Simple Bokeh Background

I came across a tutorial on petapixel this morning showing how to create a bokeh background using scrunched up aluminium foil.

Here’s the article (tutorial)…/create-beautiful-bokeh-aluminum-foil/

I gave it a go just now and it came out pretty well. Especially considering I didn’t use my off-camera flashes (no batteries in them or my triggers). I just used a lamp instead.

Didn’t quite come out the same as in the article, but still pretty cool and worth giving a go for a bit of fun!

I’ve posted my shots here along with a “set-up” shot showing how simple it was lol.

Also, I shot at 200mm f2.8 instead of what the article recommends (50mm 1.8) because I didn’t have enough foil to be able to shoot at a far enough distance and have it cover the background at 50mm lol.

Oh yeah one more thing, I found up some old flash gels and just taped it across the front of the lamp to get the red background.

Here are my results:READ MORE

Black and White Lightroom Presets

Hey there!

I am an avid user of Adobe Lightroom and use almost exclusively it to process all of my images, but something I just never got around to learning was how to create and use my own presets.

There are a number of different types of presets, such as metadata presets, export presets and print presets, but today I want to mention develop presets and more specifically to share some that I have created for making black and white photos. Up until recently my opinion of presets was along the lines of “why would I want to use identical settings when so few photo’s are the same?”

That was until I caught this video on world-renowned Lightroom good-guy Matt Kloskowski’s web site Lightroom Killer Tips –

In this video Matt talks about how you can be selective in which settings you actually save as a preset and how they are most powerful when used only as a baseline for continued editing. For example, most photo’s will require different exposure adjustments from each other, but you still might want to apply the same saturation or curve to create a particular look to them (be warned I’m paraphrasing here!)

So I have been working on some basic presets which can be used in conjunction with each other  to build up an effect, from which you can then apply further unique settings to once the overall look and feel of the image has been established.

There are 4 presets in this Zip file which I would love you to download and try out for yourself… There is a baseline black and white conversion preset used best on portraits, which concentrates on lightening skin tones and adding a bit of overall contrast, then there are three Split Toning presets which can be applied after the base B&W preset and all give a slightly different feel to a portrait.

SteveArnoldPhoto- Tinted B&W presets <– download link

And here is a sample of what these look like when applied to a photo:

The original image with no presets applied


Now with the baseline Black and White preset applied


Black and White preset with the Warm preset applied on top


Now B&W plus my green/pink split tone preset


Finally, B&W plus my blue/yellow split toned preset


So now you know what i’ve been up to this past few days – please feel free to download and use my presets as they are, or play around with them and if you are like I was a few days ago, just use them to help understand what exactly is involved in creating your own. I really would reccommend you hit that link earlier in the post to the lightroom killer tips video about the anatomy of a preset as it was enough for me to start really thinking about how presets can become a useful part of my workflow.




Lens Tip – Why a scratched lens is not the end of the world

I find it fascinating that this following tip actually works. I have heard people say that scratches lenses dont particularly bother them and that the image quality doesn’t noticeably suffer depending on the type of shot they are taking.

The tip is that if you want to make a scratch “dissappear” then you need to open up your aperture to a point at which you don’t notice it any longer. In short, the lower your f-number, the bigger scratch you can hide.

I tested this in a pretty crude manner myself by holding my car key a few mm in front of my lens and then taking two shots, one at f16 and one at f4. See if you can spot the difference…

Shot at f16

Shot at f16


Shot at f4

Shot at f4

Now the key is still visible as a darker area in the clouds, but for the purpose of proving the point I think this is a great example. Of course it will depend on the photos you are making as to whether you can use this tip; a landscape shot where you really want to maximise depth of field with a large f-number might not work, but a nice soft portrait with a small depth of field might never show any sign of a scratch.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this tip – see you all soon!


Photo Blog 021 – Cronulla Beach Portraits

After a little while away from my camera I finally got a chance to get out and snap some more portraits last weekend. We have at last found and settled into a new flat in Sutherland which makes Cronulla our new local beach, so off we trotted with a camera and a couple of strobes down to the northern end of the beach to see what we could do.


Sonia @ Cronulla Beach

These photos are a mixture of one and two flash setups whilst using the sun as the back or rim light. The session was mainly an experiment to see how far I could push my 2 little Cactus flashes in overpowering the ambient light from the high noon sun. Given that my 5D Mark 2’s only synch’s with the flash at a speed of 1/200s or slower, could the flashes produce enough light to light the subject with my ISO and Aperture closed down enough to underexpose the ambient?

One flash worked quite well, but when I added the second it just gave me that little bit of leeway with my camera settings. I pushed the aperture all the way down to f22 for some shots and still had enough light on Sonia to make the picture.

I am a big fan of READ MORE

Photo Blog 020 – Experimenting with flash, some examples

Good morrow kind sirs,

I decided to give Sonia a break from modelling for me last night by giving some self portraits a go as she went off and did her thing taking some twilight shots of the Opera House and city skyline. I felt a little dorky setting up my tripod and light stand and posing for myself whilst all the tourists passed by – I got over the whole self-consciousness thing pretty sharpish though mostly by harnessing my powers of ignoring.

I think I got the lighting and shadows on my face just right in this shot, giving enough of an angle to de-fatten my face (you’ll see some not-so-good examples in a minute). Underexposing the background a couple of stops resulted ina really nice deep warm glow just behind the silhouetted city buildings and overall I thought this was my best effort.

Going through the bunch of photo’s I came back with I hit across a couple of examples which sprang the idea to make this into a bit of a tips/how-i-did-it post. READ MORE

Lightroom Tip – Setting your Camera Calibration and changing your Default Settings

Lightroom’s Default Develop Settings:

If you are anything like me, then you have spent all too long wondering a couple of things about lightroom (I use version 2.2) regarding importing RAW files and the default settings that Lightroom applies to them before you begin working on editing them.

Firstly, I wondered how to CHANGE those default settings that Lightroom applies – for example, it always applies certain values to the Basic settings as follows:


Note that the white balance is always defaulted to “As Shot” meaning it takes the setting from the RAW file each time.

I have taken issue with this in the past because a lot of my shots were starting off with the shadows clipped due to the combination of settings that were automatically applied. I could not find anywhere in the menu options that this could be changed and have previously  read on many forums that it is not possible to do so.

Camera Calibration:

Now the second thing that I have been wondering is about camera calibration. Since changing from my Sony A200 to a Canon 5D MkII I have noticed that a whole new bunch of options have appeared in the profile dropdown menu in the Develop module. READ MORE

Designing a Photo eBook with Adobe InDesign

So I was browsing one of my favourite photography blogs, a little while ago and came across an inspirational article by Neil Creek (read it here) about presenting your photographs professionally in a photo eBook and thought; Why not give it a go myself?

The original article by Neil describes the benefits of creating an eBook along with design decisions to think about, suggested design software and so on, but this was the first time I had used any such software so I thought I would share the steps I took with InDesign to create my finished eBook. (Download my eBook here)

As a newcomer to InDesign most of my learning was around the Master Pages concept, so I hope this step-by-step can help guide you if this is your first time with the software.

1: Create a new document

After downloading and installing InDesign, the first step was to create a new document. After selecting File>New>Document from the menu, I went with the following settings:


Points to note here are:

Page Size: A4

Orientation: Landscape

Facing Pages: Ticked