Keeping It Clean

When you are practicing your skills by doing a product shot setup it pays to use a lens as subject matter. This give you a shiny/matte surface to light and shoot as well as a really good look at how clean your glass is.

This is a shot of my Fujinon XF 100-400mm 1:4.5-5.6 R LM WR OIS lens. What you think is lint and dust free isn’t really when you get in close. You will need a lint free cloth to clean your lens.  I don’t suggest a paper towel as that may end up putting more dust on the lens than you started with. Cleaning your subject saved lots of time in post production.

So get in close and really look at how clean your lenses are. You may be surprised.

XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

Product shot with my new 8″x 36″ strip box on Strobelite ISO 200 F11 1/200 second.

Timing

Dragon's Breath
Dragon’s Breath

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.

Beware of Hitch Hiking Ghosts (Shooting a Night Time Parade)

Saw the night time “Boo to You” parade at the Magic Kingdom during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  Because it was night and dark I was thinking about not taking my camera.

Hook

Normally i set my camera for auto ISO with a max of 3200 which is good for most all round shooting I do. But when you are trying to shoot at night 3200 might be a little to low to get the shots you want, so I thought about leaving the camera behind. I was so fixated on the 3200 ISO that it wasn’t occurring to me that I could  go higher. I am using the new Fujifilm X-T2 which, it turns out, does a pretty good job at 6400 ISO.

20161020-_dsf1654

I even got Captain Jack staring at me. Yes, the images had noise, and most times noise is to be avoided, but shooting for perfection does limit you. Besides shooting is supposed to be fun, isn’t it? So I cranked the ISO to 6400 and found a place on the parade route that had some street lighting and fired off some shots.

Hitchhiking Ghost

There are no secrets to shooing images, there are no rules, just go out and get the shot. If it doesn’t work out (you think I only shot 3 images?) determine why the images failed and use that to make your next shots better. Images processed in Lightroom with a copious amount of noise reduction when needed. Oh and remember, “Beware of Hitch Hiking Ghosts”

jr

All The Same

All The Same

On its own this is a totally unremarkable image but it does teach us something about light and reflectivity. Each of the placemats are exactly the same color and pattern.  Because of the angle the light hits each mat differently and reflects more or less depending on the angle of the weave of the mat. Six mats, six different tones of gray.   Shot with the Fujifilm X-T2 and XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens.

Using Camera Profiles In Lightroom

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:

Neutral
Vivid
Monochrome
Portrait
Landscape

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:

screen-shot-2016-06-14-at-6-47-03-pm

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.

screen-shot-2016-06-14-at-6-49-58-pm

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.

screen-shot-2016-06-14-at-6-50-50-pm

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.

Classic Chrom
Classic Chrome
Monochrome
Monochrome
Provia/Standard
Provia/Standard
Velvia/Vivid
Velvia/Vivid

Shooting Night Skys

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.

 

Eastern Skys

Updates To Creative Cloud for Photographers

There have been updates to the Adobe Creative Cloud for Photographers.  Photoshop and Lightroom both have updates as well as Camera Raw for CC and Bridge. Camera Raw and Lightroom have additional new camera profiles. Bug fixes are also included and it looks like Photoshop now does not change to a white background on whim. At least I’m hopping that is true. Lightroom still does not have hardware acceleration on my 2011 27inch iMac.

 

 

Lightroom For HDR

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.

20160802-_DSF4060-HDR-Edit

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.

20160802-_DSF4060The stop overexposed image.

20160802-_DSF4061And 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.