The Digital Photo Guy

Photoshop World Las Vegas 2009 – Wrap Up

by on Oct.05, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips

PSW ended on Saturday, 10/3 but I’m just now getting around to writing the wrap-up because I’ve been driving through some of the most photographically target rich areas of the country, northern Nevada, Death Valley and the Eastern Sierra Mountains. That and the fact that high-speed Internet access is nearly impossible in those areas has been all the excuse I’ve needed to put off writing my Monday Morning Tip (MMT) until Monday evening. I kept telling myself that I’m waiting until I get a round tuit.

Saturday was a short day but I hope we scored some more goodies as door prizes for the webinar. None of these deals are firm so there aren’t yet any details.

So far, we have an RS-4 camera strap from Black Rapid. This is a truly innovative product and I’ll be buying one as soon as they make a minor enhancement for me.

You can also win your choice of one of 8 Topaz Labs modules for Mac or PC. I’m not normally impressed with software but I can honestly say the Topaz Labs plug-ins blew my mind. There’s a dent on the convention hall floor where my jaw hit the ground.

Another great prize is The 1-2-3 of Digital Imaging v5, a 3500+ page digital book that teaches you both Photoshop Elements and Photoshop. This is a very comprehensive digital book that shows you, step-by-step, how to get the most out of your photos.

The biggest, baddest prize is still the 2009 Photoshop World Workbook, all 800 pages of PS and photography tips and tricks covered in virtually every class offered at PSW this past week.

As for classes, I had two winners, both taught by Ben Willmore. The first, The Newest on HDR, was a bit basic for me but it had its moments. Ben’s explanation of Tone Mapping made the most sense to me of all the tone mapping explanations I’d heard previously. The second, Mastering Curves, was one of those “Ah-ha” moments when Ben started talking about curves in PS CS4. I had been using curves just like I always used curves and never realized some of the powerful new tricks Adobe had built into CS4.

Quick Tips

This one is a bit more advanced but you should definitely consider it as your skills improve. Most dSLRs set both focus and exposure as the shutter release is half-pressed. This is OK for most situations but what if you want to set AF and AE separately? For example, while driving over the mountains from Nevada to California today, I stopped to photograph some bristlecone pines, some of the oldest living things on the planet.

In order to maximize depth of field (DoF), I used a small aperture (large f-number) of around f/16 to f/32 and focused about 25 feet out so my far distance would go to infinity. At that distance, there was a large patch of yellow flowers that would have thrown off my exposure. But, by having AF on a separate button (the asterisk button on the back of Canons), I was able to simply point the camera at the medium blue sky and half-press the shutter release to set AE. With AE locked in place, I now recomposed the frame and pressed the asterisk button on the back with my thumb, triggering AF. In 2 quick motions, I set exposure and focus on two separate areas.

Dumb Question of the Day

Maybe the farmers out there can answer this question. Why are cows so curious? I’ve often stopped by a field to photograph grazing cows. This is usually because there’s a beautiful mountain or forest or lake or some other point of interest in the background. Invariably, within a few minutes, the cows will notice me and amble over to check me out. It’s a bit disconcerting to a city boy when a big cow stares at me through a flimsy barbed wire fence. I worry that he/she may know I had a steak the night before and wants revenge. This has happened on many occasions. Why are cows so darn curious?

Photos Tomorrow

I’ll have some of my photos from today’s drive to Bishop, CA uploaded tomorrow to, hopefully, better explain why having AF on a separate button is a good idea.


4 Comments for this entry

  • Dick

    Lee, Enjoyed the AF button info, I didn’t know that either, but how did you know the sky would be the right exposure?

    • Lee

      Hi Dick,
      Thanks for reading. You might recall the meter only “sees” shades of reflected gray. It doesn’t really care about color. To a meter, a properly exposed image is 18% gray (current meters are said to read 12%-13% but it’s not documented anywhere that I know. Here’s a detailed discussion: Be as it may, a medium blue sky or green grass or Coca-Cola red or weathered wood as well as many other objects meter as 18% gray, the standard reflectance. You can also meter your hand in the shade (assuming Caucasion skin tones) and add about 2/3-1 stop to get to 18% gray. In my case, I knew the sky behind me was 18% gray so I simply pointed at the sky and set my exposure. Hope that helps.

  • Jill Johnson

    Hi Lee, What a fun trip you are on.
    I am enjoying the “ReMask” Tutorials.
    Thanks for your great website.

  • Pam

    Great tip about the AF button – I didn’t know that! Safe travels!

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