Shooting tethered to a laptop is something I fought against for years. Last Fall all of that changed. This is a tutorial on how to shoot with a DSLR camera tethered to an Apple Macbook Pro (MBP) laptop (or other Mac running OSX) using either Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Bridge. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be shooting tethered for studio work, and if you’re a photographer with a laptop shooting tethered on location is almost just as easy. I now find myself shooting to a laptop for nearly all commercial and editorial work on location. Read the rest of this entry »
PhotoShop can be learned in several ways. Some options include:
1) Experiment and learn through trial and error.
This works at first, but you are probably going to destroy a few images and need to redo them once you learn the correct method. If you have all the time in the world go for this option.
2) Go to a workshop.
If you learn better with a live presentation and human interaction this is for you. However, you’ll be upsold on DVDs and books. Naturally you’ll buy them because the workshop went by so fast.
3) Get a 400 page PhotoShop bible.
They are out there – you know the ones. These books cover everything! You can become a master BUT it requires a lot of self discipline and a year of Sundays.
4) Take a class.
A good balance between 2 and 3. Your time is well spent if you have goals and avoid option #1.
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Last week Gadgetwise, a blog by The New York Times wrote a piece titled “Ten Photo Editing Tips From A Pro” using Adobe LightRoom. The Internet is a library of tips and tutorials on photography, and I’ve learned a significant amount of info from many of them, but this post by the NYT was almost as predictable as it gets. I guessed 5 of the tips before I read the post, which means 50% of it was not bad, but why is this even on the radar of the NYT? What’s next, “How To Shoot Video By CNN with Anderson Cooper?”
If I had only one tip to share on this subject it would be this: Try to find your own way in this infinite world of processing and adjusting your images and try to avoid making it so obvious.
Your work should be about you and your subjects, not border effects and processing gimmicks. Have I not used some of these effects myself ? Sure I have, and I still play with them. At one time I was obsessed with sloppy borders in the darkroom, I currently use PhotoShop and LightRoom for much of my work, and I am completely blown away by some of the point and click effects from iPhone camera apps. Absolutely amazing! However when are we part of the process instead of these machines?
I do get it. These effects are fun. They take “normal” looking images and make them more interesting. However, if we all used the same automatic one click effects, are we coming back full circle and making these processed images our new “normal?”
So what is not normal? You! That is right. Your tastes are unlike everyone else’s and nobody is exactly like you. So try to find your own mixture of shooting and processing techniques. Try to avoid the obvious. Work on your own techniques and develop concepts to set yourself apart. Otherwise if we don’t have time for that, we are just pointing and clicking, then clicking again to make it “cool.” Maybe that is all we have time for on some occasions, but if photography is your gig then try to create your own clicks and avoid everyone else’s.
- A friend who wouldn’t let another friend spend money on presets.
The above image was shot in Half Moon Bay, CA with a 15 second exposure while painting with a flashlight and processed with only one tip mentioned in the NYT article.
One of the most rewarding experiences in photography comes from receiving a print order. Here are some recent gems that came in this week that were mounted on sintra and gatorboard. Go to the bottom to learn how to hang photos without a frame and without looking like a complete cheapskate by mounting your work.
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Prints for Habilitat in Oahu
Two 12″ X 18″ prints are being sent to Kaneohe, Hawaii for the 10th Annual Habilitat Luau & Art Benefit. Each year I donate work to Habilitat which is a long term residential drug addiction treatment center on the island of Oahu. This year I asked one of the residents of the program to select an image from my website to be included in the benefit. He excitedly chose this image below of Zach Wormhoudt charging down the face of a wave at Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, CA. This year’s luau will be on May 22nd at Windward Community College. Visit here for more info.
A traditional way to hang photography is to mount the prints to a hinged 8-ply window mat board under UV glass with a custom frame. This offers the best protection but it is exceptionally expensive. I have been getting photos dry mounted to Sintra (a 3mm thick durable lightweight PVC material) and gatorboard (similar to foam core but much stronger due to the wood pulp fibers). Dry mounting allows artwork to lay completely flat when framed under glass and is almost always required for pieces 11X14 and larger. Once mounted, you can also hang your work without a frame without using clothespins, binder clips, or thumb tacks. Your work does not deserve such injustice.
