Category Archives Photoshop

Hi gang, and happy Friday. Today I thought we’d do a simple lighting tutorial — one where we’re working on balancing the existing light in our location with the light from our flash so the image doesn’t look so much like it’s lit with a flash (even though of course we know that it is). We’re going to do this by adjusting our shutter speed to control the existing room light (the ambient light) behind our bride to get that perfect mix between it and the flash.

Above: First, here’s the final image 

We’re not breaking any new ground here positioning wise — it’s a classic “Bride standing in the aisle” shot. The area behind her is dimly lit but we want to see it in our image (seeing the church she was married in is very important the bride), so we’re going to work to control the lighting in the background so we get a nice blend.

Above: Get the flash in position, then turn it off for Step One

This behind-the-scenes shot shows the simple, one-light set-up I’m using for this shoot. I’m using an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra, with one flash head running off a small portable battery pack and a small square 27 softbox. Of course, you can do this exact same thing with a hot shoe flash and a 24” Lastolite pop-up EZ-Box soft box (after all, they both create the same thing — a bright flash of light).

The flash is mounted on a lightweight regular ol’ light stand. So, why not a monopod mount like I often use? It’s because when you want a break between shots, you don’t have go looking for a place to lean it against or a table to sit it on — you just put it down on the floor, so it’s totally a convenience thing.

When I’m shooting on-location flash, I have a three-step formula for getting the look I’m after:

(1) Turn off the flash, switch your camera to Manual mode and set your Shutter Speed to 1/125 of a second.  This is my standard shutter speed starting point when I’m shooting location flash. It’s kind of a nice, safe starting point that just works. Now move your f/stop until the meter inside your viewfinder shows your exposure is correct (it’s not under or over-exposed; it’s the proper exposure). On Nikons, this meter appears on the right side inside of your viewfinder; for Canon cameras, it’s along the bottom of the viewfinder. If you can’t get to an f/stop that makes a proper exposure (it can get pretty dark in a church), you may have to raise your ISO a bit, maybe from 100 to 200 (or 200 to 400).

Above: Now under-expose by around two stops

(2) Now, I darken the exposure by around two stops (so now I’m intentionally under-exposing. If my camera said that at  f/2.8 my exposure was correct, I’d raise it to at least f/5.6 or higher to darken it by at least a full stop) and take another test shot. I’m trying to make the bride so dark she’s nearly a silhouette. I’m doing this because I want the bride lit with only the light from my flash — not the ambient light in the church. I want the ambient light to only light the area behind her.

I do see one problem with the shot above, and it’s that the background (the church) is a little too dark. This is where the Shutter Speed control comes in because it controls the room lights. Think of it as a dimmer switch for the church lights. If you need to turn up the lights a bit, all you have to do is lower the shutter speed a bit so lowering the shutter speed to 1/60 of a second would add more light behind her (as seen in the following image, where I did that).

Above: Now turn on the flash with a very low power setting

Once your subject looks like a silhouette, turn on the flash with a very lower power setting (like 1/4 power) and take a test shot (seen above). The light from the flash itself looks “OK” but the whole scene just looks a bit too bright and that keeps the light from mixing well so it doesn’t look really beautiful quite yet. However, you can really see the difference lowering the shutter speed from 1/125 down to 1/60 did — the church behind her is much brighter. In fact, I think it’s now too bright, so that was too big a drop in shutter speed, so I’m going to have to split the difference — trying 1/80 of a second. That will dim the background lights from where they are now. This doesn’t change the power or brightness of the flash — this just affects the background room lighting (remember the dimmer analogy).

Above: Another Behind the Scenes shot: I’m raising the Shutter Speed to 1/80 of a second and taking another test shot

So here I’m turning the camera to get a vertical shot and trying that slightly higher shutter speed of 1/80th of a second. I haven’t changed the power of the light yet at all — it’s still at 1/4 power.

Above: Here’s the shot and you can see we’re starting to get there. The 1/80th of a second seems like the sweet spot, so now if I make any changes, I’ll probably slightly raise or lower the power of the strobe itself to make sure the light isn’t too bright — a very common mistake and the thing that makes your shot look too “flashy.” If we want it to blend and look natural, it can’t look “flashy.” It has to make you wonder, “Is that lit with a flash?”

