Ashley Roberts for Fault Magazine
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 22:07:00 ZPhilips' new 43-inch 4K HDR monitor earns world's first DisplayHDR 1000 certification
Philips has unveiled the new Momentum 436M6VBPAB 43-inch 4K HDR Quantum Dot Monitor. This model is a milestone for the display market, according to Philips, because it is the first to receive the VESA DisplayHDR 1000 Certification.
As DPReview explained earlier this year, not all "HDR" monitors are created equal. In fact, until recently, there was no standard that helped define what was and what was not HDR. That's why VESA created DisplayHDR: the first open standard for HDR displays.
The DisplayHDR standard is split into three tiers: the baseline DisplayHDR 400, the mid-range DisplayHDR 600, and the ultra-high-end DisplayHDR 1000. A total of eight tests are used to determine which of the three certifications a monitor deserves, including a trio of peak luminance tests, BT.709 and DCI-P3 color testing; a couple contrast measurement tests; an HDR response performance test; and, finally, a bi-depth requirement test.
By establishing a standard (assuming manufacturers adopt it) the display industry has simplified the shopping process. Rather than examining each display's spec sheet, buyers can look for the DisplayHDR 400/600/1000 badge and rapidly determine whether the display truly meets HDR standards.
The DisplayHDR 1000 certification that Philips just achieved guarantees a minimum 10-bit encoding, 1,000 nits peak brightness, 0.5 nits cap on black levels, minimum of 90% DCI-P3 coverage, and 99% sRGB. Both the DisplayHDR 600 and DisplayHDR 1000 tiers are suitable for professional work, but 1000 is obviously the better option.
VESA certification aside, the Momentum 436M6 monitor offers Ambiglow technology that adds "a new dimension to the entertainment viewing experience," according to Philips. With Ambiglow, Momentum 436M6 monitors present a glow around the display that matches the colors and brightness on the screen. This "enlarges the screen," says Philips, though it's more of a unique ambiance for watching movies and playing games than something practical for work. Fortunately for those of us who might find this feature distracting, users have full control over Ambiglow.
Finally, Philips' new monitor features MultiView for working with multiple devices simultaneously. One example provided is using one side of the display for something interactive, such as using a PC, and the other side of the display for streaming content from a set-top box.
Philips plans to launch the Momentum 436M6 some time this summer for $1,000.00 USD.
New Philips Monitor the First to Achieve HDR1000 Certification
he Philips Momentum 43” monitor is the first monitor to receive the new VESA DisplayHDR 1000 Certification
Fremont, CA – Today EPI, the leading technology company and brand license partner for Philips monitors, announces the new Philips Momentum 43” 4K HDR Quantum Dot Monitor (436M6VBPAB), the world’s first HDR1000 monitor with the new Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) DisplayHDR 1000 Certification. The Momentum also features Ambiglow technology. The Philips Momentum 436M6’s combination of HDR 1000 with Ambiglow leads to an incredibly immersive entertainment viewing experience.
The Momentum 436M6 features Quantum Dot Color and DisplayHDR 1000 for a wider range of more accurate colors – especially dark reds and greens – that stay crisp and clear even in bright light. DisplayHDR 1000 delivers a dramatically different visual experience. With a peak brightness of up to 1,000 cd/m2, incomparable contrast and captivating color, images come to life with much greater brightness while also featuring much deeper, more nuanced darks. It renders a fuller palette of rich new colors seen on the display.
DisplayHDR is the display industry’s first fully open standard specifying HDR quality. This standard spans across three performance tiers: DisplayHDR 400 (baseline), 600 (mid-range) and 1000 (high-end). These specifications are established using eight specific parameter requirements and associated test including: three peak luminance tests, two contrast measurement tests, color testing of the BT.709 and DCI-P3 color gamuts, bi-depth requirement test and a HDR response performance test.
“As with any new technology there can be confusion out there regarding HDR specs and benefits. VESA’s new DisplayHDR standard will make monitor shopping easier by offering consumers a comparable standard to judge HDR picture performance between monitors,” stated Chris Brown, Philips Monitors Global Marketing Manager, TPV. “We are very excited to launch the world’s first DisplayHDR 1000 monitor, the Philips Momentum 43-inch 4K Display. DisplayHDR 1000 level of picture performance will offer a more intense gaming and entertainment experience. The contrast and color really bring action scenes alive, like we’ve never seen before.”
The Momentum 436M6 uses Ambiglow technology to add a new dimension to the entertainment viewing experience. This innovative technology enlarges the screen by creating an immersive halo of light around the outside of the screen. It uses a fast internal processor to analyze the incoming image content and continuously adapts the color and brightness of the emitted light to match the image. Users can adjust the ambience to their liking. It’s a unique and immersive viewing experience especially suited for watching movies, sports or playing games.
With its 4K UHD resolution, the Momentum 436M6 can take advantage of MultiView technology. MultiView enables active dual connect so that you can work with multiple devices like PC and Notebooks simultaneously, making complex multi-tasking work a breeze. It’s easy to watch a live football feed from a set-top box on one side, while playing a gaming console on the other. This technology makes the Momentum 436M6 perfect for extreme productivity or entertainment.
The Philips Momentum 436M6 will be available later this summer for $999.99.
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 15:45:00 ZXiaomi unveils Mi 6X with dual-camera and AI-powered scene detection
Dual-camera equipped devices have really been taking off this year, and with the Mi 6X, Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi has just thrown its hat into the dual-cam ring as well. As has been the norm with virtually all recent device launches, Xiaomi is putting a lot of emphasis on the Mi 6X camera capabilities: claiming the new model competes with rivals such as the iPhone X or OPPO R15 in the imaging department.
We'll have to get hands on a test unit to confirm if that's true, but the camera specs do look promising. The main camera uses a 1/2.9"12 MP Sony IMX486 sensor and F1.75 aperture lens. The secondary camera comes with a 1/2.78" 20MP sensor and the same lens specifications as the main camera. Xiaomi says the secondary camera uses a 4-to-1 pixel binning mode for reduced noise levels. It is also deployed to generate a fake-bokeh portrait mode.
The front camera uses the same Sony IMX376 sensor as the secondary unit, which should ensure image quality that is a cut above your average small-sensor front camera.
It's not all about hardware, though. Like some other recent high-end devices, the Mi 6X uses artificial intelligence to detect more than 200 scene types and adjust camera settings automatically—including 12 different portrait scenes. According to Xiaomi, the AI algorithms are capable of learning, providing better detail and subject separation in portrait mode the longer you use it.
Non-camera specifications include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chipset, 4/64 GB, 6/64 GB, and 6/128 GB memory combinations and a 5.99-inch LCD display with Full HD+ resolution. Security is covered with a fingerprint reader on the back and Face Unlock support.
Pricing is in line with Xiaomi's tagline: “the same specifications, at half the price.” In China, prices start from CNY 1,599 (approximately $250 USD) which, considering the specifications, makes the Mi 6X an enticing option. The global version of the device will likely be called Mi A2 but no international pricing information has been provided yet.
More information, including some camera samples, is available on the Xiaomi website.
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 15:22:00 ZVideo: Adobe shows you how to make your own Profiles in Camera Raw
The latest major release of Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom CC, and Lightroom Classic CC unveiled all new "Profiles" to the world, including six new Adobe Raw profiles, over 40 Creative Profiles, and the ability to create your own Profiles if you want to lock your personal style into a preset.
This video addresses the last of those options, showing you how to use Adobe Camera Raw to create your own custom Creative Profiles for use in ACR, LR CC and LR Classic CC. The tutorial was created by Josh Haftel, who cautions users from the get-go on Adobe's blog:
Keep in mind that creating a profile is rather complex, includes many steps, and should be considered rather advanced: proceed with caution.
If that doesn't scare you away, the 23-minute video shows you exactly how the process works: step-by-step. And if you're feeling even more courageous, you can download this free Software Development Kit (SDK) that contains more information and some sample files as well.
Finally, if the original description of Profiles wasn't detailed enough for you—or if you really want to get into the nitty gritty of how Adobe designed its new profiles system for both Adobe Raw and Creative Profiles—check out this detailed white paper. The paper explains each of the six Adobe Raw profiles in great detail for those who really want to understand what's going on behind the scenes.
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 14:40:00 ZThis Lamborghini is ‘the world’s fastest purpose-built camera car’
If you like fast cars and expensive camera gear, look no further. What you see above is a Lamborghini Huracan with a $500,000 dollar camera gimbal attached to the front—a machine its creators have dubbed "the world’s fastest purpose-built camera car."
The frame for this elaborate setup is a $200,000 Lamborghini Huracan. Attached to the inside of the hood of said Huracan is a half-a-million dollar camera gimbal setup created by Gyro-Stabilized Systems (GSS) and fabricated to fit the vehicle by IDO. Inside the gimbal is a RED Helium 8K camera with the option to mount multiple lenses—a fittingly expensive camera for an unbelievably expensive camera car.
If you’re wondering how IDO was able to mount the gimbal inside the hood of the Lamborghini, it’s because the Huracan is a mid-engine vehicle. This means the massive 610-horsepower V10 engine sits towards the rear of the car, centered behind the driver and passenger seats, effectively turning the hood of the car into a trunk.
Unmodified, the Lamborghini Huracan has a zero-to-60 speed of 3.2 seconds and a top speed of more than 200 miles per hour. We don’t have the specs on how well it performs with the massive camera attached to the front, but it’s safe to say there’s a slight sacrifice in speed and acceleration.
Below is a gallery of Instagram posts showing off the Huracam in all its glory:
There's no video captured with the 8K setup yet, but the first snippets shouldn't be too far away. The team has already partnered up with Sharp Electronics for the first project with the Huracam.
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 14:10:00 ZReport: Casio is pulling out of digital compact camera market
According to a report on the Japanese Nikkei website, electronics manufacturer Casio—one of the pioneers in the digital camera segment—is exiting the digital compact camera market. The company generated a loss of 500 million Yen (approximately $4.6 million USD) in the fiscal year that ended March 2017, and has come to the conclusion that no market growth or increase in market share can be expected for the future.
