Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Change in Direction

Today marks a turning point in this blog's life... Up until this point this blog has been geared at Photographers. Photoshop tutorials, photo tips etc. After spending some time with commercial photographer Don Giannatti and talking about the direction of my photography etc. the aim of this blog is going to focus more on my images, and why I did what I did with them. So without further adieu... I present to you Tarah.

Tarah is one of my favorite models to work with in this area. She's naturally beautiful, fun to work with and is fearless. I setup this shot for my commercial book. The goal was to tell a story, or show something different than just a pretty face. I wanted to highlight not only the model, but the vehicle as well. Lighting the two planes separately did a good job of accomplishing my goal.

Hit the Jump to see an outtake and hear about the lighting setup...

I didn't like this shot as well because the posting and the look on her face just didn't nail what I was looking for. Another beautiful picture to be sure, but just not quite as good as the first one.

For this setup I used a White lighting 1600 with a gridded beauty dish for a main. The kickers were sb800's on either side of the car. For The light on the car, it was just a touch from another sb800.

So a big thanks to Don Giannatti for pointing me in the right direction, and a big thanks to those of you reading. If you want to see more work from myself or my studio please visit http://www.rdphotos.com and look at the portfolio section. See you next time, Jason

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Shooting for Social Media

Hey everyone. Glad to see you back! The image you see above is of my brother Garrett. He's a producer for Clear Channel radio here in Cincinnati, specifically the AM sports side. As such he tries to have a pretty good social media presence. He has a blog, a couple of twitter accounts, Facebook etc. His problem was that he didn't have a consistent picture across the accounts, and branding is all about that, consistency. So the other day he was over to watch some football and I grabbed him for 5 minutes to do some quick shots for his profiles. Hit the jump for the rest of the shots, as well as a lighting diagram

This is what I did for lighting. I had a single SB900 camera left shooting through a shoot through umbrella on manual 1/8 power. The umbrella was roughly 2 feet from the subject and feathered to the left so that just the edge of the light was hitting his face. On camera right, I had a tri-grip white reflector held by an assistant. The settings on the camera were ISO1600 112mm on my 70-200 2.8 f/5.6 1/80th of a second. Here's a diagram:

Simple enough setup but highly effective. In the diagram you'll notice that the subject is a good distance away from the background. This is important. It's the inverse square law at work here. The further away the subject(and the main light source) the darker the background gets. In this case we wanted totally black, so we moved him as far away as was practical. Here are a few more from the shoot:



I took 12 shots total and these are the keepers. Social media is a huge part of every business now, take advantage of the need that has been created by and for this market. Thanks for stopping by, See you next time!

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Friday, October 1, 2010

The best camera is the camera that you have with you

Hey everyone! Glad to see you back. We've been a little busy as of late with model portfolio's, senior pictures, and of course wrapping up wedding season. I've been away for a little while. There have been a few interesting things that I wanted to let you know about though. First, this blog has been accepted by Alltop.com which is a popular service allowing you to follow all of your favorite blogs in one spot. You can find this blog by clicking HERE. It's a great way to follow your favorite content. If you want to see what/who I follow, click here: WHO I FOLLOW. Also, we at RedDoor Photography have been busy updating our website to allow for iDevice viewing. If you haven't checked it out recently, head on over now to see the site. On that note, I have been doing a lot of guest blogging for Adobe Evangelist Terry White over at his application website BestAppsite.com. If you have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, be sure to head over there for some great reviews including all of the photography apps you could possibly want.

Speaking of photography apps and iPhones, I want to say a quick word today about something that has become really important to my creative process. When I see something that inspires me, I use whatever camera I have with me. Usually that's my iPhone which admittedly has a pretty nice camera built into it, but the point is it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what camera you have, it doesn't matter if it's a point and shoot, a film camera, a DSLR, etc. It's all about capturing the moment. There are entire Website dedicated to using cell phone camera's. Most of that revolution was brought on by commercial photographer Chase Jarvis. The point is, you don't need a special camera, or a special lens to capture great images. Hit the jump to see some of my favorites that I've captured, and edited right inside of the phone.






