Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Photoshop Tutorial-The Screen & Multiply Blend Modes

I thought for the second instalment of 'Photoshop Tutorial' videos I'd show you a technique that I use on a day to day basis before uploading images to the web. It's a technique that makes use of two of Photoshop's layer blending modes, namely 'Screen' & Multiply' to remove black or white in a layer, and is so quick if you blink you'll miss it.

Anyway check out the video attached to see how I use this technique to help speed up my workflow:

To see more of my Photography & Photoshop videos you can check out my YouTube Page by clicking on this link.

Enjoy ;o)

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

InSight Photography Workshop - 2nd Test Phase

We managed to squeeze in another tester/mini InSight Workshop last Saturday; this time over in Windsor, Berkshire on what was a rather chilly day to say the least. I'm beginning to think I should publish a 'HEALTH WARNING' for those photographers that come along to the next one cos I seem to have an uncanny ability to pick days when it's pouring with rain or freezing cold; still it's character building I guess...lol

As it was so cold and really quite slippy under foot, the majority of the workshop was held in one area, but a place that gave us plenty of scope to try out all sorts of different shots. Our model for the afternoon was my good friend Danny Bartlett who for those regular readers of the blog will remember from previous photo shoots:

Once we'd spent a few hours out shooting we headed back indoors to warm up and grab a drink and just chat generally about what we'd covered and it was great to get all sorts of feedback from how the afternoon went and suggestions for what to include next time. Stan Coetzee, one of the guys who'd come along and who is very new to photography actually said that he'd never thought he'd ever be able to take photographs like he had done today; to hear that was the icing on the cake...a great end to a really enjoyable day.

I'm going to be running a couple more 'testers' during January 2010 in preparation of going 'live' with the Workshop in late February. One of the Workshops is being held down in West Wittering on the 31st January which is now full, but I'll be publishing the other date for January very soon, so if you'd like to attend keep checking back here on the blog or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Speak soon ;o)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Corporate Photography - Imperial College, London

Last week I was at the Imperial College, London taking photographs of a Dr Patrick Naylor: Director of Postgraduate Studies at the College specialising in 'sound'.

When we first met up to discuss the 'shoot' Dr Naylor did begin to explain some of the equipment that he uses to me but he must have noticed the glazed "you've lost me" expression that enveloped my face; still, I did ask more about the iPhone prototype he's working on that has six speakers built into it...nice!

Having worked on the 'must have' corporate shots and got them 'in the bag' we then worked on a few fun ideas that we'd had over coffee, such as working at the laptop and one that included a composition/montage of several 'Dr Naylor's' in the main lecture room:

Disclaimer: Any resemblance of Dr Naylor's poses to those of actual students is purely coincidental...honest

For the 'laptop' shot I put 2 pieces of white A4 paper over the computer screen and fired a single Nikon SB800 which was hidden out of sight onto it; this mimicked the light which would come off the computer screen. Another SB800 was placed camera left on it's lowest power setting and aimed at the back of the computer to light it up otherwise it was too dark and just blended into the black background.

The lecture room composition was put together by fixing the camera in position on a tripod and then photographing Dr Naylor in several different positions. Dr Naylor was lit by a single bare Nikon SB800 which was moved around for each shot being careful to keep it the same distance away each time. Ending up with about 7 photographs they were then blended together in Photoshop using Layer Masks.

Enjoy ;o)

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Adobe Community Expert Nomination - Speechless!!!

Update: I've just received notification from Adobe that I am now an Adobe Community Expert. HUGE thanks got to A.J. Wood from Media Cats for even thinking of nominating me and a big thank you to everyone that's sent messages through Facebook and Twitter...You guys rock!

It's not often that I'm left speechless, but this morning I gotta admit that's how I found myself; and the reason...I've been nominated for the Adobe Community Expert Program 2010. Here's a link to explain what this is all about but also, here's a copy of the nomination sent in by A.J. Wood who runs Media Cats; a very successful Digital Media Training Centre in Dallas, Texas:

When I think of an Adobe Community Expert, I think of a group of professionals coming together to share their experiences & talents. I also think about the type of person who has the knack for relating to other people, and generally loves sharing what they know without all the pomp & circumstance. I think of Glyn.

Glyn Dewis is a gifted individual who has taken his love of photography & Adobe products and turned it into a new career. When we met at Photoshop World years ago, he was still working as a police officer. He was quite the character, excited to be at PSW, taking in all the classes, just soaking up all the information. But Glyn is not the type of person to sit idly by.

In the years that have past he has continued to excel in his craft of photography & Photoshop work. He has quite a bit to share regarding Lightroom, and publishes video commentary on his blog. A person who understands the importance of community, he has led many photowalk outings, including Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photowalk held this past July 2009. Glyn is constantly looking to improve himself & his work, and I admire his dedication & ambitions.

I highly recommend Glyn Dewis for the Adobe Community Experts program not only for his current expertise, but the potential & experience he will share with all of us and his community.

Saying 'thankyou' to A.J. for this nomination just doesn't seem enough and to be honest whether or not I'm picked is irrelevant. Of course it would be great to be successful following this nomination but to be put forward in the first place by someone I have alot of respect for not only as a person but also as a very talented and knowledgeable Instructor is a gift in itself.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Headshots & Promotional Photography - Tom Colley

I got to work with a young and very talented actor/musician recently by the name of Tom Colley for some 'headshot' and 'promo' work.

The shoot itself was all done out on location in Amersham, Buckinghamshire as opposed to a studio, which gave us alot more freedom and variety to the photographs we were working on.

Priority was given to the 'headshots' which we did in the covered Market Place that we used the week before when photographing 'Caroline' during one of our InSight Workshops.

