Wednesday, November 12, 2008

As promised

I am back!

Thought I would get back into it by referring to this great method for getting that grunge look in portraits.

See here for how it is done. Scott Kelby was mentioned several times by Chritian Fletcher and I feel good for finding out more about Scott and knowing that even the great photographers are out there learning from guys like Scott.

I was going to post a picture of Christian but thought I should get his permission first (that is the right and legal thing to do after all).

So I will post my application of Scott's grunge look another time.

In the mean time, here is a nice picture I took while in Perth. You don't have to like it but leave a comment/criticism! It is one thing that I took away from Christian's course, sometimes us photographers like things that might not ever sell - do you think this one might? High art or wishful thinking :) ?

Have fun in the photography fray - until next time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Like all things, it is nice to be re-invigorated occassionally.

I found the opportunity to get an extra dose of enthusiasm by going to a workflow workshop by Christian Fletcher ( For those that don't know of him, he turns up first when you do a google search so that shows that you probably should know him! (or perhaps the guy that improves his exposure on search engines!).

I thought I would quickly write a comment on his workshop and encourage anyone interested in re-invigoration of their photography hobby to get to one. He is both easy going and informative. I will follow up more (and with a few concepts) in the next posting!

Maybe with a little encouragement from other photographers we can get out there more often and do something new.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Mt Nameless - Pain, pleasure and photography

Mt Nameless is the local mountain. Apparently the tallest vehicle accessible point in Western Australia. And I climbed it rather than driving it! With 20kg+ of camera gear - I am obviously looking for punishment!

Oh well, some great photos came out of it! That is all that matters (other than the guy/boy thing for climbing stuff!).
So this is the image straight after making some adjustments in RAW. I am still in CS3, can't commit to the expense of going to CS4 (just got comfortable with CS3!) but maybe Lightroom 2 next?

I digress. I thought I would try out some tricky black and white stuff. There are TONNES of ways to convert to B+W. I thought I would share the one to convert to Quadtone - gives a really nice touch. The steps I followed:
- add a gradient adjustment layer. Tweak to suit.

- flatten layers
- image>mode>greyscale
- image>mode>duotone (only accessable after you have converted to greyscale)

Now that you are here, there are a lot of choices including duo, trio and quadtone. Have fun. I chose to go with a PANTONE Quadtone Bl 541 513 5773 - funny name, nice colours.

Finally, for "extra credit", I copied this image back into the original psd file as a layer. Turning down the opacity allows the original colours to come through.

So there ends todays thought. Sometimes a little less colour makes a picture!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Photowalk - bringing me back to blogging

I apologise.

I have been caught up in the job that I wish was second to photography - it would be nice to have a hobby as a job (sort of).

Anyway, since we last talked I have run the local Scott Kelby Photowalk (yesterday 23rd of August).

For those not familiar with photowalks, see here/.

It is a lot of fun (as I found out) and well worth it getting out - challenged by how others take photos. I have to point out one of the guys - Glenn - who showed us all how to do it. He just seemed to pick the right things (I followed him for a bit!).

The trick is to give ideas a bit of thought before you make it a photo - just compare his and my shots at the Photowalk Flickr site/ . Particularly the ones of the fire hydrant. I avoid flash where I can (still not yet confident with it) - he was using it for fill.

Really good to get challenged in the way we take photos - otherwise we will never improve.

So before I sign off, I will leave you with my favourite photo from the day.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Gear is Here! (Yippee)

The fun continues!
I enjoy getting new gear - because it is new, because it is different and most of all because I get new challenges.
No. 1 challenge I am hoping for is to start being a strobist.
For those unfamiliar with the term, check out this great blog. Not only are there regular challenges, but I found there are too few photographers that understand flash - myself included.
So, being a person who wants to be more adventurous, I thought that should be something I understand and maybe it will give me an edge in photography. Certainly there is a lot more gear to be had!
Anyway, I will leave you with a photo (not yet a flash related one - wait until the next post!). The image is of Mt Nameless, the tallest mountain in Western Australia with 4WD access (and a tough walk).
And get out into the fray!

Friday, April 25, 2008

New Gear - what fun!

Who hates getting new (secondhand) gear? Own up now!

Unfortunately for me, my wallet and wife, I cannot include myself in that group.

I, as I am sure many others, search around on all those forums FM, PassionForPixels, etc. looking at, drooling at and thinking about what peice of new gear to get.
I apologise as this certainly conflicts with an earlier blog I made about getting the newest and latest but I make my excuse as I search hard and long to get the bargins.

