRARY module, you will undoubtedly want to do some editing and tweaking of the image. Adjust a little here, crop a little there... You know the stuff that you normally would do in Photoshop, or some other image editing software. Well Lightroom has you covered. Lightroom has what's called the DEVELOP module. It is the editing portion of Lightroom, and it's wonderful. You get there by selecting an image in the library module, then either click the develop tab at the top, or just press the D on your keyboard.

Before we start talking about what everything does, and how to use it, lets take a quick trip through the settings so we have the most efficient workflow possible. First right click on the tools box on the right hand side of the screen. It will bring up a box that looks like this:


Now as you can see in my box "SOLO" is already selected. If yours is not, go ahead and select it. This makes it so that only one of the tools drop downs can be open at once. So when you click from say basic to tone map, basic closes. Now go to the opposite side of the page where you will see History, and snapshot, along with presets. Do the same thing on that side. Right click and select "SOLO MODE". Now that we've got that out of the way let's move on.

Starting at the top of the tools box we have the crop tool(small square with cross lines in it). The spot removal tool(circle with the arrow on the side). The red eye tool(small circle with even smaller black circle in the middle). The Gradient tool(small rectangle with lines on the outside) and the adjustment brush) If we look below that we have 6 dropdowns. Basic, tone curve, hsl/color/grayscale, split toning, detail, vignettes. Lets start with the crop tool.

Click on the crop tool. When you do you see a small box drop down below it, and on all of the corners of your image you will see a little extra grey border on the outside of the image. These are your crop adjustments. Click and drag any one of those corners or the side outlines and move it inward. Notice the height and width change together to keep the original image ratio. You can "free crop" or crop and change the ratio by clicking on the small lock on the right hand side of the dropdown box that came up when you clicked on the crop tool. Next to that lock you will see a drop down button that says Original. Click on that and you can select a specific size like a 5X7 8X10 etc. Or you can make your own size. Now anyone who is familiar with photoshop will be used to the next trick thing that I'm going to show you.While the corners are selected if you go outside of the image you get the small half moon with the arrows on each end. This is to allow you to straiten the image. For example if you shot a landscape and the horizon line wasn't strait, you would do this, or you could use the next too I'm going to show you. See the small "level" next to the word angle? Select it. Then in your image click on a point on the left where your strait line should start, then while still holding the button, move the mouse to the right and when you get to a point close to the right side of the image where your strait line should end, release the button. Lightroom automatically adjusts the image for you. All you have to do at this point is press the enter key and it will be strait. Pretty slick huh? No more trying to figure out if it's just right, or a little off. Just use the angle tool... If you like the photoshop way of cropping, that is, by clicking somewhere in the image and dragging the box around your selected crop, then you can use the aspect tool. The aspect tool will do exactly that. It will let you crop like you do in photoshop. Of course if you do a crop that you don't like, you can either press CTRL+Z or press the reset at the bottom of the crop box.

Moving on to the spot removal tool. Do you have a small pimple or something else that you want to remove? This tool is the one for the job. click on the small circle with the arrow next to it. This will bring up a circle in place of where your pointer used to be. move this circle over the spot to be removed and adjust the brush size until the brush is slightly large than the spot. You can do this two ways, either by clicking and dragging the size slider in the dropdown menu, or by pressing the left or right bracket keys([ ]). Once you have done this just click on the spot that needs removing. Another small circle will appear and have a line attaching it to the original circle. Move this new circle until you find a proper match for the effected area. Once you've don that, click on the circle in the right hand box, and you're done. Pretty strait forward, pretty easy.

The Red eye tool is next. All you do for the red eye too is click on it like you did with the other two tools. When you do, a pair of cross hairs will come up. Click and drag out the circle that it makes around the effected "red eye" and it removes it. Simple as that. When you're done you click back on the red eye tool and "put the tool back".

The next two tools we're going to skip for the moment and come back to because they are specific detail tools. We need to go over the "global tools" first.

