Posts Tagged ‘lightroom’

Sometimes you just arrive at a location and start thinking about shooting. When there is huge dynamic range, you might be using HDR or gradual neutral density filter. Every good photographer will tell you the best light to shoot in is during dawn or dusk. There is also one huge advantage that not everybody tells you about. Dynamic range isn’t so big during sunrise or sunset. So when you want to use HDR it is an option, but not a must. And to be honest, you can get some funky results.

As you can see on the image right, dynamic range is OK and here I tried to do a pseudoHDR in Lightroom 4. Just drag Highlights slider to -100, Shadows slider to +100 and clarity to +100. Then you might need to adjust whites, blacks, exposure and other stuff but you can get nice result. But it just doesn’t work as much as a normal shot just down bellow.

Getting the real look makes the photo more realistic and better looking. With the one on the left I almost cut off all the atmosphere, great yellow light coming from the left, contrast between light and shadow and entire image gone a bit flat. Of course, that is caused by processing. Anyway with the second image we have everything. Nice light, shadow, contrast, dimension, depth, separation, color. I just love the shadows in left bottom corner of the image. What I’d love to have is a person in the photo sitting on a chair looking away from my camera. It would add a bit more magic to the image. But I couldn’t expect someone to be out there sitting in a restaurant at 6 AM.

Hey guys, I’m back with another blog post. This time I was out shooting star trails. I’ll try to cover all stuff you need for this type of shoots, write down some of my experience and maybe even post a video. So let’s go.

Equipement

First of all you need a camera with BULB function. This will enable you to keep a shutter opened as long as needed, even more than 30 seconds. Im sure all Canon and Nikon DSLRs have this function, if you’re shooting Olympus, Sony or anything else, just check out your manual if you aren’t sure. Next piece you’ll need is a cable release with shutter button lock. It will minimalize camera shake from pressing the button and thanks to shutter lock you don’t have to be holding the actual button for 10 minutes or even more. And the last part of equipement is a good tripod. These three things are essencial.

The Rule of 600

This is quite general rule in night photography. What does it mean/do? To get star trails, your shutter need to be opened for some time. And that time you’ll get by dividing number 600 by your focal length. And the result is in seconds. If you keep your shutter speed longer than the result, you will have trails in your shot. Of course, longer shutter stays opened, better results will be. This rule isn’t any dogma or carved in stone, just a helpful tip 😉

Shooting

Not much to say about this part. You need dark enviroment so getting this type of shot is almost impossible in city because light polution. Get out into country, find some great spot and wait for dark. BRING A FLASHLIGHT! It will keep you company 🙂 How long should your shutter stay opened? You have to test that out. Every place is different. Shoot in BULB mode, set your aperture as you need to and fire some test shots. Be sure to have your batteries fully charged up, these photos sucks them dry very quickly. With time you can take photos in matter of seconds but even minutes and more. Just watch the temperature. In hot climate sensor will heat up faster and might get damaged with very long exposures. Shooting in colder conditions is better because you’ll be able to get away with longer exposures.

Post processing

These types of photos need some post processing. First of all, shoot in RAW mode, it will give you most data to work with. First I was trying to double process an image, once for sky and once for foreground. Wasn’t a bad idea but blending those two together gave me a headache. And the result wasn’t as good as I wanted. Then I tried just Lightroom, used exposure, fill light and blacks to get great looking image. Corrected a bit white balance and gave few finishing touches. And here is the final result.

Spin, Baby, Spin!

In one word – a lot! Well that’s two words, but who cares … Anyway, lets start at the beginning. You take a picture. Sometimes there are things you can’t do inside a camera or it will take a lot of time to repair it in camera. It can take few seconds to repair it in Lightroom or Photoshop. I’m not saying you should just take a picture and than try to make a miracle inside these programs. You have to decide if it’s worth the extra work. For example, when shooting in studio you get a little tiny bit of blown out highlights on her teeth. Yes, you can play again with lighting and tweek it to perfecion. But if the problem isn’t huge, you can just pull the recovery slider in Lightroom and have the same result in less than 2 seconds!

But there are some things you can’t do in camera and this is the place when post-processing comes in hand. Let’s take for example this shot.

Original Tram Generation

As you can see the shot isn’t good at all. I wanted to catch how old railtrams end up and in the background for contrast there is a new type cruising Prague. But the shot? Well …. to be honest I didn’t like it when I first took a look on it. But afterwards I got an idea. I combined Lightroom, Nik Color Efex Pro and Photoshop to get the best possible result. Boosted up contrast in highlights, midtones and shadows with some layers and curves is a deadly combination and I love this shot!

A Tram Generation

A Tram Generation

A lot of professional and amateur photographers use Lightroom or at least Camera Raw. You can do a ton of stuff in this “same” programs. Lightroom is Camera Raw on steroids thanks to modules. Let’s talk a bit about the Develop module.

There are 8 panels you can work with and few weeks ago I was using just basic, tone curve, HSL, sharpenning, effects and camera calibration panels. Now I’m also trying to use the split toning. It looks cool when you can apply some great toning to the picture and change the mood and other stuff. For me it isn’t easy to get it working.

First of all, you don’t see how hue will change the image. You can use that color picker. With just one click it will give you hue and saturation. Not bad but what if you aren’t sure? Than you can do it the way I do. Hold down ALT or Option key and drag the HUE slider. You’ll see the effect with saturation set to 100%. When you’ll like the hue, just set the correct amount of saturation and you’re done.

