I'd like to offer up my method for managing my stash of textures, elements, overlays, and masks that I've acquired through courses like AWAKE, Kaizen, and from content I've purchased. It's a bit different to what Sebastian Michaels' suggests, but each to their own. It's a big decision to make, so considering various strategies allows you to make an informed decision before taking the plunge to get organized. This overview assumes you already know a bit about navigating your way round Lightroom Classic and how to import images.
Just considering textures alone - I have over 4000 textures after the AWAKE and KAIZEN courses, along with creating my own. Too many to search through if they were all in one folder. One option is to create folders for each type of texture: grunge, paint, black and white, cracks, urban, concrete… but that quickly makes for some hard decisions. How would you file this texture on the right? You certainly don't want to duplicate the image and put it into multiple folders!
Rather than fuss about which folder an image should be filed in, forget about filing entirely. Let Lightroom work for you instead, with keywords, searches, and smart collections. When you get a new content bundle, unzip each content package into a main folder for all your goodies. I usually let the folder be autonamed by the package name, which also makes it easier to trace back to the source (e.g., "2LO Artist 11", "FS_Cloudy_Day_background_"). Within my main folder, I also have separate folders for AWAKE, Kaizen, and my own content, but that doesn't really matter. Once the content is unzipped, import it into your Lightroom catalog. Then (and this is the only painful bit), keyword every image.
How to keyword
Ctrl-K or Cmd-K gets you to the Keywording panel quickly. Simply type in your keywords, separated by commas. As your collection of keywords builds up, Lightroom will autosuggest and autocomplete for you. For the above texture, I've tagged it as "fabric, cracked, watercolor, texture". I can then easily find it (and others) by simply searching for "texture fabric" or "texture watercolor", or whatever. It's up to you as to how detailed you get, but once keyworded, you will more likely be able to find your goodies in the future. Keyword all your photos too, not just your stash. Even if you have a big collection already, start like you mean to go on with new images and knock the rest off in 15 minute chunks each day till they're all done. It will save you more time in the long run as your images will be so much easier to find. I have over 45000 images in my collection, and they are finally all keyworded.
HINT: Lightroom can keyword hierarchically and you can add synonyms which can make it easier to add multiple keywords at once. But I don't always bother.
The benefit of keywording over filing is that one image can belong in multiple categories so you no longer have to angst over whether a texture should be filed under "black and white", "urban" or "grunge". It can be all three, and more!
Some images I've keyworded in more detail than others - you can only do so much. But I figure with at least one keyword, it stands a chance of being found again. And with so much wonderful content out there, it's so easy to get overwhelmed and not be able to find anything.
Potentially useful keywords:
texture, overlay, mask, element, brush, grunge, urban, mixed media, illustration, vintage, antique, black and white, bird (or if you're like me, specific species including their Latin names), location (ie specific place),... and on and on...
Finding content using Find/Search
Once you have keywords, you can then start finding your stuff:
Finding content using Smart Collections
This is where the magic lies… A Smart Collection is essentially a saved search. You don't have to manually add images to the collection; instead the collection is automatically created through search rules. Not only can you set up and save specific keyword searches, you can include information about the images, like aspect ratio and size. One of my favourite collections is "Textures that are square and greater than 4000px" - the starting point for most of my composited images.
How do you create a smart collection?
Click the + icon on the top right of the Collections panel and choose Create Smart Collection. Give it a name then create rules to define the search.
Once you've created the collection, you can edit it. This smart collection looks in any folder called "Compositing resources" and looks for square images greater than 4000px with the keyword "texture":
You'll quickly come up with smart collections to suit your purposes.
Do let me know in the comments how I can improve, clarify and/or correct any of this information. Hope this helps someone! I wish someone had told me much earlier :)
Week 1 of the Art of Birding Challenge (#artofbirdingweek1) and the first assignment was to go somewhere off the beaten track where we hadn't been before and take a photo that might inspire someone else to also visit. I chose Birdwood Reserve because I wasn't sure my legs were up to taking on the Faultline Track at Zealandia, which was Plan A.
Birdwoord Reserve is in a steep valley adjacent to Zealandia, along Waiapu Road, with connecting tracks to various streets in Karori. We walked from the entrance opposite the Zealandia office buildings, down to the floor of the valley, then up the scarp on the other side, down the Birdwood steps, exiting into Birdwood carpark. Then it was just a short walk back down Waiapu Road to complete the loop. I'd actually recommend going back through the reserve, if you have time, as it's far prettier than the road.
The Reserve plays an important role for many of Zealandia's birds - it's part of the first ring in the "halo" surrounding the fenced sanctuary and provides habitat for many native birds along with helping create a "green corridor" to link up Wellington's reserves and green belt. Because it is outside the Zealandia fence, there is no protection from mustelid predators, and instead the birds rely on the local community to bait and trap instead. We were happy to see evidence of a caring community, with a number of chew cards and tracking tunnels, along with signs of native plantings and very little litter.
