The Loupedeck Creative Tool is designed to do one thing:
Make your software workflow easier and faster than ever before.
The Loupedeck CT is a console-type tool, one that allows you to program different actions into its many buttons and dials. While it can technically be used to enhance any application, you’ll be especially impressed by its integration with photo editing software.
For instance, when working in Photoshop, you can use the Loupedeck CT wheel to zoom in and out of images, one button to activate the lasso tool, and another button to create a mask. You can use a small dial to change brush size, a button to select the color picker tool, and yet another button to select the brush.
With the Loupedeck CT in hand, editing speed will advance to a whole new level, as you fluidly edit one image after another by tapping buttons, adjusting dials, and spinning the main wheel. No longer do you have to hunt for keyboard shortcuts or waste time searching for menu options.
Instead, the Loupedeck CT will get the job done.
But Loupedeck has taken their Creative Tool a step further.
As of last week, you can now use the Loupedeck Profile Creator to generate Custom Profiles for different software applications.
Loupedeck explains in their press release:
The new Loupedeck Profile Creator will enable users…to program custom actions and adjustments using shortcuts, keys, delays, macros, text, links, run application, and mouse movements.
Even better, the Profile Creator is easy to use and can be grasped by an absolute beginner.
In other words, you can create Loupedeck “presets” for different editing applications. You might create one Custom Profile for Lightroom and another for Photoshop.
That way, as soon as you open up your editing program, you know exactly what to do, and you can customize the Loupedeck CT to fit your particular workflow.
Now, while casual photo editors might not find the Loupedeck CT appealing, this tool is ideal for anyone who does frequent editing. It’ll allow you to streamline your photography workflow so that you can cut down on editing time and focus on doing what you love:
You can purchase the Loupedeck Creative Tool for $549 USD.
Photography is filled with highs and lows. One week you might find yourself overflowing with ideas and see photographic opportunities all around you. The next week, you’re stuck in a vast wasteland where nothing seems to be worthy of your camera. Finding photography inspiration isn’t something that requires exotic travel destinations or even fancy camera gear. Often you can uncover extraordinary picture opportunities in the most ordinary of places.
Inspiration is a tricky thing. While it can come when you least expect it, I have found that you often have to work for it.
If you’re expecting a brilliant photo opportunity to show up on your doorstep, it probably won’t happen. But if you purposely go out in search of photo opportunities, inspiration is usually close behind.
A quote widely attributed to Thomas Edison says that “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.“
The same applies to photography.
Go on a photo walk. Slowly.
This might sound a bit cliché, but the hustle and hurry of everyday life can be a hindrance to photography. If you’re so busy going to and from work, school, the store, and back, it probably seems like you have no time to take pictures.
When a spare fifteen minutes does come your way, the idea of getting out your camera to take pictures can seem more exhausting than inspiring.
A local photo walk can be just the ticket to newfound photography ideas and inspiration. It doesn’t have to be expensive, fancy, or exotic. Instead of spending lots of time and money on a bipedal picture-taking excursion, try just going out your front door and walking down the block. But here’s the trick: go slowly.
The pace of my photo walks has changed over time from a steady gait to almost a crawl. Not literally of course, but you have to tell yourself that your goal isn’t to cover a lot of ground or get your steps in for the day. It’s to look for picture opportunities, often where you never thought you would find them.
Everyday locations like the mailbox, the gas station, the park down the road, or even your own kitchen become fertile ground for inspiration to take root if you keep your eyes open and go slowly.
Your daily locations might not seem exotic to you because you see these things every day. A visitor would see familiar objects with fresh eyes, and the trick to taking this approach is to try to emulate that perspective. Just because you see everyday objects as ordinary and unworthy of photographs, doesn’t mean they can’t lead to flashes of inspiration.
The next time you feel stuck in a photographic rut, take a short, slow walk around a familiar setting and try to see it with a fresh set of eyes. You might be surprised at how things can transform from familiar to phenomenal.
And, even everyday objects can be used for finding photography inspiration.
Photograph like you just don’t care
One thing that prevents a lot of people from taking more photos is the thought that they might look silly doing it. I’m as guilty of this as anyone, and most times when I am out with my camera, I feel completely awkward and self-conscious. I feel like the whole world is staring at me, pointing and laughing at the weirdo with a camera taking pictures of sticks and leaves and flowers!
In truth, that is almost certainly not the case.
In all likelihood, most people don’t really care about someone minding his or her own business who just happens to be carrying a camera.
When was the last time you stopped and stared indignantly at a passer-by harmlessly taking pictures? If those types of people don’t bother you, then you probably aren’t bothering anyone when you’re the photographer.
This kind of advice is easier said than done, but if finding photography inspiration is your goal, then you have to stop worrying about what people think.
Some of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken were in ordinary places like parks or downtown areas filled with people. And, not once has anyone ever told me I was bothering them.
Make sure you’re not being rude, obnoxious, or intrusive when taking pictures. If you’re just being a nice person and not bothering anyone, you can be almost entirely certain that no one will think twice about your presence. If they do, they probably think you’re some kind of fancy artist who clearly knows a lot about photography!
Don’t try to take good photos
This took me a long time to learn, but it’s a lesson that has repeatedly made a big difference for me.
Years ago when I started getting more involved with photography, I thought only great photos were worth taking. I constantly passed up photo opportunities because I didn’t think the results would be worth the effort, and wouldn’t lead to any sort of photography inspiration.
What I learned was that inspiration takes the exact opposite approach! The images I thought were boring, mundane, or just flat-out bad taught me how to improve my photography by leaps and bounds. By examining my bad photos, I was able to understand why they were bad. They helped me learn how to take good photos as a result.
There’s an old saying, Don’t let a perfect plan be the enemy of a good plan. It applies in a variety of situations, particularly photography.
If you’re waiting for inspiration to strike because you are seeking the perfect image, you might be waiting a very very long time. Try the opposite approach instead: take lots of pictures that aren’t great, and see what they can teach you along the way.
Another thing to consider is the sheer enjoyment of the art.
Stop thinking of your images in terms of objective quantification. Learn to value process over product! It’s the repeated practice of process that leads to superior products.
Take pictures because you enjoy it, not because you think the end result is good or bad. Enjoy the journey, take pictures just because you like it, and let that be your source of inspiration.
Take a social media hiatus
While social media sites like Instagram can be a boon to photographers, they can also be a curse.
Finding photography inspiration online can seem like a no-brainer: just follow some accounts with brilliant photos and you’ll surely get ideas for your own!
In reality, what often ends up happening is we compare our own photos to others and conclude that we just don’t measure up. All the other pictures look so amazing, so detailed, so colorful, and so full of life! Yours, by contrast, seem dull and lifeless. Worse, your pictures (even ones that you thought were awesome) only got a handful of likes, hearts, or thumbs-up. Meanwhile, someone else’s shot of breakfast cereal got a thousand. It’s just not fair!
Social media can be inspiring, but just as often it can be downright demoralizing.
Get rid of social media!
Don’t delete all your accounts, but turn off notifications for photo-sharing sites and move those apps to the neglected depths of your phone screen. Log off social media sites on your computer, and stop measuring your worth by likes and upvotes.
This has consistently been one of the most effective ways of finding photography inspiration for me. Temporarily shutting out social media, removes any temptation to take photos for online accolades and attention. I start to take pictures that are interesting, challenging, or fun. Then I soon find inspiration flooding back.
Finding photography inspiration isn’t always easy, but it can be simpler than you think. It doesn’t have to involve a lot of time, money, travel, or fancy camera gear either.
Inspiration can come in ordinary ways from ordinary places, and lead to some outstanding results.
What about you? What are your favorite ways to get inspired as a photographer? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
The Canon EOS R5 has been making waves in recent months, ever since Canon officially confirmed several of its features, including 20 frames-per-second shooting speed, true 8K video, and in-body image stabilization.
However, despite such tidbits, we were in the dark about a number of EOS R5 characteristics, including its price, its resolution, and its position in the Canon mirrorless lineup.
While Canon has yet to tell us the R5’s price and megapixel count, we have something that could be just as valuable:
That the EOS R5 is a “5-series” camera. In other words, the R5 is designed for the same users as the Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon’s professional/semi-professional body with all-around capabilities.
This comes straight from Canon’s Product Marketing Specialist, David Parry, whose thoughts on the EOS R5 were published in an interview with TechRadar.
When asked about the EOS R5 design, Parry explained that “because this is a 5-series, more people at that kind of level will expect functions similar to what you get on a 5D.”
Parry went on to say that the EOS R5 is “aimed at [the 5D] level of the market,” though it “isn’t a replacement for the 5D Mark IV or anything like that. But this is a mirrorless 5-series, it’s aimed at that segment of the market.”
What does this mean?
For one, the price tag on the EOS R5 is likely to be in the low $3000 USD range (comparable to that of the 5D Mark IV at the time of release). Though it’s possible that the edition of some advanced features, such as IBIS and 8K video, will push the price up to the $3500-3800 mark.
You can also expect a similar level of weather sealing to the 5D Mark IV, a camera that’s quite tough, and a resolution of at least 30 MP (but probably significantly higher).
And the EOS R5 should be an all-around professional body, good for landscape photographers, wildlife photographers, portrait photographers, product photographers, and more.
In terms of resolution, assuming the 5D Mark IV offers an aspect ratio similar to that of UHD or Cinema 4K, the EOS R5 must feature 33 MP or more. The 45 MP rumor that recently circulated seems plausible and would be a significant bump up from both the EOS R’s and 5D Mark IV’s 30 MP sensors.
One last thing to bear in mind:
While the EOS R5 was expected to ship this summer, supply chain problems due to the novel coronavirus may delay this launch. At worst, you can expect the EOS R5 before the year is out.
Now over to you:
Would you take the EOS R5 over the 5D Mark IV?What are your thoughts about the camera that the EOS R5 is shaping up to be? Let me know in the comments!
Luminar 4 is an intuitive photo editor that’s used by both complete beginners and advanced photographers. Their popular Artificial Intelligence tools such as the AI Sky Replacement and AI Enhance have been talked about a lot, but I want us to take a closer look at the Luminar 4 Pro Tools category.
Don’t be fooled, though. Despite being named ‘Pro Tools’ and containing more advanced tools, most of them are still easy to use. There aren’t any AI tools in this category, so you will need to do a little more manual work.
The Professional Tools category is the final tools category marked with the ‘Pro’ icon. Click it to expand the Professional panel and reveal 7 tools.
Let’s take a closer look at the tools in Luminar 4 Pro Tools panel:
The Advanced Contrast Tool
This is a tool that I recommend you learn and take advantage of. In fact, it’s one of my most used tools in Luminar.
Contrast is important in photography, but it can be difficult to apply it correctly. Globally applying contrast can lead to shadows becoming too dark and highlights becoming too bright.
The ‘Smart Contrast’ tool (found in the Essentials Tools), does a good job avoiding this by taking the histogram into the equation. But you’ll often want better control over where contrast is introduced.
That’s where the Advanced Contrast Tool comes in handy. It allows you to manually adjust the amount of contrast introduced to specific zones in the photo.
I find that the Highlights and Midtones sliders work best for landscape images. Midtones contrast is something I regularly work on in my images and this is an easy method to do so.
Remember that each image might react differently to these adjustments, so make sure to experiment a little with the sliders before to find what suits a particular image the best.
The Adjustable Gradient Tool
The next tool in the Luminar 4 Pro Tools panel is the Adjustable Gradient Tool.
This tool is useful when you want to make a quick adjustment to the top or bottom part of an image. It’s also a useful tool for those who prefer an easy solution, but it lacks the possibility to create multiple gradients in different orientations (for this you need to create different gradients on individual layers).
In other words, this is a good tool for more default adjustments if you just need to darken the sky or desaturate the foreground.
Top/Bottom defines which area of the image gets affected by the adjustments. You can use both at the same time – applying individual adjustment settings to areas above the gradient and below.
The smoothness of the transition between the two adjustments depends on the distance between the top and bottom line in the gradient.
The Dodge & Burn Tool
Dodging & Burning has been around since the beginning of photography. The fact that it’s still used in the digital darkroom is a testament to its effectiveness and a great reason why you could implement it into your post-processing workflow.
Click Start Painting to reveal the Dodge & Burn tool tab above your image. This is where you choose to Lighten (Dodge), Darken (Burn) or Erase the effect. You can also adjust the brush size and intensity.
You can switch between the Lighten and Darken brush at any time. If you want to brighten places in the image, simply click the Lighten button and adjust the brush size and strength.
You can now brush along the areas you want to brighten. Should you accidentally brush somewhere you weren’t supposed to, you can use the Erase option to remove it.
When you’re finished with dodging and burning, click the Done button. You can use the Overall Amount slider to adjust the global intensity of the adjustment. Reduce the amount to lower the opacity of the adjustment.
The Color Enhancer Tool
Several tools impact the colors in your photos, but none of them are quite as advanced as the Color Enhancer Tool. Here you get several options that give you precise control over both the global and local colors.
You can target Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights individually by selecting them from the Range Selector buttons. Note that the sliders below are linked to the individual tonal region, allowing you to make adjustments to each of them.
Use the sliders to adjust the balance of the Cyan-Red, Magenta-Green and Yellow-Blue colors. You can use these to, for example, correct the colors in your image or to give a creative look to it.
