Panoramas: Making Waves

Hi Folks:

I’ve been making digital panoramas since I owned my first digital camera, and some time before that with prints (although we called them photomosaics back then). Just to be clear, there’s a difference (at least to me) between a panoramic image – one that’s been cropped to a wide-aspect format – and a digital panorama. A digital panorama is one where 2+ images of the same scene are combined in post-processing software to create one image that captures more of the scene than could be contained in a single frame. There are several advantages to creating panoramas; three of the most prominent are:

  • the aforementioned ability to capture more of a scene
  • the ability to use a longer focal length lens to avoid wide-angle lens distortions and vignetting
  • the ability to create higher resolution images than can be captured in a single image

We’re not going to get into the technical details of making panoramas in this post, but those who are interested are welcome to review our other posts on panoramas, here. This is an example of a digital panorama:

Tofino, BC – 60 images (click on any image to see it larger)

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2021 Photo Calendars

Hi Folks:

This is the eleventh year now that we’ve made our photo calendar templates available, both for MS Word users (for those who don’t use graphics programs) and as .png files for those who do. As before, we’re also making our own calendar available in .pdf format for those who are interested. For our calendar we’ve used images made in that month (i.e. the image for May 2021 was made in May 2020). Because 2020 has been what it was, we didn’t do any significant travel off of Vancouver Island this year and 11 of the 12 images were made in and around the Victoria area. We did manage to trade Victoria for Tofino (on Vancouver Island’s wet coast) for a bit in October, and the image for that month was made in Ucluelet.

click on the image to access the .pdf file for download

I created a template in MS Word that allows people who don’t have Photoshop, Lightroom, Affinity Photo or the equivalent to make their own photo calendars, so we’ll cover that first; the graphics stuff is below that. I used MS Word 2016 to make the template and saved it as a .docx file. Basically it’s a series of tables, one for each month, that look something like this:

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Admiring the View

Admiring the ViewHi Folks:

We’re actually in Tofino, on Canada’s wet coast right now. Last Thursday marked four years since Mike’s dad passed away, so when we saw this man on the rocks admiring the view we thought of Pop. Wherever he is now, we’re sure he has a great view!

Hugs,
M&M

Learning to See in Black and White

Hi Folks:

This is the sixth of the YouTube videos we’ve done for the Victoria Photography Meetup Group. Since the videos are out in the wild anyway, we thought maybe we should put them up here as well. The last talk was on the basics of colour so this one is on making black and white (grayscale) images. For most people, the best way to make grayscale images is to shoot in colour and then convert the images into grayscale on the computer. We explore the reasons for that and a few ways to maximize that colour information…even when all you can see on your screen are shades of gray.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment below or fill out our contact form.

Two versions of an image of the Koksilah River: the top in colour and the bottom in black and white. This image is the link to the tutorial video.

Learning to See in Black and White

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. You can find the rest of our tutorial posts here. We’re closing in on a hundred now, I think.
P.S. II, the sequel. Harvey Stearn has an excellent post: Black & White Image-Making In the Digital Age. Well worth reading.

Affinity Photo, HDR and Panoramas

Hi Folks:

I’ll be the first to admit there’s a lot about colour I don’t know, so feel free to correct me if I misstep. I have a Sony A7RIII, Capture One Pro for Sony 20.1 and Affinity Photo 1.8.3.

NB: I can’t see what you’re seeing because your monitor is different. Also, these are sRGB .jpg screen captures of what I’m seeing. Still, there’s value in comparing them to each other.

Since Lightroom (Lr) 6.14 doesn’t work very well with my .arw files, I’ve been using Affinity Photo (AP) to combine my HDRs and panoramas. I’ve learned a few things. I took nine images made last October to play with. None of this is worth keeping, but it’s good to play with.

