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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.