Tuesday, April 30

Welcome to My Digital Photography Journey Blog

This Blog was created to capture experiences to aid in developing my photographic skills through self-examination - with an emphasis on low-light photography. Below this post are 'Labels' which act as keywords search posts within the blog for like content. Update: A PDF label and a Destinations label have been added (directly below and on individual posts). For posts supporting members interests on our Facebook Group: Photographic Destinations - Florida, simply select the label 'PDF'. In addition, if the 'Destinations' label is selected, blog posts identifying the Florida Destinations explored (currently in early stages of development). 

Monday, April 22

Photo Editing Software - free and low cost

A friend recently asked if I was aware of editing software that a) was low cost, b) wasn't subscription based like Lightroom) and c) may be good for moderate (not extensive post-processing). Immediately Fast Stone Image Viewer was what came to mind for a Windows-based application. It was reasonably powerful and it's learning curve was not too long. If you personally are looking for a different application or need to suggest ideas to a friend ... see below in 'my' order of learning ease. 

FastStone Image Viewer - https://www.faststone.org/

Best Free Editors - https://www.lifewire.com/free-photo-editors-1357098
(learning curve GIMP is extensive)

Luminar 3 - https://skylum.com/luminar
Luminar Flex - https://skylum.com/luminar-flex

Lightzone - http://lightzoneproject.org/

Darktable - https://www.darktable.org/about/features/
(never explored it but looks promising)

Saturday, April 13

Photo Organization - Lightroom (or for any application)

Star rating is the tool within Lightroom to rate photos. The rating method is TOTALLY user-defined. I have a rating method that works for me and may work for you. If you have a rating option - use it. If not, consider adding a rating (numbers or letters) to your image file names as a suffix. See my Rating legend below. My rating scores of 3, 4 and 5 are dedicated to any photo that I would post socially or on any of my websites/blogs

Ratings 
1= may have potential later (also used for images supporting an HDR merge)
2= all personal photos - memories, vacations, events and day trips (keepers)
3= has further potential; initial Post Processing (level, auto, crop, and vignette)
4= share or post quality, Post Processing done; has further PP potential
5= a winner and ready for 'sale' - add to sites bobkyle.photography, 500px

Personally, I am not a 'date-centric' person. I can't remember my birth date, our anniversary, when we moved to Florida, BUT ... I can recall locations - where I was born by city, state, street, etc. so I guess I am location-centric.

Friday, April 12

So What's a Bokeh? ... a sharp and not sharp photo

Journeyed to Lake Wales yesterday with Eddie to Bok Tower Gardens - one of the greatest works of famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. I had the opportunity and time to experiment with a depth of field control mechanism called 'Bokeh'. Now confusion does exist in general (and more in mind) whether Bokeh is simply the blurring of the background/foreground or whether it has more to do with how the camera lens creates 'bursts' of blurred lights or reflections. I am learning and leaning to the latter and need to understand more. 
Resources: What is Bokeh? and Wikipedia - Bokeh


Update: Recommendations for Max Bokeh (key points below)
1) Use large/wide Aperture via Aperture Priority (wide-wide)
2) Minimize the distance between yourself and the subject
3) Increase the distance between your subject and the background
4) Use longer focal lengths
5) Use a long lens
6) Use a fast lens (see #1)

Monday, April 8

Captain Kimo - Lightroom/EasyHDR/Luminar Workflow

Captain Kimo (Kim Seng) is a Florida photographer who specializes in HDR Photography. His website Captain Kimo provides education, training, prints and services. I found Kim when I was reviewing HDR software in 2018 and selected easyHDR based on his and other reviews. 
I recently asked Kim if he would share a basic workflow of how he integrates Lightroom and easyHDR into his creations. He was more than happy to share. Here is his suggested workflow:

1. Start in LR. Use Auto-Adjustment for all exposures
2. Merge HDR in EasyHDR
3. I like to keep my settings low. Frequently I default to the natural setting.
4. Next, save the merged image and bring back to LR (I might adjust the colors and clarity because I notice the image at times is less saturated and detailed when I bring it back to LR)
5. I will use Topaz AI Clean for some photos at 75%
6. I then use Luminar 2018 for a little shadow and color pop!

