Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Light Science & Magic; Fourth Edition

This is by far the best lighting book I have ever read and probably the only lighting book a photographer would ever need except perhaps for a great subject specific book to the kind of lighting you require like a great book on Fashion Lighting that would give you insights on Industry trends, looks and faux pas.

Unlike most other lighting books, Light Science & Magic provides more than just set examples for photographers to follow. This book provides photographers with a comprehensive theory of the nature and principles and physics of light so that photographers will ‘understand’ lighting to allow individual photographers to use lighting to express their own creativity. With that understanding of light and with examples on how to light the most difficult subjects such as tricky surfaces, metal, glass, liquids, and extremes such as black-on-black and white-on-white, photographers will be equipped to tackle any lighting situation they may face.

This new Fourth Edition has more information specific for digital photographers, a brand new chapter on equipment, much more information on location lighting, and more on photographing people.

Authors: Fil Hunter, Steven Biver, Paul Fuqua
Publisher: Focal Press


The retail on this book is $39.95 U.S. but it is available at Amazon for less. Here is the link:

Light Magic & Science; Fourth Edition

© 2011 Francois Cleroux

(Version 1.00 - December 2011)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Workshop Changes

Note - There will be no workshop on Monday December 12th. Next workshops will be as follows:

Black & White Master Class (Part 2) (1.5 Hours)

This is a continuation of the Black & White Primer. In part one we discussed JPeg or RAW and other camera settings. B&W compositional elements, should I shoot in B&W or colour, white balance, what to watch for, thinking in B&W. In part 2 we continue with best B&W subjects, B&W conversion in Lightroom, Photoshop and Silver Efex Pro, printing and tips and tricks. (Beginner to Advanced)

Date: Wednesday January 4th, 2012
Time: 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm

Location: KinVillage Community Center, Delta, BC
Cost: $10.00 for non Delta Photo Club members (Free for members)



A Hands-On Creative Evening of Photography (2 Hours)
(Postponed to Monday February 13th)

ATTENDEES MUST RSVP as space is limited! Please RSVP to francois@eyesonphoto.com

Attendees are asked to bring their camera preferably with a Macro Lens and perhaps their tripods to this fun and creative evening of adventurous photography. Different stations will be setup where different creative artistic subjects will be available to photograph.

Although some excellent images may be garnered from this hands-on workshop, the purpose of this class is to teach new techniques for photographers to take home for shooting indoors on cold wintery days. We will play with smoke, water, bubbles, ice, inks and other easily and cheaply available props. (All Levels)

ATTENDEES MUST RSVP as space is limited! Please RSVP to francois@eyesonphoto.com

Date: Monday February 13th, 2012
Time: 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm (Please arrive a little early!)
Location: Tsawwassen Alliance Church, Delta, BC
Cost: $10.00 for non Delta Photo Club members (Free for members)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Muse as Art and Exhibit-a Gallery Show

Tomorrow evening an image of mine, or rather three images will be on display at the PHOTOHAUS Gallery in Vancouver. This is also the home of the great Vancouver Photo Workshops.

Tomorrow evening is the launch or rather the Reception to the start of the "Exhibit-a Gallery Show" which will actually be on display until January 6th, 2012. There are a total of 6 artists showing their work; judi ANGEL, john CONWAY, kyle MACDONALD, john BRANDRICK, alex KWOK and me. The images are all superb as are the artists. Katie Husmain, instructor and curator of this show has done a great job and I owe her a great deal of gratitude and thanks. I have learned a lot from her.

My images on display are the start or the launch of my own project "Muse as Art". The double sided 24" by 64.5" image on display called "The Exhibit" is but the first of nine images. For the Muse as Art project I have setup a web site at www.MuseAsArt.com where I will document my work, my learning processes and will blog on my trials and tribulations of creating these types of images.

I will blog on the concept, where it originated and how it has developed to this starting process. I will blog and discuss the images, the ideas behind the concepts of the images, their development and the technical issues in creating them.

Please be warned that there is nudity at this site and I hope it does not offend anyone but rather hope that it inspires other photographers and artists. The nine models that will make up this work are on side and rather enthusiastic about the project.

Jennie, the first model in The Exhibit print has been very supportive and as an artist herself, she has been very inspirational in creating this first image. To see the images and a few others that will be documented soon please check out the site.

All the information is on here.
Click to enlarge.

I invite everyone to come out to the Reception tomorrow evening (Friday November 25th, 2011) at 7:00 PM to help support all the artists. There will be refreshments and food and music provided by New York DJ Lady Lane.

© 2011 Francois Cleroux

(Version 1.00 -  November 2011)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Intimate Evening with the Epson 3880 Follow-Up

Last night's workshop was my first time doing that particular workshop. It can be a little extra stressful as you are covering new material for the first time in front of a group. Also, one never knows what questions will be thrown at you. Will you know the answers; will you make a mistake or look stupid? Well I guess I usually do look stupid but when I do a class I usually do it because I am comfortable with the content I will be teaching.

Last night's class was mostly talk with a little show and tell at the beginning and then some Digital Workflow stuff specific to Printing and Photoshop and ICC Profiles in the later half. During the process I gave out some good tips and some warnings but more importantly there were some excellent questions asked.

For the first time I 'advertised' the class outside of the club (or on this site) at three other clubs but mostly because some members of those clubs wanted to know when I was holding this class. Turns out several of the people that wanted to attend the workshop e-mailed me to let me know they could not make it but that I was to let them know when I would do it again.

However, I did get a good response from the advertising in that we had a couple travel all the way from Duncan, a fair drive and a long ferry ride, just to attend the class. We also had guests from North Vancouver, Abbotsford and Burnaby. Note that most of the club members are from Delta (Ladner and Tsawwassen) and Surrey and Richmond. A great turn out.

The class went very well and I have received some great feedback already. During the class some questions popped up regarding acquiring some products or supplies I talked about. If you go to the Workshops Link (above right) on this site and then navigate to the "An Intimate Evening with the Epson 3880" workshop you'll find a link for a PDF file of Links and Information Sites. I will continue to add to this file over time but will list a few of these items people asked about here.

