Jeff Carlson: iPhone XS a “leap forward in computational photography”

Over at DPReview this morning, our old friend Jeff Carlson has a very interesting review of the camera in Apple’s new iPhone XS and XS Max. It’s not a traditional, all-you-need-to-know review, however.  Instead, Jeff focuses on the “computational power” found in the phone’s hardware, and how it drives the improved HDR and Portrait modes:

“Aside from folks who still shoot film, almost nobody uses the term ‘digital photography’ anymore – it’s simply ‘photography,’ just as we don’t keep our food in an ‘electric refrigerator.’ Given the changes in the camera system in Apple’s latest iPhone models, we’re headed down a path where the term ‘computational photography’ will also just be referred to as ‘photography,’ at least by the majority of photographers.”

This concept of computational photography will be one of the driving forces in the camera world over the next few years. As we move (slowly) away from big SLRs to mirrorless cameras and vastly improved smartphones, companies like Apple, Google and Samsung could very well be the leaders in this space, leaving traditional camera makers like Canon, Nikon and others to play catch-up.

Photoshop Elements 2019 Ships

Photoshop Elements 2019Adobe today released its annual update to Photoshop Elements, sporting a few new automation features, additional guided-edit functionality, and performance enhancements.

Photoshop Elements 2019, which is available now for $100 (upgrades $80, directly from Adobe), remains Adobe’s sole non-subscription image-editing and organization tool. Sometimes referred to as the “poor man’s Photoshop,” Elements is an extremely capable photo editor, offering most of the important tools found in Photoshop, support for raw photos, and a number of automatic “guided edit” features designed to help you fix or enhance your photos without having to dive into layers and other settings. It also includes an organizational tool, called the Photoshop Elements Organizer, that can be used to import and track your photos. Read more »

Ben Long: looking at photos with a fresh eye

Ben remains hard at work on the 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography (“chained to his desk,” says Rick.) And yet, he still found time to send us a short video about how the creative process of publishing — i.e. the “slog” — informs his photographic work, even when he can’t get out and shoot.

It’s all about looking at your photography with a fresh eye.

Setting your work aside

Ben’s observation, that we could see our work in a different way by setting it aside for a while, is a good exercise. It can separate you from the moment you took the shot, giving you an alternative process for analyzing your photos. (Mixing things up from time to time is also a great way to give you a fresh perspective on your photography.)

While we were working on this post, we learned, sadly, that one of photography’s great practitioners of the “set your work aside” school, Henry Wessel, had passed away recently. Wessel was one of the more interesting photographers of the past 50 years, obsessed with the light — and the sense of place — of the West in all its forms. Part of the infamous “New Topographics” movement of the mid-1970s, Wessel was well-known for developing a roll of film, printing a contact sheet, and sticking it in a drawer for a year. We loved this quote from the New York Times obituary:

“If you let some time go by before considering work that you have done, you move toward a more objective position in judging it,” he said. “The pleasure of the subjective, physical experience in the world is a more distant memory and less influential.”

Give it a try. And, while you’re at it, don’t forget to sign up today for updates to Complete Digital Photography. Get sample chapters, discounts, free ebooks and more.

Fall Foliage Tips

fall foliage close-up
©Hudson Henry Photography

Autumn—one of my favorite times of year—is coming on quickly here in eastern Oregon: The nights are cooler, and each morning, the air has a hint of crispness in it. As a photographer, this change in the weather brings with it the anticipation of fall foliage, and I find myself itching to head out to shoot. I have been scoping out locations, planning my time, looking for the peak windows, and getting my gear ready. I have also been chatting with Ben Long and Hudson Henry about the best approaches for capturing fall color. Among us, we have a few tips for getting the most out of your fall-foliage shots.

Hudson: Let light dictate your scene

Hudson has found himself in some amazing places during autumn, but he also finds inspiration in his home area of Portland, Oregon. Here are a few of his tips for getting the most out of fall color:

  • When I photograph fall colors, I let the light dictate my subject choice and composition. Overcast days are wonderful to work with fall color. Under clouds or fog I can shoot in deep colorful woods without the pesky highlights and shadows that get in the way on blue sky days. Just be sure to keep that dull grey sky out of the frame.
  • Puffy white clouds with blue between soften the highlights each time the sun passes behind a cloud, while allowing me to include the blue and white of the sky to offset the other fall colors I am photographing. On bright sunny days, I use a long lens to look for small details in shadows and reflections while avoiding any direct sunlight or sky in the frame.
  • I rarely leave my polarizer behind, but I always want it for fall colors. Polarizers don’t just add contrast to the sky and help control reflections, they also make fall colors more intense. This is especially true in a misty, wet forest of color. The polarizer cuts through the wet shine on the leaves allowing me to capture more saturation.
  • Finally, I’m not at all above carrying a particularly lovely leaf specimen to place in just the right spot in the frame. Props have been a part of photography since the dawn of the art, and if it helps me capture the image I’ve envisioned, then I’m all for it.

Read more »

Complete Digital Photography 9 video update from Ben Long

Ben Long sent us a short video update from his top-secret writing lair. He tells us that is working hard to finish the 9th edition of his Complete Digital Photography book. Well, mostly…

If you would like to find out more regarding the next edition, check out our recent post, Update on the 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography. To stay informed about updates, sign up for our upcoming books list, and we’ll let you know when the book is available. We will also send information on free sample chapters, book discounts and much more.