Monday, April 1

Color, B&W and InfraRed ... hmmm what is it?

There is something about B&W photography that grabs a viewer's attention (as I previously posted). Recently my photography buddy, Eddie started experimenting with IR photography, and while I feel it offers a rather unique theme of B&W photography, as a 'realism' photographer I lean more towards actual scenes and subjects and less towards art when I post-process. So while I was attempting to create faux IR using Lightroom and Luminar I happen across the B&W present in Lightroom and the B&W Conversion filter in Luminar. And, after trial and error and found a terrific (IMO) option between B&W and Color - I call it 'Color B&W'.

Basically, 'Color B&W' is a marriage of color image, desaturated and then visually add back colors to the (usually HDR) image. I am finding it does not work with every image, it works best when there are strong darks and lights and where there is multiple colors in a scene. I will explore this further and update. The above image is my first attempt.

Saturday, March 16

Laura Shoe "Changes to Lightroom 6"

Podcast by Laura Shoe today that included feature 'refresher'. Notes, tips and personal follow-up items on Lr 6 CC Classic are listed below.

Followup, learn and use:
1. Panoramic HDR with boundary wrap 
2. Embed Previous Workflow (??)
3. Adobe Stock Photos allows through Publish Services  
4. Basic Module - Profiles (as a starting point) http://bit.ly/2UGlmDE
5. Guided Upright Toll http://bit.ly/2UGkRJM
6. Reference View http://bit.ly/2UErSuT
7. Lightroom Presets - review and check/restore old presets

Tips:
1. Use Folder search
2. Folders now have color labels
3. Collections can be created directly from Folders
4. Photos to Lr Mobile must be within Collections 
5. Customize Develop Module Order
6. Check Range and Auto Mask for local adjustment http://bit.ly/2UAT4dW
7. Explore more in Smart Collections
8. Meta Data allows Titles and more
9. Laura's website https://laurashoe.com
10. Import Images by File Type (see Import and lower right Sort By)


Friday, March 15

5 Tips for Better B&W

Here are a few tips to capture some amazing black and white images. Keep in mind, always shoot RAW.

1. Look for Contrast: Make sure you have contrast in your image
2. Look out for Shadows and Textures: Choose to photograph images with them 
3. Look for Tonal Range: Look for scenes having areas of varying tones of grey
4. Look for Patterns: Patterns can look very interesting in a black and white image
5. Try HDR: it can create brilliant images because of the higher dynamic range.
Source: Light Stalking B&W Tips

Thursday, March 14

Software Reflection; Lightroom and Luminar

Here are my 'reflections' or thoughts of Lightroom and Luminar. It is NOT a 'versus' review, just how I currently use and IMO what is most useful. The bottom line - I use (and will continue to use) both. If I had to choose one - it would be Lightroom since my familiarity and time is with Lightroom. If Luminar duplicates Adobe's Library data management features, I could leave Lightroom. (Note: my recent correspondence with a web Lightroom and Luminar instructor hinted - "use both - features of Luminar and the Library of Lightroom").

