28 Oct 13. As most all of you are probably aware, I intentionally refrain from indicating which software programs I use, but I'm making an exception for today. My reasons for not indicating what I use is that a) I'm not in the business of free advertising, and b) I don't want to suggest that any specific software will allow you to just load it and it will do everything for you. So doing can lead to erroneous expectations. Like when we purchased an exercise machine that claimed it would make us fit again; we bought it years ago, we still have and look at it daily, but so far no personal (positive) changes are obvious. Today I'm going to make an exception based on my experience over the weekend. Now those of you who come from a UNIX background will immediately identify with the philosophy of using many programs, all of which do one thing very well, employing each to accomplish something better than all the rest, then passing its output to the next program to do likewise until the final product, in this case an image, is complete. This is in contrast to the current thought, by the big corporation folks, that one product should do it all and that their product is the only answer. Some even going so far now as to no longer license you their product but rather force you to purchase its use on a monthly basis and keep track of everything you do in their corporate servers! I've mentioned before that I use a number of different programs, each of which allows me to do something better with it than I can with a competitor program. Last Thursday we took a trip over the mountains to eastern Washington as I mentioned in Friday's missive. The primary goal of that trip was to shoot fall color and the secondary goal some shopping. While the secondary goal was accomplished without any doubt, the primary goal appeared to have been for naught when I downloaded all the images and viewed them on my calibrated monitors. They appeared, in short, awful. That was a real shocker and a big disappointment for me. Looking over all the EXIF data (complete information on all the camera settings) on the captures I could find nothing to explain the disastrous results. That's when I started looking at all the images with each of the several programs I have. The result of that exercise was to realize that a couple of my least expensive programs out performed the others by more than an order of magnitude, and that the big names paled by comparison. So I tired a few combinations of approach and realized that one combination in particular was able to pull out information, and use it, far beyond the abilities of all the other programs. So based on the experience of this weekend, I thought I'd share what I learned with the idea that some of you might be interested. The two programs that combined together rendered the significantly improved output both have 30 day trial versions should you be interested in trying something new. However, IF you are satisfied with the software you currently employ, stop here, and just take a peek at today's submission. I always begin by looking at my images with a program called FSViewer which I've discussed many times before. I use that program to now load the image of interest, like that for today, into a program called DxO Optics Pro (enhancement software), the current version of which, just released, is 9. The output from that program is then loaded into Qimage (printing software) the current version of which is 2014.121, tweaked for output for both printing and viewing (web and screen), and saved as a tiff file. If I then need to do something clever to it, it goes into either photoFXlab about which I've written before or the onOne Suite 8. The combined cost of these programs is less than the cost of one of the big names, and they are capable of far better results. Should you be interested in any of these, the blue links will take you to their respective web pages. All of these programs will require that you invest some time in them to maximize their potential, but it is time well spent. I'm still learning both, but find the time commitment well worth it! And that concludes my discussion of workflow, likely the only time you'll ever hear this stuff from me. The image you see today, created in this fashion, is one from the Thursday trip that, when initially viewed, looked, for the most part, hopeless. It is part of a hillside that was mostly evergreens, but with this patch of color just sorta sitting around hoping you might take notice. The lighting was very harsh, and the original image pretty much washed out. You can decide for yourself if in fact there was/is something there of beauty. I'm not including any step by step instructions for this image as I wasn't recording any while creating it since I was just playing with the software. Nikon D300s; 18 - 200; Aperture Priority; ISO 200; 1/100 sec @ f /11.
29 Oct 13. Continuing along the Highway to the Sun, still being chased and frequently overrun by fog, we came to the area just about a mile west of the visitor's center where we saw all the mountain goats on our previous visit a few years back. No goats this time however, actually, no animals at all, but lots of moisture floating around in the air and a light frosting of fresh snow on the mountain from the previous night. Since there was nothing more than rock and water, I thought I'd play with the clouds as they played hide & seek with the rocks. It was a rather interesting show as the mounds of granite would appear for a few seconds, disappear behind the clouds, only to reappear again to repeat the sequence; on and on and on. After about 30 minutes of trying to capture what I was observing in a different fashion, and not succeeding, we moved on to the visitors center to have a look at what might be presenting itself in the meadows beyond. Starting with the base image, I added a little enhancement to the clouds, removed some unwanted side effects caused by the enhancement, converted the image to B & W, and finally made a global contrast adjustment to get the exact balance I wanted in the shadows (black) and highlights (white). Nikon D300s; 18 - 200; Aperture Priority; ISO 200; 1/320 @ f /11.
30 Oct 13. For those of you familiar with Glacier National Park, today's submission was taken just beyond the viewing site for the 492 foot high Bird Woman Falls. I shot it standing in the road, so the road would be just below the bottom of the image. There was a very small portion of the road in the LRH corner, but it was more distracting than it was providing helpful information, so I loped it off. The clouds were really rolling up the mountainside, putting on quite a show, so we stopped and shot for perhaps 30 minutes in this particular location. Apparently a lot of others were also enjoying the show, because at times the parking area was overflowing. The color we had come to shoot was just barely beginning to show, so I've "cheated" a wee bit and enhanced it to what it might have been, and likely was, about a week to 10 days later. One of the most attractive aspects of this park for my taste would be the rock formations, be they pebbles or mountains. There is so much red, in various shades, in these rocks that one is hard pressed not to be spending a goodly amount of time just looking at them. Take a good look at this image to get an idea of what I mean. There is more color than you might realize with just a quick look-see. Since Wednesday is the day I'm supposed to try for something fine art, my approach for this image was to try and make the clouds "active." Slide back from your screen a few feet and perhaps you will get the feel that they are moving outward towards you, and they were us when I took the shot. Here is how I did this. Starting with the base image, I began by cropping out extraneous material, then did some global contrast adjustments. Then I performed some rather strong detail enhancement to the clouds and to a lessor degree the rocks. That effort was where I tried to make the clouds seem real. Next I did a slight red increase as I mentioned earlier, followed by a creative layer addition which was reduced in opacity to just 37% of the creative effort. Then I added a noise removal layer which was applied only to the clouds again to help make them jump out. And then finalized it as I do all the images for sharing. Nikon D300s; 18 - 20; Aperture Priority; ISO 200; 1/80 sec @ f /16.