Using Lightroom to correct perspective for buildings

Chick-fil-A West Midtown Atlanta, Georgia at Sunrise. [Fuji X-E3, 10-24mm, ISO 125, ƒ/10, 1.6 sec]
This is the processed photo after working on the RAW file in Adobe Lightroom.

Here is the photo with just perspective not corrected on the photo.

Chick-fil-A West Midtown Atlanta, Georgia at Sunrise. [Fuji X-E3, 10-24mm, ISO 125, ƒ/10, 1.6 sec]
Now when I am shooting on my Fuji X-E3 there is a level built into the camera and can be turned on to show in the display.

When I shot the photo of the building it was level from left to right.

When in Adobe Lightroom you just go to the develop module and go to the Transform tools.

You can click on Auto and see if it looks the way you want and then you can undo the change if you like.

You can also select each of the individual controls and adjust. A grid will show up so you can get the building’s edges straight. The one you will need to adjust is vertical where you correct the building falling away from you.

Be sure to check the Constrain Crop so that you will have a full framed image.

Sunrise and Sunset Photos of Buildings

[Fuji X-E3, 10-24mm, ISO 125, ƒ/11, 8 sec] 6:37 am
My mornings sometimes start really early for photo shoots. Today I woke up at 5:00 am for a photo shoot at sunrise. Sunrise was scheduled to happen at 6:50 am.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 100, ƒ/18, 30 sec] 6:12 am
I arrived about 5:40 am at the location and setup two Alienbees B1600 strobes with 50º reflectors.

[Fuji X-E3, 10-24mm, ISO 125, ƒ/10, 3 sec] 6:35 am
You can see one of the two lights here on the left and the other is by the flag pole. I shot with the Nikon D5 as well as my Fuji X-E3.

[Fuji X-E3, 10-24mm, ISO 125, ƒ/10, 1.5 sec] 6:37 am
I put the cameras on Manual Mode. I was shooting up to 30 second exposures with aperture of ƒ/10 to ƒ/22. ISO was 100 on D5 and 125 on the Fuji X-E3.

[Fuji X-E3, 10-24mm, ISO 125, ƒ/10, 1.6 sec] 6:34 am
This photo was taken with just available light.  It was shot at 6:34 am. The sun is slowly rising but isn’t up yet. It has 16 more minutes until Sunrise. The sky behind the building looks darker, but the longer shutter speeds bring it out as dark blue sky.

I find that approximately 20 minutes before sunrise and 20 minutes after sunset you get the best ratio of the lights inside the buildings and signage verses the night time sky is the best. Looking at the photo above shot at 6:12 am which was 38 minutes before sunrise the sky is too dark for me.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 100, ƒ/22, 13 sec] 6:30 am
Here at 6:30 am, good 20 minutes before sunrise, the sky looks just perfect match to the lights in and on the restaurant.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 100, ƒ/18, 30 sec] 6:20 am
At 6:20 am I can make the sky look great at 30 second shutter speed, but the lights start to lose details. 10 minutes later I get the sky and the lights just perfect.

If you want to do this yourself here are the tips for Sunrise or Sunset.


Before shoot arrange to have lights turned on for photo shoot
Arrive 1 hour before Sunrise or Sunset
Use Tripod & Cable Release
If using flash set it to match your Aperture or -1 stop
Start taking photos at least 35 minutes before Sunrise and 5 minutes for Sunset
Take photos for about 5 minutes after Sunrise and 30 minutes after Sunset

How to practice portraits

Cowboy Test Shots [Fuji X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 320, ƒ/4, 1/60]
I bought another figurine today for helping teach my students photography. Today we took the cowboy figurine outside looking for good locations for shooting portraits.

We found a bend with a tree in the background for the first one.

Cowboy Test Shots [Fuji X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/80]
By just moving the figurine we looked for good light on the face and then we looked for a good background to match.

This is much harder to do than you might think.

Cowboy Test Shots [Fuji X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4, 1/160]
We started all the photos in total manual mode. Learning to pick the right ISO, Shutter-Speed and Aperture as well as doing a custom white balance before each new location we picked.

Cowboy Test Shots [Fuji X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/110]
The first hurdle was actually nothing more than remembering you are taking a photo. You need to look around the edges of the frame. Can it be cropped out of the photo? Can I get closer?

Just walking closer to the subject and getting as close as you could and still be in focus was a good place to start with our figurine.

