Dog Photography – My Newest Genre

Back in January of this year, I was lucky enough to attend a Dog Photography Workshop with Andy Biggar, a well known, and truly talented dog and equestrian photographer.

There was a lot to take in, and although the weather wasn’t too great, I learnt a lot.  Andy is a great teacher, has lots of patience.  Visit Andy’s website and take a look at his fantastic work, and while you are there check out his Workshops section.

Here is a small selection of the photos I took on the course:

Owning two labradors I’ve always been interested in photographing them, but I could never get the settings and poses right.  After attending the course, my dog photography leapt up (pardon the pun) a few levels.  Every opportunity I get I am photographing either my two or friends dogs.

Max, pictured below will be 12 years old 31 May, but he still loves to be out and about, running along beaches, swimming.  Even more so now that we’ve introduced a new pup.  Well, no longer a pup, Chester has just turned a year old.

Max - 12 Years Old

Max Loves the Camera

Chester has just turned one year old, and now really enjoys playing with a ball as well as his big brother.

Chester - 1 Year Old

Chester – 1 Year Old

Its great when I can get lovely portrait photos, like the two above, but its also great when you can catch dogs having fun, enjoying themselves in the great outdoors.

Lucy Enjoying the Water

Daisy Enjoying the Water

Action shots are fast becoming my favourites too:

Playtime in the Field

Playtime in the Field

Especially when the dogs really go all out playing with each other:

Coming Through!!!!

Coming Through!!!

I’ve now added a new section to my blog, called Dog Photography, oddly enough LOL, and I will be posting lots more photos of dogs.  Hope you enjoy viewing them, and reading about their days out.

Lucy Waiting Intensely for Her Treat

Lucy Waiting Intensely for Her Treat

When I am taking photographs of dogs, either portraits or action shots, I can expect to take up to and over 1000 photos per session.  Then its the long task of trawling through them to get rid of duplicates, out of photos etc.  It just feels great when you capture THAT shot!

Chester Enjoying the Surf

Chester Enjoying the Surf

I am truly enjoying dog photography, so keep popping back for new posts in this new venture of mine.

The Big Shake Off

The Big Shake Off

 

Dunstanburgh Castle - Long Exposure

It’s Good To Be Back

I have not posted since June 2013, and my photography has been on the backburner for a while.

Sadly, my mum passed away July 24 2013 from cancer at the age of 64.  My mum and I regularly went out on ‘camera days’, so I think you can understand why I’ve not been around.

To begin with, I want to share a photo I took October 2013 of Dunstanburgh Castle.  This photo is dedicated to mum. 

Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle

There were four of us out on this day, and it was good to be out with friends again.  Northumberland is a wonderful place to visit.  We started off at Holy Island, then Bambrough Beach (didn’t do the Castle this time), then on to Dunstanburgh Castle.  Here’s a selection of photos from the day.

My next outing was again in October.  I was helping a fellow photographer understand off flash photography.  Most of the family was there so we thought it would be fun to do some family portraits while there.

Hartlepool Headland and North Gare (near Redcar, Teesside).  I didn’t use my D90 at all at the headland, but instead used my iPhone 4s.

iPhone 4s Photography - Crashing Waves

iPhone 4s Photography – Crashing Waves

When I posted the above photo on Facebook, a few people asked me for the settings on my camera to capture the crashing waves like this.  They couldn’t believe it when I told them it was from my phone!

Although I have not been out much, I have forced myself to learn more.  I’ve found (and now subscribed) to a few photographers on YouTube.  Their videos have helped me boost my photography and processing up another level.

Glyn Dewis

Glyn is an English photographer, retoucher and trainer, who has lots of free video tutorials to watch, along with Pro Training Videos.

 

Next is a French photographer, Serge Ramelli who is based in Paris.  This guy has changed the way I process my photographs dramatically.  Again Serge has lots of free video tutorials as well as Pro Training Videos.

Finally, for now, is Aaron Nace from Phlearn.com.  Loads of free video tutorials for Lightroom and Photoshop.

I do subscribe to many other photographers, but these are the main three I visit regularly.

For me, I firmly believe you can never stop learning, so watching video tutorials, attending photography workshops, or just learning from each other is an ongoing thing.

Finally, I would just like to say its good to be back.

 

Processing RAW Photos with Lightroom & Photoshop

Processing RAW Photos with Lightroom & Photoshop.

Not posted a blog for a while, as we have a new puppy in the household.  He is taken up most of our time at the moment, especially when he’s awake LOL.

I came across a webinar for enhancing landscape photography using Viveza 2 and a couple of other plug-ins.  Link provided within the blog.

