Friday, January 31

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 to search posts within the blog for similar content. 

Thursday, January 30

Peer Comparisons

Photographic style is unique to each individual and viewer. Below I have collected 'like' destinations that have photographed and processed by Eddie and myself. My purpose is to understand the styles we each favor, as well as identify features or elements in composition, lighting and post-processing that may be incorporated into future shoots. You always learn by 'viewing the work of the Masters' ... See Peer Compare.

Friday, January 17

Foto Feedback - Bradenton Pier

(+) Good leading lines to the subject - the clock tower.
(+) The moonlight over the water helps the mood, the photo is level and color is good.
(+) Use light to 'hide' cars
(+) Light reflection in the water balances the cars distraction
(-) The halo around the top of the tower is a little distracting 
(-) The left side is not as photo-friendly as the right
(-) Remove halos(My Notes: PP attempted vignette to hide cars)
(-) The eye catches the halos around lights around the clock tower. 
(My Notes: could not address the peak of the tower, not sure what to do with cars on left - maybe take the shot from a different angle)

Using Light to Enhance

Recently, I have been concentrating on 'light', specifically sunlight and artificial light with respect to how it floods or highlights the subject of the photo. Doing so highlights the color, structure and draws one's eye to the subject. Now I focus on the light's direction and, where appropriate, increase or decrease the exposure on selected areas of the lit subject. In the photo to the left, I increased exposure on selective colors, reduced exposure on parts I did not want the viewer's eye to be drawn to and highlighted light sources.

Monday, January 13

Foto Feedback - Pier 60

(+) Sky adds to the mood
(-) Prefer that the photo was taken from the center
(-) Mood lost when sharpness and clarity (prefer softer to recall what 'I' remember
My Notes: in PP added light extensions, I shot this for leading lines vs centered, multiple images - took one that moon did not overexpose.

Sunday, January 5

Google Photos Album Index

One of the 'problems' with Google Photos is that keywords or tagging does not exist for photos or albums. I have created my own by using the title of an album followed by 3-4 keywords in lower case letters. Example: Amelia Island (trip, lighthouse, ferdinand beach). Then, within Google Albums open, I use Command + F in a Mac to open a search field. Done.

Recently I asked a tech and photo buddy - Bill W for help in creating a photo albums index (in a spreadsheet) using Google scripting. Technically above my pay scale, but as I knew/learned, easy-peasy for Bill. 

Here are the script directions: (note to self - see archived email)
1) Open in Chrome.
2) Open the "Albums" page (if you're not viewing the albums this won't work)
3) Open the console (Command-Option-J) 
4) Access Snippets
5) Paste in the Script
6) Execute
7) ..and you're done. Save the script if you think you'll need it again.

Thanks, Bill

Saturday, January 4

7 Simple Tips (YouTube)

7 SIMPLE photography TIPS I wish I knew EARLIER (landscape photog)
1. Aperture Priority vs Manual (depth of field and then use exposure comp if exposure looks bad
2. Use Histogram for exposure (and lean towards pushing the exposure to the right so in PP you don't bring out the noise in shadows to get details (ETTR)
3. Know your camera and what works for you (#1 tip) (additionally, If shooting very wide, focus on the subject in the distance (infinity) to insure all is clear in hyperfocal distance zone)
4. Simplify your images (ask "what do you like about the scene and 'remove' everything else. Zoom lens helps. Also, think about what you want to take out of the image NOT what you want in)
5. Use different lenses not different cameras (since today's cameras are fine, stick with it and learn it. Use prime lenses for simplicity, composition and less decisions (than zoom lenses), but zoom allows you to 'take distractions out of the scene)
6. Check where you are standing (shoot from multiple heights and angles, go out with one lens (wide) and one camera
7.  Light is most important (need to 'embrace' light, time of day)

Seven Tips (above tips)
Four Camera Setting You Should Know
Seven Tips for Improving Composition

Sunday, December 29

Lightroom Tips I Forgot

Here are some Lightroom tips I came across that are worthwhile using:
1. Use Caps Lock to advance images after Rating (1-5) 
1a. Rating is one way to quickly vet images for post-process
2. Use Lightroom Mobile and Collections to share photos
2a. Filter images in Film Strip > Create Collection > Move Images > Right Click > View on Web > Share > Comment (private)
3. Virtual Copy - edit photo twice and create a copy with same edits
4. Solo Mode - reduce all open windows
5. Target Adjustment Tool for color adjust (up/down icon) for HSL
6. Compare Tonality Adjustment (Lr versus You) by holding Shift and select Color
7. Brush with Grad Filter: Use brush and erase 'layer'
8. Color Profile Selection (FIRST!) - select grid profiles and choose your Camera Profile
9. Alt Preview: Alt + Sharpness or Exposure or ...
10. Match Total Exposures: Adjust best image > Sync (bottom right) > Settings and Match Total Exposure

