Tagged: layers

Tanks and tricks

It was a busy week this week call members with a least three different events going on. Monday was the visit to the United Kingdom Defence Academy Shrivenham‘s photoclub, Thursday editing night and Myk running a photographic walk that was open to all comers including club members. I managed to attend two of the three which in my defence is not bad going [there is a song about that] .

 

Shrivenham was a cracking evening, with free reign of all the vehicle and Artillery halls and Rich and Kev reciprocated with a light painting session. Everyone enjoyed it immensely and look forward to a return visit. I think the MOD are about to indent for some LED lighting and given the engineering bias of the establishment I can but wonder what variations they may come up with. Hopefully we can host a session for them as well. The armoured vehicles were nearly all runners . I am glad to report that the temptation of the big red button , as Dr. Who put it, was resisted and no vehicles were started as was the traversing of turrets which apparently sets off the sprinkler system and the fire alarm. It was very, very tempting. Our hosts were very gracious and we thank them for it and thanks Rich and Kev for the Reflex contribution to the evening. A big thank you to everyone who made this one possible, I have my name down for the next one. Yes I do.

 

Thursday’s session was about editing the photographs from the trick photography night. Based around Photoshop and Elements mainly Jerry and Myk took us through Layers and how to make the final images. Basically this can be done by any programme that can handle layers and there were a couple of Gimp users there as well (myself included) and with a bit if adaption we managed to get something workable. Again a very enjoyable evening and the club extends its thanks to those who made it possible and not forgetting Mark S sterling work on the projector.

 

For those who couldn’t make it the really isn’t very complicated to master. Essentially two shots of the same scene one with background one with detail such as the books backdrop we had up in the hall and someone holding real books up in front in the alternate shot. Starting with the plain background shot and copy and pasting the detail shot over the top, use off the eraser tool takes the unwanted detail away and integrated both images. Similar things can be done with a plain background shot, such as the surfing and levitation shots using the magic wand took to quickly isolate the larger unwanted areas and pasting the results onto a suitable background shot. This summary, maybe, makes it sound more complicated than it is, so let me break it down through the magic of You Tube.

I included a section on Levitation Photography in the blog that covered the practical night. The finished article involves using layers. This is applicable to any editing programme that allows you to manipulate layers. Essentially what we are doing with layers is controlling the degree of transparency between layers that are produced as a single image. That image will be made up of two, or more, potentially a lot, lot more, but let’s not complicate matters, images or, more logically, parts of images. Relatively straight forward and really the most powerful part of an editing programme, they can be found in Photoshop Elements, CS, Gimp, to name but three programmes.

 

And finally, best wishes to Maurice on his retirement from work!

 

This Week Round 4 of the Competition – lets hope the judge turns up this time!

There’s trickery afoot

Wingardium Leviosa!  Trick photography need not be tricky, if you see what I mean, as long as you know the trick to it. There were books. surfers  and people flying everywhere, macro photography on water sprayed cd’s, there was certainly enough to keep people busy and there were quite a few of us there. Levitation photography doesn’t seem to lack for fans. Your images will require some planning and some post production.

 

The trick of course is to combine two or more images specifically using a  feature you will find in most if not all editing programmes known as layers. For this you will need an editing programme like Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Gimp, and so on. The idea behind layers is that it is building a composite image by putting details on different levels (layers) to make an overall picture. It is rather like making a picture out of a wedge of transparencies on which you put different details on different transparencies then view the whole picture by looking at all the transparencies stacked together. The advantage of this is that it is non destructive to the original picture, that is you can take them all away and the original image is left unaltered. Although each programme has a slightly different way of handling layers the principle and the effects remain the same.

 

We had books levitating and people surfing, the way to make the final image is the same. Combine your images and get rid of the detail that doesn’t belong in the final image you have in mind. There are a whole stack of levitation tutorials on the web, including this one from Practical Photoshop. Though it uses Photoshop the principle remains the same and their are only slight tweaks as far as the specific software operations.

 

We also had some close up photography using a mirror, black background, cd’s, water, a Mk 1 Ford Escort (model of) water and some LED lights and a little imagination! All together it was a fun evening and I look forward to seeing the results. Club thanks to everyone who helped organise this.

 

Meanwhile the Getty Image controversy gathers steam. Why does it matter? In a way it isn’t to do with the images it is everything to do with the intellectual property. Back last year Johnathan Klein, CEO and co-founder of Getty Images started a media campaign calling for new economic models. This argument has already been taking place in books and music. Income generated by images sold through agencies has been declining as the traditional markets, especially print, have been impacted by the growth of digitial publication. The argument is increasingly around, not just the licensing of a particular image for another to use in a publication of some description, but also there is now a question of a whole set of revenue being generated by the use of that image as part of an article, blog, etc. For an example of this look at what Google have done via You Tube by taking the space they create for others to post videos to generate revenue via paid for advertising and the notion of fair use.

 

Getty are going down this route for very specific type (Not for Profit) customers with some 35 million images. This is not a storm in a tea cup. Photography as a profession is being transformed by digital platforms no less than any other industry with the added dimension that cameras are nearly as ubiquitous as mobile phones, thanks to the integration of the two technologies. Some fear it will force a lot of photographers out of work, some think that this was always coming. The other big agencies may well follow suit, Alamy, Corbis, along with Getty (who also own iStockphoto) form a very large part of the market. Individual photographers will, some think, have to move from being producers to being brands, with associated costs in time effort and money that would otherwise have gone into the business of taking and selling photographs going into not just marketing but into property rights management. No longer selling photographic services professional photographers at a basic level will have to sell their brand a lot more effectively because they will be directly in competition with the brands of the likes of Getty Images, from whom, it is feared, the income will decrease.

