Thursday, 17 March 2011

Lightroom: Just Do It!..........but create a collection first

Sometimes I can be really dim.  I have been using Lightroom for ages now and it has only just dawned on me what I should be doing.

Usually when I look through my Lightroom catalogue it is with some sort of purpose in mind. I might be selecting pictures to go into a competition or to send to a magazine, or maybe even just those I think might be "worth a print".  The trouble is,  I will often select the pictures, process them and forget all about them.  So if in a months time I want to get hold of all the images I sent to a particular magazine, I would have to hope that I could find it in my emails, or the directory I exported the files to - or more usually just desperately try to remember them.

My "purpose" for selecting a group of images is useful information  and its pretty obvious I may need that information in the future. Basically, I have been throwing away information....that makes me a very bad Lightroom user.  The whole point of having a computer is for it to store information for me.

So, now I have decided to make it a rule to always create a collection to store the images I am selecting.  The collection should describe my purpose in selecting the images.  If I start getting swamped in collections,  I can group them into collection groups like "competitions" and "magazine submissions".

Hopefully this level of organisation will save a lot of desperate searching and head scratching in futre.
Here's hoping!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

The power of a picture

It's a funny thing,  as a photographer who looks at and analysis pictures every day, it is so easy to forget what power a photograph can actually hold.  We spend ages working on composition, exposure, processing, etc and it is so easy to get absorbed by the process and forget what a photo can actually mean to people.

A reality check came for me this week.  Unfortunately a good friend of my wife died last week, taken well before her time by cancer.  Her family got in touch with me to see if I could help as they had no recent photos of her. A quick look through my archive and I managed to pull up 20 or so shots of her from the shoot I did at a wedding.  Upon looking through them,  this seemed the best shot I could find:

Before - A proud mum with her two boys.  

Its a nice enough shot,  but the family were looking for a simple head and shoulders shot.  It was time to fire up Photoshop.  Not for the first time,  I was really grateful for the 21 megapixies who live inside the 5DmkII.  All that resolution allowed me to crop much more than I would have ever dared before.  Then it was some cloning, painting in a new background and added a vignette.  The final result was this:

After - gone but not forgotten

I printed it using the qimage rip to force my now tired and exhausted megapixies, back up to a 10x8 print.  Framed and mounted it looked OK.

I popped the picture round to the family and was absolutely blown away with how grateful they were to see a nice picture of their mum/wife/daughter., To me it had become an exercise in masking, reducing pixelation getting a good print and doing the best job I could.  Suddenly I realised that all the technical stuff wasn't worth a hill of beans compared to the memories and love it evoked for them.

Do yourself a favour - make sure you have plenty of pictures of the people you love.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Paul Stefan is photographer of the month for March

Paul Stefan was awarded practical photography's photographer of the year in 2006.  When you look round the images on his website, this comes as no surprise at all.

by Paul Stefan

Previous  Photographers of the Month