Game Over


I’ve never actually played The Sims. But when I happened upon this scene at the Salt Lake City Cemetery, I immediately thought of the popular computer simulation game.

Canon 30D, Canon 24-105 f/4L – 1/320 second, f/4, ISO 100

February 28, 2007 at 9:47 am by | Categories: Post

Creating soft skin tone in Photoshop


In a comment on a post from a week ago, Charles wrote:

“I like too much this BW portrait. Could you tell me how you post-processed it to give this smooth and bright look?”

Thanks for the question Charles. The process I use in smoothing and brightening the skin is a relatively simple process. I use Photoshop CS2 for my editing, so I will detail the steps I take in that program. I believe you could easily use a similar process in Gimp, Elements or Paint Shop Pro though I haven’t used these programs so I do not know for sure.

1. Select your your main layer and adjust the brightness upwards to approximately +35-45%. The image will appear washed out, but you will recover the detail in the following steps.

2. Create a copy of the main layer.

3. Select a blur option (I use Gaussian Blur) and apply it liberally to the new layer. On a large image, I use a blur radius of around 40-50 pixels.

4. On the now-blurred layer, select LAYER, LAYER STYLE, BLENDING OPTIONS (from the menu) and set the BLEND MODE. I use either MULTIPLY or OVERLAY. Now lower the OPACITY to somewhere in the 40-60% range (set it how you like the image best).

5. (Optional) Convert the image to black & white. I don’t do a simple de-saturate. Instead, I create a new CHANNEL MIXER layer and check the MONOCHROME box. I can then adjust the three channels (red, green & blue) to obtain the b&w tone I desire.

6. For a final touch, I create a MASK on the top layer (the one with the blur) and mask out areas that I wish to remain crisp such as the eyes.

While I don’t proclaim to be a Photoshop Guru (there are plenty of them around already), these are the steps I use in many of my black & white conversions. I find the soft tone and bright eyes create a pleasing result.

Today’s image of young Christian is a good example of this process.

Canon 30D, Canon 300 f/2.8L IS – 1/50 second, f/2.8, ISO 100

February 27, 2007 at 7:32 am by | Categories: tutorial

Three Amigos


Canon 30D, Canon 24-105 f/4L lens – 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100

February 26, 2007 at 8:34 am by | Categories: Post

Blue Sky and Ice


The gradient blue sky and the texture of the ice drew me to this capture.

Canon 30D, Canon 24-105 f/4L lens – 1/40 second, f/16, ISO 100

February 25, 2007 at 7:29 am by | Categories: Post

Facing the Wall

1 Comment

Canon 30D, Canon 24-105 f/4L lens – 1/60 second, f/4, ISO 100

February 24, 2007 at 6:46 am by | Categories: Post



a – lone [uhlohn]
adjective (used predicatively)
1. separate, apart, or isolated from others: I want to be alone.
2. to the exclusion of all others or all else: One cannot live by bread alone.
3. unique; unequaled; unexcelled: He is alone among his peers in devotion to duty.

Canon 30D, Canon 70-200 f/4L lens with 1.4 extender – 1/640 second, f/8, ISO 100

February 23, 2007 at 12:24 am by | Categories: Post

How to: High Speed Splash Photography


Yesterday I posted some shots of a strawberry splashing into a drink with a brief explanation of how I did the shot (see the post here). I was really surprised at the amount of email I received asking for more information on how I created the shots. To answer these questions, here is a more detailed explanation of how I created the shots.


I use relatively inexpensive studio lights (I purchased a two light set from Adorama for under $300). These lights are fairly low power (guide # 100) but work well on close in shots. Each of the shots was made with one light placed at approximately 85 degrees from the camera. I fire the lights with a sync cable connected to my Canon 30D. If you are using a camera that doesn’t have a sync cable port (Canon Rebel for example), you can fire the lights using a hotshoe sync adapter. This relatively inexpensive piece fits on the camera hotshoe and has a place to plug your lighting into. You can also fire the lights via slave from your camera’s onboard flash, but this has a tendency to adversely affect your lighting.

