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Andre Gunther Photography - Software http://www.aguntherphotography.com/taxonomy/term/12/0 en Galaxy Note 10.1 review - A tablet for creative people http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/samsung-galaxy-note-10.1.html <p><img src="http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f29/andre75/galaxy_note_10_zpsed15ee40.jpg" border="0" alt="Galaxy Note 10.1"/></p> <p><span class="inline left"><iframe src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=andreguntherp-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B008DWG5HE&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe></span>I have been an iPhone user for many years. I have embraced the iPad wholeheartedly, since it was the best tablet the market offered. Both products have introduced me to the quality of Apple&rsquo;s products, which have displaced most of my laptops and PC&rsquo;s at home. I am typing this review on a Macbook Air.</p> <p>I have been a Wacom Tablet user as well. I got my Wacom before the iPad and I would not miss editing a picture without it. Holding a pen is more natural and gives me much better precision than working with a mouse.</p> <p>Ever since I held my first iPad in my hands, I have fantasized that a stylus would be the ideal accessory. It would allow for a level of creativity that a finger cannot achieve, especially if the stylus is pressure sensitive, like my Wacom tablet&rsquo;s pen.</p> <p>Right around the time I got my first iPad, I spoke to a couple of Apple engineers involved with the touch interface and we discussed touch technologies. At this time, there was a certain understandable pride among the engineers. The prevalent thought was that Apple had been the company who figured out how to do tablets right. A big part of doing it right, meant to eliminate the need for a stylus.</p> <p>Understandably, when I brought up the idea of wanting a stylus, the engineers ignored my pleas. Nobody would want this and touch was the way of the future. I was beginning to wonder if any of them ever had used a Wacom tablet before. A touch sensitive display that would also respond to a pressure sensitive stylus would certainly not be a step back. After all, it wouldn&rsquo;t NEED a stylus, but rather benefit from it.</p> <p>Every year Apple introduced a new iPad, I was secretly hoping to find support for a pressure sensitive stylus, but no such luck. Eventually, Samsung was the company that built the iPad I always longed for, the Galaxy Note 10.1.</p> <p>I bought one of these babies the day they hit the shelves at Best Buy and have spent quite a bit of time with it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>A tablet for creative people</h3> <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/watercolor-pencil.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/watercolor-pencil_small.jpg" alt="Watercolor Pencil Drawing app"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>Watercolor Pencil app (free in Samsung's appstore) supports a large variety of styles</td></tr> </table> <p>The Galaxy Note 10.1 does not have a display technology that rivals the iPad&rsquo;s retina display. In most day-to-day use, this does not matter, but in direct comparison the differences are visible. If you only use your tablet to watch HD (1080) movies, browse the web and read email, the iPad is perfect for you.</p> <p>Unfortunately for Samsung, this describes the majority of all tablet users today. Furthermore, not many people are even aware of the capabilities of the Galaxy Note 10.1. It withers at its showcase at my local Best Buy store, with no special mention of the stylus hidden inside the tablet. Most shoppers pass by and do not even notice what kind of revolution they just passed. Everyone knows about the iPad. Everyone has an opinion about he iPad. Tech savvy people know other products as well.</p> <p>Once people at my workplace noticed what I did with the tablet, they were fascinated and wanted to learn more. Clearly, Samsung&rsquo;s marketing is inferior.&nbsp;</p> <p>The stylus has a tiny tip, unlike the fat finger styli required for capacitive touch screens. This means you actually see what you draw; you can follow a thin line and have precise control. The stylus has a button on the side, that allows you to perform additional functions without having to go through menus and it has 1024 levels (10-bit) of pressure sensitivity. The benefits of pressure sensitivity are difficult to describe, you simply need to try it. Just imagine any kind of calligraphy, without being able to vary the thickness of your lines. Imagine how a painter varies his/her strokes by gently or forcefully using the brush.&nbsp;</p> <p>The tablet offers palm rejection, which means you can rest your hand comfortably on the surface, with the stylus in your hand. No other tablet offers that at this point, but the software needs to support this feature.&nbsp;</p> <p>Samsung includes a free office package and Photoshop touch with their tablet, making it even more appealing. Between the fantastic S-Note application, Polaris Office, the Browser and Photoshop, most creative needs are indeed covered.</p> <p>I bought a pdf reader/editor with palm rejection. This allows me to make annotations on technical documents, highlight books, and add side-notes to whatever I read.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Blazingly fast, well thought out hardware</h3> <!--<div class="image"> <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/multitasking.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/multitasking_small.jpg" alt="Galaxy Note 10.1 Multitasking"></a> <div>Multitasking on the Galaxy Note 10.1</div> </div>--> <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/multitasking.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/multitasking_small.jpg" alt="Galaxy Note 10.1 Multitasking"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>Multitasking on the Galaxy Note 10.1 supports some applications in side-by-side mode and several mini apps (calculator shown) on top</td></tr> </table> <p></p> <p>The tablet features a quad core processor and 2GB of RAM, far outpacing any other tablet on the market. In the world of Tablet OS, 2GB is enormous. It means you can multitask and work with big files.</p> <p>This powerful hardware allowed Samsung to take multimedia to a new level for a tablet. The Note 10.1 can run some applications side by side, offering superior multitasking. This is great for research projects, as you can copy web content into a document without having to toggle back and fourth between two applications.&nbsp;</p> <p>Additionally, you can bring up some mini-apps, such as the calculator, on top of any other application. It will simply appear as a floating window, without affecting the main application. You can also quickly check your email without having to leave your main application. The video player also knows a detach mode, which lets you float a video on top of any other application.</p> <p>The tablet&rsquo;s front facing stereo speakers are perfect for video. The Note 10.1 furthermore features the usual headphone jack, power button and volume control buttons. It also has an infrared port, although I do not care much about the included universal remote control software.</p> <p>The Galaxy Note 10.1 features a micro-SD card slot that can accept up to 64GB of additional storage. With an optional adapter, you can even turn the tablet into a USB host and plug in a hard drive (FAT32), USB stick, memory card reader, mouse or game controller, making it the most versatile tablet currently on the market.</p> <h3>S-Note</h3> <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/snote-formula-recognition.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/snote-formula-recognition_small.jpg" alt="S-Note Formula recognition"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>S-Note formula recognition</td></tr> </table> <p>I use this application every day. The S-Note application is easily the most useful app on this tablet.</p> <p>What looks like a simple scribbling app at first blush, turned out to be the most versatile and appealing application of the entire package.</p> <p>This application can turn written text into characters, via a sophisticated character recognition engine. It can straighten shapes and even recognize formulas.</p> <p>It brings up wolfram alpha (in a browser) on command to find additional information to your input. You can insert pictures and draw annotations on them.</p> <p>The drawing tools are fantastic, with different types of pens, brushes and pencils and you can even record what you draw, as you draw it.</p> <p>The recording also records your voice and crates a video of it all. Think about remote time-shifted teaching, where you explain changes to a document, or make changes to a white board.</p> <p>Synchronize several devices, and you can suddenly all draw on the same sketch. Now your white-board has become digital.</p> <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/daughter_drawing.jpg"><img height="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/daughter_drawing_small.jpg" alt="My Daughter's first Drawing on the Note"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>My 1 year old daughter loves this app too</td></tr> </table> <h3>Things to improve</h3> <ul> <li>I wish I could simply connect this tablet to my PC via USB and use it as a Wacom tablet. There is some interest in the hacker community, and I hope they make some progress tricking a computer into thinking this is simply a Wacom digitizer. Using a full-blown version of Photoshop with this kind of input is certainly attractive.</li> <li><del><b>This brings me to my biggest complaint with Photoshop Touch that comes with the tablet. It limits the picture size to 2048 pixels in the largest dimension, rendering it unusable for professional photo work.</del><font color="FF0000">DONE! - The latest version of PS Touch (free in the Samsung Appstore for Galaxy Note 10.1 users) supports up to 12MP (4000x3000) files.!!!! </font></b><br> It supports layers, an amazing amount of effects and tools and even can save files in PSD format, yet all of these features are useless if you need to work with high-resolution pictures. The tablet&rsquo;s hardware would easily support more, and I would be willing to pay for such an upgrade. <font color="FF0000">(got it free),</font>.<del> It is sufficient for pictures you ONLY want to email, or publish online, but if I would even remotely consider a professional use of those pictures, I would have to use Photoshop on my computer to avoid duplicate work.</del></li> <li>By default, the pressure sensitivity in Photoshop is turned off. Here is how to turn it on: <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/photoshop-pressure-sensitive.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/photoshop-pressure-sensitive_small.jpg" alt="Photoshop Pressure sensitivity setting"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>Photoshop setting pressure sensitivity</td></tr> </table> </li> <li>Only S-Note can read S-Note files. You can export PDF and JPG files, but the application downsamples the images too much, losing some information in the progress. It won&rsquo;t be a big deal, if you are aware of this and plan your documents accordingly. Secondly, the S-Note app has one standard size document that you cannot change. <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/snote-sample.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/snote-sample_small.jpg" alt="S-Note Sample"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>Snote Sample and <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/snote_export.pdf">PDF exported from S-Note</a>. Click the image file for a larger view and compare the quality to the pdf</td></tr> </table> </li> <li>The tablet has a plastic feel. I normally use all my tablets in a case, so it does not matter to me, but some people don&rsquo;t like the cheaper plastic feel of thois tablet.