Tag Archives: technique

Variations in HDR Processing

While scanning through some images, one of the shots that showed up in my catalog was an HDR processing of some shots of a US Army Chinook.  It had been processed with a plugin that I had previously experimented with.  I thought it looked over vibrant but I was impressed with the way the dark interior of the helicopter had shown up while the outside was also well lit.  I decided to have another go at processing the images.

I used Lightroom initially to do the processing.  It came out surprisingly well and looked not unlike the outcome from the plugin.  However, there was some ghosting on people in the shot and there was a lot of chromatic aberration.  I have noticed issues with Lightroom making a worse job of it than Photoshop so I decided to try HDR Pro in Photoshop as well and use Camera Raw for tone mapping.  The outcome was very similar from an overall perspective.  However, the ghosting was virtually eliminated and the aberration was not apparent either.  It clearly is still a better bet than Lightroom.

Facial Symmetry

After four months of no hair cut, I finally managed to get some clippers and set about cleaning up my head.  I won’t share the awful look that I had developed (and the current look might not be that great either) but I did have Nancy take some pictures before and after.  While she was taking the after shots, I asked her to take a couple that were directly head on.  I was interested in facial symmetry.

I had seen articles in the past about how some people have quite symmetric faces while others didn’t and I had been meaning to try this out for myself.  I got a shot that was nice and head on so took it in to Photoshop.  There I duplicated the layer and flipped it horizontally.  Aligning it centrally was a bit of a choice because you can move it around a little and just widen or narrow the face.  I got it to a place that seemed about right.  The fact my face is asymmetric means that there isn’t an exact center to align against.

I then added a layer mask to two versions of the image to blank one side or the other out.  The result is two versions of my face using either the left or the right side.  The difference between them is quite stark.  My jaw is slightly lopsided as is my nose and so one version has a far broader look to it while the other is a lot thinner.  It’s like two different people.

When You are Locked Down, It’s Got to be Macro Time

Not being able to go anywhere means you can only photograph things close to home.  Why not dig out the macro lens.  I have no doubt that many photographers have been doing the same thing when stuck at home too.  I initially didn’t have any obvious plan for this.  I just decided to photograph anything around me to see what it looked like when seen up very close.  Textures on the surface become apparent in a way that aren’t normally.  I also discovered just how much dust on on somethings that I never noticed until looking at the images.

Spider Hiding Out

My effort at shooting macro images of bees in our front yard (this post) also yielded a surprised.  While I was waiting on a flower for the bee to come to me, I noticed the flower already had a resident.  A little white spider was hanging out in there.  I am not sure what its intended prey was.  It seemed a bit small to take on a bee but I have no idea if that could happen.  Maybe it wanted something smaller.  I got a couple of shots of it that interested me.  The prime shots show its “face” in detail.  Macro shots have a very shallow depth of field so I missed with plenty of shots but one or two had the end of the legs in focus.  The detail of the hairs on the legs was so cool so I include that too even if it looks like I missed focus on the shot (which obviously I did!).

Bees at Work

The Puget Sound area is currently abloom.  Everywhere you look there are flowers.  It is quite beautiful.  We haven’t seen too many hummingbirds on our feeder recently and it’s not hard to see why when they have so many places to feed right now.  We have some blooms in our front yard too and this means the bees are visiting. I decided to try and use the macro lens to get some shots of them.  My lens is a Tokina unit.  I bought it for the negative scanning process for which it worked well.  However, the focusing drive is not fantastic and it hunts a bit when I use it for things other than manual mode.  However, it is still worth a shot.  Here are a couple of bee shots from the yard.  I can’t go anywhere so I may as well shoot at home!

Another Look at the Hoh Rain Forest

I was recently watching a video of a landscape photographer and he took a trip to the Hoh Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.  Nancy and I went there on a vacation a few years ago and I posted about it here.  I decided to go back and look at some of the images from that visit and see what I liked.  I had taken a bunch of photos in multiple locations on that trip and I found that I had not really given many of the shots any effort.

