Photoshop Zoom Blur

September 21st, 2011 by Mike Moats

Back In February of this year I was in Carlsbad, CA. for a couple weekends teaching my Macro Boot Camps, and I went to the San Diego Botanical Gardens to do a little shooting with some of the people that attended the boot camps. When I saw this flower I thought it was a good subject for using the Zoom Blur filter in Photoshop.

Here is the original image, I first did some clean up with the specks of debris, and filled in the gaps between the petals showing any background, and did a slight crop.

After doing the clean up in Photoshop Elements, I then clicked on Filters. In the next box clicked on Blur, and then clicked on Radial Blur. In the next box look for Zoom and click the circle next to it. Use the Amount slider to add or subtract the amount of the Zoom you want, and this is what I came up with.

After I got the zoom the way I wanted it, I went into Nik Software’s Viveza, and did some tweaking with the structure slider to bring out the details in the petals, and darkened and added structure in the dark center. Then popped the yellow a little more.

What do you think?

You can visit Mike’s blog and learn about his workshops here:  Tiny Landscapes

Mike’s eBooks are available in the OPG store here:  Mike Moats

Photographing Michigan Fall Color

September 19th, 2011 by Steve Gettle

Note: if you are in the Louisville area Monday October 3, come see Steve Gettle speak at a free OPG/SmugMug event! Details here.

Reflections of Fall

Due to the fact that I had shows scheduled on the weekends when Michigan’s upper peninsula’s fall color is at its peak, I really thought I wouldn’t be able to do any shooting up there this year. Luckily, I caught a break as we had an unusually wet summer and a very mild early fall. The color was a week late this year, so I was able to take a few days and go up and work fall color.

Colors of the Northwoods

We struggled a little with the weather because we had bright sunny, windy days. We did however manage to get some shots, but we worked hard for what we got. I say “we” because I traveled up with two good friends. Nature photography is often a solo endeavor, and I really enjoy that part of it. While I enjoy being alone in the wilderness with my thoughts and chosen subjects, it is also very nice to be able to share these experiences with good friends. The friendships and camaraderie I have developed with other photographers as we traveled the beautiful spots of the world is very special to me. I would say in my travels I have met hundreds, no, probably thousands of nature photographers, and as a group they are some of the nicest people I know.

Elephant Ears, Corn Dogs and 4H Barns = Good Times

September 15th, 2011 by John Batdorff

I’m going to admit it: I’m addicted to County Fairs. I grew up in a small town in Northern Michigan where summers meant getting into trouble, swimming in the community pool and wandering aimlessly around the county fair. And whenever I travel and see the words “County Fair,” thoughts of elephant ears, corn dogs, sticky fingers and the smell of 4-H animals seems like sweet perfume calling out, “John, stop now!” A few weeks ago I had the chance to visit the Madison County Fair in Twin Bridges, Montana where I spent the afternoon visiting with local farmers and 4-H kids. What I’ve grown to love about the fair is touring the 4-H barns and talking to the kids about their animals, science projects and especially perusing the photography contest.

Madison County Fair 4-H’ers

This young man was such a trooper; I could tell it was a bittersweet day for him as he explained with a little quiver in his voice how he raised his steer over the last year, feeding it several pounds of grain a day, and caring for it just to bring it to market at the county fair. You know he had been told not to get attached, but this young guy was brave enough to show he cared for his animal.

Prepping the sheep for sale

Keep Your Eyes Open For Cool Stuff

September 14th, 2011 by Mike Moats

If you spend enough time out in mother nature, she will occasionally come up with some cool stuff. I’m always on the look out for those unique opportunity to capture something special.

I was shooting ice abstracts on Stony Creek Lake, and found this outline of a ducks head in the ice.

I saw this face, two eyes and a nose in a flowing river. Some say the nose could be a trunk of an elephant.

Make Eye Contact

September 13th, 2011 by Rick Sammon

Just an idea for your next portrait photography session: work on making eye contact with your subject – work on making a connection with the subject.

Try this technique with animal photography, too.

Explore the light,

Explore all things Rick Sammon at

Product Photography: iPhones

September 12th, 2011 by John Adkins

After reading a thread in the Flickr Strobist group about a shot of two iPhones done by photographer Peter Belanger, I decided to see if I could recreate his photo, but instead of using studio equipment, I wanted to see if I could get similar results using just a single speedlight and reflectors.

I decided to light the phones from the back (as I often do with food photography) and use reflectors to the sides and to the front to throw subtle fill/highlights back on the phones. So for my keylight, I used an SB-800 in a 24″ softbox almost directly behind the phones and at about a 45 degree angle. This might seem like nowhere near the size of the light source that the photographer used in the video, but a 24″ softbox used in close to the phones appears to the phones as a HUGE light source which created a nice soft light. I triggered that flash with my D300′s on camera pop-up flash.

Next I added my fill lights (or fill sources). Since my softbox was so close to the phones and I was shooting on a piece of white foam core, which is relatively reflective, all I needed to do was add a few more pieces of white foam core around the phone which would reflect the light from the softbox back on to the phone. I simply added these to both sides and held one in front below the camera lens.

To get the right amount of light I wanted from the reflectors, I simply took a shot, chimped a little, then moved the reflectors either closer or further away.

You can see in the setup photo (click on it for a larger view), my position of the reflectors except for the one in front. I was holding it, so I had to put down to shoot the setup folder. Also, I almost never shoot on a tripod but when doing product photography, I’ve that its really useful to use a tripod so you can keep the same framing, then adjust your subject(s) as necessary.

Top Tips for Photograping Waterfalls

September 9th, 2011 by Rick Sammon

“Hurricane Hal,” formerly known as Bull Schmitt from the Light Photographic Workshops, is here in Croton on Hudson, New York shooting with me – because Hurricane Irene washed out his B&H seminar.

Today we photographed waterfalls – large and small. Here are a few tips, from Hurricane Hal and me, for capturing the beauty of flowing water.

• Use a tripod – to steady your camera during long exposures.
• Shoot at 1 second or more to blur moving water.
• Pack a ND (Neutral Density) filter, which will let you shoot at slow shutter speeds in bright light.
• A polarizing filter can also reduce the amount of light entering the lens.
• Use your camera’s self-timer or a cable release to avoid camera shake during a long exposure.
• Check your histogram to check your exposure.
• Bring a lens cloth to keep your lens clean.
• Use Live View to check your scene – composition, focus and exposure. Zoom in for precise focus.

Hurricane Hal and I hope to see you at the California Photo Fest in October in California.

Explore the light,

Explore all things Rick Sammon at


Add Texture To Your Images

September 8th, 2011 by Mike Moats

I have been to a couple photography sites where I saw people posting images with flypaper textures applied to their images. I really liked the look and decided to give it a try.

For these textures check out Jerry Jones and his Shadow House Creations Blog. Jerry is kind enough to allow everyone free downloads of his textures he has created. He told me he has about 1000 textures between his blog and flicker. If you use any of his textures he would appreciate a plug for his site. Thanks Jerry, I know I will pick out a bunch to use.

Here is an image I just recently shot and thought it was a good candidate for some flypaper textures.

I load the image into Photoshop Elements, and then open which flypaper texture I would like to apply over the image. Once the texture is up, it will sit on the right side of the image on your screen, I use the move tool to drag the texture over top of the image. You can adjust the texture to fit over the image by going to the corners or edges and dragging the texture to fit completely over the image. On the far right side of the screen you will see thumb nails of both, the image is labeled background and then the texture you applied over top in a second box as a layer. Just above the texture layer thumbnail you will see a box that says normal, click on that box and another box will show up with a bunch of different words. Look for the area that has the words Overlay, Soft Light, Hard Light, Vivid Light, Pin Light. When you click on one of these links it will make the texture some what transparent over the image, and each name that you click on will have a different look. Once you find the look you like, go to the right side above the thumb nails, you will see the word Opacity with a box next to it that says 100%. Click the 100% and a slider will appear, and you can adjust the amount of opacity of the texture.

Black and White Photo Contest with John Batdorff!

September 2nd, 2011 by Matt Dennison

B&W 2011 Photo Contest


John Batdorff Black and White Contest 2011


Once again, we’re proud to sponsor a great Black & White Photo Contest with our friend John Batdorff!

Last year’s contest had some incredible entries.  We have even more prizes this year—from us and from Black Rapid, Nik Software, Peachpit Books, Digimarc and more!

The contest starts today and entries close Sept. 18th.  There will be lots of fun with voting and with judging!

Click here to read about the contest and the many prizes.  Good luck!

Topaz Black and White Effects Sample Image

September 1st, 2011 by Denise Ippolito


Black Skimmers ~ Topaz B&W Effects
Image © 2011/Denise Ippolito Photography


I received my copy of Topaz B&W Effects and I have to say I love it!  There are so many presets and lots of different looks can be achieved from the filters. It’s not only for Back and White.  WOW- it is a fun program that is very versatile. I created the image above by using multiple filters from the new plug-in. It is very user friendly just like all the Topaz plug-ins. Below is the original image I started with.


Black Skimmers ~ Original capture
Image © 2011/Denise Ippolito Photography

You can learn more about the Topaz Black and White Effects plug-in in the OPG store here.

You can see Denise’s website at