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PIXelations 20

If you need a good laugh…

by fotofinish , 04-09-2008 at 09:59 AM (191 Views)

Bill Jay is a photographer and writer of photography-related articles, the likes of which have been published widely and also by LensWork magazine. His insights always include a twist of humor, especially in this one. The rest of his articles can be found here. Also, you might want to enjoy his photography here. Have a nice day!

It finally happened

by fotofinish , 04-22-2008 at 07:24 AM (214 Views)

Before I get into the news I want to share, a quick update: the results of the photo scavenger hunt I participated in a few weeks ago are in: not one of my pictures were selected. This is not a big surprise to me since the whole event took me out of my traditional, conservative comfort zone. But then, that is exactly why I participated! I’m still waiting to see more of the winning photos. If the gallery posts anything, I’ll post it here…

In the mean time, I just got notified that four of my photos are going to be published in the Hartford directory of businesses this July! The book is a coffeetable-style book listing all of the Hartford area businesses. The pictures of course are of these businesses and of the surrounding area. Here are the ones they selected:

So, I’m supposed to receive some money and a few copies of the book when it comes out. My hard work is starting to pay off…

Reichmann notes

by fotofinish , 04-24-2008 at 08:28 AM (317 Views)

I recently paid for a private technical lesson with Michael Reichmann. Here are the things I learned.

The camera’s colorspace is only used for the in-camera jpeg.
The camera’s histogram is based on the in-camera jpeg and is not completely accurate: an approximation.

The tone curve in camera raw changes the linear digital diagonal as seen in the Curves dialog into an “S” curve to better mimic how the human eye can best see the picture detail and color.

Rendering Intent and Soft-proofing
When soft-proofing, 99 percent of the time adjustments on top of soft-proofing does not accomplish much.
The whole point of soft-proofing is to pick the proper Rendering Intent.
The printer gamut is smaller in capacity than what the camera or Lightroom/CS gamut contains, so a decision must be made by us as to how to handle the pixels outside of the printer’s gamut, since this is the lowest common denominator. Only your eyes can till a difference. To accomplish this, turn on gamut warning and locate an area of the photo that is affected. Then, watching this area, switch between Perceptual and Relative.
Perceptual intent is like stuffing an over-sized pillow into a small pillow case. All of the pixels are compressed and therefore all are pixels are affected by the compression of this intent.
Relative intent is like taking a pair of scissors and trimming off the pixels which will not fit into the pillow case, or the printer’s gamut. All of the pixels within the printer gamut will be left unaffected.

Monitor Calibration
Adjust your monitor to these settings:
D65 – 6500 degrees K
Gamma – 2.2
Brightness – 110, you must reduce the brightness of your screen to better match the profiles.

Get printer/paper/ink profiles at

The best paper to use at the moment: Illford Gold Fibre Silk, uses photo black for deepest blacks.

Lightroom Tips
Use the “J” key to toggle on/off clipping in the Basic section for Exposure, Blacks.
Use the “I” key to toggle the camera information to appear at the upper left of you photo so you can check it (does not print). Each time you press the “I” key you get a different amount of camera information.
The targeted adjustment tool rocks! (the little bullseye in the upper left corner of the HSL saturation section. Also one for the Tone Curve. Use this tool to selectively desaturate or increase saturation by: click and hold down the mouse button on a color in your picture, then push the mouse slowly up or down without releasing the button. This will change the appropriate saturation sliders for you.
Use the Snapshots category above the History section on the left side panel in Lightroom to quickly set save points so you can quickly go back to a previous save point if you need to.
Saturation means more of the same color.
When it comes to color adjustments, remember Less is Best! You want it to look natural.

Sharpening in Lightroom works for most situations and produces the most natural looking results. Leave the Radius and the Detail sliders at their default. Use the alt key + move the Amount slider. This puts the image into temporary b&w mode apply the amount of sharpening to the edges to sharpen. Use the alt key + the masking key to best find the edges to sharpen. The intent here is White reveals (the edges), Black conceals. Remember, you only want to sharpen edges, not the entire picture.
When applying sharpening amount and masking, train your eye onto the section of the photo that has the most detail to be sharpened so that you do not over sharpen. If the end result is that noticeable, then you over sharpened. Less is Best!

Noise Reduction
Use Luminance for texture issues. Increments of 25 equal one stop of exposure!
Use color for splotchiness in color.
Some noise is OK!

B&W Conversion
Use the Greyscale option on the HSL section NOT the Basic section! Then adjust to taste.

Split Toning (works for color, too, not just B&W!)
Move the Saturation slider to the right by a third amount, then set the Hue you want, then back off on the Saturation slider to taste.

