The Great Journey in Photography

Posts tagged “arts

Get It Straight

GISImage

Do you know what camera makes the most pictures in the world? It’s not a Cannon or Nikon, the camera that makes the most images around the world is the camera built into the Apple iPhone. But you probably knew that already. The thing is, good cameras on good phones are a great way to make images. Granted there will be no great bird photography on a smart phone in the foreseeable future, but because high end smart phones have so much computing power it is very possible to take high resolution images, edit them, and store or share them all from the same device with quality comparable to expensive DSLR cameras.

The last couple of years I have made a lot of pictures with my iPhones and often they are just fine after the edits I can make right in the Apple Photos application. But, there are times when I make a panorama or architectural photo and there is the lens distortion we see on most wide angle shots. You know what I am talking about, trees that are at an angle or windows that are not straight. It is common and easily fixed in Lightroom or Photoshop but I became really bothered that I needed to send images to the evil Adobe to make just one edit. I set out to build a better way to fix that distortion right on the phone and even better right in the app where the photo is stored. That led to the birth of Get It Straight tagged as The missing link to mobile photo editing. That’s because I really do believe it provides the one editing feature the native application does not have.

The standalone application offers users the ability to import images from many sources, adjust the horizon, adjust the perspective, set a crop, export and share the edited image. As a Photos Editing Extension users are able to jump into the extension while editing the image and adjust the horizon and perspective while making all the other light and color edits the application offers.

Get It Straight is available for a one time price of $1.99USD on the app store for iPhone and iPad. You can download it here.


Digital Editing Basics

split view Brown Pelican

Before and after basic RAW image processing

I always say that given the choice you should almost always shoot RAW. RAW is a format, usually proprietary  to the manufacturer, that holds much more data than the optional Jpeg format. RAW images however are minimally processed. What does that mean? Well it means that your new image is not tuned, it will almost never look the same as it does on the back of the camera, and sometimes it means that you will pass on processing the photo because it does not look very good. RAW images contain more data though and in the end will process to better quality than Jpeg images. Processing RAW data is a pretty straight forward procedure all you need is some sort of converter. Manufactures often bundle a basic converter with the camera and sell stand alone editing software for additional cost, and there are the big third party processors, Adobe and Apple Aperture. I use two Adobe products Lightroom and Photoshop, they both have Raw image converters built in with software known as Adobe Camera RAW (ACR). I use them both in concert and often use ACR features of both on one image. Allow me to explain.

I always import images into Lightroom, that is an organizational thing, I want my images stored, tagged, and key-worded right off the bat. Light- room has presets upon import and if you want to see your image just like it appeared on the back of your camera you can set it to display that way on import. I don’t often do that because most of the time I plan on processing to a bit more creative level and I am better off starting from the same baseline every time. You can also adjust one image and quickly apply the same adjustments to some or all of the other imported images with the click of a button. I do that sometimes but not really too often. What I do very often is pass the raw image off to Photoshop and start processing in the ACR module. I do this for one big reason, most of the time my bird photos get a dusting of NIK Color Effects Tonal Contrast and that is in Photoshop. Yeah, I know there are other ways to access NIK filters that may seem easier but this is what works best for me. So in ACR I do all the basic stuff, exposure, color temp, blacks, contrast, saturation, I also manually adjust highlights and shadows with adjustment brushes and will often enhance the blues and browns with luminescence adjustment. If the image has a lot of water in it I will usually set the white balance on the cool side at this point, then I save the adjustments and move back to Photoshop. There I will mask and paint in a warming filter on my subject and any highlights that are to be kissed by the sun. Those color balance changes are very subtle and a little bit goes a long way but it can really make a good photo great. Then it is off the the Tonal Contrast, starting at about one third of default settings and then only applied to the subject in most cases. Tonal contrast applied to water backgrounds looks really bad so be sure to use the selection tool to keep those parts original. Then it is back to Lightroom for a few last checks. This is where I will look at vibrance, sharpening, noise reduction, and any minor adjustments to make the histogram just right, then export as needed. This all may sound like a long convoluted way to process an image but I like it because at the end it is loaded in both Lightroom and Photoshop and it is in  Photoshop’s recent items list and that means I can do any additional editing from minor adjustments t big Photoshop projects in a snap, I can also save many of my clean up and color balance adjustments on separate layers that can be changed later. This whole process can be done in just a few minutes once you get it down.

I often hear others say things like “I only allow myself five minutes to process a photo” implicating it is not worthy of processing if it takes longer than that. That is a big load of crap, any one who limits their edit time, for what ever reason, is a fool. It takes as long as it takes and if you consider your work as art you need to work on it as long as it takes till it is finished.

Thanks for reading everyone, I am really glad you were able stop by. Live well.

You can follow me on Google+


Forty Days and Forty Nights

Brown Pelican art %22Ruby has Wings%22

After three fantastic months of shooting birds I fell into a drought. Forty days of bad weather and worse shots. I have to blame myself for the most part. Who really wants to go out when it is cold and raining and who really wants to carry their heavy and expensive prime gear under such circumstances? It is easy to fall into an unproductive rut. That will all come to an end at some point, but I often wonder what I can do to stay eager and motivated to make great bird photos. As I look at things though, a big part of the reason why I got into the rut in the first place is because I have a lot of other related projects going on and there is just not a lot of time to get everything done. Here is one of those projects that has finally become a reality.

All last Summer I followed and photographed a pair of mature Pelicans who decided to stay in Southern California instead of heading out of town for the the breeding months and Summer that follows. I named them Ruby and Edgar. It was a little unusual for them to stay around but it was very unusual for me to encounter them each and every time I went to the reserve they call home. I was able to get some remarkable photos of them along with Least, Forrester’s Terns and an immature Brown that dropped in from time to time. I took some of those images and applied a rather unique processing to make some canvas prints that I think are different and beautiful. All done within Photoshop and using only one third party filter (Nik Tonal Contrast) then printed on canvas, the process takes a lot of time as it essential becomes a digitally hand painted piece of art. I plan to make a tutorial of how the process is done at some future point, but for now I don’t want to think about how the sasuage is made but rather what the results are. The image above is one of my favorites titled “Ruby Has Wings”.

I think it is self defeating task to try to sell pictures to other photographers so I am really not expecting much when I say that the series is now available for sale but hey, if you want to buy one drop me aline or mention it to someone who might.

Thanks for reading. You can get more details about Ruby and see more of the Shore Line Series here.