Capturing Emotions, The Human Condition.

Introduction

This was a talk presented to the Manitoba Camera Club, February 3, 2015 and The Winnipeg South Photo Club, March 18, 2015.

The Art of Emotion

Tonight we are about to embark on a journey to try and gain a deeper understanding of photography. We are going to delve into the mysteries of capturing emotions and feelings in two dimensional digital images. Can a photograph depict and evoke feelings that are deeper than say a raw journalistic capture of a shooting, accident or riot. We know how those make us feel. My hope is we’ll have some understand of these subtle dynamics by evenings end and how you can apply it to your images.

One of the gallery experiences I enjoyed over the past 5 years allowed me to interact with photographers both local and from around the world. These conversations allowed for the sharing of ideas and concepts, combined with my continued work and studies in processing images, I began to formulate a theory on the understanding of how emotions can be comprehended and applied. Within this presentation I will try to explain some of these intricacies which I have applied to my work.

So sit back and enjoy this journey to your inner emotions.

Creative Photography.

The Human Condition

This is the first in a series of articles that will be posted on my bog Joe Kerr Photography under the subject titled “Creative Photography”.

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I would like you to close your eyes and listen to these sound bits and see if you can visualize the scenes you are about to hear. So relax and open your minds eye.

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Here are a couple of questions to help open your minds eye:

Did your visions easily flow from one sound bit to the other ?

Do you have a favorite ?

Were your thoughts in B&W or Colour ?

How did each sound bit make you feel ?

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Great images all begin at the capture, so here are some critical issues and influences when going out to capture amazing images:  Remember this is about the human condition and gaining an understanding of capturing emotion in images.

Lets start from the very beginning.

How did your day start out ?
Are you looking forward to your shoot ?
Do you have a plan on what your shooting ?
Is weather or sunlight a factor in you deciding to shoot today ?

Is today an optimum day to capture that subject ?

These and many more questions all influence how well your shoot will go but ultimately how you will feel about it. It is my opinion that how you feel is the most important key to capturing great emotional images.

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Putting yourself in a mindful space that is relative to what you are shooting is inherently difficult. This is one of the most important and influential characteristics of great photography and that is to actually feel your potential images before you even hit the shutter.

Here is a situation that may help you understand this. Do you remember the most amazing sunrise opportunity you’ve ever had and how you felt when it presented itself. Can you also remember another morning that was equally beautiful but for some reason it just didn’t pan out. You see the differences in your images but do you remember how each of those days started out and how you felt.

This is not a contemporary thought process lets take a step back in history for a minute and learn from two masters.

 

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Ansel Adams immersed himself in his environments and became so in-tuned he even named trees and rocks in around his cabin near Yosemite. He followed and created trails that became his home under the sky, yet, he understood that nature only allowed him a moment of opportunity, they weren’t his, but his photographs were, and he could share them. He became much more philosophical about what he was feeling while capturing images and constantly wrote in his journals his thoughts. He clearly understood how his images could and would effect his viewers and how his emotions would influence each capture. Because the print was what everyone would see, Ansel spent enormous amounts of time perfecting his prints in the darkroom so that they were perfect portrayals of what was in his minds eye not just a capture of a scene. He wrote about having a vision of his print before capturing them, and though these images were very personal to him, as a viewer you can see and feel that.

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In a completely different photographic genre there’s Yousuf Karsh. He was another artists that lived through his photography. As a portrait photographer he didn’t have the lighting sophistication that we enjoy today. Still, he enjoyed shooting on location, the most challenging portraits of the time. His innate sense and feel of natural light combined with his in camera skills he created images that are astonishing even today. With those simple techniques he created outstanding portraits that brought his subjects to life. Yet, I think most importantly, he took time to study and understand his subject first. He then visualized and executed sitting techniques that both relaxed them and yet brought out their personalities knowing something of who they were. Upon studying his work you can actually feel their personalities come out of the prints. His compassion to execute what was in his minds eye made him a world renowned photographer during that era and even today?

