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Big news – my brand new book “The Flash Book” comes out today! Starting today it’s available in eBook format, ready to download right now (the print edition is already on press).  My publisher (Rocky Nook Publishing) is celebrating today’s launch with an absolutely insane deal — just $15 for the eBook (it’s available for download right now!).

Here’s the link to their $15 eBook deal (and use the code below).

About the book:
I didn’t want to write yet another book that teaches you everything you can do with your flash. Instead, this book is for people who bought a flash, and they’re not loving it. They not getting the results they thought they would, so they’re really not using their flash, and that’s a huge shame because you’ve seen how awesome flash can be.

I really think I can change that for you.
I think I can make you fall hopefully and madly in love with your flash because you’re going to start getting those type of flash images you bought your flash for in the first place. You’re not going to “nerd out” and learn a bunch of tech stuff. Instead, you’re going to learn a super simple system — one I’ve been working on for years now, and I know it works because I’ve received hundreds of emails, comments, and love letters from people who have put this system to use and they’ve finally loving their flash. They’re head over heels (and you could be, too).

You can finally love your flash
…and you’ll see the results immediately (especially since a lot of this system flies right in the face of what the flash makers and marketeers have been telling folks to do). You’re this close to a real breakthrough with your flash, and Rocky Nook is making it so affordable that you’ve got to at least give it a serious look. It’s $15. You can’t buy lunch at Applebees for $15 (plus, this book is better than lunch at Applebees, but then…). ;-)

If you want to wait for the print book, here’s the link to it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (note: it’s not in print yet, but already the #1 bestselling book on flash photography on Amazon). You’ll dig it.

Have a great Wednesday everybody, and I hope I run into you at my seminar here in San Diego today. :)

Best,

-Scott
‘The Flash Book’ Guy

P.S. Please scroll down to catch Jesus Ramirez’s awesome Guest Post today. It’s about the importance of perspective in Photoshop and he’s got some killer compositing tips in there. Very well done!  

Three Things That Would Have Made My First Ever Composite Better
Most people know me as the guy who does Photoshop Tutorials on YouTube. But in the last year, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have been involved in several compositing projects that I am very proud of.

Photoshop User magazine featured one of my favorite composites in the 2016 July/August edition.

But probably my most notable composite last year was a composite that Adobe commissioned me to do for their Make A Masterpiece campaign.

I was one of five artists who worked on that campaign where we each had to recreate a painting that has been lost or destroyed.

The only rules were that I had to use Adobe Stock images and Photoshop to recreate the painting.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the painting that I was assigned (The Just Judges) and my recreation.

I presented my composite at the Adobe MAX 2016 conference. The final image used 115 Adobe Stock images, and it took over 80 hours of work to complete. The final Photoshop document was 4.7 GB, and it contained over 1,500 layers.

You can check out my Behance page to see my interview with Adobe and to see more about this project.

As you might imagine, I did not always have the skill to pull off composites like this.

I recently was going through an old hard drive, and I came across my very first composite, which I made in 2003.

It was a composite where I tried to make it seem as if I was feeding a giant dog. But clearly, there was a lot wrong with my composite.

I had not seen this composite in many years, and by looking at it now with the experience that I have, I can clearly see all the mistakes and the things that I didn’t know about compositing when I made it.

Throughout the years I have learned that a composite is a lot more than a collage of photos and that you cannot expect great results by just throwing photos on top of each other.

To make a realistic composite, you need to consider the differences of each element, and in Photoshop, figure out how to reduce those disparities to create a cohesive image.

Right off the bat, I can think of three things that would have made this composite a whole lot better!

Unfortunately, I can’t go back in time and fix these problems. But I can tell you what they are, and hopefully, they can help you in your composites.

The concepts that I am going to talk about are not Photoshop hidden tips and tricks. There are no hidden buttons or menus that will automatically make your composites better.

What my composite was missing were the art principals that make composites look real.

1) Matching Perspective
Perspective is perhaps both the most overlooked compositing principal and the most important. In my dog composite, I paid absolutely no attention to perspective, which is why it seems like such a cheap cut-and-paste job.

