Laura Macky Photography

Journey of a body on this earth


Expanding Horizons – Luminosity Masks

This image was taken from the Presidio in San Francisco last night.  The sunset was absolutely glorious!  I’m going to create a camera club event here soon because there is so much to explore even without the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge.

I’ve been exploring the use of Luminosity Masks lately.  Basically Luminosity Masks are a way of making advanced selections in Photoshop based on luminosity values.  So let’s say I wanted to select everything but the bridge and the land to create a mask.  Normally I would have to go through a selection process by using the magic wand, the quick selection tool, color range selection or a host of other ways to isolate what I wanted to mask.  Instead of that way, I use the Lumenzia panel which I’ve loaded in photoshop.  (You can see it in the screenshot I’ve included in this post.)

Lumenzia is developed by Greg Benz and is something you load into photoshop which ends up being a panel readily accessible in your workspace.  This is a purchased product, but I can already tell it will be a staple for my processing.  Greg’s tutorials are very clear too and there’s a help button in the panel to access anything you want to know.  Very convenient!  I don’t have to go wading through my browser bookmarks to find tutorials.  Yay!

As an example, you can see in the screenshot of my Photoshop workspace a layer mask called L2 Solid color.  I wanted to apply a color filter to everything BUT the bridge and the land because I wanted to add an orangey hue, so rather than trying to manually select the bridge and land so I could hide them with a mask and apply a color filter to everything else, I clicked on different buttons in the panel which temporarily brought up different masks based on luminosity.  I kept clicking until I found one that most closely applied black to the bridge and land and white to everything else, which in this case was the L2 button.  I then clicked the button called “Solid” to automatically bring up a color filter where I then selected the color.  Voila!  Selection made, color filter applied!  How convenient is that!?  Of course this is a very simple example but you can see the potential here.  You can adjust the mask of course by brushing on it with various opacities of a brush if you wanted to refine the selection even more.

Needless to say I love new things that make my life simpler and my work better.

The Western Front - Golden Gate Bridge

The Western Front – Golden Gate Bridge

Lumenzia Panel

Lumenzia Panel






Hand Holding Isn’t Impossible

You might’ve noticed in previous posts that I talk about not using a tripod a lot.  Due to issues with my neck and hands, it’s really difficult for me to carry a tripod.  Honestly, the ONLY time I use it is if someone else carries it for me or if I’m taking a picture not too far from my car.

This image was taken with my new Sony A7 using a 28-70mm lens with no tripod.  Indeed you can feather water hand-held if your lens or camera has image stabilization which the the Sony A7 lens I was using does have.   (The newer Sony mirrorless cameras have image stabilization in the camera itself and does not need a lens with image stabilization.  Oh the joys of technology!)

For this image, I used a shutter speed of 1/8s at 51mm and had ISO set to 100.  I spot metered the water so it would be a perfect exposure and recovered some shadows in the area around the water in Lightroom.

Without image stabilization, there is something called the Reciprocal Rule in Photography (discussed below).  It’s a way to make sure you have sharp images and not using a shutter speed too slow for the focal length you are using.

For those interested in learning what the Reciprocal rule in Photography you can click here where Nasim Mansurov gives a fabulous explanation of it.  But if you don’t want to click on the link…….it means (talking full frame camera here) that if you are using an 80-400mm lens for example and shooting at 80mm, your shutter speed should be set to at least 1/80th of a second and no slower, whereas if you zoom in to say 400mm, your shutter speed should be at least 1/400th of a second.  For crop sensor cameras, if you use the same 80-400mm lens on a Nikon DX camera, for example, with a 1.5x crop factor and you are shooting at 400mm, your minimum shutter speed should be at least 1/600th of a second (400 x 1.5 = 600).

You can shoot slower in both instances discussed above if your lens (or camera) has image stabilization and then the rule goes out the window.  My Nikon D750 uses lenses with image stabilization (called vibration reduction in Nikon land) so I can shoot even slower than the Reciprocal Rule mentioned above.  For instance in the previous example with the Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G VR,  you could theoretically reduce the recommended shutter speed by reciprocal rule by up to 16 times!  So when shooting at 400mm, if your hand-holding technique was perfect and you turned image stabilization on, you could go from 1/400th of a second (reciprocal rule based on a full-frame camera) to 1/25th of second and still be able to capture a sharp image of your subject (provided that your subject does not move at such long shutter speeds and cause motion blur).

Thanks again to Nasim Mansurov for this information and I hope this helps you when you want to ditch your tripod!  🙂






Expanding Horizons – Time Lapse

My latest endeavor is time lapse photography.

My husband and I had an office installation scheduled and were talking to the owner of the company about photography because his younger son is interested in it.  One thing led to another and he asked me if I could do a time lapse of the office installation for the company website.  I agreed not knowing one thing about time lapse!  Is that a bit nuts?

The first thing I did was to look up in my camera manual how to set up a time lapse.  After that I realized the most important information one needs to know is the length of the time you want your final time lapse video to be.  In this case, my customer wanted a 90 second time lapse.  Once you know that, then you can figure out the interval between each photo taken.  There were other considerations to take into account like time lapse flicker, white balance issues and lighting which I realized when I was testing it out in our living room and in the room where the installation would occur.

Once I captured the time lapse (over a two day period), I then loaded it in iMovie and inserted some graphics and transitions along with some music I purchased.  I think learning iMovie was the hardest part of this whole thing!   Here’s the final time lapse for your viewing pleasure!  There are some things I know now that I will do differently the next time but hey, it’s my first attempt.

My customer liked it so much that he is hiring me to do another one in January.  Yay!

Here is a link I found very helpful in learning time lapse photography:  Time Lapse Info