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How To Go Frameless:
If done correctly frameless photography can look as nice as a framed piece and offer similar protection. You need to do (4) things.
1) Dry mount the photo to a substrate that will not flex. Materials can include: artboard, masonite, metal, plexiglass, and gatorboard, Foam core will not work and will warp over time. There is also a law of physics that states as soon as you mount a photo to foam core you will drop the photo and dent the corners. Don’t do it!
2) Have the artwork UV coated. This also protects the print from moisture, dust, and the color will not self destruct under normal viewing conditions. UV coatings can be either: clear, luster, gloss, or high gloss. These are extremely thin protective sheets that are completely invisible. Friends don’t let other friends emboss textured coatings like linen or canvas onto their photos. Keep it classy and go clear.
3) Place a self-adhesive hanger on the back of the mounting material. These are very strong due to the large surface area, but for larger pieces go with (2) adhesive hangers and a piece of wire.
4) “Float” the mounting material away from the wall. Many framers and labs mount a smaller piece of 1/2 gatorboard behind the dry mounted photo. The easiest solution is to use these thick self-adhesive rubber bumpers found at Home Depot. Place one at each corner of the print about 4 inches toward the center to hide their appearance.
Additional info and resources:
Unless you don’t mind doing the whole thing over again in a few years because the color has shifted, don’t skip the UV coating in order to save a few dollars. Most labs and some framers can do this for you. The biggest concern for archival properties is from the heat and adhesives used in the dry mounting process. Shop around and ask questions, or do it yourself. To save a few steps take a look at the self-adhesive gatorboards and other materials at www.artsupply.com. Gatorboard is very rigid and will have to be cut by saw. You can do it yourself or job it out to save a few steps.
Here are two recommended and inexpensive online printing labs that offer color controlled printing (ICC profiles), dry mounting, and UV coating:
Get your work outside of the computer and make some prints! Then hang em!
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Here is a video tutorial on how to build diptychs in Adobe Lightroom. I was hit with a few emails asking about how this is done, and wanted to share some of my discoveries and workarounds. Man, I wish I had something like this years ago. Cumulatively I have wasted years doing this in Quark (cough!) and PhotoShop (time suck). Finally there is a super fast and intuitive way for photographers to put multiple images together on a page. Your money also gets you additional tips on custom sizing, exporting, and archiving your finished diptychs.
This is the first tutorial shared on this blog, and it feels incredibly geeky of me to post a software demo. Maybe I am paying back the world for all the free demos I have viewed online. Whatever the truth is behind this demo, PLEASE set me straight. If you dig it, share the link. If it is wack, let me know so I can put effort towards building log cabins other things.
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Derrick going frontside at Pacifica Skatepark. © Jay Watson Photography
One responsibility in being a photographer involves teaching other photographers. This occurs through either working with assistants, or actually working as an instructor. Like kung-fu, any photographer worth their own salt has both learned from another photographer and mentored other photographers. Since 2002 I have been an adjunct photography instructor and I have taught classes ranging from photo history, advertising photography, digital capture, and the zone system. At the end of each semester I share advice to students from a lecture titled…”Important Things To Learn That Have Nothing To Do With A Camera.”
Last week I was a guest speaker at Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. A few former Brooks students have contacted me about assisting, and after speaking with Eli Davis at Career Services, I was invited to present some of my work to students and talk about my experiences in the photo industry. Not only did I speak about the photo business, but I was also able to get some information from them. Here is some of the info we talked about.
I learned (3) things from Brooks and AAU students (classes started two weeks ago)
1) Roughly 80% are on FaceBook and/or other social networking sites. No surprise there.
2) Less than 5% of them follow any blog. Many students do not know what is a blog, or assumed a blog they visited was in fact just a website. They are not reliant upon industry related blogs for news or info.
3) Less than 2% know what is a an RSS feed.