Monday, December 28, 2009

Steve McCurry's blog - some interesting thoughts for a new photographer. . . and a little more

Not only will you get some good advise but you'll see some beautiful images, here.

In some other news, Rick Sammon is coming out with another book, "Confessions of a Compact Camera Shooter". You can see this and more at his blog site.
I haven't seen this one but his approach to learning is always informative and fun. Check it out.

I'm almost finished with my "basic" HDR tutorial. I should be able to post it right after the first of the year.

The above image was finish in photoshop using Color Efex Pro filters. Tonal Contrast is my one of my favorites. I strongly suggest you give it a try.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays

This is just a short post to wish one and all of my readers a very

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 21, 2009

NIK software announces Viveza 2

Viveza has been one of the best Photoshop plug ins I know. I use it on most, if not all, of my pictures. As with Viveza, Viveza 2 uses "upoint" technology that makes processing your images fast and simple. "upoint" means exactly what it says, you point, click and slide. That's it. They have introduced some additional sliders to make processing even easier. Can you do the same adjustments in ps, of course, but with Viveza there are no complicated selections or layers. The learning curve is extremely short. I processed the above photography with just a few clicks.

Take a look at their site, here . They have a free 15 day trial offer as well as some interesting videos explaining Viveza in more detail.

While there take a look at the other programs in their product line. I'll be talking about some of the them in the next few days.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The war continues and the battle lines are forming.

Do me a big favor, read this on Scott Kelby's blog. But don't stop at the article by Trey Ratcliff. You have to read the comments. By the way, I think it's wonderful that this whole subject is causing such an uproar. It makes us think about our own vision. Trey wasn't even talking about HDR. That's how influential he has become. Interesting.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The HDR wars

Either you love it or you hate it. What side are you on? Here's were I stand.

First a little history. From time to time I check in on David Ziser's blog. David is an excellent wedding photographer. I don't shoot weddings, but his approach and hints on lighting and general photography are wonderful. I highly recommend his blog. Well anyway, one day he suggests that his blog readers should check in on this Trey Ratcliff guy. I did and when I saw the above image I said for all to hear "I have to learn how to do this". (Click on it to see a larger version.) And that's what I did and I'm continuing to study his technique.

I believe that it's important to know as much as I can about a subject I love. I love photography. I shoot digital images. I process them in lightroom and photoshop. In both, I use plug-in programs. I experiment with all of these. I take courses online at Kelby Training, I belong to NAPP and look at their tutorials, I follow Matt Klaskowski's "Lightroom Killer Tips" all this among other blogs, books and DVD tutorials from Vincent Versace and John Paul Caponigro. Do I use every tip or trick. No, but my goal is to know that they're available if I need them. I believe that the more I know about what I can do in the digital darkroom the better my capture will be and then the better the final print will be.

I'm doing the same with HDR. Do I like all the hdr images I see. Again, no. However I want to know as much as I can about how they were shot and processed. Once I know how that all happens I can concentrate on the "WHY" I should or should not use it.

I went to the Princeton University Art Museum last year to see a exhibit of Ansel Adam's prints. The exhibit turned out to be about one subject, his famous "Moonrise". It was very interesting to see the 15 or 20 print variations of the same subject. They were all printed using different techniques. To my eye some were really good and some were just awful, with others running the whole gammet.

This all goes back to my own pictures. The one I see through the lens, the one my camera's sensor captures and the one that I process in the digital darkroom. Or should I say, the multiple pictures that come out of my digital darkroom. Some are really good and some are just awful.

Whether really good or just awful, shouldn't one of those be High Dynamic Range. I think so.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A World in HDR (Voices That Matter) On sale now

Last night my wife and I, along with some friends, went to Trey Ratcliff's "A World in HDR" book signing in New York City. It was a first class event and I enjoyed meeting Trey, his wife Tina and his close friend Will. I follow Trey's blog stuckincustoms every day and have listened to his on air interviews and watched his tutorial so it was like connecting with a friend. He had a few images printed on aluminium for us to look at and a slide show on a large flat screen TV. After just hanging out for a while he gave a short, but very informative talk, about HDR and the future of the process. He's just a down to earth nice guy with enormous talent. My copy, along with a numbered print is in the mail. I promise a review soon, but after looking quickly through a sample copy last night I know we're all going to love it. You can order the book here.

