As you can tell from the header adjustments, a new eBook is coming out in a few weeks, and I would like to devote a bit of it to some user generated thoughts, so now’s your chance – tell me, what are your favorite methods for black and white conversion methods on your images?
Personally, I have a few presets in Lightroom and a few templates in Photoshop that I use regularly to make some default black and white conversion adjustments, then I do a bit of manual massaging and tweaking depending on the photo itself. In the upcoming eBook, I am going to cover these black and white conversion methods in detail, and even share a few of my own favorite presets as well. All that said, I would very much like to hear your thoughts and methods that you use.
Here’s a few options to kick start the thoughts in the comments section:
In Camera (changing your camera settings)
In Photoshop via Channel Mixer
In Photoshop (or Lightroom) via Hue/Saturation adjustments
In Photoshop (or Lightroom) via canned templates or pre-sets.
A combination of canned settings and manual adjustments.
You’ll get much more detail in the upcoming eBook, so if you are interested in learning any of the above techniques, don’t forget to pre-register for it at half off the regular price. This one is gonna be a doozy of an eBook, and there’s only two weeks left! If you want to get the announcement when the eBook comes out, subscribe from the link below
Or…if you want to get it at half off the regular retail price, sign up for the pre-release price and you’ll get the eBook the day before launch!
One of the worst moments in photography is when you get things back on the computer from a shoot to see that dreaded blur instead of an awesome photo (or awesome photos)! If only you had been able to stabilize the camera more. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been confidant enough in my own abilities to think “I can hand hold that shot”.
The truth of the matter is, most of us can’t! So, avoid the blur whenever possible When trying to capture images where light is low, a sense of movement is desired, or any other scenario where shutter speeds drop perilously low, getting that camera stable is critical! Here are eight ways to make that happen:
1. Use a Tripod – Shots taken with tripods are inherently more stable than their handheld counterparts. Nothing stabilizes things like an inanimate object!
2. Use a Monopod – With the tripod police out in force more and more, they are being allowed less and less in a number of areas. If a tripod isn’t permitted, a monopod may be an alternative worth considering.
3. Use Your Surroundings – Okay, so the tripod wasn’t allowed, the monopod you forgot, but there’s still a chance to catch that shot. The answer lies in using your surroundings. Brace the camera against a tree, a fencepost, a car, or whatever is available. They key is to make your camera stationary.
4. Bump the ISO – As much as I try to avoid increasing ISO, the newer cameras available do a great job of smoothing, and even then, software post production options are also pretty advanced at cleanup afterward. So, if you have to, go ahead and bump the ISO settings to shoot fast and still retain exposure accuracy.
5. Hold that Camera – I know some shooters who claim to be able to hand hold as slow as 1/30th of a second, and one of their “secrets” is a secure grip on the camera. Make sure you’re holding your camera right and not flapping your arms out beside you, all fingers around the edges (like a camera phone), and you can get better shots.
6. Shoot between Breaths – Yup, you can shoot between breaths. It’s key to remember not to hold your breath, but rather inhale slowly, exhale slowly, and that momentary gap between breaths is a moment when your body rhythms are not moving at all, heartbeat included!
7. Slide that Finger – No, not that one! Your shutter finger is what I am talking about. So many people tend to jab the shutter, but that pushes the camera and can introduce movement. Make it a slow slide with increasing pressure, almost as if the shutter release is an afterthought.
8. Watch Your Feet – Standing with your feet together like a ballerina is never a good idea when shooting. Your center of gravity rises, and you are unstable. When you are unstable, so is your camera. The same holds in the opposite extreme, so keep your feet about shoulder width apart when shooting.
If you like these tips, keep in mind, there’s 90 more tips just like these in my eBook Combo Kit where you get both 49 Photo Tips, Volumes I and II:
There are, of course, other tools and methods to help make your photos better, but these 8 ways to add stability are just a primer to get you on the right track to making the most of your time behind the lens! Know of any other ways to help stabilize a shot? Anything I missed or that particularly speaks to you and your own techniques? Sound off in the comments or via email!
