Category Archives: Intermediate

Maybe we need to RETHINK how we think about Depth of Field

Maybe we need to RETHINK how we think about Depth of Field

It’s really about Magnification

We know some truths about Depth of Field (DOF). We know there are 3 things (actually 4 but the forth is controversial and not all agree and it would only apply if you switch cameras in between shots)

Anyway, there are 3 things that affect Depth of Field

  • Aperture
  • Distance to Subject
  • Focal Length

We know:

  • The Larger the aperture (lower f/ number),the shallower the Depth of Field
  • The closer we are to our subject, the shallower the Depth of Field
  • The longer the Focal Length, the shallower the Depth of Field

and of course the inverse of all would be true Continue reading »

Depth of Field – In Depth

Depth of Field – In Depth

Everything you wanted to know about Depth of Field and some things you didn’t but you will be glad you did

So you may think you understand Depth of Field (DOF) but do you? Let’s try to confirm what you do know and maybe show you a couple things you didn’t.

What is Depth of Field?

Let’s start with a definition: Depth of field is the total distance that is in “acceptable focus” from our actual point of focus. Let’s clarify that definition further because we artistic minded hate reading definitions.

When you focus on an object, you have a “point of focus” that is the only part that is 100% sharp and in focus, then you have a “field of acceptable focus” in front of and behind that point. That area is the total Depth of Field Continue reading »

Advanced Metering

Advanced Metering

In the blog post “How to Shoot in Manual” I gave some very basic information about where you meter is in your camera and how to use it. In this post we’ll talk really In-Depth about your Camera’s meter

and how to get the most out of it and when to know when it is lying to you and how to correct for that.

What type of Meter do we have in our camera?

The Meter we have in our cameras are known as “Reflective” meters. What they actually meter is the light reflected off of our subject, what we are shooting. This is different than Hand Held Meters. While those meters can be used also to measure reflected light, they normally measure the light source itself also known as “Ambient” or Incident” light and are mostly used to measure the light from Strobes/Flashes that a reflected meter can not. Continue reading »

Shooting the Telephoto Landscape

In my complete portfolio I have just over 3,000 images. Of them, 1,800 were shot with a wide-angle lens between 16 – 24mm. Like most Landscape photographers, a wide-angle lens is my weapon of choice. I love the look of it, I love shooting big sky.

But, the other side is, just over 500 images were shot with a 70-200mm Telephoto zoom. There is a place for a telephoto lens in the landscape photographer’s bag.

So why do we choose different lenses and what are some of the reason and difficulties using a telephoto lens for Landscapes.

We choose lenses of different focal lengths for two primary reasons: Magnification – We want to frame our subject in a certain way in the image and we use different focal length to put that subject at the size in the frame we desire. Secondly, Perspective: What else do we want to present in that image around our subject, what is the field of view we want. Continue reading »

Quick Tip of the day – Landscape Photography

If you have a boring sky without clouds for drama or much interest, minimize it in your composition to 1/3 to 1/4 of the total space. This is not the time to go all Big Sky in your image.

Here we have a clearly defined forground subject, adding  BIG Sky would have done nothing for the image. Continue reading »

Update your Video Card – Update your Video Card Drivers

Photo editing software these days is placing extraordinary demands upon your computer and it’s resources. Motherboards, CPUs Memory. But increasingly, Photo software companies are moving a lot of that load to your video card and it’s own memory and processors. Since the introduction  of Photoshop CS4, Adobe has shifted a lot of the work of editing photos over to the GPU (Graphic Processor Unit) rather than only the  CPU.  So much so that Adobe set about standards that Graphics boards needed to meet for their software to run at it’s optimum

A lot of Plug-in makers like Nik software, Topaz labs or onOne  rely heavily on Video cards and Open GL Continue reading »

I’ve got the Hippy Hippy Shake – Cure Tripod Woes

I’ve got the Hippy Hippy Shake 

No one remembers that song huh? It was by this little group called the Beatles. OK, enough music nostalgia. 

Reader Duane W had a question on camera shake while ON A TRIPOD. 

Duane wrote: I was shooting at the beach back in May and tried to pull off a shot.  What I did not expect or plan for was the amount of wind in the evening.  A storm was working up and the wind was gusting off the water about 20-30 mile an hour. 

I love shooting water and getting that nice shutter speed about 1/4 – 1/6th of a second.  That made the water perfect, but because the wind was strong made the rocks not sharp due to my camera and tripod shaking. Continue reading »

Print those Images!

