Another Lightroom tip…

In the Develop module, Lightroom has “Lens Correction”.

Its auto functions work very well. Usually setting profile on (tick) and auto to on (tick) is all I need to remove distortion.

But it can do more. Look at this picture:

You know about not putting a person near the edges, and especially in the corners. Right?  Well, sometimes you have no choice, like in the picture above. 16mm lens, and no way to avoid person in corner.

But now I go to Lens Corrections, the MANUAL tab:

..and I drag down “Distortion” until the clock becomes a circle, and the face looks normal.

Not bad, eh!



Why do we use an oldfashioned viewfinder instead of the screen on the back of the DSLR camera?

As you see, pros almost always use this viewfinder instead of the happy, large, bright, colourful screen on the back. Why?

We almost always use the viewfinder (when shooting stills, anyway) for various reasons. Some obvious, some a little less so.

The first few might not apply to everyone: they can be a matter of taste.

  • The viewfinder shows us the scene before the picture, while the screen in a sense shows us the scene after the picture.
  • The viewfinder, through its diopter adjustment,the tiny little wheel or slider right by where your eye goes,  can be set to your eyesight. That way, no need for glasses, as long as your eyes fall within a certain diopter range (-1 to +3, perhaps).

The rest are simple truths that it would be hard to argue with:

  • The screen sucks power out of the battery.
  • The screen is very difficult to see in daylight.
  • Wedging the camera close to your face (and yes, you need to touch it; that is why it has that cute little rubber bumper) makes it much more steady and stable than holding it in the air.
  • Focusing when using the screen cannot use the focus sensors, so must be deduced from the screen—which is a lot slower.

And there is one more reason,  but it is only important for men. When using the viewfinder you look like a pro!



Plus ça change…

The more things change, the more they remain the same. In many ways, this applies to art, and I will give you a few examples here of mine on the right, and earlier art on the left.

We start in the renaissance:

Before you say it: “Some Italian Dude” was of course Leonardo da Vinci. Joke. But can you see the similarities?

Now let’s jump back another 4,000 years and we see this… and I swear I did not see the image on the left until after I had taken the one on the right.

Forward, now, to one of my favourite portrait painters: from the late 19th century, here’s John Singer Sargent’s “Madame X” and my friend. Again, the similarity, to me anyway, is striking:

And now to another one of my favourite artists, Edward Hopper. And mine. Somehow this too feels very much the same:

Finally, a comparison between Conte’s Carla Bruni and my model. The way she holds her body, shoulders, legs, feet: sooo similar. And no, he is not just “some Italian dude”: that too is a joke. Just before any literal thinker takes offense. Joke, everyone!

What is not a joke is that once again, several works feel or look similar, and not because of copying: my model had never heard of Carla Bruni. But in spite of this, she assumes the same body stance:

Art feels the same to people across the continents and across the centuries, even millennia. And that is amazing: truly a way of communicating.


Flash Method

Today’s excellent training in London, Ontario, reminds me of a few things.

First, a photo or two from the day:

As a result of today’s training, a few simple reminders come to mind:

ONE: Make sure your auto ISO is OFF at all times

TWO: Make sure your lens is set to autofocus

THREE: Make sure that the lens is securely screwed in and locked.

FOUR: Make sure you have enough power for the shot, given your aperture and ISO, For an inside flash photo where you are bouncing, this can be problematic. So you can set your camera to 400-40-4 (400 ISO, 1/40 sec, f/4) , but before you take the photo, you should:

  1. Set your flash to M (manual).
  2. Set its power to full (100%, or 1/1).
  3. Take the photo.
  4. If you now see a clearly overexposed flash portion of your photo, good, carry on: go back to TTL flash and take your picture. If, however, you do NOT see clear overexposure, then either increase your ISO or decrease your f-number, and repeat.

If you follow those four simple steps, your photos will be better, more successful.

And I leave you with “me”, today, by a kind student:

(Want a course like this? Contact me any time,. These courses are enormous fun, both the theory courses and the practical follow-up we did today).

A useless^G^G^G^Gful trick

So I can take pictures like this, one by one:

…and on on. Using a tripod, so the only thing that varies is me (I used a self timer).

And then I can use Photoshop or the GIMP (the latter is a free equivalent) to do things like this very easily:

Or even this:

OK.. so a cool trick. You do this with layers and masks. Hellishly complicated user interface, but once you know the silly UI, the process itself is very simple. It’s the only thing I have the GIMP for.

So. Why would I think this is useful, other than for fun?

I don’t. But you can also use it the other way. Instead of replacing the wall by me, replace me by the wall. And now you can perhaps see a benefit looming.

No? Think on. You are at the Eiffel Tower. Or the Grand Canyon lookout point. Or whatever tourist attraction you can think of. What do you see? Tourists. Right. It attracts them: that’s why it is a tourist attraction.

But not in the same spot all the time. So all you need to do is the same I did here: take a bunch of pictures. Say 10-20 of them. So that you have each spot of attraction at least once without a covering tourist. Then you put them into layers—one each—in PS. And then you manually remove tourists. Or if you have the extended or Cloud version, you go one further: you use function File > Scripts > Statistics.   Choose “median” and select the photos. Now you end up automatically with an Eiffel tower without tourists, a Grand Canyone without other onlookers, and so on.

Cool? Yes, that warrants four backspaces and a “–ful”, in my opinion. And those of you as experienced as I am in IT (I am avoiding saying “as old as”) know that ^G (Control-G) is a backspace.

So there.