Double Exposure Fun (…getting accidental double exposure would almost always upset me)

Double exposure created using Analog Efex Pro 2

Double exposure created using Analog Efex Pro 2

Double exposure photography can be fun and creative and something I like to play with from time to time. I remember back in the day getting an accidental double exposure with a film camera would almost always upset me because the image I wanted was ruined. Imaging somebody posing in front of your camera and getting the prints back only to find a double exposure of your intended photo, but with a bridge or building or birthday cake exposed into the image. Sometimes it was like this prolific image that everybody was amazed by, however most times the image was a flat-out mess.

Now back in the film days I knew a few photographers that actually loved to create double exposures and they did it quite well. For me it was a nuisance.

Cut to today with Photoshop and software like Nik/Google Analog Efex Pro 2 you can control your double exposure to maximize you creative power. Also most DSLR’s have a double exposure mode that many photographers never explore.

I leave with a double exposure created in Analog Efex Pro 2. I used two images of Kendall that were actually shot on film and then scanned.

Creating With Analog Efex Pro (It’s like this is where Instagram created their filters.)

Double exposure made in Analog Efex Pro. Self portrait at my house in Thailand. I love the wooden window shutters.

Double exposure made in Analog Efex Pro. Self portrait at my house in Thailand. I love the wooden window shutters.

Let’s talk a little about Google’s Nik Analog Efex Pro plugin for Lightroom or Photoshop. I myself had over looked this at first. In my last post I talked about how I had bought just two products from Nik, but soon after Google acquired the Nik collection they sent download links to previous Nik customers for the whole Nik collection. This was long before Google made the collection available to the public.

So when I downloaded the whole collection I seen Analog Efex Pro but I thought I had no use for it. Actually the truth be told I never even opened it. Not until one day I was trying to open Color Efex Pro in Photoshop and I accidentally opened Analog Efex Pro in the fly out menu. It was at that time I started to explore this fun little gem. It basically gives you all these old camera kits from the film era and lets you create some really awesome stuff. Now I know if you are a Photoshop user your first thought might be that “it can all be done in Photoshop” and I would answer “yes & no.” Well actually “yes” but Nik’s algorithms are a lot different from Adobe’s and seem to produce the end results in a unique way with a different feel. So yes you could do it in Photoshop, but the feel of the end visual seems different to me.

The double exposure effect is a lot of fun and again one might think the “masking” in PS would produce the same effect, but AEP is so much more fun. It could be a “one click” and your done edit if you use the presets, but I really like to play with the controls and see what I can create on my own.

If you like Instagram and all the filter choices, you will love Analog Efex Pro. It’s like this is where Instagram created their filters. I really would like to see more people use it and play around and get real creative. You have so many options available; from light leaks, to dust & scratches, bokeh and many more.

So if you are a Photoshop or Lightroom user download the collection and dive in.

Ghostly Forest

Ghostly Forest created using Analog Efex Pro.

Something I’d Like To Share (for all those photo lovers, photographers, beginners or advanced.)

Lightroom Screenshot

Lightroom Screenshot

For all those photographers out there who do not use Adobe Lightroom I would like to take this opportunity to share with you the benefits of using Lightroom. This is not a paid advertisement and I never like to push anything onto someone. But I get asked all the time both in person and by email about photo editing. I even get questions from people who have Lightroom and didn’t know it could do certain things. I make this post only because I feel that I would like to share with other people/photographers a piece of software that really is so useful and beneficial to anyone who enjoys photography either as a total novice or as an advanced user.

So in my own words and without getting technical I will breakdown what Adobe Lightroom is and what it is not. I will use the letters LR in place of the name Lightroom.