Click on your Basic tab. Lots of things appear, but lets start at the most important, white balance. It used to be(with photoshop at least) that unless you shot in Raw, you were stuck with whatever white balance you had. You could do some hue changes but there wasn't an easy way to select the proper white balance. No more. Whether you're shooting raw or JPEG you can "fix" your white balance with Lightroom. Select the small eye dropper tool on the top right of the box. now move that dropper over your image and select a neutral grey point within the image. Not sure where the neutral grey is, watch the Navigator panel on the left of the screen as you move you dropper over the image. The navigator will give you a preview of what the image will look like when you click on that point. When you find a spot that produces the result that you want just click. That's it. That's all it takes to set your white balance. Again as with the other tools you're going to want to "return the dropper home" before you do anything else. I usually check the image after I have changed the white balance to see if it needs a little tweaking. To tweak, you can drag the Temp and tint sliders to the left or the right to fine tune the color.

Once you have your WB set, you can move on to exposure. Now there are a couple of ways to do this. The first is not the way I do it. The histogram at the top of the menu on the right is "live". What I mean by that is, you can click and drag that histogram to the left or the right and increase or decrease the exposure. The problem with this, at least for me is that it's not very precise. I like to have a little more control over it. That is why I use the exposure slider in the menu. I can click and drag little my little while watching the histogram to ensure that I have the proper exposure. I never ever use the auto button, for anything.

Below the exposure slider you see the recovery slider. This slider is used when you increase the exposure and the image begins to look "washed out". This slider will bring back some of the clipped highlights without effecting the rest of the image.

The fill light slider is used to brighten the shadow highlights. This is very helpful when your shadows are just too dark.

Blacks slider increases the total black point in the image. This is very useful if the shadows just aren't dark enough for you.

Brightness and Contrast sliders work just as they do in photoshop or any other image editing software. I don't prefer to use the contrast as I think it's a pretty "blunt" instrument. Instead I use the tone curve, but we'll get to that later on.

The clarity slider increases midtone contrast in your image. I always increase this. It gives images that extra "punch". An increase to 50 or 60 is not uncommon for me.

The next slider down is the Vibrance slider. This slider is a wonderful addition to the image editing tools. It will increase the colors in the image without increasing the colors that are already saturated. This is really important when working on pictures of people. If you have a person in a bed of flowers and you want to increase the color of the flowers without increasing the color of the skin, use vibrance.

Last but not least in the basic menu is the Saturaton. Anyone that has ever used an image editing software knows what saturation is, and in Lightroom it's no different. Increase the saturation slider to increase the intensity of the colors of the image.

I think that's it for today. Tomorrow I'm going to Finnish the Develop module including the adjustment brush and the gradient tool. Make sure to check back tomorrow for that. See you all tomorrow. Jason Read more on this article...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday, May 19th

Good morning everyone. I hope everyone got a chance to read yesterdays post, because for the next four days we're going to build on that post. The image you see above is my friend Amanda at an event I covered the other night for Pink Productions event company. Everything done to that image was done in Lightroom. I never had to go to photoshop for any of it. Before I get into today's post, I want to give everyone a little background info on my Lightroom experience. I have had lightroom for about 6 months now. I got it because everyone was saying how great it was, and how it improved their work flow etc. I didn't get it at all for the first 4 months. I tried playing with it, adjusting things, and just couldn't figure out how all of the controls worked. The turning point for me was reading Scott Kelby's book on lightroom 2. It is a wonderful book, and I recommend it to anyone that is wanting to learn Lightroom. It's an easy read, and it will have you up and running in Lightroom right away. So with that being said, lets get to some Lightroom!