First up, you should protect you printer from dust and other debris and I recommend having a cover for your printer. After purchasing my Epson 3880 the first thing I did was order a cover for it. The one I found was a little expensive for a cover but after receiving it, it's an excellent cover! So much so that the TUMI cover is actually now listed on the Epson Site as an official accessories. I purchase a lot of my stuff from Amazon.com. Here is the Amazon link and the Epson link.

Amazon - Stylus Pro 3800 Tumi Printer Cover (Its cheaper here right now)

Epson - Stylus Pro 3800 Tumi Printer Cover - then click on OPTIONS

I discussed handling the paper before feeding it into the printer. You should use white cotton gloves to avoid getting fingerprints and oils on to the paper. Make sure to use them all the time after you have printed you images also.

Amazon - CK Products Large White Cotton Gloves, (Pack of 12 Pairs)

Once I have a page I lay it down onto an anti-static and grounded matte and then I brush off the paper (printing side) with a carbon anti-static brush. This serves two purposes. One, I clears off any debris or loose fibers that may be on the paper from the factory that can ruin a print. Secondly, by removing the static from the paper, you'll prevent the static from attracting debris, dust, cat hairs and such, from your home or printer as you position the paper onto into the proper feed tray. Again, make sure your printer is dust free.

Amazon - OP/TECH USA 3611242 Work Mat-Large (24 x 42 Inch)

Amazon - Kinetronics StaticWisk, 11" (280mm) Long Hand Held Anti-Static Brush - There is a less expensive 5.5" version of this brush.

Someone also asked about prints that continue to sweat, or as its called in the business "Out-Gassing". They also noted that they stopped printing on Luster papers because of this problem. What typically happens is after a print is made and then framed one of two potential problems occur. The first being that the print will develop a wave and will not lay flat which looks very bad. The second potential problem is that a thin white haze appears on the inside of the glass. This is called "Ghosting". Both of the problems typically happen because the prints were not allowed to dry properly. Based on the printer, the paper used, the ink type and the manufacturer of the ink and on environmental variables such as the relative humidity and the temperature and air movement, prints can take from a half a day to almost a week to dry out properly. You must ensure your prints are dry before framing.

So yesterday I described the process for dealing with this and will include this in future classes. Note that this usually happens with Luster and Glossy Papers and then again usually with Dye based printer but it can happen with Pigment Inks on Matte papers. After I make a print I lay it down face up somewhere dry and clean. I let it dry for at least an hour. I then lay a sheet of bond paper over top of the print. I use an acid free bond paper but you can use regular bond paper for this. And, actually, the thinner the better so do not use backing boards and such. Also, the paper needs to be the same size or larger than the print.

The next morning I look at the paper that is on top of the print. Chances are that it will be very warped and will feel almost moist. I then lay down another sheet of the bond paper over top of it and wait another day. I continue this process until the sheet of bond paper no longer 'waves' and feels completely dry. This process could take three or four days. For good measure you may want to wait one more day but it is usually good at this point.

If you are not going to be framing your print then this step is not necessary. But note that if you are selling it and passing it on to a customer, you should do this in case they get it framed right away. Also, having a dry sheet of paper on the print serves as a great way to 'protect' the print from dust and fingers and such. I usually leave this protective cover sheet on the print when I insert it into the protective polypropylene bag. Note that the bag, will act like a picture frame and may stick to the print if the print has not been properly dried. The cover sheet will help with this problem.

Here is the paper I use.

Amazon - Southworth Fine Business Paper, 25% Cotton, 20 lb, White, 500 Sheets

For the Poly bags I use the Crystal Clear Bags (TM). These are super strong museum quality acid-free and lignin-free crystal clear bags. The adhesive strip is located on the bag and not on the flap to better protect the print when inserting or removing it.

Amazon - Crystal Clear Bags 16-7/16" x 20-1/8" Crystal Clear, Protective Polypropylene Storage Bags, with Flap, 100 Bags

Another option for drying prints is this booklet from Adorama. This is a little more expensive but works very well. It also allows you to stack the print into a booklet which can save some space. However, these thicker pages will not buckle or wave and an indicator that everything is dry.

Amazon - Adorama Print Drying Blotter Book 19"x24" For Drying 16"x20" Photos

If you are looking for a nice cover paper to protect the image and pass on to a client, this Adorama paper works very well. Note that this paper will not work for 'drying' your prints. Here is the Amazon link but it is available at Adorama.

Amazon - Adorama Acid Free Print Cover Buffered Tissue Paper, 16" x 20", Pack of 100 Sheets

And lastly, I store my Bond Paper for easy and ready access in these Archival Methods storage boxes. Archival Methods makes a great line of boxes including some nicer boxes and portfolio type boxes for storing Fine Art Prints that are more suitable for showing clients.

Amazon - Archival Methods Print Lux Box 16.25 x 20.25 x 1-1/8", Black

For all those of you that attended last nigh. Thanks. And as usual, if anyone has any questions about any of this, printing in general, the 3880 or anything photography related, please ask. You can leave a comment here below or you can contact me via e-mail in the CONTACT area of this site.

© 2011 François Cléroux

(Version 1.00 - November 2011)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Monday, November 7, 2011

An Intimate Evening with an Epson 3880 Printer

Blown Glass, Copyright 2011 Francois Cleroux
On Monday November 14th, 2011 I will be hosting "An Intimate Evening with an Epson 3880". This informal workshop will discuss all aspects of digital photographic printing.

Topics will include Printers, Paper Brands & Types, Inks, Terminology, Paper Handling, Care of Prints and Printers, Fine Art Printing, Color vs B&W, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, ICC Profiles, Soft Proofing, Monitor Calibration.

