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9 Book Excerpts - Creative Lighting Tips And Techniques
The following excerpt is from a wonderful new digital photography book, Creative Lighting: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques by award-winning professional photographer Harold Davis. The book covers both natural light and studio lighting. However, it is not a cookbook covering studio lighting setups; nor is it a book that emphasizes the pixels over the overall visual impact that a photograph can make.
Each of the photos in Creative Lighting can be used to generate ideas for your own work — how you can use existing light, alter light, or create lighting to make spectacular photos of your own. The author includes the story behind each photo in the book, as well as full technical data about the captures.
To make a photo, light enters through a camera’s lens and proceeds to hit the sensor. From the viewpoint of the camera—and the photographer—the exposure settings used by the camera translate this incoming rush of light via hardware and software into a file that can be viewed or printed.
If the exposure settings are wrong, the resulting photo may not be usable. Extreme overexposure—where the camera’s controls are set to allow in too much light—will produce an all-white photo without any details. At the other extreme, very underexposed photos haven’t let enough light in to the sensor—and there’s no detail to be seen because the image is all black.
When there is detail to be seen in a photo, the exposure settings control how the incoming light is rendered. In other words, unless you are using a camera obscura—a pinhole device without optics or exposure controls—how an image is rendered is a two-step dance. This dance involves both the light transmitted or reflected by the scene the camera is capturing, as well as what the camera does with that light.
This relationship, or balancing act, between incoming light and the camera’s exposure controls has often been referred to as an equation (sometimes called the exposure equation). In other words, when incoming light is exactly balanced by the camera settings, then you get a theoretically “correct” (or “proper”) exposure.
20mm, 3 seconds at f/22 and ISO 200, tripod mounted
This is a bedroom in a simple country inn that rests on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais above San Francisco, California. It can only be reached by hiking along a trail on the sides of the mountain. When I reached the inn in the late afternoon, light was streaming in through the window of this back bedroom. I set my exposure to capture some detail in the room, while showing that parts of the room were in deep shadow in contrast to the brilliant sunshine coming in through the window.
48mm, 45 exposures at shutter speeds from 1/6 of a second to 1/20 of a second, exposures combined in Photoshop, each taken at f/29 and ISO 100, tripod mounted
Along the rugged northern California coast near Point Arena, I stopped to photograph a bed of sea palms—a kind of kelp—as the plants were struck by surf in the intertidal zone. To get a sense of the scale, one of the sea palms in the foreground of the image was about one foot high.
My son Nicky and I were alone on a rocky cliff facing the pounding ocean. Even though we were not in danger, he was worried that we would be swept away and kept running up to higher ground.
My goal in making the image was to show each individual sea palm in motion caused by the pounding surf. But the problem was that the individual plants didn’t move synchronously. I knew that if I held my shutter open long enough to capture all the plants in motion, my image would be way overexposed (and maybe even white). So I took 45 individual exposures, spaced out over about an hour, at settings that would correctly render the individual plants. When I post-processed the plants, I combined them using a technique called stacking—essentially creating a still version of time lapse photography.
200mm, 1/250 of a second at f/9 and ISO 200, tripod mounted
I knew that if left to its own device my camera would create an average exposure of the scene of San Francisco, California shrouded in afternoon fog. In making this average exposure, the camera would be fooled by the prevailing bright light coming off the fog, and everything would seem way too light and bright. So I made sure to considerably “underexpose,” letting the clouds go gray and the hills and trees become very dark—which led to a more pleasing overall image.
Don’t start worrying that you are going to have to use equations and algebra to be a good photographer! For one thing, theoretical correctness in exposure is truly unimportant to how a photo comes out. For another, there are only a few variables you can use to set a camera, and their relationship is pretty simple. It’s amazing— but true—that much of the technical craft of taking photos can be understood and mastered as long as you understand what goes into an exposure.
The three exposure controls you can use on your camera to adjust for incoming light are aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
Aperture is easily understood as the size of the opening inside your lens that lets light through. The larger the opening, the more light reaches the sensor—and the smaller the opening the less light gets in. Aperture is explained in more detail on pages 82–85.
Shutter speed is not really a speed at all; rather, it is a duration of time—how long the shutter is left open to allow light to pass in through the lens to the sensor. For more about shutter speed, see pages 86–91.
