Basic Edits

In this section we will cover the basic tools you will use to process your image.

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Workflow

Workflow describes the overall processes you use between retrieving the image from your camera to your finished image. It includes:

  • camera setup and image capture (in particular whether you capture in RAW or JPEG or both
  • file management including storage strategies and the importance of backup
  • indexing and cataloging (so you can easily find your beautiful images again in your ever-growing image collection)
  • basic editing
  • advanced editing
  • display including printing and mounting, web galleries etc. (though I probably will not be going into these areas in this post-processing training site)
  • Backing up your images (OK I know I mentioned this earlier… it is important and usually neglected. You’ll only value it after your disk drive dies. Look at this post)

How you set up your workflow is a very personal thing, but if you do it right your work will be more efficient and it will save you hours and hours of time and frustration. The links below will discuss some of these aspects in greater detail.

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Creative Photography Workshop by Suellen Saidee Cook

Our Creative SIG presentation 09 April 2024 was by Suellen Saidee Cook, who joined us by Zoom from her home in Tasmania. She creates imaginative composites with strong narratives.

Cook’s style is mysterious, enchanting, whimsical and emotive, with threads of melancholy inviting feelings of having been left outside the boundaries of the image. She seeks to make the viewer of her images an observer who is projecting their own emotional response into the image, creating a story of what they see and feel.

https://www.capturemag.com.au/profiles/suellen-saidee-cook

She is winner of multiple awards for photographic excellence.

In her presentation she talked about her creative process. The image below illustrates the concept on a page in her journal, and final outcome for her image “Two Minutes Past Twilight”. She provides a partial step-through at this link https://www.instagram.com/p/C2F_64ASjfd/ so you can see how the image progressively developed.

Screengrab from https://www.instagram.com/suellensaideecook/

It is well worth while exploring more of her work at https://www.suellensaideecook.com.au/, https://www.facebook.com/SuellenSaideeCook/, and https://www.instagram.com/suellensaideecook/ .

More resources

Suellen discussed some of the technical issues in generating her images using photoshop, and recommended the Photoshop training videos by Jesus Ramirez at https://photoshoptrainingchannel.com/

A recording of Suellen’s presentation will be made available for a couple of months. An email with details will be emailed to members shortly.

Suellen’s selection of 10 artists whose images have had an important and positive influence in her creative life and on her artistic journey: https://www.suellensaideecook.com.au/studio-notes/2019/12/2/my-top-10-image-makers

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WCC Creative 2024

This is the home for the WCC Creative SIG in 2024. It will be updated as new material becomes available.

Meeting schedule

February

A recording of the Feb zoom meeting is available via youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rZde0Rc5XU.

The February meeting included a run down on 2023, presentations from Helen Warnond on Creativity (presented by Jen Fawkes), Creative Blur (presented by Jen Fawkes), and a focus on Shirley Steel’s work (presented by Jenny Adams). Paul Spence then outlined his plans for the meetings he will run in the remainder of the year. Paul will be focusing on inspiration and creativity rather than techniques for image editing and compositing:

“Aurora” by Sharon Prenton Jones.
  • 9 Apr 2024 Beginning
  • 11 June Messy middle
  • 13 Aug Geelong creative comp
  • 8 Oct Review

April: Beginning

June: Messy Middle

August: Geelong Creative Interclub

October: Review

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Creating Composites Workshop by Sharon and Rob Prenton Jones

Overview

We had a fantastic day-long workshop on Jan 7th 2024, presented by Sharon and Rob Prenton Jones https://www.prentonjonesphotography.co.uk/. They covered a range of topics including (apologies if I have forgotten any major topics – a lot was covered):

  • The Art of composite images, including many examples of their own images.
  • Thoughts on inspiration and ideas for composite imagery.
  • A hands-on demonstration of photography with model Loren, including some discussion of lighting, posing, props etc.
  • A discussion of DIY / low-cost and improvised props and equipment (stay tuned … I’ll make a page with some low-cost suggestions shortly)
  • A live-demonstration of post processing including consideration of lighting and shadows, selection (especially the “Black on Black” approach), blending, colour matching, adding mist, and adding texture overlays.

