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Contents LETTER FROM KEN

MAKING THE HANDS PROMINENT

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HUMMINGBIRD PHOTOGRAPHY Guest Author: Jim Zuckerman

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THE STORY BEHIND THE PICTURE

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PHOTO TOURS AND WORKSHOPS

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PROCESSING LESSON OF THE MONTH De-Mystifying Image Sharpening

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LINKS TO PREVIOUS ISSUES OF INSPIRATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY

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PRECISE CAMERA PLACEMENT

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Cover Photo: Torres Del Paine National Park 2

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Letter From Ken Sleep on It

If you are like me, you get a sense of satisfaction when you finish processing an image. After all, your picture often represents the culmination of much effort on your part, such as hiking long distances, fighting bad weather, and spending hours sorting through images to identify those for post-processing. When you finish, you happily save your masterpiece as a JPG and proudly post it on your website or social media for the world to admire. You may have gone a little heavier on the processing than usual this time, but it works well for this particular image. You go to sleep with a smile on your face, knowing that your picture will be admired by your Facebook friends while you sleep and probably even go viral. The next morning, you immediately go to your computer to have another look and... “Uggghhhhhhh!!!! The image looks hideous. You went way too heavy on the saturation and contrast, over-sharpened it, and completely missed on the color balance. What were you thinking?!? Now, you can’t really fix the problem and re-post the image without people noticing. But, you can’t leave that awful image on your page, either. Unless you are a natural born Photoshop master, this story probably hits home. One thing that I have learned by mistake is to “sleep on it” before posting an image. I often walk away from the computer for awhile, come back and make some adjustments, and do the same a couple more times. Even those who are highly experienced at post-processing have told me that they usually come back to their images to have another look before finalizing. It is good advice to follow. Thanks for reading! Ken Koskela http://www.kenkoskela.com To receive this magazine FREE each month click HERE 3


Making the Hands Prominent When I shoot portraits, I like to include the subject’s hands in the composition. In fact, I just took a look through my portraits gallery and found that 4 out of 5 images there had at least part of a hand. Beyond just including the hands, though, I like to make them an important part of the picture. As you will notice, the images in this article do not look like wedding pictures or senior portraits. In such situations where you want your subject to look properly proportioned, you may not want to use the techniques I’ve outlined below. But, if you are going for more of a surreal look, prominent looking hands can really add visual interest to your portraits. Lens Choice If you’ve read any of my portrait articles, you will already know my lens choice. I shoot almost all of my portraits with a (somewhat) wide-angle lens... about 24mm. In fact, I’ve written an entire article 4

about this on pages 8-11 of the March 2016 Issue of Inspirational Photography. Control the Size of the Hands With a wide-angle lens, you can emphasize or de-emphasize the hands through careful positioning. This is because objects that are closer to your wide-angle appear larger than normal, while objects farther away appear smaller than normal. So, you can choose how large and prominent the subject’s hands are simply through their positioning relative to your lens. On the next page, the Malawian woman’s left hand was positioned close to the camera. She was leaning back slightly, helping to position her head farther away. Because of this, her hand looks big relative to her head. Although this looks unnatural, I think it works well for this picture.


her coat, which attracts the attention of the viewer. This brings me to the next point... Give the Hands Something to Do In many cases, giving the hands something to do that adds visual interest can enhance a portrait. To be clear, holding a machete is definitely NOT the perfect solution in all cases, especially not for you wedding photographers. But, for the image below, it fits the scene and adds interest to the picture. Giving the hands something to do also helps relax the subject, leading to a more natural looking expression.

Conversely, in the image below of the woman from China, she is leaning towards the camera, with her hands positioned slightly farther away. Her hands look relatively smaller and more properly proportioned than the image above. In both cases, the hands play an important part of the composition. In the image below, they are prominent because she is using her hands to hold

Use the Hands and Arms to Frame the Subject Below, I’ve used the subject’s hands and arms in the foreground to help frame the image from the bottom. Although it is usually not a good idea to crop fingers off, I think it works okay here because the fingers are positioned horizontally in the frame, as opposed to being clipped off vertically.

