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Tips for Creative Digital Photography and Lighting


October - November 2015: Understanding Light

October 01, 2015  •  Leave a Comment
  1. Characteristics of Light:




Color Temperature

  1. Quantity:  the amount of light you are recording reflected off your subject. Your camera Through the Lens (TTL) metering  reads light bouncing off the subject for the value of midtones. Incident light meters read light falling of your subject and tells you the exposure for the midtones – BEST.
  2. Quality of Light: Hard or Soft.  Hard light has a sharp transition from the highlights, to neutrals, to shadows which are deep and dark – best to delineate contours and shapes. LIGHT ILLUMINATES WHILE SHADOWS DEFINE. 

           Soft light has a slow and gradual shift from highlights, to neutrals, to shadows – creates diffuse light with soft shadows.

  1. Quality is determined by 2 factors: Size and Distance. Large light source that is close to the subject is softer and can wrap around the subject and add light to the shadow side. Small light source creates a small spot of light with highly focused specular highlights – hard, harsh light. See below: Above: Soft diffuse light from a strobe in a softbox close to the still life.
  2. Direction: Light travels in a straight line. When it strikes a surface, its angle of incidence is equal to its angle of reflectance. White surfaces give a diffuse reflection, Silver or gold a focused refection either cool or warm while black absorbs for blocks reflection.
  3. Color Temperature: A measurement in degrees Kelvin that indicates the hue of a specific type of light. Lower numbers are warmer and higher K are cooler and bluer. Such as: 2000-3000 Sun at sunrise or sunset; 5500 – 6500 Daylight (sun plus sky); 6000-7500 Overcast, 8000-1000 Partly Cloudy. Sunrise cowboy.

More to follow.

Sept - Oct 2015 Photo Tips and Ideas

September 01, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Reviewing some of my older pictures as well as recent ones, I came up with these new tips and creative ideas:

  1. The Dehaze filter in Lightroom.  The Dehaze slider is located in the develop module (in Lightroom 6 or CC), under Effects. Increasing the Clarity slider does NOT mimic the effect, but that was all you have in prior versions. See these examples: first is with Dehaze, second with increased Clarity The original image.
  2. Look for complementary colors in your images, such as yellow-orange and blue like in this image. Winding roads, trails, footprints let the eye travel and add interest.
  3. Change the temperature or tint in Lightroom or Photoshop to add warmth. Or just add sepia tones to the highlights in split toning, adjusting the hue ( I use around 45)  and saturation (increase the saturation first to 50%, so you can see the changes, then back off until you see just a bit of warmth).
  4. Or stick with B&W when color does not add to the image. 
  5. And just have Fun!  Play in Photoshop layers with merging different images or distorting with filters to create abstracts. There is no ONE formula, just your creativity.  Some recent examples of mine: 

2015_August Photography Tips_Landscapes in the Cotswolds

August 01, 2015  •  Leave a Comment
  1. Rule of thirds is best. Place a 3x3 grid over the scene in your mind and place your subjects at the intersection of the grid lines. However, sometimes the photo works anyway, such as the field of flax below. the strong sky and foreground field splitting the photo nearly in half. Poppy field
  2. Choose your center of interest and make it stand out or be part of the whole scene depending of what you want to express.

  3. Change your angle of view and move around. For example, look at a field straight on, or take the picture at an angle leading towards something else of interest.

  4. Try both verticals and horizontal views. Verticals are less common since you need to rotate the camera but are often more interesting.

  5. Don't forget to look up!!
    You can obtain a sun star shooting with a narrow aperture, such as f/22. Don't look directly at the sun with your eyes or your camera).

JUNE-JULY 2015 Photo Tips: Geek Stuff

June 01, 2015  •  Leave a Comment


  1. How to type copyright symbol: © - Option G (MAC) or Alt-0169 (PC). Note that the MAC uses the Option key while the PC uses the Alt key and the numeric keyboard to the right. On a laptop, need to use the NumLock key and the substitute keypad or just use the Custom Shape Tool in Photoshop. You should add your copyright to the metadata of all your photos along with your contact info. For the Copyright IPTC info in Lightroom for example, I would use: Copyright Judith Monteferrante ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Under Usage Terms: No usage without prior explicit and written permission.
  2. For my watermark, I use my trademark Logo. The Trademark Symbol: ™ is Option-2 on the MAC and Alt-0153 on the PC. See the JMP ™
  3. Update to Lightroom CC with bundled Photoshop via Adobe Creative Cloud. You can still purchase stand alone Lightroom, but updates will not be available.
  4. New Lightroom CC features: Merge to Panorama or HDR in develop settings under Photo.  High dynamic range or HDR in Lightroom (see image above) only needs 3 exposures (-2, 0 and +2 recommended) and with merge to HDR, a RAW HDR image as a dng file is created allowing a greater range of post processing capabilities. There is also a People View that will automatically scan for faces and help you sort and name people in your photos.
  5. Other LR CC highlights: In Preferences under Performance if you have a graphics processor, this will automatically be check and increase your processing speed tremendously. I also like the ability to check the “Ignore clicks on badges” that I used to hit inadvertently. Another is the ability to correctly set the white and black point by holding down the Shift Key and then double click on the toggle switch for the Whites and then the Blacks.
  6. My favorite OLD Lightroom feature is the View Mode set up in View Options to display only Common Photo Settings (SS, F stop, ISO, focal length and lens) plus Exposure Bias. I have learned a lot of photography over the years by using this feature along with the histogram on the camera display and then to help in processing.

MAY 2015_Flower Photography

May 01, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Try different lighting in the studio, such as back lighting with a softbox (or use any light softened with a white sheet) behind your flowers.

Add a secondary light to the flowers themselves for emphasis.

Change the background to black with black acrylic for reflections for more drama. Digital paint for a romantic look.

When able to do outdoor photography with spring to summer flowers, try wide open apertures to get bokeh, or soft backgrounds.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       f/3.2 f/3.2 f/36