Tuesday, December 18

December 18th - Luminar Challenges Lightroom

Today, Skylum issued their updated Luminar 3 photo editing software. Maybe more than editing software, Luminar 3 is a solid photo editing and image organization and management application that IMO is taking on Adobe Lightroom. After a 10 minute overview, I find many features that will entice those starting in post-processing and want an AI type easy-peasy tool for improving their photos, or an experience post-processing Ninja who enjoys lots of details and tools (300+). 
.. Image Organization with Libraries
.. Non-destructive Editing
.. AI-based tools and Image Enhancements
.. Great Erase, Sunrays, and Preset tools
.. Lots more - check out their intro video Luminar 3 with Libraries.

Thursday, December 6

What to Do to take better Photos

One of my favorite photographer/instructors - Peter McKinnon. Fast, smart and funny ... with a whole bunch of great insight and instruction.

1. Use the Histogram - don't trust your eye
2. Move 'things' that distract the subject -or- moving for a better vantage point
3. Using a Tripod all the time
4. Be thorough - don't whip through a shoot - check SD, ISO, Raw, Batteries 
5. more ... See Video Mistakes to Avoid

Tuesday, November 6

Before and After Low-Light Style

Here is a check on what has changed in my photography Journey. Up until late 2017, my intent was simply capturing events, locations, and buildings. There was little to no story or emotion expressed in the photograph. There was little compositional details like the Rule of Thirds, Horizon Placement, using light to catch the viewer's eye, etc. Also, missing (better said - uninformed) was understanding and applying the three (3) key elements of exposure - aperture, shutter speed and ISO. The image on the left was taken in 2010 and the image on the right was captured in 2018 - 5 months after embracing a low-light style in my photographs.

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Saturday, October 27

How to Critique Your Own Photos

Ten Points to Consider
1. Intent – Could any viewer KNOW what you had in mind?
2. Emotional Impact – Does your photo make an emotional statement
3. Center of Interest – Does your viewer’s attention focus to a specific point? 
4. Illusion of Depth – Was framing, balance, contrast, etc. used to make your image jump off the page?
5. Subject/Background Contrast – Does your subject stand out -or- blend into the background?
6. Personal Style – How will others describe your unique approach, what style are you conveying?
7. Selective Focus – Is the background is just as sharp as the foreground, can be visually confusing.
8. Composition – Did you take control of where the viewer’s eyes will most likely fall in your image.
9. Exposure – Did you take control of the light? Can you see details in your shadows? 
10. Storytelling – Is there a story or does it sit there? Does it make you want to look again and again?

Source: Critique Your Photos

Friday, October 26

Never Create a Lightroom CC Collection Again

Article Summary: Collections are really Folders; Why create Folders to file your Photos; Optimize the use of Keywords; Could not a Collection be replaced by one Keyword; Think about it! 

Consider the author's Model for assigning Keywords:
  • Who – If the subject is a person, the name(s) is one keyword
  • What – If the subject is a thing, the related keywords are used
  • When – Why bother creating a keyword when Lightroom reads the data information from your camera?
  • Where – If the subject has a location, add a keyword here
  • How – If there are (special or unique) details for lighting, settings, post-processing, etc. add the appropriate keyword(s)
  • Other – A catch-all: for other information that is doesn't fit above.
Three (3) Lightroom CC Collections You Only Need are Import, Target and Mobile (see the author’s discussion in link below). I added will add #4 as Smart Collections for those photos ‘of like kind’ like 4 & 5 Star Rated, Best Family Pics, etc. to browse and created via user-determined Smart Collection criteria.

The author makes a case for leveraging Keywords over Collections, I will consider. 

Tuesday, October 23

'Outside Looking In' - A New Theme or Viewpoint

I have been reading about individual photographic style and came across the value of defining one's set of photographic 'viewpoints' or themes. See Finding Your Unique Viewpoint. Looking back in 2018, viewpoints or themes I seek are realism, serenity and order (maybe geometric calmness). I will continue this in 2018 and reflect in a few months.

