Priceless

What is the value of priceless? Priceless is exactly that, having no price. Those things that we value beyond the ability to place a price on them. Memories are priceless.

Now you are saying, “Oh boy, here he goes again down the memories trail.” Before you stop reading I want to think for a moment, if you were to lose someone close to you what are you left with? Sure you may have some of their stuff, a sweater they gave you or a picture of them, something that sparks a memory. You will have that, if you’re lucky.

It has been a while since I posted an article and the reason for that is I recently lost my mother and I just couldn’t write. She died very suddenly while still very active, increasingly active actually. There was no warning, no illness, no sign that Mother’s Day would be the last time I would ever see her. She just got up one morning and sat in her favorite chair, leaned back and that was it, gone.

As the old saying goes, “The cobbler’s children have no shoes,” and so it was true with me. The photographer has few images he took of his Mother. In fact my mother hated being in front of the camera and I was rarely able to get an image of her. Since I got my first camera 44 years ago I have less than 25 images I ever took of my mom, and I have hundreds of thousands of images!

I did get lucky in that these aren’t the only images of my mother that I have. As I stated above she was getting increasingly active and she and her friends put together a little dance number called “Lima Grannies Walkers” and this past April I had the chance to capture it on video.

 

When my mother passed away I wanted to put together a slideshow of images of her throughout her life and I thought it would be easy to gather enough images to put it together. Not so much. As I said my mother hated having her picture taken so there were very few images to choose from. I was able to put together a short video slideshow from the few images I had. In the video below only one is one I took of her; the one of my sister, myself and my mother was taken by my wife. It is the first time in my life that I am grateful for cell phone cameras. Watch and see why.

 

So, yes I went down the road of memories again. I will tell you right now that nothing is as valuable to me as the memories of my mom. She was… well, she was my mom. That is what makes all these images Priceless.

 

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Stills As Video

Not much to say on this one, just something to show you. I made this for a client to give a virtual tour of his home. This is an extension of the Estate Legacy Products that I offer on www.estatelegacy.com and I can do this for you and your family too. I also offer leather bound, high end books with both photography and written word to tell the story of your house and home. Contact me and let’s capture the legacy that is yours.

 

Take a look…

 

 

 

HDR Images – Photomatix to Photoshop

 

On my last tutorial I showed you how to generate a good HDR image from Lightroom to Photomatix then to Photoshop. I got a few comments saying “I don’t use the plug-in!” or “I don’t have Lightroom!” Well, Photomatix is a standalone program too. So in this 3 part series of video tutorials I will walk you through the entire process starting in Photomatix and ending in Photoshop CS4.

This tutorial is a little longer than the last one totaling just under 30 minutes for all three parts combined. You may want to sit back and grab a cup of coffee before you start. I don’t think I sound boring, in fact I was surprised how long it took to get through it all because it felt like a lot less than that when I recorded it. Click the image below to watch part 1 then come back and watch the second two parts!

Part 1

Click the link below for parts 2 &3!
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HDR in Photomatix Pro 3.2 (Plugin Version)

 

I was looking for information on Photomatix recently and I found very little helpful information. There were 5 pages of YouTube videos but 90% of them weren’t very helpful. So many of the videos said thing like, “I don’t use this slider/option so just leave it as it is.” Or, “This is how I use the software. I’m not sure what this does.” Unacceptable!

I took it upon myself to give a better overview of the software. I did not get into the batch processing, or any of the other tools that are in the stand alone program. I looked only at the Lightroom Plugin in the overview/tutorial. As it is, I had to do this in three parts. What I do is I take an older set of bracketed images and show you how Photomatix can manipulate the merged HDR image. I then re-import the image back into Lightroom and Photoshop and take the process through to saving the final image.

Below is part one.

Click the link below it to see parts 2 and 3.
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Picking the Trash – 1 Handed Photoshop

 

First let me apologize for the lateness of my post. I spent last week reformatting and reloading my computer. And before anyone says I should use a Mac, A) I don’t like them and B) I chose to do the reformat, it wasn’t a crash. Every once in a while it helps to clean house and take out the garbage. That leads me to this weeks One Handed Photoshop tutorial.

Trash, garbage, crap. What makes an image any of these things? Do you delete or throw out “bad” images? If you do, STOP! If you don’t, its time to take a look at them again. I have always believed that all the images I take have some value, some how. I keep them all. I have over 40,000 on just one hard drive. That doesn’t include the hundreds of CDs and DVDs I have backups on or any of the negatives in that huge filing cabinet behind me.

Click the link to see what you can do with all that trash.
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Hear That Noise? – More 1 Handed Photoshop

 

In this week’s video tutorial I take a look at noise and the different ways to reduce it. In the past, I thought that Photoshop, Camera Raw or Lightroom could clean up noise fairly well, and they can. Severe noise was another story and I thought I was just stuck with it. But then I learned what 3rd party plugins could do.

Talk about a difference! I was able to save images that I thought were lost to the noise. I mean we were talking the image versions of a heavy metal concert. Then I had a shoot where I got nothing but noise all day long. Shot after shot of noise infested images.

Check out the video and what I do about noise by clicking the link.
I broke down in desperation and bought Noiseware from Imagenomic (they also make Portraiture). I got it because I got a discount on it from being a member of NAPP. OMG what a difference! This stuff was astounding. It literally saved my entire day of shooting. From none of the image being usable to all of them being usable!

Then last week I got the most recent copy of Digital Photo Pro and they had a short piece on reducing noise. I thought “Great! I can use noise and maybe some of their tips for my next blog post. Their tips didn’t really work for me. The first step in the tutorial is very similar to what they were suggesting. Watch the video and see how it turned out.

So now you know why I use plugins. Simply put, they work. And if they save me time and effort and they work better, buy them. You will never look back. It’s not important that you buy the same versions I use. Get what works for you and your work flow. These are just what works for me. most have trial versions that you can try out so give them a shot!

Until next time…

Happy Shooting!

Not photography related…

But it is photographer related (well I am in it anyway)! See me on Fox 29 or watch it here:

Happy Shooting!

“True” HDR Portraits (You Know, with Bracketing?)

On my last tutorial I received many comments on how changing the exposure level of a single raw file then creating an HDR image is not a ‘true’ HDR image. So I shot a bracketed self portrait and generated a new tutorial.  This is the image that resulted.

100104-Me_1510hdr

I am not sure how letting the computer in my camera do the bracketing is any less ‘true’ than doing the same thing manually in Lightroom or Photoshop.  But, I come from a purist photography background; as in I shot film, developed film and have lost years of my life in a dark room (go into the darkroom at 7 in the morning and come out and it’s still 7am, on a different day!), and I am actually fond of the smell of fixer.

I will admit that there are many, many photographs out there today that don’t look anywhere close to real. Some are meant to look that way but many more try to pass themselves off as some type of surreal reality.  I want people to know that you can achieve some very true to life images using HDR processing.

This morning I took many self portraits while bracketing 1/3 to a full stop. I shot sets of 3, 5 and 7 frames.  I found that when doing self portraits it is a bit more difficult to sit still than you think it is.  I was using a programmable shutter release (Nikon’s MC-36), my D200, one SB800 with a grid spot, and one SB900 for fill and of course a tripod.

In the tutorial below I start out with the three bracketed images and using Adobe Lightroom2, Photoshop CS4, Photomatix Pro3 and Imagenomic Noiseware Pro and I make what I think is a very true HDR self portrait. I do it all in about 15 minutes too! It’s actually very easy. Check it out! (tutorial should open in a new tab/window)

clickhere

This tutorial won’t fit on YouTube so if you want to share it, feel free but send your friends to this blog post.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and I think this should satisfy all those that wanted a ‘True HDR Portrait’.

Until next time,

Happy Shooting!

What Image Do You Have On The Internet?

If you are unemployed and anywhere near the Philadelphia area it’s time to get your portrait taken. In today’s age of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others, potential employers are finding out more about you before and after your interview than they are when you are actually there for the interview!

I learned a couple of years ago that employers were looking at peoples profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn and I thought it a bit odd. Social Media was supposed to be a personal thing. I guess I was wrong. If you are willing to put it out there, they are willing to take a look at it. So why not put your best out there? There are many ways to look professional, good relevant posts about your specialty, white papers about your line of work, the wonders of your career, all are very important.

If all of that is so important, why do I see profile pictures that are images from a New Years Eve party or where their spouse has been cropped out (but you can still see their hand on your shoulder). If you are going to put yourself on the internet, don’t just make it sound good, make it look good too!

On January 28th you will have a unique opportunity. Philadelphia’s Fox affiliate, Fox 29 and their reporter Michelle Buckman are co-hosting a job fair with JobCircle.com at the Wachovia Center in South Philadelphia. This job fair is special. At “Jobs Gone Wild” you will have the chance to get your resume critiqued, your fashion updated and your professional photo done too! You can get more details about it here www.jobsgonewild.com.

The fashion consultant is Adrienne Simmons of P.S. I Love You (www.psiloveyoullc.com/), a Philly favorite on Fox 29 and Snapglow TV. Resume’ critiques will be done by Right management www.rightmanagement.com. And to make your new look come across as best it can I will be doing free professional portraits for anyone that is unemployed. I am working with Michelle of Fox 29 and Adrienne of P.S. I Love You to try and get a Make-up Artist there for you too. We want you to look your best and get the position you have always wanted. We all want to turn this time of stress into an opportunity of a lifetime!

See Michelle talk about the Jobs Gone Wild on Fox 29’s Good Day Philadelphia:

If opportunity knocks will you be in your sweats and slippers or will you be looking your best?

Until next time, Happy Shooting!

HDR Portraits

By now I am sure you have heard of HDR or High Dynamic Range Photography. Usually the images are done for landscapes or architecture where there is little or no movement from the subject. This is because you need to blend several images, taken at different exposures, together to show the full dynamic range of color. Doing this with portraits has been difficult or impossible because of the (however so slight) movement of a portrait subject. Not anymore.

In the tutorial below I show you how I got to the dramatic image above from an everyday image that is well exposed but is nothing special.

 

With Lightroom 2 and Photomatix Pro and a single image of James I was able to create an HDR photo in just a few minutes. The image isn’t perfect but it’s an example of what you can do in a very short time and a little creative thinking.

To do this tutorial, first find an image that you want to work with. Then make two copies of that image. They need to be the same size, exposure, etc.; exact duplicates. I jump ahead in the video to where I have three copies of the same image. Once you have your three, click the image below to watch the video.

(A new window or tab will open; then  just click the play button)

clickhere

(Best viewed in at least 1024×768 or greater)

Not too tough was it? Do you like the results of your work? If not, go back and play a bit more. Tweak the settings until you get just the HDR portrait you are looking for. Remember, you will get your most dramatic results from portraits of those people that have a lot of drama and character to their looks.

Until next time…

Happy Shooting!