The Photo Filter Tool
Another tool in the Luminar 4 Pro Tools panel is the Photo Filter. You can use this filter to add extra warmth or cool down an image by simulating a color filter placed in front of a camera.
You can apply it in order to make a sunset sky ‘pop,’ or to give your image an artistic look; it all depends on how you choose to use it.
The Split Toning Tool
The final tool found in the Luminar 4 Pro Tools Category is the powerful Split Toning Tool. It can be used to either introduce color toning to Black & White images or to add a color cast to the shadows and highlights individually.
Amount controls the overall intensity of the applied color toning.
Highlights Hue lets you adjust the colors found in the bright areas of your image.
Highlights Saturation increases the intensity of the colors in the bright areas.
Shadows Hue lets you adjust the colors found in the darker areas of your image.
Shadows Saturation increases the intensity of the colors in the darker areas.
Balance shifts the balance between highlights and shadows and how they’re affected.
The Luminar 4 Pro Tools category contains a bunch of powerful tools that can help take your post-processing to the next level. There’s no need to be intimidated because of its name. However, I do recommend spending some time playing and experimenting with the tools.
Several of the tools can quickly become a bit ‘too much’ and need to be applied with some caution. However, when used right, these are the tools that can help your images stand out from the crowd.
Are you using Luminar 4 and would like to learn how you can create professional-looking images with it? Then make sure to have a look at my popular eBook ‘A Photographer’s Guide to Luminar 4′. Here you’ll learn everything you need about mastering this popular photo-editor.
If you have any questions or comments, pop them into the comments section.
In this Canon Explorers of Light Q&A series, we interview several professional photographers who are a part of Canon’s Explorers of Light program.
The Explorers of Light Program, running since 1995, boasts some incredibly talented photographers. These photographers have spent years honing their craft, and influence and educate other photographers of all levels – something, we at dPS, can respect and relate to.
In this edition of the Canon Explorers of Light Q&A series, we interview photographer Terrell Lloyd. They share their experiences and give some valuable tips to upcoming photographers.
Photographer Terrell Lloyd
How did you get into photography?
I got into photography as a youth growing up in San Francisco. My mother had a film camera, and I would borrow it to take photos.
I had an interest in photography from an early age. When I had a paper route and attended 49ers games as a kid, I would cut out photos from the sports section of the newspapers on Mondays and make my own photo books.
Later, in high school, a friend introduced me to a photo class, and that’s when my love for photography really took off.
What was your first camera setup?
The first camera I purchased was a Minolta film camera in high school. I joined the school’s yearbook committee, and that’s when I started photographing the school’s sporting events and documenting other school activities. I quickly learned that sport was the subject I enjoyed the most.
Once I became serious about photography, and before digital, my first real film camera was the EOS 1V, a 10-frames-per-second camera body.
What camera gear do you use now and why?
Currently, I use the new Canon EOS-1D X Mark III camera. I was fortunate to be able to use this camera in Miami this past February at the Super Bowl, shooting the San Francisco Forty-Niners vs the Kansas City Chiefs.
I have used many of the Canon flagship digital cameras over the years, but once I got the 1D X Mark III in my hands, I was blown away.
My first thought was, and I quote, “this camera is a game-changer.”
The technology of its new image sensor, DIGIC X processor, speed, subject tracking ability, and image quality can be seen right away in post-production.
The images I produced from Super Bowl LIV were fantastic. Overall, the sharpness and exposures were consistent.
My history with Canon digital cameras dates back to Canon’s DCS520 – a 2-megapixel camera that cost $12K. I’ve been a believer in the Canon brand since my first serious film camera in high school.
One reason I am loyal to Canon is because of its quality glass, reliability and the Canon Professional Services program, which I believe is the best-of-class in the photography industry.
What area of photography do you specialize in and why did you move into that field?
In this stage of my career, I focus mostly on professional and college sports as well as some specialized high-end corporate events.
When I began building my photography business, I was photographing weddings and portraits.
As my business started to grow, I started shooting company events such as holiday parties, corporate meetings, conventions, and travel. Then I transitioned to major high-end clients such as BMW, Yahoo, Intuit, Verizon, and Ritz Carlton, to name a few.
I also added product and commercial photography to my services, however, sports was always on the top of my list.
When I became one of the team photographers for the San Francisco 49ers, I focused my time and efforts on becoming a full-time photographer in the NFL for the 49ers. In addition to everything else, I am also the photographer for San Jose State University’s athletic department and cover all of their Division 1 sports programs.