Date:       Monday November 14th, 2011
Time:       7:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Location:  Tsawwassen Alliance Church, Delta, BC
Cost:       $10.00 for non Delta Photo Club members

Solomon's Seal, Copyright 2011 Francois Cleroux


© 2011 Francois Cleroux

(Version 1.00 - November 2011)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Canon EOS-1Dx Overview

Canon announces successor to EOS-1D/1Ds series



Canon has announced the new EOS-1D X professional camera, which replaces both the EOS-1D and EOS-1Ds series. The new flagship DSLR houses a full-frame 18.1MP CMOS sensor with a revamped high-precision AF system. The ISO range extends to 204,800. It also has two of Canon's new DIGIC-5+ processors. With a faster sensor and significantly enhanced processing power this means that the new 1D X has an impressive shooting speed of up to 14 frames per second. It also includes full HD video functionality.

Pricing and availability are not confirmed at present, but it seems likely that the new camera will be available in March 2012 for around $6800.00 U.S.

For more information, check out this overview page at DPReview.com:

Canon EOS-1Dx Overview

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Scott Kelby's World Wide Photo Walk


Today 23 people met in Ladner to head out on Scott Kelby's 4th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk in the beautiful BC sunshine. The photo walk started at the River House Pub. The walk brought us down some fairly mundane paths along the Fraser River, along a Marina and into a conservation area and two hours later back to the River House Pub. The walk along the marina was fairly dull as the boardwalk and river banks were mostly made up of fresh broken up rock and gravel. Even the conservation area was a relatively new forested area with very little flora diversity.


As a bird photographer I made sure I brought out my 400mm lens on this trip but all for naught. The area I live in and where this walk took place, Delta, is a heaven for birds of all sorts and so I assumed we would see some. Except for a few seagulls and a lone male Mallard duck, there was little else. Someone thought they saw a Grebe go under some bushes but when we looked down at the water and where we were we thought is was more likely a rat.


During the walk several people came to me and commented that this was not a great are for shooting. Parts of old Ladner are excellent as are the old docks and fisheries along the Ladner boardwalk. All have much more to offer photographers than what I saw along this path.


Having said that, this is the time to open your eyes, look around at this great world we live in, be creative and find or even make something to photograph. Several photographers on this walk are technically excellent photographers but may have found this task a rather difficult one. Others on the walk, have great artistic eyes and I know they will have come up with some great shots. Here I have posted a few images (good or bad) that I took on this walk. I hope you enjoy them.


I did get my hopes up at one point thinking I may be able to capture that one shot. Near the boat launch at the marina I spotted two snakes! When I tried to capture one they made off. With gear in hand I wasn't going to give chase into the brush but it was nice seeing them. Oh well, perhaps next time.


We ended the walk at the River House Pub to stop for refreshments, I had an ice cold Stella, and some excellent food. It was my first time at this restaurant but loved the great and friendly service and the excellent food. Making a food decision was difficult but choose the apparently famous Chicken Pot Pie which my wife also opted for. It was superb! All the other food at the table looked great and everyone had great comments. Needless to say, we'll go back.


All in all it made for a great day, some shooting, two hours of walking (as opposed to working), some great food and some great company. I nice way to spend a Sunday.


You can always click on the images and see them larger.


© 2011 François Cléroux

(Version 1.01 - October 2011)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Great Workshop at Vancouver Photo Workshops

Exibition and Critique 12 Week Course

Photoshop Workshop Image


Vancouver Photo Workshops proudly announces our newest fine-art photography course with acclaimed local Photographer Katie Huisman.
Photography is an exciting way of seeing & sharing your vision with your audience.

‘Exhibition & Critique’ focuses on concept development & critique while working toward having a successful group exhibition.

Lectures and Gallery Visits will help connect you to the local Vancouver art scene.
Exhibition & Critique will support you in recognizing and developing your visual integrity as an artist & give you the opportunity to exhibit your work in a successful group exhibition at a local art gallery.

Exhibition and Critique - Detailed Course Agenda:
Class 1 Lecture – Introductions, Workshop outline, Goals & History Lecture
Class 2 Critique – Each artist must bring a collection of 10-20 images / 4 by6'" proof prints for critique and be prepared to discuss their work, sources of inspiration, conceptual ideas & visual integrity.
Class 3 Composition / Design Lecture – Rules and breaking rules of compositional elements and design, including color theory, how composition and design matter with image interplay when developing a body of work.
Class 4 Concept Development / Gallery Submission Guidelines – Concept development worksheet, writing an Artist Statement, Curriculum Vitae and Bio. Researching different types of galleries and other venues for contemporary artwork.
Class 5 Gallery Visit 1
Class 6 Guest Lecturer - Lynn Ruschiensky
Class 7 Post production / Presentation Workshop - File sizing for prints will be discussed along with any other post-production questions, presentation & installation methods for the exhibition will be researched and discussed.
Class 8 Gallery Visit 2
Class 9 Artist Statement Writing Workshop – each artist must bring exhibition
Considerations & Rough draft of artist statement pertaining to the body of
work proposed for exhibition.
Class 10 Final Critique & Artist Statement Review
Class 11 Installation
Class 12 Exhibition Night

Notes from Francois: Although this is a great workshop for those that are serious about their art and want to get involved in the art and exhibition world, this is a great way to tune into your own work and to take your images to the next level. This course is actually starting on September 15th (Website is incorrect showing the 8th) so there is still time to register and it's a great value. See you there.

Site:  Vancouver Photo Workshops


© 2011 Francois Cleroux

(Version 1.00 -  September 2011)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Workshop - Introduction to Digital Photography

Starts September 12th!!