"OK, what brought this on" you say?
Below is my latest application for a purchase.
I remember it clearly, like it was yesterday, but it was actually earlier today :)
I have hunted down a nice copy of a Canon 135 f2L. Sweet L lens! Here is an image below (courtesy of the old owner, photoguy).

And before I knew it, I had also bought his 580EX and stofen diffuser. Oops. First thing I thought I should do is warn the other half - very important! Fortunately she had just recently received one of her all-consuming scrapbooking kits so was mild in her response (few, that was close!).

Now for the wait. I am hoping that these new toys, more than anything, will challenge me to try new things. Having two flashes will help me work towards becoming a more versatile strobist and that 135 will allow me to get beautiful bucket boqet nice back lighting stuff

The other thing that brought this about was thinking about optimising my gear, or rather rationalising the gear I have. While searching for anybodies ideas on photography with a 1D mark IIn, I came across this website. It is something that I will be looking into more and I can suggest all photographers do this. Like a spring clean, hopefully I can do it regularly (maybe delay it for the moment :)

Before I go, can I suggest you check out CanonBlogger. He has just added a cool test (found here). Find out how much of a photographer geek you are and check it out (I got 18 out of 20 after two goes - did I write that out loud?).

Anyway, I look forward to getting my parcel in the post and getting down to that rationalisation idea - at least the better half will like having more room for scrapbooking.

Cheers until next time!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

From Digital Negative to Digital Masterpiece?

At the end of the blog, I hope to show you how to turn a good image into a better one. We will start with the one below.

Pets, especially dogs, I find are great to use for shots like this. I have used a wide angle lens, which has made her nose a little larger but those beautiful eyes are a good focal point. Overall, still a bit dull but we will fix that. This shot has been breifly corrected with a one point white balance on the grey of her nose within Camera Raw. No sharpening but minor increase in the exposure. That is the great thing about Camera Raw - really easy to make these changes without detrimental impact on the image file itself. Right - next step: Curves.

With this image, we get all of the points in curves to ensure accurate white balance. In the curves dialogue, use the black selector and pick a black point (I have used under her left ear). Then do the same with the white. If you are having trouble know where is a good black/white point, use the ALT (OPTION on Mac) key and drag the black/white pointer and you will see where the blackest/whitest points are.

Now the grey point is a bit harder to get. If you have a 18% grey card/cloth, it makes it heaps easier. There is another method that I have borrowed from Scott Kelby's book but, to avoid making this blog too long, I will mention it next blog.

Finally, before getting out of the Curves dialogue box, tweak the curve to make a nice S shape to get good contrast. Obviously need to suit the image. Remember, there is no perfect "formulae". I would consider optimising images is more like a recipe - the best cooks know how far they can deviate from the recipe to make it that much better. And don't look at me, I am no chef yet.

For the image above, I have added an adjustment layer for Levels. By adding a layer mask I have been able to just push up the brightness on the eyes and white parts of the nose only. Adjusted using the opacity of the layer.

Finally, we want to get the nice dark edges (particularly good for portraits). There are two ways I know how to do this.

1. Duplicate the background layer and change the blending mode to multiply. Using the rectangular marquee tool, select the whole image. Use Select>Modify>Contract to reduce that by 200 pixels or so (depending on image size). Then use Select>Refine Edge: Radius 1.0, Smooth 3.0, Feather 200 to get the area that will be lighter. Select OK. Ensure that you have the duplicate background layer selected and press Backspace.

2. The other option is to use vignetting. Not as flexible as above but is a fast alternative.

To give you a side by side, here is a cropped version.

So there you have it, a nice way to spruce up the original image. It won't fix every image but may just give some of the better ones enough punch to make them the best few.

Hope you have a great week in the fray!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bring on the pictures

Finally some more pictures!

Thought I would upload an image I have been working on. I have used HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging. In "english" that means I have taken the best exposures of the same scene and put them together. Some HDR images have 3 or more different exposures, this one only has two. One for the light streaming through on the far side of Kermit's Pool (I think) and the other exposure for everything else.

HDR are really useful in these kind of places or where there is extreme shadow and bright light to capture all of the range (hence high dynamic range). It basicly requires using a program to combine the images and screen out the appropriate areas of brightness/darkness. I have just used a Layer Mask in photoshop to do this.

Anyway, here are the originals:

And the finished product:

I find understanding a little about what you can accomplish in Photoshop allows me to prepare photos as much as possible. This is one example where a VERY sturdy tripod came in handy. Hope you have a great week and get out there and give HDR a go.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Pictures are back!

