Category Archives: Photography

Happy National Camera Day

It’s that time of year again. Let’s get our cameras out and go photograph.

Courtesy of: SnapKnot

On Film Photography

HS501-0040-KODAK EKTAR 100-05

Photo by Chris Howard (页 景 on flickr, photo above links to same photo on flickr) – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Lately, I’ve been thinking about getting back into shooting on film again.  I’ve looked through people’s film photos on flickr, and I’ve enjoyed what I have seen.  I’m particularly keen on Kodak film.  There are two main types of film Kodak makes that I’m interested in using, that being Ektar and Portra. (You’ll see an example above of a shot I found on flickr from some Ektar film. It’s not my photo, by the way.)

The last time I shot with film was around 2010 or so.  I think the film might have been left over from my photography class, in which I may have used some film (I can’t remember for sure).  It was some Kodak T-Max, and I used a bunch of it in my beginning photography class.  We had to develop and make prints from the film ourselves.  Considering all the film I used, I could probably get back into processing the T-Max without too much trouble.  Major downside: no monetary compensation on buying the film and paper.  It doesn’t come cheap either, with the film around $5, and paper priced higher, I’m just glad I didn’t have the extra cost of hiring out a lab to process everything (mo’ money, mo’ problems).

One point of the class was to teach darkroom process, which was cool.  One thing about processing my film was that I probably wasn’t doing it as well as I could, because I suspect the film wasn’t turning out as ideally as it should.  For instance, the temperature of the water wasn’t as easily controlled.  It’s affected mostly by whether or not the sun was out to warm the pipes, how the weather was that day, and what season it was.  Fortunately there were thermometers handy to check it out.  Nowadays I’m fine not handling film myself, sending it off to some lab to get it processed.  I’m more inclined to scan the film and work on it digitally than I would if I were making a print directly from the film.  It’s just more chemistry I’d rather not deal with.

One of the big reasons why I want to get back into shooting film is because it’s a good way for me to be more of a technical photographer.  It gets me back to thinking about what settings I should use, and all that kind of thing.  I find it works especially well when using a manual only camera.  I think it’s good, on occasion, to shoot film to remind me of what came before, to remind me that people had to shoot on film all the time, and so couldn’t check right away to see if what they just shot was wrong, like we do with digital.  Basically, film is one of my exercises so that I’m more careful and thoughtful when photographing.  Although one way to make sure I have a good photo is bracketing; exposure bracketing, focus bracketing, aperture bracketing, so on.  Then again, that’s only if you have a bunch of film to use, and often, we only have a couple rolls to work with.  Basically, you should know your exposure is good before you pull the shutter.

I merely see film as something I’ll use on occasion to help my photography.  Digital is far better than film by now, and has been for some time.  The lenses are better than they were 30 years ago, the sensors can pick up as much or more detail than film, we can shoot in lower light than we could with film.  Everything about digital is better.  There’s no reason not to shoot digital anymore.  I could go on a long rant about this, but I’ll save us all the trouble by not doing so.  But I will say this one thing: I’m not one of those pretentious snobs who thinks film is better.  This post has gotten too long as it is, so I’ll end right here.

Your photography friend,

Raw vs. Jpeg Comparison

After posting on the processing of a raw photo, and processing of a jpeg, let’s compare the raw and jpeg photos straight out of camera, and how each look at the end of each editing cycle.

First comparison, I think you can tell an immediate difference between these two.  The second of these is the jpeg.  Same image, it’s just that the jpeg out of camera was adjusted to how the camera thinks the photo should look.  The jpeg looks like the white balance is a little closer to “white” than the raw.  Also, the highlights, shadows, contrast, etc was adjusted in the camera’s processing of the jpeg.  You can tell how much highlight detail was held in the raw by comparing the two images, paying attention to that center column.  You can see that near the top of that column, it doesn’t fall off to white as much as it does in the jpeg.  And now, moving along…

lens corrections

JPEG curves

As for these two, in the jpeg the shadows (particularly those on the shirt) are getting crushed, and the white balance is still too warm for my liking.  Also, the raw holds more dynamic range and details generally.  Also, the jpeg looks like it has too much contrast for my liking.

While it took me a bit of getting used to handling raw photos, I find myself better able to work with the raw photos than I could with jpeg.  I actually find it harder to get my photos looking the way I want with jpeg than I do with raw.  I’ve noticed I’m now able to get my photo looking the way I want it quicker if I have a raw photo.  Also, the main reason I like the raw photo is that it holds more information.  The photo has 14 bits in raw capture, compared to only 8 bits in jpeg.  Basically, I’m not willing to throw away that much data.  Those 14 bits hold more data on color info, shadow and highlight detail, and other things.  In these comparisons, I hope you’re able to see the difference between these two.  I think it best I end here, and I’ll end on this note: if you care about how your photo looks, shoot raw.  That’s not a suggestion.  You really should shoot raw.

