14.03.2012

Video Tutorial: working with the blend mode SCREEN

Blending Modes in Photoshop

If you work with Photoshop you know what the layers are. If not... then you should :-)

Well, while almost all the time when you work with layers you will be using the blend mode "normal", there are certain situations where you can achieve some very good effects when using another blend mode. For example the blend mode SCREEN has got some very interesting results, specially when dealing with the colour black! In a few words: the screen blending mode makes the blacks transparent!

Knowing this you can introduce graphical elements into your image and make them look natural, cause the surroundings will get transparent.

Below you will find two Video Tutorials from Gavin Hoey showing two different ways to use this blending mode:



And the second one:


As you can learn here blending modes can be very usefull if you know how to use them right!

Enjoy!

How to fold a lightning cube or box

Lightning boxes or cubes or light tents are really cool for product shots. You get an even light all over the place and it makes cutting out with Photoshop very easy. They are not expensive to buy and they are actually part of the standard repertoire of gear in a photo-studio. This is not terrific new... but, if you have ever found yourself in the position of having to transport it or store it back into its tiny bag... well, then, if you´re not experienced with folding it... you may make a very funny figure by trying to do it. Better don´t have no persons around you... cause they may laugh a lot :-))))

As this has happened to me more than once... here´s a little video showing you the right way to fold the lightning box back to its bag:



Next time you have to store it back... let some one else do it... and have the laughs yourself :-)

The decline of the printing industry

Autumn for books? - Copyright Kristian Peetz

Today news arrived that the Encyclopaedia Britannica is ending its print version. That´s it... after 244 years (the first publication was in 1768, Edinburgh, Scotland) this well known and traditional 32-volume printed edition will not be printed anymore. The whole database will go digital and there will be no more printed books no more.
This is another sign of the decline of the traditonal print & publish industry which has been loosing more and more ground to the digital forces in the last years. Allthough I am sure that the printed books will not disappear completly from the market the ongoing trend shows that the industry will have to innovate their products in order to at least keep a solid share of the market. The inclusion of DVD/CD in some printed products have been the first steps towards a connection of print with the growing digital world. And even the QR-Codes are beeing used more and more in order to build a bridge between the print world and the digital counter part.

What does this development mean for the (stock)photographer? The ongoing (and almost unstopable) decline of the market share of printed products will have (and already has had!) a big negative impact on earnings from licenses for print media. This is logical as the price for pictures are calculated on behalf of the number of items printed. At least in the RM (Righst Managed) world. So, if the numbers go down... the earnings go down.

But is this the end of the world and is the sky falling down? I don´t think so. When the first digital cameras and workflows came out in the early 90s the whole bunch of photographers cried a river about how the market was beeing destroyed by it. Yes, many did not adapt to the new rules of the game and disappeared from the market. But no, it was not the end. Those who adapted did survive. As in many cases the uprising of new (disruptive) technologies comes along with a clearance of the market members. This "cleaning" does not happen without hurting some, but if you´re open enough to new venues then the chance is big that you will be standing there after the flush goes away.

Today the market for stock photography is not only loosing ground in the traditional print section (allthough demand for exeptional photography will always be there), but the relative share is getting smaller, too. So does the royalties for the images there. On the other side the demand for images in the digital section of the market is growing extremly fast! The task for the photographer is now to adapt to this new rules and be creative in finding new markets for his products and even creating new products. Yes, it means more working in areas not directly linked to the photography as you used to know it, but only if you adapt to this you will survive the flush.