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I referenced these two artists because most of you know of them, and, they are masters whom we can relate to through their images but also as human beings. Although uniquely different they shared an inner bond of an innate sense of a divine intervention that helped to create their art. I certainly don’t profess to be in the same league of either of these famous photographers, yet, I do understand what they were trying to convey in their memoirs. Theirs and other similar concepts have been my inspiration for years and I will try to convey to you tonight what that means. No this is not a religious intervention but it is a deeper understanding of what made them tick and create amazing images.

The Capture:

On that note let me express to you what I’ve learned and have adopted as my usual or unusual process in capturing.

How I shoot varies greatly. example: If I’m with a group or with another person I rarely do what I truly like to because the dynamics will not allow. If the moment feels right though, I may disappear from the group to find my own space knowing that time will allow me to explore what is being presented to me.

Here is what I like to do as a solo shooter and I think the difference will be self explanatory. During solo shoots I take a lot of time, I’m not a run and gun type of photographer. Again, I’m going to talk about the human process behind the camera.

Nature or Scenic Shooting:

I chose this genre of photography because its one that most of you can relate to. Here is a list of things I do in preparation to taking that first shot.

  • Clearly pack all that is need for that day, the night before. One bag and a tripod.
  • Pack snacks for me and the creatures.
  • Look up some creative websites that inspire you.
  • Leave early with plenty of time to spare so your not feeling rushed.
  • Listen to music or other inspiration audio bits en-route.
  • Once I arrive I will find a trail off the beaten track, people are everywhere these days and personally I don’t want a shot that everyone else has.
  • Arrive and chill. Stop, look and listen. This is how I begin the process of interacting.
  • Until I’m feeling what I’m about to interact with I will not begin, take deep breaths and relax and survey my surroundings.
  • I like to feel a sense of perspective of who I am in this environment and how I could be perceived by those who live in this environment.
  • Feel the time of day, maybe its the warmth of the sun as it begins to lighten the morning skies, get a feeling of the trees wakening as the winds begin to blow, listen as the birds begin to sing and as life begins to stir in the forest.
  • Listening I can hear and feel life all around me and by being still, for sometime now, the forest will begin to reveal itself.
  • Over time you will learn the rhythm of nature and understand how it will react to the foreign sounds you create, remember you are the intruder.
  • Remaining quiet and still is exhilarating to me, I can be here for hours and not think anything of it.
  • Always be aware of the light, watch its glow illuminate the trees and the meadows, be aware of where it is and isn’t, light is the key to all great shots.
  • When nature presents itself go slowly, take time to try to understand the creatures in their habitat, see how they react to sounds around it, watch and learn every move, ears, eyes, neck and over-all body language.
  • Watch every detail, the direction it appears to be going, is there better light coming up, can you time the optimum reaction to the camera, take it in and feel it, until it becomes a part of you.
  • I can get so involved that I can feel their heart beating and I’ll watch their breathing, a relaxed sigh, a sudden and alert gasp and hold.
  • Patients and more patients think before you hit the shutter, timing is everything. No paparazzi shooting here.
  • Given the optimum opportunity I’ll take my shot, stop, silence, then shoot again if possible.
  • Depending on the creature the timing is different. Deer, first shot, is a waist, its the second and third that count.
  • Watch in wonder and learn. Can you learn, feel and understand how they are feeling? I think I can. When the creature is relaxed and calm, is that the shot you want, or, maybe its when they are alert with attentive ears perked. What ever the looking your waiting for, watch and learn and anticipate.
  • Now when I say “Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.” can you begin to understand ?

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Post Production:

With everyone’s lives full of hustle and bustle I’m sure some of you are thinking this is mambo jumbo by now. As I was preparing my talk I was thinking the same thing maybe I should just do a standard show and tell. Well that’s not me, so lets move on to the next step.

Now let me show you how this continues to relate and what it looks like in the end. I apologize that I don’t have a 14 step action set to sell you that will create amazing results for your images, its not that simple and nor should it be, this is creative art.

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Lets start with your studio. Have you created a special place to create your art. Is your studio a place you enjoy going to and does it provide inspiration for you, or have you even thought about creating a special environment. Does music play a roll in your life and studio ? All this plays a part in how you feel about your photography. I’ve had the privilege of visiting numerous studio’s and the cream of the crop do have a special place to create their work so its fact, not fiction.

