Monday, October 20, 2014

Daily Exercises for Better Photos

I recently came across an article with several, seven to be exact, suggestions to apply daily to your photography with the promise that your pictures will improve. Jeff Meyer posted his ideas in "7 Daily Exercises That Will Make You a Better Photographer".
  1. Use spot metering for more exposure control
  2. Check the histogram to verify exposure
  3. Shoot with a prime (fixed length) lens
  4. Choose a specific white balance
  5. Create a custom white balance setting
  6. Use manual exposure mode
  7. Post one image every day
 I like these suggestions, but I'd make a couple of additions.

Tip #5 says to be careful when creating a custom white balance setting. I agree that is true. But I wouldn't create a custom white balance correction for every situation. Not only is this inconvenient, it can actually cause the camera to eliminate the golden glow of sunset or the rosy pink of sunrise.

Custom White Balance Icon on Canon Cameras

I do, however, recommend using custom white balance for indoor settings, especially those with mixed or unknown light sources. I made effective use of a custom white balance setting (even while shooting raw files) in the indoor arenas at the county fair this summer. I captured great color for all my shots and spent less time fixing the color in the computer.

Left unadjusted white balance; Right Custom White Balance

Tip #6 says that manual exposure mode is better than aperture priority or shutter priority exposure mode because these don't let you adjust the brightness or darkness of your photo. Actually, you can change the exposure the camera suggests in priority exposure modes. Just use the Exposure Compensation button.
Exposure Compensation icon

This button is labeled with a +/- symbol in a box. To use it, hold down the button to see a "ruler" style display or sometimes just numbers starting with "0.0". Rotate the appropriate camera dial (see the manual) to change the exposure.

Make the picture brighter by moving to the plus side or a positive number (+1).

Left unadjusted exposure; Right Exposure Compensation +1

Make the picture darker by moving to the minus side or a negative number (-1).

Left unadjusted exposure; Right Exposure Compensation -1

Using aperture or shutter priority is often faster than setting controls manually and you can still fine-tune your exposure using exposure compensation.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Output Workspace in Bridge CC

Bridge CC comes with several different work spaces which provide a variety of ways to display your photos. However, Bridge CC does not include a workspace I used frequently in Photoshop CS5 and CS6: the Output workspace.

Bridge CC Output Workspace showing a custom 3x3 contact sheet

Adobe has recognized this oversight and published instructions on how to add the Output workspace to your copy of Bridge CC. It works for both Windows and Mac systems. Follow the link below for instructions on how to add this useful workspace to your copy of Bridge CC.

Adding the Output Workspace to Bridge CC
The Output workspace lets you create a PDF document or web gallery of a group of images using a series of panels. I have used this feature to create a custom 3x3 contact sheet for sharing images with clients. I've also used it to create a PDF slide show (no music) that's easy to share with others via email and web. And I've used it to build simple web galleries to either upload to the Internet or save to a CD for sharing with friends.

An HTML web gallery created using the Bridge CC Output workspace

For directions on how to use the Output module for these and other layouts, visit the following web page. It has both written and video instructions for PDF and Web Gallery creations. Don't be concerned that the page references Photoshop CS5 and CS6. The instructions apply to Bridge CC as well.

Create Web Galleries and PDFs

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

New Missoula Night Classes Ready For Registration

My next round of night classes at +The Lifelong Learning Center are available for registration. These courses begin in November and conclude in December before the holidays.

Here's what's coming up:
  • Tips for Shooting with Wide-Angle Lenses
  • Exploring Photo Ideas (a class in creative seeing)
  • Photoshop Elements Workflow, Parts 1 & 2
See my web page for course details. To register, visit or call 406-549-8765.