Are you working on any exciting projects you’d like to share?
Now that our NFL season is over, we are in the process of planning our 2020 marketing and design campaign. This will include some photoshoots around San Francisco and the Bay Area. Unfortunately, I can’t reveal the new 49ers theme but stay tuned on 49ers.com and Instagram @49ers, and you will see exciting new images.
I am very much looking forward to our media photo session with our players scheduled for May. I will be working closely with our design team as we collaborate on a style for the 2020 season.
If you could share any photography tips with our readers, what would they be?
One tip I would like to share is not to limit yourself in today’s industry. Learn as much as you can in the photography world.
When I started, I wanted to know everything, and as I transitioned from my first wedding to sports, I studied it all, from medium format and 35mm film cameras to studio lighting and understanding environmental portrait lighting and the direction of light.
There are so many ways to learn photography using today’s technology, but I think the best way to perfect your skills and craft is to practice, practice and practice more.
Go out and photograph as much as you can. Make sure you get your exposures right in-camera, as you want to spend the least amount of time in post-production as possible.
Terrell Lloyd Biography
San Francisco-based photographer Terrell Lloyd is currently employed by the San Francisco 49ers as their senior manager of the organization photography services and is the full-time lead team photographer.
He has been with the 49ers organization for 24 years, beginning as a contract photographer. For the past six years, he has been a full-time employee of the 49ers, responsible for all of the team’s photographic assignments.
It all began in 1994 when he was given an opportunity to shoot a game from the sidelines at Candlestick Park. According to one of his clients, “Terrell’s sports photography really captures the essence of the game.”
Since 1992, Lloyd has provided professional photography services to individuals and organizations throughout the United States and around the world. He is best known for his special combination of artistic vision and cutting-edge technology and, for the past 15 years, has been the athletic sports photographer at San Jose State University.
Lloyd has also earned a number of championship rings for his work with San Jose State University as well as an NFC Championship with the San Francisco 49ers.
In addition to his photographic skills, Lloyd has earned several awards and accolades as an athlete on the professional bowlers’ tour and leagues with several perfect 300 games and 800 series.
Lloyd was named to the prestigious Canon Explorer of Light program in 2006 and served for four years. After a brief break, he was named again to the Canon EOL program in 2017 and remains current. This is a group of professional photographers from around the world selected to provide educational programs around the country.
The Canon Explorers share their photographic and technical expertise to a wide number of photographers in a variety of personal appearances, seminars and gallery shows. Also, SanDisk® chose Terrell Lloyd for its SanDisk Extreme Team in 2009 and was recently selected to the ThinkTankPhoto Pro Team in 2018.
In 2017, Lloyd received a Legends Award from Xposure101conference in Detroit, which honors individuals who have greatly influenced creativity, diversity and learning in the creative and photographic industries while inspiring others to achieve their goals. Western Digital presented him with their Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Photography Industry in 2019.
Shooting football has opened many doors for Lloyd and enabled him to cover major sporting events such as NFL Super Bowls, PGA golf, professional tennis, MLB baseball, the NBA, and more.
Lloyd has also received many awards of merits for his portrait and wedding work and was Photographer of the Year by AMPP in 2001 and earned his craftsman degree from PPA in 2006.
See more of photographer Terrell Lloyd’s work here:
Taking photos of pets can be tricky. In this video, Matt Granger gives you some great tips to get better photos of your furry friends.
1. Establish the scene
Decide on what you want in the scene. Less is generally more, so you may just decide on a nice clean background to really let your pet shine.
2. Use sufficient depth of field and shutter speed.
Ensure you have a wide enough depth of field to get your pet’s entire face in focus. Also, use a fast shutter speed. If your shutter speed is too slow, you may end up with some blur if your pet moves suddenly (and we all know they do!).
Use a flash so that you get enough light into the scene. That way, you can keep your shutter speed fast, and your aperture wide.
Alternatively, consider photographing them outdoors in sunlight to really make their fur and eyes shine.
You need to get your pet where you want them to be for the shot. To do this, you may need to use a little bribery. This can come in the form of treats.
Have your camera set and your focus ready, and once they get into position, you can fire off some shots knowing that they will be in focus.
4. Get their attention
Once you have bribed them into the position, you need to get their attention so that they look in the direction of the camera.
You know your pet, so use whatever you know will get their attaention – be it their favorite toy, or simply tapping the lens hood.
5. Be patient, and review your shots
Don’t set up a scene that is really unnatural for your pet. Use something that they are used to sitting on so that they are comfortable, and so you are not forcing the scene.
Don’t always expect to get it right on the first attempt. Take many shots to get the one you like.
With many of us stuck indoors, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to make this week’s photography challenge our PETS!
I’m currently missing mine, as I’ve had to hunker down in a town that isn’t mine, and my doggies are 400kms away from me. But, for many of you, they are hunkering down indoors with you. So take this time to give them your love, take some fab photos of them and share with us all so that we can see how cute and adorable they are.
They can be any pet you have. You can photograph them with any technique too.
So, check out these pics to give you some ideas, have fun, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!
Check out some of the articles below that give you tips on this week’s challenge.
Tips for photographing your PETS
Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer, upload them to your favorite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge.
Share in the dPS Facebook Group
You can also share your images in the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.
If you tag your photos on Flickr, Instagram, Twitter or other sites – tag them as #DPSmypet to help others find them. Linking back to this page might also help others know what you’re doing so that they can share in the fun.
As coronavirus continues to take its toll on artists and designers everywhere, Serif has decided to act.
The company announced that their software, including Affinity Photo, will sell with a steep 50% discount, taking the normally inexpensive programs down to bargain-cheap levels:
$24.99 USD for Affinity Photo on desktop (either Mac or Windows), and just $9.99 USD for Affinity Photo on iPad.
And that’s not all:
Serif has also announced a 90 day free trial on all Affinity software. This means that anyone struggling to afford editing software during the coronavirus pandemic can use Affinity Photo for free. There’s no catch; you can try the software, with all features included, for the next three months.
As the Serif Managing Director explained, “[H]opefully these things will make life a little easier for people who rely on creative software to make a living but may be stuck at home without access to their usual tools, or for students who might suddenly be without access to their Affinity apps on their personal devices.”
For those of you unfamiliar with Affinity Photo, it’s one of the most popular Photoshop alternatives around. It’s known for its full-featured, layer-based software, sleek interface, and excellent price.
In fact, plenty of creatives have abandoned Adobe for Serif, given that the Serif program is comparable in its features and noticeably cheaper.
In some ways, the standard Affinity price (and the current, even lower, price) is unbelievable, because Affinity Photo just offers so much. The software comes with basic adjustment capabilities, but you also get advanced features such as focus stacking and HDR merging, plus a useful in-built RAW editor.
So if you’re someone who’s struggling to pay for your current software, or you’re looking for a way out of Adobe’s subscription model, or you just want to take advantage of a tremendous deal, then I recommend you head over to the Affinity website now.
Chances are that you’ll love Affinity Photo.
Now over to you:
Are there any other Photoshop alternatives that you’d recommend?If you’ve already started using Affinity Photo, what do you think of it?
In this digital age, fewer people are printing their images, missing out on what can be an amazing experience with their images. Many images only exist in the ether (or the internet, if you want to be more literal), or on people’s hard drives. However, there is nothing more impressive than to print images big.
Viewing images on phones and tablets means that the resolution is generally pretty forgiving. However, when you actually take photos and print images big, you need to resize them. Doing so will tend to expose problems related to resolution and color.
When you print images big, your images become even more impressive, with more vibrant colors and detail being visible, which can work for or against you.
Practical and technical issues to enlarging images
Beyond simply printing, there is a question of size.
What if that phenomenal image you took with your camera is so memorable, or of such a decisive moment, that you want to make it big?
There are practical and technical issues you need to address if you want to print those images, particularly when making images that are growing in size.
Questions like, for a given image resolution…how big a print is too big for the camera (or phone) that you used? What are the limiting factors? How do you properly resize your images to make them bigger and appropriate for the size of the print you are looking for?
In this day and age, even cameras on smartphones tend to produce at least 12 MP images. You should be able to print them if the image is good enough (sharp/well lit), to produce a 10 x 13 inch image natively.
With a little help from image processing software, you can improve this to some extent. There are some newer software techniques available to boost those images size, both internally from the cameras (such as high resolution mode and HDR), and externally from image processing software that uses sophisticated algorithms to boost the image size by interpolation.
Understanding the fundamentals
The size of digital images is measured in megapixels. Each pixel is a single-colored individual group of photosites that are sensitive to particular colors of light (red, green or blue).
A pixel is the smallest dot that makes up an image. The combining photosites from your sensor produce each pixel. As you add more and more pixels, you eventually get an image.
A megapixel is 1 million pixels (give or take, depending on how it is calculated) for the entire image. When you have a camera with a certain number of pixels (i.e. 16 MP), that tells you how many individual pixels there are within the image. Camera sensors generally come in two flavors (3:2 or 4:3 ratios).