The first thing you're going to want to do when firing up lightroom is to decide where you want to store your files. Like I said yesterday, Lightroom is a great image management program that can store the actual image file on a separate hard drive, but still allow you to see the thumbnail in lightroom when that hard drive is not connected. I'll show you what I do, and you can decide for yourself if this works for you. I don't want to store my images on my main laptop hard drive because it takes up so much space. Just since January I have over 30 gigs of photos imported into lightroom and we haven't hit wedding season yet. I fully expect to have at least 200 gigs of photos by the end of the year. So, I have two external(portable) hard drives connected when using lightroom. The first is the MAIN drive, the second is the BACKUP drive. When you click the import button at the bottom of the page on the left hand side of the screen when in the Library module as shown here circled in red:


you will be able to select the location to store your images by clicking on the boxes circled in red here:


The top circle is the main drive. So click on the "choose" button and select whichever drive is going to be your main drive. Now before you go any further I suggest making a master folder in that drive called Lightroom photos and selecting that as the destination. This way the images that get imported go into a designated folder not just all over the drive. Lightroom will create a new folder for every new import day, but you need to tell it where to place those folders. This is where you choose that location.

The second box circled in red is the backup location. Again click the "choose" box and locate the drive that you would like to be your backup. This creates a duplicate copy of the files that you import into Lightroom. This is important if your main drive ever goes down. You will have a duplicate copy of the images to rely on.

On that same dialog box you can see the drop down menu called file naming. I like to keep it on the setting "file name". This keeps the same file name that the camera produced. There are different options that you can explore on your own, but for now, just keep it on file name.

Now you can click the cancel button and the settings that you just made will stay.

After you import images into Lightroom, you will have a screen that looks something like this:


As you can see on the left side of the screen is the list of folders by date. This is how Lightroom initially keeps track of the files. It sorts them by date and places them into their own folder, under a main folder with the year as the label. When you click on any one of those folders you will see it's contents on the right side in the image preview area. In the example above, you see lightroom in "grid" view. This is the view where all of the little thumbnails are displayed. To see a larger preview of any one image you can double click on that particular image, and it will fill the entire preview space. This is called loup mode. This is important for the next step.

Once you have your images imported, what do you do with them? You sort them right? You go through and select the ones that are good, and the ones that are bad. Lightroom makes this easy. You can see at the bottom of the screen there is a "film strip" view of all of your thumbnails. When you switch into loup mode, you will be able to look at the film strip and know where you are in the collection of images. Light room lets you rate your images in a few different ways. It lets you assign a start rating from 1 to 5. It lets you set a color rating with 5 different options, and it lets you set the image as a "pick" "no pick" or "rejected". I don't know about you, but at least for my first run through of the images, I just want to weed out the bad photos. The ones that are either out of focus, don't have the correct exposure, or some other flaw. I do this with picks and rejections. The keyboard shortcuts for those are P for picks and X for rejects. When in loup view I use my right hand on the arrow keys to advance the frame that I'm viewing. I use my left hand to select either pick or reject. I do this until I get all of the way through the entire batch of images. Once you do this, you can go to the PHOTO option on the top tool bar and select "delete rejected photos". At this point you will remove all of the rejects from your image gallery so that you have a collection of images with potential. Now what I usually do is go back to the grid view by pressing the G on the keyboard. Then I press CTRL+A which selects all of the images. Then I right click on an image and select the flag drop down and click on unflagged. This will unflagg all of the images so you can do another round of picks later.

Now that we have all of our rejects out, we can begin the dwindling process. I usually go through a second time and select just the ones that I think have the potential to be final products. Once you have made your selection of your final image potentials go back to grid mode by pressing G, then click attributes at the top of the image viewing box. Click on the white flag next to the word attribute and it will hide all of the unflagged images. Now you have just a small amount of images to work with. Just your best ones. At this point I do a couple of things before I move on to the Develop module. I select all of the images again by pressing the CTRL+A then down in the right hand corner you'll see a box labeled KEYWORDS. That lets you add specific keywords that get embedded with the image file. This way if somewhere down the road you want to do a search of all of the images of your son, you can type in "Bobby"(or whatever his name is) and lightroom will pull all of the images that have "Bobby" as a keyword. Pretty cool huh?

After practicing with lightroom a few times, you will breeze through this initial process of sorting your images and wonder "why didn't I do this sooner?".