  • Adobe Lightroom is the official name for a piece of software commonly referred to as a “basic editing” program or advanced shooters may call it a “RAW editor.”
  • LR is not Photoshop. LR is like a doorway your photos use to enter into your computer. It will place your photos in folders on hard drives that you choose. Once in those folders your photos are a safe.
  • When you edit in LR you are editing a copy of your photo, this keeps the original safe and always in the same place. This is called non-destructive editing.
  • LR is a state of the art piece of software that is easy to use and it is available to anyone. It has become an industry standard. There are countless tutorials on Youtube for those that want to learn advanced techniques.
  • LR is like a “one stop shop” when it comes to photo editing. You can remove red eye, fix blemishes, remove that piece of lint on that nice black dress and of course there are the normal controls such as contrast, exposure, sharpness and so on. You can remove shadows and soften skin or ad a vignette.
  • You can also organize photos, add keywords for finding photos in the future, make slideshows and add watermarks to your photos.
  • Then as you progress at your own pace there are advanced options already built in that you will come to love and then you will come back and thank me or whoever it was that turned you on to LR.

So I could go on and on about the features, but what I’m getting at is; I have used several other programs and I’m still open to new ones. But I have yet to see anything that compares to LR. Now you must also know that there are two ways to buy Lightroom. You can purchase it on a disc in a box much the way you have bought software for years. Or you can buy it in a subscription based version from Adobe. I suggest the subscription version because it will always stay updated. For those who are students or work at an educational institution of any kind you can take advantage of Adobe’s Educational Discounts program.

You also get Lightroom Mobile free with your subscription so your photos are viewable on your iPad, tablet or smartphone. And… as if all that isn’t good enough Adobe gives you space on their cloud to save photos. You can save to Adobe Revel (their cloud) and share them privately or publicly on social media. You can also login to Adobe Revel from anywhere in the world and see your photos.

Check this out! I’m in Thailand and each night when my wife and I are done for the day. I take both our cameras and I upload everything we shot that day to Adobe Revel. So now all our full size files are there safe and sound. Now while I did download everything into the laptop too, so I could edit and post to Facebook, meanwhile I have no worries about lost memory cards or stolen laptops or anything. No worries at all. When I come back home to the good ole USA all my photos are safe and sound. If I need a file I have lost, I just go to Adobe Revel and download it. I will admit that Adobe’s cloud is limited to 2 GB but for the average everyday shooter that is plenty of space. I did purchase the extra space because I use it for my business and I love it.

Any questions about Lightroom as always I’m more than happy to help anybody out with their photography.

I Conquered The Beast (chasing the latest technology is like going to school every day of your life without a break and your clothes are out of style.)

My very first image uploaded from my Canon 6D to social media via Canon Gateway Image service.

My very first image uploaded from my Canon 6D to social media via Canon Gateway Image service.

Ah____ how sweet it is when one finally is able to rise up and conquer what is supposed to be “easy technology.” When purchasing my Canon 6D it was advertised to have WiFi as most cameras now do. I did not buy the camera for this feature, however it did seem interesting. I really was not openly thinking to the possibilities of this feature. I soon found I could download an app to my smart phone and use the phone as a means of viewing the images on the camera’s memory card and I could use the phone as a remote control for “live view,” focus and shutter release. Additionally I could change ISO, Av & Tv as well. This shutter release feature is nice but since I have always used a wireless or hardwired shutter releases, learning to use the phone was a little bit of a challenge and only because being a 49 year old man, sometimes I find it easier to just do it the way I know best. I think the “phone as a control” is great for controlling the camera from a long distances and may reduce walking to & froe. Talk about; “learning something new every day.” Being a photographer and chasing the latest technology is like going to school every day of your life without a break and your clothes are out of style. Sometimes you just have to pick & choose your battles with technology.

So today I felt like fighting. I had a free day, the weather was a light icy rain and it is Sunday so I’m not really going anywhere. I made a decision to attack Canon’s evil bastard child the “Canon Image Gateway” photo service. If you purchase a Canon camera with WiFi and register it, you will (or so the myth goes) have access to upload to some social media and or put you images in folders on the Gateway. Now the reason I am so disappointed with this so called “Gateway” service is it makes you jump through more hoops than that of a three ring circus and after all is done you end up feeling more like the guy cleaning up after the elephants. Throw the paper manual out it’s worthless. So let’s head on over to big brother Google and see what we can conjure up. Now first let me say I purchased this camera over six months ago and have tried several times to get this Gateway process up and running. But today I am dedicating all my time and I will win. I was able to get the camera to connect to my phone not long after I purchased the camera, but needed therapy from a near nervous breakdown afterwards.

