Photos in a Series

Sometimes a single image needs friends.  I’m sure you’ve seen photographs that work as a series; where one just doesn’t seem like enough.  Combined with another three or four in a similar style or subject, suddenly it all works.  I’ve been thinking about the concept of a series lately and today I shot some images in Boston’s financial district that may just work as a series.  I’d love to know what YOU think.  

Walking Motion #1.jpgWalking Motion #2.jpgWalking Motion #3.jpgWalking Motion #4.jpgWalking Motion #5.jpg

Leave me a Comment to let me know what you think.  Thanks! 

Submitting your sample portfolio to the Teton Photography Group

Full members of the Teton Photography Group who are current members of the Art Association of Jackson Hole are eligible to submit their contact information, website address or social media site(s), and a sample portfolio of five (5) representative photos for the Members Section of the TPG website.

The representative photos should be submitted as JPEG files and should be in a horizontal/landscape format for consistency with others and for showcasing on our Home page.  Please send the files formatted to a width of 1200 pixels and a resolution of 72 ppi.  Be sure to use your watermark so the shots can be identified when they are chosen for the Home page slide show.

The information and the attached representative photos should be sent directly to our Webmaster, Mike Cavaroc at Mike@FreeRoamingPhotography.com.  The information will be posted in the order it is received as time is available so please be patient.

We hope all members will use this valuable member benefit to highlight their work and link it to their own websites.

High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography

High Dynamic Range (HDR), what is it, why should I know about it, and what can it do to broaden my photography? Three simple questions so often raised by those new to digital photography that are often difficult to answer. In this post I will try to give a straight forward overview of HDR that will allow you to experiment with the techniques to determine if HDR has a place in your photographic armamentarium.  

First, what is dynamic range? Dynamic range defines the breadth of luminosities that can be visualized. Luminosity is the term used to define the brightness of an object.  Luminosity along with hue (color) and saturation (intensity of color) determine how we see an object or the image of an object. Our eyes have an incredible ability to detect light simultaneously at low and high luminosity. This range is typically quantified in exposure values (EV) or more often as f-stops.  One EV or one stop is the equivalent of doubling the about of light. The dynamic range of our eyes is about 18-24 stops - a huge range of light intensity from dark shadows to very bright highlights. Cameras don't do so well.  A single image captured with a film camera may retain image detail over about 8 stops; a digital image captured with a very high-end dSLR camera may retain detail over a range of about 10-12 stops.  In other words, our very best cameras cannot process an image with variations in tonality or brightness as well as our eyes.

This was a big problem in the days of film when painstaking dodging and burning were done in the darkroom but with the advent of digital imaging and sophisticated processing software we are able to produce HDR images with a tonal resolution nearly equal to our eyes. The theory of how this is done is simple. By capturing multiple images at different exposures, the processing software can use the low luminosity data from over-exposed images and high luminosity from under-exposed images and combine and process the data to give a greatly expanded dynamic range.  In other word HDR gives you the ability to extract more image detail from both the bright and dark areas of a scene giving the image a feel closer to what you visualized with your eyes. However, overdoing HDR processing can transform a good image into a quirky, over-done, cartoon-ish image that has too much contrast and is too highly saturated. HDR can create a surrealistic feel to an image that may be desirable or not.

What subjects make the best HRD images? First, static subjects are usually much more appropriate for HDR processing than moving subjects. Subjects with texture and a wide range of tonality (variations between bright and dark) are often best for HDR. Often subjects with bright and highly saturated colors can be dramatic in HDR. People or wildlife that are stationary may be imaged using HDR processing but moving people or objects create problems with the processing and often do not work well.

