34 posts

Snapseed on Desktop? Hell to the Yeah! A Quick How-To.

You can get Snapseed to work on a Windows (and Mac) Desktop. Well….. Sort of.

Snapseed is a popular photo editing app from Google that’s available for both Apple and Android mobile devices. It’s quite good and has a lot of useful features as well as some of the fun filters and overlays. It can even open and edit RAW files. I dig deeper into Snapseed in my book The Ultimate Guide to Mobile Photography (it’s a good book, you should buy it ? ). A list of compatible camera RAW formats is available on the Google Snapseed site. I can confirm that it will not open RAW files from the Nikon Z6. Non-compatible camera RAW formats can be converted to DNG using the Adobe DNG Converter.

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Are Luminance Masks Still Relevant in 2020?

In a word: Yes.

When I wrote The Digital Zone System: Taking Control from Capture to Print in 2012, the concept of luminance, or luminosity masks was still relatively new. Tony Kuyper was the one who really introduced the concept to photographers back in 2006. Not a lot of photographers were aware of the concept, or the power that the technique gave them in editing their photos. Since then, several others have written and blogged about the technique.

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Building a Mobile Office


Many photographers travel for both work and pleasure.

Much of the time the travel is temporary. A week, or so of vacation. A few days, or a week traveling on an assignment. Managing images in these situations isn’t usually that difficult. You take along a laptop, perhaps an external hard drive, or two. Generally editing is kept to a minimum until back home.

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Shoot the Moon!

Go grab some snacks and your preferred beverage because this one will be somewhat lengthy.

In the digital era of photography, interest in astrophotography has really gone <ahem> sky high. The relative ease of capturing and processing hundreds of photos to create compelling star trail images and dynamic shots of the Milky Way has helped propel interest in the genre. Nightscapes are very popular and are beautiful to look at. Darkness only exists in our minds. There is plenty of light at night and lots of great photos to be made.

In this article, I’m going to concentrate specifically on the Moon.

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Workflow – What is it good for?

If you read the musings here you’ll know that I like to co-opt song titles and lyrics. So, with a nod to Edwin Starr we’re going to talk about the idea of ‘workflow’.

What is workflow? It’s a term used a lot in photography but is it a term that people generally know what it means? Continue reading

Matrix Metering – The Silver Bullet?

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with another photographer recently.  He had taken some outdoor portraits and placed his subjects in a shaded area.  The background was in sunlight.  He used flash to light the subject but the background was, predictably, still quite bright.  He spot metered on his subject to come up with his exposure settings. Continue reading

Photo Basics – White Balance

Do you want your whites their whitest?  Use Tidy Det…. no, wait, wrong commercial.  Do you want your whites their whitest?  Use White Balance.  That’s better.  OK, I’ll stop with the bad humour now.

In this instalment of the ongoing Photo Basics series, we’re going to look at a camera control that can be confusing but really shouldn’t be:  White Balance.  In very simple terms, white balance is used to keep white things white.  Or grey things grey.  And all other colours their ‘proper’ colour too.  Note that I’ve highlighted the word ‘proper’.  We’ll come back to that later in the article.  Essentially white balance is used to maintain a ‘neutral’ colour balance.  Continue reading

Image Blending With Luminance Masks

In a recent article we looked at using luminance and density masks as a tool for sharpening images.  Today we’re going to look at using luminance masks as a tool for blending images to extend dynamic range.  It’s a very slick trick and much easier than manual blending using layer masks and painting in the image. Continue reading

Sharpening Using Luminance & Density Masks

There are countless ways to sharpen an image.  Unsharp Mask, Smart Sharpen, High Pass.  A while back I wrote an article on sharpening using Smart Objects to make your sharpening more versatile.  Today we’re going to look at a different way of doing creative sharpening using luminance and density masks. Continue reading

Intelligent Sharpening

There are many ways to go about sharpening digital images. Some very simple, others very complex. Some better than others. One of my personal favourites is the High Pass method which I wrote about in an earlier tutorial.