Links to many resources detailing these topics is at the end of this post.

Transfixed audience as Rob presents; Sharon and Loren to his left. Image: G Shaw.
The “studio” setup. Note use of 2 soft-boxed light units (continuous lights were used during the demo for clarity). Rob demonstrated use of additional diffusers to get a softer light. The backdrop was a bit of black cloth (this cloth was fairly thin, so a second drape was added behind to increase the blackness) clamped to a horizontal tube supported by light-stands. Loren (model) has an op-shop long red gown with a blue cloth arranged as a shawl/hood. Rob and Sharon got her to hold an apple as a way of giving her hands something to do. It works well (see worked images below)

A Selection of Sharon’s Images of Loren from the workshop

Some worked images from the workshop

Here are a couple of images that Sharon Prenton Jones worked up, using the portraits of Loren, that she took during the workshop. The second image, given the title “Aurora” earned Sharon (well deservedly) a PSA Gold award in the 8th International Salon Unlimited Photo 2024 (Sharon also got two other gold awards, a merit, and 12 other acceptances in this Salon!)

Loren in woods. Image and compositing: Sharon Prenton Jones
Loren portrait. Image and compositing: Sharon Prenton Jones

Our heartfelt thanks to Sharon and Rob for an illuminating session and to Loren for her modelling skills.

More Resources

More resources from this workshop will be linked below as I get round to them:

Information and Guides sent by Sharon and Rob

Sharon and Rob sent a host of useful guides that I have converted to PDF format and uploaded. You can download these guides from the links below.

Who we are

Working with Models

Rob’s Lighting Tips

Buy Cheap or Make

Sharon: Matching Colours Movie (also linked HERE with some introductory notes)

Black on Black

How I use Photoshop’s Camera Raw Filter to add light to faces

Making Mist

Add Mist with RENDER CLOUD

Make a Brush and Scatter it

Make Planets

Make Scattering Stones

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Colour match two images during compositing.

Often, when you are compositing images the colours of the two (or more) source images may not match. Perhaps you have a model taken under studio lights that you want to layer onto a background with a different colour balance. There are several ways to achieve a better colour matching. Here is one, presented to WCC by Sharon Prenton Jones (https://www.prentonjonesphotography.co.uk/) who kindly sent us a movie explaining her technique.

Just click on the image below to play the video:

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Adding a mist effect

Mist can enhance some images, and adding a misty effect in Photoshop is not difficult. Here is one approach, based on the method demonstrated by Sharon Prenton Jones at a WCC workshop, Jan 2024. In this work through I am using Photoshop, but the same principles apply with most similar alternatives that provide for layered images.

Note that there are many alternative approaches, such as using a custom brush to apply a mist effect.

An example – a base layer

Let’s do this with an example. This is a quick edit, not meant to be perfect, but to show the process. I leave it to the reader to perfect the process on their own images.

Here is a starting image (here I have composited the wizard onto the forest and added a shadow to “ground” the person:

Add a cloud layer

First, add a new layer (Shift-Ctrl-N). Change the name to “Mist 1”, so you don’t lose track of what your layers represent. Maybe reduce the zoom a couple of steps (Ctrl-minus) in preparation for the next step.

Now add a “cloud” pattern. In Photoshop you can use menu: Filter>Render>Clouds. This will add a speckled black and white pattern over your background layer. Alternatively, use your own starting pattern (see below).

Transform and adjust the starting cloud pattern to suit your base image

Use Transform (Ctrl-T) and drag the corners out to spread out the pattern (this affects how granular your mist effect looks).

