Friday, October 30, 2015

Healing brush tool

In the beginning I found Photoshop and it's limitless possibilities a bit overwhelming. But, the more I practised, the more I got in to it, the more I started to love it. Practise makes perfect they say. I'm not claiming that I'm anywhere near perfection, but I do know a heck of a lot more than way back. How did I get to this point? I practised, I watched lots of Youtube clips and tutorials from fellow photographers. And practise some more. 

Take for example the spot healing brush. What does it do and how does it work? 

The spot healing brush is the default healing tool in Photoshop and can be used to clone areas from an image and blend the pixels from the sampled area seamlessly with the target area. The basic principle is that the texture from the sample area is blended with the color and luminosity surrounding wherever you paint. The main difference between this and the standard healing brush is that the spot healing brush requires no source point. 

I worked with the spot healing brush tool before. I quite liked working with it, however I wondered if there was a tool a bit more accurate. The spot healing brush tool works out the source point itself, but I wanted to be the one in control of the source point. 

After watching this movie from Tutvid, I discovered the healing brush tool. Cue: practise time! 

I practised with a picture I downloaded from Pixabay:
The healing brush can be found with the J keyboard shortcut or in the Tools menu

The principle of the healing brush is actually very simple: find a pimple or blemish and sample a piece of skin thats fits well (preferably close to the spot) and simply paint over the spot you want to 'heal'. That's it! 

I prefer to keep it natural though. Not go over the top. 

And you guys probably know by now that I wasn't done after that. I sharpened the image with the use of a high pass filter and made the cap a bit more colourful. And this was the result of my practising the healing brush tool: 

Sometime over the next week I'll be posting a follow-up on this post. I'll be working with this picture and show you how dodge and burn can improve this picture even further. 

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Making a choice: colour or B/W?

I guess it's safe to say that I really like colour in my pictures. 

But more and more I'm seeing the beauty in B/W. Like I said in a previous blogpost, I usually go B/W on an overcast day. But with getting into streetphotography a bit more these days, I'm really starting to like B/W there too! 

Then again, you can take my word for it, but what it all comes down to is a matter of taste. 

The colour image has a completely different look and feel to the B/W version. For me it is like B/W draws you into the image whereas the colours in the second image kind of distract. 

And again, with the images below from a street scene in Trondheim (Norway), the colour image has a lot going on in the image. Too much for my taste. I really like the simplicity of the B/W version. 

Since I started using Tonality from MacPhun, I find myself doing a lot more B/W. I just love the way Tonality works. It's easy to use, with the presets and the possibility to work with layers. And the results are just great. Did I already mention that Tonality is compatible with Lightroom? 

This is another example of an image I converted to B/W using Tonality. Added a few radial filters in Lightroom and I blurred the background so all the focus is on the young man, the main subject of the image. 

Then again, B/W is not always an option... 

Or is it? 

So dare to be creative, explore! Convert your images to B/W and see what comes of it.  

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Marketing and theft protection?

You might think it crazy or unwise, but I usually don't use watermarks in my pictures. Why not you might ask? Well, B&H have written a good blog about the pros and cons of the use of watermarks. 

Sometimes it is actually quite useful to have a watermark in your picture and then it's good to know how to do it: 

1. Open a new document: 

2. Design your logo (and crop it): 

3. Save as Brush Preset: Edit > Define Brush Preset and give it a name. 

Voila! You've now created your very own watermark! It's ready to be used in any of your images in Photoshop: 
  1. Open and edit your picture
  2. Choose a brush (B) and choose the brush you created (in my case its brush 2212)

  3. Add the brush to the pictures.  You can change and color like a normal Brush. Best is to add the watermark on a new layer. Its easier to move it around.
If your not satiesfied with the logo, it's real easy to remove the brush. Just hit the B to open the brush. Pick the brush and click on it with the CTRL tool. Then remove it.

Have a go, design your own watermark, play around with it and see what works for you. So whenever the need arises, you'll have no trouble at all to add your watermark to your images. 

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Friday, October 23, 2015

To find extraordinary things, take your time!

I've always been a little afraid of street photography. Or rather: people in the street photography. Portraits of people, the not-dressed-up-and-scheduled-photoshoot-ones, portraits where you try to capture people just as they are, that's the new challenge we have set ourselves. 

Greatly inspired by Brandon Stanton, the inventor and driving force behind Humans of New York, we decided to start Humans of the Nordic Region. Seen as Humans of Sweden was already taken and Humans of Jämtland somehow felt a bit too limited, we named it after Norden. The Nordic Region comprises of Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. 

With all the preparations done, there was still the tiny little hurdle of actually getting started. But you know what? It's just like pitching that great business idea: believe in yourself, believe in the idea and know what you want to achieve, there's your elevator pitch for you.  

New York of course has streets aplenty. Here in our immediate surroundings, streets are a little harder to come by. So we expanded street photography with photography in the natural surroundings. Just taking a stroll here on our hometurf, had me bumping into Roger the gardener, Rödöns most flexible entrepreneur and the great couple that lives in one of the most beautiful houses around. 

And you know what? Once I decided I really wanted to get going with this awesome photoproject, my fear was gone. I used the 24-70 and went out to talk to Roger. He was all ears and wanted to take part. It was a cloudy day, so I put the WB on Shade and I mostly shot at f5.6, 1/160 and ISO200. 

I have to bear in mind though, that I need to give myself - and the people I'm taking photos of - more time. More time for the right pose, more time to relax, more time to coax them into telling me a bit more about what's going on with them. Just a couple of lines to take the viewer even deeper into your image, gives the image even more power I find. 

I can't wait to go out again. I'll probably relive that anxious feeling when I'm about to approach my first person, but I've decided that I just have to go out there and venture. I know what I want, I've got what it takes and we've got this great big catalogue of beautiful Nordic portraits to create! 

