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Book Review: Karen Sperling’s Painting for Photographers

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Karen Sperling's Painting for Photographers. Cover painting and design by Karen Sperling from a photo by Felicia Tausig.

Karen Sperling’s Painting for Photographers; Steps and Art Lessons for Painting Photos in Corel Painter and Adobe Photoshop, (ISBN: 978-0-9818163-0-2) is being released by Artistry Books in multiple formats, including an autographed hardcover edition, complete with a CD of source photos to use with the tutorials, bonus tutorials and brushes, and a 10% donation to charity for $149.95; print on demand softcover edition with downloadable source photos for $85.95; regular softcover edition with downloadable source photos for $39.95; and an e-book with source photos accessible from within the digital edition for $35.95. The author is the founder of Artistry Tips and Tricks, a website that educates photographers by providing tips and techniques for creating painterly images from digital photographs. She was also the author of the first manuals on Corel Painter and has penned several other Painter books as well.

Sperling uses numerous examples to illustrate the techniques including many by other photographers as before images, with her painted version as the finished images. The inclusion of the before and after images is extremely helpful, so the reader can see and fully understand the techniques that are being explained.

Sperling offers a wide range of tips and tricks, for portraits (including people and pets) and landscapes, in addition to more general techniques. This is an important focus as many professional photographers will likely be turning portraits taken of clients into paintings. For the fine-art photographer, landscapes are an important subject to tackle, and techniques for these images are also discussed in detail.

The author begins the volume with a quote by Andrew Carnegie, “If you think you can do something, you probably can.” Sperling explains that painting is 90% thought and 10% execution.

The book offers an introduction to art concepts, which is important for the photographer who may not have taken art classes in the course of their schooling; something that really is necessary to know to turn a photograph into a painting without having it look like you just ran it through a filter or plug-in in Photoshop. Such art concepts include understanding color harmony and tonal ranges.

Sperling also explains how to turn a photo into a painting. She discusses what types of images make great starting points, how to choose an image to take further; and how you can take the best parts of an image or images, while leaving out distracting elements—turning ordinary images into extraordinary pieces of art.

An entire chapter is spent on portraits, detailing body parts and how the different types of painting, acrylic, oils, watercolor, airbrush, etc. vary the look of an image. Another really helpful part of the book is the inclusion of examples from some of the portrait-painting masters, such as Degas, Rembrandt, and others.

Sperling follows a similar tone with the Landscape chapter, showing examples of how different styles of painting can alter the look of an image.

The chapter on pets is segmented into sections focusing on cats, dogs, and horses—which is helpful, as these are the more common animals that photographers will likely be working with.

The author explains the various tools that Corel’s Painter program offers users. She also explains the powerful tools that Photoshop offers the digital imager who wants to use that program. Sperling also includes shortcuts, including explaining the benefits of utilizing a Wacom pen and tablet in turning a photo into a painting because of the added control offered by the device.

Sperling completes the book with a discussion of over-painting techniques and the supplies needed to do so. Over-painting is the technique of painting with acrylic or oil paints on top of the canvas that the image has been printed upon. It is becoming a popular technique and adds an extra quality of uniqueness to images that receive this treatment.

Sperling notes that she finds painting both on the computer and with traditional paint to be more about confidence and suggests that if the reader practices and familiarizes themselves with the materials and techniques used, they’ll be more comfortable in working with these varied media. Sperling closes by bringing the reader back to her opening sentiment that, “If you think you can, you probably can.”

Creating painterly art from photographs is ideal for the professional photographer, who can use this to add a new dimension to their studio’s offerings. The guidance and education in Karen Sperling’s Painting for Photographers takes the intimidation out of turning photographs into painted masterpieces.

Check out Karen Sperling’s website at www.karensperling.com to see examples of her work. Go to www.artistrymag.com for Sperling’s Painter tutorial site.