Press Enter to complete the transform. Set the layer opacity to a lower number – I have set to 45% here as a starting point, and set the blend mode to screen

Refine your mist effect with additional layers and masking

Now we are getting the start of a mist effect, but we need to refine it. The further away things are, the thicker the mist effect, and probably there is more mist lower down than higher up. This is easy to achieve using layer masks (and perhaps more mist layers to be added). So, add a layer mask and paint with black (use a soft brush with low flow) on the mask to reduce or remove some of the mist – for example paint over the wizard; a little less on the tree root … closer things like these and the foreground ground will need less mist to be convincing. Perhaps add a second mist layer to add an extra depth… Maybe add another layer masked at the top to add a bit of low mist over the ground … Tweak the opacity of the layers… have a play. Try with different starting patterns. I don’t think Photoshop’s render>clouds ideally mimics real mist (see below for an alternative approach), but if you do use it, try stretching the pattern laterally using Transform; maybe try a linear blur or other distortions; using multiple layers to build up the mist effect better reflects reality – but use masking to restrict some layers to the far background whilst others will reflect closer mist with appropriate masking; alter the granularity/texture of the further mist layers – further away should have smaller texture than close up; tweak the opacity of the layers to get the effect you want. The example below is far from perfect, as it was made as a quick example to demonstrate the technique.

Here is a before/after of the image – slide the middle bar left and right to change what you see.

Study mist so you can accurately mimic it

Spend some time in misty places to observe how mist looks as it wraps round objects and recedes into the distance. There are different sorts of mist: think of the thin, ground hugging mist layer over a sports ground on a crisp morning; or the dense, featureless mist as a cloud envelops you on a mountain peak; or thin tendrils of mist weaving through a forest on a crisp winter morning. Some mists hug the ground; other times the mist will envelop the tree tops but leave the ground clear; and sometimes the mist is everywhere. What sort of mist do you want to generate? I have put some (not exhaustive) examples below.

Experiment with alternative cloud images

Experiment with different starting points. Above I have suggested using Photoshop’s Filter>Render>clouds. Try tweaking this by stretching the pattern horizontally, distorting the pattern using warp, liquefy etc to get a different texture (probably more like real mist).

Maybe take a picture of wispy cirrus clouds (convert to B&W and adjust the conversion so that the blue sky becomes black with grey-white clouds – the black background will disappear when the layer is later set to blend-mode screen leaving you with just the grey to white cloud pattern forming the misty overlay). Here is an example – I edited a cloud picture, convert to B&W with blue luminance dropped, then used curves to push the open sky to black and the clouds shades of grey up to white.

Some clouds, adjusted to black and white to form a basis for fake mist layers.
The starting image of a forest

Then I added this over my forest image as 3 layers (Blend mode Screen; and I started with opacity 30% in this example; adjust to suit your needs depending on the particular images you use) for foreground, middle and distance, each at a different scale, (transform and drag corners for size, flip horizontally for one or more, move around to put the cloud overlay at suitable places so the 3 layers are all different in size and position). I masked the layers. Distance got the foreground ground and closer tree removed; middle got the tree and a little of the nearest ground masked; foreground mist has no mask. To be tidy I grouped the 3 mist layers into a group, and all the layers were given appropriate names so if I come back another time and want to play with the layers, I will know what all the layers represent. Save as a layered TIFF or PSD file, so you preserve all the layers for future edits.

The forest with “mist” layers added. Note the masking. Final layer opacity was34%, 66% and 64% for the distant, middle and foreground mist layers respectively.

If you want to tweak the appearance, there are a few options. Adjust the opacity to increase the density of the mist (you can have different opacity for each layer if that suits your needs); click the chain symbol between the layer image and layer mask to decouple the mask from the image. Now you can use Transform (Ctrl-T) to move/resize/distort the mist image layer without altering the layer masking. See how the mist appearance changes as you move or alter the mist image.

Using Transform allows you to drag the mist around, stretch it, shrink or enlarge it, warp it… play with scale and shape and position until you have something that suits the background image you are “mistifying”.

If you add another image (maybe a knight in shining armor in the middle distance would fit this background image) you will need to put that layer behind the foreground mist layer and in front of the background mist layer; or you could put it behind all the mist layers and adjust the masks (more work that way) … anyway, I am sure you can work it all out.

Mist takes many forms

And remember that mists are not all the same. Here are some examples:

Here the mist is is thicker a few metres above the water, and is fairly uniform.
In this moonlit shot the wisps of mist fill the valley
Here the mist forms a discrete band flowing down the valley over the water. Where I am standing there is no mist at all.
Barmah forest, shot into the sun around daybreak. The mist has a distinctive structure with multiple layers.

