“I Drive” (A project to learn video editing using Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018 & After Effect CC.)

My latest personal project. I am a school bus driver of 18 years. I needed a subject for my latest video project. The project was to create a video in Premiere Pro that would use many different scenes. The project would incorporate organizing all the clips into folder such as B roll, A roll, music tracks and photos ect… Another part of the project would be meeting a deadline as well as color grading and creating my own animated lower thirds graphics.

So as you can see this project covered several different things and I treated it as if it was a paid project. I used several different cameras, but most of it was shot on my phone with the use of the DJI Osmo Mobile gimbal.

In the end I’m happy with what I created. Sure I see all my mistakes that maybe others do not see and I’m ok with that, because that is how I will learn, after all that is the power of personal project, learning by doing.

As a photographer video editing was not a strong point of mine. Sure I could shoot short behind the scenes video and do a quick edit for social media, however I wanted this to be the next step up from that. In this video it was not so much about capturing at the correct lighting and ISO as it was more about putting content together to tell a story and the whole process of organization of the clips prior to editing. Needless to say there are many clips that did not make it into the final draft, but there again that was part of the sorting and organizing.  Either way in the end I feel I did learn from what I created. Now I’ll start planning the next video project. This project was perfect for this time of year, the weather is cold and miserable so by limiting the project to just me and very little dialog and I’m doing something I already do every day made things a lot easier.

So till next time… Thanks for reading and thanks for stopping by.

Google Makes Nik a Free Download (…for those who don’t know the original Nik plugins were the “cat’s meow”)

B&W conversion using Silver Efex Pro 2

B&W conversion using Silver Efex Pro 2

Final edit includes adjustments performed using Color Efex Pro 4, Tonal Contrast, Pro Contrast and more.

Final edit includes adjustments performed using Color Efex Pro 4, Tonal Contrast, Pro Contrast and more.

As many photographers may have heard Google has just made the Nik Collection a “free” download. Many photographers already know about the Nik plugins, however I personally have met many photographers who never heard of Nik plugins, even after Google acquired the Nik collection from Nik. I guess I was naïve to have thought everybody knew what they were. I have been using Nik for many years now. I had purchased Color Efex Pro 3 and Silver Efex Pro 2 from Nik and then after Google acquired them one day out of the clear blue I received an email from Google giving me a link to download the whole collection and this in turn moved me up to Color Efex Pro 4. Google stated because I was a current Nik Customer they were dishing out the love and it really was a beautiful day for sure.

Now real quick for those who don’t know the original Nik plugins were the “cat’s meow” especially Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro.

I fell in love with Silver Efex Pro 2 (SEP2) for making black & white conversions. Although I have several methods for making B&W images SEP2 is by far the best and most creative. I love my color images, but at the same time I can get lost in playing with SEP2. Most important to me when working with images that have a face, is being able to see the zone mapping so I can apply my personal recipe for zone mapping human skin. I’m not going to go into all the details about the zone system, but for those who know about Ansel Adam’s zone system… well you know what I’m talking about.

Most important (in my opinion) is that if you want to create amazing black & whites you need to first create a great color image and then move into SEP2. So for those of you who have Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, you need to get these plugins and get started learning how to use them. For me… if you asked me to choose one tool or plugin for Photoshop and nothing else. Hands down the Nik collection would be my choice, mainly Color Efex Pro.

Another source that increased my wanting for using SEP2 was famed photographer Vincent Versace’s book “From Oz to Kansas” but you must first read “Welcome to Oz” because it is all about making cinematic edits that can stop at being beautiful color images or… move to the next book “From Oz to Kansas” and that is taking those awesome color edits and moving to black& white. The books truly are worth reading, however so many people I meet who want to call themselves a “photographer” want instant gratification and reading a book is just too much trouble, or so it seems. Sometimes I will mention that I learned “this or that” technique from a book I read and I get looked at like I have two heads.  I want to be the best photographer I can be and when I look at anybody who has ever succeeded at anything I many times see people who know their craft inside and out and many will tell you that part of knowing your craft is studying the people who have traveled the road before you. When you think about it it’s a “no brainer,” but seems many have no brains. Every photographer out there in this big ole world wants better images and the Nik collection will get you closer to that holy grail, but do yourself a favor and read a book or take a class that is written or taught by a true master of the trade/art. Fuck those stupid Facebook advertisements and find somebody who is a master. I live in NYC/Philly area and when I know Joe McNally or Cliff Mautner or Lindsay Adler are in town speaking or teaching… well you bet your last dollar I’m gonna be there. And those are just a few of the masters photography has to offer.