Thanks for stopping by. See you all soon! Jason
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

So you want Low Noise at High ISO

Hey Gang! Glad to see you're back. I'm not entirely sure what the image above has to do with high ISO and low noise... It was shot with a D300 in studio conditions at ISO200. I wanted to share this shot with you all though. It's my friend Heather, who after a horrific traffic accident used Yoga to regain mobility. She's an inspiration to anyone who has to overcome an obstacle.

On to some high ISO low noise goodness! I had a friend on twitter(by the way if you're not following on twitter, why not? it's @reddoorphoto)ask me about the noise capabilities of the D700 because he was considering buying a new camera and wanted better noise reduction/capabilities. I asked him if he had thought about a D300s instead. At half the price, it comes really close to the quality of the D700 in the noise department, plus it shoots video! To prove this to him I set out to do a little experiment... More on that after the jump:

We had an engagement session last night, so I took the opportunity to grab Shad's D300s and his D700 and do a quick, unscientific test. Same lens, same ISO(3200)spot metered off of the guys back in the shadows. Take a look at the results:

ISO comparison

To view it larger click HERE

The D700 is on the left, D300s on the right. I Spot metered for the back of his shirt that was in the shadows, so the background is blown, but that's ok. You can see the noise(what little there is) on the zoomed in section. I think the D300s file looks as good, or better than the D700 file. I'm pretty sure that both are perfectly acceptable. Is there a $1300 difference between the D300s and the D700? I don't think so. Unless you need the full frame for an ultra wide lens like the Sigma 10-24 FX, I can't see a justification to go with the D700 instead of the D300s. This was of course a real world test, not a scientific laboratory test, but the proof is in the image above. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for stopping by, see you next time! Jason

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Content aware Fill and when to use it!

Hey everyone! Glad to see you made it back. Today I want to show you one of my favorite features of the New Photoshop CS5 and when I would use it. Content aware fill was introduced in the latest version of Photoshop (CS5). Basically you select an area, select fill, or press backspace (on the background layer) and Photoshop does it's best to fill in the selected area with what it thinks should be there. I was skeptical about how well it would work when I heard about this feature, but I have to tell you, it does a wonderful job. Above is an image from a recent wedding. Beautiful image, but what you don't realize is there was one of those big Rainbow playsets in the background that had to be removed. It literally took 20 seconds to remove, start to finish. Hit the jump to see how...


So that's the original. You see in the upper left hand corner there is a bright, ugly playset sticking out like a sore thumb. In the past I would have added a layer, selected my clone stamp tool and gone to work. It would have taken at least 5 minutes or more depending on how difficult the background was, and how precise I needed to be(dependent on how large of an image I thought they might make). Here's how we roll in CS5.

First we're going to select the area we want to remove. In this case I used the Elliptical marquee tool. You don't have to be really exact. As a matter of fact in this case, I wasn't precise at all.


There are two things to note in this image. First, I have the background layer selected, so all I had to do was press Backspace on my keyboard to bring up the fill dialog box. If you have any other layer selected you would go to EDIT-FILL and when the dialog box came up, you would select CONTENT AWARE FILL. Once you have the selection, and the content aware fill box up, press OK. This will fill the selected area with what CS5 thinks should be there. It does this by looking at the pixels around the selection and using a special algorithm it recreates the area.

After you press ok, it will take a few(varies depending on the size of area being filled) seconds and as you can see in the image below it fills it. I didn't go back and do any touching up of the area. This is exactly how it came out of Photoshop.


