Monitor Matters – An Update!

Hey, so I have learned a little something new on this topic.  This is an update to my post Monitor Matters, in which I wondered why my photos looked so off while I was working on a post on my laptop.  What do you know, there really is an answer!

First I should probably re-title this post to A Beast Called Color Management.    The long of it… you can read here, as honestly I can barely get my head around it.  But the short of it… if I’ve even got this right, is that, yes, an image can look considerably different if you are viewing it in a browser that uses only “half” color management (Google Chrome/Explorer). On the other hand if you are using Firefox or Apple’s browser (Safari), they use “full” color management, and you’re seeing the image pretty much as I am (minor variations in your monitor settings aside).  Just like the article, I did my own test and opened this image

Hello Fall

on my iPad, in Firefox, and in Google Chrome, and compared all three to the image on my calibrated monitor. The iPad took top honors, Firefox looked pretty nice on my uncalibrated monitor, and Google… well, I won’t be using that browser any more as part of my photo workflow in the future.  Just thought you might like to know it’s not your eyes playing tricks on you… it’s your browser.

Until next time,

p.s.  All research on this topic and explanation so I could understand it is thanks to my dad 🙂

On being out there

A short editorial (kind of short) and follow-up to my last post.

There’s been many, many, many discussions among photographers about protecting their photos from being copied or worse yet sold without permission.  And It is getting harder and harder to protect them. Case in point and to test, I downloaded an image from I Photo Central, remember this an international source for photo collecting/selling photos with pretty substantial price tags.  Sorry, I’m not posting the image  because it was only done as a test.  The image measured 622×800 pixels (8×11 inches), at 72 dpi.  Not bad as a small image and when resized to 300 dpi, it still looked pretty good, although it was an old photo to begin with and already had that antique-like quality.  The point is if I can do it (remember I’m no techy) anyone can . . . and do.

watermarkI love having venues to share my photography (and my thoughts).  I think the very basic nature of photography is for images to be seen and shared.   Would I be upset if someone used one of my images without giving me credit . . . you bet I would!   Do I perseverate over whether someone would use my image(s) without permission/credit . . . no, not to any great degree.  Lets be real,  forgery, copy cats and just plain stealing have been around long before the digital age. . . long before the photograph.  But there are some basic precautions one can take, such as posting low resolution, smaller size images, using a watermark, know how to set permissions, and just use commonsense on where you post.  There are resources out there on how to do all of these.  For example, I Googled “How to create a watermark in Photoshop CS5” and got 325,000 results in 0.42 seconds!  This should give you at least little peace of mind.  But if you’re still worried, Cole Thompson shared a cool tip on his blog on how to check Google and see if a photo is somewhere other than where you put it.  Thank you for sharing Cole.  Whew, I am just where I am supposed to be 🙂

And now for just an itsy-bitsy rant:  I mentioned in the Case of the Peony Buds, how I came across a website that looked like it “collected” photos.   The sharing of photos serves many purposes: it can be inspirational, educational, and as simple as adding a little extra enjoyment to that coffee break.  For example, I’m not sure I would have ever learned of Tom Baril or seen his beautiful floral images.  However, I am not a fan of personal websites dedicated to the “collecting” others’ photos (and I am discovering that there are a lot of these…even on flickr).  Yes, I see it is a way of sharing, but bottom line, it is very deceiving.  If you are going to have a photo website it should be to showcase your photos.  There are plenty of places within social media if you want to note a favorite photographer or send a little inspiration someone’s way or how about just sharing your thoughts and a link. . .    Anyway, I certainly understand that on occasion bloggers, myself included, like to reference a certain photographer or photo to make a point, share a tip, or just give back to the photo community, just remember to be courteous, check if it is okay, and most of all give the photographer the credit and accolades they deserve.

Okay that’s it for my editorials for a while, back next time with some long overdue photos.  I’ve been learning some new techniques and can’t wait to share . . .

Til next time,

Pixel Pushing

Ten years ago, the family and I took a whirlwind trip out west.   I took lots of photos but never really did anything with them. . .   Of course, they are priceless in terms of documenting our trip and showing that were actually there; but as for photographs, they are just . . . okay.  I decided to a pull a few from the archives to see if today’s software could make them more than just marginal.

