Posts Tagged ‘photoshop’

I made another video because it is simpler to show than to try to describe.

A Tip for Starting HDR Photographers from Jan Jílek on Vimeo.

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

There are many styles of photoraphy and many types of it. I mostly like to shoot people, landscapes, nature and for last few months also HDR. But what software is best for processing HDR images? Photomatix? Photoshop? Nik HDR Efex Pro?

First of all I started with Photomatix 3. The results weren’t bad, but it was very noisy and when I didn’t use a tripod and needed to reduce ghosting, there wasn’t this option. But the look wasn’t so bad.

Than Photoshop CS5 came out with it’s HDR Pro and the world was happy. Cool ghost reduction based on image you’ll choose and a lot of options for processing. Quite cool but I didn’t like the look of it as much as from Photomatix.

Moving forward in time Nik Software came up with their HDR Efex Pro. Unfortunately for me, they changed something with graphic stuff etc. and the user interface didn’t render for me. Software was working but it wasn’t useable. I submitted a question on their tech support and the answer was to update my graphic card driver and Windows. Last driver for my ATI Radeon is from 2007 so no update was possible.

Last week on the Grid I submitted a comment via Twitter and a guy from Nik Software answered and gave me a tip to ask for “Safe Mode”. And so I did. Next day I had an e-mail from Nik with the solution. Tried it and now it works perfectly! I’m really looking forward to test it out and compare with Photomatix. Especially look and noise, results will be of course posted on my blog and Flickr 😉

Once again, THANK YOU PEOPLE AT NIK SOFTWARE! 🙂

Some time ago I posted an article about Orton Effect. Now I want to show you a result. In the video included with the post it was used on objects not people. That doesn’t mean you cannot use it that way. Just give it a try and you can make some great portraits. Be aware, it will move a bit to the dream side so you have to decrease the power of effect or deal with it somehow else. Anyway, here is the final image.

Am I Awake or Having Nightmare?

Am I Awake or Having Nightmare?

In HDR photography we are taking multiple exposures of the same scene. So the best possible situation is shooting some architecture or landscape w/o any people, animals or wind involved. By putting camera on good sturdy tripod we minimize it’s movement and by using AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) camera takes the images. Pretty simple, but this doesn’t work too much in real world.

In real world you can put your camera on tripod and set AEB. That is great and easy way how to get started. But now in Prague I don’t have my Manfrotto so I have to shoot hand-held. And believe me, with my 70-200 f/4 NON IS it is quite hard to keep it perfect steady. To get sharp shots I use higher ISO. But the worst problem is movement. People moving in the photo. When there is just one person, you can play with it, process multiple photos and than use layers to hide the moving person.

But what if you are in a square? Or even better, what if you are on crowdy Venceslav’s square? This is the time I let software itself to remove ghosting. In Photoshop CS5 you can choose one sample image and the ghosting will be removed acording that image. But I didn’t get so nice results from Photoshop as I did with Photomatix. So I tested out version 4 with reduced ghosting and it is blast!

Believe me, if you want noise in your photos, shoot with a Canon camera that has DIG!C III processor and than use Photomatix. You have to apply a lot of noise reduction to the image and as a result you get a less sharp image. You just have to find that sweet spot. To reduce ghosting check “Reduce Ghosting Artifacts” and I usually use High setting. That’s all folks! Here is a final image w/o movement. This time I put it in big dimensions, click on it to see in bigger size and check the fine work of Photomatix.

HDR of Venceslav's Square

 

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

It seems HDR photography is very popular here so here is another post about it. Well maybe some kind a tip or something like it 😉

When you take HDR photos, you might not like to process them asap. Why? I’m not telling that you shouldn’t or musn’t, but till the time you will actually process it you might get over some new cool stuff about HDR photography and it’s processing. Just like me.

I took the shot in 2008 and processed today, January 22nd 2010 so about year and half later. And what did I get from it? A really nice picture that I like. And that is the point. I didn’t know how to process it, I just knew it involved some piece of software, in my case Photomatix and than a lot of post processing. But to be honest I thought that the entire painterly effect will be made in Photoshop afterwards, but that is not true. If I processed that photo before and DELETED the original files, because I didn’t like the result, I wouldn’t be able to get this cool looking image I got today.

For this image I used a lot of Luminosity slider and I got this almost final image. Just the tree looked a bit bright I darkened it and took care of halos. Here is the final result.

 

HDR Brass's Pond