Use content aware fill to your advantage. Reduce your editing time, and do a better job with this great improvement. Thanks for stopping by, see you next time. Jason

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Creating a Panoramic With Photoshop CS5

Hey everyone! Glad to see you made it back. Today I want to show you my method for taking a standard image and creating a panoramic using Photoshop CS5's Content Aware Fill feature. It's a pretty simple process that will have you creating panoramas in no time flat! So watch the video, and let me know what you think! Jason

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Learn to Sharpen in CS5

Hey everyone, thanks for stopping by! Today I wanted to show you a brief tutorial on the Sharpen Tool in Photoshop. The sharpen tool has been around for quite a few versions, but finally in CS5 Adobe has made it usable. They've added what they call the protect detail control. This is a control that preserves the details, and limits the artifacts when sharpening. This improvement has made a tool that was previously unusable, one of my go to sharpening methods. So watch the short video, try the tool out, and tell me what you think! Jason
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spot Healing Brush with Content Aware Fill

Hey Everyone! Glad to see you here! Today I want to show you another of the wonderful improvements to Photoshop CS5, Content Aware Fill. Specifically where it applies to the Spot Healing Brush. This has been a godsend to Photographers the world over and I use it on almost every image that I take. So watch the video, and let me know what you think. Jason
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Creating a Fireworks image

Hey guys! Glad to see you back! With the upcoming Labor day weekend just around the corner. I wanted to take a little time and explain how to get a really nice fireworks image. It's part Shooting, and part post processing. The image you see above is from last year's WEBN Fireworks show here in Cincinnati. This shot is featured in the United Way Promotion for this year's WEBN fireworks promotion HERE. So hit the jump to see how the shot's were taken and then how they were put together in post.

The key to creating a really good quality fireworks image is the background. Get to your location early. Get a good position that doesn't have anything obstructing your view, and setup your tripod. These things should all be a given to you, but just in case I wanted to spell them out. The next thing is to get a really nice frame of the area without fireworks going off. For the image above, I took several just so I would have quite a few to work with, but here's the one that the image is based on.


Once the fireworks start, usually the air fills with smoke and the Background starts to look awful. Getting a nice background image is important so we have something to add the actual fireworks to later.

The next thing is to concentrate on the fireworks themselves. I always shoot in manual when shooting fireworks because the camera will see all of the blackness in the background and usually create an exposure way too long for the actual fireworks. Remember the fireworks themselves are very bright so we need to expose accordingly. There is no set exposure to shoot fireworks at, but I generally start around f/5.6 1/125th. See what that looks like and adjust accordingly. It's really a matter of trial and error with fireworks, so play with the settings until you get shots that look nice to you.

So now you're home, the fireworks are over, and you have all of these images of exploding color, and some shots of the background. What now? Open your background(pre firework image) in Photoshop. Start deciding how many fireworks you would like to add to the image. Start to visualize what will look good; what will fill the image with color, but won't be overkill. Now sort through and find the individual fireworks that will fill this frame. For me I chose the following shots:




Now we're going to start by doing a rough selection of the first firework to be added to the frame. You can use whatever method you would like to select the firework. I happened to use the Elliptical Marquee tool for this image.


Once you have your explosion selected, you are going to copy the selection either by pressing CTRL+C or by clicking EDIT-COPY. Now you are going to select your background layer that is currently devoid of fireworks and paste anywhere in the image by either pressing CTRL+V or clicking EDIT-PASTE. This will create a new layer over the background layer. The new layer will have the single firework that you had selected and copied. You may have to resize your firework to make it fit into the new image. To do this press CTRL+T to open free transform. Grab one of the corners of the transform box with your mouse and drag in until you are satisfied.

Now, once you have resized, you need to mask out the area surrounding the firework that you copied. Chances are the sky will be slightly different in color than the sky of your background(as you can see in this image).


You will create a layer mask by clicking the third button from the left of the layers box(it looks like a circle inside of a box). This will create a layer mask for your layer, as shown here:


Select your brush tool from your toolbar on the left. Make sure your foreground color is white, and start to paint over the offending color right on the image. When you're using a layer mask you are actually paining away the layer almost as if erasing it, but what's really happening is you are just hiding it.

You are going to repeat this process for as many fireworks as you would like to add to your image until it's full. That's all there is to it! Simple enough! You will have a beautiful shot of the fireworks as you saw them, minus the smoke and haze! I hope this helps you get beautiful fireworks shots! See you all next time. Jason

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Refine Edge in CS5

Hey everyone! Glad to see you made it back. Today I want to show you one of my favorite improvements in Photoshop CS5, the refine edge control. Now the refine edge control isn't new to Photoshop CS5, but there are some great improvements introduced with CS5 that makes it feel like a whole new feature. So watch the video, and let me know what you think! Jason
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Friday, July 30, 2010

Studio time just for fun...

