Photography & Photoshop Workshop: 1 week to go…

Just under 1 week to go until the next of my Photography & Photoshop Workshops held at the superb Gareth Davies Studio, Wokingham [Link]…

For further details visit the Workshop Page [Link] or drop me an email to

See you there:)

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  • July 18, 2011 - 3:29 am

    heather - Oh, how I wish I could be there. Good luck, it will be awesome.

Curry Club: Photo Shoot Walk-Through & Editing

Carrying on from Wednesday’s post about the 1st #curryclub studio day I thought I’d follow up with a run through of some of the lighting set ups used and editing in both Lightroom and Photoshop…

Set Up 1:
The first set up was one that I use during my workshop [Link] … a 3 light set up made of of 2 strip lights (2 x Profoto 1000’s) to the side and slightly behind the subject and a Beauty Dish to the front and above. I tend to favour using the honeycomb grid with the Beauty Dish because of the added direction and softness it gives to the light plus the ‘drop’ off is so much more subtle.

When I’m setting up this kind of lighting I’ll always go about it the same way…

First of all I’ll turn on the strip boxes and using the modelling lights will check to see that the light is hitting the model in the right areas. Once positioned correctly I’ll stick some Gaffer Tape to the floor right next to the model/subjects’s feet so they know exactly where to stand and then it’s just a case of how much light I want hitting them; generally I want the light from the strip boxes to be brighter than the light that’s going to be coming out of the Beauty Dish (1 – 2 stops difference is usually the ball park figure I’m aiming for).

Below is the Before (Out of Camera) image of one of our models for the day Elan, along with the After (Final edit) and to give you an idea this took around 15-20 minutes of editing time in Photoshop using the following steps:

  • White Balance check in Lightroom
  • Triple RAW Conversion
  • Enhance Eyes
  • General Clean Up (Dust Spots, Blemishes etc…)
  • Skin Contrast using a Luminosity Mask
  • Dodging & Burning
  • Dodging & Burning (Cheat Technique)
  • Add Skin Texture
  • Increase Contrast using Unsharp Mask Filter
  • Cut Out & Add in new background

For the picture of Loula, the lighting set up was exactly the same as that above but following the initial edit, it then took on a completely different direction…

  • White Balance check in Lightroom
  • Triple RAW Conversion
  • General Clean Up (Dust Spots, Blemishes etc…)
  • Enhance Eyes
  • Skin Contrast using a Luminosity Mask
  • Smooth Skin (more than normal) using High Pass Filter
  • Skin Tone/Colouring using 3 x Colour Balance Adjustment Layers
  • Add in new background including light in top left
  • Add fake smoke/mist
Once at this stage it was then a case of experimenting by adding a few texture layers and playing around with Blend Modes, finally finishing off by adding a Colour Balance Adjustment Layer for the overall tone/colour…

Set Up 2:
Real simple this one…

One large softbox positioned to the front of Elan but roughly in the 2 o’clock position if we take his nose as being at 12 o’clock … does that make sense? As you can see from the lighting diagram I did have another large softbox positioned behind Elan to add just a little bit of separation for the shots when I went for a much darker background.

With regards to editing time we’re talking just a couple minutes on each of the images in this series, with most of that time being spent in Lightroom…

  • White Balance Check
  • Double RAW Conversion
  • Tidy Up (Dust Spots etc…)
  • Skin Contrast using Luminosity Mask
  • Increase overall contrast using Unsharp Mask Filter
  • Desaturation layer
  • Sharpening

Set Up 3:
The 3rd and final set up made us of just the one light which in this case was a Profoto 1000 and Medium Octa…

Again editing was quick and simple with the following steps…

  • White Balance Check
  • Double RAW Conversion
  • Tidy Up (Dust Spots etc…)
  • Skin Contrast using Luminosity Mask
  • Skin Softening using High Pass Filter (Far right image only)
  • Increase overall contrast using Unsharp Mask Filter
  • Desaturation layer
  • Sharpening
For the picture of Elan and Rhianne together on the far right, the background was originally grey as in the full length shot but I found this quite distracting so opted to burn it down to black …

So there you have it…3 simple lighting set ups and a run through of the editing involved. As always if you have any questions/comments then please feel free to make use of the comments section below. Also if there’s any particular part of the editing you’d like covered, then again just shout it out in the comments section; if it’s not a technique that I’ve got on my YouTube Page [Link] I’ll look at recording a video run through of it in the near future.

