Some fashion and portrait work

In my country they say: “Better later than never”. According to this piece of wisdom, I proudly present you my latest, 5-months old work, with the young Bulgarian model Ivilina Zhozhgova.

The shoot was released in mid-October 2014, but since I never have enough time, I upload the photos some 5 months later.

The main goal of this shoot was to achieve some beautiful photos for Ivilina’s book.

MUA: Petya Koleva; assistant: Martin Petrov – Marto.

Beauty fashion portrait

Fashion portrait with Coca-Cola

Vintage photography

Vintage portrait

Fashion editorial

Model portrait

Vintage styling

Vintage-style black and white fashion editorial photography

Posted in Shooting Photos Tagged , , , |

Capture One film styles

Some time ago (well, it was half a year), I was contacted by Alexander Svet, pro-photographer and  Phase One certified professional, about a project he is managing – Capture One Styles. He saw my blog and the articles about Capture One I wrote, and the custom Capture One styles I made and published here. Alexander asked me to try their film styles and return him my opinion. I agreed and he sent me a copy of the styles set.

To be honest, I don’t like today’s “vintage look” vogue. I don’t like the use of vintage plugins and Photoshop actions, as they are over-used these days. For some reason many people just ruin their photos, trying to follow the vogue. I do believe that every photo needs a special attention and editing, and batch-processing is a bad idea.

Capture One and the custom styles offer a different approach to photo editing. This is not just a plugin to batch-process photos with predefined settings. After you apply a custom style, you can continue to edit the photo and change all the settings. Even more – you can use a style as a base to create your own sub-versions of the style, save them and use them later. That’s why I use Capture One :-)

But let’s continue with the Film Styles.

I installed the set with no problems on Capture One 7 Pro, now I am using C1 8.1. The styles are working with no flaws after the upgrade.

The set is divided on two: 1. Black and White film styles and 2. Color film styles. You will find the names of many of the most used films in the set – Fuji, Kodak, Ilford, Polaroid, Agfa…

Color styles

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that you have two or three versions of some films, marked with v1, v2 or v3 at the end of the style name. Why are these styles offered? Well, I haven’t asked Alexander about this, but if you have experience with film, you maybe know that you can achieve very different results with different processing/developer of the same emulsion.

The second thing to notice is that these styles do NOT emulate the film grain, but only the colors, tints, contrast and saturation. Since Capture One 8, you can add film grain to your taste.

Here is the original photo I used for all the samples you will find below (click the photos to enlarge them):

original

I have prepared a limited number of samples with some films I have worked in the film era. I cannot say if the styles are absolutely exact emulating the film, but this is not so important. In general, I see a very close result with what I used to expect with film. And this is quite enough for me. As I said, one could have different result depending on the film processing, so it is hard to say whether some color or tint is correct or not.

And here is what I achieved emulating some popular film names:

Fiji_FP-100c

Fuji FP-100c

 

Polaroid_669

Polaroid 669

 

Kodak_portra_400

Kodak Portra 400

 

Kodak_Ektachrome_100G

Kodak Ektachrome 100G

 

Kodachrome_64

Kodachrome 64

 

Fuji_velvia_100

Fuji Velvia 100

 

Fuji_PRO_160c

Fuji PRO 160c

 BW styles

Here I used the same image, just applied the style over the color version of the RAW file.

The first photo is the color one with BW enabled in the Black & White palette of Capture One Pro. All the sliders in the palette at zero:

c1_bw_nocorr

And here are the film emulations:

Agfa_APX 25

Agfa APX 25

 

Kodak_TRI-X 400 v1

Kodak TRI-X 400

 

Kodak T-MAX 400

Kodak T-MAX 400

 

Ilford_HP5 Plus 400v1

Ilford HP5 Plus 400

 

Ilford_Delta 400Pro

Ilford Delta 400Pro

 

Ilford Pan F Plus 50

Ilford Pan F Plus 50

 

Fuji_Neopan 1600 v1

Fuji_Neopan 1600

 Film grain

And here is a style applied with some (very strong) noise added in Capture One Pro 8.

Ilford_Delta_3200 v1

Ilford Delta 3200

 

Ilford_Delta_3200 v1 - film grain

Ilford Delta 3200 + Film Grain

  Conclusion

I find the film styles useful – knowing what a film could give, you can easy, with a single click, emulate it on your digital photographs.

The film styles can’t do wonders and make your bad photos look cool, but they can surely make your good photos look better.

If you like the film styles, go on the developer’s website and try them yourself: www.captureonestyles.com

 

Posted in Computers and Software Tagged , , , |

Free stock photos – what’s the catch

Definition of free stock photography

Free stock photos are photos you could get (from a stock photos website) without paying a fee for their download and usage. But how free are these photos? Well, not so free as you wish…

You should always read very carefully the license therms. Photos are distributed under many licenses and everyone of them could be kind of misleading. Some of the licenses allow you to do almost everything with a photo, but this is not the common case. In fact, the most part of the free photos you can get these days have several limitations on their usage and the most important one is: you cannot use them for any commercial purposes. So, they are free for your own usage only – you can watch them on your display, use them to make a personal wallpaper or a home calendar, but you cannot publish them on the Internet, because this could be considered “commercial” and could lead to very strong financial penalties.

What about using free stock photos commercially?

Of course, there are websites where you can get free photos with commercial usage allowed. But should you do that? Well, why not? Depending on the case: I would not use free stock photos to advertise my business. Mainly because there is a possibility that my competitors use the same photo(s). And this is a big problem! By the way, this is the main reason I would not recommend using any stock photos for advertising purposes, no matter if they’re free of paid. Hiring a photographer and making your own style is always the better choice.

Using photos in an editorial (blog, newspaper, magazine, brochure) is also considered commercial usage. And this is where free stock photos are used most often.

Where could you get free stock photos?

Just type the magic words in a search engine and you will get thousands of pages. Google has an option to image-search only free photos with Creative Commons license for commercial usage, but it returns very few results, probably because the photos need special markup to pop-up in the search and there are only few website that use this markup, one of them is Wikipedia.

My website for free stock photos

At the end of 2014, I was doing a cleaning-and-arranging of my main computer storage and I realized I do own too many photos I’ve shot through the years that I cannot sell (because they are not any special). But these nothing-special photos may be valuable for someone in this beautiful world. So, I decided to make StockaPhoto – a free stock photos website. I started from the ground and with my very unassuming programming skills, I’ve made a decent website, IMHO.

stockaphoto - free stock photos

I have many more to do on this site, I have to make a search function and I have to upload all the photos I prepared (over 2000). A login system will be implemented later and only registered users will have access to the bigger size of the photos. This will take some time, as I work on the website only when I do not have other assignments. I don’t know when I will finish it up, but you can already go on the site and get some really free photos.

All the photos are distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License – you can use the photos even commercially, but you must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. Also, very important, the license is “NoDerivatives” – you cannot edit, change, remix and so on the photos.

All the photos are offered in two sizes: 800 and 1600 pixels the longest side. The size is quite enough for websites, blogs, newspapers, magazines etc.

Posted in General thoughts Tagged , , |

Free 2015 calendar InDesign

Here is the new and absolutely free 2015 calendar template for InDesign

The main file in the ZIP package is an Adobe InDesign CS3 interchangeable file format – inx. The file could be opened with all InDesign versions after CS2. Includes also the original InDesign CS4 file, a PDF and a JPG preview image.

The template is fully customizable – months are created with tables and you can easily modify the look of the months. Using the paragraph styles, you can change fonts, colors, spaces and so on in couple of clicks. You cal also remove (make white) the strokes within the table.

The template is 100% free for personal and/or commercial use.

If you like it, please share this page on Facebook or Twitter, or add a link to this page on your blog or website. Thank you!

DOWNLOAD (Zip archive, 1.83Mb)

LICENSE: Free for personal and commercial use
FILE FORMATS: CS3 interchange (.inx), Adobe InDesign CS4 and PDF
WEEK STARTS: Monday

Preview:

Free 2015 InDesign template

Posted in Utilities Tagged , , , , |

Latest photography work

Here are some examples with my latest work with the young model Geri Dimitrova.

The pics were shot for Geri’s modeling portfolio during two hours of shooting on three locations.

photo&retouching: Nikolay Dimitrov
model: Geri Dimitrova
MUA: Grim Viktoria
assistant: Dragomir Uzunov

Fashion model Geri

model portfolio cration

Fashion photography

Beauty portrait

Posted in Shooting Photos

HR Test Chart for Printers and Displays AdobeRGB

About this test chart

Three years after the release of my first AdobeRGB test chart it was downloaded thousands of times and I hope it was helpful for people that care about the quality of their prints and the calibration of their computer displays. But, being only 1500×1000 pixels, it is very often too small for today’s large monitors and printers with A4 or Letter size. It is absolutely useless with larger printers. So, this have to be corrected.

The new chart I offer you now is significantly bigger: it is 4252×2835 pixels and is calculated to cover a 60×40 cm print at 180 dpi. With this size it covers also all the displays on today’s market.

The chart has an AdobeRGB color profile embedded!!! You should understand color management and use of color profiles, otherwise you may get some unexpected results.

hr_test_chart_ndimitrov_600_srgb
 Click this preview to open the full-size chart in a new tab or window!

How to use the test chart

If you use the chart to judge the quality or calibration of your display, simply look at it. Please be aware: most of the browsers (especially on PC) do not understand color profiles, so the only reliable way to see the correct colors is to open the test chart in Photoshop or other image editor or viewer with proper color management. If you are using a browser/software that has not color management capabilities, you’ll most probably see some soft and desaturated colors.

If you are using the chart to test your printer, you must be aware of the proper use of color profiles and color management. Read carefully your printer’s user guide and especially that color management part.

What should you look at?

1. The background of the chart is neutral grey and it should render/print neutral – this shows if there is a problem with the color balance.

2. The color gradient should render/print smoothly, without banding or artifacts – this shows how accurately your printer/display handle the wide gammut of the AdobeRGB space.

3. The grey gradient should render/print without banding and/or corrupted sections and in neutral grey from black to white – this shows the capabilities of your display or printer to render/print accurately the greyscale gammut.

4. There are 4 photos in this chart – two stills and two portraits. The stills contain colors outside the sRGB gammut, and this is useful for displays and printers with gammut wider than sRGB. The portraits shows how your display or printer renders/prints grey gamma portraits and color portraits. Human skin color accuracy is essential if you do photograph people.

5. At the bottom there are five black rectangles on the black background and five white rectangles on the white background. You should discern them all, especially the right ones – this shows how your display or printer handles the darkest and the lightest tones.

Some things to consider

While this test chart has a wide AdobeRGB color space, it can be seen/printed properly only on wide gammut monitors and printers.

Legal notes

You can freely distribute the chart.

You are not allowed to resize, re-save or modify in any way the original file!

Posted in Utilities Tagged , , , , |

Fashion shoot with Geri Dimitrova

Photo and retouching: Nikolay Dimitrov
Model: Geri Dimitrova
MUA: Grim Viktoria

Click for larger view (opens the larger photo in a new window)

Model: Geri Dimitrova

Model: Geri Dimitrova

Model: Geri Dimitrova

Model: Geri Dimitrova

Posted in Shooting Photos Tagged , , , |

How to prepare photos to upload on Facebook

Do you upload your own photography samples on Facebook? If you do so, and you are not pleased with the quality, you should read this article.
Facebook applies a very strong compression on all photos you upload. A great looking photo on your desktop could be completely destroyed in therms of quality when you upload it on FB.

Optimize photos for Facebook

But here are the good news! If you prepare the photos carefully and with the right size, they could look on FB almost as good as in your Photoshop workspace.
There are three key specs for the photos you prepare for FB:
1. Size
2. Sharpening
3. Compression

 

Size

Lets start with the size. This is the most important spec of your photograph. Some time ago, FB used to resize large pics to a small common size. Now it’s different. FB stores the original uploaded photo and shows it non-altered in its picture viewer.. Well not completely non-altered, but with some stronger compression. So, the larger photo you upload, the better the quality? Not exactly, but close. I don’t know why, but computers usually show better pics with size to a multiple of 1024 pixels. So, if you make and upload on FB your photo 1024 pixels the longest side, it should look better like the same photo at 1000 or 1100 pixels. Strange, but true. But is 1024 pixels enough? I would say: no! With common large monitors, 2048 is a better choice. It renders even better and usually fits the screen very well.

 

Sharpening

Sharpening is the second important factor when you prepare photos for Facebook. If you make your photos 2048 pixels wide, I suggest that you over-sharpen a little bit. It will make the photo look better when resized to fit smaller monitors and this is the most common case with this size at the time I write this. A smart sharpen filter with Amount 180 and Radius 0.3 will be enough, but sharpening is a personal choice and depends on your taste and of course – of the type and the content of the photograph.

 

Compression

Using small compression amount is not a solution, while FB applies its own, I would say very strong, compression on all the photos you upload. If you use Photoshop, saving a JPEG with the Quality set to 9 will be quite enough.

 

How do I do it

I resize with a simple Photoshop action, you can record it and use it with a single click in the future.
Choose |File-> Automate-> Fit image| and input 2048 for Width and 1536 for Height. Click OK.
Notice: If you resize a smaller image, it will be interpolated to fit the above size and the quality will be lowered.
After I have the resized image, I do the sharpening. If needed, I do local sharpening to pop-up some areas of the image, while keeping the rest or the photo artifact-free. I usually use Smart Sharpening, but depending on the photo, I sometimes do a Low Pass sharpening, which is better for larger images, but is slower to apply and sometimes returns strange results.
After the sharpening, I save the image, using the File->Save For Web and Devices plug-in in Photoshop.

 

Some other little things to consider

Always upload your images with embedded sRGB color profile.
Always put your watermark somewhere on the image. It is not a good protection against image piracy, but sometimes helps, especially if you go in court.
Don’t be afraid of image piracy. It will always be out there, but it’s far more important that visitors of your FB page or profile see the real beauty of your photography work.
Have in mind that the bigger size, the better all these lens and editing flaws are seen. So, upload only perfect images.

Posted in Utilities Tagged , , , |

Free year 2014 calendar template

Well, as usual, I post here a free InDesign calendar template of the next 2014 year.

The main file in the ZIP package is an Adobe InDesign CS3 interchangeable file format – inx. The file could be opened with all InDesign version after CS2 – CS3, CS4, CS5, CS6. I included also the original InDesign CS4 file, as well as a PDF and a JPG preview image.

The template is fully customizable – months are created with tables and you can easily modify the look of the months. Using the paragraph styles, you can change fonts, colors, spaces and so on in couple of clicks.

The best part of the story: this template is free for personal and/or commercial use.

If you like it, please share this page on Facebook or Twitter, or add a link to this page on your blog or website. Thank you!
 

DOWNLOAD: Free 2014 calendar template (ZIP, 1.69Mb)

LICENSE: Free for personal and commercial use
FILE FORMATS: CS3 interchange (.inx), Adobe InDesign CS4 and PDF
WEEK STARTS: Monday

Preview:

2014 calendar teplate InDesign free

Click for larger preview!

Posted in Utilities Tagged , , , |

13 portraits in less than 10 minutes

I was invited and participated in a photography plain-air in Edirne, Turkey. I was there for four days with friends-photographers from Yambol, Bulgaria…

We were talking in the hotel corridor while I decided to make everyone of them a portait – a real portrait blitz-shoot. I used a door and the wall for a backdrop and available window light. All was done in less than 10 minutes. And here is the result.

The photos are arranged exactly in the order they were shot.

NEF files processed in Capture One PRO 7, using my own “ND_Portrait_lowsaturation” style preset.

Clicking an image will open a larger size in a new window.

Posted in Shooting Photos Tagged |