Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Trucks Big and Small

Here's is one more shot from the trip to Salmon Arm, taken through the front windshield and processed with those filters I keep talking about and tend to overuse, probably.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Rail Cars

Back to just another picture but today I thought I would show you the before and after. This is another shot I took through the window of the van on the way back from Salmon Arm to Vernon on March 13.

The first is what I see out of camera. The second is after I put it through the steps inluding using those Topaz Lab filters that I am enjoying so much these days. I just makes things to easy and I am a little lazy in Photoshop these days.

The data for those interested: ISO 100, f4, 1/800 sec, lens at 70 mm.

(Oh, and just as a side note, I am not getting up at 5:00 AM every morning to post these. That is the time I schedule for them to be posted. This post was actually written just after yesterday's post and both were written on Saturday, the 28th. Ain't technology great?)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Correcting for White Balance

I had a friend wonder at what type of camera I had since she thought my pictures turned out better than what she got. I did mention my expensive lens that I use but of just as much importance for any picture with any camera is lighting (that I will try and discuss later) and white balance.

So I thought I would discuss white balance a little bit. I took some pictures of my grandson Lucas in the bathtub recently and you can see the result in the first picture. Two things that have to be said about the first, very yellow picture. Most cameras have an AWB (auto white balance) setting that probably does a fairly good job of figuring things out. In the case of this picture, my WB was set at sunlight and this picture was taken with no flash and so all the light came from the regular light in the bathroom. This is what gives it the yellow glow. The second thing is that I shoot in Camera Raw so I wasn't worried because the WB can be changed in software. RAW requires a software step but it also gives you a lot more latitude for correction as we will see.

In order to attempt to simulate what might happen if I shot in jpeg format and then tried to color correct, this next picture is the result. It required a bit more work in software than the final picture below, but the result is much better than the yellow one above. I use Adobe Camera Raw software to do my corrections and the quick way is to grab the WB eyedropper and click on something that should be white or gray in the picture. A bit of playing with sliders got what I thought was the best. With a jpeg shot, the ability to adjust is more limited than in raw. I still see a bit of yellowish/green tint to the picture but it is much improved.

This final picture is the raw shot that initially looked like the first picture above. For this one, all I did was take the eyedropper and click on the bathtub to get what I think is the most natural look. (I did brighten this a little bit so it had the same brightness level as the other two pictures but it was a 5 second tweak with the levels adjustment tool in Photoshop.) This is the major advantage I find in shooting RAW because I don't worry about what my WB setting is. I still should because it could save a step in the workflow if I got the WB right in camera but I don't worry too much about this.

Not every camera has the capability of shooting in RAW and not every RAW mode gives the same flexibility that the SLR level camera has. Additionally, it does require extra work to process. RAW is the equivalent of the negative from the old film days that had to be processed first before prints were made.

You can see that white balance is quite important and you should do some experimentation with your camera to see the impact. Start with auto white balance and shoot in daylight, shade, with flash (pretty similar to daylight), fluorescent and tungsten (regular light bulbs). Then do the same with your WB set on sunlight or flash and compare the shots to see how effective the AWB is. Then, set the WB for each lighting condition. You will then have a set of comparison shots that will tell you whether AWB works in your camera or whether you need to manually set the WB to the proper conditions.

Hope this helps understand this. There are far better discussion about this around the net so do a search if you want to learn more.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Three Grandsons

These are my three precious grandsons who live in Vernon. I set up to photograph them the day before we left. The flash is to camera left shooting through a white umbrella. I used my 70-200 lens at 70mm and shot at f5.6, 1/50 sec, and ISO 160.

I then processed it in Topaz labs Denoise and Adjust.

*UPDATE: I should identify them a bit better. From left to right, Benjamin, Nathan and Lucas.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Barn In the Snow

Here's another picture taken out the car window while coming back from Salmon Arm.

I doubled up on the Topaz filters for this one, creating one more normal type layer in Photoshop and then creating a highly detailed filter on top of the first layer. I then lowered the opacity to blend one layer with the other for this look. It probably hurts your eyes but I like it.

For those who thought all of the above is gobbledy-gook, it all has to do with a great feature in Photoshop called layers. For those who remember the old overhead projectors you'll recall that sometimes a creative type would have several overheads taped together and then flip them one on top of the other to add various elements. Layers is a similar type thing but with much more flexibility including various blending modes. Lots of fun.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Drive-in Theater - Drive by shooting

While my wife and I were in Vernon we went for a drive with Phil and Bev to Salmon Arm. (Phil and Bev are the parents of Jen, my son's wife.)

I don't often get to be just a passenger in the car so I grabbed my camera for some drive by shooting. I'll post some of the other pictures over the days to come.

Drive in theaters are a dying breed I think and I don't see too many so I grabbed this shot of the Starlight Drive-In on the way back from Salmon Arm. I had my 70-200 lens on racked all the way in to 70 mm and shot this wide open at f4 and 1/500 sec. at ISO 100 through the side window. It was processed with Photoshop CS4 and Topaz Lab filters.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I know that no one visits this site, yet, mainly because I don't post to it. Let's see if I can get to this a bit more regularly with pictures.

I recently purchased Topaz Lab's Adjust and DeNoise filters and have been playing with them quite a bit. The Adjust filter is especially fun and it can take a blah photo and give it some oomph.

This picture was taken on March 16th while waiting for the ferry in Horseshoe Bay. I applied the filter to make the colors pop and give it what I call a simulated HDR (high dynamic range) look.

I also belong to NAPP and they just included a Watermark feature for use with Photoshop CS4's new configurator feature that makes it easy to add the copyright watermark and resize the photo for web use. That should make it easier to post pictures here and on Facebook.

That's it for today. I'm going to try to post on a more regular basis and I have lots of pictures I've been working on with this filter that I can throw up. Maybe I can start to share a bit of what I've learned about photography the last little while.