Creating Textures in Photoshop 2020 and more…

Photoshop has built-in actions for a variety of functions that not many people that I know of actually use.

Not that I personally use those a lot, but, these built-in actions can save a huge amount of time if you need to do anything similar.

Before we look at the actions, there are a couple of points to keep in mind…

  1. If you invoke Photoshop from Lightroom, you will get all kinds of errors and this is definitely a bug in the Lightroom-Photoshop workflow.
  2. In case you get any errors while running these actions, just reset the settings for Photoshop by pressing CMD+OPT+SHIFT and then clicking on the PS icon to start PS. You will be prompted to reset the settings and just click okay on that.

Now that we are done with the issues, let us take a look at all the goodies we have already built into Photoshop.

#Photography #Lightroom #Wildlife #Photoshop #Nikon

Lightroom Auto-Mask in Photoshop? Yes, there is one!

Sometimes, when I already have made some edits in Photoshop and find that I missed out some small areas when using the auto-mask in Lightroom, it was a pain using a brush to fix it.

Turns out that Photoshop not only has an equivalent to the Lightroom auto-mask feature but, it is far more powerful in the way you can control how the auto-masking works.

So, without spending any more time on explaining this, let us open a raw file in Photoshop and see how this works…

Photography #Lightroom #Wildlife #Photoshop #Workflow

Luminar 4 – Why layers are practically useless

To my way of thinking, working with layers implies the ability to precisely mask areas or subjects and apply effects based on the selections or masks.

This is exactly what makes the Luminar 4 layers practically useless. The implementation of the masks/selections is similar to using a paintbrush app vs something like Photoshop.

In Luminar, you only have the fixed brush and gradient tools for the masking. There is no option of something like an edge/tonal detection auto-mask (as in LR) or the perfect brush in ON1 Photo Raw 2020.

This means that you cannot really do clean masking or selection of any subject. Since you cannot make a clean mask, the whole purpose of layers is defeated.

Although there is a luminosity mask in Luminar 4, the same issue makes it practically useless. There is no control over the luminosity mask as in LR (which is not great) or ON1 (which is far better than LR).

While Luminar 4 remains a choice over LR and ON1 for noise reduction and the AI-based image enhancement features, the layers can be ignored almost completely.

The only place you can use layers is when you have shots where you can apply one of the blending modes in Luminar 4 and achieve the effect you want. Other than that, forget layers in Luminar till they have better masking tools.

#Photography #Luminar #Post

How I shot the solar eclipse today

As always, I will try to avoid tech and math as all that can be found on the net already.

First, a look at the logic behind using ND or solar filters and glasses.

Looking directly into the sun is not recommended in general for a variety of reasons and I would strongly suggest that you avoid doing that. There are times when we move out of our homes and look up to the sky to adjust our eyes to the light around us a bit faster. A passing glance at the sun is okay, not looking at it.

This is where solar glasses come in. These are available online from a variety of online stores and should be used if you want to look at the eclipse.

ND or Neutral Density and Solar filters can be used on cameras and telescopes for the same purpose. In general, Solar filters are recommended over ND filters.

I had neither the glasses nor the filters. I did not quite imagine myself waking up in time for the eclipse anyway, so, did not bother with those.

For some reason, I woke up and took it easy since I had no intension of going to my rooftop till I started looking at some shots people had already started to share on social media.

Okay, so, I was not too concerned with the fact that I had no filters for the camera, but, I was concerned about my eyes. I thought over that part for a while and went to the roof to take some shots of the little of the eclipse that was still around on a cloudy day.

I had to wait a while for the clouds to clear a bit and meantime I set my camera for the exposure that I thought would be correct.

I set the shutter speed to the maximum I have on the D850, i.e., 1/8000, Aperture wide open at f/5.6 and the ISO to the base native of 64. Then I set up the bracketing for a 1 EV change for 7 and later 9 shots.

Generally, I use AF-C priority as Focus (as discussed in an earlier video), so, I changed that to Release for these shots since I already know from experience when I shoot skies for backgrounds, the autofocus generally does not lock. The lens I used was my normal Nikkor 200-500mm.

Since it was still cloudy and the sun not visible, I focussed onto the clouds where I had a good enough focus lock using the AF of the camera instead of manually trying to set it to infinity.

Once the clouds cleared a bit from the sun, I looked through the viewfinder to the area next to the sun, which is like shooting any normal sky. Then, I started moving the camera towards the sun and the moment the light got brighter, I half shut my eye and looked down instead of through the viewfinder since I could “sense” the light through my half-shut eye. The moment it was bright enough to “feel”, I released the shutter for bracketing the first lot.

As we can see, it was over-exposed and I stopped down to f/16, f/18 and finally landed up at f/32. Of course, I was bracketing 9 shots for all of these apertures since the clouds were coming and going it was always safer to bracket.

After I got a bite of the sun, I waited for a while and thought I would get a different image in a while. Not really, the eclipse was over when I tried after about 30-40 minutes and I got only the sun instead.

As we can see from some of these, I probably touched the AF at some point while trying to keep my eyes from looking directly at the sun and the focus shifted completely.

