Thomas J. Sebourn Photography: Blog en-us (C) Thomas J. Sebourn Photography (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Mon, 05 Dec 2016 16:59:00 GMT Mon, 05 Dec 2016 16:59:00 GMT Thomas J. Sebourn Photography: Blog 82 120 SLEEKLENS.COM LANDSCAPE ADVENTURE COLLECTION ACTIONS REVIEW One sentence review: Great actions for beginner to intermediate landscape photographers, but advanced shooters will want more control.  

The kind people at Landscape recently asked me to review their Aventure Photoshop Actions.  These actions are "intended to speed up the editing process of landscape photographs while producing professional results."  

I don't use a lot of actions in my workflow, but if you use photoshop, you know that there are multiple ways to skin the proverbial cat. For this reason, no two photographers' workflow will be the same. I find myself making the majority of my global corrections in ACR, denoising in Photoshop with a plugin, then making extremely refined adjustments with luminosity masks. These are fairly specific adjustments, that I want complete control over.

The only actions I consistently use are Tony Kuyper's luminosity mask action sets. Like most advanced photographers who use photoshop, I find that actions make too broad of an adjustment--however, this is not a bad thing. If you can find a formula or recipe of actions that you like, it can save you an infinite amount of post-processing time.

I really liked what the actions did for dark cloudy skies. but the actions at their default 100% strength were too much for my taste and found I had to take the opacity slider and move it to 10-35%

These generalizations about actions apply to sleeklens' Adventure Actions too. These are fantastic actions, but they don't give me the absolute control that I demand. If you shoot mostly JPEG and don't want to spend the time and energy to learn all of the ins and outs of Photoshop, these actions are perfect. Hit play and adjust opacity to taste is all you need to do to create some great images.

]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Digital action actions landscape adventure photoshop reveiw sleek lens Landscape Adventure Collection Mon, 05 Dec 2016 16:58:51 GMT
Creating Digitally Stacked Star Trail Images in Photoshop CS6 Lighten Method Tutorial In this Photoshop Tutorial showing you how I create my star trail images in Photoshop CS6 with the "Lighten" method.



]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Thu, 09 May 2013 20:24:56 GMT
Hey Photographers! Please Stop Working for Free!! I’ve always interested in marketing and business trends, both inside and outside of the photography business, which leads me to craigslist every now and again. Being free and only slightly moderated, Craigslist is truly a jungle of opportunistic scammers, legit job seekers, perverts, and pretty much else everyone under the sun. My only request to photographers using craigslist is to stop working for free!

I don’t care how inexperienced you are and how small your portfolio is, your time/effort/and equipment are worth some sort of compensation!! A “great opportunity” to meet new clients &network is not compensation; if you had the requisite networking skills in place, you would not be using craigslist to find unpaid photography gigs. Additionally, I’d argue that it bad marketing to do unpaid work as a photographer because the people at the event that you are networking with will most likely be able to find out how much your services costs—AKA zero. If someone wants to hire a professional photographer, do you think that they are going to choose you?? You’ve already publicized that you are not skilled enough to get paid to take photographs. If you want to become a professional, you have to get paid something tangible; if you deliver a good value for your client’s $$, word will get around about you.


]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Wed, 08 May 2013 21:54:08 GMT
Silver Efex Pro 2 vs Photoshop CS6 Tutorial In this video I process a color image using both Silver Efex Pro 2 and than using the basic tools in Photoshop CS6.


]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Tue, 07 May 2013 17:25:55 GMT
Tips to Improve Average Images in Adobe Camera Raw We all take average looking images, and that's okay! If every image we took were amazing, photography would be less satisfying, at least IMO. I took a very average image of the Golden Gate Bridge and attempted to make it "better." Honestly, I'm not sure if I succeeded.

]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Mon, 06 May 2013 19:32:50 GMT How to Shoot Star Trails Thanks to everyone who gave me feedback on "Star Chasing: Creating Amazing Digitally Stacked Star Trail Images." I have moved all of my educational products to my digital photo education site:

Thanks in advance for checking it out and providing feedback!

]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Digital camera capture create digitally stack, how to, photo photograph shoot star star trails, tutorial Thu, 02 May 2013 23:31:56 GMT
Building Your Own Website Having one's own website is imperative in today's digital world. However, the frustration of building one's own website is tangible even for those that are internet & technology savvy. In my attempts to break away from zenfolio (not that there is anything wrong with zenfolio, I greater appreciate for its efficiencies now that I've tried creating a webpage with wordpress.) My frustration stems from the dichotomy of choice--there are 15 million different ways to create a "professional" looking webpage, each with their advantages and disadvantages. I tried dreamweaver, but holy-hell I'm certainly no coder; I tried Muse and I like it more than dreamweaver; I'm in the middle of attempting wordpress, but it is more like a jigsaw puzzle than I web building tool.

I remember having the same frustrations when learning the ins and outs of Photoshop. Hopefully one day I'll look back upon this post and laugh, though I feel more like screaming at wordpress & elegant themes right now.


