Posts Tagged ‘tips’

5 ESSENTIAL TIPS WHEN PREPARING IMAGES FOR PRINT

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

My favorite way to experience photography is through print.  It’s hard to describe the tremendous satisfaction I get when viewing my own prints, or prints from a photographer I admire.  I’ve always enjoyed printing myself.  I learned to print in the darkroom in my college photography classes and when I moved to digital I taught myself how to make my own prints at home.  As my photography progressed people started to ask if they could buy prints of my images.  Eventually, I started doing art festivals and gallery shows to share my work and make more print sales.  Whether you plan to print yourself, or have prints made by a dedicated print shop it’s essential that you understand a few basic concepts about color management and preparing images for print.

We live in an increasingly screen based culture.  The majority of photography I see is on some sort of screen.  A lot of photographers I meet who are starting photography exist almost exclusively in the digital universe.  Eventually though, you, or someone you know might want a print made of your photos.  Photographic printing can be daunting at first, but it’s very satisfying to see your own images in print, and you will be a better photographer if you understand the fundamentals of color management and print preparation.  In this article, I’ll share five essential tips for getting you and your images ready to print.

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Surrounded by my prints at the Sunriver Art Festival 2016

    1. CALIBRATE YOUR MONITOR:
      It’s hard to stress how important this is.  There is no point spending hours processing your photos for print if you haven’t calibrated your monitor.  It’s the foundation of color management, and brings everyone into a common color standard.  I remember when I got started in photography many years ago, I read on some forums about the importance of calibrating my monitor.  At the time I was more concerned with acquiring more lenses and gear and didn’t see why it was a big deal.  When I started printing I learned a hard and expensive lesson.  The first prints I made were a huge disappointment.  They didn’t look like what I saw on my monitor at all, the colors were off and it came out really dark.  With a little more friendly advise I finally invested in a decent calibrations package.  Once I calibrated my monitor I realized two important things.  One, it’s really helpful when everyone is using the same color standards and profiles, otherwise what may look red on my screen could look orange, or purple on another.  Two, I had my monitor set way too bright.  Reflected light from a print will never look as bright as transmitted light from a screen.  Lowering screen brightness much better reflects how an image will print.  Here is a link to the colormunki screen calibrator I use now.  Very easy to use and profiles really accurately.  All of their products work really well, but I like the customization options with the colormunki display model: http://xritephoto.com/colormunki-display
    2. UNDERSTAND BASIC COLOR MANAGEMENT:
      Whether you are printing yourself, sending your files to a dedicated print shop, or preparing an image for a publisher, you will get much better results if you understand the basics of color management.  There are two basic concepts to understand when managing color on your computer. The first is using the correct color space when exporting from Lightroom, or Adobe Camera Raw and the right color setting in Photoshop.  I always use the Pro Photo RGB color space as it has the widest color gamut, I prefer to start my editing with as many colors as possible especially if I will be printing the image.  The second concept is using the right printing profile.  If you’re having someone else print for you, it’s still important to understand printer profiles.  You can use a printer profile to soft proof your image and get a preview of how it will look when printed with the specific printer and paper they use.  Printer profiles are scripts used by the printer to adhere to color standards, they help the printer produce an image that looks as close to what you see on your screen as possible.  I’ll talk more about soft proofing in the next section.

      Export settings in Lightroom Preferences

    3. SOFT PROOFING AND HARD PROOFING:
      Soft proofing is using software such as Lightroom, or Photoshop to preview a printer profile.  Soft proofing attempts to simulate what the image will look like when printed on a specific print paper with a specific printer.  I think soft proofing is useful to get you in the right ballpark, but I don’t trust soft proofing completely. It is still pretty unreliable when trying preview exactly what a print will look like.  I use soft proofing to get me close and then I order a test print which is called a hard proof.  Once the test print is made, or arrives from a print shop, I can evaluate it and make any adjustments that I think it needs.  This method is what I rely on when making prints for customers, art shows and galleries.  The videos below help explain soft proofing in Lightroom and Photoshop.
      Great video on soft proofing in Lightroom:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8M9B8ABOb9U
      Another video about basic soft proofing in Photoshop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y47uoKE_dAs
    4. SHARPEN APPROPRIATELY FOR EACH PRINT MEDIUM AND SIZE.
      Each print medium I use requires different levels of sharpening to look it’s best.  For instance, noise from over sharpening shows up easier on metal prints.  Both acrylic and traditional inkjet prints are more forgiving and hide minor noise and digital artifacts better.  Canvas is the most forgiving.  Print size is also something to consider.  What does this mean in practical terms for my workflow?  I’ve adopted a simple and flexible approach to sharpening.  I do normal output sharpening in Lightroom or ACR to correct for softness introduced by camera, lens, and the RAW format.  The amount varies for each image.  I continue with my workflow in photoshop to produce a master file with all layers and adjustments preserved if possible.  If I’m going to make a print, I save a flattened copy of the master file and sharpen it specifically for that print size and medium.  Sometimes it doesn’t need additional sharpening, but if it does it’s usually the last adjustment I make before sending it to print.  As a general guideline, I sharpen more for smaller prints, and less for larger prints.  The is counter intuitive for many people, but I’ve found that smaller prints need more because they lose sharpness when they are scaled down, and large prints tend to show any unwanted effects that might arise from over sharpening.  This is my personal preference and there are other factors to consider including the view distance.
    5. ADJUST LUMINANCE FOR SPECIFIC PRINT MEDIUMS.
      Each print medium has it’s own perceptual brightness and ambient reflectivity.  Like I described in the sharpening section, I save a flattened copy of my master file for each specific size and print medium I print on.  Aluminum prints and lumachrome acrylic prints have high ambient reflectivity and perceptual brightness, therefore they require very little, if any brightness adjustment. Traditional inkjet prints and canvas require a lot more brightness adjustments if you want to replicate the look you see on your screen.

