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About a year ago I started trying out other genres of photography as a way to jump out of my comfort zone, reshape my style, and give my creativity a kickstart again after some pretty tough personal challenges and dark times that nearly ended my career. For whatever reason, after a few shoots I found myself drawn to model photography. Beyond the initial shock of having to work indoors while not spending almost all my day in swamp water, the biggest surprise of all was how much I enjoyed the challenges of working with people, lighting, and in the studio setting. Specifically, the sub-genres of boudoir, fine art nude, and erotic photography, which are about as far away from my original bird photography roots as you can get!

This article is a collection of do’s and don’t for photographers interested in working with models in these styles of photography, from the lessons I’ve learned collaborating with both professional models and photographers.  Remember also, this is written by a photographer for other photographers, but it in no way diminishes the role of the model in also maintaining a professional relationship and standards. Rather, it acts as a guideline for the photographer in this realm. While many of the concepts apply to models as well, that is for another article (stay tuned!).  There’s immeasurable value in just listening and developing a rapport with the people you work with to make sure you are acting professionally in their eyes, and they in yours. I hope this article is a way to help you do just that!

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I have a new article published today on Photofocus, titled “How to Enhance Your Photos With Textures – Part 2: Blending”. Here’s a sneakpeek… ” …” Check out the rest of the article at this link: How to Enhance Your

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Curves layers are one of the most misunderstood, yet more powerful adjustments you can make. Our images are all made up of pixels, which each have values for color and luminosity. With Curves adjustments, we can remap the pixels’ values for these, changing them to be brighter or darker, or changing their color.  In Skylum Software’s Luminar you can add multiple curves filters, and make each layer target very specific parts of your image.  This will give your images more depth, dimension, and beautiful color.

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Digging into Skylum’s newest version of Luminar, the first question I had to answer is, “what can it do that will save me time, make my images look better, and not take forever to learn?” Once you open the program up, you find a tremendous amount options for processing. But, it is an easy to learn program that I have found can help you make quick adjustments to get great results.  These tips and techniques will help you sift through the options and features, so you can develop (pun intended) your own workflow, not just for your landscapes, but any type of photography.

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I would say, without a doubt, that Lightroom is one of the most used programs on my computer, second maybe only to Chrome. However, even as a convert from the first version of Lightroom and having logged about a zillion hours using it since then, I am still always learning something new that I can do with it. Partly from the consistent upgrades and improvements over the years, but, also because there are many hidden features for those of us willing to do a little spelunking around the program.

One of these buried treasures is not in Lightroom itself, rather a repository that Adobe maintains called the Lightroom Developers SDK. Short for “Software Development Kit”, this is a library of information and “how to’s” for anyone who wishes to build their own plugins to extend Lightroom’s features. Inside this library is also a selection of sample plugins that you can use as a foundation for building your own. Each of these samples is a fully functioning plugin on its own, offering some feature or functionality not available in the regular program. One of my favorite, and most used, is the FTP sample plugin. This gives us a way to send batches of large images to a file server straight from Lightroom. Below is a tutorial on how to find, install, and use it, so you can get those beautiful images of yours to the people that want them as quickly and easily as possible!

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For this composite, my goal was to produce a version of my galloping wild horses image that looks like it’s been drawn and woodburned onto an old board. Not sure why, I just thought it would look cool, the inspiration behind many my composites. Having an idea of what you want to make before you start usually produces the best results. But, don’t be so in love with your idea you can’t change as you create your composite.

At this point, I have my horse picture processed and saved as a high resolution TIF file, and have found a nice wood texture I want to use as the background texture. Ideally you want these texture files to be high-resolution also, so that you can print your finished piece later. Using a 400 pixel wide texture will result in a blurry grainy mess, it’s too small to print it big later.

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In the digital darkroom, we can take two paths with our images. The first is to use your photo processing software to get your image looking as close to what you saw when you took it. This is your standard digital darkroom workflow, adjusting your exposure, getting rid of spots, cropping, etc., with more of a focus on realism.

The second path is to take that photo and transform it into something completely different. It may be combined with other photos as a composite, have various effects applied, and generally will look completely different from what you started with, but in a good way! Here the focus is on creating something new, using your original image only as the first ingredient. This is compositing, combining multiple images and effects to produce an original piece of art. In this article I’ll take you down the second path, introducing how to use Skylum’s new Luminar 2018 to start doing your own composites.  

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HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing of your photos by its nature can result in a lot of noise or graininess in your final image. While Macphun’s new Aurora HDR 2018 for PC’s does a great job overall reducing noise, there are still times when noisy areas appear in your processed HDR. This can be caused by many reasons, but most commonly it’s due to your settings in camera (such as shooting at too high of an ISO) or any image processing you have done to your images before merging them in Aurora (such as exposure adjustments). Regardless of the cause, you can remove most of this noise by using a “Luminosity Layer”. This technique saves a lot of time, giving you consistently good-looking results, quickly.  

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