Thursday, 30 June 2011

Brad Trent's Ocean Master Session, Pt. 2

ED. NOTE: This is the final in a series of guest posts, which were so helpful during a very hectic spring. Many thanks to Miller Mobley, Finn O'Hara, John Keatley, Chris Crisman and Brad Trent for the assist. -DH

When last we left Brad, he was waiting patiently for the pool to fill up. Today, he'll walk through that part of the shoot and the post processing he used to get the final image, seen above.

Sortaa cool, IMO, as this is frequently the "black box" part of these kinds of shoots that usually goes unexplained...

Remember the kiddie pool? Well, it was almost 4:00PM and after about 7 hours of filling, it was finally reaching a depth where we could start thinking of throwing Nadia in for a swim.

The idea was to have her floating in ominous, dark, inky water. But it still had to have enough detail so that it wouldn?t come across as just an oily black mess. I had done a shot years ago where I had to do something similar. So using the tricks I learned back then, we went about creating the ocean in a kid?s pool.

First, we had to line the pool with the heavy black plastic vapor barrier sheeting I got from Home Depot. Next was building a Bargain Basement shooting platform so that I could shoot from directly above where Nadia would be floating. If we had a the money, a real scaffold would be where those two ladders and that board are standing!

Once we had everything heavily sandbagged and tied off (live electricity and water?!!) It was now time for Nadia to get wet and for us to see how the lighting was looking. Initially I thought that keeping it simple with the Beauty Dish as a main light and a 6? Chimera to act as both fill and create highlights on the water would work.

But the highlights were to subtle, so we swapped out the 6? bank and went with a couple of smaller strip lights and a third bare head to really get the water sparkling.

The look on my face says a lot?

We still weren?t getting the kind of highlights on the water I was hoping for. But the simple fact was we were already running way overtime, so I made the decision that a lot of this shot was going to be made in post. I processed a couple of files in Photoshop to make sure I had the detail I needed. Then we shot some frames with Nadia out of the pool so that I would have good water effects.

All that was left to do was empty almost 2,000 gallons of water into the street ? on one of the coldest nights of the year!

Of course the drain hose wasn?t any help, so we had to resort to bailing the water into the street ourselves.

It took three of us over an hour and a half to get the pool emptied and West 12th street was a skating rink for days.

All that was left to do now was to take this admittedly unremarkable image...

? and through some Photoshop magic make it into the cover. Without getting too technical, here is the Cliff's Notes breakdown of the steps I used to do just that.

1. The canvas size was widened to a 300dpi, 22" x 30" horizontal, and the water was cloned to fill in all that new empty space. Next I added layers of more waves and highlights (over 20 layers in total) from the separate water shots we did at the end of the shoot. I used the ?skew,' ?distort? and ?warp? tools to give the wave layers a realistic appearance.

2. With the waves and highlights looking more or less the way they should, I could now concentrate on retouching skin details and pulling up more shadow detail out of Nadia?s hair. For her hair, I copied the area, applied a good dose of shadow detail, then merged it back down to the base image layer.

I then applied even more shadow detail to the entire image area to bring up the shine on the black plastic sheeting at the bottom of the pool. (Remember I said I had processed a few files during the shoot to check for detail? This was the detail I was looking for.) The wrinkles and puckers in the plastic actually helps give the water its rolling, wave-like appearance.

While the overall image looks extremely flat now, I knew that further down the road the increased contrast I planned to add would balance out nicely?

3. The image layer is duplicated, then set to ?overlay? mode at 100% opacity, and the High Pass filter set at 150 pixels is applied. This layer is then desaturated.

4. To give the water some color, above the High Pass layer I add an overlay layer with 50% grey added, then I color correct this layer to give it an overall blue tint. I then erase the areas where Nadia is to reveal the correct color below the blue layer so only the water is affected.

5. Adjustment Layers for color correction, selective color, curves and levels are added.

6. I could have stopped with the previous step, but I still wanted to heighten the overall ghostly feel of the shot, so I once again duplicated the base image layer, then moved it above all of the other layers. I then applied a Gaussian Blur (30 pixels) to this layer and set its opacity at 30%. This gave the skin a glowing, opalescent look and also increased the overall contrast even more.

A final color correction adjustment layer is added with a clipping mask to the Gaussian Blur layer and I shifted the overall color further into the blue/green spectrum. Here again is the final image?..

There?simple! 33 layers and a final file size of only 1.32gb(!) And after a more than 15-hour day, 6 different shots, 800 exposures and 2,000 gallons of water left freezing up West 12th Street, we were done!

Nadia?s album, ?The Ocean Master? is set to be released any minute. Head over to her website and give her a look!

Indeed. And if you want links to Brad's various channels, they are listed at the bottom of Part 1.

Thanks, Brad!


Next: Concert Pianist


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Long Horn Beetles

Long Horn Beetles are a group of beetles that can be unmistakably identified by their long horns that protrude from their head- hence the name. These beetles are commonly seen in India. I've managed to spot several different species of long horns and these are a few.

This is the most common species, with a distinct pattern on its body.

This is the largest I've ever seen. It was about 1.5 inches long.


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Photographers Turn to Fair Trade to Beat Microstock

Image: Courtesy PhotographersDirect Stock photographers are being squeezed from two directions. From below, microstock images are providing a mass of low-cost competition and changing the perception of the value of an image in the eyes of buyers. From above, a small group of large stock companies have the power to determine market prices and typically [...]


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ON THE TRAIL OF LIFE "World Heritage Side Serengeti - Born out of and ashes" my new book project

Dear Friends and Visitors should like to have your opinion regarding my new book project . Photos and layout is now complete. This will be the first book of a series of three i plan to produce about the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, and covers the calving period in the south-east Serengeti, at the start of the annual great migration.


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Unexpected opening for this years bear and puffin tour

A Brown Bear cub nursing, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska. An unexpected family emergency has lead to a last minute opening for my bear and puffin photo tour.� This is a rare opportunity – this tour originally sold out last October, and the 2012 tour is already half full and I haven’t even put it [...]


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Black Rapid RS-7 Camera Strap Review

I recently got my hands on what I think is the most incredible camera strap on the market today; the RS7 from the good folks over at Black Rapid. I’ve searched far and wide for a good camera strap and I definitely found it! In this review I’ll go over the pro’s and con’s of [...]

Post from: Digital Photography School's Photography Tips. Check out our resources on Portrait Photography Tips, Travel Photography Tips and Understanding Digital Cameras.


Black Rapid RS-7 Camera Strap Review


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Moths on our cabin

In addition to the plethora of birds that I was bound to see and hear at the New River Birding and Nature Festival, I eagerly anticipated encounters with other fauna that I knew would be abundant in this richly forested area of West Virginia. I had heard good things about moth encounters at the restroom at the Burnwood day-use area (directly across SR 19 from the New River Gorge Canyon Rim Visitor's Center). I've never looked forward to seeing a bathroom so much in my life! Unfortunately, many of the evenings during our week-long stay were quite cold (some nights dipping down into the 30's), and cold nights are not conducive to moth activity, no matter how attractive the lights.

As luck would have it, though, we kept the back porch light on at our cabin every night, and we were treated to some very nice moths right outside our back door on the warmer evenings. These were actually all photographed during daylight hours, and I suspect that the afternoon sun that beamed onto the wood siding on the back of the cabin was inviting to them as they warmed up in preparation for evening flight.

Here's a Rosy maple moth, Dryocampa rubicunda. This little show stopper greeted us the day we arrived at the cabin, staying tucked up against the door frame. This was my first encounter with the moth, but Nina had seen this on previous treks to New River and was able to identify it right away. As its common name implies, the host plant for Rosy maple moth caterpillars are maples, such as red maple, sugar maple and silver maple.

My moth ID skills are horrible, so I can't tell you who some of these beauties are (I can't wait until Seabrooke Leckie's new moth guide comes out in 2012!). To anyone out there who is more knowledgeable, I would love to be informed of their identities.

This moth seems like some kind of leaf mimic to me. Wonder what it would have looked like with wings spread out?

This unknown moth looks like it escaped an encounter with a predator based on the chunk missing from its wing.

Here's another one that's looking a little on the tattered side. I saw a number of these on our cabin, and they all liked tucking themselves up under the wood siding.

I really love this one for its coloring. It puts me in the mind of lichen.

This view is even better. The markings on the upper "back" look to me like closed eyes with big false eyelashes on them.

All of these moths so far are on the relatively small side (bodies a couple of inches in length, and most could probably fit on a half dollar piece with wings closed). We were very lucky, however, to see the largest moth of the trip one afternoon later in the week.

This is a member of the silkmoth family, Saturniidae, and some internet searching the day that we encountered this moth turned up the name Promethea moth, Callosamia promethea. Pretty stunning, right? Well, wait till he opens his wings - the difference is like day, and... night:

Yes, this really is two pictures of the same moth. The males can be told apart from the females by the black coloring of their open wings. The photo is blurry because this guy didn't hold his wings still once he had opened them.

Nina and I were able to snap a few photos of him with open wings before he took off, never to be seen by us again. Interestingly, Jim McCormac found a female Promethea moth hanging out on his cabin, which was maybe 200 yards away from ours. I wouldn't be at all surprised if our male moth paid his female moth a little visit, if you know what I mean. Read more about Jim's encounter with the Promethea HERE.

Having said that my moth ID skills are not very good, I came across something confusing on the Butterflies and Moths of North America website when I was trying to learn more about the Promethea moth: there is a VERY similar-looking moth called the Tuliptree silkmoth, Callosamia angulifera. Being not well-acquainted with these creatures, I never would have been able to call the ID on my own. It seems similar to the novice birder's attempt to distinguish a Downy Woodpecker from a Hairy Woodpecker, or a Cooper's Hawk from a Sharp-shinned Hawk, if you've only seen one and not the other and have no reference on size or habits. To make matters more confusing, both will use Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) as a host plant for their caterpillars, and there was an abundance of Tulip trees around our cabin.

A tidbit about the silkmoths is that the adults do not feed. They emerge from their cocoon, mate, lay eggs and die, often in a matter of days. When I learned about this a few years ago, it boggled my mind, and it still does. I imagine there has to be a name for this type of life cycle, and I've been scouring the internet for such information, but so far I have come up empty-handed. It's information and questions like these that keep me ever-interested in the complexity of nature.


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Silver-washed Fritillary.

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Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) Photo taken during a very recent visit to my favorite woodland glade within Hill House Wood at Bookham Common.


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In The Field

Cynthia and Susan in the Chugach National Forest, Alaska. Here is a quick snap from my phone of a couple of members from the film crew I worked with last week, and will be working with some more over the summer – we had a really great time!� We spent time in Seward, Cooper Landing, [...]


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The Secret of Selling Art on RedBubble

Photography: Richard Keech The usual reward that comes from creating photographic art is the praise the images generate from friends and family. Images of beauty shot from the heart might be the most satisfying kinds of photographs to take, but they?re rarely the easiest to sell. Galleries are choosy and private buyers hard to reach [...]


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BC3 Assignment #1: Profile

Welcome to the first assignment of Boot Camp 3. While this is of course a lighting boot camp, the light itself will be secondary to the photos. And the photos will be secondary to the purpose.

The purpose for BC3 will be to force you out into you community in search of well-crafted photos that actually have something to say about your community.

The First Assignment

Assignment number one is both simple and difficult. Simple in that its physical subject matter is a person. Specifically, the assignment is for a tight portrait. One that could be used as a cover image or perhaps a full-page inside lede.

But difficult in that you actually need to find and reach out to someone relevant to your community and photograph them. Someone who makes the community more interesting, or might have a story to tell. Someone who merits the thought that goes into a quality photo.

You'll have to work fast, because the deadline is 12 days from now. Which means that you should ID someone (and a fallback, probably) pretty darn ASAP. You'll need to secure permission to shoot them, find a location, photograph them and turn in the photo before deadline. (More details below.)

Put some thought into your subject. It might be a community leader. (But don't aim too high -- they might be harder to schedule). Or a performing artist. Or a worker who sends most of their income to support their family in another country. Or someone at a local startup. Or a local craftsperson.

Figuring out who to shoot will be difficult, if only because the clock is running. Maybe harder yet will be approaching them with what is basically a cold call or email. If you are totally clueless about the latter, here is an example:
"Hi. My name is [scared-to-death photographer]. I am participating in a world-wide photo project this summer. This month's assignment is to photograph someone interesting and relevant to my community, and I thought of you. [Maybe tell them why, too.]

I'd very grateful if you could help me by sitting for a photo, and [optional, if you want] I'd be happy to let you have a copy of the final image for your personal use. My deadline is [maybe fudge this forward a day or two for safety] so time is of the essence. I hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you very much,


Some Visual Tips

Less is more. Think simple. Think clean, relevant background. With regard to excess content, if it is not helping your photo it is hurting your photo. As for lighting: yes, this is about lighting, but that needs to happen in the back of your mind so you can concentrate on what is important. Think composition, pose, interaction, gesture, rapport, etc. -- create a moment.

Speaking of lighting, you are required to use a minimum of one strobe and a maximum of two. You can use speedlights or, if you use big lights they should be on low enough power so the photo could have been accomplished with speedlights. I.e., Don't do something that requires sun-nuking power. This limitation will give you lots of possibilities, yet keep things technically pretty simple.

Two speedlights is a powerful kit for close portraiture. All of the following are examples of tight portraits which were done with one or two speedlights (or big lights on low power). Posts open in a new window or tab:

Blind Snoot Portrait
Women's Lacrosse Cover
Author Manil Suri (Top picture)
Soprano Erin Holmes
Blogger Sian Meades
Conference Room Quickie

Just some examples, if you are thinking two small lights is very limiting. But remember, the lighting is just a tool. This is not a "hey, look at my lighting" boot camp. The lighting serves the photo and the photo serves the purpose. Which is to inform about a facet of your community.

How To Submit

The deadline is Saturday, July 9th, 1700 hours GMT. (That's noon Eastern in the US.)

Very important: When you shoot your photo session, also shoot one frame of your subject touching their nose with their forefinger. Hold onto this "code" shot but do not turn it in. If you win, you may be asked to produce this image to show that your shot was not made prior to today.

To submit your photo, you will need to be on Flickr and in the Strobist Group. Tag your photo with the tag "BC31" (do not use the quotes). Submit your photo into the Strobist group. Caption the picture (Who are they, why did you choose them) and (very important) also include lighting information in the caption. Enter only one photo. Please do not tag any other photos BC31 or include that word in the caption or title, so extra photos will not show up in the search.

You can see your submissions and those of others here.

If you have trouble with submitting, tagging, your photo not showing up, please reread the BC3 Introduction Post for help.

Want to discuss it? Trade ideas? Get peer feedback? The BC31 discussion thread is here. And to not split the discussion into two locations, I am closing comments on this post.

Remember, the winner for this assignment gets his or her choice of Lighting in Layers Boxed DVD Set or a LumoPro LP160 speedlight.

Good luck!


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Creative Ways to Earn from Your Photography Knowledge

For photographers, the image is the product. But photographers also have knowledge and that information is an asset that can be sold too. Here are five ways that photographers can turn their photography knowledge into new revenue streams. 1. Workshops When Paul Van Hoy moved to Rochester, New York in 2005, it didn?t take long [...]


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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

MD Osprey Chick 2010


One of the 3 Osprey chicks from the nest in Maryland.

MD Osprey Chick

With this blog post I'm going to show how I edit and crop for effect. Here's the original photo with no cropping and just my base Lightroom import settings. These Lightroom settings include - saturation, whitebalance, and defringe edge correction. I have a preset for the settings I like to use as my own defaults for import. It took me a little while to come up with them, nothing too special, I just got tired of doing the same settings every time. Once these defaults are applied I often tweak them more.

The nest is distracting and the twig on the right meant I needed to crop tight. If I had a longer lens I would have shot tighter...

Levels adjusted to white out the background and contrast added to make the bird's tones stronger.

The feathers around the chicks neck were also sharpened using Unsharp Mask in Photoshop. Generally I do a couple minutes in Lightroom, and then a couple minutes to reduce the image for posting and add the final adjustments like sharpening in Photoshop.

--50-- / Jon


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3 Minutes with Photographer Kelly Castro

Viewing great portraiture can be an�extremely�rich experience. Great portraiture takes on many forms and styles, but some of the most moving portraits are done in Black & White. A perfect example of �this being the portraiture of Yousuf Karsh. While Karsh was a master of lighting and film, new photographers are emerging that are pushing [...]

Post from: Digital Photography School's Photography Tips. Check out our resources on Portrait Photography Tips, Travel Photography Tips and Understanding Digital Cameras.


3 Minutes with Photographer Kelly Castro


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HDL Magazine Feature

HDL Magazine based in Israel did a real nice feature on me – I believe it should be the current issue.� I think it was a nice feature, but since I don’t read Hebrew, I suppose they could be saying a lot of mean things and I wouldn’t know it.� But, I don’t think so [...]


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Black Guillemots in Oban Harbour, Argyle

I have been meaning to get images at possibly one of the best places to see them in the country at� Oban Harbour. In the past I have come off the Isle Mull ferry from Craignure and intended to stop … Continue reading


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Bird of the Week ? Week 75 ? Cape cormorant

If you sit somewhere along the Namibian west coast, particularly in the vicinity of Swakopmund, and look out over the Atlantic Ocean at sunrise or sunset you are bound to see long chains of dark coloured birds flying in single file just above the water, heading to or from their overnight roosts. These are Cape [...]


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500px Review & An Awesome Giveaway!

We would like to introduce you to a cool new photo sharing service called 500px and let you know how you can win one of 10 upgraded accounts worth $50 each! Read on for details...


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Still life

I really think this wraps it up in terms of posts about my trip to West Virginia (I can't believe it's only been a month since we returned home - it seems like it was an eternity ago, somehow!). There are still some images I'd like to share though. I'll let them tell you the story of how lush and beautiful the hills of West Virginia are, and how magical they can be after it has just rained and everything is still dripping wet and bursting with life. Enjoy.

Fern getting ready to unfurl

Leaf of a Wild Ginger plant - perfect symmetry

The saddest-looking Squirrel Corn flower I've ever seen

That's a long way down for a snail...

Wild Geranium flower, in repose

An example of the diverse flora on one tiny swath of hillside

I kept my distance from here, thank you very much. A large arachnid lives within.

Fern Study, I

Fern Study, II

Almost in bloom...

... and in full flower

These images remind me of the cool, damp spring morning that it was when I took them, something that sounds positively delightful now that the weather is starting to heat up.


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