Photoshop Elements 15

Photoshop Elements 15

Last week Photoshop Elements 15 was released by Adobe. Every year like clock work we get a new version of Elements in October. With each new version we see new tools that we can use to make our photos jump off the paper or computer screen. I could not wait to get my hands on Elements 15, I downloaded the new version as soon as it hit the Adobe site. So what new features are packed into this version? Here are some of the new features. We can now create folders to group our layers. Under guided edit we have Adjust Facial Features, Painterly, Effects Collage, Frame Creator, Speed Pan, Photo Text and there is more. The Organizer also has a few new features. Is this a must have upgrade? This all depends on how you view these new tools, if you need them or not.  The truth is it is pricey to upgrade $79.00. I would wait until the holidays it always seems there is a price drop. To learn more about the new features please check out my You Tube video. Compare Elements 14 To Elements 15 Video

Flash Photography

Yongnuo Flash

I seem to get a lot of emails each week asking me about flash photography. Some of the questions concern what types of flash to buy? What kind of triggers should I get? Are all flashes created equal?

Let me first start by telling you that not all flashes are created equal. Some are brighter, some are hotter, some use batteries faster then others. But at the end of the day they all do one thing pretty well, they put light onto the subject that you are shooting.

Sometime ago I bought a Nikon flash for about $200.00. I knew I wanted a really good dependable flash for my wedding business. When I started taking senior pictures I knew I needed another flash. I didn’t have another $200.00 so I started looking for a flash that would be dependable. I turned to Yongnuo and picked up a YN560-II. This little guy cost me about $65.00 and is very dependable. I can use it as a slave from my Nikon flash or as a stand alone unit on a stand.

I also picked up a second light stand from E-Bay for about $20.00 and now have a great portable lighting kit. My kit now contains (1 Nikon SB600, 1 Yongnuo YN560-II, 2 Light Weight light stands with brackets and two large white umbrellas). I carry this kit to all of my photo shoots.

One last thing I would tell you to look at when buying any type of flash. Look into flash triggers. I picked up a set of Yongnuo YN-622N. These little guys will do TTL and manual triggering. Also very low cost.

One thing I can say about any lighting. Buy something. I think a photographer without some kind of lighting is like a painter without any brushes.

Learn Elements 12 And More

I have been putting in many hours working on my new training site that I have been telling everyone about JTC LEARNING. I built this site to enable me to setup easy to follow courses on topics such as Photography, Computers and Podcasting.

If you tried to signup in the past and were having trouble it was because of the way the site was processing orders. For some reason it was not processing them at all.

GOOD NEWS! The site JTC LEARNING is now running and processing your orders.

You can now signup for learning Photoshop Elements 12 from importing your pictures into the organizer to working with the editor. I am still adding more video content to this course but you can jump in now and follow along as we build.

Because you are a friend and registered for these daily emails I am offering you a $5.00 discount off the purchase price if you act now. Please use the coupon code jtc5. Before you check out you will see where it asks for this code.

Please visit JTCLEARNING.COM and click on the Courses link at the top of the page. Then select Photography, simply select Photoshop Elements 12 and begin your signup and check out to begin learning how to photo edit using this great tool!

JTC Learning

Shooting Sports

This is my time of the year to shine with my camera. As my daughter is in track I get to stand on the side lines with my trusty camera in hand and eyeing up my every shot.

I wanted to give you some simple guide lines to help you shoot better outdoor sporting pictures of your kids.

Let’s begin with my favorite setting. I like to shoot sports in Aperture priority mode. This allow me to worry about what I want to focus on either a full focus shot or a soft focus background. And I allow the camera to decided on my shutter speed to capture the moment.

Next I use continues focus. This allow us to have the camera track our subject and lock focus on a moving subject. This is handy because when someone is throwing a javelin or running full speed the camera will track their focus. I have also used this at soccer games.

The main thing is to be ready. Have you camera up and always be looking for the action. Once I had a hot dog in my hand and missed my kid running right in front of me. Silly I know but it happens. And remember to learn is to shoot, shoot and yes shoot. Always try different settings and different angles.

Track Meet

Shutter Speed

Learning about your shutter speed can make or break a photo. One sure way to learn the effects of shutter speed is to shoot on shutter priority once in awhile and get the idea of how pictures look at different shutter speeds.

Our shutter speed control the amount of ambient light that is let into our sensors. With this said and having this one tool in your photography belt you are going to already begin to shoot better pictures. The reason I say this is because you can control the amount of light, the amount of movement and the amount of blur that you put into the picture when you shoot.

The faster you take you shutter speed the less amount of light will hit your sensor. This is simply because as the shutter is moving fast the sensor is expose a short amount of time, leaving in less light. If you slow the shutter down and use a tripod to steady the camera, you will allow the sensor to be exposed longer and allow more light into your sensor.

If you want to stop fast moving action it would make sense that you want to have a fast shutter speed. Keep in mind that as you speed the shutter you begin to effect the light into the camera. I get a lot of questions about dark pictures when shooting at higher shutter speeds. And this is why this happens.

If you want to make something have motion, you would use a slow shutter speed. Remember when we slow the shutter we make that camera very hard to hand hold. This is why you would need a tripod to keep the camera steady. Slow shutter speeds make moving water look like it is flowing.

Using shutter speeds means that you are controlling light. If you remember this you will be able to control your exposure. To learn the effects of shutter speed, again I would say to shoot on “Shutter Priority”.

Most of all to learn how to shoot your camera you need to shoot your camera. If it is in it’s bag until you need it, you will never get the hang of photography.

