Workflow Tip

Here’s part of my Lightroom workflow:

  1. Import. Rename during import to YYYMMDD–<old filename> (e.g. file MVWX1234.CR2 gets renamed to “20150129–MVWX1234.CR2″).
  2. Rate pictures 1-5 stars, where 1=technically bad, 2=technically OK but not inspiring, 3=good to be shown to client; 4=one of the best in shoot; 5=portfolio photo.
  3. Set filter to “3 and above only”.
  4. Out of these, now decide which ones to actually use by flagging (“P, or “pick”).
  5. Set filter to “flagged only”.
  6. Edit them. Mark green (8) when done.
  7. Set filter to greens only.
  8. Export as required.

As you see, I create a funnel. As in “1000 images gets made into 850 “3+” images, and eventually to 600 picks”. It’s all about efficiency.



Or rather, de-fringe.

Look at this photo of my garage during last Sunday’s garage art sale:

But look at original size and at the very edges, where there is back light (think: a tree against a sky), you will see some colour fringing (known as “chromatic aberration”). Look at the black picture frame, or perhaps even more clear, at the model’s head, and you will see purple/red on the left, blue/green on the right (it may help to look at the image full size):

Now, in the “Lens Corrections” panel, you see the option “Remove Chromatic Aberration”? Let’s click that on. Now we see:

Can you see how it is now gone? You can go into the “Color” tab within this panel and tune the settings, but you usually do not need to do that.

Now, back to the exhibit. Look at the full image at its original size. That was my Garage Wall Art Sale. Now “was”: it is my sale, since it is ongoing. I am selling framed prints and unframed prints, mainly at 13×19″ size, some larger, in categories including:

  • Colourful: images whose bright colour is the main feature
  • Travel and cities: images of iconic cities like New York, Hong Kong, Toronto, London, Jerusalem, and so on: I have worked in 40 countries.
  • Black and White: images that look great as artistic B/W prints on any wall.
  • Nudes: artistic nudes, of which I have hundreds, featuring my muses
  • Sailing: showing that even “Lake Onterrible” can look great.

These prints are handmade by me on permanent museum quality paper using permanent pigments (not dyes, which can fade after just a few decades). They are also autographed, and are made in limited editions or even as one-offs.

In other words: they can form the basis of your wall art collection. Collecting such wall art can be an amazing hobby. See for more detail, and remember: if you buy out of the garage, Garage Sale prices apply, and these can be as low as one quarter of art gallery prices. So, come see what’s in the bins and display racks and decorate your home with originals today.


Exposing to the right

I am studio shooting, and I like to get my exposure right. And there’s one things that always occurs to me: the difference between camera and Lightroom. The camera says this image is overexposed:

That’s what it looks like on the camera. But in Lightroom, that same image looks like this:

Looks pretty perfect, and that is confirmed by the histogram:

There are several reasons for this.

  1. The camera shows me the JPG that is built into the RAW as a preview. But in Lightroom, I have the actual RAW. Which has more exposure space due to its having more bits per colour channel.
  2. Lightroom prevents overexposure when importing, as part of its current develop profile (so if you like overexposed backgrounds, tough—I have commented on this before).
  3. Cameras and Lightroom are not calibrated the same. There’s always some difference.

So here’s my studio tip for the day: know your camera, and know how to expose on your specific camera to get an image that is exposed to the right (i.e. bright white areas appear at the very end on the right in the histogram, without actually touching the right side). Every camera is different. On my 1Dx, for instance, I need to see overexposure by about 2/3 of a stop, in order to get a Lightroom image that is just shy of being overexposed. As long as you know, this does not matter.

1/1/2015: you have a few hours left to buy three of my e-books at a 50% discount. Only today!