Looked at the last couple of blogs and thought - there are no pictures.

I know my 1 year old would not be interested! No siree!

So here are a couple. I have been trying to work on my flash and lighting skills so make some comments/suggestions/abuse and I will hopefully be able to improve. Either way, I learn - have you been able to take some photos today?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Is Photoshop Express (Beta) the beginning of the end for professional photographers and illustrators?

I thought the title would catch your interest...

It is certainly something I have seen about comments on the new product from Adobe and I could not resist adding my commentary to the miriad of bloggers out there.

I will answer this question this way:

The more in-depth version of that answer is:
In fact more people will start to realise that Photoshop - whether express or CS3 (CS4 soon?) - cannot fix a bad photo. The best example of that is all the errors that form the comedy of photoshop disasters.

This all links in with my previous post, it is the photographer - not the camera (and now not the touch-up program) that makes the photo. No amount of gear will guarantee the photo.

Sure, there are more and more non-professionals making great photos but I would suggest that is more a representation of the digital age where more people take more photos. Statistics (my other hobby) says that the more samples (photos), the greater chance that a sample will be outside the normal bell curve = a really good photo.

In fact, I think the end result of all these advances in photography allows people to get into a great hobby and realise the true value of professionals in that field. Once you know how hard it is to take that great image, you respect it all the more. Too many photographers are belittled by people who say they can take "that" photo but once they try, they will find it a little more difficult than first thought.

I enjoy photography, have a bit of nice equipment but know photography is an ART. Artists become great by using what they have to show others what they enjoy capturing.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I am writing this blog today in response to comments expressed in a blog I subscribe to, "Behind the Lens" found here. George (in Behind the Lens) discusses the ongoing theme of "a better camera = better pictures/photographer" - and how false this theme is.

I agree whole heartedly that the camera does not determine the quality of the picture though when I started out that fact eluded me! I could have potentially saved a LOT of money doing things a little differently - including getting good advice on lenses.

But I think that is the main issue. When people look for advice, most don't have professional photographers as friends, don't have a connection to a photography forum or believe that the best advice can be found in magazines and sales people.

This is where the problems begin.

First of all, I will not label all magazines and sales persons as providing faulty advice. Knowing a little about cameras before hand has helped me weed out the best places to go for advice but in the digital photography era, almost anyone has suddenly become an expert in photographic equipment. The best example of this is the department stores that sell computer equipment now sell cameras, not understanding how to get the best pictures but pushing larger megapixels and the latest cameras with little understanding of composition. The same goes for computer magazines and any other electronics store. Unfortunately these are the places that most new photographers end up, thinking camera only stores are too expensive. Little do they know but the reason camera stores can be more expensive is they make sure the user comes away with a camera suitable to the user's photography rather than interest only in their commissions.

Ah, got that rant out of the way :)

"The solution is?" I hear you ask. Get some advice from someone who knows what aperture to chose, knows what the rule of thirds is and you will be most of the way to getting yourself set up right AT THE BEGINNING. I can also recommend getting a subscription to a photography magazine, a few blogs/RSS and a camera forum. They can all give you great tips but don't take all their information as fact. Photography, even with all it's technology, is still an art. You are the artist and will be first and best judge of how you are going - sure you can always improve but that is why we are human.

Get into the fray!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

White balance, on a roll!

This is the third posting in two days!

I thought I would share my experiences with white balance having finally tested out a couple of white balance options. First of all, the uncorrected image is below. I have placed a gray "card" cloth on the music stand which doubles as a lens cleaning cloth and a white balance card (free with Scott Kelby's CS3 book) leaning against the door on the floor.

This second image is corrected in CS3 Raw using the white balance tool on the card. The colour is slightly blue still.

The third image is taken using the cloth (lens cleaning cloth from Adorama) as a white balance. The tones are slightly warmer than the card but without the side-by-side comparison, you wouldn't know!

So that is the interesting comment for the day. I do like the card with the full gamut of calibrating colours but it is impractical to carry around (fear of squashing is a reality!).

On practicality, as a single point gray card, the cloth wins. This final image shows the true value of the card over a single point (a bit unfair comparison). With three points of calibration (white, black and gray) via curves in photoshop:

I hope these images have shown how invaluable white balance is if you want to get the picture as accurate as possible. On a side note, if these images look toned to you - maybe you should look at colour calibration? I'll save my commentary on that for another time. Have fun in the photography fray!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Supplementary post - results of the first poll:
The numbers are in and the winner is....