— Diane Berkenfeld

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Book Review: The Art of Digital Photo Painting; Using Popular Software to Create Masterpieces

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By Diane BerkenfeldSholinLarkBookCover

As a photographer, I can take great photographs, but I can’t draw, sketch or paint, so when I first discovered software that allows you to transform your digital images into artistic masterpieces that have the look of a painting, I was giddy with excitement. Then I saw the great images that professional photographers and Corel Painter Masters have created and thought to myself, “there’s no way I can do that.” And then I read The Art of Digital Photo Painting; Using Popular Software to Create Masterpieces, by Marilyn Sholin; published by Lark Books, (www.larkbooks.com) ISBN: 978-1-60059-101-3.

Author Marilyn Sholin is a professional photographer, Corel Painter Master, and educator. She is known for her digital photo paintings, and has authored a great book for photographers who want to learn how to fulfill their painterly visions of enhancing their own images.

Corel’s Painter XI is such a great piece of software—it’s the best around for emulating the look and feel of a variety of painting/drawing media. It can also be intimidating when you see the amazing photographs that have been enhanced using the software, not to mention the freehand pieces that talented artists have created with the program.

The majority of the book covers Corel’s Painter program, although the author mentions a few other software titles and plug-ins that are great additions to any digital imager’s repertoire. A chapter is dedicated to explaining the basics of Painter, including an overview of the palettes, tools and more.

The publisher created a website with downloadable files that are used as examples in the book, so readers can follow along with the tutorials, and be able to see how the final product should look. It’s almost like being in a class or workshop—you’re doing the work so you’re learning—but you’re going at your own pace.

The author discusses multiple ways of using Painter’s powerful tools, including some great shortcuts. Sholin writes in an easy to understand tone so readers won’t feel overwhelmed. She offers step-by-step instructions for painting from multiple sources, portrait painting, and mixing media in one image. The book includes techniques for digital photo painting of portraits, landscapes, still life, and an entire chapter dedicated to flowers. Dozens of examples, screenshots and tips are included throughout the book.

Whether you want to add a realistic painterly effect or go wacky with color, this book will show you how.

Examples of different ways you can “add to” your images with digital borders—complete with instructions—shows readers a great way to add a little “oomph” to their final images.

Sholin also includes examples of painterly photographs from other pros, which is great, because it shows varied styles and techniques that different photographers specialize in.

I love the look of images that have been enhanced with Corel’s Painter software or other such digital photo painting techniques, and as I photographer, I want to be able to create such masterpieces of my own. After reading The Art of Digital Photo Painting; Using Popular Software to Create Masterpieces, I’m not intimidated anymore. In fact, I’m more excited than ever about working on my digital painting skills.

If you’ve thought that you couldn’t turn your photographs into digital paintings, buy this book—the $19.95 will be money well spent.

To see more of Marilyn Sholin’s work, go to her website at www.marilynsholin.com. To learn more about Corel Painter software, go to www.corel.com.

Book Review: Creative Digital Monochrome Effects; Go Beyond Black and White to Make Striking Digital Images

JoeFaracebookcover

By Diane Berkenfeld

Photographer and author Joe Farace has penned his 29th book, on the subject of creating monochrome images from digital cameras. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects; Go Beyond Black and White to Make Striking Digital Images (Lark Books, www.larkbooks.com, ISBN: 978-1-60059-264-5) includes techniques for capturing great monochrome images with a digital camera’s monochrome or B&W mode, as well as exploring some of the many creative picture styles that today’s digital cameras offer.

Farace also discusses many of the software programs and plug-ins that you can use to turn a color image into B&W, sepia, duotone, tritone, quadtone, etc. The book doesn’t include a full listing of all of the programs on the market however, as the author notes that he chose to include programs that offer unique features apart from other titles on the market.

The book is written easy enough for the beginning digital imager and includes a wealth of information to interest the enthusiast or professional photographer. However, enthusiasts and pros will be familiar with the discussions of more advanced Photoshop features such as actions, layers and channels.

Creative Digital Monochrome Effects encompasses a wide range of what you might think constitutes B&W and offers even more. The author’s extensive knowledge of photography—of the history as well as a working photographer’s background—lends him the ability to write a book that truly encompasses a study of B&W digital imagery; with the anecdotes of his own experiences in the field.

Dozens of tips and techniques are discussed, from B&W Infrared (with a camera or via software) to adding color to monochrome images, and digitally recreating the look of many of the early photographic processes. For the die-hard photographer who misses working in a wet darkroom this chapter is a real treat. Other chapters include techniques for turning plain images into unique works of digital art and printing. For the beginner, the chapter on printing is a good addition; the advanced photographer may skim over it though.

Creative Digital Monochrome Effects is well worth the $24.95 price tag.

To see more of Joe Farace’s work, visit his website at www.joefarace.com.

Book Review: Ellie Vayo’s Guide to Boudoir Photography

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By Diane BerkenfeldVayocover

Have you thought about adding Boudoir photography to the other services your studio offers but was unsure of how to go about doing so? Then Ellie Vayo’s Guide to Boudoir Photography is just what you’re looking for. The book, published by Amherst Media (www.amherstmedia.com; ISBN 978-1-58428-253-2) retails for $34.95.

“Boudoir photography is more than posing and lighting; its about building confidence, trust, and of course, producing the highest-quality art,” Vayo explains. And her book is filled with helpful information regarding all aspects of boudoir photography. The author includes an important chapter on “The Psychology of the Woman” to help the reader understand their clients better.

Within the pages of her book, Vayo shows the reader how to create glamorous, flattering images of any woman—regardless of her age, shape or size. “My ideal client is in her forties,” Vayo says in the book. These are established career women with the income to purchase high-end photography. This is so important, especially from the point of view of a photographer looking to add a specific type of photography to their business. Not all clients will look like models, so you really need to know how to best shoot women of all body types.

The book is a comprehensive volume from marketing boudoir photography services, how Vayo books jobs and sells/upsells clients, as well as posing women with different body types.

She points out the importance of shooting without distraction of studio personnel, or family members/friends. And she notes that male photographers should definitely have a female assistant present to alleviate concerns that clients may have about posing in the nude or semi-nude.

One of the great things I like about Vayo’s tone throughout the book, is that she understands that not all professional photographers have the access to large budgets for props and backgrounds. She offers tips from her own past experience—for finding inexpensive items that can be used—while you are building your studio business. One of these tips is that you don’t need a wind machine when a hair dryer on the “cool” setting will do.

She discusses various settings that can be used for these images, using sets or backdrops, window lighting, and outdoor settings, including location shoots.

Numerous images are peppered throughout the book, showing the wide range of imagery that makes up boudoir photography. While most folks would think of nudes as the definition of boudoir photography, many beautiful boudoir photographs feature women wearing clothing or draped in fabric. Even the creatively posed headshot of a woman wearing little clothing, and with a seductive expression is a boudoir image.

Although much of the boudoir photography that Vayo shoots is of female clients, she does on occasion photograph guys too. In these cases, she makes sure to have a male assistant with her. Regardless of whether the subject is a man or woman, Vayo recommends meeting with your boudoir clients beforehand for a consultation. This is a great suggestion and can help you immensely in capturing the ideal images for your customers.

As well as the sections on shooting, Vayo spends a great deal of the book explaining how she markets her boudoir photography, client booking, as well as how her studio presents proofs and final images to clients.

The author includes information on post-production, from the standpoint of enhancements that clients may ask to be made to their images, such as retouching away years. She also includes examples of various software techniques that can be used to create finished images, and the software that her studio uses.

Ellie Vayo’s Guide to Boudoir Photography is a definite read if you’re interested in adding this niche to your studio’s photographic offerings.

To see more of Ellie Vayo’s work, check out her website at www.evayo.com.

Written by PictureSoup

August 1, 2009 at 11:30 am

Book Review: Sculpting with Light

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allisonearnestcover

By Diane Berkenfeld

With her first book: Sculpting With Light, Techniques for Portrait Photographers, (Amherst Media, www.amherstmedia.com ISBN: 978-1-58428-236-5) author and pro photographer Allison Earnest eloquently begins by explaining why we as photographers use light to sculpt our portrait subjects. She goes on to explain the physics behind light, for the scientific view of how light—its intensity and color—helps us create our photographs.

Earnest discusses the types of light: natural ambient illumination, strobe (studio and on-camera flash) as well as hot lights. She also touches on techniques for capturing great portraits on location, softening harsh sunlight, the use of flash-fill in daytime photographs, as well as mixing artificial and ambient light in the evening. The author touches on lighting ratios and why it is so important when using digital capture to get it right in the camera.

The author explains in detail how to use dimensional lighting to sculpt a portrait. She covers the basics of portrait lighting and then explains the different lighting set-ups and poses to use to flatter your subjects while minimizing distracting facial features. Earnest includes a list of distracting features that your clients will likely want minimized and explains the lighting and posing you should use for each, for a more flattering portrait. Examples are included throughout the book, often showing both the more flattering way of capturing your subjects and the not so flattering way so the reader can compare the images and build an understanding of why certain techniques work. The book also incorporates many lighting diagrams and illustrations showing where the light falls on the subject(s).

Earnest muses about finding a subject’s inner light and bringing it out in a portrait—the goal of the professional photographer. Being able to do that effectively, sculpting light creatively to flatter your subject is what makes the difference between an amateur picture taker and a professional portrait photographer.

In addition to showcasing the basics of lighting, Earnest also explains the different qualities of light and how they allow a photographer to sculpt their subjects with illumination.

Earnest shows how lighting and posing work hand-in-hand to flatter a subject’s features. She also talks about how clothing choices can improve a portrait, and shows examples.

Earnest touches upon the technique of painting with light, one of the more unique ways to light your subjects. She explains how it is done and shows examples of images that were captured by painting the subjects with light from flashlights or other constant light devices during a long exposure. The photographs that Earnest uses to illustrate this technique are absolutely beautiful.

I would have liked it if the author spent more time discussing this technique, as it is such a unique way of creating beautifully sculpted images and is a subject not often talked about in great detail in books on lighting.

Earnest discusses the technical aspects of photographic lighting in a way that is easily understood by the reader. And she incorporates commentary on why certain aesthetics make for a better photograph—for a more rounded volume on the subject of lighting. Much of the book contains the author’s photographs, however for the section on ambient lighting, she also includes images by other pros that illustrate techniques used to turn harsh daylight into soft dimensional illumination.

Whether you’re just beginning your photographic career or want to brush up on lighting techniques you don’t often use, check out Allison Earnest’s Sculpting with Light and you won’t be disappointed. The price is $34.95.

For more information on Allison Earnest or to see more of her work, check out her website at www.allisonearnestphotography.com.

Written by PictureSoup

July 25, 2009 at 6:09 am

Inspiration Hits in Threes; Book Launch & Talk Tonight

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book cover image courtesy of Amazon.com

book cover image courtesy of Amazon.com

Languishing in layoffs, feeling hostile in the humidity, down on your luck or just over it,  – sometimes life can seem routine, like a laundry list of chores, commitments and disappointments. We are used to processing thoughts and images a mile a minute. But pay attention. From the most common moments, the dawn breaks, the sky opens and inspiration hits. This was particularly the case for photographer Ed Kashi who was lying in bed one day when the idea for his new book Three came to him. In some ways it would be his life’s work.

That morning he dreamt of images from his vast archives flowing around in threes, like a comic strip on steroids. Particularly, he saw photos from Brazil in his mind’s eye:              the leathery skin on the back of an old fisherman, calm waves of the ocean and the curve of the man’s body as he plummeted into the salty liquid bliss. Here’s how Kashi explains his vision:

They moved as a group, transformed by their relationship to each other.

Each grouping of images in the book are presented like a triptych, an artform dating back to the Middle Ages which is divided into three sections. Traditionally, carved panels were hinged together and folded. The middle panel was typically the largest and flanked by two smaller related works, although there are triptychs of equal-sized panels. 

The trifecta idea became the impetus for Kashi to comb through more than 20 years of work looking for, as he puts it:

Visual connections, visual language and visual poetry of three.

description    

Ed Kashi

 

 

No over stimulation here. In his book, images are presented with no context, no captions. Some come from the same story or location, but many only resemble each another visually. Each triptych’s order is deliberate and meaningful for some sensual purpose. This is not just a picture book but a feeling book. Kashi’s images are sometimes bittersweet and examine current issues of social and political significance, as well as the simpler things in life, bringing together the joy, sorrow, destruction, and reconstruction of a world in flux.

