RGB Image Masters News

Compositing Frizzy & Fuzzy Hair

Groan…You want to change the background but your subject has really fuzzy hair?  Well groan no more as I've finally found a video that is straight forward and mostly mumble jumble free, although some basic understanding of Photoshop is helpful.  Two techniques are used, one for those who haven't upgraded to at least CS5 and the other for those with CS5, CS6 or CC.  The video will take you through the process in about 17 minutes and you can even download a copy of the image file being used.  I watched it twice, using the sample file, it worked and it took the mystery out of making this kind of extraction.  Give it a try, have some fun!

Long Ex Night - Behind The Scenes

Over 20 photographers got together last night for our first informal street shoot.  We kept our promise to keep it relaxed, fun, unorganized and pretty much unstructured and it seemed to work.  Matter of fact, already starting to see some images being posted and the quality of those shots would seem to confirm that the night was working well at all levels.

We'll have another blog post up this weekend featuring some of those images but for now I wanted to give you a sense of the evening and the fun everyone was having by posting a few behind the scenes shots...you know...the ones of the shooters shooting.  I think you'll see by the smiles that we'll have to do this again sometime.  

And for the record, all of the images you are about to see were taken before we made it to the Noble Pig.  Which by the way, turned out to be an excellent way to finish off the evening!  We had the long table with the canoe hanging above us and I think if we're ever going to attach a name to this group, it should be be.....The Canoe Club.




What Does National Geo Want From A Photographer

You may be expecting a lengthy check list full of do this and don't do that but National Geo photo editor Susan Welchman gives you some concise advice on what she’s looking for from her photographers.

Long Exposure - Urban Streets In The Night

This coming Thursday evening (Feb 27th), we'll be hitting the streets to try our hand at Urban Style Long Exposure and a few people have been asking about what gear to bring and were looking for some basic ideas on exposure.  So I thought I'd hit the streets this weekend, try out a few ideas, check out what gear is needed and see if I can come up with some suggestions on where to begin. 

On the gear side of things, it's pretty basic.  A camera capable of shooting in manual mode.  Sturdy tripod.  And a flashlight or two.  It would be great if you had a shutter release cable but everything we're likely going to try won't go over 30 seconds exposure time, so the cable release isn't mandatory.  Ditto for ND filters...handy to have but not a requirement for this night.  And finally, don't forget the warm clothing part either.

So how can a long exposure make your night on the street image look interesting and unique?  What I found is that it pretty much comes down to exposure time.  Want a deserted street look as the backdrop for your Night of the Dead epic film?  Go long, really, really long.  We're talking minutes here (5 to 10 minutes) as the longer you make it the more movement will be eliminated.  Cars and people will vanish.  But if you want to use vehicle lights as streaks of colour to show movement, then shorten up that exposure to something like 10 or 15 seconds. 

I know, I know, seems strange to say 15 seconds is a short exposure but here's an example of a 15 second exposure in front of the Plaza. This was shot at f/13 with ISO at 100, using a 14-24mm 2.8 lens set at 15mm.  I used the camera's meter to get a sense of where I wanted things set but shot in manual mode with manual focus.  Shooting in manual mode allowed me to quickly experiment with my settings and keeping the focus in manual insured that passing cars didn't keep altering my focus.  The exposure was long enough to capture a lot of street detail while still managing to turn those headlights into white streaks.

But those headlights were bugging me a bit.  I thought they were too much and that a few more tail and break lights would add some colour and provide a better mix.  So I tried again but since most of the traffic was coming towards me, I simply turned the camera around and went for a shot with the cars leaving.  Here's what I ended up with.

Same setup as the last image (15 sec, f/13, 100 ISO, 15mm focal length) but now there's a better colour mix, not to mention an arrest happening just out of frame.  One thing I was starting to learn though was that above everything else, focus is absolutely crucial. Movement should be blurry but everything else has to be as tack sharp as you can make it.  Best way to do this is to use your live view, magnify it a notch or two and then focus using that live view screen. 

But long exposure doesn't just have to be moving vehicles.  You can have a heck of a lot of fun shooting still life that can bring out colours and moods that no daytime traveler sees...well that is until you show them the pictures you've taken.  In this case, I slipped into the alley between Victoria and Seymour.  Knew from walking through there in the daytime that there were a lot of murals and graffiti and was thinking it might be fun to shoot at night.

In the shot below, I went with the same lens and kept my exposure time at 15 seconds, changed my aperture to f/20 and continued to work with an ISO of 100.  But here's where you can start to have some fun.  I had a flashlight with me and during the exposure I shone the flashlight beam on each face in the mural for a few seconds apiece and then ran it along the barbwire on the roof to the left.

In this last one (below) I wanted to see what would happen if I simply used the available light in the alley.  Again, same lens, ISO 100, aperture f/20 but I upped the exposure time to 30 seconds.

Back at the beginning of this blog I mentioned cable releases and how they're pretty much necessary if you go over 30 seconds as most cameras switch to "bulb" after that.  The other thing they are really good at doing is eliminating vibration when you fire off your shutter.  You'll know vibration is an issue if despite every effort to nail that focus, your images are still a bit blurry.  

On this weekend's shoot I went without a cable release and stayed under 30 seconds as I felt there was no sense spending anymore money until I found out if I liked this long exposure stuff.  So my poor man's cable release was a simple switch on my camera setup.  I set my camera to timer and selected a 2 second delay hoping that brief delay would eliminate any vibration from my finger as it pushed the shutter release.  For added anti-vibration safety you can also use mirror lockup if you like.  For these images I didn't and everything on my budget setup seemed to work.

So what's the verdict on long exposure?  I like it and enjoyed having a chance to start experimenting with this type of photography.  As a personal preference, I'm probably leaning more towards the alley type shots as I love the light and shadow combinations and can see that with a bit of practice, I could start to get images I like.  The people I met in the alleys were not scary.  Different yes but scary no.  This is kind of their territory and if you show them and their place some respect, all seems to work.  That being said the streets are not always safe and for the uninitiated, traveling alone can be a little nerve wracking, so going out with some friends is the recommended way.

Finally, keep in mind that this blog is simply intended to give you a place to start.  That initial setting that gets you going because if I learned anything this weekend, it's that there are not a lot of rules for long exposure.  It seems to be a type of shooting that opens up so many creative doors, giving you a chance to make some images that you may never have tried or seen before.  And if you are coming out this Thursday, it's a great opportunity to hang out with some other photographers who are as intrigued with as you are.

How To Use Collections in Lightroom 4

Using Collections in LightRoom 4 to organize my files has always been a bit of a stumbling block for me.  In fact, the whole Library/Collections concept has been a bit of a mystery and not understanding how it works has actually kept me from diving into Lightroom.  Like many, I was nervous about what LR4 did to or with my files and so I stuck with the old system of Bridge to Photoshop.  But not anymore!

I mean, apart from the now obvious benefits of sorting, storing and retrieving files quickly, I had no idea you could use Collections to build your photo book or even create your web gallery…quickly, easily and even painlessly.

So what was the turning point?  It was this simple (free) 20 minute video produced by Adobe TV.  Host Terry White has away of explaining and demonstrating that is jargon free, low tech, low key and easy to follow.  Good, basic, useful information presented in such away that by the end of the video you don't even realize you've been watching and learning for the last 20 minutes.

We should never stop learning and I hope this video contributes to your continued growth as a photographer.  Your ideas, comments and shared experiences are always welcomed and if you have a friend who might enjoy watching this video, please feel free to share it with them.

Having Some Fun With Photoshop

It's called the Dispersion Effect and if you want to try something different with your images, give this one a go.

I selected this training video by Eric Schaap as there's no voice over…just text added to the video demonstration that describes what to do next and that made it super easy to follow.  Stop - try - start again - retry.  I'd simply stop the video when the text appeared, read the instructions and give that part a try.  

It's a really cool technique, doesn't take a whole bunch of Photoshop knowledge (thanks to the text idea) and the results can be spectacular.  Think of an image that would make your FaceBook page pop.  Or use it as the cover page to a portfolio.  Or?  Definitely all kinds of possibilities and it will really draw attention to your images!

And speaking of Facebook, when you've tried this on one of your images, post it on our FB page http://tinyurl.com/n8xdoua and we'll show it to our audience….Our weekly views have been as high as 20,000 and average in the 13,000 range, so a few people will see your work.  But mostly just have some fun with this!  And by the way, Eric isn't selling anything, so just enjoy and learn.


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