Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Photo of the Day: "Safe Sports"

Nikon D90, 18-135. ISO 200, 135mm, f8, 1/800 sec. Meter in standard (neutral) scene mode didn't need any exposure compensation, and also selected the right white balance. For some reason I was shooting in center weighted mode. Post: crop, tone, recovery, clarity, vibrance, sharpening.

Note, again, the inherent softness in the 18-135, especially shooting at the long (or short) end. This is even stopped down to f8! Oi vey!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Photo of the Day: "Better than Lawn Darts"

Nikon D90, 70-300VR. ISO 200, 122mm, f10, 1/500. -1/3EV, auto white balance, matrix meter, standard scene mode, no flash. Post processing included some cropping, recovery, clarity, and green color correction.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Photo of the Day: "Tree in Light Redux"

Nikon D90, 18-135. ISO 200, 35mm, f7, 1/160. -1/3EV, auto white balance, matrix meter, landscape scene mode, no flash. Post processing: I just copied the settings from the previous Photo of the Day.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Photo of the Day: "Tree in Light"

Nikon D90, 18-135. ISO 200, 18mm, f8, 1/200. -1/3EV, auto white balance, matrix meter, landscape, no flash. Post processing: crop, white balance fine tuning, +.2EV exposure, 73% recovery, sharp contrast curve. Clarity 100, vibrance 21, green and blue color correction. Sharpening.

This photo was taken in the Wind River Canyon, and I've tagged it as such. See the next POTD for a contrast...

A Message from the Modest Holdings Ministry of IT

Well, I suppose it's pretty clear I've been suffering from some connectivity issues these past few days. I wish I could say I'm doing something about it, but really, I'm limited to the Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities deciding they're ready to put the road back together so Bresnan can fix whatever the problem is.

That said... I've snuck out to my local tavern to siphon off some of their sweet intertube goodness. I'm going to load up a few Photos of the Day now. Please stay tuned and check back from time to time: I'm going to set a few to self-publish, operating under the assumption I may remain cut off for awhile yet.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Photo-of-the-Day Review

Well friends, I've been running a photo of the day fairly regularly for about two months now, and I thought a quick review of my work might be instructive. This post is partly for me to think about how things have gone, but it will hopefully also serve as a catalyst so some of you might share your thoughts with me.

There have been some good entries, and some excellent ones, with others not quite hitting the mark. In the beginning, I wrote a Photography Case Study twice a week, more in-depth than the brief comments I offer on Photos of the Day. I made it though five of those, plus a guest contribution from my very talented brother, before giving them up. They seemed -- well, they were -- an awful lot of work for a limited audience. I received some worthwhile comments on several of them, but mostly they didn't seem like they were worth the time. (Hint: if you enjoyed them and learned something from them, and want me to resume writing them, I'd consider it. I am here to serve you, my reader.) Instead of abandoning the concept altogether, though, I have incorporated parts of PCS into POTD when appropriate. If a particular shot was only possible because of creative flash use, I will note that and discuss why.

Now, what I really need is a camera. I've got material enough to keep doing these for some time, but I'm ready to share some fresh material with you. I've moved since most of these shots, and the Cheyenne area offers a whole new plate of opportunities. Indeed, if I hadn't been so busy killing elk last week, I would have had some excellent opportunities at Battle Mountain, near Savery. Maybe next year?

So, I've offered a few thoughts. Now, constant reader, what say you? Feel free to comment here, email, or find me elsewhere.

Sunday Photo of the Day: "Balance and Contrast & Earth and Sky"

Nikon D90, Nikkor 17-35mm. 17mm, f8, 1/1000 sec., ISO 200. Matrix meter, aperture priority, -2/3EV exposure compensation in scene picture mode.

Although not as clean a ying/yang as an earlier POTD, there is still a strong symmetry between horizon and cloud. This was taken at about the same time, also in Hot Springs State Park.

Post processing work included the usual: strong contrast, bump up vibrance and saturation, and a few other tweaks. I'm still looking for a high enough quality version of the original to share here, but suffice it to say it looks like most of my other "before" images: a little duller. While I prefer to get things right in-camera (as a JPEG shooter), saturation is one of the few things best done in post, most of the time. Too much in-camera and things can get out of control in a hurry, but you can always crank it up, quickly, in post.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Photo of the Day: "At the End of Day"

Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-55 I, 18mm, f6.3, 30 sec. (not 1/30 sec.). ISO 200, landscape scene mode, matrix meter with aperture priority program and -2/3EV exposure compensation. Post processing included turning down the lights a bit, some color work and the application of a strong contrast color curve. Unfortunately, the straightening nixed the one star, top center below. This was taken about here, looking almost due south. The original:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Photo of the Day: "(Many Colors) In Twilight"

Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-135. Other details lost, or at least not immediately handy. If I find them -- or an original of this image -- I'll pass them along.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On Holiday; Photo of the Day: "Out There"

Modest Holdings will be closed for a week-long elk hunting holiday beginning this afternoon. Blogging and photos of the day will resume next Thursday, Oct. 21.

Nikon D80, Nikkor 18-70mm, 27mm, f9, 1/320 sec., ISO 100.

I'll be out there...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Photo of the Day: "One Road"

Nikon D80, Nikkor 18-200mm, 200mm, f5.6 (wide-open), 1/2000 sec., ISO 1600. Don't ask me what I was on about shooting at 1/2000 sec., when even 1/200 sec. would have been enough to freeze the cars in the image. Resorting to ISO 1600 on the D80 also pretty much spoils the image: there's NR blocking, JPEG artifacting and lumi noise all! Ugh. Sunlight white balance, -1/3EV exposure compensation with the overexposure-prone D80 matrix meter engaged.

Post processing: color and saturation work, as well as a failed attempt to get something useful out of those poor trees. Oh, well.

This, by the way, marks the first Photo of the Day from my Yellowstone National Park series. I don't know if I'll run through all of them all at once like I did with the Highway in the Sky series. We shall see.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Photo of the Day: "Rocks in Contrast"

Nikon D80, Nikkor 18-70mm, 18mm, f10, 1/400 sec., ISO 400. Matrix meter, -1/3EV exposure compensation and shade white balance. JPEG, no flash. (Interestingly, those are the exact same settings as the previous Photo of the Day.)

Post processing is the same, as well. Here is a copy of the image without sensor dust removal: ugh.

And, of course, the original. The dust spots aren't so noticeable until I start cranking up the contrast, as I am wont to do.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Photo of the Day: "Little Storm on the Prairie"

Nikon D80, 18-70mm, 18mm, f10, 1/400 sec., ISO 400. Matrix meter with -1/3EV exposure compensation and shade white balance. Shot in JPEG, no flash.

One really must visit the Thermopolis area to appreciate the vividness of the red rock there.It would additional tweaking to get the color just right: there's actually a little more magenta in them.

I availed myself to tweaking for a unusual look in post processing, especially on the left side of the image. I aimed to add in a little grain while maintaining edge integrity, so it looks like a print on canvas. Other post processing included the aforementioned color correction, sensor dust removal and some other tweaks, but nothing too severe.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Photos of the Day: Three Studies in Smoke and Noise

Since I am running late today, a bonus: three photos.

All three photos are straight from the camera: no post processing. The first is from my former (and flawed but still deeply missed) Nikon D80, Nikkor 70-300VR, 300mm, f5.6 (wide open), 1/60 sec., ISO 1600 — the very bleeding edge of usefulness with the '80.

Sometimes noise is OK, which is good, because there is a helluva lot of it here. Fortunately, newer Nikons (even the old '80) generally manifest luminescence noise, as opposed to chromatic noise. Lumi noise is characterized by pixels recording different brightnesses for the same (or similar) colors. Chroma noise is evidenced when different colors, like a red pixel in the middle of a green field, pop up. Lumi noise is less distracting, and looks more like film grain.

Not as interested in this one: the background is too busy and too light. Hmm...

Oh! This is better. Depending upon my mood, I might prefer this to the first photo; I might not. The color and brightness are better here, but sometimes the darkness is important in its own right... and I generally prefer landscape to portrait oriented photos. Who knows? Your preferences will differ, as well.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Photo of the Day Bonus

As is sometimes my wont, I decided to recrop today's Photo of the Day for use as a desktop background on my 16:10 computer display. I think it may be better than the earlier effort (although I'm not sold on it), so here it is. 

Photo of the Day: "Zenith Cloud"

Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-135, 22mm, f8, 1/800 sec., ISO 200. Landscape scene mode, -1/3EV exposure compensation, aperture priority and Kelvin white balance (4950K 5G). Raw (.NEF).

