Andrea Livieri

Andrea Livieri is a rock star–no, really. He’s a great musician as well as an awesome photographer. Andrea’s photography work has been featured in multiple European magazines such as Fotografare and PhotoPlus. He has a great eye and a considerable talent for making beautiful photographs. Of course, he’s a big Exposure fan, too. Below, Andrea shares a little more about himself and his work. Thanks, Andrea!

alien_skin-1I’ve been a professional musician since the age of 15. It’s a passion of mine. I love all the forms of art and see it in everything that surrounds me, but my first love was definitely music–especially rock music with electric guitars. The expression of whatever devilry is in mind comes out in the form of a sound, which is probably why I love it so much.

I have always taken pictures over the years. At first, I used cheap compact cameras, then I bought a nice compact cameras, and then, during the summer of 2009, I bought my first DSLR. From there, I began reading and seriously experimenting with it. I started taking pictures of my friends, and shared them within social groups online. The positive feedback I received spurred me on even further.

alien_skin-5Now, photography is a fundamental part of my life. It’s a means of self-expression in realms where music falls short. For me, making music and taking pictures keeps a balance between real life and obsessive delirium. I have to admit that I’ve really come to love it. To this day I feel like I carry two prosthetics–a guitar in one hand and a camera in the other!

My approach to photography is still evolving, but the portrait interests me most. The interaction with people is a chemistry that is difficult, if not impossible, to replace with anything else. Photography is fascinating to me. I can create my own world to use as a stage for emotions, stories, and scenes that I find beautiful.

alien_skin-2I don’t always have a defined concept for a shoot beforehand. I just let myself be driven by what I find–the location, lighting, model. I’m not a gear geek, but I always try to discover new techniques and post processing tricks to refine my vision. If we didnʼt have cameras we’d have no pictures, so when we worry exclusively about gear, we lose the artistry we bring to the table. My point of view on photography and music is the same, I feel rather than analyze or rehearse.

There are many steps that help me to get the right sound or look that my artistic side is after. As a guitarist, the sound is emphasised with theory and technique. I make the guitar sound, and the amplifier adds ‘effects’ to mold the sound to my personal taste.

Photographer

In photography, it’s much the same. Exposure is one of the most amazing ‘effect weapons’ for my images. I use it in batch mode with Lightroom and with single images in Photoshop. There are numerous software titles out there, but Exposure produces the best looks to my eyes. Why? It isn’t just a film effects plug-in, there are a number of powerful controls at your disposal.

Some of Exposure’s attributes that I absolutely love are the simple navigation and fast intuitive workflow, the quality of the fully customizable presets for film simulation are unequaled, the grain and grain controls are absolutely amazing, and the new sun flares and light leaks in version 5 are marvelous (I use the new light leaks very often). All there is left to say is “Exposure Rocks!”

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See more of Andrea’s work on his website or his blog, or you can follow him on one of his social channels from the links below.

500pxFacebook | Flickr | PinterestTwitter

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Chris Corradino’s 10 Photography Guidelines

Chris Corradino wrote an article chock-full of helpful tidbits to improve your shooting. He’s a New York-based travel photographer and a photography trainer. Chris’s passion for photography is inspirational. He diligently labors to create majestic images, and helps others do the same.

If you missed his article about capturing awesome shots in awful light, check it out here. The remainder of this article is from him. Thanks, Chris!

ChrisCorradino-YosemiteA young George Washington detailed 110 rules to live by, ultimately leading him to the first Presidency of the United States. Inspired by this, I decided to list the 10 guidelines that have consistently helped in my photography career. I hope they help you to reach new heights in your creative pursuits.

  1. Don’t waste your energies harshly comparing yourself against images in magazines or online. Instead, focus on creating your best work, and making it original.

  2. Accept jobs not solely for the money, but agree to only those that are artistically stimulating, providing an opportunity for creative growth.

  3. Avoid categorizing yourself with labels, or engaging in debates that seek to define terms such as “professional” and “amateur”. A good photographer is not concerned with these phrases, but rather focuses on their craft.

  4. Do not profess to have all the answers. Those with true knowledge understand how much more there is to learn.

  5. Face issues head on, putting fear and uncertainty in their proper place. Leverage study and practice to overcome obstacles. Rarely is the path to success found along the unobstructed road.

  6. Act not in haste, but with thoughtful deliberation, never quick to draw conclusions or join pessimistic company whether online or in person.

  7. Take all constructive criticism thankfully, as it holds greater value than superfluous compliments.

  8. Recognize that shortcuts will only cause you to miss important mile markers, ultimately postponing your arrival at the desired destination.

