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Posts from the ‘Tips’ Category

“Learning isn’t a means to an end; it is an end in itself.” ~ Robert Heinlein

In the last 10 or so years I’ve spent a lot of time trying to learn how to be better at manipulating images.  I purchased a book by Scott Kelby on Photoshop about 3 or 4 years ago and I haven’t looked back.  I really pushed myself to keep learning more, and I have, but there are always new things to learn.

I initially looked into courses on Photoshop, but they were so expensive, hundreds of dollars for one day, and you couldn’t take it away with you.  Then someone I knew introduced me to online learning, and I haven’t looked back.  I have spoken often about one particular place, but after sending emails to them about some ideas, I received nothing back.  I am sure most of you know this is a pet hate with me, how hard is it to send an email back to say “thanks for your interest, but it isn’t something we are interested in right now”.  There you go, took me 10 seconds to type that.  So I decided that if they were going to be silent with me, I would be the same, which meant that I had to find something else, and I did.

I know that many of my followers are new to photography, or know that their skill level needs work, I don’t mean that in a horrible way, but I realise that many of you do want to learn, so I have been doing some research.

Screenshot at 2014-02-19 09:37:32When I was doing some research on Joel Grimes he mentioned somewhere that he had done some courses for KelbyOne.  I had never heard of it, of course, I knew who Scott Kelby was, but not this website.  I decided I had to do more research.  So from what I can work out it seems fantastic.  It is another one of those pay by the month sort of deals, but at only $25 per month, and you get a discount if you pay for the whole year, it is really reasonable, especially when you consider what you are getting.

Screenshot at 2014-02-19 09:21:48

It is a site for photographers.  It is where photographers share what they do to other photographers.  There are so many courses available.  There are courses on Photography, courses on Photoshop, Lightroom, then there are courses for running a photography business.

Screenshot at 2014-02-19 09:19:50Business for photography is not something I have wanted to watch much. How you run a business in the US can be very different to how you run a business in Australia.  I have often found that much of the information is not relevant, but then there is always something you can pick up, so I have been watching this one about Social Media, which isn’t country specific, and I have picked up some great information from it.

Once you pay your monthly membership you can view the courses online anytime, where and when it is convenient for you.  At least that is the impression I get.  If you want to download the courses and have them on your computer, then you can pay for specific ones as well.

One of the things I enjoy about the courses is that they aren’t too long, a couple of hours or a few hours, but not for days.  If you are like me, and find it hard to concentrate and just stare at the computer, then this is good, it doesn’t require hours of attention.  Actually, it is perfect for me.

Screenshot at 2014-02-19 09:22:56There is a long list of instructors and I have found some of my favourites here as well.  It has been great going through what courses there are and working out which ones I would like to watch.  Ben Willmore is there, Joel Grimes, Dave Cross and Lindsay Adler, and I am sure some others that will become favourites too.

Screenshot at 2014-02-19 09:23:32It seems to be more than just a site to learn and there seems to be a real community there and you are encouraged to participate in that as well.  I haven’t gone into it yet, but it will be interesting to see what is there.

They release new courses every week, at least one or two, and you receive emails from them to let you know what is available.

Screenshot at 2014-02-19 09:20:21They are doing a Creative Cloud Month and a new course is being released every day for the whole month.  I imagine you would learn everything you needed to know about CC here.  Creative Cloud is the new thing that Adobe are doing, my version of Photoshop is Photoshop Creative Cloud, and I pay a monthly subscription fee to be able to use it.  However Creative Cloud is a lot more than just Photoshop, there are more programs that come under that “cloud”.

I think this is the best online service I’ve seen for photographers.  At $25 a month, it is reasonably priced, and what you get for that money is amazing.  It is something I would definitely do.  If you want a discount, then paying the yearly amount is good, you get 12 months for the price of 10, so you basically get 2 months free.  I think I am going to save the $249 and do that.  I love a bargain.

