After spending more than a decade processing and evolving images in Lightroom its time to share these skills in a more comprehensive program. The many awards and honours bestowed upon my images and the over whelming support of the many club invitations for my talks has inspired me to open my door and share my inner thoughts and techniques on a more personal one on one level.
The “Image Mentoring Group” has been a concept under development for the past 3+ years. I’ve thought long and hard about how this would look and function but most importantly how each artists would thrive under my support and tutelage. The past years of informal private tutoring and mentoring revealed my existing circle of artists could achieve and exceeding their goals, with some achieving provincial, national and even international recognition.
Recently recognized by my colleagues and the photographic community for my dedication to the development of the photographic arts in Manitoba was a great honour. I’ve been collaborating with an amazing group of photographers development and teaching a new photographic program at Red River College. I was thrilled by this opportunity of a clean slate, open mind and to be on the ground level of exploring and developing a leading edge photographic curriculum for the collage.
These recent developments became the catalyst to complete the image mentoring concept and announce that January 2016 is the right time to launch “The Image Mentoring Group”.
The Image Mentoring Group
This is your invitation to join the first “Image Mentoring Group – Level 1 or 2”
The studio is all set and ready to go, the resources have been refined so the stage set for both creative and technical demonstrations that will help you take your work to the next level. This is not only about gaining a greater understanding about Lightroom, its more about learning how within LR you can developed a stronger creative process. Its about strengthening your vision so you can produce more dynamic images. Its about exploring innovations which will generate more ideas. This workshop is designed to help you conceptualize, visualize and execute more creatively with clarity and effectiveness.
These concepts will be developed through utilizing your own personal body of work with the goal of enhancing your own unique personal style.
To hone your image development skills within the Lightroom environment.
To develop a greater understanding of your images and how you can bring them to life as interpreted by you within Lightroom.
The images used are exclusively from your own portfolios and will be developed by you with my guidance.
Upon completion you will have a greater confidence of creative composition and in your own abilities within Lightroom.
You will gain a better understand of your own images and how best to process them effectively creating your own unique style.
In Level 2 once the files are completed you will learn to proof and print your image on a large format 44″ printer. The completed print is yours to take home and enjoy.
Each attendee will have 1 year hot line for any further questions once the course is completed. In addition you will receive a monthly newsletter on new developments, tips and tricks and other cool information.
Session #1 is now open for booking. I’m looking for groups of 3-4 who will meet once a week for 2.5 hours over 5-6 consecutive weeks, this is first come is first served. If you have friends and want to form your own group on a specific day and time that’s more than welcome.
Each group session group creates a “circle”. On the first circle meeting a through group discussion will determine the over all direction of the Lightroom curriculum. Each sessions scheduled has a 30-40 min curriculum study on LR and associated programs with the balance of 2 hours spent on individual person development.
The studio has undergone renovations and there are four work stations ready to go. The environment has a comfortable creative feel with inspiring images to help motivate you. All the network and print equipment is top professional standards.
Prerequisites Level 1 – 2:
This is step one on learning Lightroom and composition. No previous knowledge of LR is needed but an understand of you computer and OS is required. PC and Mac are both covered. Wifi enabled is required.
This is an intermediate level. A basic knowledge in Lightroom, from LR4 forward is needed. A good understanding of your computer is required we don’t want to spend time on technical issues its all about learning the artistic craft of photography. Wifi enabled is required.
For professional and semi professional photographers looking to streamline their workflows and to create dynamic images within a solo file, file batch, collection or series. How to quickly asses image development requirements. Tether shooting for studio and commercial drone studies by mid summer 2016.
Starting dates are as follows:
Level 1 Beginner Studies in image composition and Lightroom development techniques.
Starting Sat. Jan 9, 2016 and five consecutive Saturdays ending Feb. 6, 2016. Times 9:30 sharp to 12:00 noon, door opens at 9:00
Level 2 Intermediate studies and mentoring of your images and thorough customization of Lightroom studies relative to your work.
Starting Sun, Jan. 10, 2016 and six consecutive Sundays ending Feb.14, 2016 Times 9:30 sharp to 12:00 noon, door opens at 9:00
Starting January private sessions booked at the convenience of the photographer.
At the current time there are only 2 Mac work stations in my studio so having your own laptop is an asset.
Level 1 $300 for 5 weeks Includes all LR & Circle documentation.
Level 2 $375 for 6 weeks includes all LR & Circle documents and printing materials.
Level 3 fee determined by the needs of the photographer based on $200 per hour.
The courses are now full. Once completed I will set up a date for the next session likely end of April or beginning of May. If you want to book ahead send me a note via email and you’ll receive the advance notification.
Fees are due on entry and the first four confirm your position in the program.
On Tues. Sept 15, 2015 at the Manitoba Camera Club presentation I was invited to do a presentation on B&W conversions with the intent of showing some of the artistic capabilities of Lightroom. The audience was asked to bring image files that I would process live. We had a lot of fun but unfortunately I ran out of time so I promised I would post them at a later date, well here they are.
Let me preface this document by saying that all the images are the copyright of the individuals who kindly submitted them for this particular talk and demo. I want to thank those that shared their files for this purpose of the demonstration and I hope that I did them justice on the conversions. So lets begin, the images appear in no particular order.
This is a nicely exposed stage shot of an Asian character. There is a strong colour cast from stage lighting so its important to start with colour correcting the image to obtain the correct grey scale tones. Once completed, using the “HSL module”, each colour was desaturated. This technique allows for a luminance adjustment of each colour in the scene. In the “Basic module” a minor exposure and shadows adjustment completed this conversion. A border was added in OnOne FX.