</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Conclusion</h3> <p>The Galaxy Note 10.1 is a very appealing package. Its features are unique and it is currently the most powerful tablet on the market.</p> <p>Its most striking features are the pressure sensitive pen (s-pen) and the improved multitasking capabilities, allowing the side-by-side use of some applications.</p> <p>Some applications that make use of the pen already exist in Samsung&rsquo;s store and in the Google play store. I am looking forward to more.</p> <p>The Note 10.1 is easily the most appealing tablet for creative people. People who see what I can do with this little tablet are stunned, giving me hope styli will become vogue again.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h4>Support this website, buy here:</h4> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008DWG5HE/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B008DWG5HE&linkCode=as2&tag=andreguntherp-20">Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=andreguntherp-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B008DWG5HE" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /><br> <p></p> <p> <iframe src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=andreguntherp-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B008DWG5HE&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe> <iframe src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=andreguntherp-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B008M4K5MY&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe> <iframe src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=andreguntherp-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B005TUQV0E&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe> <iframe src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=andreguntherp-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B008L2WS8Q&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe> </p> <h3>More screenshots</h3> <p>Click on any image above or below to open a larger version.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/photoshop-some-adjustments.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/photoshop-some-adjustments_small.jpg" alt="Photoshop some adjustments"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>Some Photoshop adjustments. I was positively surprised to find curves here, among a large variety of tools. On the right you can see that I am working with layers.</td></tr> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/photoshop-some-effects.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/photoshop-some-effects_small.jpg" alt="Photoshop some adjustments"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>Filters galore (showing just one tab)</td></tr> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/crayon-physics.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/crayon-physics_small.jpg" alt="Crayon Physics"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>Crayon physics: A fun little game included with the device. Draw objects to move the ball to its destination.</td></tr> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/ezPDF.png"><img height="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/ezPDF_small.jpg" alt="ezPDF annotations"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>ezPDF: Bought this app to draw annotations and highlights on pdf. Even supports the palm rejection</td></tr> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/samsung-galaxy-note-10.1.html#comments Gadgets Hardware Reviews Software Thu, 04 Oct 2012 02:58:38 -0400 andre 3275 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com HDR Expose - Evolution of Perfection http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/hdr-expose-unified-color.html <p><img alt="HDR Exposre Result 1" width="600" height="400" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/hdr-expose-1.jpg" /></p> <p>When Unified Color released HDR PhotoStudio in 2009, I was stunned with the color accuracy and the natural look of the processed images. With their new release of HDR Expose, the successor to HDR PhotoStudio, Unified Color released further refined software that has more advanced processing options, is easier to use, and produces better results than the already stunning HDR PhotoStudio.</p> <p>The interface of HDR Expose has evolved, too. All the controls are on the right side with a brightness histogram in the top right corner and the image controls below it. I love how the software keeps a stack of your previous processing steps, allowing you to go back and make changes to previously applied steps, without losing the changes you made later.</p> <p>Instead of a review that is counting down features, I chose to demonstrate the processing steps. This should give you a good idea on the ease of use and some of the capabilities of HDR expose. Click the images for a larger view.</p> <!--break--> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/00_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose Start Window" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/00.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>When you open HDR Expose, you can merge several differently exposed images into a single High Dynamic Range Image. Here I chose the first option, to merge five exposures I took at Dante&rsquo;s View in Death Valley. I chose this image because it represents one of the most difficult images to adjust. It includes the sun itself and mountains that are backlit. Extracting detail and preserving a natural look will challenge any HDR software.</p> <p>You can also batch merge images and even batch process images using recipes. A recipe allows you to bake your secret processing sauce into a recipe that you can then apply to a large number of images.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/01_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose image loaded" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/01.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>The created file does not look very compelling, yet. It basically represents the middle exposure of the set. A glance at the brightness histogram reveals that the image contains information outside the visible spectrum (dark underlain area).</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/02_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose Brightness and Contrast" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/02.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since the histogram was skewed to the right, I turned down the brightness level. To squeeze more of the curve into the visible spectrum, we have to reduce the global contrast (contrast power slider). Keeping the &ldquo;keep local contrast&rdquo; checkbox selected, the overall contrast appears to stay constant, as the software increases the local contrast power proportional to the decrease in global contrast power. I chose to deselect the box and boost the local contrast even more, since the picture could use it. Do not overdo the contrast settings! The settings I show are very extreme in accordance with the difficult subject of the image.</p> <p>One of the most outstanding features of HDR Expose is their superior halo reduction. During the HDR process, the software works hard to keep the contrast the same, while squeezing the entire dynamic range into the visible range. The required local contrast enhancement causes nasty halo effects with any HDR software. This is especially visible if you have edges between bright backgrounds (sky) and darker foregrounds (tree, rocks).</p> <p>HDR Expose can suppress these halos, but the process is very compute intensive. I recommend to tweak these settings as your final step as part of a recipe. When I selected the highest setting (Ultimate) on an image, my (older) Quad Core computer slowed down with 100% CPU usage.</p> <p><img alt="Ultimate Halo Reduction" width="600" height="483" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/ultimate-halo-reduction-small.jpg" />&nbsp;</p> <p>I think this setting should come with a warning or get a separate dial to prevent users from accidentally triggering it. Further, it would be nice if I could send HDR Expose into the background with idle priority, while it chews threw these computations.</p> <p>In fact, this was the only annoyance I found with the software, combined with the fact that I cannot minimize the GUI while it computes. I used a keystroke to bring up the Windows taskbar and work on other things in the meantime.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/03_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose Shadow Highlight" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/03.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the next step (Shadow / Highlight), I mostly reduced the highlight power, to bring even more of the sun and the backlit clouds into the visible range. I also tweaked the local contrast (LC) setting to improve the overall appearance. The results are subtle in these pictures, since I already used a strong global contrast reduction. With these settings, you can fine tune your image and reduce the shadow or highlight power individually.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/04_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose Sharpness" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/04.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>Next I tuned the sharpness of my image. Since I started from pre-processed TIF files, I had already adjusted the sharpness. Ideally, you want as little interference as possible and would use RAW files for processing, in which case the sharpness slider becomes very important to counter the effects of the conversion.</p> <p>Notice how each of the processing steps adds another tab to the bottom of your list. You can always go back to previous steps and tweak them, which is a cool feature of this software.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/05_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose Saturation and Hue" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/05.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>In this step, I boosted the saturation a bit and increased the warmer tones in accordance with a sunset. These edits are purely subjective.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/06_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose Veiling Glare" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/06.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the most amazing features of HDR Expose is the veiling glare tool. Notice how the picture above seems to have a less hazy look than the picture above it. Click on each of the images to see a larger version!</p> <p>Veiling glare is the &ldquo;tendency of bright objects in the scene to reduce the contrast everywhere within the field of view&rdquo;. &ndash; Citation from <a target="_blank" href="http://graphics.stanford.edu/papers/glare_removal/glare_removal.pdf">this paper</a>.</p> <p>Scattering light inside the camera causes this. It is most notable on the mountains in front of the sun, which appear murky and hazy. The veiling glare tool lets you remove this murkiness.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/07_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose Noise Reduction" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/07.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>Finally, I did some minor noise tweaks.</p> <p><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/08_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose TIF properties" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/08.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>Then I saved the file in the BEF HDR format, so that I can tweak my image further should I decide to do so.</p> <p>I exported a TIF file for further processing. I prefer to use 16-bit TIF in Photoshop. Oddly, you have to set the specifics for the file format in the preferences dialog and not during the actual save operation.