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Managing Light

Recently another photographer was kind enough to rework one of my photographs. I learned through him that Photoshop CS6, specifically ACR, was a game-changer.  Why? Because one can manage light much more effectively when opening a RAW file.

Soon thereafter, I upgraded from CS5 to CS6. I am glad I did!

One of the single most difficult issues in processing digital images is the continuing issue of highlights and shadows. If one exposes for highlights, shadows overpower the photograph. If one exposes for shadows, highlights are almost always blown out.

Photoshop CS6, specifically when working with ACR, one gets the following options, which differ dramatically from what one sees in CS5.

image001

Note the “Highlights” and “Shadows” sliders. These differ from CS5 where one has options for “Recovery” and “Fill Light.” The new sliders in CS6 make a world of difference in containing highlights and pulling details out of darks.

Here are some examples, click on any one of them to see a larger image:

Cheetah in Grass

In the original image of the Cheetah, the whites were very bright as were the highlights in its body. Using CS6 I was able to save the details of the whites while pulling out more detail in the Cheetah’s body.

A Different Point of View

In the image of the four Giraffes, the lone Giraffe was blown out and when trying to compensate by changing the exposure the details in the foreground Giraffes were lost. Now both are saved.

Two Cheetahs

In the above photograph, the Cheetah on the left was overexposed as were the highlights on the Cheetah on the right. Using CS6, I was able to recover the whites and pull out more of the details in the shadow areas.

Grazing Cape Buffalo

In the last example, I was able to pull out more details of the Cape Buffalo’s dark skin yet keep the highlights of the grasses in check.

OK Bill, show me an original shot and how CS6 changed it.  Here we go:

Original Shot

Original

After Editing in CS6 ACR

After, Edited With CS6

Kinda cool huh?

What has me excited is that I can now go back to old photographs I shot years ago and pull out details I never thought were possible. As in this shot of a Big Horn Ram, photographed in Glacier National Park.

Eyes on Me

In sum, as software continues to improve, many of our older photographs can be revisited because what was not possible two years ago is today.

If you haven’t bought or upgraded to Photoshop CS6, I highly recommend that you do so. Please note that I do not use the Creative Cloud, I simply upgraded CS5 to CS6 for $200. It was well worth the price. Hopefully, Adobe will allow users like myself to upgrade from time to time without getting into the Creative Cloud concept. I detest the new Adobe business model, but I do have a great deal of respect for Adobe’s engineers, they are the best in the world. Too bad Adobe does not match its engineers with good managers – I know, that is too much to ask.

 don zeck lens cap

 MEET THE AUTHOR

Bill LockhartBill is a retired Courts Administrator of one of the largest trial courts in the United States. He is also a retired Lieutenant Colonel, US Army National Guard, in which he served for 30 years.  He holds a BSJ from the University of Florida School of Journalism, is a Fellow of the Institute for Court Management, a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College, and the US Army Inspector General School.  His photographic experience spans four decades; his photographic awards are too numerous to list, but include well over 100 photographs of the day, photographs of the week, and photographs of the month, at many Internet forums.  He travels extensively throughout the world, his most recent trips include journeys to South Africa, Tanzania, Alaska, Scotland, the Farne Islands, Poland, the American North West, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Slovenia, and Orkney.  From the jungles of Panama and Honduras, to the mountains of Europe, to the awesome islands of Scotland, to the islands of the Galapagos, from the coastal regions of Alaska,  to the intense heat of tropical Africa, Bill constantly searches for the “light that dances.”

Click here to visit Bill’s website. 

All photos and content Copyright © 2013 Bill Lockhart Photography, all rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication of photos and content is strictly prohibited.

 

Posted in: General, Photogaphy Software

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Why I like the Nikon 300mm f/4 0D ED-IF AF-S Lens and the D800 Camera

My last two weeks have been about testing lenses because in just seven weeks I will be off to Kenya for 10 days of safari shooting. So, I have been out practicing for the trip.

Nikon 300mm
One big change has been the availability of the Nikon D800 camera. One can switch between FX and DX shooting quite easily, which means if you have a 300mm lens, by shooting in DX mode, one is now shooting at 450mm! But, of course, in so doing one is giving up lots of resolution.

