Friday, December 19, 2014

Making Ethereal Macro Shots in Camera or in Processing

Colleague Tony Rizzuto has written a pair of articles for the Rocky Mountain School of Photography's blog on macro photography. In them he explains how to create a dreamy, double-exposure effect that's awesome for flower close-ups. You can do this either with your camera, if it has a multiple exposure option, or with photo editing software like Photoshop or Elements (version 10 or newer). Check out the links here.

Double Vision Part 1: Making Your Macro Shots Stand Out
This article describes how to create the effect in camera. If your digital camera does not have a multiple exposure setting, get your hands on a film camera with a multiple exposure feature. Nearly all auto focus film SLRs have this. To ensure your double exposure is not too bright, adjust the ISO setting on the camera using this formula:

number of exposures X film ISO = new film ISO setting

For example, if you want to make two exposures and are using ISO 200 film, set the camera's ISO dial to 400.

2 exposures X 200 ISO = 400 ISO

Now expose your subject normally following Tony's suggestions for focus.

The image of the old headstone below simulates what an in-camera double exposure would look like. My image was made by sandwiching two separate film slides, one in focus and one out of focus, in one slide mount.

Orton effect sandwiching two film slides in one slide mount

Double Vision Part 2: Faking It!
This post describes how to create the effect after the shoot using editing software. Tony references a video tutorial on creating this effect which uses Guided Edit in Elements 10. In this version of Elements the Orton Effect is listed under Photography Effects (also under Photo Effects in Elements 12). In Elements 13 the Orton Effect appears under Camera Effects in the Guided Edit section.

Be sure to enlarge your photo to 100% (View > Actual Pixels) to check the effect of the Noise slider. It is easy to overdo this control. How much noise you want or need also depends on whether you are displaying the photo on screen or on paper. You may need less noise for screen images and more for the result to be visible on paper prints.

Original photo
Orton Effect with Guided Edit in Elements

You can also create the effect manually in Elements using the same steps as Tony shows for Photoshop. The only difference is that the Transform > Scale command in Elements is under Image > Resize > Scale. I like the manual results better because they produce less increase in saturation.

Orton Effect Manually in Elements
These are great ways to think forward to spring in the midst of winter.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Winter 2015 Classes Posted

My next round of night photography classes in Missoula are now open for registration. Choose from both camera and photo editing classes.

Camera Classes
  • Getting to Know Your Digital SLR Camera
  • Photo Composition
  • Better Close-up Photos
  • Black & White Photography
Photo Editing Classes 
  •  Photoshop Elements Workflow - Part 3: Selections
  • Advanced Black & White Photography
  • Shooting & Processing Digital Camera Raw Files
You can read descriptions on my web site and register by phone at 406-549-8765 or online at The Lifelong Learning Center.

I hope to see you in 2015!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Practicing Photography---Ideas for keeping your skills fresh

Whether you are a beginner just starting to become comfortable with your camera controls or you're an experienced shooter, it's useful to spend time on a regular basis cementing or refreshing your camera technique and visual skills. Here are a variety of resources with ideas to get you started.

Visual Exercise is Good for You by Rob Sheppard
In this post, Sheppard offers a few ideas for visual exercises to keep your skills sharp & have fun. One suggestion is to photograph the same scene with both a wide angle and a telephoto focal length. Below are two examples.

Wide angle left; telephoto right

Wide angle top; telephoto bottom

These web sites provide lists of topics and ideas you can explore with your camera. 

33 Easy Photography Projects to Strengthen Your Portfolio
My favorite ideas from this site are ones that have you photographing over a time period, making (and sharing) a photo a week (52 annually) or a photo a day (365 annually). Either requires a commitment on your part. If those seem like a daunting project, try a photo a day for a month. That's only 30 pictures, less than a roll of film (from the good ol' days).

15 Creative Photography Project Ideas to Get You Shooting
This site's unique suggestions include "geophoto", photographing locations of geocaches; homelessness, paying homeless people $2 to make their picture; photographing one of your meals a day for a month; and making 10 visits to the same landscape location in a month.

Photography Projects: 21 great ideas for creative photos
From this post, I like "From the Hip," shooting without looking through the camera on your daily commute or weekly stroll; "Project 50," using a 50mm lens for 50 days to create 50 photos (you could pick any focal length/days/photos combination); and "City Swap," photographing in a town completely different from yours.

If you would rather review a book of ideas and examples, check out these options.

Ten Photo Assignments to develop your photographic skills by Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler (available in paperback or electronic version)

This book contains 10 exercises to help you get to know your camera controls better. While it often suggests extra equipment (like a hand-held incident light meter), you don't need these things to complete the exercises.

Photo Idea Index by Jim Krause

This book contains a plethora of ideas for digital photography projects. The author has made all the pictures in the book using both point & shoot as well as DSLR model cameras. And he encourages photo editing techniques to expand your results. Though it appears to be out of print, there are plentiful used copies available for next to nothing.

Taking a look at any of these options should give you plenty of material for a winter of photography exploration and beyond.