Category Archives: VARIOUS

Reprocessing a Mt. Evans Elk Herd panorama

Back in July of 2007, I wrote a post about Mt. Evans, Colorado and included this image of an Elk herd we saw there:

Elk herd near mile marker 8 on Mount Evans  (2007 version)

At that time, I was using a Nikon D80 camera and made this photo with an entry level 70-300 telephoto lens.  I remember wanting to capture as much detail as possible, so instead of making one exposure of the whole herd, I zoomed in as far as I could and made four different frames at 300mm (450mm eq.), f/5.6, 1/100 sec, and iso 100. I ran across these images in my photo archive recently and wanted to see if I could reprocess the RAW files for a better result.  I thought you might be interested in my work flow – not so you can reproduce my results, but to give you some ideas on how to process your own images.

Here is one of the original RAW files SOOC (straight out of camera).  The white balance and exposure aren’t optimum and sharpness isn’t very good either – maybe due to poor lens stabilization and optical performance (and maybe due to my poor technique).

Here are the steps I went through to reprocess this:

  • Used DxO Photo Lab software to convert from RAW to .tiff and take advantage of the built in Prime Noise reduction algorithm.  I like that this software applies camera and lens specific corrections to all images.  It also returns the results to Lightroom still in RAW / DNG format.
  • Made basic adjustments (exposure, white balance) in Lightroom, and copied to all four frames.
  • Opened as layers in PhotoShop.
  • Stitched the frames into a panorama: Edit -> Auto-align Layers; Edit -> Auto-blend Layers.  At this point, it looked like this:

When I made the original frames, I didn’t cover enough ground for a rectangular composition.  To fix this, I used PhotoShop’s excellent Content Aware Fill on the missing corners.

  • Select the blank areas with the Magic Wand tool.  Expand the selection (~3 pixels).  Edit -> Content Aware Fill
  • use the clone tool to eliminate any obvious fill anomalies.

And then I worked on sharpness.  Here is a 300% look at the area near the Bull Elk:

Not very sharp.  So I:

  • Duplicated the layer and applied the Topaz Sharpen AI filter.  I used the Stabilize method with a Remove Blur value of 0.70.  Here’s the much improved result:

Topaz Sharpen AI can work wonders on this kind of problem, but it does take a lot of CPU power.  Depending on your hardware, you might have to be (very) patient.

  • The final step in Photoshop was to use Topaz Clarity for some added midrange contrast.  I applied the Nature -> Fur and Feathers II preset.
  • Back in LightRoom: I cropped to a 2:3 format; tweaked White Balance and exposure again; boosted texture and shadows on the Elk with a circular adjustment and range mask; Reduced green and yellow saturation; Used a -12 highlight priority vignette and added grain at 15.

And this is the new version I just posted to Flickr.

Mt. Evans Elk herdMt. Evans Elk herd (2019 version) – Near mile marker 8. Quite a harem! There are about 60 elk in this image: A single bull, ~10 young ones, and the rest female.

It took me about 30 minutes to do this.  Was it worth the effort? I can’t answer for you.  I think it looks much better and I’m glad I saved those RAW files! As long as i can re-start from the original sensor data, I can leverage newer software and get better results.  I know a lot of folks don’t enjoy computer work, but I do – so to me it’s worth it.

Click on any of these to see larger versions.  I have other Mt. Evans (and Colorado) photos in this album on Flickr.  And if you have any questions on this, I’ll be happy to try and answer them.  Just ask in a comment below.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make (or reprocess) some photos!

©2007 and 2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Morning Dew

I try to maintain a regular schedule here and normally blog once a week – almost always on Sunday morning.  I get up early and write (or finish writing) so I can hit the “publish” button before breakfast.  My system’s worked pretty well for me and I hope for readers too.  It’s gotten me up  to almost 600 articles so far.

I enjoy it, but it’s a challenge at times.  I want to include photography info worth reading or at least an image worth viewing.  And I want each post to be something that I’ll enjoy re-visiting myself.

