Category Archives: VARIOUS

Old Photos and New Software

Probably the best wildlife photo outing I ever had was a little over 11 years ago on a dark and dreary day in Juneau, Alaska.

I was using a Nikon D-90 camera and my telephoto lens at the time was the 70-300mm  f/4.0 – 5.6 lens.  To get the shutter speeds I needed, I had to set my ISO between 800 and 1000. The D-90 sensor was good for the time, but at those ISOs, overcast skies,  fast action and small apertures made for challenging exposures. While I like the photos I came back with, I’ve always wished the image quality was a bit better.

Fast forward to this week when DxO Photo Lab Version 4 was announced. It advertises a new RAW conversion approach that uses machine learning to combine demosaicing and denoising into one step. They say:

“The resulting photo quality is nothing short of spectacular, especially for photos taken in low light conditions that require brightening certain areas, photos with small pixels, and photos taken with early-generation cameras.”

That sounds like just what I needed for those old photos, so I decided to reprocess a couple of them. In addition to DxO Photo Lab, I also have new versions of Lightroom (with very nice texture, clarity, and dehaze controls) as well as Topaz Sharpen AI.

Would the new software improve these photos?  Let’s see. Here are the results in image compare frames so you can see the differences (newer versions on the right). You’ve seen the first one in the blog before.

Breaching Humpback 1

I think the reprocessed version has better detail / focus, less noise, and improved contrast / colors.

The next one hasn’t been in the blog before. I’ve always  liked the action / viewpoint / composition and “flight aspect” of the whale, but the noise, color and focus were disappointing.

Breaching Humpback 2

After reprocessing, I think the image quality is more than acceptable.

My workflow for these was:

  • Raw conversion using DxO Optics Pro 4 with “Deep Prime” noise reduction and export back to Lightroom in RAW / DNG format
  • Adjustments in Lightroom: exposure, highlights, shadows, texture, dehaze
  • Sharpening with Topaz Sharpen AI

If you’re interested in more detail about the steps I went through, just ask in a comment and I’ll be more than happy to answer your questions.

Here are some related links to explore:

I’m very glad that I’ve been shooting in and saving RAW format images.  It takes up more storage space and requires  more post processing work than using jpg files.  But having RAW files for my favorite photos lets me take advantage of new technology and algorithms as they become available.

Keeping up with all these new capabilities requires time, effort, and money.  But there’s no doubt in my mind that the software we have today is vastly superior to what was available 11 years ago. What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please stay safe out there and take care of each other. And if you can, make or reprocess some RAW photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A Difference in Scale

The master copy of the image below is made from multiple frames that I stitched together into a panorama. It ended up being ~196 megapixels.  I used a 70mm lens, so the equivalent focal length is about 35mm.  Looking at it another way, the tree line along the horizon is probably a couple of miles in length.

A calm, cloudy mornA calm, cloudy morn

Especially at this time of year, if you can zoom in to almost any image like this you’ll see dragonflies moving around or perched on leaves.  Look closely at this crop from near the center of the first image and you can just make out two of them resting on reeds.

The next photo is a single frame I made a few minutes earlier with another camera / lens at  ~1400mm eq. focal length.

Four-Spotted Pennant (?)Four-Spotted Pennant (?)

So in terms of lens magnification, it’s about a 40x zoom.  In terms of distance shown, it’s a few inches vs. a couple of miles or ~20,000 times smaller.  Either way, quite a change in scale and two unique ways to show the environment and inhabitants.

By the way, the header image at the top of the post is this same one rendered in B&W.  It’s a little more abstract, but I  like that version too.  If  you’d like to see the un-cropped frame, I posted it on flickr at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/50499722736/in/photostream/.

Exploring an environment at a variety of scales can reveal interesting scenes and details.  Especially if a dragonfly tilts its wings just right in the light.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Please stay safe and take care of each other. And if you can, make some photos – at different scales.

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Not so punny

Sometimes, I try to be clever and people ignore me – which may be a good thing.

I noticed a Bottlenose Dolphin making a fuss hunting for fish – big splashes and noise.  I was too slow to catch that ruckus, but a few minutes later I made this photo as it swam through calm water in front of colorful early morning reflections on Gator Creek and left interesting patterns in its wake.

A wake at dawnA wake at dawn

I posted it to Flickr and expected people to moan about the pun in the title, but crickets about that.  Maybe it would have worked better as “Awake at dawn”.  Dunno. I suppose I should leave the comedy to professionals.  At least I didn’t get a bunch of nasty comments about it!

Here are two more images from that trip.  This one is nearby, about 15 minutes earlier.

Restful rays, distant clouds, and a calm creekRestful rays, distant clouds, and a calm creek

And this one is two hours later, along Black Point Wildlife Drive.

Clouds over the marshClouds over the marsh

My drive to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge was rewarding once again and well worth the time. No wonder it’s a favorite place for me!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. I hope all of you are staying safe – take care of yourselves, your friends, and your families. And if you can, make some photos, and even some bad puns!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Photography Surprises

sur·prise:
noun: an unexpected or astonishing event, fact, or thing
verb: cause (someone) to feel mild astonishment or shock
synonyms: astonishment, amazement, incredulity, wonder

One reason I like photography is because it often pleasantly surprises me. If you do a search on this blog (https://edrosack.com/?s=surprise). you’ll find I’ve used the word many times. Today I have a couple more examples, so lets discuss photo surprises again.

Jumping fish sunriseJumping fish sunrise

The title of this one gives away the surprise. Of course, it’s not unusual for fish to jump out of the water. I was set up for landscape photography, not wildlife or action and I didn’t notice the fish that morning so I hadn’t tried to time my shutter to include it. When I started processing the photo on my computer I was amazed that my camera recorded the fish (a mullet?) mid jump. I think it adds interest to the photo. A small wonder, but a good one. Here’s a closer look.

Mid-jump Mullet

This second image is a different kind of surprise.

First Light on Wetland WildflowersFirst Light on Wetland Wildflowers

I was on Black Point Wildlife Drive and saw that beautiful light on the clouds. When I got out of the car to make a photo, I noticed those nearby wildflowers and wanted to include them – it was a difficult task. The exposure for the flowers would be very different from the sky. And getting everything in focus in one frame would also be hard. I decided to make three vertical frames (adjusting focus and exposure in each one) and then try blending them together into a single panorama image when I got home.

I wasn’t hopeful.  On top of capture issues, I knew the blending would be hard too. The flowers were very close and would change perspective against the open marsh when the camera moved. And any motion from wind would cause ghosting or other issues. I made the frames anyway – it was worth a try. I didn’t think it would turn out this well – an unexpected success!

You can click on the first and last photos to view larger versions on Flickr.

Changing the subject, Tropical Storm Isaias is heading toward Central Florida. Our skies are blue and cloud free right now. Later today it’s expected to be a lot closer and we might get some strong weather beginning this afternoon. Lynn and I have done our hurricane prep and are hoping it stays out to sea and doesn’t get too bad.  We also hope all of you anywhere near the projected path are prepared too.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there and take care of each other. And if you can – make some surprising photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Comet Stacking

I’ve seen some awesome images of Comet Neowise C/2020 F3. I’m sure you have too. Did you make any photos of it? Then you might have a better image than you think, just waiting to be processed. Let me explain.

Neowise.Central Winds Park. 7/16/20. Single exposure at 85mm, f/2.8, 8s, ISO 400

Lynn and I went up to Central Winds Park in Winter Springs to see if we could spot Neowise. This park is on the south shore of Lake Jesup and has less light pollution to the north than we do in our neighborhood. Once it was dark enough, we could easily find it in binoculars, but it was very hard to pick up with just our eyes.

I went back a few days later with my long lens to try for a close up.

Comet Neowise C/2020 F3

Neowise. Central Winds Park. 7/19/20. 3 exposure stack, 600mm, f/6.3, 2s, ISO 3200 – 6400

I made a lot of frames of the comet on that trip, trying to find optimal settings for a single exposure. Almost all of the really spectacular images that you’ve seen are probably from a tracking mount, with multiple frames that are aligned, stacked, and processed together to reduce noise and bring out faint detail. I wasn’t trying to do any of that.

But after several attempts to get the best image I could out of what I’d captured, I realized I might have multiple frames I could stack too. So going back through my RAW captures I found three photos to try. They weren’t ideal since they were at different ISOs but I thought it was worth a shot. Here’s a before / after of a single RAW image compared to a stacked composite from three frames.

