Military Wife and Photo Addict

January 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — MWPA @ 2:41 am

March 6, 2010

How I make my HDR Sunsets

Filed under: Photoshop Tutorial — Tags: , , , , , , , — MWPA @ 4:07 am

I choose to use a program called photomatix and Photoshop Elements 6 to make my sunsets and sunrises have a little extra POP.  I wanted my pictures to have a similar look to photographs that use a graduated ND filter, my objective is to make the sunset look as it did when i saw it through my eyes. A digital camera cant capture the wide range of colors that our eyes see, which is why when you expose for a sunset, you normally have the sky a beautiful colour and the foreground silhouetted.

My demonstration / tutorial pictures below should be clickable to view larger.

When I take a sunset picture, I take three exposures(it can be more), usually somewhere around F11, I expose -2, 0 and +2 to give a wide selection of shadows, highlights and colour.

I open photomatix and click generate HDR. I am then able to choose the files, these files are in .raw file format, to select multiple files hold down the ctrl key and click the files you want. Click the open button once you have selected your files.

Once the files have been opened click ok to proceed

The next dialogue box gives you options to change; my pictures were taken on a tripod with a remote I am not to worried about the images aligning correctly.  I have moving water in this image so I make sure the moving water/foliage box is checked

Once Ok is clicked photomatix starts to work on merging the image

These are my three images that I am merging

f22 /5 sec / iso 100

f22 /2 sec / iso 100

f22 /0.8 sec / iso 100

Once photomatix has finished merging the pictures an image will display, click tone mapping and then your image will be ready to be adjusted.

There are lots of sliders to move around, the best thing to do is play with them until you get the look your after, I saved this look as a preset to save time when making HDR sunsets. The smoothing slider was one that took me a while to master, I like to have smoothing set to the slider rather than light mode as I find light mode gives an unnatural effect.

Once I have the image looking as I want I click the process button and prepare to wait (there is lots of waiting in photomatix)

Once the image is processed you must save it, you can either use it as it is or make a few minor adjustments to complete the photograph

The first thing I do when I open my image in photoshop elements is to remove the dust spots, if you click the picture, you will see I REALLY need to get my sensor cleaned! I use the spot healing tool for the removal of  all those marks.

I still always do a levels and a shadows and highlights adjustment, I also sharpen (using unsharp mask) and noise reduction

My final adjustment is selective dodge / burn and saturation to selected areas-in this picture I added a small amount of saturation to the lower portion of the sky and the reflection in the water, I also used the burn brush on low opacity shadows to the sky

In this image you can see the three different exposures I used and then the final result.

This is my finished Sunset HDR (natural looking)

March 3, 2010

Displaying Your Photographs Online. Where, How and Why

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , , , , , , — MWPA @ 7:36 pm

I decided to write a little bit about displaying pictures online, I spend alot of time online-talking to family back home, so when I started taking pictures it seemed like a good idea to put my pictures in a gallery on the internet so I could easily show my family the pictures I had been taking.

I first found Photobucket which a free image hosting site, I didn’t like the layout of the website and I found that the image quality was degraded so in switched over to Flikr Flikr is Photobucket’s competition, the idea’s behind the two sights are fairly similar, you can make multiple galleries to hold different sets of pictures. With Flikr you can upload 100MB of photo’s every month or you can pay $25 a year which gives you the Flikr Pro account and allows you to have an unlimited amount of pictures on your Flikr site. With Flikr there are many discussion groups, these groups have places to display your pictures and a place to ask suggestions and join in on conversations. I found a great group that helps you learn about Photoshop Elements, a group that is specifically for Canon users, there are specific lens groups (I refer to these when I am thinking about buying a new lens) there are groups for different locations and there are cute cat/dog/etc groups. When I first joined Flikr I had a point and shoot Canon S3IS and I learnt to use it by reading the manual and referring to Flikr groups. Although now I have my own website I will post pictures to Flikr when I want to keep the picture separate from my website. There are other image hosts like Flikr and Photobucket out there, but it seems they are the top two favorites.

Deviant Art is a site I have never tried, I have browsed image galleries on the website and often found it confusing. but maybe I find it confusing because I have never given it a chance. Deviant Art seems to have lots of things to offer, including ways to specifically request critiques or comments on your pictures. Deviant Art has premium print account which allows you to sell your photographs, this costs $25.00.

If you are looking for some where you can display your pictures and have a professional looking website there are a lot of options. Zenfolio, Smugmug seem to be the top two choices for amateur photographers who are looking to make sales on prints. Both sights have annual fees which have multiple tiers allowing you to select the features you want. I chose Zenfolio after doing a free trial on both sights. Why you choose either site is up to you,one of the reasons I picked Zenfolio was that they use as there printers, and I really like the prints that they produce. With both sights you can add your own domain name. ( a domain name is your personal web address e.g costs about $8.00 a year to own one) I think adding a domain name and being able to take away the zenfolio /smugmug branding makes the sight look more professional.

If you are looking to sell your pictures or you want them to be found on Google, Bing or other search engine you have to ‘tag’ your pictures a tag is a word or multiple words that are associated with the image, so if you had a picture of the Eiffel Tower and you wanted people to find it using a search engine you might tag it with: France, Architecture, Eiffel Tower, French, Summer, Vacation, Building, Abroad, etc….