Wednesday, October 17

10 Lightroom Tips

Peter McKinnon's Video on Lightroom Tips. Super enthusistic and holds your (my attention) with a chuckle. Here they are ... just 10 of the many features.

1. Auto Tone - a great way to start (Exposure>Auto) and not the finished product by any means
2. Resetting Edits - bottom right Resets all, but simply double-click on actual effect like exposure name
3. Grid Overlays - hit 'R' on the keyboard, then 'O-O-etc' ... use Golden Spiral
4. Lights Out - click 'L' to view your photo and ask yourself "what needs to change"
5. Level Out - Click Angle for a better straighten
6. Before and After (FAVORITE) - hit the Y box, but better is the slash '\' button 
7. Clipping - hit 'J' then go to Exposure slider bar and use slider to show Clipping
8. Radial Brush Adjustment - (Vignette) hit Oval > Effects and choose Exposure and drag oval to the area you want to highlight.
9. Size Up - grab and drag right side to increase panel size and control
10. Organize Yo Self - hit numbers or letters or colors (through 6-9)

View the 15-minute video ... it's entertaining for sure

Thursday, October 4

Lightroom: Transform and Lens Correction Together

For many months, I corrected landscape horizontal and vertical alignment with one tool - Crop Overlay. Then I experimented with Transform and I thought I arrived! Low and behold "what's this manual Lens Correction thing ...?" I asked and WOW ... using it and Transform my photo vertical lines are all but a think of the past.

Resources: 

How to Straighten Photos in Lightroom
Alter a Photos Perspective
Lens Correction Explained 

Monday, October 1

HTML Code to Add 2 Image Post

Below is the code for a blogger post when 2 images are to be included in the post. Here a suggested approach (that worked for me) 1. In Blogger add the two images from your computer 2. Save that simple post 3. Create a new post and add some initial content 4. Copy and paste the code below 5. Go back to the post where uploaded images are 6. Select the first (left-side) To be continued

How to - Three (3) Image Post

This is the Code for three images across Blogger Page 
https://mydigitalphotojourney.blogspot.com/2016/05/safety-harbor-photo-walk-marina-and-town.html

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<a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mdCyzH1OYdg/VykR7OEOf3I/AAAAAAAAkQw/zVZtGcm6Qqgyr1CMt8VENyY452cUHgZNwCLcB/s1600/Safety%2BHarbor-3.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="212" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mdCyzH1OYdg/VykR7OEOf3I/AAAAAAAAkQw/zVZtGcm6Qqgyr1CMt8VENyY452cUHgZNwCLcB/s320/Safety%2BHarbor-3.jpg" width="265" /></a><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hzbKefKq8-w/VykPzqh6OrI/AAAAAAAAkQc/S8B9EYsaBdQLFv3pqXJXpY1SRcWOm2mXwCLcB/s1600/Safety%2BHarbor-4.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="209" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hzbKefKq8-w/VykPzqh6OrI/AAAAAAAAkQc/S8B9EYsaBdQLFv3pqXJXpY1SRcWOm2mXwCLcB/s320/Safety%2BHarbor-4.jpg" width="265" /></a><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-w_NtvN401Mw/VykPwnm5YKI/AAAAAAAAkQU/JoAtto7EmMgXG1dZyLkcTNsS-N8NU11UACLcB/s1600/Safety%2BHarbor-1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="212" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-w_NtvN401Mw/VykPwnm5YKI/AAAAAAAAkQU/JoAtto7EmMgXG1dZyLkcTNsS-N8NU11UACLcB/s320/Safety%2BHarbor-1.jpg" width="265" /></a></div>
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Sunday, September 16

Lightroom Features - Develop Module

This is a followup to my 9/15 post on Lightroom Features. Have you really explored all that Lightroom Develop Module has? Check out the photo to the left to see multiple tools - Presets and Profiles that offer combinations for enhancing photos. Many features are as good as 3rd party tools you purchase.

Resources: 
Lightroom Develop Presets http://bit.ly/2Ni2FXl
Lightroom Develop Presets https://www.lightroomqueen.com/camera-profiles/

Saturday, September 15

Lightroom Features - Library and Develop Modules

As I explore additional post-processing solutions using Lightroom, I find additional tools and features that are very useful in my workflow. So, to record these for reference (as well as a refresher), the posts will be assigned labels titled with keywords 'Lightroom' and 'Features' for searching. Here are a few:

.. batch renaming of exported file names - select exported image(s) > right click > rename (great for consistently renaming similar photos of a particular shoot -or- just for clean organizing
.. setting proper whites and blacks without blowouts; under the section Tone' ... hold shift > double left click 'whites' and double left click 'blacks'
.. save time by creating user export presets - How to ... Presets for temporary, one use Jpegs or Facebook posts or website sharing.
.. explore and use Adobe's Presets (left side in the Develop Module) specifically Creative and Vignetting. Super easy and effective, providing a quick starting point for post-processing images

Friday, September 14

Lightroom Tutorials 101 - A Great Refresher

If you're interested in learning more about Adobe Lightroom and how you can use it to improve your photos, Photography Planet has a huge collection of articles and tutorials available for free. They compiled the Lightroom 101 series to provide an introduction to Lightroom's Library and Develop Modules
Source: https://photographypla.net/lightroom-101/

Sunday, September 2

Depth of Field (Bokeh)


Depth of field is the zone of acceptable sharpness within a photo that will appear in focus. In every picture, there is a certain area of your image in front of, and behind the subject that will appear in focus. So the Key Concepts are: 

To Increase depth of field
.. Narrow your aperture (larger f-number)
.. Move farther from the subject
.. Shorten focal length

To Decrease depth of field
.. Widen your aperture (smaller f-number)
.. Move closer to the subject
.. Lengthen your focal length


Source: Understanding Depth of Field

Friday, August 31

Photoshop for Lightroom Users

With the Adobe Lightroom CC Classic, we get Lightroom and Photoshop. However, what post-process tools or features are better in each one. Matt K (one of my favorite web instructors) has a 20-minute video (below) that answers that question and great how-to tips. Here is a quick summary.

Post-Process 'Best Tools' - Lightroom (Lr) vs. Photoshop (PS)
.. Toning - Lr
.. Sharpening and Noise - Lr (better than 3rd party plugins)
.. Dodge and Burn - PS
.. Vignette - Lr (if you really like the photo and want to spend time)
.. Remove distractions - PS
.. Spot removal - Lr
.. Special effects - PS (combine two photos, add flares, replace the sky, etc.)
.. B&W - PS (if you're into B&W, otherwise use Lr)
.. Lens Correction, Distortion - Lr
.. Print - Lr

Camera Settings - sRGB or AdobeRGB

Color space is just a specific range of colors that can be represented in a given photo. JPEG images can contain up to 16.7 million colors, though neither color space actually uses all 16.7 million colors available. Even though AdobeRGB is able to represent about 35% more color ranges than sRGB is able to, set your camera to sRGB. Bottom line: it's less complicated, your workflow is simpler and the color space is 'made' for the web.  So, unless you print most of your photos, follow this rule "sRGB - set it and forget it".
Source: Fstoppers AdobeRGB vs. sRGB

Monday, August 27

How to Shoot Macro and Achieve Bokeh (part blur) in your Photos

In some photographic situations, I need to blur parts of a scene to emphasize the main subject. This is especially true in macro (flowers and food photographs) as well as portraits etc. This week I visited a botanical garden to experiment with photographing flowers and see just what I can do to merge macro and blur backgrounds. Oh, I don't own a macro lens. After some searching the web and experimenting I came away with a few lessons and a low-cost surprise. They are: 

# use a macro lens if you have one
# use a telephoto lens (150 mm and above) 
# use a standard focal length lens and after achieving focus, place a magnifying glass in the front of the lens 
# all achieve the Bokeh (blurred background) 

Refernences:
Wiki - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh
Acheive Macro without a macro lens https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejvTVjWq_t4

Monday, August 20

Lightroom Grid Overlays - Golden Ratio or Fibonacci Spiral

I default to the Rule of Thirds for defining my composition layout most of the time. It's easy and provides decent composition 'in camera'. However, I know I have post-processing to fix my mistakes, Well sometimes, even the Rule of Thirds doesn't just do it. Well, I learned today (see video at 3:45 mins.) that there are Grid Overlays in Lightroom that can REALLY help to define where your subject needs to be. It's called the Fibonacci Spiral ... and it works as you can see in the photo (taken on Daytona Beach recently).

Additional Reference: Why is Fibonacci Spiral Better than Rule of Thirds.

Sunday, August 19

Destination: Jacksonville, Florida - Main St Bridge

Jacksonville, Florida - Main St Bridge 
500 Main St
Jacksonville, Florida

# View from Friendship Park (this view is north)
# Best taken from the west side of the bridge (bridge on the right)
# Allow 30 mins to locate/setup
# View the Friendship Fountain if lit

Saturday, August 18

Noise in 3 Image Bracketed Exposure

As my experience in low-light photography continues, I find that the more I learn the more I don't know. I do know that low-light photography requires me to shoot exposure-bracketed images via different shutter speeds. In the three exposure-bracketed images (I shoot -2/0/+2 EV, I am seeing unacceptable noise in the longest exposed image. My assumption is that the sensor must be heating up during the extended exposure, causing the pixels to ineffectively capture light and detail cleanly. The articles below generally supports my understanding and offers some options to avoid and/or reduce noise in the camera and in post-processing.

In summary, the author suggests 1) use in-camera noise reduction if available, and 2) correct the noise in post-processing (Lightroom and Photoshop settings offered). Additionally, I will place in my workflow first reviewing the 3 images and adjust for noise before merging/creating HDR image, boost ISO to reduce the duration of the -2.0 EV image, and even eliminating the noisy image and merge the remaining two images.

Avoid and Reduce Noise in Your Images
Fixing Problems Resulting from HDR

Thursday, August 9

Destination Walk: St Pete Cityscapes and Sunset

I had a great outing last night with Eddie, the photographer whose work and support encouraged me to explore low-light and nighttime shooting. The sky did not appear to work with us for a colorful sunset and a slight rain could have dampened the nighttime walk - they didn't. Many opportunities came forward and it was a great time capturing St Pete nighttime and water scenes. Lessons to remember:
.. always bring a plastic bag to protect the camera in case it rains
.. bring water, Gatorade or whatever - summer nights are hot and humid
.. when photographing vertical/portraits of buildings, allow dead space around subject since in post-processing lens correction and transform 'eat up' pixels
.. bring change for parking meters
.. use trees, buildings or structures to avoid lights hitting lens and prevent street light flare in images
.. consider knowing in advance or having an 'idea' about what one or two things you would like to capture (doorways, sunsets, people, murals, etc.). This aids in finding unique opportunities.




Monday, August 6

So You Got Noise in your Photo?

I have seen an increase in image noise (a sort of grainy veil that obscuring image details) as I embarked on low-light and night time photography. There are precautions one needs to incorporate in the camera when shooting and there are post-processing operations that can help reduce the noise after the fact. Here are a few sources to understand 'Noise'.

What is noise in photography? (grainy pixels)
https://photographylife.com/what-is-noise-in-photography

Photo Noise Reduction Tutorial (using Lightroom or PhotoShop)
https://photographylife.com/photo-noise-reduction-tutorial

Topaz recommendations on reducing noise in your PP work (remove it early)
https://blog.topazlabs.com/image-noise-reduction-workflow-tip/

Sunday, August 5

HDR Software Test

(under review) Always curious about how different HDR software applications perform: is one better than the other, how are they different or the same, what do I like or dislike? I performed a test today with three images exposure bracketed -2 EV/0 EV/-2EV. and compared the default images. Initial results (IMO) when accepting default outputs were 1) Lightroom's Photo Merge (free with Adobe Lr) is an acceptable HDR feature, 2) Nik's HDR Efex Pro (was free now DxO $69) showed most, not all the time was better than Lightroom, 3) easyHDR ($39) showed best results most often, 4) and one comparison of same original images processed through Photomatix ($89) did not match easyHDR's default output. See initial results - here ... more planned. 