Ok so that's the down and dirty of the library module and how to import your photos. There are a lot of things that we didn't talk about in that module, but this will get you up and going, and you can play with things and see what they do, or get the book I was talking about above from Scott. Tomorrow we're going to start on the Develop Module. I probably won't get all of the way through it though because it's a pretty large module. See you all tomorrow! Jason Read more on this article...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday, May 18th

Ok so I typed this whole blog this morning on Lightroom and the advantages of it and when I went to post it, it was all gone... Now I'm starting over. Let me first start by saying that if you weren't at the Havana club Friday night. The scene above is the kind of thing that you missed out on. Lots of beautiful people, lots of dancing and a good time was had by all. I spent my night in the VIP room with the Amanda's but we still had fun none the less. I have had some people asking about Lightroom and specifics to it so I thought that I would do a series of posts on it every day this week starting with today, and why I love Lightroom.

Let me preface this by saying that I am in no way trying to convey myself as a Lightroom God, professional, guru, master, or otherwise. I am simply a guy who loves it and wants to tell you all why I love it, and what I know about it. Today I'm going to start with why I use lightroom, and why it has replaced photoshop for 90% of my editing.

To start with, Lightroom at it's core isn't an editing program. It's a database. It is designed to import, store, and organize your photos in the most efficient way possible. Whether you're using a Mac or PC, desktop or laptop, you will be able to use and appreciate Lightroom. For the Desktop users, it'll be a wonderful new way to store and edit your photos. For laptop users it will also be wonderful for those things, but also Lightroom will allow you to free up your hard drive space on your laptop by putting all of the images you have on an external hard drive while leaving a thumbnail copy on the laptop to reference. This will do a number of things. First it will put less wear and tear on your primary laptop hard drive, and second it will allow your computer to run faster because of the decreased amount of information stored on the internal hard drive. Along with the added free space on your external hard drive, you will also have the added ability(if you have a second external hard drive) to make a duplicate copy of your photos while they're importing into the primary hard drive. This is great for people like me who are always afraid of loosing their files.

Once in Lightroom you have a number of options. First you can simply place the files into groups or categories as lightroom calls them, and use them the way they are. You can also use the "DEVELOP" module to edit your photos to your liking. You also have the ability to create a slide show in the "SLIDE SHOW" module. These are all great things to be able to do, but the first thing I like to do when I get my files into Lightroom is to go through and get rid of all of the bad files immediately. The shots where the flash didn't fire, or the person was out of focus. The shots that don't have a chance at making the final processed folder. This is made very easy by the selection method Lightroom employs. It allows you to break the files down into "picks" and "rejects". Now it also gives you the power to rate the photo from one to five with stars, as well as assign the photos a color based on it's status.(the user defines what these color statuses mean). I don't bother at this point with all of that, I just say yes it's a keeper, or no it's not. Once you go through and decide that for all of the images, you can then either just remove them from the catalog (Lightrooms term for it's database) or you can delete them permanently from the disk. It's your choice. To go through a couple hundred images it only takes a few minutes. Lightroom makes it that easy.

Next one might move on to the "DEVELOP" module. This is the editing module. I have to tell you that because of this section of Lightroom, I have reduced my photoshop usage by about 90%. I can do most every "normal" edit in Lightroom's Develop module. You can adjust exposure, hue, contrast, saturation, and much much more. You also have the ability to crop, and heal(clone stamp) the images. There are many many more useful tools included in this module but I'll get to those in the Develop module post later this week.

Once you have edited your images, you have the option to stop there and burn them to disk for print or client approval, or you can create a slide show in the slide show Module. This section of Lightroom allows you to take whatever images you have edited and create a nice very customizable slide show that you can present to the customer. It also can include music, file info, etc... Very nice when showing a client their images.