An Introduction to Digital Photography

Learn more about your digital camera and how to use it effectively. This course will introduce basic camera terminology, demonstrate how to use 'all those buttons', and how to take better pictures through the understanding of the art of photography, exposure, composition and lighting. You will also learn what factors to consider when purchasing a new digital camera and have opportunities to ask questions about photos you bring to class with a view to improving your own artistic efforts. A DSLR is recommended but a Point and Shoot will do. Also a great class to take before buying a new DSLR Camera. (Beginners to Intermediate)

Workshop Outline
  • A Brief History of Photography
  • Light and Colour
  • Apertures, Shutter Speeds, ISOs
  • Depth of Field
  • Exposure
  • Art & Composition
  • Creative Consequences
  • The Camera
  • Sensors and Mega Pixels
  • File Formats (RAW vs. JPG)
  • Camera Types
  • Lenses & Accessories
  • Flash
  • Hands On with Your Camera
This course does not cover any aspects of Digital Workflow or File Management on the computer.
You can benefit greatly by having your camera’s user manual. Please bring it along to the third class. Lost it? Most manuals can be found on the Internet for free!
***An Outing session may be offered on of Saturday November 5th or Sunday November 6th depending on weather.

Presenter: Francois Cleroux
6 sessions; $50.00
Mondays; September 12th, 19th, 26th and October 17th, 24th, 31st. ***An Outing session may be offered on of Saturday November 5th or Sunday November 6th depending on weather.

Tsawwassen Alliance Church 7:30 pm.

E-mail: francois@eyesonphoto.com to reserve your seat. Seating is limited.

© 2011 Francois Cleroux

(Version 1.00 -  September 2011)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Great Deal on Adobe Lightroom 3

ADORAMA EXCLUSIVE OFFER - ONE DAY ONLY

$150.00 Instant Rebate on Adobe Lightroom 3


Bring out the best in your photographs, whether you're perfecting one image, searching for ten, processing hundreds, or organizing thousands. 

Create incredible images that move your audience. All from within one fast, intuitive application and now for $150 off the regular price!

Reg price: $299.95

$150 Instant Rebate = $149.95

Limit 1 per customer - this offer ends midnight 9/1/11

OK, a great deal from our friends at Adorama in the U.S. A great place to buy from. Caution required when shipping to Canada. Watch out for brokarage fees. Use UPS WorldWide! and there will not be any fees. One day only!

Its currently $218.00 at Amazon.com!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Android, iPad, webOS and Flash!

There is a great debate amongst photographers about which tool, or Tablet is the best for Photographers specifically. This is a tough one and there are several choices and some great pros and cons no matter what fence you sit on.

I have been sitting back and like others, waiting. During that time I have checked out several Android Tablets, the HP webOS Tablet and the iPad. Love the iPad and love the Photographers Apps that are available for for the iPad. The Android Tablets like the Motorola Xoom or the Asus Transformer rock, they are fast and there are also some great apps. The new pricing on the Transformer with the Dock Keyboard also rocks. Thinking about the HP Tablet using the Palm webOS, its dead. HP has officially dropped the product. So whats the problem, the problem is the the iPad has no Flash!!

Flash is almost a must for Photographers. Most photographers web sites use Flash, many apps for doing ROES (on-line ordering of Prints, Books and such use Flash (some are Java Based)). Want to check out Yosuf Karsh's website at www.karsh.org, sorry, you need Flash. The list goes on. Want to check out your own site? Most ready made photographers sites including and many plugin modules for doing your own site use Flash. Oh, check out a great Video on YouTube that a coleague did on their 5D MkII, oh wait, you need Flash.

So, if you want a great tool that you can work with and tether to your camera, have great Photographers apps, and have Flash, the best way to go is a MacBook Pro (it has flash!!) or any good PC Laptop like an HP or a Lenovo ThinkPad. Ok, so they are a little bulkier than a Tablet, but the MacBook Pro is not huge and neither are Lenovo's newest ultralites. You get anywhere from 250GB to 1TB hard drive space versus the Tablets 16, 32 or 64GB storage which is great for backing up your memory cards. And unlike the Tablets you can run Adobe Lightroom and CS5!! Can't do that with a tablet.

So Jobs hates Flash yet he leaves it on his Macs??? He apparently hates Adobe and Microsoft yet without them the MAC and Apple would be dead! Yes, you heard me right. Years ago when the MAC was nothing and almost dead the only people that bought them were Photo and Video people and even then only because of the great A D O B E products they needed to run!! Yes lots of schools had Macs but they were mostly given away for almost free. When things started getting very bad for Apple (before the iPod revolution) on August 6th, 1997, Microsoft bailled out Apple to the tune of $150 million dollars. This boost and with some other help from Microsoft and continued support from the Photo and Video communities helped see them through to the iPod days when they finally flourished.

Jobs wants to kill Flash because he states there are other and better technologies out there? Several problems here: Where are they? Why is no-one using them? And Jobs doesn't tell you he has millions invested in the competing products and stands to benefit if Flash dies! Is he really looking after his customers? Think not.



Get a Mac or PC laptop, have your Flash and watch it to!


© 2011 François Cléroux

(Version 1.02 - August 2011)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Stolen Scream

This is a story about a stolen image. I have dealt with this having found someone that stole someone else's image and tried to pass it off as their own. I reported the stolen image to the real owner of the image and had the culprit removed from the photography site he was passing the image off as his own.

I have blogged about this (Photographer on the Web - Part 6 - Protecting Your Images) and I also cover this in my "Photographer On the Web" workshop. In the workshop I also give out many links including www.TinEye.com which you will see in the following video.

This is an incredible story, one that should be shared and one that should be thought about. In this video, Noam Galai, the photographer and the face in the stolen image tells his story.

Before you freak out about your images, note these were posted rather large on Flickr.com. They should have been posted smaller or should have had water marks. Note that smaller sites like DeltaPhotoClub.com and such have fewer viewers than the millions on Flickr and so images are less likely to be stolen.

Most photographers get very upset when they think about someone stealing their images. However, most don't give a second's thought about copying software or borrowing music for a slideshow or for personal use. Think about the millions of dollars and all the work that goes into creating software like Adobe Photoshop CS5. If it's OK for you to download an illegitimate copy, or a copy of a commercial Plug-In, why is it not OK for someone to STEAL your image?

So, please watch the video, learn from it, and if you are a borrower of music or software, think about what your doing. Paying for a great tool like Photoshop is worth every penny.

