White balance made easy

We recommend you manually white-balance your digital cameras in the field every time the light changes. A custom white balance has several advantages over the automatic white-balance feature in your camera:

  • It helps you correct for over or under exposure.
  • It makes it easier to shoot the full dynamic range of white to black without muddiness or hot spots.
  • It makes it easier to achieve good skin tones.
  • It allows you to shoot JPG instead of RAW, so you can save smaller images on your camera’s PC card.

If you don’t know how to manually white-balance, you can start by reviewing the instructions on our website or the instructions in your camera’s manual.

However, since you’re going to need a calibration target anyway, I recommend the one from Photovision. Each target comes with Ed Pierce’s free Instructional DVD. The information on the DVD is worth more than the price of the calibration target – it’s like getting a private training class for free!

From the DVD you learn – step-by-step – how to insure that you have consistent color and density on every photograph, regardless of camera, lighting conditions, or type of photography.

You can order the popular 24″ target with instructional DVD directly from the lab at the same price they charge at Photovision. We’ll drop it in your next shipment of photographs and bill your lab account.

Is Online PhotoShop Training Right for You? – Updated

PhotoShop CS3With the huge growth in high-speed Internet connections, there are now virtually thousands of free on-line tutorials to teach Photoshop. After having reviewed several of them, below are some recommendations:

-If you are brand new to Photoshop, you should start with a class that starts with the basics like menu options and keyboard shortcuts and builds step-by-step into using Photoshop for everyday tasks. A good example of this training can be found at www.lynda.com. They have hundreds of Photoshop training videos broken into 5-7 minute downloads. Many of the basic videos are free – if you want to see videos that are more advanced, a membership ($25 per month) is required.

-A slightly more expensive alternative is to use Adobe’s official online training at adobe.elementk.com. For $129 you get a year’s worth of access to over 30 courses in Adobe Acrobat, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and GoLive. Adobe has partnered with ElementK (the top supplier of online education to Fortune 500 companies) to produce these videos, so you can be assured of their quality.

-If you already know your way around Photoshop and are looking for a specific advanced technique, go to www.tutorialized.com or www.pslover.com. Both of these sites are collections of thousands of free tutorials submitted by Photoshop professionals. These sites assume you have a good working knowledge of Photoshop and are just looking for a “trick” to accomplish a specific special effect.

UPDATE: Siyab over at listfied.com created a list of 75+ advanced techniques for Adobe PhotoShop and Adobe Illustrator. Check them out. If their is anything here you’ve always wanted to do, click on the technique an in 5 minutes you’ll have a new skill.

Will PhotoShop Express work for pro photographers?

Adobe recently introduced PhotoShop Express, an on-line image-editing program. PhotoShop Express is designed to compete with Google’s Picassa and Shutterfly’s Picnik: two free, yet powerful image-editing programs used by millions of beginning photographers in the consumer market. Since young photographers grow up to become professional photographers, PhotoShop needed a product like Express to maintain relevancy to the next generation.

The PhotoShop Express beta is also a test to see if a single browser-based program could replace both PhotoShop CS3 and the $99 Elements. The plan would be to offer basic photo-editing for free, then encourage users to purchase a subscription to enable premium features. Many future programs (including the next versions of Microsoft Vista and Office) are slated to be totally browser-based. Adobe must certainly be considering this option too as it develops CS4, CS5, and CS6.

Here’s the question: will PhotoShop Express (and the subscription-based model) work for professional photographers? On the one hand, I like the idea of only paying for the functionality I need. On the other hand, I like holding the program CD in my hand. With the CD, I can postpone purchasing the latest upgrade until I’ve got the free time to learn the new features and where they are on the new menus. I don’t want Adobe forcing me to update in the middle of an important project.

It will be interesting to see how the software as a subscription model plays out. I’m willing to keep an open mind, but my gut reaction is that I’m not going to be happy about it.