You can imagine that the way to expand dynamic range of an image is to capture the bright and dark areas of a scene by intentionally over and under exposing the subject and that is exactly what we do. The shooting technique is to capture three or more identical images at different exposures. Always shoot in RAW format because you heed a large bit-depth to process the final image and JPEGs will always disappoint you when shooting HDR.  To be certain that the images are identical it is desirable to use a tripod and capture the multiple images as rapidly as possible using the high-speed burst exposure mode of your dSLR.  Most dSLRs allow you to use a mode called auto-bracket exposure - in other words, the camera rapidly captures 3 or more images at the exposure you have set and at an exposure that is intentionally over and under exposing the image.  The exact way you do this is important. Your camera should be on a tripod and the mode set to aperture priority (Av on Canon and A on Nikon.) The reason for using aperture priority is that you want to change the exposure by changing shutter speed not aperture. If aperture were to change, you would create images with different depths-of-field and so focus/sharpness would be different between the highlights and the shadows.  You can see why you want a static, non-moving subject because the variation of shutter speed and the timing of the multiple exposures would cause variation in the sharpness and position of the subject. This produces an artifact in the processed image called ghosting (more later.) Finally, you want your exposure bracketing to be at least 3-6 total stops.  That is, if you are shooting 3 bracketed exposures, the shutter speeds should be a minimum of one to two stops higher and lower that the ideal metered shutter speed resulting in images that are significantly over and under exposed. I typically set my HDR bracketing on my 7D at 1 1/3 stops for three shots in a moderately well lighted scene. If there is large variation between the shadows and highlights I will increase the bracketing to 1 2/3 or 2 stops.  The 7D like many dSLRs will only shoot 3 bracketed shots. On my 5DIII I set the bracketing at one stop and shoot 5 to seven bracketed shots.  I generally shoot two sets of images for each composition and I try to remember to shoot each set in both horizontal and vertical formats.

Now that you have captured the images it is time to look at HDR processing. Some of today's newest cameras allow HDR processing in the camera. That said, most photographers want the control of post-production software to refine and tune their images to meet their exact needs. There are many dedicated HDR programs that work independently or with Adobe Photoshop to create the processed image. Each program has pros and cons beyond the scope of this introduction. The good news is that most of these programs can be down-loaded for a free trial period so you can choose the one with the features and results that you want. The two most popular stand-alone programs seem to be Photomatrix by HDRSoft and HDR Efex Pro by Nik Software.  Both of these also work as plug-ins with Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. There are also a growing number of free and shareware programs and, of course, Photoshop itself does HDR processing and this was my personal choice.

A highly processed HDR imageNew Hampshire--3 Each HDR program collects, aligns, and processes the 3-9 individual, bracketed images you have shot and down-loaded. The 12 or 14-bit images are converted to a huge 32-bit image for processing so you can imagine that you need some pretty sophisticated processing power in your computer. The images ate 'tone-mapped' to select the highlights and shadows that will have the most detail for the final image. Once the mapping is done you have the ability to select how you want to process the final image in terms of contrast, saturation, exposure, and the 'strength' of the HDR effect. All of the programs have a variety of presets to help you get close to your desired effect.  You also have the ability to eliminate ghosting that may be present if there was movement in the scene during capture or incomplete alignment due to camera movement.  Lastly, the image will be outputted for viewing as a very large PSD or TIFF file or as a compressed JPEG.

The results of HDR processing may surprise you, please you, or enrage you. You will have a new image that is high in contrast, color saturation, and details beyond what you could imagine. Done tastefully (dare I say properly) HDR images are a wonderful addition to your photographic repertoire but, overdone, they are less than pleasing. In all cases, HDR processing will give you new insights to your photography so you should give it a try.

A new website.

Talk about a fresh start.  The 'old' website was starting to get comments...like "it's ugly."  Then along came my son and daughter to rescue.  As a birthday present.  "Dad, we're going to make you a new website."  Gotta love kids who turn a negative into a positive!

So here we are with a new look, a new selection of images, and hopefully it isn't ugly!

This blog will be connected to the facebook page, because we all have to be connected, don't we.  The facebook page is at Facebook.com/MSCPix or you'll see little facebook icons on this site's pages, for easy access.

So if you run across this page in your web travels, just drop a quick "Hi" in the comments to let me know you've visited.  I promise the next blog post will be full of free stuff, sex and a great new ice cream flavor.

A new website.

Talk about a fresh start.  The 'old' website was starting to get comments...like "it's ugly."  Then along came my son and daughter to rescue.  As a birthday present.  "Dad, we're going to make you a new website."  Gotta love kids who turn a negative into a positive!

