Tips

Behind The Scenes of a Police K-9 Unit Photoshoot

It's finally live!  A few weeks back, we were asked to help with a Charitable project in conjunction with the Friends of Henderson Police Department.  They needed photographs of their Entire K-9 team for an article in Las Vegas Pet Scene Magazine, so we assembled our team and rolled out to the Henderson Police Department to setup.  

Pooling the gear and talent from our core team in Las Vegas, (Enrique Malfavon, Yevgeniy Zakharkin, Miguel Cortes, and myself), we got to the station early to scan the location for several options to shoot with.  What they wanted for the print & online versions would dictate where we setup shop. Since they only needed portraits and some shots of the state of the art K9 Vehicles, we setup the main portrait stage in their training room, and used the south parking lot to stage the vehicles. Using my Silverlake Ash-Gold 10x20 Muslin as the main portrait station, we setup the Profoto Lights and Modifiers and waited for our subjects to arrive.

Now....to say these dogs were bursting with energy, would have been an INSANE understatement! Check out the BTS video below to see some of the wrangling done by us and the awesome Handlers to see just how much effort it took to get them to stay still for their close up. We effectively had a handler and one of our team holding their "reward" toys directly under the lens and REPEATEDLY whistled/called/clicked to get them to focus. Given how excited how these pups were to all be in the same room, we knew it was going to be impossible to get the whole lot together for one big shot, so, compositing was going to have to happen. 

Knowing that, and since the handlers sometimes had 2 dogs, we posed them each in identical positions with the dogs places in front of them, center mass, and then to their left and started working down the list, finishing with Daisy, (The cover shot).

While Enrique and I worked on this, (and the subsequent station tear down), Yev and Miguel went out to help the officers who finished first position the cars to get the best of the gorgeous natural light for the SUV unit photos. Divide and conquer; We had limited time, and too many images to finish before the officers had to get back to active duty. When you know the strengths of your team, you can trust in them completely to get the images you need for the finished project! 

From start to finish, it only took a few hours to complete and be on our way home, and that was entirely due to having an awesome and cohesive team, with a game plan setup days in advance! The only thing left to do was retouch the photos, and create the composite for the magazine spread! Using a combination of Capture One Pro 10 and Adobe Photoshop CC, Enrique was able to splice the images together in no time at all. Especially since we had Decided on and nailed our lighting before the officers even arrived so every shot was precise and consistent. Once the retouch/edit was done on the first image, it was simply a matter of pasting to the rest of the shots and then cloning them into the pano!

Check out the rest of the BTS images and video below and let me know what you think! Do you guys want to see a follow up video/tutorial on the retouching and composite? 

Friends of the Henderson Police Department Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is committed to supporting the mission of the Henderson Police Department through organized volunteering and fundraising efforts in the areas of: Training, Equipment Acquisition, Fallen or injured officers and their families, and Community Relations Programs.

For more information about the Friends of Henderson Police Department, please check out the website here; http://friendsofhpdfoundation.org/

Their store has detailed information on our programs and current fundraising campaigns: http://friendsofhpdfoundation.org/shop-and-donate/store

This page on their website details the article and the fundraising campaigns they've setup in relation to it: http://friendsofhpdfoundation.org/information/k9-program

Thanksgiving Weekend Sales!

So it's Black Friday - Cyber Monday weekend, and there's a TONNNNNNNNN of sales going on out there. So to help save the sanity of my photographer and videographer friends i've decided to compile a list of some great deals all in one place!

To start things off we'll launch with the latest and greatest Tutorial from the team at RGG EDU!

Sports Photography & retouching with Tim Tadder!

Have you ever had an "AHA" moment in photography? Something that changed the way you approach a subject, a light, or post-production? That's what we've created in our newest tutorial and we're excited to share it with you. Tim Tadder is one of the leading image makers in the world and left nothing behind in this tutorial documentary about his approach to creating an image and philosophy behind creating images. He's actually the most appreciated photographer on Behance.