Once you're done with the editing and slide shows, you get back to what Lightroom is really about, organization. You have the ability to sort and group files a number of different ways, which we'll get into tomorrow when I do my first post on the beginning module/functions setup and importing. On the days following I'll work my way into the develop module and then to the slide show module. I hope you'll continue to follow and read the rest of the week to learn about those modules and their capabilities. I hope to teach you everything that I know about Lightroom so that you too can enjoy the increased productivity and workflow ease that comes with its use.

Hope to see you all here tomorrow. Jason Read more on this article...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday, May 14th

Morning everyone. Hope you all remembered to build that ark last night cause it's coming down out there! Man I am sick of this rainy weather in Cincinnati. I got to work this morning and was checking out my usual pages to see what was new, and I came across some interesting information over at He says that the D90 is the same as the D300 except that the D300 just costs more. What CRAP! They are two totally different cameras, intended for two totally different users. Read on to see what I mean.

Looking at the spec sheets from these two cameras, one could reasonably say, "yeah they are very similar cameras". But all one has to do is look at the images above to begin to see the HUGE differences between the two. The top image is the D90 and the bottom image is the D300. Lets start with controls. Notice how the D300 has all of the small levers and switches to the right of the LCD? Those are external controls designed to allow the photographer to switch his/her focus mode, and metering mode. You don't get that option on the D90. Look at the top view of the D300. See the three buttons that say WB, ISO, QUAL? Those do exactly as the names imply. They let you change the White balance, the quality(jpeg,raw, etc.) on the fly without taking your face away from the viewfinder. Now the D90 allows you to do this as well with the buttons on the back of the camera to the left of the LCD screen, but they aren't as easily accessed, and they aren't distinguishable like the ones on the D300 are. Also on the top of the D300 you may or may not be able to see that just below the ISO, QUAL, and WB buttons is a dial that allows you to change your shooting mode(continues high, continues low, live view, etc.). You have to go into the menus to do this on the D90. What does the D90 have in that spot? The silly "presets" for amateurs. No professional camera has those features. These things alone would be enough for any professional I know to shy away from the D90, but wait there's more! The burst rate for the D90 is 4FPS, D300... 8FPS! The media used to store the pictures that you just took; D90 cheap plastic SD cards, D300, tough INDUSTRY STANDARD Compact flash cards... No They are not the same. Yes, they have the same sensor in them, but that's it. That is the only similarity between the two. If you want a professional camera, get the D300, if you want a consumer SLR with the sensor of the D300, get the D90. Easy as that.

Lots going on this weekend. Got the Pink Productions Party going on tomorrow night a the Havana Martini Club. Lots of door prizes going to be auctioned off. This will be the third party that they've hosted down there and they just keep getting better and better. If you are in Cincinnati on Friday night, make sure to stop down and check us out.

For anyone planning on attending David Ziser's workshop make sure to get on his website and pre register, You'll save $20.

Also don't forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Alright that's all I've got today. Probably won't be on here tomorrow because it's my twins 3rd birthday and I plan on spending all day with them(probably at Chucky Cheese). See you Monday!

Jason Read more on this article...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday, May 13th

Good morning to all. I know what you're thinking, "He already posted that crappy picture up here once, what gives?". You're right, I did post it up here one time before, but this time I posted it for a reason. I'm going to show you a technique that I learned from Scott Kelby on making posters. He did a blog post about it not too long ago(like last week) but I learned it way before that, I just never posted it up here. It's so simple to do, but adds such a visual impact, that I thought everyone should know how to do it.

Lets start with the before image:


A decent picture all on it's own, but I want to make it stand out! I want it to reach out and slap you in the face and say "look at me!". Ok that's a little over dramatic but hey it's early and I'm trying to be funny. The first thing to do is to open the file in good ol photoshop. Now go to your history panel and zoom out so that the file is not filling the whole screen. Go to IMAGE-CANVAS SIZE. A box will pop up, make sure that the "RELATIVE" box is check marked as shown circled below:


Now in the width and height boxes, type 3 then click ok. This will add a nice white border all of the way around your photograph. Now here's the really really hard part(not really, again I'm trying to be funny) click on IMAGE-CANVAS SIZE again but this time make sure that you click on the top "anchor" box as shown below:


This time we're going to add just 1 inch to the height as shown. By the way sorry about the crappy circles, it's really early and I haven't had any caffeine yet. Ok so now we have our border. Time to add our text. I use Trajan Pro(because I want to be like Scott. JK) because I like the font, but you can use any font that you want. I selected grey for the color from my color pallet, and gave it a name. That's pretty much it. You can add a signature(which I did) by either scanning a signature into photoshop from a written piece of paper, or if you have a tablet, you can just make yourself a signature right in photoshop. Either way works. I added mine to the bottom right of the image. You're done, that's it. Quick and simple, but effective.

If anyone reading this is into film, especially older film cameras you should check out Rocky Mountain Film. They still process, and sell older film. I was recently given a Kodak duoflex that took 610 film. No one makes 610 anymore. As a matter of fact, no one (except Rocky Mountain) processes it either. So if you have a weird format, give them a call, they may have what you need.

Ok unless something crazy happens today(like the D400 gets released) that's it for me. For more useless content, you can follow me on Twitter @RedDoorphoto. See ya tomorrow. Jason Read more on this article...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday, May 11th

Good morning everyone. I hope everyone had a great weekend, and a great mothers day. I spent the day at the Reds game with my wife and kids, then we(my 3 year old twins and I) washed my wife's car for her. Great stuff. Friday and Saturday were a different story though. I spent both of those days working with some people one on one to teach a few things about some photography. While waiting for the second person to get there I started taking some photos of some interesting buildings and such by the L&M train station in Lebanon Ohio. This is one of the shots that I got. I actually did a little PSing to it to remove some power lines that I didn't like but I really didn't do that much.

This is my favorite photograph of the day. I took this at Ault park up on the top of the stairs. It was one of a series of shots that I took to show her the difference between No flash and flash. Not that I didn't enjoy working with the other two people that day, but the stuff at Ault park was the most fun for me that day. Besides the beautiful model/student I just love that place. It lends itself well to photographers. As a matter of fact David Ziser uses some shots he took there for most of the media that he's sending out about his upcoming workshops. Great place.

Want to see the largest Nikon lens ever made? Check THIS out!

Check out what else I found. Chase Jarvis is a pretty innovative photographer taking some awesome photos. Check him out.

Ok enough is enough I give in. I'm heading to get caffeine. I'll see you all tomorrow. Jason Read more on this article...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wednesday, May 6th

Good morning all. It's been a couple of weeks since I did back to back posts, but I think I'm going to try to start doing daily posts again. Anyway, today I want to build upon what we learned yesterday, which if you haven't read is making actions. The action I gave you yesterday was just a really basic one so that you could see how actions worked. Today I want to walk you through the steps of probably my most used action, Brighten Eyes. This is the action that gives your photo(especially close ups) that extra pop that draws peoples attention. So lets get right to it.


This is Mya. She's an up and coming model who came to us a few weeks back for some shots. In this first picture you can see that while it's a nice photo, it could use a little more "pop". Her eyes are beautiful so I want to make them the focal point of the photograph. The first thing we need to do is open a new action in the actions panel(if you don't know how to do that read yesterdays post) The next thing we need to do is press CTRL+J (command+J on a Mac) to duplicate the layer. Your screen will look something like this when you do that:


Now, go to the top of the layers box and select screen as the blending mode for this layer. This will make the picture look very light and "blown out" but don't worry we're about to fix that. Now go to the bottom of your layers box and make a new layer mask. You do this by pressing the small grey box with the white dot in the middle of it. Once you have don't this your layer mask will appear next to your thumbnail on your copied layer. Now go to the edit menu, then click fill. A small box will pop up in the middle of the screen and you can select your fill color. The box will look like this:


You want to choose BLACK from the drop down menu. Click ok. You picture should look like normal again. If it turns all black you had the thumbnail selected and not the layer mask. If this happens press CTRL+Z then select the layer mask and fill it with black. Once you have done this, your screen should look like this:


Now go to the foreground color selection panel on the bottom left hand side of your screen. Click the front box and when the color panel comes up click white. Even if the foreground color is already white, click it and reselect white. You do this because we're building an action here so if your foreground color is black and you run the action you want it to select white automatically for you. Now that you have done this select your brush tool on the upper right hand tool bar. I have circled both the foreground color panel and the brush location in red on this picture so you can see where they are:


Ok now we're going to make the eyes "pop"! zoom in until the eye fills most of your screen. Go to the top tool bar on photoshop and lower your opacity to 60%. Before you do anything else press stop on the action. This is as far as we can go with the action because now we have to paint the eyes. The action will duplicate the layers and set everything up for you now every time you want to lighten the eyes, and all you have to do is select where to make white. Ok now you can start painting over the whites of the eyes as shown here:


Once you have painted over the whites in both eyes, and the catch light(don't forget to lighten the catch light) zoom back out so that you can see both eyes on your screen no further. Now select your background layer in your layers box. Go to your Elliptical Marquee tool(the circle tool). Make sure that you have the "add to selection" box selected as shown here circled in red:


Now draw a circle around both eyes. Go to FILTER-SHARPEN-SMART SHARPEN. Make your amount 175% and your radius around 2. click ok. Now right click your mouse and click DESELECT. Now press CTRL+E to flatten the layers and you can save it as a Jpeg. Here is the before and after shot:


I over whitened just a little bit so that you could really see what we did. I wouldn't normally go quite so bright on them. If you set your opacity to 60% like I talked about above, you should be alright. If not adjust your opacity accordingly. That's all I've got today folks. I hope this helps you. I hope you like it. See you tomorrow. Jason Read more on this article...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Making Photoshop work for you

We all love photoshop. I mean even if you don't know how to use it, you love it. When someone talks about modifying a photograph the default term is just "photoshopped". This is great! I love photoshop. I love everything that photoshop can do. What I love about photoshop the most though, is it's customizability. You can make photoshop perform in pretty much any manor you want. You can set up the displays to look the way you want them. You can add any "plug in" in the world that you want, and most importantly you can automate your most commonly used tasks. This is done in the section called "ACTIONS". Actions is basically a recorder and a player. It will record any task that you perform inside of photoshop then repeat that task whenever you press the play button. This can be very handy at times. Especially when you have a group of photos that you want to do the same thing to over and over again, like resizing for example. So lets jump into how to make an action, and then what to do with it once you have it created.

The first thing we need to do is make sure you have the actions panel open so we can work in it. To do this go to the WINDOW tab on the top tool bar and make sure that ACTIONS has a check mark next to it. It should look something like this:


Now that you have the ACTIONS box showing on your screen you're going to need to open a photograph to create and action on. For example, if you want to create an action that re-sizes the photo for you to put it on the web, just open any photo that you'd like to re size. Now, On the bottom of your ACTIONS box click the small icon that looks like a "post it note". It's the second icon from the right. I have circled it in red on the image below:


Now give that new action a name so that you'll remember what it is when you want to use it again. For our example I'm going to name my action "web re size". Now you click "RECORD". This will start the recording of the action. From this point on, anything that you do inside of photoshop will be recorded as a step in the action. Preform whatever task it is that you want to do. In our case I would select IMAGE-IMAGE SIZE then re size the image for the web. To do this you will want to select the largest side(either width or height) and change that number to 800pixels. Make sure that the box that says "constrain proportions" is checked so that the side that you didn't change will automatically change to keep the same proportions on the image. Now you could go to the bottom of the actions box and click the stop button now and have a fully functioning action, but I prefer to take it a step further. I will click save as, select the file that I want to save it in, save it, then click close on the image. At this point I would click the STOP button(first button on the left of the ACTIONS panel, it looks like a square). Now lets test our new action.