So, what are the new rules? The competition on the photography stock market has grown inmensely since the uprise of the microstocks in the early 2000s. Their catalogs have grown in to the millions of images and the whole process of buying an image has been streamlined very efficiently. You log in, you search the keywords, find the image, pay and download it. That´s it. Every day there are thousands of images beeing uploaded to their sites, so the chance that you will succeed by supplying standard and easy-to-produce images to your agent is diminishing. It´s just a numbers game: if you can achieve to take an image of an apple on white ground... you can be sure that somebody else has already done it. And this somebody is not alone... thousands of others have done it, too. So, why should a customer choose to buy your apple? Within all the similars this is just a lottery. You have to find yourselve a niche. A special field where you can rise above the masses. This does not mean that you have to invest lots of money into the production (allthough you could... but with the falling prices there is a big chance that it would be smarter to invest the money in the other stock market), but what you have to do is to find a topic or style that makes your image unique. This "specialization" is in my eyes the only efficient way to not to drown in the stock photography market. And you have to make "noise"! That means, you have to market yourselve. It´s not enough to find this special field, it is imperative that you use the modern ways of marketing in order to inform the customers that you have it! Present your images in the usual "social" places (Flickr, 500px, Facebook, G+ and so on), send your images to the potential customers (by sneak mail or email), transform yourself into a brand. The days where photographers used to be contacted by the customers are fading... today you have to contact the customer.

In my eyes, only by using the same weapons the digital world has brought to/against us photographers, we will be able to not only to survive, but to succeed in this digital era. So, don´t go complaining about the diminishing market shares... stand up and jump into the rising market!


08.03.2012

The New iPad: it´s here!

The New iPad - Official Press Image by Apple

Yesterday Apple unveiled their newest iPad: "the New iPad". It´s not called iPad 3, just (new) iPad. Just shy 2 years after the iPad 2 this new tablet presented yesterday evening brings up some interesting specs, check:

- a new Retina Display with 2048 x 1536 pixels (which is more than HDTV and 4x more than the iPad 2)
- a 5 megapixel cam and the ability to record HD movies (1080p)
- 4G LTE + UMTS/GSM HSPA and yaddayadda for connecting to the world
- a hotspot capability

for more specs, check here.

And here´s the video presentation:




Seems like a very nice designed product (as almost all of Apple´s products) and the specs look quite right. Specially the Retina Display which lets you enjoy images almost as if you where watching them on paper... but clean & crispy makes this device a potential option for Photographers on the Field. Let´s see how it will perform against all the other tablets on the market.

02.03.2012

Canon 5D III: it´s here!

Canon 5D III - front
Canon 5D III - back
Canon 5D III - top
Here´s the official image video of the Canon 5D III:



Many rumours were spread about the technical specifications of Canon´s New Kid in Town... and now it´s here! This are the specs:

- 22.3 MP full-frame sensor
- 61- point AF system (same as 1D X)
- 63-zone metering
- ISO range 100 till 25600 (expandable)
- 6 fps continious shooting
- 3.2 inches LCD Display
- a 100% viewfinder coverage
- Full-HD video capability
- HDR mode
- 14-Bit Digic 5+ processor
... and many more new features. More specs here.

Here´s a short video about the specs:



And the guys over at dpreview have made an extensive preview of it here.

Seems like it´s going to be a very good camera... price tag is by the way 3.500 USD body only.

01.03.2012

360 Cities: a 360° view of places

Looking down from the EIffel Tower in Paris - www.360cities.net
If you ever wanted to see how it looks like to be on the Eiffel Tower in Paris or in Machu Pichu, Peru... but just don´t have the time or money to travel there... well, this is no teleporter, but a amazing way of seeing what you would see if you where there in person!
The site called 360cities.net allows you exactly that: with amazing 360° panoramic photographies of wonderful places all over the world you feel like you would be right there cause you can pan around as if you were turning your head around and looking.



View from Eiffel Tower in Paris

There are tons of stunning panoramas on the site and even a How-To section which can help you to produce such amazing pictures by yourself:

Part 1:


The rest of the tutorials are linked to this video at the end.

Enjoy!

Learning to shoot video with your DSLR

As a visual artist (photographer) I am always eager to learn new fields of image presentations. In my eyes, video is exactly that: a visual presentation of images... but moving images. So, many of the rules and basics of photography do apply. The difference to me is that a still image has only limited space to tell the story, the video has got some more time to do the same. But both of them take the same to appeal your eyes: they have to tell the story with good images!
So, the still images challenge you to tell your story at one glimpse... and the video challenges you to keep the viewer some time stuck on the moving images. As far as this goes, both of them are just technical platforms for the same.
While getting deeper into the video field you, as an photographer, will find out that there are some tiny, new, technical details that you have to learn in order to produce as good moving images as your still images are. You have to learn how to set-up your DSLR, how to manage your settings, how to think in moving images and last, but not least, how to post-edit the raw material.
I am new in this video field... and perhaps you´re, too. So, I found a very good serie of video-tutorials that will help you learn the basics of shooting video with your DSLR. Remember, shooting classy videos with a DSLR is different than just pointing your Mobile and pushing record... or recording on your classic video-camera.
Shooting with DSLR has got some major advantages comparing to these:

- you can switch your lenses and enjoy the whole range of Zooms and even Fish-Eye
- you can achieve the magical shallow depth of field
- your videos will just have the professional look you will never achieve with the other devices

If you´re interested in getting into shooting video with your DSLR then I recommend you to take a look at this serie of short videos made by jL on Vimeo:

Part 1: Introduction

Part 1: Introduction from --jL on Vimeo.

Part 2: Lense Assembly

Part 2: Lens assembly from --jL on Vimeo.

Part 3: On-Off, recording, movie mode

Part 3: On-off, recording, movie mode from --jL on Vimeo.

Part 4: Focal Lenght, Prime vs Zoom

Part 4: Focal Length & Prime VS Zoom from --jL on Vimeo.

Part 5: Perspective

Part 5: Perspective from --jL on Vimeo.

Part 6: Shutter Speed and FPS

Part 6: Shutter Speed & FPS from --jL on Vimeo.

Part 7: Aperture

Part 7: Aperture from --jL on Vimeo.

Part 8: Depth of Field

Part 8: Depth of Field from --jL on Vimeo.

Part 9: ISO

Part 9: ISO from --jL on Vimeo.

Part 10: White Balance

Part 10: White Balance T2i from --jL on Vimeo.

I hope you liked it!

DSLR-Video shooting: How to Increase the Dynamic Range of your Canon 7D

Increasing the dynamic range oy the DSLR for shooting video
If you have ever ventured into the field of shooting video with your DSLR, well, sometimes you may have gotten dissapointed about the results: dull video footage, fade colours and bad exposure (blown highlights or noisy shadows).
Here´s the good news: it´s not you... at least no directly :-). In the case of the Canon 7D (and this goes for almost all the other DSLR with video capabilities) the sub-prime images are the result of the standard algorythm  that is implemented in your cam. This standard is supposed to get the best videos of all the average situations. This way, 90% of the consumers will be happy. But, if you get to get into lightning situations that do differ from the average ones (low light or unequally balanced light sources) then the algorythm gets into trouble.
One way to solve this problem is to implement a higher Dynamic Range into your footage. Trying to do this in the post-edit stage would take you too much time and pc-power... so, is there a way to do it while shooting the video?
The answer is: YES. By uploading different user presets into your cam you can alter the algorythm of the cam and get out more details and increase your colour/light range. This way your images will have more details and less blown highlights or noisy shadows.

Photographer Luka on Vimeo has made a (sometimes humorous :-) video explaining this issue and showing how to transfer a new preset to your Canon DSLR:


How to increase the Canon 7D dynamic range (Tutorial) from Luka on Vimeo.

At the end of the clip he shows some examples of how dramatic the changes can be.

Enjoy!

Tracking airplanes online!

Airplanes routes live tracking - www.flightradar24.com

One of the amazing things you can do using Google Maps features is to show things happening in the world from a geographical point of view. With all the data (incl. Geo-Data) that is available in the internet the guys over at www.flightradar24.com have linked the information of airplanes flying with their current location on Google Maps.
It´s stunning to be able to track every single airplane during his flight from A to B. But not only can you follow the flight, you can also access detail information about the flight:

Detailed data of an airplane - www.flightradar24.com
You get:
- the airline
- the flight nr.
- the route
- the type of airplane incl. picture
- the current altitude/speed
- and even the radar code

So, the next time you bring somebody to the airport and say goodbye... you can get home and visually track his/her flight! From take-off till landing.

And if anybody is member of http://flightdiary.net/ ... well, then another area of our live becomes social: you can even track the users flying!

Another aspect of this data-visualization is to get an idea of HOW MANY AIRPLANES are flying at the same time... amazing!