This morning I sat here with a blank page and a photographically blank mind.  Making and processing images is a passion for me and has been for a long time.  I’m pretty sure I’ll continue to enjoy it as long as I can.  But it is just a hobby and there can be (and this week are) more important things to think about and deal with.

I won’t burden you with any personal issues – the blog is about image making.  Instead I’ll simply leave you with another recent Calladium composition that I hope you’ll enjoy. Processing it to preserve as much detail as possible took my mind off of other things for just a little while.

Morning DewMorning Dew.  We’ve had some bumble bees flying around our flowers lately and I’ve tried to photograph them.  I made this image after giving up on the bees one morning.

You can click on this image to view a larger version on Flickr. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits and comments mean a lot to me.

Now – go make some photos!  I will too.

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Blue Cypress Lake Postcard

Hello loyal readers! This is the next entry in the occasional blog category called “Postcards” where I upload photos of Central Florida scenes – similar to ones you’d find on a postcard.

It’s easy to find all of these. Just use the “Places / Categories” pulldown menu over on the right side of the blog and select “Postcards”. If you’re viewing the site on a phone, you may not see that menu – in that case, just type “postcards” into the search box.

Blue Cypress ShorelineBlue Cypress Shoreline

I made this image in April of 2017 from a pontoon boat in Blue Cypress Lake, near Vero Beach, Florida.  This wonderful lake is part of the St. Johns River headwaters.  Here’s a link to all the posts I’ve written about it: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/blue-cypress-lake/.  And you can view other photos from there at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157630027829768.

It’s a 2 frame vertical panorama shot with an infrared modified camera, handheld with a 24 mm equivalent lens at f/3.5,  ISO 200 at 1/800 sec. I processed the photo and converted it to Black and White using Lightroom and Photoshop. You should be able to click on it to go to Flickr and then select the download symbol below and to the right of the photo. I hope you like it!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2019, Ed Rosack. Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license

Note: Items in my blog that are marked with a Creative Commons license are available in high resolution for you to download for your personal use. Please visit this page to see details and restrictions that apply: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.

Long Exposure with Variable Neutral Density Filters

A friend wants to make long exposure photos on an upcoming trip. I recommended using a Variable Neutral Density Filter (VND) and offered to let them try mine.  So  we headed over to the Cocoa Beach Pier last Friday to test them out on some ocean waves.

Cruising homeCruising home. VND, ƒ/11, 35 mm, 0.3sec, ISO 100

VNDs are made from two polarizing filters – one’s fixed and the other rotates. You use the rotating one to vary the amount of light that’s blocked (typically between 1 or 2 and 6 or 8 stops).  I like them because they give you precise and easy control over how much light hits your sensor.  If you reduce light on the sensor, you can use a slower shutter speed or a wider aperture for a given scene.  They’re good to have when you photograph waterfalls (slow shutter to blur / smooth water) or in bright light (to shoot with a wider aperture and blur backgrounds).

Here’s my approach for smoothing water:

  1. Mount the camera on a tripod and trigger it with a remote or the self timer.
  2. Set ISO (usually for best quality). Don’t use auto ISO.  We want the  camera to vary shutter speed instead of changing ISO when the VND rotates.
  3. I use Aperture Priority mode and select the F-stop (for depth of field, image quality etc.).
  4. Compose with the VND filter at its minimum value (brightest setting).
  5. In bright light, you can use auto focus.  In dim light, you may need to  manual focus so the camera’s auto focus doesn’t hunt when you  darken the VND.
  6. Now, slowly turn / darken the VND until your shutter speed reaches the value you want.  You’ll need to experiment to find what looks best to you, but for water try between .25 and 1 second.
  7. If you can’t get a slow enough shutter, you can close down your aperture, or lower your ISO.

