It’s been a while since I last posted, but I promise to add some new ones soon.  Since my last post I’ve been lucky enough to try out my new Gary Fong Lightsphere II as well as the new Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.8 lens.   Both performed very well!  I also went on a great night photowalk in DC and Topaz Labs have updated their Topaz Adjust software to 3.0 (Windows out now, Mac available by the end of March)

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It’s freezing out there, at about 10°F.  Wind chill is around -1°F.

That’s cold!

Your camera equipment needs to have a bit more care taken with it than during less inclement weather, so be sure to read up on how to protect your camera gear from the cold with this article from Adorama (click here).  The biggest issue to be concerned about is how you bring your camera back in from the cold, which you can find information at the bottom of the article on that.  Your goal is to prevent condensation in the areas where it’s not as likely to dry out.  To avoid this, put your camera gear, in a sealable plastic bag to allow them to warm up gently, and keeping the moister inside air from causing condensation that can cause mold growth inside your expensive lenses.

DSC_1824, originally uploaded by robert photo.

When I first got the D80 I didn’t spend much time looking at the different things that popped up on the LCD after taking a picture. There are a bunch of them, from just the image, an image with flashing highlights, and the RGB histogram, among others. When I am out taking pictures (more recently the Manassas shots of the cannons and downtown area), I’ve spent a lot of time using the histogram view to show me what I captured, and more importantly what I missed, with that exposure. In some cases, such as in this shot of the train station, the camera metered the way it thought and displayed the picture. By viewing the histogram, I was able to see that the camera saw the bright sun and made the station itself dark — thus underexposing the building. In this case the histogram was too far to the left. I adjusted the exposure compensation and took a second shot, overexposing the scene until the histogram showed more to the right, thus overexposing the sky, but properly exposing the building. Both images were shot on a tripod to make post-processing this particular shot much easier since they would be identical in composition and perspective.

Back home, I opened both RAW files up in Photoshop Elements 6 and looked at them. In one case, the building was underexposed but the sky was quite nice. I actually touched this up a bit by underexposing using the exposure slider, which brought out the deep blue in the image. It darkened the building even more, but that’s okay, since I have another image of the building that I had taken. When I got it to the blue I wanted, I moved on to the second image. With that one I had a washed out sky, but the building was more properly exposed. Shooting in RAW I have more options with exposure, so I adjusted the slider a bit to get the building the way I wanted.

By this point I have 2 images — one with a nice looking sky, but dark building, the other with a washed out sky but a properly exposed building. Using the selection tool in Photoshop, I selected the nice blue sky in picture 1, then went to image 2 and selected the same area, and pasted in the nice blue sky, resulting in the final image shown above.  I could have also just taken one RAW image and saved them as two different images (one with a nice sky, the other with a properly exposed building), but I wanted to practice using the histogram as well as be sure I got enough a good exposure for both scenes as the difference in light between the sky and the building was quite a bit — RAW only gives you so much flexibility!

So when you’re out taking photos of something you plan to print later, and the scene just isn’t cooperating, a bit of patience and some careful use of the histogram, you can save a shot that would otherwise be ruined by harsh lighting. Using RAW makes the job a lot easier.

DSC_2309, originally uploaded by robert photo.

Was itching to get out and take some photos today, so went nearby to Manassas National Battlefield. The intention was to stop by Groveton Confederate Cemetery, but saw this little area just before it that had some fun cannons. Took a bunch, but only ended up with a few keepers, including this one. I also converted it to B&W, which you can see in Flickr. Got one shot of the monument at the cemetery, but that’s it. Pretty wild place — 220+ people are buried there, but they only know who 2 of them are. The map is in the EXIF data on Flickr if you’re interested in checking it out.

For some reason the images aren’t all showing up in the photostream, so check out my Manassas set for today’s shots (there are 12).

Well there was no winter weather, at least not yet, so a bit of disappointment with that as the photo opportunities I posted about yesterday never presented themselves.  I won’t give up just yet, as the rain is still coming down and there’s always a chance it could still freeze.

MacWorld ’09 was today, and there wasn’t much to get excited about, though iPhoto got some nice updates if you want to spend $79 for the new iLife software, which also updated iMovie, GarageBand, etc.  Since I only use iPhoto, I doubt I will pay for the update, but it does have some cool features including geotagging, face recognition (very cool!), sharing with Flickr and Facebook, and easier event management.  Ironically Google also released a Mac version of their popular photo cataloging software Picasa, which might be worth using for my RAW images since iPhoto keeps all my JPEGs (iPhoto does handle RAW but I shoot different imagery in RAW than JPEG, with JPEG being for “point and shoot” type shots in my workflow).

I’ll post back at a later time regarding Picasa.

Haven’t had any time to shoot lately, though with tomorrow’s reported ice storm in the D.C. area, it may give me some opportunity for some interesting photos.  Probably just use the 50mm and see what I can come up with.

If anyone has some free time and wants to take a free (online) course on winter photography, check out Learn To Take Great Photos offer for a free (normally $20) course.  Simply go to the page for winter photos and use the coupon code SNOWINFEB.  Looks like you need to be a new student (and it doesn’t actually start until February 2), but it’s a good deal for free and to try out what other courses they have to offer. Probably doesn’t beat taking a class with a live person, however.

Hopefully tomorrow (or Wednesday) provides some good opportunities — stay tuned!

robert

As you’ve seen lately, I enjoy the Topaz Adjust plug-in.  By sharing my photos on NikonCafe, I’ve been able to get chosen as a “featured artist” (well, I offered my gallery and was picked) in the plugsnpixels e-zine (#13)!  I’m excited about it, to say the least!  And I had even used the plugsnpixels coupon code to get a discount on Adjust and Denoise. 🙂

You can see my Adjust’d photos in my Flickr gallery with the Topaz Adjust tag.