Once we were all happy with the 'headshots' we then moved on to a number of different locations; some within walking distance and a couple that we needed to drive to. Having initially met up at midday, time played a big part in how the day progressed as at this time of year, we're losing light quite quickly from around 3.45pm however Tom being so easy to work with and having a good friend along to help move kit around meant that we were able to go through the 'shoot' at a good pace but without rushing.

To keep things simple I used just one flash/stobe at each location; a Nikon SB800 in the Market Place for the headshots and for a bit more 'clout' the Alien Bees when we were out in the open cos of the bright sunlight and it's this style of lighting I'm covering in my new Workshops. Talking of which, I'll be releasing a couple more dates for 'testers/mini workshops' in January 2010 before we go 'live' in February and I'll publish more details including what we'll be covering when the new website is launched.

In the meantime,
Enjoy ;o)

Saturday, 12 December 2009

No day is ever the same...

One big thing I love about what I do is the variety; no day and no photo shoot is ever the same and lately this has certainly been the case. This past week has seen me photographing a woman in her wedding dress in the freezing cold River Thames to photographing a woman in a grave yard wearing an evening dress (the client..not me, I hasten to add).

Julia Reichel was one of the attendees at the first of the 'InSight' mini Workshop on the 29th November who at the end of the day asked to book me for a portrait shoot...but with a slight twist. Now, as a rule I like to plan each photo shoot by at the very least scouting out suitable locations but it didn't work out that way in this case because of the urgency of the job; i.e I had just 24 hours to meet up, shoot and supply the edited images.

Anyway..we met..I got the brief (to be photographed in a grave yard wearing an evening dress and looking slightly 'hungover') and we did the shoot.

See I told you there was variety in what I do...lol

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Another day at the office ...

As a general rule November in the UK is not usually the time that you'd consider getting outside and into the water...let alone The River Thames.

Well, I guess 'rules' are made to be broken cos that's exactly what happened last week when Michelle & Dave Caton-Richards decided they wanted a 'trash the dress' style photo shoot. To be fair this particular shoot has been in the planning phase for some time now but due to a number of reason had to be put back a few times until it got to the stage when it was a case of "we're doing it now or not at all".

I photographed Michelle & Dave a few months back for what was Part 1 of this 2 part shoot; part 1 being in a car workshop, which you can check out by clicking on this link.

Part 2 of the shoot saw us down by, or should I say 'in' the River Thames in Shepperton, Middlesex but before venturing into the icy cold waters we took a few shots on a grass verge nearby. To be honest I was wrapped up like Mr Staypuft and was still feeling the cold so I've no idea how Michelle stood there in her wedding dress; I'm guessing the uncontrollable teeth chattering generated a bit of heat.

Anyway, having 'warmed' up on the grass verge we then made our way down to the now fast flowing and fast rising river bank for the 'trash the dress' shots. Thankfully Michelle's husband Dave is into all sorts of 'adrenaline junkie' type activities and had a variety of safety ropes etc on hand...just incase; and yes I'd checked the insurance policy small print before we stepped anywhere near the water :o)

I've attached a video so you can see the 'behind the scenes' footage but make sure you're wrapped up warm before you watch it..lol


ps> BIG thank you to Michelle's friend Sarah who helped me out by being a VAL (Voice Activated Light stand) for the 'grass verge shots and to Dave for braving the Thames and holding the flash in there too ;o)

pps> All the lighting techniques in these shots are covered in my new InSight Workshop so if you want to learn the 'how to' then drop me a line/email to find out more.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Photoshop tutorial-Extending the background of a photograph

At the first of our new InSight Workshop's I mentioned to the attendees that to create the kind of photos where the subject/model is on a plain black background and positioned to the left or right I don't actually photograph it that way. To get the desired look I actually extend the background in photoshop, so to show how (& why) I do this I've attached a short video tutorial:

This technique can be used to extend any background with a solid colour really quickly. You could also extend a background that has a gradient to it ie goes from dark to light grey or whatever but this would certainly take alot more time and effort to make it look believable. Me? ... I want to work through my editing as quickly as possible so I can spend more time behind the camera.


*If you'd like to view the video in a larger window, you could visit my YouTube Channel by clicking on this link.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

InSight Photography Workshop - Test Phase

During the first quarter of 2010 I plan to launch a new Photography/Lighting Workshop that I'm calling the 'InSight - From Concept to Print'. This one day course will be designed to teach how to take an 'idea', light it, photograph it and then finally edit & prepare it ready for print.

The content is very much in the development phase at the moment which is why between now and when the course goes 'live' I'm running a series of 'testers'. The 'testers' or 'mini courses' I'm using to get out and teach off camera flash techniques but the main objective is to get masses of feedback so that I can over time, fine tune what it is I want to deliver and how.

The first 'InSight' Workshop tester was held last week in Old Amersham on what turned out to be a very cold and wet November day. I met up with the five photographers who were attending at around 11.30am in Starbucks, for the essential coffee, where we talked through kit and then ventured outside to go through an overview of how to use the cameras 'Manual' controls to get the desired look in the photo.

The rest of the afternoon was spent photographing our model Caroline, who very kindly gave up her own time to help out.

The weather played a big part in how the afternoon progressed but by no means put a 'dampener' on things as we managed to work through a couple of 'in the open' shots before the heavens opened and the rain came down but then ventured into a covered brick market place which then gave us a few more lighting options.

Overall a great afternoon where it was clear that alot was learned both by the attendees and me.

I plan to hold another 'tester' Workshop on the 19th December 2009 in Windsor, Berkshire. The numbers are limited to six photographers so if you'd like to come along then please get in touch by email and I'll send you out more details.

*NB...The 'tester' workshops are free to attendees; all I ask is that you give brutal, honest feedback (I've got broad shoulders so I can take it)

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