Book Review: Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook

101 lighting set-ups described in detail, for you to recreate

Kevin Kubota Lighting Notebook book cover image Wiley (www.wiley.com/compbooks) recently published Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook; 101 Lighting Styles and Setups for Digital Photographers, ISBN: 978-1-118-03510-8, $34.99. The photographer will also be releasing an accompanying iPhone/iPad App. for a more immersive educational experience.

The book features over a hundred lighting setups, complete with lighting diagrams and explanations. In addition, the author notes how costly each lighting set-up is in comparison to the others, how many assistants are needed, and depending upon whether Speedlights or studio strobes were used, how many lights in total are needed to reproduce the image.

Lighting diagrams are essential in a book that teaches lighting—because unless you’re learning hands-on, the easiest way to understand how the lighting set-ups actually work in the real world is to compare the diagram and photograph. Wide views of the entire scene, with the photographer in the shot are also included for the images; as are lists of exact tools used and exposure information.

The book features the obligatory section explaining the differences in various lighting equipment, from Speedlights to Monolights, packs and heads, scrims, reflectors and diffusers. And, Kubota includes a section on lighting basics, ratios and rules, which is beneficial to a digital photographer beginning to learn how to light their subjects artificially. Lastly, the author includes an extensive list of manufacturers of every kind of lighting equipment and modifier as a resource.

There’s a great variety of images included in the book, from studio to location, single subjects to families and kids, seniors and maternity imagery—with formal and candid, free flowing poses. Many of the images feature posing and lighting styles that are presently trendy, which is an added benefit to the photographer reading this book, as you’re handed specific directions how to recreate these great shots on your own. I also like the diversity—too many books feature images that are so similar, that Kubota’s large collection of lighting techniques is refreshing to see.

One of the added features of the book, is that because Kubota also has a line of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom actions, he also finished practically every image using his actions, while explaining what steps were taken, complete with screenshots.

On one hand, I like the finished look that Kubota’s actions offer images—I use them on many of my own images—but as a caveat, I’m sure the hundred plus examples will increase the interest in Kubota’s line of actions as well.

Every Photograph Needs Light

Kubota starts out by explaining why lighting is so important in photography, and why knowing how to control light in your photographs is so crucial. This is a sentiment that seems to be lost among many photographers who have only shot with digital cameras and can check exposures on the LCD, (making corrections as needed)—as opposed to photographers who shot film and had only one chance to get the lighting of an image right. [read: during the shoot!]

“Good lighting is not a trend in photography, it is the backbone,” the author says in the first chapter. Understanding how to light your subject well, in a flattering manner or to achieve a certain mood is crucial to any photographer’s repertoire or style.

If you’re looking for a great field guide, one that you can flip through for inspiration and that includes step-by-step guidance on a wide range of lighting set-ups, Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook will definitely provide plenty of fodder for your photography.

Diane Berkenfeld

Share

Kubota Imaging Tools Bows “Vintage Delish” Lightroom Presets

vintagedelishpresets for picture-soup.com articleKubota Image Tools today announced the immediate availability of its latest package of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom presets—Vintage Delish—which includes 42 custom develop presets that will let you give your photographs the look of aged or faded films, funky cross-processing, deep vignettes, color-toned black and whites, and much more. The presets are fully compatible with Lightroom 3 for the Mac and PC. (You can use them with Lightroom 2, but not all presets may offer full functionality.)

The Vintage Delish presets cost $39. and can be purchased and downloaded from http://www.KubotaImageTools.com/VintageDelish.html.

Look for our review coming soon!

— Diane Berkenfeld

Share

Adobe Photoshop Turns Twenty

By Diane Berkenfeld

Today is a day of celebration as Adobe Photoshop turns 20 years old and fans of the powerhouse software program are rejoicing around the world. Festivities include an anniversary celebration hosted by NAPP, the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, in San Francisco today as well as numerous organized events around the globe; a special Adobe TV broadcast reuniting the original “Photoshop team” for the first time in 18 years to discuss their early work on the software and demonstrate Photoshop 1.0 on a rebuilt Macintosh computer; Facebook and Twitter users sharing of stories online and changing their profile photo to an altered 20th anniversary logo (there are over 400,000 and growing Facebook fans for Photoshop); and Tweeting about the software by adding the tag #PS20.

The impact of Photoshop is everywhere, from the youngest digital photography enthusiast to virtually every professional photographer, to the artists at magazines and newspapers, website design, Madison Avenue and Hollywood.

In the Beginning

In 1987, Thomas Knoll developed a pixel imaging program called Display. It was a simple program to showcase grayscale images on a black-and-white monitor. However, after collaborating with his brother John, the two began adding features that made it possible to process digital image files. The program eventually caught the attention of industry influencers, and in 1988, Adobe made the decision to license the software, naming it Photoshop, and shipping the first version in 1990.

According to Thomas Knoll, Adobe predicted it would sell 500 copies of Photoshop per month. Sounds kind of like a comment made in 1943 attributed to then IBM president Thomas John Watson, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

The Photoshop team thrives off its rich beta tester program, with active and vocal users who have submitted requests and helped shape the development of features throughout the years.

“We knew we had a groundbreaking technology on our hands, but we never anticipated how much it would impact the images we see all around us. The ability to seamlessly place someone within an image was just the beginning of Photoshop’s magic,” Knoll said.

Over the past 20 years, Photoshop has evolved from a simple original display program to an application that has over 10 million users worldwide on Mac and Windows-based PCs. Countless other software companies have created software programs, Photoshop plug-ins and Photoshop actions that enrich the user experience. Not to mention the dozens of books, tutorials, workshops and other educational programs. An entire ecosystem surrounds Photoshop.

Photoshop logos through the years.

Not only has Photoshop grown from version 1.0 to where it is today at Photoshop Creative Suite (CS) 4, but Photoshop Elements, the program for enthusiasts is up to version 8, and there are even web-based solutions now, at Photoshop.com, as well as a Photoshop App., for the Apple iPhone and Android devices, as well as Photoshop Lightroom, now at version 2, (version 3 is in beta testing) for image management.

Photoshopped or Photoshop’d has even become a part of our vernacular to describe a digital image that has been altered. According to Wikipedia, Photoshopping is slang for the digital editing of images.

We here at Picture-soup.com doubt that anyone who uses Photoshop on a daily basis would want to live without the program, having grown to depend upon it for his or her livelihood. From its ability to help you salvage old, treasured family photographs, to retouching images to the point that the alterations are impossible to notice, Photoshop allows photographers and graphic artists to do their jobs better.

Long Time Users Comment

We asked a few of the folks we consider to be Photoshop Gurus to offer their thoughts on Photoshop turning 20. Read on…

Canon Explorer of Light and Print Master, Eddie Tapp (www.eddietapp.com), a photographer and educator first began using Photoshop with version 1. “I would open an image, clone something, close it out and a week later do the same thing. It wasn’t until the next version 2.5, did I jump into what Photoshop was then… more of a creative use with images applying glows, effects, this is when I developed the 90% method of color correction along with a few other techniques… and when 5.5 came out… Color Management became available for the masses for the first time,” he explains.

“What I use to love doing in the darkroom, I now love creating in Photoshop… Photoshop gives [me] so much more control in every aspect of processing my images… I do however, miss the smell of Fixer on my fingers after processing… perhaps I should invent Channel Fixer #5…”

“Photoshop the tool has aged well, becoming more and more sophisticated as it innovates technology at each release… From what I’ve seen and heard… the next release will be a celebration of enhancements and next level imaging…”

Jim Tierney, Chief Executive Anarchist at software company Digital Anarchy (www.digitalanarchy.com) started using Photoshop with version 2.0 and was developing plug-ins for it shortly thereafter with MetaTools. “It’s been interesting to see how the uses of Photoshop have expanded and changed,” he says. “When I first started using it, it was used more for design than photography. Certainly some photographers were using it, but it definitely wasn’t a requirement. You could shoot and print without ever going through an image editing program. And if your photo got scanned in, usually it went straight into Pagemaker or Quark [Xpress]. If the photo did go through Photoshop, usually it was just to tweak the contrast… either that or to do some crazy outlandish thing [to it]. Photoshop was a new tool, digital was a new medium, and people were experimenting. There were a lot of really bad Photoshop’d images out there.”

“Layers really changed things. It became much easier to do professional looking work. Before layers, you really had to understand all aspects of the program to get good results out of it. Not too mention, that around the time of versions 2.0 and 2.5 you were lucky to have a monitor that could display thousands of colors.”

“Digital imaging… the ubiquitous digital cameras that started [showing up] everywhere that made Photoshop such a powerful tool—not only for designers and photographers, but for medical, science, law enforcement uses, etc. …brought it to the point that now everyone knows what Photoshop is. THAT is an incredible difference, especially for someone who was using it when no one knew what you were talking about.”

“And Digital/RAW really changed things for photographers. It’s now become an essential tool for photographers. Those who aren’t shooting digitally and using RAW are a dying breed.”

“So I think the most interesting things about Photoshop turning 20 is all of the things that have happened around it to make it the tool it is.”

Fashion and beauty photographer Helene DeLillo (www.helenedelillo.com) first started using Photoshop at around version 1.5, when it was for scanning software. “They never thought it would be a product except for a tool to use with scanners,” she explains.

“Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are essential tools for photographers in the production and management of their digital images. In my professional work they are invaluable. Photoshop allows me to take my fine art/Sci-Fi creative work of faeries and magical creatures to beyond this world. If I dream them flying or in an eternal forest or garden I can now seam them together and make all the lighting & textures match… My dreams become still imagery.”

“Over the last 3 months my assistant has been archiving all our old files online so that I can access any images I ever retouched or captured…It’s been an awesome process and still is not yet done. However I have been reviewing images from over 10 years ago and what a difference—imagine not having layers and every time you made a big brush stroke you had to wait; in fact the Macintosh OS would give you a coffee cup with steam [coming] off of it instead of the possessed lollypop… sometimes it would be a 15 minute wait for an action or even 30 minutes for the unsharp mask [to take effect].”

“I Love Adobe Photoshop—HAPPY 20th—we love you Knoll Brothers!!!”

Photographer, author and consultant Andrew Darlow’s (http://www.imagingbuffet.com / http://www.PhotoPetTips.com) first exposure to Photoshop was with version 2.5 while he was working at a graphic arts/prepress/printing company in New York City. “Photoshop has been and continues to be an essential part of my workflow and it has helped me to do what I love best—take and make photos that express my vision—without having to deal with the many headaches that photographers have faced for so many years,” he says.

Photographer, Action Hero, and educator Kevin Kubota (www.kkphoto-design.com / www.kubotaimagetools.com) started in digital imaging when, “We can Scitex it out” was the buzz word at the studio he worked at. “That’s when it cost a few hundred bucks to send an image out to have a small blemish removed by a lab with a Scitex machine. Now anybody with Photoshop can easily do that in under a minute. Times have changed. I think I started using Photoshop at version 2 or 3. I remember it was frustrating because at that time it was very costly to have images scanned so that you could actually have something to manipulate in Photoshop. It was love at first sight though, and I ate it up—every pixel (that was pre-MEGApixel),” he says.

“Somehow I knew that this was the direction photography was headed. I eagerly adopted the early digital cameras as well—excited that I finally had a way to quickly get my images in the computer without costly scanning.”

“Being an early Photoshop adopter gave me a couple of advantages: I was able to enhance my images and show things to my clients that very few other photographers were showing at that time. It was a great boost to my business and it kept me excited about shooting…and discovering what I could do with the images in post.”

“I also learned early on how to create my own Photoshop Actions, which I then taught people how to do as well at my early workshops. I soon realized that the looks I created and the tools I used were very valuable to other photographers as well. Photoshop gave me a vehicle, and a common platform, to share these tools and techniques. It changed my life as it gave me another new business and opened new creative doors.”

“I think that Photographers generally fall in one of two camps—those that believe the art of photography happens solely in the camera, and those that believe it happens all the way from camera to presentation. Neither is right or wrong. The only thing ‘wrong’ would be to follow a path you didn’t believe in. I am in camp two. I think that there is no ‘rule’ that photography has to be pure. It’s an art form to me, just like painting. There are no rules in art—you combine tools, techniques, brushes, colors, whatever you want to create your vision. The end product is what matters, not the tools you used to get there. Photoshop has given photographers another tool to express their vision. It has helped to allow Photography to be impressionistic, modern, and fresh like few other artists tools have done. I love that.”

Photographer and instructor Gary Small (www.jsmallphoto.com) started using Photoshop in 1996, with Version 3. “It was the first version that used layers,” he notes. “Over the past 13 years, I have watched Photoshop grow and evolve into the wonderfully powerful program it is today, while at the same time, my skills and knowledge in this fantastic program have grown and evolved as well. I got to see and experience firsthand, the introduction of color management, adjustment layers, vector based text, text on a path, Liquify, Vanishing Point, Extract, Smart Objects, Healing Brush and Patch Tool, History Brush, Smart Filters, Content Aware Scaling, and so much more. It’s been an incredible journey and I’m looking forward to continuing this adventure.”

“Like Photography itself, I’ve found that there is no end to the learning process or the things you can do with Photoshop. Without a doubt, it has had the greatest and most positive impact on my career, over everything else I’ve ever involved myself in. The impact Photoshop has had on my work as a photographer as well as an image manipulator has been amazing. It has given me the opportunity to take my images to new levels, with amazing results that were not achievable prior to Photoshop hitting the scene.”

“As an educator, it is a huge rush to be able to pass along this knowledge to others who share the same passion for photography and image manipulation that I do. Seeing the excitement in others that I had when I first learned Photoshop has made the experience that much more fulfilling for me.”

Yours truly started using Photoshop around versions 5.5 or 6 and while I would not consider myself anywhere near the Guru status of those quoted above, I do know my way around the program. —DB.

Tell us what Photoshop means to you!

For more information about the Photoshop family of products, go to www.adobe.com.

Find Photoshop on Facebook at www.facebook.com/photoshop. Find Photoshop on Twitter at www.twitter.com/photoshop.

To see the NAPP Photoshop 20th Anniversary Celebration, go to www.photoshopuser.com/photoshop20th.

To see the Adobe TV Photoshop 20th Anniversary Broadcast, go to http://tv.adobe.com/go/photoshop-20th-anniversary.

Share

Software Review: Kevin Kubota's Pro-Pak w/ Dashboard

Article & Images by Kristin Reimer

One of the first lessons I learned about being successful in photography is that it is 20% photography and 80% business. I watch photographers come and go on a regular basis. Who remains? Obviously you need to have talent to begin with, but if you know how to market yourself, stay focused, consistently evolve with the times and stay ahead of the pack, chances are, you will be a success.

So what does this have to do with Kevin Kubota’s Actions? He knows his stuff. If you haven’t yet checked out his actions, the bad news is that you’ve wasted precious moments of time—the good news is that there is no better time than the present. Kevin Kubota’s actions are now packaged with an awesome addition called DASHBOARD.

I’m not really sure who began to market action sets, but I will confess, I’ve been an addict ever since the day I discovered these time saving gems. It’s easy to find actions these days and there are some deliciously creative ones out there. I’ve been using Kevin Kubota’s Artistic V2 actions as well as his Auto Album 2 for years now and I rely upon them heavily. Simply put, they save me time, and they are creative and easy to use.

The Kevin Kubota Pro-Pak contains roughly 300 actions to help not only boost your creativity, but also increase your production and help clear time so that you can actually get work done quickly and get out to enjoy the world again. Wouldn’t that be nice?

The production actions range from border actions, interpolation, sharpening, B&W conversions and logo placement. Yeah, you can do these on your own, but why? Enjoy the fact that someone has already done the work for you. Spend your time getting creative. And then get creative with Kevin Kubota’s Artistic Action Volumes 1 – 4.

(l. to r.) Original photo, final image, Dashboard, Photoshop palettes. Screengrab © Kristin Reimer.

Original on the left. Image on the right created using Punch Drunk with Vignette. Photos © Kristin Reimer.

The artistic action options are endless. Not only are the effects inspiring but with names like Fashion Passion, Super Heroine CS2, Kiyoko Punch, Enter the Dragon, Punch Drunk—you know your visual taste buds will be watering to get busy. Even better, if you are curious at all about what the action does, feast your eyes upon the creative descriptions that accompany each one.

Now let me return to the beginning. So, aside from the actions themselves and the funky and descriptive copywriter, what sets Kubota’s Pro-Pak above the rest of the pack? The DASHBOARD.

Now, if you don’t have any addictive behaviors of your own, or if you don’t like to collect things, you may not understand the value of the DASHBOARD. What happens when you collect too many things? Clutter? Can’t find what you are looking for? Waste time searching? DASHBOARD is going to rock some housecleaning in the world that is Photoshop.

DASHBOARD is essentially a floating menu window that keeps your actions organized, easily accessible and easily searchable. Go to the top right and you can pull your menu down to access each pack of actions that Kevin has been producing over the years. To the left of that pull down menu you can enter in a keyword and the DASHBOARD will call up the actions to suit you. Type in moods such as “funky”, “creative”, “moody” or go with genres such as “wedding” and “portraiture” and you’ll see actions displayed that are best matched to your request. Loving it yet?

Once you find the action you want to apply, head on down to the bottom of DASHBOARD where you have a few options. With one touch of the buttons in the bottom of the toolbar you can “apply”, “undo”, “redo” and “paint”. Paint is pretty nifty. Essentially this creates a mask and you can simply paint the action in specifically where you want it to go.

Original photo on the left. Image on the right created using Smokeless Burn, Tea Stained, 81K warming, Wash Out. Photos © Kristin Reimer.

On top of all of this, the Pro-Pak is simply easy to install and understand. I will confess to limited patience for watching online manuals or detailed installation instructions. The installation did come with a video manual, but it was simple, clear and to the point. Installation itself was a breeze and the manual was simple to read. But the reality is, the Pro-Pak and DASHBOARD are simple. Simple means you get to the fun stuff right away…and I was certainly the kid in the sandbox in a matter of moments.

There is one downside to the Pro-Pak, you’ll be having so much fun playing with your images and combining the actions together that you will lose track of time and forget about the outside world. But hey, think of the possibilities.

Original image on the left. Image on the right created using Sepia Deep Black 3. Photos by © Kristin Reimer.

Kevin Kubota Pro-Pak [Kubota Artistic Tools V1, Kubota Artistic Tools V2, Kubota Artistic Tools V3, Kubota Artistic Tools V4, Kubota Production Tools V2, and the Kubota Formula Book] with DASHBOARD can be purchased online at: http://kubotaimagetools.com/store/catalog/product_16263_Kubota_Pro_Pak_w_Dashboard_cat_258.html.

System requirements: Actions work with Adobe Photoshop CS2 or newer, some effects require CS3 or newer 32 bit versions of Photoshop only, on Mac and Windows computers.

The Pro-Pak retails for $629.00.

Upon graduating with a BFA in photography from Pratt Institute, Kristin went on to become the studio manager for the esteemed Magnumphotojournalist, Elliot Erwitt. Under the tutelage of Elliott, Kristin acquired a more capacious understanding of the history of photography and of the unique and diverse contributions of those who define the field. Her work with Elliott also provided a forum from which to create and develop her own artistic style.

In 2002 Kristin founded Photomuse (www.photomuse.com), a fine art/documentary style wedding company. Kristin is an award-winning member of the Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA), a professional organization composed of photojournalists and wedding photographers from around the world as well as the Artistic Guild of Wedding Photography (AGWPJA) and the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers (ISPWP).

Share