Some things to watch out for:

  • Like much in photography (and life!), you can find very expensive VNDs and very cheap ones. I’ve had good luck with name brand ones in the middle price range.  Don’t buy the cheap ones!  They may not be optically flat or coated, and might introduce color shift problems.  You’ll probably pay more for thinner ones too, which will reduce chances of vignetting.
  • Definitely look for VNDs with coatings to help prevent reflections / flare.  You’re adding four more air/glass interfaces to the front of your lens and you can’t use a lens hood, so coatings will improve performance.
  • Since these filters can be expensive, I recommend buying only one, sized to fit the biggest diameter lens you’ll use it with.  I have a 77mm VND and step down rings to mount it on my smaller lenses.
  • Some VNDs can be rotated too far and will show an ugly cross-shaped anomaly.  If yours does this, watch for it and back off until it disappears.  Some are made with a stop so you can’t rotate them too far.
  • Check your results as you go.  It’s easy to over expose highlights in moving water, so you may need to dial in some negative exposure composition.  Also, if the light getting through is too dim, your camera’s meter may not work well.  In that case you’ll have to change to manual exposure and adjust accordingly.
  • Make several exposures at different shutter speeds so you’ll have distinct looks to choose from when you get home.

Golden beachGolden beach. VND, ƒ/8.0, 26 mm eq., 0.8sec, ISO 200

That’s it – simple, right?  Do you use VNDs?  If so, let me know where I can view your long exposure photos.  And if you have any hints of your own, please share in a comment for everyone.

You can click on these images to see a larger version on Flickr. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

St. Augustine Postcard

Hello faithful readers!  This is the next entry in the occasional blog category called “Postcards” where  I upload photos of Central Florida scenes – similar to a postcard.

It’s easy to find all of these.  Just use the “Places / Categories” pulldown menu over on the right side of the blog and select “Postcards”.  If you’re viewing the site on a phone, you may not see that menu – in that case, just type “postcards” into the search box.

St. Augustine Basilica

I made this image a week or so ago inside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. Established in 1565, it is the oldest Christian congregation in the contiguous United States.  Portions of the structure date from 1797, in part due to the durability of the cochina rock used for exterior walls.

I shot this handheld with a 35mm lens at f/2.8, and used ISO 800 to make sure my shutter speed was high enough to avoid camera shake (1/50 sec).  I processed the photo and converted it to Black and White using Lightroom.  You should be able to right click and  download.  I hope you like it!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2019, Ed Rosack. Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license

Note:  Any items in my blog that are marked with a Creative Commons license are available in high resolution for you  to download for your personal use.   Please visit this page to see details and restrictions that apply:  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.

 

Banishing Broken Links

This post is about blogging, not photography.  So feel free to move on if this doesn’t interest you.  But before you do, here’s an unrelated photo to try to make your visit here worthwhile:

Sunrise SurferSunrise Surfer – An early morning image, from October 2018, near the Cocoa Beach Pier (click for a larger version).

My blog has been up since May of 2007 and I’ve written almost 600 posts through the years.  A few weeks ago, I read an article about broken links and how Google crawls the web and downgrades a site’s search ranking if it finds broken / dead links on web pages.

I knew this, but hadn’t been actively addressing issues.  I’m not a commercial site, and search ranking doesn’t affect any bottom line for me, but – well, we don’t want to be left out of Google do we?

Anyway, I’ve had a plugin loaded on my site called “Broken Link Checker” for a long time.  I was having some server performance issues a while back and deactivated it.  I decided to turn it back on and see what it found.  It was disturbing!

  • > 5100 links total
  • 186 broken or dead links
  • > 900 redirects
  • And a few warnings

I’ve been going through and fixing these.  Here’s what I’ve done:

  • If the site I referenced changed and I can find the new page, I updated it.
  • If I can’t find a new page, in some cases I substituted a different source such as Wikipedia.  (By the way, Wikipedia is amazingly good at keeping their links up – none of my broken links were to them.)  If I couldn’t find a new page to link to (seems to be a common issue for newspaper articles) I removed the link and marked it as “no longer available”.
  • On some problems, I just removed the link if it didn’t really need to be there.
  • How embarrassing!  Some of the broken links were to my own pages!  These had to do with re-organizing categories and tags.  So I went through and fixed these too.
  • I looked at redirects and they don’t seem to be real issues, so I left them alone.

As of this morning (finally!) all of my broken links are gone.