The following is information supplied by the publisher, Peachpit Press.

High dynamic range (HDR) photography lets you capture the myriad colors and levels of light that you can see in the real world, and the results are amazing photographs that run the gamut from super real to surreal. Explore this fantastic realm of photography through the unique vision of renowned travel photographer Trey Ratcliff. In this book, Trey shares his phenomenal HDR photographs as well as all the backstory on the adventurous circumstances of their origin. He also reveals the techniques he used to get the final shot. The breathtaking images gracing these pages and the author’s real-world advice for capturing and manipulating images will inspire you to create your own HDR magic. So Trey also includes his simple and straightforward tutorial that teaches you everything you need to know to make your own HDR photographs, whether you’re a beginner, amateur, or professional. A unique blend of practical and inspirational, this book features

a breathtaking collection of HDR photographs

engaging explanations of how the author achieved the image

expert tips for achieving stunning results (and avoiding common mistakes)

a foolproof HDR tutorial and software recommendations

Monday, December 14, 2009

I can't believe I forgot Topaz

Last week I had a post about processing a single frame as a HDR image. I totally forgot about Topaz. Now I want you to know that I use Topaz Adjust not only to create the HDR look but also to finish other images when necessary. It's a very easy program to use with a large and simple UI. There's a nice selections of presets and many easy to use adjustment sliders. You can find more information at their website and if you look around the web you can find discounts. Here are a few of those. stuck in customs and Rick Sammon. Above is a sample of what Topaz Adjust can do with little effort.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Editor's Pick on HDR Spotting

This is really exciting. I have entered many pictures onto the HDR Spotting website, and most have been accepted for on-line publication. Today, a picture from Napal was accepted and picked as an editors choice. Click on the above image to see it in a larger size. Here's the link. Check out the rest of the site while you're there.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

You should look at Steve McCurry's work

If you are or are not familiar with Steve McCurry's work you should follow his blog.

His images are spectacular and inspiring. Look at the subject matter but take an extra minute to really look at the lighting and composition. He has the ability to see his subjects not just look at them.

I try to do that with my work. Can I teach myself how to do it or is it something you have or don't have? I don't know for sure. But when I'm out shooting, I try to look through the view finder and see my subject and visualize the final picture. It's hard work.

Monday, December 7, 2009

hdr from 1 image

I was asked recently if an hdr image can be produced from a single frame. The answer is yes. That's what I did with the attached picture. Click on it to see it in a larger size.

Well it's not a true hdr image, but close enough. First there are a few things to know. Always shoot RAW frames to capture as much information as you can. Low and medium contrast subjects work the best. If you are shooting in a high contrast setting it's best to use the more traditional 3 image method.

I use Photomatx Pro to tone map my RAW files. It's fast and easy. There are times when I only use a portion of that frame. I do this by opening up both the original RAW file and the Tone Mapped file in Photoshop and use layers and layer maskes to combine the images.
In the image above I introduced one of my favoite filters to the body of the rower. The Lighting Effects filter (Filter > Render > Lighting Effects) can be used to light your subject in the digital darkroom.

There is another method I use, but for this you will need "Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete". A Photoshop plug in worth it's weight in gold. A NIK Software product, it will work magic on your image. I learned this from Moose Peterson. Open Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete and go to Tonal Contrast. Move the Highlight, Midtone and Shadow sliders all the way to the right. It will look over done. Move the sliders back to the left until you get the effect you want. You can always lower the Opacity slider if it's still too much. Quick and very simple. You may want to combine both of these methods or even combine it with the original RAW file. Experiment. I do it all the time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Joe McNally's Neanderthal beauty video

For those of you not familiar with Joe McNally, take a look at his website and blog. He is one of the great shooters of our time. His work with National Geographic has been inspiring. Shortly after 9/11 my wife and I traveled into New York City to see a photo exhibit in Grand Central Station, "Faces of Ground Zero-Portraits of the Heroes of September 11". Our nerves and emotions still raw from that horrible event took us to this this place of compelling life size images of the true heroes of that day. I have followed his work since then.

On the lighted side, take a look at this video. The Neanderthal Beauty.

I'm sure it will make you smile.