So, I fixed the focus at a patch of clouds and took another 9 shots only to find that the eclipse was over. Oh well…At least I got one piece of the pie 🙂

After this, I went to the rooftop later as I have been since the lockdown and took my daily shots as well. Same gear.

A warning for your gear! Do not use the live view or long exposures. That can totally damage your gear most of the time. Do not try and focus on the sun directly. That will not work. Just try to focus on a patch of clouds and then take a shot as I have described above. My gear was exposed to the eclipse for only about 1 second for the bracketed shots at 1/8000th of a second.

For you as well…Get solar glasses for the next time. I already did 🙂

#photography #nikon #nikkor #eclipse

Lightroom 9.3 and Photoshop 21.2.0 Updates

These updates were released a few hours ago and we will take a brief look at both to figure out the changes.

Of course, the individual features and internal changes will follow in a later video…

Photography #Lightroom #Wildlife #Photoshop #Nikon

Nik Collection 3 – What I would like in the next update

Even after all these updates and features, the one thing that is still lacking in the Nik Collection, and some others as well, is the almost total lack of attention to the UI/UX and consistency of usage.

Let us look at the latest version of the Nik Collection, one by one, and see what I mean by this.

Inconsistent menus, zoom, pan, navigation, buttons and settings. No standard shortcuts apply where they could.

#Photography #Nik #NikCollection

White Backgrounds with Lightroom, ON1 Photo Raw and Photoshop

I have already shared how to create black backgrounds earlier, but, this one is going to be slightly different as we will also discuss a bit about the original exposure and which shots lend themselves well to a white background.

Do not confuse a white background with a high key image. High key images are those that are mostly light and white which is not true for just a white background image.

We will go through the process of making a white background in Lightroom, Photoshop (with and without Topaz Mask AI) as well as ON1 Photo Raw.

Yes, I have recently installed the trial version of Topaz Mask AI and so far, not very impressed as far as wildlife is concerned. Still learning more about it and experimenting…

This would also give us a reasonable comparison as to what one can do with each.

So…This is an image from my rooftop shooting today and this is what we will use in this session. Let’s start with this in Lightroom and then we will look at the same in Photoshop and finally in ON1.

First, the shot itself. As you can see from the base EXIF, this is overexposed specifically for a white background. I have avoided the wall behind the bird and it’s mostly the floor of the roof in the background. The angle of the shot is just over the bird to do this.

Similarly, when you have grey and/or overcast conditions, you can always look to overexpose a bit to create similar effects. Even low light conditions are good for this as long as the subject is close enough. In this case, the bird is just 6 meters away.

Now that we already have a dull background, let’s see how we can make this image pop a bit…

First, we apply my wildlife preset to this and tweak it a bit for a white background. Then, as with the black background, we use the adjustment brush and mask the background around the bird and then pull up all these sliders to make it white.

Do keep in mind that we can only do black or white in Lightroom, anything beyond that, you would have to look at some other application.

Okay, now, let’s remove the mask and try the same in Photoshop.
First the select subject.
Now, let’s try the Topaz Mask AI

Finally, let’s do the same in ON1 Photo Raw…We will use the local adjustments here with the perfect brush which is the equivalent of the auto-mask in Lightroom.

#Photography #Post #Topaz #Photoshop #ON1 #Lightroom

Topaz Products not appearing in Photoshop 2020?

I had already uninstalled the Topaz Mask AI and the Topaz Studio 2 which I was considering to purchase as part of one of their packs. I am running MacOS Catalina 10.15.5 with all updates applied.

I had already searched around on the net and their own FAQs and forums and nothing helped. I had also downloaded the full installers, but, did not work.

I was about to log a ticket with and then I thought I would go through the apps to try and see if I could fix the issue manually.

Took me around 5 minutes to figure out and fix the issue. The solution is what I will share here.

I would recommend you download the full installers since that takes a lot lesser time to install than the online installers.

Once you start the installers, you might get an error message that the application is from the internet or unidentified developers. Not an issue, just right click on the installer application and click on “open” and then you will be prompted if you really want to run the app and you click on “open” again.

That will start up the installers. Once you have installed any of these products, you will not see them appear in Photoshop as most others do.

You will manually need to copy the plugins to the Photoshop plugin folder and then start up Photoshop to see them appear.

  1. Make sure that Photoshop is not running
  2. Go to the “Applications” folder (press CMD+SHIFT+A)
  3. Go into the “Topaz Labs LCC” folder
  4. Now, go into the application folder you want to add as a plugin
  5. 5. Right-click on the application file and select “Show Package Contents”
  6. Go into the “Content” folder
  7. Go into the “Resources” folder
  8. 8. Finally, go into the “PS_Plugins” folder
  9. You can either copy the contents of this folder, or the folder itself for the next step
  10. Go back into the “Applications” folder
  11. Go into the “Adobe Photoshop 2020” folder
  12. 12. Go into the “Plug-ins” folder
  13. Finally into the “Filters” folder
  14. Paste the plugins or the plugin folder copied from step 9 here.

That’s it. Repeat the process for all Topaz apps.

Now when you start Photoshop, you will see them appear as they should have to start with. These are simple to add in Lightroom, so, that should not be an issue.

I can only hope that Topaz fixes these installation issues soon…

#Photography #Post #Topaz #Photoshop