On the lights I use either a barndoor or a snoot attachment. This eliminates the light from splashing on the background and the camera lens.


I use a handheld meter to get a true reading of the lighting output. This step can save quite a bit of time in post processing. If you don’t have a handheld meter, bracket a number of shots and then view them on your computer to determine the best exposure.



My primary camera is a Canon 30D SLR. The great part about using an SLR is the near-immediate shutter release when the button is pushed. Timing is critical in catching the splashes and having a fast acting camera is very nice. I have tried these shots with a point-n-shoot camera. It is a bit trickier to time the shots, but it can be done.

I have the camera on a tripod and use a remote cable release. I drop the strawberry with one hand and fire the camera with the other. When I have a helper (usually a daughter), I have her drop the object while I fire the camera.

I prefer to shoot these shots with a telephoto lens for two reasons. The first being that it creates a narrow depth-of-field and throws the background completely out of focus. Secondly, it keeps the camera clear of the “splash zone”.


For a background in these shots, I am just using a black sheet. Like a said earlier, by using the barndoor attachment on the light, I am able to keep the flash off of the background thus making it underexposed and “true black”.


I have used several different items in my splash shots. I have dropped cookies into milk, cream into coffee, and as we see here strawberries into strawberry lemonade. In this instance my strawberry lemonade is simply water with food coloring. I try to avoid sugary liquids due to the stickiness it causes on everything it hits (occasional camera/lens included).


My studio is rather low-tech. This shot shows a typical splash-shot setup in my garage. I have long since lost the privilege of taking these shots in the house due to the mess it creates.

Splash Shot Setup

Post Processing

I use Photoshop CS2 (on a Mac) for my processing. These shots required very little work. I converted the image from RAW format using Adobe Camera Raw, then cropped and applied a small amount of sharpening.


As you can see, this is a relatively easy type of photography to do. The fun part is to just be creative. I had one comment questioning the usefulness of these shots. I really don’t have a use for them. I sell an occasional splash photo on iStockPhoto, but other then that I just consider it art.

Give it a try and see what you can create.

February 22, 2007 at 10:43 am by | Categories: tutorial

Strawberry Splashdown


How about a splash of RED to brighten up your Wednesday?

I made this capture of a strawberry splashing into a glass of red liquid (simulated strawberry lemonade) by placing a studio flash directly to the right and slightly above the glass of liquid. I fired the camera with one hand while dropping the strawberry with the other. The timing was a bit tricky at first, but after a few attempts it wasn’t too difficult.


– Fill the glass completely to the rim to cause the splash to swell over the top.
– Use barn-doors (or a similar barrier) to block the strobe from lighting the backdrop and/or the lens.
– Use a longer lens (medium telephoto) to get your camera out of the splash zone.
– Use a cable release or remote to fire the camera (while dropping the fruit).
– Use water with food coloring for the liquid (the sugar in real beverages can leave your camera gear a bit ‘sticky’ if it gets splashed).

Here’s another example:

Over the Top

Shoot away and have fun!

Equipment: Canon 30D, Canon 70-200 f/4L lens – 1/250 second, f/13, ISO 100

February 21, 2007 at 12:28 am by | Categories: tutorial

Stephanie in Black & White


Equipment: Canon 30D, Canon 24-105 f/4L IS – 1/125 second, f/6.3, ISO 100

February 20, 2007 at 7:56 am by | Categories: Post

Presidents Day


Today is Presidents Day in the U.S. so I selected this capture of a bald eagle in honor of the occasion. Why the bird? The bald eagle is prominently displayed as a symbol of freedom on the Seal of the President of the United States. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

Enjoy your day off.

Canon 30D, Canon Canon 70-200 f/4L lens with 1.4 extender – 1/800 second, f/5.6, ISO 100

February 19, 2007 at 12:42 am by | Categories: Post