In his latest book, Vintage Lighting (Amherst Media, 128 pages, $34.95; ISBN-13: 978-1-60895-221-2), pro photographer Christopher Grey shows how to capture the lighting techniques of bygone eras with today’s cameras, light sources and postproduction tools. Spanning the period 1910 through 1970, from Edwardian through “Hollywood” to Pop and the Sixties, he shows in imagery and text how to recreate the many lighting styles, poses and props this exciting period in portraiture produced, finishing up with some digital processing techniques to help you enhance your images even more. In this excerpt, we look at his take on the Edwardian Era.—Editor
Digital opens visual doors, and John Neel walks through many of them in his new book, Rethinking Digital Photography. This 240-page book is filled with ideas and experiments that encompass both historic film approaches and leading-edge software techniques, including how-to building guides for gadgets and hybrid imaging devices, using odd and wonderful software to build unique images and adapting items such as toy camera lenses into your work. In all, it’s a great visual workout and idea book that breaks out of the traditional digital how-to book mold. In this excerpt, Neel takes us through techniques combining panoramic shooting and using software filters to create “planets.”—Editor
When we all shot film and our exposures were not perfect, there was very little we could do about our mistakes. All that has changed, and now we can make meaningful adjustments to the contrast, exposure and the color cast. It is a great time to be a photographer.
Every so often a treasure-trove of previously inaccessible images is made available that makes me want to drop everything and just marvel at the collection. Such was the case with almost a million never-before-seen photographs unveiled one year ago that represent a remarkable visual history of New York City.
On The Cover
In this month’s issue we cover a quartet of software programs that can be very helpful to photographers. We’re also happy to present our annual “Weird and Wonderful” report that covers unique gear. Tests include the exciting new Sony Alpha 99, a “full-framer,” and the latest Canon PIXMA printer, the PRO-10. The cover shot is by Rick Dahms, who is part of our roundtable on professional associations, and who tells us that the shot is of “Pepper Fewel, innkeeper and trail boss, with daughter and wrangler Tiffany Fewel on the fence. Cherry Wood Bed, Breakfast & Barn, Zillah, Washington.”
Snap Art 3 from Alien Skin Software (www.alienskin.com) can quickly take your photographic images into the realm of hand drawn, professional level traditional art media, from Classical to Pop (#1). Whether you want to fulfill your own dreams of artistic expression or expand the services you offer to clients, Snap Art 3 (SA3) makes it strikingly fast and easy, and does not require drawing by your own hand. Rather than in the wrist, it’s all in the software. Hundreds of preset effects are only a click or two away. You do, however, still have a vast array of options to control via sliders—variables such as brush size, color saturation, contrast, tone, light direction and more.
Since Snap Art 3 is a plug-in, in order to use it you must have Photoshop, Lightroom, or Elements to run it (see the list at the end of this article). Whether you work on Windows or Mac, SA3 couldn’t be more straightforward. In Photoshop, open a photo and choose Filter>Alien Skin>Snap Art 3. You’ll be presented with 11 art media styles to choose from: Color Pencil, Comics, Crayon (new), Impasto (thick textured paint), Oil Paint, Pastel, Pen and Ink, Pencil Sketch, Pointillism (inspired by Impressionist painting), Stylize (this creates a posterized or silkscreen look) and Watercolor. Chose one of these and a large preview opens as SA3 applies the effect. If you like it, click OK. If not, delve into the tabs and submenus to tweak and vary the look until you have completed your masterpiece.
What is the optimal ISO setting for each shot? How do you decide on the ISO setting to balance shooting needs and image quality? Given that the lowest ISO possible gets you the best image quality, how do you make decisions based on lighting conditions and shooting needs, such as when you need increased shutter speed for hand held shooting or narrower apertures for increased depth of field? How do you decide whether ISO 100, 400 or 800 is best?
Think of the image you create with your digital camera as a negative and that you are a master printer who can take that negative and make as good a print as you have ever seen. When you adopt that mindset you begin to understand the potential of each shot. The expectation that you can do something more with an image can be built into every type of lighting condition, contrast and exposure problem you might face. The attitude should not be that you can “fix it” in software, it is that you should think beyond the exposure to what can be done to the image later when you download it to your computer and work with it in software.
Now is the time for all good photographers to set aside their high-tech digital cameras and exotic lenses—at least for a day or two—in preparation for next month’s Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day (WPPD). This thirteenth-annual event occurs on April 28, and everyone is invited to participate.
On The Cover
This month’s issue features the latest on new cameras seen at the CES show, including the latest in “connected” cameras and a novel take on 3D shooting. We also have reports on some new film and film cameras, as well as a new test on a production model Canon EOS-1D X (our lab test on www.shutterbug.com was on a preproduction sample). Inside you’ll also find news on some accessories that may just catch your eye, plus a revealing look at the fine art photography market.
Mixing monochrome with color is a fun technique, and one of my personal guidelines about any software use is to have fun with your photography. In all of the manipulations and screen shots in this article I used Adobe Photoshop (www.adobe.com), but you can use any image-editing program that lets you apply Layers. There are a number these days, including the less-expensive Adobe Photoshop Elements and even plug-in programs like onOne Software’s Perfect Layers 2 (www.ononesoftware.com) that allow you to work in Layers from programs like Lightroom and Aperture, and Nik Software (www.niksoftware.com) products that make any adjustment you make a Layer within the file itself.
It doesn’t matter what you call it—available light, unavailable light, available darkness or low light photography—often the most rewarding photographs are produced when working under the most challenging lighting conditions. Photographs made under these lighting conditions are different from those made on a sunny day and often have a more eye-catching look. They also open the night and low light to making photos, times you might not have thought about as presenting fun photo ops in the past.
Many of us continue to look for a Raw converter or image-editor that is easy to work with right out of the box. ACDSee Pro version 5 for Windows (www.acdsee.com) may offer the solution you seek. It’s a no-nonsense Raw converter that also offers image-editing under one roof—if in a semi-detached house.
The latest iteration of ACDSee Pro for Windows presents a slightly revamped interface, with 5 key modules, each with its own set of Menu commands. You enter the program in Manage mode where you can import images from any media or device onto your working drive and catalog them at that time or catalog and work with existing files in place, without importing them. All popular formats, including 16-bit Raw from numerous cameras, are supported for import and export, but not DNG export. If you move image files after cataloging or working on them, do so from within ACDSee to ensure that all linked files, notably XMP metadata, are moved together.
While we usually devote this column to discussing trends in camera technology, every so often our industry does something special that’s worth a nod—in this case, a program to provide free portraits to the families of those currently serving in the U.S. military. Dubbed “Portraits of Love,” this project was developed by the PhotoImaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association (PMDA) and will be showcased at the upcoming Big Photo Show in Los Angeles.