My thoughts on AI in Photoshop

June 02, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Hey y'all ! Hope you've had a super week! Mine? Not too bad. This week I want to talk about Photoshop and the New  Generative Fill AI
that the Beta version has in it.  There has been an uproar on the internet on how this is going to change photography. And maybe it will. From the beginning of photography photographs have been altered. Whether is was dodging and burning in the darkroom like Ansil Adams was famous for or in the digital age of many photo manipulations. Photography is around us in everything we do from print in Magazines and Newspapers to online.  Almost every photo that you have ever seen has been manipulated in some sort. Beautiful women have been photographed and made even more beautiful by removing a blemish or smoothing out the skin to where people don't even look like people anymore.  The art of making someone loose weight just by the movement of a brush stroke has been with us awhile. Even the artful painters of years gone by used their judgment on how the subject they were painting looked. So why all the uproar of the new AI? All this has done is taken the people with the skill needed to do the manipulation out of the job. 

Since layering came out in Photoshop you could do what the new AI is doing. It was just harder. You had to have skill to do it. Now it's just easier. Just like when the healing brush and content aware fill came out it was like magic. Or when sky replacement came out. These things were going to change photography. And they did . They just made it easier. Will it change photography as we know it? It's hard to tell. But in my opinion it will just make it easier for the everyday man to do the job instead of a specialist. You will be able to add things to the photo just by typing "add hat" or " sunglasses" but you could do those things before but it did take a while. You had to go out to the internet and find those things in a photo cut them out add them to your photo make it look real by dodging and burning to make the light look right . Sound familiar ? Kind of what Ansil Adams was doing in the early 20th century. We've always had the way to do it. The new AI just makes it easier. I think its just a progression in what skill is needed. Let's use an analogy to kind of explain what I'm talking about.

When man used to roam the earth looking for food he walked and carried everything. Then the wheel was invented and they figured out how to use a cart to put things in. Then they figured they could put an animal on that cart to pull it. Then they figured out how to make a horseless carriage with a motor. But you had to be skilled to drive it. Changing gears and all. Then they came out with Automatic transmission and everyone could drive it putting chauffeurs out of business. Now they have gotten rid of the gasoline motor and have an electric motor car that can drive itself. Almost. But it will be coming . It's evolution . You either except it or not. The same is with the new AI in photoshop. You can do it the hard way like all the composite's that I've put in this blog or you do it the easy way with the new AI. Eventually it will be the new AI. Its evolution just like taking photo's with your phone. Who would have thought that that was ever going to happen. But its really made a whole type of camera (point and shoot) disappear .  Only very few even exist and they are specialized camera's that are very expensive for what they are when you can just carry your phone with you.

The moral view. A lot of AI has come out where it does all of the thinking and grabbing info from all of the internet causing copyright issues/concerns. There is even a statement with all of the smart people in the world that AI (not photoshop AI) will be the new doom and gloom event that will end the world with machines taking over the world. But I think that's a little on the far end of the spectrum of things. With the new AI in Photoshop they have taken the high road only sampling photo's from what is in Adobe Stock photos. I think eventually they will pay the contributors to Adobe Stock if their photo is used. It may be only a fraction of a penny but it will be something. I think that in the future there will be a credit type of system for using the AI. With the new AI it is using the internet to go to a server in Adobe and all of that cost money so I'm sure there will be in the future a credit. If your a subscriber maybe you get so many credits a month for free and have to pay for extra. But either way its good that Adobe is trying to take the high road in this. And of course you must be connected to the internet and I am assuming that you should have a fairly fast computer to run this new feature.

If you think about what the new AI really is. A new way of doing something that we could already do but easier its like going from stick shift to automatic in cars. It could bring out artist that were out there that didn't have technical skills needed to do the same thing in photoshop. Maybe the next Ansil Adams is just around the corner and will use AI instead of a dark room and dodging and burning.  Anyway those are my thoughts on the subject. The according to Max side of things. Until next week please get out and shoot!

Playing Chess not Checkers when doing Photography?

May 26, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Y'all ! Hope you had a great week! This week I want to talk about something that I just figured out. I recently went on a trip with a couple of photo buddies to the low country near Savannah Georgia and Charleston South Carolina and I found out that I'm  a Checker player not a Chess player when it comes to Photography. I always thought I was a Chess player but no.  What do I mean when I say this? A Chess player is thinking many moves in advance and a Checker player is mostly reactive. My photo buddies Mike and Robert were showing up to different sites with shots already in mind. They knew when and where the sun would come up or go down. They knew in advance what the keeper shot was going to be. Me on the other hand I was just showing up and trying to get what I could get playing it loosely and what moved me at the moment. They were playing Chess and I was playing Checkers. Now there is nothing wrong with playing Checkers and I think that most of us are playing Checkers. Being reactive instead of proactive. Lets look at some of the advantages and disadvantages to both.

Playing Chess. Being proactive. These people have shots in mind well before arriving at the location. They have the composition, what lens they will use, the camera settings and most important the patients to wait until the moment is right before pulling the trigger or shutter. They do not take as many photo's as the Checker player but the quality ratio of the ones they do take is high. Being a portrait photographer, landscape photographer or shooting architecture are all very much in their wheel house. But being spontaneous like street photography not so much. These are the thinkers of the group and usually have lots of experience shooting many different situations. They know what they like and are not willing to sacrifice.

Playing Checkers. Being Reactive. These people are a make the most out of the situation. They show up and figure on the fly how to shoot the scene .  They take many more photo's than the Chess Players with a less quality ratio photo's although they do get their keeper shots in.  They are more spontaneous and quick to the draw taking photo's of almost anything .  Sometimes they miss a shot because they didn't think ahead but they get other shots because they are thinking out of the box. Which can be a good thing. They are shooting what the situation gives them and not a pre-concieved shot that they were wanting to get. Street photographers and Sports are in their wheelhouse. We all start as snap shooters or Checker players and then either grow into the Chess player or stay the Checker player.

Photo trips with friends is a good way to see how others think when they are shooting. It always astonishes me how me and another photographer can be only a few feet away and shooting at the same thing but the photographs are totally different. Their thought process may be totally different than yours but it might be better too. The difference between Chess and Checker players can be the difference between Photographers and Snap Shooters some would say. I guess I fall under the category of Snap shooter or Checker player. Where my photo buddies fall under the title of Photographer or Chess player. In the big wonderful world of Photography I think there is room for both. Which one are you? Thats all for this week until next week get out and shoot some!

Challenge Yourself! One Lens Challenge!

May 19, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone! Hope you've had a great week! You know sometimes you just have to challenge yourself. Here lately I've been in a rut photography wise and I'm trying to snap out of it. Getting new equipment sometimes will snap you into a good photography groove but I don't want to spend money. I asked my photo wingman what we were going to shoot this weekend and he came up with a challenge. So here goes the challenge. A one lens Macro shoot street walk through Wilmington NC. Now Wilmington is a beautiful sea side town in North Carolina full of Azalea's in the spring. They even have a festival which is the largest festival in North Carolina every year. I've been many times but not this year. They have lots of old historic homes with trees covered in Spanish moss. The plan is to get there in the early morning and walk the city and meet up for lunch to compare photo's and establish bragging rights. We must also walk at least 3 miles during this challenge. I kind of hesitated on the one lens thing but the more I thought about it I liked it so I agreed to it. 

My kit for the challenge. The body I will be using is a Sony full frame A7III at 24 mp and then I started thinking about what lens to use and I could use a variety of lenses to accomplish this task the only parameter its that it had to focus close up.  Maybe a 16-35mm or a Prime 35mm. But what I decided on was a 50mm macro with a maximum aperture of f2.8. Nothing too fancy. I grew up shooting a 50mm back in the film days so composition will be fun and I will have to work a little bit more than I would with a zoom. I'm sure there will be some shots that I will want to get that will be too wide for this lens so I will have to do a pantograph and stitch them together in photoshop. I will also bring a small flash and diffuser if I really want to go Macro to give me enough light. I am not going to tote a tripod with me to keep me quick and nimble.

