You all know (or should know) that light is the most important thing when it comes to photography. When it comes right down to it, without light there would be no photography. When we talk about light though, we talk about it not only as a whole, but we talk about the different aspects of it as well. We talk about the quality. Is it soft, hard, wrapping, etc. We talk about the direction. Is it a loupe pattern, is it a butterfly pattern etc. We also talk about the color of it. Are we talking golden sunset light, are we talking sickly green light from florescent lights, are we talking the warm glow of tungsten light… The descriptions go on and on. The important thing is that we are aware of the different light colors and that we adjust our images accordingly. That’s where the Passport Color Checker from X-Rite makes life a whole lot easier.
Whew…. What a busy week. I spent the first part of the week helping out the always fun David Ziser (Of the critically acclaimed Digital Pro Talk). I was humbled that David asked me to help teach at this Masters class. I really hope that I added a different perspective and aspect to the class. The shot above was from our first day in the field shooting at a local church in Covington. The wonderful model Rebbecca really knew how to make her body contort and look good for this shot! I had a great time meeting everyone and spending a few days with the class. I really think we were able to get some wonderful shots and most everyone was happy with what they learned.
Today I had an event to shoot for my buddy Steven Easley. Tomorrow and Saturday I’m doing weddings. I’ve had a really full and packed week…
A few of the people that came to the masters class asked me to list some of the people that I follow, and links to the things that I was talking about to them. For those of you not at the class, check out some of these links, you may find something interesting that you like!
http://www.BestAppSite.com -This is the iOS App Website that I write for. We review iOS Apps and give you the best of the best every week.
http://www.terrywhite.com/techblog -This is the mutual friend of David and I who works for Adobe. Besides working for Adobe, he is one hell of a photographer and THE MAN when it comes to technology. You should definitely check him out.
http://scottkelby.com -This is another friend of both David and I who most of you probably already know but it’s worth putting his link up here just in case.
http://www.strobist.com -This is David Hobby’s site. David is the godfather of off camera small lighting. Spend some time reading over his site. Pay particular attention to “lighting 101″ and “lighting 102″. Everyone can stand to learn a thing or two from David
http://www.joemcnally.com -I was surprised to find that a lot of photographers didn’t know who Joe McNally was. Joe is a National Geographic photographer, Time Magazine, etc. The list goes on and on for Joe. You can definitely learn a thing or two about a thing or two from Joe.
http://zackarias.com/ -Zack is another really good photographer whom I follow. Zack is awesome with lighting and he is equally as awesome at teaching. Zack is definitely one to check out.
I had planned on showing you a few more images from the workshop, however I accidentally deleted an entire card, and I haven’t done the recovery on it yet. Come back Monday and I’m going to do a complete how to step by step process on how I did what I did to the shot above in post. Don’t miss it! See you all on Monday. Jason
I recently read an interesting story on my favorite new iPad App Zite about simple reasons why most people’s photography does not improve. Rather than be negative, I’m going to give you three ways that I try to improve my photography. These three ways are not by any means rules you must live by, or the only way to make you better, rather the top three things that I do to improve myself. So read along, make a mental note, and improve your photos too!
Try something different…
I was talking with my best friend the other day about this. She was telling me that she feels like her images are starting to look the same to her. My advice to her was this; Take your “bread and butter” images first. Take the images, the poses, and the lighting that you know work first. Once you get the shots that you know work, and that you’re comfortable with, step outside of your comfort zone. Do something different. Had a different lighting style on your mind for a while? Try it! Want to try a pose that you’ve never done before? Why not? By doing this you are always pushing the envelope. You are always pushing forward to new areas that you have never been before. If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. On the image at the top of this post, I followed this thought process. By the time we arrived at that location we had been shooting for about two hours. I knew that I had some really good shots. I wanted to push it a little. I used an off camera flash and umbrella in a different way than I normally would to create the dramatic lighting on my model. In the end it worked out. This isn’t always the case. Some times it doesn’t work out like this. Some times going out of your comfort zone doesn’t work out so well but the times when it all comes together more than makes up for it.
Shoot for yourself (self projects)
Shooting for clients is awesome. After all, that’s what it means to be a professional right? To shoot for paying clients. The problem with paying clients is that you have to shoot what they need, which is usually similar to something you’ve shot in the past. The conversation usually goes something like this; “hi, my name is John Doe, I saw those great ad shots that you did for the ABC company. Can you do something similar for me?”. This doesn’t leave much room for experimenting. When you shoot for yourself however, you have all of the creative freedom in the world. You are the one deciding the goal of the shoot, or series of shoots. You cast the models, and provide the theme. This is really important for growing as an artist. A lot of the time you can find willing models to work for image trade with services like Model Mayhem or One Model Place. The other option is to find a friend that is willing to pose for you like my image above. My good buddy Dave Concepcion better known as DaveyC. He’s an up and coming DJ in the Cincinnati area and perfect for my shot. I really wanted to get a darker shot showing a profession without spelling it out. I think this worked really well. Dave has the perfect look for this style. He was more than happy to pose for me and in exchange I gave him the images to use for an upcoming album cover. It was a mutually beneficial shoot.
Shoot Something different…
I shoot people. That’s what I enjoy.. That’s what I’m good at. I prefer portraiture over any other type of photograph. That being said, I often times stop what I’m doing to take a picture of something that I wouldn’t normally photograph. This photo was taken a few years ago in Hamilton Ohio of a train bridge that I thought was interesting. When you go outside of your comfort zone you tend to think differently. You compose differently, you think about the lighting differently, and you photograph differently. This helps me grow as a photographer, and I know this will help you grow as a photographer.
I hope that these three things will help you as much as they have helped me. See you next time. Jason
Today I want to talk about one of my favorite programs that doesn’t get enough attention. Dropbox. Dropbox is a file sharing program that runs seamlessly in the background on your computer allowing you to share files across the internet with anyone else who has Dropbox. Dropbox isn’t just for your computer though. If you have an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android, or blackberry you can download the Dropbox App and sync the files between those devices as well! Let me tell you really quick how Dropbox works before I tell you my 5 favorite ways to use it. When you setup your FREE dropbox account over at Dropbox.com getting you 2Gigs of storage, a new folder will be installed on your computer named (you guessed it) Dropbox. This is a local folder housed on your local drive. You can treat it like any other folder you have on your computer. You can store files, create sub folders etc. The difference between this folder and regular folders is everything that you put in this folder is AUTOMATICALLY synced with your corresponding folder on the Dropbox cloud. This cloud folder syncs with any other device that you have a Dropbox account installed on. So now that you know how it works, let me show you my favorite ways of using it.
My good friend Frank Tuttle expressed to me not too long ago that he wished that there was an easy way to sync his Lightroom catalog between his two laptops and his desktop. My reply was “put it in your Dropbox folder”. Even over the phone I could tell the look on his face… You know the look. The one that says why the heck didn’t I think of that before! Since Dropbox creates a local folder on your drive, you can point Lightroom to that folder to load and save/backup your catalog. This does two things. First, it saves your catalog in a place that is synced automatically with a cloud server, thus backing your catalog up for you in the case of a catastrophic system failure, or natural disaster. Second, if you have Dropbox loaded on another system using Lightroom, you can work on the same catalog on both systems! It’s perfect!
With All of the major mobile devices covered, syncing your Dropbox files to your mobile devices couldn’t be easier. I like to save important PDF’s, photos, and other important documents that I might need to access on my iPhone or iPad. I also used Dropbox to save a HTML copy of my bookmarks from Firefox to load into my mobile browsers. There are some files that you don’t use enough to merit permanent storage on your phone or iPad, but from time to time it would be nice to access them. Dropbox is the perfect place to store them.
Sharing With Friends
Besides my Lightroom catalogs, sharing with friends is probably the way I use Dropbox most. I have what’s called shared folders (folders that show up in both my, and whoever I invite to the folder’s Dropbox as a subfolder) with all of the people that I routinely share files with. Many of you know that I an a contributing writer over at the Best App Site where we review and rate the best iOS Apps available. Terry, Erik, and I are constantly sharing files back and forth so Dropbox is the perfect way to share them. Not only for the speed and ease of use, but because there isn’t a file limit, we can share large files between the three of us, something we wouldn’t be able to do through email. Besides the Best App Site, I share folders with my other photographer friends where I will put images to get their opinion on, model releases from recent shoots that we may have been co-shooters on, and/or any other files that I need to share with them. When Tom Seibert of Light And Pixels designed this website, we used Dropbox folders to send files back and forth. Images, logos, text files, PDF’s, PSD, PNG’s, it doesn’t matter they can all go into Dropbox.
