Here in Catalunya there is a celebration every year on the day of Saint George, here they call it Sant Jordi. It is basically the Catalan Valentines day. The tradition here is that the fellows give the women a rose and the women give the guys a book. Pretty cool deal if you ask me! As I am a Canon user, this year my wife gave me a new book on using Canon Speedlites from the well known Syl Arena. For me flash photography is a challenge and this book really covers everything you would want to know. I personally use a Canon Speedlite 580EX II. The thing I like about his book is that Syl not only explains techniques on how to use the family of Canon Speedlites, but many of his explanations also include a lot of theory which I really think is helpful as I can take that knowledge with me when I move on to a bigger and more complex setup, say for instance, in a studio with multiple lights. As I have mentioned before in photography my goal is capturing great light weather it be with or without flash and this book speaks to both ambient lighting and of course lighting with a flash. It gives you many things you can try at home and experiment and by experimenting of course you increase your knowledge and in the end you become a better photographer.
Thanks Syl for a great book! If you are interested in Syl’s book you can check it out on www.amazon.com USD 49.00
One thing I have not experimented with yet is time laspse photography. I do have a friend from Antarctica (Actually New Zealand but met him in Antarctica) who is a fantastic photographer and does incredible time lapse photography. His name is Anthony Powell. He has been working on the ice for years. His body of work is extensive and it really shows in the images he produces. He has been published in various places and has been on CNN and his time laspse photography is now showing on BBC. The one I am posting here he just finished up and is going to be part of a film. His web page is: www.antarcticimages.com and he also has a blog site: www.frozensouth.com. It is already showing on the US show “Right this Minute”. I highly recommend you checking his site out. You can really loose yourself in the images there. Many of his time lapse videos are on his Youtube channel Antzarctica.
I started working with Lightroom since Lightroom 2 came out and have never looked back. It is a program I really love to use. I think it is perfect for photographers and each version that comes out just keeps getting better. This latest release of Lightroom is no let down for sure. I really like the added adjustment brushes and also the soft proofing ability right in Lightroom!
Below I have posted a before, after and final version of a portrait I did of a local chef. I edited them all with Lightroom. When I shot this image, I exposed for the background and strobed the chef with an off camera flash. I then did my normal adjustments in Lightroom 3. The before is the result. To take it one step further I adjusted the After image in Lightroom 4 using the local adjustment brush. I adjusted the white balance on the chef and his jacket. I did his jacket just to show the difference you can make with changing the white balance in a specific part of a scene. In the final version, I only adjusted his face and arms. The jacket I just reduced the brightness a little and that was it. The light on his face was a bit whitish from the flash and kind of harsh but with the adjustment brush I was able to ajust the white balance to more of what the abmient light was on the scene.
You can go to http://tv.adobe.com/product/lightroom/?trackingid=JPKPN to watch video tutorials on LR. Have fun!
One of my “homework” items I assign myself is to always be studying. Whether it is actually studying a methodology on how to improve a technique on shooting or how to improve my post processing. I will be the first to say that I have a long way to go in terms of photography, but for me that is part of the joy of photography. The fact that, if I want, I can continually grow and learn new ways of doing things and new techniques and hopefully by doing so, improve my end result.
All that being said, part of my studying is to always analyze photographs I see in the media or on the web. I have just been looking at some photography on Flicker and some things I have seen are impressive but so many more are just retouched so much it is insane. I mean, I have seen images that are so saturated with color they lose any appeal to me. Some that are so “HDRd” out that they lose all sense of reality. I love working with Photoshop and Lightroom to adjust my images, but that is it! Only to adjust them, not to convert them to something that doesn´t even resemble what I had in mind when I shot in the first place. Here below is a pretty good example of what I am talking about:
Nice image but so over saturated it isn´t even funny! I get it that this photographer loved the sunset but no way did it look like that! This one is “HDRd” to death not to mention super saturated. Oh well, I guess there is something for everyone. I am sure that my style of photography doesn´t appeal to that guy either.
I guess what I am saying is that just because you have a brand new shiny tool you don’t have to use it to death! Sometimes a little goes a long way.
Although I have been a photographer for the majority of my life, I feel that most of my growth has really come since digital photography became main-stream. I went to school to study commercial photography after serving in the army but, was unable to finish my degree program. Anyway, the point I want to get to is that there are so many ways for photographers to learn these days. I personally learn a lot from several sources. First, I check out the weekly podcast at http://kelbytv.com/photoshopusertv/ . Scott Kelby and his team really are a great group of guys and know what they are talking about. Their weekly podcast are free and have several tips on how to in Photoshop or photography.
I also go to the Adobe web site and check out their free tutorials. www.adobe.com . For me, checking out these videos makes me think of things I would not have normally done. Free is Good!