Your photography friend,

On the Processing of a JPEG

In my post on processing a raw photo, I covered how I process one photo in particular, showing how certain steps affect the photo towards how I want it to look.  I also covered in another post how I like shooting raw better than jpeg, and now shoot exclusively raw.  Today, we’ll cover how I’ll process a jpeg, trying to get the photo to look the way it ended up in the last post.

This jpeg is straight from the camera.  The difference between this jpeg and the raw version, is that in the raw version I started with no adjustments directly from the camera, with the jpeg version, the camera processes the photo before it becomes a jpeg (you’ll find the comparison between these photos in my next post). The camera makes adjustments to the photo to how it would think it will look best, adjusting highlights, shadows, contrast, sharpness, etc.  Basically, even when right off the camera, the photo comes out a little different between raw and jpeg.

And for my first edit, I adjusted the color balance (white balance) to get it looking more towards white, since it was warm out of camera. Cyan/Red -10; Magenta/Green -5; Yellow/Blue +10. I only adjusted the midtones, since adjusting highlights and shadows would make the photo look worse.

For my second and final edit, I adjusted curves, lifting up on the right and pulling down on the left.

Stay tuned for the next post wherein I compare the raw and jpeg photos straight out of the camera, and the final edits of these photos.

On the Processing of a Raw Photo

This post is a follow-up on my last post on upgrading to Photoshop CS6.  In that post, I covered upgrading to CS6 from Gimp and beginning to use raw capture.  I also mentioned how I took a few photos in raw+jpeg mode.  In this post and the next, I’ll cover how I process each type of photo.  First, I’ll cover how I’d handle the raw workflow of this particular photo.

In this first photo, I have everything on default at zero. Exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, etc. White balance 3200K and tint +1, everything as it is right out of the camera.

In this second photo, I adjusted temperature to 2850, and tint to +9, to bring in the color of the light to look more “white”.

In this third photo, all I felt necessary to adjust for the tones was to bring exposure down to -0.10 and highlights down to -25.

In this fourth photo, I did a slight adjustment on the curves (lifting up on the right, pulling down on the left), a bit of sharpening, slight noise reduction, and removing some chromatic aberration.

In this fifth photo, my final adjustment is applying the lens correction, which includes removing distortion and vignette from around the edges.

As you can tell from these photos, there’s a big difference between the first and fifth, even if many of these changes are subtle, they do add up towards the result I’m after.  In my next post, I’ll cover the process of the jpeg version of this photo I got from raw+jpeg mode.

Moving On Up

For this post, I thought it worthwhile to write about my move up to Photoshop CS6.  Considering how I’ve had time to use it for a few months and get into my rhythm of how I use it, I could write briefly about how I’ve used it so far, and a few opinions on it.

Before moving up to CS6, I was using Gimp.  While using Gimp, it wasn’t meeting my needs as far as options available to me, at least as far as pure photo editing power was concerned.  I either didn’t have a raw converter with it, or didn’t find one I liked.  Don’t ask me what raw converters I’ve tried with Gimp, because I abandoned them long ago and have since forgotten their names.  I was pretty much stuck shooting jpeg until recently.  I’ve shot jpeg since starting digital photography my junior year of high school (2006-07) up until July 2012, when I switched permanently to shooting raw.  Even when using Photoshop in high school (they had CS3 on some of their machines at the time), inexplicably I wasn’t shooting raw.  (Likely, it was due to just getting started, and learning how everything else worked.)

Anyway, when I was finally able to shell out the change to get Photoshop, I felt like it was a godsend.  Luckily, I got the student discount on it, saving a ton (something like 80% off the original price, if I’m remembering correctly).  Sidenote, if you’re still a student, I’d highly recommend you get Photoshop while you can, if only just for the discount.  I now have so much more control over the look of the image.  During my transition into Photoshop, I had a few photos I took shooting raw+jpeg, so I could see how my photos look after doing my edits on each file type.

One important idea I learned from shooting jpeg was to get as much right in-camera as I could.  This idea holds regardless of whether I’m shooting jpeg or raw.  There are, though, a few things I do adjust, even when I get my photos mostly right.  Let’s take white balance as an example.  Let’s say I set it on daylight white balance when I’m walking around outside taking photos (or tungsten or fluorescent, depending on the lights when I’m inside).  The white balance will be pretty close, but still wouldn’t quite there yet.  I could adjust the jpeg to get that white balance looking closer, but it still wouldn’t look right.  With raw, I just move two sliders around until it looks right.  (One is color temperature, such as 3200K, 5400K, etc. and affects the image by making it look either more reddish or more blueish.  The other slider is tint, which affects whether the photo looks either more magenta or more green.)  When shooting raw, for me it makes my processing easier to handle, so I don’t have to do as much to make it look the way I want it to.

On that note, I’ll end my post here.  In the next couple of posts, I’ll cover the comparison between how I’d process a photo from raw compared to from jpeg.

Now on Flickr

Good evening.  I thought I would write a quick post to let you all know that I’m on Flickr now, and from time to time I’ll be posting some new images there.  I’ll be posting there more often than I am here, but I won’t be posting all the time.

Your photography friend,