 

This week (20th) Judging of the photo marathon – Your camera club needs  you!

 

24th March visit to the (military) camera club at Shrivenham.

 

Subjects to do with or beginning with or having to do with the letter A are the subject of the Flickr competition (and no that doesn’t mean A camera, A car, A sandwich – well not necessarily).

 

13th Feb 2014 – Editing with Adobe Lightroom

For most of us, it appears, Adobe Lightroom is all we are ever likely to need in a photo editor, and in this insightful evening, Kevin Spiers, Mark OGrady and Dan Thomas gave us a whirlwind tour of some of the possibilities. It certainly isn’t the only editor available, Gimp, Pixlr, Picasa, Paint.Net are all free alternatives with their supporters but none, as they appear to me, have an interface quite as slick and certainly none have the full capability of the cloud based full suite (Photoshop CC and Lightroom) which can now be rented at just under £9 a month. Mind you, photo-shopping is not always approved of!

 

Kevin was first up and showed us the cataloguing feature. An image isn’t much use to anyone if it can’t be found, and with the ease and cheapness of taking another frame comes the problem of sheer volume. The number of images quickly adds up. Looking for that photograph can soon become evidence of that old proverb involving needles and haystacks, though why anyone would think to even begin to look for a steel needle in a stack of dried grass, much less think that was a suitable storage medium in the first place, has always defeated me. Sounds like bad filing practice, which is exactly what the cataloguing system is designed to overcome.  Like trying to find a needle in a sewing box. Simples!

 

Mark’s contribution was a lot more technical. Using an image  from a hairdressing shoot  Mark took us through the somewhat arcane world of frequency separation enhanced by some dodging and burning.

Frequency separation is a technique that gives the user the ability to process the surface and the depth of an image in different detail layers. The image is divided into two layers, containing the high frequencies and the low frequencies and allows the use these layers to work on colours, on broad and fine details independently, using non-destructive changes to the original image.

Definitely an advanced users technique, but one that seems to be getting wider use over the last couple of years . It is, in essence,  about utilising  the different strata (think of a photograph as a sandwich and each component of the sandwich is both part of the overall sandwich and a thing in itself) that make up a photograph. Or think of your favourite song played by different artists , there are individual notes and there are chords arranged together in subtly different ways that form the overall, still recognisable but differently rendered, tune. If you change the chords and notes sympathetically you change the harmonies but can still retain the tune. Frequency separation is about using these strata to enhance or alter  parts of a photograph in the process of retouching and moving the image to a more striking, enhanced representation. Again not a process without controversy, but something that started when the first human artist drew the first image and the first human critic ,that is the first person the artist showed it to, thought “That ain’t right”.

The technique involves creating two layers, a high frequency layer and a low frequency layer.  The low frequency layer contains large areas of colours and tones and the high frequency area fine details like skin pores and blemishes, hair and so on. Julia Kuzmenko McKim gives a blow by blow account of this and also includes a Photoshop action that automates the process (which you might use, but entirely at your own discretion).  These actions can be replicated in some other programmes too, Gimp, for instance has its own frequency separation plug in.

To the low frequency layer, Mark applied desaturation (taking it to black and white) and Gaussian Blur, also known as Gaussian Smoothing.  Carl Friedrich Gauss was an C18th mathematician, perhaps the greatest since antiquity, whose work has had a huge effect on the modern world. It is the application of an algorithm derived from his work and that of Fourier which we need to know not even that much about, leaving such technicalities to people who have use for them.  All we need to know is that it is a blur effect that reduces image noise  and detail. Mark suggested using a brush around 3.5 to 5 pixels and though the size used would depend on the job to be done and the preferences of the user he suggested that would be a happy medium. The larger the brush the bigger the effect. On the high frequency layer he changed the blending ode to linear light and talked about the relative merits of the healing brush and cloning.

Starting with the low frequency layer Mark evened out the skin tones and then switched to high frequency layer to work on the blemishes, making sure that the healing brush was set to sample from the current layer. There are a number of techniques, he assured us, that can be applied, and people derive their own favourites and short cuts. The results were quite stunning and well worth trying out, more finely controlable than just stamping around with a clone brush. Mark recommended Scott Kelby‘s book on photoshop.

After break Dan took us through the Lightroom layout, which is set out in a way as to aid workflow in that the tools that it shows you at the top of the  menus the things you are more likely to productively work on first. This all helps with the work flow. Dan emphasised the lossless nature of using Photoshop, leaving the original untouched. To emphasise these points he took us through some images that he had provided earlier and applied some of the options that the abundant menus allow the user to easily apply. Dan’s top tips?  Take in RAW and Slide the Sliders! RAW gives you more data to work with and the sliders let you apply effects incrementally and as long as preview is switched on you can see the effects on your image in real time, saving considerable effort in going back and forth to check your image. There is a downside of course and that is, in the words of Yogi Berra (American baseball player and yes, that was his real name), “If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else”. It helps to know what you want to do before you start fiddling around.

A great evening and thanks to Kevin, Mark and Dan for making it possible.

You can find an expanded version of what Dan took us through here and includes ground covered by Kevin as well and a whole lot more too.

 

Ian G.