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Refresh Your Creative Juices — 10 Inspirations to Pull You Out of That Rut

The dreaded rut. That feeling of being exhausted of your precious creative juice. How to break out? For me, a change my scenery — specifically an amazing location for your photo or video shoot– has always been the closest thing to a magic bullet that I’ve ever experienced. Sometimes this means shooting in a different studio, at an abandoned building, a trip to the mountains or, gasp, even that blown-out building on other side of the tracks you’ve heard so much about. Even then however, it’s quite possible that even more drastic measures need to be taken.

I call it “Destination Inspiration.” Sometimes getting out of your everyday physical location is the shot in the arm that you need. This has saved me numerous times. If these following locations below don’t get your creative mind revving, then I can’t help you. Several of these spots I’ve been to before and drool over, others are on my must hit-list. Check them out, pack a bag, and get inspired. And before you wince about the cost of going to these places…skip your 4 dollar coffees at the coffee shop for 3 months and drink drip, cancel your cable TV subscription and look for a deal on airfare. The cost of taking a trip for your next shoot to revive your creative juices is much cheaper than the alternative – NO creative mojo. So here we go….

1) New Zealand. In all my world travel, few places compare in beauty to wait awaits the New Zealand visitor. Those of you who pay attention to what it is that we do know that I have a THING for NZ. In fact, I have stated it is my favorite place to shoot (although my recent trip to Iceland, see below, has me questioning that). From waterfalls and snow fields, to jungle and wild river beds – N-Zed is hard to beat. The people are some of the most adventurous and welcoming on the planet and shoots are consequently easy to produce. Its a haul – but worth the day in a plane.

2) Iceland. I recently returned from a shoot in Iceland and I can now say with authority that the country is straight up magical. I called it the “land of endless light” for the 18 hours of it we got every day. I’m talking the kind of light we photographers dream about at night. We spent the majority of our time tooling around the southern shore + hitting some super photogenic locations (thanks to hosts/guides Marteinn Ibsen and Arnaldur Halldórsson and local production company Profilm.). You’ll likely fly into Reykjavik, and if you rent a car hitting up Route 1 is a good bet to access some of the wilder beauty found here — it’s also called the Ringroad as it encircles the island. Wherever you go, be on the lookout for elves. The majority of natives believe they are real. I’d say snapping a shot would earn you some notoriety.

3) Antelope Canyon. Rather find somewhere in the States? Fly into Las Vegas or Phoenix (both are about the same driving distance) and head out to Antelope Canyon, which is on Navajo lands near Paige, Arizona. The canyon is actually two slot canyons (separated into “the crack” and “the corkscrew”, or “upper” and “lower” canyons), and both are amazing to walk through. If you’re looking for photos, get ready for a challenge. In addition to waiting your turn (Antelope Canyon is one of the most extensively photographed canyons in the US), taking the actual pics is tough, since the wide exposure range creates some problems as light is reflected off the canyon walls. Roll into town in May or April, when the temp is still bearable, and you still get a lot of daylight.

4) Hang Son Doong in Vietnam. Hang Son Doong sits near the Laos/Vietnam border. Its collection of about 150 caves boasts the biggest in the world, twice as big as Deer Cave in Malaysia. Check out the pic below by Dan Cunningham, and click the link to see more of his stuff. If the cave itself isn’t enough for you, there’s also a mini-jungle and a fast flowing river running through it. Plenty of natural wonder to spark some creativity. More than enough to fill some memory cards. Tours have just recently opened up, so check out some info here. And good news, if you want to stay awhile, Vietnam is crazy cheap-a 4 bedroom rental house can go for as low as $400 a month, and usually the most expensive beers available are a buck, with home-brews as low as ten cents a glass.If you aren’t careful, you’ll come for the cave, and stay for…ever.

Photo courtesy of Dan Cunningham


5) Belize. If you’re looking for somewhere a bit more tropical, check out Belize. I was there recently, and it was beyond incredible. For my friends in the states, Belize is a lot closer than you think. About 5 hours or less from everywhere in the US (besides HI+AK), so it’s a relatively short jump to crystal blue waters and white-sand beaches. Plane tickets aren’t too hard on the wallet, and the lodgings are pretty reasonable as well. Check out last month’s post here for a comprehensive guide on the what, where, when, and how.
chasejarvis_ambergirs_belize

6) Red Beach in Panjin, China. Feel like heading East? Take a train from Beijing (about 3 ½ hours for the fast trains, around 5-6 for the slower trains) to Red Beach. Weeds that are green during the summer turn a flaming red in autumn, giving you a view that you can’t find anywhere else. Go in September when the weather is chill and the Red Beach is the brightest. When you’re done checking out the beach, get your national geographic on and grab some shots of the 236 varieties of birds found there. Check out my play-by-play trip on the South China Sea from Shanghai to Hong Kong here.

Photo courtesy of Wikicommons

7) Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki, Japan. If you’re looking for some color, there are few places better than Hitachi Seaside Park. This place is covered in seasonal flower gardens, and if you time your trip right, it’s like the flower version of the 4th of July. You’ve got narcissus and tulips in spring , nemophila and roses in early summer, zinnias in summer and kochias and cosmos in autumn. If you’re not up on your flower names, just trust me that this all boils down to some of the most vibrant, spectacular colors you’ve ever seen, no matter when you visit. If you get tired of the flowers, Seaside Park’s got a BMX course, a cycling road, an amusement park and areas set aside to grill.

Photo courtesy of Katorisi

Arashiyama bamboo forest outside Kyoto, Japan. While you’re already in the area (well, the country at least) don’t skip this opportunity. Take the JR Sagano Line from Kyoto station (15 minutes, 230 yen), then take a 5-10 minute walk to central Arashiyama, then cruise through the towering forest. Get peaceful, get clear-headed, get centered. A walk through here is gonna chill you out, guaranteed. Rent a bike to get the full experience, and check out the cherry blossoms and small temples along the way from the station.

Photo courtesy of Casey Yee

9) Mount Roraima, Venezuela (but also Brazil + Guyana). Ready for some exercise? Make sure you’re serious. Next up is Mount Roraima, the highest of the Pakaraima chain of tepui plateau in South America. This is a backpackers dream. Most people make their attempt from the Venezuelan side, and hire local Pemon Indian guides from the nearby village of Paraitepui, which is reached by dirt road from the main Gran Sabana road between kilometer 88 and Santa Elena de Uairen. The path to reach the plateau is widely traveled and well marked, but once you get to the top of the mountain, it’s easy to get lost, due to a ton of trails and pretty consistent cloud cover. Paraitepui can be reached easily if you have a ride with four-wheel-drive, or you can hoof it in about a day. Do not try this with your Honda Civic. Once you hit Paraitepui, most hikers take two days to reach the base of the mountain, and then another day to follow “La Rampa,” the natural staircase path to the top. Spend a night or two at the top and check out a view of the stars like you’ve never seen, but make sure to plan for an another 2 days to get back.