Hudson’s Advanced Panoramas course

Mount Adams, from Trout Lake, Washington.
Mount Adams, Trout Lake, Washington. ©Hudson Henry Photography

Last fall, when we released Hudson Henry’s Panoramas Made Simple, it was our intent to offer a companion volume, Advanced Panoramas, designed for photographers who wanted to go beyond the basics and create complex panoramas. In the end, Hudson and I decided that the advanced course made more sense as a video series than an ebook. (There will be extensive written cheatsheets to go along with the videos, however.).

Hudson is working on that course now, and he anticipates that it will be available in the fall of 2018. Here’s what he says about the new course:

The advanced course is for the photographer who wants to create complex, multiple-row and other specialty panoramas; ones that require extreme precision during the capture process. It will cover the equipment necessary for building these advanced panoramic images and how to calibrate your camera and lenses. It will also offer more advanced editing techniques utilizing Photoshop and other powerful software. 

If you purchased Panoramas Made Simple, we’ll let you know when Hudson’s course is ready. If you didn’t purchase the book, and have been waiting for the advanced course, the best thing to do is register over on Hudson’s website; he’ll keep you up to date on that course, as well as any other cool things he’s doing.

[If parts of this post look familiar, I apologize. I posted a small bit about this at the end of the item about the upcoming 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography, but it appeared to have gotten lost in the shuffle, hence the repost.]

 

Julianne Kost on Photoshop Blend Modes

CDP TipJust a quick tip for today: Julianne Kost, over at Adobe.com, has a nice two-part set of blog posts covering blend modes in Photoshop. The first, Working with Blend Modes in Photoshop, is a nice overview of blending modes and how they work, with good examples. The second, Five Additional Tips for Accessing and Applying Blend Modes in Photoshop CC, has a number of great tips for using blend modes and multiple layers (and layer groups).

While both posts are specific to Photoshop, the first one (Working with Blend Modes) is useful for people using other layer- or effects-based apps with blend mode options, like ON1 Photo RAW, Skylum’s Luminar, and Alien Skin’s Exposure X3, among others.

(See our Bookmarks post from last fall for more about Julianne, and why we think she’s worth following.)

Focal Length and Depth of Field

There is a long-standing myth in photography that focal length has an impact on the depth of field in your scene. I know this myth is long-standing because it’s what I was taught, and it is what I have, in turn, been teaching. In fact, early editions of Complete Digital Photography included this very myth. However, with a simple experiment, you can demonstrate that focal length has no impact on actual depth of field.

However, before you start dreading the need to relearn a bunch of old habits, stop. While the theory that has been taught for the last 150 years or so might have been technically incorrect, the practical upshot has been completely valid. So, this article is not so much about changing your hands-on technique. Rather, it’s simply presented to offer you a more accurate explanation of what actually happens to depth of field when you choose one focal length over another. Your everyday practice—using longer lenses to get apparently shallower depth of field—will still apply, but after reading this article, you might have a different understanding of why the depth of field appears different with different focal lengths.

Read more »

Matt K’s Lightroom Crash Course

Matt K Lightroom Crash CourseMatt Kloskowski is one of the best Lightroom (and Photoshop) trainers out there, bar none. He has all the hallmarks of a great trainer, including an innate capacity to learn from his students as well as to teach them, and he understands where many users get lost in the weeds with photo editing software.

Over the years, he and I have had a few conversations about the difficulties that some new users run into when setting Lightroom up, and why they never really use the app to the best of its capabilities. To that end, Matt has released a 60-minute Lightroom Crash Course, designed solely to help people get over those initial hurdles when learning Lightroom Classic CC:

This course is meant to cut through all of the thousands of features that Lightroom has and get you feeling good about getting your photos in to it, and (most importantly), to start editing those photos and having some fun. My personal goal in teaching photo editing is to get you editing and enjoying your photography as fast as possible and that’s exactly what this 60 minute crash course will do.

This course is great if you have thought about jumping into Lightroom Classic, or if you’ve played around with it and are confused about things like where your photos are, or how to edit your photos effectively. Despite the course’s short length, Matt also talks about Lightroom features like brushes and graduated filters and how to export and print your photos. In addition, all of the sample photos used in the course are included for you to follow along.

For $50, the Lightroom Crash Course is darn close to a perfect hour (well, an hour and two minutes). And, if you want a deeper dive into Lightroom Classic, check out Matt’s much more comprehensive Lightroom System course, which is currently priced at $150. I highly recommend both courses, although all of Matt’s training—including his courses on Photoshop and ON1’s Photo Raw—is top-notch.

20 Years of Student Photography in the Bronx

CDP camera iconI came across this fascinating story about photography, education, and place in The New York Times recently, entitled “Capturing the Beauty of Everyday Life in the Bronx.” The essay talks about a new photography exhibit that showcases a 20-year partnership between the International Center of Photography and the Point, a community organization based in the Bronx:

For two decades, hundreds of young people have learned analog photography through a partnership between the Point, a community group in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, and the International Center of Photography. This community, whose 6,000 residents live on a peninsula cut off from the rest of the borough by the Bruckner Expressway, has had its resilience tested by nature — like Hurricane Sandy — and man-made disasters like abandonment, crime and, now, gentrification. But the young photographers who have come up through this program — more than 2,000 so far — have devoted themselves to presenting a full, honest portrayal of their community.

Read more »