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Monday, 27 January 2014

Seven Steps To Lightroom Magic

With the recent release of Abobe Lightroom 5 for a mere $149.95 the amateur photographer now has the ability to enhance and improve a photo in the comfort of their own home. Lightroom is really the digital equivalent to a chemical darkroom back when we all shot with film. The enhancements that were done in the darkroom would improve exposure, clarity, contrast, pretty much everything you can now do in Lightroom. Let me take you through the steps I go through with most of the photos I create.

Here is a shot of my Lightroom catalogue. From this catalogue I can search for photos using a variety of methods from keyword searching, to star rating, and a host of other ways. Once I identify photos I would like to edit it's as simple as highlight them and click the develop tab.

To the right is the first view you get when entering Lightrooms develop module. You will have a series of thumbnails across the bottom and the thumbnail you want to work on is highlighted and appears in the main viewing area. The photo you see here has not been altered from the original in camera shot.

Down the right side of the work palette you will see the basic menu where you will begin tweaking your photo from good to great. It is important to remember that the path to a great photo is starting with a great foundation and looking at the photo I am working on it has the right recipe. The composition I really like, the lighting and exposure is very good and now to make a few fine tuning adjustments.


I like to start with the highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks, in that order. I will make adjustments using the sliders and when I work the whites and blacks I use Alt while adjusting them. This makes the screen appear black and when I start to "Clip" (a phrase used when ever or under exposing)the blacks or whites it shows on the screen.

You see how the adjustment sliders have been altered and now the photo has a little more punch. I think it's on its way to a great portrait. Next a little clarity and variance.

Here is the portrait after clarity and hue have been adjusted. The third slider in this grouping is saturation. I tend to avoid using this slider as I feel that when the photo is printed the colour tends to become quite garish and unreal.

Now that we have made these adjustments we can sharpen and vignette the photo giving it a clear definition and a little artistic feel.

And here it is the finished product. All the changes made to this photo were done in Lightroom and I have done these same adjustments in my darkroom, when I still shot film. People argue that by doing this enhancement you are not staying pure to the original picture, however there is no difference between what was done here in Lightroom and what I used to do in my darkroom. Your photos can be far better with just a few moments of time and a little tweaking here and there. It is no different than what photographers have been doing since the beginnings of time.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Lose Weight & Take Better Photos

What the heck are you talking about? Lose weight, Photography, not even related, or is it. Well when you have a desire to do something then you challenge yourself to stretch out and learn, overcome, or just plain move out of your comfort zone. That's what this week's blog is all about moving from your comfort zone.

Now I certainly will not profess to be an exercise guru. That's not who I am and in fact I am comfortably overweight by about 30 pounds (ish), but I can change that. I am, however a good photographer and I can change that as well. If I want to lose weight what do I need to do, control the amount I eat and exercise. If I want to become an excellent photographer, not just a good one what do I need to do, increase the amount I shoot and exercise my creative side. Now how does exercising and improving your photography skills go together, let me explain.

This photo, that appeared in last
week's blog about creativity, was taken from the side of the road not that far from my home. It is a photo of Mount Slesse, in the Fraser Valley, and represents a lazy photo. Although it was what was needed for me to get out of my slump it was not active. I did not have to work for it, it was there waiting for me. I could drive to the location I visualised set up my equipment and shoot away.

The photo of the alpine meadows represents the fit photographer. Also taken not far from my home, this is a meadow on Mount Cheam, which dominates the eastern Fraser Valley. If you want to visit this splendid area put on your hiking boots and check out this website you won't be disappointed.

To get to this meadow you will need a 4x4 and the whole day. You will drive about 90 minutes followed by a major hike before descending back down to Chilliwack. Due to the difficult nature of this location you will need to be very selective about what equipment you bring. Pack light (lose the weight) or it will be a very very long day.

That's all there is to it folks want to become a better photographer and get fit go out and explore. You could stay indoors use your flash do some interesting stuff, or you can go out, wander around and lose yourself in the wonders Mother Nature has provided for us to shoot. These are the memories to create and the pictures to make. I don't think there is anything better. Start becoming a great photographer today by exploring one shutter click at a time.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Where The Heck Have I Been

Well it has been a long long time since I last blogged. I know you were starting to think, Oh Yeah another fly by night blogger, Here today and gone forever. For that I apologise. When I started I said you would be joining me on a journey. That journey has highs and lows, good and bad. So the last few months have been a low for my blogging inspiration, my photo inspiration, and really just in general blocked creatively and that SUCKS.

 Now I am back. Sit back relax and see where we go next.

Mount Slesse

Mount Slesse

These photos are what broke my slump.

Driving my child to school every morning I see the majestic Mount Slesse in the distance. It is nestled in its own frame of lower hills in front and the sky behind is breath taking this time of year. With this in mind I set out to capture the vision I have had of this picture for months.

You see this is the way of discovery.

 I visualised this photo over and over in my head. Other photographers talk or write of doing this but I seem to have been missing that element. Pre-visualization.  Then I heard an article on the radio that spoke about the need for long term self-visualization as being the journey to creativity.

While taking these photos I became more excited than I have for some time about shooting. Every frame, every click of the shutter and there on my LCD display was exactly what I had seen before I ever heard the click.

That was the journey, the reason I have been away for the past few months, and I have no regrets. Coming out on the other side has left me rejuvenated, excited, and more creative than I ever have been.

I look forward to sharing with you more of this journey as time goes by and remember if you are in your creative slump look at the pictures in your mind and leave your camera in the bag for a while. You won’t regret it, I know I haven’t.