RIP Tim Hauser

Sad news:  Tim Hauser, who founded the Manhattan Transfer in the early ’70s, passed away Thursday. He was 72.

Lynn and I are long time fans of the group’s unique music. We enjoyed seeing them perform live early this year.

Manhattan Transfer at the Plaza in Orlando, Florida - 1/24/14
Tim Hauser, Janis Seigel, Margaret Dorn, Alan Paul
Manhattan Transfer at the Plaza in Orlando, Florida – 1/24/14

If you have an opportunity to see an artist you enjoy – go do it.  You don’t know if you’ll get another chance.

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Fort Christmas Still Life Practice

I went back out to the Fort Christmas Historical Park recently with fellow Photography Interest Group member Tom M. I’ve written about this place before (here, here. and here).   There are 7 restored cabins, each with several rooms arranged to show life in the 1870s through the 1930s.  It’s a wonderful place to practice still life photography.

Some examples:

Kitchen table still life
Kitchen table

Edison's iPod Still Life
Edison’s iPod 

Cobbler Still Life

Cobbler’s bench – That shoe needs a little work, probably more than just a new Safeheel.

You can find out more about still life in this Wikipedia article.  Normally, one of the creative aspects of still life is choosing and arranging the subject matter.  That’s already done for you in the Fort Christmas exhibits.  You’ll have to be content with using your point of view, focal length, and lighting to create pleasing compositions.

A zoom lens with a wide to normal range is very useful.  Many times you’ll be limited in where you can place your tripod, so the zoom will come in handy.  My 24-120mm f/4 lens worked well.

The lighting here is a challenge:

  • It’s dim inside the rooms, so bring your tripod.  And bring along a flash or two to give you some flexibility to add to the ambient illumination.
  • In addition to being dim, the lighting will also be mixed.  There are incandescent bulbs in the rooms and sunlight coming in through the doors and windows.  If you use a flash, you’ll add a third variable.  You can try to gel your flash, or use the flashes to overcome one or more of the other light sources.  Or you can do as I did and deal with it in post processing by using selective color balance to address any local color casts.  (For more on how I do this, see this post.)
  • You’ll also need to watch out for dynamic range.  The doors and windows will be very bright compared to the room interiors and it’s often difficult to eliminate them from compositions.  I bracketed my exposures and hand merged the appropriate ones to address this.  You can also try using HDR software.

I used some different post processing techniques to emphasize the subject colors and the lighting and I like the way they turned out.  Still Life Photography at Fort Christmas is a fun and challenging photo-op.  If you haven’t been, give it a try.  You can see other photos I’ve made at Fort Christmas in this set on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some still life photos!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Orlando Wetlands and B&W Conversion Software

Here are three photos I made at Orlando Wetlands Park last Thursday morning.

Waiting for sunrise at Lake Searcy
Waiting for sunrise at Lake Searcy

My favorite program for converting images to black and white is the Nik Silver Efex Pro plug-in.  I wanted to try a new one called “Tonality” by Macphun software.  I processed these next two photos in both programs so I could compare results.

Cypress and calm water
Cypress and calm water

Clear and very calm
Clear and very calm

Tonality is an exceptionally complete B&W conversion program with lots of presets and sliders to play with.  It also has some built-in capabilities you might not expect such as layers, gradients, and selective edits.  These come in handy when you want to combine several conversions without going through layers in Photoshop.  Silver Efex Pro’s control points provide some of the same selective edit capability, but for me, the Tonality controls are more flexible.  Tonality also has lens blur and glow simulations  and the ability to blend in texture patterns.  Lots of presets, options, and control!

I noticed that the clarity control in Tonality sometimes resulted in halos that I has to tone down.  But I found that overall I preferred the Tonality result over the Silver Efex version for these two photos.  I don’t know if this will hold up long-term, since I’m pretty sure you can achieve very similar results with either one.  I’m going to keep playing with it and see.

By the way, Tonality is Mac only, Silver Efex runs on both Mac and PC.   There are free trial versions you can download, so check them out yourself and see what you think.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.