Sharing With The Public
That’s right, with Dropbox you can setup a public folder and give anyone the address to access the files on there. I used this feature when my buddy Don Giannatti came to town last summer to teach a fantastic two day workshop. I was helping Tom Seibert, and Frank Tuttle organize models for the event. I created a spreadsheet with the days and times that we would need models and placed it in the Public folder. This allowed models to quickly look at the spreadsheet to see if they were available for the times that we needed. Another great use for the public folder has to do with the workshop. We had multiple shooters at the event, all of which needed a copy of the model releases. We converted the signed model releases to PDF’s and placed them in the public folder for both models, and photographers to download.
Dropbox offers 2Gigs for free but also has two larger paid options. For $9.99 a month or $99 a year you get 50Gigs of space. For $19.99 a month or $199.99 a year you get 100Gigs of space! The free 2 gigs isn’t really enough to store massive amounts of data, but if you upgrade to one of the two larger options, Dropbox can be a great place to store your important files offsite.
Dropbox is for you..
Dropbox is free, easy to use, and secure. There is really no reason not to have a Dropbox account. I have set my parents up with Dropbox on their laptops just so I can share images with them of their grandchildren. There really isn’t a reason not to have Dropbox.
If you’re reading this blog chances are you’re a photographer or Photoshop user. If you sign up for Dropbox here, and shoot me your email at @Jason@jasonlykinsphotography.com I will add you to a special folder containing my Photoshop actions and (in the future) special Dropbox friend only files tips and tricks.
F’ You Pay Me… Or I’ll send this guy after you! Actually that’s my good buddy Frank, who (despite his scowl) is a super nice guy who would do anything in the world for his friends. Today’s post is fitting and timely for me. I just had a run in with a customer similar to the kind that Mike Monteiro is describing in this video. For those of you who don’t know Mike. He is co-founder an design director of Mule Design Studio. Beyond that, Mike has an almost cult like following on his Twitter account where he posts just about anything that comes to his mind… Most of which is hilarious! You can follow Mike @Mike_FTW
So no matter what particular industry you’re in, if you have to deal with customers personally on payment and billing, you should watch this.
Hey guys! I’m trying to mix it up a little here and give you all not only great Photography info tips and tricks, but also some great Photoshop info. With that in mind, I give you 5 tips and tricks for Photoshop. Some are Photoshop CS5 Specific, some aren’t. Some may be basic but everyone starts somewhere.
Extending a white background with the crop tool
This one is a quick one. If you have an image that you’ve shot on a white background that you want to extend the background to make it look larger, use the crop tool. Make sure that you have white set as your background color on your color swatches then select the crop tool, drag it out to cover the entire image. Release the crop tool then grab the small square on the edge you want to extend. In my case, I extended it down so I grabbed the square in the middle bottom and drug strait down. When you press enter, the area that you extended the crop area to will be filled with the background color, in our case white.
Content Aware Fill
This one is a CS5 only tip. When you have an area that you want to remove such as the softbox in this image, content aware fill makes it easier than it used to be. To do this, you need to make sure that you have the background layer selected. Make a selection around the area you want to remove with your favorite selection tool. Here I used the rectangle marquee tool. At this point press the delete or backspace key. You will see a dialog box with content aware set as the default for the dropdown. Leave content aware selected and press ok. this will fill the selected area with what Photoshop “thinks” should be there. Usually Photoshop does a good job of filling this area, but sometimes it doesn’t. (quick tip: if you don’t like how Photoshop filled the area, undo the fill, change the selection slightly and try it again. A slight change will make a dramatic difference.)
