Thursday, 31 May 2012

Tilt-shift from Rome and big thanks

I'm not a great fan of fake tilt-shift (and not a great fan of 'true' tilt-shift taken using tilt-shift lens neither), however, sometimes I make some fake tilt-shift photos as well. Today one example of such a photo, taken in Rome.

I would also like to thank everyone visiting my page. Day by day, week by week and month by month more and more people visit this blog. I hope you like my photos and/or tutorials. Anyway - thank you!

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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Tutorial: Batch processing with Photomatix Pro

Today I will write a few words about Batch Processing in Photomatix. This tutorial is also available as part of my HDR tutorial.

Everything is fine and I hope clear up to now but how do you process HDR photos when you end up with a few hundreds to a few thousands of photos after a photo shoot? Opening each of them in Photomatix, making adjustments and then saving sounds like a tedious and very long task. Also it is rather difficult do choose the best image. When you have single images (i.e. not bracketed) you can compare them and choose one or few which you're going to process. But how to compare images when each of them is in fact built from 3, 5 or 7 photos? Should you compare underexposed images, normal exposure or maybe all images? This would complicate process of surveying very much. Another thing is doing timelapse.
Luckily, the solution to above problems is simple - use batch processing feature instead. Batch processing allows you  to process similar images all at once using same settings for all of them. Photomatix Pro has this feature built-in and as you will see in a minute it's quite powerful.

Choosing and preparing photos

As mentioned above, all photos in the batch will be processed with the same settings, so you first need to select photos for processing. Generally I try to choose photos which are very similar to each other, have similar tones and light. Most of the time I create new folder in Lightroom (or Windows Explorer) and move all such photos to it. Then I take one bracketed sequence from this folder and open it in Photomatix Pro, choose preset and make adjustments to it, then I save it as a new preset which I will then use in batch processing. Why this is necessary? Batch processing doesn't allow you to preview your adjustments (this is same way as batch processing in Photoshop CS for instance).

I then close Preview mode with X button (there is no need to process a photo).

Batch GUI

Now open Automate -> Batch Processing (or use CTRL + B shortcut). Following window will appear. It might look quite complex at first but it isn't.

Elements of the GUI are described below:
  1. Top-left corner contains controls which allow you to choose method used for processing photos. You can select any method available in Photomatix Pro. There is even one more method - Fusion/Realistic. It's meant especially for real-estate photographers but it's significantly slower than any other method so it's not available in the interactive GUI mode. To process photos with a given method just check a box near the method name. If you choose more than one method (eg. both Details Enhancer and Tone Compressor) Photomatix will process each of your photos a few times saving you time to process photos several times separately. It's quite useful. Also note the "Settings..." button near each method name. Clicking it brings the dialog allowing you to select settings and preset. It looks very similarly to Settings Adjustments in the preview mode.
    Also note that in order to use Details Enhancer or Tone Compressor you need to check a box near "Merge into 32-bit HDR file". After clicking on the "Settings..." button next to this checkbox window similar to Preprocessing Options will appear allowing you to select eg. Ghost Removal settings, Chromatic aberration reduction, White balance settings etc.
  2. Below methods section there is a section allowing you to choose number of exposures. If you used sequences with 3 bracketed shots choose 3. If 5, select 5. But what if you used sequences with both 3, 5 and 7 images? It's still possible. Click on the Advanced button and choose "Automatically detect number of bracketed frames" option.
  3. Then there is a section with alignment settings. All settings are similar to settings from Preprocessing window so I will skip their description.
  4. Underneath there is a source files section. If you want to process whole folder choose "Selection by folder" and then click on the "Select folder" button and navigate to your folder. If you, however, prefer to process only a few files, select "Selection by individual files" and then click on the "Select files" button and in the opened window select files you want to process. There is also a list of files. Clicking on any file in it will show small preview of it to the right. There is also option to remove file and filter files by type.
    If you want to process photos in subfolders be sure to check "Process subfolders" checkbox as otherwise those photos won't be processed.
  5. In the top right part of the form there are 3 buttons:
    1. Run - starts the batch,
    2. Close - close the batch window,
    3. Stop - cancels the batch processing. Note that this button appears only after clicking on the Run button.
  6. Below there is large text section - it's a batch log. Generally speaking all messages will appear here. Most of them will be information but also errors will appear here. Errors might appear when Photomatix could not process images for some reason (eg. when it couldn't find bracketed sequences). In the screenshot above I cancelled the batch processing by clicking on the Stop button, hence the message.
  7. In the bottom right corner you have settings to specify your output settings. First you have to specify output directory and you have two options here:
    1. Created under Source Folder - this is default option. Photomatix Pro will create new folder in your source directory and save the output images there. The folder will have name in form PhotomatixResultsXX where XX is a number. For instance if there is already PhotomatixResults01, Photomatix will save result files under PhotomatixResults02.
    2. Customized location - choose this option when you want to save your images to destination of your choice.
  8. Then you can select format of the saved image (JPEG, 8- and 16-bit TIFF files) and in case of JPEGs specify quality (in the range 0 to 100).
  9. Then you can select format of 32-bit HDR image generating when "Merge into 32-bit HDR file" is checked. You can select radiance (HDR) and EXR formats. There is also a checkbox "Remove 32-bit HDR file after tone mapping". If you want to use HDR image for other purpose (eg. to tone map it again later without need of merging again), uncheck this option.
    There is also a Naming & Output Options button. Clicking it brings another window:
This form allows you to choose naming scheme, Append custom suffix to the output files (eg. I use "_HDR" suffix). Resizing section allows you to choose output size of the images. By checking "Resize output to" box and typing width and height you can shrink the output images. Finishing section in turn allows you to apply finishing touch to all output images. You can apply contrast and sharpening enhancements.

