Archive for the 'Lightroom' Category

22
Feb
11

2/22/2011: Flood Tide on the Mousam HDR 1

While I am not done with the digiscoped birds from Merritt Island, I, for one, need a break. Yesterday morning we had fresh snow, and as the front passed away out to sea in the afternoon, some spectacular skies. Add as high a flood tide as I have ever seen along the coast here and you have the makings of some HDR landscapes, or sea-scapes, or river-scapes…some-scape with a lot of water and sky.

This image walks a fine line, to my eye, between natural and over-the-top. It presents a reality that is there, but that, without the emphasis of HDR and tone-mapping, many people would not see. It is the reality a painter records when painting such a landscape…an image built up in the mind over time, as the details and the colors catch the attention one by one, as the shadows and reflections on the water burn in to the awareness. It is not what you see at a glance or in the moment, and therefore perhaps strikes the eye as not strictly photographic. It is something between a painting and a photograph. I don’t, in fact, know if any such space exists, and, even in my own mind, the jury is still out on HDR and tone-mapping…but I do know that I like this image. I like the drama of it…the vivid world it portrays…the intensity. It is just so alive on an lcd monitor, with the light behind it. I like it.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent field of view. Three exposures centered around –2/3 EV, assembled and tone-mapped in Photomatix, final processing for intensity and clarity in Lightroom. Some distortion control and a bit of noise reduction (generally needed in HDR) as well.

15
Feb
11

2/15/2011: Red-shouldered Hawk (im)

It is often windy at Merritt Island NWR, and that can make digiscoping, with its particularly high effective magnifications, very difficult. This shot from late afternoon when the wind was well up, and the bird was 150 yards across a water channel, shows the effects. Being in tree that caught the wind and bounded around even more did not help. Even though the shutter speed was a 500th of a second, The shot is not critically sharp, and required extra processing for sharpness and clarity to approach acceptable. Still, it is a nice bird: an immature Red-shouldered hawk of the light Florida variety. 

Increasing magnification only makes matters worse:

In this shot you can see a clear indication of the problem in the eye-light: notice that it is a vertical line, not a dot. That means that the bird was in motion when the shutter opened…or in this case that the whole tree was in motion.

Still…it is a nice bird.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario Eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL spotting scope. 1) 2700mm equivalent field of view, 1/500th @ ISO 125, 2) 4000mm equivalent field of view, 1/320th @ ISO 125.

My standard processing in Lightroom for clarity and sharpness, but then both were selectively sharpened, clarified, and contrast boosted around the head and eye using the selective brush tool. The whole image got Fill-light, Blackpoint adjustment, and Contrast boost…and then I backed off the Vibrance slightly to tame the yellow highlights. And still…it is a nice bird is about all I can say.

27
Nov
10

11/27/2010: Rachel Carson Merriland River

Thanksgiving day morning at Rachel Carson NWR. We are blessed to have RCNW all around us here in Kennebunk, and the headquarters, with its classic little nature trail,  just down the road. I have photographed this view in all seasons, all weathers, and all light…so far…I am sure it still has a lot to show me.

This is the season in Maine between foliage and snow. It has a subtle beauty that is easy to miss, and a kind of dull day, light wise, makes it even more subtle.

HDR opens new options for this view, in particular, as the foreground trees are other wise hard to capture in any detail. In fact, this HDR is one of my most satisfying renderings of the view to date…in a quiet way…from the quietly interesting sky to the gentle tones and textures of the marsh, to the subtly detailed textures of the tree bark right in front.

This is HDR at its most subtle and unobtrusive. Certainly in keeping with the season.

Three exposure HDR with the Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent, autobracketed 1EV either side of –2/3 EV set with exposure compensation. Assembled and tone-mapped in Photomatix, processed for intensity in Lightroom. (Check out my recent piece on P&S Landscape on HDR and Photomatix Light under the Photomatix link.)

04
Nov
10

11/4/2010: Cape May Point pond reflections

Just a week ago in Cape May NJ: The front approaching that pushed all the birds in on Friday and Saturday. The main pond at Cape May Point State Park, from the boardwalk behind the Hawk Watch platform. There were birds aplenty and I was there to digiscope, but that does not mean I turn a blind eye to the other splendors nature has to offer. Interesting sky, eye-catching fall foliage, interesting reflections, interesting water, for many layers of interest.

This is a three exposure HDR using auto-bracket on the Canon SX20IS, with the center of the bracket range shifted down 2/3 EV using exposure compensation. ISO 125 at the wide angle (28mm equivalent) setting.

Blended and tone-mapped in Photomatix. Processed with a bit of Fill Light, Blackpoint right, added Clarity and some Vibrance, and Sharpen narrow edges preset in Lightroom.

31
Oct
10

10/31/2010: Cape May Sunrise hdr Panorama

Happy Sunday!

