Oct 2, 2010

32 Float - Realistic HDR Plug-in for CS5

Maiden voyages in new software usually create challenges!

32 Float, Unified Color, 32 bit HDR, Photoshop CS5

I downloaded a trial version of 32 Float ( from Unified Color. 32 Float installs as a 32 bit HDR plug-in for Adobe Photoshop CS5 (also CS3 and CS4). Sandy Corless recently talked about its strength and ease of use for realistic HDR images. I also installed an NVIDIA GeForce 210 1 GB video card. Dual CPU Windows XP, NVIDIA card, and a Wacom Graphire 4 tablet are my normal HDR workflow environment.

When Installed, 32 Float Didn't Work.
Okay, where was the bug?
I did a detailed bug report, sent it to John Omvik, Unified Color, late Friday afternoon. To my amazement - I got an e-mail within 90 minutes telling me ~ disable Wacom and try it.

32 Float Works!
John's done a good video explaining 32 Float. Combined with a clear user's manual, most operations are easy to understand and perform.
So I began the first trial run of 32 Float - without the Wacom. In a prior step, I had compiled and saved a 32 bit HDR2 file at default values using CS5’s HDR Pro. It became my de facto input for 32 Float...

So, this morning, I sent John on another note indicating we had gained significant traction on my initial bug report.
Unfortunately, I've been using the Wacom since 2007 … it's very deeply embedded in my workflow!

Huzzah, John! Your initial quick bug report response is highly encouraging.
I also began to get the distinct feeling ~ 32 Float is going to become a significant part of my HDR future!

32 Float Flexibility
Because 32 Float allows you to save individual tone mapping steps as separate layers in CS5, you can now adjust highlights, mid tones, shadows, white balance, color tuning, and saturation independently of one another as separate layers.
Talk about real HDR Power...!

32 Float Image Enhancement
For comparison, the top image is a 16 bit HDR file from 32 float with all actions mentioned above under flexibility. No final finishing touches have presently eliminated highlights etc - which might be questioned by some. The bottom is the 16 bit HDR Pro image supplied to 32 Float.
Combinatorial intricacies for tone mapping provided by 32 Float clearly step well past Local Adaptation of a 32 bit file in Photoshop CS5.
And I've just barely begun use of this fascinating tool... it’s like seeing just the very tip of an enormously exciting ‘Artic’ iceberg!

There will be more about 32 Float in blogs to come...!

Sep 2, 2010

Virtual ‘Try Before You Buy’

Google Earth, Google Earth Tours, tour, tours, nature, landscape, photography, Ship Rock, Anasazi Pleasure, Four Corners, 4 Corners

A search on Google Earth, Tour Leaders, photography, and nature provided insight into a breaking new adventure travel trend in online communication. TUI Adventure* has a Passport to Adventure brochure with interesting stats. In an analysis of current and future trends in UK adventure travel market, they show
• Unique visitors to The Adventure Companies’ websites have doubled every year since 2006, forecasted as 50 million unique visitors during 2010.
• The UK outbound tour operator market for adventure travel is currently over 200,000 passengers a year.
• Since 2006, average passenger expense has grown by 21% to £1198.
The next 3 year growth is predicted to increase by category:
• 145% for Special Interest Holiday,
• 181% (double) for Nature and Wildlife Holiday.
• For TUI, it’s a $300 million business projected to double in 3 years.
Typical savvy customers want:
• More than sun, sea, and sand experience.
• An authentic, ‘off beaten track’ skill they can’t find in guide books.
• Geographically and environmentally aware.
• Active (from walkers to full blown mountaineers).
Online networking before and after travel
• Social media networking is increasingly important with customer generated Facebook pages and Twitter campaigns.
• Our brands’ online communities have 30,000 active members regularly blogging, sharing photos, and discussing upcoming trips.
• Growing another way; naturally inquisitive, adapting to new social media world with ease. We talk in their world via Facebook, Twitter, live chat forums, and brand sites.
• Better information; online technology and development give customers a virtual ‘try before you buy’ experience with videos, trekking routes with Google Earth, and customer testimonials and photos.
Now, that is quite a impressive concept – particularly using online communication to enhance adventure travel…

In early 2010, Google Announced Google Earth Tours (GET).
Between 2006 to 2010, customers could only get static pictures - a mountain pass trail shown as a GPS trek. Our Google search had 48 hits.
Year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Google Earth 1 1 2 2 5 10? 10? 25? 60?
With GE Tours, online communication becomes an entirely new ball game…
Tours pique customer interest – they show where a trip is planned, provide satellite data of terrain, then create intimacy in a video with pictures and stories.
Tours can:
• Be created in Google Earth (free).
• Contain intimate photos showing unusual scenes.
• Be narrated to stimulate dramatic memories.
• Be shown online as a video 24x7x365 Planet wide!

What Is Our Response to Static Adventure Company Online Communication?
Get up to date by creating dynamic adventure travel videos; use advanced KML technology, provide photos, satellite views, and tell stories to really stimulate, then arouse a customer’s intense, innate desire to go there and see for themselves!
See a Tour for Yourself from the web…
Single tour example – Comb Ridge, Utah
Regional tour example – Photography Tour, Four Corners, USA
Brief How To – Creating Google Earth Tour

Update:  You must have Goggle Earth 5.2 or greater installed to run the 2 tour examples files...4 Sep, 2010

Aug 31, 2010

Applying Google Earth Tours to Outback Photography

Nasa, navstar, camera in the sky, google earth tours

Source: NASA
The Photographic Society of America defines travel photos as images that "express the feeling of a time and place, and portray a land, its people, or a culture in its natural state." Travel photos have "no geographical limitations."
In 2005, Dr. Leroy Chiao was an astronaut circling the globe every 92 minutes. When taking pictures from a moving space station, timing is everything. Propped on one hand, with one foot strategically wedged between hand rail and wall to keep from floating away in low gravity environment, Dr. Chiao would carefully position telephoto lens of his 6 MP digital camera over one of three small windows. As his target came into view, he'd have just a split second to snap a photo.
According to Chiao, "Since Earth is moving past at 17,500 mph, one must pan the camera as shutter is released, otherwise the image will smear - out of focus." But, he did shoot the Great Wall of China. Source: Eyes on the Sky II, Week 9, Chiao
Google Earth (GE) was in its infancy in 2005…

January, 2010, saw the first integrated presentation of Eyes in the Sky II – a geospatial information technology course for teachers in high school science and technology. The objective – show teachers how to teach students the fascinating use and exploration of spatial data. In geological terms, geospatial data is study of Earth from a terrain satellite. Their last module involved Google Earth. The theme – introduction, getting to know, then using GE. Let’s focus on the last category – using Google Earth to create a dramatic tour!

Google Earth, described as "a view of the world on steroids", is a free tool for exploring geo-spatial data in an interactive 3D environment. In its simplest form, you choose your local and view it in 3D. If you use GPS, a waypoint becomes a placemark. You can title, describe, and use a limited list of icons to show where that special place (placemark) is. A simple description might be, “Monument Valleys’ Mittens are world famous.” You can put GPS routes on GE. You can even geotag your photos from a trip, then post them on GE.
In a more advanced stage, GE provides tools to customize your icon, logo, and placemark balloons. Here is where your branding becomes far stronger. Show your own photography. Create a custom Icon to differentiate your images from the thousands placed on Panaramio. Write the dramatic story of capturing a memorable icon in sunsets rosy glow using elaborate HDR images.

