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Join photographer, author, and teacher Ben Long on location in San Francisco as he explores the creative options provided by the kinds of lenses and lens accessories that don't always make it into most camera bags.
The course begins with a look at several common and inexpensive lens attachments, from polarizers to neutral density filters. The course then explores ultra-wide angle and fisheye lenses as well as ultra-long telephoto and macro lenses. The course concludes with a look at tilt-shift lenses, which are useful for architectural photography and special effects, and at offbeat lenses, such as Lensbaby and Holga attachments.
The course also contains Photoshop postproduction advice and examples that illustrate the creative possibilities that an expanded lens collection provides. And because some specialty lenses are extremely expensive, the course also contains advice on renting gear.
Earlier in this course you saw me shoot this building with a tilt-shift lens. I used a tilt-shift to correct the perspective in the building because when I shot it with my regular lens, I got this. I was standing at ground level so as I looked up, this wonderful repeating colonnade of strong vertical lines became a repeating colonnade of diagonal lines, which takes away a little bit of the imposing strength there. With the tilt-shift lens I was able to correct that perspective, bring everything back to square, and end up with a much nicer architectural shot.
I was using the Canon 24mm tilt-shift, which is an incredible piece of glass; it really is one of the sharpest lenses that Canon sells. It's also real heavy; in fact, it's a drag to carry around. It's heavy. It's bulky. It doesn't have autofocus. It's not something that you would use necessarily as an everyday walkaround lens, especially at 24mm. And it's big enough and specialized enough that you're not going to say, well, I'll just throw it in my bag just in case. Fortunately, these days you can replicate the perspective-correction capability of that lens in software, and that's what we're going to do in this movie.
I'm going to take this image that I shot with my regular old 24-105 and I'm going to correct it, to try to get the same kind of look that I got here with my tilt-shift. This is a raw file so I'm just going to open it up in Photoshop. The perspective-correction tools that we're going to use are here as part of Camera Raw. Don't worry. If you're not a Raw shooter, you can still do the same edits within Photoshop, and we'll look at how to do that later in this movie. If you use a different image editor, then you may not have a perspective correction facility, and so you'll need to turn to Photoshop.
What I'm going to do first is simply make the tonal adjustments that this file needs. I've got some overexposed highlights, so I'm going to bring those down, and I'm going to try and deal a little bit with the contrast issue here, get a little more contrast into the image, punch in a little bit of Clarity, just to make some of the details pop. And then I am going to take a look at White Balance. I was shooting in auto white balance and so the shade here went a little too cool. This is a tricky white balance situation because it also got daylight. The camera did an okay job, but I think I can do better by grabbing the White Balance eyedropper.
I'm clicking on something in the image that is supposed to be gray; fortunately, I have all this gray sidewalk just lying on the ground. Click there and immediately the shadows are warmed up a little bit. I like that look better. I think it's a more inviting image, but of course white balance can be somewhat subjective. You could cool this down to make a more imposing image. Now, you might think the next thing that I would need to do would be to crop because I've got all of this extra space around here. But in this case I really don't want to crop, and I think you're going to see why, pretty much immediately. Before I do the perspective correction, let's do one more thing.
This bit is a little hot. It's not overexposed. I can see that because there's no spike over on the right side. I'm going to grab my adjustment brush real quick and just tone those bright bits down a little bit. This is all basic Camera Raw stuff. You should already know this. If not, there are plenty of courses in the lynda library for you to learn this kind of stuff. I thought I'd just quickly walk you through my edit so you could see my take on this image. Now, I'm going to click over here on the Lens Corrections tab and I want to be in the Manual tab, and I've got a number of sliders here that are going to help me address specific lens-related issues.
Let's start here at the bottom, Lens Vignetting. If I had a vignetting problem--that is, a darkening in the corners--I could eliminate it by brightening the corners, by sliding the slider to the right. This is also a nice way of creating a vignette. I can scale the image, which is basically resizing it, letting me zoom in and out. This is not real substitute for an optical zoom. I'm making my image effectively smaller. I won't be able to print it as big. But it can be handy for doing slight, little resizings to correct certain other problems. I could rotate my image if I wasn't shooting level.
We're going to look at these two controls to do our perspective correction, and then I've got Distortion, which is going to let me correct barrel and pincushion distortion. These are the sliders that we really want to pay attention to right now. Vertical and Horizontal basically take the image and map it onto a 3D plane and then let me rotate that plane by way of correcting perspective. So if I take the Vertical slider here--and I'm picking vertical because my main problem is the vertical axis; the image looks like the top is tilted backwards. So I would like to tilt it forward, and you can see these little icons here indicate that I'm going to be able to tilt this plane forward and backward.
Notice my adjustment brush adjustment disappeared there, but it will come back. So watch what's happening. I'm able to just tilt the image so that the bottom recedes into the background. The top comes to the foreground. One practical upshot is my columns are ending up straighter, so I think maybe right about in there, and you can see the adjustment brush edit pop back in. That's looking nice. I need to be too careful that I don't go too far because then the building starts getting really stretched weird, and it starts to look like it's leaning forward.
I could create a very stylized look to make a big imposing building that's leaning over me, but I'm actually going for more other realistic interpretation here right now, so I'm going to go back to about there. So right away I'm doing much better. I've got a really nice perspective correction on this, but the image has a couple of other little geometric problems. Look at this line on the top of the building. It looks maybe tilted. It also looks a little bit curved. I believe it's bowing out in the center here. That is a distortion problem. It has a little bit of barrel distortion.
So I'm going to just pinch the image in a little bit with this Distortion slider. I'm just sliding it to the right, and that's serving to flatten out that line there on top. I'm liking that. I'm wondering about this. It feels to me like this end is dropping a little bit. Now, that could be that I didn't have the camera level, but I think it's more that I wasn't perfectly perpendicular to the building. So in addition to there being perspective distortion going this way, I think there's a little bit going that way. In other words, I need to take my Horizontal slider and just tilt the right end of the image towards me a little bit, and I really think that's done it. That's squared off my perspective quite nicely.
Now, the problem is I've got all this here. I've thrown my image out of square with my frame, so it needs a crop. I can do that crop here. This is why I said earlier that we weren't going to crop yet, because I knew we would need to crop our image later. I can do this crop here, and I immediately face the question of, do I want to just crop to the colonnade part or do I want to the whole building? And now I cannot adjust my crop past the edges of the image.
So if I wanted the whole building, I can't do it. I'm going to not crop here. I'm going to crop in Photoshop, because I will be able to crop into the area where there's no data and try and fix that after the fact. Before we do that, I just want to point out that I intentionally shot this image with all these extra space around it, because I knew I wanted to try perspective correction in Photoshop. So if you are out shooting with this type of edit in mind, you have to pad your image. You have to put a lot of extra space around it because your image, your final edit, is going to require a big crop.
So now I'm going to open this up in Photoshop, and the first thing I'm going to do is grab the Crop tool. Now, I'm going to crop this image. Here we are in the Crop tool. I have an unconstrained crop. I'm not going to try to preserve an aspect ratio. I'm going to crop this image to the edge of the building rather than the edge of the colonnade. I want to see what that looks like, and I can always crop into the colonnade later. So I'm going to just try and preserve as much of the image as possible, there on the bottom, and crop to right in there.
Now, the problem is it's not centered. I've got a little more space on this side than I have on this side, so I think I'll pull back into the tree a little bit, about there, and I'm going to double-click to take that crop, go back to my Move tool. This is looking pretty good. I actually think I want to lose some of the top, but before I do that, I want to address this issue. I've got these bits down here that were empty because of my perspective distortion, so I need to do something to try to fill those. In Photoshop CS5 or later, the best way to work this is to immediately start with Content- Aware Fill. So I'm going to select that area with the Lasso, go up to Edit > Fill and choose Content-Aware, and let's see what it comes up with.
Hey, it did a really good job. Looking in there that just looks like an actual staircase. So now let's try this side. This is a little bit trickier because there's that bit of column right there. Edit > Fill > Content-Aware, and no, that did a pretty good job also. You could argue that the curb is messed up, or you could argue that that's a wheelchair ramp. Just in case you are not wanting that to look like a wheelchair ramp, you could grab the Rubber Stamp tool and simply clone that bit of curve back in, and now we're doing pretty good.
So, this is what it looks like, taking a larger view of the building, and I was able to fix the corners down there, which is nice. I'm going to just quickly see what it looks like if I crop in a little bit tighter, because that bright stuff at the top is so bright, I feel like it's a distraction. So I'm going to pull that in a little bit, and I think I will just go ahead and square off to here and get something more like that. Just so you can see, this is an image shot with a 24-105mm lens and then perspective corrected in Photoshop, and this is an image shot with a tilt-shift lens.
There's really not much difference. I have done a very capable job of correcting the perspective, thanks to Photoshop's perspective-correction tools. As I said before, you don't have to be working in Raw to get this. If you were shooting JPEG you can open up this image in Photoshop and then go to Filter > Lens Correction. I would recommend turning off all of the Auto Correction, switch over here to Custom, and you get the same Transform commands right down here. Vertical and Horizontal perspective let me tilt my image around so I can do this to any type of image that I want.
What's nice about the Lens Correction control is if I want, I can turn on the grid, and that makes it a little bit easier to tell when I have actually squared off my image. So, this is a great way to deal with architectural photography or anytime you've got a perspective problem, even sometimes product photography. If you're working real close you might want to tilt some things around, correct a little bit of perspective. I don't need to carry the big heavy tilt-shift lens. Now, optically I'm not getting as perfect, as pure, an image, but still, for most uses, I think this is a great workaround for a heavy tilt-shift lens.
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