Category Archives Photoshop

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We just got even more prizes to give away next Friday in New York City at the free Photoshop CS5 Summit. That’s right—-now we have a bunch of $250 Gift Cards to the most amazing camera store in the world—-B&H Photo!

This all takes place next Friday, and if you want to be there (it’s free), make sure you snag your seat right now. Here are all the details. Hope to see you there!!

Who: Your instructors are “The Photoshop Guys,” Me, Matt Kloskowski, RC Concepcion, Corey Barker, and Dave Cross

When: One night only—Friday, June 25th, from 4:30 to 7:30 pm

Where: The Hammerstein Ballroom, at the Manhattan Center, New York City

Cost: Free, free, free!!!!

Why: ‘To celebrate the launch of Photoshop CS5! (Adobe will be there, too!)

Reserve your Free Ticket: Go right here.

To Learn more: Just watch this quick video right here.

rc-hdr-stove-SM

First, a big thanks to everyone who posted such thoughtful and in-depth comments yesterday. I read all of them (over a 130), and not only did you guys make some great points (on both sides of the ball), everybody remained very civil throughout a topic that often sets “guns a blazin'” Way to go!

Because yesterday’s post resonated with a lot of folks, I wanted to do a brief follow-up post today based on a some of your comments, and I was hoping to get your thoughts and ideas on a couple of topics:

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First, just what constitutes an “Over-the-top” HDR shot? What do you (we, us, they) consider an over-the-top shot? Take a look at the images above, taken by my buddy, and HDR expert, RC Concepcion. I love both of those shots. They both got loads of HDR tone-mapping going on (though slightly different styles), but is it “over the top?” If you think it is, does that make it a bad shot?

I read so many comments that basically said, “I like HDR as long as it’s not overdone. But exactly what is “over done?”

Is it:

(a) Pushing the Color Saturation too far, where the colors look un-natural?

(b) Is it “Poorly done HDR?” where the person processing the HDR photo, doesn’t really understand how to use the HDR tonemapping software (and if that’s the case, then is it just a matter of education—-teaching people how to do it right?)

(c) Is it shots where there’s no black in the photo—it’s all midtones–showing too much detail?

(d) Is it shots where the image is over sharpened, like too much High Pass sharpening?

(e) Or, is it like a Supreme Court Justice’s view of pornography, where you can’t really describe it, but “you know it when you see it?”

While you’re here, go ahead and take the Poll below:

Here’s my problem with all of this. I’ve seen way over-the-top HDR images that look horrible, and I’ve seen way over the top HDR images that look absolutely stunning. Which means; there’s more to it than just the post processing.

Recently, one of the images that won Best of Show at the Photoshop World Guru Awards was an image that had literally tons, loads, mountains of HDR effect applied to it. But it rocked! It looked really great, and the judges chose it as the winner hands down (even though some would technically consider it “over the top.”)

I guess my point here is; HDR is like any other effect you do in Photoshop. Too much of it looks bad. Usually. But not always. It just depends on the photo (and the person doing the processing).

So what I’m hoping the anti-HDR crowd will do is this; instead of dismissing a  photo as “over-the-top” HDR, and automatically hating it—instead judge it on the merits of that particular photo. Give it a chance.

But beyond that—try making an over-the-top HDR image yourself. You might find that you like it more than you thought, and that other people like your shot more than you do (like I mentioned yesterday with my HDR shot). Real HDR tonemapping is built right in to Photoshop CS5. Give it a try. You might be surprised at how it changes how you view HDR images moving forward. Even those dreaded over-the-top ones. ;-)

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I remember showing someone one of my black and white prints a few years ago—and I could tell there was something they really didn’t like about it. They stared at it for a minute or so, and then said, “Why is it in black and white?”

I told them that the shot was originally taken in color, and that I had converted it to black and white in Photoshop, and they said something along the lines of “Why would you do that?” After talking a little longer, they just told me flat out that they just didn’t like black and white photography. Never had, and they couldn’t understand why anyone would take a perfectly good color image and remove all the color. (Sigh).

I understand that everybody has different tastes, and some folks just don’t like black and white, or duotones, and some people don’t like Split Tones (like me), and some don’t like panos.

You Mean, Like HDR?
Now, when it comes to HDR, I’m kinda of in the middle. I enjoy shooting my own HDR shots, and I get a kick out of processing them. If someone shows me a great HDR image, I’m like “Wow!” If they show me a few more, I’m like, “Those are good.” If they show me a book of them, after about the eighth page, I’m dying to see a regular un-HDR’d image. The novelty can wear off fast on me.

I know some people are at the complete other end of the spectrum. They hate any HDR that doesn’t look natural and photorealistic, (of course, if it truly does look natural and photorealistic, I guess that kind of really means “it doesn’t look like HDR”).  :)

What They’re not Telling You About HDR Images
There’s a secret about those “over the top” HDR images that you don’t hear a lot of non-HDR photographers talk about. While many of these photographers don’t like HDR images at all…

….non-photographers absolutely love them!