The ratio will affect the overall size relationship. What this also means is the megapixel count tells you how many individual pixels are in each direction.
Megapixels just provides you with the total number of pixels. In order to actually print it, you need to figure out how big you want your print and then do some very basic math to figure out what works best for your image.
When you print, typically, you are looking at print resolution, in dots-per-inch (dpi) rather than megapixels, that is appropriate for the medium and the size of print you are going to make.
For most print media you might hold in your hands, you need a minimum of 300 dpi. This means that megapixels divided by dpi will give you the maximum dimensions natively produced by your sensor.
If you simply use pixels, there is no weird conversion. For example, a 12-megapixel image (common cell phone resolution) on a 3:2 sensor translates into pixels that are roughly 4290 x 2800 on the sensor. If you use 300 dpi to give you a print, the maximum size is 14.3″ x 9.3″ (this is not overly large). Even for a 36-megapixel image, you only end up with printable dimensions of 24.5″ x 16.4″.
Hold the Phone
Wait a second, isn’t a 36-megapixel camera a pretty high-resolution camera?
If a 36-megapixel image only corresponds to 24.5″ x 16.4″ that seems really small, how do they print billboards? How do you print something larger than that?
There are two answers to that. First, you don’t hold a billboard in your hands, and you view if from a distance, so the resolution to print can go down. Secondly, to enlarge an image, you use a process called interpolation. Interpolation is the process of how you create new pixels to fill the gaps between the existing pixels so you can enlarge the image.
Confusion in figuring out size
Sometimes, image processing software will tell you the dimensions of your image are 60″ x 39″ at 72 dpi. That seems so much larger. So where does this number come from?
There was a time where it was thought that the resolution you needed for monitors was only 72 dpi (this has changed with technology and time), but the early number of 72 dpi stuck and made the images seem pretty large. The reality is, all you really need to know is that the total number of pixels in each direction will define your image size, not theoretical inches and dpi combined.
Viewing distance matters
To make matters worse, the image resolution of your print is also dependent on how big your image is. A magazine will need a minimum of 300 dpi, whereas a billboard in a subway station may only need 40 dpi. What really matters is how far away from the image you are standing when you view it.
As a general rule of thumb, you need to have a minimum printed resolution of 300 dots per inch (dpi) for most prints.
To make things more clear, let’s start with a simple 20-megapixel image taken on a micro 4/3’s sensor (the proportions are 4:3) and work through the process of printing an image for a wall, say a 36″ x 24″.
The image was taken by an Olympus EM1 mark II, 20-megapixel sensor. The image out of the camera is 5184 pixels wide and 3888 pixels. If you open it with image editing software, it may say that the image is 17.28″ x 12.96″ at 300 dpi (the software has done some simple math). The problem is, this is smaller than the image you actually want to print. I want to print an image that is 36″ x 24″
Interpolation… the magic of resizing
The problem with resizing is that each pixel in an image is discrete. In order to make bigger images to print, we need to create new pixels to fill in the gaps between the existing ones. This sounds much simpler than it is in practice.
The classic example is a sharp edge.
As you enlarge the image, the pixels get jagged. It makes it look like something out of Minecraft. This is called pixelation.
Very early versions of photo imaging software would simply average the color and luminance, and put that new pixel in between the existing pixels. This just made the images soft and mushy.
Currently, Photoshop CC 2020 provides 7 different and discrete ways of changing the size of the image. Plus, it has an automatic setting (that selects from the other 7) to make 8 ways. However, it is limited by the content that is already there.
Each algorithm does something slightly different in its approach to interpolating between pixels. Depending on the type of image, each has varying degrees of success.
Although Photoshop has improved much of its algorithms for image size changes, these work reasonably well for smaller changes in size. However, significant changes in size of images can be particularly problematic.
For scaling larger, I have found the best way to increase the size of an image, as of the beginning of 2020, is to use a product from Topaz called Gigapixel AI.
Gigapixel AI uses artificial intelligence to look at the image compared to millions of similar images and creates new pixels with this algorithm.
This is a slow process and CPU intensive. That is because it uses AI to create the missing pixels to come up with a proper scaling that interpolates new pixels that work with the image. It really does work quite well. Each image can take up to 5 minutes, depending upon size.
The process using Gigapixel AI
To scale the images, here is the process I follow.
I shoot micro 4/3s (MFT), so my image sensor is a 20.1-megapixel sensor that produces raw files that average in size around 17 to 18 megabytes. The resolution of the image is 5184 x 3888 pixels.
Doing the math, for a print at 300 dpi, the largest size for the native image (not resized) is 17.28 inches x 12.96 inches. A fair size, but not a huge image.
Suppose we want to print a 36″ x 24″ image. We need to resize it.
In addition, the proportions are not exactly the same. 36 x 24 is a 3:2 ratio and my image is at a 4:3 ratio. Ideally, to get the 300 dpi, we will want to print an image that is 10,800 x 7200 pixels.
Before you start
Before I start, I always use a RAW file from the camera, not a JPEG. JPEG is a lossy format, so you never want any of your intermediate steps to use JPEG images. Even the final one should be a non-lossy image format like PSD or TIF. You can read more about file formats here.
Image sensors record light, not dark. The dark areas are the absence of light.
That seems obvious, but there are ramifications of this. In general, the majority of the image data is located on the right side of the histogram. This means that to have a successful image it must be properly exposed or slightly underexposed and brought back in a raw editor.
Finally, before you start, you will need to ensure your monitor is calibrated.
Calibration of your monitor will ensure that the printed version of our image will be closer to the version you see on your monitor. In general, uncalibrated monitors are too bright. Using an uncalibrated monitor will result in prints that are much darker than what you see on your monitor.
This can sometimes happen even with a calibrated monitor too, but test prints will help assess how far off your monitor is from your prints.
When you enlarge an image, you need to ensure that the noise levels are under control before you start.
Enlarging an image with a lot of noise will only increase the amount of noise present. All resizing programs will do their best to examine the underlying data of your image and use it to scale upward, but the noise on an image will only get worse.
The sharpening of your image should only happen at the end of the process of resizing an image. Sharpening is a process of looking at areas of high contrast (these are typically edges) and emphasizing the transition to make those transitions seem more distinct. If you do this early in your editing process or during resizing, the scale of the sharpening will create halos or bizarre artifacts that will be really obvious.
Photoshop versus Topaz Gigapixel AI
Although many people use Photoshop to resize, as of 2020, I have found that it does not do as good a job as Topaz’s Gigapixel AI.
Larger scale resizing through Gigapixel AI takes longer, but the results are substantially better. All you need to do is to launch the application and tell it how big you want the new image to be. Press Start and go have a coffee, as it takes a little while. However, the results are really good.
Making the Big Print
Finally, once you have resized the image to a larger size you need to print the image. There are basically two main methods to print images big. Chromogenic (C-prints) or Giclee (inkjet) prints.
Both can produce big, high-quality images, but the processes are quite different as is the look of each. I generally prefer inkjet-based, but there are lots of people who still use C-print techniques.
When you print images big, there are lots of things to consider when resizing your images and then getting them ready to go to print. However, the results are truly breathtaking.
If you have a great image and you take the proper steps to resize the image and print it big, you will be incredibly satisfied with the result. Moreover, you will create a lot of interest in your images, particularly now that few images get printed anymore.
Do you have any other tips to print images big that you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments.
As many of us around the world are continuing self-isolation, and social distancing (whoever thought that would be a thing?) due to the C-word, we thought we’d make it a little less boring and stressful and give you (and us) an “At-Home, 7-Day Photography Challenge.”
This is week two of the challenge (you can see week one here, and still do those challenges, as there is no deadlines on any of these).
These are all things you can try in and around your home.
As always, we would love to see your results in the comments section. That way, we can connect and share, and keep ourselves occupied with something positive and creative!
At-Home, 7-Day Photography Challenge – Week One
This one will be a lot of fun, and you get some interesting effects! Creative Water Photography – A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Water Monsters
This one How to do High-Speed Photography – the Fundamentals
Okay, so this one can also apply to any of your furry friends that you are self-isolating with. We’d love to see you take some photos of your pet and share them with us! Who doesn’t like a cute pic of a cat, dog, or hamster? Tips and Tricks for Photographing Your Own Dog
So this next one gets you onto the computer for some fun creative editing. How to do Creative Photography Montages with a Contact Sheet Template in Photoshop
Another one on the computer for more creative editing. How to Add a Toy Camera Effect to Your Digital Images Using Photoshop
Want to learn how to create a cyanotype in Photoshop? Try this one. How to Mimic a Digital Cyanotype Using Photoshop with Ease
You can try this one with someone in your household, or do them as self-portraits. Whichever way you decide to go, it has some interesting effects. Dragging the Shutter for Creative Portraits
Have fun! And share them with us in the comments section either on this page or the page of the challenge article.