 

Let me walk you through a couple of my photographic opportunities and how I perceived and processed them. My processing actually begins when I’m capturing the image in the field. My mind is already thinking about how these will likely be processed, I’m also not close minded but this is my starting point.

Each photographic concept has a different starting point in the camera settings. Each subject has its own unique feel and needs to be processed that way. There are no single one action fool proof buttons here, this is art and needs that individualistic attention to detail. Here on the blog I’ve attached links to each set of images and the details in capture and processing follow the link to learn more. Each set was a study on its own.

Deer & Heron in Minnesota

Click here for more details

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Matlock Piers

Click here for more details (coming soon)

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Parc La Salle School

Mountain Sheep

Click here for more details

Two Sheep

Three sheep vertical
Leo Mole Statues

Click here for more details

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Ian Tamblyn Concert Wpg., Feb 24 2012

As you work through your processing procedures and begin experiencing the joy of creating a wonderful image, you will find a persona emerge, were the hardware and software actually mean less, it becomes more important to know how the image feels. You will begin to find a style that reflects an inner you, one that is comfortable, intuitive but is understood. You must trust it when it happens, let it flow through you and learn to get out of the way, don’t clutter it with techno mumbo jumbo let it shine clearly.

Inspirations:

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So where do your inspirations come from. I think its very important to find outside stimulants that help to fertilize your imagination and keep your creative neurons flashing.

Here are some places I go to find what I need to keep me creative:
Cirque du Soleil – the artistic sets but more so the costumes that amaze me
Theatre Productions – take a blank stage and transport me to another place and time is crazy how its created with forms and lighting.
Movies Productions – special effects and CG environments astound me
Attend art shows – art today is an unlimited canvas, explore everything you can
Inspirational websites – In the digital realms of the web the world is your oyster
Quotes – I look for quotes that inspire me.
Google an image topic – This is simply magic at your finger tips at any moment
Join and share in different communities. – The more the merrier, share and you will be rewarded 10 fold

There is no wright or wrong places to find inspiration, its what makes most sense to you and what inspires you to create your art.

 

Keys to Remember

Your eyes need to learn to listen before they look.
Patients pays off.
Don’t shoot what it looks like, shoot how it feels.
Be mindful of the event and while shooting be aware of how you might work it in post production.
Create a studio space that is both inviting and inspirational to you.

Be yourself !

What I’ve just expressed to you is my own personal formula on what I’ve learned over the years. To some it will appear goofy, some may like a part of it and others may find this inspirational. For those that found it amazing there are some doctors just outside the room in white jackets that want to talk to you, please have your medical cards ready.

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Thank you for your time.

Joe Kerr

 

Links to Reference Materials

Alan Ross Photography   Here is a link to a blog by Alan Ross who was one of Ansel Adams lab assistant. He reveals some amazing insights into Ansel Adam’s daily routines and how he perceived his art. Its a very interesting read.

Mountain Sheep Shoot

On my Facebook page I posted a sequence of four images of mountain sheep that caught some attention. People were curious about different aspects from capture to post production and I said I would follow up with some additional details on this blog. I hope I’ll cover enough insights here to help you out.

The Shoot

This sequence of mountain sheep images was taken mid August, 2006 during a period when I was deeply involved in observing and capturing wildlife in their natural environment. During my three year quest I was focused on the western foothills of Alberta and the eastern interior British Columbia. I tried to revisit certain areas to capture different seasons which also allowed the possibilities of seeing different migration patterns of the wildlife.
Three sheep vertical
On this mid August trip I was in the Jasper area on a favourite 10 kl. hike that takes me along the Jasper River running adjacent to the Yellow Head Trail near Talbot Lake. August is tourist time and the highway is always busy so I decided to find a more remote back road and head up into the mountains.