Today is the final shot, probably, from the Highway in the Sky series. Post processing was not intended to capture what the scene looked like, as I tried in the other shots of this series. Sometimes you're not communicating a scene, but an idea.

Post processing included a crop and straighten and color work, mostly. Perhaps I should have added a little additional vignetting (i.e., darkened corners). Perhaps. Original below.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Photo of the Day: "Cloud in God Light (2)"

This works better, I think:

Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-135, 32mm, ff8, 1/800 sec., ISO 200. Landscape scene mode, matrix meter with -1/3EV exposure compensation, manual Kelvin white balance set to 4950K with 5G shift. Raw (.NEF).

Post processing was straightforward. Cropped a bit, increased blacks 33, exposure increased .45EV, clarity to max. Color correction was also straightforward: lumi down on the blues, saturation down on yellows and oranges. Grad (desaturate and darken) in the top-right corner. I think I prefer this one to yesterday's effort — the layout and sky color work better. I'm still wrestling with whether I should have removed quite as much yellow.

From the Highway in the Sky series. The original image can be viewed here.

Sunday Photo of the Day Preview

As promised, I'm returning to the Highway in the Sky series today with another God-lighted cloud. Here is a teaser: the original, while I work through post processing. What would you do? Regular readers should have an idea what this will look like in about 30 minutes, because I've got a pretty well-established style. But that isn't the question.

See you in a bit.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Photo of the Day: "Cloud in God Light"

Here is another photo from the Highway in the Sky series, of which I may share a few more yet.

Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-135, 28mm, f8, 1/1000 sec., ISO 200. Landscape scene mode, matrix meter with -1/3EV exposure compensation, manual Kelvin white balance set to 4950K with 5G shift. Raw (.NEF).

In this shot the distortion of the 18-135 is invisible. Also, 28mm is near the most distortion-free setting on the lens.

Post: ND grad filter to darken the top of the sky, crop. Strong contrast curve, heightened clarity, and increased blue, aqua, yellow and orange saturation values. I also shifted the orange and yellow channel hue settings toward one another.

All-in-all, pretty straightforward. As I said, perhaps I'll have another for you tomorrow.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Photo of the Day: "Highway in the Sky"

Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-135, 18mm, f14, 1/200 sec., ISO 100 (Lo1). Matrix meter, -2/3EV exposure compensation, landscape scene mode, raw (.NEF). Manual flash at full power, Kelvin white balance (5,200K with 4-green tune).

Frequent readers will recall how I've often complained about the 18-135mm Nikkor, and here is an illustration of one of the reasons why. With some heavy work in post processing I'm able to save an image, but it isn't the one I wanted. I've had to crop in too close on the left, when I wanted to leave some breathing room. (See the original below.) Unfortunately, because of the complex and severe distortion of the 18-135, such a crop doesn't work. The vertical lines on the mile marker aren't even close to parallel — and this is after significant tweaking with Photoshop's lens correction module. Perhaps if I had DxO...

I took several versions of this shot, trying to bring a number of different things together. First off, there is the need for depth of field, which forced me to get close and shoot at 18mm. (The wider your shot, the greater the depth of field.) I tried shooting without flash, and the mile marker was flat. This was returning from vacation, so I didn't have my external flash, limiting me to 1/200 sec. sync speed, which forced me to drop to ISO-e 100, or "Lo1." f14 is one stop beyond max sharpness with the D90/18-135 combination, but I thought it was a fair compromise, and I needed the depth of field, anyway.

Post processing is pretty significant. I tweaked the white balance a hair, increased saturation and did some serious color correction. The green channel is hue-shifted from blue toward yellow (look at the sign in the original below), while I've shifted yellow toward orange. I've increased the yellow, orange, blue, green and cyan saturation levels, and played with the luminescence values on the yellow and orange channels to get the ground color right. (Lumi values are how bright a color is, saturation is how much color there is. I have increased the saturation and decreased the lumi of the blue sky from before to after.) I also cropped, rotated a hair and used some advanced sharpening, along with the crazy lens distortion correction attempt. (Note how the vertical line on the inside of the mile marker remains convex even after correction.)

Whining aside, this is one of my favorite photographs. I would like very much to return to this place with a wide lens possessive of more correctable distortion.