So down load the Nik collection from Google and let your creativity move of to the next level. I did!

They Have All Become Cartoons (Yes ladies you can take offense to what I am saying and that is ok)

Un-filtered and unedited image of Bree Arkham

Un-filtered and unedited image of Bree Arkham. Asked to submit a test shot, she did so while driving to work. Now this is a good selfie.

Sadly enough they have all become akin to a cartoon character. If you’re a male you may have noticed over the past year or so and even more so of recent months that many female faces on social media have become very cartoon like. It doesn’t matter young or old, but the need to make themselves look… prettier? I guess? Either way it has led them to look like something out of an animated cartoon.

Yes ladies you can take offense to what I am saying and that is ok, but seriously you really need to stand back and take a look at what you’re doing. I equate it to the botchery that people like Joan Rivers and Michael Jackson bestowed upon themselves. The only difference here is that it is not permanent and it is only being done to images. However we all still have to look at them. From my following many people both male and female on social media I have found the biggest culprits are the ladies who are not bad-looking at all. But still they take it to an extreme and blur their face almost beyond recognition.

Blurring the skin is nothing new with images. Photoshop blurring has been done for many years now. In fact when I starting learning how to retouch and edit human skin in Photoshop the first technique was to use a blur layer on skin. But I soon found it was way too easy to overdo it and it looked very fake. Today’s retouching uses a technique called “frequency separation” and it too (in my opinion) looks very fake when overused as it often is.

The problem with the blur techniques that all the girls are using today is that the filter is applied “globally” to the image. This means it is applied to the whole images like a smear. When a retoucher uses the technique in Photoshop we do not apply it to eyes, nostril openings, lips, teeth, jewelry, hair ect… It is only used on the skin. Many of the images I see every day are actually laughable. It is like when a 14-year-old girl first uses makeup and she goes totally overboard until somebody (hopefully) steps in and shows her otherwise. But until then the female population will continue to look like smeared clowns. Seriously Miss, when did you ever see a real live person with skin that looked like “porcelain”? It does not exist, period, end of story. So you’re making yourself look “unreal” many times the breast implants become the topic. Girls get boob implants and I get it, they want to gain self-confidence or maybe they are in the entertainment industry and that is par for the course. But creating a false image and publicizing it is downright strange if you ask me? (I know you didn’t ask me lol)  When the girl with fake boobs walks in the room she looks the same as she did in a photo. But blurring a photo to make yourself not visible is weird. …I just don’t get it.

GUYS BEWARE: If you are hooking up with babes online and you have never met her in person. Is she luring you in with a selfie that has been blurred? The first meeting could be a doozy when you first see each other and she really “looks worse than a rough strip of Texas highway in the hot summer sun.”

I have posted many times in the past on the topic of retouching and editing skin and blemishes. I have a rule I go by and it takes two different paths. First I decide “is it a real photo I am looking for in the end result”, or am I going for an illustration. If it is a “real” image that I want to be my end point, the rule is as follows; I will remove what should have never been there. Examples are zits, pimples, and other skin flaws. If you weren’t born with it and it wasn’t always there then why have it in the photo. Skin can be softened as can crow’s feet and lines. But once you start removing lines you have crossed over to “fake” and that is not good (in my opinion). Moles and birthmarks are optional and I’ll ask the client or model if he/she is bothered by them and if so I remove them. After all moles & birthmarks can be covered by makeup, so therefore I say they qualify to be removed. Lines can be softened by makeup and I can do the same in PS. The big rule for skin is; Skin has texture, even with makeup applied skin still has a texture or the makeup has some sort of texture. If you slightly blur you will soften the texture. If you use the new professional techniques of “frequency separation” you are simply putting in “fake” texture. If done correctly Frequency Separation looks amazing, done wrong it looks just as fake as blurring.

If the end image is going to be an illustration I will take a different route. There are no limits because it is art, so “yes” I may make her skin like porcelain and that is ok because the image is not expected to be real.

I do understand that everybody wants to look their best… I get that. But how are you looking your best if your face is blurred or smeared?

Let’s look at some example.

Too much blur on skin.

Too much blur on skin.

Model 1 Model 3

In these two examples of frequency separation you have to use you own opinion. Some people like and some don’t.

Model 2