Making Not Taking Photographs

Backstage views on making photographs professionally

Archive for the ‘fine art photography’ Category

The Wide angle telephoto…

Posted by Mike on August 12, 2014

You need one of these… you have one of these… whether you know it or not…

The secret is in the photoshop “Photomerge” panorama machine…  Figure it out you will love the results…

Here we have a photo which would normally be made with a 35mm wide angle lens (on a full frame 35mm digital camera). But instead I have pieced together 75 photos taken with a 200mm lens…

Mt. Rainier

Because this is a 2 gigabyte file (or more) you can zoom in and see people climbing the mountain from 5 1/2 to 6 miles away (Canon 70 to 200mm L lens 1/640th at f10)pano jpg b pano jpg dHere are some other multi shot panoramas made with telephoto lenses (mostly an 85mm f1.8 Canon which I think is the perfect panorama lens).


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Lightroom 5 and Photomatix

Posted by Mike on July 7, 2014

Recently Photomatix made an export preset to send multiple files to Photomatix to be compiled into a floating point 32 bit file. Then it automatically re imports to Lightroom and you now have 11 or 12 stops of exposure latitude to work with in crafting the “perfect” file. Without all the HDR crap that comes from running the files through regular HDR software. This sample was 5 shots combined into one and then manipulated for final results.

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Getting Fired by the Associated Press

Posted by Mike on January 30, 2014

January 2014:

I am an ex UPI employee so I don’t care much for AP (they act too much like a monopoly and helped kill UPI for one thing)… I would never work for them because of their “work for hire” “rights grabbing” contract anyway.

But it is bugging me… this last thing when they fired one of their well thought of photographers for spotting out a distracting element in a photo. For the record… I have never produced a photograph for newspaper or magazine that wasn’t painstakingly burned, dodged, spotted for dirt, treated with potassium ferricyanide, cropped, selected over another photo for artistic or informational rationale, or had the color or tone shifted to make it a “better” photograph capable of conveying the situation in the best way possible to the end reader.

That’s what we all want is for the photo to be transcendent… (not in the way of the information).

AP cut ties with Contreras publicly after the photographer informed the wire service that he had removed a video camera from a corner of an image of a Syrian rebel soldier taking cover during a fire fight. Contreras says he knew it could end his relationship with AP, but that he didn’t expect to be shut out of the process.

AP-photoshopWas this firing really necessary? Was the picture compromised? I doubt it. Really, the picture doesn’t tell you much anyway so that presents another problem where the cutline writer can spin it anyway he/she wants. (In the old days Pravda was humorously famous for making up cutlines that were just  amazingly fake.)

Here are two examples of my own work which would probably get me fired I guess. When it comes to the scenic of the boat which photo is fake? As far as I am concerned the retouched one is actually more accurate than the dead looking one from the unprocessed RAW image the camera produced.  Under AP rules are we supposed to be stuck looking at dead, automaton generated purely “documentary” crap a camera produces. Then I guess you don;t need photographers to interpret the RAW file because there is no need for “artistic” or “explanatory” efforts in news photography, right? What a load of crap IMHO.

023sunset-2 023sunsetIn another example I worked on a food shoot yesterday. And I am always looking for a better way to enthusiastically promote my client’s efforts to produce a quality product and sell more stuff (so they can afford to pay me help them sell more stuff).  But back to “accuracy” Which photo is more accurate?

102M b 102M c 102Marlenes012914-2 102Marlenes012914-3 102Marlenes012914

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How to: Puget Sound Landscape

Posted by Mike on January 22, 2013

023Sunset 094SunsetSeveral people have written me about these photos…. asking how to:  If you have ever read the first edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook it starts by saying “…first stand in front of the stove…”. So that means you need to be in the right place at the right time.  These were made within a few minutes of each other from pretty much the same location.  Both with a Canon 1Ds Mark2. Both with a 70 to 200mm lens.  The boat was ISO 400 hand held at f9 with 1/80th of a second shutter. The Pilings were ISO 640 at f 4 at 1/50th of a second 17 minutes later, March 16, 2012.  This is an old 1997 lens with no stabilization or I might have had it on… I usually shoot 3 to 5 shots rapidly to make sure I get a sharp on in these hostile lighting situations.