We're excited to bring this tutorial to you on Black Friday with our biggest discount we've given on an opening day launch. Use the code BF1 to save 25% off his 20+ hour tutorial. Be sure to check out the full Black Friday Bundle and Save Deals over there and take part in their insane giveaways!

Make sure to go through their whole library as the RGGEDU team has covered everything from Food Photography, Products, Fashion, Portraits, and much much more!

Next we have not one, but FOUR awesome tutorials available from the incredible team at the ALL on sale now!

BLACK FRIDAY SALE DISCOUNTS:

Master Dodge & Burn - use promo code BFMDB80 for $80 OFF = $89

Color Grade - use promo code BFCG20 for $20 OFF = $69

Go Pro: Studio Beauty - use promo code BFMBP120 for $120 OFF = $79

Beauty Retouch Panel - $20 OFF = $49

First up we have the awesome GO PRO: Studio Beauty Video Course

Go Pro: Studio Beauty video training by Julia Kuzmenko McKim and Aleksey Dovgulya In this training we will cover: CHAPTER I: INTRO & PREPARATION CHAPTER II: FLAWLESS EXECUTION CHAPTER III: LIGHTING SETUPS For full table of contents please visit our product page: http://bit.ly/1Ur384P 

Buy Now

Second, the incredibly detailed Color Grade Video Course by Michael Woloszynowicz!

http://bit.ly/2fNlHjD Our brand new 8-lesson intensive course on color grading in Adobe Photoshop for portrait, beauty and fashion photographers and retouchers with Michael Woloszynowicz. Color grading is the process of altering and enhancing the color of a motion picture, video or, in our case, a digital image. Although every step of your retouching workflow is important, color grading has the potential to be the most impactful one and can easily make or break your final result. With skillful color grading you can make your images to pop off the page even with the simplest subject matter. Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced Duration: 3h 37m Practice Files: Layered .PSD files are provided for your analysis and practice Additional Materials: Digital Guide + Michael’s Custom Actions Learn more here: http://retouchingacademy.com/product/color-grade-video-course/ Our goal when creating this course was to provide you with a solid system and a set of versatile and intuitive color grading tools to help you masterfully color grade your personal and client work. Not only do we want you to understand what specific tools to use, but more importantly when and why to use them.

Buy Now

Third, we have the Master Dodge & Burn Video Course by Michael Woloszynowicz!

http://bit.ly/2guL9LU  In this 4-part intensive course we’ll be taking a deep dive into one of the most important tools and techniques in retouching known as Dodging and Burning. Our goal when creating this course was to provide you with real-world, non-destructive retouching workflows to help you create beautiful, natural looking images and elevate your knowledge of D&B and retouching in general. Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced Duration: 3:35 hours

Buy Now

Fourth, and Lastly, we have the Beauty Retouch Panel by Julia Kuzmenko-McKim!

https://retouchingacademylab.com/faq-beauty-retouch-v3-0-installation-released-2016/ To update your old RA Panels please login to your Member Area on our website using the User ID with which you initially purchased Beauty Retouch panel. Download the new installation packages, which include the updated panels as well as the new User Manual. More videos on how to use the panel and its new features are coming! Stay tuned!

Don't miss out on some the industries BEST education and training out there!!!!!

Now it's time for some fun stuff! Lately i've been playing with an awesome tool called Plotagraph Pro!

I've only had my hands on this application for about a solid 24 hours at the time of writing this, but i'm already in LOVE! It lets you take your still images and create a motion image, or "cinemagraph". Quickly, and easily animate your photos to create something captivating and truly is the future of advertising, marketing, and social media content! In the day and age of everyone having an incredible camera, it takes something special to make a viewer stop and take in your product...here's where Plotagraph comes in!

"More people than ever are getting their entertainment and information from their mobile devices. This provides opportunities and challenges for both marketers and companies trying to get their information out in a relevant way without being drown out by all of the competition. When creating a campaign its also important to know what platform and size the content will be viewed. Images that are on small screens need to have more movement than content that is shown on a large billboard. Studies show that people not only respond better to Dynamic Content but also retain information and learn better through moving images. The Plotagraph® Team not only creates top notch artistic content but we are also pros at knowing the proper speed and file exports for the appropriate platform. In the past year All of the major social media platforms now accept either animated gifs or looping videos. No matter what website or social media platform we have the perfect export at the best compression for you. It's exciting to think about the future of marketing, advertising and social media. We are happy to do our part in helping to make it more Dynamic."

Check out a few of the images i've created in just a few minutes each! Personally I can't wait to spend more time with the application and become a master with it!

Try the free Demo available here and if you're interested in trying the PRO account out (which I highly recommend), use the Coupon Code - CREWE for 10% off your membership! As an added bonus, sign up this weekend for a PRO membership and get a $50 Amazon Gift card!!!!

Still looking for more awesome?

If you know me, then you know I like to Timelapse nearly everywhere I visit.  Well a tool I ALWAYS use is an awesome Lightroom Plugin and Extension App called LRTimelapse

I could go on for hours and hours about how useful and timesaving and powerful this application is, but I'll let these videos speak for themselves!  Click this link here to learn more; http://bit.ly/2fhipJ7

Save up to 70% on Macphun Apps like Luminar & Aurora HDR Pro!

Take a look at how Luminar edits different types of your photos. To learn more about, visit: http://bit.ly/2fNv7eJ

I've worked with the Macphun team now for several years and can honestly say they make some of the most powerful and easy to use photo editing applications for Mac's on the market! Click this link to learn more and SAVE A TON this weekend; http://bit.ly/2fNv7eJ 

Want to save 20% on Gear Rentals from Borrowlenses?!?!

This one's real simple! Just click the image below and use the code BFUSED20 to save your money! 

MAGMOD Black Friday deals

Save up to 20% on all products, get a FREE MagGrip or MagGel wallet and get a $30 Bonus Gift Card on orders over $300! Click here to learn more; https://magnetmod.com/?mm=50

Want even more amazing?  Well the team at Photofocus has put together an insane list of products available at great discounts here! https://photofocus.com/2016/11/24/the-best-black-friday-deals-for-photographers/ 

Find discounts from vendors like ThinkTAP Learn, Athentech, Drobo, B&H, Platypod Pro, and more!

Seeking even more educational resources?  Well my old team at Phlearn is having a 30% off sale this whole weekend!

Use the coupon code BLACKFRIDAY to get 30% off everything in their store!!! Click here for more info; http://bit.ly/2guMdzy

Save on Capture One Pro by Phase One!

Save 10% on Capture One Pro with the coupon code AMBCREWE

Use Coupon Code: AMBCREWE for 10% off!!!

Use Coupon Code: AMBCREWE for 10% off!!!

Do you know of some more deals going on this week? Post them in the comments below and i'll update them all weekend long! Cheers and happy shopping!!!

It's Over :( Alien Skin Exposure Bundle Sale!

Don't forget that the 30% off sale from Alien Skin Software ends on the 30th!  Their latest release is the Exposure X Bundle, which integrates all of their photography apps into one awesome package including Brushes for masking!

http://bit.ly/290coKv

Plugins can be insanely powerful additions to your creative arsenal, but you can use them as little or as much as you want! For me, I barely scratch the surface of what most can do, and that's just because i'm set in my retouching ways haha and for me it's all about speeding things up. This is why I love using Exposure for my color grading and final touches. While I _can_ do everything in photoshop, it's just soooo much faster for me to have built a few presets in Alien Skin to achieve the looks I know I want!

For instance, here's a new image of the awesome Oneisha shot in San Diego. 

At this point i've already done my "retouching" and it's only a matter of stylizing the image. so this is where we load up Alien Skin Exposure to do the heavy lifting! 

Now there's a tone of presets already made in here, but for this we're using a recent "warm toned" stylization that i've been using. With just a couple of quick adjustments to line up with where my subject is in the image, and i've got my stylized look of choice!

It's subtle, but with the before/after split screen you can see i've got the look I want. Yes I can achieve the same thing in photoshop, but with this i can save a few presets and have it ready to roll and choose in an instant.

