Posts Tagged ‘HDR’

eBook Review: Creative Processing Techniques In Nature Photography By Guy Tal

August 7th, 2013

Review Of Guy Tal’s Creative Processing Techniques In Nature Photography

“In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The goal is to produce images that uniquely represent the photographer’s vision and possess meanings beyond the literal visual elements they portray.” – Guy Tal

Cover, Creative Processing Techniques In Nature Photography By Guy Tal.

Cover, Creative Processing Techniques In Nature Photography By Guy Tal. Click On The Image To Read More…

In Guy Tal’s ebook, Creative Processing Techniques In Nature Photography, he assures the reader that digital image processing can be a much richer introspective and creative experience than can possibly be provided by formulas or rote routines to “achieve such trivial goals as more vibrant colors or gimmicky visual effects.”

In the introduction to Creative Processing Techniques, Guy Tal wrote, “The digital studio at your fingertips is every bit the fertile bed for creative expression as any field technique…” He refers to the process of visualization discussed in his ebook, Creative Landscape Photography, and explains how decisions in the “studio” give the photographer a wide spectrum of possibilities and control for attaining the “visualized end result.”

Guy clearly favors creative post-processing over using presets or leaving image files the way the camera captured them. He also makes a good case that the answer to the question, ‘How much is too much?’ is best left up to each photographer’s own discretion and intended use of the image. He argues that the creative photographer’s purpose is to go beyond a mere documentary recording of subjects. However, he urges us to remember, “We chose the medium of nature photography because we were moved by the beauty of natural phenomena, and we may not want to venture too far from our source of inspiration.”

From Basics To Advanced Techniques

From the basics of monitor calibration, definitions of bits, 8-bit versus 16-bit, RGB, CMYK, color channels, RAW files, JPEGs, TIFFs, GIFs, conversions, Bayer patterns, Digital Negative or DNG files, clipping of highlight or shadow detail, file storage, compression, Tiff versus PSD and other image file formats, pixels, PPI, DPI, the International Color Consortium or ICC Profiles, color space or gamut, monitor and printer profiling or calibration using a colorimeter, target images, hue, saturation, “dodging” and “burning,” .icc, .icm, Perceptual and Relative Colorimetric rendering intents, sRGB, Adobe RGB, Kodak’s ProPhoto RGB,  pixilation, and why images do not look the same online as they do when made into archival fine art digital prints, all the way through the process of creating and working on digital master files, Guy Tal guides us with smooth, clear and thoughtful precision. Not only are you rarely confused by Guy’s explanations, but at the end of each chapter to assure even better understanding of the ideas presented, we find short, fun exercises and self-quizes about various points in the text.

Guy Tal suggests that as you process an image, you may change your mind as to how you will finish it. Your pre-visualized goal when you made the photograph can be refined and reconsidered along the way in a process Guy calls Dynamic Visualization. The way Guy Tal presents global and local adjustments had me anticipating the development of my next photograph in the digital darkroom. I became inspired by the possibilities as I began to see the process through new eyes from what I did previously. I realized that by employing Guy Tal’s workflow, I caught his vision and enthusiasm for image refinement, while at the same time I came into a deeper understanding of my own approach to creative landscape photography.

Unconventional Self-Awareness In Photography

Guy Tal is photographically self-aware and by example he teaches the reader to be more self-aware of his or her own creative process. Guy’s wisdom is often unconventional. For example, one of his image captions reads:

Do not assume that just because something is technically deficient, it should always be corrected. For example, the image on the right contains areas of both over-exposed highlights and under-exposed shadows. Still, I found these perfectly acceptable and decided not to correct them. In fact, it is likely that if I had corrected them (e.g., by blending multiple exposures), the result would have looked decidedly unnatural.

In the film era, under and over exposed areas in photographs were common, even with the use of the zone system. It was only with the advent of digital and especially High Dynamic Range or HDR that striving for detail in all areas of photographs became the norm. In this sense, Guy Tal’s experience in large format film photography serves him well as to what is worth spending time adjusting. Along the same lines, Guy provides good guidance as to what to adjust and what not to adjust in RAW conversion, as well as what to adjust minimally to avoid detail loss and fringe artifacts.

Guy Tal also bucks another trend in the digital darkroom. He points out that high contrast, more color saturated images often make a stronger first impression but may have less “’staying power’ if bold color is all they have to offer.” He writes, “…nuanced and subtle images often invite closer inspection and result in a more extended, contemplative viewing experience.” In this spirit Guy tells us how to use the various controls in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. Not only does he provide a clear description of each tool and how it works, but he also explains various situations where one tool works better than another and shows us how the results differ.

Photoshop Setup And Tool Optimization

From giving recommendations for how to arrange your tools for easy access in Adobe Photoshop, to how best to apply each tool and adjustment, Guy shows you the best practices and set up to make Photoshop easier to use. My impression is that with Guy’s technical background, he has a better understanding how and why each tool in Photoshop works the way it does, than many of the most prominent photographers in the field. Reading Guy’s ebook clarified some ambiguities and showed me better technique than what I have learned by observing or talking to many other photographers working in Photoshop. For example, I had learned that in using “Levels” to find the white and black point in an image that it is necessary to bring the corresponding sliders into the histogram slightly. However, Guy recommends bringing the sliders to where they are either just touching the histogram or even just outside the histogram, not touching it at all. Guy explains succinctly why this is a better approach.

In this extensive ebook Guy also discusses layer blending and how to combine the highlight detail from one image with the shadow detail of another, a process many refer to as High Dynamic Range or HDR. With Guy’s specific and complete directions, I performed my first blending of two versions of an image. How exciting: I have hard drives filled with bracketed images waiting for this moment. As can be expected, much more can be learned and realized by applying each exercise to your own images. I had a sense of anticipation and accomplishment in the learning by running my own images through each process and exercise that Guy outlines.

Global And Local Adjustments And A Different Way To Dodge And Burn

Besides philosophy and global adjustments, Guy also touches briefly on a number of local adjustments including Cloning and Spot Removal. This helps to round out the reading experience, but other books or tutorials may be necessary for more detail. I like the way Guy moves on to expand on more advanced methods such as Layer Masking and various uses for these layer masks. Most of Guy’s explanations are clear and thorough, but in some instances, he summarized a bit too much in my opinion, shortening the explanation of certain steps when he might have included more specifics without taking too much more space and reader time. Nonetheless, no one book could ever cover all features and tools in Photoshop. Anyone can Google the step-by-step functions of whatever basic tools Guy leaves out. Guy warns us against attachment to any particular tools or methods, but shares the importance of developing a strong working approach to visualizing and finding gaps between what we envision and what we have so far attained. Meanwhile, Guy’s explanation of non-destructive Dodging and Burning is comprehensive and extremely helpful for improved image editing, as are most of his other process explanations.

Before reading Creative Processing Techniques, I had a fair understanding of many of the controls in Photoshop, but some of the time I was just guessing as to how to obtain what I wanted in my images. Afterwards, I now have much more control and am more able to directly obtain what I intend in my photographs. Guy wrote by e-mail that it is better to learn good workflow and processing methods from the beginning rather than trying to unlearn bad habits later. With the reading of Guy’s ebook, I feel I have caught the best wave to take me all the way into the shore of happy image making.

To order click this link: Creative Processing Techniques. Also, a two volume bundle discount is available when you purchase Guy Tal’s Creative Processing Techniques with Creative B&W Processing Techniques.

My 12 “Greatest Hits” Of 2012

January 3rd, 2013

My Personal Favorites Or 12 Top Picks Of 2012, Whatever You Want To Call Them

Oaks, Grizzly Ridge, Fall, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Oaks, Grizzly Ridge, Fall, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

One of my neighbors, who I grew up with, has told me from time to time that he had to quit photography because he became too obsessed with it. It came out that he spent enough money on gear, gasoline, printing, matting and framing to put himself and his large family into debt. That was the destructive aspect, not the obsession with the art itself.

Cloudy Sunset, Genesee Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Cloudy Sunset, Genesee Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

When we were young men I admired the same neighbor for his focus, determination and tireless effort that made him a success in sports, a large and strong weight lifter and an airline pilot. I contend that any endeavor of meaning, especially in the arts, for excellence to be attained, requires an obsessive dedication.

This is why I thought I could never be a photographer. I still sometimes do not consider myself one. My father, pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde, had the passion and drive for excellence and the results to prove it, but until 2009 I had been lackadaisical about photography for 35 years. I will share more on my artistic journey below, but first I must tell you about the photographs here. Also, a big thank you to Jim Goldstein at JMG Galleries for putting this “best of the year” blog project on each year. I feel he’s a genius for inventing it.

The photographs in this blog post are all single image capture, though I do bracket for the eventual future date that I may possibly have the time to learn how to blend

Grasses, Indian Creek Below Indian Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, Fall, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Grasses, Indian Creek Below Indian Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, Fall, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

or even, gasp, make High Dynamic Range or HDR prints. I do minimal post-processing, though I do use Photoshop to the degree that it is essentially equivalent to the darkroom. On most images I use Photoshop “Levels,” “Curves” and “Hue/Saturation” Layers. On “Pool, Cascade, Red Clover Creek” I used the Healing Brush to remove two prominent bird droppings on the center boulder that distracted and crapped up the photograph. On “Dawn, American River From Fair

Fog, Rocky Promontory, Pacific Ocean, Mendocino Sea Coast, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Fog, Rocky Promontory, Pacific Ocean, Mendocino Sea Coast, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Oaks Bluffs,” I also used the Healing Brush to remove a sunspot. Fortunately the sunspot backdrop against the even textured and dark toned, shadowy beach enabled this easy approach. I doubt I could have pulled off some of the more complicated methods of removing sunspots in Photoshop CS4, without spending many hours on the learning curve. I saw the video on removing sunspots in CS5, which takes one tenth the time with the use of Smart Fill. Made me lust after

Pool, Cascade, Red Clover Creek, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Pool, Cascade, Red Clover Creek, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

newer versions of Photoshop software, but for now I will remain chained to my forced frugality of a full-time learning photographer and use my CS4, which is just fine.

