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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Blog Improvements – Larger Images & Graphics

Last week I upgraded my WordPress blog service

I’ll be introducing new features this makes possible

Such as today’s illustration of larger images

The part of the upgrade bundle that permits this is its

Custom CSS package ( if CSS is Greek to you, no worry)

It will allow me to customize my blog’s “canned theme” which

Includes changing fonts, colors, and sizes of various elements such as page width & margins

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The maximum image width allowed by my default WordPress theme’s design is

Images – 450 pixels

GIF animations – 400 pixels

Due to the theme’s page width limit of 450

CSS allowed me to change the page width from 450 to 565

The result of the extra 115 pixels is demonstrated below

Much more to my liking (& your’s too, I hope)

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After changing to 565

D800E_130113_143011__DSC4354 cep4 sep2lum34

Old page width of 450

D800E_400wide

After changing to 565

barn560px

Old page width of 450

barn400px

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What did I learn today?

Besides how to make my blog images larger?

I’ve got a lot of CSS learning to do. 😉

Since CSS is essentially a programming language

Learning it should be not a big problem

Personal note –

Back in the 80’s I did free-lance programming

Even invited by Apple prior to the Mac intro

to the 1st Mac developer’s conference

I was intrigued by a new programming language

Wrote the first book on it (a college text)

390 pages in 4 months (circa 1985)

Without the benefit of a word processor

(& ignore my co-author; 1/2 chapter & quit)

It was also published in Russian

Rights bought by the Moscow press

Parlayed this into a part-time university teaching job

All of this programming stuff was a work-related hobby, but

Not anything directly to do with my full-time job

DMC-FZ28_130116_143855_P1040780

What did you learn new today?

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How did you make this image? #109

An in-camera Orton technique image

D800E_130113_143011__DSC4354 cep4 sep2lum34

Winter Jasmine

True to its name – in bloom now in January

A blossom is finger nail sized

Rain drops are pin-head sized

300 feet down the street

1-14-2013 2-55-05 PM

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Nikon D800E (using the Image Overlay option) on tripod

105 mm Nikkor 1:1 macro with 1.4 X teleconverter; circular polarizer

LiveView focus to nail the tiny water drops on the front center flower

5-second timer delay + mirror up to eliminate shake

Cropped from 4 x 6 to 4 x 5

Lost 6 MP, only 30 MP left 😉

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Six steps from capture to final

anigif

Capture vs Final

anigif01

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One of my Winter Jasmine favorites.

Among my very first multiple exposures

Made 10 years ago with my 2nd camera – a 5 MP Nikon P&S

I was ecstatic at the time – thought wow, wow, wow

Some of us are easily pleased 😉

31_meadowlark rep

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What You See vs. What the Camera Sees

This is a re-post (from January) in response to

This comment in yesterday’s post –

“Hello Im fairly new to photography and i try to use my camera everyday and study other photographs but when i dont get the shot to look similar to the one i i see on the net i get really discourage does that happen to anyone ?”

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The Photographer’s Eye….

Have you ever said –

“That’s not what I saw!”

When viewing a photo you took?

Do you know why?

You may lack The Photographer’s Eye

Her name is – Darling

Woodstock, Vermont

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Post-process

1. Processed RAW file in Capture NX2

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. I made liberal use of Nik Control Points in step 2 to

a) – Emphasize “Darling” (applied Detail Extractor filter to just Darling)

b) – De-emphasize everything else (applied Tonal Contrast with all controls at minimum values to, in effect, “de-contrast” everything else – and reduced the saturation everywhere else, as well)

Because Darling was what caught my eye

The rest is context; I wanted this, but didn’t want it to distract by competing with the main subject

Overdone a little to make the point

Before – top

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The following 1-minute video describes visually (starting at about the 22 sec. point) why what you thought you saw isn’t what you captured in the camera –

Your brain focuses on what caught your eye and filters out everything else

But the camera sees all.

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My solution with the Darling image attempted to reduce the extraneous material problem in the post-processing (even though what I got was what I saw).

The best time to minimize the surprise is to examine the scene closely & carefully with your “eye” before pressing the shutter release.

