Saturday, 29 September 2012

Evolution of an image

I always say to my students that nature is rarely perfect. Inevitably you have to make modifications to a photo to bring back the colors and tonal range that you saw through your view finder.

Now, there are some purists out there that say they never crop an image, or they never make any more modificatiosn to a photo that using Ligthroom or a raw imaging software... and, HEY, thats OK, to each his, or her own...

The following is an example of the post processing I just did on an image I took this morning when out at Puslinch Lake with a good friend, Gary Simmons.

I bracketed 5 images, this is the middle exposed images, there were two lighter, and two darker.

 As you can see, its a decent photo, a good tonal range, th eisland in the cross hairs of the upper right 1/3 lines, nice color in te sky, strong reflections, and thanks to a graduated filter, a close exposure between the sky and the refelctions.

But I still wasn't happy with the image. So, here are the steps I took to bring back the vibrance to the photo to better represent the scene I had scene.

1) put the 5 images into NIK HDR Efex to create a base HDR image. I used a default setting that I have for sunrise water photos and it created a much better image that brought back the magenta's and lightened up the shadows in the foreground.

2) I took that image into NIK Color Efex PRO and used a preset filter I have set up for these twypes of images. It further brought out the magenta, brightened the sky and added a hint of vignetting.

3) I took that image and saved it, then reopened it in NIK Silver Efex PRO and created a black and white version with strong blacks. I then saved that photo.

4) I opened up the black and white image and the image I ran through NIK COlor Efex PRO and layered the color image over the black and white image... then with a layer mask I brought through the stronger blacks while leaving the sky and refelctions alone.

5) I then merged the layers in CS6 and fixed the levels, cloned out some imperfections and cropped the image to an 11x14 and saved the image to a file...

Here is the final image that was created using NIK Software... I like them both, but personally, the stronger contrast and increased saturation and increased detail on the rock pile on the right draws me to the bottom photo... plus, the alterations on teh bottom photo seemed to bring back the true sky color and a truer white in teh morning fog... you be the judge...

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Photographers on a photo tour should travel with "Piece of Mind"

The regulations may be different where you live, but here in Canada, in the Provence of Ontario there is a regulatory organization called TICO, (Travel Industry Council of Ontario).

This organization is charged with monitoring the travel and toursim. The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) is an organization mandated by the Ontario government to administer the Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002 and Ontario Regulation 26/05 which governs all of the approximately 2,500 travel retailers and travel wholesalers registered in Ontario.

They are there to protect the consumer!

Recently TICO has been made aware of the ever popular
sub industry of photo tours, as such, have been reaching out to people like me who facilitate photo tours for photographers both here in Canada, the USA and around the world.

At first, I was a little taken back, receiving an official document citing how I wasn't compliant, outlining the legal action that can be taken and what I had to do in order to be compliant.... well, it made me take a deep breath. To be honest my first reaction was, "typical, big brother putting their foot down on the little guy and stopping me from making a living".

BUT... after I took the time to read the regulations, why they monitor the tourism industry, plus the benefits to consumers, I embraced the request and have made a lot of modifications to my tours and workshops. I altered how money is handled, how my relationship was structured with the tour companies, and actually cancelled a few tours in favour of a more "consumer friendly" tour to these locations.

Now, any photo tour created by my company with a tour operator that someone takes with "The Photographer's Lounge" can have piece of mind and know that their trip is insured and your money held in escrow with an accredited tour company until the items listed that you will receive on your tour are paid for.

With "The Photographer's Lounge" the financial transaction is between you and the tour companies that hire us. We do not get involved in the financial transaction, nor do we act as a tour company. We are meerly hired by these tour companies to facilitate photography learnings on the tour you purchased from the same company that hired us to guide you and teach you photographic and editing skills while we are together. I do not see a penny or get paid until 30 to 60 days prior to travelling.

Think of it like this. You approach a photographer that runs tours. They are a small business and you pay them a non refundable deposit, and in turn they facilitate payments for the hotels, ground transportation and meals. What happens if you have a death on the family and you cannot go? What happens if that photographer goes out of business? What happens if the hotel closes down? What happens if you get to your destination and there is a problem? With an accredited tour company like I use is involved in the trip, there is assurances put in place and insurance to cover the money you have invested in your tour. With a photographer that did it all themselves... well, lets just say I would hope you had the foresight to ensure your investment was protected and you had an iron clad agreement to protect you and your money. 

