Last One for 2012

The end of another year is upon us.  We are always a little erratic in our posts around the holidays, between family visits and travel.  I was certainly caught up in the whirl this year.  Please, bear with us.  Here are a couple quick hits for this week. _________________________

FREE DVD! For the new year, we are asking for a little more input from our readers.  We would really like to see more comments.  I do analytics on the site, so I know there are lots of readers, but we get very few comments.  If there is a specific topic you want us to address, please put it in the comments.  You can provide input here (preferred) or put it on our Facebook page (LINK).  Each time, from now until 30 January 2013, you provide a comment, we will add your name (once per day) to a drawing for a great DVD from Kelby Training.  Crush the Composition, presented by Scott Kelby, is an hour-long instruction about how to better see and compose your photographs.  You won't have to buy any special equipment or software to get results from this training.  It retails for $49.99.  We'll draw a random name at the end of January.  Our thanks to you.

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Lightroom 4.3 has been released.  It is a free upgrade, so go get it.  This upgrade adds 20 new cameras for RAW processing; new support for high density displays; and lots of new lens profiles for use in the Lens Correction module.  There are even lens corrections for the iPhone 4S and 5.

If you already own Lightroom, the program will prompt you to upgrade.  If you haven't jumped onto the Lightroom wagon, you can get a free trial copy here.  We highly recommend it.

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While you still have your holiday decorations out, take some photos to prepare for next year's cards or future Christmas projects.  Here is a quick and easy project for you.

One of the things we just discussed recently is the ability of more expensive lenses to blur the background, by opening the aperture to obtain a narrow depth of field, while you're making a portrait .  I received several questions about how to re-create this if you don't have more than the kit lens that came with the camera.  (Normal kit lenses don't have the ability to open the aperture wide enough to give you the "bokeh" of the more expensive lens).

Take some background images of the decorations using manual focus.  I took several photos of our tree and forced a varying amount of blur on the image.  I made each photo slightly more blurry than the previous.

blurred for backgroundBlurred photo 2

Then, I made a photo of everybody's favorite uncle; the photo caught him in a good pose but had a cluttered, non-holiday background.  This was right in the middle of an intense Yankee gift swap, so everyone was crowded around, plotting strategy to get what wanted from the person that had it - typical big-family, rowdy behavior around here.  ;-)

portrait in a crowded roomYou usually see nice bokeh effects on close portraits, so I cropped in to give myself less clutter.  The tighter crop helps sell the effect.

portrait in a crowded roomThen, I eliminated the original background and put the blurred Christmas tree behind him, on a separate background.  You can do this in many programs; I used Photoshop.

portrait with Christmas tree backgroundSo, don't forget to use your camera during what's left of this holiday season.  Think about what you'll want for new year's cards and decorations.  Most of all, have fun before the new year begins.

Christmas photo