Print those Images

I can’t think of anything more satisfying then seeing one of my Images  printed large and hung on my wall. Well, maybe hung on someone else’s wall I like better. But either way, seeing that large print just completes things for me. 

So I would encourage YOU to print your images and I’ll give you some tips to get great prints because many people don’t print anymore or haven’t printed since they got their digital cameras so they aren’t always familiar with the process. 

This will be about printing at a commercial lab not home printing. Home printing on Large format Inkjet printers is and art and science all to itself and most people can’t afford to spend what it takes to do it right, so for their large format prints (larger than 8 x 10) most people turn to commercial labs. 

Continue reading »

Metering Exposures for HDR

Metering Exposures

I talk a lot about metering my exposure for an HDR but I haven’t talked much about how I actually do that, so I thought I would give a quick run through. 

Now of course a lot of times I just do a 3 exposure auto bracket and in that case I only have to make sure that my middle exposure is correct (by Metering and locking exposure on a Mid Tone as I explained here) But what if I need more exposures to cover a larger range? Here’s how I do it. 

First thing I do is set my camera for spot metering, if you don’t have spot metering use center weighted. If you use Evaluative (Canon) or Matrix (Nikon) that samples the whole scene which is great in the case of a single exposure but not what we really want here since we want to only know a specific area. 

I place my center focus point over the area I want to sample and I really just want to know two areas; the brightest part of the scene, and the darkest. Sampling any more than that is a waste of time since we know we will be covering them anyway in our various exposures. We just need to get from one end to the other.

So here is my scene

With my camera in manual exposure mode, I first metered the brightest part of the sky and got a centered meter reading of 1/60 shutter speed (aperture and ISO were constant at f/16 and ISO 100). Just be aware of something when water is involved. In cases with water, the sky may not always be the brightest part of the scene. If you have Specular highlights – reflection of the sun in the water- even though the sun is not actually in your scene. THOSE may be your brightest area of your shot. 

Next I metered the darkest area, a hole in the rocks to my left and got a reading of 6 seconds. So I have a full 10 stops of range to cover to get this shot right. 

So now my next choice was how to I get from one end to the other, in other words how many stop intervals. In this case I chose 1 stop intervals because I didn’t want to shoot the scene twice. But I did have another thing in mind because I knew I was shooting for this article. To answer the question: Are 1 stop or 2 stop intervals best? 

So I started shooting my sequence and I started at 6 Seconds. Now I could have done the math and  to get the next exposure just divide the time in half to get 1 whole stop, or in half and then in half again for two full stops. But I hate doing even simple math, so it much easier to do a simple counting the clicks. 

 My camera and most camera are set up from the factory to change exposure in 1/3 stop increments, you can change that to ½ stop increments in your camera’s menu. Mine is set for 1/3 stops. So if I want to change my exposure 1 full stop, I simply count 3 clicks of the dial, shoot, count 3 clicks and so on (If I am doing 2 full stops I count 6 clicks) and then I simply watch my shutter speed until I get to my end reading that I wanted of 1/60. 

But you do it the way that suits you best. 

So here is my 10 exposure shot processed in Photomatix Pro 4.1(No other processing was done)

 

 BUT, here is my 5 Exposure shot of the same scene

 

 I really don’t see much difference; in fact there was a little more confusion in the water area of the 10 exposure shot because of the moving water. 

I’m still not convinced that 1 stop increments are at all necessary (although I did use it for my Shooting Interiors post) because of course, each single image covers a range and in the end may make some other things worse (alignment etc.) But I of course leave that decision to you. 

If you would like to see what the 5 exposures look like along with each images Histogram, here they are.

 

This shot and histogram really shows you how wide the dynamics were for this scene and how they were really biased at each end

Hope that helps,

 

PT

Why a Tripod is not enough + Tune up that Tripod

Yesterday I went to do a shoot out in Wine Country for a new HDR tutorial. I was happy with what I shot. It was a nice sunset over the vineyards.

After I downloaded my images, it was huge disappointment. NONE of the final merges were sharp!

So I started to inspect the individual frames and found all of the frames that were .1 to 1 second were totally useless, all had terrible camera shake.

But wait a minute, I USED A TRIPOD!

