Blog, Tips

Super deal-Topaz Labs bundle special offer

Hi everyone, I thought I’d let you know about a great new money saving deal currently being offered by Topaz Labs. They are knocking a whopping $100 off of their suite bundle, so you can now take advantage of all their great plugin products for just $199!
This offer is running from Today, June 24th until July7th, all you need to do is follow this link and enter the code “July4” at checkout.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Blog, Mono

Topaz B&W Effects2 offer

NOTE: This offer has now ended but it is available at a great price.

The good folks over at Topaz Labs recently asked me to trial their new version of B&W Effects 2, which i was more than happy to do. I’ve been using this over the last few weeks and was so impressed its now become my go to plug-in for my mono workflow.
I’ll be posting a review/overview of this software very soon but in the meantime I’m letting you know that in addition to them releasing version 2.1 of B&W Effects, they are also giving new customers a whopping 30%off! Just follow the link on the right (featuring an image by your truly) and download your free trial. If you like what you see use offer code “bw21” at checkout. (Correct at time of publishing)
Offer ends Sunday!
Thanks for stopping by.

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Blog, Events, HDR

Red Fantastic

The star of the show.

Of all the Morgans that I saw during my visit to Bodiam Castle, it has to be this gorgeous fiery red beast that won the day. Red is just a fantastic colour, especially when applied to sports cars as they just pop out at you exclaiming, ‘here I am, come look at me’.

There’s so much detail on older cars that it sometimes can be difficult to know where to start. You could spend ages concentrating on the headlights or a spoked wheel, let alone getting the car as a whole.

I suppose when you own such a vehicle it would be very hard, if not impossible, not to be a member of some kind of club. This person certainly seems to be a loyal member, and gives folks like us even more great details to hone in on. The shot above is in fact a different car, sporting a slightly darker, metallic finish.

I was rather pleased how this shot of the rear came out, with so much vibrancy and detail it almost leaps off the screen.

The only thing that was slightly disappointing yet unavoidable, was the run of the mill family cars that were park all around them, meaning that there was virtually no angle that could be taken where you eliminate them from the frame.  Still, I was pretty happy with what I got all the same.

Blog, Events, HDR, Mono, Tips

Mono Monday-Morgan

So I thought I’d continue with another shot taken a couple of Sundays ago at Bodiam castle for this weeks mono Monday. For this shot I got in close with a fairly wide angle (26mm on cropped sensor) to try and achieve a more dynamic view of this classic Morgan, keeping the aperture to a modest f8 to throw the background just out of focus to create a sense of depth. I still bracketed my shots due to the harsh sunlight but when it came to putting them all together in Photomatix, the top half being of soft focus did not work out at all well, with lots of nasty edges to be seen. I decided the best way around this would be to bring both the HDR version and one of the single brackets into Photoshop combining them using layers, then I gently erased the top half of the HDR image to reveal the single exposure underneath . So what you see above is a mix of both HDR and a single exposure.

The next step was to bring this back into Lightroom, where I used a combination of two or three of onOne software’s free plugins to convert to black and white, then I continued to tweak things until I was happy. HDR mono is not something I’ve really done before, I hope you like the result.

Thanks for looking.

Blog, Mono, Urbex

Mono Monday-The Haunted Manor

Title-The Haunted Manor

Just a quick post today as I’ve been busy with other things, however I wasn’t going to miss posting another image for Mono Monday. This picture has been sitting on my Hard drive for some time but not seen by anyone until now.

Due to the dilapidated nature of the building I thought that applying a selenium tone would give it a slightly spooky feel.

Thanks for stopping by.

Blog, HDR, Tips, Urbex

Multiplicity- The making of ‘We are one’

Some people have been asking me about how I went about producing this shot, so I’ve finally got round to doing a post on it.

About a year ago (almost to the day) during an urban exploration shoot I took a series of photographs to create a sort of surreal image of a bunch of sinister looking figures ascending the main staircase. That sinister figure was to be me in that ever popular urbex accessory, the gas mask. I had been to this location once before and between visits I was pondering different ways of making an interesting picture. Having knowledge of the location I knew exactly where to place the camera and though my initial thought was to have me on each step, I decided that it would probably become too cluttered and so decided to stand on every other step instead. It wasn’t until a couple of months later that I would actually attempt to put all the shots together.

People have been doing multiplicity shots for years and I think it’s something everyone tries out at some time or another. The process itself is actually quite straight forward, though it can become rather time-consuming depending on how many people you want in the final result. As with any kind of photography it always works best if you have a decent idea or point to the picture rather than doing one for the sake of the process, if that makes sense.

So here’s how to do it.

First set up the camera on a tripod and switch the camera to manual exposure mode as you want consistent exposures throughout the shots, then set the shutter to remote self timer. Next is choosing where to focus and what aperture you’ll want. You’ll most probably be using a wider angle so you’ll be able to get away with a much more shallow depth of field, this will in turn increase the shutter speed and help to avoid recording any unwanted movement, especially in lower light situations such as in my shot. In this shot I decided that I wanted to have the focus primarily of the figure facing the camera, so with the autofocus still on and remote in hand I took a test shot standing in the centre of the scene. Once this shot was taken I went back to the camera and switched the focus to manual thus keeping it focused in the right place. So now we have the camera in total manual control so each of the shots exposure and focus will be exactly the same. This is very important when it comes to merging them all together later. Then I just had to get into position, press the shutter (on timer) and as soon as I heard it click move to the next position, and so on.

So what you’ll end up with is a series of shots as you see in the picture above.

At this point I did no processing at the RAW stage, we want to keep total consistency and so I merged the shots before doing any post processing in terms of  exposure or colour etc. The next this is to bring the shots into Photoshop or similar software with a layers capability. You can bring them all in at once or, as I did, bring only a couple in at a time. This was just for my own benefit so I didn’t get confused.

If you have overlapping people then make sure you have the layers set so that the furthest figure is set as the bottom layer (to unlock a background layer just double click on it, a box will appear, just click OK). Click on the top layer and reduce the opacity to around 60%, you should now see both figures as in the picture above. Zoom in as much as you like and grab the eraser tool then start to rub through over your figure. Try to be as careful as you can but if you slightly go over the edges it shouldn’t matter too much as all your shots are exposed the same. Of course you can always go back a step with the history palette.

Once you’ve revealed all of your figure change the opacity back to 100% and checking it all looks good, right-click on the top layer and merge the layers. Bring in the next image as a layer and repeat the process.

Tip: If you have all your images in the project bin (as seen here in Photoshop Elements9) you can simply drag an image onto the main one to add as a layer.

Once all ten of my images were together I then imported them back into Lightroom to make my tonal adjustments and a slight crop to tighten the composition. In addition to this I decided to tonemap it in Photomatix to give added drama and grunge. You can see the difference in the thumbnails on the lower right in the middle shot.

And there you have it. This has probably been my most well received shot to date and I was very happy indeed when it was chosen ‘Best image’ at the Sussex Federation DPI competiton this year.

I hope this has been of some use to some of you, I know there are a number of tutorials out there on this subject but this is how I go about it.

Thanks for looking and happy shooting.