Archive for December, 2012

I often get asked and see asked on forums which is better, Lightroom or Photoshop.  The simple answer is, if you ignore cost its Photoshop, Photoshop does everything Lightroom does and more.  But that is ignoring cost and also not asking what do you want it to do for you.  You have to remember I am writing this as a Photographer, so my view of Photoshop is only from a Photographers perspective and therefore I only use Photoshop as a last resort to make corrections and remove blemishes from my images as I try and get everything right ‘In Camera’, I am not using Photoshop to do any ‘heavy’ editing or manipulation.

If you are on a tight budget the answer is simple too, Lightroom.  Lightroom is a fraction of the cost of Photoshop and in my mind offers much better value for money.

I use both products, my first port of call is always Lightroom, when I return from a shoot the first thing I do is import my photos into Lightroom, I use presets that add my copyright data into the metadata, adds keywords and also perform slight adjustments to my images to meet my tastes, these adjustments are only a starting point and I almost always tweek them, but they move the image closer to what I want as a starting point.  Once Imported I then do any post production editing (exposure, white balance etc) but as little as possible, also any cropping or vignetting I want to do.  At this point in Lightroom there is a spot removal tool that can be used to remove any blemishes that you want to remove and any skin softening can be done and this works fine, but I always do this in Photoshop, its a much more refined product and although the difference between the results in Lightroom and Photoshop are often minimal there are differences and Photoshop always has the edge.

For me Lightroom is a great tool for cataloging my photos, 90% of post production work and adding presets to the images, its also great for exporting to flickr as you can setup a template which includes a watermark and resizing the image.  Also any keywords added in Lightroom are exported as tags into Flickr.  Then Photoshop is for any editing that is needed above and beyond what I do in Lightroom.

To summarise, as a Professional Photographer you need both products, if you want to do heavy manipulation and editing on your photos you need Photoshop, but for any other photographers Lightroom will probably do exactly what you need and at a fraction of the cost of Photoshop.

When starting out in photography there is a lot to learn, not only about how to take shots, composition, exposure, aperture, ISO, shutter speed plus many more factors. You also have the daunting task of knowing what equipment you need, what lenses to buy and what make to go for.

When it comes down to it, photography and taking photos is simple, there a few things you need to know and everything else can be learnt at your own pace as you go along.

1. What camera?

I often get asked which camera is better (for example) Nikon D3100 or Canon EOS 6.  The simple answer is whichever you prefer, go to a shop, pickup and hold each camera, see how it feels, look through the menu system and find the camera that feels best and you like the best.  The differences in the spec between a similar priced Canon, Nikon, Pentax & Sony is going to be minimal and its really down to which feels best for you.

2. What equipment?

What equipment do you need to take good photos?

A DSLR – Clearly you can take photos with a point & click camera and your mobile phone, but if you are serious about your photography you do need a DSLR and know how to use it in Manual or Aperture Priority mode.

Tripod – If you are going to take landscape or night/low light photos a tripod is a must.

UV filter – I have listed 3 filters here, the UV filter is a must on each lens, just for protection, if you drop your lens and damage it, the cost of replacing it could be hundreds of pounds, where a UV filter cost approx £20.

Polorizing Filter – This is great for removing reflections from glass and glare from water, it will also help saturate a blue sky.

Neutral Density Filter – This is a must for Landscape photography, this can be replicated in Lightroom or Photoshop but you can never beat doing it in camera.  A Graduated ND filter can help reduce the exposure to a sky so the detail in the foreground is kept.

3. Taking a Photo.

There are a few rules I use when taking a photo.  Firstly do everything you can in camera, never take a photo thinking how you can make corrections in Photoshop, ALWAYS take a photo with the aim to not do anything in Photoshop at all, this is your goal.

Learn the rules of composition and then break them, they arent there to stick to, they are there so you know how and when to break them.

Be original, when you look at a subject, think of how you can shoot it that has never been done before, ‘Make it your own’.

I hope this helps in keeping it simple.  Remember YOU will take a good photo not your equipment, a good photographer with a £50 point and shoot camera will take better photos than a bad photographer with £10,000 worth of equipment.

Please checkout my gallery at http://www.dhanksphotography.co.uk/gallery.html and let me know what you think of my work.

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, a HDR image is basically multiple images that are merged into one image taking the correctly exposed area from each image, there are many programs out there to create HDR images, personally I have found HRD efex Pro 2 to be the best.  In some circles HDR has a bad name, this has really come around because the look you can get if you over process a HDR image is unnatural and very often this is what people do, the results are like marmite, you either love them or hate them.

Below is an example of how you can create a HDR image that still looks natural and has the correct exposure across the whole picture.  Okay the picture itself isnt fantastic but I picked a candle which has a lot of detail and photographed it in from of my patio doors, although its not a particularly sunny day you can see from a standard image below a lot of the detail within the candle is lost while making sure the background isnt over exposed.

IMG_1734

 

Next I took 3 shots, each 1 stop apart, its important to always use a tripod when doing this otherwise movement will cause ghosting on the final image.  Once I had the 3 images I then processed them in HDR efex Pro 2, keeping the detail and depth to a normal level leaves the image looking natural.

IMG_1734_HDR

You can see in the HDR image the background is still correctly exposed and you can also see the detail on the front of the candle.  This is a great tool that when used correctly can produce some really nice results.  Below are a couple of HDR images I have created, you can see the detail through the whole image and the exposure is correct from the sun to the foreground.

Frosty Sunrise on Path to Godington

 

In the picture below HDR has meant you can see the fine detail on the close up and the sunrise hasnt been over exposed.

 

Frosty Plant Macro Shot

Well in the last few days we have seen the temperature drop and our first snowfall of the winter.  This morning I got my first chance to go out and get some shots.  I decided to go to a church in a village near me called Great Chart, it was clear sky and frosty, I got there just in time for the sunrise.

School House at Great Chart

The next shot is taken from the church looking out to the old School house.

Sunrise over Old School House

As you can see it was frosty this morning but the sky was clear and this combination makes it much easier to get crystal clear shots.  The next 2 photos are both of the church, the first one was just as the sun was coming up.

Great Chart Church and the Moon

The next shot as you can see from the light  was a bit later as the sun was rising above the cottages opposite.

Sunrise hitting Great Chart Church