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!

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!

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 150: “Let’s Get Wild!“

We have a guest host this week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Diane She asks for the wild because she works in the wild as a park ranger.

I know, there are a few other meanings in the word “wild”, but I’m concentrating on wild as in “wildlife”.

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!

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 149: “Cool Colors – Blue and Green“

These are the days, where I’m happy to have software helping me discovering images quite fast. Tina asked for images with blue and green for the Lens-Artists photo challenge and this way I’m able to deliver very fast. Opening the find dialog, choose the two relevant colors and I’m presented with dozens of suitable images to choose from.

I hope you like the selection:

 

 

If you’re interested to give the software a try, there’s a free trial available:

*AD because of an affiliate link* : get the software

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 148: “Spots and dots“

Spots and dots ….. a hard challenge when photographing primarily nature. But, nevertheless, Ann-Christine, I’m taking the ball. Nobody said a challenge would be easy. That’s the essence and character of a challenge.

So, take the word “spot” first. It can mean a (dust/dirt) spot on a surface, but it can also mean a very certain location of activity or where something is located. In nature, you need to know such certain spots to find your subject.

First, I have a checkered lily and a spring snowflake. Do you see the spots and dots on the petals? I found it a couple of years ago in a very certain spot. Next, a holly blue, a spotted dogfish, and a gray seal. Nature uses spots for hiding the shape of animals to either hide them from predators or, vice versa, to be recognized too early by their prey.

When stepping back a bit, you can see i.e. poppies like dots in the fields or in early spring fields of alpine squills under the trees when they have no leaves yet. And, don’t forget the red dots of Ilex during winter.

The spots in the last image, I’m leaving for your imagination. Guess, what you see 🙂 I’m solving it later 🙂

Edit: the last image is taken by an intentional mis-focus of the tiny wavelets of the Mediterranean sea on a calm day backlit by the rising sun. The nice bokeh is the result of the mis-focus. Each of the circles was a sun sparkle

 

Take care!

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

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 146: “Gardens“

Gardens! Nowadays you can find them around many houses. But, the idea of having a garden is not that old. When spinning the time back for about 100 years, you would also find gardens, but they were generally looking way different than today. Instead of flowers and blooming bushes, you would have found vegetables and fruits. The gardens were used to grow food. Not everything was in shops available for sale. So, people had to take care of themselves. Only farmers used to have small so-called farmer’s gardens. But, even in these farmer gardens, you were able to find herbs among the flowers.

In Japan, gardening has a quite long tradition. The gardens usually have a religious background. In the past, I already told you, that our state capital Düsseldorf has one of the three biggest Japanese ex-pat communities (besides London and Paris). Not far away from my home, there is a Japanese garden, built by a Japanese garden architect. In Japanese gardens, each detail has a reason. Every position, size, and direction of each detail has a meaning. So, each year a group of Japanese gardeners comes over to reshape the garden.

I was there a few times and would go again when we would not have the pandemic still around. So, enjoy my images from the past.

This post is my contribution to The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge hosted by Amy.  Head over to her page and read to rules to participate.

As usual, click on one image to enlarge it.

Take care!

art, culture, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 146: “Focusing on the Details“

You might say now, don’t ask me for macros. OK, I won’t do it. But, nevertheless, you can see, focussing on the details does not necessarily mean macro photography. Having an overview is very nice. But, in general, the details are more important. You’re right, you have to focus and work on your inner eye to find the sweet spot, the composing supporting your idea most.

Go out, take your camera and take photos, come back and show your results. Link your post to Patti’s post, as she’s the host for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo-Challenge. Everyone is welcome.

 

You can click on the images to enlarge them. All the images are taken without a macro lens

Take care!

art, culture, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 145: “Getting to Know You“

Or better, to get to know me 😊 (at least a little bit)

There are always two people in an image: the creator and the viewer.

Each image, I’m showing, is a part of me and you can experience a bit about me when watching my images (and, of course, reading the texts).

To find out more about me, you can switch to the About-me page.

I love being in nature and photographing nature, although, photographing the beauty of nature sometimes hurts. I love traveling and coming in touch with the ordinary people in the countries, I’m traveling. I love to learn about their culture. If you want to talk, drop me a note. Modern technology makes it possible 😊.

As I said, sometimes photographing the beauty of nature hurts. So, I picked a couple of images, where it hurt.

getting soaking wet for nearly two full weeks in Iceland
It’s usually freezing cold when we’re on the north sea island Helgoland in mid January

 

Aurora Borealis in Northern Norway – it’s very cold outside, especially at night
getting up very early – hours before sunrise to be in your spot at the right time
also before sunrise

 

in the heat of the day hiking without any shadow
or waiting for your game
climbing up mountains while >30°C

 

staying up all night for capturing a full circle of the bloodmoon, a comet or some stars

 

getting up at 4:25 a.m. to be there at the right moment

Photography hurts sometimes and I’m willing to suffer when the possible results are promising. The last image is from today. Getting up soo early and driving to your destination is exhausting. But, being there enjoying the silence and the light is sooo rewarding.

