Monthly Archives: January 2008

Take a Moment and Give Me Some Love

OK, this is totally off topic and completely self-promotional. But hey, somebody’s gotta do it.

With the social photography project running right now, I just got to thinking about some of these networks and how they can be used to support your favorite bloggers. If you’re anything like me, you probably have a few social networks (and blogging networks if you’re a blogger) that you utilize from time to time. But also if you’re anything like me, you might forget to show your favorite sites and bloggers some love — not just the posts or articles, but the root site and the authors themselves.

WHAT AM I GETTING AT?

I guess what I’m saying is that I DO appreciate it when you guys share the love and help boost the authority of the blog. A higher authority can lead to more visitors, which can lead to more great community members, which can lead to more great discussions, which can lead to more interesting article ideas, which can lead to a higher level of enjoyment on your end. So you see, it’s really more about you than it is about me. I rarely, if ever, push this self-promotional stuff on anyone, so here’s my entitled once-a-year “give me some love” reminder for those of you involved with the following networks.

I heart FeedBurner

First and foremost, if you haven’t already subscribed to the feed and you use a feed reader, DO IT NOW. We bloggers love to see those subscriber numbers increase, plus it’s a great way for you to keep up with the daily happenings here on the blog.

StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon is my favorite network. For those who use it, I don’t need to tell you how great it really is. For those of you who don’t, what the heck are you waiting for? If you’re on the network and if you like this blog, don’t forget to give a thumbs-up to my home page (and review it if you’re feeling extra giving) and a thumbs-up on my StumbleUpon profile (also open for reviews).

Also for you stumblers, if you’ve added me as a friend you can jump on your home page and use the “Share this page with friends” option to remind me to consider your site for a thumbs-up. I can’t guarantee I’ll give it a vote, but if I like it and if I haven’t already done so I’ll give it a thumbs-up.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Technorati is kind of an interesting one… it’s more of a bloggers-only ranking thingy than a social network. But it does give you the ability to add other blogs to your “favorites” and I’m guessing that adds to their authority and ranking (but maybe not, I’m not sure). At any rate, it’s always nice to see that a fellow blogger likes this blog well enough to take the time and add it to their favorites list. So if you’re on Technorati and you like this blog, use the button above or head over to my Technorati page and click on the heart.

Join My Community at MyBloglog!

MyBlogLog is another bloggers-only group, but it’s a little different than Technorati. So again, if you’re on MyBlogLog and you like the site, head over to our community page to join in and don’t forget to stop by my author page and add me as a contact.

So that’s it folks — I won’t bother you with this silly stuff again until next year around the same time. We’ll get back to the standard photography-talk tomorrow.

What Percentage of Your Shots Are Worth Hanging?

Nobody shoots 100% on the ball, especially in the digital age. I’m sure we all have some percentage of our photos that are “keepers” — and by “keepers” I mean those shots that are worth saving and possibly showing somebody else. The digital Photography School Forum ran a “keepers” poll last week and the results show that a majority of photographers fall into the “less than 25%” category. But what about those photos that are really outstanding? You know, the ones that you’d hang on your wall… or better yet, the ones that somebody else would hang on their wall.

So honestly, how many of your shots turn out to be worthy of hanging? And as you gain experience, do you find that this percentage is increasing, decreasing, or staying the same?

What Percentage of Your Shots Are Worth Hanging?

Be sure to check out the results from the last poll on Color Space for Black and White Photos. It pretty much shows that we’re programmed to only use sRGB and Adobe RGB, even when working with grayscale images. Almost nobody uses grayscale color spaces, and a surprising amount of voters don’t know what a color space is. Well folks, it’s kind of a dry topic so it’s perfectly understandable.

Drag ‘n Drop Into Photoshop

Drag N Drop Cursor

There are several ways to open an image with Photoshop. One easy way is to grab the image file, drag it into Photoshop, and drop it into your workspace. This way you can skip the whole dialog box or the right click menu from within the OS. I know this works with Windows, but I’m unsure about this functionality with Mac users. The one hook to using this method is that you need to have Photoshop already up and running.

Another perk of this method is that you can place a new image into another image as a new layer. You just need to have one image already open in Photoshop, and you then drop it on the image rather than the Photoshop background. This is handy if you’re working on textured photos, composites, or graphics.

In addition to that, you can grab images from your web browser by clicking, dragging, and releasing into Photoshop. Then you don’t have to save the file to your computer before opening it.

PhotoDump 01-27-2007

Another great week of photos from the Epic Edits Flickr Pool! I split up the photophlow session into two time slots so we didn’t end up with a 4 or 5 hour session. The Wednesday gathering was great — we had 5 or 6 of us there at all times, and we had good participation from those in the room. Sunday wasn’t so great… nobody showed up. So needless to say, things went much quicker than usual. So the selection this week is 1/2 your picks and 1/2 my picks.

Sterne by kwerfeldeinAfter The Fall by Dave MacIntyreJade Bassix by Will Foster© Rex Lisman_071020_2742 by Rex Lisman PhotographyOriental Beauty by Boris TaratutinA Portrait of Well Used Shoes by Will FosterBuenos Aires, Argentina by tysonwilliams.comDreams of the End by Boris TaratutinStreet shooting with a Pentax 6x7: Ghost Train. by the_wolf_brigadeThe Next Time I Go Outside by Dave MacIntyreContemplating solace by eclectic?chubb by Phill PriceSoft Pedals by AIA GUY..Rwood by mathias.pastwaOf many by cmiperFaceoff. by the_wolf_brigadeincognito ? by wasabifishColor and Time by bbailey by A Cognitive State of MindDank smell and stale water by bassqeeFloat by hankfeverPilares by little_fosforoMan by javi yanesCora by gavinjensenextreme sports: mainboard walking by mathias.pastwaHeart of Stone_08-0119-001 by heyjules45Napie by Grom AirissBamboo Hats by M-u-z* by wasabifishAfterbars by ZachIsHere2008.01.20 - Espresso Cup001 by schaubadangerous by hankfever20080120_131908_StreetShake_and_Flower_D3_4568-3 by geopiratbeauty in the detail by Phill PriceWindows by jolomDunas Maspalomas (II) by little_fosforoFuture Heads @ Loughborough University Jan 08 - 03 by hitkaiser© Rex Lisman-8509_2 by Rex Lisman PhotographyCaught in the Distance by RobinPapatictactoe by IlletirresInfinity by homme de chevreFrost_08-0119-002 by heyjules45Cabbage Patch by BluTat2Pensando (II) by little_fosforo

Link Roundup 01-26-2008

  • PROJECT RESULTS: It Ain’t What You Got + Voting
    Neil Creek
    A great result for Neil’s first project — a collection of photos taken with less than optimal cameras. Check out the results and cast your vote for the best photos.
  • 15 unique stairs pictures
    All Day I Dream About Photography
    Great collection of photos all about stairs and staircases!
  • 17 Stunning Wide Angle Images
    digital Photography School
    Many digital photographers get a little obsessed by the ability that their zoom lenses give them to get in nice and close to their subjects. Here are some shots in the other direction.
  • 10 Curious Moments
    Sawse
    10 crazy photos from the history books — old photos (not Photoshopped) of curious moments captured of some curious performers.
  • New Blog: My GPS Camera Phone
    My GPS Camera Phone
    Cool new photography blog that’s all about camera phones! Interesting photos mixed in with some helpful articles… because sometimes, you just gotta put down that dSLR. Thanks for the tip-off Chica!
  • What It Takes to Get Your Photo on the Flickr Explore Page
    Photopreneur
    An examination of what it may take to get your photo featured on Flickr’s Explore page — but it’s still a bit of a mystery since none of us REALLY know the secrets.
  • The DIY Macro Rail
    DIYPhotography.net
    Make your own macro focusing rail with a simple vice and a few DIY mods. No, it’s not overkill.
  • Increase the Dynamic Range of a Single Image
    Paxton Prints
    Outline for a technique to double process a RAW file and merge the two together such that the resulting image has a much higher dynamic range than the original.
  • Video of the Week – Amazing, inspirational, educational, entertaining, captivating, and artistic. Great video about photographer Dan Schwartz on the topic of light graffiti — tips, techniques, AND great sample photos.

Calling All SoCal Photographers: Upcoming Photowalk in La Jolla

My buddy Bryan Villarin got in touch with me about putting together a San Diego Photowalk. After talking over a few ideas, we decided on a date, time, and general plan of attack. Here’s what we came up with:

WHERE: La Jolla, California


View Larger Map

WHEN: February 9th, 1PM

Show up a little early if you want some extra time to browse through the famous Joseph Bellows Gallery and get your fill of photographic inspiration.

WHY?

Why not? Photowalks are a great way to meet other local photographers, get inspired, and take home some great photos. So if you live in the Southern California area (especially you San Diegans), come hang out with us in scenic La Jolla. Here’s my write-up for the Upcoming.org event:

Meet us at the Joseph Bellows Gallery in La Jolla to start off a great afternoon of photowalking. We’ll use the gallery as a gathering place so we can browse the photographic art as we wait for everyone to arrive.

From there, we’ll walk down Girard Avenue for some street photography. At the end of Girard, there’s another gallery that we can optionally visit called Images of Nature by Thomas D. Mangelsen. We’ll then turn our attention to the busy sidewalks of Prospect Street as we make our way down toward the beach. Once near the water, we’ll explore La Jolla’s scenic shoreline and maybe even visit the tide pools if the tides are in our favor.

Seriously, if you live in Southern California and you don’t show up I’m going to be very disappointed. Besides, here’s what you’ll be missing if you don’t show up:

The images shown above are licensed under the Creative Commons.

Grand Cayman Fuel Depot

Grand Cayman Fuel Depot

Ryan Goodman | 11/03/2006 | Cayman Islands | 27mm * f/22 * 1/4s * ISO100
[Project Announcement at CameraPorn.net] [See it at Flickr]

This week’s photoblog is another special edition. The photo once again isn’t mine, but it’s one that I processed. Ryan Goodman ran a project asking his readers to revisit and retouch one of his photos. I’m a little late in getting around to doing the project, but the deadline is January 25 — so you still have a bit of time to get an entry in if you’re interested in participating.

I wanted to give this one a go with black & white, and after checking the sky on the underexposed version of this image I knew I wanted it to be kind of dark and looming. So here’s how I went about it.

Grand Cayman Fuel Depot Post-Processing

To see the original files, check Ryan’s project announcement page. The RAW files were all cropped and rotated as seen in my final output.

  • 0 EV Base Layer
    Processed in ACR for overall brightness, contrast, etc. This layer serves as a base layer to build upon.
  • -2 EV Composite Layer
    Again, processed in ACR. I masked out the layer and “painted in” the areas I wanted to darken via the mask. Then I set the blending mode to Multiply in order to help darken things up even more. I darkened the sky heavily, and the water a moderate amount — leaving the rocks and the fuel depot alone.
  • +2 EV Composite Layer
    Again, processed in ACR. Just like the previous layer, I masked out this layer and started “paining in” the areas I wanted to lighten via the mask. This one was all focused down in the water and rocks. Then I set the blending mode to Linear Light at 60% fill to add an interesting contrast look to the rocks.
  • Black and White Conversion
    Photoshop CS3′s Black and White adjustment layer set to “Red Filter”.
  • Curves Adjustment
    Fairly strong “S” curve to bring out the contrast.
  • Contrast Layer Blends
    Duplicated the output thus far twice. One layer was set to a Linear Dodge layer blend with 16% opacity and 70% fill (to lighten the highlights). The other layer was set to a Multiply layer blend at 10% opacity and 100% fill (to darken the shadows).
  • Sharpen
    Unsharp mask at 100%, 2.0 pixels, and a threshold of 1.

Enjoy!

Use ISO AUTO… Why Not?

ISO AUTO

I think I’ve gone through full-cycle with my preference for ISO settings on my camera. As a newbie, I primarily had the camera set to ISO AUTO because… well, it was just easier. As my skill level increased, so did my utilization of the camera controls. For some time now, I’ve been setting the ISO value manually while shooting in aperture priority mode. Manually keeping your ISO as low as possible is a great way to ensure high quality images, and I’m not disputing that it’s totally necessary with certain types of shooting.

But very recently, I went back to shooting ISO AUTO to evaluate the trade-offs between convenience and quality. What I found was that my camera limits the ISO value to 400 or lower when in AUTO mode. A comparison of an image shot with my camera at ISO 400 versus ISO 100 tells me that there are very subtle differences in quality, sometimes unrecognizable (especially with black and white conversions). But convenience alone isn’t the real reason I’ve gone back to ISO AUTO.

The camera sets itself to the lowest possible ISO value based on the lighting conditions — so with bright scenes, I’m still shooting at ISO 100. I also found that the camera won’t let the shutter speed fall below 1/60 seconds as long as it has enough room to bump the ISO value up to the next level. This is nice because it keeps me out of that 1/15 to 1/45 area, which most of us would still shoot at but is very prone to producing soft images. Another neat thing about ISO AUTO is that the camera will set the ISO value to things other than 100, 200, or 400. I noticed some of my low-light shots coming out at ISO 100, 125, 160, 200, 250, 320, and 400 — so it’s actually giving me a finer control over the exposure.

What do you guys think? Is ISO AUTO just for newbies, or is it actually useful for the skilled photographer too? I’m curious to hear how other cameras deal with ISO AUTO, so if you’ve messed around with it drop some insights into the comments.

Schedule for Photophlow Gatherings

photophlow badge

We’ve had a couple of photophlow get-togethers centered around selecting photos in our Flickr pool for the weekly PhotoDumps. I think we’re getting better at this, but the number of images submitted to the pool increases each week too. This last meeting on Sunday lasted four hours and we didn’t even get through all the images! The guys at photophlow are working hard to get us some new features to make this easier, but regardless of the tools we have I think we’ll have to split up the session to twice per week.

This will allow us to get through the photos a little easier, plus we can stagger the times so that everybody around the globe can join in on at least one session. Here’s what I’m proposing as standard weekly meeting times:

9PM PST (GMT-8), EVERY WEDNESDAY

You can check this time conversion to see what time it will be in your timezone.

9AM PST (GMT-8), EVERY SUNDAY

You can check this time conversion to see what time it will be in your timezone.

We’ll run things the same as the last session, with the voting and such. I think that worked out well, and it puts the photo selection in the hands of the community rather than just mine. Basically, I run the slideshow, we talk about the photo, I give a signal, and everybody votes. Anything that gets at least a 50% vote will be featured on the PhotoDump blog post. On average we had 5-7 active people in the room during the last session, so it only took 3 or 4 votes to get the photo accepted. The more people we have involved, the more interesting it gets

At some point (if we continue to do this) we’ll have to split up the meeting time into more sessions, so my hope is that the wonderful team at photophlow can develop some nifty tools for us to run this thing on a more semi-automated basis. My ideal situation would involve a voting system that would enable you guys to run this thing yourselves in the event that I can’t make it to the session. So we’ll see what comes down the pipe, but for now we’ll continue on as we have.

I’d also like to hear some thoughts from people who have participated in these things. Is it worth the time and effort? Are you gaining anything from it? What can we do better?

Which Color Space Do You Use for Black and White Photos?

As I fall deeper into the rabbit hole of fine art prints with ImageKind, something has come up that’s really bothering me. Up to this point, I’ve been using Adobe RGB as my main working space for color management. Well, ImageKind has the ability to print true black and white photos if the image is managed under a grayscale color space.

Unfortunately, I can’t find any good resources that speak to grayscale spaces because everything seems to be centered around the battles between sRGB, Adobe RGB, and proPhoto RGB. Now surely there must be advantages and tradeoffs between the grayscale color spaces, but I’m somewhat unaware of them. So I’m curious what you folks use for your black and white photos. I’d also greatly appreciate any further information or links to information on this subject. And if you do use them, do you work in that space or do you just save the output files down into grayscale.

Which Color Space Do You Use for Black and White Photos?

And on a different topic within the subject of art, check out the results from the poll last week asking “What Would You Pay For Fine Art?” Clearly we couldn’t come to a clear answer, but I do see a few points worth noting. It looks like you guys would fall into three categories as art buyers: the low-end ($50), the mid-range ($100), and the high-end ($300+). I’m sure we had some yahoos vote for the $300 option just to mess with the poll, but several people mentioned in the comments that they’d pay much higher than that if it was a worthy print. On average, the majority lies at about $100 — so keep this in mind if you ever think about selling your prints as art.