Hola Amigos!

What’s shakin’ out there?  Busy, as usual here.  As you saw from the last post, we headed out to Arizona to see Dana’s family last weekend.  The weather was surprisngly nice out there.  Not hot at all.  In fact, I think I wore pants the whole time we were there.  And believe me, that NEVER happens when we are in Arizona!  But it is April, and the weather hasn’t really heated up there yet.  We had a fun time, and met some cool people!

So, with this week’s blog, I’m going to deviate slightly from the regular “Jeff rants about whatever for a few paragraphs” as Dana likes to put it, and talk about our work, and our workflow.

Inevitably, whenever you get a bunch of photographers in the room, questions arise.  Usually they end up in arguments, err discussions, about Canon Vs. Nikon, and Mac Vs. PC. (We all know that Nikon and PC are the way to go, right?! 🙂 ) After these arguments end in a stalemate, or people fighting in the streets, the next question that pops up is about “workflow”.  Now, since Dana and I both learned on film back in the dark ages (the early-mid 90’s) the term workflow really had no meaning to us.  Not really anyways.  I mean, you shot the film, dropped it off at the lab, go have a sandwich, and when your’re done eating, wham, prints are done.  Throw them in an album, and out the door they go.  No color correction. No effects. Nada.  You had to get it right in camera.  No Photoshop to fix your mistakes!

So, when it came time for us to switch to digital, we had to come up with a workflow.  Getting the images from your camera, to your computer, to the lab/web, etc.  At first, there was a lot of trial and error.  There was no simple solution to edit, adjust, tweak everything.  We used Photoshop, and Bridge, and it worked.  Just not that great.  Fast forward a couple years, and Adobe busts out Lightroom.  Sweet Jesus!  Lightroom is probably the best piece of software I’ve owned.  The ability to import pics, keyword them, adjust them 10000 times, and still revert back to the original without damaging the file is amazing.  I can batch thru 1000 pics, adjust color, exposure, change to Black and White, whatever in about 1/4 of the time it took me with Bridge and Photoshop.  It’s just that good.

So here is our basic Workflow with Lightroom/Photoshop:
1. Import pics into LR, using a basic preset for the Nikon D300.  I found a preset online that I tweaked a bit to make our stuff look great right out of the box.
2. Dana then does the rough edit, getting rid of bad pics, out of focus, bad exposure, blinks, etc.
3. I go thru everything, and adjust White Balance, Exposure, Color, Sharpening to give it our basic Look.
4. At this point, they are ready to go to a lab.  I export them as .jpg’s, and send them away!
5. Then I back up stuff (or should… I’m fairly lazy with this, and need to get better) onto two seperate portable hard drives, plus the HD in the computer.

All this is done without EVER going into Photoshop.  I would have to say anymore that I’m about 90% Lightroom, and 10% Photoshop.  As good as Lightroom is, there are still a few things that just can’t be done there, and I have to make the roundtrip to PS.  In talking with other photographers, this seems to be about the norm for most of them.  Except for those that do major work, and really heavy editing to their pictures.

The fun part comes after all that is done.  The time when we take our favorite pics and have fun with them.  Over the course of the past year, I think we have really dialed our style in. I use the same basic presets in LR, and Photoshop to give us a consistent look.  Occasionally, I get a little funky, and play with some new presets or actions that look cool, but don’t necessarily fit our style.  Usually these are on our more personal work.  Sometimes, if something works well there, we may incorporate it into more of our regular work.  Here are a few examples of some of the latest stuff I’ve been playing with:

Earlier this week, I got a message from my friend, Kerry over at CameraDojo.com.  He puts together a really good set of Lightroom Presets that sells at a really great price over at his site.  He was putting the final touches on a series of Black and White Presets and wanted me to check them out.  I gotta say, I played with them a bit last night, and really dig them.  They are some good, solid Black and White settings in there.  This one was made using the Greyscale Max White setting with a Med. Vignette.  The great thing about these presets is that you can apply them, and tweak them to suit your tastes.  For the ones I post here, these are straight up, no tweaking.  I really wanted to see how they looked right out of the box!   If you don’t know Camera Dojo, you need to go check them out.  Not only do they have a weekly podcast with some of the big names in photography, the website itself is filled with TONS of useful info.  I’m coming into almost 20 years of photography, and I can always find something on their site that I didn’t know!

This was us screwing around up in Santa Ynez from a few weeks ago.  We found a really great field across from the Firestone Brewing Company Restaurant and used some of the late afternoon sunlight to get some pics of ourselves.

This was done with the CameraDojo Infrared preset with a medium Vignette.  I’ve never had any luck the 3 or 4 times I had to shoot Infrared film in school, so this works just as well for me!

This was the new Wedding Lawn at Firestone Winery.

For years, I’ve had a Holga 120 plastic, piece of crap camera.  It’s covered in tape, and leaks light like a sieve.  Because of this, it produces really funky, semi-out of focus pictures with odd flares and such. The problem with the Holga anymore, is that it shoots film. I still love film, but the costs are hard to justify anymore. Brandon Oelling over at X-equals.com seems to have had the same thoughts and came up with this really cool setting.  He’s also a bit of a LR expert and has tons of tutorials, tips, and tricks on his site.  Definitely check his stuff out!  The border was added in Photoshop to give it that fake film look! 🙂

This one here is more of what you normally see in our blog, and on our site.  It is a PS action that I came up with that basically desaturates the picture overall, and adds a little bit of warmth to it.  It seems to work especially well in that late afternoon/sundown flarey light time.  I just like it, because it’s actually a decent picture of me.  Of course, Dana shot it, and she’s fairly handy with the camera, ya know!

So, there ya go.  Hope you got a little insight and how we do what we do, and if you have any questions about anything, please email us, or drop a comment at the bottom here, and we’ll get right back to ya!  And be sure to check out both Camera Dojo and X=Equals websites!

See ya next week!