</p> <p>HDR Expose contains a variety of other tools for reducing noise, cropping, resizing, and rotating. Those are very useful if you process RAW files directly with HDR Expose, since you should always perform each operation as early in the pixel pipe as you can to avoid artifacts. Since I ran TIF files through HDR Expose in this test, I did not have to use these tools.</p> <p><img alt="Dante's View Final Image" width="600" height="400" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/dantes-view.jpg" />&nbsp;</p> <p>I removed some of the lens flare with Photoshop in the final image above. I prefer to use my own noise reduction techniques and did not use the tool in HDR Expose. I also made a small adjustment on local contrast. Despite the cleanup, the image resembles the output of HDR Expose very closely.</p> <h2>Conclusion and Discount Link</h2> <p>Unified Color remain a major driving force in the HDR image-processing arena. Their new product is a significant step up from the already superb HDR PhotoStudio.</p> <p>Use this link to get <b>20% off</b> the purchase price:</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://unifiedcolor.com/buy_products?promo=AGUNTHER">Get HDR Expose</a></p> <p>You get a free 30-day trial, so there is no downside to trying this out yourself.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Disclosure: The link tracks sales originating from my website. You get a 20% discount when you use the link, while I get a smaller portion of the profits from the sale which helps me to offset my cost and finance the coffee I require while staying up late to write for you. This did not influence my review. I encourage you to try the product before buying it.</i></p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/hdr-expose-unified-color.html#comments Reviews Software Workflow Mon, 26 Jul 2010 23:57:05 -0400 andre 3253 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com How much color is too much color http://www.aguntherphotography.com/blog/how-much-color-is-too-much.html <p><img alt="Color Comparison" width="600" height="296" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/Image/blog/color-comparison.jpg" /></p> <p><b>Which of these do you like best?</b></p> <p>Confronted with an unprecedented range of software programs and sliders, digital photographers sometimes struggle finding the right balance. Browsing through the websites of my esteemed photography colleagues, I get the feeling that the opinions on color treatment seem to diverge, rather than converge. New software companies, like Topaz Labs, satisfy the need of the extreme end of the spectrum, while purists contest the unnatural appearance of these pictures. Composition and lighting alone used to make good photographs, but today it seems that color treatment becomes just as important. Since all our senses are overloaded every day, it becomes harder and harder to make a visual impact. Attracting a viewers attention may require a bold statement, but how bold is too bold and how much is too much?&nbsp;</p> <div>Are you a purist or a color fetishist? Which of the above pictures do you prefer? To make your decision easier, I have put larger versions below. Let's hear your thoughts!</div> <!--break--> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="Color Saturation 1" width="400" height="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/Image/blog/golden_gate_color_1.jpg" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="Color Saturation 2" width="400" height="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/Image/blog/golden_gate_color_2.jpg" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="Color Saturation 3" width="400" height="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/Image/blog/golden_gate_color_3.jpg" /></p> <p>Below is the "consensus image" that I compiled after reader all your excellent comments. I stacked all three images. Image two lies with 50% opacity on Image one, which gives a bridge saturation between Image 1 and Image 2. Then I created a layer mask for the water and used image 3 with 83% opacity for the water. Then I created another layer mask for the sky and the mountains. Thanks to my Wacom tablet it only took about 30 minutes ;-). I put another layer of Image 3 into this mask with 75% opacity.</p> <p>I hope you like it. I saved all layers and masks into a psd file in case we come up with more ideas.</p> <p><img alt="Color Saturation 3" width="400" height="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/Image/blog/consensus.jpg" /></p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/blog/how-much-color-is-too-much.html#comments photography Software Tech Talk Mon, 01 Feb 2010 00:34:48 -0500 andre 3174 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com SilkyPix Pro - Professional RAW Converter http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/silkypix-pro-raw-converter.html <p><b>It is all about options, or why I really like SilkyPix Pro.</b></p> <p><img width="600" height="249" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/silkypix/all-options.jpg" alt="Silkypix Dialogs" />&nbsp;</p> <p>I have been using SilkyPix, and recently SilkyPix Pro, for a while now and always loved the sophisticated control and ingenious options that the converter offered. Resisting Change is natural and lies within the nature of all things. We have to invest some energy to dissipate on the learning process. Maybe that is the explanation for the monoculture of Aperture and Lightroom, but I am glad I made the effort.</p> <p>Adobe Camera RAW 3, my previous RAW converter of choice does not support my new <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/canon-eos-7d-field-guide.html">Canon EOS 7D</a> camera. I decided not to upgrade Photoshop CS3 and skip a few versions, mostly due to Adobe's funky licensing policy. I ate up my licenses when I had trouble with my raid and re-installed a few times (with and without raid). Photoshop saw a new computer upon each installation and eventually claimed I had too many licenses in use, offering no recourse or help.</p> <p>SilkyPix Pro does not seem to have this problem. I re-installed numerous times due to computer crashes until I finally <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/blog/computer-problems-and-free-pictures.html">got a new machine</a> last fall. The people at SilkyPix (Roberto) are exceptionally easy to deal with in contrast to the call center reps I get at Adobe. I also downloaded the Lightroom 3 beta, but the support for the 7D isn't very good. The white balance looks off and the noise reduction for high ISO noise is insufficient. I assume that Lightroom 2.5 works well with the 7D, but I am not going to buy it and rather evaluate version 3.0 when it comes out.</p> <p>Amazingly, the support for my 7D was there in SilkyPix Pro, even though I got my 7D when it had just come out. I had the same experience when my 450D had just come out. There was no update for ACR yet, but Silkypix 3 already supported it. Silkypix seems to be Japanese and they appear to have close ties to Canon.</p> <!--break--> <p><img width="600" height="400" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/silkypix/monument-valley.jpg" alt="Monument Valley" />&nbsp;</p> <h2>Features</h2> <p>The amount of features that SilkyPix Pro and SilkyPix both offer really impress. You can find a good overview of the mother company on this page:</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.isl.co.jp/SILKYPIX/english/features/">SilkyPix Feature overview</a></p> <p>A good example is the lens correction features, which impress with their simple interface and powerful results. Here is an example I lifted from their website (link above):</p> <p><img width="598" height="398" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/silkypix/digital-shift.jpg" alt="Digital Shift" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Lightroom does not offer this feature, Photoshop does. To get the same features that SilkyPix offers, you need Lightroom + Photoshop.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/canon-eos-7d-field-guide.html">Canon 7D</a> has ISO levels up to 12800, but it produces a lot of noise. The in-camera noise filtering is good, but I prefer working with RAW files as compared to JPG files for obvious reasons.</p> <p><img width="204" height="298" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/silkypix/noise-reduction.png" alt="Noise Reduction" />&nbsp;</p> <p>The noise reduction levers are easy to understand, yet give a level of control that most other converters do not. Hover with your mouse over one of the sliders and a little (i)-bubble will pop up. Simply click on the blue (i) and you get an explanation of what it does. The interface is fantastic and a lot of fun to work with.</p> <h2>Interface and Presets</h2> <p>Most interfaces have useful presets and the tool has general image presets. You can tell the RAW converter that you are working on a landscape shot and all sliders will adjust accordingly to give you more contrast, sharpness, less noise filtering and more pop. When you select portrait you get more neutral skin tones, less aggressive sharpening and contrast.</p> <p>The entire interface is well designed and easy to understand.</p> <p><img width="204" height="155" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/silkypix/color-presets.png" alt="Color Presets" />&nbsp;<img width="204" height="157" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/silkypix/highlight-presets.png" alt="Highlights Preset" /></p> <p>I always start using presets and then tune the picture to my own taste. You can find the preset selectors at the top of each tool.</p> <p><img width="406" height="703" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/silkypix/preset-selectors.jpg" alt="Preset Selectors" />&nbsp;</p> <p>The tools themselves are very sophisticated. I never got around the fact that Lightroom did not have a curves tool with full control point adjustability. I use this often to boost local contrast (e.g. in the sky) without affecting other portions of the spectrum.</p> <p>Don't worry about the complexity. You can leave these tools alone and use the presets without ever having to expand all the options and you will be able to get good results. Eventually you may want to fine-tune your image, at which point you can simply pop open the control boxes.</p> <h2>Nifty Options</h2> <p>One of my favorite lenses is the Tokina 12-24mm. The lens delivers superb sharpness and very little distortion even at 12mm, but it has ugly chromatic aberrations. All RAW converters have two sliders to control Blue shift and Red shift. A nifty addition to SilkyPix is the CA sample pipette. Select this tool and simply click on a high contrast edge with ugly aberrations in your image and the tool will automatically figure out the Blue and Red shift values.</p> <p><img width="533" height="421" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/silkypix/automatic-ca-control.png" alt="Automatic Chormatic Aberration Control" /></p> <p>&ldquo;Shading&quot; is what we know as Vignetting and &ldquo;Distortion&rdquo; is Barrel/Pincushion Distortion, in case you were wondering.</p> <h2>Try it yourself</h2> <p>You can download a fully functional trial version here:</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://silkypix.shortcutinc.com/">SilkyPix US Distributer</a></p> <p>When you click on download, it will take you to an email signup form. You need to sign up for their newsletter and they will then send you the download link. I really don't like this, and I voiced my disapproval to SilkyPix. I hope this won't hurt their download rates in the long run, although I suspect it might.</p> <h2>Disclaimer</h2> <p>You can see my photographs and endorsement on the website above. I received a review copy of the software, but I received no other compensation and I will not receive any compensation, even if you evaluate or purchase the software. I simply think SilkyPix is a wonderful product that you could benefit from.