Very blue sky

posted in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on with 2 Replies

Social networks

Which one is your preferred social network? I noticed that each time I add a new one, I drop one. There is only so much time I’m prepared to spend on posting stuff. That’s why I almost completely dropped G+ recently, when I added Instagram. So right now I post regularly to Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and Tumblr (but Tumblr is automated and connected to my Flickr account). I also do 500px, but not on such a regular basis. And I just feel that’s enough. What do you think?

Very blue sky

I usually don’t use the polarizing filter at all, but in Dubai, with the crazy blue sky, it was a must. And it really helped. But still there is something I don’t like about daytime shots. Maybe I just need to get used to them, as I much prefer sunrise/sunset and blue hour shots :)

This is a HDR from 3 exposures, created in Oloneo Photoengine, finished in Photoshop.
Very blue sky

Small Luminance selections tutorial

posted in Other on with No Comments

I was thinking what to include in the blog post today, and in the end I thought that I will create a small video tutorial, for something I do very often in my editing. So here it is. In this video, I will show you have I use luminance selection and curves, to brighten and darken parts of the photo, without loosing the overall contrast.

You can also download the PSD of the final file that you can see in the video from Dropbox here.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and don’t forget to switch the video to 720p :)

For more videos from me, check out my Video tutorial series Master exposure blending here:
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Above the city

posted in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on with No Comments

Perfect Effects

Free copy of Perfect Effects 8

For those who missed this last time, you can again get a copy of OnOne Perfect Effect 8 completely for free. Just head over to their page and get it now :)

Perfect Effect is a huge collection of filters, than you can apply to your photo, to make your work and editing easier. And since it’s free, so why not give it a try?

Above the city

If I lived in Dubai, I would probably go up to the Burj Khalifa very often. There is just something about being so high above a city, that I really like. I actually though about doing a helicopter tour while in Dubai, but let it be this time. But will definitively have to try it next time (and there will be a next time :))

This is a HDR from 3 exposures, created in Oloneo Photoengine, finished in Photoshop.
Above the city

One more with the BMW E46 COUPE

posted in Bratislava, Slovakia on with No Comments

Behind the scenesI know I posted a photo of the BMW just few days ago, but I was playing more with the photos, and finished editing another one, so why not post it also :) And here you can see why I chosen this location. The repetition and vanishing point in the background is just great, even if I left it out of focus.

Still will have to practice more with more cars until I will really be satisfied with my car photos, but as this is not my main subject, this will take a long time. I’m also again including a behind the scenes photo, this time one where I’m also in the shot :)

This is a HDR from 5 exposures, created in Oloneo Photoengine, finished in Photoshop.
One more with the BMW E46 COUPE

Why use manual focusing

posted in Other on with 10 Replies

With the cameras getting better and better, and also the focusing systems getting better, I still think manual focusing is still the way to go. And in this post, I will try to show you why, and also how to do it, so you get the best results all the time.

Why focus manually?

Glowing tower

The reasons are divers, so let’s take a look at them.

1. Your camera can’t read your mind

The autofocus can be as good as it gets, but it can never really know what you try to take a photo off. You can help it by choosing your focus point, or use a single one all the time, but still, it will never be 100% accurate with focusing on what you want.

2. Your camera can’t see in the dark

Ok, neither can you, but you really don’t have to. When focusing in dark spaces or late at night, you need just a small area with a little light in it, to be able to focus onto. A single street lamp in the distance is mostly enough to get a sharp photo.

3. Your camera can’t focus on very small objects

Each camera has only a certain number of focus points. If you taking a wast landscape, or a your scene is mostly dark, and there are only few light sources, it’s hard to tell the camera to focus exactly on one of them. Or for instance you shooting a night sky, and want to get a good focus on the stars (I found out that just focusing on infinity, never really worked for me). With manual focusing, you can just choose a bright star and focus onto that.

4. To maximize the DOF (Depth of field)

If you wan’t or need to use a bigger aperture, using manual focusing can really help you adjust your DOF. You can really select the subject and have no fear that it will be out of focus.
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5. To keep the same focus

This is especially if you shot HDR, time-lapse, or have a different reason to need multiple shots to be combined. If you use manual focus, you will never have to fear, that your camera will focus on something different in the middle of a sequence.

6. You want to do focus stacking

Focus stacking is a way, where you take photos with different focus, to get a bigger DOF from a combination of them. This is just such a pain to do with autofocusing. Especially if you just need two shots, one for background and one for the foreground. With manual focusing, you can do this very quickly, just by turning the focus wheel :)

When not to focus manually?

Of course there are situations, when manual focusing it not the way to go. Mostly this is when you try to get a moving subject. It’s really hard to focus manually then. Still, with a lot of practice, one can do also that. If you can estimate the DOF, so you subject is completely in focus, you can focus manually and take all the further shots without refocusing. If you taking photos of something that is really fast changing (for instance fireworks), not having to refocus, will get you many more photos.

How to focus manually?

So now you know why you should be focus, now let’s looks how to do it.

1. Switch your lens to manual focus

This one is really important. First of all, you don’t want to damage your lens. The better (pricier) lenses can be focused manually even with the auto-focus on, but on some this would damage your focusing motor. Also you don’t want the autofocus to change your hard work.

2. Use live view

It’s really hard to use manual focusing without a live view. You can of course do it through the viewfinder, but you will never be so accurate. What you need to do is go into live view and zoom into the exact area you want to focus onto. Most cameras allow for a 10 times zoom, which grants you the ability to focus very accurately. Just be gentle when using longer lenses, as every touch will make it shake, so making the focusing harder.

Live view
Normal live view
Live view
10x zoom

3. Focus 1/3rd into the scene

This is a basic rule of DOF. If you focus on something, than 1/3rd of DOF will be in front of it, 2/3rd’s behind it. Witch this in mind, of course one needs to focus 1/3rd into the scene. You don’t have to be really exact, as long as you are not going for a very shallow DOF. With a little practice and experimenting, finding the 1/3rd spot is a madder of seconds for every scene.

Light sources

4. Focus on light sources

This is mostly for late night scenes and night sky. You just need a single light source to be able to focus. You can even create your own using a flashlight. Just find the light source on your screen and focus onto it. Than try to refocus, while looking at the shape of the light source. The smaller it is, the sharper your shot will be. To say it differently, if you see a bokeh, you are not focused correctly.

To the right you have an example of a scene, where your camera would have a very hard time to fins something to focus on, but manually it’s done in seconded.

5. Remember the basic rules of DOF

To make this easier for you, always remember the basic rules of DOF. The smaller aperture, the further away the subject and the wider the lens, the bigger DOF you will get. So especially with landscape shots, if you are using a wide angle lens, once you focus on anything just few meters away, you will get everything in focus. You don’t need to know the exact DOF for every setup, but knowing if you should expect a shallow or a deep DOF is always good.

6. Practice manual focusing

On every camera, there is a certain order of steps (button presses) to get into manual focus. With a little practice one can do those without even needing to look at the camera at all. For instance on my 5D mark II I can do this by pressing the live view, using the joystick to move the zoom square and then press zoom until I get to 10x magnification. If you doing multiple shots after each other, you don’t even need to leave the live view between shots.

Using a DOF calculator to help you focus

One way to be more exact with the focusing, is using a DOF calculator. There can be found many of them for every mobile platform. A DOF calculator, is a piece of software, that based on the focal length, aperture and focus distance, can tell you exactly, how much DOF you will get. You can use it easily, to determine the focusing distance, if your goal is a specific DOF.

DOF Calculator
DOF Calculator on Android
DOF Calculator
DOF Calculator Pro on Windows phone

I don’t think it’s that useful in the field, as it take too much time, but it’s a great tool to look at, to get better familiarized with one’s own lenses. Just enter the values, and then just change the focusing distance, to see how the DOF changes.

That’s all on Manual focusing, but feel free to ask if you have any questions.