Before: Here are the initial RAW files of these two  photos.


For the Boat here are the Lightroom settings:  Basic, Profile, Brush, HSL,  and graduated filters, if any:

02 boat basic 03 boat hsl 04 profile boat 05 boat brush one 06 boat brush 2 07 boat graduated filters

For the Pilings here are the same settings:

01 basic 09 pilings profile 10 pilings brush

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Mid Summer, perfect day.

Posted by Mike on August 16, 2009

I wasn’t going to make any pictures today… But it was a perfect day… slight breeze, 73 degrees, a couple clouds to break up the monotone blue sky.

Sam and I frequent this park since it’s at the end of dead end street and no cars can drive through… He sniffs around until he is content, finds a stick to chew on or a mole to dig up…. Dog Heaven, I suspect. The only downside is once in a while he thinks it’s cool to chase after a bike rider and scare them….Doofus!

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Lake Fenwick 4… art in the backyard

Posted by Mike on June 21, 2009


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Lake Fenwick 3… art in the back yard

Posted by Mike on June 21, 2009

Using the “clarity” slider toward the minus side on your favorite Camera Raw processor or Lightroom can give you a smoooooooth diffuse effect. However, in this case I wanted the water lily flower to be sharp… So I made virtual copy of the photo. In copy one it’s as sharp as a tack. In copy two the clarity slider is almost all the way negative.

The two photos are opened in photoshop as layers. A layer mask is painted black to reveal the flower through the diffusion… then you “save” and export the image from Lightroom as per usual._MG_6995-Edit

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’56 Chevy

Posted by Mike on April 27, 2009

_mg_2154I was on my way to photograph a spring time event in Granite Falls when I stopped for breakfast at Jakes in Snohomish. Stop by to see the life sized statues of Jake and Elwood inside… and get some good food too while you’re at it.

Anyway , it was only 7:15AM when I was finished and there sat this great rebuild of an American Classic. Couldn’t resist photographing it.

I was not happy with the background and junk behind the fence but unless you have control over these things you need to make do. So here is the before shot… just about 1 hour after sunrise (mountains and daylight time figured in)…

But this was just a snap-shot and I thought the car deserved better. So when I got back to the shop I worked it over a little. Amazingly, I did not work on the car itself… It was dang near perfect.


Top secret info: Canon 5D, 115mm, 1/500 f7.1, -2/3 exposure factor, ISO 250, 7:17AM daylight time, April, 2009, Lightroom and Photoshop 10, 15 layers, and a bunch of other stuff. No retouching at all on the car… except two odd ball reflections in the front chrome bumper from street lights.

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Posted by Mike on March 30, 2009

Our local Bonsai garden is closing down. So on one of the last days I got in to make a few photos… enjoy.

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Snow Day

Posted by Mike on December 21, 2008

On Saturday 12-20-08 I drove from Bellingham to south of Seattle trying to avoid the freeway…sticking close to the water…. 6 hours of compact snow and ice dodging the idiots who operate Chevrolet Suburbans (General Motors SHOULD go out of business for this reason alone).

Anyway, here are the shots.

I discovered a quality problem too late… Many times there was simply no place to park the car so I could get out and shoot a photo… So dumb me, I shot out the open window. Well, when it is 20 degrees F outside and 65 or 70 degrees F inside the car (plus the heat of the engine) the air wiggles… a lot. So many of my shots are ruined even though the shutter speed might have been has high as 1/600…

Get out of the car (but don’t get run over by some kook in his/her Suburban thinking they are immune from gravity and inertia)!

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