Saturday, December 15, 2012

Metering is everything...the gray scale matters

The hardest thing in the world in my not so humble it to shoot "snow".  Even on an overcast day the gray scale covers the gamut from complete black to absolute white.  Ansel Adams was a master at capturing the gray scale with his "Zone System".  It was all an issue of deciding what was the magical 18% gray and metering to ensure he had detail across the board, then developing the negatives to ensure it happened.  The Zone system in short was one where after you shot the film to expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights.

This image was from my archives and dates back to November 1975.  I was then very much into Adams and his zone system.  I metered off an 18% gray card  that came with my Kodak Professional Photographers Photoguide.  I still carry it today to meter off of in extreme situations when I am shooting on film.  (Yes, I still do my own B&W silver work AND I refuse to call it "analog photography" like some hipsters I know).

So what about the world of digital photography?  You can still use the zone system.  You set your ISO on your camera and use manual settings.  The setting will come from the exposure details given to you from a handheld meter focused on a gray card.  Use the recommended exposure settings from that reading and et voila you are working in the zone system in the digital world.  If you are not sure how to set your DSLR on manual, you can always set it to bracket shots 1 stop apart and shoot of the cameras average meter in semi-auto mode.

Enjoy "Ozark Farm". The original was shot on Tri-X, developed in D76.  The negative was scanned to positive with an Epson V600 Photo scanner.  It does click to embiggin.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Endeavour flies over L.A.

Today was one of those rarefied days in Los Angeles where everyone was consumed by the same event.  No, it wasn't another high speed chase on the freeway and city streets, its was for the fly over of the space shuttle Endeavour as it makes its final flight.

At the recommendation of my friend Susan Kitchens I went to the Gabrielino Trail head in Altadena. The spot was pretty spectacular.  It was at the edge of a tall arroyo overlooking the Hahamonga Park and watershed with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory campus on the opposite side.

The first spotting of the shuttle was when it was making a circle over Universal City or Griffith Park around 11:40AM.  It whet the appetites for the some 500 souls that gathered on that ridge to see the shuttle for more.

10 minutes later we got another view of the Endeavour atop its 747 carrier as it flew to our south over the Rose Bowl and began its slow turn back around towards us.  Gasps of "There it is" and "Here it comes" were shouted as we got glimpses of it through the trees.  Then finally it began its low and slow approach.  As it got into clear view the crowd roared with cheers and applause.  It was something to behold, all those souls celebrating as it flew overhead.

These images were worked from RAW files with the help of Adobe's CS5 raw processor.  Its funny how the color of the sky varies from shot to shot as it progress from an easterly view to that of a southwestern view as it slowly circled above us.  Its all about color temperature and reflectivity of the sky and clouds above or it flew through.

More unprocessed jpegs can be found in my flickr set.

Couple o'Panoramas

Recently I got to take a guided tour of Pasadena's glorious City Hall given by their retired PIO Ann Erdman. What a gem she is.  City Hall was opened to the public in 1927.  It was the first ever building done in the "California Mediterranean" style.  The architects blended old Italian style (you see it in the domes) with that of the California Missions seen in the courtyards and arched hallways.  They were given the mission to show "strength and abundance" to symbolise the new City Hall.  I think they did well.

Sorry gentle readers for the lack of postings.  The migraines returned as mysteriously as before, not sure of all the triggers, but the meds I was on quit after just a few weeks so we are back on the hunt for an elixir that will work.

Both panoramic images were produced with the help of Adobe's CS5.  They will get bigger with a click.

A set of images is also on flickr.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A little fauxtography

I was thinking the other day about the old timey Instamatic and Polaroids, they managed through cheap optics to vignette the skies in the corner so they were a tidge darker which lent to helping frame the center of the image.  Simple task in CS5 to duplicate.

Here I started with RAW images.  Upped the clarity, vibrance and saturation so you got the look of the old Kodachrome or Polaroid films.  Then I opened the image.

With the image opened up I created a layer.  Then I used the oval tool and created an oval that went nearly all the way from top to bottom and edge to edge.  I right clicked and selected invert.  I right clicked again and went to the feather edges and went for the max feathering of 250 pixels.

The next step was to go down to the lower right corner and use the brightness tool and drop the brightness down until the corners began to taste by a factor of -50 to -75.  I then used the merge visible.  Et voila (that's rough French for "and there you have it") a knock off of an old Polaroid or Instamatic Kodachrome with a digital camera..

These images btw were shot out at Joshua Tree National Park over the weekend while hiking on Fathers Day. See why I said I need to go out there and spend more time there?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Few more panoramic images from Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park is a magical place, but then again I feel that way about most of the desert.  It takes special critters and plants to survive out there.  And each is so uniquely adapted to the harsh environment that they are so unlike what you find in the rest of the country.  Very cool stuff there Maynard.

In CS5 for reasons I don't understand you can't do even basic manipulations and corrections to a panoramic image.  You need to save it as a jpeg then do your image corrections.  In this case as I shot late morning and colors were starting to desaturate and such I needed to do some color correction and tone correction in order for them to pop a bit better.  From the PSD image I saved as a JPEG then did my corrections then resized for this blog...yup they have size limitations.  You can click to get bigger images to get a bigger sense of space of Joshua Tree.  The place is quite spectacular and not devoid of life at all...contrary to one one would think of a desert.

Can't wait to get there for the wild flowers while they are in bloom next spring!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Coming out of a post-migraine hangover

And its a doozie of a migraine hangover, will spare you all the gorie details but the last 6 months I have been battling non-stop chronic migraines that with the help of a talented neurologist over at Kaiser I finally have a handle on controlling them.  Needless to say the near constant headaches put a crimp in the creativity. To celebrate I took a little day hike out into the desert.  Specifically we hiked around Joshua Tree National Park not far from where my daughter and son-in-law live in Twentynine Palms, CA.

Each of these panoramic images were post processed with the help of Adobe's I'm not getting CS6 any time soon as 5 works just fine for me.

I'll post more images in the next few days of the area.  Can't wait to get back out there to shoot more.  Would love to shoot the wild flowers when the are in bloom in the spring.  It would be really nice to watch a sunrise or sunset among the red/orange rocks as well.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A meme too funny not to share...

Click to embiggen...but this is really funny.  I have to admit more time is spent in post processing, even with a fast PC and CS5 than I get to do actually shooting.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Just to brush off this blog a bit...

Wow, its been busy around here since the LA Auto Show...keeping up with it all has been a challenge.

This weeks adventures took me to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show. What a show it was.  This was all courtesy of Acura who sees the value in bloggers and like what I do here and at So Cal Auto Blog. 

The panoramas here were done with the help of Adobe's CS5.  This program does a pretty admirable job of blending multiple images into one giant shot. It isn't perfect and for reasons I don't understand it will blend some like these examples then completely is thrown off with others that it can't blend.  Anyone have an idea why it is so inconsistent with the combining of series shot  into panoramas and not with others?