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tutorial: making a splash

There's so much to discover in the world of photography! I love to try something new every once in a while. Today I tried my hand at splash photography. To get an idea of what I mean with splash photography, do watch this clip from Gavin Hoey.

Time to get started. What do I need? A white background and a white subsurface. I used a small table and put it in front of a white door, using white cardboard as underground. I put one speedlight to the side. And for the splashy bit of the picture, I filled a wine glass with some red lemonade. Voila! 

After the set-up was done, I grabbed my camera to start the shoot. First I focused on the glass and then I switched my lens to manual. I wasn't really satisfied with the first couple of pics I took: the background was a bit grey-ish, not nearly as white as I imaged it would come out. So I cranked up the power of the flash. 

And this was the outcome, not too bad for a first timer at splash photography! 

These are the basics:
  1. Put your camera on a tripod
  2. Focus on your subject with F8 or more
  3. Switch to Manual focus
  4. Switch on your flash on 1/8 power (as a starting point)
  5. Set your camera around 1/200 and ISO 200 (as a starting point)
  6. Take a shot and check if you like the lighting. If the background needs brightening, put more light on it with your speedlight. 
  7. Drop and shoot a lot to have a range of pictures. I prefer to work with a remote control. 
  8. Import the pictures into Lightroom and edit the best one(s)
  9. Start cleaning up the mess you left behind at the scene of your shoot..... 
And with photoshop/ Lightroom it's very easy to change the colors

There are loads of possibilities with this kind of photography. We'll be doing some more experimenting with this in the next couple of weeks to improve our technique. I for one prefer the background to be even more white. And it sounds like fun to experiment for example with milk and fruit and white subsurface and dye. In other words, did you like this post? Make sure to check back in a couple of weeks (at least) to read some more about splash photography! 

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Monday, October 19, 2015

To find extraordinary things, go to the ordinary streets

One of the advantages of living in or a near a city is the tons of possibilities you have for doing great street photography.  

According to Wikipedia, street photography is "photography that features the chance encounters and random accidents within public places. Street photography does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. Though people usually feature directly, street photography might be absent of people and can be an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human character in facsimile or aesthetic."

Having said that, it would of course be awesome to start out with street photography in a city like New York, London or for example Amsterdam. You and your camera would hardly be noticed because there's just so much going on in the streets. Living in Jämtland, made us try our hand at street photography in the less busy and bustling but still fabulously great city of Trondheim. 

Where it's an abundance of photographic opportunities in bigger cities, where we're living right now just have to be a bit more patient. Be patient and the situations will present themselves. 

People are awesome photography subject, but street photography does not only entail shooting images of people, exactly like it says in Wikipedia. Here's some examples of street photography where it's not the actual human being being the main character. 

Keep an eye out, be patient and look for great photo situations. 


And when it comes to post processing, you'll be facing the choice of using colour or B/W in your images. Go out there and experiment. Be open and observant and the photographic opportunities will come. 

If you want some more inspiration, do check out these guys (and girl). Eric Kim, Zack Arias, Thomas Leudhart, Marius Vieth, Nicholas Goodden and Valerie Jardin

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Tonality Pro for awesome B/W images

We promised a while back that we'd tell you a bit more about converting your images to B/W. In a previous post we talked about one way to convert to B/W in Lightroom. Today we're gonna tell you a bit more about using a plugin like Tonality Pro or Silver Efex Pro

Before you get all carried away, do bear in mind that Tonality Pro is a product for MAC, not for Windows. Tonality can be used stand alone, or as plugin for Adobe and Apple products. It also supports RAW. 

It all starts with importing pictures into Lightroom. When your pictures are in Lightroom you have to decide which picture(s) you want to convert to B/W. Choose a picture you want to convert. Personally I always like to do some small adjustments in Lightroom before I transfer to Tonality. But that's entirely up to you as the artist. 

To transfer your picture, right click on the image and choose Edit in... > Tonality pro

Let's take this image for example: 

I just added some contrast, did the shadows and highlights and my black and whites in Lightroom.

Once you choose Edit in Tonality Pro, a screen appears where you can choose to work with a copy or just work with the original. I always work with a copy: 

Click on Edit and your picture appears in Tonality Pro and is converted to B/W:

You've really got tons of possibilities in Tonality Pro!

A lot of presets you can choose from, for example HDR Cold Silver

If you don't want the effect in the whole picture,  you can decide where to use it using the brush. It works the same as working with brushes in Photoshop, you can change the size, opacity and softness of the brush.
Just brush where you want to create the effect: 

And ofcourse you can also work with Selective Coloring by using presets like for instance Bleached Drama.

I really love that Tonality Pro has the possibility to work with layers. 
This gives you the possibility to have for example different presets on each layer as well as dodge and burn on every layer.

You can turn off a layer and reduce the Opacity. This works exactly the same as in Photoshop.

And you'll recognize the panel from Lightroom: a panel with items like Color Temperature, Tone, contrast etc.

I find the clarity and structure panel really helpful:

You can add clarity, structure and micro stucture to your global image or do it locally, using the brush. With the Erase Mask you can turn it off. Using the layer panel, you can check out where you'll see the effect is working. It works in a similar fashion as layer masks in Photoshop.

And when you're done with the processing in Tonality, just click on Apply and your picture will be reimported into Lightroom. If needed you can do some more processing there, that's all up to you.

I love Tonality Pro. I think it's a great product and really effective in making stunning B/W images. 

If you wanna have a go, just download the trial version and play around with it. The guys from Macphun are really awesome in their Youtube films if you wanna find out more about the product. 

The best way to learn ofcourse is just do it yourself. Don't be afraid to try! 

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