Photo courtesy Paulo Fassina


10) Mendenhall Galcier, Alaska. I’ve saved one of the best (and most dangerous) for last. Fly into Juneau, Alaska and take a hike on the Mendenhall Glacier. Get up early to beat the crowd (try arriving at about 9am latest if you want some solitude), and hike up the western side (about three hours) to get to a point that overlooks the entire glacier. This hike is no joke, and you need to game-plan it hard. Even experienced backpackers are respectful of this glacier, especially if you are trying to see the ice caves beneath. These are unbelievably beautiful, but dangerous as hell since the ice is always shifting. Get yourself a guide, wear some layers, and get ready for a hardcore day of hiking and amazing views. Get a hold of “Above and Beyond Tours” for more info.

Photo courtesy of wikicommons ringbang

Photogs Aren’t Good With Money– 9 Tips for Sticking to Your Photo + Video Production Budget

ChaseJarvis_productionWe artists often suck at managing productions and budgets. We all have to get thru that stuff in the early days, but if you are numbers/manager challenged, my first piece of advice is bringing a producer into your shoots as soon as you can make it happen. That allows you to focus on your craft. Having said that, my staff producer Megan has had a ripping series of posts going on, including this one aimed at those of you who are either managing these budgets yourself or moving into hiring your own producer. Megan is my awesome-sauce staff producer and almost entirely responsible for all estimating for incoming project requests, all line producing, making sure we stay on budget, helping me realize the creative vision and then reconciling (or capturing actual costs) once the project is complete. Safe to say she rocks it. While there are a thousand resources available online to help you write an estimate; you’ll want to listen to Meg – here she offers up some tips for staying on that all important budget during your production. And there are 3-5 more links at the bottom to help you even more w your productions. Best of luck – take it away Megan.

Thanks Chase. There are 3 main components to any photo estimate: creative fees, production fees + expenses, licensing + usage rights. The creative + usage fees will only be impacted by a change in scope of work or deliverables, so it’s really about keeping an eye on the production fees + expenses when you’re thinking about budget and planning.

The fact of the matter is that the more accurate your estimate is, the easier it will be to stay on track once the production is underway. As with most things in life, practice makes perfect, so stick with it. Here are my top 9 tips for staying on top.

1. Get clear:
Make sure you have a strong understanding of the project parameters before you start the job. Ask for a creative brief, shot list or any info that may help paint a clearer picture. The more you know in advance, the better equipped you’ll be to produce the job on time + on budget. Get it in writing – budgets and all the info you need (see later tip ;) – so you have something to point to while doing all the work).

2. Research:
This step is especially useful if you’re traveling but applies to everything. When you’re drafting the initial estimate, check out the going rate for flights, hotels in the neighborhood, per diem + mileage rates for the state you’re shooting in, car rentals, baggage fees, etc.

Booking talent? Call an agency or two and ask about day rates and availability.

Renting equipment? Call your local shop to make sure you know how much to budget for each piece – and make sure it’s available!

3. Plan ahead:
Regarding travel, keep in mind that flight costs generally rise as you get closer to your travel date. Try to book 2 weeks in advance to avoid getting gouged, or make sure your estimate is padded enough to account for higher rates.

Reach out to contractors early on to check on rates + availability. Most folks are willing to work within your budget constraints if they’re not super busy and if you’re transparent about the job.

4. Over-communicate:
Set super clear expectations with both your clients + crew. How long will the shoot day be (realistically)? Is there budget for overtime? If not, make sure everyone knows what the hard stop is. Provide crew with as many shoot day details as possible. Share scope of work, schedule, etc. so there are no surprises + everyone knows what’s expected of them on set.

One of the biggest mistakes I see from junior producers is that they fear talking about things that “might” happen or the uncomfortable cost issues that arise from evolving plans. This is not a good quality. Turn this kryptonite into a strength – be open and willing to chat about budget and all things like it — and you will have separated yourself from 90% of the cost and client management challenges. Be proactive.

5. Get it in writing:
See my note above. Consider drafting deal memos for contractors to outline the length of shoot day, agreen-upon rate + hourly O/T costs, should the shoot go long.

Client wants to add a shot? Have them sign a change order, outlining how the extra shot will impact the bottom line; don’t forget to include crew + location O/T.

Even the most basic stuff should be captured in an email so everyone is on the same page – and if there are any discrepancies you can always refer back to what you’d agreed to. In the biz they call this the paper trail.

6. Know your pinch points:
For those of us that have been doing this a while, we’re able to readily identify the places we tend to get in trouble. The most common areas are food + travel. You might have to get creative in order to stay on budget in these categories, but keep an eye out for places you might be able to make up any overages.

7. Keep a running tally:
Plug receipt totals into an “Actuals” column as you go, so that you always know where you stand. It will help you easily identify if and where you’re over budget, and where you have a little wiggle room.

Don’t let yourself get surprised. Always know where you stand relative to what you’re spending.

8. Allow for contingencies:
Be sure to include the fine print as part of your estimate (as a Terms + Conditions addendum), or as part of a larger contract. Identify who’s responsible for what, outline protocol for any major changes + how any disputes will be handled. For instance, if your shoot is outdoors, include a note about how weather delays will be handled.

Agencies will often issue a PO for the exact dollar amount of your estimate. You’ll want to know how to go about submitting an estimate for unforeseen overages (i.e. you arranged + paid for your client’s car to the airport, or you ended up shipping all product back to your client’s office).

There is an art to this. Practice makes perfect.

9. Be smart:
Your clients are hiring you for your creative vision. You may be able to offer some ideas your client hadn’t considered or find solutions to get the intended results at a lower cost. Pipe up. Don’t be afraid to propose a more cost-effective solution, as long as your client’s needs are met.

