Recently, I attended a photograph and art lecture where the topic of photography and realism came up. Continue reading
Photography’s Role In Developing OA History
Using photography to develop a local OA history is important. Images are a well-known resource and an under-appreciated asset. The written record provides the core facts and information about a Lodge’s history. Supplementing that record with a photographic record provides perspective and presence.
There should be two separate goals to add photography to your Lodge history. The first is to research and acquire photographs from the past. The second goal is to begin creating contemporary photographs to serve future Lodge historians of the future.
Photographs From The Past
It is likely your Lodge already has some photography to start with. Long-time lodge members or their families likely possess them in their homes. If you know members who own these images, you can either ask for a donation, or ask for the opportunity to scan them so the Lodge has a copy.
You have hit the jackpot If you locate images that are still available in slides or negatives. Scanning your slides or negatives will result in superior images. Access to a film scanner will come in handy, but you can also look up a local shop who will do the scanning for you for a fee. Save your scans at least 300dpi and in TIF format. Jpegs are popular lossy formats, and there is a significant loss in quality. If you want to someday print an image in a large size, having the highest quality will be very important.
Prints are also acceptable, but you will likely run into issues with damaged paper, fading paper, low quality prints, and other issues. Older images tend to age better. Higher quality paper was used in the early days of photography.
The 1970s in particular are notorious for the low quality of their prints. Most prints from this period are low quality and fading/yellowing on mediocre paper. Those images will need serious restoration work from an experienced Photoshop artist. Many photo businesses offer restoration services but they do charge a hefty fee.
Every day, history is made. It is very important to keep a photographic record for those in the future to enjoy. Collecting images from the past should provide clues about what is important to your Lodge.
What parts of your Lodge’s history did you find photographs? What parts of your Lodge’s history are missing images? What historical moments would you have loved to seen an image? Write those down and compare to what your Lodge is doing today, and you will have an excellent starter list.
Events are a great way to start. As you track past events in your Lodge’s history, you will see that recording your current events are important. Capturing Lodge leaders, key guests, and Arrowmen in action are a great start to a great photographic history. Supplement your images with names and the subject matter, so future people will know who is who.
Candid photographs are best. While it is easy to make an image of Lodge leaders standing together, why not capture them in action, whether it be an Ordeal, a fellowship, or a banquet?
Plan your images. Make a list of the images you want from an event and capture them. You will be ready when significant unexpected moments come up.
Equipment is not everything. Everybody would love to have a professional DSLR, a speedlight, and other fancy equipment, but the best camera in the world is the one you have in your hand. In good light, even a cell phone can make a great image.
Organizing The Images
Now that you have built a historical collection of photographs, and you have a plan for making future images, now you need to do something with them.
Hosting the images on your Lodge website is a good start, but you can also use services like Flickr. Be wary of social media sites. They are a good place to upload images copies for many members to see, but those services frequently compress and alter your images to save storage space. They will not be the same quality as your originals.
Where possible, it is important to save the original RAW files if you taken by an SLR. You may consider also saving in Adobe’s DNG format to help future-proof your raw files.
In addition, you need to go beyond simply posting photographs. Photographs should be searchable and include additional metadata. The most important task is to “keyword” your images with descriptive items that make the images searchable by a variety of areas.
Categorizing your images by a variety areas will help you show your images. Categories can include events, years, decades or eras, or other descriptive information.
With a plan to acquire older images and create new images while building your Lodge’s local history, photography can be a huge resource to making a resource for your Lodge members and future members to enjoy.
Calendar for Landscape Photography Ideas What follows is a calendar for landscape photography ideas, particularly in the Southwest United States. Use this list to help map out ideas, and feel free to contact me with additional suggestions you have. Winter Spring April Yosemite National Park: Photography Dogwoods near their peak. Summer Autumn
Photography Photography Artists To Follow Recommended Reading Photographer David Hurn (The Swapper)
January (5 Weekends) Big Sur – Pfeiffer Arch (Beach) Section COC Weekend 9 – New Moon 23 – Full Moon February (4 Weekends) Yosemite – Horsetail Fall 1 – Whitney/Sierra Applications 8 – New Moon 22 – Full Moon March (4 Weekends) Aleah – Birthday/Easter Spring Wildflower Season Section W6W Retreat San Diego Waterfall Workday […]
Adobe Lightroom CC (Or Lightroom 6) Is Here
As usual, the rumors proved to be true, a new version of Adobe Lightroom is here. The perpetual (pay as you go) version is called Lightroom 6, while Adobe Creative Cloud users are getting Adobe Lightroom CC. Both are the same software.
Victoria Bampton’s always excellent Lightroom Queen blog has all of the minute details you need about every feature that Adobe has added. If you want to see it all, it is an excellent read.
Previously, I detailed the features I hoped would be included in the 6th version of this amazing software. It is important to realize that this version is an evolutionary upgrade. There is very little that is obvious.
