The Digital Photo Guy

Monday Morning Tip – 4/27/09

by on Apr.26, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing

Today’s MMT is posted here (down at the bottom) for all visitors to read. I’m hoping this will encourage more new subscribers. Remember, if you’re still on my e-mail distribution list, I plan to stop sending MMTs via e-mail at the end on June. If you want to receive MMTs after June 30, you must subscribe to my RSS feed as described in this article.

Today’s MMT is about a FREE (do I have your attention?) tool for Photoshop Elements (all versions as well as other photo editing programs) that adds curves to your toolbox. Those who have never used curves might not understand why it’s so cool but if you’ve ever used a Levels Adjustment Layer in PSE, you’ll be happy to know that curves is like Levels on steroids.

I’ve used several curves tools in PSE, most notably from Richard Lynch’s Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements. Richard’s book first introduced me to the idea that Adobe hadn’t bothered to neuter PSE but simply hidden many tools away from prying eyes. Unfortunately, this was back when PSE was till considered an ugly duckling to Adobe’s Photoshop and most people (including me) didn’t want to spend a lot of time learning two different programs.

Today, PSE is all grown up and probably fills about 90% of any amateur photographers’ needs. Yet, there are still a few tools in PS that I’d like to see in PSE. SmartCurves fulfills one such need by adding a powerful curves capability to PSE. Even better, it’s free as in gratis, no cost, zilch, zip, nada, none… well, you get the idea!

I haven’t fully explored SmartCurves so there will probably be an MMT in the future that covers the ins-and-outs of SmartCurves. In the meantime, if you want to learn PSE, I have a new webcast class starting on May 27. Check out the details here.

20090427_smartcurves

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Monday Morning Tip – 4/20/09

by on Apr.19, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing

It’s time for another MMT and we’re still on “Back to Basics”. I was at San Diego Wild Animal Park last week with several former students to photograph butterflies in the Butterfly Jungle exhibit. If you’ve been to Butterfly Jungle, you know the light is mottled and streaked. Bright patches of sunlight cut through dark areas shaded by huge leaves and tall trees. Under such conditions, it’s imperative that you quickly and accurately add or subtract light to get the desired exposure. Exposure Compensation (EC) helps you do just that.

Butterfly on Leaf   Close-Up   3610_green

This MMT applies to both dSLRs and compact digicams. Every digital camera I’ve seen in the past few years has an EC control. The only difference between dSLRs and digicams is that dSLR controls tend to be somewhat standardized while digicams are less so. The worst digicam designs require you to drill down into a menu to adjust EC.

You can read the full MMT by logging in to the MMT area on the Tips & News page. To get the password for that area, please register for the site.

New Video Posted

Part 1 of a 3-part video on restoring old photos has been posted. Although the material is the same as what I presented to the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego, I enhanced the video with call-outs and annotations. If you saw the CGSSD recording, please view the new video and leave a comment regarding your preference. If the call-outs and annotations don’t add value, I want to avoid putting in so much time and effort.

New Videos

How much interest is there for videos covering Photoshop CS2/4? If there’s enough interest, I’ll produce a few but, if there’s no interest, I don’t want to waste time. Leave a Comment if you’re interested.

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Monday Morning Tip – 04/13/09

by on Apr.12, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Schedule

Hopefully, things are getting back to an even keel after several months of turmoil, some of it unexpected and others, self-inflicted. This is the second week in a row that I’ve been able to write a Monday Morning Tip. Also, the MMT e-mail distribution list is slowly being culled as people who are truly interested in my ramblings subscribe to the RSS feed. A hearty, “Thank you!” to those who have subscribed because it’s making it much easier for me to maintain the dwindling list.

This week marks a return to basics of digital photography. Many of you already know how to read and interpret a histogram but others are still baffled. Today’s MMT reduces histograms to the basics and explains how, by using the histogram, you can forever banish over or underexposed photos. In those instances when a photo has too much dynamic range (spectrum of dark to light), the histogram shows you where to make the compromise so the CoI (center of interest) is well exposed at the expense of non-contributing areas.

Something I wasn’t able to fit into today’s MMT is blinkies, flashing areas on an LCD that denote overexposure. Along with the histogram, blinkies will show you exactly which areas of the photo are overexposed. If you have blinkies on your subject’s face, that’s bad and you need to subtract light. If, however, the subject’s face is well exposed but you have blinkies in parts of the sky, you might have to live with that because subtracting light may cause the subject’s face to be underexposed.

Photography, like life in general, is a series of compromises. Your job as a photographer is to know when, how and how much to trade-off in the process.

When I first started The Digital Photo Guy, I spent many days on the road, making presentations to countless PC clubs, camera groups, resorts, cruise ships, trade shows and conventions. Five years and 30,000 attendees about wore me out but it was fun. My recent webcast to the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego reminded me of those days. If your club or group would like a webcast presentation, please contact me. All you need is a PC/Mac with high-speed access, speakers and a projector. The video is projected for the audience to see and audio is heard through the speakers.

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Monday Morning Tip – 04/06/09

by on Apr.04, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips

Seems my best MMT topics come from readers’ questions. Last week’s MMT about creating a “poor man’s macro lens” created more questions. The most popular question was about the macro focusing rail I mentioned at the end of the article.

Today’s MMT covers macro focusing rails and how to use them. While they look deceptively simple, knowing how to use them ahead of time will make life a lot easier.  As always, the full MMT is located here. If you need a password, register for my MMTs to receive one via e-mail.

About 60 MMTs have now been uploaded as well as about 11 videos. Once all previous MMTs and videos are uploaded, I’ll be able to concentrate on producing more new material. In the meantime, keep sending those questions because they’re the best source of ideas for me.

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Joshua Tree NP Desert Wildflower Photoshoot

by on Apr.04, 2009, under Photos, Workshops

The spring wildflower bloom at Joshua Tree NP was bleak this year after record rains and snow. It’s a mystery but, to quote Mother Nature, “Stuff happens!” On Saturday and Sunday, March 21 and 22, several intrepid photographers ventured into JTNP in search of spring wildflowers. It was a hard fought battle but, in the end, Mother Nature won and left us with few trophies for our showcase. Here are some photos from that epic battle.

Ladybug   Sunset   Tortoise 
 

Pink Sky   ©2009 Jill Johnson   ©2009 Jill Johnson

©2009 Lee Otsubo   ©2009 Lee Otsubo   ©2009 Lee Otsubo

Next year, I plan to do Anza-Borrego in late March and Joshua Tree in Early April. Let’s see if we can fool Mother Nature.

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