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Hummingbird Photography Guest Article by Jim Zuckerman

This month, I am happy to feature veteran photographer Jim Zuckerman as a guest author. Jim left his medical studies in 1970 to pursue his love of photography and turn it into a career. In addition to teaching photography at many universities and private schools, Jim’s images, articles and photo features have been published in scores of books and big name magazines. Jim has led many international photography excursions around the world and has been to 93 countries to date! Jim and I will be co-leading back-to-back photography tours to Tuscany and Cinque Terre this October. -----Birds have captivated wildlife photographers from the beginning of photography, and no group of birds are more intriguing than hummingbirds. It’s not difficult at all to photograph them when you 6

see them in a garden hovering above a flower, but unless you do it right your efforts will only result in mediocre pictures. The challenge is two fold: First, you want the tiny birds to fill a significant part of the frame, and second, you want the birds to be sharp. Blurred wings are fine for snapshooters, but for serious photogra-


However, when the power output of the flash unit is reduced to 1/16th power, the flash duration becomes much shorter—about 1/16,000th of a second. This is definitely fast enough to freeze the wings of hummingbirds as you can see in these photos. The setup I use consists of four elements: 1. Four flash units (I use Canon 430EX Speedlites). Two flashes are placed in front of the setup, one on either side. One flash is used as a backlight to give a little separation between the subjects and the background, and one flash is placed to illuminate the background. Metal stands support the flash units. 2. A 24 x 36 inch photographic print of out of focus foliage is placed in the background. I have several different prints that can be easily changed. The large prints are simply clamped to a piece of foam core . 3. A wireless transmitter sits on top of the camera to trigger the strobes. Units that work well for are the Canon ST-E2 or the Pocket Wizard. For Nikons, the built in commander mode works. phers nothing less than tack sharp wings will do. The wings of hummingbirds beat about 80 times per second. The range of shutter speeds that we normally use for fast moving subjects is between 1/250 to 1/1000th of a second. This is too slow to freeze the wings. 1/2000th and 1/4000th of a second are not even fast enough to get sharp pictures and to reveal the detail in individual feathers.

4. A flower that can hold the nectar is clamped to a support like a metal stand, the back of a chair, or anything that will work. The same sugar water that is used in hummingbird feeders -- ‘the ‘nectar’ -- is placed in the flower using a syringe so the birds hover above the flower to drink. At 1/16th power (all the flash units are set to the same power output), the recycle time is very brief –

Some cameras go up to 1/8000, but even if this were fast enough to get tack pictures of hummers, the light would be so reduced that you would be forced to shoot with a large lens aperture and a high ISO— neither of which are ideal solutions. The technique that works is to use flash. However, it’s not straightforward at all. The typical ‘flash duration’ -- the length of time that the flash tube is actually illuminated during an exposure—is typically about 1/1000th of a second when used on manual. 7


it’s almost instantaneous, in fact. That means I could shoot as rapidly as I can press the shutter. I fire in rapid succession each time a bird comes to feed. It’s impossible to ascertain whether or not the wings are in an attractive position when I snap the shutter, so I had to take a lot of pictures to get a winner. To vary the exposure for each flash unit, I simply move the flash unit closer or farther away. Three or four inches makes a significant change in exposure. In this way, I could adjust the lighting ratio based on

what I saw on the LCD monitor. A hand held meter is not needed at all. With two flash units in front of the hummers, you will get two catchlights in the eyes. This is unnatural looking because in nature, there is only one light source — the sun. Therefore, in post-processing, I clone out one of the dots of light using the clone tool or the spot healing brush. These photos were taken during a photo tour I led to Costa Rica. If you are interested in attending a photo tour to Costa Rica or to other exotic destinations like Indonesia, Spain/Portugal, Iceland, Patagonia, Namibia, and Turkey, contact me or visit my website: jimzuckerman.com. On the home page of my website, you can also sign up to receive my free monthly newsletter where I give lots of useful tips on photography and Photoshop, and where I promote my various photo tours and workshops.

