4:1 – Re-imagining the Frame

Hi Folks:

As photographers, one of the most important challenges for us it 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.

When we updated the theme for our blog recently, our header images needed to be created at 4:1. As we covered in our recent post Cell Phones, HDR and Panoramas, in photography a panoramic image is one with a wide aspect ratio and a panorama refers to an image made from multiple, overlapping exposures. Not all panoramas are panoramic in aspect ratio. However, going through our catalogue of images looking for those that might be appropriate for header images brought me to question what might fit into that 4:1 frame. Panoramic images usually depict broad skylines, often shot with wide-angle lenses, like this:

Victoria's Inner Harbour

But looking through the images got me wondering what else might work. Maybe something closer, but still panoramic in nature, like this:

Dallas Road Shoreline

Closer still, perhaps?

Cathedral Grove Nurse Log

How close could I get and still make an image that fit the frame?

Dallas Road Shoreline

Dallas Road Storm

How about a single flower?”

Sunflower at the Gardens at HCP

Or a small patch of winter leaves?

Frost on Leaves - Butchart Gardens in February

Not every image works of course, but I’ve added another tool I can use to expand my vision. I still make panoramic images like this:

Frigon Islets, Port Alice, BC

But now I’m also likely to look at something like a hood ornament at a car show in a different light.

1929 Willys 3-Window Whippet

One never knows where it might lead!

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

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. We now have 40 images comprising our Headers collection. They’re set to load randomly, so you’ll have to keep checking different posts/pages to see them all! 🙂

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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Focus Stacking for Landscape Photography

Hi Folks:

We’re certainly not the first to entertain this idea, but while most people associate focus stacking with macro photography (at really high magnifications one’s depth of field (DoF) can be 0.05mm, or less) focus stacking can have value in architectural and landscape photography, even product photography as well. It’s something I’ve only recently tried so I thought I’d share some experiences.

For any image there’s one point (at most) in the frame that is in exact focus. Depth of field is the range of distances within any particular image that appear to be in focus. We’re not going to weigh you down with the details, like Circles of Confusion, Scheimpflug principle, etc. There’s more than enough information on that available on the web.

Focus stacking is a process whereby one takes a series of images with different points of focus and then uses software to choose sections of each image to create a composite image. Here’s an example:

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A Quick Lightroom Tip

Hi Folks:

I’ve been using Lightroom since the first Beta, but never claimed to know everything. In fact I learned something new today. As I’m sure you do, I often shoot 2-3 exposures in series and then pick the best one of them once I have them in the Lr library. I’ve been opening the Library module in Grid view, selecting the 2 or 3 images, pressing C for Compare view, zooming in, determining which is best and rejecting the other(s), then pressing G to go back to Grid view, selecting the next pair, etc. I don’t often use the filmstrip at the bottom, but I happened to have it open today. What I discovered is this:

Start in Grid view and select two (or more) images for comparison. Press C to go to Compare view, and the two selected images are shown in the filmstrip below. Choose one of the images and X (reject) the other. Now, while in Compare view, click on the frame (not the image) of the next image to be compared in the filmstrip at the bottom and Lr will automatically select the image beside it for comparison. If you have more than two images to compare you can hold down the Shift or Ctrl key to select the next file(s). Compare, choose one, X the others, then press on the frame of the next image to compare in the bottom filmstrip… It’s a lot faster than going back and forth between Compare and Grid views.


 

Okay, that’s it. Now go out and make some photographs!!
 

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. There are some 85 posts on our blog now on digital photography and Lightroom. You can find them all here.

An HDR Comparison

Hi Folks:

When you mention the term HDR, many people’s thoughts automatically jump to tonemapping and the results that can produce. That’s not what this post is about. If you don’t understand what HDR is all about or why you might want to use it in your photography, I suggest starting here: Why Use HDR? I’ll wait…

Okay, welcome back. I recently acquired a Sony A7R III and one of the features of this camera is that it has a very wide dynamic range – 12 to 14 stops are claimed. To that end, HDR capture with this camera isn’t often necessary. However, a friend of mine and I were out at Victoria’s famous Butchart Gardens last weekend and I wanted to try bracketing a few exposures just to see. Now, when it comes to the question of how many exposures to make and at what EV levels, there’s really only one answer: it depends. It depends on the scene and it also depends on the camera you’re using and what capabilities it has. For my experiment I decided to shoot 5 bracketed exposures at -4/-2/0/+2/+4 EV. Here’s an example of one of those combined images after having been pushed around a bit in Lr.

Water Dragon
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2019 Photo Calendars

Hi Folks:

This is the ninth 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, but saved it as both a Word 2016 file and a Word 97-2003 compatible file. Basically it’s a series of tables, one for each month, that look something like this:

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2018 Photo Calendars

Hi Folks:

This is the eighth year now that we’ve made our MS Word photo calendar templates available, and as with the past couple of 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 2007 to make the template, but saved it as both a Word 2007 file and a Word 97-2003 compatible file. Basically it’s a series of tables, one for each month, that look something like this:

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Softproofing in Lightroom: A Quick Tip

Hi Folks:

In my opinion, digital photo printing is equal parts art and science. It covers much greater depth than can be contained within one blog post, so if that’s what you’re looking for, there are plenty of other resources on the ‘net. If you want an introduction to photography and colour management, you might want to start here: Photography and Colour Management.

Okay, this is going to be a quick (for me) blog post. Assuming that you have some understanding of colour models, you know that while Lab is completely device independent, CMYK is completely device dependent (RGB is somewhere in the middle). As Vincent Versace has been known to say, printers are default devices: they only work with the information you send them. As such, the colour on a print relies on the printer and the inkset it contains, the paper chosen and the .icc profile for that paper. The printer profile is a set of instructions that translate the RGB colour space from your monitor into a CMYK colour space that your printer will recognize. Every printer/ paper combination has its own .icc profile, whether custom made for an individual machine or provided by the paper manufacturer for their stock. Now, while the only way to know 100% what your print will look like is to print it (known as hardproofing), one can get most of the way there by softproofing. This simulates (as much as possible) what the print will look like on your computer screen. Once you have an idea what the print will look like, you can modify the settings to make the print emulate what you want. Keep in mind that monitors are emissive devices (they project light) while paper reflects light.

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Using Dehaze with Lightroom 6.x

Hi Folks:

One of the features available in Lightroom CC 2015.x that’s not available with Lightroom 6.x is the Dehaze tool. I’m not sure what magical coding is going on behind the curtain, but if it’s possible to duplicate this effect using the other sliders, it’s neither inherently obvious (at least to me) nor easy to do so. If you have a Lr CC subscription, updating to the latest version should give you access to the Dehaze tool. If you’re using a standalone version of Lr 6, all is not lost – thanks to Stu over at Prolost.com – as he’s made a series of presets available for download. You can buy the Dehaze presets as part of a larger preset package here, or you can download only the Dehaze presets for free (or by donation) here.

If you have Lr CC2015.1 or later the Dehaze slider will be under the Effects panel in the Develop module (below Grain). It’s also available as a slider with the mask tools (Graduated Filter, Radial Filter, etc). If you’re using Lr 6.1 or later, using Dehaze will only be possible using the downloaded presets mentioned above. As such, one of the limitations is that the presets are in graduations of 10 – i.e. one can add 50 or 60, but not 53 the way one could set the slider in Lr CC.

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