  9. When overcome with nervous anticipation, the only remedy is to prepare for every possible scenario that could go wrong, and formulate solutions for each.

  10. Starve habits you want to break. Feed goals you want to make.

ChrisCorradino-Snowboard

Check out more of work from Chris on his blog and website. Social butterflies can follow him through the links below.

Facebook |Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

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Flickr Thursday

Here are our selections from the Alien Skin Flickr group this week. Awesome work, people!

Your image submissions make you eligible to win a free lens, too! Check out the article for more details.

John-Sharktold Daniele Cuccia Richard Thwaites SONY DSC

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Lighting for Textures in Snap Art 4 Video

Blog-Image

I just finished a video tutorial that demonstrates the use of the Lighting controls in Snap Art 4. Normally I use Snap Art for painterly looks, but this is a little different. My goal was to emphasize the texture.

The lighting controls are a powerful tool when used in combination with thicker paint. In the video, I use Impasto, which is a very thick style of painting. In Snap Art, this characteristic is mainly controlled with the Paint Thickness slider. If the value is high, the brush strokes will have stronger highlights and shadows, which can give the painting a sculptural quality, adding expressiveness.

The Lighting parameters provide a simple way of modifying the feel of thick brush strokes. In this case, they enhanced the texture without having the painting effect overpower the photo.

If you’ve ever wanted to add a little bit of Texture to an image, this is an easy way to do it. Check out the video, below.

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Image provided by Dylan and Sara Howell.

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Car Shooting Tips from Christian Bouchez

Seattle-based car and portrait photographer, Christian Bouchez, returns to the blog with some handy photography tips. The advice he shares may be focused on a specific type of photography, but the rules apply regardless of your shooting forte.

If you missed out Christian’s previous article, check it out here. The remainder of this article comes from him. Thanks, Christian!

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ChristianBouchez-cars-1Always strive to get the best shot out of the camera. This saves time in post, makes you slow down and think, and ultimately will make you a better shooter. Above all, try to have a good time behind the lens. The more fun you have, the more inclined you will be to get your camera out tomorrow.

Stop and Think

When approaching a vehicle, think about what makes it unique. It could be a split rear window, the lower balance rear diffuser, its elaborate stance, etc. Every car has unique qualities, somewhere. A recent client wanted pictures of their prized Ferrari–most importantly the dashboard where the hefty $600,000 price tag is proudly embroidered. Things like this help tell the story behind the make, model, manufacturer, current and previous owners, and even the design team.

ChristianBouchez-cars-2

Visualization

When a session has been established, and the subject is chosen, I immediately begin visualizing the shoot. This happens long before the subject is in front of me. When I first arrive I evaluate the location, such as how much room I have to work with, how much light I have, and I’ll note any major distractions nearby. I always make a backup plan, too.

Lens Selection

Visualizing helps me choose the right lens, which is my 50mm most of the time. I pull out the 85mm if there is ample room. For shooting indoors, I grab my 17-40 F4.0. Be mindful of distortions when shooting with a wide-angle lens, it’s the last thing you want to see. Distortion will modify the lines of the car, blurring it’s uniqueness. If you have to shoot with a wide lens, try to keep the vehicle in the center of the frame where it won’t be affected by the distortion as much.

ChristianBouchez-cars-3

Filters

Always, always use a circular polarizer when you’re shooting something reflective like a car. It’s one of the most important investments you can make when shooting vehicles. Polarizers do a number of things to enhance your picture quality. They block reflected light, tone-down reflections, save you from hours of tricky photoshopping, and they improve color saturation in the photo. They are simple to use, and because of the way they polarize light, they don’t interfere with autofocus or TTL light metering.

Shake

Burst mode eliminates some of the hand shake generated by pressing the shutter. Accidental blur in the capture can make or break a photo. If you’re looking for a shaky shot, have at it. Most of the time, it’s something that I’d rather do without. When in doubt, use burst mode.

ChristianBouchez-cars-4

Close-Up

Close-ups are an important part of any photo shoot. They are a way to celebrate minuscule details–the little finishing touches–that set each car apart. Design details can be found on the headlights, taillights, air vents, exhaust, stitching around the steering wheel, etc. Learn to love detail shots because you’re capturing the car’s fingerprints.

Perspective

Don’t be afraid to get low for a different perspective. There are some beautiful cars out there with amazing technology that you can’t see unless you get close to the pavement. Think about how aerodynamics improve traction with downforce or how the air whips around the car at high speed.

