• Sat, 23 May 2020 16:08:01 +0000

    Portraits of My Son’s Outfits for COVID-19 Homeschooling

    During our COVID-19 shelter in place lockdown, I took portraits of my son’s outfits that he would put together for homeschool.

    Both of us had reservations about our new eLearning situation. The first week was a true test of patience for the teacher and student. After a rough day, I sat down with him and he tearfully shared with me all the things he missed about school and what was not working during our homeschool routine.

    I can appreciate his honesty. I will be the first one to admit I was not cut out to be a teacher. Although limited in his opinion, we talked about the ‘pros’ of having school at home. High on his list was that he could wear whatever he wanted (or nothing at all for that matter).

    He has always had an eclectic fashion sense. I started taking portraits of his ensembles.

    The process of assembling his outfit and then photographing them is what saved us.

    About the author: Karen Osdieck is an accountant by trade and a visual artist by passion from a small suburb outside of Chicago, Illinois. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. As an artist, Karen aims to transfigure the everyday into something noteworthy. She uses photography to come to terms with the chaotic-ness of motherhood and simultaneously to normalize the unglamorous side of suburban childhood. Inherited from her dad, Karen takes the approach that all facets of life are equally worthy of documenting and not just “the perfect ones”. You can find more of Osdieck’s work on her website.

  • Sat, 23 May 2020 15:48:49 +0000

    How to Shoot a Rim Light Product Photo with One Light

    Here’s a 12-minute tutorial by AdoramaTV in which photographer Gavin Hoey shows how you can capture a perfect rim light shot without using multiple stripboxes and flashes — all you need is just one light.

    In the tutorial, Hoey captures product photos of static glassware items, lighting the photos from different angles with his one light.

    Once he has the photos he needs, he loads them into Photoshop and then combines them into a single finished composite photo that’s fully rim lit.

    The single monolight used in the tutorial is the $549 Godox AD400 Pro (AKA Flashpoint XPLOR 400PRO TTL).

    If you enjoyed this tutorial, you can find more of the same by subscribing to AdoramaTV’s popular YouTube channel.

    (via AdoramaTV via Fstoppers)

  • Sat, 23 May 2020 15:24:36 +0000

    These Photos Imagine What Tangible Anxiety Would Look Like

    “The Anxiety Series” is a new project by Indian photographer Arjun Kamath that tries to answer the question: “If anxiety were tangible, what would it look like?”

    It’s estimated that nearly 1 in 5 adults in the United States experienced some kind of anxiety disorder in the past year and nearly 1 in 3 experience it at some point in their lives, and these are numbers published prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Shot in Bengaluru, the photo narrative revolves around the lives of eight fictional characters(male and female),” Kamath tells PetaPixel. “Both young and old, these characters are drawn from different social classes and are shown to be afflicted with different types of anxiety disorders caused due to several conditions like loneliness, isolation, work exhaustion, bullying, PTSD, and more.”

    Kamath spent six months researching, planning, and shooting the project shortly before the coronavirus lockdowns that have turned billions of lives upside down.

    “Under lockdown, there has been a grave disrupt in the normal lives of people across the world,” Kamath says. “Naturally, these difficult times have caused a spike in mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. And under such circumstances, my unique take on materializing tangible emotions with poetic images that mimic paintings deems relevant for social awareness.”

    You can find more of Kamath’s work on his website and Instagram.

  • Sat, 23 May 2020 14:20:38 +0000

    How to Rebuild Lightroom Previews to Optimize Speed, Space, and Integrity

    Over time, Lightroom may become slow to render thumbnails and scroll through images. Rebuilding all previews may significantly improve performance. It may also significantly reduce the size of your Lightroom catalog. Rebuilding previews also serves as a file integrity check. So what are you waiting for?


    Previews in Lightroom are JPEG files that are used for thumbnail viewing. They can also be used for full-size viewing, particularly for offline media. Lightroom makes several (or more) of these previews for each image.

    The previews are the largest component of Lightroom catalogs. And while Lightroom tries to manage them cleanly, that’s not always the case. This seems to be particularly true as your catalog goes through multiple upgrades. Sometimes it’s best to throw out the entire preview file and rebuild from scratch.

    When you rebuild previews, Lightroom will make new files from the original images. In my case, this reduced the size of the previews from ~300GB to 65GB in one catalog, and ~300GB to 125GB in another. (The different results to due to the number of files in the catalogs and preview settings). That’s a lot of new empty space on my drive.

    Images scroll much faster now. And during the rebuilding, Lightroom needs to read the original image data to generate the new previews. This serves as a very reliable file integrity check for your whole catalog of images.

    Note that it can take Lightroom a long time to build previews if the catalog is large, or if the files are connected to the Lightroom computer by slow connection like older Wi-Fi. It’s best to do this when you don’t have any critical work going on.

    The Rebuilding Process

    Rebuilding is easy – just throw away the old previews, select all files in the catalog, and tell the Library to make new ones. Then, let the machine chug away. There are some important steps to follow, which I’ve outlined below.