Hey everyone. Glad to see you found your way back. It's been a typical week for us over at RedDoor. Studio shoots, on location corporate work, and tonight we have a wedding. All in all it's been an eventful week. Last Sunday my good friend Frank Tuttle of Tuttle Images came down to shoot and brought along a few models with him. We spent the day working our way around the studio, shooting different themes, and sets. It was a good day. It's nice to have time to shoot just for fun. No real purpose, no one to please but yourself(although sometimes we can be our own hardest critics). Above is Grace. She is a wonderful model from the Columbus area. Such a pleasure to work with. She had many, many different looks, and the ability to "turn it on" on command.

For this particular shot, Frank did the lighting setup. I think he did a wonderful job. The main in this situation was a gridded strobe camera right about 2 feet from the subject's face around f/5.6. Fill was from a brolly box camera left and feathered way up roughly f/4. Below is a diagram showing the setup.

gridded setup

Hit the jump for more lighting setups, shots, and even a little video showing Franks workflow(and dancing that day)!


Like I said, Grace was wonderful to work with, and she had so many different looks that we were able to move around the studio quickly. Here, we did what's commonly referred to as Clam Shell Lighting. We placed a 5foot octobox above grace set to roughly f/5.6. Just below her face we had a strip box set to f/4. This gives us a high key, almost shadowless "glamour shot" of grace and her wonderful skin. Notice the two distinct catch lights in her eyes? One from the lower strip box, and one from the upper octobox. There was about a 2 foot gap between the two boxes in the front that we shot through.

A helpful tip for shooting this setup: The idea is to get a high key, bright image. To do this, we often times "open up" our aperture by one stop. For example, this setup metered at around f/5.6, but to get the brighter look, we shot at f/4. This made the image 1 stop brighter than it would have been at f/5.6.

Frank Studio day-278-Edit

While Grace was a wonderful model, it was Casey that took the "prize" for best outfits. First she came out in what I would call "50's housewife attire" and had the attitude to go with it. It was great. She posed on several different sets, one of which being the "industrial area" of the studio. The idea for a shot like that is to make her look as out of place as possible. It puts an emphasis on her, drawing your eyes in. She was a wonderful sport, shooting the below shots even though getting her leg up that high with heels on was difficult.

Frank Studio day-298-Edit

and of course what 50's housewife would be complete without her "Betty Crocker" cookbook:

Frank Studio day-234-Edit

Shad even talked me into stepping in front of the camera for a shot or two:

Frank Studio day-259

Frank Studio day-257-Edit

But not to be outdone, Frank shows us his great interaction with the models, and of course his dancing skills:

Thanks for stopping in and checking out my latest work. See you again soon. Jason
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Monday, July 26, 2010

2010 World Wide Photo Walk Cincinnati

Group Photo By Wendy Ramsey

Hey everyone! Glad to see you're back! Over the weekend I had the privilege of leading the World Wide Photowalk organized and sponsored by Scott Kelby. This is the second year that I've led a walk and just like last year, it was a blast! There were 50 Photographers signed up, but I think because of the temperature being in the 90's(with a heat index in the 100's!) some people didn't show up. Some emailed me in the days leading up to the walk to tell me that they weren't going to be there. All total we had about 25-30 photographers show up. We still had fun!

We ended up at the Hofbrauhaus in Newport Ky where everyone enjoyed all of the beer cheese and bratt's they could eat!


They even had live entertainment:


Hit the jump for some photos from the walk...

Beating the heat...




Many thanks to the photographers that joined in the fun this year! If you didn't make it out this time around, be sure to look for it again next year! Jason

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Shooting Tethered with Lightroom3

Hey everyone! Glad to see you made it back! It's my goal to provide useful, easy to understand content that helps you with your photography. The fact that you're here, reading it, lets me know that I'm doing a good job.

