Return To my PIXelations Index

PIXelations 11

a towering fog…

by fotofinish , 01-26-2006 at 06:03 PM (235 Views)

Last week while coming home from work, the weather was very warm and foggy over a recent snow-cover. I have had a vision of the water tower I photographed last July under these conditions in my mind for some time now. So I returned shortly to shoot this scene.

I walked the location first, just as Alain Briot suggested, in order to find the best viewpoints for my shoot. With my 20D and 18-55mm, tripod, and cable release, I took a series of photos from two different angles, all of which I dumped, except for this one:

In my postprocessing, I decided to convert this to black and white, after my color adjustments. I used the channel mixer for this and then converted it to a duotone with a bit of blue tone.

I then stopped at Morea Swamp and took a few more shots, but nothing really inspired me, except for this cropped result of one which I also converted to a duotone b&w:

…On a different topic, I have continued thinking about developing ideas about which I may feel passionate. But what passions do other artists have? The answer to this makes for very interesting reading and some pensative reflections. Try it yourself. Just Google “artist statement”, and browse the many interesting answers by our fellow artists from many different genres. Look for the artist-specific ones. Enjoy!

First b&w printing with R2400

by fotofinish , 01-28-2006 at 02:00 PM (308 Views)

I finally tried black and white printing with my R2400, so I want to document what settings I used for future reference.

After selecting Print With Preview, I set the following screen options:
Color Handling: Let Photoshop Determine Colors
Printer Profile: SPR2400 PremLuster BstPhoto.icc
Rendering Intent: Relative Colorimetric

…for an 8×10 printed on 8.5×11 Epson Premium Luster Photo Paper.

Once the printer driver displays its settings, I chose:
Enhanced Matt Paper
Best Photo
Letter (8 ½ x 11)
Turned off High Speed
Set Color Management to ICM and checked Off (No Color Adjustment)
I saved this setting.

The resulting print came out very nicely. But then I experimented. I decided to let the printer determine the colors:
Color Handling: Let Printer Determine Colors
Printer Profile: greyed out
Rendering Intent: Relative Colorimetric

Once the printer driver displays its settings, I chose:
Enhanced Matt Paper
Best Photo
Letter (8 ½ x 11)
Turned off High Speed
Set Color Management to ICM
ICM Mode: Driver ICM Basic
Input Profile: Adobe RGB (1998)
Intent: Perceptual
Printer Profile: SPR2400 PremiumLuster
I saved this setting.

This one came out perfect, due to the following deciding features: It was slightly darker, and was slightly warmer, perhaps a hint of sepia. In any event, for this photo, I like it better. I will be curious to see what happens with other b&w prints in the future.

I have had a quality Epson printer for four years now. My printer before this one was the six-color Epson 785EPX. My experience to date, including my limited experience with my current R2400, has been that although Photoshop does a very good job at controlling the colors, there are times when the printer does a slightly better job. It may be worth doing two prints in the future: one with Photoshop handling the color; one with the printer handling the color.

Here’s the image:

This is the start of a new gallery called Forgotten Toil which will feature various man-made structures from a past lifetime.

shooting basketball

by fotofinish , 02-06-2006 at 05:53 PM (346 Views)

Jayne and I took my nephew Phillip to his seventh grade recreation league basketball game recently. It was the first time that we would see him play. This also provided me an opportunity to try shooting basketball for the first time. I decided to sit against the wall under the basket and ten feet to the right.

In order to correct for the ambient light color cast, I brought a Kodak white card with me and set a custom whitebalance, making sure that the histogram put the white spike at the end of the first quadrant from the right. I set my 20D for 1600 ISO and manual, electing to keep my exposure settings constant, since I would only be in one location, 1/200 at f/2. I continued to use my favoritecustom function C.FN-04.3

Here was the result:

Unfortunately, most of the pictures were still not sharp enough, due to the low shutter speed and shallow depth of field. Next time I will try to see if I could use a faster shutter without losing too much more depth of field.

