Month: March 2012

Lightroom 4 = First Impressions

With the release of Lightroom 4 yesterday, I figured I would share my two cents on the latest offering from Adobe for photographers…

I upgraded my copy today (from version 3.6) and it couldn’t have gone smoother. With previous updates, I found myself having to reload my presets, watermarks and any other “custom” settings I had with previous versions. This upgrade was up and running in about 10 minutes (even with a catalog conversion that contained over 60,000 images) with only one minor issue… My ICC printer profiles didn’t get ported over in the conversion for some reason…

Granted, I’ve only been playing with it for a couple of hours, but I think can safely say that the upgrades are not only plentiful, but amazingly intuitive. And I don’t take well to change! The “re-jigging” of some of the sliders actually came very naturally to me. Apparently it was what I always wanted, without knowing that I wanted it. The biggest improvement that most people will see, however, is the value. Adobe has cut the price in half for a full version of Lr4, which is insane for this caliber of software.

Here are some of the key improvements/highlights, IMHO:

  • Way better control of Shadow/Highlight detail
  • Better Chromatic Aberration reduction/removal (including purple fringing!)
  • You can now control colour/temp and much more with the adjustment brush tool
  • Soft Proofing option that allows you to identify and correct for out of gamut colours prior to printing
  • The new “Book” module surpassed my expectations, with an amazing amount of control for page to page designs, but there is a downside. (see below)
  • The “Map” module is very robust, with a direct connection to google maps for geotagging after the fact (if your camera does not embed it on capture)
  • The print module now has a “Print Adjustment” option to brighten/darken and/or add/remove contrast on output (for those of you who print via Lr, you will love this)
  • Video clip editing allows you to apply quite a bit of adjustment to your movies, but has limitations (again, see below)

Negatives:

  • It seems to be quite a bit slower than version 3, but I haven’t refined any settings yet, so that may (hopefully) change
  • Develop Presets created for/by previous versions do not render the same effect because of the new 2012 process (a small price to pay, if you ask me)
  • Video editing is limited to single clips with no merging/stitching options to assemble complete movies (some would argue that this isn’t such a bad thing)
  • Books can only be published through “Blurb” (or to a .pdf file), although Adobe has said they did their due diligence in choosing them as their provider.

All in all, very minor complaints for all the improvements that Adobe served up. Kudos!

Questions? Comments? Share them below…

Sucker for Simplicity

I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for simple, uncluttered images. I’m also drawn to the idea of conveying emotion in a picture. However, you don’t necessarily need a person (or an object, for that matter) in your image to convey emotion. Colours, lines, textures, shapes, patterns, etc. can all work together, or individually, to get a certain feeling across to the viewer. So the next time you are out taking pictures, try to simplify by choosing compositions that are made up entirely of one or more of the elements above.

By eliminating a distinct point of interest in the photo below, the image can portray a feeling of isolation, desolation or, to some people, perhaps serenity or calm.  The idea of art is to evoke different feelings from different people and keeping it simple leaves your photos open to interpretation.

Colour, texture and lines all combine here to make this simple composition more interesting.

Always be prepared!

Last night we went to a wine and food tasting/pairing at Deer Creek (a local country club), put on by the local wine shop where I make my wine. As is common with most events we attend, I brought my camera, just to take pictures of the food and general snapshots for my own uses. Well, it turns out that the photographer/videographer for the event broke his leg earlier that day, so they didn’t have anyone dedicated to capturing the event. Enter, Moi! I constantly complain that I always take too much gear with me for fear of not having something I need/want, so last night I made a conscious effort to “pack light.” I only brought my camera, a 16-50mm f2.8, a 30mm f1.4 and a flash. It was all I needed in a pinch and it simply reassured me that less is often more when packing gear. And trust me, my back is VERY happy about this revelation.

The owner of the shop and the marketing team that put on the event were very grateful for my last minute substitution and it could very well lead to more work… Not to mention a few selections from the owner’s private cellar.

Always get set-up shots when shooting events. Remember, your telling a story with your images.

Lamb Lollipop

Chocolate Mint Cheesecake Lollipop

 

The Owner, Trainer, Caterers and Marketing Team

*Clink*

Show some Motion – Redux

Following in the footsteps of my previous post, here is a more advanced way of showing motion in your pictures. Instead of staying still and letting the motion pass in front of your lens, pan along with a moving subject to keep it sharp, while blurring out the stationary surroundings.

This takes some practice and a degree in patience (from an accredited institution ;)). But don’t give up on it (unless you are on the verge of destroying your equipment) because the results can really wow people.

By panning along with the train and using a slow shutter speed, I was able to keep the moving train sharp while blurring the foreground with the movement of my camera.

Recipe for this shot:

  • Shutter Priority mode (S or Tv)
  • Dial in a shutter speed of 1/15 of a second to start, then adjust to taste
  • Use a low (100-400) ISO value
  • Set your autofocus to Continuous (or AI Servo for you Canon shooters)

Execution:

  • Handhold your camera and start tracking along with the moving subject well ahead of where you will actually be taking the picture (the apex).
  • Press the shutter button halfway down to initiate focus.
  • Twist/pivot at the hips while tracking along with the moving subject.
  • When the moving subject is almost directly in front of you, press the shutter button the rest of the way down, but keep panning, follow through with with shot. If you stop abruptly, your subject will likely end up blurry.

A great way to practice this technique is to take pictures of cars passing by on the street.

Comments or suggestions about this post? Feel free to post them below.

Show some Motion!

One thing that new(er) photographers think is out of reach for them is taking pictures of moving subjects. What they don’t realize is that the end result doesn’t necessarily have to be totally sharp or in focus. Playing around with slower shutter speeds not only teaches you how your camera works, but it can create some of the most exciting and interesting results for novices.

Take the example below. To show motion like this, it is simply a matter of choosing a slower shutter speed (recipe after the pic)…

Show some motion!

To add interest/contrast to this pic, I placed the tree in the foreground so I would have something sharp in my frame to offset the blurriness of the moving train.

Recipe for this shot:

  • Shutter Priority mode (S or Tv)
  • Dial in a shutter speed of 1/8 of a second or slower
  • Use a low (100-400) ISO value to retain detail
  • Stabilize your camera (a tripod is preferred, but anything that will prevent camera movement can be used)
  • Turn on your camera’s 2 second timer to avoid unintended camera movement when you press the shutter button down

Get out and try this, it’s easy and fun. It doesn’t have to be dark out, but try to avoid experimenting with this in bright sunlight, as it can result in overexposed images.

Feel free to leave some feedback below if you try this…

Bounce Beware

Just a quick tip today (maybe if I did more of these I would post more regularly)…

If you are using an external flash and bouncing that flash off a ceiling, wall, etc. for diffusion (which you should be), be aware of the colour of the surface you are bouncing off of, as the light from the flash will take on that colour in your photo.

Cupcake with Flash bounced off white ceiling

Cupcake with Flash bounced off white ceiling

Cupcake with Flash bounced off Beige/Yellow wall

Cupcake with Flash bounced off Beige/Yellow wall