Below are some of my immediate observations:
- The software is much faster. I am running a 2013 27″ iMac on OSX Yosemite (10.10). Despite maxing out my RAM at 32GB, some processor-intensive tasks took time. With the GPU boost, things like image previews feel much quicker. This version of Lightroom is rock solid.
- The People addition is potentially a time-saver. One of my good friends has always given me a tough time because he wants me to send all the images I have taken of him over the years, and I have never wanted to go through my entire Lightroom catalog looking. I am not diligent at keyboarding, so this is potentially great.
- The new Adobe Lightroom HDR and Panoramic features have promise. I rarely need to resort to HDR techniques because my main camera body captures so much dynamic range, but it will be interesting to use. The HDR function may be useful for other composites like fireworks and lunar eclipse images. The Panoramic feature will help a lot of people, although my process is to take a single shot that I crop to the traditional 6 x 17 format.
- The Adobe Lightroom modules still need work. The Library and Develop modules in Lightroom are almost everything you need. The Map module is still potentially interesting, and I use Nikon’s GP-1A GPS adapter, but I struggle to come up with a real use for it. The Book module is another good idea begging to be further implemented. I still don’t know anybody who has ever used the Slideshow, Print, or Web modules. I know the Web module has some Responsive Templates, but wouldn’t an artist prefer to use WordPress, SmugMug, or Squarespace instead?
- It appears that you can up the Lightroom image cache beyond 50GB, which helps with extremely large image sets (events, weddings, composites, etc.).
- We are still using the Adobe Lightroom 2012 image process. I still think there is improvement to be made in noise reduction, dynamic range, and color retouching that doesn’t result in overuse of the Vibrance and Saturation sliders.
- There has been no change to the way filters/plugins are used and applied. I don’t like that I still have to create a separate TIF file to edit RAW files in Nik Software, MacPhun, Noiseware, etc. I still wish the “layer and layer mask” functionality in Photoshop would find it’s way to Adobe Lightroom. I suppose there is always Version 7.
- There is still no automatic dust detection. Let’s face it, between our sensors and our glass, dust is a fact of life. Yes, I can individually select each dust spot, and yes, I do appreciate the contrast view that allows me to see them easier, but I would rather Lightroom just did 99% of that work for me.
- I still want better batch editing tools in the Develop module. I can save a little bit of time with the Previous button, but edit one thing and you are essentially starting over.
I need some more time Adobe Lightroom CC, but I will post a follow-up soon with additional feedback. If you aren’t already a subscribed to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photographer’s bundle, you are definitely missing out.
In the meantime, I would love to know what you think about the software and how it is improving your photography and artistic workflow.
It is about that time, and Adobe Systems will soon be announcing Photoshop Lightroom 6. For those who have been with the program since Lightroom 1, they have seen the program evolve from rudimentary to indispensable. While there are a number of amazing tools such as Nikon CaptureNX, OnOne Photo Suite, Topaz Labs, and MacPhun, Lightroom has the largest recognition and scale in the field of photography. When a new version is announced, everyone must pay attention.
I have witnessed the impressive maturation of Lightroom from it’s initial edition to Version 5. What were once massive updates have become more subtle as Adobe adds more fit and polish to an incredibly full-featured product. That being said, here are my list of updates, dream, and wish-list items I would love to see if Lightroom 6.
- Automatic dust spot detection. Adobe added a great contrast filter that allows you to detect even hard-to-find dust spots. Now, I must admit, I use my cameras so much that I am often stuck with a dirty sensor in between cleanings.
- An update to the 2012 Process. The upgrade from the 2010 Process to the 2012 Process was significant (who remembers the Recovery slider?).
- Better plug-in integration. One of the greatest features of Lightroom is the non-destructive editing. Your edits in Lightroom do not tough the raw file until you export an image. However, if you are using a plugin (such as Nik Software, MacPhun, OnOne, Noiseware, list goes on), you are required to make a separate tif file. I feel this ruins some of the Lightroom aesthetic when you are making a separate file. I would love to see plugins handled more like Adobe Photoshop Layers and Layer Masks in the Lightroom database.
- Seamless editing with Adobe Photoshop. This issues follows a similar issue to the way Lightroom plugins. When you want to use Photoshop for those final edits out of Lightroom, you must export to a PSD file. It would be great to be able to edit in Photoshop right out of Lightroom, and return with those edits intact, all without creating a separate file.
- Larger image cache. Adobe currently has a 50gb image cache maximum, and the default is much smaller. For those working with heavy image loads, particularly wedding and event photographers, initial images load slow. Storage is cheap, and being able to increase the image cache would be a huge help.
- Improved batch editing. This would save wedding and event photographers a lot of time. While you can do some minor batch editing, a full featured batch editing feature based on user preferences and the histogram would be useful. This is much different than the autotone, which uses an Adobe-specified profile. This would be able to set by user.
