Microsoft recently updated their online storage offering with a number of file handling and speed improvements. You can read about all of the features on the Windows Live Blog. The big news for photographers is that it has now added support to upload your RAW files.
You can upload your RAW photos just as if they were a jpg file and have the thumbnails and large previews show up in the browser.
If you like to shoot using aperture priority you know that you don’t always get the shutter speed up as fast as you like and end up with blurry photos. There is one other option that many camera’s feature that can help with speeding up the shutter.
Many cameras allow you to adjust exposure compensation. With this setting you tell the camera that you either want to over or under expose each shot. If you are shooting in aperture priority adjusting the exposure compensation will either speed up the shutter or slow it down.
If you are shooting basketball photos using aperture priority and are in a very low lit gym you might be better off telling your camera to under expose your photos by one or two stops to bring your shutter speed up to where you need to capture the fast action. Obviously when you do this your images are going to look a little darker than they should. The good thing is you can usually brighten the photos up in post production and make them look just as good as if they were shot without under exposing them. You also get the advantage of keeping the fast action shots sharp.
If your camera does a poor job with high ISO noise you can implement this technique as well. Rather than moving the ISO setting to a higher setting, tell your camera to under expose the photo. Now in post you simply brighten the photo back up and don’t have to worry about trying to get rid of really bad noise.
When using this feature you will want to be careful not to push things too far. If you under expose too much you may start to lose detail that you can’t recover. You also need to be extremely careful if you are ever over exposing. Photos are much more forgiving when they are under exposed as apposed to over exposure. You have the chance to loose much more information in an over exposed photo than and under exposed one.
Creating a vintage look to your sports photographs can be pretty quick and easy. Below is the final result with the original photo below that.
To start out get your photo up and make sure you have the basic panel open with your white balance ect. Depending on the photo you are using the settings will most likely differ from what we use here but the goal is to give it a little warmer tone. You also will want some good contrast and over expose just a tad.
The next step is where the real magic happens. Open up the Split Toning panel. If you have never used the tool before it is basically controlling the color of the highlights and shadows of your photo. You select the color by using the hue slider and you choose how vibrant that color appears by moving the saturation slider. The balance slider is just as it says, it controls how much one color over powers the other. If you set the balance in the middle at 0 the colors are exactly equal. If you want more of the highlight color to show on your photos you would move the slider to the right to give it a positive value. The opposite would apply if you wanted more of the shadow color to show through.
For our vintage look we want to give the highlights an olive green color and the shadows a dark blue. We are going to keep the balance at 0 and bring the saturation of both up quite a bit. You can see the exact settings below.
Now your photo should be almost to where we want it. The last thing is optionally but can add just a bit more to the overall look. Open up the effects panel and add a small vignette. You don’t want to make it too obvious but just a hint of one can help guide the viewer to your subject. Once again you can see the exact settings we used below.
To get started log in to your SkyDrive account and go into the photo folder you would like to share. Over on the right hand side there are a few options for sharing depending on what sharing restrictions you have set.
Get a link
Send a link
Embed (only shown if you grant access to everyone)
Let’s go over the different options you have now.
Edit Permissions This is a quick way to change the level of sharing you grant to other people.
From the screenshot above you can see there is a slider you can adjust to give a broad change or you can enter one or more email address in the box provided to specify individuals you would like to grant access to your photos.
Once you have shared photos with individuals this is also where you want to go if you later want to remove them. There will be a list of all the people you have shared photos with and the option to remove them if you like.
Get a Link This option allows you to copy and paste a link that sends you or whomever you give the link to to your photos. Note that anyone that uses the link must have permission to view the photos. If they don’t they will get an error page explaining they might not have permission to view the photos.
Send a Link With this option you can easily send a link via email that will give the recipients access to your photos.
When you send the email the person you sent the link to will receive an email explaining that they have been invited to view your photos.
Embed Using the embed link will show you a snippet of code that you can copy and paste into your webpage. When a visitor comes to your site they will see a small thumbnail with a link to the album. We have placed a small sample gallery using the embed code below so you can see it in action.
So what happens when someone either clicks the link you sent in an email or a link you have on your website? They are greeted with a large image view of your gallery. They are able to easily navigate either clicking the small thumbnails across the bottom, clicking to the left or right of the main image or using the keyboard left and right arrow keys.
If they click the folder name in the upper right corner of the screen they are shown a grid view of the gallery with the options to download the entire gallery or even order prints from Snapfish.
As you can see there are a number of ways to share your sports photos using SkyDrive. You can make it as open or closed as you like.
Windows Live SkyDrive is a free 25GB cloud storage offering from Microsoft in which you can store literally any files you want. It integrates with Office Web Apps which include free online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. SkyDrive has been around for a few years but unfortunately if you were a photographer it never had a real good reason to use it. With the new HTML 5 update that is about to change.
SkyDrive now feels much more like a photo viewing desktop application than your standard old website. Uploading photos is extremely easy. You first create a folder and then click the add files button. You are then presented with a large box asking you to drag your files there. Once you drop your photos to the box it automatically starts uploading them for you. You can choose from a number of uploading sizes from small all the way up to the original size.
Once you have uploaded a number of photos and folders you can get a quick view of all your uploads by clicking on the Photos link on the left hand side of the page. This view uses what Microsoft calls live tiles. Essentially what it does is present you with a small slideshow of the photos you have in each folder. The effect is very nice and isn’t overly distracting.
Once you click through to one of your photo folders you are presented with a grid of your photos nicely spaced and with their original aspect ratio. You also get details and options for that specific folder to the right side of the interface that “sticks” in view even as you scroll through your photos. When scrolling through your photos you don’t have to click through page and page but rather SkyDrive automatically loads thumbnails of your images as you scroll. This behavior is more like a traditional desktop application than a website. This makes finding your photos much more quickly than having to try and guess which page you think the photo you are looking for is on.