I filled my two-gig card with about 200 pictures. When I finished selecting and editing, that number was down to 50. I processed one photo in RAW. I did not have to improve the color at all. The custom whitebalance nailed this. All I had to do was make a minor adjustment to exposure and with the Curve tab in RAW CS2 also a minor adjustment to brighten the shadows and highlights a little more. I then copied the RAW settings and applied that to the rest of my RAW photos. I then opened each in photoshop and ran an Action I had created. This Action made a background copy, applied Noise Ninja with the custom 20D 1600iso profile, and applied print sharpening with Photokit Sharpener. That’s it!

Although Phil was not a dominating player, he still enjoyed himself. I will send him a CD of these photos.

where eagles fly

by fotofinish , 02-25-2006 at 01:48 PM (307 Views)

Last weekend Jayne and I went with friends to the Eagle Festival in Essex, CT. This event is sponsored by the town and the Connecticut Audubon Society. Some 70 eagles are said to nest along the Connecticut River near Essex.

We went out in a large boat for a two hour ride along the river, looking for sightings. Apparently we were in the right place at the right time, according to the Audubon Society rep who was narrating, since we witnessed the best sightings in over a year. We saw between 15-20 eagles, mostly Bald eagles, but also one Golden eagle.

Well, I brought my 100-400mm L IS with 1.4 extender and monopod. I was not too hopeful to be able to photograph any eagles, since I thought any sightings wood still be out of the reach of my equipment. I was partially correct. All of the sightings were bigger than a speck of dirt but far from large enough to discern specific features.

Unfortunately, I took almost 130 shots, and not one came out! Since I had my extender on, this forces my lens into manual focus mode. Now, I knew this, but I have been using this combination for months in my backyard, using manual focus, on the birds at our feeder.

I used a circular polarizer and set my lens distance switch to greater than 6 feet. No matter what I did, I could never get things in much focus, let alone sharp. The day was in bright sunshine but, to make matters worse, the temperature was in the mid 20’s with a breeze! Needless to say, my eyes kept tearing due to the harshly cold breeze. And although I tried to keep my shutter hand warm, I did not wear a glove. Like a dummy, I almost got a touch of frost bite. I was doomed from the start.

Still, this truly was a magnificent experience. These birds were inspiring to see.

Next time
No extender, since I need the camera and lens to help me out better than it did.

Here’s an example of how poor my shots were:

I cropped and converted this to black and white. When you look at the shot, click on the words full exif to see my settings.

things are not always black and white, but when they are…

by fotofinish , 03-01-2006 at 05:17 PM (218 Views)

I bought a marvelous plug-in for photoshop: Convert To B&W Pro. I had been using the Channel Mixer in CS2 for all my previous b&w work. It was often very hard for me to get the exact look I wanted. And then you are supposed to be sure that the three resulting values for the three channels added up to 100%.

But this new program reduces the guess work. There is much more control across the entire color range. Moving the various sliders is like putting a filter on your lens that allows for an infinite amount of adjusting to get the right look for your black and white’s.

Here’s an example:

And here’s the original in color:

Originally I was not too interested in this image, but my daughter said that this was her favorite. I was quite surprised, but I decided to revisit the photo and convert it to b&w. I felt that the original color contributed very little to the picture, so I decided to try my new program. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at how well it did. And when I printed this for my daughter on Epson premium luster paper on my Epson R2400, the print result was delightful.

Here is a review done by Michael Reichmann on his site.

So now my black& white workflow becomes:
* Convert the image from RAW with adjustments made for White Balance, Exposure
* Shadow/Contrast/Saturation as needed
* Open into Photoshop CS2
* Apply Photokit plugin capture sharpening.
* Apply Noise Ninja noise filtering, using the appropriate ISO Canon 20D profile.
* Apply Levels/Curves and fine tune adjust color and contrast as needed.
* Apply any other image correction as needed, increasing the lightness a bit more to prepare for B&W conversion. I make sure that the image color is as perfect as it can be, as if I were going to print the final result. This ensures that I will have the best possible image from which to make my conversion to black and white.
* Apply Convert To B&W and adjust to bring out as much detail in the shadows and highlights as needed.
* Save as a psd interim file.

This saved file will then allow me to make my final image, cropped to a desired size, and apply final sharpening based on the output needed, web or print.

Return To my PIXelations Index