ChristianBouchez-cars-5

*Quick Perspective Tip*

If you want to change up your perspective for a shot, use a tripod. Set your camera on a focus timer or infinity and make it shoot on a 10 second timer. Next, get close to the car and lift the tripod as high as you can. Aim the lens down at the car, of course. You may want to hold your breath while the timer counts down. Every little bit helps.

I use this technique in car shows frequently. It’s the best way I’ve found to capture a quantity of vehicles attending the venue, and it works for unique interior shots, too.

File Type

Always shoot RAW, if you can. Lossless file types give the ability to produce the best possible image, and they also allow for multiple variations of the same shot.

Check out more of Christian’s work on his website, or follow him socially on Facebook, and Twitter.

 

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Flickr Photo of the Month – January 2014

alien skin flickr photo of the month

 

Big congratulations go out to Camilo Diez who kicks off 2014 on a high with the Flickr Photo of the Month award for January.

Double exposure photography is very much in vogue at the moment, thanks in no small part to the awesome work by Dylan and Sara Howell, whose tutorial on the subject has been looked at and emulated by photographers all around the world since it was posted back in April last year. However, this image takes the double exposure technique to a new level given the highly complementary composition and content of the two images which combine to create a unique effect. The fact that the angle of the subject’s face corresponds with that of the building under construction means it works really well visually. The final touch of post-processing in Exposure for the grainy black and white effect is subtle enough to not overpower the image; it just takes it to another level. The end result is both surreal and beautiful. A very powerful image indeed.

Camilo wins a copy of our Photo Bundle and an Alien Skin Software t-shirt. Well done, Camilo!

Finally, don’t forget to check out our post on the Photo of the Quarter Competition we just kicked off this month. There are some pretty serious prizes such as a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens or an 85mm f/1.4 up for grabs. Get your best images submitted to our Flickr Alien Skin Software group and you’ll be in with a shout.

Good luck to everyone and have a fantastic 2014!

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Timing with Andrew Foord

Fashion and glamour photographer, Andrew Foord, returns to the blog with with a humorous take on the importance of timing. If you missed out on his introduction article, check it out, here. The rest of this article is from him. Thanks, Andy!

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Ask me why I’m such a good comedian…Okay, why are you such a goo–TIMING!

I know it’s an old joke, but it gets the point across. There are many reasons why timing in photography is so important, but let’s not just talk about them, let’s look at a few examples, too.

1 second early

1 second early

1 second late

1 second late

You’re probably wondering what the perfectly timed shot looks like. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that in a minute. Let me give you a little background for the shoot, first. For this series, I wanted to get messy, really messy. If you haven’t done a messy shoot like this before, give it a go. It makes for a low-stress environment when everyone is laughing and having fun.

Lighting and Camera Settings

I needed to light the powder from the side in order to preserve its texture. One strobe with a silver beauty dish and grid did the trick. It was positioned slightly elevated above the subject, tilted down at a 45 degree angle. I used a silver reflector opposing the model to fill in the shadows of his face and neck.

The strobe was set at full power, and I used my trusty light meter for proper exposure. I set my light meter to 1/200th of a second–my camera’s maximum sync speed–with 100 ISO. The meter gave me an aperture value of F/13. Below is a diagram.

paint

Shutter speed, strobes, and freezing motion

Speaking of sync speed, let’s pause here for a moment. I hear a lot of photographers use this term in the wrong context, so let’s make sure we’re all on the same page. Sync speed is the maximum shutter speed for which the curtains are completely open at the time of exposure. This is when the flash fires. Every camera and strobe models have different sync speeds, which you can easily discover in the manual or online.

As a rule of thumb, a good shutter speed to use with studio strobes is 1/125th of a second. Some strobes let you shoot with a higher shutter speed, but it may require a little research before you can start clicking off photos. If you’re just getting started with using strobes, set your camera’s shutter speed to 1/125th for now. This can produce a crisp freeze motion shot; however, the freezing doesn’t come from the camera, it comes from the light.

The flash lasts only about 1/1000th of a second. A fast pop combined with low ambient light and a small aperture–F13 in my case–the camera sensor will only ‘see’ the light from the strobe.

Timing

With my camera and lights in place, the next thing to focus on is… you guessed it, timing. I advise everyone to shoot with both eyes open. This lets you keep one eye in the viewfinder for composition and the other eye on your powder-thrower. I told my assistant, the models 7 year old daughter, when I count to 3, throw the powder–hard, try to hit your dad in the ear and knock him off his feet.

Always account for human error when you’re on set. Not on the photography portion alone, but with your assistants, and models as well. My assistant did a superb job of hitting her dad in the face with the powder, but when my count got to 3, she would pause a moment before throwing. It’s not a huge deal, most of the time, but this reinforces my shoot-with-both-eyes-open suggestion.