Landscape photographers are somewhat slower to adapt to using a birds-eye view of scenes they love to shoot. To date, they principally use GE as a tool just to estimate trails to a wilderness outcrop; or gauge shadows for a locale near Magic Hour.
With many highly treasured nature shots either already shot or at disposal of a limiting bureaucracy, photography is getting less easy in search of that exquisite Earth landscape icon.

But _and it’s a big BUT_
With advent of GE Tours in February, professional landscape and nature photographers can add inestimable allure by creating tours and enhancing their presentations.
They can learn to manage a space camera as “a video-on-steroids instrument capturing their treks, scenes, and emotions amidst exuberant story telling”! By using Google Earth’s Tours function, a photographer can make a video to tell their story. They can captivate you with an exciting sense of actually trekking into gorgeous wilds, outback, or wilderness.
Google Earth both provides a way to show where you want to go and show your photos at each locale. BUT, its expanding technology now lets you tell the story of why you sought the most fascinating, yet to be ‘filmed’ shots our ever-smaller Planet holds…
And, yes, you do it with Goggle Earth Tours!

Aug 30, 2010

How do Landscape Photographers Presently use Google Earth?

Broken Bow Arch, Escalante Desert, Utah

With release of Google Earth 5.2 (GE), Google provides a marvelous opportunity for landscape photographers to use enhanced creativity in stalking light! Stalking the light is a way of using GE for visualization of when and where shadows might fall at Magic Hour.
In April, 2009, I took a photo trip to Escalante Desert in southeastern Utah. Using Google images, I’d found a small tourist shot of Broken Bow arch in evening shadows. With a GPS, I knew where to wend my way through the canyons. Using GE, I knew when to set HDR up for shadows across the arch. Matter of fact, I was able to take a nap, wake up, then grab the exquisite shot above!
Eighteen months later, I took a survey of some 15 well known landscape photographers. The question was, “How are they using GE today?”
In November, 2008, Dave duChemin was using an iPod touch to examine GE for travel plans. In 2009, Joe Bridwell, S Cole, and Richard Wong were using GE for trails and shadows. In 2010, Bret Edge and Scott Bacon used GE to stalk shadows. In 2010, Joe Bridwell used the tour capability in 5.2 to document his photo trips.
The remaining nine photographers were cited because others used their images in material connected with GE.

When you’re using GE, if the Layers panel has Panoramio checked, you can examine images from other people about an area of interest. It’s a first cut at freely guessing where to set up and when to shoot.
Once you have a 3-D view in GE, if you click on the Sun icon, GE will give you an estimate of shadow projection based on topography and time of day. I’ve coined the phrase “Stalking the Light…” And to think you used to go out and do that yourself!
You can trace your way along tortuous trails, up canyons, etc… all by controlling an imaginary camera which can look either from far above or down close to earth toward any direction you wish.

How Can Landscape Photographers See the Future?
If you want to get fancy, just process a photo in the digital darkroom, write an emotional memory of that event, then post it in an advanced KML placemark balloon. Oops, I’d better watch it here; don’t want to stray too far into technical language…

Tours are the newest GE 5.2 feature… what if you want to talk about several photos in several locations?
Well, then you have the distinct advantage of moving a virtual camera from point A to point B. In effect, you can create a ‘video’ where you show satellite terrain data for a particular locale, tell it’s story with your photos, then move on to the next locale. The resulting KML (a language for geo-browsers relating camera to earth view) can play in GE just like a video you create for YouTube.
What’s that old adage, “Fly Away with Me…!”

Present Landscape Photography Limitations
At present, landscape photographers principally use GEjust to plan their trips.
But, if they knew how to create or use Tours, they could explain each exciting adventure story with a fascinating video GE would play on any computer 24x7x365 planet wide…
Now, that really ain’t too shabby!

Aug 10, 2010

Quick Brush ReSize Using a Wacom Pen Tablet

Photoshop CS5, CS5, Wacom, Wacom Pen, Wacom Pen Tablet, Resize, Hardness

I recently sat with several people working on digital photography for final prints. In CS5, the brush is being used for quite a variety of tasks. The teacher would tap a key, then drag the brush to change either size or hardness. The approach was quite a bit faster than either hitting bracket keys or opening brush panel to modify hardness.
As I keep CS5 and Wacom manuals on the laptop, I did a Q&D search. Neither manual told me in simple language either what key or button to push. Situation normal...

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Manual p 21
Resize or change hardness of painting cursors by dragging
You can resize or change the hardness of a painting cursor by dragging in the image. As you drag, the painting cursor previews your changes.
To resize a cursor, press Alt + right-click (Windows) or Control + Option (Mac OS), and drag left or right. To change hardness, drag up or down.

Wacom Graphire4 Users Manual p. 12
Use a right-click to bring up application-specific or icon-specific menus.

Simpleton’s Pleasure
Put your pen on an image where you want to obscure blown highlights. Hold Alt (Windows) and right click (Wacom Pen) ~ viola, depending on which way you drag, you change brush size or hardness.

You know, it took about an hour to figure this out. I think that time can be quickly saved on the first image where I have a lot of dodge and burn to do. After that, it's all gravy!

Jul 30, 2010

Why the Silence?

Monsoons and all – we come to the very earliest possible beginnings of fall. Once Abq rains started, we just begin to sort of cool off here.
Not so – our intrepid knowledge quest! While Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3 are already on our desktop, it has been a period of hack-your-way thru new stuff, hoping videos gave you enough grounding – because books are JUST beginning to come out. Fortunately, it’s frosting on the cake vice new learning. Thank goodness for in depth CS3 and CS4 training. Same goes for LR2…

Full Range HDR Panos
With a penchant for full range HDR panos, its been a learning experience to get images into LR3, develop them through HDR Pro in CS5, HDR Tone them in the change from 32 to 16 bit formats…
The big bugaboo – its actually several fold. First, my Nikon D300 can Automatically Exposure Bracket up to 9 images. If I’ve slacked off and simply used the automaton approach, there are times when including too many images on the +EV side will create unwanted high lights. Second, settings in HDR Toning, particularly Edge Glow, can over emphasize high lights. Third, not properly using Corner Points near the blown high lights (BHL) can be a major pain…

Nevertheless, I can speak to a number of HDR Pano fine art images from several trips to Utah and Arizona.

Google Earth
GE 5.2 is full of new, exciting twists-and-turns. One is making Tours which convey a fine art viewpoint using digital photography. Another is creating unique views, timelines, and including your own precious HDR images.
While the learning curve can be steep for some, I am beginning to think perhaps I am on the right track. Now – with God’s help, maybe I can get over the hump rather soon… clearly, its been blocking my writing capacity!