</p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/silkypix-pro-raw-converter.html#comments Reviews Software Tech Talk Sun, 17 Jan 2010 22:39:32 -0500 andre 3144 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com How to find great places to photograph http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/find-places-to-photograph.html <p><b>Learn about the tools that I use to navigate to great locations!</b></p> <p><img width="324" height="238" alt="" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/topo/buck-rock-lookout.png" /></p> <p>I spent the past months hunting for places to photograph in California and then writing about it. California is famous for its photographic icons such as the Golden Gate Bridge in <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/california/san_francisco/index.html">San Francisco</a>, <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/california/yosemite/index.html">Yosemite </a>or <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/california/deserts/death-valley-np.html">Death Valley</a> but it has so much more to offer to photographers. Not many of you may know about the alien Tifoni formations of <a target="_blank" href="http://ca.myphotoscout.com/2009/07/30/how-to-photograph-salt-point-state-park/">Salt Point State Park</a>, the <a target="_blank" href="http://ca.myphotoscout.com/2009/01/26/the-little-known-secret-of-moss-landing-photography/">Sea Otters of Moss Landing</a> or the gushing <a target="_blank" href="http://ca.myphotoscout.com/2009/06/09/how-to-photograph-whiskeytown-falls/">Whiskeytown Falls</a>.</p> <p><b>Read about the free or inexpensive tools I use to plot my way to these photo spots. </b></p> <!--break--> <h2>Topographic Maps</h2> <p>Topographic maps are indispensable to find places and to pre-visualize photo locations. Topographic maps are two-dimensional representations of the three dimensional landscapes. Contour lines connect points of equal elevation. With a bit of training, you can learn to distinguish canyons, valleys, mountains, ridges or gentle slopes. When you plot your trek, you can find out how steep it will be and where to go to photograph great scenery.</p> <h2>How to read Topographic Maps</h2> <h3>Elevation Lines, and Landscape features</h3> <p><img border="0" width="516" height="268" alt="" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/topo/peak.png" /></p> <p>On this map, you can see a bold elevation line marked 6200 feet. If a trail would follow this exact line, it would be completely level.</p> <p>You can also see a bold line marked 6600 feet. This means the bold line between 6200ft and 6600ft marks 6400ft of elevation (I have added the red markers for your convenience) and that each of the thinner lines adds another 40 feet. Keep following the 6400ft line to the round peak and you can see that the brown line around the top also must be 6600. Ergo this map shows a peak on its lower right. The trail zigzags uphill from the bottom right to the top right, as the elevation rises from below 6200ft to above 6400ft.</p> <h3>Steepness and direction of landscape features</h3> <p>The density of the lines correlates to the steepness of the terrain. This is easy to imagine, as the elevation gain per distance is much larger.</p> <p><img border="0" width="472" height="400" alt="" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/topo/el-cap.png" /></p> <p>This map of Yosemite Valley and El Capitan illustrates this point. The steep cliff forces the lines of equal elevation to cluster very densely. We can see the elevation at the valley floor is 4000 feet and at the top of El Capitan is 7569 feet. Now you know which direction the cliff drops.</p> <p>Here is how this looks in real life. Compare the picture to the map! Imagine standing to the bottom right of the cliff, just outside of the map.</p> <p><img border="0" width="367" height="550" alt="" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/images/401_large.jpg" /></p> <p>Using topographic maps, you can pre-visualize how places look. With some practice, you will see the canyons or mountains. You can even find out which angle the sun or moon need to shine to light the subject just the way you want. Combined with the software <a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/predict-moon-for-photography.html">Heavenly Opportunity</a>, you can find out when the stars will align for you.</p> <h2>Outdoor mapping with your GPS</h2> <p><img border="0" width="418" height="261" alt="" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/topo/mapsource-topo-california.png" /></p> <p>I use a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.amazon.com/Garmin-eTrex-Venture-HC-Receiver/dp/B000PDR230/?tag=andreguntherp-20">Garmin Venture HC handheld GPS</a> for mapping while I am outside. It is inexpensive, has a color display and sufficient memory to hold topographic maps covering a large area. Its GPS receiver is accurate even underneath a dense forest canopy.</p> <p>Topographic maps are wonderful for planning but they are even more important for navigating while you are out hiking or while you are on an off-road drive. Imagine heading for a cliff and not knowing about it or without finding a way around it. The maps will tell you where you can safely go. I always pre-load my GPS receiver with topographic maps just for these cases; especially since things never fully go according to plan.</p> <h3>Free topographic maps for Garmin GPS</h3> <p>Garmin topographic maps are expensive, but I found a place that has free maps for your Mapsource software. Mapsource is the mapping software that comes with your Garmin GPS. Mapsource is your control center. You use it to communicate with your GPS device, upload maps and waypoints and to download your track logs. The base map that comes with Mapsource is worthless for outdoor explorers.</p> <p>You can download free maps here:</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/">GPS File Depot</a></p> <p>This website has many free topographic maps for the United States and even some other countries. The website also contains tutorials, showing you how to create your own maps from publicly available USGS (US Geological Survey) data.</p> <h2>Free Global Mapper and Terraserver</h2> <p><img border="0" width="408" height="239" alt="" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/topo/global-mapper.jpg" /></p> <p>If you do not have a GPS receiver or if you are looking for a viewer for the USGS maps directly, I recommend the <a target="_blank" href="http://mcmcweb.er.usgs.gov/drc/dlgv32pro/">Global Mapper Software</a> (dlgv32). The software directly interfaces with Terraserver, where it can download topographic maps of the entire United States for free.</p> <p>The feature-rich software is not very intuitive. I have used it to generate waypoint plots of my travels for documentation and to generate most of the pictures on this page. You can also use it to plan your trips.</p> <p>Since the USGS maps are available everywhere in the United States at 24k resolution, you should check out this software.</p> <h2>My iPhone and Terraserver</h2> <p><img border="0" width="320" height="480" alt="" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/topo/iphone-topo.jpg" /></p> <p>As a backup to my GPS and for on-the go planning I use Topo Maps on my iPhone. Although the iPhone GPS is subpar when compared to my Garmin, its large bright display, the free maps and the cheap software that can download maps on demand make it a good solution, too. The software is very intuitive and downloads are fast (on WiFi). The maps are small enough to download via 3G without AT&amp;T restrictions.</p> <p>You can measure distances and find your position on the map, but you cannot search for Points of Interest and you cannot route, since the maps are just raster graphics (Garmin maps are vector based).</p> <p>I recommend that you get an <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.amazon.com/Case-Mate-iPhone-3G-3GS-Fuel/dp/B002957POI/?tag=andreguntherp-20">extended battery shoe</a> or auxiliary charger for your iPhone, since the GPS receiver is very power hungry. I have an <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.amazon.com/iGo-PowerXtender-Emergency-Charger-iPhone/dp/B001T0HD96/?tag=andreguntherp-20">iGo charger</a> that I can operate with AA batteries to juice up the phone while I am in the field. It is a bit flimsy but it gets the job done.</p> <h2>Google Earth and Panoramio</h2> <p><img border="0" width="370" height="272" alt="" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/topo/google-earth.jpg" /></p> <p>I also like picture peeping from home with Google Maps. I wrote an article about <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/projects/googleearth_gps_photoops.html">Google Maps for Photographers</a> a while back. Turning on the Panoramio (under Geographic Web) puts little blue markers on the maps. Click a marker and a photograph appears. You can get a sense of a place and maybe estimate its photographic potential from these photos.</p> <p>Also nice is the sun feature that lets you see which areas are lit when, which is useful when you hike in a canyon where it gets dark sooner.</p> <h2>Books</h2> <p>I own most travel guides by DK and Lonely Planet, but I also own a large number of specialist guides that help me pick the right place for photography. Here are some of the books I use to find my way around.</p> <h3>Photo <a class="autolink-term" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/travel.html">Travel</a> Books for California</h3> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/PhotoSecrets-San-Francisco-Northern-California/dp/0965308715/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">PhotoSecrets San Francisco</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/PhotoSecrets-San-Diego-Second-Photographers/dp/1930495110/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">PhotoSecrets San Diego</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Photographers-Guide-Yosemite-Michael-Frye/dp/1930238002/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">The Photographer&rsquo;s Guide to Yosemite</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Photographers-Guide-California-Coast-Perfect/dp/0881506494/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">The photographer&rsquo;s guide to the California Coast</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Photographers-Guide-Death-Valley/dp/088150789X/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">The photographer&rsquo;s guide to Death Valley</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Photographers-Guide-Yosemite-High-Sierra/dp/0881507628/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">The photographer&rsquo;s guide to Yosemite &amp; the High Sierra</a></li> </ul> <h3>California Backroads</h3> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Backcountry-Adventures-Northern-California-Ultimate/dp/1930193254/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Backcountry Adventures Northern California</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Backroads-California-Wine-Country-Adventures/dp/0760325413/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Backroads of the California Wine Country</a></li> </ul> <h3>Regional Travel in California</h3> <ul> <li>California&rsquo;s Eastern Sierra &ndash; A Visitor&rsquo;s Guide</li> <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Experience-California-Coast-Beaches-Northern/dp/0520245407/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Experience the California Coast</a></li> </ul> <h3>Other States</h3> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Photographing-Southwest-1-Southern-Utah-2nd/dp/0916189120/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Photographing the Southwest &ndash; Volume1 &ndash; A guide to the natural landmarks of Southern Utah</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Photographing-Southwest-2-Arizona-2nd-Ed/dp/0916189139/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Photographing the Southwest &ndash; Volume2 &ndash; A guide to the natural landmarks of Arizona</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Photographing-Southwest-3-Colorado-Mexico-Soutwest/dp/0916189147/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Photographing the Southwest &ndash; Volume3 &ndash; A guide to the natural landmarks of Colorado &amp; New Mexico</a></li> </ul> <h2>My website</h2> <p>Recently I spent a lot of time writing about photo locations in California on my website: <a target="_blank" href="http://ca.myphotoscout.com/">California Photo Scout</a>. Read details about photo locations to well known and little known places on this site. The database is growing every week.