Also, as a final and funny note, listen to Noam talk about a Stock Site. How interesting.

Flash Required to watch video. Why do iPads not have Flash?

This Video was created by the fine folks at fstoppers.com. A great site, please check it out. This video is linked from YouTube. To support Noam, please check out his new on-line store. I just purchased a T-Shirt!

Original Image by: Greg Schurman

Note that award winning photographer and Delta Photo Club member Greg Schurman (BlooTung.com), has also had an image ripped off (above) and doing a TinEye.com search on this also gets seven pages of results.

Have your images been stolen?

© 2011 François Cléroux

(Version 1.00 - August 2011)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Stop and Smell the Roses

"Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.” - Yousuf Karsh

Two posts ago in Back To Basics I suggested that we work on getting Sharp, Well Exposed and properly Color Balanced images as part of the getting “Back to Basics.” Not forgotten and just as equally important to your images is the composition or rather the artistic aspects of the image itself. There are also some simple things we as photographers can do and some simple in-expensive tools we can use.


When we start out in photography we usually just head out and start snapping away. After learning the Basics we then often work on the composition and artistic aspects of our photography. We learn to slow down our process, look at all the corners, all the edges, look behind our subject matter, compose and re-compose until we get it right. Somewhere along the way we also learn to use all our pixels. Zoom in or walk closer to the subject if you have to or perhaps change the lens. This is all usually done using our tripods, right? Well it should be.

Going back to the basics is a great time to re-think, re-learn or re-introduce all these concepts back into our photography process. Just like we forget to do the basics we often forget to slow down and to do the artistic process properly. Remember, it’s about the photography, not about the post processing!

The photography process also includes the walking, getting fresh air, smelling the roses (literally), looking at your subject matter and studying it. Look at the light. Can you move the subject matter to increase the quality of the light or the shapes or forms of shadows to increase the strength of the image? If not, can you move or change your vantage point to change the light and shadows? Should you lie down, kneel or step up onto a base of some type? Should you make a note of the location and return to it when the lighting is better or perhaps when the weather conditions have changed completely, perhaps even covered in snow?

What about your lens, is it the right one to use in this specific situation? Do we want to capture a lot of the background and use a wide angle lens or do we want to narrow our focus onto the subject and separate the subject from the background using a shallow Depth-Of-Field (DOF) afforded to a long telephoto lens?

Now that you have the right lens, and the composition is perfect, what about a filter? Will a filter of some type help? Even in this world of Digital Photography, yes a filter will often help. Think Polarizer for blue skies and white fluffy clouds or to handle reflection off of water or water drops or just the reflection off of plants, specifically shinny leaves. Digital post processing does not work well in either of these situations, difficult in the first situation and impossible in the second.

How about a Neutral Density Graduated Filter for slight overcast days? I was just at an outing in the Pacific Northwest a few months ago with many members of the Delta Photo Club. It was an overcast day at the beach and I was using a Neutral Density Filter. Later that evening we were looking at projected images. Someone commented, “Where were you? I didn’t see those colors in my images.” referring to some slight blue and other colors in the sky. The filter ended up properly exposing the sky, not bleaching out the colors caused by over exposure.


Fixing this digitally would have required multiple exposures and then combining them using HDR software. All I used was a single filter that should be in every photographer’s bag. How easy.

I also used a non-graduated Neutral Density Filter, a fairly dark one, to allow me to use fairly long exposures. This allowed me to soften the ocean and to create a surreal artistic image. This image has not been properly processed for final print but it should give you the idea. Again, an in-expensive simple tool that should be in your bag that creates and image that would be rather hard to re-create on the computer.



So, go back to your photography roots. Think about why you do photography and what you want to accomplish. When on location, spend some time with your surroundings and “smell the roses”. Be creative and get the most out of your photography!

I will be covering Digital Filters soon and will be doing a workshop "Filters for Digital Photography" in spring of 2012.


© 2011 François Cléroux

(Version 1.10  - August 2011)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Another Great Workshop: Scott Kelby

People always wonder why some of us photogs go to workshops or seminars, after all, they say "but you already know everything". Well, that's what I like about photography, and computers for that matter, you never know everything. There is always something new to learn; new trends, new techniques, new software, new hardware or the newest new cool filter. How could you know it all?

Scott Kelby working with a model at Kelby Training Live!
So a week ago several members of the Delta Photography Club when to see Scott Kelby's "Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It, Live!" workshop in Vancouver. Now, for those of you that do not know Scott Kelby (www.scottkelby.com), he is the number one selling photography book author in the world, a great photographer and probably the number one Adobe Photoshop guru! This guy is a "master" but more importantly, an incredible presenter. He is funny and he knows his stuff.

The workshop was a full day but right off the bat he was fun to listen to and within an hour the person sitting next to me said, "This workshop has already paid for itself!". The cost of the workshop for the whole day was $99.00 which included a great handbook, a few other handouts and all the free coffee you wanted. An better, if you are a NAPP member (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) it was only $79.00. What a deal.

So the whole day was great and yes, worth every penny. Lots to learn and like other workshops I attended this past year (Joe McNally, "The Moment It Clicks: Photography secrets from one of the world's top shooters" and other great books and Freeman Patterson, "Photography and the Art of Seeing: A Visual Perception Workshop for Film and Digital Photography" which is a Photography students must read, and again, other great books and Andre Gallant, "Dreamscapes: Exploring Photo Montages" and other great books), very, very, inspirational.

Every time you do one of these great workshops, your spirits are elevated, you creative juices start flowing and all you want to do is grab your camera and go out and shoot. This workshop was no different.


Scott Kelby and Me, July 2011
If you have never taken a photography workshop from a master photographer, I highly encourage you to do so. Specially if an incredible oppertunity presents itself. In the spring of 1984 I started planning to attend an Ansel Adams summer workshop. He died in April of that year and that incredibble oppertunity was lost forever. Do not let this happen to you, not the dying part, but missing a great opportunity.


