Category Archives: Blog

Profile photo editing walkthrough


I made a neat profile photo.  And when i put it on facebook some folks asked me how I did it.

Here’s way more detail about how that happened than anybody asked for: I was on the couch thinking about this post on fstoppers about double exposures and how they were made in-camera on some new digital cameras.  I knew my iPhone couldn’t do that stuff in-camera (with the stock camera app, that is).  But I figured i could do something rad like them with the app that I did own – image blender.


So I took a photo of the awesome painting my good friend Mike Hyder made and gave me back in ’96 or so: Isn’t it the raddest? so then i needed to take a photo of me to turn the painting into “me”. I figured that I needed to take a photos of me on a white background and make it black and white for this to work.  I thought i knew this from just working with photoshop and knowing that lots and lots of times you’re working with black and white images to let things “through” to other images…it’s a whole thing called “masking”.


So i turned on the front-facing camera and snapped this: Thrilling, yes! (no)

I just wanted a neutral face and some side-eye…and that’s what i got.  I thought, “that’ll work” and started the next step.


The next step was to turn the image black and white using Afterlight: and then swiped the contrast slider to the right a couple of times. Ah! Now.  That’s looking better.  Now, i just need to get rid of the stuff i don’t want by cropping it away.


Ok…so now it’s just me….(you can see where i tried to clone some things using photogene2, but that didn’t really go anywhere.  So instead, i decided to just paint white where i wasn’t.  and then I had this:


I hoped this was good enough to get going with the actual masking/blending.


so now it was time to fire up Image blender           After some experimentation i found out that the blend mode of “Color Dodge” had the right effect i was going for.

You can see how the other modes in the screen shot don’t do the thing i was after.


Then i found out I had to put the background on the left, and the foreground on the right. Lessons learned :

  • I was too excited about the effect as it was.  Had i moved that slider over to the middle i would a have gotten a little more detail and contour shown in my cheek that make the effect pretty cool.  Too much in the middle though, and the background made me look like i has whiskers like a cat around my nose.
  • Also – i did no experimentation with placement – It was a happy happy accident that the blue started right at my upper lip and moved down my throat.  I saw that and was like “BOOOOM” and stopped working and published the photo.
  • I was worried that the low resolution of the front-facing camera was going to be problem, but it wasn’t at ALL.  word.  ( i was going for a kind of crudded look anyway)
  • I think this technique could be used with all sorts of background images….



Syncing A Canon 580EXii In Stand-Alone Commander Mode With Any Camera


The Context

I was given my Grandad’s Canon AE-1.  I’ve let it sit in a closet for 18 years. But I fixed it & It’s back in business now.  I want to use it & sync multiple flashes to do some … flash stuff.  So i’ve been learning to really use a flash meter & work stuff out.

What I’ve Learned

The 580EXii can act as a commander in manual mode for 3 groups NOT connected to a TTL camera.  You can just power it up and program in your power levels for the 3 groups A:B:C…DOPE!  OR you can do the whole ETTL-style thing with power ratios…but i’m going to not pay attention to that ‘cause I can work out the ratios in my head, & I feel safer & more “grounded” if i’m working with 1/8th power, 1/4th power, etc…

You can even fire your grunt flashes by setting your power levels (on the commander, mind you, this is the key to the neat-ness) & hitting the pilot button, & they will all fire correctly, for old school manual realness. 

A 580EXii can be fired/triggered from the camera either by a PC sync cord, or the hotshoe via a long cable.  

(but callisonic…why don’t you just use pocketwizards?…

cause i spent a year using pocketwizards and getting black frames when the shitting things wouldn’t communicate with each other…i switched over to a hybrid long hotshoe-corded / McNally method of line of sight, and saw my flashes all start to work in a rock solid fashion EVEN OUTDOORS.  seriously 33% of all my shots were missed cause the pocket wizards couldn’t hang.)

Turns out:  

The 580EXii *doesn’t* transmit commander info when synced/fired by the PC cord method. dang!

The 580EXii *does* transmit commander info to grunt flashes if triggered by the hotshoe cable.  EVEN if that hotshoe cable is a “dumb” hotshoe cable…not a modern ETTL hotshoe on the camera…even the Canon AE-1 (&presumably any camera with a hotshoe connection) will trigger the flash which will send out the commander pulses to the grunt flashes.  DOPE!

They don’t tell you this in the manual so hopefully i just saved you 15 dollars on a pc cord purchase that’s unnecessary.

Can’t wait to make multi-flash photos with my grandad’s 35mm film camera.  yeah.

Sidenote:  I’m going to try and refrain from using MALE/FEMALE & MASTER/SLAVE language when I talk about this stuff from now on.  That’s gonna be hard to do as an A/V nerd.  but that language needs to be deprecated, stat.

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