The settings yield different resolutions.

  • FX format (36 x 24): 7,360 x 4,912 (L), 5,520 x 3,680 (M), 3,680 x 2,456 (S)
  • 1.2x (30 x 20): 6,144 x 4,080 (L), 4,608 x 3,056 (M), 3,072 x 2,040 (S)
  • DX format (24 x 16): 4,800 x 3,200 (L), 3,600 x 2,400 (M), 2,400 x 1,600 (S)
  • 5:4 (30 x 24): 6,144 x 4,912 (L), 4,608 x 3,680 (M), 3,072 x 2,456 (S)

So, a DX format shot will yield a 15.3 Megapixel image, as compared to a FX format shot which will yield a 35.1 Megapixel image. The DX format is a tradeoff, but it is there for those of us who simply cannot afford to buy a 400mm lens.

There are other choices as well. One can choose the 1.2x mode, shoot in FX format, and get a 25 Megapixel image. This means that a 300mm lens becomes a 360mm lens.

Or, if you really need reach you can shoot in 1.2x mode, FX format, use a 1.4x extender, and wind up with a 882mm lens! (300mm X 1.2x X 1.5x X 1.4x = 882mm). Cool, huh?

In sum, the D800 and 300mm f/4 Lens along with a 1.4x extender is one heck of a great combination. And, what I like about it, is that the combination is thousands of dollars less than buying a Nikon 400mm lens alone.

So, how good is the 300mm f/4 lens? Well, I gotta tell you, it is simply awesome, one of the sharpest lenses I have ever used. It is simply superb.

Read The Full Article Here

Don Zeck Lens Cap

 MEET THE AUTHOR

Bill LockhartBill is a retired Courts Administrator of one of the largest trial courts in the United States. He is also a retired Lieutenant Colonel, US Army National Guard, in which he served for 30 years.  He holds a BSJ from the University of Florida School of Journalism, is a Fellow of the Institute for Court Management, a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College, and the US Army Inspector General School.  His photographic experience spans four decades; his photographic awards are too numerous to list, but include well over 100 photographs of the day, photographs of the week, and photographs of the month, at many Internet forums.  He travels extensively throughout the world, his most recent trips include journeys to South Africa, Tanzania, Alaska, Scotland, the Farne Islands, Poland, the American North West, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Slovenia, and Orkney.  From the jungles of Panama and Honduras, to the mountains of Europe, to the awesome islands of Scotland, to the islands of the Galapagos, from the coastal regions of Alaska,  to the intense heat of tropical Africa, Bill constantly searches for the “light that dances.”

Click here to visit Bill’s website. 

All photos and content Copyright © 2013 Bill Lockhart Photography, all rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication of photos and content is strictly prohibited.

Posted in: Photography Gear

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Wacom Intuos5 Review

In today’s world of photography, post-processing of digital images is an absolute necessity.

In the old days of film photography one would spend hours in the darkroom dodging and burning, working with filters to increase contrast, and pushing development times to achieve better exposures. We were limited.

Now there are tools which can greatly enhance one’s processing. Enter the world of digital tablets. At the top of the pyramid of this class are the Wacom Intuos5 Tablets.

My friends at Hunt’s Photo sent me one to review and test.

Wacom Intuos5 Review

 

After opening up the package and plugging the tablet, I set about becoming familiar with how it works. It is amazingly complex with a vast array of ways to program the tablet to suit one’s needs.

There are basically two interfaces one can use with the table. The pen, with lots of choices of brushes, or one’s hand using gestures. I soon had a photo loaded in photoshop and set about using dodge and burn, saturation, masks, and curves to get the photograph to look like what I wanted it to do.

Wacom2IMG_3274_DxO-600x446
What I found myself doing was using my hands for controlling the various Photoshop Tools. It was a new experience for me, something I had never done before. Gone was the mouse and its limitations. It seemed inuitive.

I was interacting with the computer in a way I had never experienced before. I felt a sense of creativeness, much like a painter who individual brush strokes bring a canvas to life. It was the freedom of it, smooth, simple, so very easy to adjust the foreground saturation, change the warmth of tones in the distance forest, sharpen only what needed sharpening. Yes, indeed, after a few hours of working with the Wacom I had discovered a new world of human/technology interface.