© 2011 François Cléroux

(Version 1.00 - August 2011)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Back to Basics

This post is a follow up to “Observations on Photography in the Digital Age (Updated June 15, 2011).

Since writing the post “Observations on Photography in the Digital Age” I have continued to witness an abundance of bad work, or more specifically “technically poor quality” images. I have seen some incredible work, well thought out creative images, a few with very good lighting that would have made exceptional works, only to fail because the images were not even sharp. In two specific cases they were studio type shots with inanimate objects. If you can’t take a sharp picture in good lighting of an object that doesn’t move, you have a problem. Some images were sharp but because of exposure or color balance issues were also ruined. Again, really, can’t get something as simple as color or exposure right in a controlled situation?

It is very apparent that most photographers need to get back to basics. The basics are; Sharpness, how to create tack sharp images; Exposure, creating properly exposed images; and proper White Balance, getting the color right. Doing all this is quick and simple, and more importantly, free. Some people would suggest that doing the sharpness properly, specially using a tripod, spending time on exposure and taking the extra step to do White Balance properly would indeed take up more time. This now leads me to Francois’ theory

Sharp + Well Exposed + Good Color = Little Editing + Better Images!

When images are sharp, well exposed and properly color balanced, images need no or very little post processing or editing and further more can provide more predictable and repeatable results. And, more importantly, sharp well exposed and color balanced images end up with better tonal range with brighter cleaner colors that just pop more.

So, how do we get there? And how much time does it take? Well, let’s look at all three of these steps in detail. Note that I have writen about 'Quality' on this blog before which you may want to read "A Quality Affair."


Tack Sharp Images

First is the idea of tack sharp images. This obviously is the most important of the three properties. Slight exposure or color discrepancies can be tolerated and if done purposefully, or even by accident, can add to the creative process of the final image. I guess when I say this we could also add that blurred images or even purposefully out of focus images can add to the creativity of an image. Note that in both these cases the images are usually blurred or rendered out of focus on purpose, usually a great deal as to make it obvious, and for a purpose or rather with intent to portray a specific mood to an image.

Where exposure and color can be out so ever slightly, slight out of focus images just look blurry and out of focus. Even to the un-trained eye these images do not look good. To judges, these images break the first commandment of photography “Thou shalt not take blurry out of focus images” and as a result get trashed by way of receiving very low marks no matter how good or creative the image actually is.

Creating tack sharp images is rather a simple process. Use a tripod! A good tripod is not overly expensive and even a cheap tripod is usually better than no tripod. Over 95% of all pro landscape photographers and 99% of product photographers use tripods. Perhaps not all the time, but whenever they can, they do. Check out my blog post on "Don't Believe Me? Let the Pros Tell You!"

Next is the process of creating tack sharp images, or rather, how to use a tripod. I have a post you can check out here "Start to Finish Tack Sharp" and on Tripods, "Tripod-ology 101."  Now, even if you do not have a tripod or cannot use one in a specific situation, there are things you can do to help improve your chances of getting sharp images. Learn how to hold your camera properly and how to ‘release’ the shutter without moving the camera a whole bunch. Use objects, walls or trees to stabilize your camera. There are many things that can be done, check out the internet for ideas and suggestions.

Watch your settings! Remember the rule of shooting at a minimum shutter speed of one over the focal length of your lens? Ie. 1/200 second when using a 200mm lens. Stick to that. Even with these settings you can get blurred images unless you are very capable at hand holding a camera very steady. Now with the added safety of image stabilization (IS), following this rule will see to it that your images will always be sharp.

Change the ISO if you need more light, do not decide that the IS allows you three stops and so you should now be able to shoot with a 200mm lens at 1/25 of a second! You will have blurred images! If you are very good at hand holding your camera steady, you can probably get away with one stop, ie. shoot at 1/100th of a second when using a 200mm lens, only if you have IS on your lens or camera. If not, you may want to stick with 1/250th of a second or even faster.

Attaching a camera to a tripod and using the appropriate camera settings takes very little time and effort. If you do not use a tripod, using the appropriate settings takes no extra time as you should be checking your settings anyway. When using the tripod you get the added benefit of slowing down your photographic process and you are given a better chance to check your composition, check all four sides and corners of your image and can better decide whether to move in or out to crop differently. Remember, use the whole frame, don’t waste those precious pixels!


Perfect Exposure

Back in the days of film, perfect exposure was critical. Even though film was generally more forgiving than digital sensors, the cost per picture was expensive. But now that there are no additional costs to take multiple exposures, the simple act of bracketing, which can be automated on most DSLR’s can ensure that you get the exposure right.

Now I’m not talking about close or good enough, but rather ‘perfect’ exposure. Whenever I talk about perfect exposure someone always states there is no such thing. They go on to say that as artists we can over or under expose on purpose to set tones or moods and so many exposures could be correct. That’s all very true, but in some way directly to the point. The ‘perfect’ exposure is the exposure that you as an artist want and the exposure that will allow you to create your final image without using the so very destructive ‘exposure’ sliders. No editing.

This process takes a little thought, a simple +1EV and -1EV exposure will usually not do the trick. Use your experience, meter for your mid-tones, decide if you want a slightly darker or lighter image and adjust the exposure. Take exposures at +1/3EV and -1/3EV of what you decided would work. One of these should be right bang on. If your new to photography and have little experience and skills to go on, shoot at + and – 1 EV, look at what exposure works best for you and then use that exposure to shoot three more images at +1/3EV and -1/3EV. Time required analyzing a scene and setting the proper exposure, less than one minute. Time required setting auto bracketing, 3 to 4 seconds! Cost, priceless!


White Balance

White balance is a bit of a trickier thing to talk about as it is a little more complex. That is, understanding the process is more complex but White Balancing an image can be very simple. I would recommend reading up on the internet on how to do White Balance so that you can understand the process and the science behind it. This will help out your photography in the long run. Here is a simple breakdown that is intended to get you on the right track. I do also teach a two hour White Balance class that is also meant as an introduction to White Balance and does not cover everything in two hours. Another important note is that White Balance is just a critical or even more so when shooting RAW for B&W conversions.

