Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Deleting Duplicates and Naming Conventions

I had one of those 'Misc' folders in my photo files. I had carefully saved photos from several different computers, from zip files, from camera cards, and CDs into this one folder. I finally took the time to go through it one photo at a time and sort them out properly. I had more duplicate files than I'd realized. Better that than to know I have a photo and not be able to find it. Many of my early digital photos are very small. While I deleted a lot of duplicates, I only deleted about 1 GB of data.

Since I changed the organization of my photos, I'm going to hook up my second EHD and make sure that my local data backup is up to date. My Backblaze backup will automatically update itself. With my non FIOS connection (can you hear me whining?) it won't be quick, but it is automatic.

I use a date and description system for sorting my pictures. Before 2005, they are sorted by subject and sometimes also by date. Pictures after 2005 are sorted by year, with a separate folder for each event during that year. For example, inside the '2008 Photos' folder, there is a '2-14-08 Valentines' sub-folder. I store the pictures with the alphanumeric name the camera assigns. I'll append to the alphanumeric if I edit the photo, so I won't confuse the original DSC6442.jpg with DSC6442adjusted.jpg. I'll re-name the photo to 'Roses for Valentines 2008.jpg' only if I share it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Not Keeping Everything

I've finally realized that it doesn't make sense to keep everything. Not every shot, not every dud. I've decided that it's time to go through my collection of recent photos, many of which I took for practice, and only to keep the ones that are truly worthy of keeping. Not all the failures.

Why am I doing this? I spent a lot of time taking pictures of that mini-book. I took well over 200 photos. I only think that about 25 are worth keeping. That's a high percentage of keepers, but I spent a lot of early trials getting the settings correct. For most shoots, I don't have nearly as many keepers.

When I was a photography student using film, I remember being told that out of a roll of 36-40 shots, there would only be 1 keeper, if we were lucky. I took a lot of pictures, developed a lot of film, and what with developing issues on top of the camera setting issues, if I got 1 keeper from a roll of 36, I was content. Now, I don't have to deal with errors in developing, so I think 1 out of 25 makes more sense.

I've improved my chances. Instead of a 2.5-3% chance of getting a keeper, I've moved up to a 4% chance. Do I really want to move up higher than that? Yes. But that's going to take a lot of work thinking about light and a much more user-friendly tripod.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Pictures Ahead!!!

I made this book. I started with a 7 Gypsies blank envelope book that I got as a door prize at one of the crops at Angela's. I used Club Scrap "Sparkle" paper and embellishments, but I also put in a some from my stash. I took lots of pictures. Brace yourselves!

The Front Cover

Inside the front cover and page 1.

Pages 2 and 3.

Pages 4 and 5.

Pages 6 and 7.

Pages 8 and 9 have an interactive so I showed it both open and closed. Open first...

And now closed.

Pages 10 and 11.

Pages 12 and Lucky 13.

Pages 14 and 15.

Pages 16 and 17.

Pages 18 and 19.

Page 20 and the inside back cover.

The boring back cover.

Winning and Losing

I have won the race with the sun for today. I made a note of the times I had my better exposures yesterday, and I had my camera set up to finish taking pictures of my mini book today. That would be a win. I got the rest of the pictures well exposed.

However, I've discovered what camera shake looks like. Ugh. See, when you know the frame is in focus, and there is still blurr, it's not focus, it's shake. Even at faster shutter speeds, if you enlarge your digital image to 100%, you can see it. Sigh. Super sigh. I can't set up on a tripod to take these shots, I'm already standing on a table to get the good light. For my next trick, I'm making myself a light box. I'm tired of fighting with the sun and the table and my horrible set up.

Every time I conquer one thing, I discover another thing I've got to master. FWIW, even using one of those 'fake sunlight' lamps does not produce the same color light at the actual sun does.

Racing the Sun

I've heard so much about this, but I've never really had to work with it. The sun moves faster than you think it will and direct, bright sunlight is awful to deal with. It doesn't matter if it is sunrise, it is still a pain.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Sigh. Every time I think I've done at least part of something right to capture a good photo, I find there are still other things that are not right and the picture did not turn out as planned. It can be quite frustrating. Part of the time, I'm having failures because I don't have the correct equipment. Part of the time, It is because I'm not using my equipment correctly.

At least I'm no blaming it on equipment failures. That's just a way bad photographers refuse to admit that they are bad. Back to square one. Again.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


That's slang for connecting a computer to a cell phone and using the phone's connection. But it also means that you have connected your digital camera to your computer and you are saving and examining your photos immediately after tripping the shutter.

I used to think that shooting tethered was reserved for pro photographers. No longer. I just took a whole lot of shots adjusting the light, adjusting my exposure and adjusting my filters. I don't know what settings I'm going to like best. Once I figure it out, I'll be able to replicate it, but I just took about 90-95 shots of a 10 page book, with covers, that I recently finished. It is entirely possible that I wasted a good deal of my time taking pictures with the wrong set-up entirely.

Gaahhh! I don't like the light for any of the shots. I'll just have to wait for a different time of day and start entirely over. Oh well.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gathering Numbers

In my quest to get the serial numbers for all of my camera equipment, I've included anything that has a serial number at all. This means that I've now noted the serial numbers of sewing machines, stereo equipment, TVs, VCRs, and printers.

The list of items that have serial numbers is almost silly. But it's one of those 'in case of disaster' things that we all should have, but usually don't. We also have things, like my Lego sets and our DVDs and CDs that should be documented as well. I'm considering creating a spreadsheet to store this information and then it will be backed up, off site and safe.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Should Do

Thom has a list of things that photographers should do, but don't. It's a short list.

Use a lens hood.
Keep the camera body clean, not just the lens.
Keep shortcuts handy.
Carry (and USE) your tripod.
Walk there, don't zoom in.
Keep serial numbers with you.
Manipulate the light.
Read the manual.

Manipulating the light is a thing that I have not been doing as well as I'd like. I had some potentially good shots that I missed, because I did not use a flash. I'll be able to go back and try again, because they are landscape shots. I'll also try using gels on my flash, to further manipulate the light.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Good Water, Bad Water

The goal when taking pictures of waterfalls, is often to have the water look 'smooth' and 'silky.' In order to get this, you must use long exposures.

According to that, I've just taken both good and bad pictures of waterfalls. Here's a 'bad' one.

Yes, I used a tripod, and cable release. I set the camera for 1/30 of a second and used f 5.6. The water is blurred, but not smooth.

I stopped down to f 16, used a shutter speed of 1/6 of a second and got this one.

The water is smooth. Please don't think that I framed up these not so interesting shots of water falling, I've cropped down to a lower resolution section of each image, so I don't overload a web browser.

But think about what I had to do. I had to go to a shutter speed that was one fifth of the speed of the first one, to get the smooth water effect. I shot in the still of the morning. The trees (that you can't see) are also in focus, as there was no wind to stir them and make them blur with that long exposure. I had moved my camera down to the lowest ISO setting that I could, which for the settings and lens that I was using would be ISO 100, or pretty darned slow. There are a few things I can do to get slower than that, but I wasn't willing to go through the process for test shots.

What if I couldn't find water in shadow, and there was so much daylight that a slow shutter speed at the lowest possible ISO setting would have gotten me nothing but a blown out, over exposed failure? I could use a special filter that cuts down the amount of light getting through to the camera sensor. These are called neutral density filters and they come in 2, 4 and 8 density, cutting out two, four or eight f stops worth of light. I'm thinking that a 4 would be a good place to start, and the next one I'd get would be an 8.

Another thing to realize is that there is no one perfect exposure setting. To some folks, the 'bad' water shot looks just fine. And in truth, there isn't a whole lot that is wrong with it. It simply doesn't look the way I wanted it to look, with smooth, silky water.