I did a good job on the masking, but that is just not enough. Perspective must always be the priority of any realistic composite. Everything else could go right, but if the perspective is off, then the composite will still feel off.

Put simply, to match the perspective of two images you must make sure that the horizon line of both your photos matches. The horizon line is where the ground plane meets the sky, and where the converging lines meet up at a vanishing point.

In this graphic, you can see how all the parallel converging lines of the cubes end up on a vanishing point in the horizon line. The cubes don’t seem out of place, and they look like they are sitting on the ground.

If we bring in a cube and place it randomly in the scene, it will not match. You will get the feeling that something is wrong just by looking at the image.

This feeling is probably the same feeling that you had when you have looked at your own composites and knew that something was off, but you didn’t really know what. Most of the time, when you get that feeling of something being off, it is the perspective that it is not matching.

What you need to do to solve this issue is find the horizon line of the object that you are trying to composite in (the foreground). You can find the horizon line by looking at the original image and figuring out where the ground plane meets the sky.

One way of doing this is by following the converging parallel lines until they meet. The place where they meet will be the vanishing point, which lays on the horizon line.

Once you determine the horizon line, you can move your object so that the parallel converging lines meet up anywhere on the new background’s horizon line. It does not matter where they meet, as long as it is on the horizon line.

Notice now that I’ve moved the cube, the horizon lines match, and the cube looks like it belongs in the scene. Even though they have different vanishing points, they have the same perspective.

You do not need to be 100% precise when matching horizon lines, but the further that they are from each other the more noticeable it is that the two images don’t belong together.

The same would be true if we were using photos. In the example below, you can tell that the person standing by the beach does not belong there. Sometimes it almost seems right, but something inside tells you that there is something wrong with the image.

Even though the lighting, contrast, color, and everything else matches, your eye is still telling you that something is off.

Notice that the horizon line for the background is high up on the image. Almost on the top edge of the photo. That’s where the ground plane (the water) meets the sky.

By disabling the Layer Mask on the model, you will see that the original photo of the man standing has the horizon line (where the ground plane meets the sky) just above his knees.

In the composite, the horizon line was above his head. This mismatch is what makes the composite not work.

To correct this mismatch, you will have to move the background image down to try to match the foreground, or use an entirely different background image.

Sometimes the discrepancy in perspective is so vast that you cannot composite two images together and get realistic results. But in this case, I could bring the background down, and match the horizon lines.

Notice that once the horizon lines match, the perspective matches, and we have a composite that is much more realistic.

In my dog composite, the perspective was too different, and I would not have been able to correct that discrepancy.

Knowing what I know now about perspective, I would have shot the photos differently so that the resulting images would have similar perspectives to make it easy to composite them in Photoshop.

If you want to learn more about perspective check out this tutorial on YouTube:

2) Matching Luminosity and Contrast
Another huge problem with my dog composite is that the luminosity and contrast of the two photos do not match. Notice that the background is a lot brighter than the foreground and it also has less contrast.

If this were a real photo, then the contrast and luminosity of all the objects in the scene would match.

In some cases, it the difference is not obvious. It is difficult to compare the contrast and luminance values of each object in your composite with the naked eye.

The color in the image may be distracting, and you will not be able to see the differences. But by desaturating the image, the differences become more apparent.

You can use a Black and White adjustment layer to desaturate a composite temporarily. If there is a mismatch in contrast and luminance between your images, then it will become more apparent.

In the example below, you can see that the model is much brighter than the background.

You can use a clipped Levels adjustment, to adjust either the foreground or background. In this example, I made the foreground element darker and gave it more contrast to match the background.

Once the contrast of the foreground and background are similar, you can delete the Black and White adjustments layer to reveal a composite that looks much more realistic than the original version.

In my dog composite, I would have probably done the opposite and darkened the background since it was too light. But the idea is the same. You must make sure that all objects in a scene have similar contrast.

In some cases, you must also think of how “deep” in the scene the object is. The further back you go, the less contrast it has. This effect is known as atmospheric perspective.

