Tag: Adobe Lightroom

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Adobe Fun!

In prior blogs I have talked about my attempt to learn Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop Elements. Continuing to develop my technical skill with these great products has been a challenge but there has been progress. Unfortunately, I have a long way to go. Maybe some of you have experienced similar issues in your journey through these photo editing programs.

First let’s talk about Lightroom. This is the digital darkroom for your images. I have invested a great deal of time viewing training videos on YouTube.com. It is amazing how much free training is available to you and how good the training actually is. My frustrations; however, is that beyond describing what the controls do and how that particular photographer uses them to make fantastic photos, there is not a lot of depth in explaining what setting to use! The frequent response is “depends on what you like”. I guess in the world of art this is something I will have to get used to it, but from my more precise business background I tend to like absolutes and answers that are clear-cut. Another area of confusion for me is “sharpness”. I have tried many different levels of sharpening of photographs and sometimes it’s hard to see any real improvement. It seems that I degrade the photos more than improve them. So lately I have started not to bother with sharpening at all and just use the preset level of 25 that Lightroom provides.

I must admit that when I look at some of my photos from a year ago and compare them to newly edited photos, I like what I’m seeing. Two of the tools that I’m beginning to have a greater appreciation for are the Tone Curve and the HSL sliders. These tools have helped improve quite a few photos that otherwise were a little dull and lacking. I suspect many of you have had similar awakenings with using these tools. One of the newer features of Lightroom 6 is the ability to create panoramas. I recently visited New York City on a rather chilly, hazy winter day. I went across the Hudson River to Liberty Island State Park and took a series of photos of Manhattan Island and then used this new feature to create the panorama that you see below.

Photoshop Elements version 14 is Adobe’s latest enhancement to their popular hobbyist version of Photoshop. A trial version is available and I took advantage of that because I wasn’t sure there were enough new features to make a purchase worthwhile. One of the new additions is Dehaze. This feature turned out to be quite helpful in several photos that I recently edited. It is not perfect, but it did make an improvement in photos by removing what appears to be haze and leaving a much clearer photograph.

Continuing with the theme of struggling has been my utilizing some of the tools in Photoshop Elements such as the Selection and Clone Stamp tools. I looked at many videos and then tried to duplicate what I just learned and in some instances it was difficult to get the same results. As it turned out the problems I was experiencing had nothing to do with my learning ability or the software itself. One of the issues is I have developed an irritating twitch in my right hand. Since I am right-handed this creates problems in editing photos. Research for solutions led me to larger input devices such as trackballs and a larger mouse. I should also mention that I have been using a Wacom pen & tablet along with a mouse. I seem to have compensated for the twitch by purchasing a beanbag type wrist support along with a better surface for my mouse. I also changed the sensitivity of both the mouse and the pen. These steps have helped significantly; however, there is still a problem with the tablet; it sometimes acts rather erratically. I could not find out why until I did some Internet searching and found out a lot of other people are having the same problem and it seems to be related to Microsoft Windows 10! So until Microsoft communicates fixes to these pen & tablet developers I suspect many people including myself will continue to experience problems with their pens and tablets when using this operating system. How many of you are having similar problems?

Okay, back to photo editing. I have been enjoying the use of Photoshop Elements 14. I want to share some of my photos with you. One is a photo taken on the U.S. National Mall in Washington, DC of the Korean War Memorial. I edited this photo with both Lightroom and Nic Silver Efex software. This created a somewhat dated look in the photo but it was still missing something. While I was out on a windy day I noticed an American flag blowing in the wind and I decided to use a photograph of that flag in the picture. Through the magic of layers, selections and patience I managed to create the photo below.

While on that recent trip to New York a visit to Wall Street provided another great photo opportunity. The famous statue of the Wall Street bull is around the corner from the New York Stock Exchange. In the last several weeks I have watch my stock portfolio drop so I decided to create a rather silly photograph of the bull market crash. I hope you enjoy looking at this composite as much as I had making it. The market will come back one day and my portfolio will improve or I may have to try to sell these photographs to buy food! It probably means I’ll starve to death.