Right, must dash so have a great weekend and I’ll catch you back here in a few days when I’ll be kicking off with a review and a competition for your chance to win an incredible new book by Alan Hess [Link].


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  • July 15, 2011 - 12:28 pm

    Konfral - I’m devastated to see the hand-drawn, organic lighting diagrams, replaced by some soulless app-generated ones ;-)

  • July 15, 2011 - 12:50 pm

    Glyn - lol…I’ll make a point of dropping in the occasional ‘hand drawn’ one just for you at some point ;)

  • July 15, 2011 - 10:10 pm

    Jim_T - Cheers Glyn! Quick question.. what is this double and triple RAW conversion of which you speak? Is it worth doing when your camera can only produce a jpeg? Thanks for your tutorials!

  • July 17, 2011 - 10:38 am

    Glyn - Hi Jim. Yeah the double and triple RAW conversions are great for getting details and can be done with a jpeg; have you downloaded and installed Russell Brown’s script for CS5 to enable you to take an layer back into Camera RAW at all? If not, let me know and I’ll post the link.


  • July 17, 2011 - 3:54 pm

    ANTONIO BIGGIO - Hello Glyn, i’ve the Russel’s script, but i also use to edit my photo with the smart objet from lightroom to Ps. I’m interesting to know what is your tecnique for merge the different exposure: you use the brush, gradient or luminosity mask?.

    Thank you


  • July 18, 2011 - 8:05 am

    DaveT - As usual, comprehensive, informative, and packed full of tips – thank you Glyn.

    As for future techniques, I’d really like to see you cover more on the ‘cutting out’ feature combined with refine edges feature of CS5 – I’m struggling with it and must be doing something wrong. Your cut out has worked really well around Elan’s hair.

  • July 26, 2011 - 5:08 pm

    Cary - Please post more information on the double and triple RAW conversions. I’m going to go in search of Russell Brown’s script.

Inaugural Photo Shoot: The Curry Club (#curryclub)

What started out as a good excuse to get a group of friends together for a curry and a catch up has quickly developed into what is now affectionately called ‘The Curry Club‘ (#curryclub) and last Saturday was the first of what is to become a regular event with us all in the studio for the day…

So what is the Curry Club?
Just a group of like minded friends looking for an excuse for a regular get together, a catch up and of course a curry and give or take the odd month this we’ve made a point of doing on a regular basis.

Combining studio time and a curry was Noel’s (top right) idea, so seeing as that was the case he lead from the front and organised the first ‘Studio Day’ which carried with it the theme of ‘Film’ … but more on that later:)

Noel did a cracking job of organising the day with military precision which included the models and a delicious buffet lunch prpeared by his lovely wife Catherine. Three models came along for us to shoot: Elan & Rhianne both young Actors going through drama school and Loula Red who is very new to modelling. All came along at their own expense on a T.F.P. (Time for Prints) basis and were great fun to shoot, which was exactly what the day was all about…having fun:)

Anyway, here’s a few of my shots from the time spent in the studio …

Later in the week I’ll put a post together to show all the lighting set ups that I used for each shot along with a run through of some of the editing in both Lightroom and Photoshop to finish the images off…

Couldn’t resist the opportunity to take some ‘character’ shots of Elan…the ‘Man of a Thousand Expressions‘ and a total blast to have infront of the camera:)

