Category Archives: Tutorials

Lightroom 5 – Visualize Spots

Dust spots is the bane for photographers. It seems no matter how much you clean the sensor in the camera and make sure the lens is clean, how careful you change lenses, or even if you don’t change lenses those pesky dust spots quickly comes back.

If you shoot nice clear blue skies those dust spots will show like crazy. You clean them up with the spot removal tool in Lightroom and satisfied you published the image, views/likes/favorites starts to come in and you look at the published image yourself again and to your horror you discover another couple of dust spots that you didn’t catch the first time around.

A new feature in Lightroom 5 called “Visual Spots” that is almost  hidden under the “spot removal” tool is absolutely amazing and can save you a lot of time.

If we take a look at this image of a Helicopter against a fairly clear blue sky that I took during the Austin F1 Grand Prix last year. In this version I pushed the post processing a bit to make some of the dust spots strong and obvious.

A quick look and we easily find at least 6 glaring dust spots, I have circled the ones I caught right of the bat and probably be the ones I would have fixed first. Then I would probably looked a little closer and found a few more before deciding it had to be it. However when you export your image and sharpen for screen and the social media websites image compression done their parts you will probably discover a few more spots….

In Lightroom 5 they improved the spot removal tool and added the option to not only clone but also heal. Best of all you can no drag the tool brush and create no circular patches to repair. But you also have a option called “Visual Spots”, this feature is designed to help you find those pesky dust spots.

1) First click the “Spot removal” or hit the Q key.

Dust spot removal

2) Put a checkbox in “Visualize Spots”

3) You can now play with the slider to increase the contrast detection for the spots. I pushed the slider up a bit and spots starts to pop up all over the place. A small round white circles with a black center is a good indication that you have a dust spot. Don’t just push the slider all the way over to the right and removed the spots you see, start fairly neutral and remove  the strongest “circles” and most if not all of the medium strong ones, than push the slider over a bit and remove a few more.

Dust spots and more dust spots...

In this image I slid the slider ALL the way over and if you look between the landing gear there is a strong white blip that here looks like it’s probably a part of the helicopter. But it’s actually a very strong spot, when the slider was further left it was a nice circle but at the slider maximum to the right it’s glaring white like it might be a part of the helicopter.

And yikes there were a lot of spots, way more than the 6 that I had initially spotted. Time to get busy and click away with the spot removal tool, in this photo I probably removed a good 60+ spots. A dusty race track is a really bad place to swap lenses at and the fact I hadn’t cleaned the sensor for a couple of months before this race didn’t help me any at all.

Once all finished up we got a cleaned up image that is ready to be published, cleared from pesky dust spots.

Final image: Red Helicopter against blue sky

Final image: Red Helicopter against blue sky – To bad it wasn’t sharper..

Playing with shadows

Playing with shadows

Playing with shadows

Shadows are all around you, the harsher the light the better defined the shadows will be and give you more interesting subjects and the best they are all around you, just look down or to the side.

Look for shadows that interplay with each others are shadows that creates stark contrast. Shadows are perfect subjects for black and white processing, but can create very interesting items even in color, especially when paired with muted colors.

The tricky part to photograph shadows is to nail the exposure. Using any auto exposure mode will lead to an overexposed image, the cameras light-meter will try to compensate for the dark areas and lighten up the picture and bring out details in the shadows.This is of not what we want, but nothing that we couldn’t fix in post processing right? Sure, you could but why not nail it directly in the camera and minimize the time in your digital dark room. To control the proper exposure in shadow photography it’s best to stick with manual exposure mode, make sure your histogram is pushed to the left.

Afraid of manual exposure mode or just want to do quick adjustments on the fly, just dial in a heavy Negative EV exposure compensation instead and be done with it.

How to shoot Fireworks

Fireworks can be tricky to photograph and get good pictures. In this tutorial we will give you some tips and hints to make awesome pictures of firework displays. Shooting fireworks is very similar to shooting lightning except they are a bit more predictable and you are guaranteed to return with a set of great pictures which is not the case when out shooting lightning.

Continue reading »

Related Images:

How to Shoot Lightning

South East Kansas Thunderstorm 4/30/2012 by Eje Gustafsson

I’m sure you seen all these awesome cool lightning pictures around on the internet and thought to yourself man wouldn’t it be cool to capture something like that, but how?
Continue reading »

Related Images:

School Carnival photo booth

So as some might known or heard I was responsible for the Photo Booth at PTO School carnival at one of our local Elementary Schools. This is actually the third year in a row I done this and every year I have brought more and better equipment to get better shoots and minimize the post processing complications..

Continue reading »