Comparitive Retouch – Lighting overlay blue on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

A quick comparative set using LAB color mode and the ONE ACTION set: starting with the original file just out of raw conversion….

Comparitive Retouch original file

First we retouch the skin to taste, consider the light when you do (opensextensive skin retouch tutorial)!

Comparitive Retouch clean skin

After skin retouch we have a richer and more directional feel to the light.

Comparitive Retouch LAB - Black and White

A Black and white conversion using L*A*B* color mode for luminosity.  A very classy B+W conversion.  Once we’ve shown the client the expected results we can easily proof them something more artistic, and unexpected using Beautiful Blurs, or Lighting Overlays.

Comparitive Retouch - Lighting overlay blue

Here a basic texture file from the Bleautiful Blur Overlays – Volume 2 gives the picture a little blue juice which contrasts the warmth of the skin with a Photoshop layer mode of soft light.

Comparitive Retouch - Lighting overlay streaks

the Lighting Overlays Disk 1 streaky image, gives the image a funky modern splash on the left side when I used a Photoshop Layer mode of screen.

There are two answers to why to be creative – one is from your own motivation, the other is to sell more to your clients.  With the ONE ACTION workflow you could complete this whole series in less than 3min simply saving out a JPEG at each stage.

ONE ACTION: workflow and training . Bleautiful Blur Overlays - Volume 2 . Lighting Overlays Disk 1

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Thinking outside the Box – Inside the trees

Environment is one of your greatest tools as a photographer….


Without flash, as above – or with flash as below….if you’re mind is on the right frequency, you should be tuned into how to use that environment to your compositional advantage.

 Southern Style Wedding photographer

Flash – or added light – has the opportunity to transform an average shady building – into a night time scene where a fairy is running between the trees….


This is not a complicated setup – the flash is about 10 meters away from the bricks, elevated on stand into the tree leaves. The Nikon sb-something-or-other shoe flash is popping at 1/4 power, I’ve lowered my camera ISO to darken the ambient as much as possible within the shutter range for flash 1/250th of a second.  

Exposure Explained:

  • Ambient exposure is 1/250th a second @ f2.8 - ISO 200
  • Flash altered reality is 11/250th a second @f4 – ISO 100

By dropping my ISO and increasing my aperture, I darkened the overall exposure of the scene by 2 stops.  That is enough to allow the light to make it’s mark – however strong you make the power settings on your flash unit will determine the contrast in the scene.


When you work with your flash off of your camera – the exposure values don’t change as you move closer to the subject or farther away.  Once you’ve freed yourself – take every advantage to work the envionment fully.

Listen to your shadows!

The shadows set the mood of your image.


Aiming your flash unit through the tree leaves gives you interesting and naturalized shadow shapes in your image.  So even though you are using an unnatural light source you have given it natural elements that help with the design and composition of your photo.  Draw your inspiration from these natural elements and build yourself a photo that exceed expectations!

rochester_DWF_08.jpg rochester_DWF_09.jpg 

As you’re listening to your shadows and you want to add that vintage golden distressed look buy and download the Golden Touch Texture Set from the create cart:

Golden Touch Texture Set

How well you listen and blend the natural elements and capture their essence defines your success:

Fall Bride

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Bare Bulb Lighting Technique 101

Soft lighting – it’s not an easy ideal to achieve

Bare Bulb Lighting tutorial 101

Head to toe – full sized window – incandescent lamp – all included in the frame!

Is this a lighting problem that would make your head spin, or cringe away and avoid another approach because you feel you don’t have the gear? Read on, you may be stopping before you start!


How to cross light a mountain: Aoraki Mt. Cook New Zealand

his post is in the Thinking Big series combined with a couple other techniques:

Equals how to cross light a mountain!
Aerial overall view
One of the repetitive questions I get from people are – why such a big flash – and why take it all over with you? I suppose it would be like asking someone who works online the whole time why they use a broadband internet connection (, for them the answer is pretty obvious. And it is for me too, it just makes so many more options available.

Quite frankly – this is EXACTLY why!

In my lighting case that I loaded onto the plane in Rochester New York was:

  • 1 Alien Bee 800 Monoblock flash unit
  • 1 Paul C. Buff Vagabond portable power unit and power cord
  • 1 Black Impact Air Cusioned light stand height 230cm (model #SLS-LS8A)
  • 1 Pocketwizard reciever
  • Paul C Buff 11 inch parabolic reflector

Here’s one of the resulting peak moment shots that I try to reach for in my wedding photojournalism. The lighting case was loaded in the helicopter’s coffin gear carrier for the trip up the mountain and across the island. But a large mono-light wasn’t all I had in my arsenal

Of course I want to cover the whole event with variety as well as style so get past the jump and let’s talk details… (more…)

To what lengths: Rowell Photography

Jamie Loves Sarah- Part Three at Rowell Photography

I decided to feature a new category ‘to what lengths’ and I suppose this one should get featured in ‘mind like water as well’ that would just be a pun.