Cowboy Test Shots [Fuji X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 100, ƒ/16, 1/125]
Taking a photo in the studio on white background is simple compared to walking outside looking for good light and a complimentary background.

Go to the store and buy a figurine. It is a great way to explore the light looking for good location for a portrait.

How to remain competitive as a freelancer

Photographing Island Breeze Dancer Victoria Taimane Kaopua, Stanley is teaching location off-camera flash lighting to Youth With A Mission Photo School 1 [Fuji X-E3, 10-24mm, ISO 500, ƒ/4, 1/100 photo by: Dorie Griggs]

“The gig economy…is now estimated to be about 34% of the workforce and expected to be 43% by the year 2020,” says Intuit (INTU) CEO Brad Smith. “We think self-employed [work] has a lot of opportunity for growth as we look ahead.”

To get jobs and get repeat business there are a few tips for you:

Marketing – You need to get your name in front of as many people as possible in your target group. Your target audience will be those people most likely to need your style of work.

Be Prepared – While you are not an employee you still need to be up on the organization as much as an employee. Do your research so that you are aware of as much as possible to know how to best serve the client on a job.

Show Up! – “80 percent of success is showing up,” says Woody Allen.

Wait on the client – You want to always be early and if anyone is waiting on the other be sure it is you waiting on the client and not the other way around.
Be Reachable – Respond promptly to all communication.
Say Yes! – Use the rule of Improv of saying YES. The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we’re improvising and I say, “Freeze, I have a gun,” and you say, “That’s not a gun. It’s your finger. You’re pointing your finger at me,” our improvised scene has ground to a halt. But if I say, “Freeze, I have a gun!” and you say, “The gun I gave you for Christmas! You bastard!” then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun. Do your best to say yes to requests. If they cross the line of your ethics then say no.
Deliver – Be sure you are meeting the expectations of the client. Never under deliver.

Stanley shows the students what he is capturing while teaching location off-camera flash lighting to Youth With A Mission Photo School 1 [Fuji X-E3, 10-24mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/420 photo by: Dorie Griggs]
Focus on Relationships – While doing excellent work is vitally important even more important is how you get that work done with others. How you treat people trumps all things.

Back to Marketing – If you do an excellent job on average you will only have less than 10% of those you talk to who will be interested in working with you. Learn to treat those who don’t hire you for a job that they know best. Sometimes they love you and they had already someone booked or they cannot easily switch freelancers due to hiring policies. If you remain professional in how you are rejected this often helps open closed doors later on for you.

The #1 Way to Get Better as a Photographer

Alive After 5 in Roswell, GA. [Fuji X-E3, 10-24mm, ISO 25600, ƒ/10, 1/55]
Keeping yourself fresh is vital if you do this professionally. I do this by taking a small camera with me everywhere. I just take a few photos here and there and in the process keep myself fresh for my professional jobs where I am getting paid by a client.

Alive After 5 in Roswell, GA. [Fuji X-E3, 10-24mm, ISO 25600, ƒ/13, 1/25]
I have been doing one-on-one teaching with a person wanting to pursue photography as a career. We started by shooting in total manual mode. The camera is set where the student must pick for each shot the following:

Shutter Speed

As we were reviewing some the photos shot since the last time we met the photos had improved a great deal, but then there were these photos of ducks that just didn’t work at all.

Cyneria & Sadarius Lucas Wedding [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/7.1, 1/50]
What had happened is the excitement of getting photos had them shooting before they had thought through all the settings.

When shooting the ducks the person hadn’t thought about what of those three setting took priority and why. I explained how birds are really like shooting sports. You need to freeze them or they will be totally blurred using the settings the camera was set on before seeing the birds.

Tufted titmouse [Fuji X-E3, 55-200mm, ISO 4000, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250]
This is when I stopped and I talked to the student about how you must slow down get your camera settings just right before taking photos. If you don’t do this then none of the photos will be usable. “I was trying to get the birds before they flew away.” was the excuse. So not one of the photos was usable, but this became the teachable moment.

My mentor, coach and friend Don Rutledge – photo by Ken Touchton

There was a teachable moment with my mentor. A few of my friends also would tell me later how this helped them as well.

In the days of film you shot 36 shots and then you had to change your roll of film. Most photographers would reach into their bags and change their roll of film pretty quickly.