Photoshop is a much more precise and powerful tool than any darkroom ever. I still, however, believe that we photographers have a contract with the general public that photographs traditionally are expected to represent “reality.” Nobody is arguing that photographs are “real.” Therefore, from time to time I do

Twilight, Indian Creek, Vertical, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Twilight, Indian Creek, Vertical, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

amp up the post processing way beyond what looks “real” just to be sure that the viewing public knows I have been up to something. Meanwhile, especially with landscape photography, I’ve discovered that most of the time a RAW file does not look like the scene I photographed. Usually it is less saturated, for one thing, and usually has much less range of color and tones and much less shadow and highlight detail. This can all be partially or completely solved with Photoshop and thus I do espouse it, just as I prefer to use a good hammer more than a rock to pound in nails. I’m sure I will eventually use plugins and other add-ons, just as a professional carpenter, to compete these days, needs an air compressor driven nail gun. In the near future, look for my new “Sierra Nevada Portfolio,” that will contain large versions of these images and many others, to be posted after the 17 portfolios of Dad’s photography and below my “Portfolio One” on philiphyde.com. Also, to see more of my photography and philosophy see the blog post, “David Leland Hyde Archival Prints Pre-Launch,” or “Best Photos Of 2011.”

Ice Plant, Mist, Duncan Cove State Beach, Pacific Ocean, Sonoma Coast, California copyright by David Leland Hyde.

Ice Plant, Mist, Duncan Cove State Beach, Pacific Ocean, Sonoma Coast, California copyright by David Leland Hyde.

In 2009, I first came into the digital era and bought a Nikon D90 DSLR. Until then, I had used a Pentax K1000 35 mm film camera that my father gave me around 37 years ago when I was about 10 years old. I immediately loved making photographs with the Nikon D90 digital camera because it seemed easy to obtain decent results. I would like to graduate to a better camera one of these days for the purpose of making better big prints. I purchased my camera at Costco on special.

Rocks Along Spanish Creek, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Rocks Along Spanish Creek, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

They had a package that included two lenses, a camera bag, strap, an 8 MG SD Card, a video and a few other little photo items that gave me everything I needed for pro-sumer photography. The larger lens that I don’t use very often is a Nikkor 55-200 mm, 1:4-5.6 lens. I make 95 percent of my images with the wide-angle lens, which is a basic Nikkor 18-55 mm, 1:3.5-5.6 lens. I would like to buy more lenses, but cannot justify the investment until my print sales pay for the new gear.

Community Church, Taylorsville, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Community Church, Taylorsville, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Before 2011 especially, and even now, I have little time for my own photography, but this year I still indulged in and enjoyed the making of over 10,000 images. Meanwhile, I have other goals and responsibilities including the development of my father’s large format and medium format photography in the digital era, expanding the presence of his vintage photographs in major museums and my own long, grinding, slowly developing writing career. Until 2012, I still had many frustrations with photography and still get lividly annoyed with Photoshop today.

Currently, due to several delays and complications I am blessed and cursed to be where the main subject is the wilderness landscape of the Northern Sierra Nevada. This has given me much joy, but also frustration in that I intend to photograph more people, street scenes, disasters, cultural events and other art and quasi-journalistic subjects. I would have loved to be the first photographer to arrive at the BP Gulf Oil Spill or in Japan at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster.

Dawn, American River From Fair Oaks Bluffs Near Sacramento, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Dawn, American River From Fair Oaks Bluffs Near Sacramento, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Port Of Stockton, Great Central Valley, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Port Of Stockton, San Joaquin River Deep Water Tidal Channel, Great Central Valley, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Regardless, I had several breakthroughs in 2012. I improved technically. I became clear that even though I will keep my own photography as a sideline for now, at some point I will incorporate it into my primary work. I also caught the photography bug. I am bitten and camera smitten. Though it is an investment in the future, I photograph “too much” in that at this stage the extra time away from representing my father’s vintage work is costing me and threatening my solvency. Because of photography, I am trying to do “too much.” However, my own photography has saved me in some ways. I wrote about this in a recent blog post reviewing 2012 and introducing a poem about my mother, Ardis Hyde, who wrote most of the Hyde Travel Logs: “Happy Holidays…?…!” Besides keeping me fit and serving as an outlet, my own work has brought me more fulfillment and peace. It entices me out of the house and out from behind the desk and computer

Indian Creek And Forest From Above, Fall Snow, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Indian Creek And Forest From Above, Fall Snow, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

screen. Landscape photography has helped me feel the light on the mountains, smell the woods, hear the lulling water and expand into the spirit of open spaces. I am rooted and connected to nature more often. Yet for me any genre of photography, photography without borders, without labels or definitions, pre-planned or visualized, observed quietly or full of surprises and experimentation, any and all of it is a hoot and an inspiration. Now after almost four decades of carrying a camera off and on, I can finally say, it is an obsession.

Please share which images you like most here and which you like least…