A Forgotten Skill Among Photographers?

When digital first starting shifting the world of photography, one of the topics I covered the most was color management. In fact, the second book I ever wrote–many years ago–was on the subject of color management.

Top among the issues in color management that I encouraged among photographers was to calibrate their monitor display. Back in those days, it felt that most photographers took this subject seriously, and calibrated their displays on a relatively frequent basis.

These days, it seems I never hear photographers talking about display calibration, and when I ask about the subject many say they simply don’t perform a display calibration.

In fairness, with today’s digital displays and more advanced operating systems, it isn’t as important to take an active role in color management as it was in the early days of digital photography. But that doesn’t mean you can expect accurate results among different devices–such as monitors and printers–if you’re not calibrating your monitor display.

While calibrating a monitor with today’s equipment won’t cause as dramatic an improvement in your workflow as was the case with older analog displays, calibration is still important. You don’t need to calibrate as frequently today as we did in the past, but calibrating every six months or so is still a very good idea.

There are a variety of tools available for calibrating your display to improve the accuracy of what you see and the quality of your workflow. One product I highly recommend is the X-Rite ColorMunki Display, which you can find here:

https://amzn.to/2PTki17

 

New Bundle of Photography Courses

This weekend we have launched a new bundle of GreyLearning courses focused on photography, with an emphasis on helping photographers improve their creative and technical skills.

The “Photography Bundle” currently includes ten courses related to photography. This includes the “Photo Gear Quick Tips” and “Behind the Photo” courses, both of which feature a new lesson every week. Even better, as new photography courses are published to the GreyLearning library, they will be added to the Photography Bundle at no additional cost.

For all of the details about the new “Photography Bundle”, please visit the GreyLearning website here:

https://www.greylearning.com/bundles/photography-bundle

My Go-To Tool for HDR Imaging

There are a variety of software tools available for creating high dynamic range (HDR) images from a series of bracketed exposures. My recent experience has demonstrated that Aurora HDR 2019 is among the best,


NOTE: Get an extra $10 off Aurora HDR 2019 by using coupon code greylearning after following this link:

https://macphun.evyy.net/c/202122/513351/3255


Conceptually the process of creating an HDR image involves only two steps. First the bracketed exposures are combined into a single image, generally with a very high bit depth that enables that image to contain a tremendous range of tonal and color values. Second, that image with an extended range is mapped into the narrower range of a “normal” photographic image, with a degree of creative interpretation available as part of this process.

What I have found is that a surprising number of my photos can’t be assembled reliably by most of the HDR software that is available. This often happens when I have a frame that has a relatively large area of the scene that is dynamic. One recent example was this sunset featuring water below and clouds above:

A sunset HDR capture, which I found that only Aurora HDR was able to assemble with good quality.

With a scene such as the above, it can certainly be difficult for HDR software to figure out how to blend the exposures into a single image. The water is moving relatively quickly, and even the clouds have a degree of movement that may cause variations among the individual frames of the bracketed exposures.

From a workflow convenience standpoint, I will admittedly use Lightroom Classic CC to assemble my more basic HDR images. After all, I’m already using Lightroom to manage my photos, and Lightroom does a good job with many HDR images.

Lightroom, however, failed miserably when it came to assembling the above sunset photo. Aurora HDR 2019, on the other hand, did a great job.

Beyond the task of assembling the initial HDR image, it is also important for HDR software to provide a good range of flexible tools for optimizing the appearance of your HDR images during the tone-mapping stage of the workflow.

In particular, I find the various adjustments in Aurora HDR’s “HDR Enhance” category to be helpful for enhancing details in a photo. Multiple sliders enable you to increase the clarity and texture, with control at varying scales within the image.

The wide range of tonal and color adjustments also make easy to exercise tremendous control over the general appearance of an HDR image being assembled with Aurora HDR.

If you like to create HDR images in your photography, I recommend taking a look at Aurora HDR 2019. You can get a free trial through the Skylum website here:

https://macphun.evyy.net/c/202122/513351/3255


NOTE: Get an extra $10 off Aurora HDR 2019 by using coupon code greylearning after following the link above.

Black Friday Deals

Every year “Black Friday” seems to be extended longer and longer, and so we thought we would join in on the fun with an expanded list of discounted offers for photographers, on some of our most popular content. So, now through “Cyber Monday” you can take advantage of any (or all!) of these deals:

NOTE: The Black Friday deals have expired, but the great content is still available through the links below.