That's Reverse From Zero pictured above. They're a Cincinnati based rock alternative band. They were over the other night for some updated group shots to go with their new EP. These guys are a blast to work with! Fun, outgoing, "willing to try anything" type of guys. They were happy with the outcome, and so were we. I took this opportunity to try out Lightroom 3's new tethered shooting option for the first time in a live situation.(note: I never try out something totally new with a client. I had already played around with the tethering feature just to get the controls down.) Previous to this latest version of Lightroom, we were using Nikon's camera control 2 for our tethering needs. This worked "ok" but was slow, and there were a bunch of steps you had to go through just to get it up and running. Lightroom 3 eliminated those steps, and has made the image playback almost instant. So hit the jump to see how it works, some sample pictures, then some more from our Reverse from Zero shoot...

I don't know about you, but I'm a "freak" when it comes to eye sharpness. When I'm shooting portraits, I want the eyes to be so tac sharp that they're the first thing that you see, and the area of the photo that you keep going back to. That being said, it's a real pain in the butt to use the display on the back of your camera to see if they're really that sharp. Sure you can zoom in, and get a pretty good idea but to really see what it's going to look like you need a large monitor. I prefer something 24inches or larger. When we're shooting in the studio, we have a 24inch monitor hooked to a laptop so we can see the shots as they happen, and then zoom in to certain areas if we want to check sharpness etc. To do this you need a tethering program. For the longest time the only option we had was Nikon's Camera Control 2. With this program you could set your shots to come into the computer, save in a specific folder, then have Lightroom "watch" that folder and automatically import the images into Lightroom etc. It was a process to say the least. With the introduction of Lightroom 3 Adobe has done away with the need to use a third party program and allows you to tether right into your catalog strait from your camera.

Setting up Lightroom to tether is simple. The first thing you want to do is attach your camera to your computer via a USB cable. Turn your camera on so that the computer recognizes it. Launch Lightroom 3. Once your catalog has loaded go to FILE-TETHERED CAPTURE-START TETHERED CAPTURE. As shown here:


When you click on Start tethered capture, you will get a dialog box asking you for some input. It wants to know what you want to call this shoot. For this particular shoot I named it the band's name "Reverse from Zero". You also have a file naming option. Which I set to Session Name-Sequence. There's the destination to be imported to. I keep all of my images on an external drive, so my location shows that. Then there is the information. Just as in Import, you can add metadata, as well as keywords. Here's a snap shot of that dialog box so you can see what I'm talking about:


Once you fill out this info and click OK, you will get a control bar at the bottom of the screen that looks like this:


This bar shows the basic information coming from your camera. It has your shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and white balance. It also shows the camera model you're shooting with. On the right side of the tool bar you see an option for Develop settings. This allows you to add whatever develop settings you want as the image is brought into Lightroom. For example, if you take the first photo, and you see that you want to give it a little more midtone contrast, you can make your adjustment to your first image, select the develop settings button on the tethering tool bar and select the "Same as previous" option at the top of the flyout window as shown here:


As you can see, there are a whole bunch of options to choose from when it comes to the develop settings. If you want a certain look to be applied to your image immediately when it comes into Lightroom, this is the way to do it.

When you start shooting, you will immediately(especially if you ever used the old method) see how fast the images show up on the screen. I'm using a relatively mediocre laptop(dual core processor, with 3 gigs of ram), and the shots show up almost instantly. If you've never shot tethered, I urge you to try it out. It is one of the best ways to see all of the detail in the images, as well as catch problems while you're shooting and can still fix them, instead of after the shoot when it's too late. So that's it. That's the new tethering option in Lightroom 3 in a nutshell. It's a simple strait forward approach to managing a shoot and making sure that the images are in focus, where you want them to be.

As promised, here are some more shots from the same shoot. Thanks for stopping by, see you next time! Jason

Reverse From Zero-103-Edit

Reverse From Zero-098-Edit

Reverse From Zero-144-Edit

Reverse From Zero-123-Edit

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