Posts Tagged ‘Color’

Basic Rules for Better Photography

Posted in Photography

It’s one thing to take a picture, but another to take a photograph. There are some basic rules that can help you take more interesting and eye catching photographs. Once you have the basic rules down, you’ll become more observant of the photographic opportunities that are around you. This is important in creating your “eye” for photography, and in creating your own style. It will be the difference between a snap shot and a photograph. Rule of Thirds: The “rule of thirds” has been around for centuries, and is the most recognized rule of composition used in photography and the arts alike. The rule of thirds states that the frame can be divided into three horizontal and three vertical sections. Photographs work better when the area of interest is placed off-center. I took this photograph using the rule of thirds. The balloon is off to the left. I usually put my center of focus on the left because in most parts of the world we read from left to right. This is more appealing to the viewer’s eye. They see the center of focus to the left and continue to look toward the right, taking in the rest of the image: Simplicity: The “simplicity” rule is just that. You should keep your photo relatively simple. If you’re zoomed in close to your main subject, make sure that the background is out of focus or make sure that nothing in the background stands out, causing any distractions. You don’t want anything pulling your eye away from your main subject. Here I have a photo of a tulip’s base, a very simple composition. I came in close, and whatever background you see is blurred out — there are no distractions: Leading Lines: The “leading line” draws your eye deeper into the photograph, and commonly to the main subject. The leading lines also direct your eye to an area of the photo that might not have been noticed otherwise. You have to be careful using leading lines. You don’t want them to distract the viewer or lead them away from the main subject. Here’s a photograph that I took in Death Valley, California. In this photo, there are a lot of lines leading up to the top of the mountain. The lines keep your eyes moving up the image. Lines can also go horizontal or vertical. Leading lines can also be rivers, roads, tree branches, bridges, or even building architecture: Straight Horizon: Talking about “straight horizons” may seem a little obvious and not necessary, but you’d be surprised to find how often it’s forgotten. Good thing this is an easy fix in most software programs: Framing: “Framing” natural surroundings thoughtfully can add more meaning and focus to your subject. The surrounding can be just about anything, from tree branches, bushes, and even doorways. Make sure that you are focused on your main subject, and use a high f/stop for depth of field. Here I took a photo of a golden monkey at the Bronx Zoo. I zoomed in close to get rid of any distractions behind the monkey. Then I used the tree branches to frame the image: Perspective: Sometimes a change of perspective can add impact to a photograph. Think about changing from your norm. Try crouching down, or moving to the left or right. Better yet, try to take a photo from a different angle, through a window, or a doorway, or even an archway. Experiment with lenses. You could even invest in a fisheye lens, which will give you a whole new perspective on everything: Color: Color in a photograph can create emotion and mood. Blues and greens are cool. Yellow and orange are warm colors. You can also use colors to create certain effects. Like a “wow” factor when colors jump out at you: Symmetry: Sometimes you just have to forget about the rule of thirds, and just plop your focus dead center, just because it works. Symmetry can come at a price; some may say it’s not interesting enough or even boring. Don’t listen to that. Subjects that work well with symmetry are landscapes and flora: The most important thing to remember about photography besides the rules, are “have fun” and enjoy what you’re doing. Then you can think about the rules. When you’ve finely tuned your skills, you can go ahead a break the rule. Now that’s a lot of fun.

White Balance While Using a Flash – Blue Photos

Posted in Photography, Quick Tips

Ever take pictures of friends and family inside or even outside, and your photos have a blue cast while using a flash? Maybe you even got used to the color and thought that it’s just the way the camera takes the photo. Well, it is the way the camera takes the photo, until you change one easy setting. The white balance — no matter what other setting you have set on your camera, while using the flash it’s important to have the flash setting on your camera “on”: Here I have an image of a mannequin head. I took this with my flash, but the setting on my camera was set to “Auto”. The image has a blue cast: Here I have the same image that I took with the flash, but I also had my camera setting set to “flash”. See the difference between the two images? The same goes for outside photography. Here I took a shot of a bird feeder I have in my backyard. For the first image, I used a flash with the camera setting on “Auto”. For the second image, I used a flash, and had my camera set to “Flash”. See the difference?    In some images the difference is subtle, but in other cases the blue cast is overwhelming. Just remember when you are finished using your flash, to put it back on “auto”. Simple, easy tips can be very useful.

