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.