I’ve been printing a long time, and I’ve learned several important lessons from printing over the years.  I’ve noticed that my processing workflow has evolved to accommodate printing.  I now tend to process with printing in mind first, and make specific changes to the file later when posting to the web.  I also have evolved to process in the most editable and non destructive way to preserve the image quality.  I think printing has made me a better photographer and has helped me improve my image quality.

Old video blog about basic printing from Photoshop:  http://www.photocascadia.com/blog/intro-to-photoshop-printing-video/#.WIT_MrGZMUE

Recommended printing companies:  These are the two print companies that I use.  I’ve tried a lot print shops, and these guys both produce incredible, quality prints.  I get my Aluminum prints from: http://www.hdaluminumprints.com and acrylic prints from http://www.nevadaartprinters.com

Backpacking With a Toddler

Friday, August 19th, 2016

 

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Recently, my wife and I took our two-year-old son on his first backpacking trip.  We spent four nights in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, hiking 22 miles round trip to Shadow Lake, just west of the famous Cirque of the Towers.  Are we crazy?  Maybe.  Probably.  But it was one of the most memorable, awe-inspiring, and fun experiences of my life.  Even though, weeks later, we’re still getting all the dirt out of our hair.

Our son, who is 27 months old, is pushing 30 pounds.  Although he walked short distances on his own here and there, he spent most of the hikes on my wife’s back in a Deuter baby carrier.  That left me to carry pretty much all our gear.  With my photography equipment in my pack as well, it was very heavy.  Keeping weight down any way we could was crucial.  My gear is already really light: ultralight tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads; titanium cookware and 2-ounce canister stove.  I swear by my Steri-Pen UV water purifier, which is very light.  Our son loves drinking milk, so we brought powdered milk, and we brought some individually wrapped snack cheese for extra nutrition with minimal weight.  He also loves oatmeal, so we packed a few instant oatmeal packets for him.  Besides that, he pretty much shared our backpacking meals with us.  But of course the biggest kiddo-related weight issue would be diapers.  I did some research and discovered GroVia diapers: they’re “hybrid” cloth diapers with disposable, biodegradable inserts.  The inserts, while not quite as absorbent as our usual disposable brand, were light, packed tiny, and worked surprisingly well.  We bought two of the cloth diaper “covers” and rotated them throughout the trip.  This system saved us so much space and weight.

Giving our son a chance to hike a bit, especially in the flat, sandy-trailed meadows, was a lot of fun for him, and a nice break for my wife’s back.  It gave him an opportunity to stop and smell the wildflowers, and point out all the butterflies.  My wife: “what does a butterfly say?” Son: “butterfly say I love you.”

Seeing him take joy in bugs, clamber up a granite boulder and giggle with pride, and greet the tiny baby trout in a crystal-clear mountain lake (“hi littley fishy!”) are things I’ll never forget.  There’s nothing in the world like witnessing my son experience the wonder of the wilderness.

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Our sleeping arrangements took a bit of planning.  As we were just above 10,000 feet elevation, nights got pretty cold.  Our son slept in an REI poly base layer long-sleeve tee and socks, under fleece footy pajamas, in a fleece sleep sack (like a sleeping bag with arm holes).  We tried having him sleep in his toddler Patagonia down coat, but that didn’t seem to be comfortable for him, so we wrapped my down coat around him like a blanket.  He slept between us on his own kid-size Thermarest sleeping pad.

