Archive for April, 2008

30
Apr
08

multi exposure merges

Lately I have been trying out different types of merging multiple exposures into one final image. It is technically interesting, and very challenging, but it really distracts from the actual picture making process. At least when you don’t have the necessary knowledge and skill.

So far I have been using the following tools:

  • Photoshop, manual HDR merge using masks and layers.
  • Photoshop, automatic HDR merge function
  • PhotoAcute, HDR to DNG format
  • PhotoAcute, noise reduction
  • PhotoAcute, resolution increase
  • Helicon Focus, focus blending
  • Photoshop, image stitching

To summarize my positive experience so far:

PhotoAcute HDR and noise reduction to DNG works very well. This method actually blends bracketed shots to expand the dynamic range, or shots with equal exposure to reduce noise, which in effect also expands the dynamic range. The result is saved back to a DNG raw file which can be imported to LightRoom and processed like any other RAW file. The thing you will notice is that you can suddenly pull down the highlights using the rescue slider without weird artifacts, and you can pull up the shadows using the fill light slider much more before you see any noise.

Helicon Focus worked remarkably well. I haven’t managed to come up with that much use for it yet, but I will have it in mind for future use. Once you get the focus bracketing down, you can really control the depth of field. It is easy to use, and the output is really high quality. The licensing is a bit strange. You can either buy a one year license, or a life time license. Each comes in both regular and pro edition.

Photoshop image stitching. I have heard that CS2 had some problems, but as far as I can tell, CS3 is coping well. So far, the actual shooting is a bit difficult, I’m waiting for my RRS pano clamp, which hopefully will make things a bit easier.

Photoshop manual HDR merge. I’ve done this a couple of times from two exposures. One for a bright sky, and one for the dark foreground. It is time consuming, but works very well. Sometimes it is better to use this than any automatic HDR blend since you have absolute control of the blend.

What does not (yet) work for me:

Photoshop automatic HDR. I find it very difficult to create natural looking results using this technique. I’m not saying it is impossible, or the technique is not good, it is just that I haven’t cracked the code yet. I’m not sure if I will ever try. The combination of PhotoAcute and manual merge seems enough for me.

PhotoAcute resolution increase. Haven’t managed to get good results so far. The results looks quite soft, but I have a suspicion that proper sharpening will help. That is if the input files are good. The pixel count will be increased by a factor 4, and a resolution increase of 50-60% is said to be achievable, but it is difficult to determine just by eye balling.

Things to avoid:

The most stupid things I have tried is to combine several blending techniques in one image. Like stitching with HDR blended shots. This is done by others on a regular basis, but it really requires that you have the skill required to do each of the blending techniques separately. Also, while being pretty cool if you’re a technically minded person, it will most likely distract you from the important task, which is to make a strong image. You should really try making the shot without these techniques first, only doing merges if you can’t solve it any other way. Also, you must practice the technique. It is difficult to get good results.

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29
Apr
08

losing my concentration

I have noticed that over time I tend to roll through different levels of awareness in my photography. Sometimes I pay very good attention to composition, or at least some aspects of it. Other times the technique is easy. Sometimes I have much patience in post processing, but right now I’m not very good at anything. It seems like I gradually forget the things I know, and need to relearn frequently. After a good period, I lose my concentration and get sloppy. Everything is left to chance and luck.

Lucky for me, I just got George Barrs book, and even if I haven’t read more than half, I have found a lot of stuff to work on. Both things I used to know and lots of new stuff.

Lately composition has been a matter of pure luck. This must change. l will pick up a couple of George’s tips, like drawing Simple sketches and using a plastic frame to preview in the field. Funny thing about the frame is that I was about to make one 15 years ago, but never got around to it. I Think I read about it in a book from my local library.

29
Apr
08

more from my new route at work

27
Apr
08

flow for preparing images for web

A couple of days ago, I posted a comment on Singular Images regarding color management when preparing images for web. I mentioned that I use a script to prepare most of my blog images, and here the other day I got a question from Thomas in Italy about these scripts. Well instead of just writing him an email I wrote it all down in a small article on my web page describing the whole process.

Just follow this link. Export for web made easy.

26
Apr
08

Harman Gloss FB Al base color

Several sources around the web reports that the Harman Gloss Fb Al has a very cold base color. ever since I purchased my first pack I’ve been a bit puzzled by this. Compared to the other semigloss papers I’ve used, which counts to Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl, Epson Premium Luster, Epson Premium Semigloss and Ilford Gallery Smooth Pearl, the Harman paper is the warmest of them. Please note that I am not talking about the Harman paper labeled as warm tone. Compared to matt paper the story is different. Photorag is much warmer, so is Someret Enhanced Velvet and Olmec Fine Art, but Moab Entrada Bright White is whiter.

Today I bought a pack of Harman 17×25 inch paper in my local store. Just as a side note, by local store I mean the main photo outlet in Oslo, which is also the biggest on printing and high end equipment in Norway, Fotovideo.no. Anyway, the salesman wondered what I thought about the paper, and we started to discuss the different properties. At some point he asked what I felt about the base color, and wouldn’t you know, He was also puzzled about what people meant when they said it was too cold. He immediately went to the back room and got a stack of sample prints, and it was obvious for everyone to see that the Harman paper is not very cold. I would say it is just a tad bit on the warm side of neutral.

For those of you who don’t have access to a good store that sell pro equipment, it is really fun to visit one. Fotovideo is a combined store that sell everything digital from the cheapest digicams to the biggest dslr. I don’t think the sell the biggest medium format backs, but they do sell the biggest Epson and Canon printers. They have a Cannon iPF8000 and a Epson 7880 on display along with a bunch of smaller model. The best part of visiting this kind of store is talking to the staff. Some of them are very knowledgable, and if you come when it’s not too busy they are more than willing to have a chat about this and that related to photo.

25
Apr
08

sofobomo, still not there

I’m still not going anywhere with my sofobomo project. I actually had time to get out the april folio, something I didn’t expect. I thought I would be too busy with the book.

This weekend I must decide what to do. In all this I have to take in account that almost all the weekends are fully booked in May. It happened so fast I didn’t see it coming.   AAAA ….. think, think, think. I just have to find a subject that is close to both my heart and my home, but right now everything seems a bit far away.

I’ve had a look at a couple of the books that are finished, and I must say I am impressed. Paul Lester and Gordon McGregor set a high standard.

25
Apr
08

april edition of monthly folio

I’ve had this one brewing for quite a while. Many pictures has been in and out, and some of them were quite good, but they didn’t fit in. So it all ended up with these three pictures that I shot in December last year. One of them has been on my web page in B&W version before, but I really think it’s much better in color. Anyway, here it is:

Monthly folio – april edition, reflections of trees

And the pdf version (1.2Mb download)




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