So this afternoon I hauled out my rig to do some testing. The first thing I found was a problem with my tripod itself. The locking lever for my quick release plate was loose allowing the  camera to rock side to side considerably. A quick couple turns of a Allen wrench fixed that. I also lubed up the release catch that was sticking a bit. ( Never lube the Ball Head itself!)

After that I decide to do some testing.

Yesterday in my rush because the sun was setting quickly I left my Remote shutter release in the truck. I also always seem to rush things and am quite impatient so I am not always good at releasing the shutter smoothly and not rocking the boat, so to say. On top of that all I had a loose release plate magnifying everything. But I wanted to see, really does it make a difference to use a remote shutter release after all my camera is on a steady tripod. So here is my test.

The Test

I mounted my Canon 5D on my Manfrotto tripod, I put on my Canon 24-105L IS lens on the tripod with the IS turned off (which is recommended). Zoomed to 105mm I fitted the lens with a B + W 3 stop Neutral Density filter to slow my shutter speed for the test in the  sunlight. I took images of a Yard Stick to show detail. This is far more detail then you would have with a wide angle landscape image so this was a good test.

The first image I shot pressing the shutter button with my finger, slowly and precisely. (100% actual pixel crops, click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one was with me just pressing the shutter button haphazardly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This image was using my Canon Remote Shutter Release

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you can’t afford a remote shutter release right now, use the timer function of your camera to trip the shutter. On Canon Cameras, if you are set up to shoot bracketed photos and use the Timer Release it will fire all three images without you having to touch the camera. I’m not sure if Nikon does that. Maybe a Nikon shooter can chime in in comments and say.

I chose a shutter speed of 1/2 a second for this test. It seems that shutter speeds in and around that speed are the most suseptable to shake. Faster than that and the shutter speed itself stops the blur. And when you do very long exposure under low light the shaking part is only a small fraction of the total exposure and you may not see the bluring.

What about Mirror Lock up?

I knew you would ask, So I did a test for that too. In the image below, above the red line is normal, below the red line is mirror lock up. If I was shooting witn a long lens on a detail shot or doing macro work, the very slight difference we see would make me use it. For Landscapes with a wide angle lens shooting long distance..well I’ll leave that up to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So is any of this anything you or I didn’t know? Probably not, I just never really tried it to see. And I DO know what I will do next shoot.

  • Give your tripod the once over before heading out in the field. You may not have the tools you need when you get there
  • Always use a Remote shutter release
  • Use your Camera’s Timer if you don’t have a remote release
  • Use Mirror Lock-up when necessary

Hope that helps,

PT

Sharpening for Print and the Web – Home Brews and Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0

Ahh sharpening, more ways to do it than probably ways to do HDR. But let’s look at first why we sharpen and then the best ways to sharpen. 

Sharpening is totally “Output” dependant. In other words we apply sharpening depending on how we will display that image. If it’s going to be displayed on screen we need to know how big a screen and what resolution the actual image will be. If we are printing the image, we need to know how it is being printed (Inkjet/Giclee’ or true photographic print/continuous tone) and how big. Sharpening for one use will not be correct for another. If we applied the same sharpening that we use for a 20 x 30 Giclee’ print on a 600 x 400 image on our Facebook page, that Facebook image would be way over-sharpened and full of sharpening artifacts. 

One note before I continue on. If you have any aspiration of do Stock Photography, do not apply any sharpening to your images. You don’t know what the final use will be for that image and that should be left to the end user and their re-toucher/designer 

Sharpening for print

Sharpening for print is dependant on print size and how it will be viewed. Thisis why I work with a Master Tiff or PSD file and then make Print JPEG copies depending on the size print I am making or having made. You can, if you don’t want to go this extreme, just make one print file but make it for what you expect the average large size print to be. Say 16” X 24” I print up to 40” x 60” and would rather do each size independently but that’s me. 

Since sharpening is so size dependant, first we must look at that image correctly so that we can see in real time/ real size how our sharpening affects the image. So I will let you in on a little known or used property of Photoshop. “View> Print Size”. Now wait a minute you say, I’ve always known about that. You probably have. BUT did you know how to calibrate it or use it in practice? 

