Saturday, December 3, 2016

Andrews Creek

In the process of cleaning up my Lightroom catalog I am running into 100's of images I love. Here are two images from Andrews Creek in Rocky Mountain National Park that I took on July of 2015. I published one image from here but have never shown two others that I love. These are both at the point where the semisecret trail (it's not marked and disappears several times in the trees so you'll need some route finding skills) to Andrews glacier takes off from the main trail that leads to Lake of Glass and Sky Pond in Loch Vale. This is a gorgeous area in Rocky Mountain National Park well worth the hike. The first image is one I published before but never highlighted. The second and third are ones that I just discovered and actually like even more. I hope you enjoy these images.


Nikon D600. Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 at 16 mm, f/13, 0.8s, ISO 100.


Nikon D600. Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 at 16 mm, f/16, 0.8s, ISO 100.

From hither
From hither.

Nikon D600. Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 at 16 mm, f/16, 0.8s, ISO 100.

Friday, November 25, 2016

A mobile workflow with Lightroom?

Because of a recent trip to New York I decided to try whether I could work with a exclusively mobile workflow (i.e. no laptop) using just an iPad Pro and the sd card reader for lightning. I've read quite a bit about this and certainly Adobe plays up this workflow on their blog and with videos with well-known photographers singing its praises. I have certainly enjoyed the option to shoot dng files with my iPhone's built-in camera straight into Lightroom, and so to save a bit of weight and to see if this worked as well as advertised, I decided to try it for myself and only take an iPad and my cameras. To put the bottom-line up front, what I found is that this workflow shows some promise but is still very much a mixed bag. It works great if your needs are modest. It does not work when you are importing multiple days of images and when you have more than a few images. Part of the problem lies with Apple and part lies with Adobe. Let me explain my conclusions in a bit more detail.

The Brooklyn bridge at night. Shot using a handheld Nikon D600. Raw image file imported to Lightroom mobile using Apple's lightning sd card reader and edited using Lightroom mobile. The file automatically transferred to my desktop machine from where I edited the detail settings and uploaded it to my web service.

importing images

I use the excellent 9.7" iPad Pro that has the wider color gamut screen. This works great with Adobe Lightroom and it even color manages in Lightroom, Safari and other apps. This is quite nice. Also, the little Apple sd card reader works well but there are a few major problems to be aware off. First, you have to use Apple's Photos app to import your raw images from your camera's card. This is probably an Apple-imposed limitation but it causes some major issues. If like me, you have Photos set up to have your photo library mirrored through the cloud, it will immediately start uploading your raw files to Apple's cloud. Also, most people have limited space on their tablets so you do not want duplicate files in the end. So you have to as quick as you can go into Lightroom mobile and import the raw files from your camera roll. Then when it has imported them, go back to Photos and delete the raw files from there twice (first from the camera roll and then permanently delete them from the trash). The reason to do this of course is that you generally do not have very good internet connection when traveling like this and your tablet will be hogging your internet connection completely if you're not careful. However, this will cause a big problem the next time you import from the card as I explain below.

When you insert your card for the second time (say at the second day of your trip), you will be presented by something like the below:

There are two main problems here. The first is that it takes very long for the thumbnails to show and second that because we (forcibly!) deleted the raw files from the device's camera roll to save space and bandwidth, the device does not know which images were already imported. You basically have to remember and wait until the device finally gets around to the new images before you can select the images to import. This is a pain. You can avoid this by also deleting the files of the sd card, but this is a really bad idea as you will not have a backup of your images. Needless to say that is absolutely not what you want to do. The importing step into Lightroom is very easy however and fairly painless.

Conclusion: importing is not a good experience. This might be fixed if Apple opens up the sd card reader to third-party apps.

Editing images

Lightroom mobile works surprisingly well to edit images. Many things are supported such as gradient filters, and a fairly complete suite of editing tools. There are some major omissions though that turn out to be close to deal breakers for me. The first is that the camera profile defaults to "Adobe Standard" and you cannot change it (or even see the setting!) on the mobile side. This is problematic as the Adobe profile is not good for many cameras. I generally default to "Camera Standard" or to a profile I created from a passport color checker chart. You can't do this in Lightroom mobile. As a result, you're unlikely to get the color you would normally have on your desktop. The second major problem is that Lightroom will not show you the full resolution of the image and you can't change any of the detail settings directly. I could not easily reduce noise in high ISO images and could not optimize any sharpening. This felt very limiting to me. There are a few sharpening and noise reduction presets hidden in the presets submenu that do a bit of what you need, but clearly this needs a full set of settings. Thirdly, you can't stitch panoramas in LR/mobile. Oftentimes when I want to save weight, I will simply only carry a kit lens and shoot wider-angle views by simply moving the camera and stitching afterwards. This is not possible on just mobile. Last, but not least, the "upright" tools are not there. This means that for many of the shots I took in Manhattan and shooting many of the amazing buildings, I could not do any perspective corrections.

