Aside from doing photography, I also work as the marketing director for a restaurant. Part of the fun of my job is that, since I do photography professionally, I get to do all the work they used to hire a freelancer to do. That means I get lots of opportunities to shoot food and interiors.
I’ve just started looking at doing more food for the pub at the hotel, so today, I shot this photo of a burger. I’m quite pleased with it, because it makes me hungry. Nothing profound to say about it. I just wanted to share it.
Some people are intimidated by shooting raw fils on their camera. Jpeg files are ready to go right out of the camera. While their convenience is undeniable, jpeg files don’t give you a full indication of what your camera is capable of. It’s like having a Ferrari and driving at the posted speed limit. No where is this more obvious then when you’re shooting in scenes with high dynamic range.
Landscape photos are something I really enjoy shooting, but the results straight out of the camera can tend to be a bit frustrating, as your camera can never capture the full range of tones between dark and light that your eye can. To get around this, many people have flocked to the technique of HDR. I love a good HDR (and loathe a bad one) but at times HDR files aren’t practical. Learning to process them well is a long-term project. I see a lot more badly processed HDRs (in my subjective opinion) than well processed ones.
Your camera’s raw files aren’t high dynamic range, but they are higher dynamic range than JPEGs are. This means that if you have a library of raw files, even if you don’t shoot HDR brackets, you may still have the power to unlock hidden shadow and highlight detail to make your pictures look more like what you saw when you were there.
If you haven’t shot raw before, consider starting. You will need software to process the raw files. Your camera comes with some, but the gold standard for processing raw files for high-end point and shoot or DSLR cameras is the Adobe Camera Raw engine. It’s found in Photoshop CS6, Lightroom 4 and most of the important parts are now found in Photoshop Elements 11, which you can often find on sale around the holidays for a song ($50 to $70 is pretty normal).
One note: if you do shoot raw files, when you bring them in to your computer to process, the out-of-the-box look will tend to be flat and a bit dull. Your camera processes the image data to make a jpeg and assigns settings like white balance, contrast and sharpening when it makes the JPEG. This often creates a nice image, but it’s a one-size-fits-all solution, and your good images could use some individual attention.
Below is an example of a single camera raw file, right out of the camera, compared with the results I was able to get using the develop module in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4. The tools in that software are based on the Adobe Camera Raw engine, so if you have Photoshop, they layout of the controls is different, but the function of the various tools and sliders is identical. If you’re using Lightroom 3, or Photoshop CS5, the upgraded camera raw engine is, in my opinion, worth the price of the upgrade.
below is the video showing how I made the changes. I hope you find it helpful.
Here’s another example of a “driving by” photo I shot recently. Luckily for me, for the time being, I’m driving home from my day job through a beautiful pastoral landscape at golden hour. That won’t last long, though. The days are getting shorter, but for now, it means the drive is prone to take a little longer. I’ve been meaning to shoot this shack from a different angle. I’ve photographed it before, but I wanted to try a different approach. I loved the way the clouds form an almost grungy texture to complement the grunge on the building.
Alas, my photography work isn’t enough to pay the bills. I also work a day job as the marketing and communication director at The Waring House in Picton. We’re in a separate building off the main property for the hotel, in a building that used to be an ice cream parlour. I’m told my desk used to be occupied by a deep fryer. Anyway, I try to keep a camera close at hand at all times for occasions such as the one I encountered today. Just as I was packing up to go home, I looked up and noticed from my office window that the scenery had become quite spectacular. A quick set up of the tripod and a 12 shot HDR bracket later (when shooting at the sun, one has to take a lot of shots), I had a nice photo, and I didn’t even have to go far to get it. Keep your eyes peeled for fantastic light and you can turn an ordinary scene into something very cool.
If you’re not familiar with how to process HDR images, have a look back at some of my earlier posts, where I explain it in some detail.
If you’ve ever tried to shoot interior shots during the day, you’ve no doubt found it to be a challenge. The light coming in from the windows is typically much brighter that the room, even with all the lights on. If you shoot photos, you typically have a window that is completely white and very deep shadows in the room.
Of course lighting equipment can solve these problems, but it presents it’s own challenges, not least of which is cost.
Another approach is to use HDR, but This typically gives images with a dream, often grungy look to them. areas of shadow can easily start to look like they’re smoke damaged.
Photomatix has an alternate technique that gets very little buzz: exposure fusion. It yields more realistic results and reduces noise in the image. In this post, we’ll look at some videos I’ve recorded about my technique for doing interior photography. I start in Photomatix Pro doing exposure fusion, then I take the images into Photoshop CS6 where the Adaptive Wide Angle filter makes easy work of perspective correction. Finally I’ll finish off the image with some filters in Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4.
I’ve broken this into three videos, so have a look. If you want high quality, hi res video, you can watch these on my YouTube channel as well. At the time I’m writing this, the third video isn’t finished being processed by YouTube, so check back and I’ll embed it as it becomes available.