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 -

Best Free Editors -
(learning curve GIMP is extensive)

Luminar 3 -
Luminar Flex -

Lightzone -

Darktable -
(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

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, 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.