digital workflow

RAW vs JPG – the final discussion

The RAW vs JPG debate has raged on to the point where pretty much every photographer has been worn down, or left confused. It’s been done. But bear with me on this one. It’ll be quick. And convincing. Then we really are done with this. Here it is:

There is NO photographer on this planet who is good enough to get:
- correct white balance,
- correct exposure,
- correct brightness level,
- correct overall and local contrast,
- correct saturation,
- a good black point,
- or anything else you’d like to add,
DURING the moment of capture, for EVERY situation they are likely to encounter.

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a kid’s studio portrait

January 5, 2011

children’s studio portrait – lighting setup and post-processing

The lighting setup was very simple. Mostly because there wasn’t much space in the area where I set up my home-studio in my dining room area.  But also, because a complicated lighting setup wasn’t necessary. Just two lights. One light on my subject – this adorable little girl; the other light on my background.

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your best digital work-flow tip / your best office work-flow tip

I’m once again on a mission to get more control of office work-flow, and to streamline my digital work-flow even further. In a post much earlier this year, I described my Mac awakening, and how a few key things changed my work-flow completely and made my life easier. De-cluttering my desk then made a big difference.  Adding some pieces of technology in a more sensible way to my office too, made my life easier and allowed me to work faster.  Well, I’m again changing a few things to improve my work-flow. (More about this later perhaps).

In a kind of parallel to this, there was the recent article on the extra items in your camera bag – with some ideas on organizing your camera bag by adding some non-photography essentials. There were some contributions by readers of the Tangents blog who came up with additional suggestions. Mention was also made there of the Shoot Kit – a neat collection of the smaller essentials, all neatly packed into an accessible canvas holder. It contains safety pins and a sewing kit and headache tablets and such.  The kit, when rolled left-to-right is secured with a Velcro strip, but rolled right-to-left is easy and silent while opening. (Check the link to the shootkit for the exact details of what is included).

Tying this all together thematically with the idea of organizing your work / life / camera bag, there was a small contest, (now closed):

- post your best digital work-flow tip, and / or
- post your best office work-flow tip.

Even though the contest is closed, everyone is still invited to add their tips and ideas.

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adding my logo to images

October 6, 2010

I get frequent questions about how I add my logo to the images, so I thought I’d explain it in a blog post. Here it is …

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reducing the blue color cast in white clothing

Often when working in the shade, or anywhere we need Cloudy or Shade white balance, we’ll often see a blue tint in the white clothing.  I suspect this might be due to detergents being used which give a blue-ish tint to white clothing to make them appear cleaner.  Or perhaps this is from UV light when we’re working in cloudy conditions or in the shade.  However it might be, we will often get that blue tone in white clothing, as in this photo below …

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The best way to deal with digital noise in photographs is to start with having a correctly exposed photograph taken by a high-ISO capable camera. Then digital noise mostly isn’t an issue unless you start pushing the upper limits of what the camera is capable of. But sometimes (hopefully only sometimes), you have to deal with an under-exposed photograph from an older camera … and then the digital noise becomes apparent. Then we have to use software to clean the image up …

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what white balance should I set my camera to?

… that’s a question that baffles photographers who are just starting out with digital photography.

You have a few options in setting the WB on your camera:

  • you could shoot in auto white balance (AWB), and hope your camera nails it.  And then you can also feel excited as each new generation of camera offers better AWB.
  • you could set your camera to one of the preset WB settings, such as Daylight, Cloudy or Incandescent.  And hope your camera’s preset is close to the correct WB.
  • you could do custom white balance readings and save it as you encounter and work in new situations. These custom white balance readings can be done with all kinds of white balance cards and discs.

These all work … usually. However, what we need to understand is that quite often, there is no ‘correct’ white balance setting.  What we are after is a pleasant white balance

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February 1, 2010

about this Mac thing ..

Until recently, I’ve been a PC user.  I didn’t have much interest in using a Mac, although I dearly loooove my iPhone and iPod.  I also have a high appreciation for Apple’s minimalist design and aesthetics.  Macs do look very cool.

Yet I didn’t feel the need or desire for a Mac.  PCs run fast.  It’s a stable platform with a wide choice of programs.  On top of that, there were some things which put me off the Mac.  The thing I found most annoying was the fanboyism of the Mac enthusiasts.  Any problem you’d encounter on a PC, you’d get a gloating chorus of,  “just use a Mac.”   Equally aggravating was the assertion that Macs are sooo intuitive.  You know what?  If Macs were so intuitive you wouldn’t have to explain their operation to me, would you?

I was a happy PC user, until the middle of last year.  Then without prior intention, I decided to get a fully kitted 17″ MacBook Pro Notebook Computer, with 8 Gb RAM.

Initially I was a little under-whelmed with the Mac experience, but then a few things fell into place for me in terms of software and hardware options … and then I switched my main computer that I work on (ie the laptop), over to the MacBook Pro.  Suddenly it all made sense!

All of this will be old news to Mac lovers. When I was gushing about my new setup to a friend of mine last week, she just laughed, “Where have you been all this time?”.

The things that fell into place for me had a big impact on my post-production workflow and efficiency, and I’d like to share some of my observations and new experience …

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Photoshop tips – avoiding moiré when resizing

When you resize an image with repetitive patterns, you stand the chance that the pattern itself will form another pattern.  This is called moiré.  When I resized this image for web display, I had to take care to make sure the blue window shutters didn’t generate a moiré pattern.

By going from the original 12 megapizel image (4288 pixels wide), directly down to 600 pixels in a single adjustment ..

.. I get an image where the detail looks like this:

You can see the moiré pattern there in the blue window blinds as a diagonal shaded pattern.  You run the risk of this happening if you do a massive jump in resizing in one go.

But by doing the resizing as 10% reduction steps, you can most often avoid that.  Here is how it looks when resized as a sequence of resizing steps:

Instead of changing the pixel dimension from 4288 pixels right down to 600 pixels wide,  instead do it as approximately 10% jumps in size.  You would now change from 4288 pixels (as an example), 3900 pixels wide.  And from there you would change to 3500 pixels, all the way down to the size you want your image to be.  The diagonal moiré pattern has now been nearly completely eliminated.

Sharpening an image (as you have to when you resize an image for web use), also enhances the pattern.  Therefore, with this image, I removed the sharpening for the window shutters to further reduce the effect.

Of course, doing this kind of step-by-step resizing, is best done as an action.  You can create your own, or use one of the many available on the internet.  The best actions also provide some sharpening as an intermediate step for best results.

A little bit about the post-processing of the image …

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bounce flash photography technique – mimicking window light

The classic shot – a beautiful bride lit by soft window light.
That’s a yes on the beautiful bride – but it’s a solid no on the window light.
What you see there is on-camera flash.  (Which most likely won’t be a surprise to regular readers of the Tangents blog.)

This image is from a wedding this past weekend, and it makes a great example of how light, choice of lens, composition, angle and technique come together to make an image work. With a bit of post-processing added finally for that vintage feel.

Let’s look at the light first .. how I used on-camera bounce flash for my lighting here.

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