Above: Using Photoshop’s Camera Raw to enhance your lighting (you can do this in Lightroom just the same)

To make the lighting look even better and more dramatic, I edit it with Photoshop’s Camera Raw (or Lightroom’s Develop Module — they are the exact same thing), where I go to the Effects panel, and under Post Crop Vignetting I drag the Amount slider to the left (as shown here), which darkens the edges all the way around your image. This helps to create a more directional look to your lighting — it looks like the light is centered on your subject and it falls off to dark around here. It’s a simple thing, but it has pretty big impact.

Above: Adding a reflector

After looking at the previous image up close, I felt that the area around her eyes looked a little dark, so I had my First Assistant Brad Moore bring in a reflector to bounce some of the light from the flash back into her eyes. We took a test shot using the silver side of the reflector and it was just too bright and too harsh, so we flipped over the reflector to the white side and that did the trick.

There’s still a problem…
Which someone pointed out when I posted the image on Twitter. They noted the bright area of light in the stained glass window to the left of the bride and pointed out that if this was someone else’s image and I were critiquing on our weekly show “The Grid” (where once-a-month we do blind critiques of submitted images), that I would point out that it was distracting. He was right — that’s exactly what I would have said, and so I used Photoshop’s “Patch” tool to remove it.

Above: To use the Patch tool to fix that bright spot in the stained glass behind her  — take the tool and draw a loose selection around what you want to remove [as seen here].

Above: Then click inside that selected area and drag to an area with similar tones somewhere else in the image (as seen here where I dragged the selected area to a lower area of the stained glass.

Above: Now release the mouse, and it snaps back into place and the problem is gone! It really works amazingly well in most cases. 

Above: I finished the image off with nothing but the standard portrait retouching stuff (removing blemishes, smoothing skin, etc.). 

To finish up:
I hope this article helped you “see the light” (totally intended pun) on two things:

(1) The shutter speed controls the amount of light in the room (if you wanted it completely dark black behind her, raise the Shutter speed to 1/200 of a second with strobes, and 1/250 of a second with hot shoe flash). And…

(2) your job is to balance the flash and the room light, while keeping the lighting looking soft and subtle by doing test shots and then looking at the shot and seeing if it looks too bright and thus too “flashy.” Less is more in situations like this, so if you were going to ‘under-light’ or ‘over-light,’ it’ll look more natural underlit (but the goal, of course, is simply to balance it correctly).

If you dig flash stuff like this, and you want to get more into lighting, here’s a class to watch this weekend — it’s called “Just One Flash”. It’s one of our most popular (and I love the instructor. So devastatingly handsome he is). Here’s the official trailer:

Hope you’ll catch that class this weekend.

Hope you found this tutorial helpful, and that it helped ignite your fire for one you can do with just one light.

Have a safe, happy weekend and we’ll see ya here next week. :)

-Scott

Above: Sadly, it has been a few years since an obvious clerical error or database corruption had the AARP accidentally sending me this card much earlier than was appropriate for someone of obvious youth. Of course, I quickly disregarded this travesty, but I must admit, for someone my age, that zip-away shopping tote offer was mighty tempting. 

Now that I am apparently “Officially Old,” I thought it was time to share some of the Photohop secrets that I usually just share with other folks like me while having dinner at 4:30 pm. Here we go:

Note: Please read the headers (shown in red below) in “grumpy old man” voice:

The Fonts are too darn small!!!
Go to Photoshop’s Preferences panel (on Mac, it’s under the “Photoshop” menu; On Windows it’s under the Edit menu — and shown above), and in the list of preference on the left choose “Interface.” Where it says ‘UI Font Size’ Small — click and hold on that menu and choose either Medium or Large, and now Photoshop’s own font will appear larger and easier to read throughout the program.

I can’t see my layer thumbnails!!!
Go to the Layers panel; right-click in any space below your Background layer and from the pop-up menu that appear, choose “Large Thumbnails” as seen above, and it triples the size of the default thumbnails.

There’s too many darn tools!
Go under the Edit menu and choose Toolbar. When the window appears (shown above), drag any tools you don’t want to see again from the left column to the right column. When you’re done, click done.