Atmospheric perspective is not a problem in my dog composite, but it is a common problem that you may come across.

I have a tutorial that it is all about atmospheric perspective and how you can use it to make better composites in Photoshop.

3) Image Quality – Blur, Noise, and Pixilation
For my dog composite, I used images that were of vastly different qualities. The background image is out of focus, and it has a lot of scratches. The foreground image is not perfect, but it is a better photo.

In a perfect world, all the images that you use for a composite should be of high quality. If you must use images of lower quality, you will have to match all pieces in your composite to the lowest quality piece. This is especially important if the lowest quality piece is an essential element of the composite.

In my dog composite, the lowest quality piece was the background. So, I would need to blur the foreground and add scratches to the photo.

In some cases, you may need to add pixelation, or even noise to a photo to make the elements match.

A technique that I often use when I finish a composite is to add just a tiny bit of noise to the entire image to help make the composite more cohesive.

I think that with those three things my composite would have been much better. I can’t go back and fix my composite (I lost the PSD!), but I hope that these tips help you improve your work!

If you would like to learn more about compositing, then join me in Orlando at Photoshop World 2018! I’ll be leading a session on compositing!

https://photoshopworld.com/schedule

Also, check out this playlist with my best Photoshop tutorials!

Jesús Ramirez is a digital graphics expert, speaker, and educator specializing in Adobe Photoshop. Jesús is best known as the founder of the Photoshop Training Channel, one of the most popular Photoshop YouTube channels in the world. Jesús has been a speaker at Adobe MAX, Adobe SUMMIT, Adobe MAKE IT, CreativeLive, CreativePro and many other conferences and industry events.

You can find Jesús on Instagram, Behance, Twitter, and Facebook!

…we didn’t quite make it to our goal this year of raising $20,000 for the Springs of Hope Kenya Orphanage, but…we’re almost there. Our total raised (so far) from the 10th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk is $18,429 (from donations from photo walkers, and from awesome folks who bought the official photo walk t-shirts). We’re just over $1,500 from hitting our goal this year. But…it’s also not too late. :)

Here’s how you can make a difference, right here, right now: 

(1) You can make a donation right now (most donations were $1 [which is all we asked], but some folks still gave $20, some gave $100, and some were blessed enough that they could even give more). Whatever you can give, it makes a difference. Remember, we did most of this just $1-at-a time.

(2) You can still order one of the official photo walk t-shirts right here. It’s a great memento of your walk this year, and 100% of the profits go directly to the Spring of Hope Kenya orphanage.

By the way, if you want to know more about the orphanage, and Molly Waits — the amazing woman who sold her home, her car, and all her possessions to move her family to Kenya to turn an empty plot of land into a something very special, here’s a link to a guest post here from Molly herself. Because of what she did, and what you guys did to support her efforts, 50+ wonderful children now have food, shelter, healthcare, education, and lots of love.

My humble thanks to everyone who donated, and for those of you who will step up today to make a difference in the lives of these children. What you’ve done has more impact, and mean more, than you’ll ever know. Well, you’ll know one day. :)

Have a great Monday everybody. It’s going to be a fantastic week!

Best,

-Scott

It’s official, and we have an awesome winner in our first-ever Youth Category Competition for the worldwide photo walk.

Without further ado, congratulations to our winner, 15-year-old Davey Thrasher from the Marietta, Ohio, USA Photo Walk:

My Comments: I think this is such a well executed shot on so many levels. I love the use of a very shallow depth of field, and the leading lines draw you into the photograph. I think the low perspective helps this image big time, and the post-processing is subtle but very effective. Such a nicely crafted image. Nicely done!

As our Youth Category winner, Davey will receive:

  • Canon EOS Rebel SL2 EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 Kit
  • Canon Pixma Pro 10 Printer
  • $50 B&H Photo Gift Card
  • ThinkTank Photo Trifecta 10 DSLR Backpack
  • $100 Westcott Gift Certificate
  • Platypod Ultra
  • Full year of the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan
  • and a Full year of KelbyOne membership

Congratulations to Davey, our first official Youth Catagory Competition Winner!