Make a selection to do your cloning in
If you have an area that you want to clone that is close to a hard line area that you don’t want the cloning to spill over to, make a selection around the area to be cloned to constrain it. You can use your favorite selection tool to select the area to be cloned just like with the content aware tip above. (tip: this trick will work with the healing brush, and the spot healing brush too.)
New layer for cloning
Here’s one that is supremely important. When you are doing cloning, always do your cloning on a blank layer above the layer you’re wanting to clone. When you do this you have to make sure that you have the “all layers” or “current and below” selected in the menu at the top of the screen. There are a few reasons to do your cloning on a new layer. First, if you clone too much, or you do something you don’t want to do you can either just grab the eraser tool and delete the cloned area that you want back, or delete the whole layer and start over. The next reason is that because it’s on a new layer, you can lower the opacity of the cloned layer to make it not so “heavy handed” or fade it slightly. (I didn’t actually clone anything in this example, I just used it to show you where the drop down on the menu bar was)
Turn an image into a virtual Pano
This image was ok, but I thought that it would have looked a whole lot better as a “pano” or panoramic. The problem was, I had only shot the one image, not multiple images to stitch to make a true pano. What to do? Fake it! Open your image in Photoshop, grab your crop tool and drag it out from edge to edge on your image. Then slowly bring the bottom and top in until your have the area you want selected. I have found that cropping off in between 1/3 to 1/2 of the image works about perfectly. In the end, you have an image like this:
I hope that you have picked up a tip or two from this post. If there’s anything you have a question about, feel free to leave it in the comment section. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @JasonLPhoto or on Facebook here.
What do you use to edit your pictures? I don’t mean Photoshop or Gimp, Lightroom or Aperture. I mean what instrument do you use to physically input to your computer? If you answered mouse, or (ahh) trackpad, you’re not getting the best that you can possibly get out of your photos. One of the Photoshop guys (it was either Matt, Scott, or R.C.) said recently that using a mouse to edit an image is like using a single sized paint brush to paint an entire house. Yes, you can get the job done, but not with the precision, quality, or speed that you could with a roller, and a fine brush. The same holds true with tablets for photo editing. The Wacom Intuos Tablet has 2048 levels of pressure. This means that you can use paint brushes, erasers, and all of the other pressure sensitive tools in Photoshop to a level that you couldn’t do with a mouse or otherwise. So what do I use? I use the Wacom Intuos 4 Small.
I use the Wacom Intuos small for two reasons. First, it fits in my laptop bag and goes everywhere my laptop goes. Second, I prefer the cheaper price of the smaller tablet. My buddy Terry did a review of the Wacom Medium tablet here. Everything in his review of the medium applies to the Intuos 4 small except for the LEDs next to the buttons. The Small doesn’t have them. I agree completely with Terry’s review of the tablet. Wacom builds great quality products. I started with the Wacom Bamboo tablet. The Bamboo is Wacom’s consumer line of tablets, and while still a good product, it pales in comparison to the Intuos 4. With Six customizable express keys, a touch ring with 4 customizable functions the Intuos 4 is sure to speed up your workflow 2 fold. Besides Photoshop CS5, the Wacom Tablet is my most important editing tool.
You can but the Intuos 4 Small Here for $199
You can buy the intuos 4 Medium from Here for $309
I want to take a moment today to talk about the most underrated piece of equipment that every photographer taking photographs outside of a studio needs; a Hoodman Loupe. This seemingly simple combination of plastic, rubber, and glass allows a photographer to clearly see their images no matter how bright it may be outside. The Hoodman Loupe 3.0 will (like it’s name implies) work on a LCD screen up to 3inches.
I resisted shelling out the $79.90 for the Loupe until one day I was shooting a model outside and completely missed a small blown out area of an image because of the bright ambient light outside. Since that day, every time I step outside to do any sort of image I have my Hoodman around my neck knowing that I will get a clear view of my LCD giving myself a fighting chance. Just like your camera, the Hoodman Loupe has diopter adjustment of +/- 3.
Overall, I know the price of the Hoodman Loupe seems a little on the steep side, but take my word for it, you’ll be asking yourself how you took pictures outside before it.
You can buy the Hoodman Loupe from B&H for $79.90 here.