Photography, as you know, is fundamentally the capturing of light; you are not taking pictures of objects as much as you are recording the light that is bouncing off of them. In the early days of photography, the only medium available to capture this light was monochromatic film, commonly known as black and white. In the 1930s, the invention of Kodachrome, the first successfully mass-produced color film, ushered in an age of color to the art form.
Instead of fading away, however, black and white photography remained throughout the birth of color, and even increased in popularity in the following decades, due to its simplicity and ability to display tones more dramatically than color usually can.
My most common critique when looking at digital images is that they look over-processed. It is so easy to do this and such a common mistake, that it is important to understand the main mistakes that photographers make when retouching their images.
Keep in mind that I am not referring to images that purposely are made to look like fairy tales or use creative color for a specific purpose, but I am referring to heavy handed post-processing when it is not necessary.
Good photographs do not make you notice the post-processing first. Good post-processing is subtle, aims to stay out of the way and not become the focal point of the image. But you need to be careful not to overdo it. With a program like Adobe Lightroom, it becomes so easy to move the sliders and increase the contrast and saturation significantly, and before you know it the image does not resemble a photograph anymore.
So here are the most common mistakes that I see when people over-process their images.
**This article is assuming that you shoot in RAW. If you don’t, I highly suggest that you do. Yes, it makes the files larger, but to get the highest quality image and have the most latitude to process your images well, it is necessary to shoot in RAW.
It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s amazing and that moment is upon you now. You went out with a couple for a regular run-of-the-mill engagement shoot and, as you sort through images, you realize that one of them is portfolio-worthy and would fare shockingly well in black and white—and perhaps even better with a vintage film grain.
In this short tutorial, Pye explains how to create that timeless vintage effect in Adobe Lightroom 5 with just a few simple steps. He uses SLR Lounge’s Lightroom Presets V5 to accomplish the deed, but also explains specific image settings and provides additional on-location and workflow advice to consider:
We’ve all heard of “bokeh,” though many of us are still insecure about how to pronounce the word (see the correct pronunciation here). We fawn over great bokeh in our favorite images, drool over lenses that produce beautiful, smooth bokeh, and scorn lenses that produce “bad” bokeh. However, even the best bokeh doesn’t guarantee an image’s success—that largely depends on the photo’s composition and other related technical factors.
Using his trusty Leica M9 Digital Rangefinder camera, Kai breaks down the concept of bokeh in this video and provides advice about how to effectively compose those blurred elements to create stunning photographs:
Photographers don’t have a lot of extra time to edit. As a full-time photographer myself, I rely heavily on any tools that save me time in the editing process. One of the tools I use is Lightroom presets.
Holograms have long been a source of wonderment and amusement for all ages around the globe. Coined in 1949 by scientist Dennis Gabor, the hologram is a three-dimensional image projection created by a photographic technique using diffracted coherent light beams.
Once seemingly only available for the likes of Jedi Knights, the use of 3D projections in our everyday lives is becoming a fast approaching reality. Joey Shanks, of Shanks FX, shows us how to create our very own holographic image (or at least the illusion of one) in the midst of the age of technology:
Although it doesn’t produce ‘real’ holographic results, the Pepper’s ghost technique creates the illusion of a hologram. A subject’s image is reflected onto a glass pane set at a 45 degree angle. Viewers do not see the subject, only the partial reflection of it on the glass, which allows it to appear as a ghost-like figure in another spot. The effect is comparable to seeing a reflection of something in a window on a bright day, and still being able to see into the space beyond the glass.
The optical illusion was developed by inventor Henry Dircks in the late nineteenth century but was later popularized in theatrical production by Sir John Pepper, for whom the illusion is named.
By slightly tweaking the original setup of Pepper’s ghost, we can create astounding holographic-like images at home using a projector, a mirror, and a glass pane. Creating these 3D projections is actually surprisingly easy.
How to Create a Hologram
Set up a projector from above so it faces the floor.
Place a mirror on a 45 degree angle beneath the projector.*
Place a glass screen or other reflective transparent surface a few feet away from the mirror.
The projection image to be used should be set against a dark background. For best results, try a moving image in 3D animation.
When powered up, your projected image will bounce off the mirror onto the glass screen and appear as a ghost-like image.
*For the classic Pepper’s Ghost illusion, place the mirror horizontal to the projector and place the glass at a 45 degree angle.
Enhancing Your Hologram
It’s the added lighting techniques that really help bring a hologram to life. Shanks gives his first tip for improving the look of projections:
“Try to light a background to sell the effect even more. When it’s a dark background you’re just going to have no perspective, no scale.”
You can also add steam or mist to enhance the 3D effect of your projection. Adding a baseplate for your subject to dance, balance or roll on will help take your illusion to the next level.
Photographing Your Hologram
Surely after creating such a cool hologram, you’ll want to snap a few pictures of it. Luckily, the techniques used to try and sell the look of the hologram will also help you to create stunning pictures of it. Lit backgrounds and steam help to create depth and perspective.
Using projection subjects which are lighter in color set on dark backgrounds help to create definition and contrast. Relative to how dark the area you are photographing is, try using a higher ISO and an open aperture with shorter exposures, e.g. 1/125 sec @ f/2.8. Set up on a tripod.
Here’s where your creativity as a photographer comes in; experiment with the lighting. Why not swap the white lights for colored ones, change the intensity or angles, or even change up the mist for smoke?
You may also use the Pepper’s ghost technique at its simplest. Reflect something from above or beside your camera onto a reflective clear sheet placed at a 45 degree angle in front of your camera lens. Small ghostly images will appear in your photographs without any photo manipulation.
That’s all there is to it. Have you tried making or photographing holograms yet?
When you go out to take photos it can be tempting to start shooting right away with the goal of getting the ideal image or capturing the perfect picture. But before you get your camera out, it might be good to take the opposite approach and slow down. Way down. Let’s take a minute to consider some lessons you can learn from the age-old tale of the tortoise and the hare. Ironically, one of the most important things you can do when inspiration strikes is to move slowly like the tortoise, rather than rush along like the hare. The tortoise might not have been the quickest animal in the meadow, but he stuck it out and made it to the finish line while the hare had long since grown weary of the race and gave up altogether. As a photographer, it’s tempting to be a hare and race to photographic perfection, but if you look to the tortoise you see a much better example to follow.
Here are five tips to help you slow down and take better photos:
Remember those days when you looked out your window and wished that the weather was better so you could get out and take some fantastic photographs? Do rainy, windy, stormy days stifle your photographic ambitions? I’ll give you five reasons why bad weather is not all doom and gloom for photographers.
The things that keep most people indoors on bad weather days are the very things that have creative photographers heading for the great outdoors. Grab a rain jacket, brave the elements AND take your camera - these can be the best times for photography to capture something memorable.