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Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

Bubble Fun

Blowing bubbles can be real fun.

Especially if you take your camera with you and find that dear special someone who’ll assist you in this exciting game and will make bubbles for you.

Furthermore, it is a great exercise for your shooting skills. I know it because that is how me and my man spent all afternoon yesterday.

Try it!

It’s awesome.

 

Love,

Petra

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I’ve always been a big fan of ‘before and after’ comparisons.

Don’t you just like them too?

They are so much fun to look at.

 

I like all sorts of them.

Whether the couple of pictures shows a face before and after makeup, a diet result or a cat before and after bathing, I love them all.

The pictures ‘before and after photoshop‘ being my most favorite, I guess.

 

Today, without further ado, I’ve decided to show the world my bundt cake’s before and after.

Though I am not sure whether the world is prepared for such an unveiling revelation.

Anyhow, here it is…

 
 

This is the original picture that came straight out of my camera.

 
 

The cake was placed between a south-west window to the left and my homemade silver reflector to the right.

Only natural light was used.

It was raining that day so the light wasn’t exactly awesome, though.

 
 

This is the same picture, but after I’d made a few touch-ups in Photoshop.

 

Here is what I did in more detail:

1. I opened the picture in Photoshop Elements 8.

2. Then I used the Move Tool from the Tool Palette (tool icons on the left) to straighten the picture a little. I also chose the Crop Tool from the same palette to discard some unwanted edges.

3. Next, I got rid of the gray haze using a trick that I describe here.

4. I lightened some shadows. You can find a tutorial on that here.

5. After that, I pressed Ctrl-L (Command-L for Mac users) and increased brightness using levels. I achieved that by dragging the middle slider to the left.

6. And I also pressed Ctrl-U (Command-U for Mac users) and increased the color saturation by about 10 points.

7. Finally, I sharpened the picture a little. I have a tutorial on that here.

 

And that was it.

This all took me just about 5 minutes.

Oh, dear Photoshop, I love you from the bottom of my heart… up to the top of my heart.

 
 

And here are both pictures again, side by side.

 

Have a sweet week, dear friends!

 

Love,

Petra

 

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This picture has been sharpened.

 
 

This picture has not been sharpened.

 

Can you spot the difference?

You surely can.

Especially if you compare the bonbon in the front.

 

I love sharp, well-defined images.

I want all of my pictures to look that way.

But the fact is that the images that come straight out of my camera are usually rather far from being sharp. Partially it’s caused by my shaky hands. And additionally, cameras themselves usually don’t produce very sharp images… for some specific reason… that I once read somewhere… but have already forgotten.

 

Luckily, there’s good news. Photo editing software has been sent to this planet to save us.

Whoever or whatever has sent it, THANK YOU SO MUCH for that.

 

To edit my pictures, I love to use Photoshop Elements 8.

It’s simple and fun to use.

And this is what I do to make my pictures sharper:
 
 

1. I open the picture in Photoshop (File -> Open…).
 

2. Duplicate the background layer (‘Ctrl + J’ on PC or ‘Command J’ on Mac).

Make sure that the newly created layer stays highlighted.

 
 

3. In the upper bar, press Enhance -> Unsharp Mask.

 
 

4. A window will pop up.

We have three sliders here: Amount, Radius and Threshold.

Frankly, I was looking for a way to use these sliders for quite some time. Until, after about 6 months of using Photoshop, I’ve learned that:

 

Amount – shouldn’t be lower than 50. I like to start with 50 and increase it if necessary. But most of the times, 50 works just fine.

Radius – I almost always use 0.6 setting.

Threshold – I usually keep this one at 0. Only sometimes, when I think the picture looks a bit too harsh, I increase this setting to 1 or 2.

 

So, once again, I usually go by 50 – 0.6 – 0 formula.

My blog-sized pictures seem to be happy with it.

 

5. Once you are satisfied with the Amount-Radius-Threshold setting, press OK.

 
 

6. Then, have a look at the Layers Palette.

Here’s a little thing that you can use, but definitely don’t have to if you are perfectly okay with the way your picture looks like now.

 

In step 2 we duplicated the background layer and since then we’ve only worked with this duplicated layer. Which means that we’ve only made changes to the duplicated layer, leaving the background layer untouched. The good thing about working this way is that now you have a very precious chance to adjust the opacity of the changes that you’ve made. You have the whole scale of 0 – 100% here for you to play with. So if you think that your sharpening should be about 20% less strong, you can easily achieve that by using the opacity slider and setting it to 80%.

Awesome, isn’t it?

 

7. In the upper bar, press Layer -> Flatten Image.

 

8. And finally save the image (File -> Save as…).

 

Again:

Before.

 
 

And after.

 
 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial as much as I’ve enjoyed this bonbon.

Mmm.

It had milk filling, my favorite.

 

Love,

Petra

 

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I took this picture a couple of weeks ago.

It shows a magical street of a lovely city called Gyor in Hungary.

We like going there, it’s a nice place.

 

Since, as you might already know, I never leave my pictures untouched (because that would cause my brain to break), I had to open it in my editing software (Photoshop Elements Eight) and play with it for awhile.

This is what I did, step-by-step…

 

The original picture.

No editing at all.

 

I like the magic of the place.

I like how the shadows and bright spots interact.

I like how the history still lives and breathes there.

Captivating.

 
 

1. I applied the Pioneer Woman Boost Action here.

 

I use that action a lot.

It’s awesome!

 
 

2. Here I ‘burned the remaining haze’ a little using the Unsharp Mask.

 

That is my favorite editing technique of all times.

Actually, I once wrote a tutorial about it.

 
 

3. In this step, I used the Unsharp Mask again.

Only this time to sharpen the image a little more.

 

I’ll soon bring a tutorial on what settings I use to sharpen my pictures.
 
 

The final result.

 
 

And again – before and after.

 

In fact, the whole transition took me no more than 5 minutes.

Just a few clicks can lead to a very different, punchy and bold result.

 

What do you think, dear friends?

Do you use any of the mentioned techniques?

Let me know!
 

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I want to share my most favorite Photoshop trick with you.

It’s easy and very rewarding.

The reason why I am sharing this technique with you is simple – I would like you to experience the same level of amazement that I go through each time I make this magic happen.
 
 

See the gray film over this original (“before”) picture?
 
 

This is the “after” picture.

The gray film is gone!

The picture looks much more realistic.

I love this game!

 

Of course, I could continue working on that picture giving it some more light and sharpness but I am leaving that for later.

For now, let’s just get rid of that unsightly gray film.

Let’s burn the haze!

 

What I find most fascinating about this technique, aside from its terrific result, is how quickly and easily it’s done:
 

1. Open the picture in Photoshop (File -> Open).
 

2. In the Layers palette, click on the Background layer and then press Ctrl+J (Mac: Command+J) to create a duplicate layer. Leave this new layer selected (highlighted).
 

3. Click Enhance (in the upper bar) -> Unsharp.
 

A new window will pop up.
 

4. With the Amount slider go somewhere between 15 – 30. Then move the Radius slider somewhere between 17 and the end of the line. Set the Threshold slider to 0.

Play with the Amount and Radius sliders to achieve the desired effect. Then click OK.
 

5. Now click Layer (in the upper bar of your screen) -> Merge Visible.
 

6. Save the picture (File -> Save As).
 

And that’s it!
 
 

This is another SOOC (straight out of the camera) picture.
 
 

Haze be gone!
 
 

And another one before the treatment.

 
 

And after.

 

Just try this technique and let your pictures enjoy some more clarity, contrast and sharpness.

Enjoy, dear friends!

 

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As I promised before in the post about my cameras, here I am with a couple of words about my lenses.

First of all, I love my lenses.

Very much.

Second of all, I just love them.

 

These are the names of the babies (from left to right): Canon 50mm F 1.8, Tamron Macro 60 mm F 2, Canon 18-55mm (which came as a kit lens with my Canon Rebel T2i camera).

I use the first one (Canon 50mm) to shoot food.

The Tamron 60 mm is great for food too, but since it is a macro lens I use it quite often outside to shoot flowers, bugs or other cute tiny things.

To capture wider angles, I use the Canon 18-55 (the kit lens).

 

Now let me show you and compare a few interesting features that these lenses possess.

 

1. Comparison with the Same Settings

Each of these shots was taken with a different lens. To make the comparison most accurate I kept the same settings for each shot. All pictures were taken at 5.6 aperture and they are not edited at all.

Though that last thing was a bit hard to digest.

I find these images pretty similar in their appearance. Maybe just the last one is a little colder in colors (has more blue tones in it) than the other two.

But there’s more to compare…
 
 

2. Lowering the Aperture (Blurry Background)

Well, who doesn’t like a nice blurry background.

That really injects the magic into the pictures, doesn’t it?

The part of the lens which provides for the blurriness of the picture is called the aperture (if you are not that familiar with this term you can find a little more about it here).

I love to use low aperture settings, especially for the food shots.

The kit lens that came with the camera (Canon 18-55mm) has the lowest aperture number of 5.6 (the second picture of this post shows you the result).

But I knew that there was a whole new world of possibilities when you go lower than 5.6.

So there came a moment in my life when I felt that I couldn’t go a day longer without a proper low aperture lens. That was when I got these two:

This picture was taken with the Canon 50mm at its lowest aperture – F 1.8.

See the blurry background? And how little portion of the picture is actually in focus? So that is caused by the low 1.8 aperture setting.

Again, this picture could really benefit from some vigorous Photoshop treatment, but this post is not about that.
 
 

This is a shot taken with the Tamron 60mm at 2.0 aperture (which is its lowest aperture number).

I like the blurriness of the background a lot.

In this aspect, these two lenses produce very similar results.

 

Also, these two lenses are prime, which means that you cannot zoom in or zoom out. In other words, they have fixed focal length. But that thing is perfectly all right – it makes you move a little more and stretch your body quite often which, I guess, is a nice health supporting benefit.

 

If the low aperture setting had been the only feature that I wanted for my pictures I would only have acquired the Canon 50mm lens. That one was much cheaper than the Tamron 60mm.

But I also needed Tamron. Have a look why…
 
 

3. Getting Closer to the Subject

This is closest that the Canon 50mm allows you to get to the subject.

If you go closer, the lens cannot focus anymore.

 
 

This is how close the Tamron 60mm allows you to get.

Amazing detail!

I often use this feature when taking pictures in my kitchen – spices, sugar or cake structure, that all looks perfectly detailed.

I love it!

 

So these are my beloved lenses.

I hope this information helped you.

At least a little.
 
 

… and psst, don’t tell this to my boyfriend

There’s also this cutie!

It’s the Canon 75-300mm telephoto zoom lens.

I frequently steal this one from my boyfriend to capture…
 
 

… squirrels …
 
 

… or baby orangutans, or basically anything that happens to be far away from me.

I think I love this lens much more than my boyfriend does and I also use it way more often.

So who really has the moral right to own it, I ask?

I think it’s me, I answer.

Definitely, it’s me!
 
 

It fills the last free space in my camera bag perfectly, anyway.
 

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Right now I am preparing a yummy recipe that I’ll be posting here tomorrow. Meanwhile I have something else you might want to see.

 
Over the past few months some of you asked me how this or that photo had been taken. Your questions gave me an idea that you might find interesting to see how several of my sets looked like. I myself love this kind of information and seek it eagerly wherever possible.

So, from now on, if I find the photo set that I’ve created interesting in a certain way I’ll show it to you.

If it helps at least one of you then my mission was worth it.

 

The picture above is by far not perfect or exquisite or anything. But what I find interesting about it is the lighting. You might be wondering how on earth that set was lit and whether I used artificial lights or not. And how I dare own photography lighting without letting you know.
 
 

So, this is what the set looked like.

I don’t use lights since I don’t own photography lights.

But what I own is my home-made silver reflector (you can find its heart-touching story here). And then I have one window. And then I have some white paper that I duct taped to the wall and to my kitchen countertop. And that’s it!

Very, very simple.
 
 

This is the job that my camera did.

Well, she was really trying.

I still love her dearly.

And yes, I refer to my camera as her. It’s my best friend after all. Actually, I might start calling her Amelie.
 
 

And this is how Photoshop helped.

Needless to say, I love Photoshop.

I might start calling it Fred.

 

See you soon!

Love,

Petra
 

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