With experience, I will learn what shutter speeds will give me smooth water. I couldn't say for sure that 1/8 of a second, or 1/15, or 1/20 would work to give smooth water. I know that 1/6 does work and that 1/30 does not. I need to take more pictures and test. And a shutter speed might work for a waterfall, and not for a fountain, with individual droplets of water falling that are widely separated. Right now, I'm just playing around with my camera, gaining experience. Do I ever expect to need this skill? I doubt it, but it certainly is fun to learn new things!

My Workflow

Because I've been reading Thom, I've been thinking about my own workflow. It' is quite simple, mostly because I still don't do a lot of post processing. I don't use Lightroom, nor do I use plug-ins. I should, but I mostly take snapshots. I admit it.

I do have a sort of a workflow, though. The first thing I do when I get in from a photo taking session is remove the card from my camera (cards from my camera bag) and copy the files into folders on my EHD. This initiates a back up process, because of the off site backup that I use. Backblaze. Yeah! The backup is automatic, but it does take a little time. I shoot in RAW and .jpg, so I keep the files separate, with a sub directory for RAW files. That might change, as I work more with RAW.

Next, I pop open the images in Bridge and I've started doing a delete the sucky ones step. I used to keep everything, but why? I don't work with small files.

Then I look as the keepers and I'll decide what, if anything, I want to do with them. Most of my pictures just sit on that EHD.

Only after I've decided what I want to do with them will I decide on what steps I want to take to get to that goal. If all I want is a snapshot, I won't do much post-processing. If I want something much nicer, I will get to work.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Or why snapshots look all snap-shotty.

There are lots of things that the pros do AFTER they press the shutter. The list of things the pros do to their image, which wasn't badly exposed in the first place, goes something like this:

White balance. If shot in RAW, the white balance can and should be tweaked. Auto white balance is not the ideal.

Exposure. But it wasn't badly exposed! The pros are fine tuning things like fill and recovery, to get the exposure at the extremes to be better.

Color. Is the sky a sky blue or an overcast gray? Are the skin tones human?

Lens corrections. Even spending big bucks for a lens does not mean that you won't have pincushion, barrel, or perspective distortions.

Sharpen. To recover the edges that have been mucked up by anti-aliasing. The more I know about anti-alias, the less I like it.

Contrast. Because thin is not a good thing. And often, contrast gets adjusted again after a different adjustment is made.

Remove things. Not 'Photoshopping' out that extra person, but removing things like noise adjustments that aren't needed or wanted. Did the camera adjust the vibrance? It's gotta go.

It goes without saying, but I am saying it anyway, all these edits are done to a COPY of the original image. And the list can and will change for each photographer. It depends on the order in which they like to work, the type of photos they are taking, and if they are producing hundreds, like a wedding photographer, or a handful, like a landscape photographer.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thinking about Photography

I constantly think when I'm taking pictures. I think about the light, where it is and it isn't. I think about framing shots. I think about making adjustments to the settings that I'm using. I think about where the next shot is going to be, what the action will be, and if I can get a picture of it. I think about the pictures that I've got and if the set is complete, or if there is action that I need to capture.

There are a lot of things that I think about in advance, so I don't have to think about them while I'm shooting. I think about what lens to use where, I think about my flash settings, I think about tripod use. I think about options, so if I am faced with a setting that is different from what I expect, I've got my alternative planned out.

Today, I have to photographic goals. I want to shoot a photo with really short depth of field and I want to take a night shot of water. I'll try a daytime shot of water, as well, so I can compare. The problem is, I need a filter that I don't own to get the daytime shot. Drat. I might get by with a close up, using a telephoto. And I'm thinking again.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Photo Challenge

Use different light. Use a flash, use a pop-up flash, use ambient light, tungsten bulbs, I don't care. Just use a different light than you usually use. Then, open your image in your photo editing software and make that different light either as good as it can be, or as wrong as it can be. Make a note to yourself why it is wrong or good.

This is Too Easy!