]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Wed, 01 May 2013 05:00:51 GMT
El Capitan Fresh Angle? Its so difficult to find fresh angles in Yosemite Valley; I tried to go for a unique framing with the tree in the left portion of the image. Adding to the difficult is balancing the massive dynamic range of this image; too much noise in the darker parts of the image are caused by me pushing the pixels too far in ACR 7.3. Most people will not notice when posted on the web, but this would be very noticeable if I were to print this image (as is) at 60x40.


]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Thu, 11 Apr 2013 00:28:44 GMT
My Article in Digital SLR Magazine Starting next month, everyone in America should pick up a hard copy:

]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Wed, 10 Apr 2013 16:09:07 GMT
Half Dome Who knows how many times Half Dome has been photographed from Sentinel Bridge at Sunset. Here are my additions:


The above image is a long exposure HDR image. It suffers from too much noise, but it looks good on the computer screen. Below is an 8 image panoramic.

]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Tue, 09 Apr 2013 20:27:59 GMT
Thanks! I just completed my biggest print transaction to date. Big thanks to everyone who encouraged me along the way!



Here is me and one of the 60x40's; I wonder if I can go bigger????

]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Wed, 27 Mar 2013 22:57:35 GMT
Understanding the Different Layout Options When Digitally Stitching Panoramic Images There are six different "layout" options when digitally stitching panoramic images with photomerge: auto, perspective, cylindrical, spherical, collage, and reposition. Below I have posted the results of using the same series of images with all six options.  All images were taken using a 35mm lens on a full frame body on a Manfrotto panoramic tripod head.







]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Mon, 18 Mar 2013 19:13:41 GMT
Should I Write A Book on Night Photography? Would anyone be interested in reading a short how-to guide on shooting Star Trails?? Does anyone even read my blog?? It seems like I always get 20 views in the 15 seconds after I post the link on Twitter, which leads me to believe that robots are reading my words, assuming that robots can read.

]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Fri, 08 Mar 2013 21:06:47 GMT
Why You Should Use Manual Focus I'm not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I use manual focus during the majority of my shoots because I know that I can do a better job placing the focus than the camera when shooting landscapes and portraits. The only situations in which I use my cameras autofocus is for quickly moving subjects: sports, wildlife, candid, and maybe during events.
I cannot come up with one good reason why I should shoot a landscape image on autofocus--if your subject is stationary it is not difficult to use your view finder or the circle of confusion to completely nail the focus 100% of the time. You can even use both to double check your focus. If you're using a zoom lens, another technique you can use is the compose/zoom in/zoom out technique that allows you do zoom in on your subject to check your focus.
Another tool that I use is a hyper focal distance calculator on my iPhone or iPad. With this tool you input your camera sensor info, focal length, aperture, and focus distance, and the calculator will tell provide you with how much depth of field you will have in focus. From using this tool frequently, I can guestimate how much DOF I have with certain focal length and aperture settings pretty freaking accurately.
The point I'm trying to get across is that most situations do not require super-fast, super accurate, super expensive autofocusing systems. Do I love my SSM on my 70-200? No doubt; but mostly because I use that lens in situations that require focusing faster than your average landscape scene. So many intermediate level photographers I know brag about how fast their autofocussing is or how their new camera has 110 autofocussing points; which is great if they are shooting their kids soccer game, but totally useless for shooting landscapes.
And yet again, here is another blog post that has broken down to the lesson of: know what your needs are before spending a ton of money for features that you don't need. And oh yeah, try using manual focus for your landscape images :)

]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Digital auto autofocus camera focus how howto landscape portrait portraits scenic to tutorial Mon, 04 Mar 2013 23:11:26 GMT
Stop Worrying About Scratching Your (Telephoto) Lens Like most serious photographers, I baby the sh!t out of my lenses and filters. There is a constant struggle to keep my tools free from dust, sea air, scratches, etc.; but after using a couple of seriously flawed lenses, I would encourage y’all to seriously consider buying a less than perfect condition lens.

As many of you know, I severely damaged a Samyang 8mm fisheye lens during my latest visit to Arches National Park. Since I love that lens, I purchased a replacement a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of a camping trip to Valley of Fire State Park. However, take a look at the side by side images that I took with my damaged and undamaged Sigma 8mm. There is a clear difference in IQ, but considering the extensive damage, the injured lens still performs decently.

Damaged Sigma:

Side By Side Comparisons





Recently, I was able to purchase a chipped Sigma 500mm off of Ebay for 1/3 its regular price. The seller stated that he could not see any difference in image quality, despite the glaring damage to the lens. In addition to the major chunk torn off of one of the frontal elements, the lens had also be cleaned of fungus. After my own testing, and to my great satisfaction, I do not see any image quality issues on either my Sony a55 or my full frame a850.

The above damage is larger than a US Quarter


Fungus issues:

And Check out how these have zero affect on IQ:

I’m sure there is a scientific reason why the telephoto lens is less affected by the imperfection in the lens, but I’m not much of a scientist…

]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Beach California Pier blemish camera damage image lens quality scratch Tue, 26 Feb 2013 19:09:19 GMT
It's better to be lucky than good I just picked up a very used Sigma 500mm f/4.5 lens on ebay that I dragged down to the beach this morning to play with. The weather in So. Cal was total crap this morning, so I didn't think I'd actually find anything worthwhile to photography. But I figured it would be good practice to photography some sea birds whilst I got the hang of such a massive lens.  

Low and behold, I come across an abandoned California Sea Lion pup that is in the process of being rescued by a local non-profit that rescues and rehabs local marine life ( Too bad I got distracted by a flock of Sand Pipers on my walk north as I could have had 15 minutes to photograph this little guy.


Two lessons I take away from today's adventures:

1. Always bring your camera even if you don't think you will use it.

2. It's better to be lucky than good.


]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Beach california camera el porto lion pup sea sea lion, Wed, 20 Feb 2013 22:03:47 GMT
Extraordinary Magazine Excerpt: Capturing Unique Images in Yosemite Valley If you have an Ipad, check out the free magazine Extraordinary Vision


Here is an excerpt from my contribution to the current edition:


Yosemite is amazing, but good luck getting a unique shot from anywhere accessible in Yosemite Valley. In locations like Yosemite, I try to push the digital post-processing creativity.  My plan for this trip was to shoot HDR panoramic images and/or long exposure HDR images with the 10-stop ND filter. This is a long exposure HDR image of El Capitan taken in the ice-cold Merced River. The cloud action makes this image. Metadata: Sony A700, Sigma 10-20mm @ 10mm, F/11, 4 exposures (2, 10, 40, 70 seconds), ISO 200. Images processed in Photomatix. GPS Coordinates: 37°43'1.70"N, 119°39'42.34"W. 


Photomatix tutorial:

Natural Looking HDR

]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) California Digital Extraordinary Photomatix Vision Yosemite magazine post processing tutorial Wed, 13 Feb 2013 18:14:24 GMT
Instagram I recently discovered Instagram. At first I was hesitant to post images because I thought my images deserved to be uploaded and viewed at a much larger resolution--I have professional equipment, why would I want to show off my work next to images that were taken with a iPhone camera??

Yes, there is rampant abuse of filters, frames, and over-the-top vintage, but who cares? Many old school photographers will shun Instagram and miss sharing their images with an entirely new audience.

Then it dawned on me that I have thousands of "less than perfect" images that I've never shared because I thought that they were flawed. By flawed I mean that the images would not be accepted at a micro-stock agency or ones that I could not print super large due to shutter-shake, focus, poor framing, etc. On Instagram, nobody will notice these imperfections.

I'm now going back through my entire catalog of images and editing them on my iPad with either the Instagram or SnapSeed app (<------ is a super amazing free app that works flawlessly on the iPad; I'll write a blog post dedicated to it's awesomeness soon.) My goal is to upload one image a day.

Here is a an image I took on my Sony Alpha 850 that I processed with SnapSeed:


]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Mon, 28 Jan 2013 17:37:08 GMT
Buying the Right Camera People frequently ask what camera they should buy. My response is always: what are you going to use it for? If you’re only posting the images on Facebook or on the web, you certainly do not need a 25 megapixel DSLR; however, if you want to print 8x10’s, you’ll probably need something better than your iPhone camera.


 I have a friend who shall remain nameless, who recently purchased a point-and-shoot camera for hundred $199,  which he proudly pointed out, had a 20x optical zoom. To me, I couldn't think of a more worthless function on a point-and-shoot camera than a 20x optical.  If you're shooting at that focal length odds are that you're going to have tremendous shutter shake and ultimately, an unusable image. Additionally,  at the length the max aperture is probably f/5.6, which will require a shutter speed is going to be soo slow that your camera will select a super high ISO, that ultimately will result in an unusable image.


How often will he/she really can be shooting it that focal length? The only thing you'd be shooting would be sports or wildlife. Is a point-and-shoot autofocus really going to be the autofocusing capabilities to capture a fast-moving person or animal? Probably not!


My point I'm trying to make is that you should buy camera that meet your needs and not because it sounds good on paper.

]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Digital and buying camera guide point purchasing shoot tutorial Wed, 16 Jan 2013 22:18:01 GMT
Quick Product Review: Goja “Magic Fiber” Microfiber Cloth                 Let’s face it: your lenses, lcd screen, ipad, iphone, glass, sun-glasses, reading glasses, and filters are always dirty and in need of cleaning. And if you think that all microfiber cloths are created equal, you’re wrong. The best I’ve encountered are called Magic Fiber at; you get 3 16x16’s & one 6x7 for $12.99 on They always do the trick and have never scratched anything other than my Lee Big Stopper but I think I rubbed a grain of sand across it, which was user error.

****I have zero affiliation for Goja “Magic Fiber,” but if they want to send me free stuff I’d appreciate it!

]]> (Thomas J. Sebourn Photography) Fri, 04 Jan 2013 01:15:00 GMT