Jun 232013


When taking landscape photos I have found that taking 3 photos of the same scene and combining them into one gives me more leeway in how I can optimize the image. The trick is to take one normal image and then a second that is two steps too dark and a third that is two steps too bright. When all three images are combined into one, detail can be pulled out of the shadows and highlights that normally, with one shot, would be unavailable.

To combine the shots I use Photomatix. Mostly because Trey Ratcliff uses it and I hope to be half as good as he is some day. The combined image can be processed as HDR, High Dynamic Range, using a process called tone-mapping which tweaks the colors or as a regular image back in Lightroom.

For this image, taken on a hike above Harris Park outside Milton Freewater, I chose to use HDR because it pulled the colors out of the rocks. If I had to do it over again, I would have bumped all the photos one stop darker so I could get more detail from the clouds. I allowed the camera to set the exposure while pointing at the dark rocks so baseline photo was underexposed. If I had been paying attention (we were just out for a fun hike) I would have set the exposure one step darker.

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Jun 112013

The Civil War and American Art .
Eleanor Jones Harvey.
Google Books

I requested this book as a review copy from NetGalley because of my fascination with the Civil War and my love for photography. I must admit I never considered how a painter might interpret current events in landscape paintings. Battle scenes, yes, but not in ‘regular’ landscapes. Looks to be quite interesting.

Book Posts

  • The Civil War and American Art – Eleanor Jones Harvey
  • Vocab: Insouciant – Try to use it nonchalantly
  • Vocab: elided – to leave out of consideration, to omit
  • Vocab: Stint – To Limit or Restrict
  • Enslaving Your Own Children

  • Book Info

    The Civil War and American Art
    by Eleanor Jones Harvey
    Publisher: Yale University Press
    Published: 12/03/2012
    ISBN-10: 0300187335
    ISBN-13: 978-0300187335
    Started: 06/11/2013
    Finished: 07/30/2013
    Source: NetGalley
    Reason: Civil War & Photography always gets my interest
    Format: ebook

    Publisher Synopsis

    The Civil War redefined America and forever changed American art. Its grim reality, captured through the new medium of photography, was laid bare. American artists could not approach the conflict with the conventions of European history painting, which glamorized the hero on the battlefield. Instead, many artists found ways to weave the war into works of art that considered the human narrative—the daily experiences of soldiers, slaves, and families left behind. Artists and writers wrestled with the ambiguity and anxiety of the Civil War and used landscape imagery to give voice to their misgivings as well as their hopes for themselves and the nation.

    This important book looks at the range of artwork created before, during, and following the war, in the years between 1852 and 1877. Author Eleanor Jones Harvey surveys paintings made by some of America’s finest artists, including Frederic Church, Sanford Gifford, Winslow Homer, and Eastman Johnson, and photographs taken by George Barnard, Alexander Gardner, and Timothy H. O’Sullivan.

    Harvey examines American landscape and genre painting and the new medium of photography to understand both how artists made sense of the war and how they portrayed what was a deeply painful, complex period in American history. Enriched by firsthand accounts of the war by soldiers, former slaves, abolitionists, and statesmen, Harvey’s research demonstrates how these artists used painting and photography to reshape American culture. Alongside the artworks, period voices (notably those of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, and Walt Whitman) amplify the anxiety and dilemmas of wartime America.

    Author Info
    “In landscape paintings during the Civil War years, the skies and geography told a version of the story, bringing together literary metaphor and visual imagery to create a war-inflected layer of meaning. When we consider the literature, speeches, sermons, and letters that invoked stormy weather, volcanic eruptions, and celestial portents to understand the war and all its profound consequences, that imagery gains depth and the paintings’ meaning becomes clearer. Landscape painting thus became the emotional barometer of the mood of the nation.”—Eleanor Harvey

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    Apr 042013

    Photo Mounting 1

    Photo Mounting 3

    Photo Mounting 2

    Mounting photos on foam board, for stability and show, has been something I have wanted to learn how to do for a long time. What better way to learn than watch! Tonight at the Tri-City Photography Club meeting, 4 club members demonstrated how to mount a photo onto foam board. They made it look so easy I might have to work up the courage to do it myself.

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    Apr 022013

    Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens

    Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens

    A beautiful botanical garden on the site of an old sugar mill. The ruins of the old sugar mill are well preserved with explanatory signage scattered throught out describing the history of the sugar mill. Authentic 19th-century machinery, including crushing mills, a boiler, and a steam engine are also on the grounds.

    The garden itself has a natural beauty with many plants clearly labeled along the peaceful trails. And.. there be dinosaurs.. why? Well you need to go read the signs to find out.

    Admission is free but donations are welcome to help keep this place going.