Have fun with your experiments.

Further links

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Life magazine photo archive available for free

Following the 2023 AGM, WCC had a fascinating Workshop on LIFE Magazine photographers with Alwyn Hanson.

“LIFE Magazine is the treasured photographic magazine that chronicled the 20th Century. It now lives on at LIFE.com, the largest, most amazing collection of professional photography on the internet. Users can browse, search and view photos of today’s people and events. They have free access to share, print and post images for personal use.” Google books.

Martin Luther King Jr.
Originally snapped in 1957 at one of the early Civil Rights rallies in Washington D.C., the photo would go on to become one of the most famous of the Reverend and one of the most recognizable photos of the Civil Rights Movement itself. Despite being taken nearly nine years earlier, the photo was not published until a week after King was assassinated in 1968.

Alwyn noted that the whole archive of Life Magazine was now available on Google Books (https://books.google.com.au/books?id=z0kEAAAAMBAJ&source=gbs_all_issues_r&cad=1&atm_aiy=1936#all_issues_anchor).

Screen grab of the google books page for the first year of LIFE magazine.

The archive is also accessible via the internet archive https://archive.org/details/pub_life?tab=collection as well as at https://www.life.com/life-picture-collection/.

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WCC Creative 2023 Meeting 3, 2023-06-13

Meeting Notes

Link to PPT Handout meeting notes

Homework

The homework for this month is due before the November meeting (the August meeting is the WCC-Geelong creative interclub).

No need to be a photoshop whiz, you can get creative images straight from camera

  • •Unusual objects
  • •Usual objects, unusual perspective; abstraction
  • •Creative motion blur (slow exposure: moving object; camera movement; zooming)
  • •Creative focus blur
  • •Etc….
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Equivalence – sensor crop factors and more

How do you take similar photos using two different cameras? For example consider an image I might take with my Canon R5 (full frame, 45 MPx) an image with a 50 mm lens. To get the same field of view on my Olympus OMD EM-5 mark ii (micro four thirds sensor with 16 MPx) I need to use a 25 mm lens. And even then the images are not equivalent because the R5 has 3 times as many pixels. And at a given aperture, depth of field is greater on the EM5 than the R5 (for example 25 mm f2.8 on the EM5 is roughly equivalent to 50 mm f5.6 on the R5). But wait, there is more … the two links below should give you a broader understanding of how sensor size, pixel density, focal length, aperture and ISO all interact.

sensor size illustration
Relative sensor sizes/fields of view at a given focal length Image from https://photographylife.com/sensor-crop-factors-and-equivalence )
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Lens Diffraction – all you ever wanted to know, and a lot more besides.

You have probably heard of lens diffraction and its effects of softening your images when the lens is set to a small aperture (large f-number). The image above illustrates diffraction effects (Click on the image to see an enlarged image in a new tab that more clearly demonstrates the diffraction effects. Modified from https://photographylife.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/The-Kiss-diffraction.jpg.)

Diffraction is present in all your photographs, and – if you aren’t careful – it can rob some sharpness from your favorite images. However, once you see its effects in practice, diffraction will become second nature.

If you want to find out more including:

  • the causes of this effect
  • how much it might affect your images depending on
  • sensor size
  • pixel density on the sensor
  • and the interaction of aperture on depth of field and diffraction (wide aperture –> focus softening vs small aperture –> greater depth of field, but diffraction softening)
  • minimising unwanted diffraction

… then read about it at https://photographylife.com/what-is-diffraction-in-photography.

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Depth of field – a simulator …

Here is a useful resource to help you get your head around depth of field and how it changes depending on aperture, focal length, focal distance and sensor format. You can see the effect of changing any of these parameters on the field of view and the depth of field. You can explore this simulator at https://www.samyanglens.com/en/product/simulator/lens.php.

In case you haven’t come across Samyang before, they are a well established and well respected optics maker, and produce a wide range of photographic lenses in various camera mounts.

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