Reprocessing old RAW Files

I wrenched my lower back this past week.  I wasn’t trying to lift a car or anything, just bending over in a chair to tie my shoe.  I was greeted with the awful muted pop!  I knew what happened as soon as I felt it.  I’ve had the problem with my lower back for a long time.  I won’t bore you with all the whys etc.  It all  comes down to sitting….. too long!  Sitting too long at the computer processing photographs and writing….another book.   Any orthopedist will tell you, sitting is never good for the back. Ever!

I had to stop sitting so much.  It required some lifestyle changes.  I got my old oak, adjustable drafting table out of the barn here on the farm and refinished it.  It now serves as my desk.  And,  I bought one of those standing pads and a good  pair of walking shoes with a large “toe box.”  Mine are New Balance 877’s. They are working wonders for me.  ( I am not paid by New Balance to endorse their shoes.)   I wear a back brace often during the day and I am doing lower lumbar exercises every morning and afternoon and my wife and I bought a new firm mattress.  I have good days and bad days but overall, I get the idea things are improving.

I know this is a photography blog.  Stay with me.  I’m getting to it.

So what to do when you can’t go roaming for that perfect shot?  You work on old files.  Since I converted to digital photography in 2009, I have shot everything in RAW.  Nikon’s version of that is called NEF. Raw is, for lack of a better term, a digital negative.  It captures everything the camera sees.  It does not condense or compress any of the data.  The downside is, shooting and keeping raw files requires an enormous amount of space.  These files are BIG.  I have five external drives devoted to storing these things as well as on line storage in the so-called cloud.  These files require processing or conversion before posting or printing.  It’s sort of like developing  film in the old days.  I use the conversion program in Photoshop Elements.

Going back and reworking old gems allowed me to take advantage of software tools that either were not around or I did not know about about at the time of the original conversion.  This past week, I’ve been reprocessing shots are from the summer of 2011 taken on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, one of my favorite places for photography.


Sea Oates at Duck Posted to Flickr August 9, 2014  Blogged. Facebook

My reason for going back and reworking these shots was to remove camera shake (I had taken these handheld with no tripod. Now I know better) and to use the haze reduction tool.  You’ll have to take my word for it that the sharpness and clarity of these two views are remarkable improvements over the originals.

So if you don’t shoot your images in the RAW format your camera has, think about it.  External drives and on-line storage are  pretty cheap. Flickr is free!   You’ll have the benefit of seeing just about everything your camera has recorded and, you’ll have something to take your mind off an aching back….for a while.   Thanks for the read, have a good week and stop sitting so much!

Photo of The Day: Cover Photography

Tobacco Road Posted to Flickr July 22, 2013

Tobacco Road. Shot with a Nikon D700 camera several years ago using an 812 warming filter.

I suppose all of us in the business of shooting and marketing photographs are in the publishing game to some extent or another.  I’ve had my moments.  My first big project was in the mid 70’s when I did a multi page article and photo essay on the mothballed ocean liner SS United States which was then in permanent layup at Norfolk International Terminal in Hampton Roads.  It and several additional follow up articles/ photo essays were published in Sea Classics Magazine. The slides from the “United States” project  are now among the best sellers on my photography web site (Click on “John Harding Art Prints” in the upper right.)  Several additional photo essays have followed along with work for a guide book, several regional magazines, scores of blogs, advertising agencies, branding and marketing firms and so on.  Who knew there was a calling for pictures of cotton fields in bloom.   The one thing I had not done is a hardback book cover.  Then, last month, Little Brown in New York contacted me about using the above shot as cover art for a new nonfiction book due out soon.  I don’t think I’m at liberty to say more so I won’t except the author’s last book was a best seller.  They had seen the picture on one of my sites.  I suppose it bolsters the old adage, keep the faith.  You just never know what is going to come your way.  Sometimes it is good news!  Thanks for the lookin.  See you next time.

Photo Of The Day: Christmas Rose

11 28 15_4970_edited-2Actually a scarlet red camellia bloom photographed in late afternoon light here on the Farm. Nikon D800E.

Well, when we last met, I had decided to give Paint Shop Pro 8X a whirl as my photo organizer with an eye toward  replacing Photoshop Elements 12 as my primary editing software.  Elements, you might recall me saying, had been giving me acute migraines with its constant freeze ups and crashes.  There’s more to report on that side of the story but first, some  Initial thoughts on Paint Shop Pro 8X.

