I’ve been friends with the indomitable, completely awesome Jan Kabili since the early days of Google+. She’s part of the gifted group of photographers, artists, teachers and inspirers that I was privileged to meet when we all leapt into the great unknown of that fledgling social platform. Jan has the energy of a thousand, a ready, infectious smile and you may know her from Lynda.com where she’s one of the top instructors of Photoshop and Lightroom.
Jan now has a fabulous new podcast called “TheFIX” over at This Week In Photo dot com, where she talks with a variety of wonderful photographers about how they do their magic in-camera and in post-processing.
I was THRILLED when she asked me to join her! She asked me to share a bit about how I think about my photo processing, what tools I use … and as always, we laughed a lot and had a ball in this visit about creating art and inspiration with photography.
By this image, you could easily think I’m in some dark, “tortured artist” phase. But mais non! It is not true!
One of the really cool things about photography is how you can stop time. We we all love the notion of frozen moments… captured for all eternity. Or at least until the digital file goes corrupt, rolls over and dies with its little legs stiff in the air like a cartoon stick figure death. Which hopefully that happens in some mythical faaaaar off distant future. But I digress…
Y’know what I like about this photo? The colors. The light. The tree. The clouds (lerrrrrv the clouds!). The way it looks like the tree is dreaming those clouds out of its dreamy little noggin. That it’s vertical. Just some stuff I like about it. It’s not a million dollar print, but it’s a cool little photo, IMHO. It was taken in Croton-on-Hudson, New York (literally ON the Hudson!) a couple of weeks ago.
Finally! I get to share something I’ve been working on for weeks, but NOT able to talk about until now!
Macphun Software’s Tonality Pro plugin/app just launched last week. I was lucky enough to get to play with the software during the Beta process … and I’ve fallen in love with it!
Black & White Is My Home
My photography roots are in the darkroom… a looooong, long time ago. Black and white photography taught me the basics at such a deep level that it’s STILL what informs my composition, storytelling and artistry. So, Tonality Pro is a huge full circle experience for me.
The mind-bendy thing is that it doesn’t just do monochrome. It allows you to work selectively with color in ways I’ve never experienced before. It is truly mind-blowing! I don’t usually write reviews… but I’m working on one for this baby!
I have to admit that I’m still learning more and more about what all we can do with Tonality Pro… but I thought I’d start sharing it with you by taking 3 photos, processed 3 simple, quite different ways… just to give you a little flavah-flav of what you can do with this awesome plugin.
OH! And if you do decide to give any of the Macphun products a whirl, use the code KHUTT for 10% your purchase.
(at this time, it is only available for Mac users. I’m hoping for a version for Windows users in the future!)
It’s no secret that I love color! I know a lot of people feel the same way I do.
As I was processing today’s photo, I was thinking about how color is such an intricate part of our lives that we even use them to describe feelings. What’s more, everyone knows exactly what you’re talking about even if they’re color blind!
Color As Emotion
The speaking of a color is so powerful, in fact, that you only need few words to be crystal clear:
I was in a blue mood… (sadness, melancholy)
Alt: I feel blue… (sad, off, melancholy) He was so mad he saw red… (extreme anger) Everything’s golden… (everything’s terrific) She was green with envy… (extreme envy, jealousness)
She looked at everything through rose-colored glasses. (she only saw the good in things.)
So when you process a photo and use color grading, cross-processing or color in some way to set the mood you want viewers to feel when they look at your photo – you’re tapping into a powerful, primal mechanism!
Set Your Viewers’ – Or Just Your Own Mood with Color
You can also use color to satisfy your own mood, or the vision you have for a piece.
I did a fairly extreme “processing two ways” combo the other day, which I thought was an interesting way to show you what I mean. Truly, the possibilities are endless!
Here’s where I ended up on the first round of processing:
During my recent trip to Nashville, TN for Sony’s DI event, testing the new Sony mirrorless cameras… we visited the famed Ryman Auditorim. Home of the original Grand Old Opry. It’s got quite a history – and an unmistakable vibe when you walk in the door. I could’ve stayed there all day!
We were given super special access, which I’ll talk more about in a future blog post. But today I wanted to go through a process I did on one of the photos from there… and offer you a preset download of one of the filter sets I used. I got this idea from one of the comments on my Google+ page, where a fellow named Matt Kaiser asked if I’d made a preset out of the NIK Analog Efex Pro filter wards the end of my process – and if I’d be willing to offer it for download. I thought that would be fun… so you can find that at the end of this post, by clicking on the small version of this image. It’ll download straightaway.
But I decided to do a bit more here, since I did a number of things to this image beside Analog Efex Pro and didn’t want to lead anyone astray.
So, first of all, here’s the finished image, taken with the new Sony A7r, with the 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 lens (which will be available only as part of the kit):
I always love looking at before/after comparisons. I’ve noticed I’m not the only one!
So today, I thought I’d share a fun photo that I had an idea about when I shot it; but had to complete it in post processing.
This photo is re-imagined from a single-frame RAW image, which I shot with my NEX-7 whilst in Italy, August 2012:
To see, hear, smell, taste, feel, express, envision new realities in new ways is absolutely key to the artist. Creative. Photographer. Human dwelling upon Planet Earth at this time.
But to do that means Change. Yeah, capital C. Whether you’re a regular human or an artist human… that is sometimes challenging. Well OK, it’s always challenging. Especially when you’re comfy. But as artists, we must always be on wary watch for the icy clutches of “habit”. True for art – and for an artfully lived life.
I have this thing. Well, I have alot of “things”. But this one has to do with visioning vs. drinking the “it’s real” cool-aid. I love using photography to illustrate stuff I think about, so here goes. Simple version.
I’m engaged in an ongoing creative experiment. It’s about shifting myself into new way of thinking – and living. Maybe “more expanded” is a good term for it. I’ve been at this in my personal life for awhile (OK, my whole life has been about this sort of thing!)- now I’m actively taking it new places in my photography. I walked you through one late evening adventure of it on this earlier post.. For this post, although I’ve got 3 photos to show you – I’m not prepared to tell you exactly how they happened. Note to self: get better at floating around in these right brain zones and still take notes! But I do have some thoughts. And they start with this photo… a jpg of the original RAW:
When you first see this photo, what’s your first reaction? Do you know what it is? Does it make you curious? Does it irritate you? Entice you? Make you tilt your head like the RCA dog? Yawn? Judge it in some way? Er, what?
Mind you, I didn’t create it with any particular reaction in mind, I was just wondering. I really processed it as an exercise. The end result and process turned out to be so interesting, I though I’d share.
Welcome back! Yesterday I started the processing tale of this bird’s tail (hehheh)… if you haven’t seen that and want to catch up, it’s here.
So far, I liked the direction, but it still needed a bit more work. So I turned to onOne Software’s Focal Point 2 to show Joe a twist on the basic vignette. He already knew about the judicious use of vignetting… but hadn’t tried Focal Point. I figured this was a good time to introduce him to a new tool that he had in his arsenal. After showing him how the focus bug worked and all the adjustments you can make, we both decided that we liked how Big Bird was beginning to stand out from his surroundings without even cropping, just kind of emerging from the shadows. It’s a subtle change from the last photo… this one mostly just deepened the transition into darkness at the outer edges of the feathers. It made the break from the background softer and clearer at the same time.
Situation: my hubs Joe had to travel to Hawaii for work. I had to come along because… well… because I had to come along. Seriously. This is Hawaii we’re talkin’ over here! Mostly he worked. I photographed. But we did manage to have one day to go out together and do some shootin’ around and about the island. One of our stops; Byodo-In-Temple, over in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. Sidebar on that spot: TOTALLY worth it, but bring bug spray! I got swarmed by mosquitoes over by the creeky areas and finally had to make a run for it and hide out back in the car. (where I processed iPhone pics with Snapseed. I mean, why let a few venomous insects slow you down?) When the resident peacock made a show back the temple, Joe texted and said I should come photograph it. I said “NO!… but take one for me!” So he did:
"Love your blog. I stop by for the photography, I linger for the philosophy."
Kelley Morgan, Portland OR
"A beautiful mind will produce beautiful results. And to say the least, yours is a beautiful mind! Thank you for your wisdom and your inner "speak," as they both produce true art from the heart …"
Joe Hudspeth, Prineville OR
"Thank you Karen. A wonderful story but only the tip of the iceberg, the bigger part below the water is all the thousands of photographers you have inspired to chart their own journey, I know as I am one of them."
"Karen, thank you for the wonderful two day post. Your insights are truly thought provoking. I have never been a teacher, nor will I ever be, but to see someone see the light is a wonderful moment. Thanks again."
"As usual, another terrific story. I’m glad I found you but I have to be honest. I didn’t find you on Google + but did on Scott Kelby’s “The Grid”. Thanks for the inspiration in both images and by the pen/keyboard."
"Gads-what a girl! Thanks for the story, it is beautiful."
"Awesome story Karen — I loved reading about your life transformed. Of course I loved the photography theme and the geek in me is forever curious about the power of tech and the power of social platforms. But … for me it is the arc of lives transformed that inspires. Thank you so much for sharing. See you on G+ and in the Arcanum!"