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The Story Behind the Picture Almost a Very Expensive Picture

During a trip to Venice during Carnival, I had a lot of fun running around getting a variety of pictures of the costumed models. One particular morning, I was photographing on San Marco Square. If you’ve been there, you’ll know that this is a very large and very busy plaza area. At one point, I needed to change my lens, so I took my backpack off and knelt down on the plaza to switch lenses. After resuming my shooting, I noticed another interesting model, so I ran over to photograph her for about 20 minutes. The morning crowds were starting to show up, so I decided I was finished. I reached behind my back for my camera bag... and [gasp] there was no backpack on my back! I actually remember patting my back a few times because I was in such disbelief and denial that my images and thousands of dollars in camera gear was now missing. I went running back to the spot where I had left it while changing lenses and it was not there. I spent the next 15 minutes circling the plaza. Finally, I decided it was gone. I spotted my friend in the plaza and went over to inform him that almost all my gear and images were now gone. He was commiserating with me when something over his shoulder, all the way across the Square, caught my eye. It was a guy taking a lens out of a black backpack and looking at it. I ran across the plaza and caught up to him just as he was zipping the bag back up. I put my hand on his shoulder and thanked him profusely for finding my backpack. He seemed genuinely happy to return it to me. Fortunately, the right person picked it up in this case. 9


2017 PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS & WORKSHOPS http://www.kenkoskela.com/product/photo-tours-workshops/

PATAGONIA w/ RICK SAMMON & KEN KOSKELA November, 2017

ANNOUNCEMENT ON FEB 15th!!

Words simply cannot describe the landscape you will experience in Patagonia. In Chile’s Torres Del Paine National Park, we will photograph the stunning peaks of “Los Cuernos” and Cerro Paine Grande with beautiful turquoise waters and white rapids in the foreground. In Argentina, we will stand in awe of Mount Fitz Roy and photograph from vantage points in Los Glaciares National Park. A highlight of the trip will be experiencing amazing blue glaciers that have to be seen to be believed. We are also offering an optional 2-day camping add-on in Argentina, allowing for closer vantage points of Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. http://www.kenkoskela.com/product/2018-patagonia-photography-tour/

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2018 PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS & WORKSHOPS http://www.kenkoskela.com/product/photo-tours-workshops/

VENICE CARNIVAL w/ KEN KOSKELA & RENEE DOYLE February, 2018

JUST ANNOUNCED!!!

Venice is one of the most beautiful and unique cities in the world. Each year, during the Carnival festival, Venice comes alive as amazing models in ornate masks and incredible costumes descend upon the city to be admired and photographed. I am very excited to be co-leading this workshop with Renee Doyle, whose masterful Venice Carnival composites are an inspiration to many photographers, including myself. 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. http://www.kenkoskela.com/product/2018-venice-carnival-photography-workshop/

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2017 PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS & WORKSHOPS http://www.kenkoskela.com/product/photo-tours-workshops/

TUSCANY & CINQUE TERRE w/ JIM ZUCKERMAN & KEN KOSKELA October, 2017

1ST TOUR SOLD OUT - 2ND TOUR ADDED!!

Fortified medieval towns, golden mists in the morning, cobblestone streets, artistic stands of trees, awe inspiring cathedrals -- all of these are Tuscany plus a whole lot more. Combine the Tuscan experience with the stunning Cinque Terre Coast, where five colorful villages hug rocky cliffs above the deep blue sea and you’ve got an Italian experience that will thrill anyone who loves photographing beauty, history, culture and art. We will take advantage of the best lighting early and late in the day to offer opportunities to capture beautiful images. This is not a trip to be missed! http://www.kenkoskela.com/product/2017-tuscany-cinque-terre-jim-zuckerman-ken-koskela-tour-2/

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2017 PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS & WORKSHOPS http://www.kenkoskela.com/product/photo-tours-workshops/

NEW ZEALAND w/ KEN KOSKELA & RENEE DOYLE April, 2017

New Zealand is on most photographer’s bucket lists. Join Ken and Renee 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 beautiful mountainous regions. We will also visit and photograph the majestic Milford Sound to round out an amazing visit to the South Island of New Zealand!! http://www.kenkoskela.com/product/2017-new-zealand-photo-tour/

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2017 PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS & WORKSHOPS http://www.kenkoskela.com/product/photo-tours-workshops/