Casio had already silently withdrawn compact cameras from markets outside Japan (the last model in our database is the 12MP ZR5000 from 2016) but was still selling digital compacts in its home country until now.Casio EX-F1 from 2008
The first Casio model in our camera database is the 1996 QV300, which offered a whopping 640 x 380 pixel resolution and a 47-106mm equivalent zoom range. Many of the company's later models did not particularly stand out from the competition, however. The EX-F1 superzoom (pictured above) was the most notable exception. Its ability to shoot 60 frames per second still images and 1200 fps videos (at a tiny resolution) were unheard of at the time of launch.
Have you owned a Casio digital camera, or do you still own one? Let us know in the comments.
Digital Photography School
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 19:00:00 +00004 of the Most Common Composition Mistakes In Photography
I’ve seen photographers make lots of mistakes when it comes to composition. That’s not a criticism – we all get things wrong from time to time. But recognizing mistakes and putting them right is a key part of improving your composition skills. In that spirit then, here are the most common composition mistakes and errors that I’ve seen photographers make.
Mistake #1: Learning the rule of thirds – and nothing else
The rule of thirds is basic composition theory and it’s important to understand it. But the mistake some photographers make is never trying to learn anything else about composition.
For example, take a look at the photo below. The tree is located on an intersection created by dividing the frame into three, according to the rule of thirds.
But is the rule of thirds the only principle of composition used in this photo? No, it isn’t. Let’s look at the other factors.
- There is negative space around the tree. It gives the subject room to breathe and creates a sense of space.
- The tree is the main focal point and there is nothing to compete with it.
- The hills in the background are faded due to the weather conditions (it was raining when I made the photo), adding a sense of depth.
- I used a long exposure (125 seconds) to blur the water and the leaves of the tree, adding a sense of motion or time passing to the photo.
- I converted the photo to black and white to create drama.
As you can see there’s much more happening in this photo, from the point of view of composition, than simply placing the tree on a third. Once you understand how these ideas work you can use them in other photos and improve your composition skills at the same time.
Mistake #2: Not including foreground interest
This is a common mistake in landscape photography and some documentary photography. That’s because photographers in these genres often use wide-angle lenses, which usually include lots of foreground detail in the composition.
The idea of foreground interest can be a hard concept to grasp at first but it makes sense when you start to think about it.
For example, I made the following photo with a 14mm lens (a wide-angle on my APS-C camera). I wanted to tell a story about the couple in the market. Using a wide-angle lens helped me include context – the piles of vegetables in the foreground that the couple was selling. The vegetables provide foreground interest and support the story.
The same idea also applies to landscapes made with wide-angle lenses. In the photo below the ruins is the main subject. The flowers in the foreground add interest in the bottom half of the frame.
Mistake #3: Not paying enough attention to the background
Sharp backgrounds are common in documentary styles of photography and can help tell a story about the main subject. For example, in the photo below the main subject is the three men in the photo – the barber, his customer, and the man looking directly at the camera.
The detail in the background supports the main subject and helps tell its story. We can see every detail, from the wall behind the men to the barber’s tools and products. These details are an interesting and important part of the photo.
Sometimes the opposite approach is required and you need to blur the background out to remove distractions. Part of the skill of being a photographer is knowing when to blur the background and when to keep it sharp. In some portraits (like the one below, made with an aperture of f/1.8) you can use a wide aperture to blur the background and remove details that might distract from the model.
The mistake I see photographers make is not thinking about these things and taking enough care to make sure the background suits the subject.
Mistake #4: Not working the subject
The final common composition mistake I see photographers make is failing to work the subject. This means that you take as many photos as you can until you’ve exhausted all the creative possibilities. Sometimes you only need to take three or four photos for this to happen. At other times you may take 20 or 30. Either way, the idea is to explore different viewpoints and compositional possibilities.
The reason this works is that the first point of view you use is not necessarily the best one. If you have the opportunity, it’s a good idea to try different points of view, different focal lengths, and maybe even different aperture and shutter speed settings.
This is where you can think through some of the concepts discussed earlier in the article. A good question to ask yourself is, “How can I make the photo more interesting?”
Perhaps you need to pay more attention to the background. Maybe you need to include some interesting foreground detail. Perhaps the photo would benefit from including some negative space or using a slower shutter speed to blur parts of it. The answers depend on the subject and how much time you have to explore it.
Example of working the scene
Here’s an example. Below you can see four photos I made of an interesting building, each one utilizing a different point of view and composition. They were part of a sequence of 25 photos I made before I felt there was nothing else I could do.
There are many mistakes that it’s possible to make when it comes to the composition in photography, but these are the most common that I’ve seen. What composition mistakes have you seen people make, or are you guilty of making yourself? Please let us know in the comments below.
Mastering Composition Book Two
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Wed, 25 Apr 2018 14:00:00 +0000What to Do When You Forget Your Tripod (or You Don’t Have One)
I suspect we’ve all been there. You are headed out on non-photography business, but you grab your camera on the way out the door – just in case. Well, wouldn’t you know it, “just in case” turned into a reality? A beautiful scene unfolds before your eyes. The trouble is that it is a low-light scene, and you didn’t grab your tripod. Uh oh. What do you do?
The worst option, of course, is to do nothing and miss the shot. Even if you try and fail you are no worse off than if you do nothing. So you might as well give it a go, even with no tripod.
There is no magic to a tripod
The main thing to remember is that a tripod is just a glorified shelf. That is, it is just a place to prop your camera. Granted, there are a lot of controls that make it a very convenient and easy to use support for your camera, but it is still just a shelf. With that in mind, look around for something else you might use.
Speaking of shelves, they work great and they often provide a nice high vantage point for your scene. If you are near civilization (not out in the woods somewhere), tables and chairs work great as make-shift tripods. Scoot one around to where you want to shoot and place your camera on it.
When placing your camera on something, you will find that the weight of your lens will cause the camera to tip forward. To remedy that, just place something under the front of the lens. If there is nothing available, dig through your bag and see what you can find. I have used lens hoods, filter cases, and even spare batteries. Is that the ideal situation? Not by a long shot. But they work in a pinch.
No tripod – no problem
Let me show you a recent example of this. This is a shot I took of a night scene in Oklahoma City.
I was visiting that city and staying in a hotel. My wife and I were sitting in the bar on the top floor and as it got dark I thought it was a nice scene that I would like to photograph. As I really had no prior plans to photograph, while I did have my camera, I had no tripod or remote shutter release.
This picture required a shutter speed of 30 seconds (I could have gone shorter, but I wanted the light trails on the road). Without a tripod, I had to muddle through. I pushed a cocktail table up to the edge of the balcony to get the angle I wanted. Then I used an ashtray that was laying around to prop up my lens.
That still leaves the issue of avoiding touching the camera during the shot. If you are without your tripod, odds are you will be without your remote shutter release as well. You can still take shots without touching the camera by using the camera’s built-in timer.
For the shot above, I used the 2-second timer to get the image. Even if you have set the camera to take bracketed exposures, it will take all the shots in the bracket when the timer goes off (note: this only applies to some camera models). It is actually so handy that I find myself using a remote shutter release less and less.
Adding a touch of stabilization
Other times you don’t really need to set your camera down anywhere, you just need a little stabilization. How do you know if you need stabilization? Through something called the Reciprocal Rule. This rule says that your shutter speed should be at least the reciprocal of your focal length.
To make it simple, it just means that if you are shooting at 50mm your shutter speed should be 1/50th or faster. If your focal length is 16mm your shutter speed should be 1/16th or faster. As you can see, the more wide-angle you shoot, the slower the shutter speed you can get away with.
So that’s another tip. Shoot wide-angle in low light scenes where you don’t have a tripod. That won’t always work, of course, because sometimes your compositions just demand longer focal lengths. But as you are walking around without a tripod, think wide-angle.
You might have image stabilization/vibration reduction in your lens as well. If so, this will buy you a few stops of light. What that means in this context is that you can set your shutter speed a few stops slower than you could otherwise.
For example, if you have 3-stops of image stabilization in your lens (different lenses are rated differently), and you are shooting with a focal length of 50mm, you might now be able to get away with a shutter speed of 1/6th of a second. (Remember that a stop is a doubling of light, so if you start at 1/50th of a second, then one stop is 1/25th, two stops go to 1/12th, and three stops takes you to 1/6th.
These numbers are EFL though (Effective Focal Length) so if you are shooting with a camera with a smaller sensor than full frame you will need to account for that.
Other forms of stabilization
When you run afoul of the Reciprocal Rule, you will need to stabilize your camera, often only a little bit. Let’s say for example that you are shooting at 24mm, and a proper exposure (using the ISO and aperture settings you want) requires a shutter speed of 1/10th second. What to do? Just stabilize the camera a bit by propping it against something.
Use a wall or a doorway if you are inside. Use a tree or a light post if you are outside. Those things are stable, and by propping the camera against them you are borrowing some of that stability. You will be less likely to move the camera during the exposure. If you cannot prop your camera against them, even leaning against these items while you shoot will help a little bit.
Shoot many frames
Don’t just take one picture though. Give yourself the opportunity to get a sharp one by taking several. Even if you think you got it right the first time, it is hard to tell on those little LCD screens (you can zoom in to check). There is nothing worse than getting home and discovering that a picture you thought was sharp is actually blurry. Remember that it is free to take pictures with digital, so make good use of that and take lots to be sure.
Finally, don’t be afraid to crank up the ISO. Doing so will allow you to use a much faster shutter speed. Of course, that also leads to an increase in digital noise, but don’t worry about that so much.
First of all, cameras keep getting better and better at handling digital noise, and it isn’t as much of a problem as it used to be. In any case, it can usually be fixed in post-processing pretty easily and without much loss of detail in your picture. Remember it is easy to fix digital noise, but very hard or impossible to fix blur (from a slow shutter speed).
Putting it into practice
None of this is to say that you don’t need a tripod or that you shouldn’t carry one with you. If you do landscapes, city scenes, or other types of outdoor photography, having and using a tripod is super important.
But when you find yourself without one, all is not lost. You might be able to get the shot anyway.
The post What to Do When You Forget Your Tripod (or You Don’t Have One) appeared first on Digital Photography School.
