Showing posts with label photo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label photo. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

SOFTWARE: Aperture 3 Released

Apple has released Aperture 3. Click here for more info. Aperture is Apple's competitor to Adobe's Lightroom. Meaning it is a combination RAW converter, organizer, limited editor and "workflow" tool. If you shoot RAW and work with a lot of photos, you need one of these. A big plus for Aperture 3 is that is now handles video. Lightroom Version 2.6 currently does not. Version 3 is in Beta.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Other Realities by Jerry Uelsman

Other Realities by Jerry Uelsman is an outstanding coffee table book by this distinguished photographer. Progressive Rock fans will recognize his work on the cover of Dream Theater's "Train of Thought" CD. While the book is 95% photographs, Jerry does offer some great nuggets of insight into his thought process of creating the Surreal. "...I find the seeds for creating a new syntax for the eye." Words to live by for those of us intent on MAKING PHOTOGRAPHS rather than TAKING SNAPSHOTS.

I am inspired by his work but I wouldn't and couldn't copy his work. His dreamlike photos are a tribute to my favorite surrealists, Rene Magritte or Salvadore Dali. You can see my Fine Art montages here.

You can purchase Other Realities here.

Jerry's website:


Sunday, November 15, 2009


There are of course, many ways to shoot subjects but they can be boiled down to planned shots, incidental, or shot in the normal course of observing, but there is a third distinct category I love: SURPRISE! These occur outside the other two circumstances.

And you need to have your equipment ready and WITHIN REACH. This means batteries and cards with capacity, camera available to pick up and use, not "safely" in a bag. I usually carry THREE sets of batteries. You will discover battery failure only when shooting. This will leave you hopefully with two sets of batteries ready to shoot.

The deer above IS inside the car. The camera was two feet away when she suddenly stuck her head in the window. Shooting was natural and the results show it. You need to be ready. Click here to see more from the day's shoot in New Zealand.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lightroom 3.0 Beta is Available

(Click on image to enlarge)

I live in Lightroom so this is a big deal.

According to Abobe:
Some of the new features included for you to play with in the Lightroom 3 beta are:

  • Brand new performance architecture, building for the future of growing image libraries
  • State-of-the-art noise reduction to help you perfect your high ISO shots
  • Watermarking tool that helps you customize and protect your images with ease
  • Portable sharable slideshows with audio—designed to give you more flexibility and impact on how you choose to share your images, you can now save and export your slideshows as videos and include audio
  • Flexible customizable print package creation so your print package layouts are all your own
  • Film grain simulation tool for enhancing your images to look as gritty as you want
  • New import handling designed to make importing streamlined and easy
  • More flexible online publishing options so you can post your images online to certain online photo sharing sites directly from inside Lightroom 3 beta (may require third-party plug-ins)*

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography

The late Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography is perhaps the finest book on Photography I have read. It is a compilation of articles he wrote for Outdoor Photography Magazine. It is copyright 2001, so much of what he writes predates the digital age. But is not really a book on technique as much as "seeing." The first third of the book is worth the price of entry alone. The book is divided into four parts:
  • Visions
  • Preparations
  • Journeys
  • Realizations

Rowell is a master teacher and visual artist. This is for intermediate and advanced photographers that want to hone their skills even further. Some of his observations include:
  • "[Photographs] are visual illusions that trick our senses into believing that the images represent theyway the eye would see a real scene."
  • "Cameras capable of making great photographs have become commonplace but photographers have not. While technical innovations have made photography even easier in recent decades, the art of producing images that other people will care about has become even more formidable."
  • "Literal images of nature no longer wow the public."
  • "...a visionary image communicates the intentionality of the artist's experience."
  • "The best pictures show us a world different from the one we directly observe."
  • "We all take pictures to communicate what is important in our lives."
All these quotes are just in the first three pages of the Preface. To paraphrase Al Pacino from "Scent of a Woman," HE'S JUST GETTING STARTED!

 You can purchase Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Photographing Birds

When I was a kid, I was a naturalist at heart. Maybe it started at age 6 with impromptu talks the nuns selected me to give to the 8th grade. I used the Powerpoint of the time, a book on Fish. Birds get a bad rap. I have heard people downgrade birds as being something for "old people." How does an entire classification of biology get associated with an age group? What age group are Amoeba associated with?

BIRDS and FISH exhibit the same hard to photograph behavior as individuals and in schools or flocks. True, you need much more equipment and training to photograph fish. But the "eye," focus on behavior, concentration and fast reflexes are the same.

PHOTOGRAPHING BIRDS by Rulon Simmons and Bates Littlehales of Nat Geo fame is a great book. These veterans share their secrets of different methods such as feeding, vs stalking, vs blinds, nesting, flight, etc.

There are sections on using remote controllers and accessory tree limbs on feeders. I shot the Cardinal below using these techniques. This alone was worth the price of admission for me. Some text is still back in the film era, but most is still valid in the digital age because of its concentration on the subject matter: the birds.

You can purchase PHOTOGRAPHING BIRDS by Rulon Simmons and Bates Littlehales here.

See my gallery of birds.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

BASICS: Using the Levels Tool to get WOW!

The worst comment a photographer can get on their work is "NICE" or "INTERESTING." If your photography is not generating WOW reactions, this technique could help. Many factors of course effect the WOW reaction, but for photos to be dramatic or LEAP off the page, you must edit using some kind of Editor such as Photoshop Elements, Paintshop pro or iPhoto.

Despite all the marketing, digital cameras do not always produce perfect photos. Today's cameras are after all, dumb computers with a lens attached. An Editor can quickly correct TONAL RANGE problems, the factor that is responsible for photos looking muddy or "lacking something."

The quickest way to get the most out of the tonal range is to use the LEVELS tool to set the White point, Black Point and Contrast or Gamma. A Japanese photographer named Sammy (Masafumi Tanaka) taught me how to do this in five minutes in the Maldives back in 2003. It got me hooked on the power of digital editing. As this is a powerful tool that changes the picture, you may want to first make a copy of the file as you practice. You can also CLOSE the picture without saving if you are not happy with the results.

1. Open the Editor application. In this example, we are using Photoshop Elements.
2. Open a picture
3. Press the COMMAND + L keys (Mac) or CTRL + L (Win) and the following histogram shows up. Very similar to your camera histogram. In iPhoto, click Edit your picture and click the Adjust Icon. For others, check for Levels help.

In this example, the photo has poor tonal range in both the shadows (to the left) and the highlights (to the right). This shape of the Histogram "mountain" tells us this. The picture will have a muddy quality to it. Using the controls it is easy to improve this picture.

1. Click and hold your left mouse button on the White Point slider, circled here in Yellow.
2. Drag it toward the left until it almost touches the "mountain" of the Histogram.
3. Repeat with the Black Point slider, circled here in Red.
4. Drag it toward the right until it almost touches the other side of the "mountain."
Your picture will appear "crisper"and the controls will be in their new positions as shown:

The last control is to adjust the center Gamma slider (or Contrast) circled in green. Click and hold and move to the left and right slightly to see the effect and leave it where you think best.

Save your picture when you are happy with the result.

If you reopen the Levels tool, the changes to the histogram are evident showing a much better tonal range, one step closer to WOW! Once you are proficient with Levels, it will be time to explore the next step up in editing sophistication, the Curves Tool.