David Nightingale of www.chromasia.com is a world renowned photographer and Photoshop trainer who has mastered just about every form of photography there is, from portraits to abstracts to HDR. He’s so good, he can make a picture of powerlines look good. He’s one of the best I’ve seen! I even had the honor of attending one of his courses here in Austin a few years back. He is also a master of using Photoshop, mainly Photoshop’s curves adjustment to help transform images into great works of art. He has an excellent photoblog as well as a great training site. If you are really interested in getting the most out of your photos, check it out. It’s very much worth it.
All of that being said, he put an image on his training blog that he took recently and challenged others to process it. He was OK with the results he got from it himself, but he wanted to see what others could do. So the following is my take. The first shot is his original straight from his camera and the second is what I’ve done with it. You can visit his post to see what other have done as well.
I have to add that David said he liked this version of which I posted on FB so I guess I know what I’m doing a little… 😉 What do you think?
Morning traffic in Austin is a nightmare, or better yet, a “morningmare”! It’s the worst. The quicker you can get a jump on it, the better. For that reason, I get on the road pretty early so I can beat most of it. However, the rate that the city is growing, the traffic seems to get busier earlier and earlier. Many years ago, Austin thought one way to combat the traffic woes was to put in an upper-deck on the expressway going through downtown that would have not off-ramps so drivers could take that option to help speed through. It doesn’t seem to really help anymore. But, just off the decks on the southbound side of I-35 near 38 1/2 street lies a new office building which went up and has an 8-level parking garage. It’s free to go into and it has a great view of the decks. That’s where I took this 7-shot panorama.
If you know what you are doing and have the right gear, panoramas can be pretty easy and fun. For me, not so much. But, I did learn a lot about panoramas after taking and processing this photo. It still needs a little work, but for me, I think it works. The things I learned are as follows:
1. To take a proper panorama, one must know the “nodal point” of the lens of choice. The nodal point is basically the area “inside the lens where the light paths cross before being focused onto a film plane.” That point is where you want the actual camera to pivot from while you take your shots for a panorama. That way, when it’s time to stitch your shots together, the stitching software can blend the shots together as accurately as possible. Otherwise, you will get some wild and unfortunate problems from stitching to distortion (other than normal pano distortion, that is). Also, to figure out the nodal point, you will need a proper head and/or bracket for your tripod.
2. If you can’t use a tripod or even if you have a tripod and not the right head or bracket, you can still take a decent panorama, but be prepared to fix a lot of stitching issues and perspective/distortion problems. I ran into a lot of those with this shot, but a photographer out there named Klaus Herrmann, aka Farbspiel, who takes some great vertical panoramas (or vertoramas), has some great processing techniques that were invaluable. His distortion correction video was a big help! I learned a lot from that video and I also learned a lot from his “making of” videos. However, if you watch those, be prepared to pause and play quite often because his techniques are quite extensive and he speeds up the vids about 10 times as fast as normal! However, you can still get a lot out of them! Those “making of” videos really helped me fix stitching problems.
3. To take a good panorama, put your camera in portrait orientation, meter the main subject in the pano with your camera, note the camera’s aperture and shutter settings, switch to manual mode and input those setting accordingly. Then take all the shots to compose the pano with those settings. That way, you won’t have any blending problems in post-processing.
I guess those are the main things I’ve learned. I hope you enjoy the shot and thanks for visiting!
Election Night Thoughts
I don’t like to get political with my little blog here, but since last night was such a huge night in the democratic process of this great experiment known as the United States of America, I thought I would just put my two cents in. Last night America spoke and we have re-elected our current president. The system worked and now we’ll have to see where it leads. The right to vote is a valuable thing and exercising that right is what this is all about. If the outcome is what you wanted, congratulations. If it is not, better luck next time. Either way, I hope you voted. Otherwise, you really have no say. Now that it is over, we must pray for our president and more importantly, we must pray for our country.
Today’s photo is in the same vein as the last few I have posted. While the previous ones were of hot air balloons as they were being raised, this is one that is actually in the air! I captured this shot on the way to Estes Park from Denver last month. I really liked how it floated in the sky with the moon by it’s side.
Pike’s Peak is one of the larger and well known mountains in Colorado going up to 14,115 feet above sea-level. It is even designated a National Historic Landmark. It was named after Zebulon Pike, Jr., an explorer who led an expedition to the mountain.
We were very lucky to be able to drive up to Pike’s Peak. We tried to go up in mid-morning or so, but when we got to the base, they had the road to the top closed due to fog and ice. So, we went over to the Garden of the Gods and spent some time there while we waited for the peak to clear up. Luckily from the Garden, you can see Pike’s Peak. Around 1:00pm or so, it cleared and we were able to drive up. The drive up is a little scary, but fun at the same time. Great views, but if you suffer from a little vertigo, it could be a little nerve racking. Many places have no guard rails and there really are no shoulders once you are up beyond the tree-lines. The drop-offs are steep so it can make your stomach quiver a little. However, if you just keep your eye on the road, it’s not too big of a deal, at least for the driver. The passenger on the other hand gets the curbside view!
This shot was taken behind the gift shop looking down towards Manitou Springs. As I said, it has great views, but as you can see from the snow on the ground, it was a bit nippy. Bring a jacket if you decide to go!
Here’s another take of downtown Austin that I shot from the 1st Street Bridge. I took this shot after having driven in to Austin for work that evening. When I was through working, I thought I would shoot it up in the city a little bit before coming home. While I was on the bridge, I met another photographer by the name of Jennifer who was taking some shots of the Hyatt on the river for her marketing firm. She was dressed to the nines as she came out from a party at the Hyatt. She said she wanted to get some shots of the building and the city for the occasion. It was a nice little visit. She also told me that as I was taking this shot, a little rat ran right by my feet! Thank God I didn’t see that because I may have wound up in the water below! 😉
I don’t know what the yellow flowers in this shot are, but as the sun was setting in the Texas Hill Country, they kind of really stood out in the orange sky of the setting sun. This time of year is the best time because the temperatures are perfect, the landscape is alive with with the full spectrum of color and you just get this sense of re-birth. Of course I’m partial to the fall, too because of football, but I digress. I still love this time of the year as well, but the impending swelter of the summer heat that’s not far from spring makes me wish it would last just a little longer. Or if spring could trade places with fall, that would be awesome!
I was going through the enormous vault that we here at Evan’s Expo have and ran across this shot I took while we were skiing in Whistler, BC last year. Most of the previous mountain shots I have published were in black and white, but I think this one turned out well in color. It would have probably done well with a monochrome look, but I really liked how the blue sky looks against the white snow on the peak itself. I also enjoyed the time I spent to get it because I was skiing! You know what they say, “A bad day of skiing beats a great day at work!” And this was a great day of skiing for sure!
I hope you enjoy the photo and thanks for dropping by! (Click on the photo for a larger view.)