With the Lightroom 6 announcement coming soon, many of these features may be slated for the next version, or something we may see in the future in Lightroom 7, 8, or beyond. In the meantime, I can’t wait to see the next edition of Lightroom and what it does for all of us in the photography field.
Skyfire – A Review of the App
As a user of the app, I thought I would include a few notes about the app and what value it brings to the landscape photographer.
Weather is complicated, and I am often faced with making value judgments on the locations to choose for sunrises and sunsets. Some I have accurately selected, but what sticks with me are the times I got it wrong.
Living in the San Diego area, the majority of the days are sunny, which do not necessarily make for the most engaging photographs. The right type of clouds entering or leaving the area are rare. In addition, for a good portion of the year, the onshore flow produces a marine layer that are usually death for the light needed in the morning and evening. Sometimes I head to the coast for what I think will be a great image, only to find the marine is just a couple miles inland and ready to kill the light.
Skyfire is the first app to attempt the incredible challenge of using weather predictions to forecast the right type of light. The interface is simple. With a login, you are taken to the member interface. The first you will see is the prediction for the nearest sunrise or sunset. A Google Map and a static map are included. Visually, it works as a heat map. Dark blues are complete cloud cover with little light, light blues are clear skies with no clouds, and the colors warm from there until you may have light and dark reds when the landscape is really going to light up.
The first question everyone asks is: Is it accurate? My experience has been that the app has been extremely accurate. I have spoken to Matt the few times the app was off, and most of the time, it ended up being an inaccurate weather forecast. We know what they say about predicting the weather.
There have been a couple occasions recently that not only did the app give me a good indication that I should be out shooting at the right time, but gave me good insight into where in the area I should go. For an app that is attempting to forecast light in the entire United States, this is excellent.
So, would I recommend this app? If you are a landscape photographer, who wants the best images at the far margins of every day, before sunrise and after sunset, then I highly recommend this app. For $25.00 a year, you will gain insight that will help you pick the right days and the best areas to photograph. Just one image that you wouldn’t have shot without the app makes the price easily worth it.
The app is currently html-based with plans to eventually be available on iOs and Android. Visit Skyfire at www.skyfireapp.com.
The Photographer’s Guide To Joshua Tree National Park will be coming out next month! On behalf of my co-author, Jeremy Long, I am very excited for the first edition release. The Guide will be available in multiple formats, Ibooks, Kindle, Nook, and a PDF edition. All should be readable on the device of your choice.
This is the point where finishing the guide becomes extremely stressful. Text must be completed, and then proceed through multiple revisions. Image placement will need to be just perfect. Every detail must be looked at, and most importantly, the book needs to be released. I am a perfectionist, and the quest for that perfection often results in little work completed. I am very much looking forward to the completion of the guide so we can proceed to the next one.
Purchase and download instructions will be available at www.jtphotoguide.com once we are completed!
This past weekend, I journeyed to Yosemite National Park with long-time friend, colleague, and fellow photographer, Jeremy Long. We were looking to make an image showing Upper Cathedral Lake at sunset, with reflection from beautiful Cathedral Peak.
On paper, the hike did not look imposing. My map indicated it was about 3.5 miles each way. Despite not having ideal weather (the forecast called for clear skies), we were excited to make the journey and add a new image to our respective portfolios. This looked like a simple, single-day hike.
As we learn, time and again, it rarely works that way. The hike up the John Muir Trail (the reverse of how most people travel from Happy Isles to Tuolomne Meadows) was tougher than we thought. This was especially true for me, carrying much more equipment in my backpack than I needed.
I also found that the hike was quite a bit longer than written on paper. My GPS noted the distance to the correct side of Upper Cathedral Lake at 5.3 miles. The paper mileage was 50% wrong! In addition, we quickly realized that the proper image was taken way up on the dome outcropping to the south. Only, after Jeremy and I scoured separate sections of rock, we did not find the best spot. The reflection of Cathedral Peak was either obscured by the shoreline, or we were lined up correctly but there were trees in the way.
Eventually, we both found a large outcropping that appeared to be in the right spot. The bouldering appeared to be tough, and the light was growing dim. However, with sunset growing close, and an additional 5+ miles back to Tuolomne Meadows, it wasn’t ideal to take more chances.
We hiked back that evening tired, beat up, and sore. As always, one must remember to never trust the map. Besides the mileage, the hike was tougher than appeared on paper, and failed to take into account the extra work we needed to make the best image possible. We didn’t have the high clouds we dreamed of either, so in this case, we counted it as strictly a scouting trip.
The next time we go, we will be more prepared from this experience. And that is the whole point of scouting out locations. We know what to expect. We will plan for an entire weekend and camp at the lake. We will be there earlier, with more time to scale the rock outcroppings to reach our best location. And we will give ourselves that much more chance to make the image we are dreaming of.
The lesson is to never discount the work it takes to make an image, long before the perfect scene reveals itself to you. If your trip doesn’t go perfect, remember the value in the experience and the knowledge you have gained. It will give you an edge the next time you are ready to make that photography.