This was a challenging image because of the complex nature of the capture. Quite a busy street scene didn’t allow for a simple B&W conversion so it was produced as a hybrid to help isolate the subject in an interesting way. Utilizing the radial tool in LR6 set to 100% desaturation was the starting point. In LR6 the new brush selector within the radial tool was chosen and set at 100% desaturation erase all the remaining colour. The dancer, now the only colour, stands out against an other wise busy background. A lightening of her and a slight saturation and its done. Border was added in FX.
A nice urban portrait but the subject is a bit lost and not the true focal point. Starting with a crop to remove some of the bright area that catches the eye, in addition it make the image more cinematic. Using the HSL and removing all colour with the sliders allows minor adjustments of all the grey tones. Then added an elongated horizontal radial adjustment of exposure, – highlight and clarity. A second vertical radial adjustment with the same sliders of varying settings completed the look. A vignette was added and a frame in OnOne FX.
A challenging fog image. Start with the HSL desaturation conversion to B&W. A gradient tool with a strong clarity selected was dragged down from the top and it revealed details at the brightest point. Switched to a radial tool with a strong clarity setting revealing as much detail as possible with out creating unwanted banding effect of the gradient. Two more radial adjustments were set on each side adding more treeline details. Lastly a gradient tool, set with clarity, dragged from the bottom up to expose the dark details in the for ground. Fine details were added with a brush tool, dodging and burning the stick in the foreground. Frame added in OnOne FX.
High Key Portrait
Studio portrait converted with a moderate high key look. Global HSL desaturation colour conversion, a radial tool adjustment with clarity and slight +exposure showed a nice opportunity to go high key. The final has a pushed white and exposure adjustment with some added contrast to retain the details.
This beautiful fishing scene cried out for a sepia monochrome conversion. The HSL desaturation technique was used as a baseline. Dodge and burning was used to bring out some of the details and the brightening of the boat in the foreground to give it more prominence. In LR6 presents there is a sepia that works very well. A deepening of the colour was added and using a brush some defined pastel colouring was added with a brush tool. Within the brush tool select temperature and adjust sliders to obtain the tone your looking for, select flow and density high to see the effect, you can adjust it back once you see the correct colour your looking for. Vignette and a frame were added at the end.
Another beautiful studio portrait this time made into a warmed soft conversion. HSL desaturation conversion with luminance adjustments to highlight key facial structure. Radial tool with slight exposure and dropping of the highlights a push on the shadows and sorted by a negative clarity. Select the brush within the radial tool and erase this effect on the eyes mouth and hairline to bring back the contrast as previously created. Framed in OnOne FX.
Steep Rock Shoreline
A nice shoreline scene with an overcast nondescript sky. When one sees a shoreline of water and rocky cliff we conjure up a storm or a dramatic sunset, well in this case a storm prevailed. HSL conversion allow some amazing detail to be revealed in the waters and cliff in the foreground, the sky however remained nondescript. Clarity added more detail and some dodge and burning pretty much completed the majority of the foreground. The sky needed further help and that was accomplished in OnOne FX. A trick I use is to add multiple layers of sky set at different opacities and scale to make it more believable. I also like to invert the dominant sky and use that to create some highlights in the water. Brought back into LR and a slight dodge and burn and that completed this image.
Another image that cried out to be a monochromatic sepia image. In this case the HSL conversion technique really helped to find details in this image. Really play with the luminance sliders to find out which once work best for the given image, remembering the colours of the original image are key. Lastly a soft white glow was added to the window with the radial tool and the chair was erased from that glow.
A soft glow of an early morning light with a detailed silhouette of trees and their reflection. Does this defy the basic definition of B&W being one part black and one part white, well, yes it does. HSL adjustment helps to define this automatically. There is a strong black that is obvious but its the subtle grey tones that become just as obvious. This is a great example to use for the sharpening technique with the masking tool. When sharpening for fine detail use a small radius, meaning a smaller pixel cluster, add detail to the amount of your liking but here is the real key. You don’t need or want to sharpen the clouds, sky or refection in this image so use the Masking slider. Press option in Mac and at the same time slide the controller, only the white highlighted areas are being sharpened, nun of the black is being effected. On this image it was set at 100 so only the tree edges were sharpened and nothing else, perfect. No white exists and when the greys were adjusted there was a shore line detail that came to light that was not seen in the original image.
In all due respect to the maker of this image this is one that you don’t want to spend much time on because you know it takes to long. Well here we go. HSL is my starting point in B&W workflow. Try and find any detail in the blown out area -100 in highlights, white clipping -40, try clarity and contrast. It all still leaves this white abyss with no detail. Next is to clone some cloud into the space, not everywhere, just where there could be a strong cloud. Then take the image to a second software package, in this case OnOne FX, and layer in a cloud layer or two. Its the only solution and is left to a whole world of interpretation.
This was sent to me as a B&W image so I had a chance to play. I did a minor crop to add a more linear feel to this image. Took it into OnOne FX and added a texture, frame. I returned back to LR and took the brush with a blue temperature and colourized the bridge, it was intended to be a bit sloppy as an urban grunge.
I saved the best for last, well in my books anyway. This is a the B&W conversion using HSL with hand colouring two or three pastel colours. A high key conversion is the base. The colours are added with the brush tool and in effect, select a temperature colour you like, add some clarity and brush over the area you want coloured. A last adjustment of exposure to find that right high key look.
Introduction to artistic B&W conversions.
• study the image well before you start.
• what is the content
• what is the mood
• what are the compositions strong points
A good understanding of the image goes a long way in creating an artistic rendering.
The different ways to convert RGB images to B&W in LR6.
1 – “Basic” – use the B&W tab for an automatic conversion.
The RGB channel percentages should theoretically add up to 100% (i.e. 50% Red + 40% Green + 10% Blue = 100%). More than 100% means lighter images and less than 100% means darker images, so it’s really up to you.
