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Posts Tagged ‘photoshop’

Beach at Night

 

 

Manzanita Beach at night.

Manzanita Beach at night.

 

I find long exposure photography to be a fun (if sometimes cold) way to see an area with fresh eyes. Last week I went out to the campus lagoon and beach to get some night shots with a clear sky and a full moon illuminating the ground.

At the beach I found it to be high tide with seaweed scattered haphazardly across the sand. An upturned shopping cart adorned with kelp sat forlornly next to the lagoon outflow. I really liked the cart, so I used it as the focus for my beach shots.

Some aspects of night photography in the winter I did not expect were the cold and constant loss of night vision. Because of the cold I wore gloves, this made it difficult to adjust anything on my camera, especially lens caps. Night vision is continually thrown out of whack when the LCD screen lights up bright white amid the darkness. I could have turned the screen off but I did need to frequent the screen as light was too low to focus properly.

To help focusing, especially autofocus, I found a flash light to illuminate an object in the middle distance to be handy for the camera’s autofocus. A strong flashlight would be ideal as mine only worked up to about ten feet or so.

For exposures I found a minute to work well in the lighting, my camera only goes up to 30 seconds beyond that is bulb. A timer on my cell phone let me get to sixty seconds within a quarter of a second. With such long exposures I could not use a white balance filter since there would be no light. In the end I used photoshops Camera RAW to fix it.

Finally I used photoshop and iPhoto both to edit the photos. iPhoto was a bit faster and easier to use but it could not give the same in depth color control as photoshop. For the above photo I pulled up the blues and purples of the photo to help the sky look a bit more vibrant. I tried to increase the black level, which really helped the crispness but destroyed the dark trees. They become indistinct blobs of foliage. 

Next I want to find a good place to do long exposure shots of either people on the bike paths at night or cars on a busy road.

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I am not sure where the seaweed shopping cart comes in, but I liked it.

I am not sure where the seaweed shopping cart comes in, but I liked it.

For the first time I seriously tried using out the Adobe Camera Raw importer that comes with photoshop. I really liked it. I like the controls and all the stuff available for editing.

I only wish there was a way to use that same interface when adjusting other photos, large panoramas generated from RAWs through the Photostitch tool. Not that I looked for any such functionality. 

In the end I edited the above photo using both Photoshop CS4 and iPhoto ’08. It was probably just the settings I used but the iPhoto editing came out looking a lot more natural. The photoshopped version looked very bright and clean, too much so. In this instance it was definitely a result of the settings I chose and I could do a better job. Just for this photo iPhoto was a lot faster to use.

For the panoramas and other photos from this particular album (I really need Flickr Pro or an equivalent) I use photoshop for the editing and photo adjustment (just colors and curves).

I am slowly becoming used to using photoshop for my photos. I feel that it is important to learn as a step to enhance my whole photography workflow.

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The UCSB lagoon on a moonlit night.

The UCSB lagoon on a moonlit night.

I spent all day working on panorama photos that i took last night with a clear sky and full moon.

This one is made from 10 photos stitched together with Photoshop CS4. It is probably the best of all of them because I actually used a level on the tripod body and tripod head before taking the photos so all the photos are aligned nicely. The only challenge in the photo was getting the right exposure settings due to the dark right side and bright left. In the end I settled on a 30 second exposure at f/4.2 and a focal length of 24mm. White balance was adjusted later in photoshop (it was too orange originally).

The original stitched files did get rather large at 150Mb each.

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Panorama

 

The ginormous clean room of JPL.

The ginormous clean room of JPL.

I want to start taking more panorama shots, a while ago I tried some various stitching software packages (free ones of course) and none of them really worked for me. Since I had CS2 I could not import my .NEF files directly to photoshop and I really did not like converting to .DNG files beforehand, it just made it inconvenient.

When at JPL a few weeks ago we were in the observation deck of their clean room when I decided to try a panorama. I had no tripod with me so I just handheld the photos and rotated around. I then tried out the free panorama software Hugin, but it did really work for me in the end, at least not with a set of freehand photos. It also could not read my .NEF files. I did like the control point method though, I thought it was pretty neat.

But recently I received a copy of Photoshop CS4 which does support my camera RAW format (CS2 missed it by one update), so I tried the photoshop photomerge feature to create my panorama. I must admit that it is not the greatest for a couple reasons: the handheld part, shooting through a thick pane of glass and missing an additional shot on the left. Eventually I want to attempt an HDR panorama.

The next step is to build myself a custom panoramic tripod head, that will be sweet.

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