Wednesday, 19 May 2010


Here are some hot shots from our first day shooting Plugged Portraits for Sydney University at the SCA campus, Rozelle.
We used fairly basic equipment: Bowens 1000 joule heads, reflectors, umbrellas stands, flats and softboxes. The final part of the morning shoot was taken up using Canon and Nikon speedlights kitted out with umbrellas or honeycomb grids to get a similar look to the full studio arrangement while remaining mobile.
The afternoon was spent post-processing the images in Photoshop. Here are some of the results from this first day. Considering none of the 7 students have had had previous studio experience, these are truly awesome. Well done guys.

Credit goes to, from the top: Robert Marconi (1), Chris Wilkins (4), Gordon Chirgwin (2), Bonnie Humphries (1).
Watch this space for the results from next week's workshop...

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Working with Canvas Size

Many of us get confused with the Canvas Size feature - and not surprisingly as it is not clear what the 'canvas' refers to, in the context of your picture...

I prefer to think of Canvas Size as being the backing board to the photo. Straight off a camera this Canvas Size is the same size as the picture - so we don't see it, but increase the dimensions of the Canvas Size and it sticks out past the edges of the picture and becomes visible, and therefore becomes the effective border to the picture. Treat Canvas Size like a photo mounting board and you should get it. We can change the size and colour of this border as many times as we like for effect. Watch the video to see how...

Monday, 3 May 2010

Creating a coffee table Masterpiece: Part 02

Once you have the points I outlined in Part 01, you'll find the bookmaking process easier. At this point I'm assuming that you have a folder or group of folders full of edited images.
In this example I'm making a simple BLURB book using photos and a few captions only - no complex backgrounds - that's for another Africa book project I'm currently working on using, predominantly, Photoshop, for an A3 book with - you'll see more on this blog once I have explained the basics for this simpler book idea...
First off I decided on having Section Headers - I chose a plain double page spread (DPS) layout for each individual section header as this 'opens up' or creates negative space (white space) in the book to compensate somewhat for the other pages that might have more than one image per page. Blurb's preview feature is excellent (press the small Preview Book button just above the timeline, to go into preview mode). Preview mode hides all the page bleed marks, the photo and text placement boxes and all the other rubbish round the edges of the workspace so what you see is as close to the printed page as is possible without actually printing it. It's very accurate.
I chose white pages as a Theme (it's the BLURB default) but on reflection, added a black background to the left-hand section header pages (see top illustration). I also chose landscapes for each of these right-hand header pages (trying to preserve some consistency).
- I completed all eight section headers and the contents pages first (total 18 pages)
- I also had a quick go at the cover design. As this is an image wrap book there are no flaps to design so I went for a simple one shot on the front and one shot on the back look. This might change as we move into the design more.
- Image wrap books have a front cover and a back cover and a spine. However, page 01 looks odd as it's on its own in the pagination. This is like a cover page inside the outer hard covers. First time I did an image wrap cover book I left the outer and page one pictures the same because it was not clear how these were handled. It look OK but the hard cover and page one were the same shots (see the Oman book example). I'd suggest adding a new or different picture to page one and treat it maybe as an intro page?


Another suggestion is to use a photo as a background and add text over that for effect. You can see this used in the Oman contents page and in the East Africa book (below).

- Another design tip is to use the same picture twice, as in the contents page above. Drag the same picture from the My Photos palette (at left of Booksmart interface) into the left and the right-hand pages, then enlarge each (using the +/- button at the top of the page) and reposition the left-hand page image to the right and the right-hand page image to the left. I usually count the number of '+ clicks' on the left then repeat the same number of + clicks on the opposite page - otherwise it's difficult trying to match the zoom amount between left and right using the slider. Those zoom sliders can be sticky. 
- While you are laying out photos, you might find that some just don't work - right-click in the image and choose Delete or Cut to get rid of it or just drag a replacement on top of it.
- Remember providing the resolution is high enough, you can use the Zoom buttons/sliders to enlarge an image - like cropping  - to get it to fit better.
- You can also flip images (use the flip button in the Photo Tools menu bar along the top of the screen).
- If you don't like the position/shape of the picture window or text box on the page, all are editable using the Edit Layout button, top-left of the Booksmart page. Note some of these are locked, so choose a different page template (from the Apply Page Layouts palette top left) and add your own picture or text box. Another good feature in Booksmart is the ability to save these changed or customised page layouts - these can be specifically named and they are held in the My Page Layouts drop-down menu in the Apply Page Layout palette.