Big thanks to our friends at Canon USA, our Platinum Sponsor for providing such awesome main prizes, and for their support and enthusiasm throughout.  High five and many thanks to our Photo Walk official sponsors: B&H Photo, Think Tank Photo, FJ Westcott, Platypod, Drobo, and Adobe. We feel very blessed to have such great folks supporting the walk in this way.

On Monday we’ll be wrapping up this year’s Photo Walk with a look at our fundraising results for the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya. 

Have a great weekend everybody – hope you get some great shots out there. :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. I hope to meet some of you in person next Wednesday in San Diego at my Lightroom seminar there. If you want to come out and spend the day with me, it’s not too late. 

Sports Photography: The Tools And Techniques To Get The Shot with Dave Black
Join Dave Black as he draws on his 38 years of experience photographing sports action all over the world to teach you about the specific gear you’ll want to use for each sport. From the big games like football and soccer to the individual sports like golf and gymnastics, Dave has covered it all. With each sport, Dave not only explains the gear he uses, but shares his advice on how to best use that equipment. Dave starts out the class with a look at the settings he uses to optimize capturing sports and action, and then takes you through each sport one-by-one.

In Case You Missed It
Photograph your kids sports like a pro! Join Rob Foldy, professional sports photographer, as he teaches you the basic photographic principles that will make your subjects proud. This is not a class on gear, but Rob does show you how to use what you have, and how to configure your camera for the best results. You’ll also learn the importance of storytelling and how being prepared before you go to the game will help you take your photographs to the next level. Rob brings it all together by working with three parents while they photograph their kids’ soccer game, providing them tips for shooting with everything from a mobile phone to a DSLR.

Love What You Do
Firstly, I’d like to thank Scott and Brad for inviting me to write this blog, it’s a real pleasure.

I write blog posts and articles for magazines all the time, with no problems at all and I thought it would be the same with this one as well, until I actually sat down to write it haha… A thousand ideas running through my head yet I was finding it hard to pin down one that I thought worthy. Who knew one would struggle with it even before I’d even began.

I blame it on a photographer’s mind for having too many ideas!

So, after much deliberation I thought I would write about what I like as a photographer. Well, just a little bit of it.

I’m a fashion, beauty, and advertising photographer. I’ve been in this industry for around 25 years. It’s been a tough journey with a lot of ups, but also a fair share of its downs too; the biggest being quite a few years ago, when a spinal injury took me out of the game for around six years. It also took all my clients and my established name too.

Coming back from that and having to start all over again without anyone knowing your name or your work was hard… not impossible, but certainly very hard, especially in a fast paced industry like fashion and beauty. It’s almost soul destroying when you phone one of your big magazine clients and say, “Hi, It’s Wayne Johns, I’m back!” and you get the empty reply of, “Sorry who are you?”

BANG – thats a tough pill to swallow!  This industry changes so fast, so sleep with one eye open! Hey, we may fall down but we can always get back up and carry on, can’t we? It’s what I did!

So, not wanting to make this a negative feeling post, what’s changed? Photography gear has for sure, not really in what it does but more how it does it, things are so much faster, better, sharper, more intuitive and so on. But most of all and more important than gear – I’ve changed. What I shoot, what I like to shoot, and even how I shoot. Even my preference to what kit I like to use and shoot with.

I’m certainly not saying photo gear is any sort of substitute for creativity or ideas. We all know that’s so not true, and you don’t need a camera to have an amazing idea/concept. But this can bring change in all of us, which can be good and bad. We often run to keep up with the speed of a fast moving world/industry when perhaps we should slow down a little to absorb and appreciate our creativity as artists. One of the most important things of all for us!

It’s funny, we often see photography as ‘capturing a brief moment in time,’ yet I always feel I never have enough time to capture all those beautiful moments or ideas I constantly have rushing through my mind. I’m pretty sure a lot of you out there also feel the same, but hey, there are only so many hours in a day.

