Creating Photos With Realism

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Have you seen the photo that looks so real it almost comes off of the page or draws you into it? Have you seen one that gives you the sense of actually being there? Does it seem like you are there where the photographer was and now seeing it with your own eyes?

If you have, you’ve probably seen a photo that has one or more of the following qualities that make it look realistic. Continue reading

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“Photo Editing Overview – Caribbean Sailboat” by @larslentz of NegativeMoments.com on Vimeo

Here is a video showing my edit of one of my photos. In it, I show you the software I used, the basic techniques, and why I did what I did.

Watch the video in the player on this page, and switch to full screen to see better. HD also helps see more detail.

Thank you for watching!

Microstock Photo Rewards and Rejections

I’ve submitted many photos to microstock sites (sites that sell stock photos) and have had many rejections. All my rejected photos are perfectly good – even excellent.  However, the microstock sites have their specific criteria, and they are very, very picky.  Rejections are either for the noise of various kinds or content.

I’ve developed a technique that works to clean up the photos for submission that I will share with you in an upcoming post.  As for the content, now that’s a different story, and you have to learn what these sites want before shooting and uploading.  The microstock sites themselves will have content guides to help you.

With all the difficulty and prospects of rejection, why bother with microstock sites?

Continue reading

Expose to the Right? NO! Go left!

Exposure

“Expose to the right” has been a popular saying and method of exposure for digital photographers for years, and it works in some cases. I’ll show you how to go the other way and make it work also. Maybe the time of “expose to the right” is almost over (in some cases). Here’s why… Continue reading

Color Saturation – What is the limit?

I’m sure you’ve see what you think are “over-saturated” photos — those with too much color. But how much is too much?

The traditional way to judge this is purely subjectively by your own opinion and taste. Maybe you like more saturation or maybe you don’t. Maybe it fits with a particular subject and not with others. There are many variables to this and each needs further explanation and a breakdown. You’ll see, you have some decisions to make and a few tools that will help you: Continue reading

Capturing Color – What You See vs. What Your Camera Sees

I just returned from a trip to the Caribbean island of Grand Cayman and the colors of the ocean were so beautiful there. They were every shade of blue to green that you could think of, and I just knew I would never be able to do those colors justice in my camera images. Why? I know that my eyes capture more colors than any camera ever will… Continue reading

Highlight Recovery

I believe that a highlight recovery tool should never be used, but if it is unavoidable, then here is how I use it.

Highlight recovery is a technique where you try to get back the details in the brightest, blown-out, areas of a photo through software processing. I use Lightroom for this, but just about any image post-processing software has a control for this.

If you’re forced into using highlight recovery tools, then it means that you have portions of your image where the highlights (brightest areas) are blown out (overexposed and white). You use the highlight recovery tool to regain detail in those blown out areas, taking them out of their featureless state.

First, I would try to avoid having blown out highlights by… Continue reading

A Chromatic Aberration Eraser in Lightroom

Chromatic aberration (purple fringe or other color anomalies around bright to dark transitions) is an annoying thing in photos and can easily sneak into one of your’s!

You can see it in the photo I have here around the dark legs of this structure. It is the magenta lining on the left and the aqua on the right of each of the legs. Click on the photo to see it larger if needed.

You may miss it the first time looking at the photo because you’re interested in the composition or overall color, sharpness, etc. (as you should be). But, looking closely, you will find it in almost all of the photos you take.  It is sometimes an aqua, magenta, blue, or yellow lining of darker objects on lighter backgrounds. In older cameras, it was purple, giving it the nickname of “purple fringe.” Fortunately, in Lightroom, there are two or three ways to get rid of this annoying item.

Here are the three ways that I get rid of chromatic aberration using Lightroom: Continue reading

Neat Image Noise Removal Optimum Settings

I’ve tried all of the popular software packages for removing noise from my photos and I’ve found that Neat Image works the best. But, for as good as it works, there are settings that can be made that will make it work even better. Here’s what I’ve experimented with and found out about setting up  this fantastic software.

First I would recommend that you get a noise profile for your input device (camera). There are profiles available at the Neat Image website and they are easy to install. This improves the profiling. If you don’t have a profile installed though, auto profiling works just fine too. Continue reading

HDR Overdone – Sacrificing Light and Dark

HDR techniques can help photos – even if it is only a single-image RAW file where the HDR technique is applied.  I’ve had success with this in HDR Express, HDR Expose, Photomatix Pro, and Dynamic Photo HDR software. However, HDR can be overdone and this is when a photo goes from looking realistic to totally (or partially) unreal. Here is one major flaw I see in most HDR photos, and even in the ones that are well-done.

Just because HDR can bring out every detail in the shadows and highlights, that doesn’t mean that it is best for a photo. My objective in photography is to use all of the dynamic range possible to faithfully represent what I saw when I was taking the photo. My eyes may be able to make out some detail in the shadows, for example, but that does not mean that I value those details in my overall view. Neither should my photo. Those shadows should remain primarily dark. The same goes for the highlights. Continue reading

How to Paint with Light

Painting With Light

“Painting with light” is a term I give any photo where I selectively lighten or darken areas of it to make it more appealing.

Here is an example in Lightroom showing the original photo on the left and the enhanced one on the right. Tone adjustments were made to give color and luminance balance to the image, but then I lightened selected areas because it was still flat and drab. Lifeless. Continue reading

The Barbell Strategy…for photos

What is the Barbell Strategy?

I first read about the barbell strategy in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book The Black Swan. In it he claims basically that investments should be mostly (80%) safe, with a few (20%) very risky, but none in the intermediate. This strategy works for me with my investments where I have 20% in risky stocks (growth, emerging, etc), 80% in safe stocks (bonds, etc), and none (0%) in between . But what does this have to do with photography?

You can apply this same principle to your photography both in post-processing and during capture! Continue reading

Analyzing Photos Taken by the “Masters”

How can you tell if you are making your photographs look as good as the “masters” in the field of photography? One way is to do an analysis of their images using Lightroom or similar software. I used Lightroom for this example.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. I captured a photo from the “master” artist/photographer that I wanted to emulate.  I chose Peter Lik for this example because he is a great landscape photographer in my opinion. Here is a copy of one of his most beautiful photos from his website. You should choose whomever you want based on who’s works you find the best and whom you want to be most like in making your own. When doing this, don’t feel that you have to get full-size images. I took mine from his site at a low resolution and low size. This works just fine. Continue reading

Lightroom Workflow

My Lightroom Workflow

I use Adobe Lightroom for my photo processing needs and I have a workflow that I will share here with you. Please use it whole or in part as you need. I’m not going to show you each detail, but all the information you need will be in here. I’m writing it as if I’m telling myself what to do so if it seems direct, well, it was meant to be that way. Continue reading

90% JPEG Quality

Here is a short but useful piece of advice when it comes to saving your JPEG files:

Save them at 90% quality.

It saves space on your hard drive like you can’t believe.
It saves you time when uploading to your photo site(s).
They look the same as if you saved them at 100%.
You take advantage of the JPEG compression algorithm, using it for what it was meant, where at 100% you do not.

Downsides? Continue reading