It was great having Loula along for the day with her look being a complete contrast to Elan & Rhianne which gave the opportunity to make pictures with a completely different feel…

B.T.S. (Behind The Scenes)
From Left to Right we have Dave Clayton (@NAPPMEMBER_UK) photographing Elan, Brian Worley (@p4pictures) photographing Rhianne and then there’s Noel (@Noel_Hannan) photographing Lou and David Kelly (@Norn_Ironman) photographing Elan…

The theme of the day was ‘Film’
So, getting back to the theme of the day…

Originally Noel, as I’ve mentioned, said that the theme of the day was ‘film’ (hence the group portraits at the top) and this could be interpreted however you chose BUT a short while before the studio day he sent out an an email with the following Rules ‘Instructions’ …

Anyway, Rules are Rules:)

And of course, being the #curryclub the day wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to a local curry house…

All in all a fab day with lots of laughs, lots of ‘shooting’ and topped off with a delicious curry. HUGE thanks to our models for the day…Elan, Rhianne and Loula…Noel for setting it all up and to his lovely wife Catherine for the food, and of course Gareth for the use of the studio [Link].

Can’t wait for the next one now but the question is though…who’s gonna be hosting it? Guys? Guys?

The Curry Club (From Left to Right)
Dave Clayton (@NAPPMEMBER_UK), Gareth Davies [Link], Brian Worley (@p4pictures), Me, Noel Hannan (@Noel_Hannan) and David Kelly (@norn_ironman)

Not forgetting those members who couldn’t make it this time …
Keith Hammond (@keithhammond), Scot Baston (@scotbaston), Tim Wallace [Link], John Ogden and Alan Brusky (@fireleafdesign)

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  • July 15, 2011 - 6:49 pm

    Keith Hammond - looks like i missed a right good day, who owns the gimp ball prop then :-) i want to see film results as well, i’ll be at the next one for sure(weddings permitting)

  • July 15, 2011 - 6:52 pm

    Glyn - Hey Keith, if I tell you it’s Gareth’s do you promise not to tell anyone else ;)
    Yeah will be great to see you at the next one mate; no date fixed just yet but I’m sure soon enough there’ll be an email going out to everyone :)

The Way I See it: Inspiration for Photographers on the iPad

Hi All.
Just thought I’d add a short post to kick start the week whilst I take a break away from editing to give you the ‘heads up’ about an iPad App called ‘The Way I See It‘ by World Famous Sports Photographer and Instructor Dave Black

Seriously if you’re a photographer and you have an iPad, I’d recommend this App in a heart beat, not just for the incredible images that definitely have the motivation factor but for the insight that Dave gives telling the story behind them, why he created them and the technical details and equipment used.

Throughout the App, Dave covers his lighting techniques and techniques for shooting sports, Athletics, Arena Strobe Lighting, Off Camera Speedlights and his incredible Light Painting…

To use a line from the App description in iTunes…’A beautiful set of images with great instructional information makes this a visual treat for any viewer‘ … agreed!!!:)

Highly Recommended!

The Way I See it on iTunes [Link]
Price: £2.99

Dave Black:
Website [Link]
Blog ‘Workshops at the Ranch’ [Link

Are we hurting ourselves when we use Plugins???

Ok let me explain what I mean by the title to this post…

From the moment I was introduced to Photoshop and very soon after discovered the N.A.P.P. [Link] I was hooked! It seemed like (and still does) that every spare moment I had I was playing around trying out all kinds of techniques trying to learn as much as I could, as fast as I could, and within a relatively short space of time I’d built up enough knowledge to take and pass the ACE (Adobe Certified Expert) Exam.