</p> <p>I did not find all the places through extensive research. I discovered some of them by luck, too. Take a detour and stray from the predictable path to discover new places!</p> <p>This is exactly how we discovered the <a target="_blank" href="http://ca.myphotoscout.com/2009/08/14/how-to-photograph-locke-historic-town/">Town of Locke</a> by coincidence.</p> <p>Timing often plays a critical role too as our recent visit to <a target="_blank" href="http://ca.myphotoscout.com/2009/10/13/fall-foliage-in-mcgee-canyon/">McGee Canyon</a> proofed. While trees at most places in the area were either still green or already lost most leafs, McGee Canyon was just perfect.</p> <p>In the end, everything will depend on your tenacity. By researching properly, you can improve your odds, but you still need to do a lot of legwork.</p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/find-places-to-photograph.html#comments Adventure photography Software Travel Wed, 14 Oct 2009 23:56:35 -0400 andre 2971 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com Predict the moon for better photos http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/predict-moon-for-photography.html <h3>You do not have to be a magician to put the moon where you want it in your pictures.</h3> <p><img height="400" width="600" alt="Moonrise over the two Pillars of the Golden Gate" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/Image/projects/ho/golden-gate-two-pillars-moon.jpg" /></p> <p>In this article, I am going to reveal how you can use software to predict the exact moonrise time, direction, angles and phases. You can use this information, in combination with a simple Google Earth trick, to <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/how-to-become-a-good-photographer.html">enhance your composition</a> with a celestial display de extraordinaire.</p> <!--break--> <h2>Selecting a viable subject</h2> <h3>Step1: Find the angular range of Moon Rise or Moon Set</h3> <p><img height="600" width="400" alt="Moonrise over the Golden Gate" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/Image/projects/ho/golden-gate-moon-rise.jpg" /></p> <p>Software: <b>Heavenly Opportunity</b> (Shareware)</p> <p>When I decided to photograph the moonrise over the <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/california/san_francisco/parks/golden-gate-bridge.html">Golden Gate Bridge</a> some time ago, I already knew that it must be possible to have the full moon rise over the bridge. Skip to the next step if you are as confident about your location as I was.</p> <h4>Heavenly Opportunity</h4> <p>Heavenly Opportunity is a software package to predict <b>sunrise</b>, <b>sunset</b>, <b>twilight</b>, <b>moonrise</b>, <b>moonset</b> and the <b>azimuth</b>, <b>directions</b> and <b>phases</b>. You can download a trial version from <a target="_blank" href="http://ho.fossilcreeksoft.com/">their website</a>.</p> <p>Open the software and pick a location from the drop down menu. You need to enter GPS coordinates for locations outside the US.</p> <h4>Easily finding GPS coordinates of any location</h4> <p>A simple way to find the coordinates is through <b>Google maps</b>. Simply browse to your desired location in <a target="_blank" href="http://maps.google.com/">Google maps</a>, click the link button in the upper right corner and copy the address. It should look something like this:</p> <p><img height="572" width="584" alt="Find GPS Coordinates with Google Earth" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/Image/projects/ho/find-gps-coordinates.jpg" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Copy the link and paste it in a text editor.</p> <p>http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&amp;source=s_q&amp;hl=en&amp;geocode=&amp;q=machu+picchu,+peru&amp;<br /> sll=37.0625,-95.677068&amp;sspn=50.51141,76.464844&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;ll<b>=-13.163496,-72.545911</b><br /> &amp;spn=0.003824,0.004667&amp;t=h&amp;z=18</p> <p>The latitude and longitude are the two numbers behind ll (not sll). I have marked them with bold characters. The first number is the latitude of your location. The second number is your longitude. In my example the two numbers are -13.163496 and -72.545911. Verify the numbers by entering them in the Google Maps search field.</p> <h4>Find the Azimuth range:</h4> <p><img height="345" width="600" alt="Heavenly Opportunity Software" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/Image/projects/ho/heavenly-opportunity.png" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Now you need to go to the date setting in <b>Heavenly Opportunity</b> and use the right arrow to skip through the next couple of months. Jot down the minimum Azimuth and the maximum Azimuth for the moonrise and for the moonset.</p> <h3>Step2: Decide what angle you need</h3> <p>Next you need to determine the exact angle you require for your shot.</p> <p>I highly recommend Google Earth to every photographer. I often use it to <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/projects/googleearth_gps_photoops.html">research a photo location</a>, determine shadows, calculate distances, best times to photograph and other things. This time we will use it to determine the Azimuth of the moon.&nbsp;</p> <p><img height="453" width="581" alt="Google Earth Ruler" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/Image/projects/ho/google-earth-ruler.jpg" /></p> <p>Zoom to your location (or use the GPS coordinates from Step 1). Now click on the ruler icon in the toolbar and set your ruler start point to the exact location you will be standing during the shot. Drag the ruler across your subject. The <b>heading</b> indicated in the ruler window is your <b>Azimuth</b>. If the Azimuth falls between the min/max angles previously determined for either moonrise or moon set, you should be able to get the photograph.</p> <h2>Finding a date and time for your adventure</h2> <p>Now you need to determine a time where the moon aligns for you. Go back to Heavenly Opportunity and start skipping days until you find a day that closest matches your angle, has a nearly full moon and has the moonrise time after the sunset so that it is dark enough.</p> <p>In the example above, I determined that May 8th, 2009 would be a good time to photograph the moon from the Marin Headlands viewpoint. HO predicted the moonrise to occur 5 minutes after sunset and the angle is the exact angle I indicated in the screen capture of Google Earth.</p> <p><img height="511" width="547" alt="Daily Details View" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/Image/projects/ho/daily-details.png" />&nbsp;</p> <p><img height="300" align="right" width="200" alt="Golden Gate Moonrise one Pillar" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/Image/projects/ho/golden-gate-one-pillar-moon.jpg" />You can also print out the exact altitude angle vs. time for the sun and the moon. This can be very useful if you need the moon in a certain position, like above a skyscraper or underneath a natural arch.</p> <h2><strike>Un</strike>explained Deviations</h2> <p>I shot the first picture from a different location further down the hill. The viewpoint area closes down after dark and I had to leave.</p> <p>When I stood at the exact spot, I chose on Google Earth, I expected the moon to rise somewhere close to the left pillar of the Golden Gate Bridge. Compare the screen shot of Google Earth above for reference with the angle predicted by HO.</p> <p>The second picture in this article shows the view I had from the same spot. The moon rose much closer to the right pillar. Currently I have no explanation for the discrepancy. I know that the images in Google Earth are just stitched Bitmap files and since the Earth is round need to be warped. This can cause some distortions, but I have no indication that this is what threw off my calculation.</p> <p><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">As John, the author of HO, kindly pointed out, this deviation was basically just user error (see comments below). Unchecking &quot;Adjust for magnetic declination&quot; will make the result correspond better with Google Earth. This option is really useful if you have the luxury to be able to scout your location far ahead of time with a compass in your hand. <a class="autolink-term" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/travel.html">Travel</a> Photographers often have to rely on intelligence gathering sessions with Google instead. Thanks John and good luck to all of you moon photographers.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/predict-moon-for-photography.html#comments photography Reviews Software Thu, 14 May 2009 08:56:02 -0400 2867 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com Unified Color HDR PhotoStudio Review http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/hdr-photostudio-unified-color.html <p><img height="300" width="450" alt="Aztec Butte HDR Photograph processed with HDR PhotoStudio" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/aztec-butte-hdr-photostudio-photoshop.jpg" /></p> <p>The successor to HDR Photostudio has arrived. Read my reviews of <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/hdr-expose-unified-color.html">HDR Expose</a> to find out what has changed and learn more about the new software.</p> <p>In the fascinating world of technology, nothing is ever static. Once more, a company from the San Francisco Bay area set out to change the world forever.</p> <p>Unified Color have just released new software, HDR PhotoStudio, which promises to satisfy color fanatics and bring HDR to the masses. Unified Color invited me to review the software and write an honest review.</p> <p>As always, I will update this page as new updates become available and I will try to answer your questions if I can.</p> <!--break--> <p>HDR PhotoStudio distinguishes itself from its competitors through its radically new approach to color representation, which is based on human vision instead of monitor profiles. This makes images completely independent of current display and printing technology.</p> <p>According to Unified Color, this means their software is the only application that offers <b>true color integrity</b>. Adjusting brightness or contrast will not affect the way colors look and, thus generate extremely pleasing results, which is a huge advantage in HDR image processing, where we map shadows and highlights of a much higher contrast ratio.</p> <p>The application delivers on this promise and makes HDR images look much more realistic than any other software can.</p> <h2>New Ways of Seeing</h2> <p>Downloading and installing HDR PhotoStudio was a breeze. The software looks and feels surprisingly mature. Unified Color have done their homework and kept the interface clean, simple, and intuitive. The editing process is very different from other tools.</p> <p>I tried to open the same TIF files I used for a previous HDR image in HDR PhotoStudio. The software asked me to generate a camera profile before opening the images. According to UC&rsquo;s website, each RAW converter applies proprietary curve manipulation and, thus distorts the data from the RAW file. The calibration process tries to reverse this mapping as good as it can.&nbsp; Eventually, I used RAW files and handed them directly to HDR PhotoStudio.</p> <p>Initially, I had a few problems understanding how the software works. I was looking for a tone mapping option, while I already had all the sliders available to me. Unified Color calls the process &quot;<b>Dynamic Range Mapping</b>&quot;, which makes a lot more sense, as we map the DR of the High Dynamic Range picture to suit our low DR monitor.