A Quick Trick With Nik

Here's a quick trick that you can use with Nik . . . Nik Software's line of way-cool plug-ins. The trick: applying a filter selectively.

Here I used the new Nik Silver Efex Pro.

Make a selection of the main subject. Here I used the Quick Selection tool in Photoshop. Once you make your selection (see the marching ants around your subject), go to Select > Inverse.

When you open Silver Efex Pro, the window will only show the selected part of the image. When you apply the effect, it will only be applied to the part of the image that you can see in the window.

Another way to do this when using Silver Efex Pro is to apply the filter to the entire image. After you press OK, the effect is applied to a new layer on top of your original image. Now, simply erase the area of the photo you want in color.

When you are working in and playing with Silver Efex Pro, or any plug-in for that matter, check out the pre-sets. They are great starting points to get your creative juices flowing.

For a discount on all of Nik filters, including the brand new Silver Efex Pro, click here.

Explore the light,

P.S. My March webinar for Nik is filling up. To sign up, click here!


Black Can Make A Nice Background

When properly lit, a subject can stand out - and look great - against a black background.

For the two portraits above, I positioned the subjects in the doorways of their dark huts. In each situation, a reflector was used to bounce light onto the subject's face. You can easily try this technique at home – as long as the room behind the door is very, very dark.

Reflector info:
Westcott 1032 6-in-1 Reflector Kit 42in.

For the top right photograph of the woman, I positioned her in the doorway of her hut. No reflector was used. For the top left picture of the man, I used the Westcott lighting set-up illustrated below.

Lighting Kit Info:
Westcott 4823 Spiderlite TD5 Large Light Kit

Below is another example that shows the effectiveness of using a black/dark background, as well as the set up that I used.

Below are two more pictures that illustrate the effectiveness of using a black background. The photograph on the left was taken by Judith Monteferrante. The photograph on the right was taken by Jack Reznicki. Thank you guys for taking these nice portraits!

Okay! I guess I need to write a post about the effectiveness of using a white background :-)

Explore the light,

P.S. For more lighting tips, see my Light It! apps for the iPhone and iPad.

Gearing Up to Pick the Winner of My "You Light It!" Monthly Photo Contest.

Just a few of the creative submissions for the You Light It! Photo Club
I am gearing up to pick the winner of my You Light It! monthly photo contest.

Here's the info on the contest - and cool club:

You Light It! This photo club showcases your best photographs, along with the photographs of other talented photographers, based on the tips from my Light It! iPad and iPhone app. Join the fun to enter the monthly photo contest.

Here is the link to the club.

Winner (one) will be picked around the 1st of each month, starting March 2011.

The prize for the contest: a1/2 hour portfolio review with yours truly via Skype or iChat. The winner will be featured here on my blog. You’ll be more famous! Plus, I’ll tweet news about the winner to my 11,000 plus followers.

Important! The winner needs to contact me via email.

For info on my Light It! apps, click here.

Good luck and explore the light,

Little Adjustments Go a Long Way in Lightroom. Or, From Drab to Fab in 60 Seconds or Less.

Left: Before Lightroom, Right: After Lightroom
In Lightroom, it is easy to go from drab to fab. Here's an example.

The photo on the left, shot through a plane's plexiglass window, is drab, due to the lack of color, contrast and sharpness.

In Lightroom's Develop module, I made the following simple adjustments in less than 60 seconds:

• Increased the Exposure.
• Increased the Blacks.
• Increased the Contrast.
• Increased the Clarity.
• Increased Vibrance.
• Increased Saturation.

Below are two screen shots that show the before-and-after settings for the opening pair of images. Note the differences in the settings.

Left: Before Lightroom. Right: After Lightroom
Below is another example of the power (and fun) of Lightroom. Once again, it was easy and fun to turn a drab shot into a much more colorful image.

Left: Before Lightroom. Right: After Lightroom
Below is the set of before-and-after screen shots that show the enhancements that I made on my cowboy image. Here the "After" settings are on the left.

Left: Before Lightroom. Right: After Lightroom.

I teach this kinda stuff on my workshops and at my seminars. I hope you can join the fun!

Explore the light,

P.S. If you don't have Lightroom, you can order it here:

I'm Looking for the Best Photo Advice - From You!

Cool shot in Hot 'Lanta.
(Update: Thank you all for posting your comments here. Many other comments were posted on facebook and twitter. If you guys post a comment here, it's easier for other to read/learn/enjoy all in once place. Thank you again!)

Hi All,

I am looking for some advice - the best photo advice that you ever received.

But wait, I am not asking you to share a technical tip. Rather, I am asking you to share, here on the blog (rather than on facebook or twitter), non-technical advice - a photo philosophy that will help others.

Before I share with you the best photo advice I ever received, here's the best advice I received when it comes to playing guitar. It's not a technical tip, as you will read. I share it to give you an idea of a philosophy, rather than a tech tip.

The advice: Every blues guitar player wants to be able to play solo - laying down basic chords while filling in with lead. Like a one-man-band.

That advice helped me tremendously. This concept helped me think, and of course play, differently.

And here is the best advice I received for playing the piano: It's not the notes you play, it's the space between the notes that are important. Again, it was the concept that helped tremendously.

Massai kids, Kenya
Okay, here is the best photo advice I received: The camera looks both ways; in picturing the subject, you are also picturing a part of yourself. That concept made me realized something very, very important about making pictures - that we are mirrors, and that our pictures are a reflection of ourselves - and of our personalities.

Left: Old Havana, Cuba. Right, Lake Powell, AZ.
Take a look at these pictures, and you'll gain some insight into my personality. Take a look at your pictures, on your blog and web site, and know that others will gain some insight into your personality.

So my friends, post your best advice here on my blog in the Comments sections. I am sure others will enjoy and learn from that advice. Me, too!

Explore the light,