Lightroom: (my go-to software)
... Use every time for import and all initial post-processing
... Library and data management features the best - easy to find anything
... Crop and Straighten tools much easier and visually better
... Adobe is building native Color, Creative, B&W Presets - and they are pretty good
... Does not have layers - but not a deal breaker
... Learning curve 6 mos BUT tons of videos and groups for help
... Can't beat their free websites/blogs - My Portfolio, Adobe Spark
... Lightroom Mobile 

Luminar: (my extra enhancement software)
... Used as a Plug-in
... Very reasonably priced 
... Data management okay 
... Syncs image location changes two-way (move image file in either Luminar or Finder/Explorer) OK
... Presets terrific - offers either a good start point or 'one last option' to enhance PP'd image
... Erase tool better than Lightroom
... Has Layers features like Photoshop
... B&W features and tools great

Tuesday, March 12

15 Tips for Stunning B&W Photos


B&W Photography 15 tips:
.. Tip #1: Shoot in RAW
.. Tip #2: Give your photo Silver Effex
.. Tip #3: To visualize in B&W, only pay attention to lines, shadows, and shapes
.. Tip #4: Pay special attention to noise
.. Tip #5: Look for contrast
.. Tip #6: Find a wide range of grays
.. more 15 B&W Tips and Chris Sale
Photo source: ImprovePhotography.com

Saturday, March 2

Honeymoon Island Photo Shoot and Lessons

The sunset yesterday at the State Park near Dunedin offered a rare opportunity for multiple and varied cloud displays. Every 15 minutes the sunlight changed, clouds reformed and colors exploded. Another chance to use my D5100 with (this time) a newly purchased shutter release. Weather and time allowed us (Eddie, Jennifer and Jack) to pause and wait for cloud cover and stars in the night sky to clear. Eddie and Jennifer captured great shots. Lessons and takeaways from the experience and post-processing feedback:


The Shoot

1. arrive early (30 mins minimum) to scout the area
2. find natural and man-made objects for subjects, framing, backdrops
3. look for reflections opportunities
4. adjust the exposure triangle to obtain smooth water/reflections 
4. carry a spare battery, SD card, extra lens, and remote 
5. confirm settings are ready for the active shoot (not from the previous shoot)
6. clean the lens, check the snag-free operation of the tripod
7. if using a less than familiar camera ... pre-shoot to get familiar with settings 
8. sunsets do not require shooting into the sun itself - colors abound elsewhere

Post-Process
1. challenge the direction of light sources for shadows and highlighting scene elements (5 Star Tip)
2. even silhouette images can show some detail
3. do not ignore saturation



Sunday, February 10

The Past Week's Photo Lessons Learned

The last week has been another week of exploration. Looking back, as I always do, I try to capture my thoughts and ideas to learn more about photography. My reflections...
.. the camera can never capture what the eye truly sees
.. post-processing can help get closer to what the eye and mood remember
.. a photo jacket should be worn when more than one device is carried
.. you can't manually focus the camera unless you understand full 'Manual'
.. B&W photography is a future journey (see Nik Collection next)
.. the Nik Collection Efex Color Pro, Dfine and Silver Efex Pro have ++ features
.. take the extra shots, why not, it's free
.. there is always a position, an angle or location you haven't taken from
.. with patience, concentration and focus on the scene ... all else disappears
.. infrared photography may be a future venue, today it's low-light and (?) B&W

Tuesday, February 5

Keywords are Better than Collections - Lightroom

One of the sites I follow is William Beem who's mission is to provide other photographers with his experience and insight to help them change the way they think about photography. His recent discussion is Keywords vs. Collections and How to Use Keywords in Lightroom

When you're taking photos, you're taking photos of someone, a place, or a thing or event - period.

He uses a system he says that's been around for thousands of years.
.. Who – If my subject is a person, the name is added 
.. What – If my subject is a thing, the related keywords go here
.. When – Nope, Lightroom reads the data information from your camera
.. Where – If my subject has a location, I add a keyword here
.. How – Details for lighting, cameras, post-processing, whatever (for yourself)
.. Other – Use it for whatever! 

Friday, February 1

Infra-Red Photography ... a slight turn

I was introduced to a new and different photography venue - Infra-Red Photography. It's not low-light photography (well maybe) ... it's not Black and White photography (well maybe), it's photography looking at light differently that offers the opportunity to explore a new world – the world of the unseen. My low-light buddy began exploring this area of photography one week ago and found it to be an exciting and artistic added journey into the world of photography. More to come.