I am not incinuating that other photographers are like this whatsoever. All the photographers that i have met here in Ontario, Canada, the USA and around the world are honest, hard working individuals with your best interest at heart. They are just trying to make a living doing what they love to do. Everyone I know that runs tours is legitimate, honest, and believes in full disclosure with their clients.

All I am saying is, "Make sure you are protected, know your photography workshop leader, ask if the tour is insured, and get assurances that you are protected."

To learn more about TICO, please visit their website at

I hope you have piece of mind and enjoy your next photography tour or workshop!


Monday, 24 September 2012

Junk Yard Photography with a model

"One, Two, Three, Turn", was what the student asked the model to do as the shutter buttons were pressed.

This is jsut one of many poses we had our model, Morgan do for us during the morning workshop at the auto wreckers this past weekend at the Photographers Lounge Seminar and Workshop in Kitchener. My good friend, Rick Sammon lead the group through a great presentation and workshop and gave excellent tips to all that attended.

For the workshop we spent the morning with the students taking a series of HDR and model photographs throughout the junk yard and then took them back into the classroom for some editing fun in HDR efex PRO and Photomatix.

Here are a few more of my images from that workshop...

An HDR image produced with 5 images and then processed in Photomatix and CS6.

Here is a photo that was taken of our model, Morgan. We set Morgan up in a variety of poses throughout the junkyard and let the attendees direct her into poses around various contrasting scenes of rust and decay.

We focused on making pictures, rather the just on taking pictures and seeing the whole scene in front of you, not just standing there and taking a photo. "Use your camera like a spaceship" Rick would say.

Try to see from above, below, from the side, macro shots, wide angle, look for the details... digital memory doesn't cost you a thing to take a photo... so maximize the number of photos of any scene and you will be surprized what you get when you get your images loaded onto your computer.

We have lots of workshops planned over the next year... check out what and where we are going by visiting the Photographers Lounge website to learn more.

A special thanks to all 100 people that came to this event Saturday and to the 48 people that came to the workshop on the Sunday. Please share your photos with us on the Photographer Lounge Facebook page. We would love to see what photos you took.

Have fun getting out the autumn season and taking your own images.


Thursday, 20 September 2012

A HUGE "Thank You" to the sponsors of the Rick Sammon event the weekend.

Rick Sammon is speaking in Kitchener, Ontario this weekend and we wanted to thank all the sponsors that donated prizes and product to the event...

Henry's generously gave us...
Henry's t-shirts
1 Lowepro Photo Hatchback 16L Bag
10 DSLR Pro Cleaning kits
2 4GB Lexar Jumpdrive USB Keys
4 $25.00 Henry's Gift Cards
Free tickets to Exposure Show this October for everyone

Lexar generously gave us...
A card reader
16gig memory cards

NIK generously donated...
3 HDR Efex Pro 2
1 Complete Collection Ultimate

OPC generously gave everyone a copy of their latest magazine and...
(5) one year subscriptions

HDR Soft generously gave us...
three free licenses of Photomatix Pro Plus

We want to thank all our sponsors and partners for making this a great event...

For more information on the event please visit...

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Nikon D600 vs Canon 6D vs Nikon D800 vs Canon 5D MkIII

I went on DP review and did a side by side comparison of these four cameras... click on the link below to read the comparisons

Nikon D600 vs Canon 6D vs Nikon D800 vs Canon 5D MkIII

I hope this helps you make a decision based on functionality of these four full frame cameras.

Monday, 17 September 2012

New Podcast discussing photography related topics

photography podcast, teach photography, learn photography

I am happy to announce that Tom Baker and I have developed a new podcast to discuss all things photography. The new podcast website is and has a home on facebook at

Tom Baker is an accomplished travel and nature photographer based out of Toronto, Ontario. Over the years Tom has travelled across North America, The Caribbean and Europe capturing compelling images in his unique style.

“I love being outdoors. I love getting out into the thick of things. I’ve never had a desire to be in a studio. I want to watch the sun come up over the ocean, or discover hidden gems in whatever city I’m in. That’s what inspires me. Travelling the world and exploring it through photography is my passion. “

When he isn’t shooting for clients or for own projects, Tom spends his time helping people learn the art of photography. He regularly writes tips, product reviews and photo how-to’s on his website, as well as various social media outlets. He has also helped lead numerous workshops and, especially in his adopted home of Florida.