The problem is when you change the roll of film you can make a mistake and not get the leader of the film to catch. If this happened you would close the back of the camera and because you are in a hurry you take more photos but none of them recorded on the film because every time you advanced the film the film wasn’t moving.

The way I learned what to do was from watching Don, not because he told me what he did. Don would turn his back to whatever he was photographing and change the roll of film. He would always turn the rewind lever to tighten the roll before he would then advance the film to be sure it caught.

Once the film was changed Don then turned around towards the action.

Cyneria & Sadarius Lucas Wedding [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 800, ƒ/4, 1/500]
Often when I am shooting I evaluate the scene and realize I need a flash. Taking the time to set that up for the photo here takes time. The photo is better because I slowed down long enough to get my flash, put it on a light stand and then set the flash to work with the scene.

Alive After 5 [Fuji X-E3, 10-24mm, ISO 25600, ƒ/13, 1/150]

#1 Tip: Shoot More

Don Rutledge taught me a great deal. One tip was to shoot stories for yourself. Often these are stories you can go back to work on in your own hometown. You work slower than you do when you are say traveling and having to rush to get photos due to the schedule.

My personal tip that no one taught me is to ask yourself before you start taking photos is “Why do I want to take this photo?” What is it you are trying to say with the photo? I am also trying to get in touch with my feelings and not just feel what is going on, but what words would describe this feeling?

Then I pause long enough to decide what Aperture is best to capture the scene. Do I need shallow depth-of-field where you cannot tell where the person is but I want you to see the expression or do I need more context and need a greater depth-of-field.

I am also evaluating what shutter-speed will freeze the photo enough that it will be sharp or do I need to add motion with a slower shutter speed.

Female Cardinal [Fuji X-E3, 55-200mm, ISO 8000, ƒ/10, 1/280]
With some subjects somewhat fast shutter speed will still blur like this bird.

You must really know your camera and subject to know proper shutter speed. Over the years I have learned that faster shutter speeds improve the sharpness of the photo due to camera shake.

The largest difference of having lots of experience is that when I am in most any situation it is becoming rare that I haven’t shot something like this before.

Don taught me that I need to shoot as much as possible to grow and get the shot.


Spring Cleaning Time

While I think I have done an excellent job in editing of my photos when I submit them to stock agencies they sometimes catch things I miss.

Island Breeze dancer with Poi balls – for Maori dances

When I first submitted this photo I had missed in the top right hand corner some dust that had gotten onto the sensor.

This is 100% enlargement of the right top corner of the photo. Are you getting frustrated with seeing small dark spots in your images that seem to show up in every image? If you see them consistently in the same location (the size and darkness of the spots can vary depending on aperture), you are most likely dealing with dust particles on your camera’s sensor.

I have noticed they show up more at smaller apertures like ƒ/22 or ƒ/16 and there is a light area of the photo where the dust is located.

Berrie Smith – Camera Guru

The first thing I do when I notice dust on the sensor is to pick up the phone and call Berrie Smith who lives near me and for many years worked for Nikon as a camera technician.

Berrie Smith, professional camera repairman, is one of the guys Nikon sends out to large sporting events to provide live repair and sensor cleaning service to the NPS pros covering the event.

Without proper camera cleaning and digital camera sensor cleaning most photographers have experienced their photographs ruined by unsightly dust spots in their images – these dust spots are characteristically gray/black areas and are usually visible when photographing continuous tone scenes. Cleaning your camera equipment is not only a great way to ensure it continues working properly but is also a necessity in today’s digital world. Digital sensors are electrically charged devices, which attract dust particles because of their static electric charge. The digital camera sensor, if not cleaned properly, will result in images with black spots scattered throughout your photographs.

You can buy off the shelf sensor cleaning kits and attempt to clean your image sensor but if you are not careful you can do a lot of expensive damage, very quickly. The cost to replace a scratched low pass filter / image sensor assembly ranges from $600 to $1,600 (parts and labor) depending on the camera.

Berrie does repairs for photographers all over the world.

When I travel I don’t have the luxury of calling Berrie and sending him my cameras to clean. No one wants to touch up every single photo on a shoot in the same spots over and over.

Carson SensorMag 4.5x30mm Camera Sensor Magnifier Cleaning Loupe

What is crucial in the kit is the loupe to examine the sensor up close.

LED Lighted with 6 Bright White LED Lights | Loupe can be adjusted 45 degrees to allow users easier access to clean your sensor

Often all you need to do is point the sensor down and just using the Air Blower to force air onto the sensor which often dislodges the dust.