I found an East bound gravel road about halfway between Jasper and Hinton that looked to be less traveled and headed East up the mountain. The road ended at an small unmarked gravel pad beside a mountain stream. The stream bed was barely running but I’m sure during the spring or a heavy rain it must swell up given the right circumstances. Looking West there is a deep cut in the rocks with a drop of 20 -30 ft. I thought this would be an amazing water fall with the right flow of water. In any event I started to walk up stream and I found myself in a narrow ravine cradled between to mountains, not exactly sure which mountains these were, I’ve tried to locate the road on satellite maps but to no avail.
Two Sheep on a cutback
There is something to be said about being in a remote area by yourself. You either feel very peaceful or it can scare the crap out of you, this day was a beautiful serine day. One of the first things I like to do is sit a few minutes motionless, maybe feel the warmth of the afternoon sun and just listen, listen to the birds, hear the occasional rock falling in the distance and the trickle of the water just below my feet. Higher up in the mountains there is are unique weather patterns and this day had scattered rain showers that were a joy as the sun continuously broke through illuminating the drops on there decent.

Three + one and a half sheep

It was the sound of some frequent rocks falling that caught my attention. I looked in that direction and saw this small herd of sheep on the opposite side of this ravine. They appeared from behind a rock cut as if they were magically appearing from the rock face. I surveyed possible vantage points that wouldn’t disturb them and slowly made my move. I ended up slightly higher than them but as it turned out it was exactly the right spot as they eventually wandered past just below me. The light source was slightly behind them which allowed for a nice rim lighting effect that worked well in the post production work. I was careful to watch my camera setting so as not to blowout any highlights. According to my metadata the total sequence lasted 3:48 sec so it was quite quick but it was well worth the climbing to this precarious perch I shot from.

Two Sheep

Post Production:

Lightroom 5 does the vast majority of my post production work. There is no specific workflow that I do its always done by perception and having a sense of what each image portrays to me. At capture I shoot manual and change my settings quite regularly almost frame by frame. When looking through the viewfinder and framing the image, I almost always I have a particular idea how I want the image to look when its done and printed. In this case almost every frame has some in camera adjustment as I shot from splendid warm highlights to high contrast shadow. This one facet of shooting causes me to adapt my post production so that a sequence of images can translate into a similar look and feel, if a sequence is what I desired.

I started using OnOne software just over two years ago and its used mainly to finish and to render a more dynamic look in an image. There is an amazing set of filter that can evolve images in an endless number of ways and with each filter there is a complete set of control to customize the effect. In my images a softer more natural look with a slightly greater dynamic range is what I was trying to accomplish here.

Ian Tamblyn Concert Wpg., Feb 24 2012 Two Sheep

This a before, completed in LR5 and after using OnOne software.

When studying processing I surf the net visiting a variety of photographic and photo competition sites. I look for trends that I like but mostly dislike. I’ve found there is a strong tendency to have images with over pushed sharpening which makes them loose there reality and become to digitized in their feel. When I analyze its more to confirm what I’m visualizing for my images thats important. One must consider and recognize with any desired processing technique it really boils down to beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Can you Capture Mood Photographing a Sculpture?

Photographers often have images of sculptures of famous and historic people, monuments and even commissioned art works. Most of what I’ve seen are well lit, typically an afternoon sun during a visit to a park. The subject is positioned in a balanced position among flowers or trees sometimes with friends and relative near by.

The Bean, in down town Chicago's Millennium Park.

The Bean, in down town Chicago’s Millennium Park.

Have you ever shot sculpture thinking of it as a model ? Why not ? Look at it this way, each subject will hold its pose for you indefinitely and never complain. They are usually in ideal settings giving beautiful backdrops, even better having a natural light environment where you control the time, light and weather, you can return to your studio check your images and re-shoot with your improvements even a year later. Lastly some of these famous people would charge you a small fortune in modeling fees, of course some are no longer with us and some are just iconic symbols.

Chicago Millennium Park, The Bean Sculpture.

Selecting the right spot with a well contrasted background and in this case a strategic refection.

Here is a suggestion on how to get started. Find a subject that your interested in and it doesn’t have to be a human figure. Go to it and look at it from every different angle you can imagine and take shots from all these locations. Return to your studio and look at each one, find your favorite and ask these questions:

  • What is in the back ground?
  • Should I move closer or further away?
  • Would a slight elevation change make the composition better?
  • What time of day gives you the best light for the subject?
  • What weather condition would best suit a mood for this subject?
  • Would a secondary light source enhance the subject?