Last light reflected in the World Trade Center towers at the 9/11 memorial plaza. I highly recommend the 9/11 memorial museum at the site of the old WTC. A very powerful experience. I shot this using three shots using my Nikon 1 J4 camera at 10mm, imported into LR/mobile and did initial edits to it. When I got home, the images synced (after a looooong time - see below) to my desktop and I could stitch a panorama and do an upright correction to get the buildings vertical.

Conclusion: Editing works OK but is missing some essential features

Syncing images to the desktop

There is only one description for this: painfully slow even on very fast connections. It works for just a few pictures, but if you have more than a few such as the about 50-100 I had every day, it is not a good experience. It would be great if you could get home and have your images waiting for you. In practice, this will not happen. One major reason for this is that Lightroom mobile will not upload the images to Adobe's creative cloud while it is not in the foreground. This means that you have to stay in Lightroom and you have to keep your tablet awake. Also, it seems to use only a tiny fraction of the upload bandwidth and so expect it to take hours during which you can't do anything else with your tablet than Lightroom. To make matters worse, once your images have finally transferred over, your desktop machine does not have any clue that it has the images already in its library when you insert the memory card from your camera in your computer. This seems like a small problem but in fact, many people might take the approach to the above problems to only import a few files into LR/mobile and when you get home to import the rest from your card. This will ensure you end up with many duplicates! I do not understand why Lightroom Desktop does not recognize it already has the image files as it should screen on filename, capture date etc. All data that is exactly the same.

Conclusion: syncing your raw images to your desktop is not a very good experience.

Sharing images on social media

This is one thing that worked well. It is quite easy to just hit the share button in Lightroom and share directly to instagram (example), Facebook, twitter (example), etc. There are some issues with image quality however. The "small" 2048 pixel (how is that small?) has lots of jpeg compression artifacts. You also cannot easily add a watermark without going through another app on your iPad. There should be more options for image size and quality.

Conclusion: sharing your images on social media works well but can be improved.

Final thoughts

To sum up, A complete mobile workflow for people shooting raw files is not here yet. For now I recommend you take a ultralight laptop such as a MacBook Air or a Microsoft Surface and just run the desktop Lightroom on it. I am sure this is set to improve in the near future though. LR/mobile has rapidly improved over the last few months from a mere curiosity to something that at least comes close now and I am sure Adobe will keep improving the software. It is quite amazing that you can now edit raw images on a mobile platform fairly well I think. However, dealing with hundreds of raw files does not work well and has to be avoided for now.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Top ten most viewed immersive panoramas

As some of my followers will know, I regularly create immersive panoramas of places I visit. I often share these using google maps as that is one of the only places that can actually show them on a variety of platforms and that doesn't use flash or java, both defunct technologies with major security issues. Anyway, one of the interesting things is that a lot of people apparently see these spherical panoramas and hopefully enjoy them. I thought I'd share these with you as a top ten. Unfortunately I can't embed them in here easily so you'll have to click the links to be immersed in them and hit your back button to get back to this page. When you open one of the panoramas, remember to look up and down in addition to around you. Some of these have some nice surprises in them. Enjoy!

990,507 views: Tarn beneath Mount Toll

This is a small tarn above Blue Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. This panorama has been viewed 990,507 times. Yes, close to a million times!

787,930 views: Emerald Lake

This is Lake Emerald in Rocky Mountain National Park closely after sunrise. This is one of the first of these panoramas I ever made but I only recently uploaded it to Google maps.

492,690 views: Santa Elena Canyon

The mouth of Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park. You can see Mexico across the river. This point is quite famous and photographed many times at sunrise. The Rio Bravo river forms the border between Texas and New Mexico and was often a crossing point in the old west for outlaws to escape the US and now it is a crossing point for illegals to come into the US. You can just wade over basically. Big bend is a place I want to visit again sometimes for photography.

291,152 views: Andrews tarn and glacier

This is Andrews tarn and Andrews glacier in Rocky Mountain National Park

249,557 views:Blue Lake, San Juan Mountains

This is Blue Lake in the San Juan Mountains near Telluride. There are several Blue Lakes in the San Juans and this is the one that can be reached by hiking from the Bridal Veils waterfall power station.

127,557 views: Blue Lake, Indian Peaks Wilderness

Blue Lake sunrise. This is Blue Lake again in the Indian Peaks. The view is as very few people see it. At sunrise and almost wind still.