Slow Shutter

 

Flash Triggers

Most people you will see with a speed light or off camera flash always seem to have their flash hanging off the camera. They connect the flash directly to the hot show of the camera. I also did this for years, I didn’t know of any better way.

Now I know from years of studying flash and the way that light falls off of our subject we need to get the flash off the camera and place it on angles. This will allow us to create different lighting effects.

There are a few ways we can get the flash off the camera. We are going to only concentrate on one for this column.

We are talking about flash triggers. Flash triggers come in many shapes and sizes and yes prices. So where do you start in your quest to find the perfect trigger? I am glad you asked.

If you go the cheapest rate, which I did this once. You will find triggers that work, sometimes. This means I was experiencing a lot of misfires. If you ever want to make a client upset, get them in the perfect pose and have your flash not fire. Also makes you look really like an amateur. This is not to say you have to buy the most expensive, pocket wizards. You need to find the middle of the road.

My triggers I go to most of the time is Impact triggers I bought from BH Photo Video, they are the only company that carries them. I have also heard really good things about Yongnuo. My next set of triggers I am ordering soon is the new Yongnuo YN-622N. These triggers allow is to shoot off camera and high speed sync, more on that later.

If you are going to buy any new triggers please don’t forget to use my Amazon link before you order: My Amazon Link.

Triggers

HDR High Dynamic Range

We all love pictures, that is why many of you read this blog and watch my You Tube videos. But what do you or would you think of a picture with such detail and depth that is almost pulls you into the shot?

Step over to HDR, High Dynamic Range photography. It is so easy to take pictures in HDR that I don’t know why more people do not jump on this band wagon. So is every picture better in HDR? No be careful of portraits in HDR, I have met some people that can pull this off but not many. The main issue with people is if they move you will get an effect called ghosting.

To get a HDR shot the steps are simple. First see if you camera had a bracketing setting. If it does turn it on, you will be shooting three pictures. One normal exposure, one over exposure and one under exposure. The idea is that you will capture all of the ranges and tones in the scene.

There is great software to merge you pictures into HDR. I say this because once you put the pictures onto your computer you have to merge the three shots together to make one.

I will be teaching this LIVE on Sunday morning Feb. 16, 2014 at 10:00 AM EST. Please join me at: The Photography Guy.

HDR

Tripod or Monopod

When you first started taking pictures I am sure that you like the rest of us started hand holding your camera and grabbing your shots. This is normal because no one wants to lug around heavy gear when they are out on a walking photo shoot.

I have found that over the years my family have become my gear people. As we head out on a photo walk or on a vacation each member has something that he or she can carry. I hand my bag to one, my tripod to another and so on.

So do you need a tripod and a mono pod? This really depends on what, where and when you like to shoot. I always like to have my mono pod strapped to my camera bag. It is small enough and weighs a lot less then my tripod. The mono pod is nice for shooting pictures in a gym where space in the bleachers are limited. I also like it when I am using my long zoom lens to steady it for those long shots.

Of course the tripod is also a really nice piece of gear to have. It allows us to grab the full family shot while on vacations. How many times have you got home and thought that you wished you were in more of the pictures. The tripod is also nice for those slow shutter  shots. In the end it is about the gear. One last thought if you do buy either one of these items, make sure you buy a good one. Remember they are holding your camera.

Tripod

Panoramic Pictures

These day’s seeing more is always seeing the best possible image that a landscape can provide. I have enjoyed panoramic photography ever since it has been made easy to stitch the shots together. Years ago in the dark room we had a lot more work then we do today in getting the perfect wide, wide and yes wide panoramic shot.

What is a panoramic pictures? It is a picture of very wide angles. It is normally created using three or more shots then stitched together laying them side by side.

How do you shoot a panoramic? I always use a tripod and making sure my camera is level. I shoot the first picture to the LEFT, then center my camera and take another shot, make sure you over lap your pictures. Then I move the camera to the RIGHT and grab your last shot.

Pull all of you pictures into you favorite editing software and have it stitch them together.

It is also getting easier to shoot a panoramic using your smart phone. There are many apps that will shoot the panoramic just buy you moving slowly from left to right. The picture blow was shot using my IPhone 5.

Kitchen Panoramic

When Computers Join Cameras

I really see this movement into the new area of mirror less cameras as the computer is now being shoved into the cameras. With all the talk about how the digital processing is happening in the camera. And now we are removing the mirror and allow the camera to handle even more of the workload for what we are trying to capture.

We have seen for years the computer being placed into cameras. Almost any camera you pick up now has some kind of editing feature built into the camera. I can do a lot of edits even changing color and adding small items with my Nikon D600. I have even found cameras that will create a perfect panoramic just by you moving slowly from left to right and allowing it to grab the shots.

So in the bottom line is mirror less cameras better in any way then what we are using now? I am not sure and until I pick one of these up I really can’t answer that question. There are some key points to be made. One they are lighter then the full DSLR. Two the lenses are built smaller then the DSLR. But do these points make you want to sell what you have and run out and buy a new mirror less camera? I have to say NO for me. But I am just one guy with one way of looking at things. Maybe I am an old dog not wanting and new tricks? But what I am really looking at is that I have a ton of money invested in glass for my D600 so I am not ready to sell all of that at a loss and move onto something new.

If there are any companies out there who read this and build mirror less cameras. Contact me I would love to get one in and run it through it’s full range of motions. Pictured below is the new Sony A7R, selling for about $2,300.00 with no lenses. YIKS!

Sony Mirror Less