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One Simple Way To Make Photoshop’s Go To Filter High Pass Even More Useful

Indispensable, Photoshop’s High Pass filtration offers contrast and detail enhancement effects no other tool does. Some tools get close, but they’re not the same. 

(Read Curves, Clarity, Dehaze, High Pass, Texture and Sharpening Compared.)

High Pass filtration slip streams between detail enhancement or sharpening (at a low setting) and luminosity contrast adjustment (at a high setting). The two are intimately tied to one another and the difference is really just the granularity that the contrast is applied with. At a low setting High Pass filtration accentuates contrast along contours with a thin feathered line, while the flat gray areas surrounding contours on the high pass layer tend not to accentuation texture or noise. At a high setting High Pass filtration creates stronger contrast so broadly feathered that it creates a localized vignetting effect, accentuating the illusion of volume in the process.

(Read more here on How To Apply High Pass Filtration.)

The intensity of either or both of these high pass effects can be accentuated by adding more contrast to the high pass layer with Curves. Unlike raising the High Pass filter slider while you apply it, which increases the width of the lines on it, increasing the contrast of the layer with Curves does not; it simply makes the lines darker and the haloes brighter.

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Three Ways To Tell A Story More Creatively – It, I, You

Using words can help you find new perspectives that can be translated into images. How? Tell a story, from at least three different points of view – it, I, and you.

First, tell the story in the third person (it) as a distant observer – “Just the facts ma’am.” 

What images are needed to tell your viewers a complete story about your subject?

This perspective tends to be more objective, emphasizing facts and linear timelines so you do more research. It values clarity, balance (all sides of a story), and completeness (the whole story). It tends to avoid metaphor and stylistic distortion. It’s rarely the easiest way to build empathy for you subject. Be careful not to keep too much distance from your subject and find ways to make your viewers care.

Next, tell the story in the first person (I) as an involved participant – “How do I feel?” 

What images are needed to tell your viewers the story or you experience with your subject?

This perspective makes it personal and so draws your viewers closer to you by helping them to live vicariously. This viewpoint can become highly subjective and opens up a lot of room for interpretation. It can become like a journal. In translating this to images you might include the traces of things you do and leave behind or even yourself. (Go ahead and stand by or with your subject but be careful not to leave your subject behind.)

Finally, tell the story in the second person (you) as if you were the subject – “How does it feel to be you?” 

What images are needed to tell your subject’s story from the inside out?

This perspective encourages empathy, initially in you and later in your viewers. You can move deeper into this perspective by asking, “If I were you I would sense, think, and feel …” It might seem strange at first to do this with inanimate subjects – like rocks or buildings or roads. Remembering what it was like to be a kid playing these kinds of games will help you a great deal here. (We all know how creative kids can be, so have fun and play a little.) This perspective may encourage you to photograph from different perspectives; get closer or further, lower or higher, or turn around and photograph what your subject might see. Often, this voice will help you discover the most unusual perspectives.

 

Read more in my Storytelling resources.

Learn more in my Creativity & Photography workshops.

The Quickest Way To Get 200% Or More From Lightroom’s Adjustment Sliders

Did you ever wish you could get more out of a slider in Lightroom (or Adobe Camera Raw)?

Here’s how to go beyond the maximum amount a slider allows.

Use Create New Mask and make a Gradient or Brush … outside the image area. Click the gradient outside the border and drag away from it. Or, click the brush outside the border and check the Invert box. Then use one or more sliders to go beyond their maximums. 

You can do this as many times as you like. 150%, 200%, 300%, 400%, 500% … there’s no limit.

This is faster and more uniform (less uneven) than brushing the entire frame.

This only works with the sliders available in the Masking panel.

If you want to do this with sliders that aren’t in the Masking panel, open the file in Photoshop and apply the Camera Raw filter.

Find more resources on Raw processing here.
Learn more in my digital photography workshops.

The Art of Visual Storytelling – Sarah Leen & John Paul Caponigro

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Tuesday, December 14, 2021 – 6:00-7:00 pm (Mountain Time)
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Creativity Continues at Santa Fe Workshops with The Art of Visual Storytelling, a conversation between photo editor Sarah Leen and photographic artist John Paul Caponigro.

During this informative and captivating hour, Sarah and John Paul discuss personal projects and how they often lead us deeper into creativity and to our greatest growth both personally and professionally. But how do you start and sustain them towards completion?

Sarah and John Paul dive deeply into the craft of visual storytelling, essential skills for every photographer that will inspire a lifetime of creative exploration. Through the fine art of deliberate image selection, you can transform a collection of photographs into a compelling, dynamic narrative. Join them to learn strategies for choosing, combining, and sequencing diverse images into cohesive bodies of work for presentation online, in print, or for exhibition. We’ll celebrate personal projects as our best way to discover and develop our authentic visual voices. You’ll see real-world examples and hear the stories behind them that are sure to inspire you. This program finishes with a lively question and answer session open to all participants.

Join Santa Fe Workshops worldwide community of photographers and writers as Creativity Continues this fall.

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The Art of Visual Storytelling – An Evening with John Paul Caponigro & Sarah Leen

Tuesday, December 14, 6:00-7:00 pm (Mountain Time)

Creativity Continues at Santa Fe Workshops with The Art of Visual Storytelling, a conversation between photo editor Sarah Leen and photographic artist John Paul Caponigro.

During this informative and captivating hour, Sarah and John Paul discuss personal projects and how they often lead us deeper into creativity and to our greatest growth both personally and professionally. But how do you start and sustain them towards completion?

Sarah and John Paul dive deeply into visual storytelling, an essential skill for every photographer. Through the fine art of deliberate image selection, you can transform a collection of photographs into a compelling, dynamic narrative. Join them to learn strategies for choosing, combining, and sequencing diverse images into cohesive bodies of work for presentation online, in print, or for exhibition. You see real-world examples and hear the stories behind them that are sure to inspire you. This program finishes with a lively question and answer session open to all participants.

Join Santa Fe Workshops worldwide community of photographers and writers as Creativity Continues this fall.

Find out more about Sarah Leen here.

Register for this free event now.

 

A Quick Q&A On The Importance Of Photo Editing With Sarah Leen

Tuesday, December 14, 6:00-7:00 pm (Mountain Time)

Creativity Continues at Santa Fe Workshops with The Art of Visual Storytelling, a conversation between photo editor Sarah Leen and photographic artist John Paul Caponigro.

Register for this free event now.

Sarah Leen offers many insights into the importance of photo editing.

What are some of the benefits of developing projects?

It is to the photographer’s advantage to work on something they feel passionate about. It can lead to the creation of a body of work that might draw in clients, exhibits or assignments that could support the project. Be the captain of your own fate! 

Are you more satisfied with a single image or a project?

A project can give me a better idea of how the photographer’s mind works, and it shows that they can sustain and accomplish a project from inception to completion. Out of the project comes the single images I like for my walls!

When you’re faced with many possibilities how do you recommend, we choose between possible projects?

What is the work you want to be known for? What is the work that you will do whether you are being paid or not? Follow your bliss and your passion for a project and you won’t go wrong. 

How do you know you’re done?

Great question! Some projects are never done. They continue to evolve into another chapter or form. So, if it is helpful you might need to give yourself some deadlines. Ask yourself is it ready to become a book? An exhibition? A magazine story. This will help you focus your work and give you something to reach for and look forward to. 

How often do you find that projects incorporate more than one form of presentation – website, audio-visual presentation, exhibit, publication, etc.

Often. A project can be, and perhaps should be, many things. There are so many ways to reach your audience and find new audiences for your work that utilizing more of them will help broaden the reach and audience for you work. 

What are your thoughts on how much or how little text to include with photographs?

I like to know what I am looking at. That is the photojournalist in me. But, depending on the platform where the work will live, the information does not always need to be contiguous with the images. So, the information could be at the back of the book or in small text with the image or in the image catalog for the exhibition. Or in a separate document that comes with a print. Obviously, for an editorial use like a magazine or a website more information will be needed, and it would reside with the image.

What kinds of texts work better than others?

For an editorial project, the 5 Ws are key. Who, What, Where, Why and When? For a more artistic production like an exhibit, an art book, or prints, that is probably not necessary. I like to know where an image was taken and when. But that might just be me. 

Do you advise artists to write their own texts or find a writer to write for them?

Really depends on where the work will live. For an editorial publication, they will most likely have their own writer they want to use but there are always exceptions. But for a photobook, I love to hear the photographer’s voice. While an intro or preface or an essay to accompany a book is a great place to bring other voices. 

How often do projects finish exactly the way they were conceived?

Being flexible to chance and serendipity is a good attitude to have. Be open to all possibilities and welcome surprises. That may be where the really good stuff lives. 

How often do you find that one project leads another?

I think the photographers who have been able to sustain a long career are always finding ways to evolve their ideas into the next one. A body of work can have any chapters and iterations. 

What are the most important things that a picture editor brings to a project?

Another set of trusted eyes who can give you honest feedback and encouragement. A shoulder you can cry on or celebrate with. Someone to brainstorm with and who brings an often-needed skill set to the table just when you need it. 

Is picture editing a talent you’re born with or skill that can be learned?