The courses are designed for all levels of knowledge and experience.  There are courses for the beginners, and there are courses for those who have more experience, but want to know more, or try something different.  I am sure as the community grows, the number of courses being offered will grow as well.

I hope you will all go and take a look at KelbyOne, it really is a great place for learning.  Going back to the top bit, of course the best thing about them is that I sent an email and I got a response, you have to love companies that realise customer service is important.  The idea that if you don’t hear from them then they aren’t interested, says to me, we aren’t interested in providing good customer service, we don’t care about our customers.

So KelbyOne, go check them out.

Just going to add a gallery so you can see the screenshots better.

It isn’t Always Black and White

sccemetery-7919Yesterday I did some photos in Black and White and added a touch of colour.  It was a fun process to do and I think the images came out well.  I know there are many people in photography that think black and white is the only way to go, there are others who think most images look better in black and white, then there are some of us who think it depends on the image.

I am not going to get into an argument about what is best, it is purely a personal thing.  However, having said that, I know there are many images that could be great black and white images, but due to the processing they aren’t.  Again, I know this can be a very personal thing, so all I can do is talk about what I think.  You can all have your say in the comments section.

Today I had a comment from someone wanting to know about how I did the photos yesterday.  It was an interesting comment, and I remembered that I had done posts on this in the past.  I did a tutorial on doing Black and White photos in GIMP, Black and White in GIMP – My Way and then I did one on Black and White Conversions.  It is a very subjective subject and I thought I might tackle it again, especially since I sccres-hpm5786-7wrote the latter over two years ago.

I think black and white images can be very dramatic, but they can also be boring, and it really depends on your subject matter.  I have always felt that your subject matter should determine which images should be made into monotone or duotone images.  Does it enhance the image more, if the colour is gone does the image miss something?  There are so many questions, but you have to answer those. In the end it is your image and has to be what you want.

However, having said that, there are still ways of taking a photo that would be great in black and white and then making it look horrible.  When I wrote the article on conversions it was because I was seeing so many black and white images on the scbarwon-8016-se1internet that had a lot of potential, but they hadn’t been processed right.

Many cameras now can take black and white images for you, it is not something I have ever done.  I like to take all my photos in colour, and then decide once I get them on the computer if I will make them black and white.  I like to have that choice, but I know many photographers that just shoot in B&W, again it is a personal choice.

Once the image is on the computer there are many ways to make it black and white. You can convert it to grey scale (if you do this, you won’t be able to use colour in the image, unless you save it, then convert it back to RGB), you can completely desaturate your image, or if you have Photoshop you can use the black and white adjustment layer.  I like the last option because then you have the choice to play with the tones of each colour, not sure that is the right way of putting it.

There is something that a lot people do to their images, or don’t do, and that is lookscbarwonheads-hpm8063-1sep1 at the contrast.  The contrast is the different between the darks and lights in your images, or the black and whites and everything in between.

When I started photography, I started with black and white, and developed my own films, and then printed them.  I converted my laundry into a darkroom that could only be used at night.  It worked, and I spent many evenings in there working on my images.  I was given some advice from another photographer that said, “make sure there is a black in your image, and there is a white.  He suggested using a piece of white paper and a piece of black to help make sure I had those.  It is good to also have the greys in between.

LeanneCole-ocean-ant4173You don’t want the image to be just black and white, that would be horrible, but you want a range of tones from black to white.  When I was at art school and drawing, I can remember my lecturers telling me that my drawings had no contrast, I didn’t know what they were talking about, now I do, the drawings had no darks, and they were very grey.  I worked it out eventually and my drawings got a lot better.

Photography is the same, if you don’t have that contrast, the images can look washed out if there are no blacks, or too dark if there are no whites.  It is a good thing to remember.

So how do you like your black and white images?  What is your favourite subject for those images?  Lastly, what do you use to process them?

Here is a little gallery of the images if you want a better look at them.


Past Their Use By Date

Remember the sunflowers I photographed a couple of weeks ago?  I still have those flowers and I have been watching them slowing dying over that time.

