Street Photography VII

The discussion of editing has been left till now because it is, to me, of lesser importance than the rest. But it is also logically what follows what has come before it. Only after we have been out taking pictures do we begin the work of editing. It is for that reason, as well, that the next section on telling stories through a body of work comes after this one. It is only after we have culled and edited that we can begin to curate the finished photos into a coherent story, ready to show to others. Continue reading

HDR Tutorial

After completing the review series on various HDR software programs and talking about how well each could create realistic and grunge/surrealistic results, I figured it might be appropriate to put together a more in depth tutorial on how the results were obtained as well as some of my own, personal, approaches to shooting and editing for HDR.

The tutorial will concentrate on using Photomatix from HDRSoft but the techniques discussed for using PM apply to other HDR software programs as well. The names of the individual tonemapping operators may be different but the functionalities are much the same. Continue reading

Advanced HDR Editing – Tutorial

When we’re working with tonemapped HDR images, sometimes additional editing is needed or desired.  Why?  Well, if we look at HDR as a way to expand dynamic range and as a way to give us a better starting point; rather than looking at HDR as an endpoint, then it makes sense that additional tweaking may be something we want to do.  In addition to that, the HDR process can sometimes do funny things with colours that we don’t want.  I wrote about HDR being a starting point in an earlier blog post,“The Great HDR Debate” .

What we’re going to look at in this tutorial are a couple methods to work with tonemapped HDR images to give us a the final image we want.  One approach is going to involve layer masks and the other is going to use layer blending modes.  The layer mask adjustment is going to build on my earlier layer mask tutorial.

Earlier this summer I shot some interiors of a well known cathedral in Toronto – St. Michael’s Catholic Cathedral.  My intent when I went into the church was to build on the ‘artistic architectural’ project.  It’s a terrific space with wonderful stained glass and architectural features.  The painting on the ceiling is magnificent. Continue reading

Canvas Extension – Tutorial

Canvas has become a very popular printing media with the explosion of digital photography and digital printing.  Canvas can impart a very appealing texture and painterly look to a photo.  In addition to printing on canvas, the gallery wrap has become a well used method of presenting the canvas print.  The gallery wrap can be hung as an unframed piece which helps cut down on costs and the look has a finished yet unfinished look that many find appealing.

A gallery wrap is done by stretching the canvas around a set of stretcher bars and stapling the canvas to the back of the stretchers.  These are the same kinds of wooden stretchers painters have used for centuries.  Some will say that only the thicker, 1 1/2″ stretchers can be called a gallery wrap and anything smaller (e.g., the 3/4″ size) is referred to as a museum wrap.  Personally, I distinguish the two this way – A gallery wrap is fully wrapped around the stretchers and stapled on the back.  The sides that wrap around the stretcher frame is either a colour (as opposed to the canvas white) or an the actual image itself.  In this case, whether the heavier 1 1/2″ or smaller 3/4″ stretchers are used, the stretched piece can be hung without a frame.  A museum wrap is stapled on the side of the stretcher doesn’t wrap fully around and the sides of the canvas may or may not be coloured or an extension of the image.  A museum wrap is intended to be framed.

What if we don’t want to lose any of the image by wrapping it around the stretcher?  Then we either need to find a way to fill the edges of the canvas with a solid colour or to extend the image fully to the edges.  This tutorial will walk you through the steps to extend the image to the edges of the canvas but not lose any when the piece is wrapped.  Huh?  Read on. Continue reading

Layer Masks – Tutorial

Layer masks are one of the most useful tools in digital editing. The amount of flexibility Layer Masks give you in making selective and subtle changes makes learning how to use them very helpful.

Creating a Layer Mask is very simple. Duplicate your layer then go to Layer>Layer Mask at which point you’ll have the choice to Hide All or Reveal All. Which you choose depends on how you want to use the mask. If you want to use the mask to selectively add an effect to a photo you’ll choose Hide All. If you want to use the mask to selectively remove an effect from a photo you’ll choose Reveal All.

Once you’ve chosen Hide or Reveal, you next choice is in which paint colour you’re going to use to adjust the Layer Mask. If you’ve chosen Hide All then you’ll select white as your foreground paint colour. If you’ve chosen Reveal All, you’ll select black as your foreground paint colour. Painting on a Layer Mask with white reveals and painting with black hides. Continue reading

Blended Exposures – Tutorial

Blending exposures is a technique to allow you to effectively increase the brightness range (dynamic range) in a photograph beyond what the film or sensor can capture normally.  You might be thinking, ‘well isn’t that what HDR is supposed to do?’  And you’d be right.  Some people don’t like HDR.  Some people don’t find HDR software overly easy to use or can’t get the tonemapping done the way they want.  Sometimes you don’t need 5 or 7 or 9 exposures to get the result you want.  The technique of blending exposures has been practised for many years and is still a useful tool to have in the toolbox.

To do this, you need at least two exposures of a photo at different exposure settings.  One properly exposed for the highlights, with dark shadows and one properly exposed for the shadows with overly bright highlights.  It’s best if the middle values in the different images you use are close to the same  The middle values may be a bit dark on the highlight shot and a bit bright on the shadow shot but still fairly close. Continue reading

Orton Imagery – Tutorial

As mentioned elsewhere on the site, Orton images are a style of photography named after well known Canadian photographer Michael Orton. Similar in some ways to impressionistic images in that they make use of more than one exposure but different in the feeling they evoke and the visual interest they generate.

Ortons are made from two exposures. The first is made in focus with a small aperture to generate greater depth of field. The second is out of focus and with a large aperture to minimise depth of field. Layering one over top of the other creates a soft, almost dreamlike result.

As with impressionistic images, Ortons can be made on film or digitally.

If done on film, they can be done in camera on a single frame or, using slide film, with two separate frames sandwiched together after the fact. Continue reading