Lets detail this out a bit further:

  • The Background – Examine your image looking closely at whats behind and around the subject. Less is more in most cases so find a contiguous fill that has good neutral contrast. Remember that depth of field can change the look of this field as well as texture, light and shadows. Will the change of season offer a different more appealing contrast. Time has no limitation to this subject.
Chicago Millennimum Park, The Bean Sculpture.

Standing further back revealed this gull trying to hatch this egg, placing him with a contrasting background of a darker building with its geometric window pattern.

  • Foot Zooming – If your happy with the angle of your composition how does that change if you stand closer and even further away. Image compression is seldom considered so try it out and see how it changes this type of imagery.
Leo Mole sculpture garden Winnipeg, Manitoba.

This frog at the foot of the statue was a great opportunity. The pond refection was the motivator, shot from a mono-pod at arms length and a remote trigger release allowed for an uninterrupted refection of blue sky with no people.

  • Elevation Changes – You have the perfect spot that best suites your composition and background but what happens if you just do an elevation change. Most people will shoot from eye level, the human tripod height. Get low and see what you have, maybe bring a small step ladder and see what change that brings to the composition. Most viewers will comment on images that have this slight variation.
Cancun, Mexico, Iles Desmure

Looking up to the angle in the clouds was a must do. The light from behind gives the viewer a sense of the angle not knowing we’re present as she looks down and prays to the crosses below.

  • Time of Day – We’re all aware of the golden hour but is it the best light for your subject. Does it cast the best shadow lines to enhance the character, is morning or sunset best. It maybe that a time later in the morning or earlier in the evening is best remember the sun moves in an arch across the sky what is the optimum time. Also don’t forget that the seasonal changes will cast shadows differently as well.
Leo Mole Sculpture garden in Winnipeg.

High noon gave this sculpture a nice highlight across her entire body. It also allowed the camera settings to be closed down so as to not blow out any highlights and create this high contrast dark background.

  • The Weather – All types of weather will add another variation to the lighting of your subject. Could an over cast day suite your subject even better or a rain or actual down pour have a positive effect, never know till you try. Fog has an amazing effect and a capture during a snow storm can be effective as well.
Leo Mole Sculpture Garden, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Taken after an afternoon rain, broken clouds allowed just enough light to cast off the wet concrete patio illuminating her face under a dappled lit background.

  • Additional Light – Adding a secondary light source can add a real sense of drama to a sculpture. A controlled highlight of soft colour during a rain is very special. A night shoot with a start lit sky and specially crafted light painting can be spectacular, this is very popular in advertizing today.
Leo Mole Sculpture Garden, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Why does the rain make everything greener, because its wet. Great time to shoot in a garden. The Honeysuckle vine cascaded down to her face gives this a real garden of Eden mood. Broken skies allow many different lighting opportunities.

So why can’t sculpture portray a mood, well of course it can and creating it is a lot of fun and in some cases takes a lot of skill and practice. Try it out.

Leo Mole Gardens, Winnipeg, MB

Orion looking toward the skies which just so happened to be broken clouds allowing a variety of lighting opportunities. The light at this moment was defused as clouds moved by.

Leo Mole Sculpture Garden

Post production can help to create many different moods.

Happy Thanks Giving

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Over the past 10 years I was fortunate to have worked and met with an amazing number of photographers from Manitoba, across Canada (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Inuvik), the USA (California, Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, Florida, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Arkansas, North Dakota), Great Britain (Scotland, Whales), Australia, France, South Africa and even Iceland. It was a joy to have met so many of you who had one common joy and spoke in a common language, that being photography. I’ve seen a vast array of different styles or genres from street, macro, micro, abstract, astrological, portrait, wedding, journalistic, event, travel, entomology, wildlife and of course scenic the most popular of them all. Thank you to everyone of you for sharing your wonder images and amazing stories.

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Of course to have interacted with so many different camera clubs and associations has been an outstanding experience. To see at the grass roots level all the enthusiasts that really form the foundation of this art and industry. Each and every club has members who help and share their knowledge from beginner to the highest level of international award winners all of whom champion their clubs and communities.