I decided to take a look at both those that I shared in the original post but also some “new” ones.  I realized that a little effort made the images so much more interesting.  The rain forest is so lush and there is so much green that it almost seems unnatural.  I brought down the exposures a bit and did punch of the saturation a little.  It does look a little overdone but I assure you it is actually a reflection of what the place is really like.  I think digital cameras tend to tone down greens a bit and, when the place you are looking at is all green, this is a bit of a problem that needs to be addressed.

Oho is about four hours drive from where we are now.  A bit of a trek for a day out but I think a trip over to that side of the peninsula is definitely something we should do again before too long.  We can also check out the coastline over there which is really stunning.

Air to Air With United Jets – Or Is It?

When putting together some images for a group online that I am involved with, a dug out a couple of shots of jets departing O’Hare I shot years back.  When coming off 22L, some of the jets make an early turn to the south and you can get a view of them that is either quite level with the wing line or slightly above.  When shooting them, they are climbing so it is obvious what you were shooting.  However, as I looked at these shots, it occurred to me that they looked a lot like an air to air position except the angles were wrong because of the climb.  Since I had shot quite tightly, re-cropping the shot required some Photoshop work.

Taking the image out of Lightroom and in to Photoshop, I selected the crop tool and rotated the image to be the sort of angle that an air to air shot might be.  Doing this crops off the nose and tail of the jet.  However, one feature of the crop tool in Photoshop is that, if you then drag the edges of the tool back out, you can expand the canvas size.  You now have the whole plane in shot but have added some white space in each corner where no image previously existed.

It is a simple task to then use Content Aware Fill to add sky back in to these areas.  The result is a shot that looks almost as if you had been flying in formation at altitude.  Would you have spotted it?  Having done it with an A320, I then had a go with a 757.  The light angle makes it look a bit like we are flying along towards a setting sun.  I was rather pleased with the trick.

Charlie Jumping the Horse

I’m not sure what is was that prompted this but something made me think about shooting action sports and I remembered a time I was visiting my friends Jon and Charlie in the UK.  Charlie has always been an active horsewoman and has raised many horses, some of which she has jumped competitively.  They have a jumping area in one of the fields of their farm and she was interested in getting some photos of her jumping this horse.  (Something makes me think this was Grace but I am probably mistaken.)

I was keen to give it a go and was also interested in what angles would be most interesting/dramatic.  Of course, they couldn’t just keep jumping all the time to allow me to try different things so we had to give some ideas a go and move on.  I would like to have had some remotes with me to have set the camera up in some dramatic spots.  Maybe I can come back guys and have another go sometime?

An interesting part of this was seeing what things are of interest for different people.  The shots Charlie liked the best were the ones as the horse is coming down to the ground again.  Apparently that works well for her and is popular with other horse people. For me it made for an awkward looking shot.  (Maybe it is good for evaluating technique?). I liked the ones when the horse is just coming up over the fence as it looks more dynamic and elegant.  It’s strange how different things make a shot good for different people.

Why Not Shoot an M-21 While I’m Here

I was at the Museum of Flight for the IPMS exhibit but, while I was visiting, I figured it would be churlish not to take a picture of the M-21 that dominates the main hall.  It is actually a bit difficult to photograph and there is a lot of contrast with the background and it is always busy so a bit cluttered.  I knew it wasn’t going to be a great shot but decided to crop tighter on the airframe and shoot bracketed exposures and maybe go with an HDR process.  It isn’t great but it came out better than I had expected.

Butchart Cove

Just before Christmas we made a trip to Vancouver Island to see Butchart Gardens at night with their illuminations.  We got there before the sun went down and took a stroll through the Japanese Garden, a section that is closed for the night event.  At the bottom of the garden, you come to Butchart Cove.  There was a hole in the trees that provided a very predictable but worthwhile frame for the view into the cove.  I decided to go for HDR for the shot given the extreme range of light between the shady trees and the exposed cove.