A BlogStomp Review

Oh my goodness – how I wish I had listened to my peers and purchased BlogStomp ages ago!!
For months I had heard about the program that supposedly made blogging so much faster and easier, and I thought to myself each and every time I heard about BlogStomp, ‘I have Photoshop actions for my photos, sure they aren’t 100% automated and I still have to tweak things one by one now and then, but they were free’. Silly past-Stephanie.

I downloaded the free trial of BlogStomp and ran some images through it. It was so fast and so easy! But surely it couldn’t make the images look exactly like the one that were already on my blog…right? A few minutes later and I had created a custom setting complete with the same white border around my images and my logo in the corner. Honestly, a few minutes. And what’s this, it can post right to my blog or Social Media pages?!

From the time I downloaded the program, created a custom setting and tested a blog worth of images, about 10 minutes had passed and I was heading back to the website to get myself an activation code!!

I am now able to get images into what I call blog formation within a few minutes. I also I don’t have a second set of images with my watermark all over them as I no longer need them (I only ever used them for blogging and uploading to Facebook). The program saves me a boatload of time editing my photos for blog posts and getting them up there too. I find myself able to blog more as I don’t have to waste so much time merely changing the size, etc. of the photos and adding my logo. The only regret I have is not getting the program sooner!!

Prince of Wales Black Rapids Locks Ottawa Photography

This photo was taken a while ago at the Black Rapids Locks just off of Prince of Wales Drive. I was driving home that morning after dropping Dave off to meet some friends to go paintballing and the fog was so gorgeous. I ended up quickly driving home, grabbing my camera and then driving around the farm fields and then down to the river just as the fog was starting to burn off. It was a fantastic start to the day.

I had sat on blogging these images as every time I thought of it, I was already so tired of running photos through my blogging Photoshop actions. But with BlogStomp I was able to get them into blog formation in a flash and can now share them here with all of you.

*I would like to add a little disclaimer that I have written this post free of any payment or suggestion, etc. from BlogStomp. I merely love the program and think photographers everywhere should get it – allowing them to spend their time taking photos and making their clients happy instead of getting their images into blog formation*

Fireworks

I have been playing in CS5 Extended and have done some work with the stacked layers feature. Essentially it allows you to stack your photos one on top of the other and have non-common elements of the photos show through each layer. You then have multiple ways you can have the photos add to one another, one of which is to multiply them on top of each other. This method works brilliantly for fireworks and I am pretty happy with how the photos from Canada Day 2011 came out using this feature.

fireworks2er

SOOC #2

Below is the screenshot from Bridge showing the Before and After of today’s SOOC feature.

SOOC2

This was a shot I took of a “ferris wheel” (it is actually called the Skyview) in Niagara Falls. It is a long exposure shot done at night (f18.0, 6.0 seconds, ISO 200) that I was actually quite happy with straight of the camera. I cropped it down to 16”x20” as that is the size of print I wanted, but it wasn’t actually necessary as the original composition worked quite well. I converted the image to black and white. This was something I struggled with for a little while as I actually found the slight blue colours around the edges of the image very interesting, but the crisp whites when converted to black and white won over in the end.

The print now hangs in our main floor powder room.

SOOC #1

Below is a screenshot from Bridge showing the before (the only thing done here is some slight cropping), the initial after and then a tri-tone image (it is this last image I am going to be focusing on below).

SOOC1

In the initial after image I have obviously done added a vignette and performed some sharpening but I have also removed some clutter in the background, softened her skin ever so slightly and cleaned up some rough edges of her hair. If memory serves, I added a little bit of contrast to her eyes (focusing on not changing the colour) as well.

In the tri-tone image I basically took the initial after image and performed a technique called Duotone in Photoshop. To start this process here is what to do:

1. With the image open in Photoshop select Image then Mode. The current selection will most likely be RGB mode. This is the typical mode that camera’s take images in – it is how my photos start out.

2. Select Grayscale. A couple of warnings will popup. The first is asking whether or not you want to merge your layers (if you had no layers then you will not have this warning). I typically do not merge them, however, it is best if you do. The second is asking whether or not you want to discard the colour information, click discard.

3. Once this is done, you can now go back into Image then Mode and select Duotone (it was grayed out before).

4. Up pops a dialog box – this is where the fun begins. The dialog box will bring up whatever Toning you last created/worked with. If you haven’t used this feature before, it will start in a Monotone setting (one colour to be used throughout the image). To change the number of colours used change Monotone to Duotone (2 colours), Tritone (3 colours) or Quadtone (4 colours). To change the colour click on the colour box and then select the one you want. You can either browse through the ‘swatches’ that are there or you can use the normal colour picker by hitting the Picker button on the right hand side of the newest dialog box.

5. The trickiest thing about this application are those little graphs beside the colour boxes. Essentially these are just like Curves boxes and show you the distribution of the colour throughout your image. On the Left are your highlights and the Right are you shadows. As you move the curve around you change how that specific colour acts in each of the areas. You can make the colour only show up in the highlights or switch it completely around and have it only in the shadows, or anything in between. It takes some time to get used to this and I would suggest not jumping right to Quad-tone when you are starting out.

Here’s a screen shot for the Tri-tone box I used for the above image.

Tritone

As you can see, I used a fairly normal curve for my black and darker pink colour and then brought in a lighter pink in the highlights. The bottom colour bar shows the distribution of colours throughout the image. In a normal image, this bar would go from white to black.

Try it out sometime and let me know how it goes for you.

Tricks for Shooting Glass

Glass can be a little complicated when photographing because it takes on the colour of your background and therefore you can easily lose the edges of your object(s). The easiest way to deal with this is to place reflector of the opposite colour as your background on either side of your object.

For example, if you are shooting on a white background, place black reflectors (or pieces of paper) just outside of your frame. This will make the edges distinguishable from the actual background as they will now reflect black.

DSC_9450er

The above photo has a reflector on the left side of the image and above it as well to reduce glare from the soft boxes that are lighting the subject. Another trick that helps is to put something in the glass itself (e.g. coloured water).

DSC_9473er

The above photo has coloured water in the glasses and black cards on either side of the image to help with the stems of the glasses.

When it comes right down to it, it is a process of trial and error. Eventually you will be able to determine a better starting point and your sessions will generate less error-filled shots.