Tuesday, December 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. 

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qILXctUbYTg
.. Dodge and Burn is simply darken and lighten to add structure and 3-dimension Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcGbn5CUUQ0

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

Links:
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.

Thursday, July 11

Matt K Tests Sony's New 35 mm F/1.8 Lens (and ideas)

Matt Kloscowsky tests our the new 35 mm F/1.8 lens (full-frame) in this Video. Considering I have a Sigma 16 mm f/1.4 crop sensor lens I love, Matt introduces the 'Why' we use a wide-open lens and how to take advantage of its features specifically Depth of Field control. The first 7 min 30 sec Matt shares using the lens great DOF for landscape photos but very interesting at 7 min 30 secs in, he shares post-processing ideas that are something to explore for my Gulf of Mexico pier photos and other water/sky - sunrise/sunset post-processing.

Wednesday, June 19

Dotto Webinar - Google Photos

Posted on Photographic Destinations ... captured in low-light was a link to a weekly tech webinar. This week's webinar had a guest couple from Geeks on Tour. They shared how just about anyone can use Google Photos and how it can be one piece of your photo backup plan. This link Dotto Google Photos is available for 48 hours (typically for non-members) for anyone to view. Below, are notes I gathered during the 1 1/2 hour session. Full disclosure - I love Google Photos for that behind the scenes 'backup' for all my Lightroom exported Jpeg and for the ease of sharing photos. 

Dotto Tech - Google Photos ... My Webinar Notes 


Tuesday, June 4

Colors Matter and What They Communicate

Colors affect how we think and feel subconsciously. If warm we lean towards cool colors, if cool we lean towards warm colors. The first color we distinguish after birth is Red yet Blue is the favorite among all people. Challenge: to integrate colors into my photography better in composition and post-process.

 Reading:
.. Understanding Color in Photography
.. Create Powerful Photos with Color
.. Tips on Using Color in Photography
.. Blog Post "Use Color Red in Photos"

Monday, June 3

Post-Process, Style & Mood Review Eddie vs. Bob

Low-light Master Eddie and I spent a few hours today, validating each other's post-process workflow and noting differences. Editing software and use were validated. Basic 'conclusions' were reached.

Software or Application (Eddie / Bob) and notes:
1. Core editing software (Photoshop vs. Lightroom)
2. Lens Correction (easyHDR vs. Lightroom)
3. Photo Merge for HDR (Photomatix vs. easyHDR)


Post-Process Key Tools: Eddie - Nik Color Efex and Bob - Lightroom)
4. Brilliance and Warmth vs. White Balance Temp and Tint
5. Darken & Lighten Center vs. Vignette, Feather, Dehaze, Exposure
6. Reflector Efex vs. WB and HSL Saturation and Luminance
7. Polaroid Transfer vs. Tint
8. Detail Enhancer vs. Clarity and Texture
9. Object Removal ... Limited in CS4 vs. Content Aware PS, Luminar and Lr 

Takeaways: a) Ed leans towards warmth and added mood and I lean towards cool; b) Ed leans towards softness and I lean towards sharpness and detail; c) Ed is very proficient in multi-applications using he found as working best within each where I tend towards using tools within Lr.

See photos below for before and after ... 

Actions and followup: 
.. check for emotion and mood in low-light photos
.. create a mood user preset and explore Adobe's existing develop presets
.. explore further features in Nik   

Update 6/5) Survey of Photo Destinations Members 70% prefer Cool (first photo)


Sunday, June 2

(prelim) Focus Stacking ... a maybe shooting mode

Focus stacking is similar in principle to HDR. However, with focus stacking, images are captured with different focus points and later combined to create an image with more DOF than would be possible with a single exposure. Landscape and macro photography are two genres of photography that benefit most. -and-

Sometimes you are trying to capture a scene that is in focus from immediately in front of you to infinity.


Resources:

A Beginners Guide
A Quick Guide Using Lightroom and Photoshop
A Focus Bracket App for Sony Cameras
How to Focus Stack Images
Focus Stacking in Landscape Photography
The Ultimate Focus Stacking Guide

Astrophotography - Shoot the Milky Way

My first attempt at shooting the Milky Way via researcher Jennifer Clemons was attempted this weekend (at 4:00 am on Honeymoon Island). Basic requirements are: 
.. location must be away from all (any) external lighting
.. camera in manual mode (to be confirmed)
.. wide open F/2.8 or lower
.. ISO (to start) at 1200
.. shutter speed less than 30 seconds (to avoid star movement 'blur')
.. this is a trial and error process: shoot, check, adjust, shoot
.. remember, manual mode means YOU - not the camera controls all

Wednesday, May 8

Lightroom Mobile - Setup & Use Refresher

A question came up recently about syncing and editing photos on mobile devices using Lightroom Mobile. Here is quick refresher:
.. Setup Lr Mobile on all devices https://adobe.ly/306cwCb
.. Sync Lr Classic CC and Mobile https://adobe.ly/306j8kg
.. How to Sync (another view other than Adobe) http://bit.ly/304ltMy

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.