Friday, February 27, 2009

Landscape blurs - who says you need high resolution?

There is an interesting article showing images made (and this is a very unsatisfactory explanation as much more goes into this) by moving the camera deliberately during exposure on luminous landscape. The results are gorgeous and painterly. Check them out!.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Boston Globe's awesome photo galleries - all in adobeRGB?

I always thoroughly enjoy the beautiful galleries that the Boston Globe publishes. This time is no exception. I am always struck by the beautifully saturated colors they appear to be able to hit. Of course I always use color managed browsers. Webkit/Safari is my favorite, although I also use Firefox 3 with the secret setting enabled. So I had never noticed this before but all the images on the galleries in the globe are in adobeRGB color space. Of course my browser is color managed so this doesn't matter and it even leads to even better colors on my wide gamut display, however, if you use a non-managed browser like internet Explorer (trash it!) or Chrome, you might want to fire up Safari or Firefox (don't forget to enable the color management) and check out their galleries. The difference is stunning, especially in the gorgeous reds and yellows they have such as the fires near Melbourne of a while ago. They are so much more amazing in a managed browser. This is especially true if you use a laptop with a small gamut display such as a Apple MacBook.

Roll over to see how much better this image looks in a color-managed browser, even on a fully calibrated screen! These are screenshots from the aforementioned bushfire galleries from Firefox using managed and unmanaged settings. The awesome (in the original sense of the word of inspiring apprehension or fear) destructive power of the flames really comes out in an unsettling manner in the managed rendering. Be patient, depending on your connection, the first time this can take a few seconds to appear. After that, it will be instantaneous.

Even though this is simply an error by the web people at that newspaper (they should use sRGB for everything), this is another big argument for using a managed browser at all times.

Lightroom noise reduction revisited

A while ago, I wrote a post about noise reduction in Lightroom and how it compares to in-camera jpegs or capture NX (for Nikons) at very high ISOs. At that time, I concluded that Lightroom's noise reduction was weak. Over time however, I have come to appreciate the flipside of this coin. Both jpegs and capture NX conversions lose enormous amounts of detail because of the noise reduction applied. So much so that it can severely impact your image and make it look like it came from a point and shoot digital camera (i.e. terrible). To illustrate, here are some examples of this effect. I am employing the same rollover trick again as I have used before. Just roll your mouse over the titles and your browser will fetch that specific version. Be patient, depending on your connection, the first time this can take a few seconds to appear. After that, it will be instantaneous.

Capture NX default conversion

Lightroom default conversion

Capture NX with no noise reduction

And here is a different area.

Capture NX default conversion

Lightroom default conversion

Capture NX with no noise reduction

In my opinion, in both these examples, the default capture NX conversion pastes over lots of actual detail. I think the LR method actually gives a nice middle point between the images with noise reduction disabled in CNX and the ones with the default noise reduction. In the house image for example, the noise reduction completely gets rid of the structure in the fence, which is still visible in the Lightroom conversion. I do not like the appearance of the noise in Lightroom too much though. It seems to have a pasty character. Of course you should avoid looking this close too much at these superhigh ISO images. Of course a dedicated noise-reduction program will probably do a far better job than either. You can also see that although I used a camera-matching profile for the Lightroom conversions to give the same color as CNX, the yellow highlights on the house are not rendered as well in Lightroom as in CNX.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Review of the new pocketwizards

Rob Galbraith has an extensive review of the new pocket wizards flash remotes, the MiniTT1 and FlexTT5. These new versions actually transmit TTL info to and from the camera. They also have a new "hypersync" mode that allows you to sync flash and shutter wirelessly at very high speeds without getting black banding. Cool stuff!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Multiple pictures on a single page?

This is a very cool tip. Just changing a single item in a text file suddenly allows you to use more than one image per page in the picture package tool in Lightroom. Try it! This finally makes the picture package tool very useful.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Photos from Australia's wildfires

Rob Galbraith compiled a list of galleries of images from the devastating wildfires near Melbourne. The images are at once hauntingly beautiful and immensely sad. My heart goes out to those affected.

Check them out.

Sony releases new gizmo

The onion of course

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Resolution of stitched panoramas

I got inspired by an interesting post on Luminous Landscape about medium format digital and the new numbers on them posted by DxOmark. Because DxOmark does not account for actual resolution, the medium format backs appear to do worse than many current DSLRs. Of course, that is not a correct comparison as the whole point of these backs is resolution - the one thing the test does not measure. The article goes overboard with a flawed comparison to audiophiles but hey. These medium format backs are a superb solution for landscape photographers that want to shoot digital. They are just very expensive. For what they offer probably good, but very far out of my reach. A good alternative would be a large or medium format film system, but that is not my preferred style mostly due to the difficulty or cost in getting acceptable scans. My solution to this dilemma has been stitching. I either shoot handheld or use a little jig that rotates my camera around the nodal entrance point. A better solution would be a tilt-shift lens, but those are quite costly. I was curious how my method would compare to the medium format backs. The highest resolution these offer is 39 Megapixels. Here is a recent example I made using my D300 and a 24 mm lens (the kit lense zoomed to this value!)

This image is rendered at about 41.4 Megapixels, which is about half of the 105 Megapixels that it would be when rendered at the full resolution from hugin. The field-of-view is equivalent to 10 mm on a crop sensor. Here is a 1:1 blowup from the area marked with the red rectangle.

As you can see superb detail, even at only half of the maximum resolution. Even though I would love a medium format digital system, for now, until I win the lottery, this stitching method gives me outstanding quality. The medium format would be free of the problem that you need a subject that doesn't move (fast running water is not an issue BTW as you can see here or here).