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PROCESSING TIP OF THE MONTH Layer Adjustments for Printing

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Cover Photo: Mudflats in XiaPu, China 2


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Letter From Ken Be Comfortable

I was in Banff and Jasper in the Canadian Rockies in October. In addition to shooting around sunrise and sunset, my friend and I were after the Northern Lights and stayed up a couple of nights shooting the Aurora. Although the weather was relatively mild, shooting at night in the Rockies at the beginning of Winter is generally not comfortable. When people (yes, photographers included) are cold, tired, bored and/or hungry, they will find an easier time rationalizing how they should really be in a restaurant or back in the hotel room sleeping as opposed to standing on a bridge in the dark. I could see this playing out during one of our night shoots. My friend made the mistake of mentioning the word “pizza” while we were waiting for the Aurora to strengthen. I noticed during the next 5 minutes that the word “pizza” kept popping into the conversation. Then, the idea of having one of us run out and grab a quick pizza and bring it back came up. That idea was shot down when my friend mentioned it could attract a pizza-loving grizzly bear. We did end up staying and capturing some halfway decent Aurora pictures, but it reminded me how you are doing yourself a favor by keeping as comfortable as you can during these uncomfortable shoots. Make sure to dress for the weather, bring rain gear to keep you completely dry, don’t show up hungry, and try to catch a quick nap during the day if you are shooting at night. In short, give yourself fewer reasons to end the shoot early because “the conditions don’t seem all that favorable” as opposed to waiting it out for conditions to improve. Thanks for reading! Ken Koskela To receive this magazine FREE each month click HERE 3

Natural vs Artificial Light Portraits The Benefits of Having Artificial Light in Your Arsenal

Natural Light Isn’t Always Cooperative People like things that are natural better than things that are artificial. After all, don’t you prefer to see “strawberries” on a list of ingredients rather than “artificial flavoring” and “red dye 40”? So, on the surface, “natural light portraiture” really does sound pretty appealing.

Next, I’ll open up the shadows a bit in this “no flash” version, just to give the image a bit of a luminosity boost for comparative purposes.

Natural light can be great for portraits. Low-angled sunlight is hard to beat. Indoors, window light is equally beautiful. However, excellent lighting isn’t always available. And, when it is, it is not always positioned ideally. Portrait photographers that use only natural lighting face some big challenges. In fact, in my humble opinion, in the majority of cases you can get better results by bringing in flash to your outdoor portraits.

Now, here is the image with one flash through a soft box.

An Example Let me give an example of a portrait that would have been basically ruined without the help of artificial lighting. The following back-to-back images were taken on an overcast morning, both with and without flash. This first image is without flash and without any processing... straight out of the camera in RAW format. I think almost all of us will agree that the image with flash looks much better. In fact, without the flash, I would have probably tossed the picture due to the flat, boring lighting. There are three reasons the artificial lighting contributes so much to the image: Reason 1: Better separation between the subject and background The flash on the subject makes him stand out against 4

the background. In the shot without flash, the subject’s face is darker and basically blends in with the rest of the image. Even with some post-processing adjustments, it doesn’t look as good. Starting out with good lighting is better than trying to create it in post-processing. Reason 2: Higher contrast In the picture below, I cropped the same image to show only the subject’s face, first with no flash and the shadows opened up a bit:

Reason 3: More control over the power and direction of light With natural light, even if you have low-angled lighting, you still have to position your subject to take advantage of the existing light. This gives you less options for what your background will be. Artificial light can mimic the sun, or even overpower it, and allow you to have much more control over the light, such as changing its’ direction or using multiple light sources. Have Artificial Lighting in Your Arsenal When shooting portraits, you always want to be on the lookout for beautiful natural light. In fact, the image below (the subject of this month’s Story Behind the Picture) was shot using window light. You would not want to substitute natural light this good with a flash.

Now, with flash and no processing:

However, having access to this kind of natural light is more the exception than the rule.