Printing from Lightroom rocks! Once you set up all the printer settings you need on the right side panel, you can create a printer template on the left side panel by selecting the Add button. This eliminates most of the screen you would normally see in Photoshop!
One inch margins are best.

Printer Resolution
There is no need to set the image size as you might do in Photoshop.
The optimum resolution range for printing is between 180-360. Anything more or less should be set to 240. Anything above 360 will choke the printer; anything below 180 reduces print quality.
If the resolution already comes up in this range, do NOT change it. The printer driver knows the best number to use in this range.

The Epson 3800 should be my next printer. This printer should remain on the market for at least another year before Epson upgrades it.

The best digital printing book to read is Harold Johnson “Mastering Digital Printing”.

The best equipment tip Michael gave me was to mostly use, especially for high detail scenes, auto focus for all lenses. The camera will do a much better job in most cases than my weak eyes can do, as evidenced as to why many of my pictures are NOT razor sharp. He suggests setting the “*” key to lock focusing. Find the spot in your scene which must be razor sharp, usually something closest to your eye. Once you press this, then recompose the picture and finally press the shutter to take the picture. Use just the center point since this is the best and most accurate point used by your camera.

Suggested Lightroom Workflow
1. Crop what you need first. It is not important to use aspect cropping. Let the picture dictate the size it wants to be.
2. Set your white point by setting White balance with the eye dropper.
3. Set the Exposure slider as needed, using the “J” key to watch for clipping.
4. Set your Back slider rather much toward the right. Its OK because we will correct in the next step!
5. Set Fill Light to recover from the Black setting. These last two steps are the coolest because they will reveal detail you never thought you had in the picture!
6. Set Clarity to mostly not much more than 33.
7. Set Vibrance, don’t use the Saturation slider below it. Vibrance SELECTIVELY saturates all of the colors in your picture.
8. In the HSL section, use the Saturation tab (for most cases, may need some Luminance but almost never Hue). Then use the Targeted Adjustment tool as described above to adjust the color to taste. Remember, Less is Best!!!
9. Set noise reduction per above.
10. Set sharpening per above.

There is some GREAT new stuff in Lightroom 2.0 (tbr end of June?) that allows for LOCALized adjustments for some things. Keep watching for version 2.0 highlights!

Oh, and what trip would be complete without a couple of pics of the master himself, no matter how poorly they came out!



All in all, I am really excited about what I learned and the results I am seeing in my new stuff. This was well worth the money and certainly easier that trying to accumulate this info over the next year on my own. So I just saved myself a year!

Current Best Print Paper To Use
It is capable of producing very deep blacks, yet has a slight warm look to it.

The windmills in my mind…

by fotofinish , 05-08-2008 at 08:00 AM (263 Views)

During a recent visit to my in-laws in Pennsylvania, I was finally able to capture images of a local windmill farm the way I had pictured it in my mind. I took these just as the sun was setting, as it broke through some cloud cover. These are truly about the light.


by fotofinish , 05-18-2008 at 12:32 PM (195 Views)

As part of our advanced class on photographic composition, we were instructed to go and shoot abstracts at an old abandoned papermill. I went twice, the first time I shot some pictures from the river bank. I didn’t like any of those. The second time, I found out that there was a foot bridge up stream where I crossed and was able to actually go inside and take some abstracts. The day was overcast and not what I wanted for light coming in through the windows. But here are a few examples.




You can view the rest of my gallery here.


by fotofinish , 05-20-2008 at 07:38 PM (156 Views)

This past weekend I attended a local photo trip that was led by Connecticut phototographer, Peter Guerard, and his wife, Michele. Peter is a member of the Charter Oak Photographic Society of which I also belong. Peter and Michele led us from stop to stop along scenic Rt 272, between Torrington and Norfolk, CT. The stops consisted of reservoirs, streams, marshes, and parks. This was a great scouting trip for some wonderful Fall photography. Peter was very knowledgeable, gracious, and patient with us as we asked him many questions ranging from technical to personal. Thanks, Peter, for the guidance and the fun!

Here are a few shots I took:



You can view the rest of my gallery here.

Hokanum RiverCanoe Race 2008

by fotofinish , 05-28-2008 at 07:52 PM (220 Views)

About a month ago, I was shooting at the papermill with a friend of mine, photographer Stan Marchut. We saw numerous people with canoes and asked them what was going on. We were told that a canoe race was to begin latter that morning. Stan and I finished our shoot at the mill and then took our places along the river by a set of rapids to shoot the race for some fun.

It was an overcast day, but it was perfect for photography; an even light with no glare. I set my Mark III to AI Servo and shutter priority, mostly 1/200 sec at iso1000. The aperture was around f/7-f/11. I shot almost 800 perfect pictures! I had a ball!

Here are a few of the shots I took:



You can view the rest of my gallery here.

