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ISSUE 116 SEPTEMBER 2011 £4.99

“I really know what works for me and what exposure settings I need” Adam Pretty (page 107)


Editor’s WElcomE


It’s tIme for some IntroductIons…

Every issue features the world’s best pros… adam Pretty

Welcome to your all-new the definitive guide to slr photography

Sports photographer

Award-winning sports pro turned advertising ace Adam Pretty reveals on page 102 how luck, tenacity and technical knowledge got him to the top of his game.

rick madsen

Rodeo photographer

There’s much more to rodeo photography than yee-hahs, daft trousers and chiropractor bills. Rodeo shooter Rick Madsen talks about bucking the trend on page 32.

Gered mankowitz

There’s a great story doing the rounds about some pompous clique on Flickr that takes great pleasure in voting down any photo that doesn’t meet its standards. One recent submission was turfed out by the group because it didn’t obey the traditional diktats on composition, graininess, sharpness and so on; turns out the image was ‘Hyères, France, 1932’, an iconic work by Henri Cartier-Bresson. The anecdote shows that great photography is about much more than just obeying the rules and conventions of a particular genre. But it’s also true that you have to at least have some idea of the rules before you can break them. So our main feature this issue introduces some of the basic tenets of landscape photography, before showing how to tweak them for creative effect. Even the

most jaded landscape shooter is bound to find some new ideas here, and as always, we’d love to see the shots it’s inspired you to take. Meanwhile our fold-out guide tackles another popular topic, namely bird photography. Everything you need to know is in this handy pocket guide, from photographing static birds in captivity to wild birds in flight; even more impressively, deputy editor Paul Grogan managed to write the whole thing without throwing in any bird puns… Maybe he didn’t want to ruffle anybody’s feathers? Until next time…

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Geoff Harris, Editor

Rock photographer

We are not worthy, etc. etc. This legendary photographer of Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones looks back on his stellar career in music photography on page 162.

meet the rest of the team…

Paul Grogan Deputy editor

Simon Middleweek Art editor

Angela Nicholson Head of testing

George Cairns Photoshop expert

sports enthusiast Paul is our resident expert on camera craft and technique

simon is a keen macro photographer, and has spent 15 years picture editing magazines

hugely respected in the photography industry, angela is our camera reviews tsarina

silver-tongued George explains the mysteries of Photoshop elements and cs on our disc

Digital Camera september 2011

Story of the Cover BEHIND THE IMAGE

Story of the Cover Stepping Stones By Michel Rajkovic

“This photo was taken at Loch Lomond, in Scotland, on a very overcast afternoon. During my trip to Scotland, I came back to shoot this spot four times. To me, the most important thing is the quality of the light. I’m not happy unless I have the image that’s in my head in front of me. How I imagine the image, by which I mean how I picture it when I’m shooting, is more important to me than the reality of the landscape.” CanonEOS 5D withCanon EF 24-105mmf/4L IS USM; ISO50; 1/200sec atf9with an ND400;tripodandremote

Behind the image…


Stepping up - how Michel got his stunning shot

I shot in raw, and then opened the image up in Adobe Camera Raw and converted to black and white using the Grayscale tab, to enable me to control how the colours were converted.


I actually processed the raw file twice: once to bring out the detail in the rocks and the small stones under the water, and once for the sky and mountains in the background.


Finally, I combined the two versions in Photoshop by copying one on top of the other and then merging the foreground of one with the background of the other using a layer mask.

Digital Camera September 2011


06 6

Contents ISSUE 116/SEPTEMBER 2011

Expert photo advice



10 Things to Try Right Now


The Photo Fixer


Your Mission Results


Photoshop School

Postcards from the Edge


Photo Advisor

Kick-start your creativity by tackling a fresh subject or new technique today The winners of our latest photo challenge explain how they got such great shots


Rick Madsen tells us how he got started in rodeo photography


10 Commandments

Learn the ten most important rules of landscape photography and how to break them



Fourteen pages of expert camera tips and advice to help you perfect your photography

Digital Camera September 2011

This issue our roving troubleshooter helps a reader take better flower shots

Expert advice on enhancing photos and adding creative effects after the shot We answer all your SLR and Photoshop questions, and give feedback on your shots


The Digital Camera Interview

Sports and advertising photographer Adam Pretty reveals the secrets of his success


My Life in Focus

Rock photographer Gered Mankowitz reflects on 50 years of shooting the stars

10 18



Photographer of the Year 2011

Detailsofthisyear’smassivecompetition, plusadvicefrompreviouswinners

38 52 S 101



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The definitive guide to SLR photography


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Jan-Dec 2010

PhotoDirector 2011


Field tested


Mini test: landscape filter kits

All information contained in this magazine is for informational purposes only and is, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of going to press. Future Publishing Limited cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies that occur. Readers are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers direct with regard to pricing. All submissions to Digital Camera magazine are made on the basis of a licence to publish the submission in Digital Camera magazine, its licensed editions worldwide and photography-related websites. Any material submitted is sent at the owner’s risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future Publishing Limited nor its agents shall be liable for loss or damage.


