Archive for the Photography General Category

HDR – Bad?

Posted in General Photography, Photography General, technique with tags , , , , , on January 12, 2011 by Jim

The Music Lesson

The Music Lesson by Johannes Vermeer


Since I have been shooting HDR (High Dynamic Range) images, I constantly hear and read some rather nasty comments against this technique. Trey Ratcliff told me he takes the attitude just to ignore them, but I wonder just what it is that these individuals find so distasteful? Yes, I have seen some really over-the-top HDR images, but I have also seen a lot of over-the-top non-HDR images. It would be a very big stretch to conclude that all photography is bad just because one particular image isn’t the best. However, there are those who apply that logic to HDR!

The image at the top of this article is the famous painting “The Music Lesson” by the Dutch master, Johannes Vermeer, painted around 1662. I recommend trying to find a larger version of the image and study it carefully. Please note, that this image was produced long before photography. Do you note that it is an HDR image! Note the detail that is contained in the shadows as well as the highlights. Had Vermeer been a 17th century digital photographer, this image would have darker shadows with little detail and those windows would be white blobs (unless he was using a number of strobes to match these values – just another way to deal with dynamic range!).

Yet, the canvas was just as incapable of containing this full range of values as modern photo paper. The tone of the raw canvas is the brightest value that can be represented and the choice of inks limit the darkest values. So, the genius of Vermeer was being able to “tone map” the room into the dynamic limits of the canvas he painted on. Just like photographers have to tone map the series of images for final presentation.

Since Vermeer didn’t have a Nikon DIV or Canon VIID, nor could he even imagine the dynamic limits of film or digital sensors. He painted what he saw. Like it or not, we see in HDR. Our eyes are amazing and can constantly adjust for changes in light levels as we scan a room or landscape. Check other paintings – particularly those before the invention of photography and notice that paintings capture an apparent range of light values, because that is the way our eyes see the world.

Perhaps that is why people often exclaim when they look at an HDR image – “why, that looks like a painting”!

Indeed.

Want to become a better photographer?

Posted in General Photography, Photography General, technique on January 4, 2011 by Jim

I have been fortunate to be able to spend some time and talk with some outstanding photographers on my podcast (The Fotobug), and although their approach and interests may differ, the one thing that they all have in common is the fact they all get out there and make the magic happen! I really encourage reading photo magazines and photography books, but the only way you are really going to improve is to go grab your camera and use it. The more you use your camera, the more comfortable you will feel with it and before you know it, the camera becomes an extension of yourself and you are going to find that you will be able to spend more time concentrating on the image you see in your viewfinder and less time fumbling with camera controls and worry about shutter speeds, aperture settings, etc.

I also encourage you to consider workshops and seminars in order to interact with other photographers to learn new techniques and to help keep up your inspiration. C’mon, what are you doing sitting there reading this blog? Get out there and make some great images!! (Don’t forget to share!).

Quick Tip – Dust to Dust!

Posted in DSLR, Photography General, technique, Video with tags , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2010 by Jim

Dust in your DSLR getting you down? Me too! I find dust especially a problem if you are using your DSLR cameras for video. Perhaps it is because a smaller portion of the sensor is being used, but I tend to see dust on video that I don’t see on the still images.

I keep the body cap on my camera when I’m traveling and not shooting. When I put a lens on, I generally toss the body cap and end lens cap back into my camera bag. How about you? Bad idea! That is a great way to pick up dust. When the body cap is placed back on the camera, there is a good possibility there is dust lurking on it just waiting to jump onto that sensor! Of course, using an air bulb to blow off the dust first is a good idea, but I also recommend taking the rear-lens cap and the body cap and join them together! Just a simple twist and it not only keeps them from bouncing around in your bag (vest, pocket, whatever!), but will help keep dust out of the inside of the caps!

64bit Raw Viewers?