Video: 10 Hidden Features in Lightroom

Sunday, December 22

The Most Important Setting in Lightroom

Protect yourself from a corrupted Catalog by saving XMP file containing all your edits. Here's how:
You will find the setting in the Catalog Settings of Lightroom.
MAC > Lightroom > Catalog Settings > Metadata
PC > Edit > Catalog Settings > Metadata

Source: Fstoppers

Tuesday, December 17

Post-Process Mod ... a slight enhancement turn

Photography, and more specifically post-processing, is a continuous self-examination and learning endeavor. Using that and peer feedback (both positive and negative), I reviewed my editing style, along with tools available in Lightroom and Luminar to see how my photos have changed/improved. Here are several areas where more attention is being applied in post-processing:
  1. color saturation (mostly orange) is being reduced when I perform HDR merge using easyHDR
  2. subject placement in the cross-areas in Rule-of-Thirds is being emphasized
  3. vertical and horizontal lines orientation are being corrected using Transform in Lr
  4. distractions (visual objects) in the image are being removed (Lr and Luminar)
  5. ghosting is being checked and corrected (option: use single image from a 3-bracket merge)
  6. image brightness confirmed outside of editing software and readjusted 

Saturday, December 7

Lesson Learned (LL): Photo Title/Captions

Last night, Ginger and I with friends went on a tour and photoshoot in Mt. Dora to capture their town lighting displays celebrating Christmas. The event named Light Up Mt. Dora was beautiful and I used that event name as my photo caption. Today, I shared a photo on Facebook and my good friend Jennifer provided a pointed and positive comment: "Wow that’s a lot of lights, great composition to show it". This was followed by "the lights in the foreground look like curtains drawn back to show the view below...that’s what I see." Hmmm, very appropriate for anyone posting photos. Lesson: if captioning a photo, be sure the photo absolutely supports the caption and the caption supports photo so the viewer does not have to pause and consider both.

Saturday, November 16

Post-Processing Tips

This week's tips form online tutorials:
.. Use Erase to remove distractions from simple or non-complex areas of the image
.. Use Clone and Stamp to remove distractions from patterned or complex areas exist (remember 'click and brush' when you want to match the nearby patterns)
.. Video
.. Dodge and Burn is simply darken and lighten to add structure and 3-dimension Video

Friday, November 15

Luminar 4 with AI Sky Replacement

I just installed Skylum's Luminar 4 with it's new AI Sky Replacement algorithms. The software installed fine but did not properly install as a plug-in to Lightroom (since I prefer Lightroom's Library Database for managing photos). Here are instructions from Skylum to setup as a Plugin.
  1. Make sure Lightroom is closed.
  2. Open Finder, click Go > Go to Folder and paste the following path: /Library/Application Support/MacPhun Software/Luminar4/Plug-Ins/. There will be a bunch of files in there, the ones you're interested in have the following extensions: .lrplugin and .lrtemplate.
  3. Open a new Finder tab or window and click Go > Go to Folder one more time and navigate to the following path: /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Modules/
  4. Copy the .lrplugin into the folder that you opened in Step 3.
  5. Click Go > Go to Folder one more time and navigate to the following path: ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/External Editor Presets/
  6. Copy the .lrtemplate file into the folder that you opened in Step 5.
You may be asked whether you'd like to overwrite the existing file in the folder or keep both, choose to overwrite in all cases.

Tuesday, November 12

A6500 Zoom Options - Clear Image Zoom

The A6500 has a native feature called 'Clear Image Zoom'. Essentially, it provides patented zoom capability using Sony's digital algorithms to zoom a lens beyond Optical and standard Digital zoom with no perceivable deterioration of quality.

Key Operation Steps:
1. Set Clear Image Zoom (Menu > M2 > Zoom > Zoom Settings > Clear Image Zoom > On
2. Set Quality/Image to JPEG not RAW (Menu M1 > Quality > Extra Fine/Fine/Standard

Clear Image Zoom: The Most Amazing Shooting Mode
Zoom Settings (missed tip: be sure to set a custom button)
How to Zoom with Clear Image Zoom

Wednesday, October 23

So You Want to Share Photos - Here's How

Just filling my free retirement time to reflect on how I share photos and wanted to summarize what I know is available, what I have used and how those I use work for me. Links to sites or my own site links are offered. Remember: this is my Notebook (haha).