Looking east from the sundeck of the Montreal Inn in Cape May a few moments before sunrise, yesterday.

Sunrises, I think, touch a special place in the soul, and, of course there is noting like a sunrise over the ocean where you can see right out to the edge of the world. On a morning like this, even if just for a second there, it takes a hard heart indeed…or one deeply troubled, beaten well down…not to embrace the cliché: every new day is a miracle. It is easy for the hopeful to take such beauty at the beginning as a promise of the potential of the day. And, of course, part of the wonder comes from the fact that every sunrise is not so spectacular. Our lives don’t always allow us to see the sunrise at all, and there are days when the sun just sneaks up behind clouds (literal or figurative) with no display (or none we can see). So we have reason to celebrate the moments like this one. The moment itself is a gift from the creator, and so is the ability to appreciate it.

On the technical side, this is a 9 exposure HDR panorama: 3 sets of 3 exposures blended and tone-mapped in Photomatix, the results stitched in PhotoShop Elements, and the the panorama final processed in Lightroom. Best viewed as large as your monitor will take it.

17
Oct
10

10/17/2010: Autumn marsh pools

Happy Sunday!

You have seen variations of this scene before. This little stretch of old rail bed, known as the Bridle Path for some reason, that runs through a isolated patch of Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge (Rachel Carson is one of the most fragmented NWRs) between Route 9 and the ocean along the lower Mousam River in Kennebunk Maine (to be precise), never fails to turn up something of interest. I digiscoped a lot of birds and chipmunks there this summer, found my first Wood Lily and Wood Nymph, and this fall this particular view over the marsh pools toward the trees and houses along route 9 has often been interesting. See 9/23/2010: hdr marsh pool panorama or 9/13/2010: marsh mirror sky. Here the fall weeds in the foreground add yet another layer to a layered landscape, and a 3 exposure HDR treatment captures an unusual range of light and shadow to render the scene very close that what the eye actually sees (at least the eye of a painter). HDR skies are dramatic, but its ability to maintain detail in the shadows of the foreground and to pull full color out of the the fall foliage is what makes it worth the effort in this image.

Being Sunday, I return to how fruitful this particular little patch of out of the way ground has been for me this year…how often I have have been blessed (given an unexpected and underserved gift) there, and how often I have been blissed (opened to the joy of contact with the creator through creation). In many ways this has been my church this year, from late winter to deep fall, just as much as the building with the steeple down the road, and my moments of worship there have been just as vital to me, though solitary. I am thankful. In so many ways.

Smile

Technically, this is a 3 exposure HDR at 28mm equivalent on the Canon SX20IS, using auto-bracket with the center of the range shifted down 2/3s EV. Exposures blended in Photomatix and final processing (including a bit of distortion control which was needed because of the odd angle of the lens to the landscape) in Lightroom.

10
Oct
10

10/10/2010: old falls pond fall Hdr

Happy Sunday!

Old Falls Pond in West Kennebunk Maine is one of my favorite autumn color spots. It is across the road from Old Falls itself, which is my other most favorite autumn color spot. My most visited, most awarded, highest rated photo on flickr is a shot of this pond from several autumns ago. That was before I started working with HDR, and, though the leaves were not yet at peak, I took a run out last Sunday to see how it looked. (I am writing this from Jekyll Island GA, where I have spent every Columbus Day weekend for the past 8 years (work), so I never do see the traditional peak foliage in Maine.) Still, Old Falls Pond was looking pretty good, and with a sky that just begged for HDR treatment.

The low angle (camera almost touching the water), the floating leaves, the way the light runs on the  ripples on the water, the glimpse of the bottom through the foreground, the foliage itself, and the sky overall with its strong diagonal slant…this image has enough going on to overcome the otherwise rather static composition. I did experiment with cropping out part of the sky to “improve” composition, but I like the full shot better.

Three shots with the Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent, auto bracketed, with the –2/3s EV exposure compensation. Exposure was blended and tonemapped in Photomatix, and the resulting image was processed in Lightroom using Fill Light, Blackpoint, Clarity and Vibrance, and the Sharpen narrow edges preset. Finally I applied a Graduated Filter Effect to the lower third of the image, reducing brightness slightly, which had the effect of making the water more transparent, for that hint of bottom.

Which goes to show you, I think, that if you are at your peak, in tune with the creative spirit inside, the foliage does not have to be!

30
Sep
10

9/30/2010: Fog on the Cliffs of Quoddy Head

Fog is difficult to photograph, since the scattered light within the fog itself makes it photographically bright, though it has the opposite effect to the natural eye. A bank of fog almost always comes out as a white indistinct mass in an image. If you expose for the fog, to keep it natural, then the landscape under it goes dark and muddy. Seems like an ideal situation for HDR…kind of. I tried several shots on the cliffs of Quoddy Head to test the effect. As always with HDR, I’d have done better with a tripod…especially as the base exposures all had show shutter speeds due to the overall low level of the light. I did get a few shots that worked though, like the one above.

