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on Sep 24, 2012 in WRP Ed Zone

Top 10 Questions – PSS

Just finished another great, fun Photoshop for Shooters class this past weekend with some great folks. They had some great questions, these are the top ten from the written ones they had to turn in at the beginning of the weekend.

If you bought a digital camera, why not let the camera do all the work and shoot in P Mode?
P Mode can be a great mode when you’re just goofin like at a party and you don’t want to think about photography, just capture the fun. But when you’re using photography to tell a story, you want to be in control of depth of field. The depth of field or better, depth of focus is a powerful tool in visual communicating and you want to use that to tell your story!

Could you explain layer mask and when you use it?
Layers are one of the most powerful and yet flexible tools we have in Photoshop. The mask permits us to add or subtract important subtleties to that layer and the image. When we make an adjustment with a layer, often it affects the entire photo, what we call a global change. There is nothing wrong with this. But when we want to target just a portion of an image, the layer mask is our tool.

When you are trying to capture moving water, what techniques do you find beneficial?
My general MO when wanting to communicate “flowing water” is to use a slow shutter speed. The question is what speed? Flowing or blurry water is a function of water speed vs shutter speed. I generally shoot at shutter speed between 1sec to 8sec. I get to those low speeds by a combination of lower ISO and filtration (Polarizer, Big Stopper). Once I determine the shutter speed I want for the effect I want, I rip off 30-50 frames. That because no two images will be the same and the blur of the water creates a pattern and not until I see it in the image will I know the exact one that I will like.

Do you have any tricks for keeping your bracketed photos for HDR together?
Whenever I do anything out of the ordinary in my photography, an experiment, a pano, a HDR series, the first and last picture will be of my hand. Just like in the movies that use a clacker, I take a photo of my hand, do the experiment, pano or HDR and then finish with a photo of my hand. That way when I look at my images either later that night or a year later, when I see my hand, I know something different will follow and will end with the photo of my hand.

How do you know when a photograph is worth editing or simply stands on its own?
This is a great question! And it’s a question not for Moose to answer about anyone elses photos. Photographs are a very personal thing, often a record of a memory or an expression of art. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to that. For me for example, my wildlife images must always stand on their own since I won’t “edit” this in Photoshop. On the other hand, my landscape images often see Photoshop to finish those elements that I could not finish at the time of capture. We should all strive to create images that can stand on their own yet not be afraid of finishing in post. When we push our photography to be its best, we always advance our photography!

I struggle with what photos to delete. I delete out of focus photos, poorly composed photos, and photos that don’t capture the moment—do you save only what you think are great photos?
If I saved on the images I think are great, my files might only contain 1 or 2 images at best! Since I personally don’t think I’ve taken my best images yet, I keep on shooting. The images I do delete though are only those that are not sharp. Every other image I take, I keep. But here’s the deal. After shooting for over 30yrs, I tend to only take those images I like. This makes the deletion rate a whole lot less than perhaps you. You are your own best teacher! You teach yourself by keeping those images and than going back after time and looking at your images. Look at what works, what doesn’t work, what you want to explore later with your camera. Keeping those files will push your photography forward.

Do you still use external filters when filters are easily available in Photoshop?
Oh heck ya! The subtleties in light and gesture you capture the moment you go click using a filter cannot be reproduced the same in post. The magic of light is best captured real time. Now is there time when filters at the point of capture can be replaced by post? Ya, either because you forgot your filters back in the car or simply too lazy to carry them (that’s me). While you can come close in post at times to mimic that real time filter, it is never though, truly the same.

When you approach shooting, do you have in your mind what you want the shot to be or does the shot evolve as you are shooting frames?
In the perfect world, ya, I head out and what I envision appears in my viewfinder. I tend to never shoot in that real world so I approach a photograph with an idea yet with the tools to be flexible to go with the moment. Within that frame work, incorporating your own style I think is a must and that’s where the challenge begins. We would love to be in control but we often are not. As long as you ask yourself, “What’s the subject” and than work the elements in your viewfinder, you will comeback with the best images the situation had to provide.

Was there a single thing that you did to improve your photography?
Shoot everyday!

What are the pitfalls of all the processing power we have?
Oh, we could a write a book in answering this question. The biggest pitfall is giving ourselves an easy out in pushing our photography. When you have the mind set of “I can fix it in post” then you don’t push your photography. When you don’t push your photography, your interest and love for it will soon fade.