ISO, also called sensitivity, is used to set how light sensitive the sensor is.
In the days of film, ISO was mostly set depending on the film you used (although some films could be processed to raise or lower effective ISO). In the digital era, one can dial-in ISO on a per-exposure basis—with trade-offs explained in detail on pages 92–97.
Aperture, shutter speed, ISO—this is the triangle used to control the way incoming light is rendered by creating an exposure. The point is that if these three are set to match the incoming light, they are in a kind of balance. If you decide you need to change one of them, you’ll have to compensate by changing another to keep the balance!
You’ll find that if you start thinking in terms of the three exposure variables as you make photos that pretty soon you’ll unconsciously know how to set your camera—and your images will greatly benefit.
Get your camera off Automatic
There are several good reasons for taking your camera off Automatic exposure control, and never turning Automatic back on. I like to think I am smarter than my camera, and usually I am!
Your camera is only a bunch of electronic circuits connected to a lens
Your camera can read light—but not think creatively. So become the boss of your camera by not letting the Automatic exposure setting take over.
If you don’t set your own exposures—using Manual exposure—you won’t learn about the subtle, and not-so-subtle, impact that changing your exposure settings can have.
Sure, there’s a place for Shutter-preferred
or Aperture-preferred exposure modes.
And, sometimes I even use fully Auto-matic exposure—for example, when the
subject is moving faster than I can think
or react. But in most situations you will do yourself
a big favor by using Manual exposure. It’s
also the only real way to get a sense of
your exposure controls that will become
intuitive, unconscious, and second nature.
Here are the links to the other free excerpts:
• Overexposure And Underexposure
• Using A Histogram In Photoshop
• All About Aperture
• Working With Shutter Speeds
• Working With The ISO
• Using Exposure Controls with Lighting
• White Balance And Color
• Pre-Visualizing the Impact of Lighting
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Adobe Deals & Special Coupon Offers
Visit the Adobe Coupons & Special Offers Page to see the latest deals from Adobe. Find upgrade options at the Adobe Store. Get up to 80% off at the Adobe Education Store. Find out about monthly or annual subscriptions. You can also download a free 30 day trial of any Adobe CS5 product.
onOne Photoshop Plugins Sale - Plus Exclusive 10% Discount
onOne has launched a big sale that has reduced the prices of every one of their plugins. Visit onOne for full product descriptions. And if you decide to purchase one of their plugins, use our exclusive discount code - PSSPPT06 - for an additional 10% discount. Here's a list of the sale prices (before our 10% discount is applied):
Perfect Photo Suite $299.95 / $149.95 (upgrade)
Perfect Photo Suite 5.5 includes all of the onOne Software products and works with Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture. Five of the products in the Suite even work as stand-alone applications now.
Perfect Resize 7 $199.95 / $69.95 (upgrade)
The next generation of Genuine Fractals is still the industry standard for image enlargement. Works with Photoshop CS5, Lightroom, and Aperture or as a stand-alone application.
Perfect Layers $69.95
Perfect Layers is the fast and easy way to bring a layered workflow to Lightroom and Aperture. Perfect Layers works with Lightroom and Aperture or as a standalone application.
FocalPoint $99.95 / $69.95 (upgrade)
Add realistic depth of field to your images. Works with Photoshop CS5, Lightroom, and Aperture or as a stand-alone application.
PhotoTune $99.95 / $69.95 (upgrade)
Getting great color in your images is not as hard as you think. Works with Photoshop CS5, Lightroom, and Aperture or as a stand-alone application.
Mask Pro 4 $99.95 / $69.95 (upgrade)
For removing unwanted backgrounds, Mask Pro is the Photoshop plugin recommended by Advanced Photoshop magazine. Works as a plug-in for Photoshop.
PhotoTools $99.95 / $69.95 (upgrade)
Instantly give your photos the professional look. Works as a Photoshop plug-in.
PhotoFrame $99.95 / $69.95 (upgrade)
Add the perfect finishing touch to your photos or create an album layout design. Works with Photoshop CS5, Lightroom, and Aperture or as a stand-alone application.
