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Do you use photoshop on your images

November 19th, 2013

Do you use photoshop on your images

I have been asked this question a number of times about my landscape photographs recently and my answer is absolutely! Landscape photographers do this all the time because of the limitiations of the camera. All the great landscape photographers, past and present, use some form of manipulation. Ansel Adams used dodging and burning to change the tonal values of an image. Peter Lik uses a computer to do the same thing.

In my short time as a landscape photographer, I too learned about these limitations of the camera itself is. The camera is one tool used to capture an image. That so called "camera" only sees in mid-tones and does not have the dynamic scale to record all the information in my landscape photographs

The eye can see 24 different shades of light, but the camera can only see 12. On days where the light is even and there are no strong shadows underneath trees or objects, the camera will be able to record everything it "sees." This occurs on cloudy days. On days with bright sunlight and harsh shadows, the camera will only be able to record either the bright information or the dark information only. When a photographer tries to compensate for this in their camera, they can not produce one images that is properly exposed. They can produce two images; One will be a bright picture with properly exposed shadows and the other will be a very dark picture with no detail in the lighter areas. This is the dilemma of a simple, but complicated piece of equipment. So, what is a photographer to do? Blend the images in photoshop.

As a landscape photographer, we can use "photoshop" to compensate for these issues. There are a few ways to do this: 1)The first method would be to underexpose the image a little and then, with photoshop, bring up the highlights and shadows, to create a proper image; 2) The second option is almost the opposite. It would be to bring down the highlight areas and decrease the shadows to create a proper image; These two methods are limited to the amount of information the camera will be able to record. This will produce an image that may contain quite a bit of noise or grain in the image.

There is an additional solution which involves photographing 2 or 3 images and blend them together in photoshop. This is the method that I use.

Their is a method to this madness! First, a photograph is taken of the scene at mid tone levels.. This usually produces an image that has some areas that could be brighter and some areas that could be darker. A second photograph is taken with a proper exposer of the dark areas(usually the forground). And, finally a third exposure is taken of the brighter areas(usually the sky). Then all three images are added together or blended using photoshop producing an image that represents what my eye saw that early morning or late evening.

The Camera Vs. The Eye

November 4th, 2013

The Camera Vs. The Eye

The Eye and the Camera do not see exactly the same way. When an individual looks at his or her surroundings, their eyes roam and scan the surroundings, focusing on objects close by or in the distant. Even though the camera and the eye both have a lens, the eye is more complex and able to focus on an object while still incorporating the rest of a scene with peripheral vision. The brain filters this scene creating an image that is less chaotic.

The camera is not able to perform this task. It is unable to filter the clutter, chaos or any other extraneous information. It just records the information.

To compensate for this “visual chaos,” the photographer must actually control what the camera records and exclude extraneous information. He/she must separate the objects in the scene.

This can be done with selective focus( aperture ), perspective, lighting, and shutter speed:

1.Selective focus: The lens of a camera has the ability to change depth of field. A photographer can manipulate how many objects are in focus by changing the aperture on the lens(f-stop). Opening the lens up(smaller aperture-lower number) creates areas in the image that will be out of focus thereby leading the eye visually to more focus areas in the picture.

2. Perspective: The angle that one photographs a scene can isolate an image more. This can be achieved by shooting from a different height; moving closer to or further away from the subject; or moving to the left or to the right of the subject.

3. Lighting: Using the proper lighting can help to remove the chaos from an image. This can be done by using a flash to brighten up the subject and darken the background; using a reflector to bounce light on to the object; or photographing the object at a different time of day.

4. Shutter speed: Shutter speed can be used to create or isolate the subject. Using a slower shutter speed can create a blur effect; or panning(moving the camera while taking the picture) can focus the viewers attention on the subject of the photograph.

The fine art photographer will use these methods to create an image that is organized and well thought out.