Notice the lighting on the face looks much more dramatic due to the increased contrast. With the flash, there is a much greater difference in luminance between the light and dark areas of the face. Beyond that, the added contrast also gives the perception of significantly increased sharpness.

So, if you shoot environmental portraits and haven’t yet developed a command of artificial lighting, I’d highly recommend doing so. It is great to have the option of adding light to the scene when the existing light isn’t very flattering or is not coming in at the desired angle. For more information on environmental portraiture, you can see my article on page 8 of the March Issue of Inspirational Photography. 5

Blurred Water Images of Rivers and Creeks The list of types of water bodies can be overwhelming. In the river category alone, there are creeks, streams, brooks, rivers and a bunch of other names for each of those. I think the reason for this is that, throughout history, there have been a lot of people hanging out at small rivers waiting for the fish to bite who had nothing better to do than to think up additional names for water bodies. This article is on techniques for shooting a river or creek with a blurred water effect. There will be some information here that will duplicate my June article on Shooting Coastline Images. (see pages 18-19) Equipment Needed 1. Polarizing Filter – Polarizing filters are pretty important when shooting rivers and streams because they can reduce or eliminate glare from the water 6

surface, as well as from wet rocks. This glare can ruin your picture. I use a circular polarizer and rotate it until the glare disappears or is at its’ minimum. Polarizers also reduce the light getting to the sensor, which allows you to shoot longer shutter speeds. Without this reduced light, your shutter speed would be too fast to blur the water during daylight hours. If possible, you can also combine the polarizer with a neutral density filter to further restrict the light. 2. Sturdy Tripod – You will need a tripod due to the slow shutter speeds required. Flimsy tripods usually won’t work well if you have one or more of your tripod legs in the moving water while shooting. 3. Wide Angle Lens - I shoot with wide angle zoom lenses, but usually not at the widest settings for river and creek images. This is to balance the distant elements of the image with the foreground.

Camera Settings • • •

ISO - Start with 100 Mode – I recommend manual mode, which will help you pay close attention to both aperture and shutter speed. Shutter Speed – You want shutter speeds in the range of 0.5-5 seconds or more. The image below was shot at 6 seconds, while the creek shot in the next column was shot at 2.5 seconds. Aperture – Your composition will likely include foreground and background elements which should be sharp throughout. If I am NOT focus blending (see next section), I generally use f/16 as a starting point, depending on the distance to foreground elements.

Live View and Focal Point Blending As in most landscape images, using “live view” is helpful in getting good focus on the scene. For creeks, you generally want your scene to be sharp from front to back and avoid blurred objects in the foreground.

Use leading lines to direct the viewer’s attention This is an often used compositional technique, but is especially helpful in creek shots. Creeks are full of leading lines, starting with the creek itself. As in the shot below, look for rapids which form lines that lead the viewer from the front to the back of the image. Rocks can also form leading lines. You want the stream, rocks and whatever else to focus the view-

For this reason, I now use focus blending on these images. I shoot at around f/11 or f/13 for decent sharpness and take a few extra shots focusing on the closer foreground elements (usually rocks) that I can blend in later. This way, I don’t have a blurry rock in the foreground. Note that the wider aperture results in a faster shutter speed, so that must also be taken into consideration. Positioning and Composition Include foreground reflections Also watch for nice reflections. If there is a small pool with still water in the scene, be sure to check it out as a possible source of a mirror image. These reflections can create foreground interest. Shoot from the Water Some of the better compositions require standing in the water. You obviously have to use good judgment about whether or not it is safe to shoot from the moving water. 7

er’s attention where you want it. Position yourself near elements being hit with water Sometimes a leaf or other object which has water flowing over it can really add to the picture. Notice the water running over the leaves in the foreground of the creek image on the previous page. Water splashing over or around rocks can also add some nice foreground interest to your picture. Include leaf and bubble swirls In Autumn, small pools can collect leaves and create some nice swirls in your foreground. You’ll need an exposure of at least several seconds depending on the speed of the water. Moving bubbles can also create the same effect, as seen in this waterfall image from New Zealand.

