Tag: photography

Capture One Pro – Getting the look you want

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Capture One Pro - Start Image - Andy Sears
Start Image – Unprocessed

Getting the look that you want for your images can be time-consuming with large image files and required processing power often dragging software down to a crawl. This was the main reason for the switch to Capture One Pro.

Processing multiple files and exporting images is fast with Capture One Pro, there appears to be no drag on the system and very little in the way of freezes and crashes. Cataloguing is fast and relatively simple (after the initial learning curve which actually isn’t that bad).

With you images captured you set about tweaking, getting the best out of your image. The first step after importing is getting rid of any junk, a quick flick through the images and I can easily see what to keep and what to get rid of, again this is quick with no lag.

For the adjustments, you can manually adjust exposure, clarity, shadows, brightness etc as well as a mass of other delicate settings. Cropping is easy and can be to a set constrained ratios or free. Adjusting colours, the temperature etc again is with a phenomenal amount of settings, some self-explanatory and some take a bit of working out. From the colour adjustment panel, you can also switch to black and white.

You can also add layers, to process local areas of an image using selection brushes and gradients to create masks.

You also have pre-defined styles which with a single click can create the entire look of your image including black and white, retro looks, portraiture and selective colours amongst the offerings. Other style packs are also available to suit various needs, some free and other to purchase.

Once you have your start image, you can process your basic settings and then clone as a variant so not having to start all over again for different looks. The variants can also be viewed side by side

 

Capture One Pro - Multiple image selection

 

As can be seen above multiple image variants can be viewed side by side to see the differences between your processes, with all your available imported files and variants on the right-hand side. The final images can be seen below.

So whether you want to give an image some punch, convert it to black and white or just do some subtle colour correction, it is worth giving Capture One Pro a try with the 30 day free trial.

Download Capture One Pro 10 here

Cosmos in vase - Andy Sears Garden Photography

Capture One Pro - Image Variants

A Domain for your Identity

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While .com, .co.uk domains still remain the most popular domains for businesses around the UK, there are now many more choices available.

A lot of sole traders and small businesses still promote themselves with generic domains such as gmail.com, outlook.com, and while these work well and are easy to setup and use, they do not say much about your business.  What does johnsmith@gmail.com offer? what is his product or serivce?

If we look at  the photography business there are now various domains available that tell your audience more about what you offer, .photography, .click, .photos and more. Taking it a bit further for a more keyword specific domain how about .wedding.

The new domains on offer may also allow you to get a better choice of domain, many times I have been asked to register domains that are actually taken and end up having to use variations but the new domains may give you better options.

So if you are a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker it is an ideal time to review your brand and get a domain name that says more about you.

If your still set on .co.uk and .com domains, do remember to check on those unavailable domains from time to time, they do expire and you never know you may just be able to pick up the domain you have always wanted.

Click here to check for the latest domains and to perform a bulk check on domains available.

Photoshop – Teaching Myself

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While I have been using Adobe Photoshop for many years, it is only recently i see myself delving further into the software. With each new release comes a bundle of improvements and new features. With the advancement in RAW image processing I even find myself revisiting older images maybe even a good few year old and reprocessing them to bring them to life.

Recently I have been using the new ‘Select and Mask’ feature which has been refined and make the process of cut-outs that much more easier. A selection first made with the quick selection tool, which when use carefully makes a pretty good job of selecting a background, or the foreground object you want to isolate.

Once you have made you basic selection, you can use the Select and Mask tool to refine the edges in various ways, using the ‘Edge detection’, ‘Refine Edge Brush Tool’ and much more. once your happy with the selection, you have various options on what to do with it next, add to a new layer, keep as a selection etc.

With nothing in my mind on what I wanted to achieve I open various recent images and started to compile a composite within Photoshop. It was surprisingly easy to cut-out and select items from the various images, and put onto the various layers. The end result is the image below. All they layers excluding the ladybird were converted to black and white. A little touching up was carried out in various parts, i.e. the Seagulls wing going beneath the cotton thread.

Abstract Composite - Photoshop

 

The finished composite does not really mean anything and took around 30 minutes to complete, but did prove a good way to get to grips with various areas of Adobe Photoshop tools.

Places

Places and location photography from visartAs a photographer, I like to get out and about and document the various places that I visit. While I look for different viewpoints, architecture, and oddities at these locations, I also like to capture the local well-known views, and hopefully, give a different perspective to these.

 

Resources

Visart Photo are happy to provide the resources and links below to services, suppliers and products we have used and are happy to endorse. Where available we link to our own page on these services.

Camera King - Low Prices

Ready for Garden Photography

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For 2016 I decided to put more of an effort into growing the plants and flower with photography in mind. Subject matter including Cosmos, Coreopsis,
Pots in GreenhouseOsteospermum and rudbeckia to name a few. Seeds sown and some plug plants ordered and the greenhouse from February full to the brim. The dark winter nights and cold weather took its time to pass but those seedlings and plant carried on growing.

With Spring came the Tulips, Daffodils, Snowdrops and Crocus and it was soon time to venture out in the garden with the camera to start capturing some of that colour, while those small plants in the greenhouse kept on grown.
garden-camBy the end of April things started to look a bit drab again, but the warmer weather hit, that late tulips bloomed and the grass got its first cut of the year and the garden now looks a lot tidier.

