Editing Newborn Images the Easy Way

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Before and After Step-by-Step Edit: MCP Photoshop Action, Newborn Necessities, can make those Newborn session stressers a thing of the past

The MCP Show and Tell Site is a place for you to share your images edited with MCP products (our Photoshop actions, Lightroom presets, textures and more).  We’ve always shared before and after Blueprints on our main blog, but now, we will sometimes share some favorites from Show and Tell to give these photographers even more exposure.  If you haven’t checked out Show and Tell yet, what are you waiting for?  You’ll learn how other photographers are using our products and see what they can do for your work.  And once you are ready, you can show off your own editing skills using MCP goodies.  You might even make new friends or gain a customer…. since you get to add your website address right on the page. Bonus!

 

Today’s Featured Image:

By: Melissa

Studio: Captured Photography by Melissa B.

Equipment Used: No Camera Body information available, 50mm lens used

Settings: ISO 250, f/1.6, SS 1/320

Software: Photoshop

MCP sets used: Newborn Necessities Photoshop Actions, MCP’s Free Photoshop Actions

  • Steps taken to achieve result – edit newborn images the easy way:
    • Manual edits were done first, such as cropping, rotating the picture, and stretching the canvas.  Wrinkles were also cloned out.
    • Newborn Necessities Action items (adjusted based on personal preference):
      • White Blankie Fix
      • Magic Lotion
      • Brighten Midtones
      • Sharp Eyelashes
      • Web Sharpie
    • Added a linen texture using MCP’s FREE Texture Applicator

ST6 600x800 Editing Newborn Images the Easy Way
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The Beginner Photographer’s Guide to Understanding Resolution

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resolution1 600x362 The Beginner Photographers Guide to Understanding Resolution
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It happens to everyone, and it makes us all crazy. You spend months honing your skill, shooting in manual, perfecting light, diligent editing and finally having an image you want to print HUGE for your living room…and then it arrives all blurry and you are crying in the floor. Oh, that was just me? Huh, well, moving on…

Through the graces of a wonderful human being and local printer who took pity on me and my obvious lack of knowledge, I was given a sit down course in making the transition from camera to print and it simplified my life greatly. No more worrying about cropping images before loading into ROES. Yes, you heard me correctly. So, how does that work? By understand the relationship between PPI, DPI and somehow…PSI.

1. Forget DPI for now.

This is for printers. Dots Per Inch. Of color of ink. This does not correlate directly to your photo resolution when cropping and resizing.

2. PSI…think of this as a typo…

PSI has nothing to do with photographs. PSI is actually a measurement of pressure, used for the air in your tires for example. Somewhere along the line, photographers started using PSI to mean *Pixels per Square Inch.*  Think of PSI as a way to confuse newbie photographers. Just don’t use it.

3. PPI. Pixels Per Inch.

This is what you are looking at when resizing and cropping your photos. Here’s the thing, looking ONLY at the PPI will CONFUSE you. Why? Because in most cases, your camera is taking a large image size at a lower PPI. For example…  21inx14in @ 240ppi OR 72inx48in @ 72ppiBoth these sizes, though they have very different PPIs, are high resolution images. In fact…they are nearly identical…wanna see?

Look at the top two numbers for the first image size, 21inx14in @ 240ppi…

pixels1 600x400 The Beginner Photographers Guide to Understanding Resolution
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Now for the second set, 72inx48in @ 72ppi…

pixels2 600x400 The Beginner Photographers Guide to Understanding Resolution
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The results:

Uhm, wait a minute…they are EXACTLY the same size!!! 5184×3456. Meaning they have the exact number of pixels in both images, despite their obvious size and PPI differences.

  • Both will produce high quality images.
  • There is no reason to resize these images before loading into ROES to place orders.
  • When you load these high res images, ROES will then allow you to crop, tilt, rotate, etc. and still maintain the high resolution you are after.
  • If an image needs a stretched background, some cloning to straighten, those sorts of things, you may need to make those adjustments ahead of time.

Lesson:

You run into problems with resolution when you try to increase BOTH size and ppi at the same time. For example, taking an 8×10 @ 72ppi to a 20×30 @ 300ppi…is not going to work, but when going DOWN in size, you have much more leeway.To get a visual image of how this is works…think of it like this. You have 3 squares in front of you. Large, medium and small. In the medium square, you have 16 Lego bricks (don’t tell the children I played with their toys, then they want to play with mine!), your pixels, lined up in rows and they fill the square perfectly.
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Now, you can take these bricks and still fill the small square perfectly. There are even bricks to spare, but this smaller square is still nicely packed tight with bricks.
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But, if you take those same 16 bricks and try to fill the large square, you are going to have more space between them, more blank space showing through.

