Monthly Archives: January 2014

January 2014 – One done


I can’t say I’d use exactly the same post process, but I made it my goal this year to share it with all of you and so here it is.

Here is Picasa’s interpretation of the image


I want to make it perfectly clear that shooting in raw is a must, while the camera does a much better job of processing the image than picasa, the flexibility of the workflow when you start with RAW is staggering compared to any JPG editing, not to mention applying compression prior to editing seems counter productive (at 36 megapixels no one can tell, but my technical sense suggests at some point it can/will make a difference)

I am not here to start a whole shoot jpeg shoot raw debate, but if you are moving to digital post production the raw image is as close to a negative as you can get.

For those of you who are here to see the final product you can go ahead and skip the mumbo jumbo.  Just do it – skip to the pretty picture at the end!

For those who want the rundown on how the above turned into the below please read here:

1.  Graduated ND filters in camera raw

I applied 2 grad ND filters and reduced the exposure about 0.3 EV from the left and from the bottom right.

This helps balance some of the light in the shot and helps to reduce the area of overexposure

2.  Highlights

The highlights in the cross are quite overblown.  I chose this image of the set to edit first due to this.  I wanted to see how distracting the white hole in the center of the image would be.  I have to admit it pulls quite a bit of focus and attention.

3.  Exposure adjustment

I dropped the exposure by 0.2.  That is all – in camera exposure is the best

4.  WB – White Balance

Balance the whites.  I noticed the image tended towards the blue so I cut the blue channel a bit in favor of the yellow, this had the effect of making the image more inviting without reducing contrast or the rich red tones in the wine highlights

5.  Sharpen all the way off

I always remove image sharpening at this stage.  This is one area where the camera does a much better job than software.  In any case I turn it off for now, we will sharpen later…and the new CC filter for smart sharpen in photoshop is pretty excellent

6.  Cross cloning

I added a bit of length to the lower leg of the cross.  Nothing to fancy just a simply clone and blend using layer masks

7.  Apply warming filter

8. Boost contrast

I added a second layer with an aggressive gausian blur and applied it as overlay reducing opacity and fill until desired level of contrast achieved.  Then I masked out the wine glass.  I’ll want the extra sharpness and clarity later.

9.  Boost brightness

Wine only

10.  Shadows/Highlights

I love the look of these adjustments on almost any picture.  Adding midtone contrast is a great way to make the image pop without adding too much clarity slider

11.  Flatten image

12.  Sharpen

Unsharp or smart sharpen.  Both work well depends on your needs.  I used smart sharpen lens blur.


There you have it.  One – not quite print worthy photo – planned setup shot edited and published in 30 days.

light and shadow

January 2014 – Let the post processing begin!

Lets get ready to rumble.

Now it is too late to fix anything “in camera”  It is too late to setup and shoot again.  It is too late to scrap this idea and do something else entirely.  It is time to buckle down and edit now.

I expect there to be very little post.  I am pretty happy with the way things look in camera.  Maybe a touch of crop maybe some white balance and maybe a tiny little bit of contrast and brightness enhancements, but I am super happy with the way things went today.

You can see here.


Comments always welcome…as long as they are on topic.

Thanks for stopping by.

P.S.  Here is a sneak peak of what the setup looked like for this shot.  There was a spot LED mounted behind the backdrop as well as a flash with the same cardboard cross cutout to cast a bright light.


I even kind of like that picture.

January 2014 – test images


Test image. All elements. Some changes required

I’ll be honest, at first I was happy.  Happy it actually worked.  Happy to be done shooting for this month.  Happy I actually managed to pull off a shot that resembled what I had envisioned.  Once I started editing I realized there were some things I simply couldn’t/shouldn’t do in post.  Yup you guessed it – there are changes I want to make.  Working with a deadline is a healthy practice even if I don’t have a client, even if I just want the freedom to “play around”.  I do still have 4 days and therefore changes will be made.

1.  Ambient light.  This scene is full of rogue light.  Light from the shadow light from the constant light I have in the background light from the flashgun projecting the cross, and it all has a purpose, but it distorts the subject in ways that I am not happy with.  See the huge shadow from right to left on the table?  That’s coming from the shadow projected on the background.  Cleaning up most of those problems should be simple.  Instead of projecting from in front towards the background I will project from behind.  The background is opaque so I should be able to achieve the same shadow and cross projections, but better isolate the room from the background.  Repositioning the constant lights will help illuminate what I intend to illuminate.

2.  Color cast.  Notice how blue the fringes of the cross are.  Mixing a flashgun and CFLs casts two very different white balances into the same equation.  There is no happy answer except to try and bring all the light sources into the same range of white.  LED bulbs will replace all of the CFLs in the constant lights and a new stronger light for the shadow projection will be used.

3.  The wine glass.  The color of the wine is lost (I am debating how best to light that up, but more importantly the wine glass itself just doesn’t fit the image.  I need a chalice, a large one, almost oversized.

4.  Camera angle.  Camera should be elevated just slightly.  The chosen frame with little table and lots of background is good and makes the shadow more looming, but I’d like to see the whole rim of the wineglass and that requires either going lower (I don’t like this because the table will become too planar), or going higher (probably what I will do).

I am going to try those 4 shanges and see what happens.  Wish me luck.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments…


One test image that I was happy with – too bad there was no wine in the glass.

January 2014 – shoot day

My wife did a great job of making me a snake that I can use to cast a shadow.  I made the projection box for my flask to project the cross and then proceeded to set up the shot in my make shift studio.  The weather has been nice so photography has taken a backseat to all the other activities of the day, but I still took some time to get everything set up and shoot the first test shots. 

You can see part of the setup below. 

I’ll try and post some of the test shots later.  I’m feeling uncertain about them at best, but admittedly am feeling like photography is pretty unimportant.  A friend of mine is in paliative care right now so our hearts and prayers are with him. 

In all things to God be glory…thats even the reminder in the symbols of this months picture.  Can’t forget that.  Ever.

January 2014 – new resolve

I discovered today that problems often have more than one solution.  Duh… but this time I lived it.  All this time ive been upset about not getting my speedlights in time etc. 
There are other sources of light and in a still life image like this a speedlight might not be necessary.

Tomorrow I set up for my first shoot.  One remote triggered speedlight.  One lamp to cast a conical light behind the subject and one constant light projecting the shadow.  I think I will use a one watt led flashlight both for light output and projection.  The white balance might be a trick but I think with some gels and desaturation I just might be able to get the dramatic effect.

And good news on the subject front.  I chose one.  A glass of wine.  Oh I know its been done but it contributes to the symbolism.   Wine representing jesus blood in communion.  Alcohol sometimes referred to as the devils juice.  The historic political social religious conflict of abolisionism.  Its all there. 

I’m pretty excited.  Maybe you can tell.  Maybe you’ll be more excited when I have something to show.  Expect the first test images Saturday.  Until then.  Keep looking.  Keep shooting…

January 2014 disappointment

I have mixed feelings about this weekend.   On one hand I did get out to shoot and I did have a chance to start post on some of the first images from my d800E but with a lack of speedlights I was not able to execute my shoot.  Since it is January 20th already the end of January deadline is going to be tight. 
I’m happy that I can share this.  No matter how well planned life doesn’t go as expected.  I did have a good morning at church and I am reminded again how much joy I can take in grace.  Tomorrow is a new day and if the flashes don’t arrive it will be a day of planning a “b” side shoot for this month.

January 2014 setup

Below is the setup for January’s shoot.  I have also begun planning several months into the future.  I am worried as my camera flashes have not arrived yet that I will be unable to actually shoot what I am wanting to.  There is also a slight issue with only having one remote trigger.  These are both unforseen and as the month quickly comes to an end I am seriously considering abandoning or delay this shoot and running with something else.

A little frazzled as today was supposed to be the day to execute.

I guess that’s part of the process.

January 2014 photo project – Planning

It took almost a full week to decide on an idea for this months shot  O_o .  I have to admit the temptation to say “forget it” and just go out and shoot whatever I feel like is strong.  I won’t say I won’t do that at all this year, but these monthly shots are an exercise in the craft of conceiving and executing unique shots that capture and communicate ideas through a single photo.  So I persist, if only for my own benefit…

This months theme: Light and Shadow

This concept was not born in a photographic technique and the idea is not to simply create a shot that includes lights and shadow (most good photos do), but to actually take the tension of good and evil and the story darkness verses light that has been told and retold as part of Christian heritage and somehow in a single image capture that conflict.

I chose this month to play with projection, both the projection of light and the projection of a silhouette (shadow).  I will not simply include a silhouette figure in the image, but actually use methods of projection to show simultaneously a snake like shadow and a cross like beam of light.

I am torn on a main subject.  A heart?  A self portrait?  A Bible?  I want a subject that isn’t a massive cliche.  I have enough classic imagery planned for this shot already.  As a result of this lack of decision on a subject I came up with a crude storyboard featuring only those two elements (I said it was crude and I mean it, you probably couldn’t even tell it was a snake, and for that reason I won’t show it here.  Fortunately for me I’m a better visualizer and photographer than I am a sketch artist.)

My basic lighting plan consists of a background horizontal plane lit by a flash behind a sheet of cardboard with a cross shape cut into it, the cross proportionally smaller at the top so the the projected image will look proportionally even in the light source.

The second light will be a weaker direction light which will provide the main fill light and will most likely be a medium source light like a window.

The shadow element will be a projection from a softbox through a narrow opening to give more directionality for the projection and a simple black stencil on cellophane will serve to create the image of the snake (The images I have contracted to my wife to draw for me.  She is a crazy good artist and it gives me an excuse to involve her in the project.)

This post is getting to long and lacks the visual luster of my typical work, so I’ll end here, but take a moment to look at my gallery page.  You won’t regret it and it will give your brain a chance to focus on visual aspects and less on the language center, if that’s even a thing (I’m apologetically not a neuroscietist,  maybe when I’m older…)


Welcome to Landshot Photography

I will be using this blog to document my 2014 photography project.
The idea is to improve my photography workflow and share the progress with others.  You can follow along here and/or on twitter @Edforthought

I will be posting the planning process my story boards the setup of the photo and the post processing. 

I hope this can be an interactive process.  I also hope you learn something about photography as well.