When possible, don’t let the rapids run out of the frame Although it is not always compositionally possible, I think the blurred rapids look better when they do not disappear out of the frame. Shoot at different focal lengths I shoot these images with a wide-angle zoom lens, but I try to capture different focal lengths (in both horizontal and vertical) for variety. I try to place different emphasis on the foreground and background in my various compositions. Shooting in Windy Conditions With long shutter speeds, trees and plants have more time to move due to the wind. If the plants and trees in the image are getting some undesirable blur, you may want to also shoot the scene at a higher ISO and faster shutter speed so that you can blend in plants and trees without motion blur. This is especially true for foreground plants. You can get away with blurred leaves in the distance, but blurry foreground elements can ruin the image. Shoot Reflections After Sunset If the sky colors are good, take out your telephoto and shoot close-up reflections of areas of the water that have good color. Include elements such as waves and rocks. The image below is an example. The sky reflections turned the river a gold color. I shot this from a relatively low point of view to capture the color.


The Story Behind the Picture Second Chance Portrait

Earlier this year, I went to Romania and traveled around with a local Romanian guide. A primary objective of this trip was to capture portraits in rural settings. About 4 days had passed by in the trip without a truly good portrait opportunity, so I was more than ready. The next morning, my guide had arranged for us to take a 20 minute walk into the countryside to photograph a shepherd. I was looking forward to it. The 20 minute walk turned out to be more than an hour, slogging along muddy roads and heading uphill the whole way. We finally got to the shepherd’s farm and he looked perfect. Finally, my first great portrait opportunity had arrived. Our guide had brought people to photograph him before and told us that he would talk to the shepherd and then we would take pictures. After 20 minutes, we sensed something was wrong. The guide told us that the shepherd was upset and refusing to take any pictures. We spent about an hour chatting with him, but he never agreed to a single picture. Although the talk was friendly, I was disappointed. We said our goodbye’s and began walking back through the property. We ran across the shepherd’s wife who invited us into her house and began to talk with our guide. She said it was a bad year financially for them, which was probably the reason for the shepherd not being in a mood for pictures. She talked to us about her children... concerns that sounded similar to the concerns of other parents in any context. As she talked, the window lighting on her was absolutely perfect. After awhile, I asked if I could take a few pictures while we talked. Although the real prize was spending an hour with her in her house and hearing her story, I managed to capture the above image, which is one of my favorite portraits to date. 9


Chris Smith

Chris Smith is the founder of Out of Chicago Photography. The Out of Chicago Photography Conference attracts some of the world’s greatest photographers from around the globe to teach and learn. In 2017 they are taking the conference on the road to Acadia National Park to bring the Out of Chicago experience to the world of landscape photographers. Follow or join their next adventure at Chris is the author of The Photographer’s Guide to Chicago and host of the Out of Chicago Photography Podcast. Chris specializes in photographing the city of Chicago at night. You can see his work at



MISS AN ISSUE? Click the magazine covers below to see past issues.


March 2016 • Pushing blue into the shadows • Smoke composites • Guilin, China • Including motion in your images • Wide-angle portraits • Backing up your pictures • Big impact with small subjects

April 2016 • Complementary colors • Dealing with foggy lenses • Effective silhouette images • Gradient vignettes • Watch the windows • Shooting into the sun

May 2016 • Solid neutral density filters • Web sharpening using TK Actions • Following and breaking the rule of thirds • Packing for an outdoor photography camping trip • Pictures that make people think

June 2016 • Using a circular polarizer • Intro to luminosity masking • Oil and water pictures • Minimum shutter speeds • Coastline moving water images

July 2016 • Exposing flash and ambient light separately • Incorporating opposites into your images • Venice during Carnival • Orton effect • Including reflections in your pictures

August 2016 • Shooting the Milky Way, Stars and Northern Lights • Cathedral images • Controlling tonal contrast with a histogram • Focusing strategies for moving subjects

Click HERE to receive Inspirational Photography each month. September 2016 • Post-processing Milky Way shots • Controlling motion in landscape images • Increasing water texture with Nik • Shooting cities at night

October 2016 • Shooting and processing star trails • Eliminating distractions • Dramatic side-lighting • Creating a texture layer in Photoshop • Inconvenience leads to better pictures.

November 2016 • How to use an ultra-wide lens • Search Engine Optimization for Images • Photoshop’s Smart Objects for 2nd Chance Adjustments • Leading Lines



GUILIN, CHINA w/ RICK SAMMON May 17-25, 2017 (Waitlist Only) September 20-28, 2017 (Just Announced!)


Join Rick and I to photograph the beautiful karst mountains, Li River, cormorant fisherman at sunrise and sunset, the incredible Longji rice terraces, the XiangGongShan overlook, Cuipinghsan Hill, and many other locations. We will also meet and photograph rural villagers. ABOVE LINK IS FOR SEPTEMBER. CLICK HERE FOR MAY WAITLISTED TOUR.



Join veteran photographer and tour leader Jim Zuckerman and Ken Koskela to photograph the beautiful scenery of Tuscany, including rolling hills, Cypress trees, fortified medieval towns, golden mists in the morning and cobblestone streets. Add to that the amazing Cinque Terre coastal villages and this is a trip that is not to be missed! 50% OF SPOTS SOLD ON FIRST DAY OF ANNOUNCEMENT! BOOK SOON!


2017 PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS & WORKSHOPS NEW ZEALAND w/ RENEE DOYLE April 18-28, 2017 (Optional 3-Night Milford Sound extension available)

Join Renee and I to photograph this amazingly beautiful country during the best time of year... Autumn. In addition to the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd, the lone Wanaka Lake tree and Nugget Point Lighthouse, we will photograph turquoise lakes, rolling hills, hidden waterfalls and New Zealand’s iconic mountainous regions. Also, join us for the optional extension to Milford Sound to round out an amazing visit to the South Island of New Zealand! CLICK HERE FOR INFO!



VENICE CARNIVAL w/ RENEE DOYLE February 18-24, 2017


Venice comes alive during Carnival as amazing models in ornate masks and incredible costumes descend upon the city. I am co-leading this tour with Renee Doyle. Renee and I have some great connections with many of the best models which will allow our group to have opportunities for private shoots in some locations away from the crowds and not accessible to the general public. SOLD OUT! CLICK HERE TO BE ADDED TO THE WAITING LIST.


Processing Tip of the Month Layer Adjustments for Printing

I am a self-proclaimed NON-expert in printing. In fact, I only bought a printer about 6 months ago. But, I was amazed at how I was able to get absolutely beautiful prints fairly quickly with just a little research on good printing practices. I would like to say it was just by my own experimentation, but it wasn’t. I learned these techniques from a few other photographers and then settled on my own workflow. In case you are wondering, I own an Epson SureColor P800. This is a newer Epson which can create prints that are simply amazing. As for paper, my favorite is the Epson Hot Press (Natural or Bright, depending upon the image). Adjustments for Printing Are Necessary Notice that this article is not called, “How to Print an Image”. I will not go through my entire printing workflow. Instead, I’ll focus just on the adjustments I make to the image itself to get it to the point where it is printable. These adjustments are very necessary in my opinion. You are bound to be disappointed if you take an image that looks good on-line and try printing it as is. The picture will often look dark, lack contrast and have muted colors. The technical terms that printing experts use for these prints are “yucky” and “icky”. A Quick Overview of the Process Just to give you a high-level view of what we will be doing here... Photoshop has a feature called “Soft Proofing”. This feature will give you a much better idea of how your image will look when printed on whatever printer and paper combination you are using. The soft proof version looks very different than your original image. The idea is to make a number of ad18

justments until the soft proof version looks as close as possible to the on-screen version. It is this soft proof version that you will be printing. It will never look exactly the same, since printers can print fewer colors than screens can display. However, you can get it looking pretty close. The adjustments I make are to brightness, contrast, saturation and temperature. I make each of these adjustments in a separate layer and use the opacity slider to fine-tune the adjustment. With that quick overview, here are the steps I take in Photoshop: Setting Up the Soft Proof 1. Open the file to be printed in Photoshop. 2. Choose Image-Duplicate