Running batch

This is very simple, just:
  1. Set settings as desired
  2. Click Run button
  3. Wait (or eat a dinner or in case you have thousands of shots to process - go for a walk). It's slow process 

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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Another reflection

Reflections are one of my favourite subjects as you can see here or here. Here is another one. Quite simple and very green (on some uncalibrated monitors it looks much too green in fact :) ).

Here is EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 50D
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 105 mm
Aperture: f/16.0
Shutter speed: 1/16 s (for "normal" exposure)
ISO: 100
Number of exposures: 3

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Monday, 28 May 2012

Fountain in Barcelona

This is my older HDR taken in Barcelona. Despite it's a few years old I still rather like colour of the water (although I would process sky a bit differently and would probably change general tonality).

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Sunday, 27 May 2012

Autumn in Berlin

Today HDR photo showing Bundestag in Berlin.

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Saturday, 26 May 2012

Dahab in photos - slideshow

Today I decided to upload slideshow of photos I took recently in Dahab, Egypt. I recommend playing it in HD in full-screen mode. Hope you like them.

They are mainly landscape shots. Also I have some interesting plans for the next week. I hope to write next post about sharpening and write a tutorial on batch features in Photomatix, so stay tuned :)

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Friday, 25 May 2012

St. Jorge's Castle


Today HDR photo from Lisbon showing walls of St. Jorge's Castle.

Here is EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 24-105L f/4 IS USM
Focal length: 24 mm
Aperture: f/11.0
ISO: 400
Number of exposures: 3

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Thursday, 24 May 2012

Golden Hour


Another HDR landscape photo from Dahab. As you probably have noticed I'm a great fan of golden hour. This time I was shooting near its ending. This photo would be much better if there were any clouds but unfortunately in Egypt they are not so common... still I like golden tones in the sky and on the water surface.

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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Desert again



The photo above is HDR photo shot in Dahab, near Blue Hole dive site. I hope it doesn't scream HDR despite using quite strong settings in Photomatix Pro 4.2.

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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Day turning into the night

Usually I don't submit sequences of images but this time I decided it's worth doing. All photos were taken in exactly same location. Difference between them was about 5 - 10 minutes. They show nice transition of late afternoon into the night. It's nice to see how completely different they are despite sharing location.
 

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Monday, 21 May 2012

Does Photomatix convert photos to JPEGs? No, it DOES NOT

Another landscape photo taken in Dahab. Hope you like it!