</p> <h2><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/hdr-comparison2.jpg"><img height="600" align="left" width="180" alt="HDR Comparison Small" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/hdr-comparison-small.jpg" /></a>Documentation</h2> <p>With so much to learn, the documentation underwhelmed me. Obviously Unified Color spent a lot of time and effort creating a unique product, but forgot to include good documentation. On their website UC explain the features of the software in colorful ;-) terms, but the user interface documentation is rudimentary.</p> <p>Joyce (UC representative) promised to deliver the documentation shortly and to include some video tutorials for impatient people like me.</p> <h2>RAW converter</h2> <p>I rarely take anything else but RAW images, but I like to perform some common tasks during the RAW conversion process that are missing in HDR PhotoStudio.</p> <p>I never bother with white balance on location and tweak the settings in the RAW converter. This is necessary to equalize the white balance for combinations like HDR images via traditional methods.</p> <p>Since the color fringing of my wide-angle lens is bad, I normally correct that in the RAW converter as well, especially when I plan to enlarge the print.</p> <p>Sometimes I create an HDR from a single RAW file (+/- 2EV) to pull detail out of it. I am not sure if this is possible with HDR PhotoStudio.</p> <p>In the current version of HDR PhotoStudio I am missing these options as the RAW converter is running in the background without any options to adjust.</p> <p>Fortunately Unified Color takes feedback very serious and they are already working on some of these points and will add more functionality over time. With that kind of response, they are sure to win a lot of hearts in the photography community.</p> <p>Curiously the RAW converter gave me a slightly larger image than Adobe Camera RAW. I have seen this before with RAWShooter and I believe it is due to the size of the anti-aliasing filter core used by the tool. I loved RAWShooter for its super crisp output, but I have not done any comparisons on UC&rsquo;s RAW converter by itself.</p> <h2>How does it look?</h2> <p>HDR PhotoStudio creates images that look real. I ran a test case with an image of Aztec Butte and compared the result to some test cases that I processed with Photomatix. HDR PhotoStudio produces very neutral and real looking images that do not look like HDR images at all.</p> <p>As you can see from the results, PhotoStudio looks very color neutral while the color of the snow changes with different levels of tweaking in other programs.</p> <p><i>Click the comparison picture for a larger view.</i></p> <h2>Would you like some airbrush with that?</h2> <p>I put the results of this comparison up for voting on a photography forum. I told people to look beyond obvious differences and problems (halos) and vote which picture they liked best.</p> <p>The opinions split almost equally between HDR PhotoStudio and Photomatix DR. Some of us prefer the look of one tool over the other. I wonder if that will change over time as more and more HDR PhotoStudio images will hit the forums and user tutorials will show up.</p> <p>Unified Color took a big step in the right direction and they promise to take the second step soon. I am excited to see the world of HDR changing.</p> <h2>User interface</h2> <p><img height="313" width="500" alt="HDR PhotoStudio User Interface" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/hdr-photostudio-gui.jpg" /></p> <p>The user interface is unusual but delightful. Everything is expressed in terms of power which is easier to understand than some abstract number. If you want your images to pop, just increase the contrast and saturation power. The interface is built with the user in mind, hiding all the complicated stuff and keeping everything simple.</p> <h3>Rotate, Crop and Resize</h3> <p>These tools are exactly what you would imagine them to be.</p> <h3>Brightness / Contrast</h3> <p>You can adjust your brightness up to 3 stops up or down and you can tweak the contrast power from 1/3 to 3. Start by adjusting your brightness for your highlights before pulling details out of the shadows later. Remember that you work with 32 floating point images, while your monitor can only show a much narrower range. Depending on your input data, you can get extreme results without running into problems with clipping. Due to UC&rsquo;s new way of handling color, offering true color integrity, even large adjustments of brightness and contrast retain the exact colors without washing out or muting colors when we adjust the brightness of an image.</p> <h3>Whiteness</h3> <p>I have not had much use for this tool in my current image, but from conversation with UC it seems that this tool cancels the &ldquo;whitish haze&rdquo; created by light reflecting from lens elements inside the lens. Expensive lenses often have multi coating to deal with this more or less efficiently, but some of it always remains. The Whiteness tool can cancel this and, thus give you more vivid colors. I will try this with some night shots and report back soon.</p> <h3>Shadow / Highlight</h3> <p>This tool lets you do the actual dynamic range mapping. You can independently adjust the shadow and the highlight power and set the mid-tone point. In most cases you will decrease the shadow and the highlight power to bring detail from the highlights and the shadows back to the picture, which is the reason we work with HDR in the first place. Throughout this process HDR PhotoStudio faithfully preserves the colors in the highlights and in the shadows, giving the blended image a much more natural appearance. Use the Halo Reduction before you apply your final setting, since it is rather slow but worth using.</p> <h3>Local Contrast</h3> <p>Use this to make your image pop. I usually adjust contrast in Photoshop, but I like this tool since I can apply the same halo reduction slider and easily get the same results that would take a longer time achieving in Photoshop</p> <h3>Sharpness</h3> <p>Since I usually sharpen in Photoshop, I didn&rsquo;t pay particular attention to Sharpness. You can get the final result from HDR PhotoStudio without having to go to Photoshop, but for me it makes no difference.</p> <h3>Saturation</h3> <p>I boosted the saturation of my test image slightly and decreased the hue by a very small amount. This gives a more reddish appearance of the stones and makes the image pop more.</p> <h3>Noise</h3> <p>Since my Canon only supports 3 brackets (+/-2EV), I often do not get the entire shadow range (e.g. the entrance to the granary in my image is black). The more detail I pull from the shadows, the more noise I will see. The Noise Elimination tool helps, but I like to be more selective (e.g. shadows vs. highlights), since Noise Reduction always eliminates detail.</p> <h3>Presets</h3> <p><img height="97" width="233" alt="Presets" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/presets.jpg" /></p> <p>Clicking the little gear icon in each of the tools brings up a new dialog box that lets you save presets and apply recent transformations.</p> <h3>Observations</h3> <p>Since you will do all editing in the 32-bit space, you have many more options without having to fear clipping or banding.</p> <p>One thing I missed was a histogram. I am so used to looking at histograms to judge my images that I felt their absence. The tools are extremely easy to use, but a bit more control wouldn&rsquo;t hurt at times.</p> <h2>Conclusion</h2> <p>Unified Color hit the competition where it hurts. HDR PhotoStudio delivers stunning results with ease while keeping true to the color of the image. Professional photographers will be delighted by the new opportunities this software brings. In my nature work, I usually have more freedom of interpretation than studio photographers who need to keep the exact tonality of product and skin colors in their work. If you care about color, you need to try this software!</p> <p>The HDR PhotoStudio image in my example exhibits none of the typical HDR image problems such as the obvious strong halos. This will increase the acceptance of HDR photography and blur the lines to traditional photography even more.</p> <p>Although we all love our sliders and options, I think Unified Color could gain even faster acceptance if they would include a couple of presets with their fabulous software that demonstrates their capabilities to people testing the free trial and if they would supply tutorials. Fortunately everything is laid out very intuitively. All adjustments are made in terms of &ldquo;Powers&rdquo; instead of some abstract number. Altogether, it did not take long to become familiar with the interface.</p> <h2>Get yours!</h2> <p>Thankfully you can download a 30 day trial of the program from <a target="_blank" href="http://www.unifiedcolor.com/">Unified Colors&rsquo; website</a> and try it out to your heart&rsquo;s content before you buy the program at a very reasonable price. Use the link below or enter the code <b>AGUNTHER</b> to receive a 15% discount and buy the software at just <b>$127.99</b></p> <p><a href="http://unifiedcolor.com/buy_products?promo=AGUNTHER">HDR PhotoStudio Discoun</a>t</p> <h2>Update</h2> <p>Unified Color has updated their software and added tools like White balance and they have added Presets to help you creating HDR images.</p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/hdr-photostudio-unified-color.html#comments Reviews Software Tech Talk Thu, 02 Apr 2009 00:09:30 -0400 andre 2833 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com Netbooks for Photographers Asus Eee PC and others http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/netbooks-for-photographers-asus-eee-pc.html <p><b>I found a better way to back up my photographs in the field.<br /> </b></p> <p><img height="280" align="left" width="280" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/computer/asus-eee-pc-1000he.jpg" alt="Asus Eee PC 1000HE" />Since laptops are too heavy to carry around all day, I used to rely on image tanks for backup outdoors. That strategy works very well for me, but it did lack the capability of viewing images. That is where expensive image tanks with RAW viewer such as the Epson P6000 come in. Since the P6000 costs about $600 at the time of this writing and this photographer is always looking for better deals, I never bought one.</p> <p>I ended up carrying my laptop on many trips so that I could connect to the internet and manage my websites. Outside, I simply swapped flash memory cards and back in the hotel room, I ran backups to my laptop and my image tank. I carry the image tank into the field, in case I run out of memory.</p><!--break--> <h2>Asus to the rescue</h2> <p>So far, I have ignored the Netbook market as child&rsquo;s toys, but that changed with the introduction of the Asus Eee PC 1000 series. I am now the proud owner of an <a href="http://www.amazon.com/10-Inch-Netbook-Processor-Storage-Bluetooth/dp/B001QTXL8C/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Asus Eee PC 1000HE</a>, a miniature laptop that claims to operate 9.5 hours on battery and deliver an entire day of cordless computing.&nbsp; The &ldquo;super hybrid engine&rdquo; delivers this performance in power savings mode with Wi-Fi off.</p> <p>Power savings mode is fast enough to type this post while surfing the web (Wi-Fi on) and doing some basic photo editing. With Wi-Fi enabled, I still get between 7.5 to 8 hours performance out of this small computer.</p> <p>This little Netbook is exactly what I need for my trips since it is an excellent photo backup solution. I can install a RAW viewer, an Office Package, an Image Editor, and an FTP program to keep my web business running while traveling or search for information from my hotel room. Google Earth makes it possible to scout without being there.