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


Jewelry photography

Ring test-118-EditJewelry photography is one of the most difficult technical photographic skills out there. Even after you get a handle on the lighting and setup, that is only 30% of the process. More than likely you’ll have to do focus stacking to get the maximum sharpness for an image, and that can be after using a tilt-shift lens. After getting all the photographs taken, there’s still  50% of the job to be done in post-processing to get the image even close to what a client wants.

Take for example the ring in the upper right hand image. It is 60 years old and has seen a lot of use. The piece is very dear to the client and they wanted the best image possible within a budget.

This was a tall order, as the rhodium plating has worn off in many spots and the casting of the ring shows a lot of pores. Getting the look just right for their use takes quite a bit of work. The bottom Ring test-051diamond has a big chip in it, the ruby has several inclusions and surface defects. Of course, all of these are invisible when the ring is worn. But when the client needs a photograph for it, all the defects become painfully apparent.

You can see how the image started with in the bottom right picture. The color is off. The depth of field is shallow, the background is not white, on and on. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

Some of the imperfections have been left, as the client did not want to make the ring “too perfect”. Just good enough for their use.

Product photograph – wine

Wine bottle
Wine bottle

Photographing products is one of my specialities. I take great care in making sure the image looks exactly like the client wants it. Today’s case in point – a bottle of wine out of a case.

If you click on the image, you’ll see a higher resolution sample of the work. This bottle had quite a few wear marks on the label as well as dings in the actual glass. It added to the post-processing time but the final result is well worth the effort.

The actual photography of the bottle didn’t take too long. But the bottom label gave me some trouble because it has gold foil. As soon as I lit the bottom label for the gold foil, it ruined the dark color of the black, making it an ugly hazy gray. That required some extra work that I would have prefered to avoid doing, but doing all the usual tricks to lighten up the gold foil ended up making other problems worse. So, a little magic and voila.

Original image
Original image

As you can see in the picture on the left, the original, there is quite a bit of damage on the label and some in the bottle. That caused some extra trouble, too. The bottle was very dirty and the cleaning process left the edges of the label shredded. The holding stand is of course visible and the left side of the image isn’t perfectly white.

As I was able to make the background around the bottle 255 white, I didn’t have to do any time-consuming (and sometimes miserable) post-processing select, trimming, pen tool, or other work. It’s just such a joy to get the area around the product white enough that I don’t have to do anything more with it. So often, masking the product out of the background vaporizes more time than anything else. So if I can get it white, I do it.

The super clamp came in handy to hold the wine bottle on the light stand, as I didn’t have my regular platform. This worked out okay, though it was a little precarious. Nothing bad happened in the end.

Now it is time to open that wine.

Photoshop for photographers

Photoshop interface
Photoshop interface

There is still time to sign up for my Introduction to Photoshop for Photographers at the Jackson Hole Art Association. In this class, we will cover all of the basics you’ll need as a photographer to get the most out of Photoshop.

The software is complex and can be daunting. In this course, we’ll get you comfortable with making your way around the software, getting everything set up and helping to improve your photographs. If you’re serious about your photography, this class is definitely worth the time.

You’ll learn some of the tip, tricks, and power-user techniques that will make you more confident and efficient with your Photoshop use. Whether you like to just dabble or you’re looking for some more serious usage of the software, this class is a great introduction. You’ll learn what all of those icons in the picture to the right mean and how you can use them.

Photoshop for photographers

Photoshop logoMy Photoshop for Photographers class at the Jackson Hole Art Association is taking students now. Enroll for the class and learn how to use photoshop to improve, adjust, and deliver your photographs.

This is the class description:

If you want to make more of your photographs using Photoshop, then this class is for you. You will feel comfortable making your way around the software by the end of the course. We will cover workflow, setup, filters, rotation, cropping and retouching techniques. You will learn how to use layers to apply effects non-destructively, how to set color, curves, hue and saturation. Resolution, resizing, and sharpening will also be covered, as well as how to place and decorate text. This is a hands-on class.

Rollerderby Matrix
Rollerderby Matrix

One of the keys to this software is the ability to make non-destructive edits to your photographs. Why is this important? Say you’ve made several modifications to the curves, levels and color tint of your photograph. Just as you are making some corrections to dust, you notice that you don’t like the curve adjustment. With destructive software, there is no way to go back. Photoshop has what are called layers. These layers, when used properly, allow you to make a huge amount of changes and selectively add and disable them as you desire.

Photoshop is an amazingly complex and daunting program. For the first time user, it can be quite intimidating. I will demystify some of the basics you’ll need to get more out of the software as a photographer. So often, Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) is used by graphic artists to do incredible work.

As the name implies, the original software was designed for photographers to manipulate and improve their photographs. Over the years, Adobe added a whole slew of capabilities and tools to the software to make it useful not only to photographers but graphic artists as well.

The picture at the right shows you just a smattering of what you can do with the software. From Photoshop CS3 and on to CC, Adobe added the ability to do basic 3-D work as well as edit video. Photoshop is not After Effects or Final Cut Pro, but it gives you the ability to add the amazing effects that you see in any movie that has special effects.

But before you get to the point where you’re doing some insane work, you have to have a handle on the basic controls as a photographer. This class will help you get there.

The intermediate class Photoshop for Photographers in August will touch on the above plus how to do selections, cloning, masking, and how to use some of the more advanced features of this software.

Prep for teaching: Watch at the South Pole

One thing I had been meaning to do for a while was photograph the

Casio G-Shock ProTrek PRW5100 that went to the South Pole
Casio G-Shock ProTrek PRW5100 that went to the South Pole

watch It’s Jackson Time, one of my expedition sponsors, provided me with.  Ted, the owner, was very good and made sure I had an excellent expedition time piece to trek across Antarctica with.

Although the Casio ProTrek PRW5100-1 is no Rolex, it has certain features I loved.  Having analog for checking time at a glance was wonderful.  It had been forever since I had an analog watch and I never realized how much more quickly I could watch my time during skiing.  Also, the analog face does not develop lag like an LCD nor does it turn black when looking at it with polarized glasses.  And, I could leave the watch out and still read it.  LCD-based watches would turn to unreadable mush at -40 deg. F.

One of the purposes for photographing this watch was to fine-tune my product shooting skills for a few classes I’m teaching at the Art Association of Jackson Hole.  I will be teaching four different classes.  Stay tuned for their description, purpose and audience.  I will be targeting intermediate shooters with one course and have a class on strobe (flash) photography.  Hence the above photograph.

The class dates and exact description will be forthcoming.

ProTrek PRW5100 unretouched
ProTrek PRW5100 unretouched, what it looked like after the south pole

Note: The above watch went with me to the South Pole.  It’s a little more beat up than the above shows.  It took a sick amount of Photoshop work to take out most of the dings, scratches, fuzzies, and specs.

Here’s the original image before editing: