Saturday, February 18, 2012

Black and white sunset

Black and white sunset
Buy a print. Same image on flickr. Google+ post.
Assembled from 9 images Nikon D300, Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX, f/11, 1/100s, ISO 200.
Created on a recent evening walk along Beaver Brook trail on Lookout Mountain near Golden, CO. I photographed the sunset at this exact spot many times before.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lightroom wish list fulfillment

Back in '09 I wrote a small list of top 10 wishes I had for additions/improvements to Lightroom. AT the time, LR was at version 2.2. When I recently looked back on it, I was struck by how many of these are now getting fulfilled but also by which ones are still on the table. To summarize here are the wishes again from 10 to 1. I'll bold the ones that are now fixed or supplied in LR 4 beta.

10. Faster browsing of previews. While this was sped up a little, it is still one of the main complaints with Lightroom. Scrolling through large sets of images will often result in lagging image preview updates. However a lot of these improvements were negated by overall more complex raw rendering making everything still sort of slow. I call this one still open for fixing.

9. Fool-Proof printing. This was fixed mostly by the printer manufacturers finally getting their act together and updating their drivers to support modern color management. Also any last issues remaining (too dark prints) can now be fixed mostly by the new Print Adjustment sliders in the print panel.

8. Better slideshow module. This has largely remained unchanged and is a huge opportunity for improvement. I don't use it.

7. Lens Correction tools. This is now very well dealt with. Lightroom supplies a lot of lens correction profiles for many main stream lenses and for those remaining you can easily create the profiles yourself (I've done a few and you can download them using Adobe's lens profile downloader tool). In LR4 beta, the lateral chromatic aberration can now be automatically removed for any lens, even those without a profile. It's more effective than the profile-based method supplied in LR 3 in my testing. Still missing is some sort of axial CA correction, but that is far harder to deal with.

6. Facial recognition. Nope not there yet. Aperture does this, Picasa does this, Adobe PS Elements does this. Lightroom should be able to do this (with appropriate privacy controls if needed) but doesn't yet. This feature would be a big timesaver for lots of pro and non-pro users of the software. Obviously for my landscape photography it is useless, but it would be really handy for the family photos. Likewise I'd imagine wedding and event photographers could benefit from this.

5. Geotagging tools. They are now here with the new Map tab. The tools are not yet as good as Jeffrey Friedl's plugins but they represent a hug step forward. Some bugs left in there are that height data is not saved on export and not generated from gpx tracks. If you shoot a lot in the mountains as I do you care about that data.

4. More complex, boolean searching. EDIT: 2/16/11 As Michael Perlov points out below, you can do boolean searches by prefacing search terms with an exclamation mark in the text search field. I am embarrassed that I did not know that as that is a standard boolean operator that I use in programming all the time. It is not complete yet as I don't see an or operator but I think this deserves a bolded heading.

3. Book Making. Yes we finally have this with the built-in book making tool that prints to blurb. Very nice. There is even the promise of future editability of all the templates.

2. Raw pipeline plugins. We don't have these yet, but it is becoming less and less relevant as the built in raw engine is getting so good that I doubt many people still need external noise reduction software or other editing tools. So while this would still be nice, I wouldn't count this against Lightroom right now. Your mileage may vary of course.

1. Soft Proofing. We got this in LR 4b and it is fantastic. It is very well done. In fact better than Photoshop in my opinion. It is very natural and very usable. See here for part 1 and here for part 2 of a great video tutorial from Andrew Rodney. There are a few bugs in the beta version (soft proofing for sRGB doesn't work) but I am confident those will get fixed in the final version.

All in all 5 of my original wishes are fulfilled. 1 is more or less irrelevant, and 1 is really close (the boolean searches). Things are looking great. Of course the best feature of LR 4 beta is the new raw engine. It has to be seen to be believed. Like magic is an apt description.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Mule deer on Mount Galbraith in the early morning.

Munching. Nikon D300, Nikkor 55-200 mm f4.0-5.6 VR at 200 mm, f/8.0, 1/800s (sunny 16 rule), ISO 200
Google+ post (image above links to flickr)

I often see lots of wildlife early in the morning such as these deer but don't really have the appropriate gear to get them closer. I did like this little group though with the one in the center noticing me.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunrise at Mount Galbraith

Mount Galbraith is a basically unknown open space park just west of Golden. It's accessed right off Golden Gate Canyon road. The morning these images were created last weekend, I was originally planning to go up in the mountains, but a combination of factors made me rethink that. The extremely high avalanche danger made me a little apprehensive about the location I had chosen and the roads leading there were extremely slick after the big Friday snow storm. So I chose to stay in a little longer and drive up to Mount Galbraith where I had taken some nice cloudy sunset images before (see here, here, and here) and where I had discovered a very nice tree that overlooked Golden, Denver and the plains that for sure would be offer some nice opportunities at sunrise. It's rare to need snowshoes in the foothills, but this day I needed them.

Sunrise over the plains
Sunrise over the plains. Buy a print.
High resolution composite from 16 images.
Individual shot technical data: Nikon D300, Nikkor 35 mm f1.8 DX, f/13, 1/125s, ISO 200
Same image on flickr. Same on Google+.

This is the tree and down below you can see Golden and North Table Mountain. You should really check it out large by clicking on it.

I also made a panorama at this same spot:

Wideness - the tree at sunrise
Wideness. Buy a print.
High resolution composite from 10 images.
Individual shots: Nikon D300, Tokina 11-16 mm f2.8 at 11 mm, f/13, 1/100s, ISO 200

Again, seeing this large is the only way.

This is the tree from the other, sunlit side.

Glowing. Buy a print.
High resolution composite from 8 images.
Individual shot technical data: Nikon D300, Nikkor 35 mm f1.8 DX, f/13, 1/60s, ISO 200

I saw a lot of deer from which I will post some pictures later. Now I focus just on the landscapes.

This image was taken on the other side of Mount Galbraith long after the sun had come up but the shadows were still very very cool.

Hot and cold
Hot and Cold. Buy a print.
Technical data: Single shot Nikon D300, Tokina 11-16 mm f2.8 at 15 mm, f/10, 1/200s, ISO 200
Google+ post. Same image on flickr.

The hills you see in the back are I think those in White Ranch open space park and Golden Gate Canyon state park. I really like the very strong hot/cold contrast you get here between the shadows and the sunlit areas. This is really what it looked like to me. I lifted the shadows out of the darkness by using a graduated neutral density filter but to your eyes the shadows looked this crazy blue in contrast with the warm, sunlit areas.

On the back of Mount Galbraith there is also a large area of burnt trees from an area that burned last spring. These offer some interesting opportunities but are hard to frame effectively.
Dance of the skeletons
Dance of the skeletons. Buy a print.
High resolution composite from 8 images.
Individual shots: Nikon D300, Tokina 11-16 mm f2.8 at 11 mm, f/11, 1/80s, ISO 200

Hope you enjoyed these as much as I enjoyed my morning that time.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I'm in love

As a good nerd it is a new camera from Nikon that specifications wise as close to perfect as I've ever seen.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Badlands sunset

Sunset behind Badlands peaks
Badlands National Park. Buy a print.
Nikon D300, Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 at 46 mm, f/9.0, 1/1000s, ISO 100/

An image where you don't need enormous resolution. Made from the parkinglot of the little restaurant there a few years ago. This is a new interpretation of the image here using Lightroom 4 beta. I really like the way it handles the highlights.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Liberty bell and Merced river
Liberty bell and Merced river, Yosemite National Park, Christmas 2011. Buy a print.
Tech data for the nerds: Nikon D300, Tokina 11-16mm at 11mm, f/5.6, 1/60s, ISO 200 handheld
Google+ post. Same image on flickr.

This was from a late afternoon hike with my daughter to Nevada Falls on Christmas day. The image was processed in Lightroom 4 beta which is able to extract amazing amounts of shadow detail from images such as this. Normally I would have used a grad neutral density filter here but this was just a grabshot at the moment. I also created a black and white version of this that I really like:

Liberty bell and Merced river Black and White
Liberty bell and Merced river Black and White, Yosemite National Park, Christmas 2011. Buy a print.
Same tech data as above.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The wave

The wave
Sunset at Baker Beach, San Francisco, CA, Buy a print.
Nikon D300, Nikkor 35 mm f/1.8 DX, ISO 200, f/11, 1/125s
Google+ post. Same image on flickr.

I am amazed at the technical quality one can get out of images with Lightroom 4 beta. This image was worked up in the beta and it just shines. Can't wait for the real release. Click for much bigger.