Tuesday, December 31, 2013
My blog is now firmly relocated on a new platform and the old URL is now successfully redirecting traffic here, so this blog will continue to grow in content - and hopefully readers.
Both Christmas and my birthday provided wonderful new tools for my photography in a full copy of Photomatix Pro 5 for HDR creation and a Lowepro Flipside 500AW to carry all my gear in. My poor old Lowepro Stealth Reporter 200AW was woefully unable to carry a fraction of my gear and was proving bad for my shoulders and back with what I could squeeze into it.
I am planning lots more HDR work this year, both urban and natural world. I am also growing very interested in trying out HDR Panoramas, especially since I have been reading up on the whole process and techniques.
HDR's are not the only photos I'll be taking though, as I will continue to explore all styles of photography. I do know I have some portrait work coming up and also some product photos for my wife's Etsy site (while being "free" sessions, it is all good practice and helps build my portfolio).
One thing I would really like to do though is to continue to explore new avenues to making money with my photography. Print sales are not bringing any profit and seems to be drying up as a revenue stream for a lot of photographers.
All in all I'm looking forward to the new year and all that it could bring in new opportunities and growth - not only for myself but for everyone else too.
Here's to 2014, may it be great for everyone!
Monday, December 23, 2013
Amongst clearing up the mess it has made to an ornamental pear tree in my garden, I've been photographing different aspects of the ice (and will post some additional photos in another post). Today was a little different as I had to go into Tulsa early this morning. As I take my camera with me, there was some clouds in the sky and the sun was coming up, I took a few auto-brackets of the Tulsa skyline with some ice covered trees in the foreground. It definitely gives an interesting look to the overall image, with a nice crispness to the scene.
Then for a different look I did a 90 degree turn and shot into the sunrise to capture this view:
Thursday, December 19, 2013
So, on December 11th 2013, I made the decision to export my entire blog (and cancel my subscription) and import everything to my newly created Blogger account. As you can see by scrolling to "older" posts everything transferred well, with one exception; photographs and images are BIG and in some cases fill the browser window - while newer ones are automatically sized down and become clickable to view the full size version.
In all, this is a relatively minor issue but one I felt should be explained more fully as it does affect the overall look and feel of my blog.
It also explains why my Blogger version is not showing up in Google searches yet - it's only 8 days old. Ah, the joys of SEO.........
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
I'm 6ft 1-ish and would really like a good tripod that has no center column and extends to at least 72 inches and that doesn't cost a ridiculous amount to buy in the first place. Yes there are a few that get close to this spec, but their price gets way high in comparison to the "normal" tripods.
Currently my only real option for a more cost effective tripod that comes closest to my requirements would require me to approach the issue in an out of the box manner - and a little customization. Surveyors tripods, the ones used with lasers, theodolites and other measuring equipment are available in heights of ~72 inches and have no center column. They will however need to have an insert added to convert their attachment screw to one suitable for mounting a photo tripod head but these are readily available for around $20. However, the one flaw in this idea is that the tripod legs are not individually adjustable for angle and/or spread - other than manually stomping the steel leg tip into the ground to secure the tripod in place. Also, as they are fitted with heavy steel spikes, they are not going to be usable anywhere other than on soil without some kind of rubber cover being attached.
I still haven't decided if I'm going to experiment with a surveyors tripod yet but my point is, that if these companies can make tripods that meet (most of) my requirements and price them reasonably, why can't the photography tripod companies do similar. That or some enterprising individual or company take a surveyors tripod and convert it (at reasonable cost) to a photo tripod with individually adjustable legs and exchangeable leg tips. And by reasonable cost I mean something in the $150 - $250 price range.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Today I finished re-processing the HDR bracketing images through ImageFuser and carried out a little post-processing in Lightroom to add a little punch to the finished LDR. I'm a lot happier with this new image and it is much more natural in appearance and less "cooked". While I like to boost things a little, I prefer to keep everything closer to reality.