Final step is just to find the right balance between highlights and shadows. And of course, you’ll get better by using this effect even more and more.

Silent Observer

Silent Observer

Hey everybody, some time ago Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski posted reasons why photographers should use and are using Lightroom. Check them out here, they are really awesome!

 

Forbidden Area (click to enlarge)

I don’t know why, but now I shoot a lot more HDR. Maybe it is because I can use better tools like LR3, PS CS5 or Photomatix 4, maybe just because it is cool. Two days ago I was on a walk with my friend Clara and we were passing throught graveyard. Yes, I know it is a weird place to go, but we wanted to know how we will end up 😉 But anyway, right at the entrance was this cool scene so I started thinking about it. Of course I made some portraits of her but she was so embaraced and asked me not to show them to anybody … don’t know why, because she’s one great looking sexy girl! 😀

I knew I had to shoot in HDR, because there were big differences between light levels. So I set my camera to AEB +/- 2. Now I needed to find that cool angle and feel for the image and it did take just a second. I realized I can shoot the “forbidden area” style. One element in foreground is in focus and is restrictive, the rest behind it is out of focus. The shot itself wasn’t bad. But I had to make it even better somehow. I felt it’s potential, just to process it the right way and I could get away with awesome photo. I’ve decided to go with Orton Effect. And of course, some other adjustments in Photoshop and Lightroom, as always. The final image is on the left of the post, click on it for better view, it will forward you to the photo on my Flickr account.

Here is the video about Orton Effect.

After some time I finally got away from work and games, took my camera to Prague and went for a walk with my friend, Clara. We were walking, talking and I was scouting some cool locations for portraits and landscapes. We started at Ujezd, bellow Petrin Hill and walket towards to Strahov’s Monastery and back down. And on our way down I spotted some really cool places for HDR, mostly with houses. It was quite cold outside so I didn’t spent much time, that 1.5 hour walk was long enought.

Old house in Prague (HDR)

But back to photography. I took a good look on one old house and on his walls were these old dried-up sprouts. The overall image looked fine so I took the shots. Afterward it was processed in Photomatix and final touch was made in Lightroom. I really like those square and rectangular shapes in contrast with the broken wall. I also included a person into the shot and it made even more impact on the photo, I really don’t know which I like better but I think for my level of photography they are both very fine.

Old House in Prague with Better Impact

 

OK, so after some time processing in Lightroom and Photoshop and few episodes of Gilmore Girls I finally finished the first favorite portrait. In this post I’ll tell you all the settings I used in the camera and lighting. Of course I’ll show you a small drawing with light to know where it was, in what position was model and where I was shooting from.

 

Portrait Setup

Here you can see the basic setup. I bought for this event a 32″ shoot-thru umbrella. Why that small size umbrella? Well to be honest I with this type of umbrella you can get it very close to your subject and my 430 EX II isn’t powerfull enought to light the whole umbrella, it has a bit problems even with my 32″. Yeah and BTW, this umbrella is made by Lastolite, I wanted some quality product. Flash was setuped manually at 1/8 power and this all was mounted on my second tripod, the Hama Star 62.

I was shooting with my Canon 28-70. Great lens for portraits because you can get wide shot and than zoom in for head shot. My favorite 70-200 lens had not been used so much as I wanted to but 28-70 is also great lens, a bit old but very, very sharp. My 450D was setuped at ISO 200, 1/200s and f/5.6. Lens was zoomed in @53mm. Here is the final shot, hope you like it!

 

Portrait

 

The Infinite Road Uncorrected

Hi to all. During my exam period at the university I didn’t pass throught one exam and I’m waiting for second term. This term is planned on February 1st and my last exam was taken on January 17th. So this whole time I’m at home having nothing to do, because most of my friends are in Prague or spread around whole republic and, Slovakia, Russia, USA, UK, Austria, Australia and more countries around the world. So the only way how to keep in touch with them is using Social Network. Also because the bad weather I didn’t go out and make some pictures but today everything changed! 🙂

HDR from the Walk, Unprocessed

The temperature was quite good, about 0°C (32°F), no rain, no snow but just the sky wasn’t anything interesting. To be honest the sky was just one huge plane of grey color mixed sometimes with darker and lighter grey. And I wanted to go out in these conditions and shoot landscapes? Yes, not nature but landscapes!? I really had to be crazy ….

But really, the tip for today, and not just for today is simple. If the sky doesn’t look good, don’t put it into the scene. It is simple and effective. At least you won’t have that boring plane of grey color on the top of your images. Also sometimes this can help and you can use it to your advantage. With this plane made by clouds you get a free extra super large softbox and that is cool for portraits. This can be the plan B when weather isn’t so great outside.

In the begining of the post I put two images, both weren’t finished. The Infinite Road isn’t bad at all, but the white balance is absolutely somewhere else than it should be and with the HDR you can see a really bad blue tint. Here are the final images. For the road I used only Lightroom 3 to process it, for the HDR I had to jump into Photoshop, set black, white and grey point using curves and than I used a plug-in. The secret ingredience … Nik Software Color Efex and it’s Brillance/Warmth preset. Hope you’ll enjoy them.

The Infinite Road Processed

HDR from the Walk Processed