Tue, 24 Apr 2018 19:00:00 +0000Review of Metabones Adapter Mark V – Canon EF to Sony E-Mount
For Canon shooters thinking about switching to Sony mirrorless cameras, the Metabones adapter is often suggested to help with the transition. Lens mount adapters are often frowned upon as they historically have had limited functionality, such as no autofocus and simply not working well or consistently.
But this latest generation of lens adapters is pretty impressive, offering nearly all of the same features that you would get with a native Sony lens. Here’s my take on the Metabones Adapter Mark V, as used with select Canon EF lenses and a Sony A7rIII and Sony a6300.
The Metabones Canon EF to Sony E Mount Smart Adapter Mark V officially debuted in July 2017. It’s all black and made of metal. Compared to previous generation adapters, the Mark V adds three key features:
- A dedicated on/off switch for SteadyShot (IBIS)
- Rubber gasket weather seals to protect the E-mount connection
- An indicator light for basic/advanced modes
Other features offered by the Metabones V include:
- Fast contrast-detection and phase-detect autofocus
- Eye autofocus (!!)
- Powered by camera body (no external power source needed)
- Support of image stabilization lenses
- Auto “APS-C Size Capture” on full-frame cameras
Currently, theMetabones Adapter Mark V can be purchased for $399 USD.
Metabones V Compatibility
Since there are lots of different cameras and lenses out there, so it’s difficult to verify that the Metabones V adapter will work in every case. The Metabones website has a long list of cameras and lenses that should be compatible with this adapter. In this case, the Metabones V adapter worked with the following setups:
- Sony A7rIII and Sony A6300 camera bodies
- Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 II
- Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II
- Canon 16-35mm f/1.8 II
- Canon 50mm f/1.8
- Canon 35mm f/1.4
- Canon 85mm f/1.8
- Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro
What works well
It works as advertised
I tested the Metabones V adapter primarily with the Sony A7rIII and Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II, as this is my preferred shooting setup. For comparison with how autofocus would function on a native Sony lens, I also shot with the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 and Sony 24-240mm lenses.
While testing the adapter, I was blown away by the autofocus system’s speed and accuracy when using my Canon 24-70mm. Not only could I use most of the autofocus settings on the camera (with the exception of Zone area focus), but eye autofocus also worked extremely well. Even when shooting in continuous burst mode at 10 frames per second, there was no lag when using a Canon lens and the adapter.
Generally speaking, it felt nearly the same as using a native Sony lens on the A7rIII. The same can’t be said for the cheaper FotodioX lens adapter that I was using previously. This other adapter worked with only half of my lenses and had inconsistent and slow autofocus. In that sense, you truly get what you pay for when it comes to camera gear (the FotodioX is $99 compared to the Metabones at $399).
Small and compact
Weighing in at 5.3 ounces (150g) and measuring 2.6 x 1.4 x 3 inches (6.6 x 3.6 x 7.6 cm), this slick adapter is compact and easy to stash in a camera bag. It feels about equivalent in size to the Canon 1.4X EF Extender. The Metabones V adapter comes in a plastic box that can you use for long-term storage, but unfortunately, there is no carrying case.
You can easily receive firmware updates
Besides a couple of buttons and indicator lights, there’s also a micro-USB port that can connect the adapter to a computer for firmware upgrades.
What needs improving
For all of the excellent qualities of the Metabones V adapter, there are two shortcomings worth mentioning.
First is the occasional freezing of the camera screen while trying to autofocus. You can fix the problem by simply turning the camera off and on. However, this lag slows down your workflow and makes you question reliability. This problem happens sporadically, mostly with my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II, but it never happens when using native Sony lenses.
Another shortcoming is the loss of touchscreen autofocus when using a Canon lens and the Metabones V adapter. One of the biggest selling points of new Sony cameras such as the A7rIII is touchscreen autofocus. While it’s a bit laggy and imperfect even when using Sony lenses, touchscreen autofocus seems to disappear altogether when using adapted lenses. Hopefully, this will be fixed with future a firmware update.
If you’re transitioning from Canon to Sony, the Metabones Adapter Mark V is a must-have addition to your photography kit. It’s not perfect, but it is a solution that seems to get better over time. At $399, the Metabones V adapter isn’t cheap, but it seems to work more consistently than cheaper options such as the Sigma MC-11.
Have you tried the Metabones lens adapter before? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments below!
Sample Photos Taken with Sony A7rIII, Metabones V adapter, and Canon lenses:
The post Review of Metabones Adapter Mark V – Canon EF to Sony E-Mount appeared first on Digital Photography School.
Tue, 24 Apr 2018 14:00:00 +0000Raya Pro Photoshop Plugin – How to Simplify and Speedup Your Workflow
For a long time, my solution for a faster workflow was to create my own Photoshop Actions. But in the last couple of years, I’ve implemented another third-party software into my workflow, the Raya Pro Photoshop plugin.
Let’s face it, Photoshop can be an overwhelming and time-consuming photo editor. However, it’s also one that plays an important part in most photographer’s work. Either they use it for simple color corrections or more advanced techniques, most professional photographers put their images through Photoshop at some point.