Posted in General Photography, Photography General, Review with tags , , , , on April 15, 2010 by Jim

Rufous-tailed hummingbird

I just put together a new computer to edit my podcasts (PODCAST) and to edit the new HD formats, I decided on Windows 7 64bit OS along with the new Intel 930 processor and 6Gb memory. Great machine – but there was one small problem: I loaded up the Canon raw codec to view my RAW image files and discovered Canon doesn’t support 64bit – neither does Nikon! That’s a real problem – although I use Lightroom, sometimes I just want to do a quick look at the RAW images using the Windows viewer.

However, I discovered that all is not lost! Axel Rietschin Software Developments to the rescue! Axel has developed a complete set of raw codecs for all the major manufacturers that will work in 64bit (and 32bit) operating systems and is currently selling the codecs at the bargain price of only $5.99! He also has an image view that sounds quite interesting and I may download the trial version and check it out. Go to HERE and check out the codecs and his image viewer!

His codecs and viewer work on regular 32bit systems as well and I recommend you check it out!

Podcast now live!

Posted in Photographers to inspire, Photography General with tags on April 4, 2010 by Jim

Clyde Butcher

Our long awaited podcast is now live! The first podcast features an interview by James Shadle with Clyde Butcher and an interview I conducted in Tampa with HDR guru, Trey Ratcliff.
The podcast is also available on iTunes, Zune, etc. and I hope you will subscribe and consider commenting. In the mean time, go here – http://fotobug.podbean.com/ – to watch the Elusive Image Podcast!

More HDR!

Posted in Photography General on January 26, 2010 by Jim

HDR Panther

HDR Panther from Ecuador


OK, I’ve received a few emails asking more about HDR (High Dynamic Range) – I highly recommend checking Stuck in Customs for tutorials on how to process these images. The image to the left is a captive panther I photographed during one of the Photo tours I conducted to Baños, Ecuador. I then processed the single RAW file using Photomatix and then finished up with some masking techniques in Photoshop. I really like the way it turned out! I have a number of images from my Photo tour to Turkey from last year on my gallery and on my Flickr account HERE. I’ll be happy to post more information by request! Although the panther image isn’t a “true” HDR image since it was created from a single RAW exposure, some images can benefit from processing in a similar manner and programs such as Photomatix can sometimes draw out more range from the RAW file than a ‘normal’ RAW processor.

By the way – I’ll be doing more HDR images on my upcoming Costa Rica photo tour (currently full), but if you are interested, we still need photographers for the Mongolia Photo Tour for August 2011! Still plenty of time to sign up – check HERE for more information on this tour! Should be lots of opportunities to try this technique in Mongolia!

Magic Lantern adds 5D MK II Enhancements

Posted in 1, Photography General with tags , , , , , on June 24, 2009 by Jim

A few weeks ago, Canon released a firmware update for the 5D Mark II, 1.1.0, which added the ability for photographers to capture video with manual control over exposure and ISO settings. Now, a hacker, Trammell Hudson, has released a beta update to the firmware which allows the photographer even more control over the video settings!

Full release notes:

  • Only works with Canon firmware version 1.1.0
  • Only the external mic input is supported
  • Canon firmware will restart if LiveView mode is exited or powersave
  • HDMI, USB and composite video output are disabled
  • Zebras can not be disabled, threshold is not configurable, color can not be changed
  • Canon’s onscreen menus will not function correctly (configure everything before booting the Magic Lantern firmware)
  • Picture Style button will bring up an event viewer
  • Digital zoom works
  • Button remapping is currently disabled
  • ALC is disabled
  • Digital gain is fixed at +12 dB
  • Analog gain is set to +10 dB
  • Windcut (highpass filter) is disabled
  • Lowpass filter is enabled with default params
  • EQ params are at the default settings
  • Magic Lantern warns that this is a beta and if it should turn your camera into a brick, you are welcome to keep both pieces! With that caveat – the firmware hack can be downloaded at: HERE!