I have a whole sketch pad full of ideas and concepts I’ve got nowhere near to shooting yet, not sure if I ever will as I always have new ones popping up. That said, photography is a beautiful thing! We love what we do and we do what we love. I think as photographers/creatives we’re very lucky to have a passion as a profession that we can call work.  Even if it’s not your profession and you’re an enthusiast or hobbyist, modern cameras have given us all the opportunity to capture all sorts of images and memories. It’s a great place to be in.

I love to photograph people, so I’m most definitely a people photographer. I enjoy being around people; they can be so diverse and everyone is just a little bit different. Their quirks, skills or personalities can sometimes help make or break a shot, and also make for an enjoyable shoot on set for you and your team. I’m sure we all like those moments when we’re out and about, having a nice coffee, and we sit silently sipping away while we indulge in a little ‘people watching’ as the world passes by. Ah the moments we could capture if we always had a camera in our hands.

So people are definitely my thing to shoot and they fill me full of inspiration. I love a happy studio/location. I like to smile, joke and be happy with who ever I’m working with so we can all enjoy our day. I find it really helps the shoot be more productive and fun too, and coffee and biscuits are a must though!

I’m happy to say I’ve progressed over the years and stepped up a notch since my very first Hanimex 110 flip film camera as a child. In fact, it wasn’t even mine. It was my mother’s, but I used to ‘borrow’ it on occasion when she wasn’t aware.

Now I love shooting with medium format. I always have since the days of film before moving over to digital. I kind of like the way it weirdly but naturally and instinctively slows us down, slows our erratic minds, our shooting process and the way we control and manage our shoot. We seem to take our time to enjoy our moments just a little bit longer. It’s a lovely tool that slows us down without us really knowing why.

Perhaps because on the film side of things we know we only get 10-12 frames, and in the digital world we know that medium format file sizes are huge and we’re aware that we have to store what we shoot on a vast array of hard drives. Or perhaps it’s just the way that medium format is one of those tools for helping us to relax and engage in a more creative and controlled process. I’m sure everyone has their own reasons. Either way, it’s a nice feeling to occasionally have that calm pace and breathing space.

I’ve used many MF systems in my time, both film and digital, but one I really love (and more importantly enjoy) shooting with is the one I use now, for 80% of my commercial work, and that’s my Fujifilm GFX50S mirrorless system. It’s an awesome piece of kit! Why do I love it? Well, apart form the physical form factor and truly amazing image quality, it’s smaller, lighter, and quieter than a lot of cameras, its even smaller/lighter than a Canon 5D, but this is medium format we’re talking about. It’s a small but rather big beast.

Medium format does give an image a different look and different feel compared to DSLR’s or Mirrorless CSC/FF cameras, The image quality of my GFX has an unsurpassed beautiful depth to its tonality with very smooth gradations of tonal ranges across the image. It gives a very creamy feel to backgrounds while your subject is ridiculously sharp and a subject to background separation almost reflective of 3D, even without shooting wide open apertures.

The dynamic range is incredible. I often demonstrate this in my workshops by purposely under exposing my image around 4 stops then pulling it back 5 stops in post, and it’s completely usable with little or no noise in the shadows. It’s sensor technology gone nuts, it’s almost like cheating! My GFX gives my images a very filmic look reminiscent from the film days which I adore, but with mind blowing detail and sharpness which is just out of this world. It’s a joy to handle and feels so easy to use, and, as it should be, you almost forget you’re holding a camera.

Bizarrely, it’s reignited my excitement for shooting again, which my other MF systems never did. I think that’s important for inspiring your personal work too; generally if you’re in a happier mood you’ll find you want to shoot more things. My GFX is now small enough that I often take it out with me wherever I go in a little shoulder bag that I used to carry my rangefinder around in. It’s so brilliant!

If you’ve never shot medium format, then I urge you to go out and give it a go, film or digital it’s your choice. Take your time, master your equipment and learn your skills, but enjoy it. You’ll find a new found love in your images for sure.

