Photography, like most things in life is better when you are confident. I’ve processed several images lately that gave me confidence that I can create the image I see before I press the shutter button. The confidence comes not only from the ability to get the composition correct in camera. It also comes from the camera being able to capture the detail I want. And to present the tonal range the I saw with my eyes.
These images were taken at maybe 4:30 in the afternoon so the light was rather contrasty. I apply the Provia/Standard camera profile to all my imported raw files and add a bit of sharpening as needed. I bracketed the shots to plus 2 stops and minus 2 stops and processed them with Lightroom’s Photo Merge HDR. I also passed them through Photoshop where I applied some Nik Software By Google Color Effects 4 Tonal and Pro Contrast filters.
The images were shot with the Fujifilm X-T2 and XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR lens. I could only have one camera and lens this would be the combination I would chose. The images are only 1600 pixel jpegs but if you click on them you can see the texture in the wings and the texture of the window frames, it’s just spot on.
It is nice to know that you can put the camera to your eye and get the images you see. Gives you confidence.
Timing is everything. I’ve tried to get this photo on more than one occasion but never quite nailed it. After each of the failed attempts I learned a little more about when the Dragon (at Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando) was about to spout flames. The dragon makes several growling noises before he turns on the flames. It just a matter of being in the right place and waiting for the timing to be right. Shot with the Fujifilm X-T2 and the XF 16-55mm lens.
Lightroom’s Camera Calibration Panel may be the most under discussed feature of the whole Lightroom/Adobe Camera Raw processing engine. Camera calibration allows you to control how Lightroom pre-processes imported raw images. By default the Adobe Standard profile is applied when raw images are imported into the Lightroom catalog. Available profiles depend on the make and model of camera that captured the image. These profiles are active only when processing raw files. When jpeg files are imported the profile assigned in the camera is used to create the jpeg in camera and can not be changed by Lightroom.
Digital cameras come with a set of predefined profiles for processing images you can choose to create jpeg as output to the camera’s SD or compact flash. Some adjustments can be dialed in to allow for more or less contrast, sharpness, and color rendition. Even if you are exporting as a raw file the currently selected profile is applied to the internal jpeg created to display to the camera’s LCD screen.
In a number of cameras the profiles are pretty generic in their description. For instance the Nikon D600 includes the following 5 profiles:
Even if you record in raw format the profiles are used and the images are processed to the current camera profile for viewing on the LCD on the back of your camera.
I know a couple of well known photographers who usually just shoot jpegs and do only minimal processing in Photoshop or Lightroom. The in camera processing of images to jpegs can get pretty sophisticated with the modern digital camera. In camera you can use these profiles to determine how the camera software converts the image. The profile may be based on the type of shot it is or it like on the Nikon or can be based on a replication of an analog camera film as provided by Fujifilm.
Actually all cameras always capture in raw mode even if the users chooses to only save the jpeg. Once the image is processed, if saving only the jpeg image, the raw data is thrown away. To me it makes sense to import the images into Lightroom as raw files and apply the camera profiles after import.
If you are using Lightroom to retrieve, catalog and develop your images you gain quite a lot from importing your images in raw format. Lightroom allows you to apply any of the camera profiles to your raw images once you have downloaded them to your computer. Using virtual copies of a single image you can have profiled images for all the available profiles that your camera provides. Applying a different profile does not make any changes any of the develop modules sliders.
Once you enter the Lightroom develop module with your selected raw image you can open the camera profile panel and select any of the profiles. Please note to use the latest Process Engine (right now that is 2012 (Current)).
My Fujifilm X-T1 has the following profiles available:
You can try all the profiles until you find one you are happy with or like I said create virtual copies and apply one to each. Remember the profile is applied to the image without changing any of the develop module sliders so you can have a clean start at making adjustments beyond the applied profile.
But wait there is a better way. You can create presets for each of the profiles. Then you don’t even have to go to the camera profile panel. One advantage to creating the profiles is that when you scroll over a preset it is applied to the Navigator image so you can see how the image will look with any of the presets. You can also apply a preset when importing images so your preferred profile is automatically applied to each imported image.
To create a preset go to the Develop Module and click on the plus (+) sign next to the Preset Panel to add a new preset. The New Develop Preset dialog will display. I would suggest you create a folder for the presets for each camera you have. Name the preset with the profile name. Uncheck all the settings except the Process Version and Calibration check boxes. Click the create button and the preset will be added to the Preset panel under the folder name you created.