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An Unusual Lightroom Problem… And Solution

Hi Folks:

Last fall we were at Hatley Gardens at Royal Roads University and (among other works) I made some bracketed images for building HDR panoramas. Unfortunately, due to a technical error (the nut behind the camera) I violated one of the basic tenets of making panoramas: always use manual exposure. As such, for one of my panorama images (made from two bracketed sets of exposures), the right group of images came out visibly lighter than the left. Compare the large Douglas fir in both images:

In current versions of Lightroom one can make HDR panoramas in one step, but in my older version I have to do this in two steps. No matter. The challenge was that when I joined the two HDR composites together, it was easy to see where the join between them is:

What to do? Fortunately, Lightroom has a built-in solution, although it’s not well known. In the Library module one selects the group of images involved (two in this case) and moves to the Develop module. Under Settings, about ½ way down the menu, click on Match Total Exposures. We did a blog post on this back several years ago (Match Total Exposures in Lightroom) if you want to know more. Basically the tool works only with the Exposure slider, and – using the most selected image as a baseline – adjusts the exposure of the other selected image(s) to match. In this case it turned down the exposure on the image on the right by ¾ stop:

Comparing the above two images you can see that they’re much more in line with each other. This time when I combined the two into a panorama the results were much more even:

Finally, after setting the white balance and pushing the image around a bit we come to the final output:

Japanese Garden, Royal Roads University

Okay, that’s it for now. Go out and make some photographs!

Hugs,
M&M

2020 Photo Calendars

Hi Folks:

This is the tenth year now that we’ve made our MS Word photo calendar templates available, and as with the past several years, we’ve also created a series of templates and calendar images you can use with Lightroom or other graphics software. As we’ve done before we’ve also added a full-page calendar option, below. 

I created a template in MS Word that allows people who don’t have Photoshop, Lightroom or the equivalent to make their own photo calendars, so we’ll cover that first; the Lightroom stuff is below that. I used MS Word 2016 to make the template and saved it as a .docx file. Basically it’s a series of tables, one for each month, that look something like this:

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4:1 – Re-imagining the Frame

Hi Folks:

As photographers, one of the most important challenges for us is to continue to change how we see and to stretch our creativity. One of the ways to do that is to pick specific parameters and then to make a body of work that fits within those parameters. It might be to shoot only one subject, to shoot only in grayscale (B&W), to make an image every day… In the film days, most people’s relationships to photography revolved around a few aspect ratios: 2×3 (4×6), 4×5 (8×10), 5×7, etc. With some older cameras we also had 1:1 square prints, usually from 120, 127 or 620 film. With digital photography we’re not so limited, although some of the same rules apply when we get to printing. Movies (and now video) have always embraced wider frames, although there was no one standard aspect ratio. We have movies made in 1.78:1 (16×9) out to 2.4:1 (22×9) and beyond. Outside the movie theatre, for the average person 16:10/ 16:9 showed up in their lives with the first widescreen computer monitors and digital TVs. Continue Reading →

Cell Phones, HDR and Panoramas

Hi Folks:

This started out as an idea for a blog post, evolved into a one-hour presentation for our local camera group, and now I’ll try to compress that into a blog post. We’ll see how it goes.

There are several questions to begin with, the first of which is… why do this? The answer is to extend or expand the capabilities of your camera, no matter the camera. There are at least five different reasons that I know of to combine multiple exposures into one image. These are two of them. The second question is, why cell phones? This post doesn’t only involve cell phones, but cell phones are ubiquitous. Some people only make images with their phones, despite the technical challenges, but the bottom line is that it depends on how you’re planning to use your images.

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Photography, White Balance and Colour Profiling

Hi Folks:

I wrote this out for a friend of mine and thought I should post it here as well. Back in 2010 we wrote a post on Photography and Colour Management, and this is complementary to that post.

When it comes to colour digital photography, many photographers are aware of white balance. If you’re not, this Wikipedia article on Colour Balance explains it well. The essential element is that the human eye sees subjectively (our eyes receive energy as light and our brains interpret what that energy means) whereas digital cameras see objectively. The human perspective is highly adaptable, so no matter where or when we find ourselves, if we see something white, we recognize it as white, no matter what colour it actually is. Cameras can’t do that. If you’re shooting .jpg images you select a white balance setting on the camera – daylight or incandescent or even auto – and the camera’s software shifts the information captured so that white looks, well, white. If you’re shooting RAW, the images captured have no integral white balance and one must be assigned during raw conversion.

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