Multiple Exposures

I tried something new (for me) on this shot.  I set my Nikon D810 to  a two second delay (tripod), to then to multiple exposure mode…10 exposures.  The idea was to simulate what I’d get by using an ND filter to blur the water.  I thought the effect was interesting.  I didn’t get the same sort of blur I’d get with an ND filter, but rather more texture in the water…almost “bumpy”.  The image was processed with NIK software to improve contrast (Pro Contrast filter), and add a Sunlight filter effect.  Buy the way, the river really was yellow against the white snow due to minerals in the water.  Click to enlarge.

Story Telling

What is that special quality in an image that makes the viewer look more than once? Why is it that some images demand more attention, while others don’t.  Both may be beautiful, visually.  Both may have an interesting subject, but the image that stands out goes beyond all that; it makes you feel something.  It tells you a story about the subject.  That story may or may not be exactly as intended by the photographer, but it’s there.  

Whether we know it or not, if we work at our craft long enough, and take it seriously, we usually end up developing a certain “style” and set of favorite subjects. Certain subjects capture our  imagination.  We frame them in a certain way, and we process them in certain ways.  What drives us is that inner need to tell the subject’s story, and tell our own story though that capture. We want to convey that feeling that drew us to take the image.  When we get back home and begin processing the image we recrop, lighten and darken, and do our best to bring out that story. 

Excellence in photography comes from being self-aware enough to understand this process of story telling.  Think about your best images.  What do they say? When you stop to capture an image, what is it about that subject that made you look? How can you capture that aspect of the image? When you process the image, what can you do to help the viewer see and feel what you saw and felt? To  do less than that is to take “snapshots”; brainless, thoughtless, images with no feeling…no story.

Try this exercise.  When you post and share your images, give them a name; not a name describing the subject, a name describing the story.  Instead of naming a scene “Yosemite Valley”, name it something like “Where the earth meets the sky”.  I know for myself, I love landscapes and have great awe and respect for nature’s majesty and power.  I strive to have my images convey this quality.  Give it a try…name your images. 

I Wish I’d Remember to Take More Street Scenes

I like Black and White images, especially street scenes with people.  Too often when I travel I, like a lot of tourists, get so caught up in the beauty and novelty of what I am seeing that I forget to just take some regular street scenes that capture the essence of the place. These types of images make great black and white conversions for some reason (in my opinion, at least).  These came from by recent trip to Europe.

The way I like to process most of my B&W images is to 1) Make them as good as I can in Lightroom, 2) bring them into Photoshop and run them through the Nik Color Effects Filter, applying either Detail Extractor, or Tonal Contrast…at this point the image doesn’t look real good in color, but I think the next step brings it back…3) Then I will Use Image/Adjustments/B&W in Photoshop.  This gives me great control of the image because of the color sliders.  Sometimes I’ll use Nik’s Silver Effect.  4) finally I will (sometimes) slightly reduce the opacity of the B&W layer to bring just a hint of the original color back into play. The heavy processing will frequently produce a noisy image  in B&W that doesn’t hurt as badly as in color, but for noise reduction I like Nik Define

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Related Images:

iPad/iPhone Photo Editing

I’ve spent days editing pictures on my desktop after a recent trip. I love doing that. Tonight I’m just fooling around on my IPad with a couple of new apps I picked up when I read a FB post by Dewitt Jones…I blame him for the multitude of editing apps I’ve collected. Here is the final image out of Photoshop, then two versions of that same image run through, first Brushstroke, then Distressed FX.  These apps can be a lot of fun.

Another image taken in Rothenburg and edited with Brushstroke.

Why we Post Process

From lousy weather, scaffolding, and dissappointment to something worthwhile.  I travel a lot and enjoy taking pictures on the road.  I don’t have the luxury of waiting for the perfect time of day, or weather, and it seems a standard joke that every time I get to some landmark location, there is almost certainly going to be scaffolding around my target.  I take pictures anyways, and try to turn those dogs into something at home.  This is a good example.

I was in Munich, Germany recently, and decided to get up early to beat the crowds.  I made my way out to the Marienplatz on a dull looking morning, hoping for the best….didn’t get it.  Scaffolding in front of the building, and some patches of blue peaking out around the clouds.  The plaza was a little smaller than I remembered, and my wide angle lense (10-24, on a cropped sensor Nikon D7000), couldn’t capture the entire building without tilting the camera up considerably. As I said…take the picture anyways.  I bracketed a number of shots to combate, what was now a bright sky behind the dark towers. The “before” image is one of those brackets, and illustrates well the leaning back building, due tot he camera tilt.