Want some more Production advice? Try these on for size:

10 Essentials to Go the Extra Mile [For Clients + Crew]
Deliver With Style – 6 Tips for Delivering Files to Clients
How to Prepare for Your Commercial Photo or Video Shoot

That’s all I got for now folks. Try keeping these things in mind on your next shoot, and let us know if they helped. Also, feel free to chime in with other tips or tricks that you’ve found especially useful – I’ll keep an eye on the comments and the social feeds with some answers. Until next time!

chase jarvis TECH: Complete Guide to Aerial Photography & Video

Although I’ve mixed a whole lotta R/C helicopters into shoots, there are many more times in my profession when climbing into a real A-star is essential to get the shot. A recent assignment in the Caribbean presented another on of those lovely occasions…and while I’ve touched on shooting film + photos from a helicopter in some past posts, I’ve never gone deep on the how-to of shooting from a heli.
chasejarvis_aerial_photography_howto
And before you dismiss this and say “This is so outrageous, when will I ever get to shoot from a helicopter” …I’ll just say that every photographer who has ever shot from a chopper has said those same words, only to find themselves ripping heavy G turns and shooting from blue skies at some point in their career. So stick with me. And one other note – yes flying around can be expensive, but it can also be done relatively affordably depending on how long you fly, what chopper, and of course…who’s paying ;)

Here’s a few teasers of some of the stuff I cover in this video:

// Helicopter safety. It is critical that you understand how to navigate your way safely in and around this machine. There are two hard and fast rules that all helicopter people live by when it comes to helicopters: 1) Never walk around the tail-end of the helicopter while its on the ground and 2) the pilot is always in charge. Always.

// Personal safety. Strap in! There are a couple of ways to get this done and the video runs thru several of them… If you walk away with one piece of advice, it’s if you’re hanging out of the helicopter – always be connected to it by at least two (2) connection points.

// Gear + settings. In the vid I lay out exactly what gear I take up with me (it includes the D4 and D800), but for the sake of driving some points home I’ll repeat… here two of my gear guides:

1) Remove the lens hoods – this will prevent excessive movement due to rotor downdraft as well as your forward motion, and 2) keep the gear well attached to yo and always pass or move gear with both hands when the door is off. 3)I always shoot manually, mid-ISO 400 range, and a minimum of 1000 shutter speed (I really like 1600 or greater). 4)Shoot with large volume cards to avoid having to change cards while hanging out of the bird.
….and many more in the video

Good luck – hope this helps those of you who are just getting into it, have a fantasy of flying that you’ll someday realize, or hell maybe even a seasoned pro will pick up a tip here and there. And as always if you’ve got other tips to share – please do.

Music by the one and only Big Chocolate.

NEW Update from GoPro. Shoot, edit, and go social with photos + videos

Apparently as a followup to my well-timed and very handy video I put out this week (check it), my favorite camera manufacturer today announced the launch of a new app. It’s getting really slick my friendz. While you could control the Hero3 cameras with earlier version of the app (view – start -stop – etc) the newest version of the app allows you the same ability to control the camera, but you can now remotely view the images and videos on the camera and–here’s the kicker — edit + share them from the app for iphone, android, and windows phones.

ChaseJarvis_GoPro
From today’s TechCrunch article: “The app is simple enough. It connects to GoPro cams through a WiFi signal, giving owners a large set of available tools. The cameras can be viewed and controlled from a smartphone or tablet, for one –this includes adjusting the dozens of available settings on each little guy. Owners can also view, manage and download content from the camera to their phone. From there, it can be shared like any other media. Upload the action to Geocities or FriendFeed like you would any other picture.”

This update illustrates why I opened this post with “my favorite camera manufacturer”. It’s not because they are overwhelmingly the best. Sure I love them. Not sure I could make my living with just a GoPro, but truth be told it’s really what they stand for and where they’re going that make me love them the most. Like I told the New York Times a while back — it’s 5 years past due when Nikon and Canon should have had this sort of reliable technology built in small packages to allow creative photographers to shoot, edit, and share their work in new and novel ways.

Dear Canon and Nikon,
I know I’ve been telling you this stuff for 5+ years. I’m sure other pros and consultants and bean-counters have too. So why is this so hard?

ASIDE: given that you are reading this post, you’ll probably want to know how I pack my GoPro’s to travel everywhere I go. Here’s a quick post and a short vid.

AND here’s their cutsy little promo vid illustrating the emotional bits…

Creative Boot Camp for Your Summer Brain [a public service announcement]

creativeLIVE chase jarvis summer sale

This is a public service announcement that I think is valuable… I’m banking you know I’m co-founder over at creativeLIVE – where we’ve delivered more than 15 million viewer hours of creative education worldwide. (If you’re new, here’s stories about it in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, TechCrunch, AllThingsD, etc and stay tuned for my MSNBC segment coming in 2 weeks…)

This is a short-notice opportunity to take advantage of these long summer days –> Just got off the horn a short bit ago with the biz ops team over at cL and talked them into making creativeLIVE’s entire catalog of workshops discounted now through July 31 — some up to 50% off. That’s photo & video classes from your favs (joeyl, zack, vince, jasmine, sue, sal, tamara, etc etc), business classes for creatives, design, software training on all those damn creative apps the you love but drive you crazy, and lots of other goodness.

Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make.

Here’s a link to some of my fav courses of the sale (and click the big blue button over there to shop the entire catalog – all of which is discounted for the next 48 hours).

And the same deal goes for your friends. If you believe in what we’ve created at creativeLIVE — trying to make the world a more creative place — I would be humbly grateful if you shared the good word. Namaste (or whatever is better to say at the end of a post like this and happy summer camping for your creative brain).

chasejarvis TECH: How to Pack, Prep & Travel with GoPro Cameras (<—bonus, also works for almost camera system)

I’ve been shooting religiously with GoPro cameras since they came out way back in the day. Love those little monsters. At a minimum, I travel with three or more Hero3′s for any shoot – I’ve just found they just come in super-duper handy for all sortsa great stuff. BUT…. taking into account mounts, memory cards, chargers, spare batteries and all miscellany associated with the GoPro and you’ve got yourself quite a load of gear to keep track of.

That’s why I’ve come up with a pretty tight little system for packing & traveling with my GoPros. The above video really gives the full insight, but all cooked down into a tasty little reduction, it smells something like this:

1. Find ONE bag/pack that can carry everything (for Belize I brought a Dakine Mission)

2. Separate gear & accessories into smaller pouches (ThinkTank little pouches described in the vid work nicely here)

3. Clearly label said bags (make the labels moron proof – and really visible in low-light / bleary eyes / tired person can read them without question)

4. Take EVERYTHING in this bag with you every time, regardless of shoot location – you never know when the need/opportunity for a funky mount may arise. (I know this might not sound like good advice, but trust me, it is. Take it from me, this is the only way you’ll ever NOT forget something random.)

5. Get creative. There are tons of ways you can mount a GoPro (see the egg-timer and scuba mask mounts in the vid), as well as clever ways to extend battery life. Use them all.

