Our Five Favourite Photograph Editing Programs

It’s a hotly debated topic and one that has pro’s and cons attached but its often the case that even the greatest photographs benefit from a little tweak here and there. The most highly skilled photographers still rely on software to bring out the very best in their photographs, so with that in mind we have put together five of our favourites, some free and some with a subscription charge:

Photoshop

There are so many online and YouTube tutorials for Photoshop that you’ll be able to pick up and master most techniques easily. It’s used worldwide, has lots of features and gives your images the professional touch.

Lightroom

One of the well known software options around and for good reason, it lets you import and edit quickly. It has features such as being able to store keywords for ease of use and has raw editing facilities that are always an advantage. Below is one of our videos tutorials in Lightroom.

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This is such a versatile programme and its free to use, one of the highlights is that you can target parts of your image and don’t have to apply a change to the whole image. It’s a great alternative to Lightroom and Photoshop.

Gimp

Another freebie one that is great to use in Windows, it has the look and feel of Photoshop, it’s not as polished as some of the bigger players but it’s a great alternative if you don’t want to splash the cash. It lets you import and export files in any format and has some great features such as being able to warp parts of a photograph.

Pixlr Editor

This free web based programme is great for any devices supported by flash (but unfortunately rules out mobiles). If you are comfortable using Gimp then you’ll be right at home with this one. Lots of tools such as red eye reduction and clone tools and its quick and easy to use too so makes a great choice for browser use.

Your Choice…

Remember though, whatever you use, remember that with some free software your file sizes may be limited unless you upgrade to a subscription package. As different tasks need different things, you may find you need to use a variety of software from the basic enhancing and filters to making your photographs look better high resolution when printing. Always save the image in raw and edit from there as it gives you more correction ability than JPEG. The best way to find out what suits you is to have a play with the free versions before committing to the paid one.

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Mistakes that Beginners often make in Photography

When you turn your passion for photography into a career and set up your first studio there are lots of things to think about so it follows that there are just as many teething mistakes that are made. From our 10years in business we have heard them all with panicked customers ringing because they tripped over their lights and have broken bulbs which they need replacing asap etc, so we’ve put together a selection of the common mistakes we hear about:

1) Getting lots of Studio Equipment but having no idea

So in a flurry of activity and excitement a newbie buys all the equipment and then has no idea what to use it for (or doesn’t need it all). There are lots of places you can find out how to use certain studio photography equipment and what to use it for. We have our own Youtube channel Smickphoto with overviews on products and best practice so check it out if you need any help.

2) Incorrect Lighting

A common grumble is that white muslin backgrounds look grey or discoloured in final edit and how can this be sorted out. Simply it’s the lighting being used, depending on size of your studio or the final image you are after – you need to use 3 point lighting or 5 point lighting (there are lots of diagrams if you search for the perfect set up). Use the most powerful lighting you can for your studio.

3) Unable to collapse pop ups

We’ve all been there, you excitedly unzip the pop up bag to see what it’s like and as it takes over the room as it pops out, then it dawns on you that you have no idea how to collapse it again! You then spend 20 minutes trying in vain to get the big reflector back into the very tiny bag, everything you try doesn’t work and it just keeps popping back up again. Fear not – we have a video showing how to fold it up again and once you know how it’s quite easy.

4) Blaming the Equipment

It’s frustrating when you don’t get the picture that you want and it’s all too easy to blame the studio equipment that you are using. It’s always worth watching video tutorials and reading about your equipment and how to use it to get the optimum results possible. There are lots of things that can be done in post production too and most professional photographers have to take lots of images to get a selection of good ones. Practice all you can and don’t be too precious of the results, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

5) Knocking over Equipment

Sometimes people cram their studios with so much equipment that it’s hard to move and accidents happen. Remember to turn off bulbs when not using them and use surge protectors plugging in the lights. Take care that you don’t trip over stand legs and send lights crashing down and use sandbags to weigh the light stand down.

So don’t forget…

At the end of the day its all good experience and once you’ve made these mistakes you aren’t likely to make them a second time. Practice is the only sure way to overcome any obstacles and feel confident in what you are doing. It’s also good to read and watch as much as you can on how the professionals do it and what they use.  Did you make any other mistakes we haven’t listed above?

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Five Smick Favourite Editing Programs

It’s a hotly debated topic and one that has pro’s and cons attached but its often the case that even the greatest photographs benefit from a little tweak here and there. The most highly skilled photographers still rely on software to bring out the very best in their photographs, so with that in mind we have put together five of our favourites, some free and some with a subscription charge:

Photoshop

Starting with one of the most popular, this is always going to be a favourite as its so accessible and there are so many online and YouTube tutorials for Photoshop that you’ll be able to pick up and master most techniques easily. It’s used worldwide, has lots of features and gives your images the professional touch.

