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…”