CAMERA RAW 9

If you’re an Adobe Camera Raw user, rather than a Lightroom user, I might point out that the new “merge to panorama” and “merge to HDR” options are also available in Camera Raw 9 if you’re running Photoshop CC.

In Bridge, select the images you want to use, and then open those images in Camera Raw.  Once again, select all the images and then click to see the new options.

Click “save” but do not close Camera Raw, and the merged image will appear as a DNG file at the bottom of the Camera Raw filmstrip, and can be processed in ACR as you would any RAW file.

As with Lightroom, a merged HDR file in ACR will now offer plus/minus 10 stops on the exposure slider, a total of 20 stops.

LIGHTROOM CC: ADDITIONAL HDR INFO

In my last post I should have mentioned one important fact about the new “merge to HDR” feature in Lightroom.  When working on the resulting DNG file in Lightroom, the exposure slider now offers plus/minus 10 stops of exposure, a 20-stop exposure range, double the standard amount.  This is reminiscent of working with HDR Pro in Photoshop; see my August 2014 post entitled “HDR (A DIFFERENT WAY).”

LIGHTROOM CC (LIGHTROOM 6)

Lightroom CC was announced today.  If you’re like me and have subscribed to the photographer’s Lightroom and Photoshop package, a notice should appear in your desktop Creative Cloud app.  Adobe’s servers are swamped, so this might take a while.  The new Lightroom is also available as a standalone perpetual license program.

Downloading and installing the new version of Lightroom was easy for me.  No problem, until I tried to open the new program.  I clicked on the desktop icon, and nothing happened.  If this is your experience, there is an easy fix:  sign out of your Adobe account via the “preferences” in the desktop CC app (click on the gear icon or the drop down triangle in the upper right) and sign right back into your account.


Lightroom CC has two new features which are of interest to me.

1.  A brush tool option has been added within the graduated filter.  Add a grad just as you did in earlier versions of Lightroom, and then select the brush option within the grad filter, hold down the Alt/Option key, and brush over the image area where you do not want the grad filter applied.  Hey, it’s an editable filter!

2.  Merge to panorama can now be accomplished within Lightroom.  This can be done using RAW files, and the composite image is saved as a DNG file…which means that the resulting pan image is still a RAW file, and can be processed non-destructively in Lightroom.  Select the files you want to merge into a pan, and do Photo > Photo Merge > Panorama. Lightroom does the merging, and saves the merged panoramic in the same folder as are the component files.  It does add -Pano to the end of the combined image’s filename, a feature I’m not really keen about.  I’ve always worked by selecting the images in Lightroom, then opening them in Photoshop to merge images into panoramics, and finally doing a “save as” while added a P_ at the start of the pan’s filename.  I’ve got a smart collection in Lightroom which automatically sorts out all my panoramic images, all the files that have a filename starting with that P_.  OK, so now I’ll add another smart collection, this one to find all the images with filenames that contain Pano.

Lightroom CC also has a new merge to HDR feature, but that’s no big deal for me as I rarely no any sort of HDR.  However, I’m certainly open to playing around with this feature.  Face recognition is also now included, and I’m sure a lot of folks will be pleased with that.  There are also some nice additions to the slideshow module.  I’m sure I’ll discover more as I start using the program, but my initial experience is quite positive.

And one more good point:  all in all, the program runs faster than before.

I highly recommend you go to Adobe’s website and view the videos by Adobe Evangelist Julieanne Kost.  Go to https://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop-lightroom/features.html?promoid=KSKBF and click on the See how it works buttons in the Lightroom CC section.

Be sure to watch her video on some of the other new features:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GZErV1m1uQ.

ICELAND IN WINTER

The past 17 days I’ve been in Iceland, leading a winter tour for Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris.  My group encountered wild weather, everything from a snow storm to high winds to driving rain to clear skies and bright sunshine…and all on the same day.

For me, there were two photographic highlights.  We worked several hours in a glacial ice cave in Vatnajokull National Park, and the resulting images are pure graphic design.  And toward the end of the trip we were lucky to enjoy a spectacular aurora borealis which lasted for hours.  I’ve seen the aurora many times before, but this one was an incredibly awesome display, with extremely intense colors filling the entire night sky.

Below are my two favorite shots from the trip.  Both were taken with a Nikon D810.  I used my 24-70mm for the ice cave image (at ISO 64), and my 14-24mm for the aurora (at ISO 2500).  FYI, I’ll be leading this tour again in March 2016 and an ice cave shoot is definitely on the schedule.  While an auroral display cannot be guaranteed, we will certainly be out photographing if it happens.  For tour info, see www.photosafaris.com.

 

Ice cave, Vatnajokull National Park.

 

Aurora borealis display.

 

This is not right.

This is definitely not the manner in which I normally photograph.

A couple of weeks ago, while I was having breakfast at a small hotel in northern Japan, a Hokkaido squirrel (Japanese tassel-eared squirrel) was raiding the bird feeders on the porch just outside the windows.  So how could I resist?  I went to my room, mounted my Nikon 80-400mm lens on my Nikon D4s, and returned to breakfast.  Between sips of my morning coffee, I photographed right though the window glass, handholding my camera rig.  Early morning light and ISO 3200; I stayed toasty warm inside. while outside it was very cold and snowy.  A bite of breakfast for me, a bite of breakfast for the squirrel, another photo or two.  This photography gig is supposed to be a lot more difficult.

 

Hokkaido squirrel.

Lightroom — ACR difference

I’m a big fan of Lightroom, and use it as my RAW file converter.  Adobe Camera Raw is essentially the same, but there is one small difference which, for me, is a reason I prefer Lightroom over ACR.  That difference lies in how the two programs allow the user to adjust contrast.

Both Lightroom and ACR incorporate a contrast slider, and in both programs the slider does exactly the same thing.  Watch the image histogram as you drag the slider left or right, and you’ll see both ends of the histogram move simultaneously, expanding or contracting the histogram.  OK, no difference here between LR and ACR.

But go to the Tone Curve, which I prefer to use, and the two programs operate slightly differently.  Both Lightroom and ACR offer two views of the Tone Curve, a Point Curve (where you place points on the curve and move those points), and a Parametric Curve (where the tone curve is divided into sections and adjustments affect that region).  The Targeted Adjust Tool — which allows you to mouse over your image, click on a spot, and drag to adjust — is available in both Lightroom and ACR.  In the Parametric Curve, in both programs, one point can be set on the curve.  You cannot set two points close to each other (for example, two points in the highlights sections, or two points in the shadows).  But go to the Point Curve, and here lies the difference: you cannot use the Targeted Adjustment Tool in ACR when in the Point Curve.  Try to do so, and it affects the Parametric Curve.  In contrast, Lightroom allows using the tool in the Point Curve.  As you mouse over your image using the tool, a “ball” appears on the curve indicating where the point under the tool will fall on the curve, so you can set multiple points exactly.  ACR does allow placing multiple points on the curve, but it does not indicate where any one tonal value falls on the curve; you’re guessing at the precise position on the curve.

Two precisely set points on the Tone Curve, using the Targeted Adjustment Tool in Lightroom.

Frost fog

A couple of weeks ago I was in White Sands National Monument, when a rather rare event occurred for that area of New Mexico.  It had rained for two days, so there was a lot of moisture in the sand.  But the first morning the weather cleared the photography conditions were magical for a few hours.  The overnight temperature had been in the low 20s and frost had formed on everything, while during the early hours a thick fog layer formed, low to the ground.  Wow!  Frost and fog together, a combination that lasted for only a few hours.

Scanner Part Two

I’m rather shocked that my previous scanner post has generated so many emails (42 have landed in my mailbox so far).  To answer everyone at once:

As far as I know, there are almost no dedicated 35mm film scanners currently made, but then I have no reason to keep up on the scanner market.  I’m not looking for a new scanner, and I don’t pay attention to what is out there.  I bought my Nikon Coolscan 4000 back in 2001, and it still works just fine for my purposes.  If for some reason I need a higher res digital file from a transparency, I ship the film out to have a drum scan made.  And  no, I don’ t want to sell my Nikon scanner.

I’m not in the market for different scanner software.  Yes, I know about SilverFast and VueScan, but I see no reason to purchase additional software when I’m satisfied with the results I get with NikonScan.  This is especially true since I make very few scans per year.

I’m not scanning my entire film archive, nor do I have any intention of doing so.  I only make a scan, or send out for one, when I have a very specific need (which is not nearly as often as you might expect).  Indeed, why would I even want to scan all my old transparencies?  Assume that I have 200,000 images (not such a big number, since I’ve been photographing professionally for almost 45 years now!).  Total time it takes to make one scan (pull image, remove dust, make scan, replace film, enter resulting digital file into database with caption info, etc.): about two minutes under the very best of conditions (not including any Photoshop time needed on the resulting file).  OK, 200,000 images @ 2 minutes/image = 400,000 minutes, or just over 833 days straight, working 8 hours per day with no breaks.  No thanks.

And…I actually already have thumbnail images of all my slides.  The slide itself is a thumbnail.  Hold up the slide, look at it.

Nikon Scanner

Yesterday I had to scan a Velvia slide from my files.  Yes, for those of you don’t remember the “old” days, there was a thing called “film” which had to be digitalized before you could use Photoshop on the image.  A film scanner was the answer.  But, a dedicated 35mm film scanner (rather than a flatbed scanner with a film holder) is now quite a rare beast.  I’m not sure such a thing is even manufactured any more.  I have a long discontinued Nikon Coolscan 4000, which is certainly adequate for magazine-sized reproduction.  The problem, however, is getting the scanner to work with any current computer operating system.

I’m running Windows 7 64-bit on both desktop and laptop machines, but Nikon scanner software was written many years before this OS.  I guess I could have kept an old computer around, but no thanks, I don’t want to do that.  So how have I been able to use my scanner — infrequently though I do — along with Nikon Scan software on my current machines?  Ah, Google to the rescue.  Type in “how to use a Nikon scanner with Windows 7 64″ and this link appears (there are other links but this is the one I used):

Follow the directions, and all is well.  Don’t have Nikon Scan software?  It’s still available for download directly from Nikon’s website.

Autumn 2: Visionary Wild Workshop

Continued from the previous post:  Then I drove on, to the workshop sessions based at Boulder, Utah, in the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument.  While the aspens on Boulder Mountain were shedding their leaves, the cottonwoods in the lower canyons showed prime color.  And red rock county…well, it’s eye candy for photographers.  All the workshop participants came away with incredible images resulting from a contemplative approach to classic Utah scenery.  Here’s another slideshow, and an invitation to join the Visionary Wild group on another workshop.

Hoodoo along the Escalante rim, at sunrise.Cottonwoods in The Gulch.Hoodoos at first light.Drying mud curls.Autumn cottonwoods define the Boulder Creek drainage.The last aspen color on Boulder Mountain.Box elder in Long Canyon slot.Formation on King Bench at sunrise.A canyon wall reflects the blue color of sky.Cottonwoods and the red wall of The Gulch.Slabs below King Bench.Red aspens on Boulder Mountain.Bounce light on sagebrush and rocks, in Long Canyon.