Beware of the Oompa Loompa

Karl Barth

In reading the title of this blog you are probably asking yourself what the heck are you talking about Karl?  Well I’ll explain it to you.

My wife and I recently celebrated our 13 wedding anniversary.  If you are fan of my page (, you’ll know that I’ve been doing a 365 day project.  Anyway for my picture of the day, I wanted to take a picture of my wife and I under this tree that had some beautiful fall colors.  I setup my camera on a tripod and had my daughter take the picture with a wireless remote.  The picture looked great.

During post processing though, I edited the photo using Nik Color Efex Pro with minor adjustments from Lightroom.  I use Color Efex Pro for a majority of my photos.  When I posted the image on Facebook though, my wife’s face looked like a Oompa Loompa from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  Her face was too orange.

Although it was a great shot and a lot of people loved it I was still bothered by the result.  I didn’t like the skin tone on my wife.  I decided to edit the original image using only Lightroom.  The results were much better.  My wife’s face wasn’t too orange.

So what happened?  Well first my white balance was set to cloudy.  Why?  It gives a sense of warmth to the image especially when doing portraits.  The skin tone won’t be so ghostly.  It doesn’t matter whether it is sunny or cloudy, the cloudy white balance will work.  

Secondly, during post processing with Color Efex I added a brilliant/warm filter completely forgetting that I had my white balance set to cloudy.  Plus I added a strong contrast filter.  As a result that created the Oompa Loompa look.

By Karl Barth

While I love Nik Color Efex the lesson I learned from this little gaffe is that it is not always necessary to use it for post processing.  Plus I should only use it for nature or landscape photography. That’s the thing I love and hate about photography.  You learn from your mistakes but you can also miss those golden moments. Oh well…lesson learned.  Thanks for reading. 

Experience with Using Off Camera Flash

Karl Barth

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!  Hope you enjoyed the holidays and of course took a lot of pictures.  At the December photography meeting Club President, Guy Stephens talked about and demonstrated off camera flash.  He showed the various techniques and tools available like diffusers, soft boxes, and umbrellas.

Off camera flashA week before the meeting, I did a Christmas shoot for a friend of mine.  She wanted Christmas pictures done of her two kids who were 9 years old and 5 months old.  She didn’t want anything fancy but she wanted pictures done in front of a tree along with some props such as wrapped presents.  Needless to say this was a great opportunity.  I was really excited about it but also a little nervous.

My main concern about the shoot was lighting.  How much lighting would there be?  If there wasn’t going to be enough light what alternatives did I have?  I didn’t have any type of lighting equipment such as light stands or umbrella stands.  All I had were two camera mounting flashes.  Then I remembered my shoe mount flash (Bower SFD926N) for my Nikon camera had an option to run in slave mode.  Slave mode enables the flash to fire when the camera’s built-in flash or camera mounted flash would fire.  I could use that flash along with my Nikon SB-400 which is a smaller but more compact flash.

In setting up for the shoot, I had to determine where to put my Bower flash.  The Christmas tree was not near a window but there was a couch near the tree.  I decided to put my Bower flash on the arm of a couch and had the flash pointing towards the ceiling.  I was hoping it would provide additional light in addition to my Nikon compact flash which I also had pointing to the ceiling.  Since I didn’t have any diffusers for my flashes, I wanted to avoid pointing my flash directly at the kids because I felt it would affect the skin color.  Not to mention I didn’t want to make them go blind.

Off camera flashTo get a feel for what settings to use, I did several test shots.  I used manual mode of course then decided to use a shutter speed of 200/s, aperture of 7.1, and an ISO of 200.  I also shot the pictures in raw format.  I like to set the ISO to the lowest setting without risking any additional noise in the pictures.

In reviewing the pictures I was pretty pleased with how they turned out.  Some of the pictures came out darker than I wanted.  I should have used a lower aperture or used ISO 400 but that’s part of the learning experience.  Using both flashes worked out great.  I was able to achieve enough lighting of the kids along with the Christmas tree in the background.  For all of the pictures including the dark ones, I used Nik’s Color Efex Pro to adjust the pictures. 

Once I was done I gave my friend the pictures and she absolutely loved them.  She also posted the pictures on Facebook.  In reading the comments it’s really an honor and makes you feel good when you read all the wonderful positive comments about the pictures you took.  I was thankful that using both flashes worked out.

