Adobe Photoshop

What I Have Learned From My "Tough Love" Portfolio Reviews - Lots of Talent Out There

About six months ago, I started a new service here on my blog: "Tough Love" Portfolio Reviews. Since then, I have reviewed the work of photographers in Finland, Italy, Vietnam and in the United States. Check out the comments in my original post.

What's interesting to me is that the majority of the photographers are creative - including George Howard, whose images from his shadow series lead off this post. You'll see more of George's work, along with his wife's work, here on my blog in the future. George's wife, Marion, is a talented painter, and this dynamic duo helps each other with their art. What fun meeting these guys on line!

I have found that the photographers, including Adam Allegro, a Navy officer based in Italy, just needed a little reassurance and confidence about their photography. What's more, we may do a workshop together in the future. Adam knows a few very cool shooting locations.

Some of the photographers, including a travel agent, needed business advice on how to better market their work. Others just needed a few Photoshop or Lightroom tips to give their pictures more impact.

Some of the participants just wanted ideas on how to have more fun with their photography.

Of course, there were beginners and student photographers who needed some real "Tough Love." With a few tips, they are on their way to becoming better photographers.

Anyway, I think I am enjoying my "Tough Love" Portfolio Reviews as much as the photographers. I am learning a lot – and learning is health (as the Buddhist say).

Explore the light,

Plug-ins Can Help Create Painterly and Cool Effects

Think like a painter." That's what I suggested to the students who are attending the Bosque del Apache photography workshop that I and Juan Pons are currently teaching.

When you start to think like a painter, you might produce more artistic images.

Last night, while we were freezing our buns off at sunset, I was thinking like a painter. I wondered how a painter might capture the scene, which included sandhill cranes, the moon and a clear sky.

I took a few shots of the moon with my Canon 400mm DO lens w/1.4x converter which was mounted on my Canon 7D. Then I started to photograph the sandhill cranes with the same setup. I was looking for groups of three birds, following the "rule of odds" composition rule. (My composition class on Kelby Training will be up on December 12.)

Back in my toasty room, I created a montage in Photoshop CS5.

I used two plug-ins to remove some of the photographic reality from the scene.

On the sandhill crane layer, I first used the Midnight filter in Nik Color Efex Pro. Then, on the same layer, I used the Crisp filter in Topaz Adjust.

You can get a discount on Nik plug-ins (and some of the other plug-ins I use) and save on bundle on Topaz Labs bundles on my Creative Plug-ins page.

I added the drop shadow as a Layer Style in Photoshop.

I teach all this stuff on my workshops - shooting and using Photoshop (and Lightroom).

Above is  photograph I took at the "golden hour." I enhanced the color with the Bi-color User Defined filter in Nik's Color Efex Pro.

HDR plug-ins and programs can help you create cool images, too. 

Above: I used Photomatix Pro to create this cool image. Earlier this week I posted an HDR image of the same scene - minus the snow.

You can save 15% on Photomatix by using this code upon checkout: ricksammon.

Explore the light and think like a painter,

Try This With Topaz

"I don't like that picture. It looks more like a painting than photograph."

That's what someone said about the opening image for this post during one of my recent seminars.

Well, as my dad used to say, "To each his own."

But here's the deal: when you take out the sharpness of an image, you remove some of the reality. And when you remove some of the reality, a picture can look more artist and creative . . . like a painting.

Above is my original image. After using the Highlight/Shadow control in Photoshop, I used Toapz Adjust to remove the noise. However, I boosted the reduce noise sliders all the way . . . which soften the picture and created a painterly effect.

Try this techniue on some of your pictures. Some folks may say that they don't like them, but as my mother used to say, "Follow your heart."

You can save a bundle on a Topaz bundle on my Creative Plug-in page.

Listen to your parents,

Correct & Create With Plug-ins. Save a few bucks, too.

Plug-ins for Lightroom, Photoshop and Aperture can be used to add an artistic flair to images. The creative possibilities are endless. Above I used two filters in Nik Color Efex Pron 4 – Bi-Color User Defined and Image Borders – to create a more artistic rendition of the image below.

One of the cool things about Color Efex Pro 4 is that you can add filters. Try it, you'll like it.

Plug-ins can also be used for image correction. Below I used the Spificy filter in Topaz Adjust to open up the shadows, as well as to add some color to the sky.

Below is my original image. As you can see, the shadows are blocked up and the sky is dull.

To get a discount on all Nik products and to check Topaz and some of the other plug-ins I use, click here.

Explore the light,