Category Archives: Pisa Photo Workshop

Sweet light – Vernazza Italy

Often when I am on location capturing images and as soon as the sun sets I find myself alone enjoying the fading light and by using  long exposures I find that I am often capturing the most stunning images of the day after most other photographers who were out shooting have called it a day. This is the Sweet Light and does not  always happen it does happen often. So when I am out shooting after everyone has gone I often think, Don’t stop until the magic happens.

Sweet Light - Vernazza, Italy

Sweet Light – Vernazza, Italy

This image is captured shortly after sunset and the blend of the deep blue light in the sky that often happen after sunset and the lights illuminating the piazza makes this one my favorite images of Vernazza in the Cinque Terre where I will be teaching again in October.

Leaning Tower of Pisa – Color Effex Pro, Transform and Viveza 2.0

When shooting in RAW I  process my images in Adobe Camera Raw before opening the images in Photoshop CS5. The tools in the ARC converter represent some of the greatest innovations in photographic technology. There are other programs I could open my images in but my preference for processing images has always been the Photoshop programs.

As you can see when this Raw image is opened even though the histogram is good it is a little dark and a little cool. Both adjustments can be corrected using the adjustment sliders in the basic tool Pallet.

Leaning Tower of Pisa - CR2 Raw image
Leaning Tower of Pisa – CR2 Raw image

When you are capturing images whether with film or with RAW digital files the most important elements are proper exposure and composition. If your exposure is good and you have good composition it will only take a couple of minuets to transform a RAW image into a finished work of art.

With this images I shifted the Exposure slider to +1.10 to lighten the image a little. If you look at the histogram on the top right it has shifted the information to the right without creating any clipping in the highlights. I also moved the black slider from 5 to 8 which gave me a little depth in the shadows. With the White Balance I selected Auto which warmed the image. Then I brought the recovery sliced to 31 which brought a little more detail to the clouds. There are many other wonderful tools that I have spent hours on in ARC but I seldom use them since I have started using Nik software. I will use a few of the  tools in the Nik software suite to finish this image after I open the Raw CR2 file in Photoshop CS5

White-Balance in ARC
White-Balance in ARC

The perspective of this image is off and there are two ways to correct this. One is to get out my 4″x5″ camera out and make the adjustments to straighten the angles out before shooting by making bellows adjustments or use the transform tool in Photoshop when I get home. A good amount of my shooting time is spent teaching digital classes and I seldom bring my film cameras while I am teaching so I spend the extra time making the perspective adjustments using the transform tool after I get home.

Before you use the transform tool you must first create a duplicate layer of your images you can do this by going to the top Menu bar to Layer > New > Layer via Copy or use the shortcut Ctrl J to create a duplicate layer. Once you have done this go back up to the top Menu go to Edit > Free Transform. If you hold down the control key you can drag the corners to correct the perspective of the image. When I want to make precise adjustments I will create a grid by going to View > Show > Grid. After you have transformed the image, hit enter and you have transformed the perspective to the image.

Free Transform
Free Transform

When I have finished some basic adjustments I decide on which of the Nik software to use. With this image I have decided to use Film Effects in Color Efex Pro. On the right hand side there is a dropdown menu that has 33 different film types to chose from. When you scroll over the film type with your curser it will show you a preview of what that image would have looked like if you had captured that image with that type of film. For this image I selected Kodak Ultra Color 400UC. In the past I would have been limited to the types of film I had brought on location. This one tool in Nik Color Efex Pro opens up endless possibilities. 

Film Effects in Color Efex Pro

Film Effects in Color Efex Pro

The next tool I decided to use is VIVEZA 2 which is also a Nik software tool. By dropping in a control point in the blue sky I moved the warmth slider to the right to give the sky a nicer blue. I then duplicated this control point by holding the Alt key and dragging a duplicate control point to the left and right. To avoid any overlap of the blues I had just enhanced I dropped in neutral control points into the clouds. In this case there was some overlapping and the neutral control points eliminated the blue overlap and put the original warmth back into the clouds. You can try Nik software for a 15 day trial and when you buy Nik you can use my discount code “EuropeanImages” for a 15% discount. 

Viveza 2.0 - Leaning Tower of Pisa
Viveza 2.0 – Leaning Tower of Pisa

By using ARC and Nik software I have transformed a finished image into a printable file in just a few minutes. I usually find that I will go back and tweak an image in a day or two, so I am viewing the image with a slightly different perspective.

Leaning Tower of Pisa - Printable Image

Leaning Tower of Pisa - Printable Image

Venice, Cinque Terre and Pisa Oct. 18-24 2012

      Venice, Cinque Terre andPisa 

                 Oct. 18-24 2012

                 $750.00, Limited to 8 Students

Gondola waiting to go our for Sunset Tour

Romance Awaits-Venice

The colorful palette of Venice, The Cinque Terre and Pisa with there rich history is the perfect photographic venue. In Venice the Piazza San Marco and the Canals offer a variety of images that are wonderfully unique. The Cinque Terre a beautifully rugged stretch of coastline with five tiny villages set like jewels into the Ligurian Coast, we’ll capture it’s charm and beauty. It is one of those places people tend to read about once and then dream about forever. Pisa famous for its Leaning Tower and the Piazza dei Miracoli is a great place to spend our last day capturing images. Pisa is a wonderful hub where you can catch a train for Florence or Rome, or a flights home. We will photograph sunrise and sunset in these wonderful cities. Our field time will be spent on composition and proper use of light. We will spend some time processing images using Photoshop and Nik Software to help you with your processing skills. There is a training video at my website that you will be able to reference when you are processing images at home. Our goal is to teach you how to capture beautiful images and explore how to create the images that continue to inspire.

Brief Itinerary

Day One: 5pm get together in Venice to go over equipment and if time allows Photograph at sunset.
Day Two: Photograph at sunrise and sunset and when the light is right.
Day Three: Photograph at Sun rise in Venice have breakfast and Travel to Cinque Terre for afternoon and evening images.
Day Four and Five: Photograph at sunrise and sunset and when the light is right.
Day Six: Photograph at sunrise have breakfast and Travel to Pisa for afternoon and evening images. .
Day Seven: Photograph Sunrise and go over final thoughts over breakfast before saying goodbye.

• Learn tips and tricks used by the professionals to create impressive photographs.
• Discover new viewpoints, interesting details which might be overlooked, see the
world photographically.
• Learn to sense the direction of light and how to capture the magic moment.
• Improve your photographic technique.
• Learn your camera and how to get the most out of it.
• Have fun!

Workshop Information

In these workshops we will capture landscape images that excite and move, images that trace where the mind has been and form a unique vision that will last a lifetime. These workshops are about applying new skills learned daily and sharing our collective knowledge to take that next step in a supportive environment. We hold a deep passion for the places we travel to, and will help you explore how to create the images that continue to inspire. What takes time to create, time respects, good images don’t just happen. Most often, our best images lie just beyond our greatest failures. We believe through photography and an open mind the best is yet to come.

Paul James is a published, award winning photographer from Southeastern Michigan who offers the best in personalized photographic instruction on every level; whether you’re just beginning or a seasoned veteran. Paul takes great pride in his work, and this translates to some great teaching techniques. He has vast experience in both the artistic and technical aspects of photography; he is adept in Digital, Medium and Large format Cameras, which includes a large range of camera brands and models. He welcomes photographers of all formats and skill levels; however, this class will be geared for the digital photographer.

The October – November 2011 Florence Tuscan and Roma photographic workshops trips were a great success. Each groups came home with some wonderful images and some wonderful memories. I have been posting some of the new images on the website and hope that you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed taking them. Many thanks to my two wonderful friends Steve and Grazia who helped make the Rome workshop very special. For anyone traveling to Roma for a holiday, taking one of their personalized day tours is a must.

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