So here we are with a new look, a new selection of images, and hopefully it isn't ugly!

This blog will be connected to the facebook page, because we all have to be connected, don't we.  The facebook page is at Facebook.com/MSCPix or you'll see little facebook icons on this site's pages, for easy access.

So if you run across this page in your web travels, just drop a quick "Hi" in the comments to let me know you've visited.  I promise the next blog post will be full of free stuff, sex and a great new ice cream flavor.

A new website.

Talk about a fresh start.  The ‘old’ website was starting to get comments…like “it’s ugly.”  Then along came my son and daughter to rescue.  As a birthday present.  “Dad, we’re going to make you a new website.”  Gotta love kids who turn a negative into a positive!

So here we are with a new look, a new selection of images, and hopefully it isn’t ugly!

This blog will be connected to the facebook page, because we all have to be connected, don’t we.  The facebook page is at Facebook.com/MSCPix or you’ll see little facebook icons on this site’s pages, for easy access.

So if you run across this page in your web travels, just drop a quick “Hi” in the comments to let me know you’ve visited.  I promise the next blog post will be full of free stuff, sex and a great new ice cream flavor.

High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography

High Dynamic Range (HDR), what is it, why should I know about it, and what can it do to broaden my photography? Three simple questions so often raised by those new to digital photography that are often difficult to answer. In this post I will try to give a straight forward overview of HDR that will allow you to experiment with the techniques to determine if HDR has a place in your photographic armamentarium.  

First, what is dynamic range? Dynamic range defines the breadth of luminosities that can be visualized. Luminosity is the term used to define the brightness of an object.  Luminosity along with hue (color) and saturation (intensity of color) determine how we see an object or the image of an object. Our eyes have an incredible ability to detect light simultaneously at low and high luminosity. This range is typically quantified in exposure values (EV) or more often as f-stops.  One EV or one stop is the equivalent of doubling the about of light. The dynamic range of our eyes is about 18-24 stops – a huge range of light intensity from dark shadows to very bright highlights. Cameras don’t do so well.  A single image captured with a film camera may retain image detail over about 8 stops; a digital image captured with a very high-end dSLR camera may retain detail over a range of about 10-12 stops.  In other words, our very best cameras cannot process an image with variations in tonality or brightness as well as our eyes.

This was a big problem in the days of film when painstaking dodging and burning were done in the darkroom but with the advent of digital imaging and sophisticated processing software we are able to produce HDR images with a tonal resolution nearly equal to our eyes. The theory of how this is done is simple. By capturing multiple images at different exposures, the processing software can use the low luminosity data from over-exposed images and high luminosity from under-exposed images and combine and process the data to give a greatly expanded dynamic range.  In other word HDR gives you the ability to extract more image detail from both the bright and dark areas of a scene giving the image a feel closer to what you visualized with your eyes. However, overdoing HDR processing can transform a good image into a quirky, over-done, cartoon-ish image that has too much contrast and is too highly saturated. HDR can create a surrealistic feel to an image that may be desirable or not.

What subjects make the best HRD images? First, static subjects are usually much more appropriate for HDR processing than moving subjects. Subjects with texture and a wide range of tonality (variations between bright and dark) are often best for HDR. Often subjects with bright and highly saturated colors can be dramatic in HDR. People or wildlife that are stationary may be imaged using HDR processing but moving people or objects create problems with the processing and often do not work well.

