Archive for the 'Lightroom' Category



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.

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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).

03
Sep
10

9/3/2010: Cadillac Mountain

On the way back from dropping daughter #3 off at College, we stopped for the afternoon and night in Bar Harbor…mostly to see daughter #1 and #2. Daughter #1 lives there, and daughter #2 is working there in Acadia National Park for the summer. No visit to Acadia, of course, is complete without a drive to the top of Mt. Cadillac. Even though we only had a few hours there, after a hike around Jordan Pond (also a must as far as I am concerned), we drove to the summit on the way back to Bar Harbor and dinner. It was not a pristine day…there was a good deal of haze over the ocean, but the late afternoon/early evening light was interesting on the stone of the peak.

This is an HDR using two exposures and Photomatix Lite. In realty I am not sure I gained much through the two exposures. I am pretty sure I could have adjusted a single exposure in Lightroom for close to this effect. Still, the tone-mapping for detail in Photomatix certainly brought up all the character in the foreground rocks, and I am certain I could not have pulled up the greens in the trees to this level. The greens have always frustrated me in shots from Cadillac, since exposing for rock and sky always leaves the greens running toward black. Keeping the greens vibrant gives this shot three strong layers instead of two. This is good.

Canon SX20IS at 28mm equivalent. Two shots separated by 3 EV using the Exposure Compensation dial.

Photomatix as above. Adjusted for Blackpoint, Clarity, Vibrance, and Sharpness in Lightroom.

From Acadia 2010.

02
Sep
10

9/2/2010: Fox Pond, Maine

And so we leave rainy Germany and merry old England (also rainy) for perhaps another year, and return to home and Maine. Last weekend I drove my daughter to her first days of college in Machais, and, on the way back to Bar Harbor, where we planned to spend the night, my TomTom (on the iPhone) took me a shortcut across the mountains inland from US Route 1 and the coast. The sign as you turn on Route 182 says it is a Maine Scenic Byway, and it is indeed. The road climbs through the low coastal mountains, up and down, past streams and lakes and ponds. It was a glorious day. Good job TomTom! The only complaint I have about this shortcut is that it was, considering the wonderful scenery, too short!

This is Fox Pond, about 2/3rds of the way between the two ends of the loop of US 1 that 182 cuts off. A low angle shot with the SX20IS flip out LCD to get the water hyacinth in frame.

I used a single image tone-mapping in Photomatix to give it an HDR effect, before bringing it into Lightroom for final adjustments of Exposure, Blackpoint, Clarity, and Sharpen. I also had to straighten it a bit.

Canon SX20IS @ 28mm equivalent @ f8 @ 1/400th @ ISO 80. Aperture preferred so I could use a small f-stop for depth of field. The hyacinth was barely a foot away.

From Machias 2010.

06
Jul
10

7/6/2010

Mousam Mouth

Just a gentle landscape shot, out across the marshes toward the mouth of the Mousam River…a rarity for the cost of southern Maine these days in that it is a unprotected river mouth…no jetty…therefore one of the last wild, unmanaged beaches.

This is a good example of what a little help from Lightroom can do for a landscape. The original…

Seascapeorg

has potential but is overall rather dull. Applying my normal processing…Recovery for the sky, touch of Fill Light, Blackpoint to the right,  added Clarity and Vibrance, and sharpening…improves the sky but leaves the foreground too dark and still dull…maybe duller since the highlights are stripped from the grasses as well.

This is when I resort to Lr’s graduated filter effects.

Drawing one down from the top across the sky and well into the landscape, I am able to reduce some Brightness, and add additional Clarity and and a bit of Contrast to bring up detail in the clouds. Then, drawing a graduated filter up from the bottom about 2/3rs of the frame, I am able to add Brightness, increase Clarity and Contrast, to bring out both the color and the detail in the foreground. I call it the dualing GrFilter effect. Finally, since the midground right along the horizon was left a little dark, I went in with the Local Adjustment Brush in Lightroom and defined a brush that was mostly feather…then drew an area along the horizon and added Brightness and Clarity. The result is a far different image…but arguably one closer to what the eye sees, rather than what the sensor captures. Mind you, Lr does not add anything to what the sensor caught…it just remaps the tones to a closer approximation of the visual. In that sense, the sensor and the camera did a great job of capturing the scene…since all the information needed to post-process was in the file!

Note that I am working from the jpeg file, and even with the limitations of jpeg, a lot is still possible in Lr.

From Around Home 2010.

30
Apr
10

4/30/2010

Ancient Dunes: Live Oak/Palmetto Forest

Once upon a time the ocean levels along the Florida coast were considerably higher. When they receded they left a pattern of ancient dunes well inland. Over time, vegetation conquered the sand, mostly Live Oak, Bay Tree, Palmetto, and in the troughs between the dunes, Cabbage Palm and Slash Pine. You see this habitat at Ft. Matanzas National Monument and, as pictured here, at Anastasia State Park (among a host of other spots). Add the inevitable Resurrection Fern and Spanish Moss and you have a truly tropical look.

In a shot like this, for me, it is the variety of shapes and textures that capture my eye…and, of course, the way the light plays over it all. I have taken more than a few shots on every visit to this kind of habitat. They rarely work. This one, I think, manages to hang together and capture something of the experience of being there.

One of the limiting factors in these shots is always exposure. It is very difficult to capture the range of light…from sky visible between trees, to the shadows under dense vegetation. I make no claim to special skills in this area. I have come to trust the auto exposure in most modern compact digital cameras to do a better job of balancing exposure than I could…at least getting it close enough so that the image can be post-processed to bring both highlights and shadows back in range. The SX20 on Landscape program certainly handled it well, with enough balance so that a little extra work in Lightroom brought it up to something quite close to the naked eye impression.

Canon SX20IS at about 48mm equivalent. F3.5 @ 1/80th @ ISO 80. Landscape program.

In Lightroom, fairly heavy Recovery for the backdrop of skylight. A touch of Fill Light for the foreground shadows. Blackpoint slightly right. Added Clarity and a smidge of Vibrance. Sharpen landscape preset.

From St. Augustine FL 2010.