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Exposing California’s photo secrets

Ye Olde ManDuring the last month, I have only published a relatively small number of articles. If you have come to appreciate a steady diet of tutorials and photography related articles, I have good news for you. I am back full force, starting next week.

Introducing my new project

One of the reasons I took things a bit slower is a new project I am working on. I have come to realize that I have spent a great deal of time in California and built up a wealth of knowledge about anything and everything worth photographing. That is why I decided to start a new blog:

California Photo Scout

On the photo scout website I will publish short articles about all the places in California that are worth photographing, how to photograph them, how to find your way around, what equipment you will need, what the best time is for photography and other tips.

It is a blog geared for photographers, photo enthusiasts and tourists with a passion for picture taking. If you ever plan to come to California or if you live here, you will find great value in this blog.

Why not here?

My first priority is this website here. I have built a strong reader base and I love this website. I love interacting with you and I love getting emails every day giving me great feedback.

It is my primary outlet to communicate and help with photographic advice.

However, there are literally hundreds of places I have seen in California and I found that it would litter this website with too much information, so I decided to create a new website.

What is next?

I have many ideas for tutorials and plenty of reviews to write to keep you busy reading and me busy writing furiously. I have become much more efficient and better organized than when I first started blogging, making it possible for me to support this new project despite the many things I do.

I love the discussion on the Rebel XSI Review post and I hope there will be more.  Please do not hesitate to comment or contact me directly if you have an important question on your mind. There is no stupid question, just stupid answers. So keep it coming and don't forget to visit the Photo Scout sometimes.

Thanks

Andre

The Ethics of Photoshop Image Manipulation

In this essay, I debate with a reader from China about the Ethics of using image manipulation techniques. This article is a record of an active email conversation with 杨慧华(Pandy). I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and I hope you will enjoy it too. That is why I choose to publish this with his/her consent. I am defending image manipulation as a form of art wile Pandy challenges the trustworthiness of picture sources.

In the end, it all comes down to a question of Ethics. How and when is it o.k. to change photographs and when do we have to keep from changing them.

Color Management Tips for Photographers

Stairs from Point Reyes LighthousePreserve the Colors of your Images Recently Ron sent me an email and hinted me towards the fact that I missed the last mile on my workflow tutorials.
I was asked to give some more insight into the process of preparing images for web viewing and/or printing.
In this tutorial I am going to cover some of the basics of color profiling and in the next tutorial I am going to talk a bit about resizing and compression of images. After all you want your images to look good without annoying your viewers (and your wallet) by large data transfers. As you can see this site has a reasonable amount of graphics, but (hopefully) still loads fairly quickly. Part of the reason (besides a good host) is that I optimize my images for online viewing. Since I have automated the process, I forgot to cover this subject. You can use the same technique to send your pictures via email.

Color Profiles and Management

I am by no means an expert in color profiling, nor do I understand all of it. But I can give you some tips on what worked for me without drifting too much into technical jargon.
Color Management should be part of your digital workflow and it is tightly interwoven with all the applications.
Since different devices use different technology (an LCD uses light and color filters to render pixels while an inkjet puts ink onto a paper), you need color management to make the picture look the same on either of them. You want the picture to be printed the same way it looks on your screen. Today's consumer grade LCD screens are often too bright and too cold (blue/green tint). I guess the reason behind this is that manufacturers want them to look brighter in the show room. Unfortunately, this really messes up your color management, so if you are serious about getting the best quality from your pictures, check out my short article on LCD Color Calibration.

About Stitching and Color Space

Point Reyes Farm in FogPoint Reyes Farm and Fog

Often I get questions via email and I think the answer to many of them could benefit others as well, so I decided to introduce my new series From the Mailbox where I will publish a few of the questions and answers. Don't worry, I won't reveal any contact information, so your emails will be safe.

 

Hello Andre, Thanks for so much information. Couple questions: 1. Equipment: For your stitching I see you use a 50 prime. Have you tried say 180mm Telephoto lens? 2. I use a mac... What Stitching SW would be good? I've tried PTGui ...seems ok bu the final file is always a smaller than what i get from CS3. 3. The instructors for Photoshop at the UC ext. courses there in Cupertino always said to use Adobe RGB color space. Now I see that people say sRGB might be better. I upload photos to the web and did A-B comparisons and they look very close to me. I've heard said that Adobe RGB web photos have dull washed out reds. Any thoughts? Maybe a tutorial on uploading photos to websites. Keep up the good work.


 

 

Reply:

I just returned from my weekend trip, so I will try to be brief. Don't hesitate to send me some more questions if things aren't clear yet. For the Machu Picchu Image (222 Megapixel Mosaic) I have used a focal length of 200mm. It's really just about how much resolution you want to get. I don't limit myself to 50mm. It was just an example. Stiching: I use PTAssembler on PC. I think PTGui is good. The size you get is probably related to how the control points are calculated and how things are warped (I know thats a poor explanation, but check this link ) About the color space: I use ProphotoRGB for editing and sRGB for output. ALWAYS use sRGB for display and printing, but use something with more Gamut (Adobe or Prophoto) for editing. Convert using the Adobe Perceptual Engine. Most people's monitors and browsers are not calibrated and sRGB will defenitely look better. AdobeRGB contains too much gamut and will result in out of gamut colors on many peoples screens (posterization effects).

 

In my hasty response I forgot to mention my article on color calibration, that might be a good source of information. LCD monitors that you buy these days at Electronic Outlet stores are not very good and are over saturated and usually have a cold tint (blue / green). They need to be calibrated in order to render color correctly. Otherwise your prints will not match your monitor output.

The tutorial sounds like a good idea too, maybe spiced up with some general color recaps.

The picture on the left is a quick B/W conversion with some curves adjustments (mainly contrast boosting) of one of the photographs I took this weekend at Point Reyes. During the summer months Point Reyes sees more fog then any other time of the year. Fortunately thats not bad news for us. While most tourists chose not to get out of their cars, I used the chance for soft light.