Well that’s enough ranting for this blog post. Hopefully you found something interesting in it or found it to be a good way to waste a few minutes of your valuable time. I hope it was the former! Now stop wasting time with this blog and go out and take some photographs.

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Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop Elements Horsing Around

Earlier this year I purchased a copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom by Scott Kelby. This proved to be an easy read and I learned a great deal about using Lightroom. That is, until I tried to figure out the Print Module. I just seemed to be one of the people who didn’t get it. I had problems getting different sized prints to come out correctly and I could not figure out how I was making mistakes when Scott Kelby’s book told me I could easily get it! Since I was not printing anything other than 4×6 inch prints and that was working out ok when I just exported a file, I decided to stop reading the book. In hindsight, this was another of my poor decisions in photography along with bad compositions, soft images and blown out highlights! I suspect some of you reading this blog have had similar or maybe worse experiences.

In the last couple of weeks I decided to make a definite commitment to learning how to use the print module in Adobe Lightroom version 6. I made a monumental decision to start where I usually start which is to begin looking at Adobe TV and the training material on Adobe’s website to learn more about the products. This was helpful but unfortunately it did not give me the detailed background I really wanted. I decided to try a different approach and began looking through YouTube.com to find some free training videos. I discovered a gold mine of great resources! One of the ones that I enjoyed watching featured professional photographer Robert Rodriguez Jr. and it was sponsored by B&H Photo. You can click on the link below to watch the video.

B&H Photo with Robert Rodriquez, Jr. and Master the Lightroom 5 Print Module

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4c-Bu8St3L8

Another great resource was my local photo club. At the last meeting I brought up the fact that I was having difficulty with the print module and asked one of the club experts for some help. Denise was kind enough to spend the majority of the meeting explaining to me not only how to make the Lightroom Print Module work, but also gave me more detailed insight into the whole area of digital printing. In the way of a brief commercial, let me say that if you have not yet joined a local photo club, what are you waiting for? I have learned a great deal being a member of the club and have even competed in some of the photo contests. I have not won anything yet, but hope springs eternal even for the worst of photographers!

Denise gave me the idea of also using Photoshop for printing. I do not have Photoshop but I do have Photoshop Elements version 13. I have done some small editing with Photoshop Elements but nothing significant. So this gave me another opportunity to expand my knowledge. This time I decided to go right to YouTube.com and seek out some resources. I looked at several different videos and found one series from Anthony Morganti to be very helpful. He has a whole series of training videos on Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Lightroom. You can click on the link below to look at one of his videos.

Anthony Morganti’s Learn Adobe Photoshop Elements – Episode 7: Layers and Layer Masks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ml13ZCHrvs4

I now felt that I was ready for the challenge of creating not only a composite photo using layers from Photoshop Elements but also printing the results using my newfound skills and acumen! Now I just needed a photo to edit that would be interesting and challenging. I looked no further than my last post of A Horse of Another Color. I decided to use a picture of a brick wall that I had taken recently just for this type of project. Adobe Lightroom’s Print Module also allowed me to create a gray mat and include a graphic with my initials as a watermark on the photo! This blog is not meant to be how to do it blog, so I won’t bore you with the details. It is sufficient to say that I had fun creating the composite photo in this post and also printing it successfully. When I showed the picture to my wife she said she didn’t like it because it was not natural or real! Critics are everywhere! I guess that is the great thing about photography at the hobby level, you just have to please yourself! What are your thoughts?

Fun with Photoshop Elements or just horsing around!

Fun with Photoshop Elements or just horsing around!

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Rusty Farm Tractor

It has been a while since I have posted an update to this blog. It’s not that I haven’t been taking any pictures it’s more like I’ve been trying to learn how to take better pictures and also to process them in Adobe Lightroom Version 5. I have also been taking some pictures but nothing that I thought was interesting and certainly not worth posting for you to view. I do have some photos that I think are somewhat interesting and I have decided to publish them in this post. The pictures are all of a single subject, a rusting, old abandoned farm tractor.

