Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Digital Day - The results

Saturday just gone was a great day where I was running the digital day at Wantage Camera Club. It was great for a number of reasons. First I got to meet many readers of this blog, some of whom travelled a long way to be there. Second I was able to do something that I’m really passionate about; sharing my knowledge about photography and Photoshop.

For me the day just got better and better. The highlight of the day, for me, was the part that I called “Live & Unplanned” because that’s exactly what it was. Normally I carefully plan out my lectures but this was something very much out of my comfort zone and I’m so glad I did it.

I did a mini photo challenge with three excellent photographers. They immediately got the idea of what I was asking them to do and despite the rain doing it’s best to stop us, we all managed to get all get some great images in the bag.

With the help of the audience, I spent 20 minutes skimming through the memory cards and applying a few Photoshop tricks. Below are a few of the best shots. Click to enlarge them.

The two pictures above are by Ian Bateman. Check out his excellent website (and amazing AV's) here

Photos By John Long

Photos By Alec Finch

Photos By Gavin Hoey

All the above photos were taken in a five minute period in and around the lecture hall. The cameras were all second hand compact cameras bought from ebay for less the £20 and my three fellow photographers had no time to learn how they worked. It just goes to show what can be done if you focus your mind on seeing photos.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Creative Flower Photos - Quick Shots 04

This weeks question was sent in by Alex R who asked:

Question:: Hi Gavin, I'm really into flower photography, and was just wondering what is some cool ways to improve and edit them inside of photoshop. E.g blending, borders, colours...etc

The final image can be view on my Flickr photostream

If you fancy having a go yourself then you're welcome to use the same images I showed in the video.

Usual rules apply: Images are copyright Gavin Hoey and are for personal use only. They may not be sold, passed on or used for any advertising without my permission.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Shoot wide for more options

By and large it’s a good idea to get your images as perfect as possible in camera. Relying on Photoshop to bail you out of a hole is always second best. But when it comes to cropping, getting it right in camera isn’t always the best way to work.

This is something I learned as a wedding photographer taking group shots. When I first started I’d compose the shot in camera ensuring that the people on the ends of line up were just inside the image. That works fine until someone orders an 8”x10” print and you have to crop off the ends or grow more photo at the top and bottom. Neither was a good way to work.

The answer is simply to leave more space around the subject and get the perfect the crop in Photoshop. Take a look at this image to see what I mean.

Here I’ve left space around the door panel so I choose how to crop the final shot later.

This is the same image as before, but this time I've cropped in in Photoshop. Had I cropped in camera and only taken the above shot (the one I knew I wanted) then I would have had to do some serious Photoshop work to make the following image.

This image was taken on today’s photo training session. Many thanks to Melanie and Michael for placing and pruning the ivy.


Monday, 22 March 2010

5 Minute Photo Challenge - Dress Rehearsal

The clock is now ticking until my all day talk this Saturday. If you’re around the Oxford area on the 27th March 2010 then there’s still time to book your place. Details are here.

I’ve been working hard to find ways of adding some audience participation in to the day. One of the things I’m planning to do is recruit 2 or 3 delegates to take part in a mini photo challenge with me.

The idea is pretty simple. I’m going to give them a basic point and shoot compact camera and a list of three photos they need to take. They’ll then have 10 minutes to take the best photograph they can to fulfil each brief. Later I’ll process the images live in front of the audience taking suggestions from the floor.

Now, as I’ve never attempted this before I though it would be wise to test the idea first. Below is the result from the pictures taken by myself and my wife Sam in our 5 minute mini photo challenge. As always, click a photo to enlarge

I'm really pleased at how well this worked. Five minutes isn't long, so I'll be increasing it to 10 minutes on the day. Best of all, I had no idea what images I was going to get from Sam until she handed me the memory card. If it works half as well on Saturday I'll be very pleased.
By the way the camera's are all second hand EBay bargains. Not one cost more the £15 inc delivery. To quote Chase Jarvis... The best camera is the one you have with you.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Shadows & Borders in Photoshop - Quick Shots 03

This weeks Quick Shot question is...