So today after heading over to YouTube where I found a very good tutorial that helped me with setting up the Gateway connections with social media. But connecting the camera to WiFi was not as easy although I finally conquered the beast and was even able to set up a connection between my camera & PC which enables me to view and download RAW files wirelessly to a desired folder on the PC. So to recap my accomplishments today;

  • Able to capture an image and send straight to Facebook or Twitter and leave a copy on the Canon Gateway (jpegs only).
  • Able to view and download RAW to my PC via WiFi.
  • Able to connect, view and download to smart phone.
  • All connections have proper names and are working as needed.
  • Learned how to set up a new WiFi connection as needed.

In conclusion it just seems so disappointing that we live in an age of technology that is ever increasing but corporations have remained with the same old mentality; “make a product, advertise the features and let the customer figure it out.”

Big Business you have to love it.

My Camera Has WiFi (oh well who cares if it looks like it is snowing at dinner time inside the restaurant)

Thai dancer at the New Year party, Saddle Brook, NJ.

Thai dancer at the New Year party, Saddle Brook, NJ.

Social events are so much fun to put your photography skills to use. I am fortunate enough to have a wife that belongs to a very active social group. She is a Thai lady and in just a few months after her arrival in the USA she found a Thai social group. This set the stage for the making of a lot of new and wonderful friends, as well as attending a fair amount of social events both large & small. Some events are just a mere dinner party of 6 to 8 people at a private home. Other events may be as large as a few hundred people. Some events are fundraisers for a charity and others are just for fun to have a party. I have blogged about these events in the past for one reason or another. Today I just want to touch on the fun of having a camera that is WiFi capable as most cameras are today. Of course today most people have WiFi on their mobile phones and this I find is what leads to all those horribly shot “selfies” and in general poor quality photos. For the most part we don’t even think of it as “poor quality” but rather our minds eye has just accepted the fact that it “was shot with a phone camera.” So once again we have, as a society gone backwards. We have this camera in our phone and it is so easy to take a photo and send it up to social media that who cares how good or bad it is, let’s just do it. I myself have been guilty of it, but always pissed off because of the quality. I didn’t want to be in that mass majority that says “oh well who cares if it looks like it is snowing at dinner time inside the restaurant” or that “everything in the background looks great and the faces are black ink blots that look like a card from a Rorschach test.” I just found it hard to believe that we have the technology to make a person as irrelevant to life as a Kardashian famous and we don’t have a way to put a better quality photo on the internet from a mobile device. After all we sent a man to the moon (or so they say) and now it seems we are just going backwards.

So my most recent DSLR has WiFi as a feature and I am starting to embrace it a little more as time passes. The WiFi feature did not really come into play when I was considering the purchase of the Canon 6D, but with time I have found a few uses for it and event coverage is one of those uses for sure. I can see how the WiFi would really be an asset to a photojournalist. But… Yes I said “but.” But Canon couldn’t make it too easy, you know they’re going to want you to jump through a hoop or two or ten or twenty. Cannon has a “Gateway” service that is about as useless as a hog with side pockets. The idea is that… well let’s nix the Canon gateway service because it’s not even worth explaining. Just know Canon has a retarded redheaded stepchild that should be in an attic and it’s name is Canon Gateway Service.

Capture the images in camera and open the images on your mobile device, be it phone, tablet, iPad via the free Canon EOS app. The phone sees the WiFi from the camera as an open network and will connect allowing you to view and download the images of your choice. Although prior to this rather easy part of connecting camera & phone, you must first setup the WiFi network. This will take reading of the manual, several hours of deep prayer, one bottle of whisky all followed by a few therapy sessions and whala, you will have a WiFi network set up. Once you have chosen which photos you want to send up to social media and have placed them in your phone you do have the ability to do a phone or tablet based edit before sending to the net. Now of course we have the ability to edit photos we have shot with our phone before we post them, but no amount of editing is going to fix horrible ISO snow/noise and so on.