In the future, I’m going to modify my link philosophy:

  • I’m not going to be as eager to insert links.  Web search is pretty good these days and you can highlight and right-click to get info on anything I write about.  And It’ll be current too!
  • I’ll favor using Wikipedia when it makes sense.  There’s less chance those links will break.
  • I haven’t noticed any performance issues with the Broken Links Checker this time.  So I’ll leave it on
  • Broken Links Checker will email me when it finds problems and I’ll fix them as they come up, instead of ignoring them for too long.

Onward to search results dominance!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Enhanced details?

Have you heard about Adobe’s recent update to Lightroom?  It has a new feature called “Enhance Details”.  Adobe says it:

“approaches demosaicing in a new way to better resolve fine details and fix issues like false colors and zippering. Enhance Details uses machine learning—an extensively trained convolutional neural network (CNN)—to provide state-of-the-art quality for the images that really matter.”

You can read an explanation of what they’ve done on their blog at this link:  https://theblog.adobe.com/enhance-details/.  It sounds like a another fascinating advance in computational photography.  It’s also a great example of why you should shoot in Raw mode and save your original files – so you can take advantage of future software updates.  Of course I had to try this out!

Flower & bugWildflower and bug – processed in Lightroom with Enhanced Details (click for a larger view)

I chose this flower growing in Central Winds Park, near Lake Jesup as my subject.  By the way, this is the same spot and subject as this 2015 blog post.  There’s a lot of detail in the flower and insect and I was curious about how it would look using the new processing.

I ran Enhance Details on the Raw file.  At first, I couldn’t really see any improvement.  So I opened the original and enhanced images in layers in Photoshop.  I set the layer mode to Difference and then used a levels adjustment to highlight changes.

Difference map showing pixels changed by the Enhance Details algorithm

Using this method at 300% magnification to guide me to where the changes were, I could then see them clearly.  The enhanced image was indeed more detailed than the original.  But (for this example anyway) they’re extremely subtle!  Too subtle to show up in a blog resolution image without a difference map.

I did a little more research on-line and found this blog post:  https://elialocardi.com/adobe-lightroom-camera-raw-enhance-details-review/.  It’s got several samples where the differences are more obvious.  Well worth a read.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Adobe claims a 30% increase in image quality.  I’m not sure how they derived this number, but from the examples I’ve seen the results are much more subtle than that.
  • It works better on some subject than others, e.g. night photos of cities with lights, or images with artifacts.  Improvements are much harder to see on other subjects such as my flower.
  • I didn’t see (and haven’t heard of) anyplace where it made an image worse.
  • You pay a penalty in workflow, time, and disk storage when using this.  It shouldn’t be your default processing.
  • Consider it for portfolio images, or photos that you’re printing in a large format. Don’t bother with it for images shared to the web or ones that you’re printing small.  Keep your Raw files and you can always go back later and run them through.
  • If you use Fuji cameras, try it on their X-Trans Raw files.
  • We’ll hear more soon as the photo community explores this and we see results.
  • In the future this or something like it will probably become the default demosaicing approach.  Adobe should be commended and I hope they keep developing it

That was fun!  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Flagler Beach Whale Quest

MK and I decided to drive over to Flagler Beach last Sunday.   Several whales have been seen recently – one the week before from the pier. We knew the chance we’d spot one was very small, but it’s a pretty place for sunrise and the restaurant on the pier serves a decent breakfast!

Quilted surf sunriseQuilted surf sunrise

We set off at “o-dark-thirty” and arrived before dawn.  I spent some time making photos on the beach and when it was light enough, we went up on the pier to scout.

Under the pierUnder the pier

North Atlantic Right Whales are among the most endangered whales in the world.  There are only about 450 left.  In addition to deaths from ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement, their birth rate seems to be declining.  They migrate south from New England to the warm waters off Florida to mate and give birth.  Unfortunately, there were no new calves spotted last year during the whole 2017 – 2018 season.

Fishing trawler "Miss Hope" at daybreak near the pierFishing trawler “Miss Hope” at daybreak near the pier

So it was pretty exciting when the first calf was spotted this year:  https://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20181228/right-whale-watchers-rejoice-as-calf-spotted-off-jacksonville-coast!

