Photography

Quick Blemish Removal!

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Oh did you think I was talking about beauty products?  Sorry to disappoint!

No no no, I’m talking about removing blemishes or small imperfections in pictures!  I know some people consider image boosting or tweaking a hush-hush subject but I don’t.  Every now and then you shoot a great image, upload it to your computer and think, oh darn, if only I could get rid of that spot/pimple/speck of dust.  Well there are some free tools out there that let you do just that – remove those spots or blemishes or specks of dust from your images.  They’re free, easy to use, and pretty handy!

Let’s practice on this basket filled with pumpkins, ‘tis the season, you know.  There is a “Blemish Fix” tool in PicMonkey – a new and improved version of once popular Picnik that closed, and the tool will remove smaller imperfections like these brown spots on these little white pumpkins.

This shot is straight out of the camera, notice the tiny brown spots on the pumpkins in the center and in the upper right?

pumpkins in basket

Upload your image to PicMonkey and use the Blemish Fix tool to remove the spots:

blemish fix with  picmonkey

A few clicks later, those tiny spots are gone, easy peasy.

pumpkins in basket no blemishes

 

Another more advanced tool, and also free, is the spot healing brush in Pixlr, which mimics the same tool in Photoshop.   I’ve praised the Pixlr tools before (here and here).  It’s a simplified version of Photoshop Elements and it’s an online program that’s completely free – all you need is an internet connection.

You can use the Clone Tool just like in Photoshop to grab nearby pixels and cover blemishes, but the Spot Heal Tool is easier.   Here’s an image I posted earlier this week from the Tomato Festival, notice the hole on the front tomato.

tomatoes and wine grapes

 

I left it in the image because it looks natural to me, but if I had wanted to remove it here’s how to do it in Pixlr.   Open your image in Pixlr Editor (Advanced) and select the Spot Heal tool highlighted below – it looks like a Band Aid.

choose spot heal tool

 

Select the size and hover over the spot and start drawing on top where you want to heal the image.

select size hover on spot

 

Use your mouse to click or draw on the spot and it will magically “heal” the image with the surrounding pixels.  Here’s the image with the “repaired” tomato.

tomatoes and wine grapes pixlr

 

I do prefer when photographs are real and actually depict the subject, but sometimes you may want to tweak your image to remove a tiny imperfection (like a pimple!) or an unwanted speck and these two tools help you do it, plus they’re easy and free!

What are your favorite photo boosting or editing tools?

 

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Experimenting with Focal Length

Monday, July 30th, 2012

I’ve been focused (ha!) on my photography lately, trying to improve even more and one of the things I’ve been studying is focal length.  I’m learning that not only do aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings matter, but millimeters do too.  All digital camera lenses have a mm setting assigned to them, some are fixed (50mm or 35mm) others are zoom.  The assigned millimeters are the mathematical definition for the distance between the lens and image sensor (focal length), but in everyday language, just know that the number determines from how close or far away you can capture a subject with a particular lens.

10-24mm is a wide angle which allows you to pull back and capture full room shots, architecture, or larger landscapes. I have a Tamron wide angle and I love it.  Most kit lenses that come with a DSLR camera are in the 18-55mm range.  Telephotos go all the way up to 600mm or higher and allow you to zoom in from far away – they’re great for capturing sports or wildlife, and I’ve always wanted to play with one!

Last spring, my little boy played baseball and one of the moms was snapping pictures with a giant telephoto lens and she was able to capture some fun closeups of the team in action from far away, so I struck up a conversation with her – I do that with photographers, I’m fascinated by the fancy equipment and lenses!  Turns out, she’s not a professional photographer at all, it’s her hobby and she had rented the lens to take pictures of her son.   Okay wow, renting lenses?  Sounds like a great idea!

A few months went by and I eventually decided to try it out for myself.  I used Borrow Lenses* to rent this 70-300mm zoom Nikkor lens and picked it up at a local shop (there are several pickup locations in California) to play around for the first time with a telephoto lens.

We headed out to Bodega on Saturday for our favorite clam chowder stop and for me to test out this lens.  The clarity is slightly compromised since these are .jpgs but here’s an image taken from the hill above with the 18-55mm kit lens that came with my Nikon D90.

I switched the lens to the 70-300mm telephoto and zoomed in – the shot of the dock and seagulls got a little more dynamic!

 

Sometimes the kit lens captured exactly what I wanted – these boats along the water are a gorgeous scene, I actually like this image better than the zoom.

Switching again, I was able to use the borrowed telephoto to zoom in on the waterfront homes across the bay.

 

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Creating Digital Color Palettes

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

You know how you take a picture of a colorful scene or stumble across a space you see online and you just fall in love with the color palette?  It happens to me all the time.  Often it’s an image I’ve snapped while I’m out and about, other times it’s a striking room, tablescape, or vignette I store in my inspiration files on Pinterest.  Well, there’s an easy way to create a digital color palette from your inspiration images in a few steps.

I’ve sung the praises of Pixlr here and here – it’s a online photo editing program very similar to Photoshop Elements (not a paid or sponsored post, I just dig it!).  Pixlr has a great tool you can use to pull colors from your favorite photos to create digital color palettes.  If you’re in need of inspiration for a room redesign, here’s a fun way to do it.

creating digital color palettes

 

I shot the above image of some cute little kids playing on the beach in So Cal a few weeks ago.  I loved the whole scene, especially the oranges, corals, and blues and the sandy colors too – the perfect summer scene.  To create the color palette you see to the right, I followed these simple steps.

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