</p> <p>Keeping within the airline weight limits is hard for travel photographers. <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/lens-buying-guide.html">Expensive lenses</a> have to stay at home in favor of <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/lenses/focal-length-visual-space-crop-factor-zoom-prime.html">universal zoom lenses</a>. Saving weight for computers will help me to optimize my carry-on luggage.</p> <h2>Netbooks have grown up</h2> <p>The 1000HE has a 10-inch screen size with a native resolution of 1024x600 pixels, a usable keyboard that is comfortable enough to type this article, a 160GB drive, several USB ports, and one of the best touchpads in this class of computers. It looks very classy, except that the lid attracts fingerprints just as my iPhone does.</p> <p>The Eee PC will be my new travel companion instead of my laptop. It came with a nice soft pouch to carry it. It will be great for visits to libraries and bookstores without having to hunt for power outlets.</p> <p>Being able to work all day without having to plug the computer in is one of the main reasons I bought this particular model. I hope never to run out of power in an airplane or to look desperately for seats next to power outlets in an airport again. I should be able to keep working even on long haul flights and long layovers.</p> <h2>Software</h2> <p><img height="286" align="left" width="250" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/computer/asus-1000he-size.jpg" alt="Eee PC 1000HE size comparison" />The Asus 1000HE comes with Windows XP. I have installed Microsoft Office via an external drive, since I did not like to learn the included Star Office.</p> <p>For my photo editing needs on the go, I am using PhotoScape, a freeware program. Photoshop is too heavy for this laptop and my license only permits installation on two computers.</p> <p>Later I will buy a copy of <a href="http://www.jdoqocy.com/click-2137790-10490888" target="_blank">Photoshop Elements</a> since I do not like the RAW converter of PhotoScape. It only allows a direct conversion without editing capabilities.</p> <span class="inline right"><iframe src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=andreguntherp-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B001QTXL82&md=10FE9736YVPPT7A0FBG2&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe></span> <h2>The better backup system</h2> <p>The Epson Image Tank is smaller, yet more expensive and has less capacity. It is an excellent technology to have, but I already own a much cheaper Wolverine. The Eee PC fills the gap between my mobile devices like the iPhone and my laptop and it can serve as an Image Tank. It already includes a SD/MMC card reader. I wish it had a compact flash reader as well, but my USB card reader works nicely.</p> <h2>Other Systems</h2> <p>I chose the Eee PC 1000HE for its low price and longevity of the battery. Getting a computer that runs for 9 hours on battery with a price tag of $375 shipped (at the time of this writing) is outstanding.</p> <p>Other manufacturers have come up with Netbooks of their own, trying to take market share from Asus.</p> <h3>Some of the main competitors</h3> <p>The latest <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Lenovo-Ideapad-10-2-Inch-Netbook-Processor/dp/B001OO2SZQ/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Lenovo S10 Netbook</a>: It is Lenovo, which by itself makes it worth to look, but its battery lifetime did not convince me. If battery life is not your main concern, this may be a good alternative.</p> <p>The newest <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001QFZFSA/sr=1-2/qid=1236830398/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Acer Aspire One AOD150</a> is another good choice. It comes with a 6-cell battery vs. the Lenovo 3-cell and has a decent run time. Its touch pad and keyboard are not as good as the one from Asus, but the Netbook is slightly smaller.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.amazon.com/1035NR-10-2-Inch-Netbook-Intel-Processor/dp/B001J6N9J8/http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001QFZFSA/sr=1-2/qid=1236830398/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">HP mini 1035</a> has the best keyboard, but it does only come with a 60GB hard drive. If you do not need to back up more than 20GB of photographs in the field, this may be a very good choice for you.</p> <p>If you do not wish to back up any photographs and just need an ultra portable and fast computing solution, get a Netbook with Solid State Disk. They do not even have a hard drive but flash memory instead. Currently they have <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Acer-Aspire-AOA110-1834-8-9-Inch-Netbook/dp/B001NMT4WE/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">8GB models</a> or <a href="http://www.amazon.com/1120NR-10-2-Inch-Processor-Internet-Experience/dp/B001J6NNVM/?tag=andreguntherp-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">16 GB models</a> that are very cheap and offer 40GB models for a little bit more.</p> <p><a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/agunther">Subscribe to my feed</a> if you wish to read more reviews and photo essays in the future.</p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/netbooks-for-photographers-asus-eee-pc.html#comments Gadgets Hardware Reviews Software Tech Talk Thu, 12 Mar 2009 08:55:50 -0400 2825 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com 850 Megapixel San Francisco Panorama http://www.aguntherphotography.com/blog/850-megapixel-san-francisco-panorama.html <p>Some of my readers wanted to see a full version of the picture we <a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/blog/million-dollar-display-cluster-based-visualization.html">loaded into Hiperspace</a>.</p> <p><script> function FlashProxy() {} FlashProxy.callJS = function() {} </script> <embed height="400" width="700" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://gigapan.org/viewer/PanoramaViewer.swf?url=http://share.gigapan.org/gigapans0/16041/tiles/&amp;suffix=.jpg&amp;startHideControls=0&amp;width=81207&amp;height=10440&amp;nlevels=10&amp;cleft=0&amp;ctop=0&amp;cright=81207.0&amp;cbottom=10440.0"></embed></p> <p>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.</p><!--break--> <p>Enjoy browsing around and discovering things ! </p> <p>Here is a link to some of the sights on <a href="http://gigapan.org/viewProfile.php?userid=9169" target="_blank">my gigapan profile</a>.</p> <h2>Here is something cool:</h2> <p>Look at this picture in Google Earth to get the real virtual experience:</p> <p>Step 1: Download this Google Earth File:</p> <p><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/nav/san_francisco_twin_peaks_view.kml">san_francisco_twin_peaks_view.kml</a></p> <p>Step 2: Open the file in Google Earth</p> <p>Step 3: Click the link &quot;Enter Panorama&quot; in the left pane under places:</p> <p><img height="113" width="235" alt="Enter Panorama" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/nav/enter-panorama.gif" /></p> <p>Enjoy the picture in Google Earth:</p> <p><img height="313" width="500" alt="Panorama in Google Earth" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/nav/earth-panorama.jpg" /></p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/blog/850-megapixel-san-francisco-panorama.html#comments photography Software Sun, 01 Feb 2009 01:18:42 -0500 andre 2765 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com RAW HDR Processing http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/raw-hdr-processing.html <p><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">Update</span></p> <p><b>Learn how to create stunning HDR photos from a single RAW file.</b></p> <p>The rapid progression of camera technology and new options in Photomatix require an update to this tutorial.</p> <h2>Cameras are now 14-bit</h2> <p><img height="220" width="660" alt="Bathesda Fountain" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/Image/workflow/hdr/bathesda-fountain.jpg" /></p> <p><img height="239" width="250" align="left" alt="Histogram" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/Image/workflow/hdr/histogram.gif" />When 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 <a class="autolink-term" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/canon-450d-rebel-xsi-field-guide.html">Rebel XSi</a> which already exceeds the performance of many professional cameras of just a few years ago.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>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 <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/usa_east/new-york-ny/central-park/bathesda-fountain-passage.html">here</a>.</p> <p>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.</p> <!--break--> <h2>Photomatix improvements</h2> <p><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/usa_west/canyonlands/false-kiva.html"><img height="200" width="300" align="left" alt="False Kiva" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/Image/workflow/hdr/false_kiva.jpg" /></a>The most recent version of Photomatix has also seen a dramatic improvement since my first draft. The generation of the HDR image is actually not as important as the process of tone mapping. For our purposes we can use the default options without the necessity of aligning the source images, since they were generated from a single RAW file.</p> <p>Tone mapping (the process of mapping a 32-bit floating point image into a bitmap for display) is a bit technical, but the guys at HDR soft have done an awesome job at making things easy. The goal is not to go overboard with the settings. I even prefer to tune them down somewhat, so that the picture looks more natural and less processed.</p> <p>The image of <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/usa_west/canyonlands/false-kiva.html">false kiva</a> has an enormous dynamic range, with the sun peaking through behind the clouds and the cave being partly in the shade. After forcing all these levels into a range I can display and print, the picture still looks natural and not over processed.</p> <h3>Tone Mapping Settings</h3> <p><img height="464" width="636" alt="Photomatix Tone Mapping Settings" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/Image/workflow/hdr/tone-mapping-settings.gif" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Photomatix <del>now</del> offers two different Tone mapping approaches, the <del>traditional</del> Details Enhancer and the Tone Compressor. In 90% of the time I am using the Details enhancer since I can control the results much better. Although the preview of the Tone Compressor has more saturated colors, I find it harder to control shadows and highlights, keep noise in check and most importantly get a result that does not look artificial. In the picture above I am showing some useful settings to get you started with either algorithm. Although the preview of the Detail Enhancer shows less color and looks more flat, it seems to be an issue with the ProPhotoRGB <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/color-management-tips-photographers.html">color space</a> I use.</p> <p>I usually decrease the overall strength slightly, to get a natural result. The luminosity slider adjusts the global brightness of the picture. If you pull a lot of detail from the shades, the pictures will look too bright. In most cases I have a slightly negative value here.</p> <p>I usually don&rsquo;t adjust microcontrast much. Micro contrast enhancement is similar to sharpening in Photoshop. I play with this slider in extreme cases, when I get halos or too much noise, but otherwise I do not adjust it much.</p> <p>The White Point, Black Point and Gamma are the most important sliders for realism effects. Increase Gamma to make the images look more real. <br /> Most HDR processed Images I see only look somewhat flat, because we mapped so much dynamic range into a smaller space getting a luminosity response curve that is too linear. Gamma is a nonlinear transformation of brightness levels that is more pleasing and realistic to our eyes. &nbsp;</p> <p>The white and black points determine where clipping will occur. Some value different from 0 gives a more natural look.</p> <p>Keep experimenting!