Pressing a button on the camera is only half the job

September 25th, 2013

Pressing a button on the camera is only half the job

Landscape photography is a difficult subject to handle due to the available light. The camera's today are marvelous pieces of technology but, they only record mid-tones. They are limited in their dynamic range. In other words, they can only record a certain amount of information. For example, during a sunrise or sunset, a camera will be able to either record a properly exposed image of the background(sky) or foreground(earth). It is nearly impossible for a camera to record all the information in a scene in one image.

It can be done, but without digital manipulation, the image will still either appear to dark or too light. A photographer may be able to increase that dynamic range with split neutral density filters, but part of the problem will still remain. It will be improved, but there will still be darker areas and lighter areas on the image that will not be seen unless recovered using photoshop or some other comparable software program to digitally enhance the image.

One of the key factors in this equation is the lighting available from the sun and sky. If it is cloudy, great! you can record the image on the camera sensor and avoid dark shadows. You can also do this at twilight, but a longer exposure is necessary. However, the worst time to take photographs is when the scene is very contrasty and has deep dark shadows!

How long does it take to process a photograph

July 5th, 2013

How long does it take to process a photograph

This is a very good question. There is not right answer or a specific timetable. On average a photograph that I take in during my travels can take anywhere from 15 minutes to "give it my Mojo" or years. I have learned, very recently," that a photograph has no timetable for when its ready. I would like to be able to process it rather quickly, but that may not happen. For example, I took a series of photographs in January of 2010. I knew they were good, but until I actually had the skills necessary, I was unable to process them correctly. Yes it was frustrating, but I didnt know what skills were needed. In the future, I might have to reprocess them again, depending upon my skill set. In other words, there is actually no timetable. I might be able to show my vision or what I saw in the camera, quickly or it might take years!

When Traveling for Photography, remember to go with the flow

July 2nd, 2013

I just got back from a recent trip to Banff National Park. I knew when I booked the trip that it June was their "rainy" season. Well, not only didit rain, but it rained more in 2 days while I was there than it had in 6 months.

They got so much rain, that my scheduled photography outings got washed
out. Thats right, the road washed out leading into banff, trapping
vacationers for days. I was one of them!. The main bridge connecting
Banff to Calgary crumbled and there was no way for anyone to leave.
Individuals that came just for the day, had to find hotel accommodations.

Not only were the roads washed out, but do to flooding, half of my trip
washed out too. The first group of locations turned to mud. And, then
became so flooded that the parks department sectioned off those areas
preventing traveling. Not only that, but the power went out two days
later when flooding occurred at the local power facility. Then, we lost
telephone service for another full day. No land lines or cellphones.

So, I waited. I was prepared to extend my trip. However, 4 days later
things improved drastically. The roads north of me in Lake Louis were
opened and my trip took a turn for the better.

Although, I was slightly stressed when this drama started to unfold, I
also realized that all was not lost. Not completely! And, by the end of
the 12 day trip, I had some great photographs!


What makes me tick

June 6th, 2013

There is something fulfilling about capturing a moment in time…particularly as the sun makes its first or last appearance. My photographic work reflects an affinity for movement and sound; the latter reminiscent of a song, starting calmly, building strength, power and energy, until the shutter releases and the image is recorded as the ultimate crescendo.

While I am most drawn to the grand landscape, my portfolio includes macro still life and abstract work as well, showcasing a relationship between color and light.

Why take a photograph?

June 5th, 2013

The great thing about photography is the fact that there are so many subjects to shoot. I love landscapes. Someone else might prefer shooting models, while another prefers taking pictures of old people. Then again, there are some photographers that love to take picture of birds. They will stand and wait for the perfect image of a bird, just like fishing. It may take them hours and thousands of images to get the perfect capture. Why do they do it? Because they love it!

My first entry

June 3rd, 2013

Born and raised in Southern California, South Florida has been my home for more than 20 years.
While photography has always been an inherent part of my life, I began my career as a fine art photographer following my retirement from restorative dentistry. As a firm believer in learning by doing, I worked on honing my craft at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, Old School Square in Delray Beach and the Palm Beach Photographic Centre, as well as working with professional photographers at workshops around the country.
I currently reside in Delray Beach with my wife, our two border collies and camera-shy boxer mix.