However once I started up my business and work was coming in, time became an issue so I started using Plugins to reduce my editing time. If I remember correctly I was using Photo Tools by ‘OnOne’ which was a great bit of kit with all manner of presets and sure it reduced the amount of time I spent editing considerably BUT as I experienced this carried with it a negative effect…

You see because I became so reliant on using a Plugin to help with my editing by default I wasn’t really using Photoshop and because I wasn’t using Photoshop my knowledge and skill level naturally began to deteriorate. I actually started to feel a bit of a fake when people would complement my work which may sound a little odd because yeah I know it’s the actual image out of the camera that’s most important but it still needs to be ‘finished off’ and to do that I was just turning to a Plugin.

I eventually made the decision, and this is a personal one you understand because it was how I was feeling, to remove all my plugins and get back to basics. I started reading Photoshop books again and watching video tutorials with a passion, hungry to build my skill level back up and this is what I continue to do each and every day.

There’s no excuse not to keep educated and working on your skill level these days thanks to all the excellent quality online training that’s out there; resources like the N.A.P.P. [Link] and Kelby Training [Link] carry a wealth of knowledge from some of the best instructors in the world that we can access anytime and anywhere.

So where do I stand now when it comes to plugins?
Well what I’m not saying here is that Plugins are a bad thing…far from it! In fact I wouldn’t be without Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro [Link] for Black & White conversions…it totally ROCKS and there’s nothing out there that beats it!!!

If you find yourself with large numbers of images to edit, from a wedding for example, then plugins are invaluable because you can’t be spending large amounts of time editing when you have other weddings to work on too…that I totally understand. In fact lately some of my jobs have resulted in large amounts of images and I’m considering using Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 [Link] for working on such shoots when clients need the images fast.

Being able to use and create all kinds of looks and add finishing touches to images by having a working knowledge and understanding of Photoshop is very important to me. I know from my own experience that if I personally rely too heavily on plugins then my knowledge and skill level will decrease but this may well not be the case for you as we’re all different; I just know what happens to me.

One more thing…
I know that famous Digital Artist Calvin Hollywood [Link] will make use of plugins like Nik Color Efex Pro but again only when he has a client that needs a volume of images fast! But one thing I also know is that he can recreate any of the presets in the plugin himself using techniques in Photoshop.

So what are your feelings on plugins? Do you use them and if so which ones? Have you found that your skill level in Photoshop has kept the same or decreased?

I’d really love to ‘hear’ your thoughts and feelings on this whole topic of ‘plugins’ so please as always feel free to make use of the comments section below.

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  • July 8, 2011 - 9:57 am

    Scot Baston - Hi Glyn,

    I saw your Poll on Facebook about this recently, and I voted that plug-ins do negatively affect Photoshop skills.

    As you mention, using plug-ins is more about the speed benefits than the artistic benefits. A plugin is more likely to give a standard look to an image rather than developing your own style.

    There is a place for plug-ins, and a place for having the skill set in PS.. I think the problem arises when we use one method exclusively. Variety being the spice of life et al

    An interesting and thought provoking blog today.. thank you!


  • July 8, 2011 - 12:34 pm

    Jon Swainson - The Nik Software plugins are worth their weight in gold. My wedding photography would be much less profitable if I had to do everything manually.

    That said, I still process some studio work ‘manually’ to get the look I want. I try to find time to experiment and regularly read tutorials/articles to see how other photographers do things.

    In summary then, a bit of both for me!

  • July 8, 2011 - 7:17 pm

    Nate Stiverson - I see this as a parallel to school. We go to school to learn the long way of doing things in order to understand the process. When we get out into the ‘real world’ this process is shortened by the use of software and hardware in order to save time. After all, Time is Money!

    I think plug-ins are a great tool for professionals to use, but having the knowledge and understanding of what these plug-ins are doing is important.

    I am a fan of plug-ins, but want to learn all I can about the process. Thanks for the discussion topic!

  • July 8, 2011 - 8:41 pm

    Gene McCullagh - Hi Glyn!

    I’m going to disagree. When one talks about “getting back to basics” what does that really mean? Is PS Extended worse than PS Standard because it has video and 3d? Remember that PS itself is comprised of quite a few plugins that are loaded out of the box and are so tightly integrated that you don’t even know you are using a plugin.

