Friday, July 31, 2015

The National Trust: now photography friendly

After some eight years living in the US, returning to the UK is like learning about a new country: things have changed. Some for the better, some for the worse.

One of the things that has really gone down hill is the size differential between a car and a car parking space! You now need skill and nerves of steel to park a car in, say, a supermarket car park!

On the other hand, one of the things that has got better is the National Trust’s attitude to photographers. You can now freely use a camera inside their houses: obviously without a flash and a tripod, but that is what modern high-ISO cameras are for.

Last weekend’s NT trip was to The Vyne near Basingstoke:,-1.08401,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x4874205421f7d14d:0x6e87664e4cfc464c

In addition to photography, it was a chance to renew our NT family membership; as well as using the NT’s iOS App: which is a great tool for photographers, as it helps prepare you for all the wonderful opportunities that the NT presents in each area of the UK:

Wiki tells us that The Vyne is a 16th-century country house outside Sherborne St John, Basingstoke, Hampshire, and was built for Lord Sandys, King Henry VIII's Lord Chamberlain.

The house retains its Tudor chapel, with stained glass. The classical portico on the north front was added in 1654 by Inigo Jones's pupil John Webb. In the mid-eighteenth century The Vyne belonged to Horace Walpole's close friend John Chaloner Chute, who designed the Palladian staircase, whose magnificent apparent scale belies its actual small size.

The Vyne was bequeathed by its final Chute owner, Sir Charles Chute, to the National Trust in 1958.

The grounds contain large woodland and a wetlands nesting site which is populated by swans and common redshanks. There are a number of woodland, wetland and parkland walking trails. Unfortunately, on this occasion, the weather was against us and we had to restrict ourselves to inside the house.

From a photography perspective I was interested in seeing how my 5D3 handled the dim interiors, albeit ‘boosted’ by Magic Lantern’s Dual-ISO feature, which gives nearly a 3Ev ‘lift’ to the dynamic range potential of a single 5D3 image, ie non-bracketed.

I must say, overall, I was pleased with the results and here are a few examples of non-flash, Dual-ISO captures from The Vyne.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A selfish post

As some know we have just returned to the UK after some seven years in the US.

From a photography perspective, after a week or so, the biggest difference between our last US location, Cedar Crest in NM, and here in Hampshire, is the colour green!!!

Wiki tells us that “Bryce Bayer's patent (U.S. Patent No. 3,971,065) in 1976 called the green photosensors luminance-sensitive elements and the red and blue ones chrominance-sensitive elements. He used twice as many green elements as red or blue to mimic the physiology of the human eye.

The luminance perception of the human retina uses M and L cone cells combined, during daylight vision, which are most sensitive to green light. These elements are referred to as sensor elements, sensels, pixel sensors, or simply pixels; sample values sensed by them, after interpolation, become image pixels.”

It will be some months before I can get my photography ‘up and running’, as our US home is slowly finding its way to us via a 40ft container!

What has arrived so far is us and our US cat Polly: a polydactyl cat with a congenital physical anomaly called polydactyly (or polydactylism, also known as hyperdactyly), that caused Polly to be born with more than the usual number of toes on one or more of its paws. Polly has six toes on each foot and appears to have an opposing thumb.

Today I also took delivery, via air freight, of my trusty 5D MkIII, so tonight I simply went into the garden, sorry yard, and took a quick snap of ‘our (old) house’.

Our life has changed in moving to the UK: it will be interesting to see if my photography changes as well!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Further Advances in Luminosity Masking

In past posts I have spoken about the luminosity masking (LM) tools created by Tony Kuyper.

Tony’s latests effort, version 4, is, in my humble opinion, simply, the best and most powerful LM-based tool you can get.

As usual there is little value in me repeating what you can read on Tony’s site: so I’ll simply point you to his web site:

Bottom line: if you haven’t explored luminosity masking, then I recommend you have a look at the latest version of Tony’s Photoshop panel. If you already use luminosity masks, then you should also look at what Tony’s latest panel can do for your workflow.

These two images, the Magic Lantern Dual-ISO and Auto-ETTR image RAW and the final image, processed with the help of TK-Action V4, give you a feel of what is possible.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Simple Farewell

After nearly 8 years living in the US, I send this simple post from LAX as I leave friends and colleagues. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Further explorations in Infra-Red

As infra red photographers know, post processing takes a little bit of thought.

First, the captures are rather flat and second they will also have a strong colour cast.

In previous posts I have spoken about colour processing of infra-red and the power of using Lab mode. In this short post I’m revisiting some of my IR shots from my recent trip to Canyon de Chelly, which is owned by the Navajo Tribal Trust of the Navajo Nation.

All my IR captures are with a converted 50D and, of course, I use Magic Lantern. This base capture is 12mm, ISO 100, F/8 and 1/80s. ML ensured it was an ETTR capture.

The post processing starts by correcting for the lens in LR and using an IR profile to remove the red cast.

I then used piccure+ to maximise the ‘sharpness’ of the image, ie virtually ‘boosting’ the lens to an L lens. BTW piccure+ works best at the start of post processing, ie before you start to push data around.

I then exported to PS-CC-2015 and used the new dehaze feature, to recover some of the detail. It was then a simple round trip to Silver Efex Pro II, before I enhanced the image with Flaming Pear Flood.

Although it is ‘fun’ to create colour images from IR, the real power of IR photography is as a starting point for B&W processing.

And in colour...

A simple post to complement the last post's B&W image.

This time an A6000, ISO 100, 30 second exposure.

Post processing made use of the Photoshop-CC 2015 dehaze tool, piccure+ to bring out the sharpness of the text, lens flare was added in PS-CC- 2015 and Flaming Pear Flood plug-in was used to enhance the floor reflections.

And some historical words...

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Happy 2nd July!

A simple post this weekend, dedicated to all my US friends: Independence Day!

Wiki tells us that Congress debated and revised the wording of the US Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Time moves on and so does the US national debt: so like all Americans, I also celebrate the fact that the UK no longer has to look after this particular ‘colony’ :-)

I thought that, in keeping with the
Independence Day emotions, I would re-interpret one of my images from DC: The Jefferson Memorial, obviously honouring Thomas Jefferson, (1743–1826), one of the most important of the American Founding Fathers as the main drafter and writer of the Declaration of Independence.

This particular image was taken with my Sony A6000 and a strong ND to ‘eliminate’ tourists! The exposure was 90 seconds.

This interpretation allowed me to try out two new pieces of technology. First the new dehazer in Photoshop CC 2015 and second a really impressive piece of technology called piccure+:

Rather than explain what these two pieces of technology do: I offer the following compare and contrast: the RAW capture and my B&W interpretation.