850 Megapixel San Francisco Panorama

Some of my readers wanted to see a full version of the picture we loaded into Hiperspace.

I found a way using the Gigapan Viewer so I won't have to provide the necessary bandwidth and disk space. Their web software compresses everything a bit much for my taste, but don't let it distract you.

RAW HDR Processing


Learn how to create stunning HDR photos from a single RAW file.

The rapid progression of camera technology and new options in Photomatix require an update to this tutorial.

Cameras are now 14-bit

Bathesda Fountain

HistogramWhen I wrote this tutorial over 1.5 years ago, most cameras were using 12-bit sensors. Camera makers have switched to higher dynamic range sensors now. I am currently using a consumer level Canon Rebel XSi which already exceeds the performance of many professional cameras of just a few years ago.

Ideally, 14-bit RAW files contain 4 times more information than 12-bit RAW files in the shadows. Realistically the gain may be limited somewhat by noise, but the noise levels also improved, leaving us with more bits to use. This much dynamic range just begs being made visible.

The picture above was taken in Central Park. The picture on the left side was processed via this HDR method. You can see a larger version here.

In the processed image you can see people outside and the fountain, while those are clipped in the unprocessed version. The histogram of the uncompensated picture, a picture processed for highlights and a picture processed for shadows is shown on the left side. The HDR is a combination of 5 images between EV-2 to EV+2.

Photo Acute Studio


On my first review of Photo Acute Studio I was not convinced of the Super Resolution processing. I downloaded and installed a new version (2.83) today. I wanted to use it to align 4 high ISO images (ISO 400 with the Rebel XSi) so I could stack the images and perform a noise reduction.

The good news is that the software now supports more cameras, including the Camera-Lens combination I used for these images. Unfortunately only 4 lenses are supported for the Canon 450D, but I am hoping more will come soon.

I ran another superresolution test, and this time the results are quite good. In the image below, you can see the original image (left) and the superresolution image generated from 4 hand-held images. The superresolution image clearly shows more detail and smother lines. Both images are enlarged beyond 100% resolution.
Superresolutin Processing

This corresponds to approximately 48 Megapixels from the Rebel XSi. If we shoot images from a tripod, we can minimze the cutting area and thus get slightly larger images.

Sponsored Review

SceneThe crime scene is not even cold when our hero rushes the surveillance tapes to the lab where a computer geek takes the blurry images and renders a crisp image of the suspect. We are all familiar with similar scenes from TV. The process of Super-Resolution makes it possible to create detail where there was none.  Software uses small changes in each successive image of the video stream to calculate an image with much higher resolution.

Now, the same techniques are available for photographers as well.

Photo Acute Studio is the first commercially available solution for photographers offering Super-Resolution processing. The software is an image stacker that takes several images of the same scene to increase resolution, reduce noise, enhance dynamic range, increase depth of field, or remove moving subjects.

The software comes in three flavors; Portable, Standard and Professional with prices of $19, $49 and $119 respectively. The versions differ in the supported camera and lens profiles. DSLR users need to buy the Professional version while everybody else can get the Standard version.

Protect your data with Raid

Broken 80GB Wester Digital DriveThe Culprit: Broken 80GB Wester Digital DriveThree to four weeks ago, I got the shock of my life. I turned on my main Photoshop Computer that also holds all of my photographs in form of undeveloped RAW files. Suddenly my computer reported that it could not find any hard drive to boot from and it made loud clicking noises. One of my drives was trying to spin up but could not. It sounded very much like a head crash.

The next day was pure agony for me, when I had to wait to dissect my computer. Although used to back up everything to external drives, I had become lazy recently. My most recent backup was already several months old. I took my internal hard drive to usb adapter and hooked up my main picture drive to my computer. The adapter works with Laptop and Desktop drives as well as the new SATA drives.

New Site Design and White Sands Gallery

White Sands National Monument New Mexico

Last week I spent an enormous amount of time updating this Website. It is the part of being present online that I like the least as it involves hours of work without much of a visible result. I finally updated the underlying CMS framework to a newer version, and since I had made many customizations, I had to spend some time changing the programming of the new version to suit my needs. The gallery system I use works completely different now, so I had to do some patching there too. I am usually a lazy updater and a later adapter, since I use so many functions that are not always available on the bleeding edge. If anyone really cares what it takes to run a site, I can add a few pointers later.

The main reason to go through with this now was actually the fact that I need to organize the data better. Finding articles has become harder as this website grew, so I have added all those tutorial links to the front page, in an effort to improve access, and I have added some auto discovery links at the bottom of many pages. It is just the first step, but I am making great progress now that I finished the programming work.

I even found time to upload a new gallery yesterday. I still have a long backlog from recent trips. I did upload some pictures of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. I hope you enjoy the new gallery and that you come back next week for more.

I will also start to write a few new tutorials soon. As always I am open to suggestions on what to write.

Optimizing Images for the Web and Email

Women Sitting on Curb in Black and WhiteSomeone sitting on the curb

Learn how to optimize pictures for websites without sacrificing quality.

The benefit of small pictures is immediately obvious. Requiring less bandwidth will reduce your cost and the cost to your visitors (time or volume charges). People will not remember your site as being slow and come back again (although slowness might happen for other reasons).
I also reduce the size of personal images I send via email to friends and family.
It is thoughtful not to waste other people's time and mailbox space.
The image on the left is only 13.8kB and can be loaded, even through a dialup connection, in a fraction of a second (the text on this page is bigger). Further optimization could reduce the size of this image to about 10kB without too much loss of quality. To save time, I have automated my workflow (including the final compression), leaving some room for further improvements.
I will demonstrate how to optimize your images with Photoshop, but you should be able to reproduce these steps with just about any Photo Editor

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.

Pocket PCs for Photographers and Web Designers

IPAQ Picture ViewerIPAQ Picture ViewerToday I am going to show you some mobile computing solutions for the Digital Photographer using a Windows Mobile powered Pocket PC.
You can use the Pocket PC as an ultra mobile RAW file viewer and editor, to calculate the Depth of Field and Hyperfocal Distance, to evaluate Exposure, take notes, attach voice notes to digital files or read a book while you are waiting for an event.
The possibilities are endless. You can do almost as much with this ultra portable solution then with a "normal" PC.

Unfortunately many vendors like Dell have withdrawn from this market, but you can still buy everything you need (often at bargain prices).