A secondary problem, if you go the HDR route, is Photomatix’s inability to blend exposures where fine detail masks an open sky…trees against the sky are particularly difficult for the app…and you almost always get a light halo around limbs and leaves where the lighter exposure shows through. Changing the smoothing setting can help in making this less obvious but in this image it still shows somewhat in the trees in the upper right.

The other way to work the fog is to use Revovery and Fill Light in Lightroom, along with some filter trickery. This shot is not HDR, but I was able to extend the range and keep the fog semi-transparent, by using heavy Recovery, which reduces the highlights in an image without effecting the rest of the tones. Fill Light for the foreground allows me to move the Blackpoint right to increase color depth and contrast. Finally, in this case, the fog in the upper left corner was totally blown out and distractingly white…so I went in with a Local Adjustment Brush, set large with maximum feather, and brushed in an adjustment area in that corner. I used to to reduce exposure and brightness selectively there, producing a more natural grey where it was white. If the area had not been so oddly shaped I would have just used a Graduated Filter Effect pulled down from that corner, but LAB worked better for this image.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent.

From Quoddy Head and Lubec ME.

26
Sep
10

9/26/2010: Orange River Marsh

Happy Sunday!

I am in Machias Maine this morning, having brought daughter #4 up to visit daughter #3 at college on Home Coming weekend. Yesterday, despite heavy fog over the coast, I drove up to Quoddy Head State Park to explore and to see what I could find to photograph. On the way up, while still on Route 1, I passed an Atlantic Coast Conservancy pull off for Reynolds Marsh, and a few seconds later crossed the marsh (or river…it is the Orange River) itself. It looked so promising that I had to turn around and go back.

It was actually raining lightly when I got out of the car, and I had to work with one hand covering the controls of the camera all the time, and trust to my lens shade to keep water off the lens. There was a short walk down through the woods to the marsh, and I no more than stepped beneath trees than two Ruffed Grouse shot up in front of me and beat away among the spruce. The trail led to a canoe launch on the edge of the marsh.

The challenge with fog is getting enough light on the foreground so it looks natural without turning the fog into a bright white nimbus that blanks out the top 2/3rs of the image. And of course it is the contrast between the saturated wet colors close by, particularly rich in the diffuse light, and the grey encroaching atmosphere, that makes a foggy morning so interesting photographically.

I tried a few three exposure HDRs, and I am pretty happy with the results. I find that, using Photomtix for the HDRs, I still have to envision what I will be able to do with the image in Lightroom, and adjust the tone mapping in Photomatix with that in mind.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent. Three exposures separated by 2EV with the center of the range moved down –2/3EV using exposure compensation. ISO 125.

Photomatix tone-mapping, and then a bit more Recovery in Lightroom, some Fill Light, and the Blackpoint moved right…added Clarity and Vibrance, and Sharpen narrow edges preset.

And, being Sunday, I think about the parable potential of the image as well…

The fog that obscures the distance (future?), should not lessen your enjoyment of the rich saturated colors of your life close at hand…and, in fact, the contrast is, often, what makes life interesting. Or so say I.

One more from the foggy marsh. This one is not an HDR, but I was able to balance the exposure using Recovery and Fill Light in Lightroom. Taken in wide (16/9) mode.

23
Sep
10

9/23/2010: HDR Marsh Pool Panorama

This is another experiment in HDR Panorama…and this time I had a tripod with me! It does make it easier, and, despite the lack of a true panoramic head, I am pleased with the results. I especially like the rendering of the sun on the pines at either side, which would have been quite impossible without the HDR treatment.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent. 9 exposures in bracketed sets of 3. All at ISO 80 and Programmed Auto. Bracketed 2 stops, with the center exposure moved down 2/3EV via exposure compensation.

Each set of 3 was blended in Photomatix, using tone mapping. In this case the smoothing had to be adjusted to a minimize the light sky band along the tree line. The 3 HDRs were then taken in to PhotoShop Elements 7’s Panorama engine, where they were automatically combined. I also a darken brush along the tree line to smooth the sky line a bit more. Finally, the image was saved as a PhotoShop file and taken into Lightroom, where some Recovery was applied for the sky, added Clarity and just a bit of Vibrance, and the Sharpen narrow edges preset. I also used the selective luminance tool to intensify the little bit of fall color in the tree line and bushes on the left. This is a LOT more processing than I generally apply to any image, but perhaps, if you view the Pano at larger sizes on my SmugMug site it was worth it (click the image above, or here, and use the size controls at the top of the window…though it should auto size to your monitor).