Jul 9, 2010

High Dynamic Range Toning (HDRT) - CS5

High Dynamic Range Toning, HDRT, Photoshop CS5

Anyone who uses Photoshop CS5 for HDR must master HDR Toning. If you submit n images at constant aperture and white balance but different shutter speeds, CS5 will create a 32 bit file called Untitled_HDR2.hdr. I always save that file so I can try more conversions later.
This 32 bit file should under go multiple3 transformations before it becomes web-ready.
1. Save as .hdr
2. Convert to 16 bit using HDRT.
3. Tone Map in LR3 with active Histogram; careful 200% scan.
4. Spot Heal (content Aware Fill – CAF) all blown highlights (BHL).
5. Sharpen region where you applied Spot Healing.
6. Save final tif and jpg.
7. Make jpg Keeper in Smart Collection.
Most monitors won’t let you see 32 bit files in true color. Hence, CS5 created HDR Toning. HDRT is a dialog box to ‘help’ you estimate what that 32 bit file should look like as a 16 bit tif.

What Does HDRT Do?
HDR Toning considers 4 functions; Edge Glow, Tone and Detail, Color, and Toning Curve and Histogram. Rather than repeat dry information from your help file, I want to talk about important aspects of creating landscape HDR fine art.
Clearly, my emphasis about Presets and Corner Points provides a starting place for an HDR conversion.

HDR Toning transforms a 32 bit hdr file to a 16 bit tif file so LR3 and CS5 can perform tone mapping to create a fine art piece.

Click here to download a tutorial on in-depth intricacies and tips on HDRT…

When you’ve carefully read our tutorial, practiced on several HDR Pro images, then got one tone mapped to your liking - you’re done, save the final image as a tif file, then make a jpg as well using LR3’s Export command. You can save that final jpg in a Smart Collection. I usually put keywords in this image, including setting Keywords to kpr for each image I’ve labored over to create another fine art piece.

There’s an example of success in Spot Healing in a prior blog…


Jul 7, 2010

CS5 - Spot Healing Blown High Lights with Content Aware Fill

Winged Marvels, Bisti Badlands, New Mexico

Winged Marvels, Bisti Badlands, New Mexico

These magnificent hoodoos stand resplendent against sun’s golden rays in late evening. If my imagination takes a flight of fancy – I would say these hoodoos resemble large winged B 52’s seeking safe landing. Or, pterodactyls circling ancient marsh lands beside a Cretaceous Seaway - these rocks were created just before dinosaur’s demise…
The combination of ancient shapes, bas relief of sunset emphasizing the quaint hoodoo caps, and richness of color – full range HDR helps, but our magic lies in capturing evening’s aura of emphatic golden light!
I never cease to be amazed at the incredible panoply of landscapes scenes our Bisti Badlands provides enterprising digital photographers…

Setting the Stage…
This composite panoramic image was processed with Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), LR3, and CS5. Individual tone mapping controls in LR3 are built on ACR (as is CS5). But, only HDR Toning and Spot Healing (w Content Aware Fill) occur in CS5.
LR3 does early processing (Merge to HDR Pro, Merge to Panorama, and global tone mapping of 16 bit tif files from HDR2). For more sophisticated handling of 32 bit HDR files in CS5, you start with HDR Toning; Warning, it is not a universal panacea. In other words, HDRT takes some getting used to; you need to fiddle around with it to learn the range of options which fit your shooting style. Finally, if your files seem to have persistent blown high lights (BHL), you will want to zero in on offending regions using Spot Healing.
We try to give a general workflow for this series of activities; you can try one or you can go the whole gamut. What ever works…

Development of HDR Panorama
Two full range HDR image sets (9 images each) were Merged to HDR Pro from LR3 to CS5. Each file was processed with Local Adaptation by varying all parameters to convert the 32 bit HDR2 file (saves as HDR) to a 16 bit tif. Resulting 16 bit tif files were Merged to Panorama (same route). Then Lightroom 3 provided basic, curves, noise reduction, dust spot removal, and sharpening, before some final HSL adjustments on the 16 bit tif.

BHL – Blown HiLites (Blown High Lights)
A recent full range HDR landscape capture created that pesky old problem “Blown HiLites (Yes, I know: Blown High Lights [BHL])”…
On close inspection at 100% zoom, some sun reflections were blown out where direct sunlight hit hoodoo underbellies. Can we do to reduce this problem? We Merged to HDR Pro in LR3, converted 32 bit HDR2 files to 16 bit files using HDR Toning in CS5, Merged to Pano, attempted to reduce blown high lights, then ultimately, resorted to Spot Healing in CS5.

Merge to HDR Pro
Using CS5’s Merge to HDR Pro, 1st step – ALWAYS put White Point Slider on max – as far right as possible. Then, Remove Ghosts, choosing 0EV shot (presumes you shot manual - no blown hilites). Hit OK to convert 32 bit HDR2 file to 16 bits.

HDR Toning
But big changes come when addressing HDR Toning. Re-open 16 bit tif in LR3, choose Edit in Photoshop (Ctrl E), then choose Image > Adjustments > HDR Toning. Don’t forget: 32 bit HDR Toning will be out of visual range of your screen, so you will want to ‘learn’ how to read/sense significant color and tonal variations… BHLs usually ‘glow’.
Immediately reduce Edge Glow – pixels <30, detail <0.22 (reduces high light size). This helps reduce BHL, but NOT completely. I usually reduce Gamma to 0.89, modify Shadows and Highlights, add Vibrance, reduce Saturation, etc…
Now for some subtle, but gigantic changes.
Curves shows the original tif histogram (does not change as you modify working file [arrggghhhh… c’mon LR3]). Scale image to 100%, use Home and Page Down keys to scan whole file, looking for BHL and chromatic aberration.
When you find one, play with pixels and details in Edge Glow – can you reduce this irritating low-quality image situation?

Corner Points
Click on BHL with cursor; this places a mark on Curves section of Local Adaptation. The manual’s Corner Point description sucks (any surprises here?) But, that does not stop you from playing around with nonlinearity corner point creates. For example, set the curve point, then make it a corner point. If you move it to the left, you darken the BHL. Neat, eh? Just don’t overdo it…
You can also lighten some shadows and darks by simply clicking the curve and moving that point up. I find it pays to click where I have a particularly pesky dark; that adds more control to the lightening process (and does it with nonlinear curves control since HDR Toning is 32 bits).
BTW, although CS5 has been out 2 months, there are very few, if any, tutorials which talk about the process of converting a 32 bit file to 16 bits. I have not found any dealing with corner points, although I have been experimenting and find them quite useful.

When ALL Else Fails – Use Spot Healing with Content Aware Fill
Simply zoom to 600% (you can see individual pixels), choose Spot Healing, turn on Content Aware Fill, sample all layers, then go to town…
Simply add an adjustment layer above the background, then, holding down Alt key, choose a representative area near, but not on HBL, and begin Spot Healing. Representative area – a region whose color and saturation is slightly below that of your HBL. The [ and ] bracket keys let you quickly change brush size. I usually choose a small spot for my healing region, then increase brush size during the healing process. A Wacom pen tablet, with its more delicately controlled brush placement using the pen, comes in extremely handy for this step…
I am amazed at the awesome power of Content Aware Healing – one quick way to reduce those pesky HBLs so your images will pass state fair judge critiques with flying colors.
AT 600%, some of BHL consists of a few pixels of different colors with high intensity (local specular highlights). I chose Spot Healing, a background color not in direct light as my source, then carefully penned Content Aware Fill changes onto blown high lights. Occasionally, I found a few strokes would reduce the region to a more appetizing gold without specular effects. Truly, it was as if I was painting with a magic brush…

Photoshop CS5, HDR Pro, Lightroom 3, Spot Healing, Content Aware Fill, Fixing Blown HDR Highlights

This composite image shows before and after Spot Healing… while I could not control BHL w LR3, CS% did a superb job!