Comparison of a single RAW frame to the stacked, 3 frame final image

If you’re an astrophotographer, you already know all this. And you probably have some task specific software to align / stack / process images. If you’re not an astronomy buff, then do a web search for “photoshop manual align astro layers” and you’ll find a lot of info on how to do this without any extra programs – which is how I processed mine.

This is only the 3rd or 4th comet I’ve seen and the very first that I’ve tried to photograph. The first one I saw was Halley’s Comet back in 1986. I remember how exciting it was to show it to Lynn and Mike. I had a camera (and a telescope) then, but photos like these with that equipment would have been next to impossible. Photography has come such a long way!

So, if you made any Neowise photos, sort through them for frames you can try to stack. You may be surprised at the improvement you can get.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there and take care of each other. And if you can – stack some photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Independence Day

This photo I made in Greenwood Cemetery near downtown Orlando has been in my archives since April of 2011.  I haven’t posted it before, but it seems appropriate for this USA Independence Day weekend.

Young Bald EagleYoung Bald Eagle – You can’t see it very well from this angle, but It’s actually two eagles – the extra feathers on the left belong to a second one.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The Bald Eagle is one of the symbols of our country.  And to me this young eagle watching us is symbolic of what’s going on in the United States now.

In one sense our country is old – 1776 was 244 years ago.  But in another sense, we’re still immature like this young eagle.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The USA is a country founded on ideas and ideals.  But it’s still growing and imperfect.  We have a lot left to do before all people are equal and able enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We may never be a perfect union.  But I believe in the ideals our country is founded on.  And I believe each one of us must work hard to make every independence day more perfect than the last one.

Love your family.

Treat others as you would like others to treat you.

Hang in there and take care of each other.

Happy birthday, America. Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog.

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

 

Black and White

Ages ago when I was young and starting out with photography, I used black and white almost exclusively. It was an economic choice, not esthetic. I could buy black and white film cheaply in bulk and do my own processing, which reduced cost substantially.

In today’s digital world I still photograph in black and white, but not exclusively and it’s not an economic choice anymore. Almost every modern digital camera has a black and white mode. And since I shoot in RAW format, I can experiment and choose what my final output will look like long after I press the shutter. There are many reasons to shoot black and white, but here are a couple you may want to think about:

1. Emphasize / reveal different things about a subject
Black (and white) Bird
Black (and white) Bird

The Lightroom B&W panel has sliders for 8 different colors. Converting from RAW can provide a lot more control than choosing the default B&W mode in your camera. When processing this photo, I used this to bring out detail and texture in the Osprey’s feathers, brighten its eye, and darken the sky background.

Osprey B&W mix

Here’s a before and after that compares the color and black and white versions. Which do you like?

Osprey before and after
2. Control harsh light and colors

I like both wildlife and landscape photography. Light is best for landscapes during the golden hours around sunrise and sunset and can be very harsh in the middle of the day. Black and white can help you control this and make a good photo even when the light is harsh. I mostly use my infrared converted camera in black and white mode for this, but a regular camera can also work. Here’s an example of some harsh mid-morning light that I think works well in IR/B&W:

A lonely place
A lonely place

You can see more of my B&W photos in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157625316775091

If you’re looking for an interesting pandemic project, take a look at your image catalog and try converting some to B&W. You might discover many reasons for black and white photography!

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there and take care of each other. And if you can – make some (B&W) photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Camera Konstruction

Yes, this is an unusual post for Central Florida Photo Ops – but it is camera and photography related so I’m going with it.

A while back I received this kit as a gift (thanks kids!).  It sat in my camera cabinet for a long time waiting for me to ‘get round to it’.  The forced stay at home time during the pandemic lockdown provided an opportunity to pull it out and get started.

The Konstruktor is a complete, ready to assemble, plastic kit.  It’s a 35 mm, Single Lens Reflex, film camera. You can find out more about it at the Lomography site here: https://microsites.lomography.com/konstruktor/

When you first open the box, it might be intimidating. There are a lot of small parts and they aren’t well marked.

And to be honest, the instructions are a little sparse, although after getting through to the end of this I think all the necessary info is in there. Before I started, I did some research on line and found this helpful YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxLMpNfRUeI&list=WL&index=18&t=0s.