How to Fake a GND Filter by Combining Two Images

Jeff Smallwood

The technique is simple and involves opening the two images as layers and using a basic layer mask with a tight gradient. The video and explanation are done with Photoshop but the technique will also work in Photoshop Elements. Lightroom is not required either, although I use that in the demonstration to open the images as layers.

Read more and watch the video.

Lisa explores exposure at bootcamp

Lisa Snider

On Saturday, September 29, 2012, I had the privilege of attending the first Calvert Photography Club workshop entitled Photography Boot Camp: A Hands-on Exploration of Exposure. The workshop was a full day, from 9:15 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., and was held at Annmarie Sculpture Park and Arts Center, in Dowell, Maryland.

Photo by Guy StephensDesigned to help photographers move past the auto modes on their cameras, the lessons presented delved into the principles of exposure. We began the day by checking in at the registration table, where we were greeted with a warm welcome, and a hefty folder of informational materials to use and later, take home with us. Included with the folder was our agenda, which was outlined by CPC President Guy Stephens. 

Our game plan for the day was to meet as a large group and be introduced to an exposure principle. Then, we would break out into pre-arranged smaller groups, to move through targeted exercises which demonstrated and reinforced the principle which was introduced. It was a beautiful fall day, as we moved into the great outdoors, to work in small groups with the experienced photographers who graciously volunteered to lead us.

Photo by Guy StephensAs a member of the CPC, I have been taking pictures successfully for many years. My goal in signing up for the course was to take it as a refresher/re-enforcement of the principles which are the foundation of photography. At the end of the day, I was well pleased with my experience. I found the boot camp to be well-organized, full of meaningful content, and appropriate for not only an experienced photographer, but also for a true beginner.

While a few of the participants were CPC club members, the vast majority were visitors, who came to the workshop as novice photographers. I had the privilege to talk with several throughout the day, who were excited to join us. One gal came with her husband’s Nikon camera as a “replacement ” for her husband, who originally paid to attend the workshop, but had to cancel at the last minute. She was a true beginner. As we moved through the exercises, I watched as her face lit up as she figured out the controls of her camera, and successfully took the practice shots.

Photo by Guy StephensEveryone seemed to agree that we received wonderful, one-on-one instruction, and so much for our money, not the least of which was the folder of informational materials. We also received a free Sigma tote bag and other Sigma goodies, a wonderful boxed lunch, afternoon snacks, and everyone went home with a door prize! Many photography vendors graciously provided free software, photography camera bags, books, gift certificates, and other photo-related items for our day.

It was a wonderful experience, and a great investment of both my time, and money.  I came away with a renewed sense of mastery of the basics of exposure, and took those principles to heart as I shot the splendors of fall, this past weekend.

The CPC does plan to offer additional workshop dates in the future. If you are interested in attending (and I highly recommend that you do), please add your name to the contact list by e-mailing Robbin Haigler at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

My experience at bootcamp

Karl Barth

Annmarie GardensAfter many months of planning and preparation, the Calvert Photograph Club held its first photography workshop on September 29, 2012.  The workshop was geared toward those who wanted to get learn more about their camera and how to shoot out of Auto mode.  The workshop was sold out and was held at the beautiful Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center on an absolutely beautiful day.

While I was pretty comfortable with my camera, my goal in attending this workshop was to walk out with more knowledge and techniques than I walked in with.  I’ve been shooting in Manual mode for almost two years.  I already knew how to change the ISO, exposure, and aperture.  However, I’ve struggled with the concept of the exposure triangle such as what setting to use and when.  I feel I take great pictures but there is room for improvement.  I was also interested in learning from more experienced photographers.

By Karl BarthBefore the workshop started, everyone registered and picked up their workshop folder.  The folder contained the instructional material but also had lots of great offers from photography companies like BorrowLenses and SmugMug.  I was also impressed by how many great prizes there were available for the raffle.  Two of the prizes in the raffle were backpacks from LowePro which are often not cheap.

Club president, Guy Stephens, opened the workshop and welcomed everyone.  He went over the agenda for the workshop and I immediately liked the way it was setup.  After each lesson we would go out into the field and practice what we just learned which was a great idea.  The lessons focused on the key areas: Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO.

Overall I really enjoyed the workshop.  It was a great event and I think everyone else walked out there feeling the same way.  I also really liked the way the workshop was setup.  The lessons were informative and the assignments really helped to understand the lesson.  I have a better understanding of exposure and the exposure triangle.  Hopefully this is just the first of many more workshops to come.

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