Today I decided to write about common misconception. Many people believe that Photomatix Pro internally converts RAW images to JPEG files, so they suggest doing it manually. However, the truth is that Photomatix doesn't do such a thing. Here is a link to the Photomatix FAQs.
And here is the excerpt from it:

"Question: Is is true that Photomatix converts RAWs to JPEGs for internal processing?
Answer: No. Photomatix does not convert RAWs files to JPEG for internal processing, and never did it. It would not make sense to do this anyway, given that converting to JPEG would result in quality loss and moreover would add processing time.
When you load RAW files in Photomatix, the files are converted in linear space into an uncompressed image with 16 bits per color channel, i.e. 48 bits per pixel.
The only moment Photomatix converts to JPEG is when you want to save the image created by Photomatix and choose to save it as JPEG. This applies to a tonemapped or fused image created by Photomatix, and not to the original image you loaded."


So, I prefer to convert to TIFFs instead or sometimes I let Photomatix read the RAW directly.

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Sunday, 20 May 2012

New wallpaper - Dahab


Today I uploaded new wallpaper to the Wallpapers section: the above photo. I took it in Dahab, Egypt. There was some really angry sky over the mountains and I was really lucky to be there. Hope you like it :)

Here is EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 50D
Lens: Canon 10-22 USM
Focal length: 10 mm
Aperture: f/16.0
ISO: 100
Number of exposures: 3

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Saturday, 19 May 2012

Resting lioness

Resting lioness in Warsaw Zoo
Click on the photo to view it in large size on black background.
Today photo of a lioness taken in the Warsaw ZOO. Canon 70-300L again proves it quality - the sharpness is fantastic :)

Here is EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 70-300L IS USM
Focal length: 300 mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/400 s
ISO: 100

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Friday, 18 May 2012

Cabo da Roca

Cabo da Roca in Portugal
Click on the photo to view it in large size on black background.
I took this photo in Cabo da Roca, near Sintra in Portugal and processed it with Photomatix Pro 4.2. As you can see I took it with Canon 50D not 5D MK II. The truth is I use both cameras and always have both with me. Most of the time I have telezoom lens attached to one of them and wide-angle lens to the other. I don't need to switch lenses that often what saves me time and also protects sensor from dust and other dirt.

BTW I'm also present on Facebook so be sure to follow me there as I upload even more photos there. There are a number of other sites and portals on which I have accounts - be sure to check them in the About me section.

Here is EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 50D
Lens: Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 USM
Focal length: 10 mm
Aperture: f/10.0
Shutter speed: 1/250 s (for "normal" exposure)
ISO: 400
Number of exposures: 3

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Thursday, 17 May 2012

Jurrassic Park

Botanical Garden in Lisbon
Click on the photo to view it in large size on black background.
I took this photo in Belem, Lisbon. Sun light diffused on glasses of greenhouse created some really amazing sun rays. With broken glasses and looking abandoned this botanical garden looked a bit like Jurassic Park.

Here is EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 IS USM L
Focal length: 45 mm
Aperture: f/5.7
ISO: 400
Number of exposures: 3

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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Even more Photomatix Pro presets!

Note: newest presets from me are available here.

HDR photo taken in the Moorish Castle in Sintra. When I was taking this shot I loved the textures and details in the rocks. Also shadow in the left side of the image looked very nice to me. I used 3 exposures and merged and tonemapped them in Photomatix Pro.


About 1.5 month ago I posted some of my Photomatix Pro presets. Since then it became one of the most popular posts on this blog. So I decided to make the rest of my presets available for download as well. So today I release 70 presets which you can download by clicking here. Note that some of them were released previously but under different names so you might need to remove them to avoid confusion.

To install the presets*:
  1. Download the presets and extract them on your disk.
  2. Start Photomatix Pro 4.2. If you haven't updated to 4.2 visit HDRsoft homepage and download your upgrade (in case you're eligible to it).
  3. Open any image and tonemap it to go to the tonemapping preview mode.
  4. In the Presets window change tab from "Built-In" to "My Presets".
  5. In the combo-box in the upper part of the Presets window select "Import Presets..." item.
  6. Navigate to the directory where you extracted presets and select all the files you want to import. You might also want to specify category for the imported presets (eg. "Downloaded"). To do this just fill in the text field at the bottom of the Import window.
  7. Accept the selection and wait for the thumbnails to appear. Voila!
Hope you like it!
* In case of older versions than 4.2 you can follow instructions I posted here.

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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Ghosts by the fire


I took this photo in Dahab, Egypt at night. I used 2s exposure to achieve effect of blurry people.

Here is EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 50D
Lens: Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 USM
Focal length: 22 mm
Aperture: f/5.0
Shutter speed: 2 s
ISO: 100

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Monday, 14 May 2012

Mountains in Dahab

Using a tele-zoom lens for landscapes isn't common use probably. However, I quite often do this. I frequently shoot at 105 mm focal length using Canon 24-105 L lens. During my recent stay in Dahab I used Canon 70-300 L as a landscape lens as well :) both at 70 and 300 mm there and I'm really happy with the results.

The photo above is HDR photo shot in Dahab, near Blue Hole dive site. I hope it doesn't scream HDR despite using quite strong settings in Photomatix Pro 4.2.

Here is EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 70-300L f/4-5.6 IS USM
Focal length: 70 mm
Aperture: f/16.0
Shutter speed: 1/320 s (for "normal" exposure)
ISO: 1000
Number of exposures: 3

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Sunday, 13 May 2012

Tutorial: Sharpening - Part 2: Unsharp Mask Sharpening

Photo of kids playing with giant bubble in the centre of Warsaw city.
Recently I wrote about sharpening using High-Pass filter. Today I will describe another very popular method of sharpening - using Unsharp Mask filter. Although it's as popular as the method described previously (or even more) it's a bit more difficult to use at the beginning as you will see shortly.

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Saturday, 12 May 2012

Desert at night


I love shooting long exposure landscapes at night. It is very interesting experience and also very challenging. Not only focusing becomes a problem but also composing an image becomes difficult (a torch is a must!). Often it is also cold at night what is another difficulty. Also noise is inevitable in such a case due to very long exposure and/or high ISO settings.

But the results are often surreal, extraordinary, beautiful. In this post I upload several long exposure photos I took during my recent stay in Dahab, Egypt. All of them were taken in one place using Canon 50D and Canon 10-22 lens. During the shoot I used exposures between 45s and 60s and ISO between 800 and 1600. Of course I used a tripod and remote shutter release.

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Friday, 11 May 2012

Shore in Dahab


I took this photo in Dahab, Egypt. I used 3 exposures in -2; 0; +2 sequence and merged them in Photomatix Pro 4.2. Conversion to black & white was done in Lightroom 4 and fine-tuning in Photoshop CS5.

Here is EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 50D
Lens: Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 USM
Focal length: 10 mm
Aperture: f/14.0
Shutter speed: 1/30 s (for "normal" exposure)
ISO: 100

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Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Tomb

Tomb in the Carmo Convent ruins
Click on the photo to view it in large size on black background.
I took this photo in Lisbon in the Carmo Convent in the late afternoon. I really liked the light & shadow play on this tomb. It created fantastic contrast and made this tomb stand out. Normal exposure photo had details both in highlights and shadows almost completely lost. Using Photomatix Pro on 3 photos sequence (-2; 0; +2) I was able to bring them back.

Here is EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 24-105L f/4 IS USM
Focal length: 24 mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Shutter speed: 1/100 s (for "normal" exposure)
ISO: 100

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Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Tutorial: Sharpening - Part 1: High-Pass Sharpening

HDR photo taken in Masuria, Poland. There was a lot of dust (caused by the car which passed a few seconds before) over the lake when the sun started to set what created this haze like effect.
In this short post and in posts later, I will try to write a few words about sharpening in Photoshop. As it is rather complicated task which one can approach many different ways I will divide this tutorial into a few parts (each of the parts focusing on a different sharpening method).

Today I will talk about one of the most popular sharpening methods known as the High-Pass sharpening.

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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Is Egypt really a paradise?