I’ve been using Photoshop for the last 10-or-so years, so I would say that I’m pretty familiar with the software. My biggest challenge, or rather annoyment, since I started using Photoshop was the fact that several of the techniques I used took a lot of time to create. Even if I’m only talking about a few minutes, it accumulates when I use it several times in each picture, and I process several pictures a day.
What is Raya Pro?
Spending time repeating the same techniques over and over again can be quite demotivating and even lead to you being sloppy in your post-processing. That’s why Raya Pro has become a part of my workflow. It’s a Photoshop Panel which allows you to make several advanced and professional-looking techniques with a simple click.
It’s a tool that’s useful for both experienced Photoshop users (to save time) and complete beginners (to learn to create professional effects).
Raya Pro consists of seven panels:
- Raya Pro HUB
- Precision Mask
- Quick Blend
- Dodge & Burn
Most Important Features
I’m not going to lie and say that it doesn’t take some time to understand all seven panels. It’s quite a lot to get into but along with each panel, there’s a button that takes you to a series of video tutorials specifically for that panel. These tutorials are easy to follow and if you’ve already got some knowledge of Adobe software, it won’t take long for you to master the panels.
While it may seem a bit overwhelming, you’ll most likely not use all the Actions. In my experience, you’ll find a handful of Actions you use on a regular basis and mostly stick to using those. Let me make it a little easier for you and point out the ones I use in my workflow.
Exposure Blending & Luminosity Masks
One of the main features and uses of Raya Pro is to easily blend multiple images and create Luminosity Masks. (If you’re not familiar with Luminosity Masks I recommend reading this article by Raya Pro creator and dPS writer Jimmy McIntyre).
There are three ways to blend images with Raya Pro:
- With the QuickBlend Panel
- Using the Precision Mask Panel
- With the InstaMask Panel
The easiest option is to use the QuickBlend Panel. Here you can simply blend multiple exposures with one single click. However, being the easiest it’s also the most restricted so you might need to tweak it a little for optimal results. That being said, it does a good job most of the time.
The Precision Mask Panel is slightly more advanced and is divided into three sections: Exposure Blending, Color Zones and Fix Dark Blend. With this panel, you can create precise masks and further refine them by subtracting a specific color from your selection, for example.
InstaMask is the most advanced of the three but also the most flexible. Its main purpose is to create Luminosity Masks so if you want to do exposure blending you’ll need to create and apply the masks. This is my preferred panel as I’m able to further refine selections and apply either apply them to a mask or use them to create an adjustment layer.
Dodge & Burn
While creating a Dodge & Burn layer doesn’t take much time, it’s an effect that I often apply multiple times on an image; which is why I prefer having an Action (or Raya Pro) to create it quickly.
Raya Pro has its own panel dedicated to Dodging & Burning where you’re able to create much more than only the traditional 50% Grey layer (though this is what I use the most). In this panel, you can create Dodge & Burn layers that specifically target only the highlights, shadows, or mid-tones. This is a great option to have when you’re working on local adjustments.
In addition to Dodge & Burn layers, you’re also able to create different styles of the Orton Effect; a glow effect that creates a dreamy atmosphere.
Correcting Color Cast
Raya Pro is also a great tool when it comes to working with colors. Whether you want to saturate, desaturate, convert to B&W or add warmth to the highlights, it’s all done with one simple click.
Correcting color cast is done with one simple click as well. In fact, you’ve got four options to use in case one doesn’t give you a good result: Correct 1, Correct 2, Correct 3 and Manual Correct. The three first make use of different techniques that automatically remove color cast. But should those not work, you can use the Manual Correct button for better results.
Filters & Finish
The last panel I use in my workflow is Filters & Finish. While I only use this panel for the Web Sharpening tool that doesn’t mean I don’t recommend playing around with the other effects as well.
You’re also able to add your own Actions if there’s a specific technique or effect you regularly create, that’s not already on the panel.
Raya Pro has been a part of my workflow for the last couple years. While I still make the majority of the techniques, effects, or edits manually, I do use it at some point for most of my images.
It’s a plugin that is great for both complete beginners and advanced users as each panel is built differently. After some trial and error it’s pretty straightforward to use and, in my opinion, it’s never been easier to create professional looking techniques.
The post Raya Pro Photoshop Plugin – How to Simplify and Speedup Your Workflow appeared first on Digital Photography School.
Mon, 23 Apr 2018 19:00:00 +0000Artistic Versus Technical Photography Skills – What is Holding You Back?
In my work as a teacher – and as an artist – I have noticed something that might sound very obvious but is rarely talked about in our journey to become better photographers. That is, how we live our day-to-day lives will show us where we are going wrong in our photography. Figuring out your shortcomings is the only way to overcome them.
Let me explain.
“Creativity takes courage.” – Henri Matisse
Photography is an inner game. Everything about who we are is expressed in our photos. You can ask 100 photographers to photograph the same scene and they will all pick out different elements, they will all work on different parts of the scene and they will all end up with different images.
“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” – Ernst Haas
What we respond to as a human being is filtered through our experiences and thoughts and for a huge part, through our personalities.
So if you are unhappy with the photos you are taking, as well as looking at all the usual suspects – technique, composition, etc. – I would take a close look at how you do things in your life and what that says about your personality.
