Post-processing symposium

DSC03347smThis weekend the Teton Photography Group is hosting their 3rd symposium, Post Processing for Digital Photography in the Black Box theater at the Art Center in Jackson Hole.

If you have taken many photographs but aren’t sure how to process them to get them to the next level, this is the event to attend.

Many photographers take shots and then just email/print/post them as is and they receive a tepid response. Why is this? Because they aren’t sure what their final image was going to look like when they took the shot. Visualization of what the final product is going to look like is of the utmost importance when photographing. Otherwise you end up with shots looking like they were taken in a parking lot.

You will be motivated and excited by the speakers, as all of us have experience in how to make images better. But it’s not about our ability to make images better, it’s about us teaching you how to make YOUR shots better. All of the speakers are entertaining, educational and, most importantly, accessible. We do our best to answer questions and to help guide you through the labyrinth of photo editing.

9 panel, 3-d panorama stitch
9 panel, 3-d panorama stitch

This symposium will cover some shooting and composition with respect to post processing, that is, what you do after you click the shutter. How do you use Lightroom, what’s the best way to edit your shots, and more advanced techniques for:

  • Panorama multi-image shooting
  • HDR (high dynamic range) images
  • Focus stacking
  • Black and white processing

These symposiums have been very well received because attendees get a lot of education for their time and the nominal cost. If you have ever wanted to learn the basics of how to make your photographs look better, this is the event to attend.

Click here for the symposium link and become a better photographer today.

Jackson Hole Daily news article about the symposium
Jackson Hole Daily news article about the symposium


Off-camera strobe teaser

Off-camera with fill

To get people excited for my two upcoming strobe photography classes at the Art Association of Jackson Hole, I’ve decided to post some samples to show what you can do with you get the strobe (flash) off the camera.

First, you need a strobe that can be triggered remotely, either wired or wirelessly.  There are a multitude of ways to do that.  We’ll cover that in the class.

The photo at the right shows the final image (click to see a larger version).  The background isn’t nice but that’s not the point.  Look at the texture of the trilobite I collected from the desert a few years back.

You can see depth, shape, texture.  How is this accomplished?

With shadows.

Once you get to a two-dimensional photograph, the only cue for texture is shadow.  You can kind of guess when there isn’t, but it’s pretty darned difficult.  I used one off-camera strobe and the on camera flash for fill.  More on that in a moment.

Direct flash
Direct flash

Now to the left, you can see a photo taken with just the on-camera flash of a Nikon D800.  Pretty ugly compared to the one above, right?  This is the type of photograph of something you’ll see on eBay.  Even some wedding “photographers” think their little pop-up flash will do a good job (and charge a lot for it).

We don’t want to do that.  We want to create convincing, dramatic photographs.  Does every shot have to be art?  No.

But it took me about 2 minutes of making adjustments to go from the shot on the left to the shot above.  Is the balance as perfect as I’d like?  No, but you get the point, it’s easy to see the trilobites are there, that they have depth and they are interesting.  The direct flash gives you none of that feeling.

It’s a dramatic change.

The next shot is done with purely off-camera flash.  It looks a little overly shadowed, right?

Off-camera only
Off-camera only

This is way too dramatic for this object.

That’s where the concept of fill-flash comes in handy.  Even though we’ve got the strobe off-camera, the shadows are so dark that they distract from the subject.  This is something we don’t want to do, either.  For this shot, I wanted to emphasize the subject and not the shadow.  In another blog entry, I’ll cover the shadows as negative space, an art concept.  Sometimes you want to draw attention to the shadows.

But not in this shot.  I wanted to show texture without making it look like a film-noir for ancient dead creatures.  There are plenty of b-movies with those.  For very flat objects, it does take a little work to get some drama out of them.  Even a piece of paper can be made to look interesting.  I’ll show that in another blog entry.

I was shooting perfectly flat petrified wood tables for By Nature Gallery and, with a little effort and off-camera strobes, I made the tables come alive.  Even though they’re perfectly smooth, the little crystals inside the petrified wood just pop with color.  Getting the strobe off-camera made those shots possible.  (note that the photos on their site are not mine, mine are in their brochure)

Getting texture out of seemingly flat things is just one of the concept that I will be teaching in my strobe (flash) photography class.

Click on any of the photos to see a higher resolution shot to see what I’m talking about.

Flash photography class

The listing for my first flash photography class at the Art Association of Jackson Hole is up!Flash photo class listing

Click here for the site link.

If you ever wondered how photographers get some of those wow shots, I can promise you that they probably didn’t use an on-camera flash.  They took their strobe (flash) off camera.  If you think getting started is expensive, it’s not.  Basic ones cost less than $100.  They just need manual power control.  A hot shoe connection or an optical slave are very inexpensive, too.

How do you do get your strobe off camera, you ask?  Well, sign up for the class at the art center and find out.  Even if you don’t own a strobe, you will learn a lot more about photography and how to get better images out of your camera.

For the amount of education and time you get with this class, the price is incredibly cheap!  To get this much private time with a photographer would cost you at least 5x what the class costs.  My private workshops aren’t this inexpensive – it’s a steal.  This is better than online tutorials, too.  You will have the chance to pepper me with questions, ones that you just couldn’t find or get answers for on the web.  And even if you found those answers on the web, I’ll be able to show you how to make it happen.

There will be plenty of time for in-class demonstrations.  Live.  Right there in front of you.  If you want to try something a little different, maybe photograph an object you want to look good, it’s possible we can adjust and toss it on the table.  You will see what it really takes, what the process is, and how to get the end result.  The best part is, I will have my camera hooked up to the computer and then the projector so you will be able to see shots as they happen.  I won’t try and show you just the back of the camera LCD.  That’s lame and not high-tech.  You will be able to see the shots as they come off the camera.  What the mistakes are, what they look like, and how to develop your shot.  How cool is that?

Strobe photography is fun!
Strobe photography is fun!

There will be a second, more advanced class in late February, too.  This class will focus on the use of one or two flashes.  The second flash photography class will focus on three and four flashes to really take your photography to a wow level.  Even if you are not interested in doing commercial work, which multiple flash photography usually entails, you will learn so much more about photography and the process than you ever imagined.  You will look at the world, through your lens, with completely different eyes.

We will be using the camera in manual mode, too.  This will be one of the major topics of my intermediate photography classes in March and April.  Dont’ miss those.  You will get out of basic automatic mode.  You certainly didn’t spend $700-$6000 on a camera only to use it in the mode with the least control.  You might have paid that much to have the camera do all the thinking for you, but your camera can do so much more.  So can you!

Once the other class links are up, I’ll post them here.  If you have questions about the class, email me, contact on Facebook, Twitter or whatever.  Heck, even do the old-fashioned thing and call.