I shelled out 49 bucks for PSP8X and have been trying ever since to negotiate the mother of all learning curves to use it.  The instruction manual is just as daunting.  It’s another one of those “missing manuals,” as David Pogue titles his books on the Windows operating systems which are, by the way, fabulous. I have every edition from Windows 98 on.   David, please do one for Paint Shop Pro!    The only manual now is a PDF File.  Of course you can print the whole thing out but be warned, it is more than 800 pages.  Having spent a “kings ransom” on printer ink, I decided to go with the PDF.  A book would have been better but I’m old and not into reading ebooks.

No doubt my calcifying brain has a lot to do with my difficulty.  Perhaps I am a 70 year old suffering from ADHD and need a dose of whatever they’re feeding the kids these days.  Frankly, I just got totally lost in the maze of brushes, graphics and so on.  Perhaps if they had made the graphics part of it another section or something, it would have been easier to grasp.

I did, however, find my way to and through the RAW Conversion Panel and it is quite good though I think Elements is more thorough and easier to use…..that’s probably a cheap shot because I am so used to Elements.

Suffice to say, I’m still messing with it and will, from time to time, give further progress reports on my schooling.

In the midst of all this, my 4 year old desktop began sending distinct warning signals of hard drive failure: Constant pleas to run “Check Disc” to repair damaged sectors and repeated messages that windows “has stopped working” etc and etc.  So I did a little cyber monday shopping and picked up a Lenovo H-30-50 desktop machine with 16 gigs of ram, a 2 TB hard drive and an Intel I-7  processor at a reasonable price.    The Windows 10 Operating system is a big improvement over Windows 8 but then anything would be an improvement and best of all, the learning curve isn’t as steep as Paint Shop.

I also reloaded my Elements software and so far, knock on wood, its working swimmingly. Perhaps I gave Adobe a bad wrap. Old guys can get crabby.

Now that I am back in cyber space, I will try to be a bit more productive blog wise.  Keep the Faith everybody. See you next time.

Photo Of The Day: The Barrier Dunes

Barrier Dunes

In their now classic book “Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils and Rewards of Artmaking” , David Bayles and Ted Orland say that “vision is always ahead of execution— and it should be.”  With that thought lurking in my mind ( it always is..)  I took the above shot on the top of the barrier dune on the outer banks shortly after a very warm September sunrise.  Did the execution of the shot match my vision of it,  No….but I gotta tell you it came close. For me, the right side of the image is on the money.  The far left is overexposed just a tad but overall I was pleased with this one.    It is certainly a shot and a light situation I will remember .   As Bayles and Orland point out, “What you need to know about the next piece is contained in the last piece.”

“Art and fear” was first printed in 1993.  It’s still very much in print and continues to be the  must have handbook for anyone producing artwork.  Regardless of whether you do your work in  in Photography, Painting, Pottery, Sculpture, textiles…whatever…..You should really read this little book. Thanks for the look,  Have a great evening and a great weekend.

Texas Star

This is a Mexican Hibiscus but the more popular name is Texas Star.  I often think what a stunning cut flower these would make but alas, they are one day wonders.    When the sun goes away, the bloom closes up and falls away.    Each plant has perhaps a dozen or more pods and once all the pods bloom, that’s the end of it for the season.   Retina frying red with a bright green star back, they are among the most striking flowers I have ever seen.

Thanks for the look and have a great evening.


The Kitchen Window


Jerri’s prized Orchid in full bloom this morning  in front of our stained glass kitchen window with natural light flooding the scene.  I noticed it while cooking breakfast this morning which is my usual Sunday morning chore before we hit the papers.  I had to cut off the stove and go grab my camera before the light moved on.  Seconds after I snapped this the sun had moved on its way.  Thanks for the look and have a swell Sunday evening.

Atomic Clouds

In all my years of landscape photography I had never seen a natural formation of clouds like this..  It has the look of some sort of explosion.  We have had some strange weather here following the passage of Tropical Storm Beryl; lots of dark low lying clouds but nothing like this.  The good news is, the sun won out and by sunset most of the cloud bank was gone but for a while it had the look of Armageddon .  Have a great weekend and thanks for the look.