</p> <p><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">---end update, original article below</span></p> <p><img src="/files/Image/workflow/hdr/compare_pictures.jpg" alt="Comparing the Original to the processed Images" style="width: 660px; height: 330px;" /><br /> <br /> Every travel photographer knows the scenario. While most photographers advise not to shoot during the harsh light of the day, we often have little choice. Often I find myself at a place and I know I will have to move on, either because I have a travel schedule or because I am on a weekend trip and have to get back to my daily routine. Believe me, if I could afford it, I would follow the good advice and spent a lot of time on each location waiting for perfect conditions to make my photos shine.<br /> In situations such as this, the best would be to put your camera on a tripod and bracket your exposure. You can then combine the pictures on your computer. However you cannot take your tripod everywhere (it may not be allowed) and it is very cumbersome.<br /> In the past I have often written about <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/workflow1.htm">RAW processing</a> and I have stated that you can make good use of the dynamic range captured by your camera. Almost every Digital SLR camera and many of the better Point and Shoot models alow you to record RAW files. A RAW file is the data captured by your Camera's sensor that is not processed yet. It does not contain color information (yet), which is very useful to adjust white balance at the computer and apply sharpening and other enhancements the way you like it (check my other <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/workflow.html">Worklfow Tutorials</a> for more information). A 12-bit file contains 16 times more levels then a 8-bit JPG file. This is the main reason why I only shoot RAW.</p> <h2>Photomatix</h2> <p>While Photoshop offers tools to generate HDR (high dynamic range) images and blend multiple exposures, I find neither of them adequate for my needs. The tone mapping is very limited and not very useful. Photoshop also detects the exposure of an image and initially refuses to merge multiple files that were created from a single RAW file (they all contain the same EXIF data, so Photoshop sees no difference in Exposure). While there are ways around this (delete exif information), I have also evaluated Photomatix and found it extremely useful for the task at hand.<br /> Photomatix automates the process of creating HDR images or stacking images and makes the entire process very easy.</p> <h3>Some definitions</h3> <p>Skip the next paragraph if you don't care.<br /> An <span style="font-weight: bold;">HDR image</span> contains 32-bit of brightness information with virtually no limitation on how many levels you can represent (floating point numbers).<br /> <span style="font-weight: bold;">Tone Mapping</span> describes the process of mapping such an image back into either 8-bit (or 16-bit color) space for display and/or printing.</p> <h3>Why should you care?</h3> <p>As always, nature cannot be copied in all its perfection. Your eyes are the ultimate image sensors. They have a nonlinear response curve enabling you to see very bright areas in the presence of dark shades. Your camera does not have that capability. It has a very limited response curve, leaving you either with blown out highlights, too dark shadows or both. Worse than that, when the image is processed, even more information is lost (8-bit JPG).<br /> You might wonder why I would want to convert a 12-bit image to 32-bit just to output it as a 16-bit TIF. Well here is how I <span style="font-style: italic;">think</span> it works.<br /> <img src="/files/Image/workflow/hdr/raw_vs_bitmap.gif" alt="RAW vs. Bitmap comparison" style="width: 600px; height: 146px;" /><br /> Both, the 16-bit and the 8-bit image have the same minimum and maximum brightness levels. The only difference being that the 16-bit image offers a higher resolution on the levels. The RAW file however contains information beyond the levels of the bitmap images, and those are the ones we are trying to recover. So we shift the bitmap scale left and right, create multiple files and combine them accordingly.</p> <h3>Ok, what now</h3> <p>For extremely high dynamic range scenes (e.g. a dark cathedral with bright windows) you are probably better of taking multiple photographs with different exposures (use <a class="autolink-term" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/glossary-of-digital-camera-terms.html#Aperture_Priority" rel="_blank">aperture priority</a> or you will mess up your <a class="autolink-term" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/depth-of-field-hyperfocal-distance.html">Depth of Field</a> and sharpness), but I find that I can get away with some processing on a single RAW file. In fact I can easily push my RAW files to +/- 2 f-stops in post processing (that would be equivalent to taking 5 images each one stop apart).</p> <h2>Lets process</h2> <p><img src="/files/Image/workflow/hdr/acr_exposure.jpg" alt="RAW converter Exposure" style="width: 300px; height: 270px;" /><br /> Open up your RAW file in your favorite RAW converter (I use Adobe Camera RAW. The arrow points to the exposure setting). Don't touch any of the settings except the Exposure slider (you can also fine tune white balance, sharpness, ... but thats covered elsewhere). <br /> Play around with the exposure slider. Move it to the left and see the image become darker. Watch your highlights and see how much information we can recover. Find out how low you need to go (but don't go much beyond 2 f-stops).<br /> <span style="font-style: italic;">It will depend on your camera how far you can push this.</span><br /> Remember the number (e.g. -2). <br /> Then move your slider to the right and see how much you can pull out of the shadows (without seing too much noise).<br /> Remember that number (e.g. 2).<br /> Subract the two numbers (2 - (-2) = 4).<br /> In our example we are going to cover a 4 f-stop range (thats about as far as this works on RAW files for most Canon Cameras I guess (I hear the new line has 14-bit analog to digital converters, so it may go further).<br /> Now divide those into n equal steps, not much larger then about 1 f-stop.<br /> In the example above this results in 5 images:<br /> (-2, -1, 0, 1, 2)<br /> <br /> <span style="font-style: italic;">Example2</span>:<br /> Min = -1.6<br /> Max = &nbsp;0.8<br /> Result = (-1.6, -0.8, 0, 0.8)<br /> <br /> Enter these numbers into the Exposure compensation box and convert one image for each (5 images in the first example). I usually save them as TIF files so I don't lose information to compression (until the very end when I save everything as JPG).</p> <h3>Processing with Photomatix</h3> <p>Photomatix is the perfect tool for combining these images into a single HDR image and then use Tone mapping to output them.&nbsp; <br /> The software offers far too many options to cover them all at length. I encourage you to play around with it a bit.<br /> We can either generate a HDR image from the 5 tiff images or we can simply combine them and let Photomatix figure out the shadows and highlights.<br /> The HDR options offers far more control and more dramatic results.</p> <h3>H&amp;S - Auto</h3> <p>Lets start with the simpe technique. Sometimes I like this better since HDR images take some getting used to. Although they probably resemble what we see, we are not used to this kind of presentation.<br /> <br /> <img src="/files/Image/workflow/hdr/batch_average.gif" alt="Photomatix Batch Averaging" style="width: 600px; height: 530px;" /><br /> I usually use the batch processing mode. In this mode, you can automatically process all images in a folder. For this test, I have put all 5 files into a folder and pointed the batch processing window to this folder (LOCATION).<br /> Then I told Photomatix that I had 5 images (if you process more then one image, make sure they have the same number of source files).<br /> Since we generated all of those images from a single source file, we do not have to select <span style="font-style: italic;">Align bracketed images</span>. This option is very usefull if you composed multiple images (exposure bracketing).<br /> Then I selected Highlight and Shadow - Auto (telling Photomatix to figure out the best settings).<br /> Thats it. Photomatix will put the results file in the same folder (see above or below for a comparison image).</p> <h3>HDR</h3> <p>This option is a bit more involved, but Photomatix makes it as easy as it can get.<br /> <img height="626" width="540" src="/files/Image/workflow/hdr/batch_hdr.gif" alt="Photomatix Batch HDR conversion" /><br /> Simply go to HDR -&gt; Generate and select your images. In the next dialog photomatix will ask you for the exposure values (still remember the settings from your RAW converter?).<br /> Press OK and Photomatix will generate an HDR image for you.<br /> HDR files contain far more information then your monitor possibly can display, so don't worry if the image doesn't look good (yet). This is where the Tone Mapping comes in. The Tone Mapping is the real strength of Photomatix. It can be bought as a Photoshop Plug in (I bought the bundle, but I use the standalone program most of the time).<br /> <br /> <img height="405" width="650" src="/files/Image/workflow/hdr/photomatix01.jpg" alt="Photomatix Tone Mapping" /><br /> On the left you can see the HDR file (linear light levels). On the right you can see the Tone Mapping Window. It applies a linear curve to the image mapping all brightness levels into the bitmap image space.<br /> The Window is very intuitive. You can simply hover with your mouse over any of the sliders to get a short explanation. <br /> Play around with it for a while and save settings you like. Load the default or older settings and compare the results.<br /> When you are ready, simply press the OK button. Photomatix will output a TIFF file of chosen output depth (I went with 16-bit in this example).<br /> <br /> Don't worry about what you pick here. You can always save the HDR (.hdr) and come back to this step again and again until you are completely happy. I have not modified the standard settings much for this example, however the results are already very impressive:<br /> <img src="/files/Image/workflow/hdr/compare_pictures.jpg" alt="Comparing original, H/S and HDR image" style="width: 660px; height: 330px;" /><br /> The picture on the left uses my standard Photoshop settings for processing images (they are already better then in camera JPG settings, since they tend to recover some of the Highlights and Shadows).<br /> The picture in the middle was generated with the Automatic Highlight and Shadow settings. If you look closely, you will find that some of the shadows of the roof have been brought to live and that the building (outside in the bright sun) now looks better (not over exposed).<br /> With the HDR image, we were able to pull the structure of the wood out of the shadows (the roof looks way better) and even the distant building has regained a lot of its texture.<br /> The Original Image in this example already has some detail pulled out of the shadows and highlights.</p> <h3>Conclusions:</h3> <p>Always shoot RAW images. As a best case scenario, you can just batch process them in Photoshop and still get better results then your camera would give you with very little effort.<br /> If you come across a difficult image, you can use the proper tools to restore it accordingly.<br /> Photomatix is an excellent software. To use its full potential, pick a difficult scene and shoot a lot of exposures. <br /> I use it primarily for recovering highlights and shadows (either with H/S or HDR) from my photographs. It is the best tool for the job.</p> <p>Download an evaluation version of Photomatix and start playing: <a href="http://www.hdrsoft.com/download.html" target="_blank">Photomatix Download</a></p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/raw-hdr-processing.html#comments Reviews Software Workflow Tue, 11 Nov 2008 21:45:02 -0500 andre 2067 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com