As photographers progress in their hobby/profession, they soon start to recognize that in modern digital photography, half of the job is getting photos right in camera, but the other half is in processing them after capture. Post-processing includes a massive variety of skills and techniques. There is a wide array of software available for everything from preset application to detailed professional editing.
Personally, my post-processing game has never been my strongest attribute. I adore capturing photos, and I don't actively dislike editing, but I have never been obsessed with that part of the equation. I set out a couple of months ago to do something about that. I set out to learn two different skills. First, I wanted to learn more about frequency separation. As a portrait photographer, that's a really helpful skill. I have made some small steps with that one... but I still have a very long way to go. The second area that I really wanted to focus on was to start really understanding how to use Lumenzia, and to raise the quality of my work with exposure blending.
Just about the same time I decided I needed to study this topic, Greg Benz, the creator of Lumenzia, released his new Exposure Blending Master Course. This is one of the most well-constructed pieces of photography education I think I have ever seen! The course is built on a platform that allows Greg to adjust and update it as the software progresses through new updates. Just as a side note - so far, every update from Lumenzia has been absolutely free. You buy it once, and then as new functionality and refinements are introduced, you get an email that tells you "time to update!" The refinements and improvements in the software itself have been incredible. But that's a rabbit hole for another day. Today I want to concentrate more on discussing the course itself.
The photo on the bottom is my very first attempt at processing a single image with Lumenzia after completing just 30% of the Exposure Blending Master Course.
The one other thing that I must mention about Lumenzia is that it is a plug-in to be used in conjunction with Photoshop. It is not a stand-alone software tool. The great thing about the Exposure Blending Master Course is that it starts teaching the fundamental skills in Photoshop before it ever begins to introduce the use of Lumenzia. In fact, one could theoretically still get a ton of benefit from this course if they were to purchase the course, and then adapt that material to another Lumiosity Masking utility. But lucky for me, I already had Lumenzia, and I would very highly recommend that readers who don't already have a copy of Lumenzia purchase it right along with the course. It's cheap! It's incredibly powerful.
Greg lays out the functionality of masking tools, and the use of masks. He does a phenomenal job of explaining the advantages of using luminosity masks, and their benefits and limitations. As with any other tool, it is only as useful as the skill level of the person using it. And this is where the real beauty of the course comes into play. The course goes through a primer, and the basics of blending. Then it moves on to more specific skills related to exposure blending. The course is over seven hours of content. But really, it's a lot more than that, if you have Lumenzia too, because in some spots, you are actually directed over to the incredibly detailed and specific tutorials that are provided with the software itself.
Currently the course contains units that cover the best practices for workflow in dealing with exposure blending. It covers manipulating a single image, blending multiple images together, alternate workflows for those who do not have the same edition of Photoshop as the one used in the tutorial. Other units include getting great color, how to capture images in the field to better equip yourself for success in post, sky replacements, city scapes, landscapes, interior/real estate photography and then a bunch of bonus materials.
Once you have the first few units under your belt, the subsequent units stand very well on their own. You don't need to progress through the Landscape unit in order to understand the real estate unit, etc. The platform that he has used also gives him the flexibility to add units and expand the course in various new directions.
Everyone has their own learning style, and I'm a bit "slow on the uptake" for remembering processes in Photoshop. I created a Word document and took notes as the course was progressing, and I made my own list of hot keys and shortcuts to remember. There is a bonus item in the course that includes this sort of thing for you, but at least for me, I think there was great value in building out that sort of document on my own. Taking the time to stop, write it out, and then to give myself a little recap of the examples Greg used will really help me to tap back into that information when I go to recall it.
Included with the course are also all of the RAW files for the images used in the tutorials. At first I thought I was really going to use these a lot. I thought it was a really wonderful addition to the course. Then, when I started to dig into the course, I found myself getting really eager to use some of my very own images. So, I started to find images from my own library that would sort of parallel what Greg was using as an illustration, and spent my time working on those. Either way, it's a great resource to be able to access those original RAW files. It's very specific that these files are ONLY for your educational use, and they are not there for you to share out or publish in any way.
In addition to the tutorials, the course, and a lot of online videos, another phenomenal resource is the Luminosity Masking group that Greg runs on Facebook. This group is open to photographers that use any luminosity masking in any way. You can use a software program like Lumenzia (there are several others,) or you can actually create them yourself, if you want to delve into the nuts and bolts of Photoshop in an extreme way.
The thing that impresses me the most about the whole package of Lumenzia and the Exposure Blending Master Course is that they are all created by the same guy! Greg is clearly an extremely talented photographer. On top of that, he's obviously brilliant in terms of technology and coding, in order to create something as powerful and useful as Lumenzia. But the real trifecta here is his naturally exceptional ability to teach. Not everyone who understands a thing can teach it well. In fact, it often seems that the more talented someone is in the tech-centric realm, often there is a disconnect in how they go about presenting that information for a layperson. With Greg it is 100% the opposite of that. He has the perfect combinations of talents to make everything fall into place incredibly well.
Mark is a professional photographer working in the eastern United States. He is based in suburban Philadelphia, but shoots regularly in New York and eastern North Carolina, as well. Specializing in wedding & portrait photography, he is particularly a obsessed with capturing special events, moments and emotions.
On August 2nd, 2018, Mark will be presenting a series of classes at the Cardinal Camera in Charlotte, North Carolina. These same classes will be taught in the Lansdale, PA location in the Fall of 2018. If you are interested in attending a free photo meet-up, Mark and Tracy Munson will be leading a free photography meet-up in the Bay of Fundy region of New Brunswick, Canada. You can connect with either of us in the Photographers Cooperative Facebook Group, and we can add you to the private group with all of that information on the meet-up!
In November, 2018, he will be presenting a hands-on gear show through the Pennsylvania Center for Photography. Details about that opportunity will be available as the date gets closer!