This vid above comes at you pretty fast, so feel free to ask questions and I’ll jump into the comments and answer. Got GoPro tips / thoughts / hacks of your own? Do share ‘em.

chasejarvisRAW: Sea to Sky Photo Shoot in Belize [Plus How to Pull This Off Like a Pro]

Quick share here….. a short while back I took my very first trip to Belize for what turned into a really, really (2 reallys – or now that’s three) high value, pain-free shoot. I’ve been so very lucky to have shot in some of the most spectacular places in the world — and just added Belize to that list.

We banged out a fun BTS vid to share some of the splendor, but also to give you a peek into some additional forthcoming BTS/helpful vids we’ll spin out that will add value to your future visits here, including aerial, underwater, and gear-packing / travel hacks. And if you’re thinking “Belize is so damn far away”…it’s not really. For USA’ers it’s closer than you think – only 5 hours SEA to Belize city (same as NYC), so every other desitnation in the USA, save AK + HI are even closer, and it transports you to a whole new world of blue green water, endless tiny white sand islands, and some of the most famous dive destinations on the planet. Our plane tix were pretty reasonable and lodging even moreso.

Enjoy the vid. If you missed earlier BTS snapshots from the trip and want to circle back there’s some here. And for those who are curious about how best to pull off the logistics of a trip/job like this, here’s a 4-part series on how to travel for photo + video shoots like a boss….

Part 1 – 10 Mission Critical Tips for Booking Photo and Video Travel – getting there
Part 2 – 12 Mission Critical Tips for Pre-Production – tips BEFORE traveling
Part 3 – 12 Tips for Travel Packing – tips on what to take
Part 4 – 8 Mission Critical Tips for Being on the Road

More soon – be creative until then. Happy to answer questions if you got ‘em.

What I’ve Learned in The Trenches– MY 5 Step Guide to Street + Snapshot Photography

A couple years ago, you may recall, during a month-long artist-in-residency at the Ace Hotel in NYC I took the opportunity to celebrate the snapshot — quintessential street photography — and I called the exhibit Dasein: Invitation to Hang. ['Dasein' is a German word used by philosophers to refer to raw human experience or the fundamental mode of "being there." I found that when applied to photography, the snapshot was the ultimate photographic expression of us simply, authentically being in the world / caught on film. ] The exhibit featured an ever-changing wall of snapshots, both my own and selections chosen from nearly 15,000 submissions across the globe.

At the core of the work what I found was my own sense of street photography – regardless of whether it was on the street, on a train, or backstage with the band. Point being that street photograhy – the art of the snapshot if you will – is about the moment. It’s about choosing to take the photograph. It’s about mood, and –quite often–it is about talking to strangers.

I was reflecting on that project this morning and wanted to share a bullet point list of things I learned that could be easily applied to anyone’s work.

chase jarvis dasein1. The Law vs Respect. When it comes to street photography, there is the law, and then there is etiquette. The laws permit us to take pictures of anyone in a public space [for which thousands of paparazzi thank the gods every day], even taking pictures of private property from a public space is fair game. But let’s face it. Do you really want to be ‘that guy’? Etiquette is an entirely different matter. And note that while it’s ok to take the photo – USING or displaying the photo later is an entirely different manner protected by laws, permissions, likeness, etc. But that’s another post.

2. Discrete but not creepy. While some photographers live by the “If you see a good picture, you take it” rule. I do not because I’ve decided that my role in life is to evoke the messages and emotions and thoughts that I want to evoke – not to simply document. This isn’t for everyone, but here’s how it translates into my work… I am discrete but not creepy. I often connect with my subjects. Your style will vary. Aside from the rare times I shoot candidly, my general mode of being is two fold. I either (a) quietly and quickly snap the photo; or (b) I say “hey, can I take your picture?!” with the camera pressed to my face OR simply a wave to get someone’s attention with the camera snugged up to my face. I click the shutter when they look up.

3. It’s all about the aftermath. Nine times outta ten when using the above techniques, my snapshot subjects either don’t know I’ve shot a photo or don’t care. But here’s the critical point IMHO – if they do care, or even if they lock on to you, take proactive action. Introduce yourself and say thank you. It’s almost entirely about the interaction AFTER you shoot the photo. And this is where non experienced photographers blow it. Sure it takes vision to get the shot – no questions there. But in keeping the shot and keeping your integrity as an artist operating in a grey space…. It’s 10% being before 80% after…. People will either warm up or blow you off and it’s your job to read them. How do you get good at reading this? Experience. You will quickly be able to read if someone is aloof and doesn’t care that you’ve snapped their photo, or if you’ve ticked somebody off. Moreover, connecting with subjects after the fact is often an amazingly insightful part of the process. I’ve heard amazing stories, been inspired, been awakened, and felt more human after talking with unknown photo subjects on hundreds of occasions.

4. When things go south. Rarely, after engaging with someone in number 3 above, the unknowing subject will react negatively. In that case, cut your losses. I always prefer to be a good human than to be unpleasant. On just a handful of occasions in my entire career (I can think of 2 in this sitting…) has anyone asked me to delete a snapshot of them. In this case – despite it being my right to have ‘taken’ the photo (NOTE – ok to ‘take’ the photo in a public space but not ok to later USE or display the photo by law without proper permissions…), I have–during both those rare occasions–deleted it with a smile and a shrug as I showed it to them.

chase jarvis gasmask bong nyc dasein

5. Some recommended don’ts…
–I don’t photograph the homeless or downtrodden without their permission or even better only after a long conversation where it becomes clear that a photograph is on the up-and-up.
–I don’t photograph young kids in the street that I don’t know without first connecting (eyes, nod, hand wave, etc) with their parent or guardian. Just don’t do it. Otherwise, you’re creepy.
–Don’t try to use snapshots commercially. Ever. You will get caught and you will be breaking laws.
–Don’t take your gigantic camera on the streets. It will wreck your chances at getting good imagery. If a Dslr is all you have, take a small, short lens and that’s it. Even better, consider being discrete with a point and shoot – or my favorite – the new mirrorless camera platforms. There are lots of reviews and stories about those here on my blog. Feel free to search for them.

Above all, IMHO use common sense and common courtesy as your guide. Sure – get sneeky, get gangster, get ‘the shot’, but you can do it without being a nut job. Plenty of other photographers have done amazing projects in the streets that are in your face, against people’s will and without warrant. My suggestion? Leave that to somebody else and focus on the pictures that you want to make through respect and hard work. You’ll thank me later.

[Here are some of my favorites from my NYC project. Got a street photography tale to share? Sound off below. Success stories and disasters both welcomed. Will try to get to any questions if you've got em.]

[Here are some of my favorites from my NYC project. Got a street photography tale to share? Sound off below. Success stories and disasters both welcomed. Will try to get to any questions if you've got em.]

Win a VIP Trip To Hang with Me + Some of The World’s Best Minds In San Francisco — “Secrets of Silicon Valley” with creativeLIVE

chasejarvis_secretsofsiliconvalley UPDATE: 5 bonus winners!!  Five folks have won a free download of Secrets from Silicon Valley featuring Reid Hoffman, Tim Ferriss, Guy Kawasaki –all who have profoundly influenced my career– plus many other great business minds. Congrats to:

Nelson Mouellic
Bob Fisher
Brian Bulemore
Rodrigo Figueras
Tony DiMaggio

Winners: email production@chasejarvis.com to claim your prize.

AND… Tune in  LIVE RIGHT NOW. Guy Kawasaki is coming up next.

UPDATE: Huge thanks to the 500 or so of you who took the time to submit your amazing stories in entry — and for a contest that just ran for a few hours. The winner is Jose Rosado. I’ll be flying Jose a few thousand miles, but it’ll be worth it. And he’s promised to pay it forward. ALSO: watch this space/blog post and my twitter facebook G+ as over the next 2 days we will be awarding Runner Up Prizes — the $99 dollar video download (or streaming) of the entire event — to several of you who entered. HUGE THANK YOU TO EVERYONE!!

This is another one of those gigs where I pinch myself – getting to work alongside some of the best creative entrepreneurs in the world – AND… Here’s a kicker: I want you and a friend to join me for FREE.

For one lucky winner + friend, I’ll pick up airfare, a room for 2 nights and 2 VIP tickets to attend the entire 2-day event below… plus time for us to hang out and drink beer together when I’m not MC’ing the event… The event starts TOMORROW!  PLUS WE’RE LIVE STREAMING THE ENTIRE EVENT. Read on for details + how to enter…

Transform your business with Secrets from Silicon Valley.
This event is more than a year in the works, thousands of hours of work from some very talented people, and more than a few sleepless nights on my own part. We are opening our San Francisco based creativeLIVE studio TOMORROW and the very first broadcast is one you don’t want to miss. I’ll be hosting and it’s going to deliver a punch of insider, unprecedented information from some of the world’s smartest people.

Just as Hollywood implies celebrity, Silicon Valley is synonymous with creative innovation. Attracting the greatest business minds in the world, SV is the world’s startup epicenter. This broadcast offers you direct access to the pioneering minds behind this powerful community. Whether your business is just you or employs fifty people, you’ll learn how to survive, grow, and thrive directly from entrepreneurs who have done it. Do you want to learn from LinkedIn’s founder Reid Hoffman and ask about his secrets to success? Tim Ferriss? Guy Kawasaki? Chris Guillebeau? You’ll hear from them and many more. I know I’ve learned a thing or two from these people I call friends, but knowing what I know about how valuable their secrets have been, I would have given a limb to be able to ask them questions years ago.

If you win the contest below, you can attend in person, but even if you don’t win, you can still get the entire knowledge base by >>> RSVP’ing right here under ‘sign up’ <<<< and then tuning in live.  All this access… No travel. Ability to ask questions. Totally free. If you miss the live broadcast or want to watch it again, you will be able to purchase the full event, just like creativeLIVE always works.

Here’s how you can enter to win t to join us in San Francisco. It’s easy.

First, you must RSVP/sign up at this event link here.

Second, just answer the question: Why do you want to join me at the event? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll pick a winner based on how compelling your answer is!

If you think of something better to say or something to add to your original comment, feel free to enter again or add whatever you want to say in another comment. We’ll trace your answer back to you.

Lastly. This contest is worldwide. If you need to miss thursday, we can fly you in for friday, etc. and please note****THIS CONTEST ENDS AT 6PM pacific time TODAY. Winner will be announced this evening VIA MY TWITTER, FACEBOOK AND G+ ACCOUNT. Due to tight timeline, we must hear back from you within 60 minutes so we can hop on the phone and work out logistics for your travels.  So make sure you are watching!

Official Rules HERE.
—–

Who: You, Me, and 15 of the world’s most creative entrepreneurs
What: a LIVE, interactive broadcast of Secrets of Silicon Valley from creativeLIVE
When: This Thursday and Friday, June 20-21 (Detailed schedule below)
Where: tune in to www.creativeLIVE.com/live

Here is the list of experts scheduled to give Master Classes, and the topics they will teach. Hope to see you there -physically or virtually.

Reid Hoffman, Founder LinkedIn & Ben Casnocha, entrepreneur (The Start-up of You)
Tim Ferriss, New York Times bestselling author (Solving your Business Problems)
David Goldberg, CEO Survey Monkey (The Art of Asking a Question)
Chris Guillebeau, New York Times bestselling author (The $100 Startup)
Pamela Slim, Business coach and author of Escape From Cubicle Nation
Megan Smith, VP of Google[x] (Networks Effects: 21st Century Collaboration and Opportunities)
Guy Kawasaki, New York Times bestselling author (The Art of Enchantment)
Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin (How to Sell Your Company without Selling Your Soul)
Sarah Leary & Nirav Tolia, Co-founders of Nextdoor (Look Before you Leap: How to Evaluate a Business Idea)
Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow (Lessons from 15 Years in Tech)
Toni Schneider, CEO of WordPress (Managing a Distributed Workforce)
Gary Swart, CEO of oDesk (How to Get More Done)
Niniane Wang, CTO of Minted (Creating a Great Website on a Budget)
When you tune in, you’ll hopefully learn some valuable lessons and skills. I know I will!

Contest Details:

1) Official Rules HERE.
2) Prize: Airfare for 2, 1 room for 2 nights and 2 VIP tickets, combined value $2,000 US
3) Contest starts: June 19, 2013 11am PDT
4) Contest ends: June 19, 2013 6pm PDT
5) Notification: Winner will be announced the evening of June 19, 2013 PDT via Chase Jarvis Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and the winner MUST respond within 60 minutes because of the short timeline or we will have to choose the next winner.

6) How to enter for a chance to win:
_Go to link in the text above and RSVP to sign up for the broadcast
_Answer the question in the comments below: Why do you want to join me at the creativeLIVE event?
7) Our team will determine the winner based on  how compelling your reason for wanting to attend is.

Camera Geek Alert – Sony RX1 Hands-On Review

Small cameras with big sensors are clearly an important part of the future. From the shockingly affordable cinema cameras from Blackmagic Designs to my beloved Olympus E-M5, it’s clear to see that camera manufacturers are responding to a demand for compact camera systems. Sony is up there toward the front of the “big sensor/small camera” charge and seem to be pushing the technology forward, with last years Cybershot RX100, and now this years Cybershot RX1, which packs a full-frame 35mm sensor into a camera body that could almost fit in your pocket.  