Look at the strengths and weaknesses in yourself – you can then work to balance them and become the very best photographer you can be. Let’s take a look at a few (stereotypical) examples:
Person A – technically proficient, creativity lacking
This first stereotype is of someone whom I have met several times on my workshops. There are many of these people about. Let’s call them Person A.
Person A lives very much in their left brain – the home of the analytical mind. Person A is great with detail-oriented, academic tasks.
I am going to bet that because Person A is so strong in this area of analysis, they have lived in that side of their brain for a long time, and become better and better at tasks associated with that. But they have neglected their right brain, their more creative side.
Your right brain is the home of creativity, of ideas, of inspiration even. At least that is what science is saying at this point…
Person A is often amazing with their camera – they either know or are working on knowing, a lot of camera techniques. Technically their photos are excellent, which sounds great, right?
But their photos are boring! Their photos lack feeling. They can see it themselves. They look at their photos and wonder why they lack that certain “Je ne sais quoi” – that certain something – that takes a photo from good to wow!
Their photos are decent, they work technically and/or compositionally. But they aren’t memorable, or particularly unique looking. People don’t look at them and feel something deep in their souls, they don’t feel stirred by them. Worst of all, they don’t remember them.
What’s the problem? And what is the solution? My number one diagnosis is that this person finds it very difficult to be present, to live in the present moment and to just “be”. They find it very hard to daydream, to drift, to explore and get lost. They have lost touch with their imagination.
Person A is drawn to interesting looking subjects but they don’t feel much when they are taking photos – so their images end up looking a bit cold or soulless.
Person B – highly creative, technically challenged
Now person B is very different. They are very good at inhabiting emotional states, they are drawn to mood, feeling, and atmosphere. Capturing subjects that move them and fill them with wonder and awe is their forte.
They have so much passion for photography, and constantly seek out locations and subjects that really excite them. The process of being creative is exciting, inspiring, and gives them so much joy.
The problem here, though, is when they look at their photos they are rarely, if ever, what they pictured in their head. They may see the feeling and atmosphere but in reality, if they are being honest, they don’t capture the feeling or mood of the subject in their images. The images don’t ooze with atmosphere in the way they want them to.
Person B is thinking – why aren’t my photos better!
Finding your solution
Now the creative solution for these two people would be completely different from each other – right? What person A has to do to create better photos is not what person B needs to do to create better photos.
This is why you need to know what your strengths and weaknesses are so you can work to balance them out. Learning is not a one-size-fits-all journey.
I have students who pick up using Manual Mode in 2 weeks and some who take two years to master it. Others take two years to feel comfortable shooting strangers, whereas some are relaxed and confident after one afternoon’s instruction and shooting.
But it’s not how long it takes – it’s the fact that you are working on improving all aspects of your photography.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius
In fact, it’s more impressive to me that someone continues and perseveres than just focuses on what is easy for them. That’s how you improve.
Now back to our example people. I wonder if you can imagine what solutions I’m about to suggest for each to help them develop their photography.
The solution for those lacking creativity (A)
If this sounds like you, what you are doing, for the most part, is focusing on the technical execution of the image, not the real feeling behind it. And if you can’t feel anything when looking at an image – then what’s the point? You might as well as just stare at cereal boxes.
So you need to work on inhabiting states of emotion, wonder, and awe whilst shooting. To notice atmosphere and to then translate that into your images.
The solution if you lack technical abilities (B)
For Person B: There is a definite lack of technical skills – and this translates as not being able to capture the vision in your head. You could see a life-changing sunset, but pointing your camera at it will not capture the real vision of what it looks and feels like to be there. You have not learned to translate emotion via the technical.
If this sounds like you, then you need to get a better understanding of your camera and the technical possibilities. An understanding of composition is also helpful. By learning and utilizing the potential of the camera you will be able to create the photos within that you so desire.
Can you see that I have taken two extremes and that in an ideal world they would both get a little of the other’s natural tendencies? By doing that we can then create balance. And nature thrives on balance and harmony. Not too much of this, not too much of that.
Salt is essential to bring out the flavor in cooking, but if you add too much it’s gross…you get what I’m saying.
These examples may seem extreme but I do teach many people who fall into either one of these camps.
So instead of just focusing on learning more, I encourage you to take a long, long look at what your personality is like – and work out where you need to focus.
The way that I have thought about it for myself is that I am very good at being in the moment. It’s a skill I’ve developed over 30 years of shooting. I also love the technical part of photography (never met a user manual I didn’t want to read).
So what’s the personality issue that affects my photography?
Well, I am so in the moment, so wrapped up in light and mood and atmosphere that the big challenge I’ve had in my career is to not get stuck into taking singular great images. One of this, one of that.
My weakness has been the inability to create and sustain a varied collection of photographs. It took me several years to realize that I was reacting to the world, rather than going out and seeking what I wanted.
I would just wander and drift, and see where my interest and attention led me. I had to work hard on becoming much more proactive – instead of I’ll wait for the shot, I had to become open to the idea of I’m going to find the shot.
Now, keep in mind that I don’t always do that. Again the key here is finding a balance. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater; build on your areas of weakness, but still, celebrate your areas of strength.