BOOM! Perfect timing!

BOOM! Perfect timing!

As you can see in this photo, the powder is just hitting the side of his head, and we can still see his face clearly. This was the shot I wanted. It wasn’t easy, and luck played a part in it, but I ended up with an awesomely timed masterpiece. It was a great experience, and a lot of fun. Give it a try!

final

Final Image

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Check out more of Andrew’s work on his blog and website. Follow him socially on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Flickr Thursday

Here are our photo selections from the Alien Skin Flickr group for the week. Great work, everyone.

Don’t forget that there are serious winnings on the line! The shots that you share are eligible for consideration for the Photo of the Quarter Award. Follow the link for more details.

Jas Bassi Johann Espiritu

Marco

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Bokeh and Exposure Video with Chris Yates

ChrisYates-video

Below is a new tutorial video that demonstrates the combination of using Bokeh and Exposure on an image in Photoshop. In the video, I closely follow the workflow of editorial fashion and beauty photographer, Chris Yates.

The image I used in the tutorial came from a shoot Chris did back in 2013. The concept was to combine fashionable evening attire with a historic scene. The original capture has beautiful tones and color textures even prior to editing.

Chris used Bokeh to add lens-specific blurring that helps draw your eye into the shot. He loves the effect that his Canon 50mm 1.2L produces, but he didn’t use that lens on on location. Bokeh as an invaluable asset for his post-processing workflow because it allows him to produce the same creamy blur even after he snaps the shutter. The effect, like what he did here, helps him bring his photos up to a new level.

Exposure was used to add custom coloring to the image. Chris is a whiz with curves, so I followed suit in the video. The effects from Exposure allowed him to creatively manipulate the image per his preconceived vision of the scene.

As always, I’ll take you step-by-step through the whole process, and give you a bunch of helpful tips and tricks along the way. Enjoy!

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Alien Skin Photo of the Quarter Award

A couple of months ago, we announced the Flickr Photo of the Month competition and it’s been really great to see you guys sharing more and more of your amazing work with us. In fact, the standard of work on show is so good that we wanted to raise the stakes and offer a really cool prize for the image we deem the very best of the quarter.

So how does it work and what do you need to do?

Well, we’re simple folk and we like to keep things uncomplicated around here, so all you have to do is submit your best photos to our Alien Skin Software group on Flickr. Once a month, we will continue to choose a Photo of the Month, which will win a pretty cool Alien Skin t-shirt and some other goodies we have lying around the office. Then, at the beginning of the next quarter, we will go back through all the submissions of the previous three months and choose our favourite image. The winning photographer will then get the chance to choose between a Canon or Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 or an 85mm f/1.2/1.4 as their prize. Not bad, eh?

As these are some pretty major prizes, I’d like to lay out the following rules:

  1. There is no limit to the number of images you can add to the group, but please do just share the very best photos in your portfolio. If we’re scrolling through pages of repetitive or poorly executed images by the same photographer, the chances of your very best photo slipping through the cracks are going to be high. If we see people spamming the group trying to game the system, we may need to step in and revisit this, so help us keep the submissions open by keeping the quality high. As photographers we need to make sure we’re only presenting our best work, so remember the famous phrase: “You’re only as good as your worst photo!”
  2. Like all art, opinion on the merits, or lack thereof, of someone’s photographic work is a subjective matter, so you need to know that the qualities we will be looking for will be based on the standard areas we strive to perfect as photographers: composition, lighting, toning, posing, conveying of emotion, defining moments, etc. Basically, we want to see good photos!
  3. The use of Alien Skin Software tools such as Exposure, Bokeh or Snap Art in the post-production process is required, but we will be giving extra points to photographs that use the toolset to enhance versus overpower the photo. For example, taking a photo of a modern Ferrari and applying one of Exposure’s wet plate effects will probably not impress us too much; but using that same effect with an image of a model dressed in antique garb might be just what it needs to take it from good to great. In other words, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should; let the photo dictate the effect rather than vice-versa.
  4. Photos submitted using a trial version of Alien Skin products are valid for this competition. If you don’t own any of our products, you can download a free trial here to see what you’re missing.
  5. The judges’ decisions are final. We won’t be getting into any dialogue with anyone about the quality of their images.
  6. Closing dates for each quarter are March 31st, June 30th, September 30th and December 31st.

So that’s it as far as rules go. Any questions can be left in the comments section below.

Best of luck everyone! Let the games commence!!

24-70 f/2.8 prizes

 

Product photos courtesy of the good people at The Digital Picture.

Posted in Alien Skin Software, Announcements, Competitions, Fun, Photography | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments