Jennifer & Chester Bullock
Watermark and copyright notices are something that everyone should use, especially if you are on Flickr. Naturally you want to put copyright information in the files themselves too. I haven’t been putting this information on my images in the form of a watermark until now because I didn’t know of an easy way to incorporate this into my workflow.

Lucky for me I recently came across Timothy Armes’ LR/2 Mogrify plugin for Lightroom 2 (it works on Windows and Mac). In order to use this on a Windows machine, you also need to download ImageMagick, a useful program I have used in the past in a LAMP environment for web applications. Lastly, you need a transparent PNG image to use as your watermark. The image I used for the photo above is at 30% opacity in Photoshop. If you don’t know how to create a transparent PNG image in Photoshop for watermarking purposes, I highly recommend Heather’s Watermark Tutorial.

My images typically start out between 7-9MB in size. Typical dimensions are 3648×2736 in size. Because of this, and wanting to ensure the watermark was visible, I made my watermark 200px tall. YMMV, but this works for me. If you are exporting to Facebook with the Friedl Plugin, you will likely need to adjust your settings substantially from what you use for Flickr. Just make sure you use Presets to save your settings for each type.

Once you have the file completed, it is a simple matter of using the plugin via Lightroom (after you have added it of course). The plugin gives you 9 base reference points you can anchor the plugin to, and then you can offset the placement in both the vertical and horizontal planes. You will have to experiment for a bit to see what works for you. One option you will see is whether or not you want to put the watermark on the image before you create any borders, or after. If you aren’t using borders, you can ignore this. I have seen some examples of incorporating the watermark/ logo into the border. Take a look and see if you like it.

Adding borders can be a bit confusing the first time you do it. At least it was for me. I thought that as you add numbers, you were working from the inside out. This means that the highest number would be the innermost frame, at least in my mind. It didn’t turn out to be the case though. Border 1 is always the innermost border. For my standard template, Border 1 is 15px all the way around and black. Border 2 is also 15px all the way around, and is white. Border 3 is the big one, at 30px all the way around and black in color. To me it gives images a nice framed and matted look. I only do this for the photos that get uploaded to Flickr and Facebook. Anything going to photos.chesterbullock.com (Zenfolio) gets no treatment, as I want the prints to be printed in original form without the borders and watermarks.

One thing to be careful of with the LR2/Mogrify tools – if you export later for a different purpose, make sure you disable the LR2/ Mogrify plugin. It stays on by default all the time in the Export window, and you could export something with edits you don’t mean to.

I truly wish I had come across this useful utility sooner. I am just very thankful I came across it at all.

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Breakdown of my first paid shoot

Lakewood High School Cheer Squad 2008/09
I think it is going to be important for me to keep notes of what went well, what I learned, and what I can improve on when I do a shoot. I haven’t been doing this for Megan’s Senior Pictures, although I have been thinking about it all in my head. But after photographing 16 cheerleaders (333 pictures in total on Saturday), it’s good to get this down while the experience is still fresh.

What I did right:

  • Prepared 16 individual galleries in Zenfolio (click on the link to save $5), underneath one password protected collection. This way the girls can go straight to their galleries, but can browse across them all.
  • Pre-printed notices, customized for each girl, with their unique gallery URL and also a date for when they can expect to see the photos online.
  • Had the cheer coach schedule the girls in a staggered fashion, so they wouldn’t all be standing around or a long time waiting their turn.
  • Shot early in the morning, starting at 9:15am.
  • Researched and printed cheerleader specific pose examples for the girls to review.
  • Used my Cactus Wireless Flash Trigger.

What I learned:

  • The sun is very bright, even at 9:30am.
  • You’ll get sunburned doing a long outdoor shoot (we were there for roughly three hours).
  • Bring water.
  • Backgrounds can be hard to manage in a public park.
  • When allowing “group” shots, try and manage how many you allow so the other people don’t lose interest.
  • Lightroom 2 is wonderful, as is the Zenfolio Plugin from Jeffrey Friedl, but they aren’t overly fast (or it could be my network connection).

What I can improve upon:

  • Have a giant diffuser made for the sunlight.
  • Learn more about manual flash settings.
  • Develop more skills for dealing with mid-day light.
  • Learn more about Lightroom/ Photoshop.
  • Learn more about posing (reading a book right now actually).

All in all I still think it went well. The proof will come when orders are placed. Uploads should be finished today, we’ll see how it goes.

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