You have to do this through your viewfinder

Give special attention to the edges & corners – especially if your viewfinder doesn’t give 100% coverage (many show only 90-95%)

Don’t fall for the classic telephone pole sticking out of a subject’s head “surprise” (this is an example of your brain filtering out everything except the subject)

Solutions, depending on the problem, include moving (up/down/left/right/closer/further), lens choice, and aperture (f/1.4 does wonders to replace distractions with a pleasing blur)

What you get may not be perfect or exactly what you want, but at least you won’t be surprised.

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How did you make this image? #108

Trust your eyes & vision

You might be pleasantly surprised

Even though the viewfinder view disappointed

Click! – Looks better larger & with a black background

On the Bank of Bull Run

Manassas National Battlefield Park

(as seen by a painter)

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50-135 2.8 lens; tripod, circular polarizer

Cloudy, misty afternoon

The view through the viewfinder appeared flat, dull & drab

Much like the capture shown below

To my eyes (rose-colored glasses?)

The scene looked much more alive

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1 – 2

3 – 4

1. Capture with RAW conversion (no adjustments)

2. Color Efex Pro 4 – Tonal & Color Contrast adjustments + Detail Extraction

3. Silver Efex Pro 2 – Equi-luminance conversion to brighten final result

4. Luminosity Blend of 2 & 3

Note – #1 was rotated 180 degrees prior to step 2. Wanted to disguise the fact that you’re viewing reflections in water – no particular reason, just trying to fool the eye.

With the exception of the sky (cooled the tone to make it bluer) I did not add or change colors – merely brought out the colors that were captured through the use of Color Efex Pro’s Color Contrast Range filter.

Click for Full Screen

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#4 is what a painter might have done

The bottom of the image is the reflection of the far bank

The remainder of the image, bottom to top, are trees and sky

The fact that this is a reflection lends a “painterly” look to the image

or, at least that’s how it looks to me

(while still wearing rose-colored glasses) 😉

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A Tale of Two Images

You don’t need Yosemite Valley (or similar)

To make striking eye-catching images

A setup on your table top &

A little eye-grabbing contrast might do the trick

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#1 – Stamp Collection

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#2 – Puzzling over Abby

At full-resolution the dictionary is readable

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Bought my 1st camera, 2 MP P&S in 2002

Upgraded to a 5 MP P&S a year later (used for these images)

Joined a camera club in 12/03

The competition committee, based on my lack of experience & equipment,

Put me in the novice class

For which I confirmed their judgement in my 1st month

By hearing “OUT” within seconds of each of my images hitting the display stand

Properly so – I hadn’t a clue about competition images 😉

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Fast forward four months to March 2004

By my fourth month I’d moved into 1st place

Says more about the others than me

Other novices were upset (they’d started in 9/03, 3 months sooner); poor babies 😉

Many complaints made to the competition committee

My response – Hey, move me to any category you please. I’m here to learn, not cry.

The committee refused to budge. Novice I remained.

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The March competition theme was “Table Top”

aka – Still Life (which had to be photographed on a table top)

Momma Knepley didn’t raise “no dummy”

I could imagine the others’ images

Fruits, vegetables & flowers galore

(and they didn’t disappoint)

If you want to win it helps to stand out from the crowd

Thus – my two “table tops”

At this point the judge unwittingly threw fuel on the fire

He intended to be complimentary when my 1st print went up

“Wow! This sure isn’t novice work.”

Grumble, grumble, grumble…. from the crowd

And when he announced the winners –

“No Contest! The hardest job for me is to decide which of these two to make 1st & which 2nd”

and – more Grumble, grumble, grumble…. from the crowd

Competitors claimed the Stamp image was Photoshopped

to get the bright red stamps against the stark B&W background

They couldn’t accept that

The stamps were actually red & the rest B&W

What a bunch of cry-babies

Afterwards there were 5-6 competitors waiting to talk to me in the parking lot

No, I’m absolutely not kidding

Hey, folks, what the hell’s your problem?

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Apart from the childish BS described above, I learned a valuable competition lesson –

If you have two strong images, think twice about entering them together instead of

Holding one back for another month

With both at the same time, you’re liable to be

Competing against yourself

This judge was unusual in that he awarded my images #1 & #2

Even though both obviously were made by the same person

based solely on their style (anonymous otherwise)

Quite often, the judges try to “spread the wealth” and would have picked only one of mine in this case

I don’t recall which was first; makes no difference

I’m guessing it was Stamps since Puzzling is a bit busy

Which would you pick?

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