In the Lab – “Starting Catcher” Tutorial (Part I)

In The Lab, Post-processing | July 30, 2015 | By

“Starting Catcher” is one of my favorite images and I’ve put together a couple of brief tutorials to share the workflow that I used in creating this image. Part 1 of this tutorial focuses on basic lighting adjustments to the subject in Adobe Lightroom and isolation of the subject from the background using the Topaz Labs ReMask plugin in Adobe Photoshop.  


For those with a keen eye ;), you will note that the image I chose for the tutorial is a slightly different pose than the original and, no doubt, the final product will not be an exact replica of the image below.  I typically edit my images in a rather “stream of consciousness” fashion which, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your view of the image), does not result in my producing the same image twice.  You will, however, get a glimpse of my post-processing thought process and see how I use various tools to achieve this overall look.  

Stay tuned for Part 2.  If you would like to see more in depth tutorials on any of the tools used here, please feel free to leave a comment below.



The Lightroom Develop Module: Setting a custom white balance

In The Lab | July 16, 2015 | By

The first step in my post-processing workflow is to check and, if necessary, adjust the white balance in my image.  Lightroom CC provides three tools within the Basic panel for adjusting white balance.  You can choose from (1) a variety of presets (e.g. cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent), (2) you can move the temperature slider to the left or right (although I’m generally a bit over-caffeinated for this to be a realistic option), or (3) you can use the eyedropper tool as I demonstrate in the brief video below.

While the white balance adjustment in this example is rather subtle, you will achieve much more dramatic results when you apply this technique, for example, to images taken within a gymnasium.  Give it a try and let me know which tool you prefer!



PS – If you find yourself in a situation where “eyeballing” a proper white balance will not suffice, you might try one of the following products:

ColorChecker Passport

EzyBalance Gray Card

ExpoDisc 2.0 77mm White Balance Filter

**B&H Photo is my vendor of choice. Please note that these are affiliate links.


A Look at Lightroom

In The Lab | July 6, 2015 | By

Until recently, I was an avid Apple Aperture user.  Upon the news, however, that Apple would no longer be supporting Aperture, I made the switch to Adobe Lightroom.  I admit that I was (1) nervous about migrating thousands of images to a new platform and (2) not sure about paying a monthly fee for the software vs a one time purchase.  As it turned out my images transferred without a problem and, at $9.99/month for Lightroom AND Photoshop, the cost is well worth it.

I plan to cover specific Lightroom features in more depth in future posts, so for now let’s take a broad look at the software.  We’ll start with the obvious question:  What the heck is Lightroom?  In a nutshell, Lightroom is a tool that you can use to organize, post-process, print, and share your photos.


In the Lab: Experiments in Post-Processing

In The Lab | July 5, 2015 | By

Gee your camera takes great pictures!  Meh.  While a quality camera and a great lens certainly play a role, there is more to a great image.

Ansel Adams famously stated ‘You don’t take a photograph, you make it.’ I think that this is all the more true in the digital world. Starting with a base exposure, the digital darkroom allows you to create an image that appears exactly as you envisioned it when pressing the shutter. Even better, today’s post-processing tools allow for the production of images that you couldn’t have imagined at the time of image capture.


Catcher Before After


As a scientist by trade, I enjoy the endless experiments that digital photography allows.  With no formal training in photography, I’m thankful to have learned from the many great artists who have shared their experience, tips, ideas, and inspiration.  In this series, I hope to add to the pool by sharing my process and providing tutorials on the tools that I use to enhance my images.  Take what you can from the posts that follow and feel free to share your comments and questions along the way. 

FYI – You can find a list of the tools that I’m currently using here.

5 Filter Fix – Canyonlands

In The Lab, Post-processing | March 24, 2015 | By

With the variety of software and plug-ins available, it can be challenging to walk away from a post-processing project without that nagging voice whispering “just one more tweak”. On the other hand, with all of the options in front of you, the “paralysis of analysis” can leave you wondering where to begin.

In the 5 Filter Fix videos, I’ll post-process images using…well…5 filters. You might love or hate the direction that I take with these images, but let’s see where these experiments take us.