Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Digitizing your Slides and Negatives

NOTE : Photos are appearing fine on Safari.  Other browsers are rebelling.

This post is meant to inspire you.  Using a Digital SLR with Macro Lens and Strobe to copy slides and Negatives is perhaps the fastest way to get your film based images onto your hard drive.  It is considerably faster than using a Digital Slide Scanner.  Resolution of the image is likely to be higher than a scanner since you are using a DSLR.

Assemble the parts shown above into a configuration that make sense for your camera model.  DO NOT use a cheap optical slide duplicator from E-Bay, because you will not be satisfied with the results.  The package below is ready to copy, just add a strobe.


Here is one configuration using a camera mounted strobe shooting into a white reflector.  You can use a strobe extension cord and shoot directly into the lens as an alternate setup.  That is the one I use.  I dedicated a "clamp lamp" as a focusing light as shown.  You can keep it on when the strobe fires.

Set your camera on Manual and experiment with exposures, bracketing exposures until you are satisfied with the results.

Once you are set up, you should be able to shoot three exposures within 30 seconds.  Don't forget to dust your slides and negatives.

At the beginning I said inspire you.  If you are still unsure about the process and want detailed instruction, check out my one-on-one, on-line / over the phone Seminar.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Creativity Seminar Book Recommendations

I am giving a presentation on CREATIVITY in U/W Photography on Saturday at the Beneath The Sea Conference at the Meadowlands.

 The link to the handout for the seminar is here.

A lot of it is inspired by one of my mentors, the late great Galen Rowell, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.  I will be recommending these books:

Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography

The first third of the book is worth its weight in gold.  While some is based back in the film era, this is absolutely the best thing I have read on being a photographer.

 Galen Rowell's Vision: The Art of Adventure Photography

An earlier companion volume to the one above.  Also has tons of nuggets compiled from his time as a columnist at Outdoor Photographer magazine.

Henri Cartier-Bresson Photographer: A compendium of the great master of the "Decisive Moment."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Photoshop Auto Save - Electric Iris Trial Update

On Feb 27, ONE WEEK AGO, this space posted a wish list for Adobe Product Bug Fixes and Feature updates. 

Part of that mentioned a trial for a product I was using, PsdAutosSaver by  I just got a notice that my ONE MONTH TRIAL has expired.  No problem but that is incorrect. It has only been one week.   Bug in the programming.  I was opening a photo from Lightroom to edit in Photoshop on my Mac and Photoshop crashed after getting the error message from Electric Iris.  I sent a crash report to Adobe and Apple.

I re-did the same sequence and Photoshop crashed again after getting the same warning from Electric Iris.  Being the sharp knife in the drawer that I am, I trashed the PsdAutosSaver program and VOILA, problem fixed.  Bug in the program.  I wasn't about to buy the program to continue to do the Alpha testing for the company gratis.

In the week that I was allowed to try PsdAutosSaver, the results were inconsistent.  Sometimes it saved a backup copy, sometimes it didn't.  If I worked on JPG, it would create a HUGE .PSD file that did not show my changes, so it does not do what I had hoped it would do.   If you are using Lightroom, backup files are automatically saved because when opening Photoshop from Lightroom,  it creates a duplicate file, leaving the original untouched.

Adobe, I still want an adjustable Automatic Autosave feature that allows me to set the timer from 1 minute to 30 minutes.  Default version is set to ON at 10 minutes.  Preference to adjust the timing or turn off if the Autosave becomes a pain.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Photo Rescue Using Photoshop Curves

Sometimes, shooting circumstances are just not ideal.  Case in point, shooting a singing Humpback Whale.  It is not every day that you get to do this.  If you find a singing whale at all, it is likely to be very deep and you will probably be snorkelling, not using SCUBA. There was no option to handoff the camera to free diving champion Tanya Streeter.   Here is the shot and it needs rescue.

The tones are muted because it breaks every rule in the book: 1. far away from the subject, 2. shooting down, 3. not using strobes, but they would be ineffective at that distance anyway.

Here is the multi-step fix.
NOTE: it is helpful to have a good understanding of using the LEVELS command first.  Recommended resource: Photoshop CS5: The Missing Manual by Lesa Snider.

Press Command + M (Mac) / CTRL + M (Win)  in Photoshop (NOTE: Photoshop Elements does not have this tool).  This is the initial Histogram:

Drag the control points to fix the Black Point and White Point at either end.  The result is shown below.

Click OK to "register" this initial correction.  The Photo will look like this and much improved.

Reopen Curves by pressing Command + M (Mac) / CTRL + M (Win).

"Finess" the control line by first adding one control point and SLOWLY experiment by dragging the line up or down and around for the darker tones, on the left until the picture looks better.  Add another control point for the lighter tone on the left and SLOWLY drag up and down and around.  The result is the S-Curve shown.

In the photo at this point, the Suns rays are more visible and the contrast is better, and you can better see the clumps of coral on the bottom over 150 feet away and the white tail flukes are closer to the true white tint.   Click OK to register the changes.

Now for the final touch, reopen Curves.  This time, Click on the Channels dropdown box and select blue since the predominant color is blue.

The BLUE channel shows severe deficiency in the shadows and darker tones.  So slide the black point to the right until the photo is improved. 

This shows Histogram after correction.   Click OK and save your work.  At this point you could work on the RED and GREEN Channels but they are inconsequential in this particular photo as those parts of the spectrum are naturally filtered out by the depth of the water.

The final rescued photo of the singing fifty-five foot whale.  Worth the work!

Catch us at the BENEATH THE SEA conference at the Meadowlands Expo Center.  We are presenting the seminar on the Humpback Whales of the Silver Banks on March 26th at 2pm.

Click here to see more of my underwater favorites.