Give Your Photos That "Painted" Look

P3 I have blogged about this before, but I wanted to write a little supplement to my previous post.  The “painted” look (as I call it) has been made very popular by photographers like David Hill.  I’m sure the way I’m going about making my own images look like this is nowhere close to what he does, but I still get great results.  I learned this method from reading Scott Kelby’s blog, but I have added a couple of my own tweaks to taste.  I’ll show you my methods and then feel free to do the same with your own images.

The look I created with the photo above I accomplished solely in Lightroom.  I didn’t have to go to Photoshop at all.  When you read it and see how simple it is, you’re going to be blown away.  One of the key elements to making this look work for your images is lots of contrast in the lighting.  This won’t work for every single image you have, but it works great for most of them.

Tone First you have to crank Recovery and Fill Light all the way to 100.  Second, bring up Blacks to balance out the exposure.  (Recovery brings down the highlights and Fill Light opens up the shadows.)  Next, increase Contrast to 100.  Going good so far?  Good.


presence Now move down to the Presence section and move Clarity and Vibrance to 100.  You photo will now look EXTREMELY colorful.  After that, dial back the Saturation until you are happy with the color and tone of the image.  This adjustment probably affects your image the most and you can choose to go with a little more color or a little less, whichever looks best to you. 

TC  Now, the steps above are all that you really HAVE to do to give your image that “painted” and contrasty look.  However, I like to take it one step further because I prefer a lot of contrast in my images.  I move down to the Tone Curve palette and adjust my Point Curve to Strong Contrast.  This really makes the color in my photos pop and I am crazy about color!  You can try your own tweaks to the Tone Curve as well and come up with something that you really like.  For me, it’s quick and easy and I’m very satisfied with the results. 


And there you have it, the method behind my madness for getting that “painted”, gritty look with my images.  I love the look (so do a lot of other people).  Try it out with your own images and see what you can come up with.  Remember that you don’t have to use Lightroom to do perform this little trick.  You can also this little feat with Photoshop using Camera Raw.  It works exactly the same way.


Getting Your Camera In A Different Place

Panama Canal One of the best things that Joe McNally ever did for photographers like you and I was to tell us to get our cameras in a different place.  If you have had the opportunity to read his recent book “The Moment It Clicks”, you already know what I am talking about.

When I am out shooting I always try to find a way to get my camera someplace that no one (or almost no one) has gotten their camera to.  You will find that if you are going to be shooting something famous, you can bet it has already been shot to death.  Sometimes there isn’t always an opportunity to do this because you don’t happen to own a plane, helicopter, boat, etc.  Regardless, it’s always worth looking to see if you can find a unique place to make a picture from.

On my recent trip through the Panama Canal, I saw such an opportunity and I jumped all over it.  As I was standing on the bridge wing of my ship I noticed the Night Vision Devices had been placed for our transit.  Everyone was taking shots of the McDonald’s restaurant in Panama with their point-and-shoots.  I had my Nikon 50mm f1.8 normal lens on my D40 and I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be cool to get a shot through the NVD?”  I had my camera completely set up so I set up the NVD and took a couple of frames.

The image above turned out to be pretty cool for a couple of reasons.  The most obvious being that I shot it through the NVD.  Since it was very dark out, I had my ISO cranked up to 800 which added some noise to the image.  (The D40 doesn’t do too well above ISO 400 when it comes to noise.)  I shot it at f5.6 at 1/125.  It was a fun and creative way to capture an interesting landmark.

When Joe shot the Empire State Building from the very top, it gave everyone a whole new perspective.  That is what we should all be after when it comes to our photography.  Not simply trying to just capture a moment, but rather make it unique too.  So the next time you’re out shooting, see if you can find a way to get your camera in a different place.

Last Leg To San Diego

I wanted to take a little time and let you all know that there probably won’t be too many posts (if any) between now and the time that I arrive in San Diego.  I’m going to go to a few places that I’m not sure if I’ll have connectivity due to the fact that I’ll be outside the U.S.  Hopefully I will in one spot I know of and I’ll be able to bring you some updates.  I plan on doing some shooting at this location and with some planning, I’ll be able to share some cool photos with you.  I will also be doing some shoots on the ship and I hope to bring you some great images from those shoots as well.  Of course I will post with the details and the setup, so you can see what I did and how I did it. 

I hope you’ll stay with me and come back as soon as I have some more updates available!  I’m really looking forward to getting back home and being with my family again.  It’s amazing how much you miss the support that you get from them for doing what you love, but they do an outstanding job of supporting me even when I’m gone.  And for that, I give you a big THANK YOU!

Until then, stay busy shooting and perfecting your craft.  Don’t forget that you can always get some great photography gouge from David Hobby, Scott Kelby, and Joe McNally too.  Oh, and did you know that Vincent Laforet is blogging now too?  Check out his blog here.  See you soon!

Which New Nikon Body Would You Buy?

Hey there! I decided to make today a no-blog day (but ask for your input instead) as I will be spending today trying to decide what Nikon body to buy next. This purchase will become my primary body, so I’m trying to choose carefully.

I’ve narrowed it down to the following:
– D90
– D300
– D700

Financially speaking, I could buy the D90 and the D300 for what I can buy the D700 for.

I could also buy the D300, some glass and accessories for what I would pay for the D700.

On the lower end, I could go with the D90 only and save even more for glass and accessories. (Although there would be some features that I would be giving up with the D90 that I would get with the D300. But I would gain 720p HD video!)

I will always have my D40 so that could make an acceptable backup body.

How about you let me know what you would do? Please spare the comments about buying Canon since Im a Nikon guy and that’s what I am going to buy. Other than that, I would love to hear your ideas. Please post them in the comments for everyone to see. I will be away from e-mail for a couple weeks but I am anxious to hear what you have to say!

Nikon Introduces the D90 – Lower Noise; Shoots 720p Video

25446_D90_front Nikon has created another amazing camera for the DSLR lineup.  If you haven’t heard about it yet, then keep on reading.  You will be amazed by what you are about to find out about this new DSLR and some of it’s capabilities.  It is priced right too, which makes is an affordable camera for both the advanced amateur or photojournalist. 

The D90 has been updated with a lot of the same features as it’s big brother, the D300.  It has the 12.3 MP CMOS sensor, EXPEED processing, a 3-inch LCD, low noise ISO sensitivity (200-3200), LiveView, built-in sensor cleaning, and Active D-Lighting.  It all comes in the body size of the D80 too.  So it’s a lightweight, powerful photography tool.  I haven’t even mentioned the video capability yet… yes, this DLSR takes video too!!!

Most of the other features you know about already because of the D300, but new to Nikon’s DLSRs is D-Movie.  D-Movie allows you to record 720p HD video at a rate of 24 frames per second in Motion JPEG format.  This kind of technology is really amazing, and is bound to change the way that all consumer DSLRs are judged.  Imagine someone like me who might use this camera to do a shoot and also use it to shoot video of my setup so that I could post it here and share it with you.  I could do all of this with ONE CAMERA and so could you!  Already, I’m questioning my desire for the D300 and D700… wow!

There are a few features that I don’t care for though.  I don’t like that it still only uses the 11-area Auto Focus of it’s predecessor, the D80.  I also don’t like the fact that it only flash syncs at 1/200th of a second.  Additionally, it’s fastest shutter speed is 1/400oth of a second as opposed to 1/8000th of a second of the D200 and D300.  Sure we are talking about two different camera classes, but come on Nikon.  The LiveView is not as robust as the D300 either.  LiveView isn’t a feature that I really care about or would use, but I would like them to be the same.  I’m also disappointed that the metering sensor is only 420 pixels, just like the D80.  I would have rather have seen the 1005-pixel sensor that the D300 features.  The D90 can shoot continuously at 4.5 fps which is an improvement over the D80.  It’s still not as fast as the D300 at 6 fps.

The D90 does feature Commander Mode, which will allow you to use the on-board flash to control SB800/900s wirelessly if you choose to use CLS.  I would rather use Pocket Wizards or Cactus V2s triggers personally, but that’s just me. 

The D90 uses an EN-EL3e lithium ion rechargeable battery and is rated to get 850 images per battery charge.  You can also purchase an optional AC adapter.  The MB-D80 battery pack/grip fits the D90 and can offer you longer battery life (with an additional EN-EL3e battery) as well as give you a vertical shutter release. 

Lastly, the D90 uses SD and SDHC cards for storing images, so if you were already using a camera that uses SD cards you won’t have to worry about making the switch to CF cards.

Check out Chase Jarvis and his staff below as they test out the D90 on a live, commercial shoot and see what he has to say about it. 

Now, as you have heard me say many times, it’s not the camera that makes the picture, it’s the photographer.  So if you were looking at the D90 and the D300, it could be a tough choice based on some of the features that you get with the D90.  I may just end up with one.  Given the fact that I have a D40 and I can use it to flash sync as fast as I want, if the D90 performs as well as the D300 when it comes to low noise at high ISOs then I may save myself the extra $650.00 and buy the D90 instead and throw the money I saved at some new glass.  It’s gonna be a tough choice and it will come down to testing them both to see which one I like better. 

B&H Photo has the D90 listed for $999.95 (body only) and expects it to arrive in October.  Check it out here

To get the full specs and more information about the D90, visit Nikon’s website by clicking here.