I am now a much more proactive photographer – I don’t confine myself to singular, wicked shots. I build projects, and I sustain them over time, and I work hard to make incredible images that work together as part of a story.
All the photos in this article are from a series of projects I’ve been working on for several years of cities at dawn. I love photographing the beauty of dawn light, the emptiness of the streets and the odd snippet of early morning life. The cities in these photos are Paris, London, and Istanbul.
Some tips to help you
How do we overcome our weaknesses?
To start – you need to know the strengths and weaknesses of your personality. If you don’t already know then ask your family or friends, I’m sure they would be more than happy to tell you!
You might think of concerns like:
Issue: You’re very shy and you find yourself holding back when you really want to grab a shot.
Solution: Do the thing that you fear! Perhaps it’s some street photography or portrait work to build your confidence with people. Or wandering off up that cool looking mountain.
If you don’t overcome your fears, you will always be holding yourself back from what you love to photograph. Great images rely on jumping into the process with your whole being, your whole heart.
Issue: You are better at talking about what you’re going to do than actually doing it. You alternate between perfectionism and procrastination.
Solution: Focus lots and lots of effort on getting started and work on producing a project. Don’t worry about it being perfect, or waiting for exactly the right time, because as someone with procrastinator to perfectionist tendencies, this could mean that the perfect time will never happen.
For this issue, start to work on producing something, anything, just so you can move through that block of never doing something. Then once you’ve got some work under your belt, you can then start working on making the photos or project you are involved in, better. Getting started and staying with something is the thing to focus on initially, though.
Once you know where your weaknesses lie, then you can start to look for ways to overcome those issues. There are always solutions. When you are not afraid to look at the weaknesses in your creativity and to work on them, then you create so much more freedom in your photography practice.
If you feel like you can go anywhere and do anything, then your photography will grow exponentially.
Do things differently
Shake things up a little. For example, if you’re a big planner in your “real life” – maybe you want to begin by not planning. Go out, drift around, get lost, and just explore. Move away from all the planning.
Or if you are like me – doing more planning has been essential to being a better photographer. I am so used to exploring with my senses rather than doing lots of research. While that is great and has served me well, a little planning has made me much more effective on my shoots.
Develop an “open awareness”
We tend to live our lives going from one fixed activity to the next. Whether that is at work, driving home, shopping, cooking, emailing or sorting out the myriad of problems, issues, and conflicts that pop up every day.
We end up flitting from one thing to the next, mostly concentrating in a narrow focus on one thing at a time – which is obviously very helpful when we want to get things done.
If, though, you want to develop new ideas and get good insights about yourself or your photography, then having an open – rather than focused – awareness is key.
Open awareness is being aware of your thoughts, but not paying too much attention to them. Allow for some space to enter and open up to the world around you. So you are letting thoughts drift through but you are still noticing other things – the weather, the clouds, the birds – but not letting your attention focus on any one thing in particular.
This brings tremendous space to your mind, space you need for new ideas and insights. If you are always thinking, thinking, doing, doing; you won’t have space for inspired ideas or amazing insights.
When you develop open awareness you have the ability to see your thoughts, your ideas, but also allow space for other things. You start to observe the world around you, to pay attention to your thoughts and habits and tendencies without getting locked into them.
Believe that you can change and develop yourself
“We are what we believe we are.” – C. S. Lewis
I know so many people who are scared of their cameras. They are intimidated by learning the technical aspects of photography. They tell me it’s impossible to learn!
Yet I know that as humans it’s possible to learn anything if the desire is strong enough.
You don’t have to confine yourself with your photography just because you can’t do something. As Picasso said:
“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” – Pablo Picasso
Science is also telling us now that what we previously thought about the brain – that it was a set, fixed entity that stops developing as we become adults – is in fact not the case.
We can develop our brains at any point by having new experiences and learning new things. We can cultivate new skills, we don’t have to stay in this fixed idea of what we are good at and what we aren’t good at.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” – Pablo Picasso
I cannot stress the importance of this idea enough. If you feel the urge to create in your life – with photography or any other medium – it’s a beautiful calling.
In my life, there is nothing more important than taking photographs. I know what it brings to my life, to ideas about photography and how I’m able to light little fires of inspiration in other people.
When you are being creative you are putting down your smartphone, the to-do lists, the emails and the shopping lists. Instead of looking inwards at your life – you are looking outwards at the world. You are committing yourself to the deeper, more interesting, more beautiful parts of life.
You are connecting to other people and to the world around you. Surely, paying more attention and creating connections to others is an incredibly important thing to promote in this day and age.
“Photography in our time leaves us with a grave responsibility. While we are playing in our studios with broken flower pots, oranges, nude studies and still lifes, one day we know that we will be brought to account: life is passing before our eyes without our ever having seen a thing.” – Brassai
Photography is such an exciting way to be creative, I hope I’ve given you some ideas on how to challenge yourself to keep improving and growing as a photographer.
We all have it in us to create memorable, unique, and interesting images. I’d love to know what you think of these ideas – please comment below.
The post Artistic Versus Technical Photography Skills – What is Holding You Back? appeared first on Digital Photography School.