A recent online discussion got me thinking about taking “Crappy pictures” in poor light or uneventful non-photogenic locations. It’s easy to take a great picture of a gorgeous sunset at a stunning overlook. But you have to admit, it’s the subject matter making it great; it’s much harder to to make the ordinaryordinary extraordinary.
I really envy photographers that can create beauty where I saw none. But that means that the best way to challenge yourself is to go out and shoot in those situations. Digital shots are free, take a bunch of shots you won’t ever show anybody. It’s a great exercise for your photographic muscles. Bad photo days are the difficult challenge that will help you grow.
Example is my cell phone pic on an overcast day during my work break from the heart of the city. Not my best, probably not a “keeper”, but better than I thought I could pull off.
An often overlooked edit in Lightroom is the Lens corrections for Distortion and Chromatic Aberration. No lens is 100% perfect, the act of passing light through 10-20 glass elements introduces errors to the image, although slight it can be noticeable in the corners of a photograph when looking close (1:1 zoom in a viewer). If you haven’t been making lens correction to your RAW images you may have imperfect images in all your shots you process.
Chromatic Aberration (or CA) shows up as purple and green fringing in high contrast areas that can become distracting with poor optics. And Lens Distortion usually occurs when at wide angles, especially with lenses that have a broad range of zoom like a 24-200mm super zoom lens. Rather than type up the pages of documentation of how and why this occurs I’ll just throws this link in if you want to know more about CA and Distortion.
Lightroom has options to correct both of these in the “Lens Corrections” tag of the Development module. If you find the issue is distracting or you’re a perfectionist you can correct the CA and Distortion. There is also the option to load pre made Lens Profiles that are already customized for your Lens and Camera Body combination that know the peculiarities of your combination and auto edit the image accordingly. For the Details on how to do this check out this great link; and find the Lens Profile Downloader here.
The reason I don’t want to type a big mess on how to correct Lens Distortion is that I don’t have to deal with it. When the Micro Four Thirds standard was create it created smart digital lenses know their own flaws and embed the corrections into the RAW file itself. Lightroom is smart enough to see these built in corrections and apply them at import. It’s like having Adobe’s Lens Profile Database but they travel with the lens and are added to every RAW image file.
One of the often questioned issues is if Panasonic Lenses still apply Distortion and CA correction on Olympus camera bodies and vice-versa. The answer is yes, it still works. Here’s the info from Lightroom on a Panasonic 7-14mm wide angle lens with an Olympus OMD EM5 Mk.II.
I played around to see if I could further refine the lens corrections and it only makes the issues worse since it’s already at optimal settings.
Currently abroad, visiting Les Baux-de-Provence. Stuck the camera through an overhead gap in the rocks and found what was probably my favorite vantage on the town. Although taking pics stretched holding my camera overhead was a bit awkward.
About two years ago Google updated the Google Map app for Android. They cleaned up the interface and eliminated some of the slowdowns the app had. Unfortunately one of those slow downs was the “My Maps” feature.
Google’s My Maps is a VERY useful feature in Google Maps that allows you to place marker points anywhere on a map and give them a name and description. I’ve been using this for years making my own personal maps of places I want to photograph, and places I have photographed that worked out really well. Plus I’m able to add little descriptions to the marker points that basically say “stand here, face there, and pictures are best around sunset”
It’s great when planning a photo trip to a place you’ve never been before. You can scout locations and mark all the points on the map with reminders of what you’re looking at or looking for. The problem until now is that there was no way to access this with a mobile app. The best alternative was very clunky to access the maps on the mobile maps browser page; but with maps that have as many markers as I do this often led to the browser locking up or crashing. In the end what I was doing was printing out maps on pieces of paper and taking them with me on vacation.
Google quietly snuck out “My Maps” mobile last November. It’s basically all the features that were pulled out of Google maps and put into it’s own dedicated app, the result is a much more snappy program that is pretty easy to edit and add to while on the go. The drawback is it’s still dependent on a data signal, and there isn’t much you can do to cache the maps and points of interest. Worst of all the app doesn’t seem to want to let you add a point until data is working and the local map are has been downloaded. It would be great if a map area could be cached like the main maps program is capable of doing. And it should be able to drop markers for a point of interest based of GPS when data is not working or is slow. So if I’m driving down a road and see something I want to come back and photograph I can just drop a pin real quick on my current GPS location and move on without the maps having to load.
Regardless of the shortcomings it’s great having access to a digital copy of the maps you crated at your desktop while planing where to go on your trip. And when you’re in the city or around home it’s great to be able to make a list of places you know are photogenic or have unique points of interest that you like to return to.
Sorry it’s been so long since I posted, real world work impacts on things so much. I’m hoping to re-energize my online presence to the photography so hopefully there will be much more content in the future. More pics, but also more info as well.
I hate that my first post in so long is just a re-post but this is such a good article.
I personally see RAW as the digital equivalent to a film negative. It needs to be developed but you can do so much with it when you do develop it. JPEG is like a Polaroid. It comes out ready to use but you’re at the mercy of the camera’s developing process for the final result.
Off topic: If you still have the ever rare Polaroid camera, don’t shake it as “Outkast” suggests. Shaking never caused a Polaroid to develop faster, it just smears the developing fluid giving you a soft unsharp picture. Also rubbing the surface while developing smears the fluid and development. Although purposeful smearing can make a great artistic effect.