Hope you enjoy reading. :)

Processing RAW Photos with Lightroom & Photoshop

A couple of weekends ago, I went over to the Yorkshire Dales with a very good friend of mine with the intention of capturing some great landscape scenes.  We both took all our camera gear, including filters and various lenses, not to mention our flash guns, and reflectors (well, you never know when you might need them)!

On arriving at Semer Water, the rain was coming down quite heavy, the Tarn was full, resulting in a “wash out”.  Semer Water is the second largest lake natural lake in North Yorkshire, after Malham Tarn. We were in two minds whether to call it a day before it even started, or see it out, and see what happens.  After a coffee and a sarnie, we headed towards Ravenseat.

As we drove, the scenery got even better, and so did the weather.  By the time we reached our destination the sun was out, white fluffy clouds appeared along with a nice blue sky.  It was at this point I decided to use my camera like  point and shoot.  No filters, tripods etc.  My friend did the same, and we continued this approach throughout the day.

A view at Ravenseat Farm, Swaledale

Final Image – Ravenseat, Swaledale

Got to admit, it was quite a relaxing day, driving around Swaledale, stopping when we wanted, grabbing the cameras when we came across a scene we liked.

Back at home, the photos were all imported into Adobe Lightroom, the bad ones deleted.  It was from this point, filters were applied at the post processing stage.

Brief Overview of my Processing

The techniques I am using I have only recently come across.  I watched a Webinar presented by Joe Brady called Powerful Landscape Photography Enhancements with Adobe Photoshop - this is a two hour webinar, but its well worth watching.  Its transformed the way I process my images on a daily basis.

Final Image - Old Barn Door

Final Image – Old Barn Door

Above is another example of my post processing using the technique explained by Joe Brady.  The only extra thing I have done is add a ‘Warming’ Photo Filter in Photoshop.  To show you the difference, here is the original photo, straight from camera.

Old Barn Door - SOOC

Old Barn Door – SOOC

As you can see there is a very visible difference.

  1. Edit general settings in Develop Mode in Lightroom before exporting to Photoshop.
  2. Use Viveza 2 and using the Control Points do selective changes rather than global.
  3. Apply Color Efex Pro’s Polariser Filter (this bits optional, but worth a go).
  4. Add a ‘Warming Filter’ using a Photo Filter Layer Mask in Photoshop.
  5. Flatten the image, and send back to Lightroom.

Ok, so that’s a brief run through, and hopefully you took a look at the webinar link above, so the following will make a little more sense.

Step-by-Step
First of all, I adjust the photo in Lightroom, altering Exposure, Contrast, and straightening.

Basic Lightroom Adjustments

Basic Lightroom Adjustments

With these settings applied,  the photo is then sent to into Photoshop by ‘right-clicking’ the image, then choosing Edit in Photoshop.

With the photo open in Photoshop, Viveza 2 is brought into play.  Using the Control Points, selective areas are treated, altering Brightness, Saturation, Structure etc.  By holding down the ALT key and clicking on a Control Point, you can copy previous settings.  Drag the new Control Point to another part of your image.

Viveza Control Points

Viveza Control Points

Keep repeating this process until you are happy with your end results.  You can select all the Control Points, and then Group them, to make selective adjustments more easier.

Once you are finished in Viveza 2, hit the OK button to apply you new settings.

The next step is to apply the Polariser filter from Nik Color Efex Pro.  This is optional, but it works a treat if you didn’t have a Polariser fitted to your camera when taking the shot.

Finally, add a Warming Filter layer mask by selecting the Create a New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Pallet, and choose Photo Filter.  For this photo I used Warming Filter (LBA) and adjusted the density to suit, and because I was using an Adjustment Layer I was  able to ‘paint out’ certain areas like the sky to remove the orange cast.

Finally flatten the image, and send it back to Lightroom by clicking on the Close button and clicking on Save when prompted.

Original Photo *SOOC

Original Photo *SOOC

Here is a before and after so you can see how the photo has been transformed.  You can see the original photo is flat, and needs straightening.

Final Edited Photo

Final Edited Photo

Using the above technique, are is a selection of other photos from the day.

Introduction to Photo Stacking

Photo stacking is a great technique which is applied in post processing to multiple photos of the same object when using a macro lens, or a lens with a long focal length.  The final image show here comprises of 11 photos, each with a different focus point.  Using Photoshops Auto-Align and Auto-Blend features, all 11 photos were blended together to show on final image with a good range of depth of field.

Example of Photo Stacking - Chrysanthemum

Example of Photo Stacking – Chrysanthemum

When you photograph and object close up with a macro lens, you get a very narrow depth of field, even when you shoot at f8.  Take a look at the photo below to see what I mean.  You can see that I focused on the left hand side of the flower head, which is nicely focused, but the rest of the flower head gradually softens as the depth of field decreases.

Initial Photo of 11 photos of Stacked Set

1st Focus Point – Notice only left hand side is in focus

Setting Up the Shoot

For photo stacking a tripod is a must, so once I had my subject in place, the camera was mounted onto my tripod, camera mode set to Manual (so I had control over the exposure settings), and my first focus point selected.  ISO was set to 400 (used natural lighting), f8.0 which gave me a shutter speed of 1/45 sec.

To choose my focus point, I half pressed the shutter button, and used the ‘D-Pad’ on the back of the camera to set my focus area.  For the photo above, I was able to keep the camera in Auto-Focus mode, but there are many times when you will have to manually focus the camera as the lens may just keep ‘hunting’ for somewhere to focus.

After I had my first photo, I changed the focus point by using the ‘D-Pad’, re-focused and took another shot.  This procedure was repeated until I had focused on all 11 focus points, adjusting exposure where needed.

The next stage is to bring all the photos together to create one final image.  I have used Adobe Photoshop for stacking my photos, but other packages are available.  Another recommended (although I have not used it) piece of photo-stacking software is by Helicon, but there are a number of other programs available out there. my examples here I have used a Nikon D90 with a Sigma 1.8 50mm macro lens.

Stacking the Photos

Now that all the photos are on the computer,  all 11 photos were selected in Lightroom.  By right-clicking on one of the photo’s thumbnails, choose Open As Layers In Photoshop.  This is a great option for when you are importing multiple photos into the same document.  Otherwise, you would have to open each photo individually and copy and paste each photo into one document (and be time consuming).

Once all photos have been imported into Photoshop as one document, first unlock the background layer by double-clicking on it.  You can leave the default name of Layer 0 as it is.  Next select all of the layers in the Layers Pallet by selecting the bottom layer (layer 0) and holding down the Shift Key, click on the top layer.  All layers should now be highlighted.

Select All Layers in Layers Pallet

Select all the layers in Layers Pallet

Even though the camera was tripod mounted, its still a good idea to get all the layers aligned.  When using macro lenses even the slightest movement and create a large difference.  From the Edit menu, select Auto-Align Layers.  When the dialogue box appears accept the default setting of Auto.

More often than not, you will now need to crop the image slightly.  After the Auto-Align has finished, select the Crop Tool by pressing the ‘C’ key, and crop your image as needed.

With all the layers in the Layers Pallet still selected, once again go to the Edit menu and this time select Auto-Blend Layers…

Auto Blend Layers Dialogue Box

Make sure you click on the Stack Image option

When the dialogue box appears, make sure you click on the Stack Images and click OK.  Depending on how many photos you have, file size etc, this could take a little while to process.

After the Auto-Blend Layers process is complete, you will now see that Photoshop has created and applied a Layer Mask to each layer.

Layers Pallet with Layer Masks Applied

Layers Pallet with Layer Masks Applied

If you images have not blended correctly, you can select each layer mask and either ‘paint away’ parts of the individual layer (with black as the foreground colour), or ‘paint-back’ parts (with white as the foreground colour).

There is a great little shortcut function in Photoshop, Press and hold the Shift, Alt and CTRL and then press the E key.  This will create a new layer combining all the layers below it making it far easier to work on.  It also keeps your original layers in tact in case you need to go back to them.

Now you have your stacked photo image, you can continue processing your image as normal by applying Levels, Sharpening or using third-party plug-ins.

For my final image I applied Topaz Detail 2, and applied selective levels using a Levels Adjustment Layer.

A couple more examples of photo-stacked images.  All taken with Nikon D90, Sigma 50mm Macro Lens and processed in Photoshop.  I’ll add more shortly.

We'll Meet Again - Stacked Photography Example

We’ll Meet Again

We’ll Meet Again:  I liked the way I’ve managed to isolate the main headstone, but also keeping the background just out of focus on this one.

In Memory - Photo Stacking Example

In Memory…

In Memory: I wanted to mainly focus on the words on the headstone for this image.

Orchid: Photo Stacking Example

Orchid

Orchid:  Admittedly, I could have used a better colour background for this one, but its and example to show.

Ivy Leaves: Photo Stacking Example

Ivy Leaves

Ivy Leaves:  I missed the bottom leave for focusing on this one – must check view finder more often!!