The day of the challenge Me and Robert set out from my house and drove the hour and a 45 min to Wilmington. The weather forecast had changed from the last time I looked at it which said no rain until after lunch. And of course it was raining when we got there. We made our way downtown found parking .  We then donned our raincoats and headed out into the rain. The rain was a light rain . Heaver than a  sprinkle but lighter than a downpour. Manageable. We set the time to meet at 1100 at a bar and grill to have lunch. We had more than a hour and a half to shoot before lunch time .  And off we went into different directions. My plan was to stay outside and find things to shoot and Roberts was to go to some shops and shoot things until the rain died down. I came across a few things to shoot in the rain and I came upon a outdoor market but felt odd with my camera shooting items for sale so I kept on.  Shooting in the light rain was fun! I had a blast looking for objects to shoot much like a scavenger hunt. The lens I was using was very slow at focusing and it took me a while to get used to it. As I kept going it became easer to find things to shoot. I was getting in the groove!  Before I knew it the time had passed and I ended up at the lunch spot. I still had a few min. to spare so I circled the block and took a few more. We had a nice lunch and drove home talking about our small adventure and how we were going to post our photo's to our camera club's members page and let them figure out who was the winner. No mater who actually wins I feel like a winner because I really had a good time shooting with only 1 lens.  I have never traveled over an hour and a half to shoot with only one lens. But it was fun and freeing .  I didn't have to think about what lens would make the image look better. I only had one choice and I had to figure it out. That took all the gear out of the equation and put my skills at work trying to get the best image with just the 50 for everything. I loved it .  You should give it a try. Shoot with only one lens for a day and see what you get. I did pretty well and I have a number of images to choose from. 

Who won? Well the photo I submitted to the club was not the favorite. So in technical terms I lost. But I think I really won because I challenged myself got some good photo's , Shot in the rain which I hardly ever do and most important of all I had a great time with a photo buddy exploring a pretty city. So Win, Win, Win! I know Robert will say that's what losers say! LOL

So until next week challenge yourself with something new. A new technique or shoot something different than normal and you will have a great time. Get out and shoot!

Low Country Trip

May 12, 2023  •  1 Comment

Hey Y’all ! I hope that you’ve had a great week. I certainly have. This last week I took a photo trip with a couple of Photo Buddies Mike and Robert. We have had this trip planned for quite awhile and were eager to get going. This trip was to go to the low country of Georgia and South Carolina.  We planned on driving to Savannah and working our way up the coast to North Carolina following Highway 17.  As with any trip hotel reservations and an itinerary had been made months in advance.  This means that we were at the mercy of the weather. Prior to the trip its has rained if you include Friday 19 weekends in a row. We were a little nervous but we were in luck it only rained one night and didn’t really hinder our photography at all.  This trip had two purposes in mind. First of all to have fun and shoot as much as we could and second to scout a potential Spring trip an four day trip much like we were taking. And of course food will be a main part of this trip also as the food being fantastic in this part of the country with a Southern flair. So lets get started with Savannah Ga. 

The low country is a beautiful place with live oaks and Spanish moss everywhere. Savannah does not disappoint. With 18th and 19th century architecture with beautiful houses and buildings. And of course the Forrest Gump backdrop to “Life is like a box of chocolates you never know what you’re going to get” vibe . Everywhere you turn there is a a photo to be had. But capturing this lovely place is very hard. Especially if you’re trying to take one photo that represents Savannah.  There are iconic shots to get like the fountain at Forsyth Park or the suspension bridge that we traveled over to get into the city. But I think you need a lot of photographs to tell the story of Savannah . Savannah is more of a feeling than a photo opp. After a 6 hour trip with a stop in the middle for some down home cooking at a local restaurant just off of 95 we made it into Savannah. Too early to check into the hotel but they did let us park our car right in front of where our room would be. Then the walking started. You can travel the city in many ways. Of course you can walk but you can Uber and there are busses  that can take you where you want to go with little or no fee. But we hoofed it. I think I had over 20000 steps or around 11 miles. So if your not as mobil as I am you might want to take alternative transportation. At first we made our way to Forsyth Park taking many photos’ along the way. I had been to Savannah before but Mike had not and it was nice seeing his face light up at all of the beautiful sites. After shooting Forsyth park we decided to make it back to the hotel and then find some food. We ate at a local tavern and the food was excellent. We headed back to the room just to grab some gear used the bathroom and off to Forsyth Park to capture the fountain at nighttime.  It was hard to shoot but we got some and came home went to the water front for a minute and got in well after 9 almost 10. A big first day. Our next day would start early and make our way to Beaufort SC. 