Here's the finished image of the gorgeous Oneisha!

Be Sure to Check out the bundle and Save while you can! Sale ends on Thursday, June 30th, 2016! http://bit.ly/290coKv

Want this preset? Click here to download!

Digital Noise & HDR Photography - Via Macphun

Here's another from my series of Educational blogs with Macphun!  Be sure to check them all out on https://aurorahdr.com/blog


Noise is nearly unavoidable in digital photography unless you’ve got the absolute perfect lighting conditions and you can use the absolute lowest ISO setting on your camera possible! This is due to the sensor design of digital cameras, and in bad light or high ISO situations, will leave you with grainy or strangely colored dots and patches throughout your whole photograph. Simply put, the higher your ISO, the stronger the presence of noise in your image.

Here are two BEFORE photos:

So how does this apply to HDR images? The very nature of Tone Mapping and HDR tends to amplify existing noise in your image. So if you’ve got a few high ISO brackets, the resulting HDR image is going to be exponentially noisier than your starting points. Using 3 brackets that are 400 ISO each on their own, we'll get pretty clean images. 

However, when merged, the darker or noisy areas of the image will start stacking and will “grow” in relative ISO in multiples. It’s confusing, but tone Mapping will often take little bits of grain and stray light, and treat them as fine details. And, since HDR is all about enhancing those details, you get what you get!

Here are two HDR photos with much noise in the sky:

The most important trick here is to reduce your ISO to as low a level as possible. Use a tripod, and try to get as clean a shot as possible. But keep in mind, using long exposures will also generate noise. We’ve got to find that happy medium. Shooting a scene with 3 brackets at 100 ISO will leave you with a much cleaner image than when shot at 400 or higher.

You’ll want to shoot enough brackets at as low an ISO as possible to properly capture every detail in the scene. This means in a lower light or very high contrast situation, you’ll want to shoot more than just 3 exposures. Typically we’ll shoot at least 5 in these situations and we’ll set the EV to +/- 1 step. This means very subtle differences from exposure to exposure, but we’ll have a lot better information in the selection of RAW files for Aurora HDR to work with.

Watch your blues! Digital camera sensors have a strange quirk about them where they are about 50% less sensitive to Blue Channel light than Red and Green. This means that Blue sections have to be enhanced or amplified to be exposed correctly compared to the reds and greens. 

Since blues will often be darker than the other areas of your image, and more dark = the more noise when brightened. This is the reason why your skies tend to be super noisy when you merge and enhance a landscape image with HDR. As mentioned above, it’s super important to expose properly for every step possible to help reduce these noise situations.

Create an HDR image in Aurora HDR Pro:

Create a new layer and select one of presets, here we have a Dramatic preset:

What’s a way to help reduce the amount of noise in our blues and overall? You can use Noise Reduction before hand. Aurora HDR has a built in, and absolutely incredible denoise tool, but if you’d like to take matters into your own hand first, you can use Noiseless or other Noise Reduction options before you merge your brackets. Just remember to not overdo it and use an app where you can apply your noise reduction in selected areas.

TIP: Use the ZOOM tool when you’re applying noise reduction. Why? Well, noise reduction tools have a tendency to completely smooth out and soften your images. This will pretty much ruin an otherwise incredible photograph and make it look like a cartoon or painting rather than a super cool landscape scene. When you zoom in, you can see precisely how the noise reduction is taking hold of your image and you can adjust accordingly. 

One of the great things with Aurora HDR is its ability to use layers and masks. We can apply noise reduction to an entire layer so the area we want looks great, and then paint it in selectively to ensure the rest of our image still looks sharp and fantastic.

Here's how we can adjust noise reduction selectively:

And here we have a smooth and denoised sky and a sharp water and grass:

Remember that while Aurora HDR comes loaded with an absolutely fantastic noise reduction tool called HDR denoise, you can work with the NR tools found in Noiseless to complete your image with much more power and control. Either way, the key to remember for perfect HDR images is to plan ahead and shoot with as low an ISO as possible!