Here is the new version so you can compare it with the other version, that is now resigned to my archive of techniques that didn't quite work.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Jump forward to about 1 month ago and I was in, of all places, my local Home Depot store and walking past a Christmas gift display of cellphone related items. And that's where I spotted something called "Mobile Man", which is a rubber coated, flexible, person-shaped device to hold your cellphone and hang it off things via the hook at one end; a photo will show you what I mean better than my words, so here it is:
Monday, December 9, 2013
- Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop (my normal combo and benchmark)
- Photomatix Pro 5 (trial copy)
- HDR Expose 3 (trial copy)
- Hydra Pro (trial copy)
- HDR Expose 3 has a tricky to use image alignment tool that, to me, is a lot harder to use than it needs to be when comparing it to other programs. Which is a shame as this program has some nice features that I have not found in other programs - in particular the Veiling Glare tool.
- LuminanceHDR would not work correctly with the RAW files out of my Nikon. While it was able to read them, it was not reading them correctly and was producing badly exposed and wildly colored images. Contacting the company via their Facebook page did not resolve this issue and their limited response did not include assistance in fixing the issue. Also, I was not able to get the auto-image alignment feature to work - it kept giving an error that it was not setup, despite my having the “companion” tools installed. And while the manual alignment was simple to use, I was not able to correct any complex alignment of the stacked images.
- EnfuseGUI - while this uses the same "back-end" as ImageFuser, the images it produces are a lot more saturated. Also there is no alignment tool and no RAW file capability. When used with aligned images and TIFF source files, this does produce wonderful images.
- Hydra Pro - maximum image stack size of 5 files. I often will have stacks of 9 images when there is a wide exposure range in the scene. Maybe a minor issue due to not "needing" more than 5 images for an HDR but it does limit its appeal. As for its output, I found it to be rather dull and no better than my base-line from Lightroom/Photoshop.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
- Create a DNG of one of your photographs. Again, Adobe has a free tool to do just this which is either standalone or included in Lightroom - Adobe DNG Convertor
- Open this DNG file in DNG Profile Editor and in the window that comes up ensure all the adjustments are zero'd and then on the Tone Curve tab, select Linear for the Base Tone Curve. You want this graph to have the line completely straight from bottom left to top right.
- Save the Recipe - name it something useful to you
- Export the Profile - this will then add it to Lightroom for you, and can be found in the Develop Module under Camera Calibration
- In Lightroom, select the exposure stack, select this new profile and hit the Synchronize button to apply it to all the images in the selected stack. This is also a good way to insure all develop settings match across the stack prior to creating the HDR Image
Friday, October 18, 2013
Monday, September 30, 2013
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
It's interesting (in a weird way) just how much it is possible to travel in such wide arcs, and even full circle, as we journey through life. Here I am now, diving into the world of HDR imaging, yet only a short time ago I was not a big fan of the HDR images I would see posted online and generally avoided the whole style.
First a little back story, how for most of my time in photography I have had this nagging voice in the back of my mind that the photo does not do the scene justice. That and the overall disappointment on my failure to have the two match up any closer than I could with the cameras and film I was using. Even moving into the era of digital cameras, there was (is) that discrepancy between what the human eye can see/perceive and what the camera can record/capture. With the current technology there is just no way that a camera can match the human eye in either seeing or capturing a scene.
Jump forward in time to just a couple of months ago and I found myself reading an article in a copy of the Adobe Photoshop magazine on editing landscape photos to (among other things) modify the histogram by adjusting the white point and black point - extending or contracting the dynamic range of the image. On testing this out on some of my photos, I liked the overall look I was achieving and started using a modified version of this technique on my photos. Pretty much all the photos I have posted in the last few months have received this editing technique and have modified dynamic range. (anyone see where this is going?)