The bottom of the valley is the most picturesque and there are many photo ops of the Kaiwharawhara Stream as it meanders through the valley, including a weir and a little waterfall. I still had Janice's ND filters, so had another go at the slow-mo water effect (which was a challenge that nearly thwarted me with the 2017 Dogwood Photography Challenge). This is my shot for my Week 1 entry for the #ArtofBirding2018 challenge (photo at top).
It's a little bit of a huff-and-puff up the hill, but on a well-formed track with many switch-backs that ease the gradient. Nearer the houses at the top of the scarp, there was more weed invasion, including this gorgeous but invasive banana passionfruit.
Because of the spillover from Zealandia, there is plenty of bird life, including kākā, kākāriki (heard but not seen), and tūī (Linton had the birding lens today so no birds pics from me). There are also plenty of native trees, including koekoe and kōtukutuku (I love their gnarly trunks and roots). Keep an eye out for a beautiful mature rewarewa near the top of the scarp.
All up, the walk took just over an hour, including messing about taking photos. The reserve tells a different but complementary story to Zealandia, and has a different feel about it despite it being next door. Well worth a visit, in our opinion.
#artofbirding2018, #aob2018, #artofbirdingweek1, #birdwoodreserve, #zealandia, #greenbelt, #nzconservation, #wellington, #whywellington, #offthebeatentrack, #sonya7riii, #sonya9
I did it! Challenge completed on 30 Dec 2017. Thanks to everyone who offered encouragement over the year, and especially to Janice who loaned me equipment at strategic points! Was it worth doing the weekly challenge? At various times, I wondered, but now that I've completed it I say absolutely! Was it hard? You betcha! It really brought home how different fields of photography require totally different skill sets. And that I still suck at bringing "story" to my images - mainly because it takes thought and effort and I don't always have the head-space to do that. But I also found that I love shooting still life and not just wildlife, and that taking people photos is not quite so scary anymore.
For 2018, I wanted to find a challenge with a more wildlife focus, in part so that more of my friends would perhaps join me (more fun with more than one!), but I couldn't find anything quite what I was after. So I decided to go all-in and put together my own challenge - for myself and for anyone else in the world who wishes to join me. The overall challenge is to use your wildlife and nature photos not just for pretty pictures, but for advocacy: by telling a (visual) story, creating compelling images, and improving on technical skills, then posting your images online for others to enjoy, be inspired by, and to learn from. You can start the challenge at any time, and do it at your own pace. You only have yourself to satisfy. Find out more at on the challenge webpage and join our private Facebook group if you decide to take the challenge on.
So without further ado, here are the photos for the last quarter of the 2017 Dogwood Challenge. If you're interested and inspired, they're doing a 2018 version.
Week 40: Colorful B&W (Story)
Tell a story of a colourful scene using black and white - I struggled with this one, especially as no flowers were allowed, but figured that colourful scenes are created with these!
Week 41: Levitation (Technical)
Ermmygawd this is awful! I did intend doing this with a more willing model, but wasn't sure I could do it by the end of the year, and the desire to finish the challenge was stronger. This picture also helps fulfill one of my 2017 New Year resolutions, which was to "get over myself" when it comes to having my photo taken! Needless to say I didn't submit this image to the goddess of self-portrait fine art photography, Brooke Shaden, in my recent portfolio review with her.
Week 42: Music (Artistic)
Linton's lovely acoustic Martin guitar. If you look closely, you'll see the bottom E string is ringing.
Week 43: Movement (Story)
After such a struggle with the panning challenge a few weeks back, it was good to have another opportunity to try, and this time more successfully. We had the wonderful opportunity to go on a dawn cruise at Zealandia, where we got to watch the early morning, frantic, nest-building in the kāruhiruhi (pied shag) colony. This chap was particularly ambitious (perhaps over-compensating) with his super-sized stick! He was keen to get back to the missus, because if she's impressed with his stick, then he got to mate with her. Unfortunately for him, he didn't have a prime nesting spot low to the water, so he had to try and fly up to the nest high in the tree. It takes a lot of effort for a shag to get out of the water and into the air, and it's even harder with a giant stick.
Week 44: Magic ND Filter (Technical)
I was imagining doing some gorgeous Craig Potton-style vista of cascading waterfalls for this challenge, but never managed to be in the right place at the right time with the right weather, so decided to focus on the technical side of the challenge so that I'd know how to approach using an ND filter in the future. This photo was taken in the local Otari-Wilton's bush, unfortunately on a day with dappled light that caused hot-spots across the image and a breeze that ruffled the leaves on the longer exposures. And it's not much of a waterfall either. But with time running out (this was taken 29 Dec), it is what it is.
