Seeing Them Again For The First Time

As happens from time to time, nasty weather sent me trolling through my rather substantial collection of rejects;  RAW Files which for one reason or another I had taken a look at but passed on processing.   Many were pitched into the digital circular file because of excessive haze; a frequent problem when shooting on the coast.  Like many of you I suppose, I employ UV and Haze filters when shooting at the beach but in many cases the scene is just overwhelmed by what I call heat haze.   Frequently, of course, haze is an important element in a composition but often, I want a look at the scene without it being shrouded in mist.  Then this past week, quite by accident, I came across the Photoshop Haze Removal tool.  Bingo. Problem solved.

I’m a frequenter of the “Enhance” category which includes Color Curves and Light and Shadow adjustment, but for some reason I cannot explain,  I never noticed the “Haze Removal” button.  I quickly went to work.

The original versions of these three photographs were almost completely blanketed by rather dense morning haze which gave something of a surreal atmosphere to the scenes, but I always wondered what they would look like sans the haze.  This is it.  If only I took the time to  familiarize myself with all   software can do before I start using it.  The story of my life.  At least its keeping my aging brain active on a rainy day.  Thanks for the look. See you next time.

Advertisements

Breaking an old Habit.

My usual practice in shooting landscapes, or perhaps in this case, “seascapes”, is to click a wide angle lens on the camera, framed it up and shoot.  I have several wide angles I lug around in my bag: a 24mm prime, a 18-35mm and a 24-120mm and a 12-20mm I use on my small sensor DSLR.  In Nikon-eese  DX.  I had decided to break out of that habit on this particular trek to the ocean and use my 70 to 300mm lens.  I was leery of this radical departure from my comfort zone,  but I swallowed my reticence and pushed ahead.  The above shot taken perhaps five minutes before actual sunrise was shot at 70mm.  It’s among my favorites from that morning.  Then I cranked the lens all the way out to 300mm and went trolling over the waves at periscope depth, and there it was: a small coastal trawler with its outriggers deployed getting an early start on the days catch.

A more powerful telephoto, a 400mm, or one of the new 150 to 600 zooms would no doubt have gotten me closer, but I like this view with the small trawler alone on the horizon.  I was right pleased with myself.  Proof perhaps that even an ancient shooter like me can learn to break out of old habits.  Thanks for the visit.  See you next time.

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.

_DSC1240

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: 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.