Getting Good Bokeh

Another short presentation to my local photography club.  Last time I spoke, it was about preventing blurry photographs.  This time, it’s about deliberately blurring the background to make the subject stand out.  This is useful when the background is busy or unappealing or needs an artistic touch to be more interesting.  Have a look.

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Here are links to the resources referenced in the slides:

Bokeh Basics

Bokeh the Easy Way

Bokeh in Front of the Subject

Advanced Bokeh

Seriously Adobe?

A few days ago, Adobe launched its latest versions of Lightroom and Photoshop.  Strangely, this was done with little fanfare, and came as a complete surprise to me when I first saw the updates.

It’s been a long standing complaint that Adobe Lightroom is frustratingly slow to load and display images, particularly previews on import or previews when switching from Library to Develop.  Adobe promised to deal with this issue, going so far as to release a statement from photography product manager, Tom Hogarty in July.  The statement acknowledged user concerns and committed Adobe to working harder to address them.

I guess this week they delivered, but not in any way that anyone expected.  Far from being pleased, many users are puzzled and even angry at what the latest releases imply. Continue reading

Why Are My Photos Blurry?

Something a bit different for today’s post.  I gave a short presentation at my local camera club today to answer a question on why photos taken by club members are sometimes blurry.  You might find some of this information useful.  Click on the pause button to stop on any slide.

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If you would like to download a copy of the presentation, click below.  You will need either Microsoft PowerPoint or a compatible presentation viewer to open the presentation.

Why Are My Photos Blurry?

The Myth of Fast Lenses

Since I took up photography full-time 3 years ago, I’m much more informed about equipment and techniques.  There are some well-rehearsed lines in this industry:  photography is about shaping the light; remember to work the shot; don’t take pictures – make pictures.  And on and on.

Many of those tomes are also around gear – usually put out by manufacturers I think.  As an example, fast lenses (those with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or larger) are always better than other lenses.  Better for low light capture, better for managing depth of field, better for autofocus performance.  Always buy the fastest lens you can afford.

SaleWhenever I venture to purchase a new lens, I’m typically presented with the fastest lens first – the advanced option.  But the more I’ve shot, the more I’ve come to question this equipment mantra.  Most of the time, you DON’T need the fastest lens.  Here’s why. Continue reading

Competition is Good for the Soul

It’s the dog days of summer here in Canada.  Photographers everywhere are getting out to capture the hum of life.  Vacation photographs, outdoor events, family events, outdoor location shoots or special projects that have been waiting for the perfect day are all being recorded now.  Even indoor work is at its height, with many hours of natural light available to help get the best shots.

In a month, we return to routine, which for some might include membership in the local camera club or association.  I personally belong to three.  Typically on hiatus in the summer, they launch with a bang in September.  And we’ll all have lots of new material to share.  But will we? Continue reading

Black and White or Colour?

The options for manipulating an image after capture are endless today.  Creative edits can include composites, the addition of graphic elements, and the use of finishing treatments such as texture overlays, painterly conversions, grunge and high dynamic range (HDR) effects.  These are just a few possibilities.

AmericanElm_20170627_0007-Edit

But as recently as 1935, the only manipulation available to a photographer was around how much highlight and shadow to reveal in the print and where (a.k.a. dodging and burning).  All film was black and white.  The most creative photographers played with different development processes and printing surfaces, but these were all still monochrome results.  Others tried coloured filters at image capture, or layered emulsions that could produce different colours, but this made the capture and processing much more complex and the results were often poor.

KodachromeIn 1935, Eastman Kodak Company introduced Kodachrome and changed the world forever.  Despite this, colour photography did not become widespread, at least not in the consumer market, until the 1960’s.  So colour image capture has really been in broad use for just 50 years.

Today, all digital cameras capture colour data by default.  Black and white conversion is available both in-camera and through post-processing.  The irony is that the same debates about colour vs. black and white that drove the creation of Kodachrome still exist today.  Here’s my take on the creative debate. Continue reading