Replacing a Color in Photographs Using Photoshop

Posted in Photography, Photoshop

Below, I have a photograph of a tulip that I had taken not too long ago. I like the color of the tulip, but for this tutorial I’ll change the color of the tulip using the Replace Color tool from the Adjustments menu in Photoshop:


The first thing I’ll do is drop the image into Photoshop. Next I’ll go to Image, Adjustments, Replace Color:


Here the Replace Color dialog box comes up:


Let’s concentrate on the top part of the box for now. In my photograph I want to change the color of the tulip, which is the red part of the image. When I hover my mouse over the part of the flower I want to change, I can see an eyedropper appear in the box. This is telling me, pick the color I want to change.

Here I clicked the eyedropper once over the red part of the flower. It’s only capturing one specific shade of red. I want it to pick all of the red:


What I need to do is go to the top of the Replace Color dialog box and pick the eyedropper with the + next to it:


Once I have the positive eyedropper selected, I’ll go back to the highlighted tulip and click around. Take your time, one click at a time and see how much of the color is being selected. In this example I want to get all of the different shades of red. If I miss any, I won’t be changing all of the red in the flower. Notice how all of the red is selected. Compare the next image to the one above to see the difference:


I literally had to click around 14 times to get all of the different shades of red.

Now it’s time to do some color changing. The first slider I’ll go to is the Hue slider. Here I’ve decided to make the tulip blue:


I can see that the base of the tulip still has some red, and I want to get rid of it. If you want or need to get just a little more or a little less of the color you’re selecting, go to the Fuzziness slider. This is where the Fuzziness slider comes in handy:


So, I’ll go to the Fuzziness slider and bring it to the right until I’m happy with the results. Here I brought the slider to 134 and I like the way it looks:


Now I can go ahead and play with the Saturation and Lightness sliders. These sliders have nothing to do with changing the color. They just enhance the color being changed. These were my final settings:


Here is my end result:


This blog post is dedicated to Bobby.

Bringing Color Back into Black & White, from Original Color Photo

Posted in Photography, Photoshop

Above is the result of this tutorial. Here’s an image that I took of a horse at Muscoot Farm in Westchester. In this example I’m going to make the image black and white and then bring the horse back to color. Now I’m going to make a copy of the background layer. So I hit CTRL-J on the keyboard. Then the copy layer will say Layer 1. I always name the layers. This way when I have a lot of layers in a big project I won’t get confused. I’ll double click the word “Layer 1” to rename it. Here, I’ll name this layer “Horse”:     The next thing I’ll do is put a mask on this layer, so that I can paint the color right back into the horse easily. I’ll click on the mask icon at the bottom of the layers palette: Next, I’ll make sure that the image of the horse is selected in the layer to make the image black & white: Ok, now I’m ready to make the image black & white. I’ll go to Image on the menu at the top of the screen, and drop down the menu. I’ll then select Adjustments / Black & White: In this case, when I change the image to black and white I’m not going to worry about how the horse comes out. I’ll be bringing the horse back to color. I’m just going to concentrate on the background. I want to make the background as dark and dramatic as possible. Here are the settings I used, not worrying about the horse at all. Then I click OK: Now I’ll click on the mask to make it active: Here’s the image in process. I usually start at the center and work my way out. I take my time and zoom in to the outer edges of an object so that I can see the details when I work. Remember, painting with black reveals and painting with white conceals: Sometimes it helps to see exactly what the mask is doing. You can hold the ALT key on your keyboard and click on the mask at the same time to see the mask in action. Hold the ALT key and click on the mask icon again to bring it back to its original state: Here’s the finished image: Have fun!

HDR Color to HDR Black & White

Posted in HDR, Photoshop

Above is an example of a black and white HDR image that I’ll show you how to create from an original color image. HDR images can look really good if they’re done right. Some HDR images look great when they’re converted to black and white. I don’t think it works for all HDR images so you’ll have to experiment. Experimenting can be a lot of fun. Here’s an example of the Croton Dam in Westchester, NY. Some people I know like the color version better and others like it in black and white. It’s all a matter of taste. If you like your end results, then that’s what matters. This is how I did the black and white conversion in Photoshop CS3. First bring the image into Photoshop. Then go to Image / Adjustments / Black & White. Here the Black and White dialog box opens up. There are red, yellow, green, cyan, blue and magenta sliders. Slide the sliders back and forth to see how it will affect your image. Every image is different and it’s up to your taste how you want the end result. When I decide that I’m happy with the results, I click OK. These are the settings I used for this image: I’m not finished yet. At this point I like to go to the Image / Adjustments / Brightness/Contrast settings: I don’t touch the brightness slider. I just bring up the contrast to about +20, depending on the image. Here’s the end result: Here’s another example with a different image. Instead of leaving this image as a black and white, I gave it a sepia “tint”. In the Black and White dialog box, there’s a check box at the bottom that says “Tint”. Click that check box on, then click OK. Here are the images from color, to black and white, to sepia tint: Here’s one more example of color to black and white:
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