Sunday, November 24, 2013

Calendar Chronicles - November 2013

According to the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language a chronicle is

1. an extended account in prose or verse of historical events, sometimes including legendary material, presented in chronological order and without authorial interpretation or comment.

2. A detailed narrative record or report.

 Now that I am in the process of distributing my 2014 calendars I thought it might be fun to revisit each photo each month, give some details about how I took the photo, the place or subject and any stories that might go along with each.   I'm going to try and do this at the beginning of each month.  

Although it's now November 24, I'm going to start out with the November 2013 photo.  Here goes.

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming.  One day the skies with His glories will shine"  Glorious Day by Casting Crowns
Sunrise From Sun Point
Glacier National Park, Montana

This was taken on September 5, 2012 while on a vacation to Glacier National Park.   This day was extra special to June and I because 30 years ago to the day we were married in Aulander North Carolina.  We were blessed with a beautiful sunrise to celebrate our first 30 years together.  We spent the rest of our anniversary hiking to waterfalls, taking boat rides across beautiful mountain lakes, and enjoying Huckleberry Pie and Ice Cream.

Sun Point is a point of land sticking out into Lake Saint Mary just off the Going To The Sun Road.  A short 0.7 mile trail from the parking lot brought us to this point where we were the only people there to witness the sunrise.  When we got there the sun was not yet up but it was light enough to find our way to this high point above the lake looking east across the lake.   We were both excited about the possibility of a spectacular sunrise, however the excitement started to fade as we waited.  It was very cold and very windy up there.  Both of us had jumped out of the car too quickly and left our warmest clothes behind.  We were getting colder and colder waiting on the light to appear.   I had my photography to take my mind off the cold but June really wanted to go back down to the car and get some warmer clothes.  Because there were no other people around and there was a good chance of running into a bear I convinced her to stay with me.  How many wives would spend their 30th freezing to death before the sun came up.  I'm so blessed!

This photo is one of a 94 I took that morning before getting back to the car and cranking up the heat.   Yes, 94!   With the bright sunrise and dark mountains it was difficult to get a good exposure.  I was shooting multiple exposures using a feature called bracketing where the camera would take multiple shots under and over the exposure the camera calculated was correct.   That automatically gives me three times the number of images.   This photo was created by combining three exposures - 0.125, 0.3, and 0.6 seconds with an aperture of f/22, ISO 100 and a fairly wide focal length of 28mm.  Even with the bracketed exposures the mountains and gnarled tree branches appear almost black.

What I like about this photo is the cool cloud wisps that mirror the tree branches and the rich color contrast between the blue sky and orange clouds.   

I thought the lyrics from the Casting Crowns song really fit with this sunrise.  I can just imagine God coming on the clouds in a blaze of glory just like this.  What a great day!

A larger version of this photo is available on my gallery site by clicking here.   All photos are available as prints in a variety of sizes and material.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Don't Be A Liquid Crystal Display Chimp

Did you know that LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display?   It's that little display screen on the back of your camera that shows you a miniature version of the shot you just made, plus a lot of useful information. It can also give you some misleading information and you may not want to trust everything it is telling you.

Do you know what chimping is?  According to the source of all Internet knowledge (Wikipedia)

Chimping is a colloquial term used in digital photography to describe the habit of checking every photo on the camera display (LCD) immediately after capture.

Regina Chimping
I do it and I'm sure most of you do as well.  We can't wait to see that prize winning photo we just took.   For me something often happens to the photo between the vision in my mind and what shows up on the back of the camera.

What are you looking at when you look at the back of the screen?  There can be a lot of useful information there for you depending on your camera display settings..   

Back of a Canon 5D Mark II
The display on the back of each camera is different.  The picture above is my Canon 5D Mark II.  I've set the display to show the RGB histogram (red, green and blue mountains), shutter speed (1/3 sec), f-stop (f/14), exposure compensation (+2/3), shooting mode (Av), white balance (AWB), file format (RAW), color space (Adobe RGB) and a few other pieces of information about the photo.  Most of this information is things you set on the camera before taking the picture and you don't need to chimp these.   The histogram tells you about the tonality of the picture you just took and if it is over or under exposed.   Pay attention to the histogram.  Other than checking the composition or focus you can pretty much ignore the picture display.

Most cameras automatically adjust the brightness of the LCD display to improve the readability in different light conditions.  Under some conditions it will appear bright and in other conditions it will be dark.   This does not tell you if the photo is properly exposed and you should not trust it when checking the exposure.

The most important piece of information on the screen is the histogram.  It will tell you if you photo is properly exposed.  You want the histogram to fall in the center of the graph and not bunched up against the left or right side.   The left side represents the dark areas of the photo and the right is the bright areas.  In this example the blue of the sky is almost too bright as shown by the spike on the right side of the blue channel.   I had a choice to make here.  I could have dropped the exposure to move the histogram more to the left, making some areas of the image too dark.  I have chosen this exposure to get as close to the right side as I can without over exposing.  This is called exposing to the right and is a good practice to follow.  More on that in a later post.

There is lots of great information available on histograms so I'm not going to try and explain something that others have already done a better job than I can.  You can check out

Understanding Histograms by Darren Rowse

 How To Read and Use Histograms by Darlene Hildebrandt
Camera Histograms: Tones and Contrast
Darlene Hildebrandt

It's OK to chimp as long as you pay attention to the histogram and don't trust the little image.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fixing lens problems when importing to Lightroom

If your lens is busted then Lightroom is not going to be able to help you out.  However, if your lens takes photos that are distorted, dark around the edges or have the deadly chromatic aberration then Lightroom can help.

No lens is perfect and they will all introduce varying levels of distortion to your images.  There are four kinds of lens correction Lightroom can do for you:
  • Barrel Distortion - the photo has a "bulging" effect, especially in the center
  • Pincushion Distortion - a squeezing of the center that distorts images in an inward sense.
  • Lens Vignetting - darkening of the sides and especially corners.
  • Chromatic Aberration - fringes of color along edges of dark and bright parts of the image
Lightroom comes with a database of lenses that include settings for correcting these problems automatically.  Because your camera embeds information about the camera and lens in the image file, Lightroom automatically knows what lens you were using when you took the shot and can apply the automatic corrections for that lens profile.

Lens Correction Panel in Lightroom 5.2

Here is an example of automatic correction of the shot with my 24-105mm Canon lens.

Before Lens Correction

After Lens Correction
It's not easy to see the difference without flipping back and forth (click on an image and you can then flip between them using arrow keys).  In the first version there is some barrel distortion that you can see by looking at the edge of the roof for the back corner of this store.  See how it curves up in the center?   This distortion is taken out in the bottom version and the room is straight.

The top version also has some lens vignetting that you can see shows up as darker areas of the sky in the corners.


Above is an example of Chromatic Aberration.  In the before version you can see a blue fringe at the edge of this bird's wing. In the second version I have clicked Remove Chromatic Aberration in the Lens Corrections Panel and the blue fringe goes away.   The CA will be worse when there is a strong sharp line between the light and dark sections, when the lens aperture is small, and with a lower quality lens.  If you do a Google search for Chromatic Aberration Examples you can see some better examples.

These are all nice features, but you don't want to have to turn them on for each image you are editing in Lightroom.  I have created a preset with Enable Lens Corrections and Remove Chromatic Aberration checked.  I then use that present when importing my photos.

Now when I import photos Lightroom will determine the lens and apply the appropriate lens corrections for me.   Give this a shot next time you are editing in Lightroom and let me know what you think.

I'm always looking for new blog ideas.  Have a question?  What to see some kind of example?  What do you want to see on this blog?   Just drop me a note to and let me know.