Still, you leave being inspired in some way.

Be sure to check out an amazing multimedia slide show produced to accompany the book launch here: http://edkashi.com/three.php

Join Kashi for the Book Launch and World-Premiere Screening of the Multimedia Piece THREE.

WHAT: Film begins 7:30 PM / Book Signing 8:30 PM
Followed by Panel Discussion and Q & A with Ed Kashi, Daryl Lang (
Photo District News), and Sean Corcoran (Museum of The City of New York)

WHEN: 
Thursday, July 16, 2009, 7 PM – 9 PM

WHERE: powerHouse Arena
37 Main Street
Dumbo / Brooklyn

RSVP @ powerHouseArena.com. For more on Kashi visit his website at http://www.edkashi.com/.    –Alysha Sideman

Written by PictureSoup

July 16, 2009 at 11:06 am

Book Review: The Art of Pregnancy Photography

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PregnancyPhotogBookCoverBy Diane Berkenfeld

Buffalo, NY-based book publisher, Amherst Media, (www.amherstmedia.com) publishes photography books, covering a variety of topics, educating photographers in learning what is involved in genres they may not be familiar with but want to add to their businesses. One of the titles published in 2008 is The Art of Pregnancy Photography by Jennifer George (ISBN: 978-1-58428-218-1).

Maternity photography—photography of the expecting mother-to-be in her glowing beauty—is a growing market that many portrait and wedding photographers are adding to their offerings. Many of these photographers, though certainly not all, are new moms themselves who have discovered the beauty of maternity portraits.

Jennifer George, an award-winning photographer based in San Diego, CA authored The Art of Pregnancy Photography to share with other photographers how to go about adding maternity photography to their businesses. The book, written for the advanced photographer, discusses the artistic and aesthetic aspects of maternity photography.

Annie Leibovitz’s infamous portrait of a nude, seven-months pregnant Demi Moore, on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine in 1991 greatly affected how Americans respond to such portraits—to the point that we’re now comfortable seeing and displaying these tasteful images in our homes.

The use of lighting to flatter the female form in addition to explaining how props such as flowing fabrics allow you to create beautiful portraits that show the mom-to-be but also allow for creative partial or full nudes to be captured that are quite artistic. She discusses flattering lighting on location as well as in the studio, which is helpful to the photographer who doesn’t normally shoot with artificial lighting.

George is thorough in her coverage of the genre—from discussing the aspects of adding maternity portraits to your existing business, how to go about soliciting clients and building a relationship so you become their photographer for all life events, to which types of poses work well, how to blend the lines between single portraits and add the husband or partner, and other children.

One of the most important aspects to Maternity photography is the photographer’s ability to connect with the client/subject as well as the mom-to-be’s comfort being photographed. George explains this and continues throughout the book, not only displaying examples of her own imagery but incorporating captions that explain the technical challenges of the specific images shown.

Capture alone is not the only way to create such beautiful images as the ones displayed in the volume. George talks about the way that Photoshop can help a photographer take their images to a new artistic level.

She also offers examples and suggestions for post-production manipulation techniques and includes screenshots and detailed instructions. These serve as an added educational aid, which is important because not only does she show final images, but explains in detail how they were created.

One of the most helpful parts of the book is the section on marketing and sales. George explains what types of final items clients are often likely to purchase. This is important to know, because these images, while beautiful, may not always be appropriate for display in a living room. She also goes into the tips photographers can use to build a mom-to-be client into a client for life. Such programs include the ‘First Year of Life’ Line, how to integrate baby portrait settings; as well as where to advertise to potential clients.

Another great part of the book is the section where George talks with nine other pro photographers about their perspectives on pregnancy portraits. By including the views of other photographers, the book is more well rounded and not just a solitary viewpoint from the author.

If you’re contemplating adding Maternity portraits into your studio’s repertoire, check out The Art of Pregnancy Photography by Jennifer George. The book is packed with information that will be helpful to you, and is well worth the $34.95 pricetag.

For more information about Jennifer George, visit her website at www.jennifergeorgephotography.com or her blog at www.jennifergeorgephotography.wordpress.com.