Also, keep in mind the following; White balance is a means of taking any scene under any lighting condition and making it look neutral (normalized) as if viewed in standard daylight. This can make images perfect but can also ruin perfect images. Huh?

If you are shooting a model where skin tone is important or a bride where the white of the white dress is important, or finally, in a studio shooting a product where the products color must match 100%, then a scene needs to be white balanced to make sure that you end up with the right skin tone, white dress, or product color no matter what kind or color of light the image was shot in.

Shooting a red sunset, a glowing snow covered mountain scene or the glow of a lush green forest, the glow or the red of the sunset is the important part that sets the mood of the scene. This is the natural light you are viewing the scene in and the color cast, the red of the sunset, creates the mood. White balancing these scenes would be a mistake. Why would you want the red of the sunset to be completely removed so the image looked like it was shot under normal daylight? Now, taken your camera is not capable of removing that much of the red but why would you try to neutralize it? I know most photographers shoot using AWB, and later in post processing add the red tones again?

The same issue applies to the great glow you get in a lush rainforest. Why would you want to completely remove that glow? How do you keep that glow, or rather that color cast? How do you keep the red of the sunset? Set your camera to Daylight! Now, with a sunset and with the forest scene, they are landscapes or rather images of larger vast expanses and the color casts add or create mood. Shooting a particular mushroom within the same rainforest requires a white balance that would make the mushroom look correct as viewed in normal daylight. In this case a custom WB setting would be required.

When shooting landscapes, you may want to White Balance the scene to take into account full sun conditions or overcast conditions that would affect the neutral colors of rocks, the whites of snow or he greens of trees. Again, here you may want a custom White Balance setting. How do you do that in a landscape? Here, you could use one of many devices available for the job. I use and prefer the ExpoImaging ExpoDisc (available in different sizes.) This will give you an excellent almost perfect starting point for landscapes, from there as an artist you can slightly warm up or cool down the image.

When shooting the model, bride, product or mushroom, you must White Balance the scene (*yes there are a few exceptions). We need the colors to look right. Here again there are many ways and products to achieve the same results. In Pre-processing (during the shoot) you can use your camera to do a Custom White Balance (CWB). Once set, you can shoot until the lighting conditions change.

Or if you prefer to control the White Balance in post processing, you have many options. You can photograph a white card or an 18% gray card. You can use a product like the WhiBal pocket card (excellent and cheap for the pocket version) or you can use the aforementioned ExpoDisc, also an excellent option. Or for the best control and best most accurate color correction, you could use a product many pro photographers use, the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport. This is one of my favorite products and I have a review posted here.

IMPORTANT: Yes when shooting in RAW you have full control of the White Balance, but without a reference or without knowing what the actual color temperature was when you shot the scene, all you can do in post processing a RAW image is a best guess. And worse than a best guess is using your un-calibrated monitor when making that best guess. Also, without using a proper reference (ie. White or Gray Card or ColorChecker Passport) your images taken from day to day, week to week will never be the same. They will not be consistent as each image will always be adjusted using the ‘best guess’ method.

Shooting a White Card for post processing takes only about 20 to 40 seconds only for an entire shoot as long as the lighting conditions do not change. Creating a CWB setting adds an additional 15 seconds or so to the process, if you prefer the Pre-Processing method. Using an Automatic White Balance (AWB) setting can add hours of post processing time as none of your images will have the same White Balance setting even when shot in the same lighting conditions (*when shooting hand help with just slight changes in composition).

Again, a little extra effort at the beginning can save a ton of post processing time. The cost for the White or Gray cards is under $7.00, the small WhiBal is under $20.00 and the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport is available for $99.00 U.S. There are many great benefits to the ColorChecker Passport and I would recommend you check it out properly. It is probably the best $99.00 I have spent in photography.


Results

The whole process of making sure your images are sharp, that the exposure is perfect and choosing the correct White Balance should become a habit. Once you are used to the process and it becomes second nature the time required is absolutely minimal. The sharp well exposed and White Balanced images will look superb with better colors, better tones and greater tonal range, naturally enhanced contrast, less noise, and greater sharpness. They will require very little post processing and results will be predictable and more importantly repeatable. This will add a consistency to your work and will give your images a more professional look.

The slight extra time of using a tripod will slow your creative process down and will make you think about your composition further enhancing or improving your images.

In the end, the whole process will mean you can spend more time doing photography and less time in front of the computer, with better results!

Over the summer or perhaps in the fall when classes and club sessions resume, make it one of your priorities to get back to basics. It will be worth the effort.


© 2011 François Cléroux

(Version 1.01 - June 2011)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Delta Photo Inspirations

I have not posted in some time as I have been busy with putting on a Show 'slash' Event, the Delta Photo Inspirations (DPI). This event was a multi-day multi-component event that included three Juried Print Competitions (Birds in Nature, Open Colour and Open B&W; a Friday evening Print Exhibition and Reception with Awards, Food and Live Music, and a Saturday with four different Workshops, a Vendors Exposition, and Lunch with the day ending with an Award Winning News Photographer Wendell Phillips supplying a Keynote Speech. This was then completed with draws where we gave away over $3000.00 in prizes!


www.DeltaPhotoInspirations.com
We started this project with a small group of three, Sharon Wright, Rhoda Brooks and myself. Neither of us had ever put together something like this so it was going to be a learning experience. After several planning/conceptualizing meetings we decided that if we were going to do this it would be done professionally and the the event should run like if it had run in the past, ie, like if we knew what we were doing and we had run a show before.

I was going to look after the Vendor's Expo, Sharon after the Print Competition and Rhoda was going to see to overall flow and the Saturday Workshops. We quickly placed a call for volunteers at the Delta Photo Club where we were inundated with many offers of help. From this large group of volunteers we had three members taking on specific projects that included AV/Tech Support, Food Services and Money Collection/Registration. All the others were going to be helping hands on the days of the events.