The default option is 100% Red, 0% Green, 0% Blue, but 30% Red, 60% Green, 10% Blue is a good starting point.
2 – “HSL” – desaturate all the colours individually. By using the luminance colour sliders you can adjust the grey scale of every individual colour zones.
4 – Radial Tool drop down – desaturation set at -100.
5 – Brush Tool drop down- desaturation set at -100.
6 – Gradient Tool drop down – desaturation set at -100.
7 – B&W Presets in LR6 are many, each having a variety of interpretations.
There are a lot more ways to do this in LR6 use your imagination and have fun. Lastly Remember: If you’ve spent a lot of time working with a certain image, take a break for a while and then use a fresh set of eyes to look at it again. Over concentration can be easy to do, if you’ve looked at it for too long taking a break will often help you identify what needs to be done.
B&W conversions should be a lot fun so enjoy yourself.
This was a talk presented to the Manitoba Camera Club, February 3, 2015 and The Winnipeg South Photo Club, March 18, 2015.
Tonight we are about to embark on a journey to try and gain a deeper understanding of photography. We are going to delve into the mysteries of capturing emotions and feelings in two dimensional digital images. Can a photograph depict and evoke feelings that are deeper than say a raw journalistic capture of a shooting, accident or riot. We know how those make us feel. My hope is we’ll have some understand of these subtle dynamics by evenings end and how you can apply it to your images.
One of the gallery experiences I enjoyed over the past 5 years allowed me to interact with photographers both local and from around the world. These conversations allowed for the sharing of ideas and concepts, combined with my continued work and studies in processing images, I began to formulate a theory on the understanding of how emotions can be comprehended and applied. Within this presentation I will try to explain some of these intricacies which I have applied to my work.
So sit back and enjoy this journey to your inner emotions.
The Human Condition
This is the first in a series of articles that will be posted on my bog Joe Kerr Photography under the subject titled “Creative Photography”.
I would like you to close your eyes and listen to these sound bits and see if you can visualize the scenes you are about to hear. So relax and open your minds eye.
Here are a couple of questions to help open your minds eye:
Did your visions easily flow from one sound bit to the other ?
Do you have a favorite ?
Were your thoughts in B&W or Colour ?
How did each sound bit make you feel ?
Great images all begin at the capture, so here are some critical issues and influences when going out to capture amazing images: Remember this is about the human condition and gaining an understanding of capturing emotion in images.
Lets start from the very beginning.
How did your day start out ? Are you looking forward to your shoot ? Do you have a plan on what your shooting ? Is weather or sunlight a factor in you deciding to shoot today ?
Is today an optimum day to capture that subject ?
These and many more questions all influence how well your shoot will go but ultimately how you will feel about it. It is my opinion that how you feel is the most important key to capturing great emotional images.
Putting yourself in a mindful space that is relative to what you are shooting is inherently difficult. This is one of the most important and influential characteristics of great photography and that is to actually feel your potential images before you even hit the shutter.
Here is a situation that may help you understand this. Do you remember the most amazing sunrise opportunity you’ve ever had and how you felt when it presented itself. Can you also remember another morning that was equally beautiful but for some reason it just didn’t pan out. You see the differences in your images but do you remember how each of those days started out and how you felt.
This is not a contemporary thought process lets take a step back in history for a minute and learn from two masters.
Ansel Adams immersed himself in his environments and became so in-tuned he even named trees and rocks in around his cabin near Yosemite. He followed and created trails that became his home under the sky, yet, he understood that nature only allowed him a moment of opportunity, they weren’t his, but his photographs were, and he could share them. He became much more philosophical about what he was feeling while capturing images and constantly wrote in his journals his thoughts. He clearly understood how his images could and would effect his viewers and how his emotions would influence each capture. Because the print was what everyone would see, Ansel spent enormous amounts of time perfecting his prints in the darkroom so that they were perfect portrayals of what was in his minds eye not just a capture of a scene. He wrote about having a vision of his print before capturing them, and though these images were very personal to him, as a viewer you can see and feel that.
In a completely different photographic genre there’s Yousuf Karsh. He was another artists that lived through his photography. As a portrait photographer he didn’t have the lighting sophistication that we enjoy today. Still, he enjoyed shooting on location, the most challenging portraits of the time. His innate sense and feel of natural light combined with his in camera skills he created images that are astonishing even today. With those simple techniques he created outstanding portraits that brought his subjects to life. Yet, I think most importantly, he took time to study and understand his subject first. He then visualized and executed sitting techniques that both relaxed them and yet brought out their personalities knowing something of who they were. Upon studying his work you can actually feel their personalities come out of the prints. His compassion to execute what was in his minds eye made him a world renowned photographer during that era and even today?
I referenced these two artists because most of you know of them, and, they are masters whom we can relate to through their images but also as human beings. Although uniquely different they shared an inner bond of an innate sense of a divine intervention that helped to create their art. I certainly don’t profess to be in the same league of either of these famous photographers, yet, I do understand what they were trying to convey in their memoirs. Theirs and other similar concepts have been my inspiration for years and I will try to convey to you tonight what that means. No this is not a religious intervention but it is a deeper understanding of what made them tick and create amazing images.
On that note let me express to you what I’ve learned and have adopted as my usual or unusual process in capturing.
How I shoot varies greatly. example: If I’m with a group or with another person I rarely do what I truly like to because the dynamics will not allow. If the moment feels right though, I may disappear from the group to find my own space knowing that time will allow me to explore what is being presented to me.
Here is what I like to do as a solo shooter and I think the difference will be self explanatory. During solo shoots I take a lot of time, I’m not a run and gun type of photographer. Again, I’m going to talk about the human process behind the camera.
Nature or Scenic Shooting:
I chose this genre of photography because its one that most of you can relate to. Here is a list of things I do in preparation to taking that first shot.
Clearly pack all that is need for that day, the night before. One bag and a tripod.
Pack snacks for me and the creatures.
Look up some creative websites that inspire you.
Leave early with plenty of time to spare so your not feeling rushed.
Listen to music or other inspiration audio bits en-route.
Once I arrive I will find a trail off the beaten track, people are everywhere these days and personally I don’t want a shot that everyone else has.
Arrive and chill. Stop, look and listen. This is how I begin the process of interacting.
Until I’m feeling what I’m about to interact with I will not begin, take deep breaths and relax and survey my surroundings.
I like to feel a sense of perspective of who I am in this environment and how I could be perceived by those who live in this environment.
Feel the time of day, maybe its the warmth of the sun as it begins to lighten the morning skies, get a feeling of the trees wakening as the winds begin to blow, listen as the birds begin to sing and as life begins to stir in the forest.
Listening I can hear and feel life all around me and by being still, for sometime now, the forest will begin to reveal itself.
Over time you will learn the rhythm of nature and understand how it will react to the foreign sounds you create, remember you are the intruder.
Remaining quiet and still is exhilarating to me, I can be here for hours and not think anything of it.
Always be aware of the light, watch its glow illuminate the trees and the meadows, be aware of where it is and isn’t, light is the key to all great shots.
When nature presents itself go slowly, take time to try to understand the creatures in their habitat, see how they react to sounds around it, watch and learn every move, ears, eyes, neck and over-all body language.
Watch every detail, the direction it appears to be going, is there better light coming up, can you time the optimum reaction to the camera, take it in and feel it, until it becomes a part of you.
I can get so involved that I can feel their heart beating and I’ll watch their breathing, a relaxed sigh, a sudden and alert gasp and hold.
Patients and more patients think before you hit the shutter, timing is everything. No paparazzi shooting here.
Given the optimum opportunity I’ll take my shot, stop, silence, then shoot again if possible.
Depending on the creature the timing is different. Deer, first shot, is a waist, its the second and third that count.
Watch in wonder and learn. Can you learn, feel and understand how they are feeling? I think I can. When the creature is relaxed and calm, is that the shot you want, or, maybe its when they are alert with attentive ears perked. What ever the looking your waiting for, watch and learn and anticipate.
Now when I say “Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.” can you begin to understand ?
With everyone’s lives full of hustle and bustle I’m sure some of you are thinking this is mambo jumbo by now. As I was preparing my talk I was thinking the same thing maybe I should just do a standard show and tell. Well that’s not me, so lets move on to the next step.
Now let me show you how this continues to relate and what it looks like in the end. I apologize that I don’t have a 14 step action set to sell you that will create amazing results for your images, its not that simple and nor should it be, this is creative art.
Lets start with your studio. Have you created a special place to create your art. Is your studio a place you enjoy going to and does it provide inspiration for you, or have you even thought about creating a special environment. Does music play a roll in your life and studio ? All this plays a part in how you feel about your photography. I’ve had the privilege of visiting numerous studio’s and the cream of the crop do have a special place to create their work so its fact, not fiction.
Let me walk you through a couple of my photographic opportunities and how I perceived and processed them. My processing actually begins when I’m capturing the image in the field. My mind is already thinking about how these will likely be processed, I’m also not close minded but this is my starting point.
Each photographic concept has a different starting point in the camera settings. Each subject has its own unique feel and needs to be processed that way. There are no single one action fool proof buttons here, this is art and needs that individualistic attention to detail. Here on the blog I’ve attached links to each set of images and the details in capture and processing follow the link to learn more. Each set was a study on its own.
As you work through your processing procedures and begin experiencing the joy of creating a wonderful image, you will find a persona emerge, were the hardware and software actually mean less, it becomes more important to know how the image feels. You will begin to find a style that reflects an inner you, one that is comfortable, intuitive but is understood. You must trust it when it happens, let it flow through you and learn to get out of the way, don’t clutter it with techno mumbo jumbo let it shine clearly.
So where do your inspirations come from. I think its very important to find outside stimulants that help to fertilize your imagination and keep your creative neurons flashing.
Here are some places I go to find what I need to keep me creative: Cirque du Soleil – the artistic sets but more so the costumes that amaze me Theatre Productions – take a blank stage and transport me to another place and time is crazy how its created with forms and lighting. Movies Productions – special effects and CG environments astound me Attend art shows – art today is an unlimited canvas, explore everything you can Inspirational websites – In the digital realms of the web the world is your oyster Quotes – I look for quotes that inspire me. Google an image topic – This is simply magic at your finger tips at any moment Join and share in different communities. – The more the merrier, share and you will be rewarded 10 fold
There is no wright or wrong places to find inspiration, its what makes most sense to you and what inspires you to create your art.
Keys to Remember
Your eyes need to learn to listen before they look. Patients pays off. Don’t shoot what it looks like, shoot how it feels. Be mindful of the event and while shooting be aware of how you might work it in post production. Create a studio space that is both inviting and inspirational to you.
Be yourself !
What I’ve just expressed to you is my own personal formula on what I’ve learned over the years. To some it will appear goofy, some may like a part of it and others may find this inspirational. For those that found it amazing there are some doctors just outside the room in white jackets that want to talk to you, please have your medical cards ready.
Thank you for your time.
Links to Reference Materials
Alan Ross Photography Here is a link to a blog by Alan Ross who was one of Ansel Adams lab assistant. He reveals some amazing insights into Ansel Adam’s daily routines and how he perceived his art. Its a very interesting read.
On my Facebook page I posted a sequence of four images of mountain sheep that caught some attention. People were curious about different aspects from capture to post production and I said I would follow up with some additional details on this blog. I hope I’ll cover enough insights here to help you out.
This sequence of mountain sheep images was taken mid August, 2006 during a period when I was deeply involved in observing and capturing wildlife in their natural environment. During my three year quest I was focused on the western foothills of Alberta and the eastern interior British Columbia. I tried to revisit certain areas to capture different seasons which also allowed the possibilities of seeing different migration patterns of the wildlife.
On this mid August trip I was in the Jasper area on a favourite 10 kl. hike that takes me along the Jasper River running adjacent to the Yellow Head Trail near Talbot Lake. August is tourist time and the highway is always busy so I decided to find a more remote back road and head up into the mountains.
I found an East bound gravel road about halfway between Jasper and Hinton that looked to be less traveled and headed East up the mountain. The road ended at an small unmarked gravel pad beside a mountain stream. The stream bed was barely running but I’m sure during the spring or a heavy rain it must swell up given the right circumstances. Looking West there is a deep cut in the rocks with a drop of 20 -30 ft. I thought this would be an amazing water fall with the right flow of water. In any event I started to walk up stream and I found myself in a narrow ravine cradled between to mountains, not exactly sure which mountains these were, I’ve tried to locate the road on satellite maps but to no avail.
There is something to be said about being in a remote area by yourself. You either feel very peaceful or it can scare the crap out of you, this day was a beautiful serine day. One of the first things I like to do is sit a few minutes motionless, maybe feel the warmth of the afternoon sun and just listen, listen to the birds, hear the occasional rock falling in the distance and the trickle of the water just below my feet. Higher up in the mountains there is are unique weather patterns and this day had scattered rain showers that were a joy as the sun continuously broke through illuminating the drops on there decent.
It was the sound of some frequent rocks falling that caught my attention. I looked in that direction and saw this small herd of sheep on the opposite side of this ravine. They appeared from behind a rock cut as if they were magically appearing from the rock face. I surveyed possible vantage points that wouldn’t disturb them and slowly made my move. I ended up slightly higher than them but as it turned out it was exactly the right spot as they eventually wandered past just below me. The light source was slightly behind them which allowed for a nice rim lighting effect that worked well in the post production work. I was careful to watch my camera setting so as not to blowout any highlights. According to my metadata the total sequence lasted 3:48 sec so it was quite quick but it was well worth the climbing to this precarious perch I shot from.
Lightroom 5 does the vast majority of my post production work. There is no specific workflow that I do its always done by perception and having a sense of what each image portrays to me. At capture I shoot manual and change my settings quite regularly almost frame by frame. When looking through the viewfinder and framing the image, I almost always I have a particular idea how I want the image to look when its done and printed. In this case almost every frame has some in camera adjustment as I shot from splendid warm highlights to high contrast shadow. This one facet of shooting causes me to adapt my post production so that a sequence of images can translate into a similar look and feel, if a sequence is what I desired.
I started using OnOne software just over two years ago and its used mainly to finish and to render a more dynamic look in an image. There is an amazing set of filter that can evolve images in an endless number of ways and with each filter there is a complete set of control to customize the effect. In my images a softer more natural look with a slightly greater dynamic range is what I was trying to accomplish here.
This a before, completed in LR5 and after using OnOne software.
When studying processing I surf the net visiting a variety of photographic and photo competition sites. I look for trends that I like but mostly dislike. I’ve found there is a strong tendency to have images with over pushed sharpening which makes them loose there reality and become to digitized in their feel. When I analyze its more to confirm what I’m visualizing for my images thats important. One must consider and recognize with any desired processing technique it really boils down to beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I’m a solitary kind of guy so I do most of my photographic work solo. Especially when I’m looking for some very moody images I don’t want to be thinking of other people or a time frame to finish by. I like to stop and spend time when visiting those chosen locations, I want to relax and really get a feel for them.
Back lit or rim light.
Cemeteries are one of these locations I like to quietly meander through. I have to be in the right mood and that will usually strike me early evening or near sunset. I lean toward grounds that have an abundance of trees, they offer very interesting highlights and shadows, backgrounds or great silhouettes and vistas to look beyond. I also look for older cemeteries with the grand head stones topped with amazing sculptures or if your lucky you can find architectural limestone or marble crypt.
Looking to the sunset creates a distant vista of light through the trees.
Its also important to note that stepping into a cemetery I have already converted my eye to thinking that I’m shooting with B&W film. Its a different mindset for me. I’m looking for more contrast and texture, more depth in shadows and highlights in a scene or subject.
Think outside the box and this may still sound a bit creepy, some will call this getting into the zone, but, as I wander about I listen to the sounds of the birds, trees rustling in the breeze, I watch the dancing dappled light filter through, I’ll become comfortable and a sense of calm will come over me, if the stars align my instincts will begin to guid me.
This is when the magic either happens or not, if not, I may not even take a shot and just walk. I may see the most amazing sculpture and try my best techniques to capture it but if it doesn’t want to pose for me then it won’t work. On the other hand you may find your drawn to a detail, for no apparent reason, one you’ve never had an interest in but suddenly its the most fascinating feature on the grounds, they speak to you and your excitement grows and you say why haven’t I shot this before. Is this divine intervention, I like to think so because I’m not in control I was brought here.
I saw her from afar and stayed here for some time, “together forever”.
Have you had a moment when you felt someone watching you or out of the corner of your eye you see movement but don’t see anything. I treasure these sensations here and I’ll let them guide me and most often I’ll see something that is truly moving and capture an image that is compelling.
I may have walked by this marker many times and never seen it till this day.
When I return to my studio I’m usually excited to down load the days shoot. In opening these image files I usually have a different sense of first impressions. One of my first processes is to do a general B&W conversion, I don’t know why but I feel that cemetery shots are best suited to a B&W conversion and I need to see all the files that way. I have my own B&W conversion formula that produces all my shots dark, its where I like to start. Out of the abyss I will select the highlights that I want to bring forward therefore the mood is instantaneous and more in tune to what I experienced.
Dappled light through the trees at Fraser’s Monument.
Alright so now you know that I’m totally crazy. I hope you find this set of images inspirational and when you next visit a cemetery say “hi” to the folks there for me.
Word of caution if your visiting a gated cemetery make sure you park outside and walk in, nothing like having your car on the wrong side of the gates when they close at sunset.
Being that Sept. was designated as B&W photography month, and now with all my surgeries are behind me I’m starting to feel myself again. So, I thought I would have some fun and begin a post that would challenge everyone that wanted to build on their B&W portfolios.
I’m challenging myself to find as many different image genres in my archives to show you in B&W. I hope it inspires you to build on your own creative ideas and to help you develop your style and techniques in image capturing and processing. If your wanting to share an idea or related image here feel free.
One of my personal favourites in B&W is the movement of water in particular water falls. Most water movement expressed in B&W has a magical feel that is simply calming but liberating. When you see a well captured image it takes your breath away then it lulls your senses and feeling of calms prevail. Contrast is of major importance in these images, the back drop of rocks must be deep and dynamic showing strength and structure. The waters movement is the opposite it must be light demonstrating fleeting cascades of movement but should never be over exposed, details must be in the highlights. I like to find in these captures faint details of a rock or a splash or droplet juxtaposed to the main movement of the body of water. You will often find hidden rocks below thin vials of water along the edges, these are seen and appreciated in B&W renditions so pay attention to these fine details.
In processing B&W images never think that a simple third party filter set or global adjustment programs with sliders will suffice, they only create a starting point and you need to spend some time here with a brush, radial tool or point adjustment tool and begin to dodge & burn the details in. Having been a trained painter and pencil sketch artists I find the brush tools have given me the best results but recently I’m working more with a radial tool and creating some amazing results.
Remember don’t be in a hurry, spend time with your images and the results will be well worth the effort.
Liam and his Papa Joe were explored this enchanted forest of apple blossoms and wild ferns when they came upon a magical cottage by a creek. Its conical roof and gingerbread shingles and the scent of freshly baked cookies captured their interest. Papa Joe felt compelled to explore inside but Liam was leery and would not enter the open large red door. It was Liam’s instincts that allowed them to escape the diabolical wizardry of the inhabitant. They learned later that two young children named Hansel & Gretal had gone missing and that a woodsman saved them from certain perils of that hauntingly beautiful cottage.
Creating a mood that enhances the story of your image.
Creating focus in an obscured setting.
OK, so what is this all about. Well its about using your imagination and creating a processing formula that transforms your images into what you may have imagined. In this case a enchanted forest and a mystical cottage became the theme and the motivation for this processing technique.
Armed with only a cell phone at the time I gathered some images and loaded them into Lightroom 5. A small capturing detail when you have a small subject, in this case a toddler, get down to their level it helps bring the viewer into their world, these were shot from my knees. Shot in full sunlight was an asset, the contrast helped create the mood in post production.
Starting The Processing
Here is the process I used to transform these into the finished images you see here using Lightroom 5. I started with some basic global contrast adjustments but from that point on its all brush and radial adjustment. The apple blossoms were a key and they needed to have a certain brightness knowing that a glow would be added later. The graphic wall paintings tone was deepened and the ground around Liam brightened. The detail in the path in the forest to his right was brightened but not too much.
These intermediate processes were created by using a radial tool adjustment with a final touch up using a brush. The radial tool settings were different for each of the four zones selected.
Zone #1 – The apple blossoms had a slight contrast and clarity adjustment which required a negative highlight to bring back the whites a touch.
Zone #2 – The painted wall has a slight positive exposure setting, a dropping of the highlight then a touch of clarity to bring up detail and 28% saturation to deepen the colours.
Zone #3 – Liam had small vertical ellipse with similar setting to zone 2 but I dropped the highlights to a negative 31.
Zone #4 – The distant path on the right needed to be brought forward so a small horizontal elliptical was selected. The settings used were a decent amount of exposure 1 1/2 stops, highlights 18, shadows 29 and clarity 10.
A Touch Beyond
At this stage I moved the image to Perfect FX8 and added a dark glow, erasing around Liam with a 60% brush and added a boarder. Minor details but its all about the details isn’t it. This is where the high contrast of midday plays its part.
The file was returned to LR5 and final touches were done with a brush tool. When using the brush tool look at the bottom box of the brush adjustments. There is an A, B and erase brush selection. This comes in handy when your doing some transitions of sharpness, glow or anything that warrants a smoothing of the effect that a simple feather won’t perform. Select “A” brush and create the brush adjustments your looking for then set it up the flow and density at 100% with 50% feather so it will effect your selection quickly. Keeping the same brush settings set the “B” and reduce density and flow to 50% with 50% feather. Now you can blend the effect by switching quickly between the two. If you need to correct, select erase and correct the area. This is how I performed the final selective sharpening of Liam in the woods walking toward the witches hut. Only he and the hut are sharp the area nearest is at 50% the rest of the image has a soft glow. The shot with Liam under the apple tree Liam is sharp and the path leading to the right is sharp, the balance is a glowing image. There are approximately 50-60 brush adjustments to each image. I’ve been asked if these images were HDR, no, these are single image files taken on my iPhone’s regular camera, no special effects used.
Learn how these techniques and more can help you create a more stunning image.
If you are interested in learning more about Lightroom 5 and how this program combined with these and other techniques can effect your images read on. I’m looking for 3-4 students to teach so I can fine tune my program that will be offered at RRCC this fall. You will receive personal one on one instruction on your images from start to finish and a completed print at the end. This program will also be the base of a new book which will become part of the package. If your interested contact me at Kerrmarketing@mac.com and I will give you more details.
Last night I was working late in the studio and just before midnight I could hear the wind pick up and the distant boom of lightning strikes. I thought about going out but I had a 5:15 call in the morning. When the rain started I opened the door by my desk, I love listening to summer rains and storms, before long there was a torrent of water coming down and the sky was alive with a mother natures light show.
I grabbed my camera and started to shoot down the brick walkway which includes a canopy of trees and a park bench. I’m not one to use a flash but I had a interesting shoot at the Vaughan Street Jail a while back where I used a remote flash behind walls and other objects which created interesting shadow and back lighting results. Well I had an inspiration to take an umbrella and place a remote flash under it and place it in the scene.
The wind was quite strong so I had to anchor the umbrella on the cast iron bench limiting my possibilities. I chose an umbrella that was a complimentary colour to the setting, a blue Matisse pattern and began the process of trying different power settings for the on board and remote flash units. I started using a 28 -70mm at first but change to a wide angle 10- 20mm due to the close proximity and narrowness of the location. I tried different positions and angles for about 30 min then put the card on the computer.
I did some simple corrections in lightroom 5 and began to think this could be interesting. I took a couple of files into OnOne and applied some simple FX filters giving them a darkened whimsical feel which I began to like even more. Check out the spirit orbs that are floating in the darkness.
I think this concept has some interesting applications to followup with using different locations (abandoned builds, fields, trees, bridges, rivers or lakes, grassy knolls).
I’ll continue to post images as I expand my locations this summer.
Branding a collection “Vintage Reproduction Imagery” one pearl at a time.
This journey started a little more than a year ago. I was commissioned to do a project at the new Fox & Fiddle Restaurant in Winnipeg. They requested vintage images of Winnipeg to match their historic building site. Image files were acquired through an archives service and the body of work chosen was from the iconic Winnipeg photographer, L.B. Foote. Foote was a prolific Winnipeg photographer who accumulated the largest collection of photo’s from the early history of Winnipeg’s business districts, but, he also shot sporting teams and clubs including some macabre murder scenes for the press. He became the city’s photographer of choice for official visits by dignitaries like King George & Queen Elizabeth from their respective reigns.
1914 Winnipeg Auto Club
I completed this commission by creating 14 individual collages panels of images in tones that matched their decor of black & white marble. The three foot high panels were printed on a vintage smooth texture paper that added further detail and dimension to the project. After its completion I thought it would be an interesting study to take some current images and try to replicate this early look and feel. Of course it had to have an element of artistic interpretation that could be uniquely defined for a body of work, a canned sepia like tint on a B&W image would not suffice. The oysters seed had been planted and now the creative juices needed to bring it to life to see if a pearl could be created.
When I began the study I quickly realize that ultimately I wanted to create a baseline formula that could be applied to most any composition then hand detailed and finished specific to the image. This was completely different from my past works which were very individualistic, time and software intensive and very difficult to reproduce if a collection was required.
As luck would have it I received a call to submit ideas for a provincial commission. They were looking for iconic vintage architectural builds with a bit of a grunge look in an updated contemporary perspective. I accepted the challenge and proceeded to explore and shoot a specific collection for the project. I submitted a set of 20 images for consideration, each was prepared to specifications based on the decor and the specific boardroom requirements. Further consultations, discussions and additional fine tuning secured the project. In the end we selected and produced a set of 4, one off, digitally hand coloured pieces. Each image was digitally mastered and printed on French cold press art paper with a hand torn dappled edge. The prints were mounted and matted in a custom pewter shallow shadow box frame produced by master framer Barry Striemer.
This triptych depicts the essence of the growing culture of the City of Winnipeg during the late 19th century. The historic and stoic entrance of the Winnipeg Law Courts building emits a sense of strength. The turret above portrays justice with its view points overlooking the land to the North, South, East and West. The Land Titles entrance emits grace and style giving settlers a sense of honor as they approach these grand doors applying for land titles.
At the unveiling in the Civil Service Commission boardroom, Corporate Office Administrator Pauline Gagnon and Deputy Minister Debra Woodgate were enamored with the finished look and feel of the images. They were deeply touched when they learned of the accompanying story lines behind each image. Not only were the images appealing but the story behind each image gave it an additional depth and relevancy they had not expected. Deputy Minister Debra Woodgate requested that a gallery tag accompany each image completing the instillation. It was an important commission for me in my development and these details are part of who I am. The first stage of the pearls development was now cast.
I knew then the processing formula was on the right track but I had to refine it to be able to produce a series or collection of work. The second hybrid set was of the historic “Grants Mill”. There were six images created which I posted on my facebook site back in early Feb., 2013 to receive feed back. The collection garnered some very positive comments but as I viewed it on line I felt it just wasn’t quite there yet, to contrived, it didn’t feel it was truly part of the story of the image set. So I went back to the drawing board and over a period of 6-7 weeks it became much more distinctive and refined.
The oldest flower mill in western Canada.
Detail of Grants Mill in Winnipeg, MB., Canada
Searching through my archives I found a collection of images taken in the east Kooteny Mtns. a few years back. The images were filled with local history and an infinite amount of detail to challenge this concept. Processing this set I could feel it brought me closer to what I was looking for. The diversity of the images combined with this developing formula had me convinced it was doable. A tweak here, a push there and they came out with a sense and sensibility of character and in some cases with very little intervention. Still each image required specific details that can only be done by hand. I cherished the individualistic nature of this process as it allows me to delve deeply into each image and pull out the intimacies as I remembered capturing them. Within each image there is a dappled light created by a canopy of mature fir and cedar trees that is a significant part of the charm of this area. The technique handled this with a grace befitting these hallowed intimate landscapes. Of this set of approximately 70 images I submitted 5 into a local photo competition to be adjudicated and receive feed back. The critique was very interesting culminating with two images winning awards of first and second place in the senior colour print category. One image one became the “Image of the Month” in the competition. The members of the photographic association recognize and expressed interest in the style and feel of these images. This has help build credence for establishing this branded style for a collection. The pearl is gaining momentum in its growth.
Situated in the East Kootenay Mtns of BC.
Earl’s place was a favorite haunt for me, I learned that Hollywood loved it to as 3-4 movies were shot here at Earl’s house.
To test the waters further I introduced some other genres and one I have is a good collection of are wildlife images. Would the concept work with a set of imagery that has a completely different set of demands in post production. I tried it with different types of subjects, light and background looks. It worked well but it takes some extra tweaking to bring out the details of the individual animal species in their environments but over all I was happy with the results.
Capture near Jasper Alberta.
Taken in northern Alberta this moose was most interested in me at this point.
How about portraiture? I had planed to shoot at an event called “Doors Open” hosted by the Winnipeg Historical Society. During this event certain historical sites are open to the public to view and some locations provided actors in period costume reenacting events pertinent to that facility. Perfect setting for this style of vintage processing I thought. Camera in hand I specifically shot for the project and they turned out decidedly better than expected. Each photo creating a real effective ambiance, enhanced by special lighting treatments I had planed. Its always in the lighting, details and ambiance.
This ghostly murderer returns from the dead once a year.
Most criminal clergy never entered these hallowed walls.
Youthful innocents, not always as it appears from the darken shadows looms danger.
I’ve continue to experiment with this technique to include on stage performance images. Here, with a few minor tweaks it becomes a very effective grunge look for current bands, musicians and dancers. This processing pearl has been created but it is has a constant flux of evolution.
“Almost Birds” Jared Kist
So why go through this process and what does it mean. It means now I can effectively create an identifiable pictorialist portfolio of work that I know, trust and enjoy. I can assemble a consistent look for an exhibition or portfolio request based on this technical style in any genre of imagery. It is a concept and look that I can now promote and market to different end users. It has become a branded collection by Joe Kerr and CSCS Digital Imaging. My oyster has relinquished a pearl.
An interesting sidebar, I’ve been encouraged to teach this and other techniques in an up coming workshop series. Worth the time and efforts, you bet.
I recently had the opportunity to have an off hours visit at The St. Boniface Museum. Museums are not the easiest places to take fine art photographs but some times you just get lucky. This was a lucky day.
Among its artifacts I was drawn to one which was is paper mashè sculpture of “God” created by the nuns in around 1870. I’ve never seen a sculpture of God before so at the end of the morning shoot I spent some time with him. Here is a difficult lesson for photographers to learn and that’s patients. You can force yourself to stop and spend time, but you have to void your mind of everything around you and get into your subject. So, humm a statue of God you say. Well here was my thought process as I studied the sculpture. Just sit down and look at it, without a camera, block out everything around you and study its details and you’ll begin to formulate a plan of different ideas on how to capture your subject. If you can walk all around the subject do it, view it from different locations in the room, look low or high but think about the subject and is there a story here.
In this case a couple of details jumped out at me. The colour palette was extraordinary, all pastels. The story of the bible was rolling through my head but the most unusual characteristic was in the eyes. They had given them a heavy coating of clear varnish that made them look like he had tears welling up. So my plan was to shoot three sides and to make sure the eyes were always the focal point by using a shallow depth of field in most cases. I liked the colours but with this unusual palette I was really curious to see what a B&W conversion would look like, I sensed it would be very angelic almost an infrared.
Here is the set. I started with a straight up shot. The monochrome conversion is a layered hybrid that I’ll explain in a minute. He was on an alter and the mistake I made here is the halo of stars should have been aligned above his head. This unfortunately is a big no no as it looks like goes through his head. Ouch! Look into his eyes though…. maybe that mistake introduces the eyes, a divine intervention, certainly not planned.
The next couple of images were from the perspective of looking up to god. I tilted the camera to give them a different feel and they do feel different, in fact there is a definite line drawn by the viewer and most will like one or the other. I believe this is associated to the left and right brain perspectives. Look into those eyes…. a highlight sparkle is present that really adds life.
The next shot was to deliberately offset him in the frame. You want to have your subject looking into the open space so I needed to have a slight angle to position him on the right side of the frame. I added an additional slight tilt to give it a more unusual look as if he’s looking down to the viewer. Better halo positioning and look at the sparkle in those eyes…
Now I moved to the right side and here I tried something different. I think people can associate with the possibility of touching god so I made the focus his hand. This image is as if you were beside him as he’s talking to someone, your mind is focussed on his hand that is just in front of you. His face, out of focus and distant. A poignant moment indeed and a hand you can almost touch.
Lastly was a look from the side where he presumably addresses his followers. Again give the subject space to look into to the image. Here is another bit of detail in the planning of the shoot. In the bible where did God tell Jesus to sit? He sat to his right side from this perspective. Again look into those eyes. His hand is cut off by the bottom frame but that becomes acceptable with the focus on the eyes and the hand is now soft, out of focus, with a shallow depth of field.
When taking pictures of wildlife or people make sure the eyes are in focus and capture a highlight, they breath life into the subject. The eyes of this sculpture are very extraordinary indeed.
Lastly I tried a few different types of processing ideas but it all becomes a bit of experimenting with a goal in mind. I did want a vintage look and feel so the water stained backdrop was a must. I then added a scratched layer to add more depth as if these shots were taken many years ago. The colour is a hybrid blue grey that will change from monitor to monitor and it does appear to be slightly faded with age. I felt the final look was strong but divine at the same time. Make sure when you have a formula you save it as an action so you can duplicate it for the set.