Not shopping for digital scrapping stuff is way too easy. I had thought it would be a challenge and I'd have to struggle with it. Nope!The designers that I like are putting out kits that look a whole lot like kits that I already own. I'm not looking around for new designers. There is nothing new and different to buy, so I'm not tempted to shop. Not something that I want to be true. I'd like for there to be new and different things, but there aren't.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


What the dickens is Bokeh? It is the ability of a lens to be out of focus in a good way. Imagine you are taking a portrait. The person is in front of an expensive, blotchy, painted canvas backdrop, with the paint smeared, streaked, and dripped on to look like nothing in particular, but a nothing that compliments skin tone when it is out of focus. The lens with good bokeh will blur that background in a way that is pleasing. There will be an overall softness to the out of focus background. If the lens has poor bokeh, it will have regular hexagons or circles in a distracting pattern of out of focus shapes.

Most mid-range lenses like the ones that I own have poor bokeh. If I get to a point where I care about what my out of focus areas look like, I'm not going to dash out and get new lenses. I'll fix it in Photoshop.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Perhaps I Won't, But Really?

The brother of the bride doesn't want his picture taken. He made loud and relatively aggressive statements about it. OK. You don't want your picture taken. But your sister is getting married to one of my very good friends. You WILL be in some photos. Or you could just put a bag over your head... Fercryingoutloud! You are sitting next to the bride. Are you completely self-centered? As it happens, I think so.

The funny part? One of his nieces said in passing, "Just use a telephoto." Her dad is also a shutterbug with a Nikon D300. And a faster telephoto lens than I've got. Odds are, there are more photos of this man than he knows.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ding! Ding! Ding!

I'm not buying scrapping kits and therefore not spending my time shopping for things to buy, and I've started improving my Photoshop skills again. I am improving my skills to better use the things that I already own. Hmmm... If I only have so much time to spend on a hobby and I spend it shopping for things to use for that hobby, I'm not spending any time doing that hobby. I can tell myself that shopping for stuff counts, but I'm finding that it doesn't. If I buy stuff that I don't use, all I am doing is wasting my time and money.

I'm not even buying new books to learn from. I already owned "Layers".

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Learning Curve Again

I am going through Matt Kloskowski's "Layers" reference book. I looked at it back when my Photoshop learning curve was still pretty steep. I'd grasped enough of the basics of working with layers that I set the book aside after glancing through it and grabbing a couple of nifty tricks.

I'm now going through it, chapter by chapter, lesson by lesson and I'm picking up a whole lot more nifty tricks as well as sorting out some techniques that were a bit blurry in my brain. Some of the things that Matt teaches are things that I don't do. For instance, I don't group my layers. I'll link them, but I don't group them. I usually don't name them, either.

Naming and grouping are techniques that I file away under a 'best practices' heading. If I were doing work that others would see, and perhaps even edit, I'd name and probably group my layers.

Matt also lives and dies by keyboard shortcuts. I'll admit, knowing a few of these is going to be very helpful, but I don't like to put down my pen to tap on the keyboard. It becomes a pause in my work flow to use a keyboard shortcut. And learning too many keyboard shortcuts at once is confusing.

Simply performing the exercises is not enough to really learn the things that Matt teaches in his book. The exercises are excellent, the directions are detailed without being confusing, and I understand what I have just done. But for the information to really sink in, I've got to use it in my own work. I go through a chapter then I work on my own projects, using some of what I've learned. Then I go through another chapter.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Me or My Environment

Since I'm always the person holding the camera, I can't take pictures of me. But I can take pictures of my environment, so that's what I do. I mentioned that to Wonderful Husband and he protested that he took pictures of me for my birthday. That was in September. It is now June. There are a few photos of me from December, but Hubby didn't take them. There are a couple from New Year's. That's when I realized that my camera didn't fit Hubby's hands, and changed the set up to fit both of us by adding a battery pack.

But hubby doesn't take pictures, I do. He thinks that he takes pictures, but he doesn't. I've gotten used to it. I can't change it. I wish I could, but it won't happen.