My Blog

Critiquing Photo Critiques

One of the best ways to improve your photography (other than by shooting lots) is to objectively examine your work and let others do so too.

audienceIt seems there are as many ways as there are people to deliver a critique for an image.  Some concentrate on the technical, supposedly objective, aspects that anyone can see; some on the storyline; some on the overall presentation.  Feedback can range from how the image makes the viewer feel, right through to steps to “fix” it.

This post gives you my take on critiques.  It’s my opinion.  My critique of critiques. Continue reading “Critiquing Photo Critiques”

Blend Modes – Learning to Love Them

No matter what editing software you use today, it will likely include layers, masking and blend modes (also known as blending modes).  Everybody’s doing it now – Photoshop and Lightroom, of course, but also ON1, Luminar, Topaz, etc.

orange-translate-buttonAnd the more software that includes blend modes, the more frustrated I get at their lack of ability to explain in plain English exactly what they are.  I’ve read countless blogs, gone to workshops partly to understand them, watched countless YouTube videos looking to make sense of them, and more often than not, the recommendation of the instructor is simply to try them and see what happens.  My brain needs more.  I want to be able to explain them.  This post will try to do that.

Before you run screaming from the room, I’m not going to give you the item by item breakdown of all of the blend modes available in any software.  My intent is to help you understand what a blend mode does generally and how to make a choice among the ones you have available in your software. Continue reading “Blend Modes – Learning to Love Them”

How Important are Megapixels?

Whenever I look at a new camera (purely for interest these days), the first stat I normally read is the megapixel count.  There seems to be a lot riding on this one number, as though it somehow conveys the quality of the images you will obtain and the performance of the camera in different conditions.  We’re also taught generally that bigger is better.

Sony

Sony recently announced its 61 megapixel flagship.  61 megapixels is surely “better” than the 24 megapixels of my Fuji or the 20 megapixels of my aging but trusty Canon.  On all counts, nothing could be further from the truth.  Here’s why. Continue reading “How Important are Megapixels?”

The Changing Face of Photo Editing

A bit late with this post.  It is summer, after all, here in Canada.

A couple of new announcements in July caught my attention because I use both products but also because they are clear examples of the changing face of photo editing.

Attention - Hot NewsSkylum announced the upcoming release of Luminar 4, scheduled for sometime in the fall.  Originally released in 2017, the company and the product have gone through some interesting evolutions.

Topaz Labs released the next version of its Studio software, completely redesigning the interface, and redefining its associated pricing model.

Both products are standalone photo editors.  Both products also provide plugin options for Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.  But that’s not what makes them interesting. Continue reading “The Changing Face of Photo Editing”

Knowing What To Do (with an Image)

Lots of articles are written about gear, editing software, and training for both.  Lots more are written about composition – rules and tips.  Lighting, time of day, angle, selecting the subject – all of these receive wide commentary from writers, vloggers and trainers alike.

PuzzlementI can shoot an image, I can even stage a scene.  But more often than I would like, I completely blank out when I bring the raw image onto the computer.  I ask myself – now what?  What’s the final look I want to achieve with this image?  How should I present it?

To those photographers who always know what the result will be, even before they shoot, I applaud you.  I’ve listened to photographers speak of their work in exquisite detail, outlining every capture and adjustment decision and why they made it.  I envy them.

I have friends who deliberately do minimal edits.  I have others who retouch to the point of the original piece serving only as a framework for a piece of art.  Frankly, I rarely like either extreme.  So I guess I’ve made my first decision – establishing a boundary around my edits.

Why is it so hard to know what to do next?  A few random thoughts come to mind. Continue reading “Knowing What To Do (with an Image)”

Lessons Learned from Two Weeks Away

Newfoundland_mapI’ve just returned from a two week trip to Newfoundland.  If you have not been to the east coast of Canada, make a plan to go.  It is an amazing experience – socially, culturally, but also photographically.

It’s my longest trip ever (yes, I lead a sheltered life) and the first time I’ve seen the Atlantic ocean (see what I mean about sheltered?).  I saw and heard a lot, but also learned a lot.  I’ll deal with the latter in this post. Continue reading “Lessons Learned from Two Weeks Away”

Scene Compression Uncompressed

I read a lot of blogs, follow a lot of YouTube channels and subscribe to many “handy tips” postings that come into my mailbox daily.  One such recent posting was from Tim Grey, a respected Photoshop expert and professional photographer.

Grey Learning

Viewers had posted questions about the long standing belief that as you use lenses of longer and longer focal length, and compare the same scene shot through these different lenses, the apparent separation between foreground and background diminishes with focal length.  In fact, this has been a long accepted “generality”, passed on from photographer to photographer, that scene “compression” occurs with telephoto lenses.  But as with many things, the details get somewhat “blurry” (pardon the pun) and the specifics of the effect are often not explained. Continue reading “Scene Compression Uncompressed”