Saturday, August 4

*Feedback Friday Notes* Our first critique event was a success! Ten+ members of Photographic Destinations - Florida (PDF) provided feedback to members who posted photos this past Friday. Here is my summary of lessons/observations:

* be sure your photo leaves no question what is your subject
* use a tripod for low-light photos to reduce/remove blur
* consider an appropriate caption or title to define a story, emotion or subject
* the horizon must be horizontal
* check for and reduce distractions - watermarks, trees, lighting
* shoot at different and multiple angles
* use exposure bracketing (when doing HDR or to protect against unusual lighting conditions)
* consider leading lines
* if a symmetrical composition is desired - use the camera’s grid to confirm
* don’t discount B&W as an option to color
* where applicable - keep the scene ‘clean and simple
* shoot multiple photos of the same scene

Wednesday, August 1

Critiquing Photographs

Here are a series of 'critique tips' when 'judging' your own photographs or offering feedback to others.


Things to look for in your/the technique used:
– Focus: Is the image sharp? If not, is it intentionally soft?
– Exposure: Is it too light or dark? Are there blown out or underexposed areas?
– Depth of Field: Is DOF used properly to control the viewer’s eye?
– Lighting: Is the lighting too contrasty, too flat or just right?
– Colors: Does it have neutral colors or a strange or unusual color cast?
– Cleanliness: Is it free of scratches, dust spots, stains, lens flare, etc.?

How’s is your/the composition?
– Does it need a bit of cropping?
– Is your eye drawn to the main subject immediately i.e. is there a strong center of interest?
– Is the image aligned correctly or is it crooked? Is the horizon - horizontal?
– Does it follow the Rule of Thirds - should it?
– Is the arrangement of the elements positioned effectively?
– Is it simple, yet complete and without distracting elements?

How is the emotional appeal?
– Does the image evoke any emotion? Does it excite the imagination?
– Does the photograph tell a story?
– Does it show a familiar subject in a new or unusual way?
– Does it grab and keep your attention – have the “wow” factor?

Note: The elements shared above have been modified or simplified for use with Photographic Destinations - Florida low-light theme. Source: Apogee Photo

Sunday, July 29

5 Lightroom Features We Forget

There are some hidden or less explored features of Lightroom which some of us you might not be fully aware. Here are five Lightroom tips and tricks which you can use to maximize your editing skills and save time while editing pictures. They include the HSL Tool; an Automatic Slider Adjustment; the Clipping Mask; the Copy-Paste Effect; and the Radial Filter Auto Selection.

What Style of Photography is Right for Me?

When I started enjoying photography I came across an article titled "What's your photographic style"? Then I said - damned if I know. What I did know was that I enjoy photos that 'pull' me into the scene. I started to embark on defining my style, and soon defined my style (passion?) to night-time photography or better-defined as Golden Hour / Blue Hour / Twilight photography.

Why? To me, this style encompassed the many aspects of what I enjoy: technology, planning days trips & travel to out of the way Florida locations, sleepy old towns, soft lighting and quietness of late-night street photography. The initiation of that style was capturing 'basic' sunsets in the Gulf and now with many walks with sharing and learning with others excited about low-light photography ... I found a passion I love. Check this out this article 'Keys to Developing Your Personal Photographic Style'


Thursday, July 26

My Post-Processing Applications

(July 2018) After much research - the web and friends who are passionate about photo capturing and post-processing, I have narrowed my photography tools down to the following tools. Each has a primary purpose and feature set that I exploring and documenting.

  • Lightroom Classic CC - primary application for data asset management and tonality.
  • easyHDR - my go to photo-merging application for single-image bracketed photos. Recently found it to be excellent for faking/enhancing single images where their algorithms produce a very nice improved image for final review in Lightroom. It is a plug-in to Lightroom.
  • Luminar - this is my 'can this be enhanced better' tool. After post-processing and rating photos as a 3 or 4 Star in Lightroom, I export to Luminar for a final check against their Presets. (this may be a fixed price option to Lightroom once they add 1) photo asset management and 2) provide for importing multiple images into software). 
  • Skylum Noiseless CK - my newest application for Noise Reduction (under review)
  • Nik Collection - a full suite of all tools (now supported by DxO). I have used their HDR Efex Pro, the Dfine (noise reduction tool) primarily when I need a validation or option to the above applications. (Comparison tests of Nik versus other tools in ongoing). 

