HDR Aesthetics

HDR imagery is expanding today’s photographic aesthetics. Identifying the characteristics of contemporary HDR images will help classicists and pioneers alike. The basic ingredients are desirable for both sensibilities, but in varying combinations and to different degrees. As with solving any problem, it’s easier if you break it down into it’s component pieces and then learn what each one does and how they interact with one another. First know what to look for. Second, know what a tool can do. Third, know how to apply a tool. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be well along the way to crafting a unique style that’s all your own.
Pronounced Shadow and Highlight Detail
Accentuated Edge Contrast
Accentuated Texture
Increased Noise
Smoothed Texture
Saturation Distortions
Read more in the current issue of Digital Photo Pro.
Learn these and other techniques in my workshops.


Half HDR

HDR Simulated

HDR Simulated With Photomatix

Limits of Photography

During our South American Cruising Through Life workshop we saw some amazing atmospheric effects: a fabulous smoky red moonrise; a moonbow with parahelia (brighter iridescent flares at the sides); and a star so bright and low on the horizon that it cast a long line of reflection in the ocean. These experiences made a lasting impression on me. I’m sure they’ll make appearances in my work. I made exposures, but none of these phenomena could be captured adequately on a moving boat. The situation and the tools at hand didn’t make finished exposures. But I’ll make finished images from the situation, using a combination of digital photography and rendering. I look forward to the day photography is able to capture images like these in these situations directly. I’m sure this won’t stop me from continuing to render images. But it will present me with new opportunities. Until then a little invention is required.
Find out more about Cruising Through Life here.
Find out more about Vincent Versace here.
Find out more about my Atmospheric FX ebooks here and here.
Find out more about my Atmospheric FX DVD here.
Read what one happy viewer though about my DVD Atmospheric FX here.
Find out more about my upcoming workshops here.
Sign up for Insights for advance notice and discounts on upcoming workshops.

Make the Weather

We had great weather on our South American Cruising Through Life workshop. Most of the tourists would agree. On the other hand the photographers might not. Only the first day and a half had much weather – fog. That’s when I got a majority of my keepers. The skies were often clear, offering only an undistinguished background of simple blue. When there were clouds they were undistinguished cumulus humilis, no cumulonimbus, no cirrus, with few sheets of stratus. The sunsets and sunrises were pretty but not distinguished. There wasn’t much wind or swell so the seas were calm. Still, I shot. I got a few quiet keepers. And a lot of raw material for composites, which will ultimately yield more dramatic results. Today, you can make the weather. Understanding the new possibilities of digital rendering opens up many new opportunities for making exposures. Once you’ve been exposed to them you’ll start seeing new possibilities.
Find out more about Cruising Through Life here.
Find out more about Vincent Versace here.
Find out more about my Atmospheric FX ebooks here and here.
Find out more about my Atmospheric FX DVD here.
Read what one happy viewer though about my DVD Atmospheric FX here.
Find out more about my upcoming workshops here.
Sign up for Insights for advance notice and discounts on upcoming workshops.

Leaves of Grass – Simulating Infrared

Looking for an infrared effect? Two options; capture in infrared or post-process to simulate infrared. Either way, the results can be compelling.
Here’s an excerpt from a statement I wrote on infrared techniques sometime ago.
“It looks like another world, yet it’s not. By opening a window into a spectrum we can’t see with the naked eye, infrared photography shows us our world in an extraordinary light … The effects are often unpredictable and almost always surprising. Perhaps, that is why this effect is so compelling.”
Read the rest of my artist’s statement here.
Read other artist’s statements here.
Find out more about black and white in my DVD Black & White Mastery.
Find out more about black and white in my Workshop Black & White Mastery.
Special discounts are available until January.

