The Digital Photo Guy

Tag: adobe camera raw

Monday Morning Tip – 6/15/09

by on Jun.14, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips

(Added Photoshoot info at the bottom)

Monday Morning Tip

OK, I know you’re probably sick and tired of ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) so this is the last one for a while. We’ve really only begun to scratch the surface but there’s a limit to how much time I can spend playing with and writing about ACR and I’m sure there’s a limit to how much you want to read.

Today, we cover the Histogram in ACR and, in passing, mention the Exif data and RGB values below the Histogram. BTW, per Japan Electronic Industry Development Association (JEIDA), the keeper of Exif standards, the proper terminology is Exif with a capital “E” and the rest in lower case and it is an ancronym for Exchangeable image file format.

As always, the full MMT is in the Tips & News section and requires a password that is e-mailed to you upon registeration. Registration is simply a means of preserving the value of the MMTs for readers. Without registration, there would bots slurping down all the MMTs and who knows where they would end up.

Quick Tip

When using an external flash, did you know that there is a modeling light feature? A modeling light puts out a low power, pulsed light so you see what the scene will look like when the flash fires. It’s great for detecting where the light and shadow will fall. In the old days, photographers often used Polaroids to get a sense of the lighting and pose but a modeling light is more convenient. Like a Polaroid, it won’t give you a completely accurate view of the final image but it gets you in the ballpark.

To activate the Canon modeling light, press the Depth of Field Preview button on your Canon camera. On current Nikon flashes, only the SB800 and SB900 have modeling lights. They are triggered by a separate Modeling Light button on the back of the flashhead. Check your manual for specific details.

A cool use for modeling lights on strobes is Light Painting. By pressing and holding the button, the flash can be moved around an object to “paint” it with light. This handy when you want a photo of a small object with absolutely no shadows. With Canon flashes, I use the High Speed Sync function to do the same thing but it’s a bit more effort to set up. You can do the same with a Nikon but the modeling light is quicker to set up.


On Sunday, June 21 (yeah, I know it’s Father’s Day), I’ll be at the Torrey Pines Glider Port with the San Diego Photography Meetup Group. The group is meeting at 10AM but I’ll be there in my RV by about 8AM. If there’s nothing happening that early, you can have a fresh cup of coffee from my RV. I’ve lived in San Diego for nearly half my life and have never been there so it’s about time. You don’t have to join the Group, just show up.

If you’re using Canon, you’re welcome to try my 300/2.8 or 100-400 to see if a long lens is in your future.

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Monday Morning Tip – 6/8/09

by on Jun.07, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips

Today’s MMT starts to delve into the real “meat” of ACR. We start with brief overviews of the 5 Basic panels on the right side of the ACR interface. Here, we can tweak and enhance most digital photos that are reasonably good to start. In other words, the exposure just needs a little adjustment, color temperature is pretty close and sharpness is good. If the photo is a train wreck to start with, there’s not much that can be done in any program. Bottom line, ACR can turn good photos into great photos but lousy photos are forever lousy with a single exception. Very bad photos are often good examples of bad examples.

As always, go to the Tips and New section and click on Monday Morning Tips. Register for this site to have a password e-mailed to you. Remember to set up an RSS feed so you don’t need to wait for my e-mails to know when the site has been updated.

Quick Tips

If you have an old flash lying around from your film SLR days, resist the temptation to mount it on your new digital SLR. Most older film SLRs used a mechanical switch to trigger the flash so they could withstand trigger voltages up to the hundreds of volts. The new dSLRs are almost all restricted to trigger voltages below about 12v max. It doesn’ t take rocket science to figure out what can happen if your blast 250v through a circuit designed for 6v. When I was a young engineer, we used to call this a “smoke test”. To avoid smoke testing your dSLR, you can check the voltage with a digital volmeter or look for your flash on this site.

So, if your old flash is incompatible with your dSLR, what are the options? Wein to the rescue! Wein has been producing several products for many years to help in just this sort of situation. The first is Wein SafeSync, a device that reduces the trigger voltage to a safe 6v. This device mounts to your camera’s hot shoe and has a hot shoe on top for your flash. All it does is intercept the high voltage trigger and reduces it to about 6v. You can continue to use that old flash with your new cameras. The SafeSync goes for about US$50.

An even better solution is a Wein Peanut Slave, a US$20 device that turns your old flash into a slave flash triggered by the light from your main flash. Be aware that your old flash needs a PC sync socket for the Wein to plug into. A PC sync socket was a common connector on most older 35mm SLRs and most older flashes had one.

Using either a dedicated flash on your camera or the little integrated, pop-up flash, a slave flash fires when it detects the main flash has fired. As many of you have discovered, the little pop-up flash leaves a lot to be desired but by adding a second, slave flash, interesting effects can be added to your flash photography. For example, if you want a more interesting background than the standard Navajo White most houses are painted, you can cover the slave with a piece of colored plastic, aim it at the background and, “Voila!”, instant colored BG.

Of course, if you think this is too much trouble or not your cup of tea, send that old flash to me. 😉 I’m sure I can figure out a use for it. In fact, I’ve been thinking of a 6 flash project for capturing hummingbirds.


Our remodel is almost done. Anyone who has ever lived through a remodel knows that it’s a bit like waterboarding. You feel as if you’re drowning in a sea of contractors, appliances, materials and, most of all, dust. There’s dust everywhere including your toothpaste and ice cubes. We were dumb enough to remodel both our home in Escondido as well as a new place we bought in Arizona at the same time. I’ve been driving back and forth to Wickenburg, AZ to check on that house so the RV has been racking up the miles.

