(Update) Switching from Photoshop to Lightroom

Image courtesy of Digital Photography School.

Image courtesy of Digital Photography School.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote an article on how I would be switching from Photoshop to Lightroom. I stated in this article that I hoped to achieved three things with switching from Photoshop to Lightroom. After using Lightroom for a couple of weeks, I can say my hopes have come true.

  1. A faster workflow, indeed.

    When I was using Photoshop, I would have to open each image, adjust the raw file, make other adjustments, save the PSD, and then save a JPEG. Obviously, this involved a lot of steps as well as time. I dreaded editing photos because I knew it would be long and tedious. 

    Since using Lightroom, the steps and time have been drastically cut down. When you import photos into Lightroom, you have quite a few options. Copying the files off the SD card while retaining the files on the card or moving files from one hard drive to another. What Lightroom has does best is that it enables the imported Lightroom files to save all adjustments even if you move the files to a new hard drive. However, the files transferred must be transferred through Lightroom (to save the adjustments).

    Once the files have been imported, I am able to browse through the photos and flag/rate the photos I like. From there, I am able to adjust a photo and move right on to the next. But the best part comes at exporting. Since Lightroom saves all the adjustments in the program itself, I don't have to save the “raw” file, instead I can just export to the file type and size I need. This has been a God send. 

2. Presets, Presets, Presets. 

    When dealing with presets, Lightroom is and has been quite a bit easier than Photoshop.  I knew when I first got Lightroom I wanted to use presets. Not because I am lazy, but because it provides a starting ground. Presets are actually used as a starting ground rather than slap it on and that’s it. In Lightroom, using presets are super easy. Even installing them is super easy.

    Before purchasing any presets, I researched quite a bit. I look at numerous companies such as Mastin Labs, Totally Rad, and VSCO. I decided on VSCO. I wanted presets that simulated legendary film stocks like Portra. VSCO was at a good price point and was widely used among other photographers. 

    After using the presets, I have noticed a bump in my photos. This is not due to the preset look but it provides me with a look that I want and I can build off it. Not only has this improved my workflow but also my editing skills.

3. Better editing skills?

    While writing this, my mind might have changed. How is a editing program going to improve my editing skills? After some thought I realized that it does not necessarily work like that. A photo editing program will not make someone a photographer overnight. But it allows you to become a better photographer/editor. 

    Photoshop and Lightroom are just tools to a photographer/editor just like a camera is a tool. Everyone has access to these tools but it does not make a everyone a photographer. It all depends on how one uses these tools. These tools allow me to adjust and improve my photos. I am able to cut down time, apply a look, and adjust the look to fit my style. 

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How to determine what to do with your (creative) life

This blog is going to be a little different than the rest. This will not be the standard photography tips/tricks. However, this will be something I want to talk about since I am starting to realize this now.

As some of you may know, I am currently a second semester senior. I am studying strategic communications with a concentration in advertising/PR. I have also completed two minors, one in marketing and one in business administration. So where does this all some into play?


But don’t you go to school for photography? Actually, I do not. Photography was something I picked up my senior year of high school. From there I watched hundreds of YouTube tutorials and read many articles on photography.  And occasionally, got a few tips from my father. I feel as if a lot of people have run into this problem.

The problem is, what to do with your life. Do I find a job in my area of study or do I follow my dreams of becoming a photographer? This is a decision that many face at the end of their college career. I am now facing this decision.

Recently, I have been hearing follow your dreams a lot and just do what you want to do. However, this is very hard decision because I am an adult now. I just can’t go out and do whatever I want and come home to mommy and daddy. I need to support myself and my family (when I get there).

I feel that there will be some waiting on that dream for right now. As for any new/amateur photography, you need to get your name out there. You need to build an audience/following.  In my opinion, you need to find a job that you are able to provide for yourself. When you’re not working that job, you have your photography job. This allows you to have some income while following your dream. Then when your photography has taken over your day-to-day job, you can go full-time photographer.  I understand that this may not be in a couple months or even years (I hope not!). I think the biggest thing I need to work on right now is just creating content constantly and keep practicing. You are only making yourself better. And soon that day will come, when you can call yourself a full-time photographer.

Good luck.

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4 mistakes new photographers make

I have been the photography editor for The Clarion Call (university newspaper) for 3 years now. Over those 3 years, I have noticed some mistakes that are reoccurring with student photographers. These mistakes are particularly seen in people just starting out in photography. I have seen these mistakes with my photographers but also from a lot of other photographers. Here are these mistakes and what you can do to learn from them.

1.      Rule of Thirds

If you do not know anything about photography, you probably may not have heard of The Rule of Thirds. This is one of the fundamental rules of photography. The Rule of Thirds is separating the frame with two horizontal and two vertical lines, creating a 3x3 grid. When shooting a subject, you want to put the subject on any of those lines. That’s why in most photos, the subject is often to the left or the right. It is aesthetically pleasing.

2.      Using flash and not ISO

Since I have students shooting events around campus, often events are in auditoriums or chapels. These places do not have the best lighting let alone lighting at all. When shooting in these conditions, I urge the photographers to crank up the ISO and turn off the flash. There is a great chance that you are not going to be in the front row or very close for that matter. With that being said, the flash will be useless. You will be lighting the crowd more than the subject(s) on stage. Plus, do not be that guy/girl who is being annoying and using flash.

3.      Gear Acquisition Syndrome

Gear Acquisition Syndrome also known as GAS, is a very serious condition where one needs the newest and best photography gear. I have and am currently suffering from this. How can you not want the newest lens or body!? However, it is all in your brain. If you are a photographer, you hear this all the time. You don’t need the best gear to create the best pictures. I recently read an article about the cameras the photographers of National Geographic use. One photographer used a Canon T5i. This camera is a high end consumer DSLR. You couldn’t tell which National Geographic photo was taken by a Canon 5D Mark III or a Canon T5i, no one could.

4.      Shutter Speed

Shooting for the university newspaper, requires sports photography. Numerous times I see photographers getting blurry action photos or the subjects are sharp and clean but the ball is a glob of blur. This is all due to a low shutter speed. When shooting sports photography, it is key to shoot at least 1/250 of a second or higher. This freezes almost all the action in the frame. There may be some sports that need to be higher than 1/250. I have also noticed some student photographers are shooting at f/10. You can easily open your shutter to f/4-5.6 to increase the shutter speed and get rid of motion blur.

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5 reasons why you should still shoot film

 Film? What is it? Film is actually what you would shoot pictures with before you had a camera in your pocket at all times.  Film is one of those things I don’t think I will ever let go.  It’s really like magic. You have a roll a film that gets developed, from there is a tiny negative image and then it can be blown up and printed or scanned. There are quite a lot of reasons why you should still shoot film. Listed below are just some of the many reasons why.

1.      Slows you down

With the cameras we have now, all we have to do is turn it on and hit the shutter button. However, that’s not the case with shooting film. Almost all film cameras are full manual besides Aperture and Shutter priority modes.

Yes, with a film camera you’ll need to actually study and learn the basics of photography. Since the camera is manual you need to adjust the camera settings (shutter and aperture) before each shot. Which in turn slows you down. It really makes you think and analyze the shot. You must evaluate the light and adjust the settings for the correct exposure. Remember, you only have a limited number of shots…choose wisely or what everyone says, “Think twice. Shoot once”.

2.      Fairly Cheap

Buying a camera in this day in age can get pretty expensive. For a decent DSLR (cropped sensor) you are looking at spending about $500. However, since the technology boom with cameras, 35mm film cameras have dropped dramatically in price. KEH sells film cameras as well as lens and other camera accessories.  Or you can bargain on eBay and hope for the best. Another great website is also Most lenses from film cameras also work on digital cameras. For instance, lenses from the Canon film cameras from 1987 and on still work great on modern Canon DSLRs, which can save you money in the future if you don’t care for manual focus lenses. Also, with a film camera you’re getting full frame right away.  With the $500 DSLR you are getting a cropper sensor. You will however have to buy film and pay for developing, scanning, and printing or you can do that all yourself. But will $500 you can get a decent 35mm film camera, a couple lenses, some film, and pay for developing (quite a few rolls).

3.      High Dynamic Range and No megapixels

With film, you are about to get a wider range of light which dynamic range. In modern cameras, there are sensors and these sensors have restrictions. There are only a certain number of stops of dynamic range and number of megapixels they can cram into a single camera. On the other hand, there is only one restriction will film, the scanner. So you are able to get better shadows and highlights with film.

There are no megapixels in film cameras. What does this mean? You can print giant photos from your roll of film and they will look amazing. The bigger the negative the more detail, so with a medium format or even 4x5 camera there is going to be a lot more detail and dynamic range.

4.      The colors are amazing

There is a difference from pictures shot on film from pictures shot on digital. Film just has that look that I don’t think I can every get away from. Film brings me back to when I was younger because everything shot then was on film. Film just feels timeless. Most digital photography filters are mostly based off film. There are presets you can buy for Photoshop now from VSCO Cam and Mastin Labs. This is because the colors of film are so amazing. When I look at pictures that were shot on film especially Kodak Portra I just get connected to the image. They just feels warm and at home. Just look around at The Find Lab’s Instagram, many images they process and post to Instagram are shot on Portra.

5.      Physical Prints

Now that we are in the digital age, everything is digital. “Hey look at this photo I just got on my iPhone, I’ll send it to you”. We share everything online now and we hardly ever print anymore. Since film has no megapixels, technically (it depends on how you scan it), you can print decent size prints and the image will look great. Printing film just makes you fall in love with it even more. Even seeing digital prints printed are amazing.  Also, with physical prints there not just stored on the computer and you forget about them. When was the last time you pulled out old photo albums and looked at the pictures, probably not for a long time.  Physical photo albums for many are old and out dated. However, print your prints, you will love them and appreciate your photographs so much more.

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3 great ways to get out of the photography creative rut

A creative rut is a place (non physical) where you just can’t seem to create anything. Your mind is blank and every time you take a picture, you’re just not happy with. It is a mental hole that is often hard to climb out of. However, I am here with a stepladder.

Many may ask if these are the only ways to do this, and the answer is obviously no. These are the 3 ways that have worked for me and I’d thought I’d share them.

1.     The first way that helps me climb out of this rut is looking at my past photographs. After searching around my computer, I pull up the pictures in Adobe Bridge and start scrolling. The reason I look at my past photos is to see where I came from. Nothing motives someone than seeing his or her progress. That’s what everyone wants to see in life, progress.  Looking at past photographs also can show yourself what you need to work on. You can decide, “hey maybe I still need to work on my flash work, it’s still not where I want it to be.” Finally, looking at your past photographs you can get ideas. You may have a photo-shoot years ago that you really liked. Recreate it, make it better. For me, these things not only get me out of the creative rut but also help me improve my photography.

2.     Just go and shoot. I read an article the other week that talked about this (This isn't the exact article). Don’t plan and visualize but just go and create photographs. I think that’s a reason why people get into the creative rut. They try to copy other photographers (which is fine) but they just don’t get the results they were looking for. Which in turn, discourages them and they start digging that rut. What you need to do is just grab your camera and just go shoot. Don’t think about it, don’t visualize the shot, create it right there and then.

3.     The last way to get out of the creative rut is to look at other photographer’s work. I know from reading numerous photography articles, is to look at other photographer’s work. I do this daily whether it is from Instagram or Twitter; I am always exposing myself to other photographer’s work. This lets my analyze their and try and figure out how they got the shot. Did they use flash or a reflector? Was this shot on film or digital? Looking at other photographer’s work also just makes me want to go out and shoot. Every time I’m on the VSCO iPhone app and scrolling away, I just get that urge to go and create the shots I saw or even create better photos.

Again, these are just 3 steps that help me get out of the creative rut. I hope you took something away from this article.