Many Ways to Convert Color to Black & White

There are over 14 ways to convert color to black and white.
1    Raw Conversion
2    Convert to Grayscale
3    Convert to Lab then convert to Grayscale keeping the L channel
4    Desaturate
5    Channel Mixer
6    Black & White Adjustment Layer
7    Dual Adjustment Layers - Dual Hue / Saturation
8    Dual Adjustment Layers - Hue / Saturation with Selective Color
9    Dual Adjustment Layers - Hue / Saturation with Channel Mixer
10    Triple Adjustment Layers - 3 Channel Mixers
11    Gradient Map
12    Calculations
13    Apply Image
14    Channels as Layers
Some of these methods aren't optimal. Some are equal. Some are superior.
Which should you use?
It depends on the image.
Sometimes a simple solution will do just as well as a complex one.
Sometimes you need the power of a more complex solution.
Here are my four favorites, ascending from simple to complex.

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Adobe Configurator

Adobe® Configurator is a utility application that helps create custom panels for Adobe Photoshop® CS4. Configurator makes it easy to drag and drop tools, menu items, scripts, actions, and other objects into a panel design, then export the results for use inside Photoshop. These panels leverage the support for Adobe Flash built into Photoshop, making it possible to drag and drop audio, video, images, and even other SWF files into a panel design.
Configurator is great for any Photoshop user who’d like to customize the application interface, without having to learn Flash/Flex/ActionScript. It’s particularly suited to authors, trainers, and other experts who’d like to create panels that make Photoshop easier to use, and who’d like to share those panels with others.
Configurator is free for anyone to use. Running the panels it generates requires installing Photoshop CS4.
Download Adobe Configurator here.
Find out more about Configurator on Principal Product Manager, Adobe Photoshop John Nack’s blog. Type in Configurator in the Search field there.
Download the Configurator guide here.

Steve Robeck – Thinking File Structure

This week at The Fine Art of Digital Printing workshop (taking place at Brooks sponsored by Epson) Mac Holbert and I reviewed file structure at the end of the week – by processing student work. Everyone participating in the workshop got a valuable review of the file building workflow Mac and I use and recommend. Steve Robeck also got more than one possible window into the art of interpreting digital files. Time and time again, you modify how you apply a tool, eliminate it from the process, or add another. In this case we added a Photo Filter adjustment layer applied selectively to the highlights to add subtle warm ambient color and we used an additional Hue/Saturation layer to increase the saturation of yellow accent colors throughout the image. Adopting a consistent file structure and working methodology is important. And, knowing when and why to make exceptions is equally important.
Look for upcoming Epson Print Academy dates here.
Check out The Fine Art of Digital Printing workshops here.
Check out my Fine Digital Print workshops here.

Bill Atkinson – Test Files

Using real world in combination with synthetic information can help you evaluate the accuracy of a color management system. It’s important to use a full spectrum of colors and information you can evaluate objectively (information you aren’t so personally invested in you may not be able to maintain objectivity while evaluating it). Bill Atkinson, one of the world’s foremost authorities on color management, offers excellent test files on his website. They’re free!
Check out Bill’s website here.
Download Bill’s test files here.
Download my test files here.
Learn more in my DVD.
Learn more in my workshops.
See the printers in action in my workshops.

Fine Art Workflow – Seminar – Barriers of Flexibility

Today I present a seminar Fine Art Workflow with R Mac Holbert at PhotoPlus East in New York City.
Flexibility is one of the things we both emphasize in our seminars and workshops. Flexibility is an essential quality to preserve in your worfklow(s). You may change your mind in the future. You might have missed something in the past; you might learn something new; you might form a different opinion; things change and your workflow and files should be able to accommodate change. (Of course, this means allowing deliberate change not introducing unintentional change.) You want to be able to make a change as quickly and precisely as possible, without having to change everything
or repeat all your other successes. The practices you adopt in your workflow will determine how much and what kind of flexibility you preserve. Knowing what to avoid is as important as knowing what to do. Avoid practices that limit flexibility.
Here are 11 barriers.
1   resample resolution (lowering is worse than raising)
2   lower bit depth (8-16 bit)
3   convert to smaller gamut editing space
4   crop (mask instead)
5   erase pixels
6   work directly on the background
7   rasterize type
8   rasterize Smart Object and Smart Filters
9   apply masks permanently
10   merge layers
11   flatten
Can you name more? Comment here!
Check out my free download Barriers of Flexibility here.
Check out PhotoPlus here.
Check out my workshops here.