Assignment Motion - Driving from Day to Night

Jeff Smallwood

The Calvert Photo Club’s January assignment/challenge was the term “motion”. Jeff has wanted to experiment with capturing motion in the car for quite a while but never got around to it. Having to produce something for the monthly challenge finally kicked him into action.

Jeff’s goal for this challenge was to create an image that represented motion, but also transitioned from day to night in a single scene. Read Jeff’s blog to see how he created the final shot for the monthly photo challenge.

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. 

Organizing Your Photo Library

Karl Barth

Several weeks ago, my wife was preparing for her annual Creative Memories scrapbooking trip.  She was working on getting her photos together and had trouble finding them.  She was looking for photos taken in a particular month and year.  Unfortunately, my photo library was a mess.  The pictures were put into folders based on an event or subject.  I’ve wanted to reorganize my library but I kept putting it off because I knew it was going to be a big task. 

My wife was able to find her photos but I decided to take action and start organizing my photos better while she was out of town.  I couldn’t take any more of the disorganization.  I took action and decided to reorganize my photo library.  The first dilemma was deciding how to organize 46,000+ photos into folders.  I knew I wanted to organize my photos into folders based on the month and year.  Easier said than done right?  Thankfully in using Adobe Lightroom some of my pictures were already in folders under the date they were taken.

After working 2.5 days I got my photos organized into yearly and monthly folders.  Now I had to work on updating my Lightroom catalog which was my next dilemma.  For those unfamiliar or not real experienced with Lightroom catalog, I recommend checking out Understanding the Lightroom Catalog and File Management System.

Unfortunately I wish I read this article sooner.  When I setup Lightroom, I thought it would be easier to set it up using one catalog.  This way I could easily find my images and search for them.  What I didn’t consider is how Lightroom would be affected performance wise.  Lightroom took a long time to open and to backup.  When synchronizing Lightroom with my folders that took a longer amount of time.

After reading Understanding the Lightroom Catalog and File Management System I created new catalogs based on the years and removed the original catalog I setup.  Once I was done, Lightroom was working much faster.  I was able to synchronize my folders and backup a lot quicker.  I wish I had organized my library a lot sooner.  It’s a lot easier to find my photos now.

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.

Extend your photo editing options

Karl Barth

In the November club meeting the topic/presentation was on software plug-ins.  Software plug-ins can be used with Aperture, Lightroom, or Photoshop.  They offer ways to enhance your photos and make them look great.  Club President Guy Stephens along with club member T.O. Galloway gave a great presentation on the various software plug-ins available and how effective they can be.

Photo by Karl BarthPrior to the meeting, I never used any software plug-ins in my post processing.  I only used Lightroom 4 and I felt it did a pretty good job.  I read about them and had seen other photographers use them but I never tried them out.  After the meeting, I decided to download some of these plug-ins and try them out. 

I started off by downloading Perfect Effects 4 from OnOne.  It was a free download from their site and the software was very easy to install.  I went through the setup wizard and when I opened Lightroom the software was there for me.  For a free program I was impressed with the filters that were available.  There were 70 filters to choose from.

I also decided to download a free trial of Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro.  I was immediately impressed with the software.  I can see why it was so popular.  I was able to manipulate some of my good photos into great photos.  I was also able to get more creative with some of photos and manipulate them to look like paintings.

Photo by Karl BarthLike OnOne Pefect Effects, the Nik trial software was easy to download and install.  When I opened Lightroom, the plug-in was already installed and ready for me to use.  The bad part about using the trial software is that you get the annoying splash screen reminding you how many days you have left for the trial.  It pops up every time you launch the software.

I ended up getting an early Christmas present and got the Nik Software Complete Collection.  It came with Dfine 2.0, Viveza 2, HDR Efex Pro 2, Silver Efex 2, Color Efex 2, and Sharpener Pro 3.0.  I’ve already used all of these programs in some fashion in processing my pictures.  I absolutely love the software.  I’m thankful Guy and T.O. did the presentation.  Otherwise I may never have gotten the software.

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