This is one of the first photos I took.  It is a straight image, in that it isn’t a HDR.  I have edited it quite a bit, though I am sure there is a lot more I could have done.  It was still very yellow so I took out a lot of the colour.  I didn’t want them to look too cheerful.

This is the HDR image.  I don’t know if it is better or not.  I have done pretty much the same post processing as the first one.

I set these flowers up near a window that had a lot of light coming in, but the light wasn’t directly on them.  I put my flash on my camera and turned it down so not a lot of light came out, just enough to fill in the shadows.  If you don’t have a flash you can use some white cardboard or paper to see if you can bounce some of the window light onto the flowers.  There are many ways to take still life photos.

I turned the flowers towards the window, so they could get more light.  I also turned down the flash even more.  When I processed this image, I pushed the HDR a lot more.  I think I like it, then I decide I don’t.   I really don’t know.  I did almost the same post processing as the other ones, but there is one step I did that was different.  See this next one.

Here it is in black & white.  I don’t know if I like it.  I think it is messy and it is hard to make it all out.  The last time I did this, you all preferred the sunflower in colour, but since it is losing its colour, I thought let’s give it another go.  What do you think?

I know some people struggle with doing still lifes inside, whether it is objects or food.  I don’t use fancy lights, and there are always ways around doing things.  I just wondered if people would like to know more.

Old Theatre – From the Archives

I considered not doing a blog post today, I had no idea what to do. I painted some new canvas’s today so I would have some new backdrops, well different ones.  I was going to do a still life, but I got caught doing a jigsaw puzzle with my daughter and the still life just didn’t happen.  We did, however finish the puzzle.

I thought, I hadn’t been through my negatives for awhile so here are some old images for you and in some ways really go well with yesterdays post.

This is the Palais Theatre in St Kilda, I believe is still there.  A stunning building.  I would have taken these photos around 1997 or 98.  I love this image of the theatre.  It was taken very early in the morning.  You can see the sun shinning on the building, but there are clouds in the background.  I think it is good how the light is reflecting on the building.

This images was taken at the same time, but from the other side.  The sun has gone away and the building looks very flat and the image doesn’t work.  I thought you should see it for that reason, but also so can see the theatre from the other direction.  I wonder how much better this would have looked if the sun was still out.

The iron work around the box office area is fantastic.  You can see from this image that the sun is low in the sky, otherwise the box offices would not be lit up like they are.  If there had been no sunlight I think you wouldn’t see the detail that is there.

I gotta say, I love this image.  There is something about it that I think is just brilliant.  I have always like it.  I didn’t like the sign at the end of the columns.   It had some advertising on it and I found it distracting, so I got rid of it.  I think that is one of the best things about digtal.

The sun was still rising and it has made this shot possible.  If the sun had been up a little more then the box offices would have been in shadow and you wouldn’t see the detail in the them.  It is always a good idea to think about your subject and which lighting will provide you with the best image.  Which way does it face, should you use early morning light, or late afternoon light.  What type of image are you going for.  Planning is very important.  If you want to see more about it check out this post

These photos were taken with black and white film.  Kodak T400.  I liked that film because you got black and white photos but without all the hassle of previous films.  You could just take it to your lab and they would process it as if it were colour and then print them.  Great.  Well it was back then.

Catching the Light, and When You Don’t

I saw a great post yesterday about photography and light over at 1001 Scribbles.  I found it really informative and if you are uncertain of light then it is probably worth your while going over there and taking a look.

Light is one of the hardest concepts to understand in photography.  We all know that you should take photos either first thing in the morning, or late in the evening before, or as, the sun sets.  I wish it was always that simple.  I do try and take majority of my images at those times, but sometimes it isn’t always possible.

The other day when we went to Mildura, I found myself there in the middle of the day.  Not only the worse time for photos, but also on a really hot day where the sun is probably the harshest of any other day.  I was there, the first time in too many years, what was I going to do!  I knew by about 3 in the afternoon we would be gone, so I decided to do some photos anyway.

I showed some that I did the other day in a post called A Town of No Consequence.  The photos were ok and to me when I look at them I see nothing but 40 degrees heat.  I think the one above, which was also taken then, again, not a great photo, but I had an opportunity to take some photos of the dust storm.  Dust storms are put of the heat of the heat up there.

If you look under the front verandah thing you can see that the shadows are short and this was taken at a bad time of the day.  The actual building has no real shadows and I wonder what it would look like if I went back another time and took photos late in the day as the sun was setting.  Especially in the summer on a very hot day where the light is very orange.

This was taken after we got back to Woomelang and it was around 5 or 6 at night.  The shadows were longer and you get more contrast which does make the image a whole lot better.  Still, if I had gone back an hour or two later, it probably would have been even better.

You can see the beginning of the orange glow in this image.  The shadows are very long and getting longer.  The harshness of the sun is still there, but by taking photos of the Church with the shadow side you get a better image.  I suspect this image would be better taken in the morning.

All these images have been taken at the wrong time of the day and I’ve shown you many images this week that are the same.  When I was in Mildura I decided to take photos anyway because even if I never used the images again, I still had a record of what I saw.  It isn’t always perfect, but I do know that I want to go back there and take more images, even do the same ones again.  I have seen what it is there and now I know when I go back, I will know when the right time of the day will be to take photos.  I will leave my children at home and just go with my mum.  We will probably stay a day or two and I will see what else is there and photograph Mildura the photographers way.

So the point of this post is that you shouldn’t always think that if it isn’t the right time of the day then you can’t do anything.  Look for other options.  Experiment, try some compositions and practice.  Perhaps you can plan to go back another day and do it right.

On Another Note.

I have decided to offer some of my images for sale.  Not all of them, just some of the ones that I am really proud of.  I don’t know if anyone is interested in purchasing them, but I have started putting some up on my website Leanne Cole Photography, so if you would like to see some of my images again, check it out.

Getting Some New Software

I love getting parcels in the mail.  Makes it seem almost like Christmas every day.  I don’t get parcels every day, rarely actually, but one did arrive yesterday.  Inside was some software I purchased the other day.  It is Adobe Lightroom 3.

I have never used anything like this before.  To be honest I don’t really know how to use it.  I keep seeing it in magazines about digital imaging.  Better Photography, and Better Photoshop Techniques are always showing stuff with it.  It frustrated me a bit because I didn’t have it.

This is what said about it:

In essence, Lightroom allows photographers to do three things, very quickly: organize batches of images, adjust them, and output them. This view shows the ‘Develop’ window. On the left are Lightroom’s various preset adjustments, along the bottom is the filmstrip file browser, and on the right is the adjustment window, which contains numerous tools, from the fairly standard white balance and exposure sliders to lens corrections, cropping, cloning and neutral gradient filter options.

Sounds like it is exactly what I need for processing my cycling photos.  At the moment I don’t edit them before they go up on my website because there are too many, but this software could mean I can do it now and do it quickly.  Time will tell.  Will be good if I can.

Here is a list of features from

Lightroom 3 key features

  • New RAW conversion engine (same as ACR 6 for Photoshop)*
  • Non-destructive editing
  • 64-bit compatibility*
  • Lens corrections*
  • Flickr integration*
  • Image watermarking*
  • Improved curves tool*
  • Tethered shooting (currently limited to selected Canon and Nikon DSLRs)*
  • Support for video files (organization and tagging only – not editing)*
  • Perspective correction adjustments*
  • Film grain simulation filter*
  • Comprehensive importing, organization and exporting, with multiple output options (DNG, TIFF, JPEG)
  • Easy synchronization of adjustments across multiple images
  • Offline library management (i.e. if your images are stored on an offline external drive)
  • Photoshop integration

So all that is left now is to figure out how to use it.  I hope it wasn’t a waste of money.  I will keep you informed.

I have had someone who is going to take up my Photo-Vember challenge, Suburban Tomato,  anyone else want to join the challenge?

Photo-Vember, Setting New Challenges the link in case you missed the post.