I recommend at least owning a Air Blower to just safely remove dust. If that doesn’t work then give it to the expert Berrie.

This is Berrie at my kitchen table cleaning my cameras. So how do you reach Berrie? Here you go:

Berrie Smith | | (770) 312-0719

Breakthrough in your communications

Octane Coffee Bar in West End Atlanta. [Fuji X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/420]
This is how I start most days–a cup of coffee. Everyone has a time of day that we are most productive. Over time we most likely try to be most productive during our sweet spot of the day.

Today more than any other time in my life trying to get any message to an audience is more like trying to getting people’s attention on the highway.

Chick-fil-A Cows Billboard in downtown Atlanta. [Fuji X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/2400]
Do Billboards Work?

According to the Arbitron study, billboard advertising is effective. According to the study, which reported that 71 percent of Americans “often look at the messages on roadside billboards,” a majority of Americans at one time or another learned about an event that interested them or a restaurant they later patronized.

However, consumers are no longer looking at billboards in the same way they did twenty or thirty years ago. While they may still be considered a premium advertising space, consumers are engrossed in their smart phones, tablets, and gaming systems. Eyes are down, not up, for much of our lives.

Six Words or Six Seconds

Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard. So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.

The Superhighway

In the 1990s we started to call the internet the Superhighway. Our messaging has become more like a billboard on the highway.

If you can get your message to be short and sweet and it delivers all one needs to know to take action then you are poised to make people’s daily commute in life worthwhile and more productive.

The More Billboards, The Better.

Being sure your audience is getting your message on the highways often requires more billboards. Your message must be concise. As billboard experts will tell you if you are using a headline that explains your visual, you’re wasting words.

When your are limited to 5 to 10 seconds for messaging, you need to be sure they see it. You need your billboard on the bypass and downtown as well to be sure you are reaching your audience.

Engage & Deliver

We all get ticked when someone takes more of our time because they are not well organized. I get even more frustrated when someone has done a great job of hooking me and leading me through well written or visual communication, but in the end don’t deliver.

Before you can talk you must listen.

In most conversations, the person who speaks least benefits most and the person who speaks most benefits least. This is why social media is often preferred over main stream media, they get to talk and be heard on those platforms.

Instagram, Facebook, Google, Pinterest

Some of the Friends TV show set part of the tour at Warner Brothers Studios. [Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 11400, ƒ/3.5, 1/125]
Today due to Starbucks, Seinfeld and Friends in the late 80s and early 90s we have the third space–The coffee shop. Today brands are realizing that people are looking for an experience. They are looking for a place beyond work for an encounter that leaves an impression. They want a place they can interact with others.

BREAKTHROUGH with your audience!

Don’t think of your job as creating content. Think of your job being like a counselor, parent or friend. If you really care for someone you want to know how they are doing. You want them to be happy.

As a counselor you are trained to not just take what someone is telling you are being the real problem. Often what they are talking about is a symptom.

As a parent you tend to know your child’s personality and how that can shape how they see the world and how this can affect their child’s view of circumstances.

As a friend you often tolerate some traits because you know their heart.

Can you as a communicator say you know your audience well enough to know their hopes and fears?

Your breakthrough is probably pretty simple, but it will start first with you understanding others more than just knowing yourself and what you can do.

Sometimes your breakthrough isn’t about your skills or service at all. Often it will be in helping someone with something other than your product.

Look what guides on of the Gold Standard brands the Ritz Carlton:

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.

We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambience.

The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.

I love the words “Genuine Care” in that first sentence.

Genuine – truly what something is said to be; authentic.

Tips shared by Jeffery Salter to Atlanta ASMP meeting

Jeffery Salter speaks to ASMP Atlanta/SE. Jeffery, an editorial and advertising photographer from Miami. Jeffery has created insightful portraits of celebrities, athletes and CEOs for publications worldwide, and his work has been exhibited widely. [Fuji X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 25600, Ä/4, 1/35]
How do some photographers get so successful? I think this is one of the reasons many came to see Jeffery Salter.

Capture Integration sponsored the event. Jeffery is one of their clients using their Phase One backs.

It didn’t take long and someone in the audience asked the question, “How did you get hired to be on staff with Sports Illustrated?”