Jul 5, 2010

Lava Falls from Toroweap, Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon, Toroweap, Lava Falls, HDR Pro, Lightroom 3

OF Equality—As if it harm’d me, giving others the same chances and rights as myself — As if it were not indispensable to my own rights that others possess the same.
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1900

When standing on imperious ramparts,
Breathing clean, fresh air,
Letting your soul fly free,
As your eye simply tries
Encompassing all piquant visions...

There are precious times when freedom and equality transcend mundane daily life. One such time occurred for me as evening’s light reached probative arms deep into the Grand Canyon, gliding down ancient lava flows, bouncing off vertically sculptured cliffs, with one gorgeous ray illuminating river and green of life at Lava Falls, as if a blessing.
Except for three photographers, Toroweap Point was devoid of people. Not so beauty! Subtle intermingling of light and shadow strategically emphasized the river and this particular falls – to transcend an ephemeral moment.
Yet, my eye flattened some points and de-emphasized some marked piquancy light’s tricks played, whether direct or reflected. I would need a steady tripod and full range capture in HDR mode to ingest full beauty.

Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3
Technology, created by humans, is not all equal.
When I began addressing Lava Falls, I had Photomatix, Bridge, and HDR Pro. Let me go on record - I'm not a devotee of Bridge. It's simply too cumbersome and rather limited, although I can use a less fluid version of Adobe Camera Raw. Nevertheless, I tried both HDR Pro and Photomatix paths for HDR. Unfortunately, I couldn't get what my eye recalled.
With Lightroom 3 and new Adobe Camera Raw 6.1, not only will the tools add range more conveniently, they let me clearly delineate Lava Falls in this awesome fine art image.

Dust Spots and Four Corners Capture
For just a moment, I'm going to rail against equality...
It's hard to shoot in Western United States deserts without getting dust spots on your sensor. When using Bridge, to try to remove dust spots, I found it difficult to recall exactly where that spot was after processing several tens of photos (Yep, the old brain was tired).
It's hard to shoot full range HDR without collecting noise in negative EV shots.
Yet LR3 provides a simple although not so straightforward path to quickly resolve multiple issues such as noise reduction, spot removal, and sharpening.

LR3, Noise Reduction, Sharpening, and Spot Removal – All in One
In a recent blog, I commented on Tom Hogarty's view regarding the new noise reduction algorithms in LR3. Under Detail, Sharpening and Noise Reduction have associated panels.
Here's my preferred LR3 workflow...
1. Zoom image to 200% [repeated Ctrl +).
2. Click Home key (takes you to upper left corner).
3. Check out Luminance Noise (move the slider right until noise goes away).
4. Under Presets, choose Sharpening-Narrow Edges (Scenics).
5. Zoom image to Fill [repeated Ctrl -).
6. Hold down Alt key.
7. Move Masking slider right to a value of about 5.
8. Check out the sky for round dust spots
9. Click Spot Removal Tool, size properly, and place over a dust spot.
10. Click to remove dust spot (repeat at will until you have a clean sky).
11. Repeat the 200% zoom, carefully examining all aspects of your photo before you leave (you may find chromatic aberration or fringing as well).

Light’s Freedom
While light is not evenly spread across Lava Falls, subtle slashes of light bounce off near lava crests, pointing to the southern cliff. Some of that light bounces across the river, giving a reddish cast to the reflecting northern cliff mid-ground.
But, it's the combination of light and shadows on the river which makes this shot. At the falls, a few light ridges (right) lead the eye to the fall, but the dark cliff beyond makes the eye bounce to the river below the falls.
The combination of light and dark cliffs, bisected by direct and reflected light on the tantalizing river, creates an equality in this image.
In essence, it’s lights freedom to go where it can and as it wishes which creates depth, power, and piquancy for Lava Falls...

Jul 4, 2010

Canyon’s Sentinel

4th of July, Grand Canyon, Toroweap, Canyon's Sentinel

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal…”
T. Jefferson, 1776.

With dawn’s quiet panoply of color done, the silent canyon was coming alive. Sitting on the Grand Canyon’s edge before dawn, still silence brought deep peace. Only a faint ribbon of light faintly reflected from the Colorado River far below.
The freedom to wander, to seek beauty at one’s choosing, to revel in a national treasure as another day’s light began its subtle, yet seemingly too rapid changes – these freedoms are almost a self evident tone poem of inordinate beauty.

With the sun up, back to Toroweap’s camp. Collapse tripod, stow camera, begin trek. Away from the canyon edge, dawn’s silence was no longer. A lizard here, scurrying for perceived safety. A couple of deer there, disappearing over the nearby ridge as hooves clacked on rock.

Not quite at the edge, yet standing in nearby majesty – the rare yucca. A dash of yellow, a sharp tincture of green, a stately form – with gear out again, the yucca strategically bisected distant, shadowed canyon walls adding a simple elegance. Click, click, click …HDR images quickly buffered home. A moment of time freely captured…

Whether subtle yet full color, symbolic majesty, or just fine art – Canyon’s Sentinel signifies our 4th of July celebration of freedom and the many indelible honors time has awarded our country. To walk freely; to shoot without censure; to revel at will in such natural beauty _even to be able to blog your feelings on such a historic day_ all are inalienable rights we fight and stand for.
Perhaps Canyon’s Sentinel is a wonderful fulfillment of Jefferson’s memorable words, “…all men are created equal!”

May you always walk in such freedoms…

Jul 3, 2010

Lightroom 3 Podcast - Worth a 2nd Listen

Lightroom 3 Release, Hogarty Podcast, Camera Dojo

Yesterday, returning along twisty Jemez Mountain roads, I was listening to Tom Hogarty discuss LR3 roll out. Granted – this podcast was taped the day of LR3 release; but it’s worth a couple listens if you want to use LR3 to its fullest potential.
What impressed me was how well Hogarty communicated the Lightroom crew's excitement about this new release. Though I had listened once before, I found it refreshing to hear these points clarified once again. Particularly, since I just installed LR3 on the studio PC this morning and need to play ‘catch up’!

Having just used Bridge CS5 for a few weeks, I am really looking forward to easy work flow in LR3. It will help me get some remaining Arizona/Utah images tuned and then on to my granddaughter’s shots. She was acting as intrepid back country explorer and fearless mountain lion challenger yesterday (fortunately, none appeared – although they were reported in the region)…


Jul 1, 2010

Lightroom 3 and Booksmart - Integrating Technology

Adobe Lightroom 3 and Blurb Booksmart 2.8

It’s a blog called Blurberati – you can translate it with a new advanced technology sense.
Image left – a Mac screen with LR3 image being developed.  Image right – a Blurb hard cover book with images produced by LR3.