Many meetings later brought us to the Print Competition Entry Deadline where images were collected, ordered and prepped followed by our Judging Evening where the Print Committee along with eight Judges scored all the prints.

Shortly after we met on the Thursday before the event to prep the venue, setup tables, clean the facilities and hang all the images. Friday saw a continuation of prep which now included Friday evening food, checking the AV equipment for all the classrooms and main hall and prepping for that evenings social.

Friday evening was great, this was our showcase of images where over 100 16 inch by 20 inch images were displayed, Awards were presented and Coffee and Deserts were served. We had excellent live background music supplied by Gatlin Saip. We had almost a hundred guests viewing images, socializing and generally enjoying the evening. A great start to the weekend.

After the event we had to re-structure the main hall, move tables, setup some new ones, move chairs and get ready for the Saturday Exposition.

Saturday Morning came way too early! I found myself at Timmies (Tim Hortons) with the NIK Software rep from New York at 7:15 am. On to the show. Once on location at the venue it was all a blur. Help setup the vendors, the instructors, help with all the little details. Luckily we had a ton of excellent volunteers that were everywhere and just did what was aked of them whenever something was needed.

Coffee and muffins were available for registrants and vendors. Registration for all the attendees went very well. All registrants were given Epson bags filled with an Epson Pen, a London Drugs writing pad, a schedule for the day, some brochures and discount coupons. Attendees then went on to their workshops. We heard nothing but praise for all the instructors at all the first and second session workshops.

Lunch was incredible. Well organized and excellent spread which included various sandwiches and Lox on Bagels, chips, veggies and fruit and an assortment of pickles and olives.

From the first break on to the end of the day the Vendors Expo was open to all (free) which had some incredible Vendors including Framer's Choice, Photo Experts, London Drugs, Ilford, Tamrac, Hahnemuhle, NIK Software, Microsoft, Wacom, Epson, and Technicare. All the vendors were excellent with great samples and tutorials. Epson demonstrated their new Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Printer fro the first time in Western Canada. They also had their award winning R2880 printer on display which was a draw prize at the end of the day. Thanks to all the vendors and London Drugs for their support.

The day then pushed on to Wendell Phillips' excellent Key Note speech (http://wendellphillips.com/). Wendell displayed and talked for over two hours nonstop displaying one incredible image after another. Wendell's stories were humanitarian and very touching and even brought some laughs. Wendell's speech was loved by everyone including non-photographers.

We ended the event with the raffles and draws of over $3000.00 in prizes.

The event was a lot of work but in the end everything ran very well because of all the volunteers. We had to do a big cleanup after the event to get everything back in order. The weekend was tiring but well worth it. We look forward to next year's event which will be bigger and better with six different workshops, a bigger vendors Exposition, and another awesome key note speaker.

Since then I have judged a CAPA Print Competition at the Langley Camera Club and will Judge another event at APAC in Abbotsford this Monday. I am also now prepairing to do the "Colour of Light - White Balance" Workshop at the North Shore Photographic Society on May 25th.

I have also prepped several articles that I will be posting soon.


© 2011 François Cléroux

(Version 1.00 - April 2011)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Inspiration

Inspiration can come in many forms. A few weeks ago I was inspired by attending a workshop, a one day seminar and two lectures, by none other than Freeman Patterson. Freeman Patterson is one of Canada’s premiere artist photographers and probably Canada’s most renowned photographer. I have known of Freeman since my High School photography teacher gave me a copy of his book “Photography and the Art of Seeing” in 1980. Since then the book has been revised several times and has sold thousands of copies all over the world.

FrancoisCleroux-Freeman
Freeman Patterson 2011, Vancouver, BC, Canada
The book, now called “Photography and the Art of Seeing: A Visual Perception Workshop for Film and Digital Photography” is a masterpiece that is must read for any ‘student’ of photography and is curriculum for most photography university students. This book is designed to teach you how to see the world around you, how to open your eyes, and how to photograph that world in more creative ways while expressing yourself as a photographer. Yes, it is a workshop with ‘exercises’.

You can gain a lot of insight by simply reading this book, you will however learn and gain the most by doing the drills or exercises. These drills bring you back to the basic core principles of photography, the image, your subject, how you see it and how to photograph it. One of Freeman’s great talents, apart from his photography, is his lexicon or terminology. He has a knack for expressing and putting forth what he wants to share and explain in ways that are easy to understand.

PatAoS

This book is for any level photographer, from beginner to expert. If you own this book and last read it many years ago I would recommend you re-visit this book. Winter blues getting to you or feeling un-inspired, read this book and do (or re-do) some of the exercises to get that inspiration back.

One thing I picked up from this book is that when I look around me and I just do not see anything to photograph I stop and force myself to ‘look around’ and photograph anyways. Often, with amazing results.

Last week I spent four days with Freeman including a whole day hands on workshop with him and seven other photographers at Vancouver Photo Workshops. Between this workshop and several lectures including a Gardening lecture, I again opened my eyes to the ‘possibilities’.

FrancoisCleroux-Pan1
Light Birch, Cape Breton, NS, Canada
A few months back I was in Cape Breton and the weather and lighting was not behaving. Driving the Cabot Trail was less than awe inspiring as it was raining hard and the fall colors were nowhere to be seen. By late afternoon and with very little in the way of photos taken, I pulled over and forced myself to photograph. I had all but forgotten about these images until Freeman’s workshop and so I went back to the files sitting on my computer. The previous and following images are part of a series of six images I photographed that afternoon. This panning technique is directly from Freeman’s book that I read in the early 80’s and is done all ‘in camera’. Since the workshop I have printed all six images as large prints and I have already sold several. They look their best large but I have included two here. Hope you like them and hope they inspire you.

FrancoisCleroux-Pan1-2
Fire Birch, Cape Breton, NS, Canada
If you are feeling those winter blues, you may want to check an old post called: Winter Photography Blues

© 2011 François Cléroux

(Version 1.01 - February 2011)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.