Making better pictures comes in three forms – better setup, better composition, and better post production. You will make your best shots if you improve in each of these areas. So, today, I’m going to share a technique I’ve used in my Lightroom workflow to take boring and bad photos to make them beautiful in post production. Here’s where we’re going to go:
So, the final product looks pretty good here, right? It means we must have had a keeper to begin with, right? Well, not necessarily – the first shot looked like it was under-exposed, and could easily have been thrown out. Take a look:
Yeah, it looks pretty bland – there’s no pop, the shadows are too dark, the blues in the sky are bland, and it’s something that we might just blow past as an under-exposed shot. The truth is though – we’ve gotta trust the histogram when using our Lightroom workflow. Take a look:
What we have to remember is that there are no blown highlight details or shadow details lost according to our histogram. We’ve got detail on both ends. What the histogram is telling us though, is that more of our photo is in shadow than in highlights. We do have some of both, but we need to bring some balance to it. So, let’s get started!
In getting started, we need to bring out the shadow detail more, but I also want to bring some of those highlights down a little too, because it just looks a little too harsh. Here’s the default scene inside of Lightroom. Let’s see what happens when we bring the highlights down – and when I say “down”, I mean way down!
See how the harshness of the sky on the right has been pulled back? Much better, but we still need to bring out some of that shadow detail on the next step in the Lightroom workflow, so, let’s take a look:
Now we’re talking! We can see the details in the red rocks. It’s still kind of bland though, without a lot of pop to it. This is where the Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation sliders for my Lightroom workflow come into play. Here, it’s a matter of personal tastes, and any one persons preferences are so subjective, I don’t want to say “Do it this way”. But, for my taste, I like my pictures to pop, so here’s my results from adjusting the CVS sliders:
Remember, it’s just my personal tastes, but I like the settings of 50-15-15 through to really get some eye-dropping pop in my photos. It’s pretty nice, but if I push these sliders much further, it will start to look garish. This means I need to dabble a little with the tone curve in my Lightroom workflow to get the pop that I am looking for. So, in remembering the histogram, I am wanting a bit more detail from the dark and the bright areas need to pop a little more too without getting lighter. Here’s where I made some tone curve adjustments:
The pop is really starting to take shape here…but the red still need a little more brightness to them to really keep the look and feel consistent wit what I want the image to look like once all is said and done. To do that, I dive into the color palette, grab the red luminosity slider in my Lightroom workflow and crank it up all the way. The results are pretty nice!
With the develop panel moving down toward the bottom, I am revealing the details of what I did wrong during capture…my ISO settings were too high given the exposure levels! I was shooting at 1/800th of a second, and my ISO was at 800 as well! It’s an “oops” for sure, but thankfully, we can compensate for it thanks to the benefits of our Lightroom workflow and it’s noise reduction feature. We’ll also take care of our post production sharpening here too. Remember, less is more (over-sharpening leads to halos, and over-application of the noise reduction tends to cause a buttery fake look to images). But, we still need to take care of the details:
It’s at this point when I noticed a dust bunny from my lens (see near the top of the sky). So, I headed back up to the top of the Develop Module to take care of business:
Now that I’ve fixed the dust bunny, it’s time to move onto my final step..my lens correction! No matter how good your lens is, there are imperfections, from chromatic aberrations to edge distortions. The general rule of thumb is that the wider the lens, the more edge distortion there is. Since I shot this with my 10-22 which is an ultra-wide, there’s some substantial distortion to fix. So, let’s take a look:
At this point, I’ve pretty much done all the edits I need. The image went from mundane to beautiful, and is something worth sharing with the world! What do you think? Any developing techniques you’ve learned about my Lightroom workflow that you’d like to share? Sound off in the comments with what you like and what you’d change in this 8 step Lightroom post process!
For those of you that prefer audio/video tutorials, I’ve done a short YouTube video walking through my Lightroom Workflow. It’s a lot faster than the read, but some details are lost if you tend to go after minutia: