12-20-10 Today’s “Disneyland Photo Tip of the Day” is called Point &Shoot Nighttime Freedom and is just for those of you who use a Point & Shoot camera. It will share a few tips to getting better night shots with your Point & Shoot without using your flash or a tripod.
While I was setting up for the fireworks in front of IASW the other night, my wife Diane decided to see if she could get good shots of IASW at night using our P&S camera without the flash and no tripod. I have to preface this by saying Diane is one of those people who has a hard time holding the camera still for any length of time and is very prone to blurry pictures. I also have to say that she figured this out all on her own.
As I’ve said before in previous posts, Point & Shoot cameras do have the ability to change Aperture, usually starting at F/2.8 when not zoomed at all and dropping down to F/5.6 at the longest zoom, depending upon the make and model. Remember, a Larger Aperture has a Smaller Number and allows more light into the camera making it better to keep the camera backed out as far as possible in low light situations.
We know the limitations of our camera pretty well and know that any nighttime shot with an ISO over 400 will have a lot of noise in it and not look very good. If we were to set the camera on Auto and turn the flash off, it automatically puts the ISO at 1600 to give it the fastest shutter speed possible and gives very noisy and grainy pictures.
Diane set the camera to Manual, turned the flash off, set the ISO to 400 and went to the Exposure Compensation setting. She took several photos dropping the Exposure Compensation down 1 notch at a time until it exposed the photo properly and gave her a shutter speed that was fast enough for her to take the picture and not get a blurry shot.
The following photos are what she took that night I will list what the aperture was (which will show if she was zoomed in or not and how it affects the shutter speed), what the shutter speed was, and how far down the exposure compensation was for each shot. For every shot, the ISO was set to 400. I have not done any post processing to these pictures other than a little bit of cropping on a few of them. Other than that, they are right out of the camera.
Aperture F/5.0 (she zoomed in a bit), Shutter Speed 1/40th, Exposure Compensation -1 2/3.
A = F/3.5, SS = 1/13, EC = 0 (none)
A = F/2.8, SS = 1/25, EC = 0
A = F/2.8, SS = 1/6, EC = 0 Notice how no Exposure Compenstaion corrolates to the slower shutter speed.
A = F/2.8, SS = 1/25, EC = -2 With an Exposure Compensation of -2, it increased the speed of the shutter 4 times faster. It is a little darker, but also much clearer.
A = F/2.8, SS = 1/13, EC = -1 The EC of -1 slowed the shutter speed to half of what it was for -2 but this one seems to have the nicest exposure and clarity.
A = F/2.8, SS = 1/8, EC = 0
For comparison, here are a couple of my shots using my DSLR and a tripod. I left the Exposure Compensation at 0 and allowed the camera to choose the shutter speed to expose the photo properly. To be perfectly honest, I like her shots better than my own.
A = F/22, SS = 13 seconds, ISO = 100
A= F/11, SS = 15 seconds, ISO = 100
So if you are using a Point & Shoot and trying to get nice nighttime shots in Disneyland, set it to Manual, set your ISO as high as your camera will allow without creating a bunch of noise (usually around 400) and use the Exposure Compensation to give you the shutter speed you need as well as the light sensitivity. It really is the secret weapon for good night shots without a tripod. It will take you a few shots to get the Exposure Compensation just right but wasting a few shots to get a good one is the name of the game in digital photography. I can’t wait to go back to Disneyland and see how this works for shooting the fireworks.
12-21-10 Today’s “Disneyland Photo Tip of the Day” continues the tips on Portrait Photography in Disneyland with a post processing technique that gives your portraits a little more depth and impact. I’ll call it Portrait Punch with Soft Light.
When walking around Disneyland taking pictures of people or anything else that catches your lens, you have almost no control over the lighting. The only two types of control you have are either where you are standing in relation to your subject or using a flash. Both of those still aren’t that easy to control, especially since things happen so fast in Disneyland that you very rarely have time to set up a shot the way you would like and never have the ability to change the lighting.
Fortunately there is a quick and simple tool in Photoshop Elements that can add some depth and increased contrast between light and dark in your photos which is especially helpful in portraits, particularly Black and White portraits.
I have to admit that I am excited to share these pictures with you simply because I was very excited to take them. I’ve seen Ernest McLean playing his guitar in New Orleans Square for as long as I can remember but I’ve never seen him since I started getting into photography over the past year. It seems that I always go on the days where he is off. I’ve heard that he has been there since 1966 and is the last Disneyland Cast Member that was personally hired by Walt. I’ve always wanted to photograph him and was delighted that I actually caught him on a day where I was there specifically to work on my portrait photography skills.
Let’s start with this image of Ernie.
First we open it in Photoshop Elements 9. (other versions of Elements work also, they just don’t have the simple Vignette tool that 9 does)
The next step will be to convert it to Black & White. At the top of the page, click on Enhance – Convert to Black & White.
Since this is a portrait, I chose Portrait in the choices menu. Click OK
In the Layers Menu in the lower right corner, place your cursor over the picture and Right Click it and select Duplicate Layer.
That will give you this box asking what you want to call the duplicate layer. Background Copy is fine. Click OK.
Right above those thumbnails in the Layers Window is a dropdown menu for modes. Click on the little arrow and select Soft Light.
It will have the Opacity of this layer at 100%.
This is what it looks like at 100%. As you can see, it’s a little too dark.
This is where the Opacity Slider comes into play. Click on the little arrow and slide the slider down to where you feel comfortable with how strong the Soft Light Layer is for your photo. I chose 50%.
Next, I want to add a Vignette to the picture so up in the EDIT tabs, click on Guided. This brings up this menu giving you all kinds of options and guides you through editing your photo.
The simple Vignette tool is located in the Lomo Camera Effect option. Click on that and you will see this window.
Simply click Apply Vignette and it will automatically place a soft vignette on the photo. If you want it a bit heavier, you can just keep clicking on it and it will darken the vignette with each click. I clicked it twice. After that just go to the top left corner of your page and click File – Save As – and call it whatever you want. Here is our final image.
You can also do the same Soft Light treatment to a color photo. Just skip steps 2 through 5. Here is what it looks like in color.
For this shot, I dropped the Opacity Slider to 35% and was happy with its effect.
I hope this simple lesson can help create treasured memories of your loved ones or in this case, a Disney Legend.
Dude, that last portrait photo of him rocks! You got the depth of field just right to get his face and right hand in focus and that's about all. It's that type of thing that makes a portrait stand out from the usual stuff you see.
12-24-10 Today’s “Disneyland Photo Tip of the Day” tackles one of the common problems we encounter with photos at Disneyland which is Backlit Blasť.
There are many, many times at Disneyland that a photographic opportunity pops up when we least expect it and most of those times, the sun is in the wrong place and you end up with an overexposed or underexposed photo.
The perfect example is this photo I took of Ariel and Aurora on the morning of the Mice Chat Photo Meet. Ariel and Aurora came walking towards us but the sun was behind and beside them blowing out part of their hair and leaving their faces in shadow, not to mention causing a dull gray haze over the entire image.
Fortunately there is a way to save most of these images in Photoshop Elements. (this works the same in PSE 8 and 9) We’ll start by opening the image.
First we Right click on the Background image and create a Duplicate Layer.
As in previous lessons, the name Background Copy is fine.
In the Layer Modes above the Background Copy, select Overlay.
As you can see, the Overlay restores a bunch of color and contrast but at 100% it is a bit too much.
For that reason, we go into the Opacity slider and drop it down to 50%. Or whatever works for your particular photo.
Next we want to create a New Layer but clicking on the little square in the bottom left corner of the Layers box. You can see the new Layer 1 is placed above our other layers.
We need to fill that new layer that we just created. At the top of the screen, click on Edit – Fill Layer.
We want to fill that layer with 50% Gray in the drop down menu in the contents box.
The reason we want to fill it with 50% Gray is because 50% Gray will become transparent when we make set that layer to Overlay, just like we did with the previous layer.
In the Tools palette on the left of the screen, choose the Brush tool and set the Foreground Color at the bottom of the palette to White.
In the top tool bar, choose a Large soft brush(I set it at 169 pixels) set the mode right next to it to Overlay and drop the Opacity Slider way down to somewhere between 10 & 20%. In the Overlay mode with White as the Foreground Color, the brush tool acts as a lightening tool and works by brushing it over the areas we want to lighten up. The reason we want the opacity set so low is because the more you go over an area, the lighter it becomes. This gives you the freedom to keep lightening darker spots and control the amount of brightening where you want it.
Next I’m going to paint over the darker areas in their hair, saving the faces for last. If a spot needs more lightening, just brush over it a few more times. The faces don’t need much so those will be last and only need one or two brush overs. You will see in the Layer 1 thumbnail the spots that you have painted over and it will show the areas that have the most brush strokes as brighter.
Here is what the image looks like at this stage.
Next comes a step that takes a bit of finger dexterity. We want to create a new Adjustment layer above Layer 1. On a PC, press Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E. On a Mac, press Command + Alt + Shift + E. This makes the new layer right above the others.
At the top of the page, click on Enhance – Adjust Sharpness... (I don’t think the image needs any sharpening but I’m doing it just to show you how it is done because the image you will be editing might need it)
The eyes are the most important part of an image and need to be the sharpest, so I will use those as my guide. I’m only setting the Amount at 25% and the Radius at 1.0 pixels and in the Remove drop down, select Lens Blur. Adjust your image as you see fit and click OK.
Next I want to get rid of that gray overtone so go back to Enhance – Adjust Lighting – Brightness/Contrast.
I dropped the Brightness a little bit and increased the Contrast until it looked the way I wanted.
After that, just click File – Save As and save it as whatever you want to call it. Here is our final image.
I hope this little lesson can help you save some images that you might have otherwise thought were lost to bad lighting.
A special thank you goes to Karen at www.alibony.com for the video lesson that taught me to do this.
12-28-10 Today’s “Disneyland Photo Tip of the Day” explores some creative territory and takes your photos to a whole new world. With the help of Photoshop Elements 8 and Flickr, we can give a unique and fun look to a photo that makes it much more than it originally was. You just have to have a creative idea for a photo and then take the time to Make it What You Want.
Let’s start by opening this photo I took of the Astro Orbiter at the entrance to Tomorrowland in Photoshop Elements 8 or 9.
Next, at the top of the page to go File – Place. This will open a window that lets you select a photograph to place on top of the first image.
I knew I wanted an image of deep space for this, so I did a search on Flickr for Nasa + Space and downloaded this image taken from the Nasa Goddard Telescope.
When you select the image you want to place and click Place, it will place the image on top of your first one as a “Smart Object”. A Smart Object appears with the frame around it and an X through the middle.
It can be manipulated in many ways. You can stretch it to fit however you want and even rotate it by using the tiny little curved arrows that appear on the center dot on the bottom edge of the photo.
For this purpose, I want to move it to the top of the frame and pull it down just below the edge of the Astro Orbitor, where I have no sky in the image. Once you have it in the position you want, click the little green check at the bottom to release it.
You can see over in the Layers box we have two layers. Our original photo called Background and the Nasa Goddard Photo above it.
Click on the Background photo.
Next click on the small circle at the bottom of the Layers box and then on Levels, to create a new Levels Adjustment Layer.
As you can see, that puts the Levels Adjustment Layer between our Background Layer and the Nasa Goddard Photo Layer.
Next click on the Nasa Goddard Layer and press Control + G to create a Clipping Group. Notice how the little icon has moved a little to the right.
Now, using the Brush tool, select a large soft brush that will cover most of what you want to uncover in your image. Choose Black as the foreground color and brush over the object you want to reveal. Don’t worry about uncovering more than you want to reveal. You can brush the top image back in place in greater detail as we go along. The Levels Adjustment Layer will also show you what you have uncovered in black.
This is what you will have at this stage.
Now, using the Zoom tool(magnifying glass), zoom in on the image so it fills the screen (I dragged the side of my image over to stretch it enough to fill the entire screen). Now we can start the detail work.
Click back on the Tool Brush and change the Foreground color to White. Use the slider to make your brush smaller and select a size that gives you greater control in smaller spaces.
Continue painting back the image of space, increasing and decreasing the size of your brush as needed to fill in the details.
You can zoom in further and make the brush smaller for the very tight areas. For this part I took the brush down to 4 pixels to go along the edges.
If you make a mistake and paint over something you didn’t mean to, just click your foreground color back to black and paint it back the way you want.
IMPORTANT TIP: Make sure that you don’t try and paint a lot of space without letting go of the mouse button. Do it in small increments. This way if you do mess up, you can also just click UNDO and remove the last piece you did.
When I took this photo of Big Thunder, the sky was a horrible muddy brown color. I knew that a really nice desert sunset would work great on it, so I did a search on Flickr for Desert Sky and found this sky. I thought it worked beautifully for it. This one took me about 2 hours because of all the little holes in the leaves of the trees that had to be filled in with a really small brush. http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5041/...c8a172_b_d.jpg
So if you have a photo that you really like, except part of it might not be all that you want it to be, imagine it a whole new way and then make it into whatever you imagine.