Friday, December 26, 2008

Very nice post about LR/enfuse

Steve Paxton wrote an excellent post on LR/enfuse on Inside Lightroom. Check it out. As I wrote before, Enfuse is the only HDR tool that, using the default settings, gives acceptable results. If you have been disappointed with, or horrified by the ugly blobby images that most tools generate (see for example the results in this otherwise good tutorial - no accounting for taste though - you might love that style), check out the excellent Lightroom plugin LR/enfuse that implements enfuse for Lightroom, and that Steve discusses.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New post at inside Lightroom

I wrote a new post at inside Lightroom about the inner rewards of landscape photography. Check it out. I talk about a evening photohike a little while ago on an evening that it was -19F (-30C) where I was. Wonderful evening and wonderful hike. Here is an example image:

Check out the post and check out the hike images. There is a flickr set of the same place here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Outdoor Photographer

I noted previously that I got my image among the finalists in an outdoor photographer contest. I also received my copy of this magazine a few days ago. I always enjoy the magazine, especially the photographer's columns. It is however, funny to see that it is extremely rare for the cover photograph to be made by any of the cameras, lenses, etc. that the magazine endorses. This month for example had an outstanding cover done by the late Galen Rowell. He made the picture using a Nikkormatt FTN, a standard 35 mm lens and 25 ISO film. Funny how much this contrasts with the banners superimposed on the photograph about the "best DSLRs for true B&W" and "maximum quality" from your digital camera. Galen Rowell's photo is truly superb showing that indeed it is the photographer that matters instead of the gear. This is just standard 35-mm film, not even medium or large format.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Vote for my image

I got one of my images in the finalists gallery of a outdoor photographer contest. Check it out here. I'd appreciate you checking it out and voting for the image in that gallery that you like (hopefully mine ;-) ).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lightroom 2.2

If you don't know it by now, Lightroom 2.2 has been released. This mainly pulls in new camera support but it also fixes several major bugs. One of them is the bad scaling bug that I have talked about many times before. Funnily enough, the release notes were clearly written by marketing types as the sentence mentioning that this was fixed doesn't address the bug at all and makes it sound like it was hardly a problem:

"Print Sharpening produced edge artifacts in certain conditions"

The bug had precisely nothing to do with print sharpening. I am sure it could be severely exacerbated by sharpening but it had little to do with it. It even manifested upon cropping in the Lightroom interface! Anyway, I am very happy that this was fixed anyway.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Film vs digital?

Saw this on a Dutch photography blog. A comparison by a British technology show of absolutely giant blowups of studio shot images from a D700 and A F4 using the same lens. Can you guess which one won? Now guess when you know they used ISO 400 film. While interesting and they are certainly correct that in this comparison the digital camera will be the clear winner, if you're a landscape photographer and you plop a good ISO 50 film into any old film 35 mm SLR, you will not match it with a D700. You'll need a 25 MP DSLR to match the resolution of Velvia 50 for 35 mm technology for example.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Camera profiles

I wrote a little piece for inside Lightroom on the final release of the camera profiles. Check it out here. I gave some examples on how the camera-matching profiles can often give you very good starting points for developing your images. Here is another example. This is a shot I never looked much at from Monument valley. It was quite hazy and my camera's command dial was shot because of a car incident the previous day. The ACR default rendering is quite boring and the colors are just completely weird explaining why I never paid much attention to this image. Nothing like what I saw over there. Hover over the text links to see the result of different profiles applied to this image. It sometimes takes a little time for the images to load initially, so be patient.

ACR 4.4 (the default profile for the D50)

camera standard

camera neutral

camera portrait

camera landscape

camera vivid

camera vivid with some optimizations

The last version shows the result of some minor changes to the development using the vivid profile. Mostly just black level increase and a white balance change to get some more magenta in the sky (as I observed when I was there). Clearly, these profiles are very useful even if you're not as bad of a color junkie as I am.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

High resolution landscapes - new blog post at inside Lightroom

I started blogging at O'Reilly's Inside Lightroom blog. I wrote a rather long post about making high resolution landscapes with a cheap 6MP DSLR. Check it out!. I talk about how I made this image from a bunch of handheld shots.

I linked to a gallery of images made this way in a previous blog post.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Foggy and icy morning

This is last Friday morning. It had frozen very hard the night before and snowed the day before.

The image links to a larger version on smugmug. Check it out in flickr here. In order to not blow out the sun, I created this image from 5 bracketed handheld shots combined using enfuse and did a small amount of brightness/contrast and curve work in Lightroom afterwards.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Clear creek near Golden in snow

Click for bigger version:

Link to flickr page for this image.

Fixed - bad scaling in ACR/Lightroom

Just an update on the problems with scaling in Lightroom that I hammered on for a while on my blog. See for example this post and this post. If you have CS4, install ACR 5.2 and you'll see that the scaling problem has been fixed. These improvements will carry over into LR 2.2 when it comes out later this month. Eric Chan from Adobe, who also had a lot to do with the superb new camera-matching profiles, apparently is in large part responsible for these improvements and he used many example images from me and many other people to test the updated algorithms. Great job. When LR 2.2 comes out, this will remove my number one problem with Lightroom. I'm as happy as a tornado in a trailer park, to use a strange Texas colloquialism.

Images from the Canon 5D mk II

Photography blog has a review of the 5D mk II that includes RAW and jpeg samples. Check them out. As I said before, if you want image quality, especially for landscapes, this is a great camera and it is borne out by the images. You can load the RAW into Lightroom and Aperture by using Adobe's free DNG converter to convert them to CR2, or by using ACR 5.2 in PS CS4. The detail is very very good, and at least on par with the D3x sample images posted by Nikon. It remains to be seen if RAW from the D3x also results in better detail than the jpegs they posted. Of course, the D3x is going to be a better camera from everything but image quality such as build, autofocus (which is weak in the 5D) and other factors. A landscape photographer, however should care very little about those, but should care about real resolution, color rendition and weight where the 5D mk II scores very well.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The D3x is out

Long a rumor, now it's real. Nikon released the D3x, a 24 MP monster in a D3 body. There are some very nice sample images here and some other ones in a annoying and crappy flash interface here - gorgeous images though. Gorgeous detail and beautiful color. However, the price of $8k! makes it completely irrelevant for me. If you're a commercial studio photographer then of course this is great, but perhaps offers not that much different from medium format digital except for the use of all your nikon lenses. If you're a landscape photographer, you have to be super rich or super successful to afford this and then you'll still get far better quality using large format analog which will set you back far less. Or go for the Canon 5D mk II, which offers basically the same quality (for landscapes) in a much smaller package. Let's hope Nikon comes out with a D700x to compete with that using the same sensor as in the D3X. The D3x is a monster. A beautiful one, but a monster nevertheless.

Update: Ken Rockwell writes "... Nikon dared ask $8,000 for a $5,500 camera that is the same thing as the $4,200 D3.", and "The D3X is Nikon's greatest camera ever; it's just not worth $8,000, except to turkeys." He is absolutely right. Don't bite at this price. You can get the same quality using Velvia 50 in any old 35 mm Nikon you can get for $50 on craigslist if you own a good scanner or use a good scanning service.

Update II. Wonderful analysis by Thom Hogan here.