Good question. I don’t know. Starting out as a photographer taught me how to edit first my own work and then others. As a photographer, you are editing every time you make an image. You have made many choices as to where to photograph, what to photograph, what is inside or outside the frame. So, it can be a natural progression to continue that process when looking at the images after they are made. What to keep and elevate and what to let go. 

How have your picture editing skills helped advance your own photography?

As per above being a photographer first advanced my photo editing skills for sure.

What personal benefits do you receive from teaching?

Oh, so much personal satisfaction when a photographer succeeds, when they have learned a new skill and the light bulbs are coming on over their heads. And when they are inspired with new ideas and new motivation for their work. It is totally like being a mother with a child in a talent show. I am totally invested in their success. Their success is my success. 

Find out more about Sarah Leen here.

Register for our free webinar now.

 

The Great Animal Orchestra: Bernie Krause and United Visual Artists

The Great Animal Orchestra from United Visual Artists on Vimeo.

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The Great Animal Orchestra on view at The Peabody Essex Museum November 20, 2021 through May 22, 2022

The Peabody Essex Museum and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain are proud to present the North American premiere of The Great Animal Orchestra.

Step into an immersive audio-visual experience that celebrates our planet’s rich biodiversity. Over the course of nearly fifty years, Bernie Krause collected more than 5,000 hours of recordings of natural environments, including at least 15,000 terrestrial and marine species from around the world.

Trained as a musician, Krause found animal vocalizations in the natural world to be akin to musical harmony and orchestral organization. Krause’s soundscapes reveal that within any ecosystem, each species has its own acoustic niche and human activities are increasingly silencing these great animal orchestras. United Visual Artists (UVA) worked with Krause to visualize these recordings as animated spectrograms, which immerse us in the heart of these wild soundscapes. This unique installation makes a plea for preserving the wondrous diversity of the animal world.

The Great Animal Orchestra, a collaboration between Bernie Krause and United Visual Artists, was commissioned in 2016 by the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, and is now part of its permanent collection. The exhibition is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain.

Why Defocussing Your Images Will Help You See Them Better

It’s easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees.

We’re capable of seeing a lot of detail. Sometimes detail is distracting. Eliminating it can help us see fundamentals more clearly.

1     Frame an image.
2     Defocus your lens enough to lose sight of details.
3     Refine your composition by moving the camera or zooming.
4     Refocus.
5     Expose.

You can also do this with existing exposures to better see distracting elements that can be made less distracting or removed altogether.

Images that contain well-rendered detail without a solid compositional structure often appear cluttered and confusing. Develop the habit of slowing down and taking the time to make sure your compositions are as strong as they can be.

Find more resources on Composition here.
Learn more in my digital photography workshops.

Photoshop’s Amazing Colorize Filter Offers Many More Features

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Colin Smith shows often overlooked additional controls in the Photoshop Neural Filter Colorize. Convert black and white photos to color instantly and then learn these tools to perfect results.

Find out more from Colin Smith at Photoshop Cafe.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

The Big Overview – The Key Reasons Why Your Tools Matter When Printing

Prints are produced by not one but many things – a system.  You can make better prints if you understand how each of the tools you use to make them influences quality. In addition, you’ll be able to identify and come up with solutions for problems you run into, now or in the future.

I’ve written whole articles on each one of these components (Follow this article with the individual ones you’d like more clarity on.), nevertheless, rather than having to piece all of that information together, I find it’s also useful to have a broad overview of how the whole system works.

Here’s a quick survey of why each element of a printing system matters.

 

Camera                        resolution – dynamic range – bit depth

Lens                              sharpness – low distortion – few artifacts

Editing Space             saturation

Bit Depth                     gradation

Software                      color – detail – composition

Monitor                        accurate preview – saturation – brightness of white

Printer                          ink – size

Ink                                 black – saturation – longevity

Paper                            whites – materials

Printer Profile           accurate color – graybalance

Light                              how well you can see

 

 

I’m currently testing the Fuji GFX 100

100 mp / 14 bit / ISO 12,800 expandable to 102,400

Camera

resolution – dynamic range – bit depth

A camera’s chip determines how much detail it can render with three primary characteristics – resolution (sharpness), dynamic range (shadows and highlights), and bit depth (gradation). More is better. It’s easier to throw away what you don’t need than create it.

Among several lenses, I favor the Fuji 32-64mm

Lens

sharpness – low distortion – few artifacts

Good lenses are sharper, better lenses maintain that sharpness edge to edge, while the best lenses also produce beautiful bokeh (depth of field blur). Good lenses are also free of distortion and artifacts like chromatic aberration. Fixing these things in post-production can sometimes be arduous and at a certain point impossible.