For most users, who do have a bit of desk space, I would recommend the medium sized tablet.

Dimensions (W x D x H): 380 mm x 251 mm x 12 mm
Active area Pen (W x D): 224 mm x 140 mm
Active area Touch (W x D): 224 mm x 140 mm
Weight: 990 g
Multi-touch Support: yes
Wireless Accessory Support: yes
Resolution (per point): 0.005 mm (5,080 lines per inch)
Tilt sensitivity: ± 60°
Maximum reading height with pen: 10 mm
No. of ExpressKeys: 8 capacitve keys
Touch Ring controller: 1

The tablet can be used as a large touchpad for simple navigation.  It uses some standard universal (Apple-like) gestures. There are some custom gestures that you can assign macro commands for use in your favorite post-processing software.

There are options to adjust touch settings, like pointer speed, scrolling speed, pointer acceleration, double-tap time, or completely disable the touch input. While I would not replace my mouse, I must admit that using the tablet one could very well consider this idea after using the device for an extended period.

Standard gestures include: tap to click, two finger tap to right click, two finger drag to scroll, pinch to zoom/rotate, three finger swipe left-right to navigate, four finger swipe left-right to switch application. You can disable any of them.

The tablets come in three sizes. I recommend the medium sized unit, especially if one has limited desk space. If one spends a great deal of time using the keyboard, I recommend the small unit. At $229, today’s price, it’s a bargain.

Intuos5-touch-range-PTH-Fam

Customizable gestures include: three finger tap and hold, four finger swipe up/down, five finger tap and hold, and five finger swipe up/down.

In other words, the tablet had almost unlimited ways to set it up to your liking.

What is difficult to explain is the feel of the tablet surface, not too slicky, not too rough, just right, especially for those of us who have lots of finger grease. :-)

One thing I do want to emphasize is that cheaper is not better. There are lots of digital tablets out there, those designed for the consumer market aren’t what a serious photographer should consider. After all, if one has spent $15,000 on cameras and lenses, why would one buy a cheap tablet with severe limitations?

If you are serious about trying this fantastic new human/technology interface, I strongly suggest that you consider buying one from Hunt’s Photo Video. Why? Because the company has an incredible reputation for quality support services. I have used Hunt’s for years, they are always willing to assist me. One example was my desire to be among the first to get a Nikon D800. I got one within a week of asking, most other vendors said it would be six weeks!

I also recommend that one visit Wacom and plunder around. One can download the manual for the Wacom Intuos5 and have a good read before ordering.

In sum, even old dogs like me can find a new toy to use. Life is about learning new ways to do old things. The Wacom Intuous5 is a splendid example.

 

Don Zeck Lens Cap

Bill LockhartBill is a retired Courts Administrator of one of the largest trial courts in the United States. He is also a retired Lieutenant Colonel, US Army National Guard, in which he served for 30 years.  He holds a BSJ from the University of Florida School of Journalism, is a Fellow of the Institute for Court Management, a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College, and the US Army Inspector General School.

His photographic experience spans four decades; his photographic awards are too numerous to list, but include well over 100 photographs of the day, photographs of the week, and photographs of the month, at many Internet forums.

He travels extensively throughout the world, his most recent trips include journeys to South Africa, Tanzania, Alaska, Scotland, the Farne Islands, Poland, the American North West, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Slovenia, and Orkney.  From the jungles of Panama and Honduras, to the mountains of Europe, to the awesome islands of Scotland, to the islands of the Galapagos, from the coastal regions of Alaska,  to the intense heat of tropical Africa, Bill constantly searches for the “light that dances.”

Bill and two other photographers recently created Photo Travel Review, a website for those who love travel and photography.  Bill enjoys interacting with other photographers, please feel free to contact him.  You will find more articles by Bill at his blog Bill Lockhart

All photos and content Copyright © 2013 Bill Lockhart Photography, all rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication of photos and content is strictly prohibited.

 

Posted in: Photography Gear

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