Reading:
.. Introduction to Infrared Photography 
.. Getting Started with IR Photography 
.. InfraRed Mono in Lightroom (almost but not IR)

Tuesday, January 22

What's in Your Camera Bag - Polarizing Filter (CPL)

(Background) ... just found a B+W circular polarizing filter (originally purchased for a 67 mm Tamron 18-270 zoom lens that was stored away in my old Nikon camera bag. The filter was purchased for a Tamron zoom and put away after I upgraded to a Sony 18-200 mm. 

A polarizing filter is one of the most essential tools in a landscape photographer’s bag. It is typically the first filter landscape photographers buy to instantly improve their pictures by adding vividness and contrast to them. Now another learning adventure ... how and where to use it.

Articles: 
How to use a Polarizing Filter and 
Using the Filter
How, When and Where to Use CPL

Monday, January 21

(repost) Include the Color Red in Your Photos

Red is considered the heaviest color ... warm colors advance into the foreground and tend to weigh more than cool colors, which recede into the background. Use it in your photos/post-processing.

To give some perspective of visual weight - here are some to consider …
.. Size of an element - in comparison to other elements within the photograph
.. Contrast– light tends to attract … however dark can be heavier dependent on the balance of the image
.. Position – an element positioned higher tends to carry more weight and center-positioned element can be extremely dominant
.. Texture – a textured element tends to carry more weight than a smooth element
.. Shape – an irregular shape is generally heavier than a regular shape
.. Focus – an element that is in-focus carries more weight than an element that is out-of-focus
.. Direction – an element that depicts movement will often create flow through an image- thus carrying strong visual weight

Source: Why the color Red made me a Better Photographer

Programs to Delete Duplicate Photos on a Mac

Came across this on my Ugly Hedgehog Forum ...

.. Photo Duplicate Cleaner (Mac Store Rated 4.5)
.. Lightroom Fanatic Duplicate Finder (old review, fee-based?)
.. Teekesselchen ( the one I use with success) Instructions
.. Tineye (untested, looks interesting)

Saturday, January 19

A Refresher: Exposure (or the Exposure Triangle)

One of my much-viewed Forums is the UGG - Uglyhedge Hog. Thousands of members sharing photography interests. Some nonsense and chest pounding, but mostly solid information by experienced members. A member is offering a 'refresher' on exposure on the Forum and I wanted to capture it for review and future reference.

"... assume we have a beam from which is suspended two platforms, one from either end. The idea is that the ideal exposure will occur when the balance is perfectly level across three 'weights' - ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. The platform on the left side will represent the camera body (where the ISO stuff happens). The platform on the right side will represent the lens aperture and shutter speed stuff. . The platform on the left side will represent the camera body (where the ISO stuff happens). The platform on the right side will represent the lens aperture and shutter speed stuff."

Part One 'Exposure and How It Works' - a Beginner's Guide

Thursday, January 17

My Lessons Learned Diary - Safety Harbor

My first of many 2019 Photography Lessons Learned from Safety Harbor Pier Shoot 

1. confirm camera focus setting to validate impact to the DOF
2. bring LX camera with a mini tripod for low angle composition  
3. to prevent sensor damage, do not leave the camera faced into the sun 
4. enable grid view to allow flexibility in post-process for 'thirds' crop
5. check camera settings (ISO, f stop, aperture, EV before each shot 'series' 
6. view capture on LCD for deciding: 'retake, reposition or keep' decisions

Friday, January 11

My Lessons Learned Diary - John's Pass

Night walk with Jennifer and Eddie

1. carry spare SD cards 
2. look for camera positions that are not a typical angle, view or height
3. seek additional shot series to add interesting foreground composition 
4. include people for a 'story' (see Jennifer's photo left) 
5. view shot from all angles not just head on 
6. (research) managing to reduce or eliminate lights atmospheric glow 
7. introduce noise correction before HDR merge