Easy Peasy Decent Free Photo Editor

I always enjoy reviewing photo applications to see what the industry is putting effort into and what different developers view as important for their customers. Today I reviewed Fotor Photo Editor. It is available free for Windows, Mac, iOS, and the Web. Overall conclusion: decent editor, many features and fairly straight forward to use and great for those that want a simple editor that does a good job. 

Information and Download links:
User Guide 
Fotor for Windows 
Fotor for Mac 
Fotor for iOS 

Tuesday, October 1

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)
... My only tool to import and initiate post-processing, keyword, vet, and level
... Library and data management features are the best - easy to find anything
... Crop and Straighten tools much easier and visually better
... Adobe is expanding Color, Creative, B&W Presets - and they are pretty good
... Does not have layers - but not a deal-breaker for me
... 6-month learning curve BUT 'tons' of videos and groups etc for learning
... Can't beat their free websites/blogs - My Portfolio, Adobe Spark, Albums
... Lightroom Mobile 

Luminar: (my extra enhancement software)
... Can be a stand-alone or used as a Plug-in
... Reasonably priced 
... Data management - okay (but Lightroom is the best)
... Maintains file location when file moved in Finder/Explorer or application
... Presets are good - use as a 1st start or final 'what if I used this'
... Erase tool does a cleaner erase than Lightroom
... Has Layers features like Photoshop
... B&W features and other tools great
... If it had the same search features/options as Lr, I could go either way
... (update) With the AI Sky Replacement feature in Luminar 4, I am excited

Monday, September 16

Day to Night Enhance in Lightroom

Before I adopted my current low-light passion, most photos shot were daylight photos, capturing scenes like a travel log. As I began to explore photography more, I gained an interest in capturing a mood, telling a story and attempting to put 'emotion' or trigger a memory in my viewers. Low-light photography does it for me. The challenge now is how to post-process mood or emotion in photos I already captured. Below is an attempt. Perry Farm House or Out-Building photographed taken in daylight and modified to Golden hour. 

My general process includes: 
1. Import image file into Lightroom 
2. Test Edit in Nix Color Efex Pro Polarizer (found it too green) 
3. Back to Lr used Develop > HSL and softened or lowered green saturation muted all colors except for the roof rust color(red) 
4. Experimented with Lr Texture and Clarity 
5. Added Warmth 
6. Considered Luminar Sun Rays but elected to use Lr Radial Filter to add 'spot' sun lighting 
7. Applied Exposure, Highlights, Shadows to achieve a darkened scene -  and adjusted the lighting to give a setting sun

Sunday, September 1

7 Reasons to Use Lr Collections vs. Folders

Lightroom emphasizes the use of Collections to optimize photo organization. I have been a Folder guy, but viewing this tutorial, I plan to explore Collections once again. (Note: one feature I was not aware of is using Collections to share albums similar to Google Photos). More to explore.

Collections - 7 Reasons Why
1. Collections allow different photos from different folders to be consolidated into one collection
2. Placing the same photo in multiple Collections (i.e Sunset, Travel, etc.) do not use HD space  
3. Collections allow syncing to all mobile devices 
4. Collections offer a more streamlined editing process Lr-PS-Lr 
5. Collections appear in all Lr Modules (emphasizing Adobe's model of Collections 'rule')
6. Collections allow you to share an album (a created collection) via a link (like Google Photos) 
7. Smart Collections allow ‘automatic’ Collection selections

See the full 30-minute video 7 Reasons for Collections.

Tuesday, August 27

FINALLY ... I have a Photo Organization Plan

I finally devised a photo organization model that works for me. I am not a date-centric but location-centric so organizing strictly by date does not work. Maybe others will find this approach workable for them.

My model:
... establish 5 main folders
... label the folders by letter (folder 1) A-B-C-D-E and (folder 2) F-G-H-I-J etc.
... sub-folders by destination name (i.e. Key West) added for all shoots
... all photos taken at that location - any time is stored in the folder
... follow the sub-folder title with the date of the latest shoot 
... (example hierarchy) Pictures/Raw/K-L-M-N-O/Key West/2019-0601

Now any Key West photos that were shot are saved in the Key West sub-folder. To get date order, sort the file names using your editor/organization tool. Of course, extensive use of keywords is important. Now, for non-location collections like Family, I start with keywords and then under the Family main folder I establish sub-folders by event or celebration followed by date. Lightroom does offer folder search.