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Backpacking with a toddler is a challenge.  I’m not gonna lie.  Our packs were heavy and our backs were sore.  But it was so worth it.  I hope to give my son the opportunity to, as Emerson said, “live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”  I want him to feel the exhiliration of the wilderness; to wonder at the stars and feel the ancient earth under his feet.  I want him to know the calls of ospreys and the peeps of marmots.  And, hopefully, I want to experience this with him again.  Soon!

 

 

 

Video Tutorial: Adding Shadow Detail in Photoshop

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Here is a quick little video on some tips for adding shadow detail to your images in Photoshop.

For more image editing videos, check out the videos page on my website.  Enjoy!

 

Wildflower Gardern Sunset Mount Rainier copy

Keyboard Shortcuts and Actions

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

by Zack Schnepf

This is a short demo of how I use keyboard shortcuts and actions to increase efficiency. I’ll go into great detail about keyboard shortcuts and actions in a future video, including the proper way to build complex actions as well as adding complex pop up dialog options. It will be available along with my Multiple Exposure Blending video here: http://www.zschnepf.com/videos.html

I forgot to mention one of my favorite keyboard shortcuts. When using the brush tool or some other tools, you can instantly change the opacity of the brush by tapping the number keys, 1=10%, 2=20%, 0=100%, etc. It saves a lot of time over the course of your workflow.

Watch in HD and full screen for best viewing experience.

 

Tips for Photographing in the Rain

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Tips for Photographing in the Rain

By David Cobb

So what if it rains? This is the Pacific Northwest after all and rain is part of life here. I guess that’s why I have a plan B and C during my workshops, to take care of such eventualities. Last weekend was “Dave’s Worst-Weather-Ever Workshop” along the northern Oregon and southern Washington coastlines. The rain and wind storms were pretty bad. A lot of people thought the sun came with me for all my workshops, and I was getting pretty cocky after continually seeing the clouds part at the beginning of a session and close up when it ended. In lieu of staying indoors a bit more and concentrating on processing (which we did), here are a few photo tips for when it rains along the Oregon and Washington coastlines. (Canon and Nikon seal their cameras pretty well, other makers seal them tightly to not-so-much, so know how well your camera does before taking it out in the rain.)

1) Carry a good camera bag and rainfly: I have to admit I love the back access on the f-Stop camera bags during a rainstorm. I just set the bag down on the wet sandy beach, rainfly side down, and access all my equipment. When I put the pack back on my back, the muddy side is on the outside and the clean side is against my back. That way my rain jacket keeps me dry a lot longer. A good rainfly for your camera bag can be picked up at any outdoor store.

2) Use a rain cover for your camera: I often opt for the cheap grocery store plastic bag version with a hole cut in it, but there are a whole host of good camera rain covers out there. Simply Google “camera rain cover” and you’ll have a variety to choose from. They vary from the cheap homemade versions like mine to the bomb-proof Think-Tank Hydrophobia.

3) Find a sea cave: Sounds simple doesn’t it? The other day during a rain storm on the Oregon coast, I just wandered into a really cool cave and let my eyes adjust. Watch for the tides, but otherwise you can work for hours coming up with some interesting compositions while staying dry.

4) Bring an umbrella: An obvious point, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t bring an umbrella along while photographing.

5) Stay in your car and photograph abstracts through the soaked windshield: A couple of people did this during the last workshop at a harbor and they got some fantastic results. The last time I used this technique was from a taxi cab in Albania, and I wish I had remembered to do it for the harbor shots this time around.

6) Go to a bunker: There are World War II bunkers all over the coastline, and they really have quite a bit of character with their rusty doors, stark hallways, old ladders, and walls filled with moss and lichen. Best of all, they make a great wind break and are not only bomb-resistant, but rain-resistant too.

7) Point your lens downward: I use my lens hood not only for sun protection, but rain protection. During those dreary winter days, I’m less likely to look for the grand landscape and more likely to look for the small scene. I often start to think and see in black and white too. By keeping my lens pointing down, I keep it free from those pesky rain drops.

8) Go to the forest: The coastal forest is a great place to shoot on a rainy day. The trees block the wind, keep me drier, and the forest light can be amazing or moody.

9) Dry off your gear: I carry a facecloth in my bag and I’m constantly giving my camera a pat down and dry off. I make sure I do this at the end of the shoot when I put my camera away, and I do it again when I go back inside. I also extend my tripod legs when I return inside and give them a wipe-down too.

There you have it. The next time it rains, quit your whining and head for the coast – I’ll be there with a smile on my face and staying dry.