(Left) Full Shot // (Right) 100% Crop

Lighting wise, I’m a firm believer that simplest is best, and we don’t always need to complicate things, yet often we do. Now I’m not ignoring the fact that some projects require more complexed set ups than others… but I can’t help liking ‘one light set ups.’ I’d love to shoot a whole book project on it. There’s just this lovely simplistic beauty to them and also so much you can do with just one light and a bunch of reflectors. I’m aware my commercial world may dictate a different approach, but being able to create beautiful imagery with one light can be magical in the simplest form.

If you haven’t done it for a while, push yourself to go and do it again. Play with different light shapers to help you achieve different results, and remember reflectors can make all the difference. One camera, one light and a reflector… it’s already sounding simple and refreshing for the soul. Hard light, soft light, moody, emotive, high energy, seductive, expressive so many options and all achievable with one light. Go and get creative (and share your images too, it will be nice to see)!

Commercial work can be quite draining and sometimes very uninspiring creatively. We’re often shooting what a client wants and not what we want or how we want. Rightly so; the product is the most important thing in that shoot and not us. It comes with the job we have to accept that, and we all do it to pay the bills. So where can we break free from commercial constraints, apart from having a free rein in commercial projects? Our personal work of course!

I’m guilty, like most, of not shooting enough personal work, and I can’t instill the importance of shooting personal work. For many valid reasons, it certainly helps you to grow as a photographer, you can experiment with style, concept, approach, technique and lots of different ideas, you find what you like and what you don’t, it helps you see and realise what you’d do differently, and it helps build not only your body of work but also your character. It’s that kind of work that clients like to see because it says a lot about you as a person and they almost get to see the real you the artist.

If you get stuck for inspiration, even though there is a lot of amazing work out there to get inspired by, I sometimes use this little tip to get my creative thought processes going. I pick just five words and give myself a challenge of creating a shoot from it. It can be any five words you wish; try this right now, five words like: blue, shiny, cold, metal, fairytale. Hopefully those five words already has your mind crunching some ideas. If it inspires you go straight off to shoot something, please share your five words and your final image. It really is that simple to get inspired and sometimes the little lift we need when we have creative block or need a boost.

It’s kind of weird, as some of the ultimate greats like Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, David Bailey, Paolo Roversi, Herb Ritts, Albert Watson, Guy Bourdin, Cecil Beaton, Norman Parkinson, Patrick Demarchelier and many many more were some of my idols and inspiration throughout my developing career. They were quite simplistic in their approach, but with some outstanding results and imagery that helped shape where we are today. I almost feel that the commercial world and what I shoot now has taken me far away from what I followed as my inspiration. It just goes to show, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the industry, sometimes we all need to reflect on our work both past and present. Are you going in the right direction on your journey right now? If you’re lacking inspiration what do you need to do to get that creative buzz back again?

All of our journeys change throughout our photographic career, and how you do what you do can sometimes steer you into certain directions and open up other doors. For me at my current point in my journey, I find myself giving more talks, seminars and live workshops around the world, and I have to say I’m loving it. I’m at a point in my career where I have a good mix of commercial work too, which is a nice balance. I also have a young family, my 3-year old daughter, who I absolutely love spending time with. When she was born, I made to point to clear my diary of clients every Friday so I could have what I call ‘a daddy daughter day,’ as I didn’t want to miss her growing up. In three years I’ve only missed five Daddy Daughter days. Importantly a good life work balance can help you enjoy those moments of creativity and development a little bit more. :)

Photography is fun – sometimes challenging, but that makes for more fun! It can be a beautiful, creative, inspirational thing to do – go and enjoy it. Experiment, master your skills and create some beautiful images of your own. Shoot more (personal work) but shoot less (frames). Take your time to capture just what you’re after and keep in mind what you do now helps carve a path for tomorrow.

I think I should take a lesson from myself here on all of this!

I hope my words have given you some inspiration, and something to think about, please share some of your images with me if it has, I’d love to see what you’ve done (five words is all it takes).
Thank you for reading this.

You can see more of Wayne’s work at WayneJohns.com, and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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