This blog captures my journey to take a break from jewelry designing to learn something new. Join me as I learn the art of photography and Photoshop Elements and watch me create through my lens. ~ Dee

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pre-set White Balance...Life Savor!

It rained all day today, and I'm dealing with some foot issues, so I took the opportunity to play around with my light box and some of my handcrafted jewelry.  Prior to DSLR, all of my jewelry photos were taken with a Nikon 5400 point and shoot and luck!

Today, I decided to challenge myself and use some of the things I've learned on my journey.  I decided to work with a bracelet that hasn't been sold as my challenge.  During my early photo days, all I knew was Auto Mode, meaning I aimed and shot and the camera did all the work.  Today, 99% of my photos are taken in some type of professional mode, so I'm left figuring out the settings that will make the best exposure. 

One of the things that stood out immediately to me in this old photo is the yellow tint at the top of the image. Most likely it had something do with lighting, and the white background really isn't doing anything to expose the beautiful components in this piece (Kazuri and Hill Tribe Silver).  After deciding to use a loose ceramic tile I had laying around, the first image looked like this...

(f/3, 1/60 sec, ISO 200, WB cloudy)
 Immediately, you can see that the tile does more to bring out the colors in the bracelet than the white paper did; however, the colors aren't very true for the braclet or the tile and the entire image has a yellow hue to it.  Sure I could play around in photoshop and try to get the color correct, but my goal is shoot the image as best I can the first time, and have as little processing to do aftewards as possible. Typically I shoot with a WB of cloudy, for a warmer image, but the warm doesn't seem to be working with the I decided to switch to a WB Tungsten (light bulb) and I got this.....

(f/3, 1/60 sec, ISO 200 ,WB Tungsten)
Eeeeeeekk is right!  Defintely not the look I was going for nor expecting, since, I was using the light bulb setting for light bulb light.  Tungsten light is a cooler light as you can see compared to cloudy, but I didn't want it that cool!  Next, I thought I'd try my luck with Incandecent WB, not as blue, but definitely not natural looking and still a little scarey!

(f/3, 1/60 sec, ISO 200, WB Incandecent)
But I wasn't out of arsenal yet!  There were a few more camera settings I could have tried, but enough was enough...I was going to have to preset my own White Balance, by taking a true reading of the light within the light box.  If you have a DSLR, I'm fairly certain your camera has this option. You can find it by referencing your own camera manual.  By taking a true reading of the light from within the box using the preset option, I was able to create a manual White Balance that mirrored the actual light I had reflecting inside the box and  low and behold I got this....

(f/3, 1/60 sec, ISO 200, WB-preset)
Same bracelet, same light set up, slightly different composition but definitely a better exposure!  The only thing that was still bothering me with this image, was that only the two bottom beads in front were clearly in focus.  For this particular piece I was really trying to capture the entire bracelet as it WAS the focal point.  With some adjustment to my apeture setting, taking it from f/3 (great depth of field) to f/20 (everything in focus), my exposure reading changed to 1/4 sec., then I filled my frame more with the bracelet, I was able to get the entire bracelet in focus, including the clasp using a tripod. 

When photographing jewelry for online websites, it's not about the props, it's about capturing the gorgeous components and relating to your potential customers through your photos.  I think this final image says buy me, buy me!!

(f/20, 1/4 sec, ISO 200, WB Preset)
If you're looking at your own images and thinking..."this color isn't right" may need to change your white balance; and, if the camara doesn't have an automatic setting that works for what your shooting, go test driving in manual mode with a pre-set...i think you'll like the ride.

Lesson Learned:
I'm a long way from where I was one year ago. 

Unveiling natural colors,

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Searching for My Photography Nitch...

Sooner or later, I'm guessing that most photographers fall into a nitch...wildlife, still shots, portraits, flowers, etc.  It just make sense that you find something you not only enjoy shooting, but you do very well - but not me...I'm still on a journey to find my photography nitch.  Recently I've visited two zoo's and I must admit I really enjoyed photographing the animals, but I can't imaging it would take long before I run out of interesting wildlife to photograph, since I do not envision any safari's in my future, nor any place I have to I continue to search. 

People?  Well, I'm such an introvert, I'm struggling getting started in this area outside of family and friends. But, I'm taking the step in the right direction. I'm in my third week of an online photography class at PPSOP.  It's been very interesting so far, however, my trip to a Wine Festival today, proves I'm just not ready to tackle public candid photos.  But I watched a friend work the crowd today, and next time I'll be ready!

Animals?  Loving it...wild life that is...but not sure I would have the patience or interest to work with any one's pet. 

Macro?  Has been interesting, still more practicing to do here with my recent macro lens purchase.  But it will definitely keep me occupied this coming winter, when I'm stuck in the house. 

Stiff Life - okay, but a little boring, not enough excitement to keep me interested for long. 

Landscape- Loving it!  Sunsets, beaches, city scape's, tranquility....definitely will be a part of my repertoire. 

And so the journey continues...I'm certain I'll end up with at least two favorites, and from there I'll have a focus for this journey. 

Lesson Learned:
I need to find a nitch ...something that speaks me!

Unveiling in everything...for the moment

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Vrooomm Vrooom at the Virginia Beach Car Show

I had the pleasure of happening upon a car show this past weekend at Virginia Beach while vacationing.  I thoroughly enjoyed taking close ups of the shiny objects that adorned the vehicles up and down the boardwalk.  I did not have my micro lens with me, but I was able to get some pretty cool shots.  I'm still getting used to my new sidekick and unfortunately I forgot to bring Kobie down from the room for a ride, but we'll soon get use to hanging out together.  