We’ve decided to rent the place in AZ to friends and family as a short-term vacation rental so if anyone wants to check out the Southwest for 1-3 months, let me know. The house has 4 bedrooms/2 baths in 1900 square feet on 2/3 acre on top of a hill. It also has partial RV hookups (no dump connection) so someone with an RV who wants to explore the southwest will find it perfect. Wickenburg is a day’s drive from most southwest destinations including national parks, wildlife refuges, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson and parts of New Mexico.

Anyway, I’m hoping to get back to some serious shooting as soon as all this is done. My first plans are acorn woodpeckers at Live Oak Park in Fallbrook. I’ve been meaning to get up there for months now but just haven’t had time. If anyone is interested in joining me, shoot me an e-mail. I’m also hoping to get out to Oceanside Pier for some surfing action. Let me know if that interests you.

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Monday Morning Tip – 5/25/09

by on May.24, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing

Today we continue with actually using Adobe Camera Raw. Some of this may seem pretty obvious but, as any little kid knows,  you have to learn to crawl before you can get to to good stuff in the dog’s bowl!

As always, the full MMT is in the Tips and News section and you’ll need a password to access it. To get a password via e-mail, just register for the site. While you’re at it, set up an RSS Feed using My Yahoo! If you’re not familiar with RSS, you can get full details by clicking here. As for why you want an RSS Feed, it’s like having your own custom newspaper delivered directly to your e-mail box as soon as something interesting happens. In addition to my site, you can also have RSS feeds from your local newspaper or CNN or Twiddly Winks Today Magazine. If there’s a website that covers whatever floats your boat, it probably has an RSS feed to which you can subscribe.

Next week, we’ll continue with the real meat & potatoes of ACR. While I milk ACR for a few weeks, I hope some of you get off your duffs and send in some ideas for future MMTs because coming up with ideas is the toughest part of writing these.

Quick Tips

I see newbies (aka noobs) always asking, “Which is better, Raw or JPEG?” Life is full of either/or choices but this isn’t one of them. When you first buy a dSLR, it’s probably set up for JPEG as the default but you’ll soon start if you should be in Raw. Well, in this case you don’t have to make a choice between one or the other, you can have your cake and eat it, too. Most modern dSLRs can be set to capture Raw + JPEG. In fact, many can capture different sizes and resolutions of JPEG. Set your camera for Raw + JPEG and you’ll have files you can immediately share with friends and family as well as Raw files you can process and refine to your heart’s content.

Two Strobe Portrait Lighting

I’ve been studying and practicing lighting concepts on David Hobby’s site, Strobist. It’s not rocket science but it does require some cogitating. If you’re up for a challenge, try some of David’s ideas for lighting portraits with one or two strobes.

Palomar College Webinars

Both my classes, Digital SLR for New dSLR Owners and Photo Editing for Digital Photographers are available through Palomar College as webinars (webcats). In tough economic times, webcasts make even more sense because you can’t just stop learning but you can minimize costs. Webcasts save you gas, parking fees, snacks, babysitter costs and time. Click the above links to see what meets your needs.

If job push comes to shove, you might become the next accidental photographer so you may as well invest in yourself by taking classes. Besides, being able to produce great photos of company events can be a way to earn extra cash on the side. Think about it.

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Monday Morning Tip – 5/18/09

by on May.17, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing

This week’s MMT continues with raw files. Specifically, converting raw files to a format that can be editing in PS, PSE or any other photo editing program. As you may recall, raw is not an acronym but simply means the image data is the original, unprocessed (raw) information straight off the camer’s sensor. (That’s not 100% accurate but close enough for our purposes) Raw is not a standard, every company has their own implementation of raw. This makes means the file has to first be converted to a standard.

For PS and PSE, the standard is PSD (Photoshop Data). Many other photo editing programs can also read PSD with some level of compatibility. However, every program can read and write JPEG and TIFF so those have become de facto standards. A few years ago, Adobe introduced DNG (digital negative) as a standard and, hopefully, other photo editing programs will begin to incorporate that into their repertoire.

If you don’t have PS or PSE, you can use one of the free raw converters. Read the full MMT on the Tips & News page under MMTs. You’ll need a password to access that area which you can get by registering.

Quick Tips

These days, buying off the Internet is pretty much a given. However, as anyone with half a clue knows, it’s dangerous out there. Tales of scams and outright fraud abound so how does one protect themselves when buying pricey items like camera gear. The Number 1 rule is to always do your research. Here are two sites that will help you with research. has a good reputation as a reputable place to check on companys. They have a fairly robust system to catch cheats who post their own “atta-boys” or knock their competitiors. Be careful of other sites that resemble ResellerRatings because they can be set up by a scammer just to lull you into a sense of security.

You can check Don Wiss’ pictures of actual Brooklyn camera stores to determine if they’re legit. If it’s a Mailboxes Etc or UPS store, you might want to dig further. Don also has photos of Manhattan camera stores. Some of these photos are downright scary.

New Video Uploaded

Part 3 of the Restoring Old Photos series has been uploaded. This covers sharpening using both Unsharp Mask (USM) and Adjust Sharpness in PSE7. If you have PSE4 or prior, you wan’t have Adjust Sharpness.

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