How to add a border and a drop shadow onto an image.

If you have a question you’d like to see answered in a Quick Shot video then head over to the Gavtrain home page and send it over.

I can’t believe how many of you have taken the time to send me your Quick Shot questions. There’s some really great answers coming up. I received a surprising number photography related questions, which is great. If the fine weather holds, I plan to get some photography tutorials filmed next week.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Portrait Professional 9 - My new best friend

The debate about “photoshoped” or “airbrushed” images of models being used in magazines and advertising is one that’s been rolling on for sometime. But whatever your opinions on the subject the reality is almost everyone wants to look 10 years younger in there studio portraits.

For me that usually means hours on Photoshop reducing wrinkles, smoothing skin and deleting spots. I’ve always viewed it as just another part of the job, but all that has changed thanks to a clever piece of software called Portrait Professional 9 from Anthropics Technology. For the record, I’m in no way connected, employed or getting any kind of kick backs to promote their product, I just love it.

This picture is the final product of about 40 minutes at the computer. Without Portrait Professional that would have been more like 90 minutes. Although the makeup effect was added in Photoshop, the underlying skin tones were smoothed in Portrait Professional.

I could go into great detail about the benefits of the software, but to really understand what a game changer Portrait Professional is I made this short video review.

For a clearer look at the difference, click the image above for a before / after view.

And so the question you really want to know is… What the price of this software ? Unusually for a software company, Anthropics Technology is asking a very fair price of £50.00. Better still for a limited time you can get 10% discount if you use the promo code dp4010 when you buy Portrait Professional online. They also offer a free trial of the software so you can make up your own mind.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Share & Back Up your Photoshop Custom Brushes - Quick Shots 02

This week the question is...

"How can I share my custom brushes with my friends?"

The answer is pretty simple so as well as answering the question I'm going to show you how you make a custom brush and them save a modified version of that brush.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Photoshop on my phone

The “must have” gadget of 2009 was the iPhone. This little wonder of modern technology seems to have found it’s way into many photographers pockets and has changed how and when we communicate, email and text. So common has the iPhone become that many companies seems to be of the opinion that everyone has an iPhone (or iPod Touch or iPad).

So hats off to Adobe who have just released an update to Photoshop Mobile for my smart phone which is powered by Android. Even more impressive Photoshop Mobile is 100% FREE.

I downloaded the original Photoshop Mobile when it was released at the end of last year. 24 hours later I deleted it from my phone. Why? Because it was far to basic with just blur, crop, exposure and toning available.

Now Adobe have released an update which adds brightness and contrast plus a handful of effects. It’s a small step forward, but as someone who loves a bit of contrast in my images it makes the world of difference.

So before anyone jumps on me, I know the iPhone version has this and a bit more, but as a non iPhone user it’s nice when a company puts some real effort into a free Android app.

Well done Adobe

By the way Photoshop Mobile is also available for iPhone and Windows Mobile users

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

There are more questions then answers

Last week, with the help of all my blog readers, I launched “Quick Shots” my new video tutorials. It needs a bit of time to get the format right, but the reaction has been better then I hoped. At the same time as uploading the video I updated the front page of www.gavtrain.com which now sports a Quick Shots form where anyone can send me a question. And lots of you did just that.

I’ve got some great questions to answer; although many of them will need a bit of planning and the photography questions will need an outside shoot to be filmed.

However there were lots and lots of questions that didn’t quite fit into the format of the new Quick Shots videos or ask a question I’ve answered before.

Below is a selection of those questions and some answers that might be useful.