70% Off “Photography Bundle”

The “Photography Bundle” currently includes ten courses related to photography. This includes the “Photo Gear Quick Tips” and “Behind the Photo” courses, both of which feature a new lesson every week. Even better, as new photography courses are published to the GreyLearning library, they will be added to the Photography Bundle at no additional cost. This bundle normally sells for $99, but during our Black Friday promotion you can get it for just $29, a 70% discount. Get all of the details here:

https://www.greylearning.com/bundles/photography-bundle

$300 Off “Premium Access” Bundle

The key feature of our “Premium Access” Bundle is direct access to me, so you can get help with issues you may be having in your photography and workflow. You’ll gain access to the full GreyLearning library of educational courses, and get unlimited help via email. This bundle is normally $795, but for our “Black Friday” offer you can save $300 and get full access for just $495 per year. Check out this great offer on the GreyLearning website here:

https://www.greylearning.com/bundles/premium

$100 Off “Lightroom One-on-One” Bundle

If you have a bit of a mess in Lightroom Classic CC, my “Lightroom One-on-One” Bundle can provide the cure. This bundle includes all of my video courses on Lightroom Classic, which will help you better understand Lightroom, clean up your catalog, and define a better workflow. Even better, with this bundle you will have three months of support directly from me via email. This bundle is normally $295, but as part of our “Black Friday” offer you can save $100 and get the bundle for just $195. Get the details on the GreyLearning website here:

https://www.greylearning.com/bundles/cleanup-one-on-one

$70 Off the “GreyLearning Ultimate Bundle”

The GreyLearning “Ultimate” Bundle includes all of the educational content I publish for photographers. With courses on photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and more, you can learn to optimize your photography and workflow. Right now, new subscribers can get $70 off the normal price of $149 per year, locking in a rate of just $79 for the full library of content from GreyLearning. Learn more on the GreyLearning website here:

https://www.greylearning.com/bundles/greylearning-bundle

40% Off “Cleaning Up Your Mess in Lightroom”

My most popular course is “Cleaning Up Your Mess in Lightroom”, which has helped many photographers clean up their catalog and workflow in Lightroom Classic CC. This video course is normally $49, but right now you can save 40% and get the course (with more than five hours of informative videos) for just $29. You can sign up  for cleanup on the GreyLearning website here:

https://www.greylearning.com/courses/lightroom-mess

40% Off the “Quick Tips” Bundle

I now have four courses that include a new “quick tip” lesson each and every week. And the best part is that you’ll get new weekly tips on an ongoing basis, for a single one-time payment. Even better, right now you can get the full bundle for just $29 rather than the normal price of $49. So if you’d like weekly quick tips on photography, photo gear, Photoshop, and Lightroom, check out the “Quick Tips” Bundle on the GreyLearning website here:

https://www.greylearning.com/bundles/quick-tips-bundle

40% Off “Mastering Photoshop Elements”

If you use Photoshop Elements to manage and optimize your photos, my “Mastering Photoshop Elements” bundle of courses can help you make the most of this software and truly optimize your workflow. The full bundle of courses on Photoshop Elements is normally $99, but during our “Black Friday” promotion you can get the bundle for just $59. Get started with this bundle on the GreyLearning website here:

https://www.greylearning.com/bundles/photoshop-elements

The Only Filters I Carry

Back in the days of film photography, it was common to see photographers carrying a wide variety of filters in their camera bag. These days, I often find photographers who don’t carry any filters at all. And one of the most common questions I hear from photographers about photo gear is which filters they are supposed to buy.

In my mind, there are really only a couple of filters that most photographers should probably carry in their bag. Of course, whether this is true depends on the type of photography you do. But the list of filters that I don’t really think you need is much longer than the list of filters I should most photographers could put to use.

Solid Neutral Density Filter

The first filter I think most photographers would enjoy putting to use is a solid neutral density (ND) filter. This is something like sunglasses for your lens, reducing the amount of light that passes through the lens without altering the color of the scene.

A solid neutral density filter enables you to achieve longer exposure durations than would otherwise be possible. Even at a minimum ISO setting, and with the lens aperture stopped down completely, you might not be able to achieve a slow enough shutter speed to render blurred motion in the scene.

To really have tremendous flexibility for long exposures, I prefer to use a ten-stop neutral density filter. With such a filter, I’ve been able to capture 30-second exposures even in full sunlight.

I have been using a ten-stop filter from B+W, with excellent results. You can find this particular filter here:

B+W 10-Stop Neutral Density Filter:
https://amzn.to/2BtGJRy

Of course, in some cases a ten-stop neutral density filter results in an exposure that is longer than you’d like. In some cases you might simply be able to open up the lens aperture or increase the ISO setting in order to get an exposure of a shorter duration. However, you may want to also carry a neutral density filter with a lower density rating, such as a six-stop filter.

One option I’ve used with great success is the six-stop filter from Breakthrough Photography, which you can find here:

Breakthrough Photography 6-Stop Neutral Density Filter:
https://amzn.to/2OXpknO

Note, by the way, that for most photographers I don’t consider a graduated neutral density filter to be critical. In situations where I might otherwise use a graduated neutral density filter–such as to prevent a sky from getting blown out–I will instead capture a series of bracketed exposures. Later in my workflow I can then assemble those captures into a high dynamic range (HDR) image, using software such as Aurora HDR 2019.

Circular Polarizer Filter

In addition to a solid neutral density filter, I recommend that most photographers consider carrying a circular polarizer filter.

In my experience most photographers think of a circular polarizer as a filter for making a cloudy sky look more dramatic. In addition, a circular polarizer can help cut back on reflections, enhance color saturation in many situations, and even enable you to “magically” see through the surface of water.

