January 24, 2015

Opening PDF’s into Photoshop

( Image 1 )

Just the other day I was working on a little project for a friend of mine and I needed a page out of one of my PDF’s. While I was doing this, my friend was looking over my shoulder and watching me working on his project.  I had both Photoshop and the Bridge open so I just dragged the PDF I needed over into Photoshop and the normal dialog box opened up with the page options and other items.  My friend (who also has been using Photoshop for years) says “did you just open a PDF in Photoshop? ”  I guess this was totally new to him and I just figured anyone using Photoshop knew you could open PDF’s this way; they are after all Adobe products and are one of the options in the Save As drop down items menu's right?

Well for those of you that didn’t know this, I’ll show you how easy it is in just a few steps. I’m pretty sure it works in Elements the same way.

( Image 2 )
I usually just Drag and Drop the PDF into Photoshop because I have a dual monitor set-up and that’s easier for me, but you can just right click the PDF file and click “Open With” to choose your program.  When it opens up you’ll get a dialog box like the one above ( Image 1) that has all of the page options like the Name of the file, Image Size and Resolution, Color Mode etc-etc.

( Image 3 )
Depending what you want to do with the PDF, you can open all the Pages, a Single Page or just the Images separately, you decide in this box.  

( Image 2 )  

I usually leave these set at the defaults because PDF"s are usually pretty high resolution, like this one set at 300 Pixels/Inch, so I can edit it in Photoshop later or print it out pretty easily.

For this example, I needed just one page for my project (page 66) so I kept it at the default setting up top called Pages and highlighted the page I needed. You do this by just clicking on the page itself as seen here in blue. ( Image 3 )  Then I just click OK on the bottom of that dialog box to open it up in Photoshop. 

( Image 4 )
Now depending on what you chose,  a page or an image, this will decide how it opens in Photoshop. If you chose Page, then the page will come up in Photoshop with no background, just the text and the images on a transparent layer. If you just wanted to read the page like I do most of the time, it helps if I add a layer below it filled with white. 

I like shortcut keys so I just make sure my colors are set to default by tapping the D key, then holding the Control key down and clicking on the create new layer button on the bottom of the Layers panel as seen here. (Image 4 )  This will create a layer underneath your PDF page and while still holding down the Control key, I tap the Backspace key to fill it with white. Now you can see it easier and if you decide you’d like to keep it this way, you can hold the Control key again (or keeping it held down) and tap the letter E to flatten those two layers and save it any way you choose.  Pretty easy right?  I hope this helps someone, nice huh?

Remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!

January 1, 2015

Lighting and Design for Portrait Photography

A few days ago I got a special package delivered that I had been waiting for, it was Neil van Niekerk’s newest book entitled “Lighting & Design for Portrait Photography”.  I’ve been a big fan of Neil’s for quite a few years now and this is his fourth book published to date. I’m sure that just like his last three books, this book will make a lot of people very happy.

For those of you that don’t know, Neil came from South Africa in 2000 and started out specializing in Weddings and Portrait Photography. Within just a few years his work started getting people’s attention and soon he became very much in demand in the Tri-State area and beyond.
Neil van Niekerk
All the while his skills with Off-Camera flash were also starting to be more widely recognized. Because of his knowledge with Speedlight’s and photography in general, he started a website, called Tangents, to help people with their own photography and flash skills. That website has grown to over 900 articles on photography and off-cmaera flash. These days Neil still does his Wedding and Portrait photography work as well as teaching in workshops and trade shows, so he is very much in demand. His skills with off-camera flash are right up there the best, photographers known for their own style of off-camera flash skills, such as Syl Arena, Joe McNally and David Hobby.
Neil started off with his first book in 2009 simply entitled: On-Camera Flash. It was an instant hit and was soon followed up with Off-Camera Flash in 2011. Both books were proved to be very popular.  His third book came out two years later and is called Direction & Quality of Light. In that book Neil tells you that lighting is all about one thing specifically: the Quality and Direction of Light. 

