Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.1 due next week?

Based on the comments on this blog post, it seems we shall see Camera Raw 5.1 and Lightroom 2.1 next week. I’m really looking forward to both. Too bad Camera Raw 5.1 is for Photoshop CS4 only.

Update: Yup, updates downloaded and installed last night. Also released was beta 2 of the DNG Camera Profiles.


Oregon photo location tips wanted

Where are the good places to shoot in Oregon? Where is the highest concentration of good photo shoot locations in Oregon?

I’d like to take a vacation there someday, soon, and I’m sure photography will be a big part of that vacation. Also, taking naps, seeing the stars, listening to the ocean, and doing as little as possible will be on the agenda.

I’d love to find a place where I can rent a cheap an inexpensive cabin and be within two or three hours drive time of:

  • pacific coast
  • lighthouses
  • waterfalls
  • glass-smooth lakes
  • lush forest
  • notable geographic locations
  • historic locations
  • panoramic vistas
  • great sunset/sunrise views

I don’t want much, do I? 😉 It’s hard, because I get the impression that the entire state is photo-worthy and awe-inspiring. What I don’t want to do is spend all day driving, that would suck. So please, leave a comment. Ask your photo-geek friends to leave comments. I’d love to hear your suggestions and ideas. If you’ve ever been to Oregon, what sights took your breath away? What would you like to see hanging on your living room wall, or in your calendar in the kitchen?


I just want need a solid week of peace, quiet, and inspiration. Ok, ok, OK! Fine! You want the truth? Pushing 40 is scary! There, I said it. Are you happy? I mean, what have I done with my life? What am I doing to reach my dreams? Nothing! I’m letting life get in the way of living, and that needs to stop. I need a reset button, and I hear they have them in Oregon. And Scotland. And Italy.


Gee, I didn’t realize how much I need a vacation.

HDR Tips

I thought I would write down, for my own benefit at the very least, my steps to creating HDR images using Photomatix Pro. Lately I’ve been using the beta of version 3.1, because it supports correction of chromatic aberrations and has noise reduction, as well as a slightly better tone mapping interface. My steps will be different from others because I rarely use Photoshop for anything and I prefer HDR images to still look like photos rather than painted abstract art.

First, let me say that Photomatix is great at creating HDR from a single RAW image. To do that, follow these steps.

  1. With Photomatix open, choose “Single File Conversion …” from the “Automate” menu. 
  2. Choose the “Convert RAW files …” option (won’t work on JPEG or TIFF images) and save the resulting .hdr file.
  3. Close the Batch Conversion window and choose “Open …” from the “File” menu to open the file.
  4. Continue tone mapping as below, starting at step 8.

As easy as that is, you’ll get much better HDR images from multiple exposures. Here’s all my steps.

  1. Use a tripod.
  2. Use the highest bit-depth RAW format your camera can produce, and the widest color gamut. For my camera (D300) that means 14-bit NEF files with Adobe RGB color.
  3. For my camera (D300) I use the Auto Bracketing feature along with the Interval Timer Shooting menu. I currently bracket 7 images at 0.7 EV exposure intervals, with the timer set to shoot 7 images 1 second apart. If your camera doesn’t have something similar, you’ll have to accomplish the same thing manually.
  4. No matter what camera you have, you want to use Aperture Priority, so that your depth of field doesn’t fluctuate – let the camera change shutter speeds to change exposure levels.
  5. You can choose to use different numbers of exposures. Some folks use 3 exposures like -2 EV, 0 EV, +2 EV. Others bracket nine exposures 0.3 EV apart. Basically, the wider the exposure variance, the more sci-fi your image will come out. With more exposures closer together, the HDR software has more info to work with to keep a photo-realistic transition of light levels. It’s up to you to choose what works best for you.
  6. Get the files onto the computer and Open Photomatix Pro. Choose “Generate HDR …” from the “Process” menu and select the 7 files.
  7. I start with “Align source images” OFF, “Reduce chromatic aberrations” ON, “Reduce noise” ON, “Attempt to reduce ghosting artifacts” OFF, “White Balance” set to “As Shot” and the color setting set to “ProPhoto RGB”. Why ProPhoto RGB? Because these images will be going into Lightroom, which uses ProPhoto RGB internally, and this way I won’t lose any color in the process. It seems having the CA and noise corrections on doesn’t hurt the image, it just takes longer to process, so I go ahead and have them on so that I don’t have to re-run the “Generate HDR…” step again. If the camera moved while taking the bracketed images, use the “Align source images” with “By correcting horizontal and vertical shifts” option, and the “don’t crop” option ON. Most people recommend NOT using the ghosting function.
  8. In the Tone Mapping window, I start with: Strength 100%, Color Saturation 60%, Luminosity 0, Light Smoothing maxed out at “Very High”, Gamma at 1.00, and everything else at 0.
  9. I will drop Strength, adjust Saturation, add Luminosity, and add Microcontrast and Micro-smoothing to taste. If I have a really good HDR photo set, I’ll be able to boost the Saturation and Luminosity; other times it’s best to be more tame with the settings and let Lightroom do some magic.
  10. Process.
  11. Save as a 16-bit TIFF file. This preserves as much information as possible for Lightroom to manage, in case I need to desaturate the greens or boost the sky.

Again, I don’t go for extreme colors, or for processing speed, I go for photo-realism. Other HDR creators will do things differently. To each his own, I say.

I’d love to hear if this is helpful to you.

Workshop Photo Contest

The second Aperture Nature Workshops contest opened up. I really want to go to this one – Yosemite, for 3 days, with pros giving me tips from 5:00 a.m. to midnight each day. I really want to go. You can’t just show up, you can’t buy your way in. They are invitation only, with invitations given to the top four in the photo contest. Did I mention how I really, really, really want to go to this one?

So, with those lovely lake photos I got last weekend, the timing seems ideal. I submitted the image I thought would do best in the contest. Now, all I need are votes. Lots of votes. A whole lotta votes. This is where you, dear reader, enter the story. I would appreciate your vote, please. Even if you don’t like the image, please vote for it. Please. Don’t make me beg. Ok, heck with it, I’m begging now. Did I mention how I really want to go to the workshop? I just need to place fourth or better. Please?

Vote for my photo!

misty lake sunrise

Grand Lake

I took the kids on a Fall Colors Photo Safari through the Colorado mountains last weekend. The fall colors part was a total bust, and stopping at the Georgetown Loop RR on the way home completely ruined the trip by being totally booked up. The only good part of the trip was staying in Grand Lake for the night. The hotel was great, the town was cozy, and the people were very nice. And the lake is incredible at 6:00 a.m. after a sunny day. So, we salvaged the trip with a few excellent shots of the lake just before sunrise.