In between – a video which covers
1.    Getting Started w Booksmart
2.    Book Creation Guide
3.    Design Tips and Techniques

That’s about an hour of free video training.  I have not watched the video yet. 
But, since video training is the big trend with CS5, LR3, and Booksmart, I expect it to be another step up on my ladder of photographic learning.

The Result
Simpler, more direct connection between companies who are hooking different software packages together to allow users to simplify workflow.  My first pass at Booksmart was 3 years ago.  I got LR2 2 years ago.  I just loaded LR3 yesterday.
Seems destiny and demand are pointing to solutions which allow intelligent users to simplify, simplify, simplify – rather than charge headlong into a piece of software which has not quite reached minimum maturity.  I’m 3 computers beyond that initial Blurb experience and don’t have present access to those ‘ancient’ files stored on an inactive 2tb backup device.

Here’s the link

Photography Book Now
It’s all part of promoting Photography Book Now – a contest which closes July 15.  Two jurors, Fahey and Smith, exalt their favorite photography books.  On 22 June, Bluberaqti posted 10 advanced tricks for using Blurb to create your own award-winning book…

You can get Booksmart here...


Jun 30, 2010

Time Heals ALL Wounds…

Let's Play Catch Up
It’s been a long time since I posted… travel and learning new dynamics take their toll!
2 trips to distant Anasazi lands, got CS5, installed, use Bridge CS5, learned Merge to HDR Pro from various videos (no books out to teach this old brain), worked up most of the Full Range HDR, and ordered Lightroom 3 (due soon).
CS5’s HDR Pro, Content Aware Fill, Color Range masking, and Refine Edge have all helped – taking expertise to new, more rapid, sustainable levels. Bridge – clunky to me, but doing the job. I’m a big fan of LR3b2, so am really excited about the added flexibility when LR3 arrives.

The Bear Went Over the Mountain…
Comb Ridge, Toroweap, White Pocket – distant, enticing destinations!
AHHH – how does one explain White Pocket? With some 40 years of geology, I simply have seen nothing like WP. I could spend much more time there, testing the rocks, finding dinosaur trails, watching enchanting light turn this candyland mecca into exhilarating scenes fit for a highly sought La Fonda Santa Fe gallery wall.
Toroweap has incredible canyon walls where sunrise and sunset challenge the most advanced camera to capture all the changing light range… its HDR panorama land beyond a doubt – with skilled lens correction for distortion even required.
Comb Ridge is a long scar across Arizona and Utah – inhibiting ancient Anasazi flow to distant lands. At the last, about 12xx AD, they sought dominion high in isolated Comb Ridge canyons. Dawn behind a wide cave mouth can reflect golden sunlight like oft-seen Mesa Arch from ancient, hidden Anasazi ruins – just not when I was there. Another lesson in using Garmin’s celestial information tool to decide when reflected light will deeply enhance this secretive reflected zone.

Full Range HDR
The new trick in HDR is to ‘read’ a 32bit file, see where highlights could be blown out, then skillfully translate them to normal histogram values in the resulting 16 bit tif file. Warning – this takes a bit of getting used – using the preset save function (upper right edge of dialog box – 3 lines and down arrow activated by left click in Adobe Camera RAW to save then reload presets) will ultimately give you more time to develop vice mess with seemingly continuous slider mods.
And, the corner point curves function – only present in HDR Toning (ACR 6.1) – helps with some of the wild ranges in 32 bit HDR. But, I could find no tutorials on its use! OJT – try it til its your slave…
I use a 200% zoom to scan the entire photo, remove dust spots, look for fringing, eliminate noise, then begin sharpening, tone mapping, and taking the raw tif from mundane to award winning fine art.
I’ve become a devotee of HSL slight tone mapping changes which pop an already clever HDR image.

White Balance
Yep, it really got to me!!!
An inadvertent tungsten manual white balance setting turned most of Comb Ridge shots a chatoyant blue. Some 600+ images… at least I found that bug before 2nd trip…
Sir Lancelot aka Bridge (and LR3) to the rescue. Simply open in ACR, slide white balance until its pleasing (ly warm), tone map your base image (manual shutter, fstop, and ISO @ 0 EV) til it snaps, then Synchronize remaining full range HDR images, saving them as 9 DNG files.
Take them to Merge to HDR Pro and voila…

I’ll start showing some of these images soon – a broken ISP dial up server cost several days of frustration, travel to library for email, etc…

What did MacArthur say, “I shall return…”

May 24, 2010

Time OUT...

Photography has its almost indescribable lures – spring, far away places, magnificent scenery…
The paucity of bloggin is due to planning for sequential trips to Utah and Arizona. Today is a loading day, tomorrow begins a new adventure.

Hopefully, I will have some awesome nature/landscape scenes to report on return…

…until then!

May 1, 2010

CS5 Mania - It's Gone Viral

Photoshop CS5, CS5, Try It, Preorder, Upgrade

Mayday!, Mayday!, Mayday!...
The distress call for voice radio, for vessels and people in serious trouble at sea. The term is anglicizes the French "m'aidez," (help me).
Two friends called me yesterday on April 29th saying, "Joe, you can download CS5...; Joe, I'm already playing with CS5…" looks like CS5 has gone viral!
This morning Adobe lets me have a DVD CS5 version for Try It with a 30 day limit. Amazon lets me pre-order a version to be shipped May 25. Well, maybe it's not Mayday ...after all.

Helpful Videos
In a neat advertising coup d’état, Amazon adds another fillip - Checkout Related Media! This is an amalgamated video feed essentially featuring Scott Kelby to begin explaining CS5.

Amazons CS5 Videos

BTW, a number of more advanced videos are also available. If I were you, I'd watch these knowledgeable sources for future, perhaps more in-depth video tutorials.
PhotoshopUser TV - a free iTunes weekly video with the Photoshop Guys
Julieanne Kost - Adobe TV evangelist
Russell Brown - Adobe guru with 10 new CS5 videos
John Nack - Adobe blogger reaching throughout the company
I'll be digging deeply through these and succeeding tools!

Hardcopy Learning Tools
Amazon also provides me with other learning tools. The Adobe Photoshop CS5 Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter) - Scott Kelby, shipping date TBA. Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS5 – Schewe and Fraser, shipping date TBA.

While it's quite a plethora of data, diligent attention may let you learn a lot before you actually read those books...
Of course, for this Mayday, you may want your own particular writer.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Forums
Well, this one got away from me. When I put "Adobe Photoshop CS5" and "forum” in Google I only got 1,390,000 hits... you be the judge! I'm not at all sure any of us can handle this particular Mayday.
If you keep your eye peeled, podcasts and videos are quickly spewing out of Adobe and many others as we speak.

Well, looks like we've handled the last Mayday! If you were in trouble with the sea of data regarding Photoshop's CS5 release, if you cried Mayday, the information above may act as your rescue rope...

