Monthly Archives: July 2014

July 2014 – Vacation!!!

Yeah.  Much needed time off!  That is all.

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July 2014 – heartache

sky pano barn attempt 1-2

I don’t think I’ve ever looked at one of my well thought out pictures and hated it.  Maybe I’ve been frustrated with it being out of focus or annoyed with some element that I should have changed, but I have not outright hated an image I created.

Photography is a craft of heartache.  I say this because it is an art of great hope.  A hope that all of the elements in the frame would come together to capture that magical moment.  That one would be able to actually articulate a thought a feeling an emotion a sense of awe. 

Yesterday I felt a mile high.  I got home from an evening shoot with beautiful light.  Some dramatic clouds and I had made it to my pre scouted location with ample time to set up and shoot.  And shoot I did.  I framed reframed bracketed and panned my way through 7 or 8 dozen shots.  I thought I had it cased.  I thought even as a worst case I would just have to exposure blend and everything would be great.  Even my spot checks on my lcd suggested I had nailed the exposure and composition. 

Today however was a day of heartache.  I could not interpet what was wrong.  Was it motion blur?  Dynamic range?  Color cast?  Something was lackluster and in one image I would love the sky but absolutely hate the foreground or love the framing and hate how the sky turned out.  I spent over an hour trying to exposure stack a panorama.  I never did get it to work. 

Then the regret.  Why didn’t I take more time to set up.  Why did I break the golden run and handshoot something I could have used a tripod for.  Why didn’t I pull out my nd filters and try to get it even closer to right in camera? 

I’d love to say I have learned all these basic photography methods, but clearly I believe I am the exception.  This is a tough lesson to learn.  Don’t get me wrong,  some of my pictures turned out just fine, they just aren’t what I had hoped. 

Your thoughts in the comments are welcome…

So In my commitment to this process outlined is the process below.

First I shot a 5 frame pano at three different shutter speeds. I should have used a tripod and a much greater DOF say F16 or F22, but that ship sailed.

I didn’t realize how noisy the foreground flowers would be and with no real focal point you can see your eye dances around the field quite a bit. I think a tighter crop would probably serve the image well, and getting a touch closer to the barn I could have stitched say 7 images together instead of 5, but I shot from the roof of my car from the road and wasn’t about to go driving through some farmers canola field.

After i stiched the images I tried numerous times to actually process and HDR with the 3 different panoramas and even tried manually exposure stacking them, but since I hand shot three different sets of images I was unable to align the highlights the midtones and the shadow images properly.

So I had a choice. I could publish the abismal images I got (which are not shown here – although I could probably post an example if anyone is so much interested) or I could forge on. I did process a few other images from the shoot which I kind of liked (see below) but that was hardly the point, so I forged on.

With several attempts in photoshop and even one effort in lightroom I managed to take the underexposed images and tone map and caress my way to what you see. I’m still not convinced these images are entirely publishable, but I feel a whole lot better about them than my first 20 attempts.

So what exactly did I do. I compressed the highlights bumped the exposure even further I added some serious gain to the shadows and blacks and finally added some contrast. I tried to reduce the noise a bit and sharpened the images. Overall fairly minor adjustments.

I won’t share any “secret sauce” post processing tips because the truth is, if it’s worth shooting it is worth shooting right in camera.

My best to all of you. Thank you for your kindness your likes and your follows.

-Ed
tree1-3

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sky pano barn attempt 3-2

July 2014 – open spaces scouting

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I haven’t had a pile of time this month for shooting pictures.  Between work and illness and a million summer activities photography has taken a backseat. 

I did have an opportunity to scout out a location for my open spaces panorama and it might be the perfect time of year for it.  The canola fields are in full bloom.  All I need now is an evening with good lighting conditions and cloud cover. 

I found a location with an old barn and a fully yellow field.  I also found a secondary location about 3 miles away with a solitary tree on the top of a hill.  If the shoot goes right I should be able to get good shots of both subjects. 

Now the waiting game.  I leave on vacation in 5 days so this is cutting it close, but isn’t that what deadlines are for?

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I included a couple of smartphone shots of the area.  Pretty picturesque.  I love it.

July 2014 – CRAP a DIME

I don’t know why my wife and I think we are funny, but we have a running joke that centers around the phrase crap-a-dime.  It isn’t even really that funny to us.  Without fail, as soon as someone uses the all to cliche tag line carpe diem (seize the day), one of us chimes in “don’t crap a dime” or “yeah this day is dropping dimes all over the place” or more to the point, simply, “crap a dime!”

I have a point.  Today I failed to make the most of an opportunity that I consider painfully rare.  I’m not sad about spending time with my neice and nephews from out of town, or about taking the time to put my kids to bed or putting the finishing touches on some post processing, but I still should have taken a second to run across the street grabbed my camera and taken some shots in the golden light. 

Town has been covered in smoke all day (maybe from a grass fire idk) and the sun was trying to shine as it set.  The combination created a beautiful soft light with rich colors and a warm highlight that was not too bright.  I couldn’t ask for better catch lights. 

I acted not.

And so this post contains all of the pictures I took using the rarest most beautiful light I have seen to date.  Yup 0  none nada….crap a dime!

Don’t forget.

June 2014 – down to the wire

bubbles test 1small

More time is ALWAYS a good thing – almost.

This month I made photography low on the priority list.

Today I planned, set up, shot, post processed and now published a picture that I consider well worthy of being called part of my “2014 photo project”

It probably wont win any awards for “best story” or most imaginative, but it is a testimony of how much creative power lives just under the surface.

My kids remind me of it constantly – the power of imagination – when you are willing to let go of the “rules” are engage an idea fully.

I hope these pictures are as much fun for you as they are for me.

If you have been following along on my monthly project July should prove to be a bit better on the “open spaces front” I still plan to include some of my ideas for wide open spaces, but I will have to save that for next month.

For now. Enjoy some bubbles with some even more fun lighting.

Thanks for looking and reading.

Feel free to share and comment!

bubbles test 4 small

June 2014 – Ahead of Schedule

Well after about 100 million frustrating attempts to actually capture a bubble where I wanted it to be I ended up with a handful of useable shots.

Below you will see how I post processed them.

bubble post 1

From the Raw image the first adjustment is for white balance exposure and basic contrast.

This is a bit of a trick as with so much of the image being black the histogram is of very little help. The idea here is to boost as much of the light while keeping the background crisp and black.

Next is noise reduction. I like how lightroom handles noise reduction as the color noise tends to be more of an issue. In this case the low iso (only 400) and the relatively large image (36 MP) means very little noise reduction is required to publish and image on the web (say 1024 x 768). There is very little noise in the image to begin with but with the help of the sliders we can clean that up nicely.

I also turn off all the sharpening in camera raw as I prefer to sharpen later in the process (as is the case almost always if you intend to do any post processing beyond the camera raw). Open the image for further editing.
bubble post 2

I then did the same thing with a second image.

bubble post 3

I copied the second image and pasted it into a new layer on the first image.

bubble post 4

Then blend the layer together using lighter color. This is a great method of exposure stacking and will add the second bubble to the first. I used layer masks to ensure the background and bubble edges stacked correctly.

bubble post 5
I moved each layer around until the bubbles were in their desired positions. I had some issue with a few of the bubbles at the top or bottom of the frame as they could not be moved to the center of the frame without looking flat due to their missing edge.

bubble post 6

Next I flattened the image and adjusted the “levels” allowing me to clip the blacks for a much sharper image and making the blending of the two images look a bit more natural by setting the “true black” across the board for both images.

bubble post 7

Resize.
Crop.
And last of all, sharpen.

Here you go.

bubble post 8

The final image is a bit more complicated, but I’ll post that later. For now, give it a try – see how well your images turn out.

June 2014- it takes a little effort

So the concept isnt always easy to execute.  No matter how well planned it takes a bit of finesse toget things right.  Thats why there is gaff tape.  If you are a photographer and you don’t have gaffer’s tape (aka gaff or gaffing) GET SOME.  Duct tape is not the same. 

Okok enough about that.

I got some pretty preliminary test images.  I wasnt entirely happy with the flat images I got.  Too much light too much white background and not nearly enough contrast.

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Not a bad photo just not amazing.  The catchlights (which you cant really see above) are what I was looking for so with a few minor changes I was hoping for the best.

I reduced the diffusion, I increased the flash intensity, I removed the white backdrop and lowered my f stop to f8. 

This is what I got

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Not bad.  Entirely useable and much more dramatic but I noticed the catchlights looked better from above ( I was standing over the whole thing while shooting)  so I repositioned the camera.

This is an example of the result.

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On to post production. 

Wish me luck only 3 hours to go.