You can imagine that the way to expand dynamic range of an image is to capture the bright and dark areas of a scene by intentionally over and under exposing the subject and that is exactly what we do. The shooting technique is to capture three or more identical images at different exposures. Always shoot in RAW format because you heed a large bit-depth to process the final image and JPEGs will always disappoint you when shooting HDR.  To be certain that the images are identical it is desirable to use a tripod and capture the multiple images as rapidly as possible using the high-speed burst exposure mode of your dSLR.  Most dSLRs allow you to use a mode called auto-bracket exposure – in other words, the camera rapidly captures 3 or more images at the exposure you have set and at an exposure that is intentionally over and under exposing the image.  The exact way you do this is important. Your camera should be on a tripod and the mode set to aperture priority (Av on Canon and A on Nikon.) The reason for using aperture priority is that you want to change the exposure by changing shutter speed not aperture. If aperture were to change, you would create images with different depths-of-field and so focus/sharpness would be different between the highlights and the shadows.  You can see why you want a static, non-moving subject because the variation of shutter speed and the timing of the multiple exposures would cause variation in the sharpness and position of the subject. This produces an artifact in the processed image called ghosting (more later.) Finally, you want your exposure bracketing to be at least 3-6 total stops.  That is, if you are shooting 3 bracketed exposures, the shutter speeds should be a minimum of one to two stops higher and lower that the ideal metered shutter speed resulting in images that are significantly over and under exposed. I typically set my HDR bracketing on my 7D at 1 1/3 stops for three shots in a moderately well lighted scene. If there is large variation between the shadows and highlights I will increase the bracketing to 1 2/3 or 2 stops.  The 7D like many dSLRs will only shoot 3 bracketed shots. On my 5DIII I set the bracketing at one stop and shoot 5 to seven bracketed shots.  I generally shoot two sets of images for each composition and I try to remember to shoot each set in both horizontal and vertical formats.

Now that you have captured the images it is time to look at HDR processing. Some of today’s newest cameras allow HDR processing in the camera. That said, most photographers want the control of post-production software to refine and tune their images to meet their exact needs. There are many dedicated HDR programs that work independently or with Adobe Photoshop to create the processed image. Each program has pros and cons beyond the scope of this introduction. The good news is that most of these programs can be down-loaded for a free trial period so you can choose the one with the features and results that you want. The two most popular stand-alone programs seem to be Photomatrix by HDRSoft and HDR Efex Pro by Nik Software.  Both of these also work as plug-ins with Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. There are also a growing number of free and shareware programs and, of course, Photoshop itself does HDR processing and this was my personal choice.

Each HDR program collects, aligns, and processes the 3-9 individual, bracketed images you have shot and down-loaded. The 12 or 14-bit images are converted to a huge 32-bit image for processing so you can imagine that you need some pretty sophisticated processing power in your computer. The images ate ‘tone-mapped’ to select the highlights and shadows that will have the most detail for the final image. Once the mapping is done you have the ability to select how you want to process the final image in terms of contrast, saturation, exposure, and the ‘strength’ of the HDR effect. All of the programs have a variety of presets to help you get close to your desired effect.  You also have the ability to eliminate ghosting that may be present if there was movement in the scene during capture or incomplete alignment due to camera movement.  Lastly, the image will be outputted for viewing as a very large PSD or TIFF file or as a compressed JPEG.

The results of HDR processing may surprise you, please you, or enrage you. You will have a new image that is high in contrast, color saturation, and details beyond what you could imagine. Done tastefully (dare I say properly) HDR images are a wonderful addition to your photographic repertoire but, overdone, they are less than pleasing. In all cases, HDR processing will give you new insights to your photography so you should give it a try.

What a week for photographers in Jackson Hole!

By all regards, this is a banner week for all photographers in the Jackson / greater Teton area. No, it wasn’t just the fantastic weather and innumerable Spring photo opportunities.  This week gives everyone several opportunities to intermingle and exchange ideas with some of the area’s best photographers.

First, this is the week of the Second Annual Photography Competition at the Art Association of Jackson Hole. Thursday, May 23 will be the first exhibition of the finalists and a wonderful chance for photographers to get together and examine the elements of fine photography in the wildlife and outdoor/sports categories.  Second, the Teton Photography Group had our first public program with Mike Cavaroc presenting “Videography with a dSLR Camera” to a group of 30 attendees and discussants. Finally, the TPG received our first publicity in the local print media.  An article by Kelsey Dayton in Monday’s Jackson Hole Daily featured our first meeting and Mike’s presentation. In Wednesday’s Jackson Hole News and Guide, Stepping Out section, there are articles about the AAJH photography competition by Amanda Miller and about the formation of the TPG by Kelsey.

The Teton Photography Group is real.  After four months of discussions, planning, and organizational meetings, we have had our first public program and have been announced to the community at-large. We added 14 new members this week and have received new ideas about future programs, symposia, and new resources on our web site. It is, in deed, a banner week.