Currently , Tom is working on his first book, a photographic history of his home town Cleveland, OH.

Kevin is a nature photographer and teacher at heart. No matter what the season is; the draw of being out in the outdoors is what inspires him to take photos and take amateur photographers on one of his photography workshops. But you will also see other styles of photography in his portfolio.
From street photography, to urban exploration of abandoned buildings and architecture, he loves to capture it all with his camera for his corporate clients and his growing personal portfolio.

Kevin also operates the “Photographers Lounge”, a company dedicated to teaching photography. Through “The Lounge” you can learn from some of the best photographers of our time.

Together Tom and Kevin will discuss various photographic topics and periodically invite guests on to discuss relevant topics many photographers want to know more about.

Please listen in and and enjoy the podcasts at

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Moving Your Photography Career Forward

I have never professed to be a great photographer, rather a good photographer that when put into a situation I can produce an attractive, quality image. I am confident in my abilities and not afraid to put myself out there, and ask for business...

I was having a discussion today with another photographer, and he asked me what I have been up to. Well, I had just finished a corporate photo shoot at a large toursit attraction in Ontario. I was hired to take photos for their marketing and promotional efforts. I spent three days on site and two days editing.

This tourist attraction is very well known in Ontario and the north eastern part of the United States. They also work with organizations all over the globe participating in conservation efforts... so I guess that the thought that this company actually hired me surprised this individual...

This person had the audacity to ask me, "why did they hire you with so many better photographers out there, did you pay to get that gig?"

(A few deep breathes later) I responded, "Well, I targetted 5 companies, kept following up, had a series of meetings with a few of them, I showed them my portfolio and I was persistant... then I simply asked for the business"

I guess my point here is... if you want to be a professional photographer you need to not only be confident in your abilities but you need to always be trying to get new clients... and don't let anyone deter you from your goals... some comments will be out of jealousy... some out of not knowing what to do to get clients...

You have two choices... be the person making money from photography and creating a business, or be the person that is left sitting at home wishing they were creating a career from something they love...

Canon 6D versus Nikon D600

if you didn't already enjoy the back and forth jabs by Canon and Nikon... buckle up... Canon waited till the D600 was announced and will announce the new 6D...

The D600 was announced last week at Photokina and you can pre order your D600 now at a price just over $2000... which was $500+/- from what it was rumoured to come in at... now Canon is rumoured to announce the D6, also at that price point...

Read about that camera here... and on Canon Rumours here...

Now you have a decision if you want to jump into the Full Frame party...

Canon 5D MKII at $3500
Nikon D800 at $2900
Nikon D600 at $2100
Canon D6 at ????

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Digital Photo Academy comes to Canada to teach photography

The Digital Photo Academy is coming to Canada and they have asked my good friend, Tom Baker, and Kevin Pepper, to be their instructors in and around the Toronto and South Western Ontario areas.

To join these informative and enjoyable shoots, simply contact the DPA Booking Agent toll free at 1 877 372 2231 or to register on line, go to and click on Toronto. From there scroll down and the directions to enroll are clearly explained.

the Digital Photo Academy is an organization that offers photographers learning opportunities through photography classes in the field where we teach composition, exposure, metering and other basic advanced shooting techniques

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Nikon D600 - all the details

f-stoppers published an article on the D600 and they published all the details on the specs that you need to know...

If all the hype didnt convince you, this should....

Thanks to Gary Simmons for sending me this.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

is HDR artistic impression or another editing tool to create a proper exposed image?

mcleans auto wreckers, kevin pepper, rick sammon seminar, photographers lounge, tom baker, shutter tripping

There has been a lot of chatter lately about HDR... is it art, does it diminish the photographic talent of the photographer... is it too fake looking, why do it... and ON, and ON, and ON.....

For me, its just another way to express your artistic expression... if you do not agree, well, you are entitled to your opinion and you are more than welcome to comment below.

After talking to a lot of people, I believe what they do not like is the surreal looking grunge photos that almost mimic an Andy Warhol painting, but much MUCH more expressive...

Look at the photo above for instance... its a 5 image HDR edited in photomatix and CS5. It does not look too surreal, its not grungy. In fact it gives the image a complete tonal range and allowed me to get proper exposure throughout when I did not have a flash or reflector.

This was 5 images at f16 and 100ISO at 1second, 1/2 second, 1/4second, 1/8 second, 1/16th of a second exposures.

I created the HDR in photomatix, saved as a TIFF and then opened that image up in the RAW editor of CS5

Some non evasive dodging and burning, some minor color correction and a few further exposure tweaks and I had the base image.

I then took this image and overlayed the middle image of the original 5 and did some layering to bring back a bit of the original image.

When done I ran a 1.5 pixel high pass filter over th eimage to bring out some of the details on the truck and voila... a pretty decent looking image at 11:30am when the sun was high in the sky and washing out the scenes at the auto wreckers.

But hey don't jsut listen to me, join Rick Sammon and Tom Baker as they discuss HDR and lighting techniques on September 22, 23 in Kitchener, Ontario. See the details of the event here...

If you have an opinion on HDR I would love it if you shared in the comments below.

Canon to announce Nikon D600 competitor at Photokina

I have been doing some research online to see if I could find out any other announcements that we can expect this month. There are not many convincing rumors about the upcoming Canon DSLR  announcement(s) for Photokina. Apparently there is a good chance that there will be  one new DSLR camera to compete with the upcoming full frame Nikon D600. Here are the rumored specs of that Canon camera:
·         22MP (same sensor as 5D MkII
·         There are indications of a new 20MP sensor
·         4 to 5 fps
·         A Touchscreen
·         Same AF system as 7D
·         Lower build quality than the 5D Mark III as the D600 is to the D800
I also see that the Canon 5DII is expected to be discontinued at the end of September. Plus it seems that the EOS-3D X and EOS-7D Mark II cameras will not be announced at Photokina as previously thought… guess we will have to wait to see what comes out of Photokina next week.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Nikon D600 announcement

I recently found another article that says that NIkon will announce the launch of the D600 at photokina in Germany... just as they did with the D7000

Read the article below from 

Country Fair Photography tips

f/20  -  5 seconds  -  200 ISO  -  11-22mm wide angle lens shot at 11mm
Copyright Kevin A. Pepper

It’s really too bad that most photographers will go home once they see the sun set. But there are some of us that like to venture out like creatures of the night with camera and tripod in hand ready to capture the world after dark. One type of photography that captures the imagination the most is one tht presents itself once a year… the country fair.

Last night was one of those nights where a few of us went down to the Fall Fair to capture the midway and rides at night…

Night Photography Gear Checklist

Clothing that will keep you warm.
Sturdy tripod. A sturdy one is a must especially when it is very windy out there.
Wide-angle and telephoto lenses.
Friends. It ‘s always better to go with friends…
Hand held remote to eliminate camera shake
An open mind… letting the light trails tell a story is half the fun.

Necessary Settings In Your Camera

Set your camera in Manual Mode (M). Don’t get scared because you left the “Default camera setting zone”! Being in Manual Mode, we are able to control everything from Aperture, ISO level to Shutter Speed. Which by the way, are the three main factors we will be focusing on.
Aperture: Set your f-stop to about f16 to f22. This will ensure everything in your plane are in focused.
ISO: 100. The lower the better, this will ensure a noise-free picture especially during long exposures. However, bumping ISO up to 400 will make the colors pop more.
Shutter Speed: Depending on the shot… Most of my shots last night were between 6-10 seconds when it was dark to up 1 second when it was lighter.

Take The Picture, Wait, and Evaluate

So when you have all those settings properly programmed, it’s time to take that picture. Since we are using a small aperture (f16 to f22), focus anywhere from one third up from the bottom to the middle of your screen, using your remote press the shutter half-way to focus, and press it again. Then stand back and let the light trails tell a story.
If you have people walking by your shot, don’t worry about it too much. As long as they are out of your shot by the end of your exposure, they should be completely erased out of the picture.

Common Obstacles You Will Encounter

Under-exposure: Certain situations, 30 seconds is probably not enough to get the right exposure level on your picture. Try using a smaller aperture (F16-11) and maybe bump your ISO to 200 – 400. Some cameras have built in noise reduction to combat noise levels at long exposures, so make sure you turned that on.
Flaring: The longer your exposure, the more prone you are to flaring (as shown on the street lamps on the above image). So always keep that in mind. Keep your lens hood on at all times.
Wind: Some winds will definitely give your camera a good shake, even with your sturdy tripod. Try to block the wind  by moving to the direction where the wind is coming from. Use your buddy to block some of the wind, too! You did bring a buddy, right?
Weather: It might be hot during the daytime and can definitely fool anyone, especially living in Southern Ontario in the fall.