It’s fun to see what lengths other shooters go to, and I hope it inspires you to think outside the box, beyond what you considered normal or worthwhile and take a step to new creativity!

That’s pretty funny!

If you’d like others to see what length you’ve gone to… post a link the the comments, on my facebook wall, or my flickr stream.

Thinking Big: outside the music hall

Expounding on last weeks ‘big space’ tutorial

Kleinehan\'s music hall sunset photo

When I speak on achieving higher creativity, I talk about light being the entryway for more possibility.


Above is one of my shots lit with an Alien Bee 800 with 11 inch reflector with a Roscoe 3442 gel for 1/2 CTO conversion. Below is a shot within seconds of the above, without the off camera lighting.


I shot that basic image with a couple different focal lengths:

I hope that these shots inspire you to look at the big things around you and consider how your creativity would lead you to interpret them with lighting. However, don’t just assume that your off camera light must light the whole building, I prefer to think of lighting a scene:


Since my strobe lighting my photographs is 40 meters away, I don’t have difficulty choosing an exposure when my subjects move because the whole scene gets even light.


So when I have my exposure, I begin to explore the space photographically just as I would with natural light. Sometimes I look to my LCD for review, but otherwise I just work off the concept of the light that I felt and saw as I was setting up and testing. If you’ve never seen any available light photographs from me, take a look at this Bahamas Destination beach wedding photographer’s dramatic, atmospheric, cloud, sunset, portrait slideshow.

For an exercise, setup your light at dusk and get far enough away that your exposure is consistant. Get comfortable and explore the light, hear the shadows with me.

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Lighting a HUGE space – for anything that may happen

Let me just show you a big, bold wedding ceremony entrance:

Bride on top of second story balcony entrance

Read more to think outside the box in lighting large spaces for maximum creative impact…


Getting That Cool Gritty Look – Lightroom Preset Download

Photoshop Insider » Getting That Cool Gritty Look Right in Camera Raw and Photoshop or Lightroom

Read the above full explanation, and start with these settings:

  • Fill Light = 100%
  • Blacks = Test this one to taste: 10-100%
  • Contrast = 50-100%
  • Clarity = 100%
  • Vibrance = 50-100%
  • Recovery = 0-100%
  • Saturation = -81% rely on your vibrance to color the image and desaturate to get the metallic look.

grungy lightroom preset

Download the Photoshop Lightroom Grunge Preset download

Gritty & Grungy Lightroom Preset

Before image on the left.  Below, Dark Descent lighting overlays applied to the effect.

Dark Descent Lighting Overlay comparison

Have fun with the preset!

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Free Light Friday 7-18-08 : Toronto Edition

My thanks go out to the Professional Photographers of Ontario for hosting a wonderful half day workshop for their members with me as their speaker at the Ashbridges Bay Yacht club in Toronto.

I was able to present to the group a motivational lecture, an on-location shoot, and an image review and quick post processing example after dinner.  However to extend your experience, I’m going to provide you with some original Canon 1Ds raw files shot that day to try your hand at lab color mode post processing, as well as altering the mood of the photo with a lighting overlay image you can download from the Create Cart:

free texture overlay download

Have a brand new free texture from me as you check out from the cart – there are a few more free ones and several sets of high resolution texture and lighting files if you are interested.

Now on to the full raw file downloads:


Download Test file one (13mb Canon CR2 raw file): Blue background accentuated by a tungsten gelled main flash, if you weren’t there you can download this screen cast movie file to learn to process your files for rich and vibrant blues : or view this post page on photoshop manipulating the blue in images.  This image would be a fun one to try out the texture – if you try it – post a link in the comments to your blog page, flickr page, or other way to see your results. In this image we use the principles of Make Light Real:

  • provide a clear subject – by making the subject brighter than the background
  • create compelling color and contrast – by altering the flash color temperature with a gel to warm it
  • compose the unexpected – I waited until the boat was in the right place to add the added ‘story line’ to the photo

learn to master the blue colors in photoshop

Download Test file two (13mb Canon CR2 raw file): another gelled image of the model on the rock, this is would be a great candidate for the lighting overlay you downloaded from above.


Download Test file three (13mb Canon CR2 raw file): a strong test of balancing the very dark nigerian model with the bright summer sky on the lakefront.

balancing black skin with a bright sky

Have your fun with these images and post your versions to the comments and I’ll do my photoshop edits and post back in about a week.