4 (yes as many as 4) people entered the poll on "What is my next purchase"
25% are looking at a camera
25% for a lens
50% have no idea what their next purchase will be

I have to admit, I understand the 50%. There are too many goodies out there to try out. My latest purchase is a 17-40 f4L lens. Really nice to play with. Certainly looking forward to using it in the gorges where there isn't much room to move and wide angle is helpful.

Anyway, before this becomes more than supplementary, I better go. Foray away!

Easter Weekend

This week I have been chasing butterflies. Yes, you are not delusional - a late twenties man chasing butterflies is perfectly normal (as long as he has a camera :) ).

So here are some of the better results (take note butterflies do NOT allow you to set up a tripod, they move too much, so as a macro subject are probably the most challenging - other than dogs and children).

I enjoy runing around the garden until the butterfly stops - it certainly amuses my 1 year old. I am not lepidopterology (butterfly) expert but they always seem to end up landing on a peg on the clothesline - particularly the more colourful ones.

Like how I got the big word into the post :) Anyway that concludes today's foray. Hope all readers have a great, safe and enjoyable Easter - and don't forget to find out what the real meaning of Easter is.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

[Only a brief foray today]

I continue to be amazed at the kinds of things you can do with Photoshop!

Admitedly I follow the premise that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" with photos. Even the photos that aren't the best, I feel the need to minimise the changes made otherwise I become more of a Professional in Photoshop than Photography.

Just check out some of the links to the right to see where photoshop can lead you!

I can also recommend Scott Kelby's book on CS3 as a GREAT resource.

Finally before I go, I will leave this photo. I originally saw a photo of this boat on a friends wall and just happened to come across the boat - it must have left an impression! Some tidying up and experimentation with boosting colour.

Not quite happy with the lack of clouds that day but a nice uncluttered photo all the same. Post your comments? Maybe I should ignore my normal photoshop rules and stick in a sky from another day?

Friday, March 07, 2008

I'm Back!

Yes after a brief hiatus due to internet connection issues I will maintain the minimum 1 post per week (if I get it in in the next 28 minutes and 30 ..29..28 seconds!).

Since last posting I have got out to the local gorges. Karijini National Park is an amazing place to visit and even better to photograph. If you are just the average tourist you can be happy carrying around your P+S (Point and Shoot) but those that want a challenge can find challenge-a-plenty.

This image was taken of the "Spiderwalk" in Hancock Gorge. When they say Spider, it does not refer to the inhabitants but rather the need for use of every apendage to avoid an abrupt slip! This provides a challenge to all photographers carrying a reasonable amount of gear (tripod, camera, lenses etc!). You need all your hands plus 4 more!

Then, once you are past the transport test, you need to manage significant light challenges. It is light at the top of the gorge and dark at the bottom. Water splashes up on your lens and you can't just focus on your images (especially if there are a few people around!).

Whatever the challenge, there is nothing better than being able to get outdoors into such a beautiful place and get into the fray.

Signing off for another fray foray photography day.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I can see now.

This post will be a record TWO in one week (I won't forget that I have only posted 4 in two years to date!).

I thought I should make note of the links seen to the right. Note one of my most popular sights is The Russell Brown show. Not only do you learn about Photoshop but it is actually lots of fun (he has a good way of throwing in some humour!).

I must credit him with the method I use for adding © to my images as an action. If you want to learn more, get across to his site and check out the Branding movie.

Another site I also frequent is (P4P). This site is great for Australian (and international) photographers. Probably it's only rival is the (POTN) website. Both great places to pick up information and oogle (is that a real word?) at the second hand equipment. I am not invulnerable to temptation as my financial manager tells me (the better half that is!).

Anyway, this will be a brief blog post as I shouldn't use up all my words in one week (say that fast :)). I will leave you with an image I am looking to post at P4P for the latest B+W competition - see whether it does well?

Cheers and get out there and Foray (or is it foraying?).

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ok, ok... it has been a LONG time.

I am finally back (having re-located my blog) and committing myself to a regular foray :).

I have upgraded the knowledge (and the gear) since first posting these few images so hopefully my images have improved...
The picture of my Prado on the left is a little example of playing around in Photoshop. I got the idea from an article I read about converting your photos to look like images in the British series "Top Gear" (yeah!).
It's a great program though having recently seen the first few episodes (Australia missed out on them), I am glad they moved on!
Talking about moving on, I have got off the subject. This is a photography blog!
Oh well, I will see if I can get a few more images together to post and work on one or more posts per week (work with me, this is not my day job :))
Until next time.