Apr 23, 2010

My New Adobe Photoshop CS5 Image Enhancement Mantra…

With some of its advanced tools, CS5 proves to be both a great time saver and a post-processing delight for fine art photographers: masking, motion blur, content aware patterns / rotation, and advanced puppet warp.
Let’s talk about some new videos

Russell Brown Russell has taken my learning to a higher level with 5 videos which detailed steps to become part of my new CS5 mantra. Explanations are clear; video examples let me easily understand and annotate mechanics involved.
Click on each title to step into a new world of tone mapping and image enhancement! Or, check out John Nack’s webpage for more videos…

Advanced Masking: edge detection for hands w Smart Radius. Refine Edge for hair and paint to find edges. Decontaminate colors and make new layer mask.

Advanced Motion Blur Masking: decontaminate colors in white dove wings. Blend results against brick background.

Content-Aware Rotation: Magically fill in missing parts to background of a rotated image with Content-Aware Fill.

I like the way Russell shows advancing stages of intricate steps using CS5. I usually have 2 windows open; the playing video (which I can stop at will) and Notepad (I can document each step for future review). I play the video thru to get flow, then replay to document important advances for my continuing Photoshop learning curve.
May I encourage you to take a look at all the videos – you will love the new stuff!

The Photoshop Guys
The Guys did a summary to their impromptu NAPP webinars from last week’s launch. You can find a downloadable video here or on iTunes. Here are my fav’s…
Refine Edge – masking every day
Plugin Decline – CS5 replaces many older plugins
Lens Correction Filter – camera, body, lens – corrections
HDR Pro – detail, radius, strength, spot removal, remove ghosts (water), base image

I blogged about NAPP’s free webinars (available for 30 days) here. Right click, Save Link As… and you’ve got a copy!


Apr 12, 2010

CS5 Learning Coverage from Adobe TV and NAPP

CS5 Launch
Adobe’s Launch was exciting and Julieanne Kost presented a short 5 minute overview.
You can find some 23 videos from Adobe TV and 17 videos from NAPP.
My interest lies in photography; some of the fancier tools discussed by Adobe won’t enhance my workflow. So while I pay attention to selected videos from Adobe TV, my main emphasis follows… but, you can take a careful look by clicking above.

NAPP Video Teasers
NAPP has designed a series of 3-8 minute videos by Photoshop Guys. Seventeen Video Teasers:
Content Aware Fill-awesome enhancement of remarkable, highly used healing tool – expands hand-held pano
New HDR Pro-finally got some breadth in HDR-2nd live hour suggests ignore presets for HDR Pro – but they do endorse noise reduction in new Pro
HDR Single Image-not so sure (one image lacks quality of many)
Camera Raw Noise Removal-awesome
Camera Raw Process Version-maybe
Refine Selection Edges-enhances Smart Edge Detection, then paints with Touch Up Brush for more definition
Content Aware Healing-spot healing brush does content aware healing now
New Puppet Warp-subtle changes in panos and HDR composites
New Grain Features-maybe
Layer Improvements-paste in place, change opacities of multiple layers, drag images desktop to layer, layer styles, make default applies presets against multiple images
Lens Corrections-no video
Mixer Brush-paint your photos
Mini Bridge-quick manager of images and collections
Bridge Improvements-good for app mixture (eg, writing book w photos)-drag and drop for presets-batch rename (string substitution)-watermark pdf of jpgs
3D Repousse Part 1, 3D Repousse Part 2, 3D Repousse Part 3

As usual, the Photoshop Guys came thru again…

Initially, I expect to use about 70% to speed my workflow. It is quite clear several of these tools will reduce, if not stop, the eye-and-back strain from prior versions. With no hands-on experience yet, I can’t really indicate the full extent – that comes when you’ve played enough. Naturally, your workflow may be different and other tools might just make your day!

I was a bit surprised several NAPP videos would not play today; I suspect they had a heavy server load all day. On the other hand, much of today also faced a Comcast recast of this multi-computer system, so things were a bit rushed.

Apr 10, 2010

Learning About CS5

NAPP, PhotoshopUserTV, Learning CS5

Monday’s launch of Photoshop CS5 will ignite a tremendous flurry of effort to learn it’s newest tools… it’s an awesomely hot topic!

Googling ‘Photoshop CS5’
Limiting Google to only those two exciting words, I got 1,080,000 hits today. That’s a big deal, if somewhat hard to wade thru…
But, I learn best from reading.
Looking for new books with those key title words, Barnes & Noble has one due July 15. I don’t know the writer. Amazon has a big, fat 0!

If You Can’t Read, What Then?
Adobe’s Launch will cover highlights.
As soon as Adobe’s Launch Event wraps up, Scott and the "Photoshop Guys" (PhotoshopUser and National Association of Photoshop Professionals [NAPP]) will host their first in a week-long series of LIVE webinars. They'll show you some finer points of Photoshop CS5, answer your questions, and give away one free CS5 upgrade daily during their live webcasts!
So ~ this new Learning Center packed with training, overviews, interviews and more is only available to the public for 30 days - before it goes back behind the firewall for NAPP members only.
Watch their video here

Past launches have been explained in weekly PhotoshopUser TV freebies available on iTunes. I use an iPod Touch for that.

Hackers Delight
Or, you can simply try a tool, look at how its sliders change you image, and teach yourself…

Apr 9, 2010

Golly, Gee Whiz...

Pac Man & Co Fun Video

As the CS5 launch date approaches (Monday, April 12), I've been keeping a weather eye cocked on John Nack!
It was worth it this morning ~ John located a geewhiz video.
Click here, and take a walk on the wild side with Pac Man & Co.!

Apr 7, 2010

Painting in CS5

CS5 Painting, Video

Courtesy John Nack’s blog

Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek starts each voyage with, "Space, the final frontier! These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. It's continuing mission, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before...!"

Picasso's arsenal; a palette, paint, and the brush...
Your new arsenal should you choose CS5 - the ability to take a picture of an incredible model, then paint it into a Mona Lisa!

Take a look at the video. See if it suits your taste. Then, don't forget to watch the CS5 Launch beginning next Monday morning at nine o'clock Albuquerque time...

Apr 5, 2010

CS5 Launch

I searched around, unsuccessfully, for an icon to help describe the CS5 launch. Late last month, I got an e-mail from Adobe telling me, as a Photoshop User, to come register for the launch - which will be Live 12 April, 0900 MST. Click here for your own registration.
My experience has been ~ if I get in about 15 minutes before they're ready to go, get set up, and get my Comcast line ready to receive, Adobe's TV will make all the difference and let me see what the excitement is all about for Adobe Photoshop CS5’s Launch.

I'd clear the decks for a couple of hours; I've done this before, and it can really be quite exciting! Be prepared to take notes, keep URL's so you can replay some of the videos, and all that sort of preparation...

Update: Lightroom 2.7 and  Adobe Camera Raw 5.7 Released TODAY

Download LR2.7 and ACR5.7 for Photoshop CS4 here.


Mar 27, 2010

Walk on the Wild Side…

CS5 HDR, Nik's SilverEFEX Pro, Mystery Ridge, ©Joe Bridwell

Image Capture by Joe Bridwell; Artistry by Eric Jones

It’s been a while since I’ve just played under expert tutelage of a true ‘painting’ master!
Recently, I joined maven Eric Jones to follow up on a question, “Eric, is HDR any better in CS5?”
Eric responded, “Joe, bring up some HDR images and let’s play…”
“Yep, after balancing and synchronizing several HDR images in Adobe Camera Raw, we did a Local Adaptation on the 32-bit file to produce an HDR image.
“And Yep, there are few more sliders in the new dialog box.”
Okay, so we’re going to have more HDR capabilities (among other things) when we receive working copies of CS5; but, as it turned out, that was not the real highlight from our flight of fancy.