His latest book is very different from his previous books because this book is more about the thought process behind the shots.  In this book Neil uses available light, bounce flash, off-camera flash and even some professional studio lighting. For many photographers, lighting can be very intimidating to learn and Neil has an easy-to-follow way of explaining things. In this book Neil takes you through his whole set-up behind the shots, things like what types of lighting he used and why he chose them.

Whatever you’re skill level, if you’re just starting out with photography or have been at it for years, there is definitely something in here for everyone. The book is loaded from cover to cover with beautiful images and I’m sure you enjoy this book as much as I do.

Remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!

December 16, 2014

Florida Trip - 2014

A few weeks ago I wrote that I was planning a spur of the moment trip down to Florida to spend some time with some friends who live on the Gulf of Mexico. I really didn’t have any time restraints other than the fact that I didn’t want to hit any snow on the return trip, mainly because I was towing a trailer with my bike on it and that could be tricky. Other than some semi-minor car problems, I made it down safely in a couple of days.

My buddy also rides a Harley, and is officially retired, so I knew we’d be out on our bikes quite often and I was looking forward to that.  Also, getting out on the bikes also gave me a chance to scout out some potential photo sites because I really wanted to get out and do some shooting on this trip. I have a special set-up so I can carry my DSLR while riding, but I also have a pocket sized camera, a Canon G15 which takes pretty good photos itself and is much easier to carry on the bike. The camera also has a hotshoe (which is useful for off camera flash) and the fact that it shoots in RAW makes this my camera of choice when I’m out on my bike. I shoot totally RAW so the G15 works great for me. 

For quite a few years I had lived on the Gulf myself and I had always loved the sunsets. I really wanted to try to get some nice sunset photos on this trip, preferably the type with palm trees or dunes in the shots, and my friends even lived close to really nice beach.   
Also, my buddy is a spitting image of St. Nicholas and has had a side business for many years dressing up as Santa and delivering toys over the Christmas season. He hinted that he would really like some new photos of him and his main Elf in costume while I was down there, which he knew would be no problem. His main Elf is also his girlfriend and I told him I’d gladly shoot them in costume. What I really wanted to shoot was a nice beach shot of the two of them, maybe at sunset or something, but neither of them were really interested in that idea. 

The first evening I went out to shoot some sunset shots it was a pretty breezy evening. Usually I like to bracket my sunset shots to create HDR’s, so my first series of shots had quite a bit of ghosting in them. There just happened to be a couple of newlyweds on the beach that night and I offered to send them a photo if they’d pose for me while I clicked off a few frames. I asked them to look toward the ocean and hold hands, which they gladly did for me. When I get a chance to get people in my shots I usually introduce myself and hand them one of my business cards and tell them what I’m trying to do and then offer to email them a couple shots for their help. Most of the time people are happy with that and will pose for me.  

Over the course of my vacation I found quite a few of those typical touristy type places to shoot and I actually got quite a few shots I liked. If you’ve been into photography for as long as I have you know that sometimes some of your best shots are when you just happen to be in the right place at the right time with a camera. One afternoon while out riding with my friends I caught a glimpse of a nice little waterway that I thought would make a nice photo. Fortunately, I had my G15 with me (but no tripod) and I knew I couldn’t capture all the shadows and highlights in a single shot. Normally I would have bracketed and created an HDR, so I knew I’d have to improvise. After I download the shot, I make two extra copies of the main shot and name them shot_1, shot_2 and shot_3 to simplify things.  Then I open all three in Camera RAW and I adjust each separately to make my own series of bracketed shots.

I usually take shot_1 and over expose one stop and take shot_3 and under expose one stop. Shot_2 is the one correctly exposed and I only tweak that a little (usually). Sometimes I might need to adjust them a little more, but most of the time this works fine. After I do this, I bring them into Photoshop, Nik or Photomatix to create an HDR, and then bring them into Photoshop to finish them off. After playing around with them for a while, I can usually get a photo that I’m happy with. Check out my home-made HDR shot.

One weekend, we took a ride to a Harley dealership that had “Bad Santa” and his elves there for the day taking photos with customers and their kids. Like I usually do, I went up to a couple elves and handed them a card and offered to email them a few photos if they would help me get a few photos of me with one of the elves.  One of the elves offered to take the photos and after a quick lesson on how to operate my camera, she took a few shots of me with another one of the other elves. The Bad Santa that the dealership had there couldn’t hold a candle compared to my buddy so I had him pose with the elves also. That’s me and Bad Santa's Elf in the shot above.

As luck would have it, I was able to have my Thanksgiving dinner with my friends this year which was really nice. My buddy is also a very good cook so that made it even better. The weather was very nice that day and we were all able to go out for a nice ride on the bikes after dinner. You’ve got to love Florida huh?

What started out as a 2 or 3 week trip eventually lasted over 5 weeks.  It was really nice spending the time with my friends but I knew eventually it would be time to go home, back to New England and the cold weather again. I’d been watching the weather daily so I wouldn’t run into any winter storms or heavy snow in my travels, plus I like to plot out my trips on Mapquest so I don’t hit any major cities or rush hour traffic anywhere. The whole trip was 1650 miles door to door, which was over 25 hours driving time total. Fortunately I planned it out pretty good and I didn’t run into any bad weather or bad road conditions anywhere and I didn’t have any car problems on my trip home. Truth be told, it was a great little vacation but it was nice to get home and sleep in my own bed again.  But seriously, I can’t wait to do it again!

As always, remember to keep shooting and have some fun!

November 4, 2014

Going South........Florida here I come

Well November is here and for people like myself who live in New England, that means winter is just around the corner. My day job ended rather abruptly, so I'm taking advantage of the free time by loading up my Harley and taking a little road trip down to sunny Florida to spend some time with some friends who live on the Gulf of Mexico. I have no idea of how long I'll be gone, but you can bet I'll put together a post (or two) from this trip. I haven't been down to Florida for a couple years now so it will be good to put some miles on my bike and to chill out at the beach.  I've got a ton of stuff I'd like to shoot while I'm down there so it'll be nice to get out with the camera too! I'm looking forward to having some fun in the sun and to take advantage of this free time........See ya soon..........David

October 15, 2014

Columbus Day Trip - Bar Harbor, Maine

As I mentioned in my last post, I was in the process of making plans for a little get-away trip, to meet up with some of my camera club friends in beautiful Bar Harbor Maine for the Columbus Day weekend. 

As luck would have it, Scott Kelby’s 7th Annual Worldwide Photowalk was happening that same weekend and a local photographer was leading one in the area, so I was able to sign up for that weekend also.

If you enjoy photography, you know that one of the best ways to improve your photo skills is to get out there with your camera and practice, practice, practice. It also helps to shoot with other people who also enjoy photography. If you’ve ever read any of my posts you know that I belong to a fairly large camera club and for the last three or four years, a group of our club members have been making a trip up to Acadia National Park in Maine for the Columbus Day holiday weekend. Because of personal work obligations I’ve never been able to go with them but this year I was determined to go and I started making plans in early July. 

Acadia Park has miles and miles of carriage roads, perfect for walking or riding a bicycle, so I figured I’d put my bike rack on the car and take my mountain bike along with me on my trip. My bike is set up with a basket on the back perfect for carrying  my camera gear, so I could cruise around the lakes inside the park while I was up there if the weather was decent. 

Columbus Day weekend here in New England is great for photographers because it falls in the second week of October and that is usually the peak time for foliage and colors. Bar Harbor is located on Mount Desert Island which is well known for its beautiful scenery and rugged shoreline. In fact, over 2 ½ million people visit there every year. For photographers this place can be a real photo-paradise.  Fortunately, I live in New England, and I can get there by car in about 6 hours.

These trips were originally started by one of my camera club members, Denise. Now Denise is not only very familiar with the area, but also a very serious photographer herself.  She knew from personal experience the best places to photograph (with driving directions) the best times to shoot, and even the best places to eat and stay while up there. For several years, she has put together a PDF itinerary coordinating the weekend for anyone interested in going.  

I was pretty excited that I was finally going to go up with my group because I had wanted to visit (and photograph) Bar Harbor for many years. Just about anyone who’s ever opened a magazine or watched TV has seen some of the beautiful sights in that area, places like Cadillac Mountain, Acadia Park, Otter Cliffs, Bass Harbor Lighthouse and many other popular locations. 

I actually arrived in Bar Harbor on Friday morning and the rest of my group were arriving at various times the next day, and we planned a group meeting later in the afternoon. The Photowalk was scheduled for Saturday morning and because I wasn’t familiar with the area, I had to cruise around for a while until I found the place the Photowalk was starting from. It turned out to be only about 5 or 6 miles from my motel and like every other year, the Photowalk turned out to be a good time. I got a chance to meet some really nice people from that area and get out with my camera for a couple hours. After the walk, we all met up at a local restaurant for some food and drinks which usually proves to be a lot of fun.

Personally, one of my main interests in the area was the lighthouses. The state of Maine has over 50 active lighthouses and because of the rugged shoreline around Mount Desert Island, there are quite a few lighthouses right in that general area. What I wanted to do while I was up there was to get some photos of the lighthouses from the air and some from the water if I could.  Before I had even checked into my motel, I had stopped by the local airport to speak with the owner. The owner and I had spoken on the phone and exchanged emails previously and he had told me that if I couldn’t find someone else to go up with me I could go solo, but I’d have to pay for two seats because it wasn’t cost-effective for him. 

That got me kind of bummed out, but the next day when my group arrived, I asked if anyone might be interested in going up and luckily a member from my club said he’d like to go, so I called and booked a plane ride for Monday morning. The weather was perfect that day but the images I ended up taking from the plane weren’t the greatest because we were shooting through foggy plexiglass windows. It was a good time anyhow because the views of the area and all the colors were fantastic.

I had also arranged a 3 hour narrated Lighthouse Cruise aboard a jet-powered catamaran for Sunday morning, but it ended up being standing room only. Being October in Maine, it was pretty cold out on the ocean on the top deck of the boat, especially when it got up to cruising speed, (about 35 knots ) Also, because it was so crowded it was very difficult to get any really decent shots. There were people trying to take photos with point and shoot cameras, cell phones and even iPads. But all-in-all I thought the lighthouse trip was still very enjoyable, although I would definitely have enjoyed it more in warmer weather.  

The only lighthouse on Mount Desert Island is Bass Harbor light (see aerial photo above) and I thought it would be nice to shoot it at sunset. Unfortunately when I got there I found out that a lot of other people had the same idea because the parking lot was packed. The place was flooded with tourists and other photographers carrying cameras and tripods. I knew that even if I could have found a parking spot, I wouldn’t have gotten any decent shots of the lighthouse by itself anyhow. So I went cruising around rather quickly trying to find another place to shoot before I lost my light. I was hoping I might find a nice little marina with some boats or something but I ended up photographing a secluded little bay.

All the while I was up in the plane and out on the boat cruise, the rest of my group members were out shooting places on Denise’s itinerary and having a good time themselves. I really didn’t get a chance to hang out with my group members too often that weekend, but I did get to shoot a sunset from the top of Cadillac Mountain on Saturday with them and the sunrise at Otter Cliffs the following morning before I went on my boat cruise.

After a very busy weekend, my friends and I decided to meet up for breakfast before the trip home. We were all sitting in the restaurant after placing our orders and talking about our weekend, and Denise asked me if I had had a chance to get out on my bike that weekend.  I told her that I hadn’t and she told me the paths around Eagle Lake were really nice.  I knew I wasn’t in a hurry to head home yet and I still had time on my park pass, so after breakfast I decided to take my bike out for a few hours around Eagle Lake.  I was very glad I did because I got some shots I was happy with and got a chance to check out some more awesome scenery. 

While out riding my bike around Eagle Lake, I decided I was going to take the long way home and cruise Route 1 along the coastline down to Portland. The drive from Bar Harbor to Portland was about 165 miles total and about a third of the way down the coast there was one particular lighthouse that I wanted to see, Pemaquid Light. I knew it was about an hour out of the way, but I was able to stop there and get some shots that I was happy with. 

The trip down the coastline ended up taking about 7½ hours but the views made it worth it.  I had left Bar Harbor about 11:30 that morning and I finally made it home at 10pm that evening. The whole trip was 6 days long and I drove around 1200 miles total, but I can’t wait to do it again!

Remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!
© D. Gould Photography