CANADIAN ROCKIES w/ KEN KOSKELA & JOSH MERRILL October, 2017

The Canadian Rockies are a place of unparalleled beauty and adventure. From jagged, snow-capped peaks to turquoise glacial lakes, the Rockies offer some of the best landscape photography opportunities in the world. We will focus on the majestic Banff and Jasper National Parks and adjust our daily shooting locations to maximize our chances for good light. Additionally, we will keep our eyes open for clear skies at night with the hopes of capturing the Northern Lights and star-filled skies with the Rocky Mountains as an amazing foreground. This is not a trip to be missed! http://www.kenkoskela.com/product/2017-canadian-rockies-photo-adventure/

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2017 PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS & WORKSHOPS http://www.kenkoskela.com/product/photo-tours-workshops/

GUILIN, CHINA w/ RICK SAMMON & KEN KOSKELA May, 2017 WAITING LIST ONLY 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. http://www.kenkoskela.com/product/2017-guilin-china-photo-tour/ SOLD OUT! CLICK HERE TO BE ADDED TO WAITLIST.

VENICE CARNIVAL w/ KEN KOSKELA & RENEE DOYLE February, 2017 WAITING LIST ONLY

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. http://www.kenkoskela.com/product/2017-venice-carnival-photography-workshop/ SOLD OUT! CLICK HERE TO BE ADDED TO THE WAITING LIST.

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Processing Lesson of the Month De-Mystifying Image Sharpening

Image sharpening can be a confusing topic. Part of the reason for the confusion is that different types of sharpening are applied during several stages of post-processing. So, when you hear about “image sharpening”, it doesn’t always mean the same thing.

can choose to only build a preview for the image you are working on. If you have already created a 1:1 preview during or after import, Lightroom will confirm that your 1:1 preview is up to date. In that case, you’re all set.

In this article, I’ll cover how I sharpen images as well as outline the different stages of sharpening. But first, a question...

Lightroom’s Detail Panel Explained

Is Sharpening Really Necessary? The short answer is that it is necessary with digital photography. Those big RAW files are pretty soft right out of camera. In fact, when digital cameras create JPGs, they apply sharpening to the file that does not get applied to RAW files.

You apply global input sharpening to your image using Lightroom’s “Detail” panel, which is found in the Develop module. You will see the following four sliders in the Sharpening section:

Like many photographers, I sharpen in three different stages: 1. Input sharpening (which I do in Lightroom) 2. “Creative sharpening” (which I do in Photoshop) 3. Output sharpening for web or print (which I do in Photoshop, but which can more easily be done in Lightroom) 1. Input Sharpening (a.k.a. Capture Sharpening) If you use Lightroom, there is a good chance that you are already applying input sharpening without even touching a slider. This is because Adobe Lightroom includes a moderate amount of sharpening applied as its’ default setting, which you can then adjust.

The Amount slider determines how much sharpening is applied.

The Radius slider determines how large (or wide) of an area around each edge is sharpened. Smaller values will result in more fine sharpening, while higher values lead to “thicker” looking edges.

The Detail slider determines which edges receive sharpening based on how fine the edges are. A higher value means that even the smaller detailed edges receive sharpening. A lower value means that less of the fine details will be sharpened. With higher values, you are more

Create a 1:1 Preview Before input sharpening, you should first make sure that you have a 1:1 preview built for your image. This is because it is important to view your image at 100% during sharpening in Lightroom. To do this, go to Lightroom’s Library module and choose “Library - Previews - Build 1:1 Previews”. You 16


likely to sharpen digital noise, which is not desirable. However, this can be resolved by using the next slider...

Similar to Photoshop’s layer masks, white areas will be sharpened by Lightroom and black areas will not.

The Masking slider allows you to eliminate areas of the image from sharpening altogether. You move the slider right to exclude areas that lack detail from being sharpened. This is very useful for avoiding the sharpening noise in the sky or in dark areas. Or, for portraits, you can avoid sharpening smoother areas of the skin.

I adjust the slider until it masks out the smooth surfaces and includes only the detailed areas. I usually end up with masking amounts in the range of about 10 up to 50 or so.

Settings Radius and Detail - There are no perfect settings. In fact, just between us, for the Radius and Detail sliders, I usually adjust them first and typically choose Radius of 1.0 and Detail of 50. That’s all I do. I would recommend not going higher than 1.0 on the Radius for Input Sharpening. You can also experiment with 0.5 Radius and 100 Detail, which some experts use. Amount - To set the amount of sharpening, I view a detailed part of the image zoomed into 100% and adjust the Amount slider. I almost always end up somewhere between 35 and 55. Then I back out to see the entire image and further adjust if necessary. What you are looking for is a clean image with sharp detail, but not “crispy”. If you have doubts, then keeping it in the range of 30-40 is probably safe. Masking - Hold down the Alt/Option (Mac) or Alt (Windows) key and drag the Masking slider right. You will notice that the image turns into a mask, with more black appearing as you drag right.

