World Press Photo of Year Winner Does Abstracts

Summary – I went to the personal website of the recently announced 2014 World Press Photo of the Year winner. To my surprise, under a site section labeled Personal Projects, were 71 abstract images of trees.

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Click on the image to read the World Press announcement


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© 2014  John Stanmeyer

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That image is nice enough 😉

But I found abstract images like this next one

(Under “Personal Projects” on his website)

More interesting –

A photojournalist doing abstracts for personal work

Who would have guessed

.

Click on the next image to visit his website

Use your left/right arrows to scroll through all 71 images

Some are more representational than others

But – almost all are abstracts in my mind using the definition

Not portrayed in a manner normally seen

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Enter the International Abstract Photography Exhibit

Entries close March 31st; it’s free

Entry details are here

The gallery is here

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I do abstract trees, too

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….. D300_081027_083309__DSC6759_nx D300_080929_084721__DSC5289_nx

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Photojournalism, Photoshop & Ethics

Summary – To Photoshop or not, that is the question. If you’re a photojournalist, the answer is simple – NOT. Here’s a recent example – one that lost a Pulitzer prize winner his job.

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I doubt if a single reader of this blog is a photojournalist

However, we all at least dabble in Photoshop

That makes this short story interesting for all of us

Click on the image for

AP’s story on this photograph

They severed ties with the Pulitzer prize winner, and

Removed all (nearly 500) of his photos from their archives

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© 2014  AP Photo/Narciso Contreras

Over reaction?

Read the AP article before deciding

Credit to the photographer

He “turned himself in” knowing full-well the consequences

A surprise to me in what I view as

An ethically challenged world

Kudos, Narciso Contreras

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Enter the International Abstract Photography Exhibit

Entries close March 31st; it’s free

Entry details are here

The gallery is here

D300-_120126_114402__DSC8055_orig cep4bas

Part of my Strange New Worlds series

I removed not a single bubble while making this, honest 😉


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Slightly OT – Disk Drive Reliability

Summary – If you’re reading this blog, you are (or should be) interested in the reliability of disk drives.

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Backblaze, a  user with > 27K consumer grade drives, just released

Failure rate data collected over several years of usage

Here is just one result they provide in the above blog post

For more details, including drive models, read their post

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FYI –

Backblaze’s business is online backups

If you don’t backup (you’ll be sorry) or even if you do

Their service looks interesting

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Enter the International Abstract Photography Exhibit

Entries close March 31st; it’s free

Entry details are here

The gallery is here

001D300_101113_153352__DSC0135_nxblog

Click here – Learn to make water drop images like this


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Where are your images (when you need them)?

Knowing how to use your camera is one thing

Post-processing your images is another

Displaying them is yet another

But – It’s all for naught

If you can’t find the image you want

When you need it

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Here’s an example of the problem

A 2TB hard drive – my main repository for

303,548 files (about 240K images, the rest sidecars, etc.)

Spread among nearly 7,000 folders

Below is just a small piece of this mess

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I hope that saying I can find almost any image in a minute

Gets your attention

Over the next few weeks, off & on,

I’ll describe how it’s done

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I use a program called IMatch (Windows only, sorry)

I recently bought Lightroom (LR) for comparison purposes (and other reasons, too)

If you use LR, maybe I’ll give you reasons to doubt…. 😉

One of IMatch’s (IM) strengths is its Category feature.

The typical LR alternative is Keywords (which IM also has)

or LR’s recent hierarchical keyword innovation (ditto IM)

Neither form of Keywords compares well

Here’s a Category sample (small & trivial for illustration only)

In it there are six categories as shown on the left

Each category can be divided into subcategories,

and on & on & on…..

as shown in the Flora expansion on the right

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Let’s suppose I want to find a picture I took in the Smokies.

I can’t recall on which of several trips it was done

I just know it was –

A cabin in the Smokies, and

It was spring – dogwoods in bloom at the cabin

Where in nearly 250K images is it?

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Click any of the following to see what’s going on….

Here is the result of choosing a Places subcategory – Smokies

Nothing special. Keywords work, too, with no problem.

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How about if I wanted Smokies images but only those with the “hand of man”?

If you enter nature exhibits, “no hand of man” is a typical constraint

I use this as a subcategory of Styles

A simple Drag & Drop of the two subcategories shows us

Smokies images that contain the hand of man

Now we’re getting into an area where the Keyword approach requires multiple keywords

IM, however, allowed me to create a category formula (circled in red)

Places.Smokies AND Styles.Hand of Man

with a simple drag & drop

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One more step before quitting for the day –

One image above is B&W

Suppose I just wanted color

Simple – drag & drop a 3rd subcategory, Styles.B&W

Prefixed with a NOT

However, what do we do with Keywords? Insert a negative keyword? What’s that?

A LR project for me to look at.

(Hey, Al. Are you there? Above is question #1.)

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I recently used the cabin with a dogwood in bloom in web post.

One of my Flora subcategories is Tree – with a “sub-subcategory” of Flowering

To find my image in a minute involved doing what’s shown above with one additional step

AND Flora.Trees.Flowering

Four quick drag & drops (knowing what it was that I was looking for) and Voila

Actually, when I did this for the aforementioned post,

I didn’t include the NOT Styles.B&W step

It wasn’t really needed (using only Smokies, Flora.Tree.Flowering, Styles.Hand of Man got the list to a single screen of thumbnails; I could see it)

I added it here just to show that not only can Categories be INCLUDED (via either AND & OR)

They can be excluded as well – Powerful!

Try that with keywords

A typical NOT use is when looking for nature photos

Searches ending with NOT Styles.Hand of man

find what’s needed

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The small sample image data base makes the above example seem trivial.

When we’re down to 3 images –

Why exclude the lone B&W?

Why search for the one with a flowering tree?

It’s right in front of you!

Try it with several hundred thousand, over 1,000 from the Smokies alone, and it’s anything but simple – or obvious

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The above is just one of numerous ways to retrieve needles in a haystack using IMatch.

The point is – all of the beautiful images in the world do no good if you can’t retrieve them.

Is this a useful topic to explore further? In combination with Lightroom?

Let me know.

These examples are from IMatch3

IMatch 5 is in preliminary beta test

The test will be public (shortly?)

Keep your eyes & ears open; it’s unbelievable

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Shadow & Highlight Recovery Options

Many captured images are too dark or too light

That’s where shadow/highlight recovery techniques come in

Some are better than others depending on the image

Know several & use the best for your situation

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Big Meadows, Shenandoah NP

A mixture of dark & light clouds often leads to blown highlights

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Occasionally we make an exposure error. Often it can be corrected (especially if we shoot in RAW).

Sometimes only a single channel of the 3 (RGB) has problems

Red channel blown (typical highlight problem)

Blue channel blocked (typical shadow problem)

My preferred alternative (not the overused HDR approach) is shadow/highlight recovery. There are other options as well.

This post looks at a simple blown highlight example.

Infrared image

Shot in RAW

Portions of clouds over exposed

Click any image below to enlarge it.

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ACR (Adobe Camera RAW)

I’ll  illustrate with ACR because

If you use Photoshop or Lightroom, you use ACR

This describes the largest segment of users out there

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Here’s the starting image. Large portions of the clouds are over exposed.

Or, as seen in ACR with the overblown areas highlighted –

ACR provides several options to deal with this problem.

1. Recovery slider –

2. Exposure adjustment –

3. The Auto adjust option –

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The three options shown above are a few ways to handle over exposure. Some are better than others. Other programs offer similar capabilities – pick one & learn to use it.

Below is a side-by-side comparison of the original image and the 1st two options shown above.

In this case I prefer the exposure option, but that will vary from image to image. That’s why it’s important to pick a program and become familiar with it and its options.

Left middle zoomed to 1:1

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A 1-Exposure HDR – Something from Nothing?

The previous HDR post prompted a good question:

What did I mean by saying that:

Doing a 1-exposure HDR was “misguided

Misguided was rather cryptic

How about – “Might not give the result you expect” or

There is no free lunch!

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Sunrise at Clingman’s Dome

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Not HDR (rather, a single best-possible exposure)

Even with 4-bracketed exposures, I could not match this realism in HDR. This was processed in Capture NX2 for shadow/highlight recovery and Color Efex Pro 4 for tonal & color contrast adjustments.

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Here is a partial paraphrase of my reply to the question on “misguided”-

I was referring to a single exposure capture of a scene –

With TOTALLY lost shadows or highlights or both, due to

The scene’s tonal range exceeding the sensor’s dynamic range

Or the user’s exposure setting resulting in lost highlights or shadows

“misguided” was directed at a user thinking:

HDR programs can perform magic with this single exposure and somehow bring back the tonal data that was never captured to begin with

It can’t. Black is black & white is white

If  shadows were captured as black (or highlights white) because the scene’s tonal range exceeded the sensor’s dynamic range then the black stays black and white stays white – period.

Additional dynamic range can’t be created when there is no captured data

Range can be increased only by using more than a single exposure if the scene’s range is greater than the camera’s

I hope this clarifies “misguided”.

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Straight from the horse’s mouth (Photomatix website) –

“Can’t I just create the exposures from one RAW file?

Not really. Your RAW file contains data captured by the sensors for only one exposure. The total dynamic range you can reconstruct from one photo converted with different exposure settings can never be more than the dynamic range captured by your camera, and this is rather limited

When you are using only one exposure to capture the scene, your RAW file is already your HDR image.

Converting the RAW file to images with different exposure levels is a bit like slicing the dynamic range of the RAW into several parts. Combining the parts back into an HDR image will at best re-produce the dynamic range of the initial RAW file.

….if you are using a good RAW converter to derive fake exposures from a single RAW file, you will probably notice that the HDR image created from the fake exposures shows more dynamic range than the pseudo-HDR image obtained by converting the single RAW file directly. This is because your RAW converter includes a good noise reduction function, and this has an important effect on the dynamic range.

….a good RAW converter includes functions designed to optimize the dynamic range retrieved from the raw sensor data, but this does not change the fact that the dynamic range of a RAW file is limited to one exposure only. Unless the dynamic range of your scene is low, you will need to take more than one exposure to create an HDR image of the scene.”

Let me repeat that last sentence for emphasis –

Unless the dynamic range of your scene is low, you will need to take more than one exposure to create an HDR image of the scene.

And – if you didn’t shoot RAW, but instead a single jpeg or tiff, there’s nothing in the world that will help. Believing otherwise goes beyond misguided to delusional. 😉

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Photomatix suggests the following if you insist on using just a single exposure –

There are three techniques for using Photomatix Pro with one single exposure taken in RAW mode:

Technique 1: Open your RAW file in Photomatix Pro to tone map it directly

Technique 2: Convert your RAW file into a 16 bits/channel image in your favorite RAW converter, open it in Photomatix Pro, and tone map it.

Technique 3: Create two or three exposures in your RAW converter and combine them in Photomatix Pro (or Photomatix Essentials) as it they were “real” bracketed shots

Here is an example of applying these techniques to a single exposure (I actually made four bracketed exposures since my delusions run to other things, not HDR 😉 )

Click for full-screen if you want to see the differences – especially less noise in the “fake” due to the RAW converters noise reducing ability

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Let me finish with the observation that nothing beats real captured data – especially not “faked” exposures created in RAW conversion by changing the exposure compensation.

Click to enlarge for an eye-opener

On the left is a 100% view of an actual EV0 capture. On the right is a EV-2 capture increased 2-stops (to EV0) in RAW conversion to provide a “fake-EV0”.

Notice the noise in the fake.

This is because it was dragged up from the noisiest part of the capture whereas the true capture came from a less noisy area

Noise kills dynamic range (look at some dynamic range vs. noise curves at the DxOMark site)

If you were doing a 2-exposure HDR with this data (EV-2 & EV0),

Which EV0 exposure do you think gives the best result – fake or real?

Bracketing intelligently in order to both capture highlights AND to get the left (noisy) side of the histogram well to the right (like 1/3 of the way from the left side) is crucial. Don’t neglect the shadows and believe that once they’re inside the left side all is well – it’s not as there’s too much noise and that kills dynamic range (don’t believe me? re-read the Photomatix section).

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$119.9 Million ($119,900,000 lots of zeros)

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A new record last night for art sold at auction

Edvard Munch’s “Scream”

A pastel on board

One of four versions made by Munch

Previous record:

Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” $106.5 million

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😉 😉 CAUTION – Frontal nudity beyond this point. 😉 😉

The Scream

The previous record holder –

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The top-selling photograph went for $4.3 million in November 2011.  Read about it here. It was as much about Photoshop (deleting buildings, people & dogs) as photography. Would never have done well in the typical club competition.

The Scream obviously was better than this photo as it uses a leading line and places the horizon per the “rule-of-thirds”. The photo is just a bunch of rectangles with a horizon nearly in the center. What was he thinking? It cost him $115.6M.

What’s the moral of this story? Trade in your photography gear for a box of pastels (plus a whole lot of cash back) and start drawing.

😉

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About the Scream –

What lead Munch to draw the Scream (pastel, not paint) – “I was walking along the road with two friends. The sun set. I felt a tinge of melancholy. Suddenly the sky became a bloody red. I stopped, leaned against the railing, dead tired. And I looked at the flaming clouds that hung like blood and a sword over the blue-black fjord and city. My friends walked on. I stood there, trembling with fright. And I felt a loud, unending scream piercing nature.”

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