Prophoto is bigger than Adobe RGB and sRGB

I edit in ProPhoto RGB

Editing Space

saturation

Pro-Photo RGB can hold all of the saturation your camera can capture while other standard editing spaces cannot. If you use one of the smaller spaces (like Adobe RGB or sRGB) you may lose and not be able to produce that saturation.

Read more here.

I edit in 16-bit

Bit Depth

gradation

16 bit’s thousands of shades of gray don’t give you more separation in prints. Printers can take 16-bit data but they can only print 256 shades of gray. Editing in16-bit eliminates the possibility of producing posterization (which can produce harsh graphic transitions and/or noise).

Read more here.

I use Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop together.

Software

color – detail – composition

You can pretty much change anything about the way your images look … for better or worse.

Good software lets you be more precise and go further. Better software does it more easily without cutting corners.

For traditionalists, it’s shadow and highlight detail, midtone contrast, color clarity, sharpness and reduced noise.

For non-traditionalists, it’s the ability to produce unique color palettes, special effects, and composites.

Read more on color here.

Read more on detail here.

Read more on composition here.

I use an NEC PA311D

Monitor

accurate preview – saturation – brightness of white

What could be more important than seeing your images accurately while you’re editing them? Good monitors can be calibrated to a device neutral standard that shows you what your images truly look like now and in the future (when you replace your current monitor). 

Better monitors render more saturation. (Currently, the best monitors can show you almost all of the values in Adobe RGB.) 

The best monitors can be tuned to show you the white of your print more accurately.

Read more here.

I use Epson’s P900 and 9000

Printer

ink – size

A printers manufacturer determines which ink set you’ll use. 

A printer’s series determines which of the manufacturer’s inkset you’ll use.

A printer’s model determines how big you can print.

Additionally, a printer’s head also impacts speed.

 

I use Epson’s Ultrachrome HDX ink

Ink

black – saturation – longevity

The ink you use has a huge impact on print quality and longevity … but to see what it can do you need paper.

Read more here.

Ink & Paper

black – saturation – longevity

Together, ink and paper determine … 

Black

The black of the ink and the white of the paper set the limits of a print’s contrast ratio. 

No matter how much ink you put down on some substrates you won’t get a blacker black and each substrate has an ink limit, which is the maximum amount of ink that can be put down before detail starts being lost.

Saturation

Good inks and paper coatings produce more saturation in all colors.

Longevity & Durability

Some are more archival than others. (Visit Wilhelm Research for reliable data.)

I use Epson’s Legacy Fibre and Legacy Platine papers

Paper or Substrate

whites – materials

Substrates determine an image’s white (where the ink doesn’t go) and so contrast ratio. A brighter, bluer white is more versatile, but may or may not be as archival.

Only paper (or substrate if it’s canvas, plastic, metal, wood, etc) can give your images a look and feel. It’s first and foremost about the physical characteristics of materials including things like reflectivity and texture.

Read more here.

Photo papers have greater gamuts than matte because of their blacker blacks.

I use Epson’s profiles

Printer Profile

accurate color – graybalance – gradation – shadow and highlight detail

A good profile can be more than getting a good match with your screen. But it can be more. Poor profiles can cause color shifts, reduce saturation, produce posterization, and even lose shadow and highlight detail.

If you’re using Epson profiles for Epson papers, you’re in good shape. Epson makes great profiles for their papers. But if you’re using a third-party or hand-made substrate you need a good profile. Don’t assume that the profiles you download from websites are good. Test them. If they’re not great, get a professional to build one for you. Or, build your own.

Read more here.

I use Solux 3500K lights

Light

how well you can see good results

Event the best print can’t be seen in the dark. To be seen well, good prints need good light. 

Think about three things …

1 Use a generous amount of light. Not so much light that it creates eye strain but use a lot. Good prints glow when they reflect light but they need enough light to create that glow.

2 Use the right color temperature. If you can’t control the light people view your prints in, assume it’s warmer than 5000K (most people prefer warmer light, like 3500K) and make your prints look good in a similar light.

3 If you really want to dial in the color for your exhibits (or your clients) recommend a full spectrum light source (like Solux) that doesn’t make one color look more saturated than another and so preserves the color relationships you produced in your prints.

Read more here.

It takes some initial research and testing to find the tools that are best for you but once you settle on a system of your own you only occasionally have to repeat this and only for specific components. It gets easier because you have a baseline. All you have to do is ask how much better can the new gear do and is it worth the cost and effort?

Meanwhile, if you run into issues (like my blacks aren’t black enough or my colors aren’t saturated enough or I’m losing detail) you’ll know which pieces of your system to tweak to get better results.

 

Read more on Color Management here.

Read more on digital Printing here.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.