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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.
For the most part, you won't do anything special when you're editing your telephoto and super-telephoto images. However, there is probably one consistent thing that you're going to find with your telephoto images, and especially really long telephoto images, and that is this: they're going to look like an old prison. Oh, wait, no that's not it. They are going to be low contrast. That's the problem. The reason this is a low-contrast image is because I'm simply looking through so much atmosphere, a lot more than I normally would with a shorter lens, where I wouldn't try to get such close-up detail.
Obviously, I could put a shorter lens on this subject and still be looking at as much atmosphere, but because Alcatraz wouldn't be so big, I wouldn't notice how much contrast I've taken off of it. This is a very easy thing to fix. Low contrast simply means we don't have any black and we don't have any white. All of our tones are grouped here in the center of the image. If you're using Camera Raw here in CS6, it's just going to be a process of dropping the blacks down, raising the exposure, and maybe playing with the Contrast slider to spread the intermediate tones out a little more.
So when I do that, I immediately see better detail on the image. Most importantly, it lifts that haze off the top of the image that makes it look kind of flat. Now, again, if I'm shooting with a wider-angle lens and Alcatraz is, say, in the background, I'm going to have this same problem, but it's going to look more appropriate because we expect things farther away to be a little bit hazy. So in this case, the fact that the mountains in the background are hazy and low contrast, that's okay; they're way in the background. If I did want to put some more detail in them, then I might consider doing something like a graduated adjustment and trying to roll some contrast into the scene in a somewhat controlled manner.
But I don't want to put too much contrast back here in the back because it is far away. It should look like it's lost in a distant haze. So, there we go. I'm not sure that I don't actually like it better without the gradient adjustment. But again, this is simply something that I'm going to face when I'm working with a telephoto image. This exact same edit that I've done here, if I was not working in raw, I would simply do this in Photoshop using something like a Levels adjustment. So I've gone back here to my original non-corrected version of the file.
I'm going to just drop a Levels Adjustment layer on here. Set my black point, set my white point, and maybe play with the Midpoint slider to open up those middle tones a little bit. Another thing that you're possibly going to run into with a super-telephoto lens, especially a very, very long super-telephoto lens like the Sigma 800 millimeter--in this case this is the Sigma 800 millimeter with a 1.2x tele-converter on it. Look at all this weird distortion I've got. That again is atmospheric haze.
I'm looking through so much atmosphere, trying to resolve fine detail, and it's causing a lot of distortion in my focus. I've also got a contrast problem. So, I'm going to start by just dropping the contrast back to where it's supposed to be. So setting my black point, I'm going to expand the contrast there, brighten things up. Now, my black point has given me a big saturation boost, which I'm not too crazy about. The Transamerica Building is not actually--I don't think it should look that yellow. So I'm going to drop out a little bit of saturation, maybe bump some clarity a little bit.
But I've got this weird shimmery stuff through the image--usually, nothing I can do about that. There's no reasonable way to remove that. What I might do instead is if I can't remove it and I decide it's distracting or annoying- looking--actually, what's a drag about it is that it looks like bad compression artifacts. It looks like I'm using a cheesy camera instead of a really high-dollar really enormous lens. I can try to hide it and go for a more stylized look by adding some grain. I'm over here in the Effects tab in Camera Raw. I'm just going to turn up some grain to a very large size.
This is going to put some texture into the image. I am going to zoom in here a little bit. You can see that I've picked up a bunch of noise. That doesn't change the fact that I can see all of this modelling on the side of the building, but maybe it hides a little bit. Maybe it makes it look more like I have chosen a grungy style on purpose. If you're not shooting raw and you want to add grain, there are techniques to do that, and you'll see this later in this course when we talk about simulating Holga and Lensbaby effects. So, again, for the most part, your telephoto editing is just going to be like all of your normal editing, but be ready to tackle low- contrast problems and possibly know that you're going to run into these atmospheric haze problems that can cause a weird shimmery distortion in your image.
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