Friday, December 26, 2014

Put a polarizer on the front of your lens

You've experienced the enhanced view of the world about you when you pop on your good quality sunglasses on brighter days. The extra contrast, definition, and colour resolution that keeps everything you see looking clear and three dimensional.

The effect that a polarizing filter adds to your photos is one that isn't easily, if at all, achievable using post processing software. Because what your polarizer is doing for you is filtering out the effect of light reflecting back from the surfaces it hits. In turn you get more saturated colours and if required, bluer skies. I'm using a Circular Polarizing Filter (CPL) on my DSLR for these examples.

In this example above, the sun is behind me and slightly to my right. Without making any colour tweaks to my files this is what I got using the same settings. The only difference is that I overexposed by 2 stops for the polarized shot to take into account the darkness of my filter. Most of the dark reflections in the water have beed neutralized giving me a much cleaner looking sea and I've also got better definition between the clouds and the sky.

Here I'm shooting with the sun at approximately 90 degrees to my viewpoint. At this angle I can get the maximum effect of my CPL. Again with no colour adjustments, I have more pleasing colour rendition and a darker blue sky. The CPL filters rotate on the front of your lens so you can dial the amount of polarization you want up or down and see immediately what the effect is in your viewfinder.

And this last example is taken from the edge of the beach looking into the water and the result is self explanatory. If you decide to purchase one of these filters to add some punch to your photographs, look for a filter with a low profile. Low profile filters will be less affected by vignetting as the light enters your camera lens.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Take control converting your photos to black and white

There are a few ways to convert your colour photos to black and white in Photoshop. For some people, the simplest thing to do is to use the Convert to Grayscale drop down menu. The results are often quite flat and dull looking. I used the Convert to Grayscale function for the image above left. I have also used levels to increase the contrast and mid tones in an attempt to make the end result more appealing to look at. If you're happy with this image then no need to go further.

In the image on the right, I used a Black and white adjustment layer to do the conversion. Here it's shown side by side with the colour image for reference. 

Let's take another closer look at the results from the 2 methods I've mentioned for converting colour images to black and white.
In this closer view you can clearly see that I have been able to control the different colour tones of the image while making the conversion resulting in more detail in the shadow areas and clearer definition between the model's jacket and pants. In the video below I'll walk you through this very simple process that offers greatly increased control when making your colour to black and white conversions.