Nik’s Silver EFEX Pro
To satisfy his own curiosity and clearly whet my appetite, Eric began playing in EFEX Pro, a piece of software which converts color to black and white. I’d never seen EFEX used; first, I was quite impressed with the workflow path. In particular, I like how effective it is to place a Tonal Control Point to lighten or darken an area with brightness, contrast, and structure (detail). For that matter, the rest of their control panel is on par with Lightroom 3…
Once we were in black and white, we still had a rather pesky problem. Our capture was of a snowcapped mountain. All along sunlit crestal edges, snow was splotchy and blown out. So we used a threshold layer @ 253 to maintain detail, then masked those blown out snow areas with a low opacity black brush to constrain this wretched by-product.

As always, I walked away chock-full of new development ideas!
On the way home, I realized EFEX could also be used to create incredibly subtle masks. I’m not a great black and white fan… but this eloquent demonstration gave me a much more real sense of the power of black and white.

If for no other reason ~ there is an incredible amount of information generated in trying to create a truly subtle black mask. And, I think this image is truly beautiful!

I call this image “Mystery Ridge”; although I’ve shown it to a few people, they simply don’t know where it was taken… Do You?


Mar 24, 2010

Content Aware Fill

Content Aware Fill, Release, ©Bryan Hughes

John Nack has just posted a video from Bryan O’Neil Hughes about Content Aware Fill.
If you have ever struggled with removing lens flare, cleaning up an image, removing trees, even either expanding a pano or cropping it to some reduced size – then CAF is on your list of must knows! Who knows, you might even buy a new Photoshop version just for this perk…

Our image, courtesy Bryan Hughes, shows a pano where selection has both pano and ‘outer limits’ chosen. Using Content Aware Fill, Bryan is nearly thru extending the sky and landscape. I urge you to go play the video to thoroughly enjoy this demonstration in real time…

For me, time saved is shootin’ time…
Besides, I’m tired of backbreaking labor to bring an image to the ‘fine art stage’ ~ that is, if I can have software help me create faster.

Mar 23, 2010

Lightroom 3 beta 2

Lightroom 3 beta 2, Release, ©Joe  Bridwell

… hit the deck this morning – 5 months after the original beta. It’s time stamped to expire June 30 about 2 months from now.
Tom Hogarty shows intro lists for videos and blogs about LR3b2. I recommend Julieanne Kost, Sean Duggan, and Victoria Bampton for your consideration. As I learn best by reading – Victoria will give some respite for new concepts.

My Workflow
I am going to benefit from enhanced speed, import features, and better image processing. I tend to shoot HDR and have been going through older photos shot with a noisy Nikon body; noise reduction improvements are clearly shown about 4 minutes into Julieanne’s Adobe video show next.

John Beardsworth sez Noise Ware noise reduction seems to have a limited number of days, once photogs really get into this new beta.

As for me, I will be watching exciting tidbits as new information dribbles out from this release. You might want to take a closer look at Victoria’s book; she writes clearly and has lots of advanced insight.

Simply down load, make a desktop folder, open the file w Winzip, drag setupxx.exe to the new folder (depending on your CPU where xx denotes bits), click on it, and you’ve installed LR3b2. While it will re-write LR3 catalogs, it is yet to touch LR2 catalogs. Of course, if you use a Mac, procedure is the same, only the words change.


Mar 17, 2010

Google Earth Antics – Revised

Google Earth Blog, Flight Simulator, iPhone, Hoover Dam, ©Joe  Bridwell

Yesterday, I wrote, "This morning, Google Earth Blog put meringue on my strawberries…” then, later on, I wrote, "Actually you are in Google Earth.
So, you ask, “What’s so special about that?” with a self satisfied yawn. After all, you are quite the techie…”

A couple of my readers suggested I made a boo-boo ~ specifically, '... it didn't work'.
Indeed, when I look back on it the information was there but not in direct form; lay that to forgetting some niceties of blogging while on sabbatical.

Google Earth Tours
Google Earth Tour's first became available in version 5 February, 2009. When a software provider announces a new version, it's customary to go download it.
So, if you've not downloaded Google Earth 5 yet, click here to download and install GE5 on your computer.

Once that's done, let me repeat: "Yesterday morning, Google Earth Blog put meringue on my strawberries…”.

Now, you can click on meringue or strawberries and fly under that bridge and over Hoover dam!
Mea culpa...for those bereft of Latin, My Bad...

Mar 16, 2010

Google Earth Antics

Google Earth Blog, Flight Simulator, iPhone, Hoover Dam, ©Joe  Bridwell
Image courtesy Google Earth Blog

No, I did not leave our planet; I’ve just been on sabbatical, learning new things. This morning, Google Earth Blog put meringue on my strawberries…
You’re just about to fly under the bridge below Hoover dam.

You might be in a small plane, you might be piloting a small remote drone – in today’s technology driven world, such possibilities seem to grow almost exponentially.

Truth be Told
Actually you are in Google Earth.
So, you ask, “What’s so special about that?” with a self satisfied yawn. After all, you are quite the techie…

Pausing dramatically, the teacher responds, “Because you are piloting thru GE’s terrain imagery with an …iPhone!”

Yep, I had to pick myself up too…

You see, with new Mac technology called EarthGlider (Mac and iPhone) and you add a $4 iPhone app called Flype, you are at the flight sim controls.
So, get yourself over there and take a look at these videos!
The people at Google Earth say a Windows version is in the works.

Feb 1, 2010

Full Range HDR – Codicil (Compute It Right)

Nature and Landscape Photography, Full Range HDR, FRHDR, HDR, Merge to HDR, CS4, ©Joe  Bridwell

Walking along the golf course, watching for whizzing golf balls, I was listening to PhotoNetCast podcast # 27 - HDR Photography.  At PhotoNetCast, an international panel of amateur and professional photographers shared divergent opinions on this HDR podcast.
With my attention split between listening, walking, and watching - I almost missed the seemingly stray comment, "Sometimes, I have to use Merge to HDR in Photoshop because Photomatix does NOT cleanly remove all chromatic aberration."  Fortunately, the Apple iPod Touch lets me hit one button and backup 30 seconds just to 'hear that again'. 

Pain in the …
I'd just spent about six hours removing noise and chromatic aberration after a quick Photomatix compilation of a full range HDR image.  Since I can only handle about two hours a pass at hi-res pen tablet work, it'd taken quite a while to mask offending edges of one HDR image.  Matter of fact, I even put off doing the second scene - this sort of mundane activity is much too mind numbing. 
In this situation, chromatic aberration is a blurring of boundaries which requires clone tool usage at 600% (OpenGL video card preferable) where you can see down to pixel level in your image.  With Photoshop tools, one spends the time doing computations rather than diligently hand correcting with a ‘slow’ pen and Wacom tablet.