    1. Backup the catalog. Whenever you do something like this, it’s always best to make a backup first. Quit Lightroom and backup your catalog.

    2. Backup the Previews, if desired. You can also backup the previews before removing them from the catalog. This can take time and a lot of extra space, but if some of your files have become corrupted, the old preview may be the only copy of the image you have.

    To do the backup, just drag the previews out of the catalog folder. I chose not to do this step because my previews take up 600GB total, and I have known-good backups of the original files from past validation processes.

    3. Find all missing photos. Before you remove the previews, you’ll want to know if any files can’t be found by the catalog. You’ll want to do this while you still have the previews intact, so you can see what the missing pictures look like. Make sure all drives are connected to your computer or mounted over a network. Go to Library>Find All Missing Photos. You’ll get a notice from Lightroom that all photos are present, or that some are missing.

    Here is the menu command to find missing items, along with the notification that all files can be found. If missing files are discovered, you’ll want to resolve that before getting rid of the existing previews.

    4. Check Preview Settings. You can find this in Catalog Settings in the Lightroom menu on Mac or the Edit menu on PC. In the File Handling tab, you can set how previews are built. For most people, Auto is a fine setting. For my Works in Progress catalog, I set the quality to Medium. Lightroom looks at the size of the monitor you are using and chooses a size that gives you a full-screen preview.

    On my Deep Archive catalog (which has more than 500,000 images) I set this to the smallest size available, and set the quality to low. This saves space, and this catalog is really an index of old work.

    5. Close Lightroom and remove the Previews. The previews are contained in the catalog folder. They are named [CatalogName] Previews.lrdata. On Windows this appears as a folder, on Mac it looks like a single file. You can either move it out of the catalog folder if you have enough space on the drive or delete it.

    The Previews file (or folder on Windows) can typically be found in the catalog folder and will be the largest thing in there.

    6. Rebuild Previews. Open Lightroom, select images, and go to Library>Previews>Build Standard Size previews. They will start to rebuild.

    Tip: If you want this to go as fast as possible, it can be best to run multiple batches at the same time. Select half your files, and start the rebuild, then select the other half and start. This will force Lightroom to use as much of the computer’s processor as possible. It may cut the preview building time significantly.

    7. Check errors. If Lightroom encounters errors during the process, it will let you know. The typical errors are “Photos that failed to build” or “Photos could not be found.” If you get any errors, you will want to save the error log to your desktop and resolve the problems.

    You can try several things to resolve any issues. This would typically include trying to open the file with other software and checking on backup versions of the file to see if they show the same error.

    The errors I got here included 147 previews that failed to build. 3 were corrupted files that I have known about since 2013, but keep in the catalog for demonstration purposes. 144 files were old AVI files that play fine with Quicktime, but Lightroom seems to be unable to open. I also “hid” a folder from Lightroom so that I would generate the “Photos not found” error.

    8. Close and backup. Any time you run a big process in Lightroom, it’s always best to close the catalog after completion and let it run through the catalog optimization, integrity check, and backup process.

    9. That’s it!. Open Lightroom, and see if it makes a speed. It did for me, as scrolling through the 500,000+ catalog was smooth from top to bottom. You may also want to see how your new Preview size compares with the old.

    If you still want to try and get an additional performance boost, check out this very informative article from Adobe on optimizing performance.

    About the author: Peter Krogh is a photographer, writer, and software designer. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Krogh is the author of six books, including The DAM Book 3.0 and Digitizing Your Photos with Your Camera and Lightroom. He is the new Chief Product Officer at Tandem Vault. More info at www.theDAMbook.com.

  • Sat, 23 May 2020 14:01:19 +0000

    Photos of Flowers from a Freezer

    These days we’re all trying to come up with new photo ideas to do around home, but how many of you have thought, ”Hey, I’ll freeze some flowers in water?” That’s a new one for me, but fortunately I know someone here who does that, and she’s happy to share her secrets.

    Susan Pfannmuller is a long-time freelance photojournalist in Kansas City. As such, she covers everything from news to sports to concerts to small-town parades, and she’s been doing that for a long time. So when assignments slowed down about two years ago, she wanted to find something else to do.

    “I was kind of bored, and I thought, ‘I’ll take some flower photos,’” she says. But she wasn’t happy with the results, saying “they looked like everyone else’s.”

    Then she stumbled across the work of a photographer and artist who had been collaborating on a project of not just flowers, but flowers frozen in ice.

    “I started playing around with it, and then tried to take it in my own direction,” Pfannmuller says.

    Now, almost two years later, she’s surprised she’s stayed with it this long. I’m not, the photos are beautiful. Here’s how Susan does it:

    First, you need subjects.

    “The first year it was fall, so I just went out and foraged for pinecones and leaves and stuff, not so much flowers,” Pfannmuller says.

    She was pretty happy with those as a start, but come spring she switched to flowers.

    “I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so I made do with what I could find.”