I would be amiss if I didn’t also give thanks to the many journalists that I’ve spoken with from newspapers columnists, magazine publishers and television hosts. The community of gallery owners, curators and publishers who all shared their expertise openly and willingly my heartfelt thanks and gratitude.

To have had the opportunity to meet and talk with each one of you, to share your input and enthusiasm for the art of photography was a true blessing for me. I know I can’t give back nearly as much as I received but I can certainly pay homage and say thank you for all you’ve done to grow the art of photography.

Happy Thanks Giving Everyone…

Joe Kerr

Ian Tamblyn Concert Wpg., Feb 24 2012

Its All About The Light

Its All About The Light…

I’m recovering from heart surgery so I was doing some file surfing tonight passing time and came across this old image taken in Minnesota some five years ago. I’ve always enjoyed this sequence of this Great Blue Heron fishing this small stream. Tonight the creative light went on when I saw this specific image file so I grasped the moment and came up with this predawn interpretation.

I love early morning light and the mood that it creates, still waters with dark shadows with highlighted reflections. I can still hear the sounds of woodland creatures start to awaken, a deer is just upstream grazing in the tall grasses, song birds calling in the distance. The heron moves ever so slowly not making a ripple, stalking its prey beneath the mirrored waters surface. I sat ever so quiet on this walking bridge and watched him for some time, it was so peaceful and tranquil. Now that’s an incredible way to start a day.

This image was processed in Lightroom 5.6 with just a slight contrast adjustment, a vignette added by using the radial tool, contrast in the grasses using an inverted radial tool, and details added to the Heron by brush. A slight global sharpening was added at the end. The dark glow and frame was added in Perfect Effects 8.   

A comprehensive detailed overview of the precessing techniques used to produce this image is available at my new blog “The Academy Of Fine Art Photography

Heron Fishing

Heron Fishing

 

I told you there were deer in the deep grass.

Serendipitously I caught both the deer and heron in the same shot.

Serendipitously I caught both the deer and heron in the same shot.

The Art Of Lightroom 5 – A Walk in the Woods with Liam.

Liam and his Papa Joe were explored this enchanted forest of apple blossoms and wild ferns when they came upon a magical cottage by a creek. Its conical roof and gingerbread shingles and the scent of freshly baked cookies captured their interest. Papa Joe felt compelled to explore inside but Liam was leery and would not enter the open large red door. It was Liam’s instincts that allowed them to escape the diabolical wizardry of the inhabitant. They learned later that two young children named Hansel & Gretal had gone missing and that a woodsman saved them from certain perils of that hauntingly beautiful cottage.

Creating a mood that enhances the story of your image.

Creating a mood that enhances the story of your image.

Creating focus in an obscured setting.

Creating focus in an obscured setting.

 

OK, so what is this all about. Well its about using your imagination and creating a processing formula that transforms your images into what you may have imagined. In this case a enchanted forest and a mystical cottage became the theme and the motivation for this processing technique.

The Capture

Armed with only a cell phone at the time I gathered some images and loaded them into Lightroom 5.  A small capturing detail when you have a small subject, in this case a toddler, get down to their level it helps bring the viewer into their world, these were shot from my knees. Shot in full sunlight was an asset, the contrast helped create the mood in post production.

Starting The Processing

Here is the process I used to transform these into the finished images you see here using Lightroom 5. I started with some basic global contrast adjustments but from that point on its all brush and radial adjustment. The apple blossoms were a key and they needed to have a certain brightness knowing that a glow would be added later. The graphic wall paintings tone was deepened and the ground around Liam brightened. The detail in the path in the forest to his right was brightened but not too much.

Technique

These intermediate processes were created by using a radial tool adjustment with a final touch up using a brush. The radial tool settings were different for each of the four zones selected.

Zone #1 – The apple blossoms had a slight contrast and clarity adjustment which required a negative highlight to bring back the whites a touch.

Zone #2 – The painted wall has a slight positive exposure setting, a dropping of the highlight then a touch of clarity to bring up detail and 28% saturation to deepen the colours.

Zone #3 – Liam had small vertical ellipse with similar setting to zone 2 but I dropped the highlights to a negative 31.