We were going to a national monument (park) and were going to hike a mile and shoot a lighthouse. When we arrived the park was closed and would not open until 9. So with quick thinking from Robert, our cruse director, we went to Tybee Island pier to shoot the sunrise. And I must say that it was one of the best sunrises that I have seen in quite a while. The colors were fantastic! We stopped on the way back and tried to shoot the lighthouse that we missed earlier from afar. I didn’t have enough lens to get there but I’m sure Mike did. As he had a 800mm lens with him. Then off to breakfast at a local restaurant the Sunrise Cafe. I highly recommend. We had a local breakfast with grits and all of the fixings . Next stop was Wormsloe Plantation. There is a 10 dollar cost to get in but being military veteran‘s we got in for 8. The plantation doesn’t open until 10 so we got there a little early so we found a local coffee shop to have a cup of coffee and relax a bit before going back to Wormsloe. Wormsloe is a beautiful plantation with live oaks on either side of the driveway creating a canapé of green. The money shot! We then headed to the visitor center and took a mile long hike through the plantation looking at ruins and old-timy settlement. After the plantation we headed to Paris Island Marine base. Robert had been stationed there and lived in Beaufort SC for a couple of years. He had lots of stories to tell and we toured the base. We did not see a lot of activity on the base but at least I can check that off of places to visit. Our next stop was Hilton Head and Harbor town golf resort. It was very nice and we had lunch at the light house restaurant overlooking all of the yachts and the 18 green. The next destination was Beaufort it self. We arrived at the hotel but it was too early to check in so we headed to eat at a local restaurant called the Dockside. Food was excellent. Then we headed downtown.  There was a small festival happening in the downtown with music and booths to shop at. It had started to sprinkle and rain a little so we cut it short. I would love to go back to this little town to explore even more.  Off to bed after 9 and up early to head to Charleston SC.

Our first stop was Hunting Island State park and of course we got there too early. They open up the gates at 0600 and we got there at 0530 but only a half hour wait. We arrived at the parking lot in the dark and headed to the beach. The goal of this shoot was to capture sunrise with driftwood in the fore ground. This took a little walking down the beach to reach the dead wood yard. The sunrise was okay but not as good as the day before but still good. We then headed to the Hunting Island Lighthouse and took lots of photo’s . I do like me a lighthouse. With no people in sight we had free rain over the shoot. We then went to a boardwalk that took us out the the marshes. I think Mike got some good shots here because he had his 800mm lens out. Me not so much. The next stop was back to Beaufort to get a late breakfast almost a brunch but it was very good. Then off to Charleston. On the way we stopped at Old Sheldon Church. This is a ruin of a church that was burnt down during the Revolutionary War rebuilt and burnt down again during the Civil War with big live oaks all around. Very cool. When we got to Charleston at about 1330 and I knew we were too early but I was trying to get a parking place like we did in Savannah but the guy at the desk went ahead and checked us in and we decided to rest for a coupe of hours before heading out. We took a Uber to the boundary (waterfront) and started walking . We walked around for a couple of hours and got us something to great at an English Pub. Food was great but the wall coverings were crazy with one dollar bills stapled to every inch of every wall and windows. It was very cool. We took an Uber back to the hotel and rested a few hours before heading out again. We then took an Uber out to the bridge and set up and waited for the sun to go down .  The bridge did not disappoint we had lovely colors and again we took an Uber back to the hotel and  again it was after 9 o’clock .  The next morning we decided to sleep late and get breakfast in the hotel before heading out.

Our last day was mainly a travel day but we did stop in Southport NC to eat at a local eatery called "Fishy, Fishy" and it was good. We sat outside and watched the pelicans fish while we were eating. We then walked the quaint little town. All in all it was a great trip and fun was had by all. Now we just got to get the camera club to go. It’s important to plan trips and ones with your friends are the best. So until next week Get out and Shoot!



Shooting What You Can't See? Infrared Photography

May 03, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Cape Lookout IR 2Cape Lookout IR Hey Everyone! Hope you're doing well this week! I'm doing pretty well. This week I want to talk to you about a type of photography that you can't see with your eyes. Thats right! You can't see. Infrared Photography. Infrared Photography has been around for decades and there is even film for just shooting infrared but we are going to talk about Digital Infrared. Now I'm not going to get into the Science of Infrared but what's cool about it is when its best to shoot it. Infrared is perfect to shoot in the middle of the day when the sun is the harshest.  Now if your like me if I go somewhere I want to shoot all day long not just in golden hour or when the light is perfect. I want to shoot all day. So infrared photography is perfect for the time of day that the light isn't great for other types of photography. What is infrared photography? Infrared photography is used to capture wavelengths of light that aren't visible to the human eye. What does it look like? Infrared has a strong appeal for fine art photography. It looks surreal and otherworldly, with trees taking on a bright white or yellow hue and skies a red or blue hue. Leaves appear frozen over, and skies take on dramatic colors in both black and white and color photography. There is a lot to infrared and the science but really its pretty simple to shoot. You can either use a camera that has been converted to infrared or you can use a filter on your regular camera and shoot infra red. Let Somerset Plantation House 2Somerset Plantation House 2 me go over both.

Having a camera converted. For a few hundred dollars you can send your camera into a company that specializes in converting camera into infrared only cameras. Thats right infrared only! So once you get the camera converted it can't take regular photo's anymore. So ideally it would be an older camera that your not using and have it converted and use it occasionally. After you have your camera converted you can use it like your regular camera but it will only take Infrared. This is great and its fun to shoot. If you don't have an extra camera you can buy a camera that has already been converted. Just make sure its in the same system of your Yates Mill Pond IRYates Mill Pond IR main camera so you can use all of the glass that you have for your main camera. Many years ago I bought a converted point and shoot camera. And I have had some success with it taking it with me on trips and shoot once or twice on a trip just to have something different.  The only problem with it is that its JPEG only and doesn't shoot in RAW which comes in handy because there are some special post processing stuff that you need to do which can strain the JPEG. Other than that it works great. I'm thinking about maybe buying another one but one that shoots RAW so I can do more with the images afterwards in post.

Using a Infrared filter on regular camera. I just bought a Hoya Infrared 72 filter. This filter make your camera an infrared for black and white. Although you can do some other edits with it. You have to buy it for the filter size of the lens your going to use so I suggest getting one that will fit the largest lens filter size you have and use step down rings to fit other lenses. Cape Lookout IRCape Lookout IRMax Stansell Photography This is the mistake I made. I had a couple of lenses that are 55mm filter size and that's what I bought so now I might have to buy a bigger one so I can use it on all my lenses. The filter looks like a ND filter very dark and you will have to do longer exposures to get the shots. A tripod will be a must and some way to trigger your shutter. And of course it there is wind you will get blurry leaves in the trees. So there are drawbacks to using this filter but it does work and you can get great shots and its a great way to see if you want to get into infrared more and maybe get a camera converted. And if you don't like it you've only spent 40 bucks on a filter. I guess the price depends on the size of the filter.

For me its something I can shoot while waiting for golden hour. Kind of like Macro photography is pretty good during harsh lighting. But the results you get can be fantastic and the responses you get from people is really mixed. Some love it some don't understand and some are wondering when did it snow by that lighthouse?  But for the price of a filter you can try your hand at shooting what others just can't see by shooting Infrared. So until next week get out and shoot!

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