Full-frame sensors: The advantages

Full-frame sensors have several advantages over smaller sensors:

  • Full frame sensors have lower noise (better quality) than crop sensors with the same number of megapixels. This means they are better at high ISO values, where noise can become a problem, than crop sensors.
  • The viewfinder is larger and brighter.
  • You can achieve slightly blurrier backgrounds.
  • Wide-angle lenses work as wide-angle lenses on a full-frame camera (as opposed to on a crop camera, where each lens works as though it were longer, compared to using the same lens on a full frame camera).

That’s a nice list, and it explains why most pros use full frame cameras, but there are also advantages to using slightly smaller sensors:

  • They cost less.
  • They are smaller, so cameras with a crop sensor can be slightly smaller.
  • They can use special lenses (DX lenses for Nikon, EF-S lenses for Canon, etc) that were made especially for smaller crop sensors; these lenses are therefore smaller too, so they cost less and weigh less.41
  • Lenses “appear to be longer” by the crop factor compared to the same lenses used on full frame cameras: this is obviously an advantage if you need a long lens, such as when shooting lions in Africa.

Drawback of these lenses: if you upgrade to full-frame, you need to replace your lenses.

Effect on Apparent Lens Length

As said, crop cameras “appear to lengthen a lens”. That is, a 35mm lens works like a 50mm lens when used on a crop camera; a 50mm lens works like an 80mm lens when used on a crop camera; a 200mm lens works like a 300mm lens when used on a crop camera, and so on.

The same lens, for instance, mounted on two cameras with the same number of megapixels, one with a full-frame sensor and one with a crop sensor, might give these two images:

In this example, on the 1.6x crop sensor (the sensor that is 1.6x smaller than full frame), the same objects in the resulting image would be 1.6x larger. An advantage when you want telephoto behaviour; a drawback when you want wide angles.

Let’s Be Clear: Unless otherwise mentioned, in this book, when we discuss lenses and what they do, we use the behaviour when that lens is mounted.

on a full frame camera, i.e. we describe the lens “as it would work on a full- frame camera”. So when I say a 50mm is standard lens, I mean it is a standard lens on a full frame camera (on a crop camera you would use a 35mm lens for the same effect).

“What type of lens should you buy?” The choice is up to you. Both full-frame and crop lenses have advantages and drawbacks. Only you can decide whether quality is most important to you, for instance, or money.

Either way, any modern DSLR will provide quality beyond that of good professional cameras even just a few years ago. This is a great time to be a photographer.

The article above is part of Michael’s “Mastering Your Camera” book, obtainable from You can get a full chapter preview from here.


De gustibus..

…non est disputandum. You can’t argue over taste.

As regular readers know, I like to shoot “in camera”, and keep post editing to a minimum. For the most part, my photos are basically SOOC: “Straight Out Of Camera”. But sometimes. I make exceptions.

One is this style, a very bright, contrasty, cool, desaturated, sharp style that mostly loses everything into pure white, making eyes and other features stand out dramatically.

Here’s another example, before and after, so you can see what I did. Here’s the original, before the edit:

Shot at the following settings (press “i” in Lightroom repeatedly to cycle through the Information options):

After the enhancement:

Note: the “before” picture was not bad. I strongly believe that you should use techniques like this to enhance, not to fix.

I like this so much that I made it a User Preset. After making your adjustments, click on the “+” in the Develop mode’s preset panel on the left.

This preset consists of the following adjustments:

…in addition to which, I set “sharpening” (in the DETAIL panel) to +80 and “noise reduction” to +20.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of an image before and after:

I like that sharp look a lot.

Be careful not to overdo it and apply a particular “look” to all your work. Aim to do it in camera, and apply styles (via presets) only when needed, when they add something. As I believe this one certainly does.


BUT MICHAEL, I hear some of you say. “you are giving away your secrets”. Yes, I am. Because adjustments can be found anywhere. What cannot be easily copied is my artistic insight, people skills, $30,000 in equipment, and experience.

Would you like more secrets? Be my guest: have a look at the Christmas Specials on see right now.