3. If you want, rename the file in the dialogue box. Otherwise leave the name as the default “copy”.

4. Then, under the View menu, I choose “2-up horizontal” and usually have the original file on top and the copy on the bottom. • • • • •

SC-P800 Series Canvas Matte (this corresponds to my Epson SureColor P800 and my matte paper) Uncheck Preserve RGB Numbers I choose “Relative Colorimetric” in most cases, especially for portraits. You can also use Perceptual for certain landscape images. Check Black Point Compensation. Check Simulate Paper Color.

7. Make sure the Preview box is checked and hit OK. Your soft proofing is now set up. You should see your original file on top which now looks kind of bland and your copy file on the bottom which looks as it originally did. Save-As to Create a Flattened Print File

5. Next, on the original file (not the copy), I choose View - Proof Setup – Custom.

6. This brings up a dialogue box. Here are the settings I use:

8. At this point, I do a Save-As on the ORIGINAL. This will become your adjusted file for printing. In my case, I have a separate folder for all my Print files. I save the file there and choose a name that tells me the printer and paper profile I used (in my case, Epson SC800 Printer and Hot Press Natural paper). It is IMPORTANT to save this with a different file name than you started with as you will be flattening the image later (although flattening is not completely necessary). 9. Next, if your newly created Photoshop print file has layers, then I flatten the image (which consolidates all the layers into one). To do this, select Layer - Flatten Image. Again, it isn’t completely necessary to flatten the image, but I do so to these print files.


Adjustments to the New Print File Now, I add four adjustment layers to the newly saved print file with the objective of getting it as close as possible to the look of the COPY. Remember, this print version is being viewed as a soft proof. 10. First, I add a Curves layer and switch the blending mode to Luminosity. For this layer, I create an S-curve by clicking on the curve twice, with one anchor 1/3 from the bottom and another 1/3 from the top. I pull down on the lower anchor and up on the higher anchor to create an S-curve as in the picture below. This adds contrast to the image. I add more contrast than necessary. Now, click in the middle of the curve to create an anchor and pull up and to the left on the curve to add overall brightness. It should look like the image below.

Then, I adjust the opacity down to the point where both images have about the same amount of contrast. I look closely at dark areas and bright areas of the image while adjusting the opacity. You can brighten the image brighter than the original and then adjust the opacity of the layer until the brightness of the COPY image and the soft proof print image approximately match. You want to make sure you are looking straight at the monitor so that you get the same angle on both files. Look at brighter and darker parts of the image when adjusting the opacity. 11. Next, on top of that I add another Curves layer in Luminosity blending mode.


12. On top of those layers, I add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and leave it in Normal blending mode. I add a bit of overall saturation, usually between +3 and +7, until the saturation of the images appears to be about identical.

the bottom up one more time and tweak the opacity to try to get the images closer to matching. I turn off the adjustment layers and add them back one at a time as I make final tweaks to the layers, primarily adjusting opacity. 15. Then, I group these adjustment layers by selecting them and choosing Cmd-G (Mac) or Ctrl-G (Windows) and name the folder “Print Adjustments”. 13. Lastly, I add a Photo Filter adjustment layer in Normal blending mode. I have found this depends on the paper. If I am using a very white paper, I usually add Warming Filter 85 and adjust to around 10-15% opacity to see if it matches up better with the soft proof. If my paper is not as bright (such as Hot Press Natural), then I try a Cooling Filter 80 or 82 and see if that gets me closer. 16. I then turn off soft proofing by going to View and unchecking “Proof Colors”. 17. I save my print file and close the COPY file without saving it. Those are the adjustments I make to get a print file created. There is more to do to create the print, namely re-sizing and then sharpening. I’ll do a future article on that. I can teach you my processing techniques through one-on-one, on-line instruction via Skype and screen share. I can help you with: • • •

Basic Lightroom and/or Photoshop Intermediate and Advanced Environmental Portrait Processing Techniques Intermediate and Advanced Landscape Processing Techniques

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO! 14. I will usually go through all adjustments from 21

Don’t Miss the Shot

Everyone has regrets over having missed some great photo opportunity which they will never get back. However, nobody’s story is as sad as mine. So, grab a handkerchief and read on..... My Sad “Missed the Shot” Story It was shortly after I got my first 35 mm film camera while in college. I was in Rome with a group and had the opportunity to see Pope John Paul II speak at St. Peter’s Basilica. I was in the front row in the back section and perfectly positioned as he was driven by to touch hands.

As he approached, I got a beautiful close-up portrait shot of him waving while looking right at me. Or, so I thought. When I picked up my pictures after processing (yes, this was in the days of film), I discovered that my prize-winning image was completely out of focus.


Now, before you rush to judgment, my ancient camera did not have autofocus and the Pope was in a vehicle driving straight at me. However, the point is, I’ll never get this shot back. Here are a few tips for avoiding missing the shot like I did: Keep Looking Through the Viewfinder I shot the above image of the cormorant fisherman with his bird in Guilin, China. Although there are a lot of images of these fishermen out there, this one is somewhat unique because of the way the man is posing and the bird is spreading its wings. The bird spread its wings like this for a split second. There is no doubt that I would have missed this shot if I wasn’t looking through the viewfinder and ready to shoot. I zoomed in, focused on the eyes of the fisherman, then framed the shot with the bird in it and waited.

For these types of situations where something might happen, it is a good idea to keep looking through the viewfinder. Or, if you are shooting in live view, keep looking at the screen with your remote trigger ready. Keep Your Camera Ready While Driving I am referring specifically to situations where wildlife might appear. I was in the Canadian Rockies and came upon wildlife on a couple of occasions while driving, including a family of moose and a grizzly bear. You could easily miss the shot if your camera is packed away with your wide-angle lens attached to it. When a grizzly bear appeared on the side of the road, I essentially had to jump in the back seat, get my camera out of the bag, and switch lenses. I learned my lesson and then kept my camera out with my telephoto lens on it while we were driving in areas where wildlife might appear. When a family of moose appeared, this allowed me to start photographing immediately.

shutter speed priority mode. If the light is changing quickly due to moving clouds, then this is especially important. Double Check the Image by Zooming in on the LCD Display Take advantage of the LCD display. If you can afford the time, zoom up close in key parts of the image to check for sharpness. This is especially important in windy conditions or with moving subjects. You don’t want to get home after a shoot, or worse yet - after a trip, to find out your image was not sharp because you used a shutter speed that did not freeze the action properly. Don’t Put Your Camera Away Too Soon For landscape images, I typically keep my camera out and ready until the lighting situation is completely hopeless. I’m usually one of the last, or the last, to give up on the lighting conditions. This is because, once in awhile, you get a little sun that peeks through for a few seconds and results in a nice lighting situation. I got this cool shot of a helicopter headlight trail over Chicago about an hour after the 4th of July fireworks had ended and most people were on their way home. After an hour of waiting around, a helicopter flew a cool “S” curve around the Sears Tower. (this building is now called the “Willis Tower”, but my generation of Chicagoans won’t let the name go). The point is, don’t put your camera away too soon just in case something happens!

Use Automated Shooting Modes Many photographers prefer having independent control over aperture and shutter speed. However, in some cases, you just need to get the shot. Consider taking advantage of some of the automatic exposure features in these situations. You don’t have to tell anyone you used them. ;) When I am shooting hand-held with a moving subject, I’ll often switch over to TV, which is Canon’s 23

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Inspirational Photography December 2016  

A free monthly instructional photography magazine by Ken Koskela for beginner and intermediate photographers interested in landscape, portra...

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