Flying close to the sunFlying close to the sun

Humpback Whales are also seen off our coast.  They’re usually further out than the Right Whales, which seem to stick closer to shore.

We ate breakfast and then drove to a couple more spots on the beach.  We knew before we left that day that our chances of seeing whales were slim.  But we all know our chances are zero if we never look.  And although we came up empty, it sure was a nice morning and worth the drive.

Here’s more info on Florida whales:

I’ve collected more photos from Flagler Beach in this album on Flickr:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157675598379207

You can view whale photos I’ve made here:  https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_id=8231395%40N04&sort=date-taken-desc&text=whale&view_all=1

And MK has many whale images in her Flickr stream.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

In a Garden

Lynn added some Birds of Paradise plants to our front and back gardens a few years ago.  They’ve done well – we often have multiple flowers open at the same time.

I featured a portion of one blossom in this post from the summer of 2017.  It turns out that they bloom in the winter too!  Here are some more photos, this time  of the whole flower.

Bird of ParadiseBird of Paradise – side view, on black

The Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is also known at the Crane Flower because it resembles the head and beak of a colorful exotic bird.

Bird of ParadiseBird of Paradise – from above

They’re indigenous to South Africa and enjoy full sun and warm temperatures like we have here in Central Florida.

Bird of ParadiseBird of Paradise – side view, on white

In their natural habitat, they’re pollinated by Sunbirds, not insects.  The weight of the bird standing on the flower releases pollen onto the bird’s chest or feet, which is deposited on the next flower it visits.

They make lovely additions to our Florida garden, and lovely photography subjects too.  I made these images in the early morning before the light got harsh.  Lynn held black or white material behind them for me.  I like the one on black the best.  How about you?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Long(er) cruise exposures

I thought you might be interested in a photo technique that I used on our recent cruise. Here’s an example image:

Journey's End

Journey’s End. (eq. FOV: 26mm, f/4.5, .8 sec @ ISO 1250)

In low light situations, I wanted the ship sharp in the foreground, and nearby water showing motion blur. I also wanted features on the horizon to be sharp (with no motion blur).

You can see the settings I used in the captions. The secret is to use a wide-angle lens, and keep your shutter speed fast enough so that the ship’s motion doesn’t result in blurred features on the horizon, but long enough so that the close by water shows some motion blur. For this image, a little less than a second worked out. Here’s another example (that was in last week’s blog too):

Approaching the Cayman Islands

Approaching the Cayman Islands. (eq. FOV: 26mm, f/4, 2 sec @ ISO 200)

Here are the steps to try this yourself:

  • Go on a cruise!
  • Choose an aperture that gives you the depth of field you want (e.g. sharp focus from foreground to horizon).  My Olympus 12-100 f/4 lens is sharp and has sufficient depth of field used wide open.
  • Choose an ISO value that results in the shutter speed you want (between 1/2 and 2 seconds).  With my micro 4/3 cameras, I’m conservative with ISO, but I’ll use up to 3200 if pressed – even for landscape shots.
  • Use your camera’s built-in image stabilization (or mount your camera on a tripod) to stabilize it on the ship.  Since my setup has the Olympus dual-IS capability, I didn’t use a tripod.  Instead, I braced myself against the ship and  hand-held these.
  • Make several exposures and check for sharpness. Since the ship is moving relative to the horizon, this setup is different from a normal dry-land photo.  To keep the horizon sharp, you’ll have to either time the ship’s motion and expose when it’s minimized (difficult), or make multiple frames and pick ones where the horizon features are sharp (easier).  I was able to get sharp images with exposures as long as 2 seconds, but I made multiple frames for insurance.

Here’s one more photo.  The light was brighter in this one, so I couldn’t get much blur in the water:

Dusk at seaDusk at sea. (eq. FOV: 24mm, f/4, 1/40sec @ ISO 200)

So that’s it.  A fun technique that will give you some nice “cruisey” images.  If you try this, let me know how it works for you.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved