New Webinar – Small Lighting For Big Spaces

New Webinar – sponsored by Datacolor and co-sponsored by Metz

Not too long ago, standard practice for lighting large spaces involved hauling a lot of heavy equipment into a venue, laying out electrical service lines, creating support stands and scaffolding, and so on. Of course there was also tearing it all down, packing it away, and hauling it off again. Things have changed. It’s now possible to carry all or most of the gear you’ll need to light a large space in a duffle bag and camera bag, frequently doing it all without touching an electrical outlet and getting an equivalent or superior result.

Join David Saffir and David Tobie as they explore newer methods for lighting interiors using lighting systems adapted from on-camera flash units, purpose-built remote units and triggers. We think you’ll be surprised by the possibilities and impressed by the results!

An interactive Q&A will take place throughout the webinar to answer any questions you may have.

Webinar attendees will have the chance to win a SpyderCHECKR or Metz 44 Flash as well as receive exclusive discounts!

October 17, 2 PM EDT, 11 AM PDT

Register HERE!

New Published Article, Managing Dynamic Range in Post-Production

Latest in a four part series: Managing Dynamic Range in Post-Production, published on the Datacolor blog:

Here’s the link: http://blog.datacolor.com/david-saffir-managing-dynamic-range-in-post-production/

© David Saffir 2013

© David Saffir 2013

EG7 Monterey- 2013 Wrap-Up

I just returned from the EG7 conference (http://www.the-eg.com/homepage/welcome) in Monterey, California. The name sounds a little mysterious, but the meeting is not. It’s been around for quite a while.

A couple of quotes that might help describe the event: “a gathering of and for innovators in media, technology, entertainment and education. The conference explores our most creative enterprises, by engaging a gifted mix of people — from rising stars to
living national treasures, the people who attend EG are among the most industrious and iconoclastic talents of our time.”

And… “This year at EG, Everything is Learning — and Learning is Everything. Many of the leading inventors, explorers, educators, entertainers, artists and entrepreneurs are joining us to probe these frontiers.”

Some of the “presenters” included Erich Kuhne, architecture, Nicholas Negroponte, perhaps best known for “One Laptop Per Child”,  Bathsheba Grossman, Three Dimensional Thinking,  Frans Lanting, nature and wildlife photography, Brant Austin, incredible full-scale photos of whales, Alison Gopnik, baby thinking,  Umi Garret, a 12-year old world-class pianist, and many, many more.

A long-time working partner, collaborator, and mentor of mine, Jack Duganne (http://www.duganne.com), worked with me at the conference. We focused on making prints of portraits made during the conference – these portraits included attendees and speakers. We used the HP Designjet Z6200 and Z3200 large format printers, and we were very, very busy. Our thanks to HP and Eric DuPaul, and Jennifer Wills and Monica Wolff (of W+W Design – http://wplusw.com/) for making this part possible.

The presentations hit every note possible, in the arts, music, imaging, photography, philosophy – you name it. We all left with new ways of looking at the world, and the world of learning. Hats off to the EG7 team! Hope to see you next year!

Free Webinar: Architectural Photography and Editing With David Saffir and C. David Tobie

Free Webinar: Architectural Photography and Editing With David Saffir and C. David Tobie

Join us, Thursday, April 4th from 3PM-4PM EDT, 12 Noon – 1 pm PDT as Datacolor Experts David Saffir and C. David Tobie walk you through the issues they have encountered through their years of architectural rendering and photography and offer helpful techniques to be utilized.

Architectural photography offers accurate representation of a building or structure. Achieving this is often complex. Even though photographing interiors and exteriors can be similar, they do have some differences and may require different equipment.

Corner of the Main Plaza at the Louvre, Paris

Corner of the Main Plaza at the Louvre, Paris © D. Saffir

Perspective and context issues may arise when photographing exteriors, while distortion issues may arise with interiors. Other issues may include scale, vignette, chromatic aberration and color accuracy. Technique is key. Helpful tips focusing on low light images, various HDR options, one-point and multi-point perspective versus elevation and isometric will be shared.

An interactive Q&A will take place throughout the webinar to answer any questions you may have.

One lucky webinar guest will win a free Spyder4PRO!

REGISTRATION REQUIRED: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/268882242

California Wildflower Season Is Getting Started!

Went out scouting for wildflowers yesterday with a friend. The weather was variable ranging from sunny and windy to overcast and moody. We found this area near Arvin, close to the junction of Rte 223 and Rte 58 (not too far from the Grapevine). Fiddlenecks and pygmy Lupine were up, some lonely poppies here and there (too early for them). My guess is that this season will give us patches of good color, but it will take a bit of hunting around over a period of a few weeks to get some good shots.

wildflowers march 2013 b crop vib copy

Click on the image for a larger version. Have a great weekend!

David Saffir

Selective Color Adjustment in Adobe Photoshop

This is the full text of an article that was recently published in Photo Technique magazine, PhotoTechMag.com. (there may be some minor differences in the text)
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Selective Color Adjustment in Adobe Photoshop, by David Saffir

There are quite a few ways you can edit color in Photoshop, even down to the colors of leaves on a tree. The advantages? You can target specific parts of an image for a simple color boost, change the color completely, add a color tint or color cast, improve dimensionality and more. I define selective color adjustment to also include selective color replacement.

I encourage the use of Photoshop, because many of these techniques can be applied to a new layer, or an adjustment layer, or a series of layers. This gives you maximum flexibility in editing although it can sometimes increase file size. I’ll review several methods I use, but keep in mind that there are also many more color adjustment options in Photoshop.

Figure 1 (iStockphoto)

Figure 1 (iStockphoto)

Some of the tools in Photoshop require working knowledge of the color wheel. Figure 1 is a modestly stylized version of a color wheel.

Note that that color blue is opposite yellow, red opposite cyan, and green opposite magenta. If an image has a blue color cast, adding an appropriate amount of yellow can balance the image and give a more neutral appearance. Adding even more yellow would result in a yellow color cast, or “warmer” appearance.

Color Balance Adjustment Layer

The Color Balance adjustment layer is a powerful tool: you can activate this from the Layers Panel, or go Layers>Adjustment Layer>Color Balance. Note the “warm tone” in this image. (I think of the Color Balance panel as a selective color adjustment, because you can balance the image using the color wheel as a guide, and also work selectively among highlights, shadows, and midtones).

Figure 2

Figure 2

I suggest that you work in small steps. For example, add a small amount of blue in the highlights, then switch to midtones, and repeat the cycle until the image is pleasing. Figure 2 is the ‘before’ photograph. In Figure 3 I’ve “added” blue to the image in the highlights and midtones, pushing it toward a more neutral appearance. In this case, I’ve added a bit more blue than necessary just so you can see the effect on this printed page.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Selective Color Adjustment Layer

This option offers a wide range of combinations. First, the panel offers a drop-down menu that contains six main colors that can be adjusted: red, yellow, green, cyan, blue and magenta. (Familiar, aren’t they? These are primary points on the color wheel). It also offers adjustments for white, neutral and black. Figure 4 is the ‘before’ photograph.

Figure 4

Figure 4

In a way, this panel is a “cousin” to the Color Balance tool set. It offers much more flexibility, however—examine the example in Figure 3—we have the option of increasing or decreasing the amount of cyan, magenta, yellow, or black in any of the choices offered in the drop down menu. In this case, (Figure 5) if we select red and increase cyan, its opposite on the color wheel, the reds become subdued. Small steps are best.

Figure 5

Figure 5

You may find it necessary to combine adjustments and/or corrections to get the look and feel you want. If you change the layer blending mode to “color” you can create multiple adjustment layers, and stack them for cumulative effect.

Replace Color

This is one of my favorite tools in Photoshop, particularly when editing landscape or still life images. It is frequently used by photo retouchers to change hue and saturation in commercial photography—and it can be adapted to use in landscape and scenic photography to add depth, dimensionality and tone separation to an image.

Here’s an image (Figure 6) that I took near the California Poppy Reserve some time ago. Basic adjustments, such as levels and curves have been completed. Partially overcast conditions make colors on the ground looks a bit subdued, and a little flat.

Figure 6

Figure 6

Next, we’re going to open the Replace Color panel (Image>Adjustments>Replace Color). At the top of the panel, enable “Local Color Clusters”. This will improve your control of any changes, in many cases limiting those changes to a patch of color, or a patch and its neighbors.

Next, use the left hand eyedropper to select a color area. In this case, (Figure 7) I’ve selected the yellow patch in the distance, on the left hand side near the horizon. I’ve also pushed the Fuzziness slider to the right, to include some of the colors in the grass. (Note that I’ve enabled Selection view in the panel, which provide a black/white view similar to the Threshold tool—the white areas show the selection quite clearly. You can use the +dropper tool to select additional areas—but take care to limit your selections to colors that are close to your original choice).

Figure 7

Figure 7

I then increase the saturation in the selected area. Note the change in the yellow areas of the photograph, Figure 8.

Figure 8

Figure 8

If you want to use a different color, you can move the Hue slider to the right or left. Keep in mind that this adjustment is very intense and challenging to control. I prefer to use the Color Picker, which can be accessed by double clicking on the color square just to the right of the Hue slider. You can select almost any color via mouse click, or by typing in the RGB or HSB numbers for a color (Figure 9). The Lightness slider can also be useful—particularly if you’ve increased saturation in an area, and it’s looking a bit too prominent. You can pull the Lightness slider to the left just a touch to subdue it.

Figure 9

Figure 9

You can continue this process of selected color modification in targeted areas. Note the changes in the grass and flowers on the left side of the image—and now, off in the distance, you can see a stronger hint of the orange color of the poppies in bloom. (In Figure 9, I’ve exaggerated the effect a bit to improve visibility on the printed page).

Final image - all images © David Saffir 2010

Final image – all images © David Saffir 2010

It takes a light touch to get well-controlled and realistic results. Color intensity, dimensionality and tonal separation can be improved. Practice is the key to success—and of course, take full advantage of multiple layers to mix and match and create your final image.

Product Review: The Flashpoint DG600 300 w/s AC/DC Monolight

I’ve been testing a studio strobe from Adorama, the  Flashpoint DG-600. Intended for use in both studio and location work, this is a 300/WS workhorse (published guide number of 58m/190ft ISO 100) that offers flexibility in many types of shooting situations. It can run on normal household power (US) or a 12v DC power pack.

The housing of the light is made of heavyweight plastic, and seems quite durable. An attached carrying handle is provided, as is a  8” metal reflector – the latter is attached using a locking bayonet-style design.

On the front end, one sees a conventional semi-circular flash tube mounted in front of an LED-array modeling light.

hero shot angle

At the back, most controls are push-button variety, with the exception of the power switch, which provides on/AC, off, and on/DC positions.

hero shot rear

The unit is provided with a nice long power cord (which is a good change – it seems lately that power cords are shrinking in length, or are not provided at all), and a PC/sync cord for those of use who haven’t yet gone to wireless triggers. The sync plug on the housing is of mini-plug variety, not the full-size “stereo” plugs one often sees.

Push button controls include flash test, sound on/off, modeling light, and slave operation. Flash intensity is read through a digital numeric display, and is controlled through a rotating knob. Flash intensity numbers are not linked to f/stop, but are displayed relative to total flash output, from nil to maximum.

Flash output is consistent in intensity right from start up, and stays that way throughout a shoot. Max recycling time is 1.5 seconds at max power (AC) – but at lower power settings is near-instantaneous. The cooling fan is quiet and unobtrusive. Stated flash duration is 1/800 to 1/1500/sec.

I also tested the light with a color meter. While I found that the light easily hit daylight color temperature (5500k) a from a cold start, it needed to fire a few times before settling in and stabilizing at this color temperature. (In other words, color temp varied a bit from shot to shot from a cold start to warm-up).

Once warmed up, variance in color temperature in the mid- to ¾-power range was not a significant issue. At full power, it took a bit longer for the light to warm up and stabilize – if you are shooting at full power, and the light has been resting a while, fire off five or six test shots to bring everything into line.

The modeling light is an LED array, which operates in proportion to flash output settings. This is a great idea – those of us who engage in day-long shoots will appreciate this. Completely cool, with no appreciable heat generated, so less wear and tear on umbrellas and soft boxes, not to mention one’s fingers!

Also, unlike tungsten or halogen-based bulbs, it is roughly the same color temperature as the flash tube, which is a significant convenience. However, the modeling light is challenged to provide enough illumination used with a diffuser or soft box, and I’d like to see available luminance increased. Otherwise, a brilliant idea (no pun.)

One might think that the lower power usage of the LED modeling light would bode well for its use with a battery pack – however, Adorama doesn’t recommend this.

Accessories available include a NIMH portable battery pack and spare battery, a speed ring for soft box/light modifiers, a beauty dish, umbrellas, and related items.

At this price point, $199, this light is a good value vis-à-vis overall build quality and light output, and it appears that it would deliver sold performance in the field or in the studio. In my opinion, at 300/ws, a couple of these would fill an average room nicely – even at levels below full power. All you location shooters and real estate photographers, take note!

The Flashpoint DG-600 is available through Adorama: http://www.adorama.com/FP600DG.html

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