Considerable post processing, corrected the leaning building, worked the dynamic range issue, and got rid of the scaffolding.  In order to fix the front main entry, partially hidden by scaffolding, I had to take a separate picture of it, and blend it into the final image,  the hidden arches were copied from those on the right side, flipped horizontally, and paste/blended.

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I’m including a few more heavily edited before-and-afters. I make no excuses for the heavy edits. I’m not a professional, don’t have someone paying me to stay and wait for the perfect moment. I get what I get, while I’m there. I do make an effort to get out early before crowds, or if I can, stay through the golden hour. Even with that, on occasion, such as the picture I took at 6am in a Munich square…the day way drizzly, and it must have been garbage day, since there were garbage containers everywhere!

Garbage day on the platz.. I straightened, removed the cans, and made the street look wet, as it was when I was there. Ok, I also turned on the street light, and made the window lights brighter. Getting rid of the cans here was actually tough. 

People will always stand around…don’t blame them really, so this was all I could do. At times there were entire tour groups standing in front of me. I waited, and waited…and waited, then removed the stragglers in post. I did add a little sun beam coming from the top right…subtle, I didn’t want it to look ridiculous. 


 

Editing the $&@/€% Out of Pictures

Rainy day. Planned to go out an exercise my photo muscles but didn’t work out. Bring up Photoshop and my iPhone and massacre some photos. Actually you can learn something by trying everything under the rainbow. With that software it’s also a good idea to use it and practice. 

 This baby was an iPhone shot. I wished I had done better with composition but I liked the colors and textures. Heavy editing with iPhone apps.  

Taking Care of my Pictures

My iMac Desktop is only about 3 years old but is showing signs of stress.  It has become very slow, and semi-unstable at times.  It has a 1TB internal drive which is 80% full, mostly with my 30k images.  I recently installed 32GB of ram memory, hoping that would help.  It did slightly, but I still get a lot of the “spinning beachball of death”, and frequent non-responsive software.  Running the Apple disk utility shows no issues with the internal hard drive.  I spent hours cleaning our garbage from the hard drive (cache, old files, etc), but the problem persists, so I concluded that it may be a bad disk, or more likely an overcrowded disk.  since the disk is over 50% full, recent software updates (OS and Photoshop/Lightroom) have probably been written on the slowest part of the disk, and/or, there is not enough scratch space for Photoshop and Lightroom to work with the large image files.  So my plan, before bailing out and taking the machine into Apple’s computer configtechnicians is to reconfigure how I handle my pictures, and in the process, how I manage the backups.

Here’s my plan.  I wrote it out to test my thinking.  A lot of it has to do with how Lightroom’s catalog works.

First step is to move all my images off my internal hard drive and create an external Pictures workdisk. The move will initially be done using “Export as Catalog” in Lightroom.  This is so LR creates a completely new catalog pointing at the folders and files on the new external drive.  The software and operating system will be the only thing remaining on the internal drive giving PS and LR all the scratch disk they could possibly want. The LR catalog file will go with the images to the external hard drive.

Note, I thought about keeping my current year images on the internal drive, but decided against splitting my images for the time being, because I like to go back frequently and use old images in composites.

Step Two is to ensure that my Time Machine backup includes the external work disk drive. I believe it will automatically.

Step Three, once I’m sure my new work disk and the Time Machine are working properly, I’ll delete all my images on the internal drive.

Step Four, Set up my Dropsync to backup my work disk to a portable external disk, that I can move off site.  I may use two portable drives so I can rotate them offsite.  I already use Dropsync  with my external portable drive, so this isn’t a new process.

Step Five, Before my trips I will run the “Export as Catalog” process from the work disk to create a travel version of my pictures that I can access on the travel laptop (Macbook Air).  When I download new images from my camera when I travel, they will be on the travel drive (as well as the SD cards, so they are  backed up),  When I return home I can do another “export as catalog” back the other direction to the work drive.  The reason I would use this process instead of just copying the new images up to the work drive, is that I frequently edit images on the trip, before I return.

The best part of this plan is that I don’t have to buy a bunch of equipment.  I can do this with only one additional external hard drive (a 4TB WD hard drive).  I have and use the other equipment, but have never really thought through my configuration, so I don’t use it consistently.

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Addendum: as of Monday the 27th, I’ve started step one with a 5Tb WD My Book drive, which I reformatted to work on the iMac.

Almost all done.  iMac now only has software on its hard drive.  All documents and photos are on the external 5tb drive, and being backed up right now by Time Machine.  Final step will be to hook Dropsync back into the process to produce copies on the portable drives, and then just let the process roll.  The computer is back to running almost like it was new!  It worked.