Monday, 26 December 2011

How to sharpen your images

without sharpening
I have discovered a useful technique for sharpening images to give them extra punch. This  is particularly useful for my on going project of faded hand painted adverts on brickwork. The passing of time and weather all contribute to the deterioration of the signs that are sometimes difficult to read. I have known of the ability to sharpen images in PhotoShop for a long time but fear of trying to master something new has always blocked me from taking the plunge. Like most things it was not as hard as I imagined......

It is difficult to know how clearly the improvement is demonstrated in these pictures as the final one has been subtly changed  and the resolution is low affecting the appearance of over all sharpness. The technique that I have used is three different methods and picking the best one. The advantage is that each image is treated individually and you get the best one from your choice of three.  I have used this method on a few images and the improvement is worth the effort. Below is the tutorial that I used and the changes are noticeable for the purposes of demonstration. 

Really hope you find this useful.

The still must tease with the promise of a story the viewer of it itches to be told. - Cindy Sherman

Thursday, 22 December 2011

how not to take family portraits.

Merry Christmas.
How many times will you have your photograph taken at Christmas? Holidays are the time more photographs are taken than at any other period of the year. The surge is frequently caused by the family coming together and a desire to capture this. Ever since photography was invented with the Daguerreotype mankind has striven to capture their own likeness and of loved ones. It is well known that a family with young children has more cameras per household than any other group. So we have established that photographing ourselves is of great importance  but what else can learn form this? The majority of pictures at this time of year are taken indoors and this helps to reveal information about our homes and how we live. It gives an indication of taste and a clue to our standard of living. Many family portraits are taken with this in the sub-conscious mind of the photographer, especially if it is the man of the household. Children are frequently photographed with their new toys which serves at least two roles. It acts as a record for the family of a happy occasion and as a status symbol signifying the generosity of the family. The clothes that we wear and and even the expression that we adopt all contrive to create an 'impression' of how we want the world to see and remember us. Do you like to look a certain way in a photograph or do you know someone who does? Victoria Beckham is a good example as she rarely smiles in any photograph. This is not her natural countenance unless the botox as restricted her face to a stern expression. The images that we take of ourselves and the reasons for doing so appear to have changed little over the years that photography has been around. When you see a group portrait who is the first person that you look at? It is a universal trait. A student of mine recently conducted a survey of fellow students asking about the images that they upload to Facebook and how they act in photographs. Nearly 80% stated that they did not have a 'look' that they liked to adopt when having their picture taken. This is high percentage. What is perhaps more surprising (or not) is that 90% of those interviewed said that they knew someone who did have a 'look' that they liked use when having their picture taken. Is it just me or do you think that maybe the 80% were being less than truthful about 'striking a pose.' Here is some photographic trivia. Every month over 6 billion images are uploaded to Facebook! They are the largest site for photography in the world.
Click on the link below the photograph for some visual clues on how not to get your family to pose this Christmas.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

What a Rankin!

W. Eugene Smith
Rankin the renowned fashion photographer presents a riveting look at Life Magazine in this BBC documentary. Many of the great photographers of the last century are well represented including; W Eugene Smith. For those of you reading the blog regularly you will know that Smith is considered one of greatest photographers of all time. This picture of Emest Cerlani tending to a boy who is about to go blind is breath taking with the emotion in his face and the anonymous helping hands. The photo essay that Smith took over twenty three days was to highlight the chronic lack of country doctors and its impact on rural America. The Story of Life Magazine.
Margaret Bourke White
This picture taken by another Life photographer was the subject of discussion for my class this week. Some  were shocked that Bourke White agreed to learn how to use a spinning wheel, like the one shown, as part of the conditions to allow her to photograph Gandi. When you are young, often you do not really want to work for things. It is easy at that age to think that great things happen in life without trying. There are often many hurdles to over come to get the right image. Anything worth having you need to apply yourself and make sacrifices.  Margret Bourke White was a very attractive and charming 'lady' who slept with many Generals and a few Colonels to get access to take her pictures.  Naturally I did not mention this bit to my young charges as impressionable minds are easily corrupted!