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Our friends at Auto FX have given us an exclusive special offer discount coupon code S94525 that will give you an instant 15% discount on any and all of their amazing Photoshop plugins and even their special Photoshop Plugin Bundles.
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The 4 1/2 out of 5 star review of Fluid Mask at MacWorld begins by saying that this "Photoshop plug-in takes the pain out of extracting backgrounds," and goes on to recommend the latest version, stating that "Fluid Mask is a very effective tool for separating objects from their backgrounds. It offers a variety of useful features for tackling almost any difficult image, from wispy hair to complex foliage. Online video tutorials and live training sessions help ease the learning curve."
Our friends at Vertus, the makers of Fluid Mask Photoshop Plugin, have set up a special exclusive discount for PhotoshopSupport.com. Go to our Fluid Mask page for a special, exclusive discount link.
Fluid Mask is designed for photographers, image editors, graphic designers and all those who take digital image editing seriously. In a streamlined interface and workflow, Fluid Mask instantly shows key edges in the image and provides comprehensive easy to use tools that work with difficult-to-see edges and tricky areas like trees & lattices. Fluid Mask will also preserve all-important edge information for a professional quality cut out. Go to our Fluid Mask page for more info.
Special Deals On Nik Software Photoshop Plugins - Viveza, Complete Collection - 15% DISCOUNT COUPONS
Follow the links below and the 15% discount will be AUTOMATICALLY APPLIED to any purchase you make, or use our exclusive discount coupon code - NIKPSS - during the checkout process at Nik Software for the instant 15% discount. This exclusive discount coupon code can be applied to all the latest Nik Software Photoshop plugins, including Silver Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, and The Complete Collection (big savings).
Nik Software The Complete Collection (Plugins Bundle)
The Complete Collection includes all of Nik Software's latest award-winning plug-in software titles for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture including: Dfine, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, and Sharpener Pro.
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Color Efex Pro 3.0
52 photographic filters with over 250 effects for professional quality images. Completely Original. Completely Indispensable.
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The most powerful tool to selectively control color and light in photographic images without the need for complicated selections or layer masks.
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Site Grinder Web Design Tool
There often seems to be a strict division of labor within the world of web design and development. Creative professionals tend to stick to the Photoshop domain, while those well-versed in scripting are left to the task of implementing their work. Indeed, the two realms are quite different from each other, to which any of us even vaguely familiar with either can easily attest.
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Turn Photoshop Into A Complete Web Design Tool
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WordPress Photoshop Plug-in Creates Wordpress Blogs & Sites
Designers can now create PSD to WordPress Themes in Photoshop with Media Lab's NEW SG3xpress for Wordpress Photoshop plug-in. In addition, Media Lab has released the SG3xpress Add-on for its SiteGrinder 3 for users who wish to add advanced blog and WordPress Theme-building to the already powerful SiteGrinder 3 website creation software.
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Free Plugins And Extras For Photographers And Designers - onOne Free Products - Fully Functional, No Expiry Date
onOne is offering some nice free products for photographers and designers. This software is not the same as the demo products they also offer. These free downloads are fully functional and do not expire. Customers who download these products will also receive special promotional pricing from onOne. The free products include the following:
PhotoTools 2.5 Free Edition - Add a professional look to your photos with the PhotoTools 2.5 Free Edition plug-in for Photoshop. Includes 26 professional-grade actions and photographic effects to make your images stand out from the crowd.
PhotoFrame 4.5 Free Edition - Add the perfect finishing touch to your photos with the PhotoFrame 4.5 Free plug-in for Photoshop. Includes 30 professional-grade edges, backgrounds, textures, adornments, and even full-page album layouts. Discover a whole new way to get outstanding results inside of Photoshop.
Perfect Presets for LightRoom - Designed to provide a streamlined workflow and make you more creative, these presets for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom were designed to help you get the most out of Lightroom.
Perfect Presets for Aperture - Designed to provide a streamlined workflow and make you more creative, these presets for Aperture 3 were designed to help you get the most out of Aperture.
Perfect Presets for Camera Raw - Designed to provide a streamlined workflow and make you more creative, these presets for Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) were designed to help you get the most out of your Raw images in Adobe Photoshop.
Free Photoshop Templates - Album templates, layouts, backgrounds and edges to save you time in Photoshop.
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