Which One…Lightroom or Photoshop?

These are two different programmes which work well together.  So the question often is – where do I start?   My strong recommendation is that you start with Lightroom and when you have mastered that, go on to learning Photoshop and here is the  reason why.

Lightroom is both a cataloging programme and photo editing programme.
Imagine all the books in the town Library just put on the shelves of a room with no organisation.  The room is tidy but when you want to find a specific book – where do you look?

Now consider your photos.  If you have all your photos in folders on your desktop and on some hard drives or maybe a flash drive and maybe the older ones are on CDs and DVDs,  just where do you look?  Worse still, imagine you have used a photo editing programme to improve the best photos and saved the new versions,  just where do you have to go to look for the latest version or the one you used on a Christmas card three years ago.  If you only have few hundred photos, then this is not too much of a problem but as your collection grows to several thousand photos it does become more of an issue.  This where this course really can help, especially if you start at the beginning and organise your photos using a system that makes it easy to find your photos – in the same way as books in the town library are organised.

Lightroom does more than this.  Once the photos have been organised in the Library Module, you can then take an image into the Develop Module and use the tools there to improve the best images. There are a lot of tools from cropping to exposure to converting to Black and White  and correcting camera related problems.  Many photographers find this is sufficient for most of their images and better still the new version is saved along the original so finding it again is so much easier.

In the Map Module you can  locate where any images that have GPS embedded, were taken.  Other modules allow you to create a web page,  make a book or a slide show or print your images.

Photoshop is a photo editing programme

So a number of people will already be wondering why they need Photoshop and to be honest, some people don’t. If all you want to do is make some of the images you took better then Lightroom has all the tools you need. Anyone who really wants to work creatively with their images needs a knowledge of Photoshop or a similar programme because the main feature that Lightroom doesn’t have is the ability to work with layers.  Layers allow you to make much finer adjustments to your images than is possible in Lightroom.  Note that you can take an image from Lightroom into any photo editing programme you have to make adjustments and then save the resulting image back into Lightroom – it doesn’t have to be Photoshop.

Buying Options:

There are two options, either as part of the photographers package in the Creative Cloud.  This is a subscription service for which you currently pay $Aust13.79 a month.  This deal gives you access to the latest updates and versions of both Lightroom and Photoshop.

The other option is to purchase the standalone version which is a copy of Lightroom version 6 which is currently Aust $186+gst .  You can buy this as a full version or as an upgrade from an earlier version of Lightroom if you have one.  NB:  Finding access to the download on the Adobe website is tricky as they really want you to use the subscription service.  If you can’t find it – try a Google search.

Which option is best?

Lightroom as part of the Creative Cloud (CC) gives you access to all the latest updates and features that have been added to Lightroom such as the Dehaze feature plus access to Lightroom Mobile to use on iPads and iPhones, Lightroom Web and some online storage space.

If you stop your subscription to the Creative Cloud you loose total access to Photoshop but Lightroom is different.  To prevent you loosing all the work you have done on your images, Adobe give you partial access to Lightroom.  You still have access to the Library, Book, Slideshow and Web modules but access to the Development Module is severely restricted so you cannot continue to edit your images.

Lightroom as a Stand Alone version.
You now own this copy of Lightroom but what you don’t get is access to the new features that are added to Lightroom CC.  So far anyway there will be updates for new cameras and new bug fixes.  You can still edit your images in another programme like an older version of Photoshop which you own, Photoshop Elements, Affinity, OnOne or Luminar.

Which One?
If you want to have access to all the latest features then the Creative Cloud subscription is the best way to go.  If you don’t require the latest version and have access to some photo editing software that you like using, then the stand alone is the least expensive option.

A new course Setting Up and Using Lightroom will start in mid February. This will be an online course only.

If you are interested or would like more details please contact me.

Myanmar Photo Tour

It is only in the last few years that foreigners have been able to visit Myanmar relatively easily. Despite being very poor country, it is the people who make this visit so very special.  Here is just one example.  One day we wandered into the shop making coffins and after showing us several rooms with examples of his work, the owner, a wizened little old man with two teeth, insisted on giving each of us a cold beer for which he would not take any payment. Even though we cannot speak each others language, smiles and the greeting ‘Mingalabar’ are everywhere.

Our 14 day photo tour was organized by Luminous Journeys who specialize in luxurious photo tours of Myanmar.  Luxurious related to the accommodation which was among the best hotels in each of the places we stayed even though that ranged from about a 2 star hotel in Kyaing Tong to the fabulous 5 star Sule Shangri-La in Yangon. We flew between each of the stops and on arrival we had our own driver and van as well as our two photo tour guides.

ap-soe
A P Soe

Our tour was led by A P Soe who is one of the top photographers in Myanmar as well as being an experienced and popular tour leader.  He is the winner of several photography awards and has contributed to the National Geographic.

Soe
Soe

 

Our other photographer was Soe, who is also an award winning photographer

They were both willing to share their photographic knowledge, give us suggestions and organize a variety of photoshoots for us – something we could not do ourselves because of the language difficulty.

Shwedagon Pagoda
Shwedagon Pagoda

Our tour started in Yangon, the largest city with a population of maybe 5 million.  Public transport is by old bus or the equally old trains while all the cars appear to be quite new.  No motor bikes are allowed in this city because they have such huge traffic chaos everyday.  There are no motorways, and no mass transit systems – not even bus lanes.  We only had a short time to see part of the city.  Our first stop was the Shwedagon Pagoda which is a fascinating place to visit.  We followed this with time at a roof top bar where we watched the sun set over the city.

