Do you have a favorite photo that you made a while ago? Perhaps with an older camera? If so, you may want to see what new versions of software and your revised tastes and improved skills can do differently.
I had a request for a print of this image. It’s from way back in 2007, made with my first DSLR – a Nikon D80:
Littleton, Colo. cabin
I like this photo. A lot, and not just because of the subject. It reminds me of driving along the road between where my Mom used to live and my Sister’s house, and visiting them both. It’s been on the blog before: here and here. If you’re interested, please take a look at these two posts to see earlier versions.
Fortunately, I was saving my digital files in RAW format even back then, so I can take full advantage of any improvements in photo software. I decided to run this through my current imaging workflow before printing. Using DxO Optics Pro, Photoshop, and Lightroom, I was able to reduce noise, improve shadow and highlight detail, and tweak color, contrast, and brightness. I feel the new version is better.
Using current software on an image made with 10-year-old technology can be amazing. I even see a spider web hanging from the near door that I never noticed before.
What do you think? Do you ever reprocess your older images?
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make and / or reprocess some photos!
If there’s one person who loves travel as much as me (or more), it’s my cousin Phil. That’s why I was so excited for our whirlwind adventure to China! Our journey was just five days, so I had to pack lightly, but I wish I could have brought my Dad and more camera equipment with me: the photography conditions were tricky! Since he couldn’t be there with me, he processed my photos after, and has joined me in this post with photo hints. So here it is: Central Florida Photo Ops official furthest-away post ever!
MK and Phil on the Great Wall – Mutianyu
First, we visited Shanghai – If you have the chance to go, I highly recommend the Shanghai Museum, and then a meal at the Living Room restaurant on the 87th floor of the Park Hyatt Shanghai. From there, you’ll find sweeping views of the Bund and the Huangpu River, and on a clear day like we were lucky to have, you’ll gain an amazing appreciation for just how large the city is.
My Dad lent me his polarizing filter, but I enjoyed the meal so much I didn’t think to use it on this shot while we were indoors.
View from the 87th: Shanghai
Editor: A polarizer can be useful to darken skies, reduce the fog / haze in a photo, and eliminate reflections when shooting through glass. It doesn't always work - success depends on the conditions (amount and direction of the light). I always try to carry one with me and use it if I remember. I processed this image through DxO Optics Pro for sharpening / noise reduction. Then in Lightroom, I adjusted the exposure, and contrast, straitened buildings, and used clarity and dehaze adjustments along the horizon with a radial filter to lessen the haze. Here is a "before version":
The highlight of Beijing was, of course, the Great Wall of China. There are several places along the wall you can easily visit from Beijing. We chose Mutianyu for its sweeping views (and it’s reputation of being less crowded than nearby spots). While we had perfect weather in Shanghai, fog almost completely enveloped us at Mutianyu. But every once in a while the fog would shift and we’d get a quick but miraculous glimpse of just how Great the Great Wall is.
Mutianyu is about an hour from Beijing. I recommend hiring a private driver – we used John Yellowcar – for about $150 USD, we had our own private driver/translator/tour guide for the entire day. We thought this was a great value for a 10-hour day trip. While there are restaurants and souvenirs at the wall, bring water/snacks and wear comfortable hiking shoes! Also remember that haggling with vendors is accepted and expected at the Wall.
Misty Mutianyu Watchtower
The fog was too thick for the polarizing lens, so I tried to take as many photos as I could and hoped my Dad could help when I got home! Here are some pointers from him on how he was able to save these photos, and in hindsight, things I could have done differently to make the photos even better.
Winding Wall and Watchtowers – Mutianyu
Editor: MK faced some tough photo conditions. Fog greatly reduces contrast and the amount of light. It also diffuses the light so that the polarizing filter won't be much help (sorry MK!) and the filter itself also reduces the amount of light getting to the sensor by 1 or 2 stops. About the only thing I could recommend is to be careful with exposure (sometimes fog can cause underexposure). I processed this photo like the previous one. DxO Optics Pro and Lightroom. In these conditions, clarity and dehaze adjustments are again very helpful. I used quite a bit of dehaze in this image. It's easy to go too far - be careful. Here's the "before version" of this one:
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you may have seen my earlier posts on computational photography. If not, you can review them at this link: http://edrosack.com/?s=computational+photography. The term refers to using software algorithms to supplement or replace optical capture processes. Common examples are multi-frame panoramas, focus stacking, HDR processing, post capture focus, and other techniques. You can read more about it at this link on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computational_photography
As phone capabilities increase, their computational photography power is growing. Camera phones have long been able to do on the fly panorama and HDR capture. And here’s an example of a new capability that arrived on the iPhone 7+.
Apple calls this “Portrait Mode”. It’s available in Beta on the iPhone 7+ in the latest version of IOS. Since the 7+ has two cameras separated by a small distance, it provides the info necessary to compute a “depth map” of pixels in the frame. The software uses this to selectively blur pixels based on distance to add a “Bokeh” (shallow depth of field) effect that helps with subject isolation. For comparison, here is the non-computed version of the image. You can see that the background looks very different.
All isn’t perfect. The algorithm has problems around small features at the boundaries. Look closely at the next frame and you can see blurring issues at the edges of the reed.
The processing blurred parts of the reed that we wanted sharp. For the first photo above – I cheated and used Photoshop to correct the problems. Maybe in future versions the software will be better.
Here’s one more example. This is Lynn, rocking an election day t-shirt. First, the portrait mode version.
And finally, the original. In this case, the software did much better, with no obvious blurring issues. These two are straight out of the camera with no processing on my part.
It’s fascinating how photography and computers are merging. For someone who started out programming a large room sized Univac in FORTRAN with punch cards, the power and ability that fits in my pocket is just stunning. I’m glad to have it with me.
What can they possibly think of next? Do you use computational photography techniques? Do you like or hate them?
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go compute some images!
For a while anyway. Many photographers would agree that daylight savings time and “fall back” make it harder to get up for sunrise. Photography Interest Group members Kevin K., Kevin M., Tom M., and I met at 6am last Friday for a photo expedition over to Merritt Island. It was the last time we’ll be able to set the alarm that late until next year. Despite sleeping in, we arrived well before dawn. This was the scene at the boat ramp at the Titusville Municipal Marina.
Blue hour at the marina
There weren’t a lot of clouds, so my expectations for color were low but we did see a bit as the sun started to rise.
And as usual, after it was light we went looking for wildlife on Black Point Wildlife Drive. There are some winter visitors showing up there now. We saw warblers, wrens, and Kingfishers. But the ducks, Avocets and others are still missing. They’ll show up before long.
Marsh Wren (?) – At least I hope it’s a Marsh Wren – that would be a life bird! At the rest area on Black Point Wildlife Drive, MINWR
So once again it was a good trip to one of my favorite places.