Thursday, June 21

Destination: St. Petersburg Bayway Bridge

St Petersburg Bayway Bridge at Sunset - a local destination. 
# best to photograph before and after the sunset
# shoot underside after lights on
# parking on roadway grass near the base
# don't forget - multiple angles
# bring a lawn chair

Friday, June 1

Which HDR Program Should I Use? (#PDF)

Low-Light photography requires most often requires the photographer to exposure bracket a shoot with a minimum of 3 photos +2/0/-2 EV to capture the full dynamic range of the photograph. HDR programs then with merge the 3 images and create one HDR image. So which program does one choose? 

Lightroom has a photo merge function, Photomatix is a well-known software application and up until a month or two ago, the Nik Collection was offered free (but unsupported) by Google and included Efex HDR Pro. Nik has been purchased by DxO and is again a supported application for $69.99.

After researching several as well as fellow photographers who have used each of many applications, I settled on two applications: 1) easyHDR and 2) the Nik Collection. Here is a June 2018 review of five (5) best and a link to DxO Nik.

Top 5 Best HDR Software Applications 
https://www.madestuffeasy.com/best-hdr-software-for-mac-and-windows-pc/

DxO Nik Collection
https://nikcollection.dxo.com/

Thursday, May 17

My Photo Journey Lessons Learned and Tips

I (and maybe we) become comfortable with what works for us in any endeavor. That can result in limiting our learning and growth. In order to avoid that tailspin, below and continued on a separate blog page is a list of lessons learned and tips.

- Bring spare SD Cards and Batteries
- View LCD images after taking a shot (to confirm if blowouts, settings, composition is right)
- Shoot, shoot, shoot - digital photos are 'cheap'
- Consider photographing your subject from more than one angle or position
- More ...

Saturday, April 14

The Dunning-Kruger Effect (applied to Photography)

Dunning-Kruger Effect - simply stated, "the less competent one is in an area, the more likely they are to rate themselves more competent in that area". However, the more one progresses in an area, the more they understand what lies in front of them (or what they don’t know). Here are the five steps to get a more objective view of what it takes to be a better photographer. 
  • Beware of feeling comfortable
  • Learn to let go of your old work (try to better them; build on what you already have done)
  • Ask for feedback (if critique gets to you … you know they are right; ‘likes' are nice i.e. Facebook, friends, etc. but you need to know what you are doing wrong and then better yourself)
  • Always keep learning (always move forward)
  • Feeling bad about your old work is a sign your moving forward (keep reading books, keep practicing)

Source: Link on FCCP Meetup Sunday, April 15th, 2018 https://youtu.be/EmSYI6AjFUg
Just in the 3 short months, I have begun to focus on a style - Golden Hour / Blue Hour I have learned many areas that I thought I understood but don't, and must move forward and learn 

- the relationship between focal length and f/stop
- preventing (or avoiding) halos in bracketed night shots with lighted buildings
- correcting for ghosting in PP caused by long exposure and moving objects
- managing noise reduction without negatively impacting detail
- taking advantage of and using people, subjects, vehicles

Thursday, March 15

Destination: Florida Lighthouses

Visiting Florida Lighthouses is a combination scavenger hunt and photographic journey. Some Lighthouses are operational while others are historic keepsakes. Here are some tips:
# research locations and history
# local societies will fund dismantling, rebuilding and relocating facilities
# seek local information and directions
# Source Florida Lighthouses

Tuesday, January 30

Resource for Nik Collections and Camera

Photographer and Blogger Ed Knepley offers a Table of Contents which includes a host of photography instruction and tutorials including:
.. Nik Software Tutorials - more than Nik User Guides
.. Misc Nik related posts
.. Subjects on Composition
.. Putting Camera Controls to Use to control Exposure, Focus and Color
.. Creative Use of Focus
and more ..