Into may those seedlings are now looking healthy and during mid may the first Cosmos start to bud and a few are moved out into the garden and they have survived the few colder nights. The third week of may see the Cosmos starting to flower, small flowers bu  t homegrown small flowers, Marigolds are flowering
Pink Cosmosand the blue of the forget me nots and filling the garden.

For the wildlife, this too is providing subject matter for garden photography, the pond is looking good, fish are healthy, and not bothered by the many birds visiting the waters edge for a drink and a splash, although the visit from a couple of ducks did stir things up a bit. The frogs have been, although the spawn and tadpoles did not fair well in the  cold and ice that came afterwards. Of the three nest boxes one pair of blue tits having taken up home are raising their young. Other bird visitors include Robins, Song Thrushes, Magpies, and Wrens.

Some extra space had been provided for some taller flowers and hopefully in the next few weeks the colour should start to really show, and with the flowers hopefully the butterfly’s, bees and other insects will make more visits to our Hertfordshire garden. Now the weeds are fighting back, the grass growing fast, shrubs and trees are in blossom and summer is almost here and hopefully during the summer months, there will be plenty of  opportunities for garden photography both home grown specimens and fauna visiting the garden.

 

Chopped and Sliced Fruit

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I had seen various images of chopped and sliced fruit and re-assembled in a way to make them look like they were floating in mid-air.

Deciding to give it a go, I first tried with a banana, peeling and slicing, then re-assembling with the aid of cocktail sticks. This had to be done quite quickly as the banana degrades quite quickly. I also set the lighting 1 x softbox and reflector up before attacking the fruit.

With several images captured, it was into Adobe Photoshop to remove the cocktail sticks, using spot healing brush, content aware fills, and clone stamp to tidy up some areas. The tricky part was not the cocktail sticks but the shadows these left behind, which were quite distinctive. The end result is below.

Floating sliced banana

Result was not perfect but better than expected, with the banana peel looking like it is providing the support.

Next up was an orange, I had in my mind what I wanted to do with the peel and an orange segment, due to the softness of the fruit this was a little trickier, you can see below the results and also the amount of cocktail sticks to hold it all in place, again the shadows proved to be the tricky part. A two flash setup, one with brolly and one with softbox. Although the shadows prove troublesome, they are required in the image to give the feeling of levitation.

Holding up a dismantled orange

A few different shots were taken, and the end result is below. (Note the extra bit of orange peel to mask some of the shadows). The drip of orange juice emerging from the bottom of the orange was purely unintentional, but does add to the floating feeling.

Orange A peel

 

Equipment Used: Nikon D5300, Sigma 105mm Macro Lens, two off Neewer Flashguns, brolly, Manfrotto softbox.

Trying Out Helicon Focus

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Focus Stacking with Helicon Focus

I have had a few half hearted attempts at focus stocking using Adobe Photoshop, the results pretty poor. I decided to try out Helicon Softs – Helicon Focus. I purchased the Helicon Focus Lite version for approximately £22.00.

I took some test images and did not use any focusing rail,  instead  I adjusted the focus at small increments, giving me 10 images to play with.
Helicon Focus Screen Shot
After launching the software, it was a simple case of opening up the images, (Helicon Focus lets you open raw files direct). I set view to vertical split view so I could see what was happening during the process. Opting for Method A, I pressed Render and set Helicon doing its stuff.

Purple Lilly - Visart - Helicon Focus Stack

A couple of minutes later and I had my first stacked image, I was not hoping for much but was pleasantly surprised at the quality and depth of the resulting image. The result was not perfect, but considering this was a quick out of the box try out of the software, the image was acceptable, actually more than acceptable.

I had also taken a couple of images, where the focusing on each was not great, but stacking just two images in Helicon actually improved the image, and rescued the focus of the image.

You can export the stack into a 3D model.  The Helicon 3D viewer in the lite version has some text over the image, but still gives a good idea of what can be achieved.

You can try out Helicon Focus for free, with a 30 day trial available form the HeliconSoft website.

The software interface is basic, and east to use without having to know too much about what the software is doing. I look forward to experimenting more with this software and putting in some time and effort with some better imagery, and maybe also trying out the Helicon Remote to give me a live view on a laptop to help with somoe of those focusing issues.

Focus on Manual

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Focus on Manual ModeIt is easy to select auto or guide mode on your camera and fire away, without a care of the settings being used. A good deal of the time acceptable images will be achieved. While acceptable, they could possibly be better.

In the old days of film, more care had to be taken when taking photos, the film itself and developing meant added cost to taking photographs and of course the limitations on how many exposures you could reel off.

With digital you have the ability for trial and error, trying different ISO (film speeds), shutter speeds and apertures, you also have the ability to correct these in post processing tweaking a poor exposed image into an acceptable one.

Taking time to learn about the exposure triangle will see your photography benefit with sharper, better focused and exposed images. They may still need tweaking, but  generally this will be less and the final image being that much better quality.

Rather than go through the in’s and out’s of the exposure triangle here, take a look through Google for the many many articles on the subject and open up your photography and the knowledge of your Digital SLR.

The three key areas:

  • Shutter Speed – How long light is allowed to pass through to the cameras sensor. 
  • Aperture – The size of the opening which light can pass through to the cameras sensor.
  • ISO – Film Speed – How sensitive the sensor is set, to enable enough light to capture the image.

All the above three items affect the exposure of your image, how much subject is in focus (Depth of Field), whether a moving object is blurred or frozen, and the overall quality and detail of the image.