Lesson Learned:
I like the bling bling of shiny things

Unveiling at the beach,

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Say Hello to "Kobie"...My New Photo Buddy

Some day's I just don't know what to take a picture of.  My 366 project is hit or miss, but I'm still taking photos and learning, just not every day like I should be.  So I decided that I need a buddy that will hopefully provide me inspiration, be there when I need him and will always be patient with me, stay where I place him, never make cross eyes to ruin a good photo and never run the other way when I'm coming.

When I walked down the isle in the store today, he was calling my name.  No packaging, no price tag, no friends. How could I not bring him home.  After much debate and a little ennie meenie minee mo, I've decided to name him "Kobie".....isn't he the cutest..and he's so very photogenic.  Perfect eyes, perfect smile perfect photo buddy!

We're on vacation this week, so we'll have plenty of time to play around with the camera hopefully post some pictures for you to see all that we did.  oh oh, Kobie has jumped in my camera bag..he's feeling a little naked.  After I find him a little shirt he say's he'll be raring to go! 

Lesson Learned
There is inspiration every where, you just have to look for it!

Unveiling with a friend,

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Adding a Splash of Color to B&W in Photoshop Elements 9

I will start this post with a rant....It has taken me months to figure out in plain English how to add a splash of color to a black and white photo!!  Yes...I've Googled and Yes I read the manual, but I wasn't able to find anything in plain english until a light bulb went off and I picked up a book I purchased several months ago and what do you know...right there in plain English, in How To Cheat in Photoshop Elements 9 by David Asch & Steve Caplin was a chapter called A Splash of Color!  I won't go into explaining or trying to reason why I had not done this early, but lets just say SHAME ON ME!! if you find this post, I hope it helps, if you don't - I hope you telepathically know that I feel your frustration.  These instructions are specifally for Elements 9, as I have learned that different versions and different bloggers, authors and teachers have different methods.  Let's just say this is the dummies version without all the technical stuff and move on from there.

1.  Start by opening a color photo in Elements that you'd like to convert to black and white and add back a splash of color. 

2.  In the tools bar to the left, click on the smart brush tool.  It's right next to the pencil and looks like a paint brush with a metal ring beside it. 

3.  Next in the drop down menu that pops up, select photographic.  The drop down box will dissappear.  Next scroll down and look for the Neutral Tone BW option and double click.  the box will dissappear. 

4.  Next at the top of the view bar, select a brush size.  I prefer to work with 5pix, but it's a personal preference as I feel I have more control over the brush.  If you decide to use this same size, make sure you zoom in on your view so that you have a closer look at the image.  You can play around with the other options (hardness, pressure) later, but this will get your started with the concept. 

5. Now, left click in the corner of the image or item you want to remain in color and begin to drag the mouse over the image.  You will begin to see the color selection turn to black and white.  Hold your horses, I know what you're thinking...just trust me!  Once you've highlight the item in black and white, you may notice that there is some spill over into areas you didn't want to change.  There is a fix for this.  Release your mouse and click on the ALT button.  While holding down the ALT button, place your mouse in the area that SHOULD NOT be colored and begin to pull back the flashing line.  You will notice that the line will begin to receed back and reveal color in those areas again. This may take some practice, but that is why I choose to work with a small brush.  

6.  Once you have the photo like you want, you should see black and white in the area you want color and color in the area you want black and white. 

7.  Next, in the top menu bar, next to refine edge, select the inverse button.  Like magic, you should now see color in what you want colored and black and white in the remainder of the photo. 

8.  At this point, I always just click on the crop button to make all the other little stuff (you'll see) go away so that I can see a clear version of my new photo. 

9.  If the picture is what you wanted, you can now do a Save As and rename your new file. I also prefer to save my format as a .jpg instead of the PSE. 

So, there you have plain english. If you're still trying to learn to use Photoshop Elements I recommend that you pick up a copy of this book. It also comes with a CD that is loaded with photos you can play with.  This is one of my personal photos, but the photos on the CD match the photos in the book. 

Lesson Learned:
Try, try again and don't give up...there's something out there in a dummies version that is written in plain english, you just have to keep looking!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cloning Doesn't Have To Be A Bad Thing...

We've all heard about cloning in the news and watched the evil scientist in the movies; so the thought of cloning anything probably makes you a little scared.  If I told you I cloned something recently would you believe me?  Well I did and it took all of 5 minutes!!  Tonight while watching a video over at PPSOP (Picture Perfect School of Photography) I learned how to clone a photo!  Don't believe me...see for yourself. 

I took this photo last week at the zoo, and the glare from the window that was protecting me from these beautiful creatures, has been really bugging me.  Sure I could have removed the shield from my lense, but I probably would have missed the moment, and for obvious reasons the glass wasn't going anywhere!  Up until tonight, I was stuck with the eye sore, and never thought to to ask anyone. Does the glare bother you like it does me??

With the nifty little cloning tool (looks like a ink stamp in your tool box) in Photoshop Elements, I was able to clone other parts of the tigers body and cover up the glass glare.... that cool or what!!! 

It's by far not perfect, but it looks a whole lot better than the original photo.  If it weren't so late, I'd go through a ton more to see what else I can clone.  Maybe you yourself have a photo that has something in it like a pole, or a person or anything distracting that you wished wasn't there... Now you know of a tool that can just Clone it out!!

Lesson Learned  
Some things can be fixed.



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