Monday, 18 March 2019

Mt Tomah Botanic Garden Photo Workshop Sat 6th April

It's just under three weeks to my new local workshop at the Mt Tomah Gardens in the Blue Mountains.

The workshop concentrates on how to master pictures of flowers, landscapes , colour, patterns, details and ultimately, extreme close-ups.

Workshoppers will learn how to isolate subjects from the background, record accurate colour, manage depth of field, deal with camera shake, control shutter speed, plus, learn how to use tripods [properly], use fill-flash and, if you own one, use off-camera flash, to add modelling light to subjects.
Where: Mt Tomah Botanical Gardens,
Bells Line of Road, Mount Tomah, NSW When: Sat 6th April
How Much: $85 per person, payable on the day

Start/Finish: 10:30am - 4:00pm. Meet outside main entrance...
Reserve a place: e:

Generally, to get a close-up shot like this you'd need to use a dedicated Macro lens.
If you don't have one of those (quite expensive) accessories, you could use an extension tube.
These are easy to use and are a (significantly) cheaper option to a real macro lens.
A set of extension tubes, like this one for Nikon, will cost anywhere between $15 and $100 depending on brand and model. They have no glass or moving parts so are easy to use on most lenses. Main disadvantage is that they produce even less depth of field than a true Macro lens, so focussing and aperture settings have to be carefully considered.
Water lilies are one of the hardest flowers to shoot simply because the best blooms generally sit well away from the edges of the pond in which they are growing so, short of wading into the water, you can't get to them. At least, that's my experience.
Not so with this beautiful example - shot close-up with a 100mm focal length Macro lens.
A Macro lens is the ideal tool to pick out tiny objects, like these exquisite buds just coming into bloom.  On my workshops you'll learn how to control the depth of field - the amount of 'stuff' that you get in focus, by choosing the right aperture and specific focussing technique.
No need for a Macro lens in this example, more likme a wide-angle lens.
This protea is about the size of a small dinner plate!
Learn how to isolate your subject from the background using the right camera angle, lens focal length and of course, aperture setting...
Beautiful foxglove snapped at f5.6 with a telephoto lens to push the background out of focus - thus isolating the subject from the background...
Colour is a perfect subject for all photo projects.
In this shot it's all about green on green, a combination that's often overlooked by photographers who often chase the brightest, punchiest hues.
Most photographers stand in front of their subjects and snap away from an average height and distance.
To make your images stand out from everyone else's, it's important to learn how to shoot from a different point of view (POV) like this example, low down and horizontal to the ground.
A sight to behold. Even if you are not into gardening per se, this is a fantastic blue puya plant, with its hundreds of tiny blue flowers attracting a whole range of flying insects and native birds, is a magnificent (close-up) photo challenge.
Sometimes you get lucky. Finding a less obvious point of interest, such as this ladybug, works nicely as both a point of focus and spot colour...
Wintery landscape? Mt Tomah at its best, shot with my infra-red converted Canon 400D.
It gives a completely different 'look' to any landscape.
All cameras can be converted to shoot IR - there are several types of infra-red conversion (depending on the company that does the work) and it's a great way to re-vitalise an old digital camera...

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Open Closed Eyes feature in Photoshop Elements 2019

Here's a short overview of another neat feature that you'll find in Adobe Photoshop Elements 2019. It's called Open Closed Eyes.
When I first spotted this in the new version (Enhance>Open Closed Eyes) I thought it was another of these WOW! type features that sound awesome - but don't really work (and there have been a few of those over the years). But, as I'm currently working on an e-book all about Elements, I thought I'd give it a whirl. 
And you know what? It works. This utility essentially identifies the position of donor's eyes, selects them, feathers the selection, uses some very clever blending to make any copied skin tones blend into the recipient's skin colour range. All you, the user, has to do, is find a similar portrait, preferably of the same person, but it does work with a different person as well.

Finding a portrait that has similar skin tones and eye colour does help the accuracy, but it actually works with most portraits, providing they are looking reasonably straight at the lens, and don't have either eye covered with spectacles, hair, etc. 

It works on portraits with closed or blinking eyes- and it works on portraits of folk with open eyes too...

PSE 2019 Open Closed Eyes from Robin Nichols on Vimeo.