That’s right—-regular, non photographer people love those over-the-top HDR images. Even though it’s seldom talked about, I think that’s incredibly important to know.

Matt pointed out something a while back while we were talking about this, and it has proved itself time and time again. Matt mentioned that if he sends a group of images to a magazine, or a Web site, etc., for them to pick a photo to highlight, they always (always!) choose the HDR shot.

Now, I fully realize that by saying this, there are photographers who will now post comments that say “My wife hates HDR” or “my boss won’t allow HDR in any of our marketing materials,” and so on, but save yourself the time and trouble, and just think about it. Think about how other people (not photographers) react to images with the HDR effect. It’s been my experience, time and time again, they love ’em.

My Love/Hate Relationship with HDR
You see the shot at the top of this post? That’s a pretty obvious HDR shot, taken on my vacation to China, and I didn’t even include the HDR shot in my post about my China photo book (link), because it was so over-the-top that I knew I’d catch some heat from HDR-hating photographers, so I intentionally left it out. The next day, I had a follow-up Q&A post (link), and that was the only photo that didn’t make the cut, so I thought—what the heck—-I’d run it and it might just go by unnoticed, and I’d be spared a nuking by the anti-HDR crowd.

I guess you can say I was incredibly surprised when I read stuff like this:

“That boat shot is killer! Good balance with HDR technique and the whole composition has “interesting story” written all over it. Quite frankly, I think it’s one of your best.”

“Love the shots from the trip, and your HDR on the ferry is FANTASTIC!”

“I like allot of your work, but this is my favorite shot of yours. It’s amazing. Love it…”

“First, that was an amazing image you used for the lead to this post. Great depth, detail and lighting. Well done sir!”

“I love the HDR Shot you posted! My fav of the bunch.”

“Fantastic HDR, the lighting and tones are beautiful.”

You’d think I would be ecstatic with comments like these, but instead I was really depressed. That’s because the regular un-HDR’d photo looks like this:

unhdr

It’s a nothing photo. It’s not terrible. It’s not good. It’s what I call “A three-star photo.” Not so bad that you’d delete it, but not so good that you’d ever let anyone see it (by the way, the only reason I’m letting anyone see it now, is as a teaching tool). So, it was the HDR-Toning that transformed it from a three-star image to what embarrassingly for me, became an image that some called “my best ever.” (sigh).

My Case for HDR
I’ve read again and again how photographers who hate HDR-effected images feel that when a photographer uses HDR for the “Harry Potter Look” or goes for the classic over-the-top HDR look, they are somehow cheating. They feel it’s a trick to take a mediocre image and turn it into a masterpiece, so it’s not “real photography.” Sadly, I think my before/after actually helps to make their case to some extent.

However, this is where my case for HDR comes in.

Taking the mediocre regular shot took very little effort. I did have to compose the shot (and I think the composition is actually “OK”), but outside of that, I just pressed the shutter button, and the camera did all the work. The post-processing in Photoshop (in Camera Raw) was minimal—-it took all of 15 seconds, so the entire image has a total of less than 20-seconds invested it in.

However, for me to create an HDR image, I (as the photographer) have to work a LOT hardert. First, HDR doesn’t work for just every shot. There are certain types of shots that lend themselves to HDR (images with lots of texture, or metal, depth), and over time you learn which types of shots work (and which don’t). So, the first thing the photographer does is scope out subjects that would make ideal HDR images (it’s harder than it looks). When I saw the rusty, peeling wheel house, and the thoroughly worn wood deck, and old coiled up lines (rope), I knew it would make a good HDR image.

I had to set-up my camera to shoot an HDR bracket of five photos, and then try and steady myself while on a moving ferry in the harbor, while leaning on a railing, and trying to keep very, very still while all five exposures are captured.

Later, I have to work with five images—not just one—then I have quite a bit of post-processing work to do, including using Camera Raw not just once, but twice, along with HDR tone-mapping, and final editing and sharpening, beyond what I’d normally do. In short; it’s dramatically harder to capture a good HDR image, from the moment of capture, through the post processing stage, and the image wasn’t rescued by HDR—-it was created to be an HDR image from the outset. I didn’t just press a button and out popped a winner—I had to work it.

It’s Not Fair!
Normally, this extra photographic effort would gain the respect and admiration of fellow photographers, but when it comes to HDR, it generally gains scorn. I don’t get it. Just like that person at the beginning doesn’t “get” black and white photography. I know HDR isn’t for everyone, but like any effect, it can be fun to do, fun to look at, and like any other effect, you can get sick of it after a while. But each image should be judged on its merits, and not dismissed because “You don’t like HDR” or “You don’t like Black and Whites.”

So, in the past few months, I did learn that non-photographers love HDR shots (and all the photographers I polled asking about how their HDR work was viewed by non photographers, agreed 100% that non-photographers seem to absolutely love HDR images). But I learned two other things as well:

(1) You don’t seem to find people who are really good at creating HDR images, that don’t like HDR images. Just like you don’t find people who are Photoshop experts, that don’t like Photoshop. The people I find that scorn the use of Photoshop, aren’t very good at it.