Name: moazzam
Question: which camera and lens do u use urself?
Answer: I own lots of lens and Canon bodies. My main two bodies are the 40D and 400D. I use a Canon 24-105 L most of the time but you’ll also find me using Sigma’s 10-20 and Sigma’s 18-50 f2.8 (a great lens)

Name: Shahbaz A
Question: which camera setting are best for snow fall season
Answer: This video should help

Name: Dinger
Question: can I create the effect of turning a page in pro show producer
Answer: Not really, Proshow producer doesn’t allow that kind of distortion to an image. I wish it did and if anyone knows a way I’d be happy to learn it myself.

Name: Simon R
Question: When should you use curves rather than levels when adjusting an image?
Answer: When ever the mood strikes you. To be honest I never liked using Curves and ALWAYS use levels. From talking to lots of photographers I get the feeling the use of curves is diminishing as the use of RAW software is increasing.

Question: Hello Gavin, I would like to see you edit and include some video footage with stills in ProShow Producer.
Answer: I don’t use Proshow Producer for video editing, yes it can do basic editing, but it’s not a very efficient way to work. I use Premiere Elements 7 for all my editing work. If there’s a demand for it I’ll do some tutorials on video editing in the future.

Name: Bazil
Question: Your Question Here Do you have instructional videos for wedding photography
Answer: We’re working on new videos, but have no plans to do one on Wedding Photography

Name: Darshan
Question: Which is the best way to calibrate monitor...? is it the same procedure for desktop or laptop.... they both r LCD anyways...
Answer: I use a Spyder 2 Express on all my PC’s it works really well and I’d recommend one to anyone (and no, I’m not being paid to say that)

Well that’s a selection of the questions, if you have one of your own, then hop over to the Gavtrain Home Page and send it over to me. The next Quick Shot video is out on Friday and will appear right here on the blog.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Jpeg in to RAW - Quick Shots 01

First a huge thank you to everyone who took the time and trouble to post a comment or send me an email with suggestions for the name of the new videos and your questions.

As you will see I choose the title “quick shots” from the many excellent suggestions.

This week the question is… Can I open Jpegs in Adobe Camera RAW?

Check back again next Friday for another Quick Shot question answered.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

7 tips for surviving Focus on Imaging

Here in the UK Focus on Imaging 2010 is just 3 days away. Last year 34254 photographers made the trip to the N.E.C. in Birmingham during the four day event. That’s a lot of photographers, but then there is a lot to see and do.

I’ve visited the event several times and from experience I know how overwhelming a day at Focus can be. It’s all too easy to get swallowed up in the crowds of people and the hundreds of exhibitors. In fact in the past I’ve come away wondering why I made the trip in the first place.

So if your planning to make a visit to Focus (or any trade show around the world) here’s my top 7 tips.

1) Plan of action
There is so much to see and so many people to talk to it’s all too easy to miss something important. Focus 2010 has a useful online floor plan which list of all the exhibitors. You can download it from here. Decide which vendors you want to visit and make a note of where they are.

2) Camera or no camera?
Although it’s a camera show there’s really nothing to photograph. Yes some of the stands will have mini studio shoots and models, but you’re unlikely to get anything more then a grab shot. Unless you need to bring your DSLR for a specific reason do yourself a favour and leave it at home.

3) What to wear.
It’s a long day and you’ll be on your feet a lot, so comfortable shoes and clothes are the order of the day. Don’t weigh yourself down with heavy bags either.

4) Eat & Drink
Food and drink at any trade show or conference is always going to be pricey and the NEC is no exception. Bring a packed lunch and a drink and spend the money you save on photo goodies. Just remember the car park is huge, so if you leave your lunch in the car you’re in for a long walk.

5) Arrive early
The earlier you get there the more you’ll get to see and do. In fact I often find I can get to talk to three or four key suppliers in the first hour of the show before the really big crowds arrive.

6) Research and budget
There really are some bargains to be had at the show. Discounts, offers and free extras are very common, but it makes sense to do your research before you go. If you’re looking for new kit, narrow the choice down by checking internet reviews. Have an idea of the best internet price before going to the show. Once at the show you’ll be able to get hands on the real thing and make an informed decision.