IMG 1130 600x400 The Beginner Photographers Guide to Understanding Resolution
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Printing problems:

This is where your printing problems come in. As you try to use these same number of pixels to fill a large surface area, you are left with gaps. In order to fill those gaps, your computer is going pull from surrounding pixels sort of *guessing* what is needed to fill it up. This is where it starts to get *fuzzy* and not print well.

Okay now you are thinking…”so what does this mean when I crop and resize?” 

  • If I am taking an image that is the aforementioned 72×48 @ 72ppi, I can easily resize to a nice print that is 20×24 or other large size at 300ppi. Why? Because I am going down in physical size which allows me to use those extra pixels to fill up the resolution to 300ppi.
  • But again, I do NOT have to do this before I load to ROES. If I take my full size high res images, edit and save them just the way they came out of my camera (assuming I am taking RAW or high res JPEGS) I can simply load them into ROES and use their tools to do my cropping. The resizing will be done on the other end from my large file.
  • But their Q&A section says to resize to 300, right? Yea, I know… they say that because it is a frequently asked question, and they are answering based on the idea that you are going to do your own *pre-cropping,* in which case, they want you to do it at the right resolution. But if you just load it up and use their tools, all will be fine.

So now that you understand that, you find you have a slightly different problem…a client ordered a photo in different sizes, and while the small wallets look great, the desk print is slightly blurry and the wall print just looks bad.

  • This is normally more of an issue with your photo itself. It was probably slightly out of focus to begin with. But why do the smaller ones look okay?

Back to our squares…and now, that DPI I told you to forget temporarily. When printing, bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes you can get away with passing off a slightly not-so-perfect image off in a smaller size because smaller again means packing tighter. Now that we have moved over to the print side, we are looking at dots…as in dots per inch. ( Now this technically has to do with both DPI and PPI, but for the purposes of illustrating what’s happening, we are going with the dots).

With our squares again, we see what the image as an 8×10 looks like…

IMG 1131 600x400 The Beginner Photographers Guide to Understanding Resolution
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Now, if I go DOWN in size, I can almost make it look better overlapping those areas that were previously gaps….

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So my wallet size actually ends up looking better, even though it is technically the exact same photo. And then when I take that *so-so* photo and go bigger…well….let’s not do that okay? It doesn’t end well.

{This is where I insert my disclaimer: Yes, those who have more in depth understanding of resolution and printing know this isn’t *exactly* how it all works, but for the purposes of helping beginner photogs understand what is happening to their photos, these visualizations work}

In the end if you have your camera set to take high res files, RAW or JPEG set to large file format…you are going to be just fine, no adjustment needed before loading to ROES, or even online consumer sites. If you MUST make adjustments, just be sure when you are done, your pixel dimensions, those numbers in the screenshots above, are in the THOUSANDS for good images, preferably the 5000×3000 range.

Kimberly Earl is the owner of K. Lynn Photography in Charleston, WV, a wife and mom to four kiddos. She has been snapping at the world since 1993 and been in business since 2007. You can follow her on Facebook, but she is currently on a short hiatus.

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Super-Powerful Lightroom Adjustment Brush Tips to Make Editing Easier

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Our Lightroom Local Adjustment presets are designed to be strong enough to handle most photo editing situations that you can throw at them.

We have local presets in the following Lightroom preset collections:

Odds are, there are some photos that the default settings of our presets will be great on, and others that our local presets will be just too strong for. That’s why saving a low opacity soft brush in Lightroom is so handy. With one click, you can change your brush from one that paints at full force to one that allows you to paint on the effect gradually, building it up from a lower strength to one that’s just right.

Lightroom Adjustment Brush Tips

To save a low opacity brush, activate your Local Adjustment brush in Lightroom (next to the arrow in the screenshot below).

 

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Next, click on the letter B (circled, near the bottom of the screen shot above). Select the settings YOU would like to memorize for Size, Feather and Auto Mask.  Remember, you can make this customizable for your style!

  • For me, the size I program in here doesn’t matter, because I change it frequently by using the keystrokes on my keyboard [ to make it smaller and ] to make it larger.
  • Feathering is usually best for me somewhere between 50 and 75.
  • The Flow slider is key for this tutorial. Flow works like brush opacity in Photoshop. A flow of 16 will apply your effect in an amount equal to about 16%. You can apply additional brush strokes to an area to increase the effect in increments of about 16%. So, two passes with a 16 Flow brush will equal about 30% coverage.

When I activate my A brush, rather than the B brush we’ve just programmed, Flow is set to 100. I use that for areas that need strong edits. And whenever I click on B, my settings change to those that you see in the screenshot above.

Want to change either your A or B settings? Click on the letter and then adjust the sliders. Lightroom will remember your last used settings until the next time you change them.

Those of you who use Lightroom’s adjustment brush frequently probably know that typing the letter O while using it will show a red overlay on your image to indicate where you’ve painted. If you’ve used a low Flow brush, this red will be lighter.

 

It is Time to See This Example In Action

Taking this photo, for example, I used MCP’s Dodge Ball, from the InFusion collection of presets, to lighten his face and eyes. You can see the faint red overlay on his face, where I used a brush with a flow of 16.  On his eyes, however, I used a Flow of 100 and the red is much darker.

 

red overlay example small Super Powerful Lightroom Adjustment Brush Tips to Make Editing Easier
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These settings produced this before and after:

Remember, in order to get the most out of the efficiency that MCP’s presets offer, make sure you know how to get the most out of Lightroom’s tools! Using your A & B brushes will not only be a big time saver, but will also give that much more flexibility to your edits.  Enjoy!

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A Quick and Fabulous Color to Black and White Photoshop Conversion

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Before and After Step-by-Step Edit: A Quick and Fabulous Color to Black and White Photoshop Conversion

The MCP Show and Tell Site is a place for you to share your images edited with MCP products (our Photoshop actions, Lightroom presets, textures and more).  We’ve always shared before and after Blueprints on our main blog, but now, we will sometimes share some favorites from Show and Tell to give these photographers even more exposure.  If you haven’t checked out Show and Tell yet, what are you waiting for?  You’ll learn how other photographers are using our products and see what they can do for your work.  And once you are ready, you can show off your own editing skills using MCP goodies.  You might even make new friends or gain a customer…. since you get to add your website address right on the page. Bonus!

Here is a recipe on how to get rich black and white images with MCP Photoshop Actions.

Today’s Featured Image:

By: Cheryl Hubbard

Equipment Used: Nikon D7000 , Nikon 85mm f/1.4G

Settings: ISO 100, f/2.2,  1/1250

Software Used: Photoshop

Here is the straight out of camera image.  Beautiful!

Botanical Garden 2 480x600 A Quick and Fabulous Color to Black and White Photoshop Conversion
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MCP sets used: Inspire Photoshop Actions

  • Edited with Inspire Brilliant Black and White Base with the BW layer on, brighter in the middle and fill flash off. The only other thing was a quick sharpen. I have almost all of MCP’s action sets and love them all but my favorite is the Inspire set.

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Stop Following the Rules of Photography to Start Capturing Photos You Love

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If you ask someone how to get the perfect photo, you might get a response that includes information about exposure, posing, and lighting. Books you read might warn against chopping limbs, using wide angle lenses when photographing people, or failing to follow the rule of thirds. You might end up scared that other photographers will judge your photos and notice when you have broken “the rules,” making you nervous to step outside the box and get creative sometimes.

Even worse, you might try so hard to follow the rules that you leave every photo session stressed, exhausted, and disappointed–like I did, before I redefined perfection.

I did all of those things. When I first started trying to learn more about photography, I read a ton of books. I talked to a lot of photographers. I read a lot of tutorials, watched a lot of videos, and studied a lot of photographs to determine what I had to do to take “perfect” photos. In the process, I learned more than I thought possible about the technical side of photography, but I became so insecure and critical of my own work that I was not having fun.

I was not getting images that I absolutely loved.

For me, the sessions that stressed me out the most were always my own sessions with my two children. By the end of an attempt to get perfect photos with my sons, Gavin and Finley, I was usually ready to quit photography, my husband was usually ready to send me packing, and Gavin and Finley were usually crying because I kept trying to make them be still, look directly at my camera, and smile, when all they wanted to do was play or explore.

The turning point came for me when Finley was close to his first birthday.

I had planned out very specific shots that I wanted to get of him for his one-year photos, set aside a weekend to do them, and gathered together all of my props. I got a few cute photos with perfect smiles, perfect eye contact, and imperfect exposure (I only had a few months of experience with professional shooting), but I essentially ended each session with tears—either mine or Finley’s…and sometimes both.

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When Finley’s second birthday rolled around recently, I had already made the decision that I wanted to capture his true personality and the things he loves most, not try to get perfectly posed photos with perfect eye contact and perfect smiles.

You see, Finley is the ultimate reason that I learned to embrace imperfection in my photography.

Finley has always been a difficult subject to photograph. He never reacted to my crazy sounds and pleas to look at my camera and smile. He never stayed still longer than a second. He never focused his attention on taking photos long enough for even one great shot of the four of us smiling and looking at the camera. After my experience with his first birthday photos, I gave up on getting “perfect” shots. And when we tried to get family photos a few months later using a friend as a human tripod, I didn’t get upset when this was the end result.

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Even though people still make repeated comments like, “It’s too bad Finley isn’t looking at the camera,” the canvases I had made of this photo are hanging on my wall, my parents’ wall, and my father-in-law’s wall.

Why? Because he’s Finley. He would rather study a branch than smile for a photo or even look in that general direction. And you know what? That’s okay. In March, we got the official diagnosis that Finley is one of a growing number of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, and although it explains why I always had such a difficult time getting his attention in photos, it doesn’t change the fact that my entire idea of perfection in photography has been redefined. Finley’s photos that I took for his second birthday are perfect examples of my idea of perfection.

Perfection is capturing Finley’s love for drawing.

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Perfection is documenting Finley’s habit of exploring textures by rubbing things on his cheeks.

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Perfection is showing Finley’s love for horses (and wearing nothing but a diaper and cowboy boots).

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And sometimes, perfection IS a photo of Finley smiling and looking directly at the camera, but not because it’s “perfect” by any definition of the term.  I’s perfect because it shows the sweet spirit he possesses.

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When I was stressing so much over getting my subjects in the perfect position or trying to make them constantly look at the camera and smile, I missed amazing shots of my boys being themselves.

I decided it was time to loosen up a little. Instead of planning out sessions with my kids, I started leaving my camera in the living room where I could grab it quickly if I saw an opportunity for a cute photo of them. I broke a lot of rules in those photos, and some of them are not very sharp or exposed very well. But some of those photos are my absolute favorites. Some of those photos, in fact, are the ones that I know my children will still treasure when they are adults.

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By loosening up, I discovered that those photos were the ones I always considered perfect. I started to fall completely head-over-heels in love with lifestyle photography, and when I did, I rediscovered my passion for my hobby. Instead of trying to capture perfect smiles, I started trying to capture the love my subjects have for each other and the personalities that make them unique. As a result, my skills and the quality of my photos started improving because I had more room in my head to think about exposure and using available light to my advantage.

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Getting correct exposure is critical, and there are some “rules” that have their place in your work. I would never want to use a wide angle lens to take a serious portrait of a bride, for example, or make my subjects look like they are sliding off the edge of the photo. However, it’s okay to chop a limb sometimes, if necessary. It’s okay if my subject is not looking at the camera. I even read once that you shouldn’t have your subject looking off camera unless you can see what he or she is looking at. But does that make this a bad photo?

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Here’s my point—If you are one who absolutely, positively, LOVES perfectly posed photos where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling, then that’s perfectly fine. Those types of photos are perfect—for you.

However, if my experience raising an autistic son has taught me anything so far, it’s that what is considered perfect for one is not necessarily perfect for another.

Just as Finley is perfect in my eyes, the photos I take that show who he is and what he loves are perfect in my eyes as well.

If you find yourself stressed, exhausted, and insecure like I was every time you attempt to get great photos and want to redefine your idea of imperfection like I did, here are a few tips to help.

  1. Get a good grip on exposure first, if you don’t already have one. No amount of emotion or personality in your photos is going to matter if you can’t see it because your photos are completely over or under exposed. There are tons of MCP tutorials here on the blog that can help with that.
  2. Stop scouring Pinterest and trying to replicate the images you see. Getting inspired by photos you see is one thing, but trying to make your subjects do exactly what you have seen done before in those photos will usually only end in frustration. I once spent two hours creating a backdrop of newspaper pages to use in photos of my boys only to rip it down five minutes later because neither of my boys would cooperate at all.
  3. Decide what you truly want to document. Is it a relationship between two people? An aspect of someone’s personality? A hobby or interest? A particular emotion? Once you decide, make sure your exposure is solid, and then solely focus on capturing what you are setting out to capture.
  4. Relax about the “rules.” Don’t toss a photo that cuts someone off at the knees if that photo shows genuine emotion. Use a wide angle lens, if you like the look it gives your photos. Relax. Sometimes rules are meant to be broken…if breaking them results in a photo you love.

Now, grab your camera and go take a photo YOU think is perfect. Don’t worry what the books say. Don’t think about what other photographers might think of it. Take a photo you love, and love the photos you take.

Period.

Lindsay Williams lives in south central Kentucky with her husband, David, and their two sons, Gavin and Finley. When she isn’t teaching high school English or spending time with her quirky little family, she owns and operates Lindsay Williams Photography, which specializes in lifestyle photography. You can check out her work on her website or her Facebook page.

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