Tag Archives: photoshop

No More Stories Are Told Today I’m Sorry They Washed Away

It is the latest album from one of my favourite bands, Mew. It is also somewhat fitting as I love to tell stories on this blog but I just don’t have a story today. Instead I have just a few images from my past weeks of work. Possibly not a bad trade, this is a photography blog after all.

What have I been up to? Well, I am saving all the images and stories for my new upcoming website. I am adding image files in the hundreds to my new site and typing in metadata till my fingers bleed. I am also processing all shots from the past 6 months of travel, including previously developed images from Thailand and Laos as I was unhappy with the stuff I developed on the road. Working 7-10 hours every day in Lightroom and Photoshop is a nice way to hone one’s post-processing skill. I have been toying with many new techniques and managed everything from awesome to plain weird results. Here’s a few images from Thailand and Laos, re-developed and different from my normal wide open spaces:

Thailand - Cosy Streetlife - copy - blog 

Laos Studying - web copy - blog

The street scenes in Thailand has awful colours from wildly different light sources at night. But once converted to duotone I felt the atmosphere come alive again. It is a great experience to eat at the street kitchens in the suburbs. Second image is from Laos, where I now have developed a lot more of the hmong children portraits. I re-discovered these images having not looked at them for long and am now loving them. Soft light blending of layers and high pass filtering with a healthy does of luminosity layers are Photoshop techniques that really shine on these sort of images I find.

That is all we have in the story book today. Much much more to come….launch approaching!

Big Australian Rock in Heaps’a Water

Sugarloaf Rock. It is a famous rock on the beautiful Southwest coast of Western Australia. Australia has a great tradition of very uninspired place names – Mount Bruce, Mount Sheila, Lake Disappointment and I could go on all night. With this tradition in mind, Sugarloaf Rock is actually not too bad. I would have expected it to be called ‘Big Rock In heaps’a Water’. That reminds me, I still have to write the Places With Wrong Names To Be Renamed list to the Australian government (Kakadu, Nourlangie, Alligator river etc). So much work!

I got a couple of scoops of Sugarloaf back in February. We met up with True North Mark and he took us to the Big Rock In Heaps’a Water. Christian Fletcher we had met earlier, but he was unable to come out and play that night, something about having sold his house and car for a Phase One camera.

Big Rock In… really is a big rock. Images do not do it justice as it really is much bigger than it looks and it is a really gorgeous location for a sunset shoot. Mark being Mark, he naturally climbs the highest and hardest to get to rock straight away and sets up shop for his shot, then iphone browses while he waits. I climb around a bit, try a few locations but having never been here before I end up searching too much and do not really find my sweet spot. My best image from the first night is this dusk panorama, shot while escaping mossies on the way back to the carpark:

Sugarloaf in dusk light - blog

We went back the night after and the light was completely different and I created this panorama that I quite like. A dark and moody Sugarloaf is going to sleep image:

Sugarloaf night - blog

Both images are stitched panoramas from about 3-4 horizontal images. It is easier with less images when you have moving water. Long exposures using stacked Lee filters made stitching fairly easy. I export all the layers to Photoshop from PTgui so I can manually mask and blend them and get the waves looking natural, also I can choose the best wave from each image.

Looking at both of them it is clear I did not nail it, did not get the job done. In both images I feel I am too far away from the scene, feels too passive, not enough drama or motion. I want to be down in the water with the rock towering in front of me and the waves crashing into me. Something I have learned about seascapes, the ones I like have action and drama and needs to be shot standing in the water basically. I look forward to tackling Big Rock… again some day, see you down there mates!

I’ll be in my light room

I must admit I much prefer shooting the images to processing them. For one thing, when I shoot them I am out in nature and loving it. When I post process, as much creative fun as that is, I am still inside staring at a screen. I was able to process some of my images along the way on my 6 months on the road, but I am now digging into 3,500 raw images from the 2 months in USA. Can get a bit overwhelming. All images to be revealed in good time, but here’s a tiny glimpse (sticky beak for you Aussies) into what I am working on:

usa lightroom - blog

I process such a large number of images using a recursive approach. I close Firefox (too distracting), put on headphones and fire up some tunes and enjoy a brew (coffee). I run through all images in Adobe Lightroom picking my ‘picks’ and dividing picks into groups using stars, 5, 4 ,3 etc. I repeat, honing the selection. I do some quick processing along the way to try out things. This is where Lightroom shines, I quickly play with many creative variations of an image. I do 80% of my work in Lightroom as it is so intuitive and much more fun and geared towards photographers than Photoshop. Photoshop is for my pixel level editing, selective editing using masks and sharpening etc. When I have the ‘hero’ shots narrowed down I develop them using an iterative ‘juggling many things at a time’ process. Not necessarily the most efficient way but this being my brain works. I cannot work on just one image, for me it is more like sculpturing. I work on an image some, feel I get stuck, switch to another image, sculpt that for a while and then onto the third and then perhaps back again to the first as a new idea strikes me. This repeats itself until I feel the image is good enough, for some images 5 minutes, some 5 days. I then mark this image ‘done’ in Lightroom with colour label green to tell my brain ‘It is done…stop tinkering!". Panos are then stitched in PTgui, editing is finished in Photoshop.

A small look into my light room. Not terribly exciting. I will persevere to write something better next time, I promise. Follow me on Twitter for more image previews as I get them developed.

What is your preferred tools and work method?

Two Toned World Strikes Back

Kimberley Gum Tree, Flemming Bo Jensen Photography Previously I have blogged about A Two Toned World and Return of the Toned World so I messed up the sequence a bit, but this is the 3rd of my tutorials on black and white and can now only be called: Two Toned World Strikes Back!

Following in the footsteps of all the classic and contemporary black and white landscape photographers; I show you how to and create stunning black and whites from your digital images – click ‘Keep reading’ link.

Continue reading

Return of the Two Toned World

I recently wrote about black and white conversions in the Two Toned World post and I have since continued my test of different techniques. Selling five 70x100cm prints in black and white recently for a client taught me a thing or two about black and white conversions and printing them!

Another advantage of black and white photos – besides being able to shoot in the middle of the day – is when it’s raining cats and dogs you can escape into Photoshop and go through old shots and try them in black and white. This Saturday it rained non-stop so I spent the day gathering and checking all my gear before takeoff this Wednesday to Australia – and toying with black and white conversions in Photoshop. With no colours in the world on a gray rainy Saturday I thought it only appropriate to work in glorious black and white:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Nambung National Park in Western Australia
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Copenhagen’s Lake Peblinge in duotone
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Duotone Tree in Fog
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

The first two shots were converted using Alien Skin Exposure2 plugin which I have found to be by far the best way to convert to black and white. The level of control is incredible and the results are perfect. No posterisation or any problems at all in the converted files; they’re gorgeous and will print big with no visible pixel problems. The last shot of the Tree in Fog was converted directly in Lightroom 2.0; also a good way to convert. All 3 of them are in duotone where the shadows are pure black, but highlights have a slightly warm sepia tone. This lends the photo a bit of warmth while steel keeping it in stark mono.

Here’s a few tips on the conversion and printing process:

  • Viewing reflected light off a print compared to direct light from a monitor (calibrated of course!) are two different beasts. With no colours, a black and white print may appear somewhat darker than the image on screen so experiment to find just the right conversion. You may need to do an image that onscreen appears slightly too bright to achieve the print you want.
  • You want a full range of tones from black through all shades of gray to white. Don’t leave big areas of pure black or white though; they look less satisfying in print. Make sure you have shadow detail, don’t burn any highlights. Use shadows and highlight tool in Photoshop for this. White on paper in a black and white print just means no ink is used; so you’re just seeing the paper colour.
  • Create contrast and more contrast than you would in a colour photo – or the print looks a bit dull. Remember though; no burned highlights and no big black areas, always have some detail. Create different layers for shadows and highlights adjustments and blend them manually using masks to ensure contrast but also have detail.
  • Black and white prints can hold a lot more sharpening than colour prints but still you must watch out for unsharp mask halos. They are very visible in big prints.
  • It’s very easy to overdo the conversion and create posterized areas; usually the sky is the first to suffer. This may look alright on screen but is to avoided like the plague once you’ve seen it on a print! You may be tempted to do something like +140% red channel, -50% in the blue channel but it will severely posterize your sky and ruin your print.

After a lot of work I feel I have finally learned how to do satisfying black and white (well duotoned) digital files, something which I have previously found almost impossible and one area where I used to think film was so much better. With some clever techniques; a digital Ansel Adams style print is possible (now if only I had his eye for compositions).

Perfecting your stitched panoramas

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post about stitched panoramas that focused mostly on all the little tricks you need to remember when you are shooting the soon to be stitched photos in the field. The shooting part is still essential. Get everything right in the field and you’ll be laughing come stitching time!

This post focuses on stitching the shots and is a tutorial showing you how I get from these 4 developed RAW files:

Sydney Panorama 4 tiff files

to this final photo as seen in my previous post:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Sydney Skyline at Sunset Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

It’s a long tutorial, so I split this post in two; click the “Keep reading” link to, well, keep reading!

Continue reading

Two Toned World

I love black and white photos and Ansel Adams is one of my heroes. I don’t convert a lot of my own stuff to black and white though, my own photographic eye is very much triggered by light quality and colour so I don’t actually shoot that much material that does well in black and white. Colours are a big part of my composition and style. But this week allowed me to seriously sink my teeth into black and white conversions and come up with photos like this one:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Kakadu Pandanus Palm in duotone
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I am working on a project for a company, where I am to deliver 5 photos, 100cm wide, framed and in black and white. The client asked me to put together a cityscape and landscape portfolio in black and white so they have a small selection of the best to choose from. This meant going through my whole photo library and picking out 24 shots in all, 12 for each portfolio, that would do well at 100cm wide converted to black and white. The above is not actually part of the portfolio, just something I toyed with a few days ago. Will be interesting to see the finished project and I’ll post when we get there.

To work as a black and white photo you need a strong composition with strong leading lines and full tones going from shadow to highlights and some nice contrasts in the photo. A typical golden hour or dusk photo relies heavily on colours for all of this, so they often become dull in black and white.  Ansel Adams actually shot many of his photos in the middle of the day. The photo above is from Kakadu National Park in Australia and was shot around noon, the worst possible time for colour photography but check out how much better it fares when converted to black and white!

There are as many ways to convert a colour file to black and white as there are Photoshop experts. Photoshop CS3 now has a very good black and white adjustment layers that gives you a lot of control. I have tried a lot of conversions the past week and I found that I prefer the results I get from using the Alien Skin Exposure2 Film Simulator plugin. It comes with a truckload of colour and black and white film preset settings (like Kodak T-Max P3200 pushed 2 stops) and you can then change settings to achieve your desired effect. It’s a bit expensive but the results are so good I think I will end up purchasing it for this project.

070831-IMG_3068-01 colourThe black and white converted photo above is actually duotoned, or split-toned not just black and white. This is a great effect where you keep the highlights in a  slight sepia tone and shadows are kept in pure black and white. It also helps a lot when printing! On the left is the original colour version of the photo, shot with a polarizer filter in very ordinary noon light but this light actually works well in black and white. This means if you like black and white you can shoot colour early and late in the day and then black and white in the middle of the day. No time for siesta anymore you can shoot all day long!