Before I get too far into this, I want to preempt by saying I am just starting to mess with this technique. But I have to say, the tips and tricks I have learned through Calvin are phenomenal and have given me a whole new outlook on my editing process.
Who the hell is Calvin Hollywood?
I know that was my first question. I first ran across the name, “Calvin Hollywood” 6 months ago on Flickr but didn’t really look into it. I wasn’t into post work for photos, other the my minimal curves and level adjustments. But a few weeks ago, I became interested in upping my skills. I wanted to figure out to give a little “pop” to my photography, something that would become a signature style over time. The name “Calvin” swirled around in my head a bit, until I remembered seeing some editing in his style that I had liked. So, like any red-blooded American, I Google him and found his website, and more specifically, his tutorials.
His website told me, “Calvin Hollywood is a digital artist, photographer, photoshop-trainer and autor from germany. He is a photography based artist and put the focus – in image editing with Photoshop. He is also Adobe Promoter and trainer for Photoshop and typing for magazines.” Sounds like what I am looking for, so I moved on and watched the few samples out there and knew right away I wanted to see more.
I quickly typed in my PayPal info and bought the 4-hour series. For $39.99, you are getting your moneys worth and then a whole lot more. Go ahead and Google some other workshops out there. Ones you have to travel to. They cost an arm and a leg. And with this, you can download the entire series in 5-minute clips to get right to the detail you want. Watch, rewind, over and over. Best $40 I have ever spent to further my skills.
The first thing I noticed was his portrait techniques. After all, that’s what I was really trying to improve upon. The series nicely picks apart different methods of achieving a look you want in your editing. He talks about getting smooth skin, sharp eyes and amazing tones. Once of the best tricks I picked up here was his Dodging and Burning style.
As Ansel Adams said, “Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.” And ain’t that the truth? You can really go from mild to extreme here – and he shows you both. This photo of Ashley on the right is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.
I even employ some of these techniques for my landscape / nature work now. His way just makes sense.
I really wasn’t looking to improve my landscape work, I liked what I was doing. But after seeing a few subtle touches he does, it changed my perception drastically. And one main thing was his Double RAW conversions (see the image to the left here).
In this technique, as Calvin suggested, I imported the RAW into Photoshop and fine-tuned the exposure, sharpness, etc. as I normally would (bringing it in as a smart object). Then, a copy of that smart object is made, and re-edited in monotone to bring out strong contrasts and blended back into Photoshop. From there, you can preform your edits as normal – but with a very nicely contrasted image. I explained that like shit, so here is his video he put out on YouTube explaining Double RAW Conversion.
Watch it now. FYI – when he says “convetation” he is meaning “conversion.” He says he was just learning English here, and he had that word wrong.
What I really want to do now is start using what I have learned from his videos and emails (yes, he emails you right back if you ask a question) and create a style all my own. I do not wish to copy him or any other artist, but add his skill-set to my basket of tricks and tips for photo editing. Again, I am at the very early learning stages right now, but I see so much new potential in my style and in my work.
No, I refuse to give out his secrets. For $40, he isn’t asking for much and I think if you really want to learn this, you are paying so little to do it. This is his living, his livelihood. There are a bunch he has put out on YouTube – but to get the big picture, this series does it.
I am in no way associated with Calvin Hollywood or any of his productions. Just a big fan of his style and work.
Update: If I can get my hands on one to demo, I just may change my mind. Have been reading some great stats on this and have seen some amazing images.
I am already getting bombarded with emails from people asking if I plan to upgrade to the D800 or the D800E in the near future. To cut to the chase, the answer is no. I would more likely go to the D4 before the D800′s – but, I won’t be leaving my D700 anytime soon.
1.Shooting style. I am not a studio / wedding photographer – rather – I rely heavily on low-light capabilities. The D800 dropped the ball here as it seems to be designed more for the studio guy than the street guy (regarding ISO noise). Though the D800 is slammed with megapixels, that doesn’t get me into low-light shooting like the D700 can. (So I am not reinventing the wheel, read on here, in the “Sensor” section. Hunter did a great job explaining it all.) And no, I am not knocking the D800 at all – hell, if I were doing studio shots that I wanted to blow up to the size of state, it’d be my goto camera. But that’s not me. I like to shoot mainly in low light situations. Concert shots in shitty lighting. Scenes at dusk in natural light. Hand held shots in utter blackness. These are the scenes that really interest me. And this is something I can already do with my D700 – and it does it well. Yes, I do like to play around with studio stuff – strobes and whatnot. But that’s only a small fraction of my time with my camera.
2. I am a photographer. Not a videographer. I think it is nice that these cameras can do video, but again, this isn’t a field that interests me. For those that need a DSLR that can do video, obviously the D700 isn’t a consideration of yours and I am sure the D4 and D800′s look very nice and appealing now. For this group of people, have at it!
3. Bazillions of Megapixels. This is again something that is inviting, but is not necessary for my style. 99% of my photographs go to Flickr or 500px. I’ll occasionally blow something up big for my wall (30×20 for example) or the occasional gallery sized work and a 12 MP camera is more than enough for that. All my other prints tend to be in the 5×7 – 8×10 range for friends and family. MP is not an issue (again, for me).
4. Manual Focus. Yes, the D800 has a killer new auto-focus system. But as you know, I do not use auto-focus. For me, manual is the only possible option, being on all Zeiss glass. And that ‘s the way I prefer it. So this system means nothing to me. Sadly.
5. Cost. No brainer here. D700 was bought in cash. D800E is $3300….
6. Ken Rockwell. Good ol Kenny claims it to be the best camera ever. Yeah, he’s a putz trying to make a buck off your emotions – so that just drives me away from it more. (Would someone please send him some food stamps so he stops begging for money on his damned website?) He spends half the article promoting the LEICA M9, which he also claims to be the best camera ever. (Have to admit though, that takes some damned nice shots!)
So, there you have it, in a nutshell. Would I turn it away if someone was giving it to me? Hell no! I love toys, and this is one bad ass camera in the right hands. Sadly, it just doesn’t fit my style of shooting – so the need for the upgrade isn’t there. I’ll wait for Nikon to come out with a real low-light heavyweight camera. Maybe the D900 or D5?