Tag Archives: photoshop

It is 2015…

…and there has never been a better time to go back through my archives and clean up the gigs of storage and post process a few hidden gems.  2 of my favorite shots that I shared on 500px this year were from my archives and I suspect I am sitting on a few more gems that just need the right boost from post processing. 
I hope to share the process a bit but in the meantime I highly recommend taking a trip through your old archives to find those pictures you previously overlooked.  Please share in the comments below.

Here is one of mine from 2013 that I processed and published last year.

Check out this awesome photo from 500px: https://500px.com/photo/84185457

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December 2014 – frost and cheer

I am reminded again this year how wonderful and blessed I have been to grow up celebrating Christmas. Now, that’s not to cast shame on those who hold other traditions, but there is something joy-filled about this season that causes me to remember how good life is. For me and my family it means getting together (huge groups of us on both of my parents respective sides, and my wife’s family too) sharing the good times and the hard times, rejoicing in the season and in each other. It means trying to express our love for one another in gifts and words of encouragement. It means spending time together playing games, laughing and enjoying the outdoors. It means reading the Christmas story and watching our favorite Christmas movies (like Charlie Brown’s Christmas or The Muppet’s Christmas Carol). It means PEACE, LOVE, and JOY.

I am happy. That’s not a statement I make often, but I feel like, on this Christmas vacation, I have finally managed to relax and de-stress. I can actually enjoy the moment. Moments like the one captured below. The magical moment when the frost covered trees are lit brightly by the setting sun and the kids are laughing a playing in the snow. The freezing drizzle sparkling and shimmering in the yellow light. I wish I could bottle these moments.

I would love to tell you I have a plan for my final photo of 2014. I would love to say that photography no matter the season is #1, but the truth is, for me right now, it isn’t. Celebrating the birth of Jesus is more important than any picture – no matter how once in a lifetime. At least for now.

Merry Christmas all. And to all a good night….er good morning.

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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
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sky pano barn attempt 3-2

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.

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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.

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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.

April 2014 – New York Post processing

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I have included some low res test shots right out of camera for you to see.

The sunrise in central park requires a dynamic range I simply could not get with a single shot.

I like the composition of the tower with the rock and trees in the foreground less at sunrise then I did the previous night and the sun rose much further north than I had expected so the light cast hard shadows in places that I was hoping would be highlighted.

As a result the one shot this month that I will concentrate on is the trees backlit by the sun.

I also go some great shots from the rooftop observatory which we planned very much to be there for sunset and were greeted with almost perfect conditions, so this project has payed huge dividends already for me.

Careful planning and setup is key to getting it right in camera, and I will only need to do some exposure blending and sharpening to get the final products I am looking for for these pictures.

It is nice not to have to rely on software to get a good image. I’ll say that a different way. Get it right in camera and let the software do softwarelike stuff (ie. Panorama stitching – dust removal etc.)

Hope you enjoy these sample images.

I hope to post the final product this week.
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