Posts Tagged ‘Photoshop’

The end of January saw some necessary hardware upgrades of which one, the new 2016 Mac Book Pro, was an absolute pain in the proverbial for a couple of weeks.

So when you spend some serious money on hardware to assist your business you would at least expect it to work properly. Now we already have Macs and they have proven their worth in the photography side of things, especially with batch editing massive amounts of RAW files after events. Some of you may know what I mean here with the word ‘massive’ though if you are new to the blog then a typical event will garner some 5000 images on average with up to 14,000 images on national final and similar event size dates.

We have tried Windows based PC’s and to be honest they just don’t stack up against the Macs. Speed difference is blatantly obvious to the naked eye let alone when tests are run for comparison. Indeed after purchasing a so called Dell powerhouse of a laptop, which was allegedly a competitor for the Macs, it soon became obvious that this was a complete waste of money, business wise. We ran several tests, side by side, and the Dell just lagged behind in every test we did. Now we are no PC testers but loading or processing batches of identical images through photoshop, side by side, showed the windows based machine was a true snail of a editing machine. That’s the Mac v PC explained for us.

So the new MBP was unboxed, loaded up with operating essentials and prepared to be thrown in at the deep end. The deep end was the British Schools Gymnastics Association Trampoline Finals in Newcastle. This is a huge event for us and indeed the third year we have covered the finals. The rewards can be somewhat hit and miss, depending on the amount of parents who actually attend the event. More parents mean more sales and you have no idea on those numbers until the day arrives and competition begins.

Parents aside our first major issue began after setting up. Fully bench tested at home the Mac was fine and did as it should with everything required. With all the photoshop actions transferred over and new save locations adjusted this should have been as any event set up yet something was seriously amiss …….. the Mac wouldn’t link to our external display. We swapped displays between Macs and the 2012 Mac worked on both yet the 2016 Mac just wouldn’t see the external display. It had worked in testing. at home, so what was the issue here? This was new kit so straight to Google we went and what we found was not good reading. Plenty of 2016 MBP owners complaining that their machines were either intermittently seeing external displays or not seeing the displays at all. Now ours had seen the external display at home so why not here.

To cut a long story short we ended up completing a whole national series event with only one display operating which was a major hindrance. Tweets were flying between ourselves and Apple trying to resolve the issue with things moving onto phone calls in attempts to reset the software responsible for the Mac to see the external display. Nothing worked and trying to do this between potential customers was just ridiculous and embarrassing. Apple Care, to be honest, did the best they could when Apple as a company had clearly sent out machines with known issues. I had read of people having this issue from the machines being new some six months previously, so my blood was boiling before things had even started. You would expect that this would have been quickly rectified by such a manufacturer yet it would appear not. We know this whole debacle cost us money as the whole editing to print process that includes the input of customers took an eternity. Ordinarily the customer is looking at the large external display as we operate the laptop. Discussions on editing are done in real time and the whole thing runs smoothly. Take away the external display and the whole system falls down. Turning a laptop to face a customer up to 20 times during editing takes time you don’t have with a large queue. Some waited patiently whilst others simply walked away at the time it was taking.

Not a great start with the new MBP.

Ouch 1

Issue number two was not too far behind. Photoshop was just crashing constantly and when this happens several times whilst trying to serve one customer, all parties can become quite rightly frustrated. Apple Care were bemused by this one and indeed it carried on for several days until it appeared to simply rectify itself.

I was initially informed it was a glitch, not to worry and just use the machine as normal. When I informed Apple that Photoshop was crashing because of the apparent lack of memory, I was then informed that this was a known issue and on the “to do” list at Apple and then told sorry but you’ll just have to wait for the update. Non of this helped us on the day and of course being a small business we can’t go knocking for redress at Apple. What this will do however, is ensure that I know all potential issues that could and would affect us will be shown to be non existing or resolved before I purchase a brand new updated model again. Whilst manufacturers love to see people queuing for the latest model on release day, I will not be amongst them with Apple products.

A screen shot of the memory allocation issue.

Yes 1.22TB of memory taken on a 500GB drive ……. go figure 😡

Ouch

 

The image at the foot of this text is the culmination of several months work with a bride and groom who wanted something different.

It all began when we covered their wedding on what can only be described as a damp and windy day. The outdoor images were ok but certainly nothing startling because of the dull grey sky we had. Yes we used flash to liven things up and the guests event helped decorate a tree in the grounds for a shoot. Sadly the staff at the location took it upon themselves to tear all that hard work down before we had chance to get out and shoot. Idiots jumps to mind.

After handing over the final set of images the bride asked if it would be possible to do a specific location shoot during the summer. I was of course happy to help, as I believe all photographers should be in such a situation, and left the proposed date to them. Once the summer of 2016 arrived we planned a date to coincide with what the weather forecasters had said would be a nice day. The day arrived, the sun was shining, a low but warm wind blew and off we went to Whitby.

The location they had chosen was very specific. The bride had seen a shoot that I had done the previous winter in and around the town of Whitby, North Yorkshire. One of those images had been taken at the end of and underneath the North Pier. This is usually populated with fishermen taking advantage of its reach out into the North Sea and not the easiest point to reach as it involves a climb down some precarious old metal ladders. The brides wish is the brides wish though so off we went.

Once down there the bride and groom simply got changed into their wedding day attire. This was a hoot to say the least with fishermen averting their eyes whilst cheeky comments were received from passing pleasure cruise boats. All good clean fun and certainly something that you wouldn’t see or be believed when you told the story.

The shoot itself was easy enough and took about half an hour to finally get a pose which they both liked. Once this was in the bag and agreed upon we packed up and went for a well deserved fish & chip dinner in one of the many harbour restaurants.

The long process of developing the image into exactly what the bride and groom wanted then began. The whole process took almost 6 months. This wasn’t time with me getting the processing done but actually being able to arrange all three of us to be in the same room at the same time. Work, kids & other interruptions all delayed the process.

The image ended up with some seventy (70) layers, within multiple groups in Photoshop. There are many obvious additions and many very subtle additions requested by the bride and groom. A few obvious examples are the multiple bouquets along each of the pillars, the doves and lighting. The not so obvious include the bride and grooms names and date of marriage etched (via photoshop) onto the nearest pillar. This can be seen in the final print, if you look hard enough, as she wanted several small additions to totally personalise the image.

Finally completed a couple of weeks ago the final 30×18 was framed in a silver to black graded frame on a double mount to match their house decor. One very happy couple and one very pleased photographer.

I never anticipated this taking so long. I just thought a few weeks would see this through from start to finish. All the subtle additions and removals, as the image was created, along with the delays in seeing each other turned this into a long and protracted commission. The result however looks superb up on their wall and has already had many visitors looking for the finely added nuances and personal touches along with the obvious ones.

I won’t even bother with the camera settings as with such a heavily manipulated image it hardly seems appropriate.

JanCmp

This is something that I knocked together for the BSGA Schools Trampoline series and to advertise that we were covering the Northern Zonals along with the upcoming finals.

The young lady in the leotard is my daughter. The image of her in that pose was taken in the studio and then simply photoshopped onto the swirling galaxy image. Taken with her sat on a black sheet and with a black background the removal was easy to accomplish. With a couple of star burst or lens flares added to strategic places the image was good to go.

I could have taken far more care over this yet as it was only going online to social media and not being printed out I felt that the time making things perfect was not justified. Issues with the hair, feet etc could have been sorted to look a little more convincing but for something such as this is there a need?

10

The following image is one of a series that I have undertaken with a very lovely young lady who has participated in several ideas I have had over the last few years.

The idea of body painting someone in either a single colour or multi colours is certainly nothing new yet something I would recommend to any photographer who has the time, a studio and a willing model. The whole experience is something different to the usual humdrum high key imagery normally produced in the studio. With the right people involved you can also have a jolly good laugh as we both did on this occasion.

The model is simply painted in silver dust mixed with body oil. This allows the dust to spread easier whilst giving it a shimmering almost alive look. We had sampled just applying the dust in its raw form yet I believed, and the model agreed, that it looked somewhat dull in comparison to the liquid version. When I say painted the silver was literally applied with a 1″ paint brush from the pot in which it was mixed. Nothing fancy about that at all.

There was nothing outstanding about the shoot and things progressed as with any other shoot trying out different lighting and poses. A whole series of different image styles and poses were accomplished however I will keep the imagery appropriate for all to appreciate whilst retaining the dignity of the model on such a public forum.

The gold liquid was added towards the close of the shoot to simply add a different dimension within the colours. This almost made it look as if she was either melting or indeed oozing the gold from her mouth which we both agreed was a quality look.

With the ‘melting’ idea firmly afloat I added the flame effects in Photoshop to create a set of finished images the model was extremely pleased with. All in all it was a most satisfactory finish to what had initially been a “what if?” idea.

6

September started with a specialist image created to highlight the rather awful Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. An issue which amongst other things causes hyper mobility and degradation of muscle tissue amongst other things.

This an inherited condition owing to faulty DNA and is seriously debilitating. The model in this image is an actual sufferer. Her hand pose shows one of the hyper mobility issues created whilst the joints fail. The DNA strand is to highlight the hereditary link.

We have allowed the unlimited use of this image by the EDS group to highlight and promote the professional assistance available to sufferers.

For more information read – Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

5

I’ve been meaning to catch up with this and splash a mediocre editorial overview in here but to be perfectly honest I’ve just been busy.

Since my last entry we haven’t had a weekend off from work. A total of 35,000 more images have been added to our galleries and today represents a totally clear day from editing or compiling montage images from eager customers. It’s all back to normal this Friday when we have a local Academies prom to cover which should be eventful.

So what have we been up to? Several local gymnastics competitions, 3 x regional competitions and 1 x two day national competition over in Cardiff. 1 x wedding and a couple of family portrait sessions complete the recent workload. The event photography is now so slick it’s almost a pleasure to do other than holding 4.5kg of camera for several hours which is like being down the gym all day. After the second day at Cardiff we stopped off for tea, as we left, with both my lad and I having the shakes from holding that weight all weekend. Arms, shoulders and back muscles certainly take a pounding.

The wedding was breeze as were the studio shoots. I have my first gay wedding next Monday in Scunthorpe which I am seriously looking forward to. Both are mad as hatters and lovely with it so ready for some fun imagery to be captured.

I would love to undertake more wedding photography yet I fear the market is being undermined by individuals whom don’t know their worth. I was sat in a certain coffee shop last week with my wife where a photographer was peddling her wares to an eager couple. We could both hear her pitch, which was fine, as she removed an assortment of large photo albums from a carrier bag. Her final price for covering this couples all day wedding, night function and large A3 style album ……….. £200!!!!!! I nearly choked on my coffee and the look on my wife’s face was classic. £200 for what would be some 12-14hrs work plus editing and the cost of the album. Take the album at £50 (ish) leaves her working at roughly 14p/hr on the day. Suggest double the time editing the images and creating the album and it becomes less than minimum wage. Why I have no idea.

Back to our event work we now have further multi image offering we give at events. This is a deliberate move to continue maximising net profits. Whilst the cost of the print, mount and bag remain the same the increased customer purchase cost of the multi image prints enhance our profits substantially. Whilst I won’t discuss the exact monies these multi prints have increased our revenues by some 40% year on year making things far more comfortable when we come to replacing hardware. It is still interesting that the southern part of the country will happily purchase multiple prints for their kids who are competing along with one for grandma & grandad etc where the more Northern we get money is more sparingly spent. There’s certainly a divide of some sorts in this country.

So the next few weeks see us at weddings, nursery portrait shoots, gymnastics, trampolining and swimming events. Given the time I’ve spent editing all the images from the last few weeks I should be updating this around August time lol.

Until then here are the 2 new additions to our event print options –

Test 4a

Edit – After feedback from the young lady on these images a small border was placed between the images on the left image.

4 test line

Thought I would have a quick go at the “Typology” style to get the ideas flowing. Chose to ask our 7 year old neighbour if his vast collection of Hot Wheel cars could be borrowed. He was fine with that and so I selected 65 cars and headed into the studio. Tried several different angles and reviewed how such models are displayed online to simply go for the side on angle. Next was the direction they all faced and off I started. 65 images later and a few minutes on Photoshop and a basic Typology display of the cars was completed. For the eagle eyed amongst you there are only 64 images used.

All images were taken placed on white perspex and lit with a single key light, on a boom arm, just above the camera.

100mm macro, 1/125th sec, f/9 and ISO 100

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