Time for another jump in time - now we're a couple of weeks ago. I was checking out my G+ profile and saw several posts of photos from a photographer I did not know, called Trey Ratcliff. They were photos he had taken at Burning Man and they had an interesting look to them. So, being that I didn't know of him or his work, it was time to go check out his website. Once there I found out he was a major player in the world of HDR imaging and that all the photos that had drawn me to his site were HDR. Then I started looking through his portfolio and saw that his photos were not the garish, weirdly colored HDR's that I had seen online previously - and that had turned me away from the technique. In fact, some of his work was not dissimilar to my recent edited photos. Then it started to click, I was making very subtle HDR images where I was modifying the histogram and the white/black points.
Jumping forward to now, I am in the process of reading an e-book version of Trey's book - A World in HDR - and have his website www.stuckincustoms.com bookmarked. I had a pretty big moment of awakening when I read that he too experienced similar thoughts and feelings about how the photo and scene never matched - yay, I'm not alone in these weird thoughts and feelings of disappointment.
So now, I've come full circle, from someone who didn't like or want to do HDR imaging, I'm now diving in and want to do more HDR. I may finally be able to quiet that voice in my head, once and for all, and make a photo match the scene I see in font of my eyes.
It's time to experiment and fully explore HDR, and to stop going in circles.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Monday, August 19, 2013
Sunday, August 18, 2013
- harsh illumination of the subject
- hard, sharp shadows
- unflattering lighting
- high chance of flare due to the light being so close to the lens
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Monday, August 5, 2013
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Monday, June 17, 2013
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
If you don't have a 50mm or equivalent lens in your arsenal I would really recommend you get one and see for yourself why it's the most popular lens in photography.
I have been busy getting reacquainted with the lens (35mm on DX) and have a lot of selective focus photos with shallow depth of field, which is a great by-product of the focal length, combined with the wide maximum aperture. This does show up one drawback of the Nikon lens...the aperture diaphragm is not truely circular so the bokah is slightly irregular. It's a minor detail that won't stop me from using the lens.
The only downside to all my recent photo taking is that my MacBook Pro is out of action, so I haven't had the opportunity to check out all my photos. I do have everything backed-up though, so everything is safe. Just need to get it serviced, which will be covered by my extended warranty.
All in all it's been a fun time and I'm glad to finally be back using a "nifty" 50.
Sent from my Motorola Smartphone on the Now Network from Sprint!
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
Monday, April 15, 2013
After thinking about it for a long time and always doing the "what if" and the "need to do this first" we decided to jump all in after seeing an adorable rat terrier at a rescue event in a pet store. We were there to get supplies for our cats and happened to look in to help socialize the rescue animals...and found one special puppy.
Jump forward a couple of weeks and it's been educating to say the least. And still is, despite the cliche, as I have a new photo subject and the chance to try to capture a small, fast moving critter without it all being a blur. I might even pick some of the better ones to post here.
Sent from my Motorola Smartphone on the Now Network from Sprint!
Thursday, March 21, 2013
I did finally take a couple of films in for developing - a 35mm one from my Kiev rangefinder and a 120 from my Holga. So, I will be going "retro" with my film cameras!
I remember reading an article (or several, can't really recall) that artistic people tend to go through a lot of "dry-spells" creatively and often re-invent themselves to break out of their rut. All I know is I seem to have gone through a lot of these dry-spells lately - at least in actually taking photos. I still have a lot of visualizing of photos, techniques, ideas - I just have a bad case of procrastination and don't put any of these ideas into practice.
Was good to be out and about with camera in-hand today. It may have only been five photographs I took with my Holga but it's still five more than I've taken for some time. Little steps to breaking my procrastinating bad habit.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
During and after my recent portrait session I realized how little I know about posing a model and how I need to learn more techniques. My lighting techniques have proved pretty effective and improving my posing should really help my portrait quality.
Instead of taking photos, among other things, I've been reading a lot more. Both for a technical writing class I'm undertaking as well as photography techniques. I've also been reading up on body language, and what a fascinating, complex subject it is. Hopefully having a better understanding of body language will help with my portrait photography. It certainly explains why some photos have a stronger attraction or emotive response than others.
I certainly have every intention of picking up my camera again but also plan on continuing my (mixed) reading as it all adds into who I am and also into my photography.