I can’t remember all these keyboard shortcuts!
To change the keyboard shortcuts to ones you’ll remember, go under the Edit menu and choose Keyboard Shortcuts. Click on the little triangle to the immediate left of the menu that has the shortcut you want to change (this reveals all the items under that menu). Double-click on the one you want to change and type in the shortcut you want, based on people you play Bridge with (like Command-M for ‘Mildred’).

OK, there’s probably more, but I’ve gotta go — it’s time to go watch reruns of ‘Golden Girls.’ ;-)

Tomorrow on the Grid
Join me and “old guy” Larry Becker at 4pm. We’ll be talking about Fiber and how to get senior discounts at McDonalds.

Have a great Tuesday!

-Scott
Disgruntled AARP Rejector!

Happy Tuesday, y’all. This is just a quickie, but it’s really handy if you shoot really wide angle lens for anything from landscapes to group shots. Don’t take points off because its so darn easy to do (in fact, it’s more about what not to do, instead of what you need to do). Here ya go:

Hope you found that helpful.

Here’s wishing you a packed-with-awesomeness kinda Tuesday!

Best,

-Scott

Let’s wrap up my first week back with a short, sweet, tutorial that is kind of a Trojan Horse, because it seems like it’s a Photoshop tutorial on How to turn a single Panoramic image into a Triptych (three separate images that have the basic look of a single image — perfect for printing) but hidden inside is a surprisingly handy, little known, little used Photoshop feature that is so incredibly handy.

Let that marinate for a minute. 

OK, ready for the first Trojan Horse tutorial of the year? Let’s do it (it’s short, easy, and partially automated which is the fun part).

See, that was better than it sounded, right?

OK, how ’bout some more cool stuff? Great!
For my first episode of “The Grid” for the year, I was lucky enough to have my super awesome wifey Kalebra on as my guest, and it was a really great show (some folks literally called it our best episode ever), but it starts with some REALLY BIG NEWS for KelbyOne members. It really got a lot of folks excited (and we are over-the-moon about it here at KelbyOne HQ), and we get right to the news at the beginning of the show, so I embedded it below.

Check it out (below), and let me know what you think about the big news in the comments below!

My 9-top Instagram Photos for 2016
As chosen by the awesome folks who follow me there (based on the total number of likes). :)

OK, that wraps it up for me, ya’ll.

I have some handy stuff coming on Monday (and some other news), so I hope I’ll see you then. :)

Have a great NFL Wild Card Weekend! (I’m not shooting any NFL this weekend, but…#rolltide!)

-Scott

Hi Gang: First, there’s a BIG very cool announcement for KelbyOne members today on “The Grid” (my weekly talk show about photography), and you don’t want to miss it. Plus, my very, very special guest is none other than Kalebra Kelby herself.

Lots to share today on “The Grid” – our topic is “How to become a better photographer in 2017”. That’s at 4pm ET (http://kelbytv.com/thegrid).

OK, on to our Photoshop Down & Dirty Trick (it’s quick, easy and pretty fun, too! Plus, it doesn’t use the ol’ Drop Shadow Layer Style, which would make it look like it’s just floating in space).

Hope you found that helpful (and down. and dirty). ;-)

Don’t forget “The Grid” today at 4pm – we’ll be announcing one of the coolest things we’ve ever done for our members.

See you then!

–Scott

Hi Gang: So glad to see you here in 2017 – and I’ve got a really slick little tutorial for you, based on a text the awesome Brad Moore sent me last night — it’s something you can do with expensive lighting, but you can get really close to that look using just Photoshop, and it’s super quick and easy (and a variation of a technique I showed here last year).

Take a look for the whole story:

Hope you found that helpful (and maybe it even saved you a few bucks. Maybe enough to come to the Photoshop World Conference this April, eh?). ;-)

Today’s my first day back from an unbelievably relaxing Christmas and New Years break — so I’d better get back at it. Glad to see you here again, and best wishes for an awesome 2017!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. We had planned to do Photoshop World on both coasts this year, but we’re not doing a Vegas show this year as Adobe is holding their conference, Adobe Max, at the same time in Vegas, so we’re going to just be East Coast this year. 

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