The camera for this trip was a Kodak DC 4800 with it’s whopping 3.1 megapixels, and I’m pretty sure I shot on Auto. . . back then I just didn’t know any better.

Image 1:  Somewhere near Sedona, Az.

The Before:
GC - Sedona 054 GC - Sedona 054-2-Edit-Edit
The After:  You can really see a difference when you click on the images and make them larger.  Just don’t make it too big; I guess there is only so much today’s programs can do.  But who knows, in another 10 years . . .  I will hopefully get the opportunity to try again with the knowledge and camera equipment I have today and no pixel pushing required 🙂

The Process:  I started in Lightroom.  I always like to start there, starting with the basics: Some sharpening, noise reduction (was a must!), pretty simple.  Then off to Photoshop.  Here I use my plug-ins (yes, I know I can use them in LR; it’s just a preference of mine to work with them in PS).  First up, Topaz Clarity.  I am loving this one.  Since I don’t really speak the techie-language, I’m not even going to try, I just know I can get the result I want by starting with a preset and then tweaking the sliders.  I’m off to a good start, but there is still all that noise and then some.  I had Topaz’s Denoise, not sure where it went.  So I went to Nik Define2.  I like that I can apply it just to the area I want (the sky) by using a brush and bonus the Nik software in PS creates a layer to work from, so I make adjustments later if I need to.  Still, not quite there yet, I wanted some more detail but wanted to keep all that noise I worked so hard at getting rid of at bay.  After clicking around Topaz Adjust and Nik Color Efex and not really finding what I was looking for, I opted for Nik Sharperner.  I have two options here RAW presharpener and Output sharpener.  Now, I know I should probably look up what each one really does and why, and maybe someday I will, but let’s face it, I’m a clicker. If I click on something and it gives me what I want, that’s good enough for me.  I went with the RAW, which makes absolutely no sense given I was working with a low quality, low resolution, JPEG, but it did what I was looking for, what more can I ask.

In the end, other than the pushing of all those pixels resulting in a hot pixel showing up here and there (cloned out) and the fact that printing this large will never be an option, at least not a good one, I think this was an exercise well worth the effort.  Are they now perfect? Not by a long shot.  Are there other ways to achieve these results, if not even better one’s?  You bet there are.  But for now,  I relived some memories, taught myself a thing or two, and I learned a bit more about what the software I have can do, and that is pretty darn satisfying.

Here’s another one resurrected from the trip.  This is Coral Sand Dunes National Park in Utah, near Zion.   I kept pretty much to the same processing. . . Zion 027 Zion 027-2-Edit-Edit

’til next time,

Monitor Madness

A little rant on technology.  Don’t get me wrong, I know how important it is to my photography…my creativity.  But seriously, it seems that I’m spending more and more time on the techno than the creative.  Last week, it was discovered that my monitor had a green color cast, which I really had not noticed until it was pointed out to me by a very knowledgeable source in the optical engineering field.  So then I Googled the issue and sure enough found forums discussing a problem with my calibration software (Spyder3 Pro) and my monitor (a Dell).  Trying to comprehend the issue was a bit beyond me, so I went to yet another knowledgeable source (thanks, dad 🙂 )who paid me and my monitor a house call.  Problem solved – I could see such an improvement and better yet I absorbed a bit more knowledge on monitor calibration and color management.  That was Sunday.  Here it is Wednesday evening, just three days later, and I could just scream.  Let me show you why . . .

I just took this.  The image on the left (the little one) is my uncalibrated monitor and the big one is my “calibrated” monitor (yuck).  Gee, I wish I had thought to take a picture of them on Sunday {sigh}.    I know my monitor is showing some serious signs of aging and  ultimately the solution will be to get a new one.  But, really, now is just not a good time ~  lots of projects and even more ideas and, oh yea, tis the season of giving …not shopping for one’s self.    Options are limited …

Option #1:  Play the Powerball lotto
Option #2:  Dear Santa …


Bedtime Reading or Surfing?

I like to go to the bookstore and peruse especially when I receive  a 40% off coupon (otherwise, I check out the book in the store and order it on Amazon 😉   I enjoy the smell of the coffee brewing . . . Continue reading “Bedtime Reading or Surfing?”