    She’s been lucky with that, discovering a store that sells large bunches cheap after they start to droop. Once she’s got the flowers, it’s time to choose between one of two methods she uses: hanging or flat.

    On the left, some of Susans tools, minus the flowers. She says that if you have hard water, you might get better results using water bought from a store. She’s used all sorts of small containers, including recycled plastic carryout boxes and even zip lock bags. On the right is a finished grid, ready to have flowers attached. Photo by Susan Pfannmuller.

    She explains the hanging process this way: “I use florist wire on top of a plastic container, make a mesh of them, then use thinner wire to attach the flowers hanging upside down, with no water. Then I fill it with water and put it in the freezer.”

    Since her freezer is a small one at the top of her fridge, she dug through her kitchen cabinets to find plastic containers that would fit.

    This is a classic image from the hanging method. Susan says that in this case, “the center ice stayed especially clear, which I liked.” Photo by Susan Pfannmuller.

    Her second method, which she calls the “flat” one, gives a different look. The hanging method uses wire to hold the flowers in place because otherwise they’d float to the surface. In her “flat” method, she lays the flowers in a flat container and puts just a little water on them, then tucks them in the freezer. That locks the flowers in place, and after that she can add more water without worrying about them floating up. It gives a different look than the hanging method.

    At left, the hanging method. At right, the flat method. For the flat method, Susan says, “If you simply pour water into the container the flowers will float to the top. Instead, pour a small amount of water into the container and freeze, which will anchor the flowers to the bottom. I often place the flowers face down. Then continue to add the water a little at a time waiting for it to freeze between pourings.” Photo by Susan Pfannmuller. This image shows the different look she gets with the flat method. Photo by Susan Pfannmuller.

    Once the container is frozen, she runs warm water over it and slides the frozen creation out. The next step is to head outside. Why? Less chance of a mess that has to be cleaned up!

    Another image using the hanging method, this time it has an appearance of movement. Photo by Susan Pfannmuller.

    Susan laughs when I ask her about where she makes the pictures.

    “It’s a very exotic location – my front driveway,” she replies.

    She drags a table out of her garage and sets the block of ice on it. She’ll sometimes use a black cloth under or behind it, although her favorite background is her blue rain poncho (“It’s the right color, it looks like sky”).

    It doesn’t hurt that it’s waterproof, either.

    With her Canon 5D Mark III on a tripod, using a 100mm macro lens at f/32 (and sometimes with an extension tube), Susan gets to work. While she prefers using natural light, that sometimes comes with issues.

    “If it’s real sunny, that can be a problem because of the reflections,” she says. “Sometimes I’ll use multiple off-camera flashes. And a friend gave me a shooting tent, so sometimes I’ll shoot my flashes through that. I use a lot of ambient light, and then sometimes add light (with flash) if one area is too dark.”

    It doesn’t always go as planned, but the unexpected is part of what she enjoys.

    “The fun thing is that it’s not predictable,” she continues. “I had one flower that I bought, dipped it in wax, and then put it in a jar, not frozen, and added seltzer water. That was fun! I don’t do it the same way every time, if I did I’d get bored. I’m often out there shooting for two or three hours at a time. I’m amazed I do that because my regular work (photojournalism) tends to be shoot fast and run.”

    Sometimes mistakes can be good. “When I took it out of the container it broke. Instead of throwing it out, (which I admit was my first thought), I placed it in a larger container with blue tinted water. There are no mistakes, lemonade out of lemons!” Photo by Susan Pfannmuller.

    Trying new things like the wax has also led her to adding food coloring, which is a regular part of her creations now. She’s tried dead flowers as well, but they freeze without the bubbles you get with live ones, making the photo less interesting. And focus stacking is also on her list of new things to try.

    Part of what she likes about this is that no two shoots are the same, there are always variations to explore and she’s doing it for own enjoyment.

    “There’s no pressure, I’m not doing it for anybody, so I can be free to try different things,” she says. “If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. One of the biggest lessons I learned in college was from an art instructor, who said, ‘I don’t ever want to hear, “I’m not in the mood.”‘ So I just keep at it, even if I’m not in the mood at first.”

    In this image, Susan used the flat method but also tinted the water green. Photo by Susan Pfannmuller.

    Naturally, one of my last questions for Susan was whether she sells any of her images.

    “Not yet, and everybody’s yelling at me,” she replies. “I need to get a selling site, and I have no excuse for not doing it. I have lots of time now, and people are asking for it.”

    She does, though, sell images on request. If you’re interested in buying any of her creations, she can be reached at dmoments@everestkc.net and make sure to put “Frozen Flowers” in the subject line. To see more of her work, check out her Instagram feed, @susanpfannmuller.

    About the author: Reed Hoffmann is a professional photographer and photography educator based in Kansas City. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Hoffmann’s career spans 30 years, and his clients have included USA Today, Getty Images, The New York Times, The Associated Press, One Ocean Expeditions, NBC, Children’s Mercy Hospital, EPA, Reuters, Nikon, Lexar, Lowepro, Eco-Challenge and Mark Burnett Productions. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

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