I used Zenfolio on its own for a while and then I decided I wanted something a little bit more fancy, so I taught my self (and I still have no idea what I am doing) some basic web design. If you build your own website you have to have a web host, there are lots of web hosts; Bludomain, GoDaddy, Host Gator. Host Gator is the host I use, you have to pay a monthly fee and you can then make different web pages, either by using pre-made layouts that they provide or by writing your own code and uploading the pages to the web host. I made mine by using a free template that I found online, and I then altered the code to suit my needs. Making a web site did not come easily to me, I tried several different layouts before I came up with the one I have now-and even that is not “technically correct” but I am not giving up on it, I am contently trying to fix it and make it better. Currently my site is linked in with Zenfolio so that my galleries can be accessed from my website and my website can be accessed from Zenfolio. The Part I made and the part that is Zenfolio The way the pages look don’t quite match up, but they are as close as I can get them.

There are other options for websites, you can pay someone to make you a website, they will ensure the code is correct, and you will be found in the search engines, The quotes I had been getting were $500 and upwards-that’s why i took on the task of building my own. Another way to get a professional website is to look through photography magazines such as Rangefinder or Professional Photographer- these often have big advertisements for places that will provide a website, offer online proofing and print ordering.

Something you should remember when uploading your photographs to the internet is that the internet has a lot of bad people on it, some of whom may try and steal your pictures, (some people don’t understand they should ask permission)Theft is is not completely stoppable, but you can reduce the risk of tit happening to you by putting a logo or your name on your picture, don’t upload large files to sights like Flikr and Photobucket.If you are putting a picture in a gallery to sell then you may not be able to upload a small size or a have your logo on your picture, if this is the case check to see if your gallery sight has the option for a watermark to be added, Zenfolio does (I really need to turn on that feature) that way when some one views the picture they see the logo or copyright symbol and are deterred from trying to steal the picture.

So I hope this helps someone or anyone…… and I hope it makes some sense! if you have a question I will try and answer it to the best I can.

February 16, 2010

Swan Lake

Last Sunday I walked around part of Newport News Park, while I was there a couple swans went through there spring rituals.



The mating dance

Three’s a crowd

Walking on water

And away they go

Rainy Days Can Still Be Photo Day’s

I visited Newport News Park again today, the weather was wet and gray which makes for a challenging time. I pushed my camera and lens through my rain coat so that it would be protected from the rain. Towards the end of the short rainy walk a herd of deer appeared and I did my best to stalk them for a good shot.

February 14, 2010

Squirrel Sequence

Today I went to Newport News Park, the park has a lake and a large wooded area so I was hoping I could get a few wildlife pictures. I was able to photograph a few seagulls, swans and squirrels. I was very happy with the majority of my pictures.

The squirrel was munching on the seeds when I spotted him, I got as close as I could, as I moved to get eye level with him he spotted me and ducked behind the tree stump, I stayed in position and he popped his head back up, those seeds were to tasty for him to leave.

Kenko Auto Digi Meter KFM-1100

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , , , , , , , , — MWPA @ 2:21 am

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24. 25, 26, 27, 28

This week I turned 28, and to celebrate my lovely husband ordered me some presents from B+H Photo. com. I seem to have a never ending list of photography items that I want to buy, some stuff I need and some of the items are just nice to have.

I recently attended a photography session about studio portrait lighting techniques. It was at the session where I found out how much easier portrait sessions become when you have a light meter. A light meter reduces the need to take multiple test shots to see how your lighting, shutter speed, iso and aperture react together.  So after the session I came home and looked to see which light meter I wanted to buy.

I added the Interfit INT410 to my wish list with B+H Photo. com it was $60.00 so one of the cheapest ones available. If I had purchased it I would have needed an adapter to make it usable with my flash as my flash does not have a sync cord slot. The actual light meter I ended up with is the Kenko KFM-1100 (pictured top left). My wonderful husband decided to upgrade my choice, and he made a great decision, the KFM-1100 can be used wireless and is a much better and easier meter to use.

So armed with my new light meter, and big reflector I decided to take a few self portraits.

February 10, 2010

Newport News Park In The Snow

Filed under: Virginia — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — MWPA @ 11:04 pm

Today was another cold day. Sometime this morning it started to snow; big,  fluffy, soft, white snow flakes fell from the sky, of course by the time I was dressed the soft white snow had turned into icy small hard snow being repelled by the strong winds. I was able to go out with a lady called Julie, her Husband is also military and we both share the pasion for photography. So together we braved the cold howling winds and ice flakes.

I protected my camera with a home made weatherproof cover made from ziplock bags, you can see something similar to what I used in the photo adicts link section to the right. The cover did a good job at keeping everything safe and dry.

February 9, 2010

The Point

Filed under: Virginia — Tags: , , , , , , , — MWPA @ 6:43 pm

Oyster Point City Center in Newport News

HDR at Oyster Point City Center

I use a program called Photomatix to produce my HDR images. The traditional way to create an HDR shot is to combine multiple exposures, for this you need a tripod to ensure each different exposure will match up when you run it through the program. I dont always carry my tripod around with me, and I find it impossible to keep my camera in the same place for three (or more shots) so I just take the single shot, which is always in .raw file format and use the Photomatix program to convert that file into something with a High Dynamic Range appearance.

I thought I would post an example of a photograph I took today at Oyster Point City Center, in Newport News. This was shot using a Canon 30d and the 17-40L, the settings I chose were 1/200 F9 ISO 100 at 20mm. The first photo is edited in Photoshop Elements with highlights and shadows and levels adjustments, the second image is edited in Photomatix as an HDR photograph. If you click the picture it looks sharper.

Edited with Photoshop Elements 6

Edited with Photomatix

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