Category Archives: Workflow
Recent Video Production: Denville Beekeeping
I recently completed a short digital video project on beekeeping to be used as a learning tool for the Denville Community Gardens. I filmed local resident, naturalist and beekeeper Mike Leone, of Rockaway Township New Jersey, to provide both the action and dialogue.
Conceptually, Mike and I wanted to keep the video informative but also upbeat. This was easy to achieve as Mike knows many pearls of wisdom about the importance of honeybees and the work which goes into beekeeping.
I found a terrific poppy royalty-free soundtrack online by Kevin MacLeod to set the tone. I created the intro animation myself by drawing a cartoon bee from reference images. I then drew basic animation paths to bring our pollinator to life.
The filming was done in two stages. For outdoor filming I utilized the Tamron 16-300mm VC PZD All-In-One lens. The broad zoom range lens allowed me to frame environmental and detail shots. Mike and I recorded the voice-over indoors using the R0DE VideoMic Go wired into my Canon SL2 DSLR.
I have received great positive feedback from this Beekeeping production and I look forward to taking on more educational projects in the future. Let me know if you have feedback or comments on this video. I have included a few affiliate links above if you wish to purchase the same equipment I use.
Are you interested in collaborating with me on your own video project? Get in touch today by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Optimizing Photo Contrast for the Web: Creek and Fallen Leaves
In my fairly early years of photography, I got caught with the ETTR bug. Is that a fatal virus? Nope. ETTR is an acronym which stands for Expose To The Right. This ideology is based on the idea that a bright exposure with a histogram pushed as for towards the right (brightness side of histo) is the path to maximum image quality in long run. When exposing to the right, a user wants to make sure the highlights are not clipped or blown out of gamut. Lost highlights can’t be recovered much, there are no x’s and o’s on your memory card for your camera or computer to look at. On the flip side, having a slight overexposure of your shadow areas DOES bring in extra information in the pixels.
The above illustration hopefully shows how I “season to taste” on a landscape photo that I took yesterday. Setting the black level and white level can be a matter of personal preference, there are no hard-set rules. I like my pictures to tell a believable tale by retaining the integrity of the scene but I also want plenty of contrast so that my upload or print will “pop”. For this particular photo I used the Curves tool to bring the dark areas from a medium tonality to a darker tonality. This provides greater separation between the highlights, midtones, and shadows. I’ve also added a slight vignette which helped to “burn in” some bright corners from the original photo.
Finalized photo is above. A landscape nature frame taken in Pennsylvania. The equipment used includes a Tamron 18-270mm VC Lens, a Canon EOS M Camera, a 3-stop Neutral Density Filter, and a Manfrotto Tripod. Metadata: 2.5s F/13 ISO 100, 27mm in Manual Mode.
Selective Sharpening in Nature Photography: American Black Bear
My typical nature photo post-processing workflow is very short and sweet unless I have to remove sensor dust spots from shoot at a vary small aperture. I do like to present my images as realistically and un-manipulated as possible. My still image format is always camera RAW to get the best possible dynamic range and so that I can make my own decisions over noise reduction and sharpening. I had the great fortune of finding a wild Black Bear descending a tree in Northern New Jersey today.
Here is my finalized and optimized image with my typical watermarks and downsized at 900px as I generally do for web usage:
Taken with a tripod-mounted Tamron SP 150-600mm VC Lens and Canon EOS 7D. I had no time to prepare for the shot or change my camera settings. I had previously dialed in ISO 800 F/8.0 +2/3 Exposure Compensation in Aperture Priority Mode, so the shutter speed was to be determined by my camera’s meter. In this particular shot my 7D did a good job of gauging the brightness and I was left with a shutter speed of 1/80th of a second and a good exposure. In the world of wildlife though, this is a relatively slow setting and prime for blur of subject movement.
Below are 100% crops to reveal what is really going on behind the scenes in my “digital darkroom”
As you can see the eye and fur definition is lacking on the SOOC file on the right. The Tamron SP 150-600mm VC is very sharp near the 400mm focal length and at apertures like F/8. Unfortunately AI Servo focus is often less accurate than One-Shot focus. Other reasons for image softness may include: very slight subject movement, auto-focus sensor slightly off the bear’s eye, shooting in the shade (low contrast on subject), and perhaps the panning movement on my tripod head.
After my initial default global sharpening of the RAW file, I applied an additional low-intensity High-Pass Sharpening layer. I still was not happy with the definition on the bear’s face. I created an additional layer of global High-Pass sharpening, but this time I erased the effect off of the background to prevent introduction of widespread digital noise. I also feathered the remaining sharpening a bit, by tracing the bear’s outline with an eraser tool set to 50% to maintain a natural transition from subject to foreground. This is one method of performing selective sharpening to optimize images and get the best out of your photos.
Happy to answer any questions about my workflow if you leave them in the comments.