Archive for October, 2008

Sharpening Pictures in Photoshop

Posted in Photoshop Tutorial with tags , , , , on October 30, 2008 by Dad in Manila

Sharpening is almost part of any image retouching workflow. It can make great improvements on any picture if done right however, sharpening can easily be overdone and may lead to terrible results.

The most common way in Sharpening a photo is the Unsharp Mask Filter. I noticed that applying Unsharp Mask straight up increases the noise especially on the darker part of the image. What I do as an alternative is apply the sharpening in Lab Mode.

So why in Lab Mode, how is it different? In Lab (Lightness, A and B) Mode. I can isolate the Lightness Channel which contains only the luminance or light and dark tones of the image. Since there is no color data on this channel, we can avoid any color noise which causes noisy sharpening.

Here’s how we can sharpen an image in Lab Mode.

Step 1: Open your Image

Step 2: Change the image mode to Lab Color

You can change the image mode by going to Image > Mode > Lab Color

Step 3: Choose the Lightness Channel

To choose the Lightness Channel, go to the Channels Palette and click on Lightness. This should deselect your A and B channels and turn your image to black and white.

Step 4: Apply Unsharp Mask

While on the Lightness Channel, go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask and put the necessary values. (I entered Amount: 50% Radius: 2px and Threshold: 1px. Every image requires different values, so you can enter the value that best suits the image)

Step 5: Convert the image back to RGB mode

Go back to Image > Mode > RGB Color

Let’s compare the images before and after sharpening.



© 2008 Focal Studios


Focal Mommy – Kathy

Posted in Focal Mommies, Portraits with tags , , , on October 27, 2008 by Dad in Manila

Last Saturday we had a pre-natal portrait session at Randy’s place. Kathy is six months pregnant with her 1st baby and she was uber excited to have her preggy photos taken. It was fun, even if we all had no sleep that day.

Kathy is a trooper and she was not shy in posing for us. She exuded confidence and poise, in spite of her heavy belly. She never got tired during the whole session.

Here are some pictures we got.

We had a hard time nailing this silhouette shot. We were not satisfied with the initial lighting. Got it by hand-holding a reflector to light her face and belly.

The out-of-bed look.

One of the FHM poses.Ü

Our version of “Babae sa Bintana

© 2008 Focal Studios

Edit Thousands of Images in Photoshop in less than 10 Minutes

Posted in Photoshop Tutorial with tags , , on October 24, 2008 by Dad in Manila

The title may sound like those fake infomercials trying to promise everything just so you’ll buy the product and catch your attention while you are channel surfing by their “but wait… there’s more” spiel.
But yeah, there is such that exist and this tool had been in Photoshop for a long time (since version…uhm… I don’t even know… maybe pre-CS version… I’ll Google it later.) It’s called the Keep-your-Sanity tool. You can find it under Image>Special Tools>Keep-your-Sanity tool or Ctrl+Alt+Shift K+Y+S. What it does is it asks you for a Source Folder then launches a window with check boxes of preset filters you want to apply like Sharpen, Vignette, Blur Background Only, etc. After selecting the filters you like it will open all the image on the source folder, edit it for you and save it to your Hard Drive and Flickr. Like that?

We’ll back in Earth, Photoshop has a similar tool, the Batch command. The command runs an action on a folder of files. You can process multiple images with a single action. So we can just edit one picture, record the action and batch-process the entire folder applying all the steps you did with the first picture. Of course, every image will have the same treatment and it will not work if you’re doing custom editing each image, but hey, who wants to edit 500 photos one at a time?

This is how I use the batch command. First, I open one image from the folder and apply a generic set of photo-retouching steps I do like curve, auto level, saturation and sharpen. While I’m doing that I set the Actions tab and record all the editing steps I’m doing on the first photo (except open and save) and save the action.

Then here’s where the magic starts. I go to File > Automate > Batch. Specify the action I like from the Set and Action pop-up menu. Choose the files to process from the Source pop-up menu (you can choose all files in a folder, all opened files, files in Adobe Bridge or Import from a device). Then choose where to save the processed files from the Destination menu. You can even specify a file-naming format to your processed file. After all that, click Ok, sit back, get a beer, and enjoy the wonders of technology (or do something else more productive).

Now you can spend more time in the field taking pictures rather than in front of the computer retouching photos.

© 2008 Focal Studios

FPC Grand Fashion EB

Posted in Portraits with tags , , on October 23, 2008 by Dad in Manila

It’s been a while since we posted something here. We’re so busy in setting up our Focal Booth (more of this coming soon) for an upcoming event.

In the meantime, we just would like to share some of our images from the recent FPC Grand Fashion EB at DPI XL in Makati last September 26, 2008.

There were four setups on the 2 large studios of the venue. The set also has four different themes complete with backdrop, props, studio lights and models.


© 2008 Focal Studios

Converting to Black and White in Photoshop

Posted in Photoshop Tutorial with tags , , on October 17, 2008 by Dad in Manila

Imagine this; you came home from a photo shoot or a vacation with hundreds of photos in your memory card. You start uploading the images and try to sort out the good shots from the not so good ones and most of the time, you’re left with a couple of ‘unusable’ photos. You might even ask yourself, “what was I thinking when I took that shot”

Well don’t delete those shots just yet. Try converting them to Black and White. I had used this technique a couple of times to salvage a potentially good picture with a few minor errors on it that makes it ugly like overexposed sky, foggy scene, heavy color cast, wrong white balance set… and more.

We’re going to start with this picture.

The image is quite good except for the very uninteresting, overcast sky on it. The image will also possibly look good in monochrome, giving it with a historical, old world feel to it.

When simple Desaturate is used, here’s the resulting image:

Here’s a simple black and white conversion in Photoshop that I use. I was just using Desaturate before but it makes the images flat with very little contrast between colors. This one uses channel mixer and it’s the easiest more effective b&w conversion that I know.

Step 1: Open the image in Photoshop.
Step 2: Click on the Create Adjustment Layer and choose Channel Mixer

Step 3: On the Channel Mixer Window, check the Monochrome tick box and adjust the red, green and blue slider until you’re happy with image (make sure that Preview is checked so the image will adjust while your’e toggling with the sliders)

I found that the values Red 70 Green 30 Blue 5 works for most pictures but you can still adjust to your liking.

Step 4: Duplicate the Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer twice. (You can drag it to the Add New Layer icon)

Step 5. On the middle Adjustment layer, set the Blending Mode to Color Burn and adjust the opacity to reduce the effect barely adding a bit highlights and shadows (around 10% to 30% works well).

Step 6. On the top Adjustment layer, set the Blending Mode to Soft Light and adjust the opacity settings also (around 10% to 35%).

Step 7: Sharpen photo as desired.

Here’s the resulting image:

© 2008 Focal Studios

The Masters at Work

Posted in Studio Work with tags , , , on October 14, 2008 by Dad in Manila

 “Genius – the ability to produce fantastic amounts of equally fantastic bullshit that all makes perfect sense”  -Jason Zebehazy

Ever wondered what Focal Studios is all about. Meet two very  talented and creative geniuses of Focal Studios.

Francis Pacunayen

This Canon-wielding artist started photography as a hobby; but after he saw potential in his craft; decided to become a professional photographer. Taking advantage of his free time (and accumulated vacation leave), he took his 350d and the name PacDaddy, then went to train under the best photographers of the Philippines.

Pacdaddy is at his best when holding a camera, and rumors of him spread like wildfire, heralding him as a photographer of exceptional talent and skills. Now, his only true desire is to find a worthy subject to photograph, jumping from different location and assignments, in pursuit of the ultimate photo.

Randy Bautista

Randy, the master event shooter and DIY expert, was born with a passion for photography. His cool, unemotional demeanor created an air of mystery and his skill and talent were admired. Well-equipped, he had “stockpiled an adequate aresenal of Nikon, Sigma and Benro weaponry.

With all his gear, he’s properly equipped to tackle his favorite event shoots like festivals, parades, fiyestas and of course, weddings! He often declines being in the entourage for the reason that he’d rather be behind the lens, capturing the couple’s memories than being in the shots himself. Understandably, his wedding shoots have only increased in frequency from when he first started. Having recently acquired an UWA lens, he’s now branching off into landscape photography while also using the lens to get creative distortion effects in his regular shoots. Expect him to branch out to more genres while he’s polishing up his technique further.

Image 3

If you want to see more raw and unedited works of the masters behind Focal Studio, you can visit their blogs at PacDaddy and The Irreverent Wandering Snapper.

© 2008 Focal Studios

Samsung Pixon

Posted in Gadgets with tags , , , , on October 13, 2008 by Dad in Manila

photo from Phone Scoop

Camera phones are getting better and better every month. The megapixel capability increases exponentially on every phone release. I can still remember the time when I was still using my Sony Ericsson P800 back in ’04, proudly taking pictures of my friends with it’s .3 MP camera and showing them off on the TFT screen (in full 4096 colors!) And now, I heard that Samsung is releasing a whooping 8 megapixel camera phone, the Samsung Pixon, with auto-focus, fast-shutter, face detection, geo-tagging and LED flash.

Then, I realized, 8 megapixels… even bigger than my Canon 300d , are camera phones replacing digital cameras now? Do we even have to buy a digital camera anymore?

I think maybe not…yet. I believe that digital camera will still take better digital photos than camera phones. An 8 megapixel camera phone may not have the same qualities as an 8 megapixel digital camera. Creating a good image is more than just having large megapixels. There’s the sensor size, sensor type, lens quality, zoom capability… that most camera phones doesn’t have. A case in point, I still have a 2.1 MP Canon Powershot S10 which produces better images than a 3.5 MP Sony Ericsson K800i.

Bottom line camera phone photos can be great for facebook or friendster but if your’e going off to a vacation and wanted to bring home pictures for posterity, you’re best bet is to still bring a digital camera (maybe a D300 perhaps… with an UWA lens… and an SB800.Ü)

Well again, that’s just me… share with us what you think.

© 2008 Focal Studios