A circular polarizer filter can be rotated to adjust the effect, from minimum to maximum polarization. I’ve been very happy with the results I’ve gotten with the circular polarizer filter from B+W, which you can find here:

B+W Circular Polarizer Filter:
https://amzn.to/2TEwLnB

 

Loupe for Sensor Cleaning

Carson SensorMag™ Loupe with LED Illumination.

In a few of my recent Ask Tim Grey eNewsletters I have addressed the subject of cleaning the sensor on a digital SLR camera. Part of that overall process involves evaluating the sensor (which really means evaluating the filter in front of the sensor) to see if there is any dust or other debris that needs to be cleaned.

One of the common approaches to checking for dust on a sensor is to capture a test photo of a blank wall or similar surface. However, in my experience it is far more effective (and I think easier) to simply get a close look directly at the sensor with the help of a loupe with a built-in illumination source.

I have been using the Carson SensorMag™, and have found it to be very helpful in evaluating whether the sensor on my camera needs cleaning. I use the SensorMag to check the condition of the sensor before cleaning, and again after cleaning to make sure I’ve done a thorough job.

The SensorMag provides a 4.5X magnification, along with strong LED illumination built-in. This loupe can be set on the lens mount of the camera body when the camera is set to manual sensor cleaning mode. In addition, the loupe can swivel out of the way so you can still make use of the LED illumination while cleaning the sensor.

You can find the Carson SensorMag here to get more information:

https://amzn.to/2LDw4cQ

And of course there are also a variety of other similar products from other manufacturers that provide the same features. The key is to make sure you have a loupe with good magnification and with a built-in LED illumination source.

(Note that as an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases for some of the links included on this website.)

Seventeen Years of “Ask Tim Grey”!

It is hard to believe that it has been seventeen years since I clicked the “Send” button on the very first edition of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter (which at the time was called the Digital Darkroom Questions newsletter).

Since then, I’ve answered thousands of questions from photographers on a wide variety of subjects. And it doesn’t seem that I’ll be running out of questions to answer anytime soon!

To help celebrate this milestone, we’re offering two special discounts to my readers.

Lightroom Cleanup One-on-One

First, for those who have a bit of a mess they’d like to clean up in Lightroom, we are offering a discounted price on the “Lightroom Cleanup One-on-One” bundle, which features direct access to me so you can get answers to all of your Lightroom questions over the course of three months. And of course, to help you really master the use of Lightroom, this bundle also includes all of my video training courses on Lightroom Classic CC. You can get a 32% discount by using coupon code “seventeen” during checkout, or by getting started with this link:

https://www.greylearning.com/bundles/cleanup-one-on-one?coupon=seventeen

GreyLearning Ultimate Bundle

Or, if you’d like to get access to my entire library of educational content for photographers, new subscribers have the option of getting a discount on the “GreyLearning Ultimate Bundle” to celebrate the anniversary of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter. You can use coupon code “17ultimate” during checkout, or have the discount applied automatically by starting with this link:

https://www.greylearning.com/bundles/greylearning-bundle?coupon=17ultimate

A big “Thank You!” to all of the photographers who have been a part of the journey of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter. I look forward to getting started on my 18th year of publication!

Webinar Recording: “Managing Folders in Lightroom”

If you have a mess of folders, or you haven’t yet figured out a good strategy for using folders in your workflow for organizing your photos, you’ll want to check out my recent webinar on “Managing Folders in Lightroom”.

During this presentation I covered:

– One thing you should NEVER do with folders in the context of Lightroom.

– How to define your folder strategy for managing photos.

– Ways you can refine your folder structure within Lightroom.

– And MUCH more!

You can view the recording of the “Managing Folders in Lightroom” webinar on the Tim Grey TV channel on YouTube here:

https://youtu.be/vmcyYM8TmqY

 

New Course: “Behind the Photo”

Every photo provides the opportunity to learn valuable lessons, which is exactly the intent of the new “Behind the Photo” course.

This course provides a new lesson every week, based on one of my favorite photos. You’ll learned what went into create the photo,  as well as the many valuable lessons I learned along the way.

The new “Behind the Photo” course is included in the “Quick Tips Bundle” you can find here:

https://www.greylearning.com/bundles/quick-tips-bundle

In addition, “Behind the Photo” is available as a standalone course here:

https://www.greylearning.com/courses/behind-the-photo

New Course: “Photo Gear Quick Tips”

As photographers we obviously employ gear to create our photographs. To help you get a better sense of which gear might be most useful to you, and how to best put to use your existing gear, we have created the new “Photo Gear Quick Tips” course.

This course provides a new lesson every single week, focused on some aspect of gear for the photographer. I some lessons you’ll learn about a new piece of gear you’ve never heard of before. In other lessons you’ll get tips for getting the most out of common photo gear. And in all lessons, you’ll get insights and entertainment.

The “Photo Gear Quick Tips” course is included in the “Quick Tips Bundle” that you can find here:

https://www.greylearning.com/bundles/quick-tips-bundle

In addition, “Photo Gear Quick Tips” is available as a standalone course here:

https://www.greylearning.com/courses/photo-gear-quick-tips