Clicking on an individual photo brings up a larger view of that photo in addition to small thumbnails of the other photos before and after the currently selected photograph. Once again SkyDrive provides you with options and details of the currently selected photo on the right side. You can easily scroll through your photos using the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard or clicking to the left or right of the large photo. You can also skip to another photo by clicking it’s thumbnail at the bottom of the screen.
One last feature I’ll mention is the arrange photo feature. When you move to this mode it gives you an intuitive way of arranging all your photos in a particular folder. You can simply drag your photos around moving them into the order you wish for them to show up.
Many of the features I’ve described here don’t give you a full appreciation of how things look and work so I’ve embedded a short video Microsoft has provided which walks you through some of the new features.
Remember all those action photos you have taken that ended up being focused on the wrong player. What if you could change the focus to the player you originally were aiming for after you took that photo? The possibility might not be to far from reality. A startup company called Lytro is working on a consumer priced camera that allows you to actually change what is or is not in focus after the photograph has been taken.
Ren Ng, CEO of Lyton states the following.
This is achieved by inserting a microlens array between the sensor and main lens, creating a plenoptic camera. Each microlens measures not just the total amount of light deposited at that location, but how much light arrives along each ray. By re-sorting the measured rays of light to where they would have terminated in slightly different, synthetic cameras, we can compute sharp photographs focused at different depths.
Check out the following video for a demonstration on what the camera can actually do. You can also read more about the technical details of how light field photography works by checking out Ren’s tech report here.
CyberLink known for their media based software is currently offering beta testers a free copy of their new PhotoDirector 2011 software. All you have to do is sign up for the free beta, try out the software and fill out a short survey. They will then send you a free copy of the final version when it is released. You can go to the PhotoDirector beta sign up page to get started.
PhotoDirector appears to be a direct competitor to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. It has a similar look and the toolset is also very similar. CyberLink is pricing PhotoDirector $200.00 lower than Adobe’s offering so it is much more affordable to the photographer who is getting started and isn’t making much money from their photography yet.
We will be taking a closer look at PhotoDirector and it’s feature set in the near future so stayed tuned.
It’s that time of year that soccer begins outdoors, at least in our climate, and it’s time to capture great action of my children playing the beautiful game of soccer. What a great sport we love it at our home whether it’s MLS, Premier League, La Liga, World Cup or u10 girls playing 8v8 on a small field we love it.
In the next blogs I will cover tips and tricks to taking great sports photos during soccer games. Soccer presents it’s own set of challenges. You are now outdoors which can be great for lighting, but it can also present challenges with weather on cloudy days, bright sunny days, dusk, rain and just a variety of changing weather.
You are now also presented with the challenge of a much bigger playing area. A regulation size soccer field can be 100-120 yards long and 60-80 yards wide.
In addition you now have perhaps 18 players to capture playing soccer, each playing a different position on this large field.
I will cover ideas on what equipment to use, where to stand how to handle the weather and everything you need to know to take great soccer photos.
So, let’s get ready for a great season of Soccer and have fun capturing some amazing photos of your favorite soccer players.
Experiment. Take your basketball team photos from different vantage points. Especially when shooting a larger team. One great method is to elevate yourself with a ladder or other device. Your shooting angle will be down at the team, which will help to ensure everyone is seen in the photo. Also, the higher angle tends to provide a different and unique view of the athletes. Bleachers are another excellent device for posing your teams. You can use the seats to tier the group upward; however, you still don’t want to place the tall people down in front if you can avoid it.
Take Multiple Shots
This is one time you shouldn’t be hesitant to take multiple shots quickly. You wouldn’t typically switch the camera to continuous shooting mode, but it can often work well, catching them off-guard just as they are relaxing. In fact, we have found that the mere fact of the basketball team hearing your camera go off repeatedly and so quickly will generate a few smiles and laughs. Since it’s hard to get everyone to smile at exactly the right time, take many photos quickly. You will find that the first shot might not be that good, but the second or third will be better because they look a bit less posed and more relaxed.
Use this opportunity to change settings on your camera. Take multiple shots while changing the aperture, shutter, ISO, and white balance. Compare the differences and pick your favorites back at the house. With practice you will find you need to do less and less of this because you will know the best setting for any given circumstances.
If there is a chance at the basketball gym or location to do something unique, go for it. Along with the standard poses, try something different or fun, and your photos will stand out from others. Try standing your athletes in lockers looking out, or lined up in a single row, or lying in a circle. Look around. Take advantage of props unique to the basketball gym or location. Break the rules once in a while! We always do a "fun" shot where subjects can make silly faces and point at each other.
There are a couple quick things you can do to make your photos stand out just a little bit more than normal. Below are a few quick tips you can use in the editing room to give them just a little extra impact.
Most image editing programs have the following tools at your disposal and are easy to adjust. You also shouldn’t have too much trouble finding the different tools. One thing to remember is that one program will most likely make a different kind of adjustment even if you give it the same value. For example in Photoshop you may move the saturation slider up to +25 and it looks great. If you do the same in Picassa most likely won’t have the same effect so use your own judgment when making adjustments.
Adding just a little more saturation to your photos can give them a more vibrant look to them. Be careful not to overdue it as you don’t want the players looking like they are oompa loompa’s.
Just as with adding a little saturation adding a small amount of contrast can give a little more impact to your photos. Once again don’t overdue it. You usually only need to add a small amount to make a big difference.
We covered sharpening in-depth in a previous article but I wanted to mention it again here. Remember to do this step after you have cropped your photo to the size you are going to either print or display on screen to make the most of it.
These are just a few tips to try out that can really make your photos stand apart from just a normal photo so go and give it a shot.