I have found Snapseed to be my app of choice for editing in phone before firing the photos off to the social media. But I have found that if you get it right in camera as much as possible there is no editing to be done in the phone or tablet. This now leads to better composing and overall photography. I tend to crop in camera, really work that “Manual” mode of the camera and I have to watch the flash settings more. Imagine that, now we have yet another scenario that will force us to be a better photographer. Or you can join the masses and shoot to your hearts content with the camera phone. So for all intent purposes I use the WiFi photos for kind of a teaser type thing. I may post a photo at the beginning of the event to let everybody know I’m there and then I will post a few in the middle of the event to show what’s happening and again at the end to close out the evening. Once back at the Reckless Pixel headquarters I will do the normal download, go to Lightroom for edits and upload to social media.

So there you have it, a way to post a good or even great photo from DSLR to the web via a phone or table.

Start The New Year Off Right (get your ass in gear and organize your photos.)

LR Blog 1

Notice the folder tree to the left side. Also notice the different highlighted color for different camera profiles.

 

Ok so this year is coming to an end very fast and 2014 could be that big year for you. It could be the year you finally get your ass in gear and organize your photos. I know you have photos scattered all about on separate computers, CD’s, memory sticks & cards. Oh yeah and some are on that external hard drive and some are on the laptop too. And the phone… there’s a bunch of photos on the phone… and yes sadly enough the old mobile phone has photos on it too. Why it looks as if you have photos scattered in more places than Parris Hilton has had boyfriends. So let’s do it, let’s get all those photos organized and put into some sort of organized order that you can understand and be able to find them.

So depending on how un-organized you are and how many photos you have, you may need to take this whole process in baby steps. But let’s face it “if you are going to keep snapping that shutter you really do need to get organized.” Now I will be the first to say that I am the most unorganized person when it comes to most things in life. But there are two places I shine, email & photos. I have all my email saved in folders by year for my catering, photography and personal. If it was important I saved it. All my personal shopping, I know it sounds crazy but when I want to find where I purchased something is 2003 or how much I paid for it, it may take me a few minutes but I can find that info because I saved it in an organized fashion. In the beginning of my photography I too had photos scattered and lost. But one day a few years back I sat down and organized everything. Today we have many options available to help with this process.

So how do I do it? First you want to start by locating all your photos. Think about where they are, for some people they might be on one computer but they are not in any organized system. For other people you may have them spread far and wide as I have described above. If you fall into the scattered far & wide group take the time to just sit down with a cup of coffee or tea, relax and write down all the locations you have photos. This will greatly help you and give you a guide as you move through the organizing process. Now we have the current locations figured out let’s look into our options for an organized storage.

You have a few options here. I will take you through the one I use, but please know this may not work for everybody, however it is a common system for organizing your photos. I organize by the date the photo was taken. I will store photos in the following way; Folder 2013>sub folder>day photo was taken. Example a photo taken on Christmas day 2013 would go in folder 2013 (sub folder) 2013_12_25.

I use two external hard drives and one desktop computer and here is the workflow from beginning to end.

  1. Photos have been taken with camera and are on the SD card in the camera. SD card is then inserted into the card reader that is plugged into a USB port on the desktop computer. Your computer may already have a card reader built in for your kind of card.
  2. I use a software program (more about software later) that is really helpful with the download process. It will download my photos to the yearly folder on my computer and in the background it will make backup copies to an external hard drive. The backups are only there if my computer crashes and I need to recover.
  3. As the main folder in my computer starts to take up too much space and slow my computer down I will move some photos to the second external hard drive. At the end of the year I will move the remainder of what is in my yearly folder to the second external hard drive where the photos will live.

So there you have it.