All that goodness comes at a price though. When the camera was first announced, my studio geeked out a little since we often get advanced or first run versions. Such was the case with the RX-1. Being camera nerdy we dug into the thing as soon as it arrived via pals at BorrowLenses

My first comment? “Interesting form factor.”

Erik’s first comment? “I just can’t see myself dropping nearly $3,000 for a fixed-lens camera, no matter what kinda guts it has.”

Norton’s first comment? “Gotta give this a chance since its got 24 MegaPixels, ISO 100-25600, dedicated focus, iris and macro rings, and 5 fps burst mode”

Fair ’nuff. We were heading into an intense month of work and travel ahead, so Erik carted this thing around for a few weeks (Thanks E)… Initially it arrived just in time for our Chase Jarvis LIVE broadcast with Julien Smith and the badass band My Goodness.  During our setup/soundcheck day, between directing duties, we snagged a few of our first shots with the RX1.

James Franco (or Norton. I can't remember) standing in for lighting before the band arrived.

My Goodness

Erik’s Notes. The RX1 feels great in use.  It’s much smaller than I expected it to be, but the sizable lens, with it’s manual focus and aperture controls built-in, give it just the right amount of grip.  The layout of the rest of the controls are great too.  Just about every function I care about has a dedicated button, and I love the exposure compensation dial on the top.  My only problem with the build of the camera is the lack of a viewfinder, which can be purchased separately for a billion dollars.  Quick personal note to camera manufacturers… Stop skimping on built-in viewfinders.  I’d MUCH rather have even a POS viewfinder than the nicest pop-up flash you can make.  The Olympus EM-5 got it right by building the viewfinder into the body and including an add-on flash with the kit.  I use that viewfinder every time I shoot with the camera and I have never once used the flash.  Sorry, back to the RX1…

My thoughts: The fixed 35mm Zeiss Sonnar f/2 lens is pretty dope, though for the price of the camera it would have been nice to seen that lens be able to come off the body.  It’s a tasty beast, but the inability to swap lenses is going to be a big turn off for people. Concession: luckily Sony picked a sweet-spot of a focal length to stick us with.  So while the camera has no zoom, I’ve got legs – the best zoom in the business. So shooting both wide shots and closeups isn’t that big of a problem.

My Goodness

Joel from My Goodness

After the Chase Jarvis LIVE broadcast, we tidied up the studio and packed our camera bags for a commercial shoot in Belize.  Since Erik would be shooting video primarily with a main kit consisted of a couple of Canon 5D mkiii’s with a handful of lenses (ie a handful) any other cameras would pretty much only be used for casual snapshots while we weren’t working.  It would be a perfect setting to test the RX1. Erik’s confession: “I still brought my Olympus E-M5 kit.”  Seemed he just couldn’t fully commit to being stuck with one lens in such a beautiful place.  That plain ol’ 35mm lens just couldn’t keep him covered, and here’s a good example:

Blue Hole Belize

Flying over the Great Blue Hole, E had to time my shots just right to get the composition I wanted.  I was focused on hanging out of the helicopter and directing the pilot, so it was catch and catch can for Erik’s personal photos. His gripe: ”This shot would have been exactly what I wanted if I could have zoomed out just a little bit.

Back to Erik for some more details: When the days calmed down and the mood was more casual, the RX1 became a delight to shoot with. The camera is really small and unobtrusive, yet still totally sweet looking.  It’s a great conversation starter, and you feel like a Rockefeller when the inevitable “so how much does that cost?” question rolls around.

Let’s talk about the leaf shutter, which is built into the lens, thus saving space inside the camera body and aiding the RX1 in retaining its slender girlish figure.  It’s also slightly quieter than a butterfly hiccup, and I hate it.  I’m genuinely curious to know if anyone agrees with me that a quiet shutter is super unsatisfying.  I know this is entirely superficial, but I like my camera to make a little noise when I take the shot.  I wanna feel something mechanical move.  It should be a point of praise for the smooth functionality of the camera, and it must be great for those weirdos who want to discreetly take pictures of strangers, but I can’t get behind it.  I want motor-driving to sound like a motor driving.



My overall reaction (chase):
The image quality is all fine and good.  The above image was shot by Erik at ISO 2500 and still looks pretty clean.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a relatively spendy camera that doesn’t produce a nice image at high ISO’s, so image quality in new cameras isn’t nearly as much of a concern to me – especially since it’s not my “pro” camera.  I’m much more interested these days in the experience of using a camera.  Is the camera fun to shoot with?  The RX1 is pretty cool, but the lack of a built-in viewfinder (ala Erik’s point earlier) made me miss it. Also like E I found myself reaching for my Olympus E-M5 instead of the RX1 on several occasions.  I will say that I am interested to see what the future holds for this camera line and I hope Sony continues to push the compact camera envelope. We all win when that happens, regardless of camera choice.

Erik’s roundup. So is it worth the nearly $3,000 price tag?  For my money, no, but here’s my recommendation; everyone who’s reading this should go buy it.  Create a huge market for compact full-frame cameras and give Sony the motivation to develop an upgraded version of the RX1 with interchangeable lenses.  Now THAT’S something I’d buy.

ISO 1600 - f/2.0 - 1/100 sec

ISO 800 - f/2.8 - 13 second exposure

Photographs Have Been Lying To You All Along — The Sordid History of Image Manipulation

With Adobe Photoshop looking ahead to its 25th anniversary, a handful of clever advertising pranks, and the recent exhibit at the National Gallery of Art on the history of photo manipulation [deets below], I thought we’d wax nostalgic for a hot minute on how far photography has come — and hasn’t come — from those pre-school days of cutting, coloring and pasting.

For those of us who love to wrench around in Photoshop on a good photograph…give it that extra somethin sometin…This is not news. But the fact IS that nowadays we inherently question the authority and authenticity of every photograph. This speaks to the ease with which any photographer today — professional or otherwise — can enhance, alter and outright mislead for fun or nefarious purposes through the use of the most simple digital tools. Those of us more savvy consumers + even the critics living in this digital world occasionally team up to provide the push back on the topic and identifying where have been crossed [see last month's post on the "un-airbrush photoshop hack"]. It’s a healthy and ongoing debate and a reminder to consider “truth” or “fiction” before adding that filter…

But that debate always gets a little tired for me, and as it does, I like to remind haters and lovers alike that image manipulation and other crazy shiz like this has been around since long before Photoshop. The visual past is still sordid, indeed. For example:

Photo via of click.si.edu


This portrait of Lincoln (arguably the most iconic Abraham Lincoln image we have) isn’t even Abraham Lincoln. It’s just his head, placed on Southern politician John Calhoun’s body. Apparently he didn’t have any “heroic” looking pictures, so they just stuck his head on Calhoun’s body, who, ironically was an ardent supporter of things Lincoln was ardently opposed to…

And if that’s not a guffaw, a simple search reveals a huge pile of examples like this or much worse. In the early part of the 1900′s, Stalin would have his political enemies air-brushed out of official photographs they had taken with him. If there wasn’t any photographic proof, then it didn’t happen.

Photo via of neatorama.com

As hacked press can be powerful tool for media’s manipulation of the public, the June 27, 1994 covers of Newsweek AND Time had two different versions of the same mug shot of O. J. Simpson. The Time cover makes Simpson look the part of a murderer — his face darkened and slightly out of focus, roughened to make him look more unshaven. The color saturation was also removed, making O.J.’s skin look darker. Matt Mahurin, the illustrator at Time Magazine who manipulated the photo of O. J., said he wanted the image to look “more artful, more compelling.” Looking at the images side by side, it’s not hard to see why many claimed Mahurin was using photoshop to make O.J. appear evil and threatening. In a word, guilty.

Photo courtesy of tc.umn.edu

There are also images like the one below, released in the weeks following the attacks on September 11th. It ended up hitting the public hard, even though it was a fairly obvious fake (the weather was wrong in the photo, the observation deck of the WTC wasn’t open when the planes hit, the plane in the picture is the wrong type). Most people were too pissed to look too closely and this picture stirred up a lot of sentiment on the web. Still makes me feel really yucky which helps underscores the point of my article here….

Photo via of urbanlegends.about.com

There are hundreds of examples of big time photographs that have been hacked into. And I’m guessing you can show me a few more of your faves (hit me w a link or two below if you care).

But if all that makes you feel uneasy…just take a deep breath. You’ve been looking at manipulated imagery your entire life. To grab some perspective that’ll chill you out, check out the online remnants of a recent exhibit at Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art featuring some 200 works showing how today’s digitally altered photographs are just a long line of manipulation from the 1840′s to the present era. And, if you happen to be passing thru Houston before August 25th, you can check it out at The Museum of Fine Arts.

chasejarvisTECH: How To Build a Pro Cine-Boom on a Shoestring [literally]

In my last chasejarvisTECH piece you got a peek at the gear I packed away for the 19,000 foot climb up Kilimanjaro for the Summit on the Summit. There were more than a few comments on how much “stuff” went with me. It’s all relative I suppose, but when you get down to it that was a fairly bare-bone operation for a job that still yielded high-end results.

As you see in this next installment, we had to make do without some of the other gear that we would have loved to have had along the way but left out for obvious reasons. I’m talking about cranes, jibs, dollies and the like. So sometimes you have to get creative.

My man Chris did just that, by lashing some cordelette climbing rope to a tripod to create a makeshift cinema boom. As the footage at the end proves, you can’t tell the difference.

Here’s what went into this fine piece of jury-rigging:

_Manfrotto Support
_Canon 5D Mark III
_Cordelette [Find it at most outdoor gear stores or online -- often listed under "Accessory cords."]

If you’re swinging that camera out over an edge (like Chris does), make sure you’re on solid footing and keep a tight grip on that cordelette.

And that’s it. Super-cheap, super-effective boom solution done at altitude.

Music: Small Face – Heavy Cloud

Size Matters: How to Build a HUGE Panoramic Photo, From Capture to Final Image [272 Gigapixel !!]

Earlier in the week I shared my gear list for the hike up Kilimanjaro with Summit on the Summit. While on the mountain I snapped off a slew of panoramas and sent them to my buddy Mark, who does digital retouching with his company PARADOX VISUAL. I wanted him to build a BIIIIIG panorama that could be auctioned off for Summit on the Summit. And when I’m talking big, I’m talking 4 feet tall and 20 feet long. (see them in context of the gallery at the end of this post). Big, right? I’ve asked Mark to give us a little insight into the methods he used for creating that panorama, which you see in digital form above. I’d say he did a bang-up job. Take it away, Mark.

Thanks, Chase. First things first. I want to thank Chase and his crew that I worked with on building these panoramas — Kate, Megan, and Norton. It was a privilege working with you and a privilege to be a part of Summit on the Summit’s campaign for water conservation and awareness.

Now on to the technical business.

The advent of digital photography has not only created easy access to photography like never before, it also has opened up creative and technical possibilities in image making that were once unimaginable. Creating large panoramas with theoretically limitless resolution is just one of those new frontiers. Photographers are pushing the processing limits of computer hardware with interactive panoramas well past the gigapixel range. The largest I found is a 272 gigapixel panorama of Shanghai, China. Pretty huge.

I’ll be talking about something a little easier to attain for those of us working on Mac Pros and iMacs (and even Windows machines I guess) — panoramas composited from far fewer frames than that needed to get a 272 gigapixel panorama.

SOME BASIC TIPS TO SHOOT FOR PANORAMAS
To get the best results it is recommended to use a tripod. Ideally you would also shoot using a tripod head that allows the camera to rotate around the nodal point to avoid issues with parallax. Unless you plan on shooting a large amount of panoramas, these tripods may not be an investment you want to spring for now (unless you wanted to rent one). Luckily there is plenty of software out there to save our bacon, let us shoot handheld and still get great results.

Of course there are a few tips to help while shooting handheld:

_The wider the lens you shoot with, the harder it is for software to overcome distortion. It’s preferable to shoot with a 28mm over a 14mm or make multiple rows with a 50mm over that 28mm to cover the same area. And the bonus is you get even more resolution in the end.
_Shooting more frames with the camera in the vertical position reduces the apparent distortion.
_Most recommendations are to have at least 15% overlap between frames. I tend toward 33% to give software as much real estate to work with.
_Keep the camera level through all the exposures.
_Shoot in manual exposure mode to lock in the same exposure settings through all the frames and to have the same depth field through all the frames.
_Shoot in manual focus mode to keep the same focal distance through all the frames.

There are many sites on the Internet with plenty of additional tips and tricks. Have a look around and you’ll have no problem bumping into one. This article will focus on the stitching process involved in producing the gargantuan panoramas Chase Jarvis shot on Mt. Kilimanjaro with Summit on the Summit. We did five panoramas but I will focus on the one panorama that needed the most work.

