Photographs & Paintings

Summary – Off to the mountains for a day-trip tomorrow. Forecast is rain. Hoping to see some photo-ops like those that led to today’s image – more painting-like than photo-like.

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Odd ball filters, gauze, Vaseline, almost anything

placed in front of your lens can produce

interesting results

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Sometimes almost painterly, in fact

(Used a wet windshield in this case)

Monet Made Me Do It

Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park

North entrance to Skyland looking south down the drive

Click to enlarge & see the “brush strokes”

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Technical – Nikon D300, Tokina 16-50 @50mm, 1/10 sec, f/5.6, EV=-2/3, ISO400, WB=Cloudy, center weighted metering, aperture priority, RAW capture, circular polarizer, hand-held, LiveView with manual focus

  • Taken through the windshield in a downpour (parked)
  • Hand held and braced on top of the steering wheel
  • I wanted the effect of the flowing water on the windshield visible, and the background soft and painterly – a relatively shallow DOF
  • f/5.6 at 50mm gives a DOF of only a few feet (4′ at a focus distance of 12′ which is about the distance to the tree framing the left side)
  • I used LiveView to see the image more clearly & used manual focus to get what I wanted

Composition

  • Trees trunks to frame left/right
  • Colorful leaves/branch to frame top
  • After zooming my 16-50 to 50, the final “Zoom” was moving the car forward/backward until  the tree framing was right
  • Give the eye a destination – the light area at the bend of the drive
  • Place the “destination” off-center; bulls eyes usually don’t work
  • The car was off the drive at a spot where I could move it safely – but anyone watching would surely have wondered ??

Post-process

1. Photoshop Elements/Adobe Camera RAW for RAW conversion

2. Tonal & color contrast adjustments in Color Efex Pro 4 using my custom designed recipe for basic image post processing

  Step-by-step detailed illustration in this post

3. Added a border using my saved CEP4 custom border recipe

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Combine techniques like this with camera motion and/or multiple exposures for some really painterly results

Or, if not painterly, then definitely non-photographic

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Nik Collection Troubleshooting Tips

Google’s Nik Collection, with its attractive price,

Has introduced lots of new users to Nik software

New users have a lot to learn

My tutorial series is a good place to start

However, occasionally troubles arise beyond normal usage

Troubles with getting the software to run – period

Or – to run correctly

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Here are a few tips to solve problems

Getting Nik Collection programs to run properly

Based on years as a Nik beta tester

Encountered 5 users with problems in just the past week

So I decided to update my 2011 post on this topic

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1. When all else fails – or maybe even before trying anything else – the generic “fix-it” for many problems during beta for many, many testers was

Reinstall the Program

I suspect that once you move to the top of the Google Nik support queue this is going to be the first thing that they suggest

Try it now; save yourself time in the support queue later

1a. Install Order (recent note on test site)

“If you installed the Nik Collection first and then installed LR5, the plug-ins won’t show up

You’ll need to run the installer again”

This likely applies to any Nik Collection host program, not just LR

A specific case of the Reinstall the Program theme

2. Image Quality Issues – Nik programs were “early adopters” in using a video card’s graphic processing unit (GPU)

Not all cards work!

The problems usually show up in the form of image quality problems – odd colors, square patches with different tonality than the rest of the image, etc.

The solution is to open the program’s Settings menu and

Disable the GPU

You must restart the Nik program (& its host – PS, LR, Aperture) after doing this for it to take effect

You may want to try this even if everything seems fine just to see what speed impact using (or not) the GPU has

Much more GPU detail in item #5 below

3. Odd crashes and start-up difficulties – This next tip isn’t a cure-all but may solve your particular problem

The Nik Selective Tool is known to occasionally give problems (this is a little window that pops up over your host program – PS only)

The ST issues arise usually as a result of installing a new plug-in – key word here is install and not the plug-in itself

Maybe (hopefully) since the major (only) change by Google since their acquisition of Nik nearly a year ago was to the install & update routines, this problem has gone away