Lightroom

Another of the well known software options around and for good reason, it lets you import and edit quickly which is always going to be a good thing. It has features such as the ability to store keywords for ease of use and has raw editing facilities that are always an advantage for flexibility. With upgrades all the time, this is one package that keeps you up to date with the latest technology.

Here is our Lightroom  tutorial

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This is such a versatile programme and its free to use, one of the highlights is that you can target parts of your image and don’t have to apply a change to the whole image. The basic editing suite is on show and it’s only afterwards if you need more settings you can go into them, so from a beginners point of view it all looks less confusing. It’s a great free alternative to Lightroom and Photoshop.

Gimp

Another freebie, one that is great to use in Windows, it has the look and feel of Photoshop, it’s not as polished as some of the bigger players but it’s a great alternative if you don’t want to splash the cash. It lets you import and export files in any format and has some great features such as being able to warp parts of a photograph so you can target the areas you want.

Pixlr Editor

This free web based programme is great for any devices supported by flash (but unfortunately rules out mobiles). If you are comfortable using Gimp then you’ll be right at home with this one. Lots of tools such as red eye reduction and clone tools and its quick and easy to use too so makes a great choice for browser use.

 

Conclusion…

Whatever you use, remember that with some free software your file sizes may be limited unless you upgrade to a subscription package. As different tasks need different things, you may find you need to use a variety of software from the basic enhancing and filters to making your photographs look better high resolution when printing. Always save the image in raw and edit from there as it gives you more correction ability than jpeg. The best way to find out what suits you is to have a play with the free versions before committing to the paid one.

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Five Essentials for a Home Studio

Five Essentials for a Home Studio

When you start out you are advised on what to get and it all gets a bit confusing, once you’ve been set up for a while you realise that you really didn’t need all of the things you’ve got. So here is our list of five studio essentials:

 

  • 1) Cotton Muslin backgrounds

white muslin backdrop

Getting this right is the difference between a good background and a great background. There are different types of background and most people either use paper, cotton or vinyl. The advantages of a cotton muslin is that you can pack it away small when not in use which is a great advantage if you have a small studio space. Any creases in the cotton can be sprayed with water or steamed out and it’s so versatile. There are many ways to light the background too to get a brilliant white finish. Another great buy is a green screen to use in video production etc.

 

 

 

  • 2) Reflectors

110cmrefle

These instantly add another light source and are a must – most pack down into tiny bags and pop back up thus saving on space. A gold / silver reflector is a must and you can choose the size you need depending on how big the space is that you are using. Alternatively go for a 5 in 1 which gives your more versatility and can be used as a background as well as a light source. Heres what the colours do:
* Gold reflector / warm light
* Silver reflector / bounce – fill
* White reflector / smoother tones also as a background
* Black / light kill also as a background

 

  • 3) Softbox / Umbrella

EZY Up Photographic Softbox

To create a soft diffused light on your subject then this is a must for all studio’s, they create a great fill light and again there are different sizes depending on your needs. The closer your softbox is to the subject, the softer the light will be so be mindful of what you want to achieve in the space you have available.

 

 

 

 

 

  • 4) Good Tripod

 

You may think any old tripod will do but you need to think about how you will use it – will it stay in your studio…. if not you may not want to get one that’s too heavy for carrying it to locations; next think about stability and what kind of weight it needs to support; finally think about the height you will need it for in relation to your studio set up. Lastly don’t forget to buy a quick release plate, as you’ll use this more than you think.

 

  • 5) Flash

 

Speedlight flash units or studio strobes, seems obvious right but so many people get this wrong. Buy the best you can within your budget for studio flash and buy a kit that fits your space. Get yourself a wireless trigger too

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Autumn offers

Autumn Offers

We just wanted to remind you as a valued customer that we still have some brilliant deals in our sale section. There are lots of half price offers available from softboxes to our Supersoftbox 5 kits.

Don’t forget to check out our special offers section where you will find lots of studio accessories.

As the weather starts to turn more autumnal and we move back into the studio, it’s a great time to update your equipment. We have some great LED lighting kits available such as our LED Supersoftbox Lighting kit or our LED lighting kit with 40cm reflectors.

We have a great range of reflectors for you too, to fit all types of equipment and sized studios.

You will find kits to fit all budgets and needs and if you can’t find what you are looking for then please let us know.

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Spotlight on Softboxes

You can get so many different effects using a softbox and there are so many different types of softbox you can use.

stripbox photographic softbox

A softbox is a must have tool in a photographer’s studio for flash photography as they are so versatile. They are easy to set up, simple to use and create fantastic results. A softbox diffuses the light and gives a soft, even glow and reduces harsh shadows.

Softboxes are designed to create a dominant light source, so keep it close to the subject. It gives a softer light and with the grip makes it more directional too.

Our Range

There are lots of shapes and sizes of Softbox to choose from and it really depends what you want to get out of it and how much room you have available. Larger softboxes create more light and softer light, the smaller the softbox the light becomes slightly harsher.

The light can be controlled with the use of a grid; we have a range of these from 60 x 90cm up to 140cm Octagonal Softboxes and strip boxes. The grid attaches to the front with Velcro and helps you to direct where the light falls with more control and less spillage.

We have Bowens S-Type fit and classic Elinchrom fit. All our softboxes fold down small and make them versatile and easily transported (or put away when not in use).

We have some great videos using softboxes for different lighting requirements so check them out.

Some are now on Special Offer

http://smick.co.uk/sonline/special-offers.html

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Spotlight on Reflectors

110cmrefleReflectors

One of our best selling studio accessories is the reflector and here at Smick we sell several different types and sizes. So if you are unfamiliar with why they are so useful and what to do with them then here is a handy guide:

Portrait Photography

This is undoubtedly the most useful way to change the light quickly and effectively in a studio setting our outdoor photography. Natural light can cast unflattering light on your subject and to counteract this use a white reflector that will balance the light and minimise the shadow cast.

If you want a warm tone to the skin then turn it over and use the gold side to add a warm glow to faces. The white side can be used similarly to a softbox to diffuse the light of the sun.

Our 5 in 1 reflector gives you amazing versatility at a great price, with white, black, gold and silver colours.

The reflector folds down to 53cm and is stored in the bag supplied. The inner section is a shoot through diffuser; it has a zipped cover that gives it the other four functions. It has a loop for hanging built in.

Made from high quality fabric this is a versatile piece of kit in the studio and out.

* Gold reflector / warm light
* Silver reflector / bounce – fill
* White reflector / smoother tones also as a background
* Black / light kill also as a background

This is a quality reflector strong and robust not flimsy at all. We have a great video on the reflector here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpsrBF0TDL0

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Spot light on Backdrops and Backgrounds – Muslin:

backdropgreyCotton Muslin

One of the unsung hero’s of the photographic studio, the muslin backdrop is often overlooked and not noticed but it’s one of the most versatile and useful pieces a studio can have (and it’s not often you’ll find a studio without one). Made from Finest quality 100% cotton muslin backdrops, ours have a seamless finish on the edges to stop tearing (and come with a handy 3” rod pocket for easy hanging).
Some of its uses can be for a clean background in portrait, product, and group photography. It can also be used as a prop and drape it over tables, chairs to add more texture and softness to a shoot. Our green screen or blue screen muslin are great for video production and enable you to change the background colour postproduction. It’s durable too and can be machine washed on a low temperature setting or dry cleaned.
We provide three different sizes: 8 feet x 12 feet, 8 feet x 16 feet and 10 feet x 20 feet.

Our colours include: White, Black, Grey, Blue, Green
They also take up very little space and can be stored easily when not in use, this is a great advantage over paper backgrounds or canvases because you can put them back into the included carry case and store until you need it again. A great way to ease the creases is to mist with a water bottle this will help to ease the creases.

Accessories

We also provide sets that include the background stand and muslin together or just the stand. Our Professional Heavy Duty Background Support with telescopic cross pole are an exceptional quality and low price at the moment. Super quality made from aluminium its light but extremely sturdy and has a maximum height of over 9ft (286cm) with a maximum width of 10ft (305cm). Sturdy stands and telescopic cross pole, this allows setting it to any size from 130cm to the full width. It packs easily into its own heavy duty black canvas bag.

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Festive Holiday Post Dates

With Christmas fast approaching we’d like to remind you that the last date for orders to be dispatched is Wednesday December 23rd. We welcome the New Year in and first dispatch date is on January 4th 2016.

Once again we want to thank all our loyal customers for your support this year and look forward to another successful year with you.

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LED Lighting is the Future

LED Bulb-1It’s been 6 months since we launched our LED Lighting range and what an amazing response we’ve had. Customers have been loving the power that these lights give and the small fan and thermal cut-out means these lights won’t overheat which is a great asset in a studio setting.

The LED colour panels have also been popular with everyone as they are so versatile and if you haven’t already seen our introductory videos on these then do check them out for more information on the panels or lighting kits.

This is our LED Lighting playlist on youtube

All our LED range are compatible with the studio accessories we stock and there are some great kits we have put together incorporating these. We have single lighting heads and soft boxes all the way to our three head kits with boom arm and accessories. If there is something you would like to see we would love to hear from you and will do our best to accommodate your requests.

With the Christmas season upon us we would like to thank all our customers this year and wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year. We are entering our 11th year here at Smick and will continue to bring you innovative and versatile kits and accessories to enhance all your photographic needs.

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