THE MT. KILIMANJARO PANORAMAS
Chase shot several panoramas on a Nikon D4 and a 24-70mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens. We ended up building five to be auctioned to benefit Summit on the Summit. The frames were shot vertically and there were 5-8 frames per panorama. Up until now I have used Adobe’s Photomerge that is part of Photoshop to stitch panoramas together. Before I saw the panoramas, all I knew was that Chase wanted them printed large. Really large. They were to be 44 inches tall, which meant some of them would be nearly 14 feet wide. I thought this would be a good opportunity to purchase a piece of software I’d been admiring for awhile. PTGui is one standalone panorama stitching application that caught my eye. I had researched many of the stitching software applications available and I chose PTGui based on many good reviews, a personal recommendation from a photographer that had been using it for awhile and the fact that it has the capability of creating HDR panoramas for use in CGI image based lighting. Knowing how big these panoramas were to be printed, I wanted the best tools at my disposal. And why not take a little risk testing new software to make some of the biggest prints I’ve ever made for? What’s life without some risk taking, right?

Adobe’s Photomerge is pretty amazing in its own right and I’ve had it stitch some wobbly frames into some clean panoramas before. It’s main drawback, though, is that there is not much user control (other than the type of projection it stitches the frames with) if it runs into problems. If it can’t create a clean panorama, that’s the end of the road. There will be much repair work to be done in Photoshop.

With PTGui you have the ability preview the panorama before it is actually rendered. You can try out different projection methods to see which best suits your needs. I used cylindrical projection for most of the panoramas. It offered the least distortion to the horizon. But I still needed to do some warping in Photoshop to get the horizons perfectly straight and level and to pull the corners out to fill the frame.

While we’re on the subject of warping, I prefer using the Warp tool over the Liquify tool for larger tweaks of pixels. When used for little tweaks Liquify is great, but when used for larger movements over larger areas the stretching and smearing of the pixels can be quite apparent. First, I draw a selection with the marquis tool that is significantly larger than the area that I’ll be transforming. I then hit Command+J (Layer/New/Layer via copy) so that I can work on the area without affecting the main layer. To bring up the Warp tool hit Command+T (Edit/Free Transform). Once the Free Transform handles are visible use either Control+Click or Right Click to bring up the contextual menu where Warp is found. You can manipulate any of the points and/or handles or click+drag directly on the areas in the middle of selected pixels. The trick though is to only manipulate the middle areas. This leaves the edges unaffected so they remain seamless with the surrounding areas. Once you’re satisfied with the Warp hit Return/Enter or doubleclick on the selected area to accept. If the manipulation is significant you may have a seam appear at the edges. Simply add a layer mask to the Warped layer and subtly mask the little area out and you should have seamless image again.

If PTGui can’t get a clean seam for some reason, you can help it along by giving it more information to work with. You are able to access PTGui-created paired control points between frames that identify shared features between frames. Sometimes the paired points PTGui automatically creates are lined up correctly. You can go in and manually move the points to make sure they are over the same spot in each frame. You can also add your own control points to help PTGui identify where the frames align. The more points the better.

Control points.

Another powerful feature of PTGui is you are able to force the software to include or exclude portions of specific frames. Along the left third side of the panorama PTGui was not creating a good seam of the ridge in the background. I played a bit with forcing PTGui to only use portions of the #2 frame. It helped it create a cleaner seam along the ridge. In the screenshot, the green is where I painted and PTGui was forced to use that area of frame #2 to create the final panorama.

As good as software is these days, they can’t do everything perfectly. No matter how I cajoled PTGui there were some areas of the panorama it couldn’t pull off seamlessly. In a few spots the ground gave PTGui trouble. If the final destination of these panoramas was just the web, these slightly soft seams would probably have been unnoticeable. But at nearly four feet tall they would be obvious. In these cases I needed to process individual frames from the original RAW files of the ground to bring into the panorama. Since any panorama software distorts individual frames to create the final panorama, these portions I brought in needed to also be distorted to fit into the panorama. I’m guessing one of the least-used layer blend modes in Photoshop is Difference. How it works is quite simple and can be useful in the right situations. This is one of those situations. When a layer is set to Difference and the pixels below that layer are exactly the same, it displays them as solid black. If they display as any other color they are different. This often works great for aligning layers. You can see in the screenshot below several spots that are black.

Once the patch layer is as close as possible, it then took some delicate masking to fit the patch in nicely. I find it works best to paint the mask to an edge already in the image, like one of the rocks. The natural edge is a good way to hide any edge created from the mask.

Ground, before.


Ground, after.

A small touch that I find very useful when scaling images well beyond their native resolution is adding some simulated grain. It is also useful for panoramas because in the stitching process pixels get stretched and squeezed and the natural noise pattern or texture of the camera’s sensor is warped. So, the simulated grain can cover up some of the pixelation from scaling the image up and create a uniform texture over the whole image. Even if the grains need to be large to cover up the roughest parts of the image, it most often looks better than the distorted and abused pixels underneath. Adding noise or grain can also help if you are having any banding issues in areas with gradients.

The grain process is simple. Create a new layer with the blend mode set to Overlay or Softlight. Fill it with 50% gray, the neutral color for these blend modes. Add noise — Gaussian, Monochromatic.

Adjust levels by bringing up the black point and bringing down the white point. This adds contrast and makes the noise a little more clumpy or grain-like.

And last, it needs just a touch of the Gaussian Blur Filter. When the Grain layer is set Overlay, the grain will be more apparent. Setting it to Soft Light makes the grain a little less apparent.


Please note, these settings were specific for this size image. Adjust to suit a particular image’s needs. One last note on adding grain: add it after you’ve scaled an image up to its final print size. If you add it before, the grain gets scaled with everything else and will huge and scary and ugly.

The other bits of retouching I needed to do were less specific to building a panorama. I had to remove all the people other than the group on the rock on the right. I replaced that group on the rock with another group from a separate frame Chase shot just of the group specifically to put in the final panorama. I was also provided PSD files with layers of the panoramas as guides. I just needed to repurpose and fine tune the adjustment layers from those files in the final panoramas.

Two important points I like to remind folks of when I teach:

_In Photoshop there is rarely only one way to get from A to B. I share how I work as a starting point for people to start experimenting and to help get a better understanding of how Photoshop behaves.
_I find it extremely helpful to have someone else look at my work to see if I have done it cleanly and believably. After staring at an image for a long period of time, sometimes it can be difficult to be objective. In my case, I have a client who is making the final judgment call on an image. But the second person can be a friend or spouse who can look at the image with completely fresh eyes. If another person is not available, take the image to what you consider final. Go away for awhile. If you have time, go away for some days. Then take another look over the whole image looking for problem areas, especially for seams that are soft and unnatural looking.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Want more Panorama tutorials? Check out this past post on How To Shoot a 7 Gigapixel, 60-foot Wide Photo in 5 Easy Steps.

chase jarvis summit on the summit sotsk

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