The advantages to processing images from a raw file are many. Applying camera profiles as provided by the manufacturer is a great starting point for getting the most out of the image. Here is the same raw photo with 4 different profiles applied.
With the recent meteor showers those of you that could stay up late (or get up early) not only had to deal with possible clouds but with all the light pollution we live with. Thursday night I thought I would set up just in case I could try and catch a meteor or two after the moon went down. I set up my camera on a tripod with a manual focus 8mm lens and tried some default setting that I had rattling around in my head.
ISO 1600 at F2.8 with a shutter speed of 30 seconds. My first exposures captured way too much of the leaking light pollution in the sky. It was around 10:30 with the moon still in the sky. I reset for a more reasonably ISO of 800 and a shutter speed of 15 seconds. Looking at the back of the camera I was not seeing anything worth getting up at zero dark thirty for. Way to much light or so I though. So I just put it all away and gave up for the night.
When I finally got around to processing the image I was more than surprised to see how many stars I actually did capture. It did take a little fiddling in Lightroom to get the image to so itself but I was happy with the result.
It just goes to show that you need to practice, practice, practice. If I’d done this more than once or twice I would have known that it is possible to get the image and I should have stayed on it rather than giving up. Click on the image to see full sized.
Viewing Scott Kelby’s latest class on processing landscape images over at KelbyOne. Scott was discussing using the HDR processing feature that is fairly new to Lightroom. Scott suggested that you only need the over and underexposed images for Lightroom to process the image to an HDR.
After dinner tonight I thought I’d give it a try. The light was pretty disappointing and the subject matter was pretty plain but I did give me a chance to try out using just the over and under exposed images.
I set up the X-T1 with XF 10-24 wide angle lens on a tripod and made exposures at 2 stops over exposed and 2 stops under exposed and imported them into Lightroom. There is not a lot of options to the the Lightroom HDR dialog. For this exercise I used the Auto Tone option only.
The resultant image was rather interesting as the toning added 1.25 stops of exposure to the image which means that the 2 stops over and under where probably more than need.
This was the final image. I did drop the exposure down to about +0.4 and set the white balance to warm up the image somewhat. Then I used my standard Tonal and Pro Contrasts from Nik’s Color Effects Pro 4 by Google to punch up the image. The image does have a pretty good tonal range with the HDR.
The stop overexposed image.
And the 2 stop underexposed image.
I think I would like to try working with maybe a one stop underexposed and 1 2/3rds stop overexposed images. But it is a starting point.
I think I found at least 10 different online articles on how to shoot fireworks in the weeks leading up to the Forth and I read them all. My previous fireworks images were ok but I really wasn’t satisfied with the outcome. I was always overexposing and changing the shutter speeds or going to bulb mode was not getting results that I loved. I think it was reading Joe McNally’s post on shooting fireworks that filled in the missing piece to getting the shots. More on that later.
Frankly I wasn’t going to shoot fireworks on the Fourth. I live half a mile from the baseball stadium where the minor league Brevard Manatees where having a double header followed by fireworks. The problem with after game fireworks is you have no guarantee exactly when the fireworks will start. Last week I sat waiting for the end of the game only to have it go into extra innings. The bugs came and carried me away before the first firework was lit.
So on the evening of the Fourth I was going to watch the Disney Fireworks live streamed on the Disney Parks blog instead of standing around waiting for the end of a game. So just before 9 I checked on the score and by surprise the game had just finished (Manatees won). I decided at the last minute to try and get some shots. This is not the Master Photographers Approved plan for shooting fireworks.
The common theme in all the instructional posts was plan ahead. I think I had all of 7 minutes to get things set up. Setting up included pulling out the tripod and attaching the XF 50-140 F2.8 lens that I wanted to use, mounting the camera, Setting all the settings, getting out the front door and figuring out exactly where to setup to get the fireworks over the houses between me and the stadium.
The setting to use for fireworks are basically.
Set to lowest native ISO. (Mine is 200).
Manual Focus (try to set focus somewhere near infinity).
Shutter Speed (try 4 seconds).
Set Aperture to f8 (for starters).