85,227 views: White Pocket

This is White Pocket in the Paria Canyon/Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, an absolutely amazing place. It is hard to reach with many miles of deep sand road to get through but well worth it in the end.

65,350 views: Little Hawaii

Little Hawaii. This is a "secret" waterfall close to Telluride in the San Juan Mountains. It is right next to a very popular trail but you would never guess it's here if you don't know about it. Locals know all about it but will not divulge the location. The GPS location I tagged on this image is not where it is supposed to be in respect of that.

53,482 views: Mount Falcon open space

Sunset from Turkey trot trail in Mt. Falcon open space near Morrison, Colorado. This is one of my favorite mountain bike rides in the foothills.

36,638 views: Shelf Lake

Shelf Lake approaching storm. Shelf Lake is a spectacular high alpine lake in Rocky Mountain National park that is only reachable through off trail travel. I got chased away from here by some thunder and lightning that day.

I hope You enjoyed these. Be sure to click through and look all around you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The glow

Intimate landscape in Zion National Park's Taylor Canyon. We were here at sunrise time and the light hitting the canyon walls bathed everything in a red glow.

The glow
The glow.
Nikon D300, 3 images stitched. Nikon 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 at 50 mm, f/16, 2.0s, ISO 200

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Swirly - Sunset on lollipop formation in White Pocket, Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness
Nikon D600, Tokina 16-28 mm f/2.8 at 17 mm, f/16, 1/15s, ISO 100

This was taken during a spectacular sunset on the White Pocket formations in the Vermillion Cliffs wilderness. The White pocket is one of the few places where you don't need a permit and I spent overnight here with some good friends photographing the place. There are many pictures of this place on my website and many more that I haven't worked up yet. Truly an extraordinary place with amazing formations on every corner. It is just really hard to reach with a many miles long deep sand road.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

On seas of calm

Sunset on the Great Sand Dunes, April 2015. I got sandblasted quite heavily on top of this dune and even though I was wearing many down layers and a good windshield, I still was colder than I often am on snow laden trips. Nevertheless, sunset on top of the dunes is still very much worth it and I highly recommend you try it if you get a chance.

On seas of calm
On Seas of Calm. Nikon D600. Token 16-28 mm f/2.8 at f/16, 1/5s, ISO 100

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Dream Lake October 2007

One of the major advantages of shooting raw is that you can go back later and process using newer processing tools and styles. Certainly in the last 8 years not just the quality of cameras but also the quality of tools has increased tremendously. In 2007, I made my first sunrise trek to Dream Lake and beyond. I have never blogged on those images but have shared a few on my website. However, at the time I was disappointed with the color in many of the images as they came up in Lightroom. I had also taken a few images on Velvia that were much better with respect to color and detail but I lacked a good scanner so I never shared those either. I was testing scanning some film using a viewer and a macro lens on my DSLR and naturally did a comparison with the old 6 megapixel DSLR images. It struck me that those images were all processed using the very old processing engine from Lightroom at that time and at a time Lightroom did not have any camera matching profiles. I simply hit reset, which chooses camera default for me and the most current pressing engine and the images came out looking very similar to the Fuji Velvia scans. Sliding a few sliders and they looked better! I also discovered that I had shot many panoramas for stitching at high resolution that I had never seriously stitched because I didn't like the color. Stitching these gave me better resolution than the Fuji Velvia scans. I will share a few of these old, new images below. As always click on the images to see them bigger and two order prints.

The red dawn
"Red Dawn". Nikon D50. Stitched from 3 images each at 18mm Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, f/8.0 6.0s
This was just before dawn. The mountain was glowing quite outerwordly as you can see.

Purple at sunrise
Purple sunrise. Nikon D50. Stitched from 6 images each at 26 mm Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, f/4.0 1/40s
When the first light rays hit the top of Hallett peak, the color had changed to purple everywhere.

Radiate Radiate. Nikon D50. Stitched from 6 images each at 26 mm Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, f/4.0 1/40s
Just moments later the color changed again to the more neutral blues you see here.

A window on time
"A window on time". Nikon D50. Single image. Nikon 18-55mm at 18mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, f/8.0 1/30s
This is from a single shot but I really liked it. The velvia version of this image has the tree areas almost completely black. The digital shot easily reproduces those.

"Witness" Nikon D50. Stitched from 6 images Nikon 18-55mm at 24 mm, f/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, f/11 1/50s
This tree was always intriguing to me and I had set up the shot as you see here, but I had never been able to make it stand out like I wanted. With the more modern tools in the current Lightroom, it was trivial to brush it up a bit and make the whole image pop as I saw when I was there. Works really well in this treatment I think.