Author Archive

Tip: Save Time in Lightroom With Keyboard Shortcuts

July 11th, 2012 No comments

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is designed by photographers for photographers with the specific goal of making photo editing faster. One way to make working in Lightroom even more fast is by using keyboard shortcuts. Below are some examples:

Show/Hide All Panels: If you use Lightroom on a laptop or have a small monitor sometimes the image previews can be a bit small. Hiding the panels above and the side gives you more room to quickly see a larger preview of the image and then switching back to make further adjustments.

Show/Hide All Panels:
[Shift + Tab]

lightroomSwitch Between Library and Develop Modules: I like to view multiple images at a time in the Library module when I am rating pictures to narrow down which will be the “final” ones to give to a client. When I’m going through them I also tend to test different editing techniques to while I go through them so I’m often switching between the the Library and Develop modules.

Switch to Library Module:
Win: [Ctrl + Alt + 1]
Mac: [Command + Option + 1]

Switch to Develop Module:
Win: [Ctrl + Alt + 1]
Mac: [Command + Option + 1]

Flag or Rate Image and Move to Next: If you’ve taken a lot of photos and need to narrow them down to a few you may use the Flag option or give images 1-5 stars to do so. If you press 2 Lightroom will rate an image two stars and then you usually hit the right arrow to go to the next one. If while you’re doing this you hold down the Shift key Lightroom will rate the current image and then automatically take you to the next image, cutting your keystrokes in half!

Flag Image and Go to Next:
[Shift + P]

Set Star Rating and Go to Next
[Shift + 1-5]

These are just some of the keyboard shortcuts available to you. For a full list go to this link:

If you’d like to learn more about improving your photos with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom sign up for one of our classes!

Written by Trevor Warren

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Tip: Night Photography

July 4th, 2012 No comments

Watching fireworks at the beachBefore you start shooting night photos, there are the three important things to remember:

  • Disable your flash
  • Use your tripod
  • Use your self-timer

By disabling your flash, you can capture rich color detail and motion will show as a blur. Because you are not using flash, you will be using extremely slow shutter speeds making using a tripod a must. With night photography it is easy to create unwanted camera movement when pressing the shutter button. Prevent this by using your self-timer.

In night photography, you want as much light as possible striking the sensor. Use a wide-open aperture, such as f4, to let in the maximum amount of light and an extremely slow shutter speed anywhere from 2 to 10 seconds depending on how much light is available. If your DSLR has a night-synch mode, try using it. Otherwise, use manual mode. Choose an ISO of 100 or 200. Too high of an ISO coupled with long exposures creates grain and noise.

Optional Assignment: 

Find a brightly lit night scene. A ferris wheel at a county or state fair makes an excellent subject. With your camera mounted on a tripod and your DSLR set at the above settings, practice shooting night scenes from various angles and shutter speeds. Be sure to bring a small flashlight so that you can see your camera controls.

Written by Ron Kness

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Tip: Silencing Your Camera

June 27th, 2012 No comments

camera_beepsThere are many situations photographers may find themselves where photographs are welcome but the sounds cameras make are not.

For example if you’re a wedding photographer or any event where you’re among an audience. Many people aren’t aware that those beeps can be turned off completely in virtually all cameras.

You will have to consult your cameras manual for specific instructions but it should take only a few minutes and it will make you a much better citizen of photography if you do!

Written by Trevor Warren

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Tip: Understanding the Histogram

June 20th, 2012 No comments

Many of today’s DSLR cameras contain a little-used feature called a histogram. It sounds somewhat forbidding, but it is a great tool to check the exposure of your images.

The histogram is a graph showing you how color is distributed in your image. On the left side of the graph are the dark areas of your image – on the right side are the light areas.

In a properly exposed image, the slopes coming down from the peaks both on the left and right side of the graph drop off and hit the horizontal line in the lower left and right corners of the graph.

In an improperly exposed image, you will see one of two graphs. Either:

  • The slopes cut off on the sides.
  • The slopes hitting the horizontal line before reaching the sides.

Through trial-and-error, I found if I under-expose my images by 1/3 to 1/2 stop, I get a better exposure (as shown on the histogram) the first time. Once you learn how to use it, you can tell at a glance if your image’s exposure is correct or over/under exposed.

Optional Assignment:

  1. Find an extremely white scene a white-washed wall works great.
  2. Meter and shoot an image.
  3. Turn on your DSLR histogram feature and view the image.
  4. Now adjust the graph by using your exposure compensation feature.
  5. Add a stop of light and shoot another image.
  6. Remove two stops of light and shoot another image.
  7. Now, by using the graph information on the histogram, review each image and watch how the slope lines change in each graph.

Written by Ron Kness

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Tip: Better Baseball Photography

June 13th, 2012 No comments

177/365(2011)With summer here, now is the time to brush up on your baseball photography skills. As you prepare to capture baseball images, keep these five bullets in mind:

  • Get close to the action.
  • If you consistently see action happening in one spot, focus on that spot and wait for the action to happen again and then capture it.
  • Shoot action sequences as it increases your chances of getting good pictures and tells a story.
  • Shoot faces as they will make your sports photos.
  • Shoot at a high ISO such as 400, 800 or even ISO 1000.
  • Concentrate on Little League, high school or sandlot games as it is easier to get close to the action.

Position yourself close to either first or third base. Focus on the batter and anticipate the action. While photographing the batter, zoom in on some head shots and focus on the eyes. Some of your best facial expression shots will be just as the batter hits the ball.

Another great shot is the runner sliding into home plate. Since we know what is happening during this action, it is not necessary to show the ball.

For this assignment, find a local baseball game. Position yourself behind and close to either first or third base, depending on from which side the batters hit. With your DSLR set at the settings above, capture images of batters hitting the ball. Try to capture a batter just as the bat connects with the ball. This is not as easy as it sounds.

By Ron Kness

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Tip: Using Daytime Fill Flash

June 7th, 2012 No comments

dream...Many photographers don’t think about using their flash for daylight pictures. When photographing someone:

• Wearing a cap
• In the shade

Make sure your flash is turned to the "on" position – the position where the flash will fire each time you press the shutter button. This will "pop" some light onto your subject’s face and eliminate the dark shadows.

Optional Assignment:

1) Position someone wearing a cap in full overhead sunlight.
2) Take two pictures – one without using your flash and one with the flash on.

Have fun!

Written by Ron Kness

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Tip: How to Deal With Distracting Backgrounds

May 30th, 2012 1 comment

DSC03584 (by MereGradle)Sometimes you just can’t get your subject away from being in front of a distracting background. When this happens, here are some tips:

  • Moving yourself left or right
  • Getting yourself to a higher or lower position
  • Using a large aperture (small number) to blur out the background.

Other things to remember are:

  • The viewer’s eyes goes to the object in focus.
  • With a large aperture and focusing on your subject, your subject will be in focus and the background blurred.

Practice Tips:

Find a subject with a distracting background. Using a small aperture (large number), capture the image. Now, search out a perspective that minimizes the distraction. Once you find a good perspective, select a large aperture (small number) and capture the image. Compare the two images and note the differences in the background. In the first photo, you are distracted from the subject because of the background. In the second photo, with the background blurred and the subject in focus, the background is less distracting as the human eye goes to the object in focus (the subject).

Written by Ron Kness
Image by MerleGradle

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Tip: White Balance Simplified

May 23rd, 2012 1 comment

With many photographers, there seems to be a certain mystique surrounding white balance. In reality, it is very simple – match the color of the ambient light to your camera. Most photographers leave their white balance setting set to Auto or AWB and let their camera do the work.

While in most cases this works well, you will run into situations where it gives you an off-color to your pictures. When this happens, select one of the white balance presets to match the light color. When shooting outside, use:

  • Daylight when shooting on a bright sunny day in the direct sun.
  • Cloudy when shooting with solid cloud cover or intermittent clouds
  • Shady when shooting a subject positioned in the shade.

If you notice a bluish cast to your pictures, select either cloudy or shady white balance setting to “warm” up the colors.

Optional Assignment:

  1. To see how white balance changes the color in your pictures, select a subject in the shade.
  2. Now shoot three pictures – one using each of the three outdoor white balance settings.

Note the color differences in the color. The one shot using the Daylight setting will have more blue in it. The two photos shot using the Shade and Cloudy setting will have less blue and the colors will be warmer and more natural.

Have fun!

Written by Ron Kness

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Tip: Why Use a Light Meter

May 16th, 2012 No comments

It wasn’t that long ago that a light meter was an indispensible part of any photographers equipment collection. That was back when people used film and if a camera had a built-in light meter at all it was pretty mediocre. Today digital cameras have more capable meters that do a pretty great job of guessing the correct exposure. Between that and taking a few test shots or bracketing, a separate light meter may seem redundant. There are however still some reasons owning a light meter can benefit your photography that we’ll cover below.

They Save Time
I’ve seen people say things like, "it takes as much time to take a test shot as it does to meter." Which is true, but how often do you only take one test shot in a tricky lighting situation? I tend to average between 3-5 test shots. With a light meter you can take one reading and then recompute settings like aperture, shutter speed and ISO until you’ve got the settings you want without taking another reading.

They Are More Accurate
In general anything that’s dedicated to perform one specific task does that task better than something made to do many tasks. In my experience that is certainly the case using my light meter (Sekonic L-358) which gives me more accurate readings than even spot metering with my Nikon D300s. Aside from that anecdotal evidence, handheld meters can do measurements that most if not all DSLR’s can not do:

  • Incidental Metering: Where you you measure the actual light falling on a subject vs. measuring the reflected light like a DSLR does.
  • Flash Metering: If you’re using studio strobes the only to measure the light coming from them is with a handheld meter. If you do not have one you must take multiple test shots to determine your correct exposure.
  • Advanced Measurements: A common situation I use my light meter for is for balancing the light from a studio strobe to prevent shadows. Say I’ve got the light perfect on one side of a persons face but am getting harsh shadows on the other. I can take two measurements from each side of the face and know exactly how much more light I need to fix the shadows on the darker side.
    They Are Separate From Your Camera
    Because a light meter is a separate piece of equipment they’re easy to carry around or give to someone else. A good example of when this could be helpful is if you’re assisting or have someone assisting you at a wedding. One person can stand behind the camera and one can call back light readings.

This is a complicated subject so if you’re confused don’t worry. There are a couple of great web videos produced by Adorama that cover these benefits in more depth:

Of course there’s no substitute for hands on experience, especially when it comes to photography. If you’d like to learn more about lighting sign up for our Lighting Basics class!

Written by Trevor Warren
Photo by Wikipedia

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Tip: Composition Lessons From a Cell Phone Camera

May 8th, 2012 No comments

8a66e710992211e19e4a12313813ffc0_7[1]Ever since I started calling myself a “professional photographer” I’ve found it very difficult to enjoy taking casual snapshots – my serious amateur friends have the same problem. I cringe every time a friend or family member hands me their point-and-shoot camera and then tags me as the photographer on Facebook. The pressure to always maintain a certain level of quality never goes away. When I got an iPhone a couple of months ago I discovered the app Instagram (now also available for Android phones).

Instagram is an app for sharing cell phone pictures that has “filters” you can use to spice up your pictures. Most of which to be honest, are pretty corny looking, but it does have one of the better black & white filters I’ve ever seen on a phone and that’s what got me using it (grainy black & white from a cell phone camera is okay, grainy color not so much).

After a few weeks I noticed that what began as a simple way to give my ego permission to take casual snapshots was actually becoming a useful learning tool. Because everybody knows the photos that show up on Instagram come from cell phones (except a handful of cheaters) I had no concern for technical quality. Because there are virtually no manual controls on a cell phone camera I didn’t even have the option to worry about aperture and shutter speeds. The only thing I really can influence is the composition – something that I think about when using other cameras, but something I’ve always considered to be one of my weaker spots in photography. Seeing how I compose pictures on my phone when there are no other distractions I’ve seen a lot of positive differences in my composition and I’m taking those lessons back to my conventional cameras. Am I ditching my other cameras for a cell phone? Absolutely not. No matter how sophisticated software becomes there’s no substitute for the optics and controls of DSLR’s. I do think it’s good to shoot with more than one camera though because of the challenges and techniques they may force you to learn without you even knowing it!

If you’d like to learn more about composition sign-up for one of our Fundamentals of Photography classes!

Written by Trevor Warren 

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