(2) I find that no matter how much I look at that HDR image I did at the top of this post, and no matter how many people tell me they love it, I will never like it. When I look at it, I know what “it really looked like.” In my mind’s eye, I always see the original, 3-star regular exposure image I showed earlier, and so I’ll never look at it as a great image. I guess I feel like it’s kind of cheating too, even though it took me more time, effort, and skill to get there.

For those of you that do shoot somewhat over-the-top HDR shots, how do your clients, friends, and co-workers react to these types of shots? Do they dig ’em? And, how do you feel about them after the fact (after all, you’re probably the only one who saw the original single exposure). Do you feel like I do? (and did anyone get that subtle Peter Frampton reference?). I’m anxious to hear your thoughts.

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Camera Raw 6.1 is Here, too!
Earlier in the week Adobe released the latest version of Camera Raw (version 6.1) for Photoshop CS5 users. It’s been on Adobe labs for a while, kind of marinating in testing mode, but now it’s fully baked and ready for downloading (you can use the built-in updater inside Photoshop CS5—go under the Help menu and choose Updates), or go to Adobe’s Website and download it here (Mac | Windows )

Supreme Makeover Contest
MacMall has got a really clever (and really sweet) contest that can re-equip your Large or Small studio with up to $17,000 of really juicy gear (Including CS5, of course). You gotta check his out (here’s the link).

My Moab Workshop is Sold Out
I found out on Wednesday that my Moab workshop with Bill Fortney (the one I mentioned here on Tuesday) had sold out the same day we announced it. Thanks everybody for helping me spread the word about the workshop, and for those of you who signed on (30 or so of you), I can’t wait to meet you all in person, and to go shooting together!

CS5 In The City
On Monday I announced that we’re hosting the Photoshop CS5 Summit in New York City, and by the end of the day we had nearly 1,000 people already registered (of course, it helped that we let NAPP members have the first crack at tickets), but if you want to be there with me, Matt, Dave, Corey and RC for an incredible of night, where we’ll show you how to work CS5 into your existing Photoshop workflow, make sure you reserve your free seat right this minute (before it’s too late). When you hear it about it afterward, you’ll wish you were there. (Here’s the link to save your seat).

The Topaz Bundle goes CS5, and 64-bit Compatible
Like many of you, I use plug-ins from Topaz, and many of you have been asking if they’re going to update their plug-ins for CS5, and when and if they’re going to be 64-bit compatible. Good news—it’s yes and yes. Here’s the link.

McNally Takes New York
It’s gonna be a hot summer in The City, as Joe McNally is back with a series of one day workshops in New York, and I can tell you two things: (1) It will be a day of learning and laughing you’ll never forget, taught by literally the best guy in the business, and (2) All of his workshops will be sold out way, way, way in advance. You’ve always wanted to learn from him in person. Now you can. Here’s the link with all the details (from Joe’s blog).

Have a Great Thursday Everybody!
I’m kickin’ off a new tour tomorrow—hope you’ll stop by catch all the details. Have a great Thursday gang!

Moab

I only do one landscape workshop a year, and I only do it with my good friend, and world famous landscape photographer Bill Fortney, and we only have 15 spots open, and I’m hoping you snag one of those, because I promise you—-you are going to learn a ton, laugh a lot, and come away with some amazing photos and new techniques.

This time we’re headed out to the Moab, Utah area (Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park), and if you’re comin’ along, plan on gettin’ up early for some amazing sunrise shooting, then later we’re back in the classroom for Lightroom, Photoshop, and Photography, and afterward we’re back out for a sunset shoot in some of the most scenic landscape locales in the country.

Joining Bill and I are photographers Wayne Bennett (who was with us last year in Savannah) and Richard Small, so we’ve got a great crew on board once again.

The workshop runs Wednesday, October 6th thru Sunday October 10th, 2010. The cost is $895 per participant, and once those 15 slots are gone, they’re gone, so if you want to go, reserve your seat right away (there will be 30 participants total, plus leaders; the other 15 slots went to participants from our workshop last year in Savannah).

To reserve your seat, call (606)-528-6119 or (606)-344-0455. Hope to see you out West with Bill and the gang. It’s gonna be a total blast!

P.S. you can read my report from last year’s Savannah workshop with Bill, right here.

Today we officially announce our biggest New York event ever—the Photoshop CS5 Summit (Produced by the Nat’l Assn. of Photoshop Professionals and sponsored by Adobe Systems). The full scoop (and how to snag your tickets) is in the short video below:

Here’s a recap:

Who: Your instructors are “The Photoshop Guys,” Me, Matt Kloskowski, RC Concepcion, Corey Barker, and Dave Cross

When: One night only—Friday, June 25th, from 4:30 to 7:30 pm

Where: The Hammerstein theater, at the Manhattan Center, New York City

Cost: Free (if you watched the video above, which explains how to get a free ticket)

Why: ‘Cause Photoshop CS5 is brand spankin’ new and we wanted to do something cool/fun/different in one of the coolest/funnest/differentest places in the world!

More: Go right here.

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