 

But before talking about the photos, I’d like to talk about my photographic journey. As I mentioned, I’ve been trying to learn how to take better pictures and also how to process them using Adobe Lightroom. In the last several weeks I’ve spent a lot of time viewing videos on YouTube. I have found a large number of videos that do a great job of discussing various technical aspects of photography. I have found these videos to be a great help and they are all free to view. That makes the price excellent!

 

I also decided to take a class on taking pictures at night. The class was conducted by a professional photographer over 3 sessions. On the first evening, after a short lecture that included viewing some great examples of night photography we took our cameras and tripods out into the surrounding neighborhood and starting taking photographs. I learned a great deal and much to my surprise I found that you could take pictures at night at ISO 200 and f/8 along with a few different shutter speeds and the pictures came out great. The second night we met at a nearby park and attempted to take some photographs of the stars, moon and silhouetted buildings. As it turned out, a light fog floated in that evening that somewhat obscured the sky photos but it created some interesting photos of nearby buildings and also the automobile traffic that lit the fog. The last night of the class we went to a retail development that featured reflecting pools, water fountains, a movie theater and a few restaurants, and other establishments, all of which had beautiful colored lights glowing. Some of these pictures came out very nice and a few with colored water fountains came out quite clear and colorful. I posted some of these pictures in October. Needless to say this class was a lot of fun and hopefully I learned enough to become a better nighttime photographer. Time will tell.

 

I have been working with Adobe Lightroom for a couple of months and more or less training myself on its various features. I have learned a great deal but decided there was a lot more that I could learn so I met with a professional photographer for a one-on-one training session on using Lightroom. Denise was a wonderful instructor who shared a great deal of information with me. She even spent additional time talking to me about various ways to fully utilize Lightroom and also how I might want to begin using Adobe Photoshop. I think I learned some additional tips and techniques from Denise that I have incorporated in the photos included in this post.

 

This past summer I was at a park that had an old farmhouse, barn and some farm equipment still in place. I thought it might be interesting to take some photographs; however, I forgot to come back until just a few weeks ago. You can tell by all the fall leaves on the ground that it is not summer. I decided to try and take these photographs from several different perspectives around the tractor. I also wanted to try to fill as much of the frame as I possibly could with the tractor while at the same time allowing for enough of the farm to show through to be recognized. I did some minor editing with Lightroom; however, my sense of style is to use a light touch and not overcook these pictures. Hopefully, I was successful in creating some images that are interesting and worth your time to view. Until the next time, let’s all keep on shooting and improving our photographic skills.

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Philadelphia Street Art

Philadelphia is an amazing city, it has history, sports, food, culture and great street art. On a recent trip I took the opportunity to walk the streets of the central city and enjoyed the sights and Philly Cheese Steak Hoagies! I also saw some great street art and took some photos and I am sharing seven of the best with you in this post. The day started bright and sunny and then the thunderstorms rolled in and I got soaked. This did change the lighting for some photos and I think a few benefited from the soft lighting right after the rain.

Several of these images were in rather tight spaces, so I had to use the wide angle lens a few times. I am getting used to using Adobe Lightroom 5 and it is improving my photos. There are several photos that exhibited keystoning and Lightroom made great adjustments to eliminate this effect in those photos. I was also able to use the Graduated Adjustment Tool in a few pictures to decrease some brightness in the sky. There is a temptation to overuse Lightroom, so I am trying to limit the adjustments to basically the minimum needed to improve the photo. The tool that is still giving me trouble is the cloning or healing tool when I try to remove something distracting in the photo. One picture in particular did not turn out as well as I wanted, so I guess more practice is needed.

Overall, I am pleased with these photos and it looks like my photographic and post-processing skills are improving. I hope you enjoy these photos and I am looking forward to my next post and hopefully, those pictures will be even better. I am planning on posting pictures from my trip to Blackwater Falls in West Virginia. Nature photography is a departure for me, so lets see how I do on that.

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