    PS, like any well crafted application, is extensible. Avoiding plugins can be likened to using a rock to drive a nail instead of a hammer. The hammer performs a similar function to the rock but is a more refined and elegant solution to the problem. So it is with plugins.

    Now, I agree that one should continue to hone PS skills and not “go soft” from plugin overindulgence. But, to foresake plugins in fear of that I think is a mistake. We should approach plugins (that is if they are quality applications themselves) as enhancements and refinements to PS. As additional tools in our toolbox.

    It is the end product of our creative visions that matter. Whatever the tools, we need to learn to use them well.

  • July 8, 2011 - 9:42 pm

    Neil Holmes - Hi Glyn, I think Gene puts it much better than I could, but I agree plug ins are just another tool in the box, I save so much time with the Nik suite, however i have always believed you need a serious understanding of what goes on under the bonnet. Cheers Neil

  • July 9, 2011 - 6:47 am

    Glyn - @Scot…Thanks for commenting mate. Yeah I totally agree with you as I said in the post…there is a place for plug ins as well as having a skill set in using the ‘out of the box’ Photoshop.


  • July 9, 2011 - 6:48 am

    Glyn - @Jon…Totally mate; the time they can save when working on ‘volume’ of images is incredible.
    Cheers ;)

  • July 9, 2011 - 6:49 am

    Glyn - @Nate…Nailed it mate; couldn’t agree more!

  • July 9, 2011 - 7:00 am

    Glyn - @Gene…I’m with you here Gene and to clarify, what I’m not saying is that we shouldn’t embrace plug ins and make good use of them. My own experience was that when I used plug ins such as OnOne Photo Tools where I can click to add a glamour glow, smooth skin, add a bleach bypass effect and so on, my skill level decreased i.e. I began to forget how to create those effects ‘manually’ by for example using vivid light, inverting it, using the high pass filter then blending options etc to create realistic smooth skin. i wanted the knowledge to know how to do it manually but didn’t so that’s why I stopped using them for the majority of my editing…does that makes sense?

    Forsaking plug ins that have those effects is just a personal choice for me as I teach Photoshop at my workshops and need to ‘stay sharp’ (excuse the pun ;) ) but when it comes to editing a large volume of images as I’ve had to recently then for those jobs I will be turning to Nik Color Efex Pro for the speed it offers but those jobs where I have a large volume of images aren’t that often.

    Absolutely 100% agree with you when you say “It is the end product of our creative visions that matter. Whatever the tools, we need to learn to use them well.‘ … I just want to keep my knowledge to the point where I can fulfill that vision without having to turn to a plug in such as Color Efex Pro but rather using it because I want to. But this is just how I feel about it knowing how I forget techniques…must be my age :)

    Thanks for taking the time to comment Gene; I really do appreciate it.
    Keep up the great work with Lightroom Secrets too….a great read ;)

    All the best to you,

  • July 9, 2011 - 7:00 am

    Glyn - @Neil…Absolutely mate; totally with you on that!

  • July 13, 2011 - 2:54 pm

    David Hodgins - I think this is a struggle that’s existed as long as “progress” has happened, and it’s a philosophical one, not a practical one.
    Is your car an automatic or a manual transmission? Does your camera have autofocus? Ever used TTL flash, or do you only use manual? Do you use Photoshop’s Sharpening filters, or do you manually, pixel by pixel, sharpen your images?
    Plugins are the assembly line of Photoshop. My Volkswagen was made on an assembly line. It’s a great car for getting to and from work. It is not a hand-crafted Ferrari, nor would I want it to be. It is a tool I use for a specific purpose. Ferrari costs more, takes longer to build, but the proof is in the pudding.
    Is your client after a Ferrari or a VW? If it’s a Ferrari, you’d best be able to deliver one. If not…. build VW’s. You’ll be fine.