Thursday, 26 November 2009

Selective colour inside Adobe Camera RAW

My last 15 minute photo challenge seems to have hit a chord with many people and I'm not totally sure why that is. I think it has something to do with being shot in a typical tourist shopping town, the kind of place so many of us visit on our annual summer holiday and the kind of place most people overlook as being a "photographic" hot spot. It's also created a steady flow of questions, the top three I'll try and answer here:

No 3. Did you get flown out to Sicily just for the photo challenge?
I wish! No, I was on a much deserved family holiday, but for me a holiday isn't a holiday unless I get time to take some photos. Photography is my job, but it's also my hobby.

No 2. Did you REALLY take all those pictures in 15 Minutes?
The whole point of the 15 minute photo challenges is to show that great photos are all around us and equipment, location and available time are not barriers to photography. I really believe it's possible to take great photos anytime, anywhere and I absolutely love putting that theory into practice.

Having said that THIS challenge was so much fun I over ran a little, so technically it show be called "The 20 minute photo challenge". In fact if it wasn't for the lure of a pizzeria, I'd have stayed there all night (or until I ran out of memory cards)

No 1. Yes but you then spent hours working the pictures through Photoshop, right?
Well actually no. I took about 150 photos during the photo challenge, so I got home I picked out the best dozen or so. I then ran them through Adobe Camera RAW giving them all a similar high contrast feel. The whole thing took about an hour.

To demonstrate how this is possible I put together this short video. Enjoy


Monday, 23 November 2009

Product Photography & bonus video

Regular blog readers will be aware that I produce training videos for a few photographic companies. One of my regular gigs is with who are a UK based independent distributor of studio equipment.

A few weeks ago I visited their warehouse which is an Aladdin’s cave of studio goodies. The best thing for me was being able to actually see many of the items I have on my wish list at first hand. That's also purpose of making the videos; you get to see the kit being used for real photography.

This week I got my hands on the tabletop lighting kit which is geared towards product photography. The lights are of the “continuous” variety rather then the flash lights I’m more used to. For anyone who remembers the days when continuous lighting meant hot lights, these new low voltage bulbs are amazing. Firstly they're cool to the touch, but they also use far less power. For example the 105w bulbs I was using pumps out 500w of light, which is amazingly bright.

You can see the live action at the end of this post, but because this blog is all about training, here's a bonus video. After you've taken your product photo you may need to extend the background. I that happens here's a quick Photoshop technique which can help.

So here's the live action video. As well as going over the equipment, I also provide a whole bunch of photographic advice on photographing against a white background. The same advice applies to portrait photographers as well as product photographer. Enjoy.


Friday, 13 November 2009

15 minute photo challenge - Taormina, Sicily

It's been a while since I've added a new 15 minute photo challenge video to the blog, so I'm really pleased to correct that today.

If you've not seen one of these challenges before, here's how it works.

The theory goes something like this. I believe the quality of photographs you take isn't directly related to what camera or lens you own. Sure those are important, but a good photographer can take good photos with any camera you give them, just look at the iPhone gallery by Chase Jarvis to see what I mean.

So in that vain, earlier this year I set myself a personal photography challenge. Go somewhere I've never previously visited, take a "budget" DSLR camera fitted with a cheap 50mm fixed focal length lens and spend just 15 minutes photographing what I see. The results are run through Photoshop where once again I spend as short a time as possible which usually means less then 45 minutes.

In this 15 minute photo challenge I visited at beautiful town of Taormina in Sicily where I walked from one end of the main tourist shopping street to the other stopping only to take photographs.

I hope you enjoybthe results half as much as I enjoyed taking them


Friday, 6 November 2009

Friday Freebie - Video Loop

Yesterday I posted a video tutorial on what equipment you'll need to produce a professional green screen (chroma key) effect. Both ends of the video featured a short video loop of my own design.

The fact that's it's of my own design is an important point. It's not an ego thing, but a copyright thing.

Whenever you upload a video to the internet, to Youtube or just share it with friends you should always observe copyright. Unless you made it yourself, music, graphics and of course video loops are going to be someone elses copyright. Basically you shouldn't use them without permission (and possibly payment). A hunt around the internet will provide links to royalty free content and that's what I've always used in my videos.

For those of you who want to try your hand at green screen videos, I'm giving away my background video loop. It's 1280x720 resolution, runs for about 40 seconds and it's loopable, which means the begining and the end match perfectly to allow multiple copies to be joined seamlessly.

Here's the link: (17mb)

Usual rules apply. The video is copyright Gavin Hoey 2009. You may use it for personal, non-commercial purposes. Do not redistribute without permission. Most importanly have fun using it.


Thursday, 5 November 2009

Green screen / Chroma Key

Although I'm known for my Photography / Photoshop tutorials, I'm also a very keen video guy. I'm not talking family videos or mini movies, I'm talking about training videos. So when I was asked by to make a promo video using their excellent continuous lighting and pop up green screen background, I jumped right in.

Using a green screen is fairly easy, but there are some do's and don't. I had to learn these the hard way, but for smick I've managed to sneak in some top green screen tips amongst the product shots.

With the worlds of photography an video set to converge over then next year or two this could very well be something you'll find yourself doing in the not to distant future.