Random Sights and Diversions

Photography Media Reviews Commentary

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One Four Challenge – Week Two

Here is the second week’s edit for the One Four Challenge, Disunity II.

Disunity II. One Four Challenge. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Disunity II. One Four Challenge. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Disunity. Nikon D200. 35 mm. ISO 200. 1/100 sec at f/9.5. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Disunity. Nikon D200. 35 mm. ISO 200. 1/100 sec at f/9.5. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Here for comparison is the original. The first edit, Disunity I, is here in last week’s post.  Here is Week 2 at Robyn G, the OneFour Challenge originator.

Disunity II started with the same image, the output from raw conversion by DxO Optics Pro. Then a single-image HDR was created using HDR Efex Pro. I did some tweaking of the HDR image, including increased fine structure (to get detail in the tree bark). Then it was back into Lightroom. In Lightroom, I masked out and slightly darkened the background in order to bring out the trees more. Comments welcome!

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Autumn Impressions

Autumn Impressions. Nikon D200. 35 mm. ISO 200. 1/80 sec at f/11. HDR and digital alteration. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Autumn Impressions. Nikon D200. 35 mm. ISO 200. 1/80 sec at f/11. HDR and digital alteration. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

This impressionistic image (which must be viewed large size to be fully appreciated; click image for larger) does a good job of conveying what I see as the richness of autumn in the woods – Although Autumn is not usually seen as such, I think scenes like this actually reveal an exceptional fertility. This image continues with experiments in impressionist and post-impressionist photography and new post-capture techniques. I’m not entirely sure about this image and would welcome feedback.


Some notes on photography…

Lens. This was shot with a Nikon 35 mm f/1.8. For a DX or crop-format camera like the D200, 35 mm, equivalent to 50 mm in 35 mm, is the “normal” lens (so-called because it’s angle-of-view corresponds most closely to what the human eye sees). I rarely use this lens. But there are a lot of good reasons to use a normal lens, and equally good reasons to use a prime (single focal length as opposed to zoom) lens. Prime normal lenses are usually fast and sharp and often help setting up good composition (or framing, more accurately) I should shoot more with this lens.

Software.  Some new software to comment on…

1. DxO Optics Pro.  (Website) I’m really excited by this software. DxO Optics Pro does raw conversion, and it does it (so far as I can tell so far) considerably better than Adobe Camera Raw built into Lightroom. In addition to raw conversion, the program does a lot of post-capture editing, and does it to the raw image. For instance, DxO Optics Pro does single-image HDR; I like the results so far better than what I was getting with Nik HDR Efex Pro. The amazing thing about DxO is that the program is built on a database of cameras and lenses. Every conversion is automatically customized for the exact camera and lens combination that produced the image. DxO also does noise reduction that, they claim, is superior to any other product available. The results are fantastic. I like DxO so much, I bought it and installed it permanently. (DxO interfaces efficiently with Lightroom, still “home base” for all my image cataloging and processing.)

2. Topaz Labs. (Website) I’m also experimenting with tools from Topaz Labs, which also produce some amazing results. I’m undecided about Topaz, though. Each tool is a separate package and there relatively costly. I’m not quite sold yet on what Topaz does, for instance, with the above image. But Topaz does seem to offer a number of tools that the Nik filters (which have been my primary post-capture tools for several years now) do not. The Topaz tools also interface with Lightroom.

Workflow. For the above image, the workflow for anyone interested was as follows.

  • Lightroom: Import from card
  • DxO Optics Pro: Raw conversion, noise reduction, and some other adjustments including single-image HDR
  • Lightroom: Crop
  • Nik Color Efex Pro 4: Further processing Including color and contast
  • Topaz Simplify: Final processing to achieve impressionist look
  • Lightroom: Export to jpeg.

 

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Rhododendron 8

Rhododendron. Nikon D200. Nikkor 105 mm Macro. May 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Rhododendron. Nikon D200. Nikkor 105 mm Macro. ISO 200. /250 sec at f/4.8. Single-image HDR. May 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Unlike the previous image, created by merging three images with varying exposures, this is a single-image HDR. The HDR process consists of two broad steps: merging multiple images, and tone-mapping the resulting single image. (Tone-mapping, literally, in essence, maps the existing tones in the image to a broader range [i.e. dynamic range] of tones, thus enhancing the picture.) The overall aim of postprocessing this image has been to bring out the rich pink of the folded flowers not yet opened, while retaining the white in the flowers that have opened. Other choices included cropping to a square format, which emphasizes the single flower cluster against the background.

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Rhododendron 7

Rhododendron. Nikon D200. Nikkor 105 mm Macro. ISO 200. HDR created from 3 images at f/11. May 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Rhododendron. Nikon D200. Nikkor 105 mm Macro. ISO 200. HDR created from 3 images at f/11. May 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Continuing to work with these rhododendrons on different approaches to making the images, this is an HDR image, created by blending three images of varying exposures, one on target, one underexposed, one overexposed. (Software is HDR Efex Pro 2.) HDR is easily overdone. All too often, HDR methods produce images that are garish and have no resemblance to reality at all. HDR can be especially problematic with nature scenes. But I definitely believe that HDR has a significant role to play. At essence, HDR intensifies and expands the light. In this image, this intense light originates within the very depths of the flower and radiates outwards. The flower itself appears both very delicate and robust. Viewing the original flower, we are overwhelmed by the strong backlighting, the flower appearing bland and wan, and even an exposure adjustment does not suffice. The HDR processing brings out the light, resulting in a vibrancy not “seen” originally. (This image is best viewed in large size; click image above for larger view.)

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Sunset over the Canyon

Sunset over the Grand Canyon. Nikon D200. 17-55mm Nikkor f/2.8 at 23mm. ISO 200. 1/500 sec at f/4.8. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

Several images of Grand Canyon sunsets have already been posted. (Can we ever tire of such images?!) This image was processed with HDR techniques. This edition has been newly edited with additional processing in photoshop. The shot is taken from Navajo Point on the South Rim. Click image for larger.

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Kalanchoe redux

Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe luciae “Flapjack.” Fuji X100. 23mm. ISO 400. HDR of 3 images at f/8 with additional processing. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

This odd plant is a variety of kalanchoe, nicknames “flapjacks.” A monochrome version of this was posted some time ago. This has been re-edited. It’s an HDR image but with additional processing. The colors are pretty much realistic.

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