Open a new picture, go to the ACTIONS panel and highlight the action we just created and press play(small triangle at the bottom of the ACTIONS box). Your photo should automatically re size, save, and close. If this works you were successful. Now that's one way of replaying the action. Another way is to go to the top of the ACTIONS PANEL. on the right hand side, you will see a small box with three lines in it(pictured below circled in red)


Left click that box. When it opens, at the top you will see the words "button mode". Click those words and make them check marked. This will turn your actions into buttons so that all you have to do is click on them once, and they perform the action.

You can create actions for a lot of stuff in photoshop. If for example you took a series of shots in the same lighting conditions and they all needed a slight color correction, you could record your steps while doing the color corrections on the first photo, then just run the action on all of the rest of them. Pretty cool huh...

Alright, that's enough running of the mouth for me today. Have a good day people. Jason Read more on this article...

Tuesday, May 5th

Morning all. I have a tid bit of news for my Canon friends(you know who you are). Canon has just started it's rebates again for most of it's popular items. Unlike most other companies, when Canon offers a rebate, it's instant. You don't have to mail anything in, wait for 18 months and pray that you get at least a partial amount back. You get it right off of the top. This is great for anyone that is looking to get some new gear, like say a 430EXII flash... Anyway, click Here to check them out. I'll be back afterwhile with a new tutorial of some sort, so check back later for that. Jason Read more on this article...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monday, April 4th

Happy Monday morning to everyone. Hope everyone had a good weekend. Mine was good but tiring. I spent all day Friday getting images edited and ready to go for the Mt. Saint Joe people, and then headed out to Indy for a 6:30 meeting with the Brightroom people and pick up my press credentials for the race on Saturday. Saturday I shot all day long at the finish line of the race, and then headed back home for the evening. Did some one on one work Sunday with a wonderful lady that looks like she has some real potential with photography.(If we can just talk her into switching to Nikon from that Canon gear jk) Other than that nothing new and exciting to report for the weekend. However I would like to do a quick review for you guys on the Lowe Pro belt system that you see above. So right to it then.

Saturday (as I said above) I shot a marathon in Indianapolis. My job was at the finish line where we were putting people in front of backgrounds and taking pictures of them with their "finisher" medals. I stood there for 7 hours doing that. All the while I had on the Lowepro S&F Deluxe Waist Belt. This is the top of the line belt offered by LowePro, and it's worth every penny. It allowed me to have my primary flash on camera, a second flash in a pouch as well as a whole compartment full of batteries. I took roughly 700 shots, so I changed flashes once, and then batteries once. All the while keeping my gear on my person and not worrying about my bag like the rest of the shooters there. They had all of their bags sitting behind the backdrops but with 35,000 people coming through it would have been easy to swipe one without anyone knowing. Along with the extra flash and batteries, I had a spot to hold a bottle of water, as well as a large pouch for my 70-200 2.8 to fit in. I didn't end up using it, but I had it just in case. This wasn't my belt I borrowed this belt from my buddy Shad, but if I were to buy one I would definitely go with this one. It has plenty of support for pouches to hold all of your flashes, lenses, and whatever other misc. stuff you take with you on a shoot. The only thing that I wish I had would be the suspenders that take the weight off of your hips. After 7 hours of having 30+ pounds hanging on your waist you begin to get a little sore. Other than that, the belt system works really well. If you want to have your hands free to shoot, but still have easy access to your gear, the Lowepro S&F Deluxe Waist Belt is for you. Price wise, the whole system(belt and 6 or 7 pouches) runs about $200.

A little news/rumors this morning. Nikon seems to be discontinuing the D300. It's no longer available at Costco, and a source at Best Buy says that they will no longer be carrying it either. D400 on the way? It seems like the right time.

Great deal going on from Sandisk. Big rebates like they did back in December. It may be worth it to check out for any of you who have a need for more storage(everyone). Click
Here to get the deal.

That's all I've got today folks. I'm in serious need of recovery, so I think I'm going to take a few hours and catch up on some much needed sleep.(Just don't tell the boss) Jason Read more on this article...