The last point is where I was going wrong. The f8 was not the right settings. Because it’s dark you think you need a more open aperture to get in enough light. This I found to be the wrong thinking. Fireworks are bright. I was constantly overexposing at f8. On the Fourth I stopped down my lens to F14 and probably could have gone to F16 to get the images presented here as I did have to move the exposure down a full stop in Lightroom.
Images were from my Fujifilm X-T1 with the XF 50-140mm f2.8 WR OIS zoom. I was zoomed out to the max of 140mm for these shots. Raw images were processed in Lightroom using the Fujifilm Standard/Provia camera profile and a bit (or more) of twiddling the dials .
So I’m glad I decided to give it one more try. The lesson learned here is to really think why the image went wrong. I’m talking about the technical side. If the exposure is wrong at 4 seconds it is going to take a lot of adjustment to add or remove one stop (8 seconds or 2 seconds) for the shutter but adding one/removing one stop using the aperture ring gives the same result by keeping the lens open long enough to capture the full firework explosion. And remember that if you get off track center yourself on a known set of parameters and if you must fiddle, only fiddle with one setting.
If you are not calibrating your monitor on a regular basis you need to start doing it now. Even if you are only producing jpg’s for web pages you need to calibrate. Computer monitors (was well as TV screens and projectors) can lose their ability to display colors correctly as they age. Luckily they have profiles that can tweak output so that it produces accurate colors. A calibration device uses hardware and software to build a profile that will adjust for aging and keep the display showing the correct colors. The calibration device can be a colorimeter or spectrophotometer. The colorimeter is the less expensive of the devices. I recently found out that colorimeters as spectrophotometers will “wear out” after a time. Colorimeters can not be re-calibrated but spectrophotometers can be sent back to the factory for a re-calibration.
I’ve just upgraded to the Datacolor Spyder5Pro. I’ve been calibrating my monitors since the Spyder2Pro so I’ve been using Datacolor’s calibration devices for quite a while. The Spyder5Pro is a colorimeter and I would not worry too much about it getting old as Datacolor seems to bring out an upgraded unit about every two years. The cost of their units are usually under $200 and if you keep your eye out the do have some very good sales from time to time.
In a nutshell the Spyder5Pro software displays colors of known value that the colorimeter reads to determine if an adjustment should be made. The total of the adjustments are stored in a profile that the computer reads in on startup to adjust and display the images and everything else on the monitor.
Besides the calibration is the capabilities of the to display all or some of the possible billions of colors. I don’t want to get into color spaces too deeply as there are a lot of big words like gamma and color temperatures and so forth. Most monitors display in the sRGB color space which is a smallish space. Colors that are outside of the color space are converted to something along the edge of the space. Colors inside the color space can be displayed accurately on a calibrated monitor.
The sRGB colorspace really does work quite well for most computer displays. When you think back to the CGA days of monitors where there were only 4 colors, present day monitors are pretty remarkable.
Once the Spyder5Pro software and hardware finishes calibrating a monitor it displays the results of the calibration as a plot of the actual accurate colors displayed against the standard sRGB color space. I’ve tracked the three different monitors I use and discovered that my little MacBook Air 13″ (mid 2013 model) does not have that great a color range. It is only 44% the sRGB space. In comparison my mid 2011 model iMac 27inch actually covers the sRGB colors space with a little to spare. It kind of makes me wonder about people that do their main image processing on a small screen. Granted the new 4k monitors will do a better job.
I recently added a BenQ SW2700PT 27″ Color Accurate Monitor for Photography. This monitor will display the the full AdobeRGB color space which is a much bigger space. For the price this monitor is really good as most other AdobeRGB monitors are four times the price. I’ve had some queries as to if the BenQ can support the full AdobeRGB color space and the results of my calibration proves it can. Note: You should have your camera set to output in the AdobeRGB space even if you only have sRGB monitors. Printers and some other output devices can make use of the additional information from the larger color space.
As to how often you calibrate your monitors you could do it daily if you are doing mission critical printing, but for the rest of use once or twice a month it probably good. If you like to sit around on a Saturday morning with a cup of caffeine you could make it a ritual to do a calibration.
This is not so much a review of the Spyder5Pro (it is good at calibrating your monitors) as a discussionof the need to get your monitors calibrated. Luckily it’s not when pianos were analog and needed a third party to come in an tune it for you.