  • Computer has current photos
  • External drive #1 has backup files
  • External drive #2 is an over flow for main files when the computer becomes full.

I keep all external hard drives physically labeled and they are set in a way that they can be easily & very quickly disconnected from the computer if I had to vacate my home at a moment’s notice. You never know when a situation may arise that would cause you to evacuate your home. It is in good practice to teach everyone who lives in your home that in the event of an evacuation that if at all possible please grab the hard drives as they head out the door. It is not just about the photos, I have other important personal information stored on my hard drives. Let’s face it; we live in a digital storage world now.

Now above I talked about software for downloading and all cameras come with software and we have many cloud based options for our phones such as Dropbox and many others. I use Dropbox (the free version). I keep the Dropbox storage folder on my hard drive #2 and every few months will use the software to import and move to my main folder by date taken.

The software that comes with most cameras will let you download by date as I have described above. But it may not give you the option to make a backup copy to another drive at the same time. This can easily be done manually, but I beg you to really ask yourself; will you do this faithfully? I am going to talk about the software I use and why I use it. It is my opinion that Adobe Lightroom 5 is a really powerful program for photography organization. It obviously does so much more than organize. It could be the only software you need if you are an amateur photographer. Here is where Lightroom really shines; I have 4 cameras and I want to organize photos taken from all 4 cameras, but keep the photos all in one place. Sounds complicated but it is not with Lightroom. I assign a different profile to each camera and with that profile I assign a color tag. So I can view for example the event I attended October 23, 2012 where my wife and I both took photos and I will see photos highlighted with red, green, yellow and blue. All the red are my DSLR photos, the yellow highlighted photos are from my cell phone. The green are from my wife’s point & shoot and the blue are from my point & shoot. I can turn filters on and off to see just red or green and so on. And from Lightroom I can add watermarks and resize and export for right to Facebook, both photos & video. Or I can export to email so I can pick & choose what to send to someone very quickly and easily. I also have the option to do major editing such as remove red eye, spot removal and much more.

You have to be dedicated to starting this organizing process and setting it up.  But believe me once you get it set up and in place it is a breeze. Imagine going on vacation or just a day trip, you come home with memory cards full of all the fun stuff you did and the places you seen and maybe from more than one camera. You could just sit down and easily download all those photos and have them organized. And… if you want to go a few steps further you can keyword and star rate your photos to really make them easy to find. I keyword my photos but I don’t get to crazy about it. Example; I went to a custom car show and I had my wife and a friend with me. I will keyword the whole download with words like car show, custom cars, my wife’s name and my friend’s name. If there is a really important photo of something special I might keyword that particular photo. I do however “star rate” from 1 to 5 when I first view the photos and this is easily done by making 3 stars a preset upon download. Then when viewing if I like it I hit 4 stars if it is not so good I make it 1 or 2 stars and I reserve 5 stars for very special photos. And of course I will black flag blurry or any unusable photos and delete to keep maximum room and space on the storage or drive. Deleting unusable photos is a “must do” task and should be done upon completion of download.

As I stated earlier if you have a lot of photos in a lot of different places you may have to do this in baby steps. First locate, then decide where and how to store. This may mean purchasing an external drive or two (I purchased mine over time). It may also mean purchasing software. Many photo software programs will have a 30 day free trial for you to see if you like the product. This is how I first became familiar with Adobe’s Lightroom software. I was using Canon’s software that came with my camera and it automatically organized in the system I stated above, but did not make a backup and it had a horribly slow way of adding keywords. So after my 30 day trail of Lightroom I was really missing being able to use it and I purchased it and have been using it since 2009. Either way if you are going to take photos you need to organize them. Please organize them; you’ll be so glad you did.

Lightroom being state of the art software offers many options that go beyond organizing photos.

Lightroom being state of the art software offers many options that go beyond organizing photos. On the left side you will see all your editing presets to make editing quick & easy. On the right you have all the edit controls.

 

LR Blog 2

Easy to post from Lightroom to social media. See left side of the photo. Also see highlighted photos from two separate cameras.