Something that seems nearly universal is the desire for ‘editable’ sharpening. That is, being able to go back and change it in the future if desired. The simple, straightforward methods like Unsharp Mask or Smart Sharpen don’t allow this. There are several ways to have adjustable sharpening; however, and we’ll talk briefly about a few of them and in more detail on one in particular. Continue reading

Photo Basics – Composition V

In the last article, we looked at the technique of ‘leading lines’.  In this article, we’re going to concentrate on one particular use of leading lines and something that can be a by-product of leading lines.

The particular form of leading line we’re going to look at this time is the S-Curve.  Last time we concentrated on straight lines as a way to lead the viewer into and through the image.  At the end of the article I showed an image that was shot two different ways and the second method produced an S-Curve.  So let’s look at it more closely. Continue reading

Photo Basics – Composition IV

In the first two articles of this series on composition, we looked at ways to break up the viewfinder to frame an image and place important scene elements off centre for enhanced visual interest.  In this instalment, we’re going to look at using elements that exist in the scene to create that visual interest through the use of Leading Lines. Continue reading

Photo Basics – Composition III

In the last instalment, we looked at a millenia-old compositional tool called the Golden Mean.  This time we’re going to look at one that’s popular more in photography and also can be a bit controversial.  It’s called The Rule of Thirds. I know, there’s that nasty “rule” word. Despite the name, again, think of it as a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. The reason it’s one of the most basic is because it’s so simple to implement. The reason it’s so controversial is because some treat it like a dogmatic edict from the Mount Olympus of Photographic Art and think every image must adhere to it without wavering in the slightest. The simple part is true. The dogmatic edict part is pure codswallop. Or as some of my UK friends would say, bollocks. Continue reading

Photo Basics – Composition II

In the first instalment of this series, we looked at why the guidelines of composition work and we defined what composition is.  Now we’re going to start looking at some of the actual compositional tools artists use in creating imagery. Continue reading

Photo Basics – Filters

So far in the series, we’ve looked at the three components that make up exposure:  the shutter; the aperture; and the ISO setting.  I call this the Exposure Triumvirate.  We’ve also looked at what information a histogram conveys and how reading a histogram needs to be done in context with the image.  And we’ve looked at exposure meters, what they do and how the can be fooled.

In this instalment, we’ll take a look at filters.  We’ll look at some of the different types available, discuss what they do and how they can be used.  Now, there are literally hundreds of different filters available on the market.  Some are special effects filters that, for example, create starbursts out of specular highlights.  Some are filters that create a vignette in the image.  We’re not going to delve into these.  Similarly we’re not going to discuss filters that are used in conjunction with flash or other studio lights.  We’re going to discuss the major types of photographic filters that are (or were) some of the more commonly used and that most photographers will have in their kit bag if they have filters at all.  I say ‘were’ because some of the filters we’ll talk about are colour contrast filters that are used primarily with film; although they can be used with digital as well. Continue reading

Seeing in Black & White Pt IV

We’ve talked about how various colours convert to different shades of grey in earlier instalments of this article series. We’ve also talked about the importance of certain colours in greyscale and about the different components that make up colour – and thus grey – in the third part of the series.

In this part of the series, we’re going to take a look at something more subtle but nonetheless relevant.  That’s white balance.  Can the choice of white balance affect a conversion from colour to black & white?  It definitely can.  This is something that film shooters have known for years, that the colour of the light in the scene would have an impact on the effect of colour contrast filters used on the lens and rendered on the film.  Intuitively it makes sense. Continue reading

Seeing in Black & White Pt III

In the first part of this series, I wrote about training the eye to ‘see’ in greyscale tones by converting colour into shades of grey. In this part of the series, we’ll break that down a little further.

In that first part of the series, we looked at how colours can translate into the same or similar shades of grey.  We also talked about the use of colour contrast filters with black & white film to block or pass certain wavelengths (colours) of light to expose the film differently and create tonal contrast.  We also looked at how this can be mimiced in the digital darkroom with the available tools. Continue reading

Advanced Display Profiling

If you’ve linked to this sub-article from the main Colour Management 101 post, then you’re probably looking for information on getting your display profile even more accurate.  The information in the main article will work quite well and with some profiling solutions with feature limited software, may be the only way to go.

For those who are doing more serious printing or other commercial work and who have profiling hardware with more advanced software, the following discussion may be useful. Continue reading