Week 45: Cold (Artistic)
"Still life with plum ice cream, plums, and petals". My intention was to use pixel-shift on the Sony a7Riii to get incredible resolution, but the ice-cream was melting too fast! The technology only works if there is no movement in the image at all. However, the individual photos were still more than good enough for the challenge. And the ice cream was delicious - Kāpiti Black Doris Plum and Crème Fraîche, if you're curious. This was my most favourite challenge in this quarter.
Week 46: Landscape Foreground (Story)
The challenge says "Many stories are based around portraits, but landscapes can have stories also. Tell the story of a landscape by using the foreground as the subject and the background as the scene". And yes, I didn't really achieve this at all, story-wise, but I did quite like the landscape even though, yet again, I had to shoot with dappled light. Would you believe after months of gloomy days, we had a two week run of hot, sunny weather! I'd hoped to get the mushrooms on the log showing up more prominently - with all the dry weather, the only fungi around were in the stream itself. I intend having another go at this photo another day...
Week 47: Shaped Bokeh (Technical)
I saved this challenge until after we had the Christmas tree up, as I knew I could use the lights to good effect in this challenge. I originally tried with a bird-shaped bokeh, but never quite got it working right in a scene. This Christmassy set-up was much easier.
Week 48: Bodyscape (Artistic)
Linton kindly loaned me his hand for this shot. The focusing is a bit soft, but I like it anyway.
Week 49: Blue Hour (story)
Again more big plans to go to some scenic spot during "blue hour" (i.e., dusk) were thwarted through lack of planning and inspiration, so I just headed into the garden instead. I do plant a lot of white-flowering plants as I love how they glow in the evening. I can't remember the name of this rose - it's a prolifically-blooming patio rose, though with little scent.
Week 50: Full Edit (Technical)
This was an interesting challenge - to take the "straight-out-of-camera" photo from Week 2 (i.e., with no post-processing) and jazz it up with a full edit. Back in January, I had deliberately chosen to shoot a somewhat challenging photo by shooting into the sun, giving deep shadows and a strong overblown highlight. Annoyingly, I only had a JPG to work with and not the original RAW file, so couldn't pull back the highlights as much as I'd have liked. (Full edit on the left, SOOC on the right). Taken at sunset in Island Bay.
Week 51: Fear (Artistic)
I had been wondering what to do for this challenge when one morning I came across this lovely girl in the kitchen sink. I raced for the macro lens and she obligingly posed. I'm not particularly afraid of spiders, but going by the reactions on the Dogwood Facebook page, plenty are!
Week 52: Your Story
You don't have to know much about me to know that my story is their story. The NZ kākā parrot. My muse and motivation. And this photo also is a photo of me - I am reflected in her eye. For over ten years, we have been involved with their conservation and restoration in the Wellington region. They have changed my life - and for the better!
I hope you've enjoyed following along on these challenges. And that maybe in 2018 you might be inspired to do one yourself. It's been challenging to post photos that aren't my best work, but some weeks it was either a choice of "phoning it in" to just get it done, or abandoning the challenge, and I just wasn't prepared to do that. Looking back, I think doing this challenge has improved my photography - if nothing else, it certainly made me try some things out that I may never have gotten around to. I'm now looking forward to seeing where my 2018 challenge will take me. What challenges or resolutions are you making?
I am so glad I didn't take on a 365 challenge as I'm struggling (failing) to keep up with a weekly challenge. Rather than doing them weekly, I find I'm doing a bunch at a time or when an opportunity arises, rather than deliberately setting out to do a challenge each week. Throw in some procrastination and perfectionism, it's a recipe for dipping out before the challenge is completed. But I am determined to see this through though, and today did a big push to catch up with the third quarter, even if some aren't my best work. Will I get the last quarter done by the end of the year? Feel free to place your bets!
Week 27 - Communication (Artistic)
I love how the light from her screen makes her face glow.
From teeny-tiny fungi to crazy kākā, the 2018 Zealandia calendar is a cracker! The creating of the calendar is one of the biggest projects my volunteer Sanctuary Storytellers group at Zealandia undertakes. Every year it gets better and better, with gorgeous wildlife photography and compelling stories. And at $19.90, it makes the perfect stocking stuffer or secret Santa gift. You can get it from the Visitors Centre shop or order online.
Not only are there 13 months, but NZ holidays are marked along with significant wildlife and conservation days. And every cent made goes back into conservation.
A true team effort with photos, writing, research, and editing from: myself, Vanya Bootham, Rosemary Cole, Brendon Doran, Lynn Freeman, Chris Gee, Chris Helliwell, Eeva-Katri Kumpula, Hayley May, Janice McKenna, Linton Miller, Ali McDonald, and Louise Slocombe.
Judi Lapsley Miller
The natural world and wildlife conservation provides endless joy and despair, beauty and devastation. I strive to advocate for our endangered species and ecosystems and am currently exploring wildlife advocacy through creative interpretation.