The camera ends up looking very usable. It has a fixed F-stop (f/10) and shutter speed (1/80s) so you’ll control exposure by choosing and loading it with an appropriate film speed (ASA / ISO).  The detachable 50mm lens can focus from .5 meters to infinity.  The viewfinder is okay but as you might expect with an f/10 lens, works best in bright light.

I probably won’t run any film through this for a while, but if you’re interested, you can see  photos people have made with them as well as other examples of the camera on Flickr at this search link: https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=Konstruktor

The kit’s supplied with decorations you can use to customize your camera.  I chose the black ‘leather’ wraps and the ‘Leica’ like red dot for mine. This is an afternoon project and teaches a bit about how a camera goes together and works.  if you want to get back to the basics with some film photography, give it a look.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Stay safe out there and take care of yourselves, your families, and your friends.  And if you can,  make some photos – or even a camera!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Incredible skies?

in·cred·i·ble, adjective: Very difficult or impossible to believe; extraordinary

There’s been a lot of buzz on the web recently about sky replacement – a genre of compositing. You take the sky from one photo and substitute it into a second photo.  I first tried this way back in April of 2007.  I wanted to make the Great Egret family in this nest at the St. Augustine Alligator farm stand out against the sky. You can compare the before and after in this slider:

Before on the left, after on the right – Use the slider to compare

You can view a higher res version on Flickr here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/4101177267/in/album-72157622798164562/. It turned out pretty well, but it was a lot of work (at the time) and I haven’t tried it again – until recently.

The latest version of Skylum’s Luminar photo editor comes with a capability called “AI Sky Replacement. This “automagically” replaces the sky in your photos with a single click and will even adjust the rest of the lighting in the scene to better match the new sky. You can read more about it on their site: https://skylum.com/luminar.

Here’s another before / after slider showing my recent effort with their software. The original photo was made on Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. It was a very pretty morning, but the sky was a bit plain.

Before on the left, after on the right – Use the slider to compare

Here’s the whole completed image (click to see it in much higher resolution on Flickr).

Good Morning
Good Morning

I like how this one turned out too – the sun in the new sky is in the right place and the light direction, intensity, and color match the foreground nicely. It adds interest to the image. And it was easy – Luminar worked well in this case.

But it makes me a little uncomfortable. I guess because in this blog I want to tell you about what, where, and how to photograph. So I think you should expect to see things here that you can also see when you go to these places. This image is a composite, not a photo – you wouldn’t have seen this on that morning. I won’t say that I’ll never do compositing, but I do promise that I’ll disclose it if I do.

Now, am I going to criticize you if you replace skies in your photos? No, you can do whatever you want with your images. They’re your art. But in general, I do see folks on Flickr doing this a little too much. And if you do it you should disclose or tag it. And you should do it right – the results should look natural, not artificial. The light direction and color should match. The lens used in both photos should also match so scene elements are at the proper relative distance from each other. Go for the second definition of incredible (extraordinary), not the first (Very difficult or impossible to believe).

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog.  And if you can – make some photos!

As for everything that’s going on in the USA and the world right now … I’ll try to keep politics and non-photo opinions out of this blog. But if you’re interested in what I think about things, feel free to take a look at my Twitter feed (link on the right). Peace out.

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Gatorland Postcard

I sincerely hope that all of you are staying safe and well.

This is my next entry in the occasional blog category called “Postcards” where I upload a photo of Central Florida scenes – similar to ones you’d see on a postcard.

It’s easy to find them all. 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.

Cattle Egret in breeding colorsCattle Egret in breeding colors

I made this image in June of 2015 at Gatorland in Orlando Florida.  Gatorland is a theme park and wildlife preserve in south Orlando.  The main attractions there are of course the alligators, but wild birds also use it as a breeding area in the spring.   The birds are used to people and you can get some fantastic photos of nesting birds and breeding behaviors. I’d been thinking about buying an annual pass this year, but the pandemic has delayed that – Gatorland is closed for now.  I’ll get one when we get back to normal.

Here’s a link to all the posts I’ve written about it: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/gatorland/.  And you can view my other photos from there at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157623039154783.

You should be able to click on this photo to open it on 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 – stay safe out there, and if possible – make some photos!

©2020, 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/.