Size Calibrating

This will take a measuring and a little calculating. Get a small tape measure or ruler and measure your monitor screen’s width Don’t just go by what the monitor says it is as in I have a 23” monitor that’s what it says on the box. That is the diagonal measurement, it was perpetrated by men, we always want things to seem larger than they are. So measure the width of the actual display area of your screen. In the case of my “22 inch “screen that measurement was `18.75”. Now find out what the horizontal resolution of your screen is set at. In Windows you can do that by right clicking on your desktop and go to properties. Macs…well you own a Mac so you should know everything (jealous laughter) 

My resolution is 1680 x 1050; the first number is the width resolution. Now take that number and divide it by your width measurement 1680/ 18.75 = 89.6 pixels per Inch

We can round that so we have a Screen Resolution or 90 ppi. Write that number down. (Well, write YOUR number down) 

Now open Photoshop. In your Preferences (Edit>Preferences) go to the Units and Ruler tab and under Screen Resolution put in that number (whatever yours works out to be) (don’t change the Print resolution number) 

You have now calibrated your monitor to be the correct size so that if you have an 8 x 10” image displayed at print size, you will see it actual size. Go ahead measure it if you don’t believe. 

Our next step is to size our image for the size print we will make. When we do this we will not be changing the actual file itself but rather just the document size. I know that sounds confusing but we won’t be altering the pixels at all, just how big the print will look on screen. 

We do this by going to Image> Image Size 

The first thing you need to do is UN-CHECK the box for “Resample Image” this will ensure that we don’t actually change the file. Then in the width and height areas put in the dimension for the print you want to make. In this case I choose to make a 30” x 20” print.  One item to take note of though is the Resolution, this number will change as you change Print sizes the only time you need to worry about it is if that number falls below 100. Most print labs need at least a number of 100 to make an acceptable print. 

 

 

Once you have you print size in, click OK. Now if you go up to View> Print Size, the size you see on screen is the actual size of the print that will be made. 

With this view we now can make an accurate judgment on how sharp the image needs to be. It may by itself be plenty sharp and you may need to do nothing. If that is the case do just that, nothing. The less you do to an image, the better off you usually are. But if you find the image lacks the detail you want, then we need to move on to sharpening. 

Sharpening –High Pass Sharpening -The Home Brew 

As I stated earlier there are as many ways to do sharpening as there are ways to do HDR. Photoshop itself has about 6 sharpening method built into its filter menu. Lightroom has its own sharpening area. For me I like an alternative method known as High Pass Sharpening. I feel it has the most power and control and I think. It just looks good. If you like the  built in sharpening then by all means use them, just make sure you view the images at the correct size as above to apply the right amount of sharpening. Smart Sharpening in Photoshop is probably the best built in 

Hi pass.

Start by duplicating your image in a layer. Layer > Duplicate layer. Now go up to Filter>Other>High Pass

Your image will turn all gray and this dialog box will pop up. 

Start with a Radius of 2.0 and work from there. What we are looking for is just the edges of object since that is what sharpening deals with the contrast of edges. Move the control back and forth till you just see the fine edges of object. If you select too much the sharpening will be applied to areas beyond the edges resulting in haloing. Once you have your edges. Click OK.

With that layer selected go up to the Layer Blend mode where the drop down now says “Normal” drop down this list and here we have quite a  few choices. The ones that are applicable are

  • Overlay
  • Soft Light
  • Hard Light
  • Vivid Light 

Changing the blend mode will change the amount and the look of our sharpening. If I have an image with a lot of small detail, I will use Overlay, if my objects are larger I will use Vivid. But it totally depends on your image. There is not just one right answer. You can also vary the opacity of that layer if the look is right but the power is just too strong. 

Play close attention to edges; look for telltale of over sharpening. haloing, white lines, color changes, color fringing. If it looks good, it is good 

You can flatten the image a then Save as a JPEG to keep or send as a Print file for that image and that size with it’s own unique name. I usually don’t flatten the image because that allows me to go back and make changes to that sharpen layer later on if I so choose and I save the image as Tiff or PSD 

That’s all there is to it. 

Geez isn’t there an easier method?

Once again Peter, I didn’t think I needed a science experiment just to print a stupid picture! Well once again this is where we use the smarts of the software makers to take care of our problems and Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0 does just that. It does the calculating for you. 

Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0 

Sharpener Pro 3.0

Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0 is two sharpeners built into one. It is a RAW Pre-sharpener if we just wanted to sharpen an image not knowing what our final output would be and want to make up for some general softness to our image. But then there is the more adaptive and useful part, The Sharpener Pro 3.0 Output Sharpener. This takes what you want to do with your image into consideration and pretty much guides you through the process. Just answer some simple question in drop down boxes and it will do the thinking for you. 

 

The first thing it asks in the right Adjustment area is: What do you want to do with this image?

  • Display
  • Inkjet Print (Giclee type Photographic Print)
  • Continuous Tone print (photographic type print)
  • Halftone (Print Press)
  • Hybrid

 So you tell it what you want to do. I want to make a continuous tone print. Select that and now you are posed with other questions you answer

  • Viewing Distance
  • Yes viewing distance for a print can matter. The closer you view something the less sharpening it may need. If it is a print held in your hand or a print on the wall this can vary. (I found that the Auto setting worked well) 
  • Printer resolution: If you know this then enter that in, I know my print lab uses 250 ppi. If you don’t know , use 300 
  • Image Height and Width, Enter in the print size you want to make and it will apply enough sharpening for that size. This is a substitute for viewing at print size like we did for the High Pass Sharpening. It is also what the AUTO setting for viewing distance takes into consideration. 

Answer the questions and you are done. You do have the options to apply more or less sharpening in the section below. But for the almost all situations the software does a great job of applying sharpening for your image. 

Another cool thing is the ability to apply Selective sharpening. If you remember from our post about Bokeh, you don’t always want sharpening accross the entire image espcially parts that are supposed to be out of focus. The use of control points in Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0 allows you to just apply sharpening to selective areas of an image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that’s it; you can either do the work yourself or let software work for you. 

Here are some examples using 100% Crops to see the effects of Sharpening 

This is no sharpening (SOOC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is High Pass Sharpening

 

 

 

 

This is The Nik Sharpening

 

 

And yes there is a difference in the two sharp methods, mine was as my eye saw, the other was as the program saw fit. 

Noise

Sometimes as we sharpen an image it makes the noise in an image more apparent. In most cases if you find unacceptable noise in your image, you should De-Noise the image before sharpening. Then you know about how much to sharpen the image. Bear in mind it kind of a back and forth thing and you are trying to find a happy medium. The noise reduction reduces sharpness and the sharpening makes noise more visible so sometimes you need to find a compromise.

 Sharpening for the Web

So far we have discussed sharpening for print or large display on an LCD. Now let’s discuss sharpening for the web that actually is a two part process: Resizing an image (which reduces sharpness, and then sharpening that image. Even the process of re-sizing can affect how our image looks and its sharpness. 

What size?

The first thing we need to know is what size will our image be displayed on the web. The last thing you want to have happen is for either a website (Facebook, Google + etc) to resize our image. Nor do we want our web-browser itself to resize the image. They use the worst possible resize method (Nearest neighbor) and make our images look even worse than just resizing does.

 For this blog, I can post at 620 Pixels on the longest side, for my other portfolio blog, Petertellone.com I can post at 900 on the longest side. But because I can have people click on my images here for a better look, I do them at 900 pixels on the longest side too, Sacrificing a little in the blog display to make them look better in the large image (If I am doing a vertical image I keep it to 700 Pixels because that fits better when people view without scrolling) 

Find the right size for your website/blog/social media and then resize to it.

 In Photoshop To resize your image go to Image>Image Resize  for the resize method choose Bi-cubic, Lightroom also use that method. Despite what you may have heard about web size images needing to be 72 ppi resolution, that number in the context of digital image has absolutely no bearing 

Once resized now look at the image, this time using “Actual Pixels” since this is how the image will actually be seen. There no longer is a “Document size” for web images. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unsharp Mask

If the image has lost more sharpness than desirable then you will need to sharpen. I feel the High Pas ssharpening is over kill for sharpening for the web. Instead, this time I use one of Photoshop’s stock filters: Unsharp mask. I start with settings of Amount 40, Radius 1.8 and Threshold 1, varying these as I see fit. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightroom will do these operations upon exporting (resize/sharpen) you just don’t have as much control with those choices left to presets) 

Or, once again you can use Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0, Choose display and vary the adaptive sharpening to your eye. 

Save the image as a new file making sure to rename it something other than the original file name, such as Mydog_web.jpg and save it with enough compression to bring the file size to about 100K or smaller for fast load times. Too large and the image will take too long to load, Too small and the image will now have compression artifacts which look even worse than an unsharp image.

 And there you have it. To recap 

For print images

  • Calibrate Photoshop for correct display size
  • View at the actual print size
  • Use eitherHigh Pass sharpening or Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0 Output based sharpening 
  • Save a copy as a Print file based on the print size

For web Images

  • Resize the image properly and to the actual size it will be displayed on the website
  • Use Unsharp mask or Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0 Output based sharpening
  • Save as a web copy

 

 Hope that helps

PT

 

Watch your angles there Skippy!

My blog post: Shooting Architectural Interiors was featured in the Nik Software November newsletter where it came to the attention of LA photographer John MacLean. John commented that while I did okay with the HDR, I screwed the pooch on the shoot itself. And I did. I broke one of the cardinal sins of Commercial Architecture shoots. Angular distortions. Or more particularly, Keeping parallel lines parallel.

Now on an art shoot we may want to celebrate and in fact even play off these distortions, but in a Commercial Architectural setting, they are a big no no. What do these angular distortions look like? Well you may see them as Keystoning -the top of the object appears wider than the bottom (or the reverse) or we may see curvature distortions from using too wide of a lens and placing the object too close to the edges of the lens that have the most distortion.

As John also pointed out, how I should have corrected this was either to shoot level (Lens absolutely level) Or I could have corrected the mistake using the Lens Distortion correction in Lightroom (I believe ACR does it as well).

What the first part means is when shooting interiors or exteriors of buildings for that matter, We need to keep the camera level and not point up or down at what we are shooting We also may need to shoot centered such as when shooting a door or window, moving off of center will cause the side closest to the camera to appear longer than the side most far away.

Here are some examples…Of course I could not have shot at possibly worse time, The intense afternoon sun coming through my pergola and I had to Topaz the heck out of them just to make the shadows visible. But hopefully you’ll get the idea here. (I truly apologize for these shots but didn’t want to wait to shoot tomorrow since I am working on tomorrows post)

Here is a door shot low and not level (lens pointing up)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one was shot from the side and not square to the door but was at least Lens level which isn’t always bad since we maintained parallel lines. But notice the perspective. How the right side seems smaller than the left side even though we know they are both the same height

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one was shot High, Lens pointing down and at too wide angle (Hey look, There’s me!) This is an example of how this may work if we were doing an art piece and wanted some whimsy to it, but would never work commercially

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the Momma Bear shot, Level and Square

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I was unable to shoot level due to circumstances, the best option then may be to use a tilt-shift lens to correct for the distortions. That’s an expensive option but one that may be looked into if you do a lot of architecture shoots. 

But as John suggested there is another means to fix this problem post shoot and that is by using the lens correction section of the develop module in Lightroom (and ACR). 

Here is the original image (brightened to show detail) with some guides pulled in to show all the lines that are off

 

 

So I opened the image in Lightroom and in the Develop Module, scrolled down to The Lens Correction area 

With this tool you can correct for horizontal and vertical shifts along with curvature problems with wide angle lenses. It’s a powerful and easy to use tool. 

Clicking on one of the controls brings up a grid pattern on your image and you can drag the control until you get your lines in order. Clicking the box for keeping the crop will crop the image as you align.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here is our before and after of the shot  I used for the blog article

 Before

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to John for bringing this to my attention. 

To check out John’s excellent interior architectural work visit his website at http://www.johnmaclean.com/ He really does exquisite work. 

Hope that helps,

 PT

Your Photos in Living…Black & White – B & W Conversions

As much as we may love the color in our images, Black & White may be chosen as a very viable alternative in processing. Most of my images I do in both Color and Black & White versions. But many times people aren’t sure what the best methods or even how to convert your color image to black and white. So today we will cover what I think are the best methods and then also a couple Programs that can do all the work for you.

First we will look at some methods in programs you may already have

Here is the original image we will work with. I chose it because we have a lot of different colors from Blue to Yellow to Green to Brown and also White, Black and Gray itself. I believe the true test of a good black and white conversion is how well the brightness of a color transfers to the brightness of a tone. Sometimes we want to shift that for effect or pop but usually we want the tonal balance to remain from before to after the conversion. I’ll talk a little further about this later

Continue reading »

Follow up on ” What to Focus on”

In response to the article on “What to Focus on – Hyperfocal Distance and more

Dunne W asked the question: “What would you recommend when you want place you focus for the Hyperfocal point in the scene, but also a Good Midtone for metering for our HDR’s. I guess what if a midtone is not in the area of the Hyperfocal area?”

Which really is a great question because depending on what Focus mode you are in, The focus point used may also be the point used for the camera’s metering.

Now if you are shooting in manual exposure mode. This really isn’t too big of a problem. Simply before you lock your camera into the tripod. get a 0 metering point from your scene ( as Duane says a midtone) remember that shutter speed and then work to each side from there. ( Quick tip if you don’t want to do the math of what the shutter speeds  you need to shoot at for your exposures, do this. Set your 0 exposure shutter speed and then for your next exposure count the clicks of the exposure wheel, 3 for each stop you want, 6 if you were doing 2 stops. No need to even look in the viewfinder)

This really is a more important question if you are doing Automatic Exposure bracketing in Aperture Priority mode. Because establishing a correct 0 exposure will ensure that those exposures that are bracketed around that o point are correct as I talked about in this post.

But the truth is these are two separate steps because when we use Hyperfocal Distance. It is best done ( as maybe I should have explained) with the Autofocus turned off . Using the Distance Scale on our lens (which hopefully your new lens still has , not all do) we set it for the hyperfocal distance and then turn off Auto-Focus. In fact turning off Auto Focus while shooting an HDR is actually really important for two reasons. One, because we want the focus point to stay constant in each exposure we shoot. And also when  we focus at a distance as opposed to close up, the zoom and  framing of the images changes ever so slightly, not a lot but it is noticeable if you take two shots on a tripod a different focal points and  switch between the two. Both things lead to loss of sharpness in our final image.
 
Anyway, getting back to Duane’s question. So now that you have locked  focus, you need to worry about locking exposure and depending on which focus mode you are in (even though the AF on your lens is turned off) But if you are in Matrix or Evaluative focus mode (Nikon/Canon) the focus point selected is where you meter is biased towards. In all other modes, Spot, Centerpoint average etc. The meter is biased towards the center of your focus screen. So wherever that is pointed is where it is going to get it’s 0 reading from regardless of where you may have focused.
 
We can correct for this by:
  • Adjusted our exposure manually as I stated earlier
  • Using the exposure lock button on our camera. Unfortunately, this only stays active for 5 seconds if you take your finger off the shutter release. So even if you lock it, if you don’t take the image within 5 seconds it will re-meter the scene
  • Use Exposure compensation along with Exposure Bracketing,  Which is something I do very often.

You can use Exposure Compensation by either just figuring it out mathematically. The sky where I am pointed at is 1/400 and my midtone is 1/100 therefore I need to set -2 stops EC. Or you can let the camera do the thinking, Point it at your midtone and get a reading and then put the camera in shooting position and adjust the compensation till you get the same reading you did when pointed at the mid-tone.

Of course EC is usually limited to 2 stop +-, so if it is really far off between the two areas. It’s always best to just resort to manual exposure

 

Hope that helps

 

PT

What to focus on – Hyperfocal Distance and more

 Reader and fellow photographer Duane W. Asked “Can you explain Hyper focal distance and where and how should I actually focus?

Now this really isn’t a HDR question per say but it is a very relevant one since a good portion of HDRs are landscapes or objects that we may need a very deep depth of field for. In fact shallow DOF images are not really that great but of course there are exceptions.

Depth of Field

So let’s examine how to get the maximum Depth of field and also how and what should be our subject of focus.

First lets go over what makes up Depth of Field (DOF from here out) DOF is determined by: Aperture, Focal Length and Distance to subject. The smaller the aperture, (higher the f/number) the deeper the DOF. The wider the focal length, the deeper the DOF, The farther away you are from the subject, the deeper the DOF (Of course in all cases the opposite is true.)

So for the most part, a good amount of all landscapes and HDR of architecture or objects are shot with wide angle lenses. So we’ll take that part as a given. The distance to subject can vary greatly. So that leaves Aperture and you may think, well for the deepest DOF, I’ll just crank it down to the smallest aperture I have.

Well, that would be wrong. The problem being; Diffraction. Diffraction causes loss of sharpness in our image and it comes from using too small an aperture. Some is good, more isn’t better. Now there is a long and involved story behind it but I will let you Google that part. But I’ll just say that it is dependant on your sensor size on how far you can go. For a Full Frame DSLR, you should Max out at about f/16, for a crop sensor DSLR, about f/11 and for point and shoot camera, about f/8. Can you go more? Yeah you can get away with it sometimes and sometimes you need to when you are trying for long shutter speeds for the image. But the above guidelines are pretty good.

So now that we know how to get a deep depth of field, let’s look at focusing techniques that best take advantage of that.

Focus

All too often when people take Landscape images they just focus on the distant horizon or “Infinity” on our camera’s focusing scale. And that may be fine. But sometimes that is the last place we want to focus. It really depends on the composition of our image and the element within that image.

Let me give you one piece of advice, This way you can sleep at night, not toss and turn and worry about one more thing. If your subject of the image is the mountain range or the lake or the sunset over the ocean and there is no subject in the foreground. Focus at infinity…done.

But, if you take the advice that I offer in my …See class, “Always have a subject in the foreground and leading lines to your background”, well, now you have something to think about.

Hyperfocal Distance

Hyperfocal Distance is a distance to focus on, based on Focal Length and Aperture that will have the maximum DOF possible with that lens at those setting. When focused at the Hyperfocal Distance, your DOF will extend from ½ the Hyperfocal Distance all the way to infinity.

“But I stink at math how can I figure out Hyperfocal Distance?” Well luckily there are many charts and programs and website to do that math for you. On the web you can go to dofmasters.com and right there you can plug in your camera, focal length and aperture and not only will it give you the Hyperfocal distance. You can also use it to figure out DOF for other shooting situations.

But of course you don’t always have your computer around when you are out shooting. Well then do what I do, get a DOF ap for your smart phone. Check the ap store for your particular phone for DOF calculators and I’m sure you will find one no problem. The good thing about an ap on your phone rather then just using a website on your phone is even if you are in remote locations away from any signal, your ap will work.

Focus in Practice

Let’s take look at how this all works in practice.

Equipment used for this test was a Full Frame Canon 5D Camera along with a Canon 17-40 4.0 L Lens set to 17mm. All shots were taken at f/16  1/100 ISO 100

In the first example the Pencil cup was placed at the Hyperfocal distance of our lens and aperture setting. The Hyperfocal distance in this case was 2 feet. 

With the lens focused at 2 feet, our image is in the field of acceptable focus from 1 foot (half the Hyperfocal distance) all the way to infinity. The pencil can is sharp and if we look at the zoom you can see that the 12 Inch mark is clear. If we look at the background we can see that it falls well within the field of acceptable focus (remember that the point of focus is the only part that is perfectly sharp) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now lets move the cup closer to the camera, in fact let’s make it extreme and place it at the minimum focus distance of the  Canon 17-40L lens: .75’

Placing the focus on the Pencil Can, We can see the can is perfectly sharp. The distant background is now slightly out of focus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting the focus at the Hyperfocal distance, the background now comes into the field of focus and the pencil can looses some of its focus.

 

Placing the focus at infinity is the worst scenario and with the background in focus but no sharpness or focus whatsoever on the pencil can, our subject.

 

 

 

 

 

So here is where you need to make a decision. For me, I would place focus on the subject itself.  Because of the size and scale of the subject in the overall image, I want that totally sharp and would give up a little of the background focus

Making the decision

Here are some Guidelines to help you make that decision.

  • If your subject is in the background and no items of interest in the foreground: Focus at infinity done, sleep at night.
  • If you have a foreground subject but not one clearly defined subject, focus at the Hyperfocal distance
  • If you have a clearly defined foreground subject that is at or closer to the camera than the Hyperfocal distance, focus ON the subject.
  • If the composition and scale allows, place your subject at the hyperfocal distance. Best of all worlds

Here are some examples of when you would use what.

In this case with a clear and difined subject that was closer than my hyperfocal distance, I chose to focus on the subject, the tennis ball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this image I have a foreground subject but it isn’t a single subject or point and I need the maximum depth of field. So I focused at the hyperfocal distance. Which in this case was on a 1.6X crop camera, 10mm Lens, f/20 and the hyperfocal distance was 11 inches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focus Stacking

Ok, so we are done right? Almost, what if I have tried everything and becauee of the combinations of focal length and distance to subject and aperture I just can’t get that deep deep DOF I need! Am I out of luck? Nope, your last ditch effort is: Focus Stacking.

Focus stacking is something that is done often with Macro photography. Because of the close distnace to subject and focal length used the total DOF is often in mm. So people will use sophisticated programs to stack images shot at different focus distance to blend into a single image with greater DOF. Well we don’t need to get that compliacted and we can take just two images, One focused on our subject and one focus at our background and blend those tow together using layer masks just like I showed you for adding adjustment layer masks.

This image was done just that way because I wanted to clouds and the mountain behind the poppy field to be in better total focus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope that helps,

PT