Take care!

art, culture, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 144: “Taking flight”

A dream as old as mankind: flying! Spread your wings and fly. The oldest story of flying men in the story Daedalus and his son Ikaros. Daedalus was famous for his artistry. To keep him, the king of Krete sent both to jail. As escaping from an island is nearly impossible. Daedalus made wings from him and his son from feathers and bee-wax. He advised his son to follow him in the sky and warned him to say away from the sun as the warmth might melt the wax. He also warned his son to not fly too low as the water might wet the feathers and becoming too heavy to fly. The story tells us, Ikaros flew too high and then he saw the wax starting to melt, he went down. Unfortunately, he went too far down and the feathers became wet and heavy. Now, he started upwards again to let the sun dry the feathers. In the end, you might have expected this, Ikaros felt in the ocean and went under. His father noticed the problem and started searching for Ikaros. But, he didn’t find him.

A couple of years ago I got the chance to fly. Not with a plane, but with a hot-air balloon. Although a balloon flight is not risk-free, it’s not as dangerous as the wings of Daedalus and Ikaros were.

I want to take you with me on a few balloon flights. Enjoy!

 

Thank you, Tina, for this wonderful topic for The Lens-Artists Photo challenge.

Take care!

art, culture, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 143: “Colorful April”

Wow, what a theme for this week. Amy is our host and she enjoys the colors of spring.

April started very cold this year. We even have had two days with a lot of snow. All the colors of spring were covered by 10-15 cm of snow.

So, I’m presenting a bit of contrast: color vs. white. All the images are taken this week: Tuesday and Wednesday

     

Take care!

art, culture, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 142: “You pick it”

Another week passed by. So, it’s time for Ann-Christine to challenge us for LAPC. This week she opened the theme very wide: “You pick it”.

While I was thinking of simply picking a topic that’s important for me, I decided differently when starting writing this post. I decided to take the theme literally.

You can pick a fruit from a tree or a bush when it is ripe. You can pick a certain product at a store from the plethora of offers. You can pick a dish from a menu at a restaurant or a cookshop. You can pick a painting at a painter’s shop or choose an artist for creating your portrait. And you can pick the next color of your hair. Choose what you like, but choose well! With your choice, you’re deciding about the impact on the environment. Your choice can make a difference.

Take care!

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

Throwback Thursday: An April’s fool?

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the idea of an April’s fool, but I’m very interested in your responses regardless if you’re familiar with it or not. Here it’s quite common to ‘send one into April’ (In den April schicken) as the term is literally translated from German. It’s telling a story that might be true, but when the recipient follows the instructions she got, she will see, it was a fool. Then, the sender proofs it with “April, April!”.

The editor of a computer magazine fooled their reader a couple of years ago, with a listing of program code containing a lot of machine code. In those days it was not something unusual to print such a listing instead of offering it for download. The background story for that listing was, a research group were been able to reverse the computer screen’s cable and convert the CRT screen into a scanner. The paper to be scanned should be backlit by a simple desk lamp. By using the computer program printed in the magazine the paper would have been scanned and stored as an image on the hard disk.

I didn’t believe that story. But, many people did. They typed down the listing, started the program and saw the output of the program on their screen. Instead of scanning something, the words “April, April!” were printed on the screen. A perfect April’s fool!

So, news have to be proof-checked more carefully as usual on April 1st.

I don’t want to send you into April. But, I want to encourage your mind to find out, what’s in the above image! Later this week, I’m posting an update here in the post with the result.

When freshmen start in their first job as an apprentice, they are also often fooled. They were often told to fetch a certain tool or material from the storage or even a so-called partner-company on the other side of the town. There they get something very heavy to bring back to their boss. I guess, this habit is also derived from April’s fool, because, in the old days, apprenticeships started on April 1st.

These are a few examples:

Banker:

  • get a Saldenziehzange = Zange um den Saldo zu ziehen = pair of tongs for balancing an account
  • Zinsfuß = old term meaning the interest rate

garage mechanics:

  • Kolbenrückholfeder = spring for pulling back the piston inside the cylinders of an engine

Manson, carpenter, …

  • Ersatzluftblase für die Wasserwaage = replacement airbubble for the water level

chemistry:

  • Benzolring (it’s a pun on words because we have the ring-shaped molecule named Benzol but in German, it can also mean a ring made of benzol)

I guess you got the idea. Some more of these fools can be found in the German Wikipedia. If these habits are common in your area, I’m also interested in hearing them. Please tell me a bit in the comments.

The idea is, a freshman might never hear this word before and starts investigating. All experienced colleges know what is meant and keeping the freshman busy until the initial college solves and explains. Now, the freshman has passed her initiation rite.

Nowadays, many of these fools are commonly know and the freshmen know much more about the jobs they start with than it was common in the past. So, not every fresh apprentice is faced with such a fool. But, I was told, some of them are still used in some companies.

The next isn’t an April’s fool. You know, last year I introduced you to Exire Foto, software to organize your images and, most importantly, find them!

*AD because of an affiliate link*

Currently, you can get the software with a discount when using the code “OSTERN2021” during checkout!

 

Take care!