Membership in the Teton Photography Group, Jackson, Wyoming

By now you know quite a bit about the history and goals of the Teton Photography Group. We are a group of enthusiastic photographers who spend at least part of our lives in the greater Teton county area of northwestern Wyoming and eastern Idaho. We organized to improve our photographic skills and share our experiences through social media, educational programs, and local activities centered around the Art Association of Jackson Hole.

How do you become a member of the TPG?  If you are already a member of the Art Association and have indicated interest in photography, you already are a full member of the TPG. Your dues are paid and you have all of the benefits of both the AAJH and the TPG.  However, you should do one more thing to experience everything the TPG has to offer.  Send your email address to us (TetonPhotoGroup@gmail.com) so you can be added to our mailing list and our social media sites.  We have a website, a Facebook page, a Google Plus Community, and a Twitter site.  When we receive your email address and confirmation of your AAJH membership, we will add you as a member to all of these sites. Finally, as a full member, you are entitled to present a sample of your portfolio and your contact information on our website. This will give visitors to the site a sample of your work and a direct link to you and your entire portfolio. Our Group website is connected to national photography clubs and associations sites with the key words needed for your work to be found and showcased. As a member of the AAJH your will have free or discounted admission to all TPG activities and all educational programs offered by the AAJH so your membership dues save you significantly when you are active in the Group.

If you are not yet a member of the Art Association of Jackson Hole, please join immediately so you will not miss a single event or program.  Membership is only $35 per year and can be obtained on-line (www.artassociation.org) or by calling 307-733-6379.

Our email address is:  TetonPhotoGroup@gmail.com
The TPG website is:  www.TetonPhotograpyGroup.org
Our Facebook page is:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/459493864122722/
Our Google Plus Community is:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/104570801506195329251
Our Twitter link is:  https://twitter.com/TetonPhotoGroup

We are gearing up for our first public program on Monday, May 20 at 6 PM in the conference room at the Art Association of Jackson Hole (240 S Glenwood.)  Future meetings and programs will be on the third Monday of every month at 6 -7:30 PM.  The meetings are open to the public, we hope to see you there.

Post-processing of digital images

To say that post-production or photo editing equipment and software are controversial is an understatement. In one of the very first postings on this blog I discussed the difference between JPEG and RAW photo image files and the need to always have RAW files available for post-capture digital editing. Now I would like to address the details of post-processing equipment and software. This is clearly controversial and rapidly changing but I will give you my opinions about the advantages and reasoning for what I use (today.)

The first impossible controversy regards the computer platforms available for digital imaging. I will say upfront that I use a PC and software designed for a PC.  My choice was made for three reasons.  First, I came from the world of academia and to a lesser degree, business. The PC is dominant in these areas so I knew the machines and software. Second, there is generally more software available for the PC. Third, the PC is less expensive than a Mac or Apple system. Now before the Mac users start screaming, I am the first to admit that the Mac is probably a better system for any graphics application. Good photo editing software is available for both systems and the software costs are similar. Generally, though, you need to make a choice early in your photo editing career, because the software is usually platform-specific and cannot be used on both systems.  I would lean towards the PC platform if you are in a large business or academic institution. I would lean toward a Mac if you do not need to share all of your non-photographic work with many colleagues and would definitely choose a Mac if you are going to edit video.  

That said, I use a high-end PC with a fast processor (3.6 Mbs), separate high-speed video card with 2 GB memory, 16GB of RAM, and a 2TB internal hard drive, multiple USB3 connections and 2-27" Viewsonic high-resolution monitors. I have multiple external 1, 2, and 4TB hard drives for back-up. You need a lot of RAM for photo editing and lots of hard drive space and a good back-up system to store your work.