I don’t know because information to beta testers isn’t as free-flowing as before

4. Speed – Do not allocate more than 55-60% of available memory to Photoshop (go to Performance under Preferences in PS)

5. More on Graphics Processor Unit (GPU) induced problems posted at the Google test site 7/22/13

Even though this was an answer to a Color Efex Pro question, it applies to the entire collection

a.Video Card Drivers

Mac Users: Generally the video card that comes with your Mac will be updated automatically. The exception may be when there has been an additional video card added. In that case the user may need to go to the video card manufacturer’s website to download an updated driver for their secondary GPU. If you are using Mac OS Snow Leopard (10.6) ensure to update to 10.6.6 or higher as this can affect performance. If this does not apply to you, please go to the next section below.

Windows Users: Locate the manufacturer of the GPU as well as the model number. Once this is determined, it is then recommended to go directly to the GPU manufacturer’s website (best option) or if that is not possible to go to the computer manufacturer’s website (secondary option) to obtain an updated video card driver. It is NOT recommended to use Windows Update as in general we have found that these drivers are not updated as frequently. To identify which video card you have please do the following:

  1. Click on Start >Control Panel>System & Security >System >Device Manager and then click on the plus next to Display Adapter, this should display the make and model information.
  2. Go to the manufacturer’s website (you may need to search for it via Google) such as Nvidia.com and with the model number you should be able to search for the latest driver. If you are unable to locate the driver you may need to contact the manufacturer of your computer to obtain an updated driver.
  3. Once the latest GPU driver is located,download and install the new driver.
  4. Restart the computer and try your Nik program once again.

b. Disable partial GPU processing

If after following the above steps you are still experiencing the same issue, the next step will be to either disable the GPU (if possible) or force your Nik Program to not use the GPU (safe-mode). In order to disable the GPU in your Nik Program please do the following:

  1. If you are able to open your Nik program and can see part of the interface, see if you can click on the”Settings” button in the lower left.
  2. In Settings locate the section “GPU” and expand it, in this section you will see a check box “Enable GPU Processing”, uncheck this so the GPU will be disabled, then close the settings window.
  3. Close out of your Nik program (click Cancel), quit out of any and all host applications (Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture), and then relaunch your Nik program to see if this corrects this issue.

c. Disable all GPU processing

If you are unable to disable the GPU via Settings OR if the issue is still unresolved (e.g. your Nik program crashes or the buttons are not displaying correctly), please try the following steps below after quitting out of all host applications (Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture):Mac Users:

  1. Open a finder window (or double click on the Macintosh HD on the desktop) and navigate to:
    Macintosh HD : Users : <user name> : Library :Preferences : Google : Color Efex Pro 4 (or whichever program….)

    • OSX 10.7 or later: hold the Option key and go to Go > Library to access the User Library
  2. Locate the file, ColorEfexPro4.cfg and right-click and choose “open with…” and then click “Choose” and then locate the applications, “Text Edit” to open this file.
  3. At the very beginning (before all the text) of the configuration file, paste the following code below verbatim:

    <configuration>
    <group name=”INTERN”>
    <key name=”UseSafeMode” type=”bool” value=”1″/>
    </group>
    </configuration>
  4. Now save the file, close it and relaunch your Nik Program and see if the issue has been resolved.

If the issue persists please reply with the Color Efex Pro 4 (or whichever) folder underUSERACCOUNT/Library/Preferences referenced above. This contains log and settings files that will help us understand what else may be occurring.

Windows Users:

  1. Click Start and type in the search box below: %localappdata% (exactly as shown with % symbols on each end),when the yellow folder “Local” is displayed in the search list, click on it.

  2. The local folder will open, now double-click on “Google” followed by “Color Efex Pro 4” (or whichever) and locate the file ColorEfexPro4.cfg (or whichever) and then double click to open. Windows will ask you which application to use to open this file, locate and choose “Notepad”to open.

