art, flowers, landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, plants

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 153: “Wonderful world”

On January 1st, 1968 Louis Armstrong published his song “What a Wonderful World”. It was written specifically for him and describes the beauty of the world and the small pieces of happiness in everyday life. Louis Daniel „Satchmo“ Armstrong was an African American, born in 1901 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Once, Louisiana was part of the southern states in the USA, where slavery was an important part of the economy. But, although slavery became illegal after the civil war, those people were (and are) still not equally treated. Unfortunately, that’s not only in the USA but also in many other countries in the world.

From the mid-1950s more and more (primary descendants of former slaves) stood up against the still existing social injustices and repressions. Probably you already have heard the name Reverent Martin Luther King, who became kind of a leader of the non-violent Civil Rights movement. Unfortunately, he was killed in April 1968.

In this setting of a civil rights movement, the song was published and became very successful. In case, you don’t know the song, go to Youtube and find it. It’s still a wonderful song. You can even find a lyrics video to read the lyrics along.

The intention of the song was to set a countercurrent to the political climate. Thus the song describes the beauty of nature, friendship, and children’s view despite the huge problems of hate, jealousy, and power struggles.

The first verse is

“I see trees of green, red roses too. I see them bloom for me and you, and I think to myself: What a wonderful world.”

I really recommend, to listen to the song, now. And, while Satchmo sings his song you can swipe through the gallery below. Click on an image to enlarge the images.

thank you, Amy, for this wonderful topic, this week.

Take care!

 

art, flowers, landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, plants

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 152: “Shades and Shadows”

Ann-Christine invites us this week to celebrate the sun for The Lens-Artists Photo-Challenge. You know, when there is light, you will have shadows.

 

 

Hint: I’m currently running a raffle. Until midnight tomorrow, you can enter to win a voucher code for Excire Foto  (*AD because of an affiliate link* ). Check out, how you can become one of the winners 😊

Take care!

landscape, nature, photography, travel, world

Who bit in the cookie or is it Pacman?

No, it’s Solar eclipse 2021 in the middle of Germany!

This time with good weather and perfect sight, compared to 2015 or 1999. Unfortunately, it’s only a partial eclipse like in 2015.

My first solar eclipse was in 1999 when the moon covered the whole sun and only left a small bright ring. It took place in August, but the weather conditions were not good. But, it was still impressive. It became noticeable colder and darker and birds stopped singing.

This time, we only had a small coverage as you can see in the image. It’s taken at the moment when the eclipse was at its maximum. Thus, the effects were not noticeable. Without a special solar filter, this eclipse was not noticeable at all.

Btw. I’m currently running a raffle. You can win a license of Excire Foto. Check it out!

Take care!

photo-of-the-day, photography, travel, world

Monochrome Monday 8-05

This weekend, I was reminded of my visit to Zingst 4 years ago. I was there to visit the Photo Festival “Horizonte”. During that week, I attended one workshop (photographing trees in the famous forest of Zingst). We had a guide to find some of the centuries-old trees in the National Park. In the evening we had to select our images and present 10, as a result, the next morning. 2 out of these 10 were selected to be presented in a slideshow that evening at the beach to a huge auditorium. Both of my selected images for the daily slideshow were in monochrome. You can find the other image here

This image was even selected for the final slideshow containing the best 15 images of the festival.

Btw. I’m currently running a raffle. You can win a license of Excire Foto. Check it out!

Take care!

art, photography, technical

editing a raw file

Wow, what a long time! I started this post back in March 2015! 😳😲 Unbelievable!
Recently, I got again a question on my workflow, so I decided to finally finish this post. Hint: This post contains some links to software manufacturers. No one paid me anything for getting a link or had any influence on my opinion.

Besides creating jpg files directly in-camera many digital cameras are able to create raw files instead of the JPG or in addition. Raw file means saving the bare information captured by the sensor and not processing it in-camera. This has a couple of advantages. A few years ago, I already published a post on these advantages. Many years ago, I decided to capture only raw files and process them myself afterward to have more control over the process and the final look. No, don’t get me wrong, I don’t use any filters. In only do, what was necessary back in film days.

In the past, I already published some posts covering how I store my images and a bit about, why I’m doing the extra work for raw development. Some of the benefits of doing it this way are in this post. I really encourage you to click on the links and read a bit about the background. Although most recent digital cameras are really great in creating good-looking JPGs, you still have a lot more in raw.

I’m using dedicated raw-processing software and it’s not Lightroom, because this software needs so much unnecessary work which stands in the way where I’d have to work around. The workflow is complicated and not straightforward. And, you’re locked into the software when you want to keep access to your own work.

The DAM (Digital Asset Management) would be nice for the final images, but it’s absolutely the wrong way to import all undeveloped images only for deleting a huge portion right after the import. A database makes additional problems when being used that way and slows down the computer over time. You can google for these problems and find gazillions of people suffering from them. An often recommended solution of having a separate catalog for each job on the other hand leads the whole idea ad absurdum. (btw. the same is true for the recent versions of Luminar, and that’s the reason why I left their affiliate program). Not being able to save all your edits outside of a catalog also hinders you to get your image edited by someone else and get the edits back for learning from the outcome.

These are my steps after coming back from a job or a trip:

  1. copy all images in a dedicated folder on my internal disk named with the date and a tiny description of the contents (i.e. 20210507 – garden birds)
  2. create a first backup of the whole bunch of images, which will hopefully never be used
  3. import the GPS data into the image files (only for trips)
  4. normalize the file names when having used more than one camera body to get them in the right order again. My naming scheme is YYYYMMDD_hhmmss-XXX_xxx.NEF. I guess the first and second part of date and time is easily understandable. I take this information from the metadata of each file: the time of releasing the shutter. The XXX stands for a 3 digit code of the used camera body followed by 4 numbers. These third and fourth parts are given to the file by the camera at creation time. The metadata are pieces of information stored in the images by the camera at the time when the image is captured.
  5. create a second backup on a second external disk. This one is my backup in case of an emergency.
  6. open up a digital light table to check the images and select the ones to get processed.
  7. create a sub-folder called “edit” and copy all selected images in this folder, direct the raw processor to the edit folder and process the images
  8. the final steps are already in the post, I mentioned above.

In this post, I want to describe the actions I do in my raw processor. You know, I started photography more than 40 years ago and run my own lab in those days.  And the options I had in those days are still the steps I do in digital photography:

  1. remove some blemishes and dust-spots
  2. brighten the shadows and darken the lights to get a better balance in the image if necessary
  3. balance the horizon if necessary
  4. correct the with balance if necessary
  5. boost the vibrance or increase the saturation if necessary
  6. crop, if necessary
  7. post-sharpening
  8. export to jpg

You see, my workflow is quite easy and straightforward. It costs me a maximum of approximately 2 minutes per image. Some of the actions can be bundled and applied to a couple of images at the same time to speed up the work. But, in general, I’m not a big fan of such bundlings, besides the export to jpg.

You might ask, what kind of software you can use. There are a couple of commercial products around. All I know, offer trial versions for a couple of days/weeks: DxO Photolab, Capture One Pro (free versions for some Fuji and Sony cameras available), OnOne Photo Raw, NX Studio (free, Nikon only – afaik Canon has something similar), and some open-source products, which are also free of charge: Rawtherapee, Lightzone, ufraw, digikam, Darktable. Affinity Photo is more a replacement for Photoshop or Gimp, although it also has a good raw development module. Photoshop brings kind of a lite-version of Lightroom for raw development called Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and Gimp incorporates either ufraw or Rawtherapee, depending on the operating system you’re using. There might be some more products in the market, which I didn’t mention here because I don’t know them. So, this list isn’t complete. Sorry!

Although the open-source products usually have a background in the Linux community, they are also available for Windows and macOS. I worked with all of them a bit and would recommend either Lightzone or Rawtherapee. ufraw is a bit like Adobe Camera Raw for Photoshop. Darktable has the same mechanisms as Lightroom. So, it’s unusable for me. I don’t want to import the raw files into a database and stick with this single database because all of my edits are in that database. A corrupt database could make me lose all ever-done edits. DigiKam is an all-in-one solution: fat but mighty. I like the organizing module very much: DAM = Digital Assets Management. For some time, I’m using Excire Foto for DAM. You see, the linked post is quite old. I have to write a new one. This product is amazing.

For modern lenses, it is extremely important to have software being able to adjust and correct lens failures: barrel or cushion distortion and achromatic abbreviations. Back in the film days, the good lenses were designed for not having them. Nowadays it’s easier (and cheaper for the manufacturer) to create a piece of software to correct the failures. All the software I mentioned above is IMHO able to work that way. On the other hand, I have a lot of old lenses, which don’t need such corrections.

In case, you want to start developing your photos, I’d recommend either DigiKam, because it is an all-in-one solution, or Lightzone / Rawthereapee. In case, you need some image manipulation tools, try gimp. You can find tutorials on the relevant homepage I mentioned above or on YouTube. Although there are rumors of Gimp would be complicated, that’s not completely true. Also, Photoshop is very complicated, but there are more talkative called-by-themselves experts telling it otherwise because they are kind of experienced because of extensive usage. Each software is complicated on the first try. But, open-source software usually has a very active community willing to help when you’re investing at least a bit of time reading or watching (YouTube) tutorials. The other option is, to give one of the commercial software a try and download the trial version. Also, commercial software needs you to learn how to handle them. So, giving open-source a try first, won’t cost you any money. When talking about commercial software, I like DxO Photolab the most followed by Capture One Pro. When it comes to image manipulation software, I’m using Gimp and Affinity Photo. In the past, I used Photoshop CS6, but it’s not necessary anymore. First, I need such software only for approximately 10-20 images a year, on the other hand, Gimp has everything, I need. A few weeks ago, I published an article on one of my use cases for image manipulation software on NikonRumors and here in my blog.

I tried all the products I mentioned above last year when I had to investigate a replacement for my raw development software. Although the last update was in 2012 it run well and gave me the flexibility, quality, and tools I needed. Unfortunately, the developer decided to retire the software. For some years I was unable to re-install it if there were a reason to do so, but the recent updates of the operating software of my computer made the tool even completely unusable. So, I needed to find a replacement and I did. Recommending software to someone else is not easy because everyone has her own workflow, her own requirements, and her own wishes. So, you have to try on your own and find the software fulfilling all of your requirements to the best.

Below, you can see two screenshots from while developing a raw image in LightZone. The final image is on the top of this post.

browsing a folder with raw files with the folder structure on the left and the metadata of the selected image to the right

 

a couple of presets on the left, first developing step on the right and seeing the distribution of light in the image (Zone Model of Anselm Adams) in the upper right corner

 

Read the steps on the right from bottom to top. The last step is missing: sharpening

In this image, it was necessary to darken the highlights to recover the fine structures in the petals. In-camera development would have left only completely white spaces. From the raw file, I was able to recover the fine lines in the petals as well as the stamens. The erected twig was removed afterward with image manipulation software (Gimp) as well as the cropping.

Take care and happy snapping 😊

art, flowers, landscape, nature, photo-of-the-day, photography, plants

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 151: “From big to small“

It’s Patti’s round, this week, at The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. She reminds us of an old principle this week. Start wide and narrow your view more and more.

So, when coming to a scene, take your wide-angle lens first and take a couple of shots. Then, step further into the scene and look for the details. Isolate a mountain, a tree, a flower, a part of a building, you got the idea. This does not necessarily mean doing macro.

Enjoy the gallery. Hint: clicking in one of the images starts the slideshow in a bigger size.

Second hint: I’m currently running a raffle. You can win a voucher code for Excire Foto  (*AD because of an affiliate link* ). Check out, how you can become one of the winners 😊

Take care!