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What’s on your d sc The video disc interface explained

Insert the disc into your Windows PC and up pops an introductory video from the deputy editor, Paul Grogan (Mac users will need to double-click the icon on the desktop). Paul runs through the highlights of the disc and once you’ve watched his video, click ‘Enter’ to bring up the interface.


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All our videos can be accessed via this top tab. The videos are divided as follows: Teach Yourself Photoshop* is an ongoing guide to the basics of Photoshop and Photoshop Elements; Photoshop School contains the videos that go with the Photoshop School tutorials in the magazine (see page ); Bonus content includes extra videos, such as camera previews (don’t miss Ali Jennings’ preview of the Olympus E-P ). Click here and you can get the details of the Digital Camera team. Here you can order back issues of Digital Camera (some issues have sold out, however). Simply click the links to buy print or digital versions. Click here for full details of our great subscription offers for print and digital versions of Digital Camera. Come here for easy access to, the online home of Digital Camera and PhotoPlus magazine. You can also join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter from here!



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Digital Camera September 2011





Shallow depth of field

By using a telephoto lens and throwing the background completely out of focus, Bence has concentrated attention on the bird and snake. The branch provides context and a frame.

Long lens

Bence captured this unusual stand-off with his Nikon D300 fitted with a 300mm f/2.8 lens. He was only able to fire off a few frames before the hummingbird flew away.

Digital Camera September 2011

Supplementary lighting

Rain was falling and the light was poor, so Bence used two flash units – one in front and the other behind the action. The flashes enabled him to capture the motion of the hummingbird’s wings.



Restricted colour palette

The photograph uses different shades of green to striking effect. The bright green snake and moss, and the hummingbird’s mid-green plumage, stand out brilliantly against the muted, darker green background.


E X P E R T TI P “Getting into the situation where you can photograph something like this is one thing, but this picture could easily have been ruined by the poor light. Using flash to supplement daylight gives wildlife images added impact, and allows you to work with faster shutter speeds.” Paul Grogan, deputy editor


Award-winning Hungarian wildlife photographer Bence Máté brilliantly captured this rare confrontation between a hummingbird and a snake. We reveal how he did it…

Expecting the unexpected

Bence was photographing hummingbirds in Monteverde, Costa Rica, when he noticed they had become agitated. He soon realised why: a sidestriped palm pit viper was coiled on a nearby branch.

Digital Camera September 2011


Retouch your portraits for a modern high-fashion look Ben Secret reveals how to use the frequency separation technique to improve skin texture and remove flaws without losing realism WHAT YOU’LL NEED Photoshop CS5



WHAT YOU’LL LEARN How to deconstruct an image in detail, opening up a powerful new range of editing techniques IT ONLY TAKES 30 minutes


etouching images of people is a delicate balancing act between how far we go to try to make our models look flawless, and how much realism we’re willing to lose in the process. Applying blurring or painting directly onto skin quickly tends to make an image look artificial, leading to the dreaded “Photoshopped” criticism, and yet images in fashion magazines seem able to stretch to totally unrealistic levels of perfection without ever losing that certain something that makes them still look real. Frequency separation is one of the black arts of retouching. At its simplest, it’s a way of splitting an image into a high detail layer and a low detail layer. These separate layers are overlaid to form a perfect reconstruction of the original image. The big advantage is that we can manipulate what goes on in each layer independently. The low detail (or low spatial frequency) layer contains all the basic colour and tonal information – we can edit this quite heavily to manipulate highlights or smooth over blotchy skin and coarse textures. The high detail layer contains the fine textures and details that are vitally important in ensuring delicate image elements such as skin and hair look real. In this tutorial we’re going to demonstrate a simple retouching workflow that uses frequency separation to enable us to both smooth and sharpen skin effectively and efficiently, without either of the processes conflicting with the other.

Digital Camera September 2011


Ben Secret





Load the start image


There are an almost unlimited number of ways you can work frequency separation into a retouching workflow. You may choose to use it as a first step, or as a finishing step. But generally, everyone finds their own balance. The very first thing you need to do of course is load the image.

Remove blemishes


It’s a good idea to begin with a basic retouch, and as long as you avoid edges, Photoshop’s Healing Brush tool is very effective for this. Look at the image zoomed out, and where you see blemishes, sample a clean area of skin nearby by holding down Alt and clicking, then just paint over them.

“Creating a lowfrequency layer is easy – just use the Gaussian Blur filter, and the radius you set determines exactly where the crossover point between your layers is. A general rule of thumb on how big this should be is that it will be the point where fine details become invisible when viewing the image at full size.” Ben Secret, technique writer

Duplicate the background


In order to perform the frequency split, we’ll need to create two copies of our image layer. You can do this quickly by pressing Ctrl+J twice. Now you simply need to name the middle layer Low Frequency and the top layer High Frequency. Click the Low Frequency layer to work on it.

Prepare the low-frequency layer


We now need to remove the high-frequency information from this layer, so we’re simply going to use the Gaussian Blur filter. Select it from the Filter menu and use a Radius of around 5 pixels. This determines where the split between high and low frequency actually takes place (see box, top right).

Learn the lingo

Spatial frequency

T Prepare the high-frequency layer


Click the High Frequency layer and choose Image>Apply Image. From the Layer drop-down menu, you need to select Low Frequency, and from the blending modes select Add. Ensure that Scale is set to 2, and Offset is 0, then tick the Invert box and click OK.

Change the blending mode


Change the High Frequency layer’s blending mode to Linear Light, and we should have the original image perfectly reconstructed. Only now we have the high detail content on one layer, and the low detail on another, where they can be manipulated independently.

he concept of spatial frequencies can be quite difficult to grasp. One way of thinking about it is to imagine a photographic image extruded into a landscape, where the brightest pixels are high peaks, and the darkest pixels are flat ground. Any areas of high detail will have large fluctuations between high and low, while the smooth contours will be gradual inclines.

Digital Camera September 2011





“To keep things simple in the tutorial, we used Smart Sharpen to sharpen our finished image. However, many retouchers favour frequency separation for this. For fine sharpening, perform the frequency split as described, but using a smaller blur radius – around 1 pixel. You can then simply reduce the Opacity of the low-frequency layer to sharpen.”

Apply Soft Light

Dodge and burn

A simple way to clean up any blotchy skin and add highlights is with the Dodge and Burn tools (see box, bottom left), but we’re going to use the Soft Light method. Select the Low Frequency layer and choose Layers>New Layer. Change the Mode to Soft Light, tick the Fill with 50% Grey box and click OK.



Smooth the detail

Mask the effect

Now, simply paint with either a white or a black brush set to a low flow or opacity on the Soft Light layer to lighten or darken the image underneath. In the screengrab above we’ve switched the blending mode to Normal so you can see where we’ve burned the image.

Ben Secret, technique writer


We can also perform a quick and easy smoothing of our low-frequency content. With the Low Frequency layer selected, you need to duplicate it and then choose Filter>Blur>Surface Blur. For this step we’re going to use a Radius of around 14 pixels, and a threshold of 11.


This will smooth out a lot of blotches without damaging the fine skin texture at all. But you may well decide that the effect is not actually wanted everywhere, so just click Add layer mask and paint over any edges, fabric and hair with a medium-sized black brush.

Clean up the high-frequency layer

Sharpen up

Learn the lingo Dodge and burn


odging and burning derives from a darkroom processing technique where the exposure of selected parts of an image is manipulated by selectively lightening and darkening image elements. Photoshop has its own Dodge and Burn tools, but many retouchers prefer to use alternatives, such as the Soft Light method.

Digital Camera September 2011


Now that our low-frequency content is looking much cleaner, we can turn our attention to sorting the fine details. Ensuring the High Frequency layer is visible, temporarily change its blending mode to Normal and then paint over any unwanted details with the Healing Brush.


Another thing we can do with our highfrequency content is sharpen it. Add a Curves adjustment layer above the High Frequency layer and attach it to the High Frequency layer as a clipping mask. You can do this by holding down Alt and clicking between the two layers in the Layers palette.



Learn the lingo Healing Brush


Create an S-curve

Desaturate the image

The first thing we need to do is make sure we don’t move the mid-point. So in the Curves window, create a control point right in the middle. Adjust the Input and Output values so that both read 128. Now we can create an S-curve to sharpen fine highlights and shadows, as in the screenshot above.


At this point we can flatten all of our layers to simplify the Layers palette. Press Shift+Alt+E. Now we can desaturate our image. Add a Gradient Map adjustment layer above the flattened layers and select a simple black-to-white gradient. Now reduce this layer’s Opacity to about 25%.

Adjust the Curves

Modify the Levels


Now add a Curves adjustment layer. Select the Click and Drag to Modify Curve icon and click a highlight, a mid-tone highlight, a mid-tone shadow and a shadow region of skin in the image. This will create four points on our curve. Move these up or down to control skin contrast.

Touch up the highlights


Next we have to create a new layer. We’re going to use this to add any more highlights we need by simply painting directly onto the image using a large, soft white brush, set to either a low flow or low opacity. Here we just painted some white on the tops of the girl’s legs.


he Healing Brush is a basic retouching tool. It can be used effectively on regular images, or on highor low-frequency layers separately. It works by sampling details from one part of an image, and copying them and blending them with the background somewhere else, enabling you to cover up flaws or hide lines and wrinkles.


Now we need to add a Levels adjustment layer. We can use this to make sure we’re getting a full range of tones from our image, and also adjust the mid-tone brightness by dragging the black, grey and white sliders along the histogram to input Levels of 6, 1.09 and 252 respectively.

Sharpen the final image


It’s common to apply some fine detail sharpening to the finished image. First we’ll flatten the image by pressing Shift+Ctrl+E. We could use frequency separation once again for this job (see box, top left), but instead we’ll use Smart Sharpen at 126% with a radius of 0.3 pixels.


“To get the most out of this technique, it’s advisable to make sure you’re working in 16-bit mode. Unless storage space is an issue, converting your raw images to 16-bit image files, and working in a 16-bit Photoshop environment, ensures you get smoother tonal gradation.”

Ben Secret, technique writer

Digital Camera September 2011


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