    Source: GaryPaulson.net
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    Apr 012013

    Aubrey and her Dad

    Aubrey and her Dad

    I continue to try to finish up the wedding photography I did as a favor for my nephew and his lovely bride. I got a number of good shots of her with her dad. Most of the good shots are due to the fact that he is quite a character and required no posing.

    We shot these photos under the harsh summer Florida sun. Von & I found this little stage area at the park that we could use for the group shots. It was fairly well shaded but you will see in some photos that I was unable to keep everyone from being mottled with some harsh ‘sun spots’.

    Source: GaryPaulson.net
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    Mar 292013

    800 Meters - Boys

    While processing the 800 Meter races at the first Mid-Columbia Conference JV Track & Field event of the season, this photo stood out as the best of bunch. What makes it a good photo?

    First, the eyes are sharp. In photos of people the eyes are key. If they are closed or not in focus the photo loses so much.

    Second, the background is blurred. Without a blurred background most photos are too busy and the subject is lost to the noise in the backgound. A shallow depth-of-field is created by using a large aperture, in this case f/4.0. The problem with a small depth-of-field is that your focus has to be spot on or your subject will be blurred.

    Third, the action is evident. Since this is a photo of a runner it is good to catch the action. A high enough shutter speed to stop the action is required to do this. I would like to use 1000th of a second but with the falling light I had to cut that to 500th and take my chances.

    Lastly, Light. This race was at 6:30pm so the sun was beginning to go down, giving a nice warm side light. If the races are in the middle of the day the sun can be harsh, casting shadows and blowing out the high lights. The last hour of sunlight is always the photographers friend.

    Your thoughts?

    Source: MCC JV Track & Field - 800 Meter Race
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    Mar 092013

    My Tracks - Google Android App

    I have been using the android app, My Tracks from Google, to track my daily walks and other outdoor activities for a couple of months now. I have used my Garmin GPS to map my routes in the past but being able to use my phone is so much more handy. Just as we all use our phones as a handy camera, I want to be able to use my phone as a handy GPS. And just as my phone camera is not as ‘good’ as my large dSLR camera, my phone GPS only needs to be ‘good enough’ when I am out and about. So, what does a GPS app need to do to be ‘good enough’?

    Background Mode Endomondo Pro had been on my Galaxy Nexus for a number of months and did a pretty good job but has a major failing; if you need to run any other app, it cannot run in the background and will close down as soon as it looses focus. So, if you need to take a call, answer a text message, or change up something on your android mp3 player, Endomond will silently quit running and you may not realize till you get home that you have no record of your activity.

    Display Tracks on Google Maps We all want to see where we have been, especially if we took a nice hike. My Tracks can export your track to your My Maps at Google or you can share it on any of your favorite social media sites.

    Export Tracks to a GPX Geo tagging photos allows you to place the location of a photo within the image so that you and others can see where the photo was taken. By using this on my last trip to San Antonio I could easily see where I was when I took each photo. Running the GPS constantly can be hard on battery life but I always carry 2 spare batteries when I plan to do this just to be on the safe side.

    My Track Features

    • View your real-time location and where you’ve been on Google Maps for Mobile.
    • Monitor real-time speed, distance and elevation right on your phone.
    • Share your tracks with friends via Google+, Gmail, Facebook and Twitter.
    • Want to remember that secret vista or running path? Mark it with a waypoint.
    • Record your heart rate and bike cadence to know exactly how you’re doing.
    • Export your tracks and stats to Google Maps, Google Docs, and Google Fusion Tables too.

    All in all, I like the My Tracks app. I turn it on when I take my daily walks and have it set to ‘announce’ every 2 minutes how far and how fast I am walking so that I push myself. I have used it on vacations, hikes, and even Cross Country meets to geo-tag photos, that then can be plotted on Google Maps.

    What apps do you use?

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    Jun 112012

    Manual for the Canon 60D

    A mystery solved. Filenames on Canon EOS cameras, like the T2i, 60D, 7D, etc all use the pattern IMG_xxxx.JPG or IMG_xxxx.CR2. One day I noticed all the filenames on my Canon T2i started with an underscore replacing the ‘I’, so they started with ‘_MG_xxxx’. I didn’t know what I had done but wasn’t worried cause it helped distinguish them from the photos from my Canon 60D.

    Today I found the answer while browsing the user’s manual for my camera (oh the horror!).

    If the image is captured with the color space set to Adobe RGB, the file name will start with “_MG_” (first character is an underscore).
    Yep, I had changed the color space on my camera to Adobe RGB from the default sRGB one night and forgot. Since I shoot almost exclusively RAW, and color space only affects JPG images, I never noticed the difference.

    For now I will go back and set it the sRGB. I know Adobe RGB is ‘better’ quality but not all browsers are smart enough to display Adobe RGB files correctly, and the only reason I would shoot JPG is so that I don’t have to process the image.

    Hope this helps someone else’s quandary!