Borkware Photoblog

January 31, 2009

New Galleries: Seattle

Filed under: gallery, Lightroom — Mark Dalrymple @ 10:18 pm

I’ve finally edited and uploaded some photos I took while visiting the Seattle/Kirkland area. Seattle Photoduggery includes shots of a larval blubberbot, plus waking around gray and mossy parks and arboretums.

Seattle Airport is cool stuff I found wandering around SEA-TAC, the Seattle/Tacoma airport. It’s a surprisingly fun airport. I recommend scheduling a couple of extra hours layover to see everything.

Many of these I edited in LightRoom – my first “real” use of the software. I like it. Even though it’s a modal interface compared to Aperture, I did not mind it much. The only pain was when I started falling back to Aperture keyboard shortcuts, which do very different things in LightRoom.


January 30, 2009

Future Project Ideas

Filed under: projects, technique — Mark Dalrymple @ 1:53 am

I tend to do well if I do the “spend a month on some subspecies of $activity”, rather than try to perfect everything at the same time. Here’s my list. No idea if I’ll actually do any/many of these, but it’s an idea. (continually updated, I hope)

Short-term Projects

Stuff that could be done in a couple of days.

  • Manual focusing (Godfrey DiGiorgi’s technique at the forum posting)
  • Hold the damn camera level
  • Try everything with 1×1 (square) format
  • Nothing but the 50mm lens
  • Shoot B&W in-camera to force B&W visualization (and so you see the B&W results when chimping)
  • Long exposoures
  • “painting with light” – with Mr. Kebbin’s mega spotlight
  • Figure out nuances of graphics tablet
  • Play with the Nikon D3 SDK
  • Shoot just in DX
  • Nothing but wide-angle
  • Figure out all the Nikon focusing modes
  • Work on body strength and hand-hold the 70-200

Longer-term Projects

Devote a month to it

  • Portraiture (in progress)
  • Learn Lightroom (in progress)
  • Printing
  • Panoramas
  • Macro
  • Dense detail (stitched closeups)
  • Improving composition
  • True Photoshop studliness
  • True Nik Filter studliness
  • LAB color studliness

January 28, 2009

Lightroom Shortcut Reference

Filed under: Lightroom, tips — Mark Dalrymple @ 11:26 pm

Here are some shortcut keys I’ve come across in Lightroom 2. This will get updated as I come across more.


cmd-/ – show all of the command shortcuts for the current module.

cmd-opt-[1-5] – move between different modules

F5-F8 – Toggle the around-screen panels (T/B/L/R)

tab – Toggle left/right panels

shift-tab – Toggle all panels

L – Cycle through “Lights-out” modes (dim, dark, normal)

F – Cycle through three full-screen modes

cmd-shift-F – Full Screen

cmd-shift-F, T – Full view with minimal distractions

cmd-option-shift-E – Export using the last settings

T – Toggle grid view toolbar

0-5 – apply zero to 5 star rating

6-9 – red, yellow, green, blue label. No shortcut for purple or none.

Library Module

G – Return to (library) grid mode

J – Toggle library grid cells between the three display states

P – Mark as pick (white flag)

X – Mark as reject (black flag)

U – Clear flag state

shift-{P, X, U} – Set flag state and move to next image

N – Go into survey mode.

/ – Deselect active photo (also removes from survey mode)

cmd-D – Deselect everything

C – Compare mode. “Select” image is on the left. Use right arrow to move on. Use X<-Y button to make new shot the Select.

B – Add to Quick Collection

cmd-return – Slide show of the quick collection

\ – Toggle library filter bar

cmd-G – Group as a stack (only in folder panel)

cmd-shift-G – Ungroup stack

S – Toggle stack contents

cmd-option-K – Turn paint tool on or off

option-click-+ in smart collection editor – Add a collection option (with any/all subcriteria)

I – Cycle through different info windows

cmd-J – Configure the info windows (loupe view)

Z – Zoom to 100%

ctrl-,- – Change thumbnail size in grid view

D – Go to Develop module

Develop Module

J – Toggle clipping highlights

option-click – exposure/recovery slider and blacks slider to get clipped region

\ – Toggle master/version

Y – Side-by-side master/version

shift-Y – Split-screen master/version

option-Y – Side-by-side, vertical

cmd-' – Make virtual copy

cmd-click Sync – Auto sync on multiple selected images

cmd-{1,2,3,etc} – Go to successive panels on the right

, . – Jump to next/previous slider in “Basic” editing panel

V – Quick grayscale

cmd-N – Make a snapshot

K – Adjustment brush

M – Gradient filter

' – Invert gradient

H – Toggle adjustment brush pin visibility

A – Toggle adjustment brush automask

1-0 – Control adjustment brush flow (10% -> 100%)

O – Toggle adjustment brush mask

Return – Adds new adjustment brush pin

/ – Toggle between A and B adjustment brushes

[ ] – Change size of adjustment brush. Add shift to change feather.

cmd-shift-H – Toggle rule-of-thirds grid in crop tool

R – Toggle crop tool

R, shift-tab, cmd-shift-H, L, L – Crop in lights-out mode. (go into crop mode, hide panels, hide thirds grid if shown, lights off)

page-down – When zoomed in, will scroll by screenfulls, down and then across.

N – Toggle spot remover tool

January 22, 2009

Just Finished Reading: Adobe Lightroom 2 Book for Digital Photographers

Filed under: Books, Buy It, Lightroom, Photoshop — Mark Dalrymple @ 2:22 am


Rating: Buy It

As I mentioned earlier, my current main projects are portraiture and LightRoom. What better way to kick off the Lightroom 30-day trial then with a book that Explains It All. It took me a weekend to work through it all, although I did skim over the printing and slideshow chapters. I’ll probably be using Photoshop to do all my printing, and I never show slideshows to people.

If there is a Kelby book on a topic, I’ll usually reach for that first. They tend not to have a great deal of reference utility for me, but for a survey of features of a product like Lightroom or Photoshop, they’re hard to beat.

They’re also fun. I’m sure some folks find it annoying, but I enjoy humor in my technical books. (Just read some of the reviews of My Latest Tome for corroboration). Each chapter has a mostly-unrelated stream of consciousness introduction, covering topics from flobotnor to Vince Versace’s hallucinogenic cooking. Individual tutorial steps, in between the “select this” or “use X to toggle this mode” instructions, there live little chunklets of humor too.

His LightRoom 2 book is just like his Seven-Step photoshop book. There are chapters on the different modules and the main features in those modules with step-by-step tutorials on using the features. As he goes along, the different features are used together so you can get a feel for a workflow in using the product. Each chapter ends with a couple of pages of quickies discussing advanced features. If grok the preceding chapter, the quickies are all you need.

You can download sample photos to work through some of the examples, which is about the only real complaint I have with the book. Some of the examples don’t have corresponding photos in the download (due to usage rights). Sometimes a photo was actually placed in a later chapter’s download archive, so you thought it was removed on purpose, but it was just mis-filed. And some of the photos were “after” photos. In particular, the dust spot removal sample of the hotel in Dubai had already been corrected. No Fun!

Of course, he covers all of the Lightroom modules (library, develop, slide show, print, web), but he also includes examples of round-trips to photoshop, including double-processing a file. Unfortunately for that one he seems to have copied and pasted a dozen pages from his seven-point book with all sorts of photoshop stuff which I had already seen before. Also included are two “workflows”, one for on-location portrait photographers shooting tethered, and another for folks on vacation with their laptop, showing how to use libraries on a remote machine, and then migrating stuff back to their Main Machine when they get back. There’s a bonus video at Kelby Training with a wedding workflow. You have to type in a Secret Code from the book to get access to this video.

If you’ve never used LightRoom before, and you’ve just started your 30 day free trial, it’s worth it to get this book to get up to speed quickly on the software so you can decide whether to spend $300 on it.

January 18, 2009

This month’s Projects: Portraiture and LightRoom

Filed under: Aperture, Lightroom, projects, technique — Mark Dalrymple @ 5:02 pm

Now that Learn Objective-C has shipped, I actually have some photography time to myself. Just got back from business travel, so my months now run from middle of the month to middle of month.

This month, the projects are:

  • laurel_web.jpg Portraiture. I’m going to be taking some individual and group portraits of my friends in the Aeolian Winds of Pittsburgh. I’ve already shot some individual portraits (as seen here), and some group shots at outdoor concerts, but never a “formal” sitting of the individuals and group. This will also be an excuse to go back and re-read all of my portraiture books.

  • Lightroom. Aperture so far has been my Photographic Axe of choice. I love the vaults and way I can bounce around and do stuff. Unfortunately, there are just a couple of things that have really been getting on my nerves: Nearly all of my portrait-orientation photos come out rotated wrong, so I have to find and rotate them manually, which then destroys the correctness of the “landscape/portrait” metadata. Also, doing bulk edits with plugins (like the Nik filters) causes the edited images to end up in stacks (which is fine), but not as the pick. Cmd-/ (make pick) does not work with multiple selection, so I have to manually set the pick for every stack. When you do this with 2 or 300 shots, well, that sucks. Frequently, when paging through large collections in full-screen mode, Aperture will get stuck at the “loading” phase. Going back and then forward clears it, disrupting the working rhythm. Also, I still can’t make Levels do what I want it to do like I can with Photochop curves. And I really like the Fill Light™ control in ACR. I haven’t been able to duplicate that in Aperture.

So, I’ve picked up the Scott Kelby Lightroom book, and I’m also a Kelby Training subscriber, so this month I’m gonna live in LightRoom and see if things are any more pleasant.

January 4, 2009

New Gallery: Casino 2008

Filed under: Aperture, CLS, D3, flash, gallery, monopod, Nik, Nikon, Photoshop — Mark Dalrymple @ 10:53 pm

solo-angel.jpg (click the picture to visit the whole gallery)

Every year, the Casino Theater in Vandergrift PA puts on a Christmas program. Sometimes it’s a musical, sometimes it’s an oratorio. This year was a smorgasbord of songs and skits.

They were kind enough to let me run around with a camera during the dress rehearsal this year. They even allowed me to use flash, which was a surprise.

These were shot with a Nikon D3, with 70-200 f/2.8 and 24-70 f/2.8 lenses. An SB-800 flash served as a master to an SB-600 slave, positioned behind an umbrella to provide extra light. I was surprised at how much light it could pump out. I used a monopod with the larger lens since the whole package (D3, SB-800, lens, extra blocks of depleted uranium) became rather heavy.

Important lesson learned: It’s better to have a very good exposure at a high ISO than a bad (under)exposure at a lower ISO. Some of the images that I had to pull out of a dark basement did not look good at all. (I know, duh!, but it’s one of those things I had to learn the hard way.)

After the images were made (~900 during the 3 hour run of the show, running up and down stairs from balcony to main floor level), I triaged the images with Aperture. 1-star for adequate sharpness and composition. Then went through and chose good shots for 2-stars, and then 3-starred the ultimate contents of the gallery.

I edited each image in Photoshop using Nik filters. This was an excuse for Extreme Photowankery™, as well as learning how to use the filters, and playing around with a basic Wacom Graphite tablet that Uncle Google gave me. The general workflow was

  • Basic ACR adjustments, white balance, etc.
  • Noise reduction with Dfine.
  • Pre-sharpening with Sharpener Pro.
  • Adjusted lighting and colors with Viveza. I love Viveza. In nearly every case I darkened the stage and brought some brightness to the actors.
  • Retouching, especially cleaning up the stage floor. The Casino stage is filthy. I am now a master of the spot healing brush and the clone-stamp tool.
  • Dodging and burning using an Overlay layer. (fill with a neutral 50% color, then paint in white to lighten and in black to darken the image.)
  • Additional filtering using Color Efx pro. “Darken/Lighten Center” was used for most of the vignetting effects. “Tonal Contrast” was frequently used, especially to bring out detail in clothing.
  • The black and white images were done with Silver Efx Pro.
  • Final sharpening with Sharpener Pro.

I’m hoping next year they’ll let me shoot again. If they do, this is what I’d do differently:

  • Attend one or two more rehearsals. I had no idea what the show was about (except that there was a Waltz of the Flowers that included Bubbas in tutus), so each scene was a total surprise, and I frequently had the wrong lens. “Big dance number! And I have the 70-200. ack!”
  • Have two speedlights, one on either side of the stage (instead of the single one on stage-right) to balance out the speedlight coverage.
  • Watch the corners of the viewfinder. (another duh!) There is a railing in the balcony that appears in a number of shots. I did not notice it (outside of using it to not fall off the balcony) until after I started processing the photos.
  • Bring the power plug for the laptop and some blank DVD medio. I ran out of power before draining the last card. A show representative also wanted some images to display in the lobby, needing the images ASAP. It would have been nice to have been able to burn a DVD of rough-cut jpegs right there.

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