There are multiple paths to appropriate post-production software. There is the camera software approach using what comes with your camera. These software packages are usually satisfactory for RAW file editing, conversion to JPEG, and printing. They are proprietary and, therefore, subject to change so if you have any aspirations to develop and expand your photographic work, I would avoid the proprietary camera company programs. A second approach is the low-end, freeware approach. Several programs are available to convert and edit photo files at little or no charge. Sometimes these programs link to on-line photo storage and sharing sites such as Flickr and Picasa. These work great for point-and-shoot and cell phone photographers but those shooting seriously with a dSLR usually want more than these programs can provide. Next are the rich, mid-range, purpose-specific photo editing tools such as Adobe (Photoshop) Elements (for either the PC or Mac) and Aperture for the Mac. These are full-featured programs that have far more capabilities than most photographers want or need and will do almost any editing job asked of them.  Finally, there are the top-end editing tools used by advanced and professional photographers - Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. These are two totally different packages that serve different but compatible roles in your photo editing work flow.

What is Adobe Lightroom (LR)? LR is a photographic database that was designed to store, catalog, and locate large numbers of digital images. LR also combines the photo editing power of Adobe Mini-bridge, Bridge, and CameRAW to view, convert, and edit images in a non-destructive manner and with a very easy to learn user interface. LR manipulates digital images at the image file-level rather than the pixel-level. Adobe Photoshop (PS), on the other hand, is part of a huge creative suite of programs used to manipulate digital images at the pixel-level in a destructive manner.  Wow - that is a lot of very specific terminology - what are these two programs used for and what do they do?

LR is the starting point in the digital imaging workflow of most serious photographers. LR allows the photographer to import RAW (or JPEG) image files from a camera or memory card into a computer. During the import, the files can be renamed, assigned to specific folders, converted to digital negatives (DNGs), have key words assigned, and undergo basic image processing available in Adobe CameRAW (ACR). Once the images are imported LR can be used to correct white balance and tint, adjust exposure, straighten and crop, create local color, contrast, and exposure adjustments, sharpen and reduce digital noise, and apply special effects to the images. LR also creates a viewable image and has multiple tools to compare, sort, locate, grade, tag, flag and copy images. It acts as a file manager for the RAW images allowing movement on hard drives and allows the creation of smart (automatically updated) or stable collections of photos.  LR can geo-tag photo locations.  The latest version of LR also creates various output formats for the web, slide shows, books, and prints.

Photoshop is the top end of photo editing software. Most photographers who do not do graphic design probably only use a small fraction of what PS can do. PS has two import features called Bridge and Mini-bridge that bring photos into ACR for editing and conversion to output files for printing or sharing.  ACR works much like LR to make image-level edits and corrections before PS is used.  PS allows editing at the pixel level so the user has complete control over all elements of the photo.  The photo edits, for the most part, are destructive edits meaning that the image will be irreversibly altered if saved. PS does not have the sophisticated database functions of LR and does not do the cataloging and searching as well as LR.

Both LR and PS can use pre-sets and third-party plug-ins to automate much of the work of photo editing. The automation of PS is far more sophisticated using scripts and batch processing to speed your workflow.  Examples of these include high dynamic range (HDR) imaging, focus stacking, and panoramic stitching of multiple images. The two programs work together seamlessly to enhance your editing workflow and image storage and retrieval.  So, how are the two programs used by a nature photographer?

The more I talk with professional photographers, the more I realize that about 90% of post-production editing is done in LR and only about 5-10% in PS. LR is a powerful image editor that gives busy photographers a comprehensive database with which to catalog tens of thousands of images and find them again in seconds. As an editor, LR performs all of the functions of ACR in a very intuitive user interface.  Color balance, tint, leveling, cropping, exposure and contrast adjustment, noise reduction, and sharpening are handled effortlessly in LR.  Local adjustments of nearly all of these functions can be done with both brush and gradient tools.  I will review these editing functions in more detail at another time, but, for now, recognize that these tools are available.

PS adds three hugely important functions that are not in LR and a few hundred other functions used by graphics designers.  The three biggies in PS are layers, masks, and content-aware fill. These destructive, pixel-level tools add creative touches not possible in LR and give the nature photographer the ability to "fix" issues in a photo that could be distracting to the central theme of the photo.  There are literally hundreds of other manipulations that can be done in PS that are not available in LR. Most of these are interesting but not necessary for the average photographer.

That is the editing overview and I will have much more about editing in future posts. Next time we will explore high dynamic range (HDR) imaging and its role for the nature photographer.