Jeffery said while he was working on newspaper staffs like The Miami Herald he would look for opportunities to shoot medium format. While most staff photographers would continue to shoot all assignments on 35mm SLR film cameras he was shooting on a Hasselblad or Mamiya 6×7.

He shared how he was shooting for where he wanted to work not for where he was shooting. He worked hard to have a style that stood out. His photos are quite surreal in nature and often need much more space to be appreciated than in a newspaper.

He got an assignment to shoot some athletes in their homes from Sports Illustrated. They liked his style and work and after so many assignments brought him on staff not to shoot sports action, but to shoot the behind the scenes of the lives of famous athletes.

Michael Schwarz helps Jeffery Salter with a computer problem before the event started. [Fuji X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/3.6, 1/80]
A little while into the presentation Jeffery was showing his work in Haiti. He shot it all medium format with Phase One back. “Why are you shooting with medium format? Who is your client?” was asked.

The person asking the question knew that the magazines cannot show a difference between today’s DSLR and Medium format. Jeffery then spoke to that he often doesn’t pick the camera for the client but for himself. He wants to be able to have his photos later displayed in the Museum of Modern Art as large as they can be displayed.

He is shooting for the next venue and client.

A couple of tips which are not new but Jeffery also subscribes:

Do self assignments
Learn how light works in nature [he shoots a lot of nature]
Build a photo one light at a time [use strobes to enhance natural light]
Shoot on the very best camera for the situation
Use histogram to be sure you have it in the camera

Now one last thing Jeffery shared that I do, but it was good to hear was he often shoots tethered and is able to open images in PhotoShop or Lightroom and put the curser on highlights and shadows to see the numbers that the computer sees.

Now on gray scale you go from 0% to 100% with amount of light in a scene. The computer records this as 0 to 255.

Jeffery likes his blacks to be around 35 and his highlights to be around 235. he gets the photo in the camera as he always has from his film days shooting transparencies.

Jeffery also answered some business questions as well. To have experiences like this I recommend joining ASMP and come to our meetings. You will be inspired and hopefully from what you learn become a more successful photographer.

Creative Backgrounds for Tabletop Photography

[Nikon D750, Sigma 70-200mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 50, ƒ/10, 1/160]
You can have a lot of fun shooting small items on a table. This type of photography is call Tabletop Photography.

This is a lighting diagram if you are trying to do a product on a white background.

My friend Susan Hawkins came to me to photograph some of her product and wanted to change the backgrounds. She had a great idea I want to pass along to you.

She went to the store and bought different wrapping paper that we used as a background.

[Nikon D750, Sigma 70-200mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 50, ƒ/4, 1/30]
If you want to have fun shooting today and it is raining, then find a table and create something with what you have around the house. Look for the left over Christmas or birthday wrapping paper for possible backgrounds.

[Nikon D750, Sigma 70-200mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 50, ƒ/7.1, 1/160]
The wrapping paper helps to create a mood for your product.


Monday Devotional: Anxiety-free Life is a choice

Anxiety raises it’s ugly head in my life every so often. It is produced by things that often I have no control over in my life. It is a war that takes it’s toll on your life.

During World War II in 1939 the British government coined the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On.” It was made into posters. If you have seen the latest movies Dunkirk and Darkest Hour you learn how close Britain was to total defeat to the Germans.

Amicalola Falls State Park [Fuji X-E3, 10-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/20, 1/10]
My Christian faith has taught me in scripture that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” [John 10:10]

What I have learned through my faith is that there is much in the world that happens that I cannot power through using my willpower.

What I have found that is one of the best things for me to do is to turn to my creativity using photography. I go and find those subjects that are interesting to me and photograph them.

Azaleas in our backyard. Shot with a LensBall. It was the final round of the Masters Golf Tournament when I went into my backyard and captured the Azaleas are in full bloom as well. [Fuji X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/250]
The British lost a lot of people during WWII and one of the things that helped many of them to survive was prayer.

Philippians 4:6-7
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

When you have anxiety, you cause many issues that lead to muscle tension: As adrenaline pumps through your body, your blood vessels constrict. That causes your muscles not to receive the blood flow they need, which in turn causes them stress that leads to tension and aches.

Life is just too short to have anxiety rob you of your living life.

Dogwood in our yard. Photographed using the LensBall. [Fuji X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/100]
“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” ― George Mueller

Anxiety-free life is a choice for us. It requires a Leap of Faith. This requires us to an act of believing in or attempting something whose existence or outcome cannot be proved.