Archive for Photoshop

Banff Elk

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , on November 17, 2014 by chamimage
Bull Elk

Bull Elk

I photographed this elk in Banff two years ago (yes I am still editing images from 2012). I got some great shots of him, but the backgrounds were all very busy with that evergreen forest behind him.

I have yet to find a good way to blur a background without being obvious about it, though the new path and spin blurs in Photoshop CC 2014 are pretty cool for other uses, especially motor sports. I can’t bring myself to do any compositing when it comes to wildlife images so putting him on a different background was really an option for me.

I decided to do my best with Nik Color Efex Pro (still can’t bring myself to call it Google). The darken light center filter is one I have all but forgotten about lately. I put it to work on this image and was quite pleased with the result. I did some dodging and burning of the areas closest to the elk. I then still wanted the background a little bit darker so I opened it in Adobe Camera Raw (from Photoshop, which is totally cool since I always forget to dust spot before opening files in Photoshop and this way I can go back to do it using the dust spot finder in ACR) and moved the shadows slider to the left. This is a cool trick for darkening most backgrounds, as well as use in astro photography to make the Milky Way and stars pop.

This went from being an image I was kicking myself for not throwing away on the first edit to one I am pleased with. So now I am encouraged to procrastinate all the more about throwing out images that are flawed in some way. Perhaps I will think up a way to use it or perhaps someone will come out with a magic filter that will save it.


Photoshop Tutorials

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2014 by chamimage

Caribbean Sea

I find myself not getting much work done today because I keep running into interesting Photoshop tutorials everywhere I look. And I look.

Some of them are so good I thought I would pass them along for anyone interested in going beyond the basics in Photoshop.

Jimmy McIntyre has become a great source for Photoshop education. His weekly newsletter not only gives links to his latest offerings, but also links to others he has found over the week.

This week he hit it out of the park in a tutorial on landscape image editing he did for 500px at There should be enough there to keep you busy for a few hours.

Julianne Kost is my prime source for all things new in Photoshop and Lightroom. Any time there is a new release she is all over it with videos on the new features. This week she gives a very good review of what is new in the latest Camera Raw 8.2 release at I learned several new things I did not know in that 15 minute video.

Lastly, I discovered an amazing new natural light portrait photographer, Lisa Holloway, from a link in Jimmy McIntyre’s newsletter (you really ought to subscribe, it’s free) at It is also on 500px, which is coming up with some very good tutorials lately.

Those ought to keep anybody remotely interested in improving his or her camera and Photoshop skills busy for several hours.

Rialto Beach Sunset

Nikon Capture NX-D beta

Posted in Photo Gear with tags , , , , , on March 24, 2014 by chamimage
Nikon Capture NX-D

Nikon Capture NX-D

I have been toying around with the new beta version of Nikon Capture NX-D.

Nikon Capture is the program Nikon provides to work on and convert Nikon RAW files. It will only read RAW files in Nikon’s NEF and NRW  formats, jpeg files and tiff files. Unfortunately, Capture does not show PSD files so cannot be used as a browser to find a psd file and open it.

Previous versions included NX-1 and NX-2. The two previous versions were a collaboration with NIK and they included NIK’s control point technology for selective editing. Nikon has gone a completely different approach with NX-D and no longer has control points or any other selective editing option, at least in the beta version.

On the plus side, the browser has been laid out in a much more user-friendly and familiar way. The new look is impressive. It is a browser and the layout is much like what is found in Lightroom or Bridge, very familiar. It generates jpegs faster than Bridge (who doesn’t? Really Adobe, that is the best you can do? Little Breeze systems and Photo Mechanic with a millionth of your budget have no problem generating jpegs fast), but you can overwhelm it and freeze it up if you go from one end of the film strip at the bottom to the other end too fast. Hopefully that will improve with the final release this fall.

The jpegs it generates are gorgeous. Flipping back and forth between Capture and Lightroom with the same image shows a clear advantage to Capture. Jpegs and TIFF files are equal in the two programs.

Which leads me to what I use Nikon Capture for. Mainly I want to convert RAW files with it. I want all of those beautiful colors that Nikon intended for that image to have. I do very minimal work in Capture, just global exposure, contrast, Picture Control settings, and Active D-lighting, which is Nikon’s way of handling highlights and shadows. Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw have come a long way with their camera profiles for Nikon files, but they can’t match the colors you will get converting RAW files in Capture NX. I had been very lazy lately, just using Lightroom for all my basic editing and RAW file conversion. Then I ran across a problem I haven’t seen for a while. I worked on a file in Photoshop for thirty minutes before discovering there were color shifts in the gray of the clouds. Greens and magentas that didn’t belong there. They will also crop up in shadows from time to time as well. I had to start all over with a file converted in Capture NX to get rid of the color shift.

There has been a lot of hand wringing about how Capture NX-D does not allow any selective editing. It is not a stand alone product that will let you do it all in one program. I have never used one program alone for processing my files so it is less of an issue for me. I rarely used the Control Points in Capture NX2. I do now have Capture NX-D, Lightroom, and Photoshop all open at the same time, but I like the Capture NX-D RAW conversions so much better than what Adobe can do it is worth it for me.

There are a few nitpicky things I hope they change before the final version comes out. There is no zoom or hand tool so to zoom to 100% you need to use a keyboard shortcut or go into the Image drop down menu. The same with sizing the image to fit your screen. I hate that. If you zoom a horizontally oriented image and then fit it to screen, your next vertical image will not fit to screen. Argh!

There is no longer the Double Threshold check box above the histogram on previous versions of Capture NX that allowed you to adjust both your white point and black point. You have to, again, use a keyboard shortcut or drop down menu to adjust white point and then go back and do the black point. There are no white point and black point eyedroppers in the toolbox above as before, but  they are in the levels and curves tool below on the right column.

There is a way to batch process and there is a way to paste your setting changes to other images, so if you have five images from the same set-up you can adjust one image and paste those setting to the others. You can even save recipes to your hard drive if you create something wild and wacky you might want to use again.

My workflow for RAW files has now become 1.) Edit globally in Capture NX-D for exposure, white balance, contrast, and Active D-lighting to bring back any errant blown out whites or blocked up blacks. 2.) Convert RAW file to a tiff in Capture NX-D. 3.) Make further minor changes in Lightroom to white point, black point, gradient tool, etc. 4.) Open in Photoshop for application of NIK filters (they can be put on a layer and painted in or out on a layer mask in Photoshop), levels and curves (again, layer masked), dust spotting (I always forget to do it in Lightroom so do it in ACR as a filter {in CC version of PS only}), rarely color correction or saturation. 5.) Save psd file with layers intact, save flattened large jpeg for stock agency upload, save small jpeg for web.

I am hoping Nikon users will try Capture NX-D beta out and comment to Nikon on what they would like changed so we can get some changes made. When Capture NX-D is released this fall it needs to be the best it can be because Nikon will then no longer support updates for Capture NX 2 so as soon as we get into the next generation of cameras Capture NX2 will not have a camera profile for them.

Glamor Glow Rescue

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , on March 5, 2014 by chamimage
Tortuguero Rainforest After

Tortuguero Rainforest After

When I looked at the Before image of this in Lightroom earlier today I asked myself what in the heck I was thinking for not deleting it on the first edit. What did I see in it? It was way too busy and the light was harsh mid day light. Not flattering at all in a rain forest.

Yet I still didn’t delete it. There was something there. Maybe it was the reflections. So I opened it in Photoshop.

Tortuguero Rainforest Before

Tortuguero Rainforest Before

This was what I had to work with. I use Google Nik filters on most of the images I process. I like to use them in Photoshop because it makes the changes on a layer that I can mask and brush in or out the effect as I please. Sometimes it causes an area to be too contrasty or blows out the whites in an animals fur of feathers. I can use the opacity slider if the effect is too strong.

I still thought I would have to give up and delete the image after my usual color correction and contrast adjustments. Then I decided to try one last thing – Glamor Glow. I almost never use it at its strongest, but that is what it took to make me finally have to admit, this image was suddenly working for me.

I am trying to be a more ruthless editor and delete more images, but sometimes there is just something there and you have to mess around a bit to find what it is that will bring that out in the image.

Soft Proofing

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2013 by chamimage
Red Dahlia

Red Dahlia

Red Dahlia soft-proofed for luster paper with perceptual intent

Red Dahlia soft-proofed for luster paper with perceptual intent


When a friend asked me to enter a print in the “Paint the Town Red” exhibit in my home town I immediately thought of this dahlia I shot at the Swan Island Dahlia Farm in August. Then I had a moment of fear that I couldn’t make a decent print of it.

Red is the one color I have trouble getting to print well on an inkjet printer. Even using the Pro Photo color space, much of the red spectrum is out of gamut. The printer just can’t make the red in the photo and has to shift it to another red color that it can print.

This was an excellent time to work on using soft-proofing in Photoshop. I had seen a recent video tutorial by Joe Brady and learned some new ways to use soft-proofing beyond the minimal way I had used it in the past. Most of my prints look pretty good without using soft-proofing because I have a good monitor that I keep calibrated, but this much red gave me the heebie-jeebies.

At the top is the original image and below it is the image after choosing soft-proofing it for Epson Luster paper.

Gamut Warning

Gamut Warning

This is a screen shot of how much of the red in the image is in gamut on my Epson 3880 printer with Epson Premium Luster paper (the highest gamut paper I could find that I already have). A real eye opener. To get this information you open the image in Photoshop, click on the View menu in the header, select Proof Setup (the first item in the drop down menu) and where it says Device to Simulate in the dialog box that opens you select the printer and paper combination you wish to use from the list, as you would when printing. In my case, I tried several to see which would have the widest gamut. I even downloaded the ICC profile for Ilford Gallery Prestige Gold Fiber Silk paper because I read that it was their highest gamut paper. The gamut warning was much the same with the Ilford paper, though the colors were much more saturated on my monitor using that profile. I found that any paper using photo black ink seemed to have more red colors in gamut than any paper using matte black ink. Interestingly, using Epson Velvet Fine Art paper with photo black ink would have even been a good option, but there is no profile for it on my Epson 3880 printer like there is for the 4900 printer.


Next you go back to the view menu and click on Gamut Warning to see which colors are clipped and which will be fully represented.

Once you have  selected your printer and paper in the proof setup dialog box the image will change colors a bit because it can only use the colors your printer can print now, not entire color range in the color space you use. If you save jpegs in sRGB you may not notice much difference at all because sRGB is like a shot glass full of colors, compared to Adobe RGB being a pitcher full of colors and Pro Photo RGB being a bucket full of colors. Take the time to look at each of these color space representations on the right hand side of the page in Wikipedia to appreciate the difference. Especially notice the right bottom corner of the illustration where the reds are and notice how none of the color spaces include much of the reds.

Why use the larger color space if you can’t print all of the colors and when the entire internet can show only sRGB? Because when you work on images in your image editor you are changing pixels and if you pay attention and watch the histogram as you are working you will start to see gaps in it from the damage you are doing. You minimize the damage you are doing with the changes you make when you use the larger color space to work on your images (and using 16 bit, instead of 8 bit). You can then convert a copy of the image to sRGB for the internet, I have my Photoshop do it automatically when I use Save for the Web to save my small internet copies. Inkjet printers can also print using the larger color spaces to get every color you can squeeze out of them. Most commercial photo labs require you to send them sRGB files for their printers. Most photo book printers use CMYK color space, which is best left to the experts for conversion. It is best to save a master copy with the larger color space because once you convert to sRGB you can never get those colors that you threw away back again.

Rendering Intent

If you are like me, it seemed like a crap shoot in figuring out which rendering intent to choose, relative colorimetric or perceptual, in the printer dialog when printing. What I learned in the video by Joe Brady is that soft-proofing is an excellent way to choose which rendering intent to use. That is another selection you can make in the dialog box that comes up when you click Proof Setup. The beauty is that the change occurs while the dialog box is still open so you can toggle back and forth between Relative Colorimetric and Perceptual (the only real choices for inkjet printers) and see which one looks the best.

Technically, relative colorimetric just takes the out of gamut colors and makes them into the nearest color that is in gamut. Perceptual maintains the relationship between colors so as it brings the color into gamut, it moves other colors around as well. The advantage of relative colorimetric is that it maintains the in gamut colors more faithfully, where that is important. People know what color a stop sign is supposed to be and if it comes out pinkish, they will notice. Perceptual is better in images with large areas of color, like a blue sky, because it prevents the banding that might occur if you introduce gaps between colors. The downside of perceptual is that more colors will shift, not just the out of gamut colors.

In the case of the red dahlia I chose perceptual, because the precise color of the dahlia was not important and it was such a large area of one color. Relative colorimetric had a large effect on this particular image because so much of the color was out of gamut.

In the end the print came out too pink for my liking. I also had a blip in my power while the printer was printing (note to self- don’t try printing during a wind storm),  so the print had a light band in it and I chose not to try printing it again. I liked the image for the scarlet hue and I was not able to reproduce the color I liked on my printer. Soft-proofing with color profiles for the Epson 4900 printer I no longer have, there is a slight increase in the in gamut colors. The 4900 does use different inks and also has an orange ink cartridge that my 3880 does not have.

I have learned a lot about soft-proofing in the past couple of weeks. I can use it to decide which paper to print an image on (or even which paper to purchase). I have learned how to use soft-proofing to decide on which rendering intent to use on any particular image. I would like to learn more about how to minimize the impact of out of gamut colors on my prints and how to optimize images for the paper and printer I have chosen. I had a lot of problems with that when trying to make a photo book on Blurb last year.There were huge changes to the image when I soft-proofed the images for the CMYK profile they provided and I was just not able to make the images look good.

Textured Flowers

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , on August 19, 2013 by chamimage
Queen Anne's Lace Seed Head

Queen Anne’s Lace Seed Head

It was a week of busyness last week, many stock photo submissions and some print fulfillment and meetings.

By Saturday I was feeling like it was past time for the artful side of things to take over, so I made some textured flower images.

The above image was shot at the dog park. I noticed the seed heads and meant to come back in good light in the morning. Of course there were about a weeks worth of mornings with morning marine air clouds after that before I finally got some mice light.

I used three texture overlays in varying amounts on the above image. When trying them out on the image I noticed areas of the image that benefited from each of them so I masked them in. As George Lepp says, “Escalate.” Anyone can use one texture.

Mountain Bog Gentian

Mountain Bog Gentian

I photographed the gentian a couple of weeks ago in the Cascade Mountains. They grow in boggy areas near mountain lakes.

Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace

This is another dog park image.It had a green background that just did not provide enough contrast. One quick texture made a world of difference.

Adding textures can be done in a mouse click with the Adobe Paper Texture panel (, which I believe is still free (there is a pro version that you have to be a “cloud” member to download). Just click on a texture you want it sizes it, orients it and applies it for you in whatever blending mode you choose. Overlay is the default blending mode and once the texture is applied you can cycle through different blending modes quickly to find the best one. If you don’t like the texture, just click on it in the panel again and it removes it. Since they are placed on separate layers I usually apply two or three and then toggle the visibility on and off to compare them. It comes with some sample textures, or you can use it to apply your own from a folder in your files.

It felt good to do something artistic again. Now I am in printer hell with Epson 4900 – again. I can’t get a couple of nozzles unclogged and there is no Epson repair closer than 56 miles away. The printer guys in my area can’t get parts for Epson so won’t even look at it. From what I read on the internet my problem is the norm for this printer and the only fix is to replace the $1300 print head. Since it weighs 150 pounds, taking it to Portland for service is not an attractive option. I think I see a new printer in my future. Probably a Canon.

My Best of 2012

Posted in Photo Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2012 by chamimage
Lake Louise Boat House

Lake Louise Boat House

2012 was a rather odd year, but a good one, altogether. I think I am making more images that I consider to be good and I am growing, photography-wise. Here-in are some of the highlights of 2012 for me.

My Favorite Image of 2012 – The Lake Louise image above wins by a nose for me. It will go into the gallery in 2013.

Maasai Herding Cattle

Maasai Herding Cattle

Most Views on Flickr – I don’t even try to figure out what gets viewed on Flickr any more. The best images have few views and odd stuff gets tons of views. It is sort of whether you tap into a special interest of some kind. The second most views are of an old mediocre image of a wild horse. Horse images get a lot of views. I have no idea who looks at Maasai tribesmen herding cattle, but somebody out there looks at them a lot.

Samburu Chief's Hut

Samburu Chief’s Hut

Most Views on PhotoDeck – My own stock photography site is equally enigmatic. This image above gets the most views for a single image, but as for the most viewed subject, it would be two photos of blue lights in trees approaching the London Eye in London.



Best Selling Image of 2012 – The sundial wins in terms of stock photography sales. A tree frog wins for amount of profit from gallery sales.

Best New Software – Photoshop CS6 upgrade. I really don’t know how anyone can live without it. I upgraded Lightroom as well, but to be honest, if Bridge was faster and sharper I’d leave Lightroom in a second. It’s inefficiencies astound me, mostly because everything it does poorly is done better in Bridge, which is free with Photoshop. It’s hard to believe the same company makes both. They obviously don’t talk to each other.

Most Used Lens/Favorite Lens – This year it is the same lens for both, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR I. Usually the 600 mm is the most used lens, but this year I couldn’t afford to go to Africa or Yellowstone so shot more landscapes. Still haven’t upgraded to the VR II version because I like the one I have. Back in 2000 my trusty Nikon 80-200 lens was stolen and I replaced it with the latest version and hated the new lens. I learned my lesson about replacing a great lens just because there is a newer version out there.

Biggest Surprise – I had my first two gallery openings in 2012. And actually sold a few prints. Equally surprising was that the Oregon State football team, which was 3-9 last season, beat Wisconsin in our opener and went on to finish 9-3 this year.

Best Trip of 2012 – I have to say the Redwoods trip in May because I got two great gallery prints from that trip despite the sunny weather (you need fog and clouds for good forest photographs). I had more fun on the trip to Banff last fall. If it’s snowing, I must be on vacation.

Best Popular Book – The Hunger Games. It was a long year of starting books and setting them down out of boredom. And even though the first Hunger Games book was a page turner, the second book was unimpressive and the third book is sitting around half finished and haven’t picked it up in a week now so it obviously hasn’t gripped me. I only started it because the second book ended rather abruptly and I wanted to at least finish what should have been finished in the second book. Seems like there are no editors out there encouraging authors to cut the boring bits out these days (as in the entire first 300 pages of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

Best Photography Book – I read quite a few photography books and wasn’t wow’ed by any of them. Art & Fear was the best of the lot, though it is about art in general, not photography. The Will of the Land wasn’t a photography book, but was written by a photographer and had the best photographs of any of them.

Biggest Blunder of 2012 – Again, so much to choose from this year. In Banff I spent the first couple of days realizing why you shouldn’t not pick up a camera for a long spell. I made every beginner mistake there was to be made. But, the biggest blunder was getting giardia somewhere in Olympic National Park in Washington in July. I didn’t drink out of any rivers or creeks so I think the filter system in a back country lodge must have been inadequate. It made for an interesting couple of months afterward before I finally relented and saw my doctor who nailed the diagnosis right away. Of course, it is self-limiting – about two months for it to run its course. Go figure.

Stuff I Really, Really NEED in 2013 – My needs are small. A pittance, really. 1.) A second tripod so I don’t have to constantly switch from ball head to Wimberley head. I have a little Giotto ball head on a bracket that I can put on the Wimberley head, but it is not ideal. 2.) Wacom Intuos 5 tablet. I have an Intuos 3 tablet and use it all of the time, but it doesn’t have the pen pressure sensitivity of the newer tablet. 3.) Nikon D600. I still need to sell my D300 and I have a D3 for a backup camera body to my D4, but for a lighter travel camera body I might need a D600 if I can swing a trip to Europe this year.

Frolicking Bull Elk

Frolicking Bull Elk

Warmest Memory of 2012 – When this bull elk  suddenly quit grazing and ran across the road I thought something had scared it. I carried my tripod through a ribbon of trees and on the other side was a meadow and this loony bull frolicking about like a calf. What a goofball! He was throwing his head around and changing directions just like a calf playing. I had no idea bulls did that, too. That’s my story, but an alternative less optimistic,  explanation is that maybe he got a bot fly up his nose, because I’ve seen a caribou do this when he got a bot fly up his nose.