Software and Computation Considerations
Photomatix can process 10 Full Range HDR images in a short period of time (minutes).  Unfortunately, when you blow those images up to 600%, both noise and chromatic aberration is quite prominent.  Photoshop takes several hours to process the same 10 images; but that's computer time not eye-and-back-strain time.  So, you go take care of something else...
Don't let the several hours give you any pain.  I use a dual 1.86 GHz CPU system with CPU sharing enabled.  I notice Photoshop really only uses one CPU effectively during this merge.  More recent 64 bit systems, faster CPU’s, and real dual CPU usage would significantly cut that computation time.

When done, the Full Range HDR image can then be color-balanced with global tone mapping in Lightroom before finishing up with sharpening in Pixel Genius Photokit Sharpener, a Photoshop plug-in.

All considered, once again Photoshop’s superior performance provide the subtle image control which fine art deserves.

Damn; that whizzing golf ball went on by this time...!

Jan 25, 2010

Fiery Sunsets from late January Snow Storm

Nature and Landscape Photography, Snow up Embudo Canyon, HDR, Joe  Bridwell

Ronchetti’s repeated late January weather call indicated three storms in four days. The diligent photographer wants to be there just as the storm clears - that's the best time for magic light!
I've been scouting a pond on a golf course. During my walks, it had a bit of ice from a prior storm session. I thought, "If I can catch that S-curve of ice and water with ducks outlined on the pond at sunset, I've got a delicious full range HDR image!"
Only - when this storm cleared - no ice, just soggy turf and water in a normally bone dry creek bed. On the rapid hike to the pond, there was just enough sunlight, intermixed with clouds on the horizon, to let me see the sparkle of what looked like Golden doubloons (rain-soaked autumn leaves) lying on the ground each time I glanced towards the sun. I get to the pond ~ the light was not right! Oh well, I've taken this gamble before and lost... back home, wash all icy crud off the boots to keep the rug clean. Later, Ronchetti said, "The last storm's not going to clear until late day-after-tomorrow..."

Snowy Sandias and Emdudito Canyon
Driving north on Tramway an hour before sunset two days later, I could easily see along snow-covered Sandias. Swirling clouds hugged the crest like a warm wool cap. But direct sunlight was bright and glaring; not the best shootin' time...
This time, I got there with about 15 minutes to spare, sized up the terrain, then waited to set up tripod and go through rigors of a full range sunset HDR capture.
T-shirt, long sleeve L.L. Bean sweater, REI shirt jac, marvelous Helly Hansen rain jacket, elk skin gloves - it was a blustery 36° with the wind 20-25 miles an hour. But families were out. One kid looking grotesque, with his father's gloves covering cold hands. A toddler, slipping kerplunk on the ice...

Set Up
The night before, I've come to the same place, set up on some ice, and while manually changing shutter speed, got serious offset in vertical edge of the building. Somehow, the camera rotated on the tripod...
OK, Dig the tripod into snow and ice, so I could have a multiple view from the same position. Sandias to the north and Embudito Canyon southeast. Take a few practice shots using over an overexposed histogram limit to constrain full range capture, then change shutter speed until totally underexposed. About one second to 1/3000 for shutter range. Oops; too much light! Damn, it's cold and blowy out here...
The house just west blocked my actual view of sun set. So it was trial and error guessing when the Sun's mountain crest reflection would give the best soft sunset light and provide a passionate HDR image.

Passions Rise
As the last lip of the Sun dropped below skyline, things get furious. 20 seconds to shoot 11 Sandia images, swing the camera 135°, focus, then another 20 seconds to shoot 11 more images of Embudito. Three days of effort culminated in one minute of shooting. By then, my fingers were so cold I couldn't simply click the shutter dial twice and be sure I got a consistent 1 EV image difference.
Back at the ranch, it quickly became clear - for me, the most dramatically passionate image was Embudito. A dab of Photomatix, some Lightroom globals, masking pink rock and sky exposure - presto, changeo - and it's done. Well, it wasn't quite that quick, but full range workflow is a relatively simple task.


Nature and Landscape Photography, Snowy Sandias, HDR, Joe  Bridwell
You might like this one more...

Jan 7, 2010

Two Roads Diverged in a Wood…

Nature and Landscape Photography, Road Less Travelled, Joe  Bridwell

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that
~ ~ ~ has made all the difference.
Robert Frost

Today's economic climate might be one road in Robert Frost's wood. Another road might be reinventing creativity...
How does a nature and landscape photographer find the road less traveled by?

Around Our Planet in 80 ms...
Was it just nine months ago when my didactic memory converted Around the World in 80 Days to Around Our Planet in 80 ms? What is Around Our Planet in 80 ms?
It began as a way to look at nature and landscape photography of other people on the Web, transporting myself each day to some other part of the planet to see its gorgeous natural habitat.
Along the way, I began to discover very active photographers. These guys and gals tend to blog several times a week, showing their latest images and discussing their common future.
Yesterday, I took stock of the growing blog roll which appears on the right-hand side of Pathways of Light. Where I found an active blog, it remained. If I found a blog older than two weeks to a couple of months, it was removed; I wasn't learning much from it.
Then I went out searching for other blogs to see if that 'new' photographer was not only going to provide me with gorgeous nature and landscape images _ but_ share their thoughts and dreams for creativity and survival in today's economic climate as well.

New Visions
As I approached the First Annual New Mexico Photographic Art Show (ANMPAS), marketing was strongly on my mind. What if I met a museum director, gallery owner, excited tour prospect, or rich mentor at ANMPAS - how would I show them my portfolio and place my photography under their purview?

Enter the Apple iPod Touch...
Working PowerPoint for so many years, it seemed like a simple hop and a skip to create a slideshow and a video of my portfolio. Then, I’d pull out the Touch, hand it to a prospect, and literally let them swipe through images in my portfolio - at their own speed, with their real emotions in control!
This approach has already netted a workshop request, an early spring tour plan, and yesterday, another potential sale of Ship Rock from a busy physical therapy specialist in a full rehab center.

I Took the One Less Traveled by...
Although it's been a day or two, memories of learning in graduate school are a strong part of my creativity. As I studied Around Our Planet, many digital photographers were producing podcasts on a wide variety of digital photography topics. A podcast is in-depth discussion between several professional photographers (about 30 and 90 minutes).
In a relatively short time, podcasts re-introduced me to a new 2010 way of learning ~ taking a long walk and attentively listening to and learning from creative photographers who discuss their vision and new ways to overcome our economic dilemma. Early 2010 podcast represent some 48 hours of focused learning potential...
With magazine, newspaper, and Web world trying to find a new, stable, economic base for digital photography, that's lots of talented effort assessing what our future holds!

And THAT ~ ~ ~ Has Made All the Difference.
While I'm not shooting for another Master's Degree, old learning skills and new creativity paths are revitalizing my views of photographic creativity at the start of our second, and seemingly more trying, decade of 2000 A.D..

Imagine This...
Those long walks can occur while in training for a tour; while scoping out a new tour site; while traveling to and from tour sites. The fact of the matter ~ my iPod lets me go anywhere, learn anything, and truly enjoy each full dynamic day - while thinking, being in shape, and ‘staying fit’!

Just think...
Not only are my creative juices flowing, but active endorphins keep me young!

Happy New Year...