Our next stop was Kyaing Tong, an isolated area of Shan Province,  which foreigners can only access by air from within Myanmar.  It is close to the Thai border and if you came to Kyaing Tong from there you must return to Thailand.

In the Rice Fields
In the Rice Fields

Here the language is different from that spoken in Yangon so we had a local guide as well as our two photo guides.  Mark and Fran, our traveling companions, went on an exhausting hike into the hills to visit a very isolated tribe while Alistair and I explored the city of Kyaing Tong. On our second day AP organised some photo shoots with local tribal people.

U Bien Bridge
U Bien Bridge

Mandalay turned on a lovely sunrise before we took a boat trip across the Irrawaddy River to the temples of Mingun and some more photos shoots with some young monks.  In the evening we took a boat out to catch the sunset behind the famous U Bien Bridge.

Pagodas
Pagodas

Our next stop was at Bagan where more than 2000 ancient temples and pagodas are spread across the country side. Some of the pagodas were damaged during a recent earthquake but they are still impressive.  During our stay we climbed a different pagoda each evening to try and catch a non-existent sunset.  The photo shoots that AP organized were quite a challenge but did extend our photographic knowledge.

From Bagan we flew to Inle Lake which was just lovely.  All transport on the lake is by small boat with a noisy motor.  For us there were three people in each boat but the locals managed

Fishermen on Inle Lake
Fishermen on Inle Lake

to sit on the bottom on the boat and fit in 20 or more.  We stayed in the Golden Island Cottages which were cabins built on stilts over the lake. Markets, temples, pagodas and craft shops kept our cameras working hard.

schwedagon-pagoda_dsc2139
Schwedagon Pagoda at Sunset

Finally it was back to the big city and a chance to see a huge reclining buddha, another beautiful temple, Scott Market and take a trip on the Yangon River Ferry before finishing the day photographing the reflections of the Swhedagaon Pagoda in the Kandawagi Lake as the sun set.

Would I recommend this tour?  If you are a keen photographer and willing to be challenged in all sorts of ways from getting up around 4.30am to catch a sunrise, climbing a steep hill in 30º heat, to starting early and going all day despite the heat then you will get photo opportunities that you would find difficult if not impossible to get any other way.

 

Image size

Recently one of my students was very annoyed because when she printed her photo, that….machine cropped an important part of the image off. This happens because there is a mismatch between the size of the photo that the camera took and the size she chose to print the image.

In many recent digital cameras you may have some choice over image size, especially if you shoot in jpeg. These are set up in one of the menus.

Ratio set to 2:3
Ratio set to 2:3

Here is a scene and what is actually taken by the camera if you set the image size to 3:2

 

 

 

In this gallery the same scene is photographed with the camera set to different image sizes.  To see the full size photos click on one image and then scroll through the gallery looking carefully around the edges to see what is cropped out if a different size is chosen

Now let’s consider what happens when you print one of these images.
At a 2:3 the whole image will be printed if you choose to print an 8 x 12 image (20cm x 30cm). But if you chose to print this image at an 8 x 10 (20cm x 25cm) then some of the side information will be cropped off.

Another example is if you chose 1:1 as your image size in camera you would have a square image. If you then decided to print this image as an 8 x12 print some of the top and bottom of the image would be cropped off.

Which image size to choose.

If you have the option of a 2:3 image size this is the most versatile. It will print a full 8 x 12 (20cm x 30cm) image which is the same size as an A4 piece of paper. It also print the full image in a 6×4 photo which is another standard size. You can also crop this image to a different size such as a square in post processing because you have captured the most information. If you check back to the photos, the other sizes have all failed to capture a bit of the scene.

A 4:3 image size doesn’t easily convert to either the larger size or smaller size and will result in either a smaller photo to get the whole scene in or it will crop a bit off.

A 1:1 image is a square one which has become popular in some web programs like Instagram. If you want to have a rectangular photo later some of the top and bottom of the image will be lost and the quality of the image may not be so good because some information is lost.

The other common image size is 16:9 which is the image size used for video and wide screen applications like the TV. If the image is a different size when you show it on the TV it will just put a black bar at the sides and you will not notice. However if you want to print from this file, you may lose some of the information unless the printer will print a 16:9 image.

Fieldtrip to McLaren Falls

The photography class fieldtrip to McLaren Falls Park gave the opportunity to try out many of the techniques that had been learnt in the classroom.

 

mclaren-fallsOne of the fun things we can do in a class is to go on a fieldtrip.  For this class our fieldtrip was to McLaren Falls Park where there are lots of opportunities to check out our new skills.

We have had  so much rain that the waterfalls over the rocks below the bridge are really flowing.  This gave us many opportunities to try out various shutter speeds to see the effect on the flowing water.

At this stop our task was to imagine this was the only time we would be able to visit these falls and we wanted to take as many different photos of it as we could.

  • landscape orientation and portrait orientation
  • leading lines
  • foreground interest
  • shallow depth of field
  • Sharp from front to back
  • slow shutter speed
  • fast shutter speed

From here we went into the Park itself and the task was to photograph spring.  Spring is rather late this year but there were some tiny ducklings and blossom was out on some of the cherry trees.

We were planning to go to the waterfall inside the Park but when it rained, we decided to go to the McLaren Falls Café instead. It is a lovely venue for a coffee and a chat while we watched a tui in the nearby kowhai.