Zone #4 – The distant path on the right needed to be brought forward so a small horizontal elliptical was selected. The settings used were a decent amount of exposure 1 1/2 stops, highlights 18, shadows 29 and clarity 10.

A Touch Beyond

At this stage I moved the image to Perfect FX8 and added a dark glow, erasing around Liam with a 60% brush and added a boarder.  Minor details but its all about the details isn’t it. This is where the high contrast of midday plays its part.

Final Touches

The file was returned to LR5 and final touches were done with a brush tool. When using the brush tool look at the bottom box of the brush adjustments. There is an A, B and erase brush selection. This comes in handy when your doing some transitions of sharpness, glow or anything that warrants a smoothing of the effect that a simple feather won’t perform.  Select “A” brush and create the brush adjustments your looking for then set it up the flow and density at 100% with 50% feather so it will effect your selection quickly. Keeping the same brush settings set the “B” and reduce density and flow to 50% with 50% feather. Now you can blend the effect by switching quickly between the two. If you need to correct, select erase and correct the area. This is how I performed the final selective sharpening of Liam in the woods walking toward the witches hut. Only he and the hut are sharp the area nearest is at 50% the rest of the image has a soft glow. The shot with Liam under the apple tree Liam is sharp and the path leading to the right is sharp, the balance is a glowing image. There are approximately 50-60 brush adjustments to each image. I’ve been asked if these images were HDR, no, these are single image files taken on my iPhone’s regular camera, no special effects used.

Learn how these techniques and more can help you create a more stunning image.

If you are interested in learning more about Lightroom 5 and how this program combined with these and other techniques can effect your images read on.  I’m looking for 3-4 students to teach so I can fine tune my program that will be offered at RRCC this fall. You will receive personal one on one instruction on your images from start to finish and a completed print at the end. This program will also be the base of a new book which will become part of the package. If your interested contact me at Kerrmarketing@mac.com and I will give you more details.

 

Lightroom 5

LR5 was just released and for those that didn’t participate in the beta version this will bring you up to date with whats new. Those of you that have used the beta I will talk about what I’ve learned and done with the new features over the past couple of months.

Let me begin by stating the not so obvious. I work in LR every day and it didn’t take me long to realize that it was just faster. Start up, file uploads & openings and brush strokes are tell tail signs of an engine re-freshening. Cross platform file sharing is much faster and much more compatible with more third party applications. If you send a file over to PS for adjustment they are updated in LR immediately.

Lets get into the meat and potatoes of whats new. The are five key areas that have been identified as improvements for LR5 and these are:

Advanced Healing Brush
Upright
Radial Gradient
Smart Previews
Video Slide Show

There is a great number of other improvements that I will briefly talk about at the end.

Advanced Healing Brush

To those of you that took the LR 4 workshop series this past winter the much talked about healing brush is here. I told you it was coming. 🙂

The brush is fairly intuitive in fact it operates much like the spot healing tool of the past. LR5 has also made improvements to the quality of the engine that performs the corrections. You have the same two modes of selection, cloning and healing. Cloning will copy the source area as its selected and healing will create a patch that blends similar colour and contrast from the source. They both do a very good job but there are a couple of details I’d like to share. Edges of an image can be tricky. What I’ve learned is to clone in this area, healing can cause a blurring effect. Once you select that area to be replaced move your target away from the immediate location to avoid any obvious pattern repeat.

There is additional new tool  at the bottom of the image box and that is the Visualization Spots. Click this box and it will change the image to a hybrid B&W image that will reveal all the hidden dust spots. By fine tuning the slider they will pop these blemishes making it easy to correct. This new brush and tool set is worth the upgrade price alone. There are some very cool short cuts but I’ll go into those in another tutorial.

Upright

This is one of the most advanced horizontal and vertical correction tools out there. Under lens correction select the basic tab, here you will find all the settings for this new feature. Simple horizons like a water scene or a prairie horizon are flawless but it will even correct very complex architectural images.

Horizontal Correction: First select “Enable Profile Correction” to activate it, at the same time click remove “Chromatic Aberration” I’ve discussed this before just do it, then click level and it works wonders.