  3. At the very beginning (before all the text) of the configuration file, paste the following code below verbatim:

    <configuration>
    <group name=”INTERN”>
    <key name=”UseSafeMode” type=”bool” value=”1″/>
    </group>
    </configuration>
  4. Now save the file, close it and relaunch your Nik program and see if the issue has been resolved.

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HDR – Actually needed; not just for Effect

Historic Charleston, SC

If you like architecture

Visit Charleston & look no further

D300_130328_135005__DSC5950_HDR cep

The Entrance

A fairly typical Charleston private residence entrance way

Not an image I’d exhibit, but a good HDR example

The scene’s tonal range was 4-5 stops greater than the sensor’s range

I used HDR Efex Pro from the Nik Collection

Many use HDR for that “HDR-Look”; if you do, that’s fine

I use it to capture natural looking images not otherwise possible

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Using all 3 Nik Collection “Efex” plug-ins

#1 : -1EV capture (of +1, -1, -3 set) ….. #2 : HEP default output

#3 – #2 after Color Efex Pro ….. #4 : #3 after Silver Efex Pro

3-29-2013 1-09-20 PM

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The images are results of the available (28) HEP presets

Starting with 01 & 02, then 03 & 04, …., 27 & 28

The presets are best used as starting points – not as is

I always use the default, 01, and fine tune from there as needed

Click any image pair for a larger view

3-29-2013 10-52-28 AM 3-29-2013 10-54-01 AM 3-29-2013 11-13-39 AM 3-29-2013 11-14-41 AM 3-29-2013 11-16-01 AM 3-29-2013 11-17-05 AM 3-29-2013 11-18-31 AM 3-29-2013 11-19-42 AM 3-29-2013 11-20-53 AM 3-29-2013 11-21-49 AM 3-29-2013 11-23-07 AM 3-29-2013 11-24-01 AM 3-29-2013 11-25-08 AM 3-29-2013 11-26-15 AM

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Here they are as a slide show

Click on any image to open the full screen slide show

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For B&W – Silver Efex Pro 2 Rules

Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, SC

A national historic landmark

A subject that suggests black & white

D800E_130326_103128__DSC6889 nx wbdl cep sep blend

Suspension Bridge Geometry

What’s this have to do with the cemetery?

Made while stuck in traffic driving there

Made lemonade from a bad situation

Grabbed my camera & shot this between start & stops

Mostly 2-3 minute dead stops

Hand held, B&W conversion of capture – no other alterations

D800E, Nikon 24-70 2.8, Live View

3-28-2013 6-55-58 PM

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Click any image for a full screen slide show

Different Silver Efex Pro “looks”

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The Anti-Contrast; Soft & Dreamy

Soft Shallow Depth of Field Images

Have lots of appeal to me

Not so much to photography judges 😦

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After a week of high contrast Black & White

Time for a 180 and look at low contrast color

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D800E_130222_100814__DSC5048 acr cep

Flowing Softly

2-22-2013 5-45-37 PM

Suggestions (not rules)

1. Some part of the image should be in sharp focus

A place for your eye to rest

2. Careful placement within the frame

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Not everyone’s cup of tea

Shoot for yourself and it doesn’t matter

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The following images were all made with a 1:1 macro lens

Wide open aperture

Paper thin depth of  field

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No crop; RAW conversion in Adobe ACR

Very slight tonal & color contrast adjustments

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Click any image to open full screen slide show

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The above are the antitheses of this set from the other day

Painterly vs. Graphic

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Getting my money’s worth out of my $6 tulip 😉

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B&W Digital Darkroom – Contrast Adjustments

Introducing the Ultimate Contrast Control

Levels & Curves

Used for Both Color and B&W

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The 5th of five parts Exploring B&W Tonal Contrast

Part 1 – The B&W Digital Darkroom

Part 2 – Selective Adjustments

Part 3 – Color Filters 

Part 4 – Film Sensitivity

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_DSC4327_nx sep brdr

Sparks Lane, Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains NP

An etching-like effect

How this was made? Read about it toward the end of the post.

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D800E_130220_084229__DSC5016 nx2wbdl cep x2

A Case of Extremes

Can you get from left to right?

You may not want to but, nevertheless, should know how

Easy with Levels & Curves

Described below

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In a nutshell, here’s the how-to:

Click to enlarge to readable size

2-21-2013 8-47-05 AM

This result depends on using L&C twice

In order to do this you must run Silver Efex Pro twice

You can’t have two separate L&C settings at once

Levels & Curves is one of the most powerful image editing tools

It’s found in any good image editing software (color and B&W)

Learn it & don’t hesitate to experiment with

Seemingly off the wall settings

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Here’s another example, described in this old post –

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The post feature image was made as follows –

2-21-2013 12-19-23 PM

Plus the addition of lots of noise & some Global Adjustments for fine tuning

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Tonal Separation in the B&W Digital Darkroom, 3

 Introducing a Powerful Silver Efex Pro  (SEP) Feature

Film Types

One of the most powerful & certainly the least understood

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The 4th of five parts

Part 1 – The B&W Digital Darkroom

Part 2 – Selective Adjustments

Part 3 – Color Filters 

D300-_110508_104057__DSC3711_nx cep

Colonial Times

Less than 5 minutes in Silver Efex Pro

Described below

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SEP users see an adjustment window labeled Film Types

They open the window and see….

2-18-2013 12-54-56 PM

Figure 1

and ask – What’s in the drop-down menu?

and they open it and see this….

A list of 18 B&W film types

2-18-2013 12-59-02 PM

Figure 2

If they fall into the Film Types hole (that’s the title, right?)

They’ll be mesmerized by how their image would have looked

When captured in film by one of these 18

(Nik did a great job with the film fidelity)

Unfortunately, many users won’t go further

Most especially, they’ll fail to invest time & effort on

Sensitivity (film sensitivity to color, that is) &

Levels & Curves

Tonal Contrast is at the absolute heart of B&W images

These two functions are among SEP’s best contrast tools

Maybe the best when it comes to tonal separation

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As in the previous posts our subject is this tulip and

Our goal is tonal separation between flower & leaves

2-16-2013 8-07-16 AM

Figure 3

Capture & Default B&W Conversion

Flowers & leaves have nearly identical tones

The Film Types Players –

1. Film Sensitivity is unparalleled in SEP for achieving tonal separation

2 Levels & Curves can’t separate nearly identical tones well

However, once this basic separation is obtained,

Levels & Curves can help with the “degree of separation”

This post will focus on the Film Types’ Sensitivity option

The most powerful feature in SEP for

Adjusting and separating tones

Color Filters on Steroids 😉

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Sensitivity display is the left hand half (default preset)

(I’m using a test image in order to show all colors)

Right half illustrates the effect of sensitivity adjustments

Yellow at +100% (top) & -100% (bottom)

Click to enlarge

2-19-2013 11-48-56 AM

Figure 4

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Figure 4 shows us all that we need to know.

Let’s apply this to our tulip test image

Click to enlarge

2-19-2013 12-28-07 PM

Figure 5

Figure 5 compares Sensitivity with the Color Filters result.

For the film sensitivity option

Red was set to +66% and green to -66%

For Color Filters, the Red default filter was chosen

The two results are similar (as they should be)

However, the sensitivity approach is much more flexible

This flexibility is illustrated in Figure 6

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2-19-2013 2-30-24 PM

Figure 6

A typical SEP progression with two main steps

1. Use Film Type Sensitivity to set basic tonal contrasts

2. Fine tune with Global Adjustments as desired

Selective adjustment of  “spots” as needed

In step 1,

Blue & Cyan were set negative to darken the blue sky

Red, yellow and green were set positive

Comparing top right & bottom left shows the result

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The Colonial Times image at the start of the post was done in <5 minutes

As a final step

I took Fig.6 bottom right  into Finishing Adjustments for

Toning, Vignette & Border

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