The blending modes feature is one of Photoshop’s most undervalued tools for Photographers. Blending modes can be used to alter the ways in which each layer interacts with the layers below it, allowing for endless possibilities when it comes to setting the right tone or adding artificial lighting.
Graphic designers and digital illustrators use blending modes all the time to create interesting lighting effects or textures; however, most digital photographers don’t realize that blending modes can be useful when working with photographs, too. The right combination of blending modes can set a dramatic tone that is otherwise difficult to achieve. Read more…
In Part 1 and Part 2 of the Retouching with Cloning Tools series, you learned what cloning tools are used for and the differences between each tool. In this part of the series, you will follow a step-by-step tutorial to learn how to remove power lines (or other unwanted objects) from an otherwise beautiful photograph.
This particular image contains distracting power lines on the left side of the stylish building, but the photo is oriented in such a way that simply cropping them out would look strange. Read more…
First of all, let me get something off my chest. I’m not picking on this book in particular, but generally, when will photography book authors quit talking about digital photography like it’s some crazy new thing that people need to be gently introduced to? Why does every photo book have an “introduction to digital” section that is all but useless filler? It’s 2008 people! If I wanted an introduction to digital photograhy, I’d have bought an introduction to digital photography book. Ok, rant over.
Read on to learn more about the book and find out how you can get a free copy.
Mercifully, The Art of Black and White Photography by Torsten Andreas Hoffmann keeps the intro to digital section to a mere 9 pages.
The meat of this book starts in section two. Section two devotes a full chapter to each of many different genres and concepts and attempts to show by example how to make black and white photographs.
Topics include overcoming clichés, architecture, portraits, street photography, and moods. Arguably, these are all topics that apply equally well to color photography. And in fact you could easily open this book to the chapter on, say, street photography, and apply the advice easily to color photos. If the example photos were in color you might even forget you were trying to learn something about black and white.
The example photos are quite good but very little space is spent explaining why these photos are better in black and white or how the removal of color enhances them. A person unfamiliar with the attraction of black and white might come away scratching his head. Technical details are lightly sprinkled throughout the text. For example, page 121 states “The photograph was taken with an analog camera, a 20 mm wide-angle lens, and a red filter. Yet, in spite of this red filter, the sky had to be burned in towards the top in the darkroom so it could unfold to its full effect.” On page 93 you’ll find “It was important to bring out the white highway stripes in the darkroom and to increase the contrast as well.”
And for a book subtitled “Creating Superb Images in a Digital Workflow,” a surprising number of images were creating using film cameras and traditional darkroom techniques. In many of the examples, rather than black and white techniques we get discussions of history, Greek mythology, and rather bland details like “This photo was taken with a 20mm wide-angle lens.” It’s an interesting read but not at all what I thought the book would contain based on its title.
Section three is devoted to compositional techniques. Again, most of these principals apply to photography in general, not just black and white. In this section though, I think it’s easier to see the connection to black and white because composition deals with concepts like shape, line, and form—basic components that often become more prominent once color has been removed from a photograph.
Section four covers digital conversion techniques using Photoshop CS2 and CS3. This is a solid but brief section with good information on basic conversion, dodging/burning, contast, sharpening and more. (Although, at one point the author shows one example of replacing a bland sky with an even blander gray scale gradient.)
Would I recommend this book? Well, maybe. Not if you’re looking for an introduction to black and white photography, certainly. But if you’ve already got some experience with black and white and you’re looking for some inspiration? Sure. I would have liked to have seen a lot more explanation of why particular photos work better in black and white or why the photographer chose to use black and white over color. But possibly, the best audience is anyone who can benefit from the lengthy and detailed discussions on various photographic genres and compositional techniques that fill most of the pages. And if you want to talk philosophy, mysticism, or history in relation to photography, this is the book for you.
Want my review copy? Leave a comment with a valid email address. One reader will be chosen at random this weekend to receive a free copy.
This book was provided to Photodoto free of charge for review.
Last night, as she tucked our son into bed, my lovely and talented wife came into the office in search of the camera. Our conversation went something like this:
Wife: “Where’s the camera? I need to take a picture of your son. How do you get this thing off the tripod?”
Me: “Wait a second. You’re going to need some light.”
Wife: “This is supposed to just be a quick snapshot.”
Me: “Do you want a blurry mess or do you want to be able to see what’s in the photo?” (Set flash to TTL BL, +1 EV, on-camera, oriented to bounce off ceiling and adjacent wall. Camera set to ISO 200, P mode, +0.7 EV)
Me: “Oops, you’re going to need some film.”
Me: “There you go.”
Me: “Hey, presto!”
Scene and composition: The Lovely and Talented Wife
Camera setup: Me
I recently published this photo on Flickr (click here to view larger) and it received a lot of interest so I thought I’d share how I made it. Taking 64 photos like this may look like a lot of work but it can actually be done quite easily. Here’s how I did it.
First of all, I used two flashes for lighting. An on camera SB-800 with diffusion dome pointed up and back and an off-camera SB-600 bounced into an umbrella to the right of the camera. You can do this without fancy lighting equipment. The important thing to remember is simply that the lighting must be consistent from shot to shot.