7) Listen to the talks
For me the very best part of any trade show is the free talks that many exhibitors lay on. Famous and talented photographers are on hand to pass on their knowledge and techniques throughout the day. It’s a great way to pick up new skills and see different styles of photography.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Upcoming all day Photoshop event.

If you’re in the UK on Saturday 27th March 2010 and can get to the Oxford area, there’s still time to book a place at my first all day talk of the year. It’s going to be a great day. I’ve been given free reign for the day and I intend to avoid turning into a brain melting 6 hour Photoshop marathons at all cost.

So what can you expect to see?
(click the image to enlarge)

Well Photoshop will feature throughout the day, of course, but I aim to start gently and progressively ramp up the level.

If you’ve ever been to one of my short talks you’ll know I love a bit of banter with the audience, so at the all day event I plan to take that a stage further. The plan is to have a live photo shoot with tips on simple flash (strobist) techniques and even a lunch time photo challenge. My 15 minute photo challenge videos will feature along with some inside tips on the Photoshop techniques I use.

To round the day off I’ll be hosting a very special quiz “How wants to be a Photoshop Guru” which will send you home with a smile.

Tickets are limited, so don’t miss out.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

New video tutorials – I need your help

Good news! After an extended break, I’m back making weekly video tutorials.

This time the content is going to be a little different. My video tutorials get viewed 1000’s of times a day and that generates lots and lots of questions. So every week I hope to answer as many of those questions as possible.

The new videos will cover either Photoshop (or possibly Lightroom) and Photography. I plan to keep them short, 3-5 minutes and they’ll have a relaxed, casual feel.

So how can you help? Well, there are two things I need.

Name that show.
I want the new videos to have their own identity so I’ve got to come up with a name. Something snappy that sums up the idea in a couple of words. “Ask Gavin” and “Photo Answers” are both taken so what would you suggest?

Here to help
After a quick look through my inbox and YouTube message account I’ve jotted down the first batch of questions. But this project is going to need a steady stream of new questions, so I need more. So if you have a specific issue with Photoshop or Photography let me know.

The kind of questions I’m going to answer should be short and to the point. So a bad question would be “How do I use my camera?” A better question would be “How do I get blurred backgrounds on portraits”

I hope to have the first video online by Friday and it will appear right here on my blog

Monday, 1 March 2010

Marryoke – Every wedding video should have one of these

I can’t speak for other countries, but here in the UK professional wedding videos are something of a rarity. Over the past few years that I’ve photographed many weddings and every one has been a unique experience. But not once have I worked along side a true professional videographer.

Almost every wedding I’ve attended has had an official video, it’s usually the brides uncle (or other close family member) who lands the job of “video guy”. The responsibility of taking on such an important role must weigh heavy on amateur shoulders. No tape in the camera, flat batteries and filming from the back of the room hoping the microphone will magically pick up perfect audio, are just a few of the pitfalls.

All that changed two days after Christmas when I was photographing my last wedding of 2009.

The bride had informed me at our pre wedding chat, that they had hired a professional “video guy” named Leo from Perfect Day Studios. To be totally honest my first thought was along the lines of… Great! So I’ll end up doing the hard graft whilst the video guy points his camcorder over my shoulder… How wrong was I!

Turns out the videographer, Leo Ferenc, is a true professional with his own unique style and he was more then happy to share his own ideas for shots and poses with me. Of course I have my own shots planned, like the champagne shot you see here and I'm pretty sure that they'll end up adding to the bride & grooms wedding video.

Leo produces something he calls the “marryoke” video, which you really have to watch to appreciate. Whenever there was a pause in the day, Leo had someone (usually the groom) sing a few lines of the song. The editing must have taken hours but the results is truly amazing. All wedding videos should be this fun.

Sadly I can’t embed the video he sent me, but here’s the link or just click on the screen grab. I hope you enjoy a bit of Billy Idol.