Saturday, November 20, 2010

Do as I SAY not as I DO

I have a lot to learn. Especially about things I don't do very often. My mother would say, "yeah, like dusting the house". My fellow motorcycle instructors would say, "like cleaning your bike", my dentist (sorry, Dr. Ron!) would say, "like flossing your teeth", (anyone detecting a common thread here?), my ex-wife would say... well never mind. When you don't do something very often, you tend to forget how, or at least you're not very good at it.

I don't print pictures. No I mean I REALLY don't make prints, except for ID photos which don't count. This week I decided to print a bunch of images from the Gales of November weekend, because it's time to change some of the pictures hanging in the house and maybe add a few. By the way when I say "print" I really mean "upload to Costco and get them to print them". I REALLY don't make prints! Anyway, I didn't edit them very well.

First of all, there's the issue of monitor calibration. I have a Spider, I've used it from time to time, but it never seems to give me consistent results. I'll do the two big monitors that sit side by side, and afterwards, they'll look different. Close, but no cigar. The HP monitor has a much brighter, glossy appearance compared to the Dell, so I just write it off to perception. The colour balance seems to be consistent, though.

One of the pictures I printed was a fall scene. Dull. Lifeless. I need to pump up the saturation. Same thing with the Michipicoten Light shot with the sand in the front that I posted in the last blog entry. OK, mental rule #1 -- pump up the saturation if you're going to print. Also the blacks are a lot stronger on the print than on the screen. Like in the black and white Harris Creek waterfall image I posted a few days ago. Rule #2, tone down the blacks.

Rule #3, and this is the big one: Look a LOT more closely at the editing you do BEFORE going to print. I took out some hydro wires and a guy wire from a couple of pictures but when you get the prints back, there they are! BLOW IT UP and take care to edit properly!

The first image is from the original that I printed. Both of these are tight crop blowups. Notice the wires and stuff I didn't remove properly? You may not notice them when looking at a normal sized image onscree, but they sure pop out at you when you make a print! Removed, by the way, with the healing brush in CS5 with context aware fill turned on.

The same thing is true if you're going to submit images for competition. Blow it up and scroll all around the image looking for things to fix. Dust spots, for one thing. I have an open smooth water shot where I took the time to do that — not only dust, but little ripples and stuff floating in the water — and it paid off because that image came out well.

So did the night starry shot of the Inn (3rd one down in the previous post). I was a bit afraid that star movement due to the 30 second exposure would make the sky look fuzzy, but it didn't. Almost, though. If you're going to do star field shots, use a wide angle lens and keep it down to 30 seconds or less. Rule #4.

By the way, I don't know what I was thinking. I only have two frames/mattes that fit 18x12, and I now have 10 images suitable for framing, or at least I will have when I get these reprinted. I have 4 other frames set up for 18x9, guess I'm not changing those. So I'll get a few more frames done (that's a LOT more expensive than making the prints!). Maybe I'll rethink the print sizes...


I've been using Dropbox lately for my "cloud computing". For those who are not familiar with the concept, there are several solutions out there for people who want, as Dropbox says, "Secure backup, sync and sharing made easy". Here's how it works: Go to their website and sign up. Install Dropbox on any and all of your computers (which would include your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry...). Now any file you put in your Dropbox on any machine is visible on all of the other machines. Not instantly, it has to upload to their secure server. If you share those files with other people, they can see them too. If they're Dropbox users, they can edit them, you can collaborate. Doesn't matter what format the file is -- unlike Google Docs, for instance. Right now I'm using it for 2 or 3 things -- the most IMPORTANT of which is, to back up my critical files (I have two: a database and a set of Quickbooks company files that I use every day). I drag a copy into my Dropbox and there's now a secure copy stored on a server somewhere in California, I think, in case my house burns down or I get burglarized. I also share pictures and eBooks with friends, and transfer stuff to my iPad from my PC without going through that annoying iTunes.

Anyway, it's free (up to 2Gb). You can get more free space by referring people to them, so do me a favour -- if you go to check them out, use this link  so I get my referral credits.

By the way, I'm writing this on my laptop but I intend to use the desktop to upload the post to the blog, so as I write this, I'm storing it in my Dropbox and will open it on the other computer when I'm ready ot post, after doing the other stuff (like edit the pictures I talked about above and haven't done yet!).

Next FACzen Workshop

I've been asked by a number of people when I plan to host my next workshop. I've had a couple of thoughts. On January 22 and 23, 2011 is the Haliburton Highlands Dogsled Derby at the Pinestone Resort. I've been there for the past 2 years and captured some excellent images. Outdoor winter shooting is a challenge, and it should be a good opportunity to get together.

The other event is bigger. It's the "2011 Ontario Senior Games — Winterfest" happening on February 15-17. There are a bunch of sanctioned sports and events for the over-55 crowd, ranging from skiing and hockey to badminton and bridge. All fantastic photo ops. It will be busy up here -- most of the resorts are noted as "athlete villages" including the Red Umbrella Inn across the road. More detail later...

If you would like to come up and participate in either or both of these weekends, please drop me a note. If you would like to help by sharing your photographic skills, in other words, help teach or mentor others, let me know as well. I'm going to do some more work on these two events in the meantime.

Moose Peterson Book

Did anyone else buy the Moose Peterson book ("CAPTURED") from Kelby? Moose is a renowned wildlife photographer and birder, and this is his story and tips and techniques on wildlife photography. The jury is out. I'm on page 150 of 400 pages, I vowed to start at the beginning and not skip ahead. At the beginning of the book, the pictures are CRAP. But as I read further, I realize, that's where he started as a teenager, and besides he was shooting FILM. I cheated and leafed through the rest of the book and I realize that any doubts in my mind that digital is better in every way than the old 35mm film/slide days have been put to rest. Good book, although I find his writing style somewhat tedious and although the highlited "pullout quotes" and tips boxes are cute graphically, I find them hard to read on their green backgrounds. Still, if you want to take wildlife pictures, you'd better read this book. You can buy it at NAPP, click the link at right.

This is a picture of me taken by Ron Goodlin up in Wawa. You can see that it's wise to wear waterproof boots when photographing on the shoreline. Later that day I learned that one should never turn one's back on the waves or one will end up with soaked feet, regardless of waterproofing (when the water goes halfway up your leg!)
So here's one more image from the Gales of November weekend. Not actually in the Wawa area, it was taken at a burned out gas station somewhere along the road between Wawa and the Soo.

Broken Window. The putty really did look like that.
I used Topaz Adjust to add some extra depth to the image.