Local Sharpening Lightroom also allows you to sharpen locally, meaning apply sharpening to targeted areas of your image only. This can be accomplished by using an adjustment brush in selected areas and pulling the brush’s Sharpness slider to the right. However, I won’t add more comments on this, since I do most of my local sharpening in Photoshop. Congratulations - you have now completed Input Sharpening using the same techniques as the pro’s! 2. Creative Sharpening in Photoshop As part of the creative process, you might want to apply some additional sharpening as you post-process your image in Photoshop. This type of sharpening requires more judgment on your part. You generally want to avoid applying global sharpening here. In most cases, you want to sharpen just parts of your image during this stage. Where to Apply Sharpening As for deciding what parts of your image to sharpen, that is up to you. But, let me throw in a few comments and general guidance here and then show you how I would sharpen an example landscape image: • • •

Sharpened objects tend to draw your eye. So, you can sometimes use sharpening to draw the viewer’s eye to an important part of the image. There might be some areas of your image that could use more definition, such as a mountain peak. In real life, distant objects appear less sharp than closer objects. This is partly because you are looking through the atmosphere. So, sharpening a distant object might look unnatural. 17


• •

If a light source is creating a glow in the distance, you would not expect to see more detail there. Sharpening a glowing area will look unnatural. However, contrasty light directly hitting a distant object looks naturally sharp. So, an element in your image receiving direct light, as opposed to “glowing” atmospheric light, could receive sharpening and still look natural.

An Example Image Below is an image from Patagonia.

toshop during this stage: 1. I click on the top layer in my layer stack to make that one active. 2. I create a “Stamp Visible” layer, meaning a new layer that is a picture of all the other layers as they appear. On a Mac, you hit “Cmd-OptShift-E”. With Windows, you hit “Shift-Ctrl-Alt-E”. You’ll then see a new layer appear on top of your layer stack. This is the layer that you will sharpen. 3. Although there are different options in Photoshop, I use Unsharp Mask. To do this, choose “Filter - Sharpen - Unsharp Mask”.

Here is an explanation of the type of sharpening I did during the creative sharpening stage: 1. I added significant sharpening to the closer rocky surface. 2. I added less sharpening to the rocky surface on the farther left and higher up on the sloped surface on the right. 3. I added significant sharpening to sunny areas of the distant peaks in the center, tapering off the amount of sharpening to the peaks on the far right and in the shady areas. 4. I added no sharpening to any water, clouds or sky. 5. I added no sharpening to the mountain on the left, as that was getting hit with more atmospheric light and cloudy conditions. 6. I did not add sharpening near the areas of the rocks getting hit by waves as you would expect misty conditions to reduce sharpness.

4. I move the Unsharp Mask box to the side a bit and click on a detailed part of the image so that I can evaluate the detailed area and full image at the same time.

How I Add Sharpening

5. The amount of sharpening will depend upon your tastes and what it is that you are sharpening. Generally, I over-sharpen at this stage. Al-

Now, here is a step-by-step of how I sharpen in Pho18


6. 7. 8.

9.

though some people will cringe at this, for the example image I used a setting of 50% Amount and a Radius of around 8 pixels. This is pretty wide on the pixels. However, what I wanted was more “definition” than sharpening. And, again, I am over-sharpening a bit during this step. I leave Threshold at zero. I hit the OK button, which completes the sharpening on the top layer. With the top layer active, I hold Opt/Alt (Mac) or Alt (Windows) and click on the layer mask icon at the bottom of the layer stack. This adds a black mask to the layer, concealing all of the sharpening. I then take a soft white brush and brush the sharpening in using about 15-25% flow. I brush the sharpening into the areas as described earlier in this section.

A Side Note: High Pass Sharpening I have learned that adding a little bit of High Pass sharpening after doing a creative blur on parts of the image (such as with the Orton Effect) gives some good results. I won’t discuss that any further here, but thought I would mention it. 3a. Output Sharpening: How I Sharpen for Web After you have fully processed your image, you probably want to create a JPG for the web or print the image. As part of that process, you can apply output sharpening. Output sharpening is called that because it is done when you create the output file. So, if you are creating a JPG for web or print, then the sharpening is done during the creation of the JPG, not to your source Photoshop file.

and you’re done. Easy. Tony Kuyper’s TK Actions Panel Although it takes more time, I use Tony Kuyper’s web sharpening actions, as part of his TK Actions Panel. I’ve written an entire article about this in the May 2016 issue of Inspirational Photography (see pages 8-9). You can read that article for how to use the panel for output sharpening. However, since I wrote the article, I’m now using an additional technique that I really like... and that is to add a slight Orton Effect to the sharpened file before saving it. I’ll go over this technique in a future article, but essentially here is what I do: I run the TK Sharpening action at 37% opacity, increase contrast a bit using the curves layer, add a touch of saturation using the saturation layer (around +5) and then add an Orton Effect to the stack before saving the file. Again, too much to go over right now, but will do so in a future article. 3b. Output Sharpening: Sharpen for Print If you are printing, you probably know a thing or two about sharpening. So, I will not go into detail here except to say that I use Nik Filters’ Sharpener Pro to sharpen for print. Although I am not a printing expert, the prints I have made using this method are beautifully sharpened. The filter itself is very user friendly and mostly self-explanatory, so check it out! I can teach you my processing techniques through one-on-one, on-line instruction via Skype and screen share. I can help you with:

There are several ways to do output sharpening for web. Here are two ways:

• •

Using Lightroom’s Export Function

Lightroom has a nice feature that allows you to sharpen on export. In the Library module, you hit the Export button and then use the Output Sharpening section as part of creating the image. Check the “Sharpen for” box, select “Screen”, “Standard”

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

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO! 19


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

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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

December 2016 • Natural vs. Artificial Light Portraits • Blurred Water Creek Images • Layer Adjustments for Printing • Don’t Miss the Shot

January 2017 • Eliminating Camera Shake • Location Feature: Cinque Terre • How to Create Starbursts in Camera • Photoshop’s Blend If Feature

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Precise Camera Placement Most of the time, you have some leeway on where to position your camera while taking a picture. However, there are certain circumstances where very precise camera placement is essential. Even if you don’t consider yourself a perfectionist, it is a good idea to “practice perfectionism� in these cases. Here are three circumstances whereby camera placement is exceptionally important. 1. Symmetrical Images If your image relies on symmetry, then you need to get your camera in perfect position. For example, with a symmetrical interior architecture shot, such as the cathedral to the right, the camera needs to be perfectly centered. Even a few inches to the left or right can weaken the picture considerably. When composing, look in the two top corners to make sure the left and right are a perfect mirror image of each other. Then, do the same for the bottom 22

and along edges to make sure both sides are mirror images. Although you can make corrections to perspective in both Lightroom and Photoshop, those corrections involve some cropping of the image, so you lose pixels in the process and may end up losing some important elements in your image. So, it is much better to get it right in camera.


2. Wide-Angle Shots with Close Foreground Elements Wide-angle lenses require more precision in camera positioning. In the Canadian Rockies image below, moving a few inches to the left or right made a big difference in the composition. I had to spend an extra minute getting the rock positioned very slightly left of center to balance the mountains in the distance, which I placed slightly right of center. Being slightly off would throw the image off-balance.

3. Framing and/or Centering Elements Sometimes, you want to frame a distant object using a foreground element, such as was the case with the Namibia shot below. Getting my positioning exactly right here was important, as the distant tree needed to be precisely centered within the foreground tree.

For this reason, when I’m using my tripod and a wide-angle lens, I first determine my camera placement while hand-holding the camera and then set it up on the tripod only after I have determined my positioning. The cover image is another example of where I needed to spend extra time getting the camera positioned perfectly. I was shooting very close to the surface with a 14mm lens. A slight repositioning in any direction dramatically changed the way the lines and curves looked.

There are many other cases where precise camera placement is required. The important thing is to recognize when it is and to spend the time it takes getting your positioning just right.

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Inspirational Photography February 2017  

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

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