Vertical Correction: Vertical is the same procedure except hit “Vertical” and it does a good job at creating a perfect vertical rendering, but, if the perspective is not quite right you can still work the image under the manual tab as you see fit. Hit manual and at the bottom of the list you will find a new slider called Aspect. Move the slider left or right to fine-tune the image to your requirements. Do it in that order if you manually correct first it doesn’t work well.

3D Correction: Go back to basic and the last setting to try is “Full” this is a complete 3D correction on the image. Architectural images are the prime candidates for this procedure.  Again from here you can always go to the manual tab after and fine tune it to your liking.

If you have a set of images like a sequence for an HDR you can synchronize and process a set exactly the same so they match up. A very nice feature. One last tip when possible use a RAW file, LR5 uses the metadata like lens type and focal length to correct the image and it will do a better job with a RAW.

This is the untouched RAW file upload
This is the untouched RAW file upload. Shot with a 10-20mm lens there are lots of corrections need here.
Upright adjustment completed, small inverted radial adjustments with tint, brushed tinted highlights, a final global sharpening
Upright adjustment completed, small inverted radial adjustments with tint, brushed tinted highlights, a final global sharpening, a large dark & softening vignette with the radial filter.

Radial Filter

At first I wasn’t that keen on this one but it has really grown on me. The immediate thought is to create a vignette or focal point by highlighting or darkening, sharpening or blurring its great even colour highlights, contrast spot light, the list is endless. Remember that you have all the other adjustments sliders that can be applied with it, so get creative. Don’t forget there is a invert mask button that flips the settings. Now start working some combinations and the results are quite amazing and fun. Remember you are not restrict to be within the image boundary, also stacking does not degrade the image. There are a few short cut keys and special feature keys to this tool as well. I will be posting a specific tutorial on this feature with image samples soon.

Smart Preview

How many times have you wanted to work on an image with out your external hard drive with you, all you get is the dreaded cannot locate so you can’t work on the image. Create a smart preview and you can work off line on any image in your file. In Library mode just under the histogram is a small box, select the images you want to create a copy of and click,  LR5 will create a smart preview for you. LR saves these new files as as a lossy DNG file which is a compressed file of 70% – 50% so it won’t take much drive space. Remember because its a compressed file when you do certain adjustments like sharpening (off line) they may not render correctly on screen, but as soon as you reconnect to the hard drive with the original file, LR5 will update the full file correctly. This is a fabulous convenience addition.

Video Slide Show

If you create slide shows LR5 now allows you to create sides show presentations that incorporate movie clips. You just inserts like a image and it plays automatically. This is a nice feature to enrich you audience in your presentation.

There are a number of other improvements that are incorporated into version 5 that are worth mentioning. Some of the filter algorithms have been improved so be amazed as you explore. The noise reduction filters are now excellent. I shoot with a vintage Nikon D200 which is notorious for low light noise, its scary to consider going over ISO 400. I just competed a stage production shoot at ISO 1100 and my images are very usable. Highlight and shadow recovery sliders will amaze you. B&W conversion can be precisely mixed with 8 colour channels that can make or break a conversion. The enhanced 64-bit cross-platform pipeline speeds up image tasking whether your a Mac or PC user especially moving from one software package to another. LR5 print capabilities are superior and it has now replaced a costly rip program for my professional printing needs.

Conclusion

In conclusion I will suggest if you are using LR3 and enjoy it, come out of the dark ages to see what LR5 can do for you now, its magical. If you are a RL4 user and have found its become your go to image processing software then the advanced healing brush is worth the upgrade alone. If your a photographer and a PhotoShop devotee and don’t want to subscribe to Adobe cloud, check out this powerful processing package and all the online articles and tutorials on LR. That support alone should convince you to get on board. Its 1/10 the price and you’ll use more than 10% of the software program because its designed for photography. Adobe has now made it clear that PS (which has become a cloud suit subscription) is clearly become a graphic designers product. Lightroom was created for photographers and will likely remain a stand alone package.

Lightroom is priced at $ 79 for an upgrade, well worth the investment in your images and even the $ 149  for the full version is a tremendous buy for the photographer. I highly recommend it.