An evening with Joe McNally

by fotofinish , 06-01-2008 at 03:37 PM (187 Views)

I had the privilege of hearing a talk by the famous Life and National Geographic photographer, Joe McNally, who was promoting his new book, The Moment it Clicks.

You’ve probably seen one of his pictures shot in the ‘80’s of a TV repairman changing the bulb in the red beacon on top of the TV antennae on the World Trade Center. He took the picture with a fisheye lens!

Some of the main points I learned:

During the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, photojournalists went into the office to pick up their assignments, interact with other photojournalists, learned from each other, and brought their pictures back to the office to meet their deadlines. Today, big newspapers email their assignments, pj’s complete their assignments, and then email or FTP their photos back to the paper mostly without ever having to be in the office at all. Joe says that a major element of learning between pj’s is lost because of this.

If you are offered an assignment, no matter what it is or whether you think you can successfully complete it, take it anyway. Joe says that time pressure and the fear of failure will drive you to learn new things, and will build your confidence.

Joe’s most satisfying shoot were his 9/11 portraits. Many firemen and policemen who worked the tragedy came forward and told him their stories.

Joe is a very down to earth kind of guy who believes in sharing all of his technical secrets so that everyone can grow and learn.

I saw God last night…e.c…

by fotofinish , 06-03-2008 at 09:02 AM (310 Views)

…Eric Clapton! I had never seen him before in concert, even though I grew up with his music. My friend gave me his autobiography to read before we went, and I am glad I read it. This helped me to appreciate his blues a little more. Even though his set list was heavy on his blues, I still really enjoyed his craftsmanship. He still has it! The best guitar player ever…

Although the order below was different, here was his set list:
01. Tell The Truth
02. Key To The Highway
03. Hoochie Coochie Man
04. Little Wing
05. Outside Woman Blues
06. Double Trouble
07. Don’t Knock My Love
08. Drifting
09. Rockin’ Chair
10. Motherless Child
11. Travelling Riverside Blues
12. Running On Faith
13. Motherless Children
14. Little Queen of Spades
15. Before You Accuse Me
16. Wonderful Tonight
17. Layla
18. Cocaine

19. I’ve Got My Mojo Working (with Robert Randolph

As someone once wrote about him on a subway wall in England, “Clapton is God.”

Makeshift gallery

by fotofinish , 06-11-2008 at 08:02 AM (333 Views)

My cubicle area at work has just enough wall space for a makeshift, impromptu photo gallery. For the last few months I have been slowly rotating in 4-8 pieces of my latest work and tacking them to the partition wall, just to see what people’s reactions would be.

When I first started hanging them, only one or two people would actually notice or say something about them to me. But as I stuck with this idea, more and more people now go out of their way to stop by. I usually put the photos up on Monday morning and take them down before I go home for the day on Friday.

I guess what I like so far about doing this is the often unexpected observation someone will make. Pictures I thought very few would enjoy, like my paper mill shots from one of my previous posts below, several people actually enjoy and “get it”, the historical aspect of an age gone by.

So I will continue to hang some of my stuff, taking a break for a week or two from time to time in order to keep my audience wanting more.

The Forgotten Papermill

by fotofinish , 06-22-2008 at 11:47 AM (264 Views)

My second body of work is complete for the moment. I visited the old Oakland paper mill on four separate shoots. This mill was built shortly after the Civil War, but that is all I currently know. And it must have been in operation at least into the 1980’s. While I was shooting in one of the large warehouses, I found a bin marked “Computer Paper”.

The look I finally decided upon was the sense of mystery, a feeling of history, as created by the objects I selected and the at times the low key lighting I encountered. I tried hard to put into practice the techniques Michael Reichmann taught me: simplify the chaos; find the real subject within a shot and crop to it, if necessary.

There were many pictures I could have selected from the hundreds of frames I captured, But I really tried to show what the mill may have been at one time, and what it has become today. It was interesting to see that the mill now has become the private clubhouse of a few teenagers, who have attempted to use the wall space at times for their personal art gallery. There was even a dog house for several cats in one of the giant warehouses with bowls for food and water.

Still, those walls saw a lot of history as the company was once one of the original paper manufacturers in the area. I need to further research the history of the buildings, if I can. Also, I plan to return after all the leaves fall so I can capture a few appropriate exterior shots.

Anyway, here are a few more samples:

More pictures from this new gallery, the forgotten papermill, are here. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

Twenty Thousand

by fotofinish , 06-24-2008 at 07:34 AM (374 Views)

I know it doesn’t really mean that much, but my blog has cleared the 20,000 hit mark! When I started this blog, almost 3 years ago, I never thought it would see much traffic. Thank you to everyone who has dropped by to visit, and to all those who have left encouraging words along the way. It’s been a fun journey, so far. And it has only just begun!

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