SnapChick eBook test shoot, the good, bad, and ugly

If you have been following me on Facebook, you know that I have a few projects underway. One of these projects is an eBook (still in development) which talks about the business and tech behind the SnapChick site, the advertising/affiliates, and the VIP program… and how each of these can apply to any type of site, not just photography.

Every book needs a cover… even an eBook. So, I was messing around in the studio tonight, took some photos, and made some rough edits. From the work I did tonight, I will choose a cover. If the edits work out, I will go with one of these. If not, I will use one of these as a starting point and do an additional shoot with variations on the same theme.

Here are three samples for everyone (tell me your favorite!) and down below, the VIP’s get some other good ones… and some duds!!!





More for the VIP’s below… 🙂

...

{{{gold|platinum}}}
The rest of this article is available to SnapChick VIP Members only.

Black and White, Filters, Processing, Opinions…

Tonight I talk about Black and White Images, processing, the old days, the new days… and my thoughts on it all 🙂



Sample image for everyone…



And a bunch more for my AWESOME VIP Members 🙂 You inspire me!!!!!

...

{{{gold|platinum}}}
The rest of this article is available to SnapChick VIP Members only.

SnapChick, Aperture 3.0, headshots, and FILTERS

A simple setup tonight with the intention to show the impact of various filters on them!

First! A video…



The shoot was a very simple setup. D300s with the 17-55mm f2.8, a single SB-800 about 7 feet in from of me to the left of the frame. I triggered the SB-800, which was set to SU-4 “dumb” mode with the popup flash. The SB-800 was set for 1/4 power and I varied the manual popup flash to add a bit of fill, but backed it down a bit if/when I had a shadow on the wall behind me. I was about 8 feet in front of the wall and shot at f4 to minimize any texture detail from the wall. If you have any more specific questions about the setup, just let me know.

For the filtering, I used a combination of some out of the box Aperture 3.0 filters and some of my own modifications in Aperture. The more I use Aperture, the more I like it. I have been enjoying making some of my own custom filters with Aperture – perhaps I will offer a filter pack here on the site in the near future!

Here is a sample image using a “cyanotype” filter. You may know this chemical process as “blueprint.”



Here is one using a filter called “Pink fu-fu-fluffy” which is a free filter that I found online!



And to my VIP’s….. here are the rest of the images. Some of these images are in the “Red Hot” category 😉 Also, I have expanded the VIP images to 1280 pixels wide 🙂

...

{{{gold|platinum}}}
The rest of this article is available to SnapChick VIP Members only.

Working with Green Screen – Still Images

I’ve finally had some time to dabble with green screen again for still images. More will be coming soon about my video hijinks with green screen… this post is all about the still image. Many thanks to Backdrop Express for furnishing some of my green screen equipment.

For these images I used their tech green seamless roll paper.

One of the first things that I learned is that the green screens can be a bit reflective – and any spill (reflected light) on the subject can definitely take on a green characteristic. This can all be edited out of the image, but my objective has been to get crisp background separation while shooting in the studio, instead of relying on extensive processing.

If you are familiar with Photoshop or Photoshop elements, you may be familiar with the “magic wand” tool. This is the quickest and best way to get most of the green background out of your shot. From there, you may need to do some cloning and detailed editing to remove any remaining green in complex areas (like hair) or from any spill, which can show up on the side of the face, arms, or legs.

Once you have tackled the mechanics, the next step is matching the background to the characteristics of the lighting in your green-screen photograph. With different angles or quality of lighting between the background image and the subject (shot against green screen), your image can suffer from a “cardboard cutout” effect. Also, you must be mindful of how your subject would cast a shadow on the background in real life. In fact, you may have to create a ground shadow out of nothing. Also, sense of scale and depth of field need to “gel” between the subject and the background.

Here are three samples that I have recently worked with – and the “before” and “after” for each. These are not perfect in many respects, but they are the images that I “cut my teeth” on a little while sharpening up my background removal skills and matching the right subject to the best background.

Let me know if I’m “on my way” with these techniques, or if I have to go “back to the drawing board.” Either way, I can handle the feedback!!!











How filters can change the meaning and perception of an image




I can never make up my mind about photo editing. Do I go heavy on the editing or do I leave the photo clean and natural? I can make an argument for both sides. In my professional work and in my SnapChick playtime, I end up doing a lot of both! In a photo shoot today, I took three photos and ran each of the three through my three different photo editing software applications – Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Aperture. I also left one version free of edits.

Why do I use three different photo editing software applications? Well, I get antsy and want to try new things. But then each time I got a new piece of software, there was something about the old piece that I missed. So now I use all three!

Here’s the run-down of what I did today…

Image 1 Unfiltered



In Photoshop Elements, I removed the color and played with the curves until I liked the contrast. Next, I made a duplicate layer. On the top layer, I added a gaussian blur and increased the brightness. I also decreased the opacity so some of the crisp photo beneath would show through. This created a bit of a dreamy look.



In Aperture, I added a filter called “electric koolade”. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you exactly where I got the filter. It was definitely free. It made the photo look a little aged but still dreamy.



In Photoshop, I wanted to make it look less dreamy so I added an OptikVerve filter called “film noir” so the photo looks a tad gritty.



Okay, VIP’s – you get images #2 and #3, filtered variations, and my comments 🙂 Let me know what you think!

...

{{{gold|platinum}}}
The rest of this article is available to SnapChick VIP Members only.

D3100 with 18-200 VR DX, 200mm with 100% crop

Hi! As I mentioned on my Facebook Page, I was out this weekend with the D3100 and 18-200 combo. It worked very well. Here is a shot at 200mm, f5.6, 1/1000th sec, shutter priority, Auto ISO @ ISO 220m. Camera was set to “Vivid.”

The “Big Picture” downsized to 600×400



And here is a 600×400 crop of the cyclist in the image, at 100%



I’m not much of a “pixel peeper” but I wanted to demonstrate this setup at the long end.

D3100 Day

Today I bring you two videos for the D3100. One is for everyone… and the second one is for my SUPER ULTRA COOL VIP MEMBERS 🙂

In the first one, I talk about the D3100 – specifically its external features



In today’s VIP Video, I talk about….
...

{{{gold|platinum}}}
The rest of this article is available to SnapChick VIP Members only.

Testimonial from a VIP!

Hi! I definitely owe you guys a FAQ section for both the VIP Program and for the site, BUT I wanted to pass along this recent unsolicited feedback / testimonial from one of my VIP’s!!! 🙂

Hi Leigh,

I have been serious about photography for many years. In fact, I attended the NY Institute of Photography back in 1965, when they still had a brick and mortar school. I was also a working pro for about 2 years.

After serving a stint in the Navy, graduating from college, and getting married, I ended up changing careers, but photography has remained a passion of mine. I consider myself a serious amateur, although I have done several pro shoots over the years. I am also currently the VP of my hometown camera club.

I shot with a Nikon F2 for a long time and I did all of my own B&W darkroom work, as well as some color printing. I finally went digital shortly after the D70 became available, and today, I have a Nikon D7000 as well as a 1/2 dozen lenses, and numerous accessories.

I actually came across snapchick.com by accident, and I enjoyed your videos and photographs so much that I decided to become a VIP member. I think you are an extremely talented and creative photographer, and your intelligence, charm, and beauty are the icing on the cake. Of course, you probably hear that from people everyday!

I believe that ‘you can teach and old dog new tricks’, and I’ve already picked up a few good tips from you. You are definitely a breath of fresh air. Keep up the good work!

I was touched and proud to receive this email!

Questions about the VIP program? Just email me at secrets@snapchick.com

Interested in joining? Check out your options here.