For many tourists Egypt is like a paradise - warm sea, very nice hot weather without rain. There are many interesting and famous things to see like the pyramids for instance. Underwater life is very rich so it attracts divers from all around the world (myself included). For those who prefer on-surface water activities surfing is an option to go due to a wind which in some places (eg. in Dahab) is present almost whole year. If you don't like water you can also go riding a horse or quad in the desert. Or you can do a million other things.

But tourism is just one face of Egypt. The other is poverty you can come across if you go deeper into some cities. The contrast is really huge and striking. Every time I'm in Egypt and take a photo like the above it makes me really sad because people living there deserve a much better life.

I took this photo in Dahab, Egypt with a Canon 70-300L telezoom lens.

Here is EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 70-300L IS USM
Focal length: 277 mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/320 s
ISO: 500

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Monday, 7 May 2012

Dramatic clouds

Another photo from the same location as yesterday. I had some very dramatic and dark clouds over the mountains. It was also getting late. I hope this photo indeed looks quite dramatic and dark.

Here is EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 50D
Lens: Canon 10-22 USM f/3.5-4.5
Focal length: 22 mm
Aperture: f/16
Shutter speed: 1/2 s (for the "normal" exposure photo)
ISO: 100

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Sunday, 6 May 2012

Horse Riding in Dahab

It was getting dark when I took this photo in Dahab, Egypt hence dark tones. I wanted to give it painterly look and hope I succeeded in doing so. I shot 3 RAWs using -2; 0; +2 sequence from a tripod.

Here is EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 50D
Lens: Canon 10-22 USM f/3.5-4.5
Focal length: 22 mm
Aperture: f/16
Shutter speed: 1/40 s (for the "normal" exposure photo)
ISO: 800

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Saturday, 5 May 2012

Only glass separates us


Another one from the ZOO. Although shooting through the glass means failure in most of the cases this was an exception as it is the glass that makes this shot.

Here is EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 70-300L IS USM
Focal length: 300 mm
Aperture: f/4
Shutter speed: 1/400 s
ISO: 100

Location:

View Larger Map

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Friday, 4 May 2012

The Family

I took this photo in Dahab, Egypt with a Canon 70-300L telezoom lens. Despite very high ISO (3200 - I had to use such a high value because it was getting pretty dark) the noise is hardly noticeable. I'm really satisfied with this photo. I like both tones, composition, reflection and also it tells some story in my opinion.

Here is EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 70-300L IS USM
Focal length: 300 mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Shutter speed: 1/100 s
ISO: 3200

Location:

View Larger Map

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Thursday, 3 May 2012

Photomatix Pro 4.2 released

Hi,

I'm finally back from Egypt with a lot of nice photos which I will post in the next few days. However, today there is no photo but I have some news on Photomatix Pro 4.2.

Photomatix Pro 4.2 has been finally released on 30th April 2012! I wrote about changes in Photomatix Pro 4.2 some time ago but since they related to the first beta here are they again:
  • Many changes related to preset thumbnails
    • Addition of 20 new built-in preset thumbnails (eg. 3 more black & white presets, a few realistic and artistic ones, creative ones)
    • Ability to toggle between normal (as in 4.1 and earlier versions) and large thumbnails size. This makes it much easier to decide between the presets
    • Ability to display preset thumbnails in two columns so more thumbnails appear on one page
    • Ability to import presets with just one click. In the "My Presets" tab just click "Import Presets..." select files and you're done :) No more need to manually copy the presets into the Presets directory. So if you had problems importing my presets for instance you can now do it easily.
    • Ability to group presets into categories, eg. I now have categories like Winter, Warm, etc. It makes selecting appropriate preset a lot easier.
    • Preset thumbnails should load a bit faster now.
  • Addition of Finishing Touch window. This window, which by default shows when the tone-mapping/fusion finishes, allows you to make basic edition of your photo including contrast curve adjustments, color saturation adjustments, sharpening. Finishing Touch can be also used from Batch Bracketed. Just open Batch and then "Naming & Output Options".
  • Redesigned GUI in case of Windows version. Now the windows have custom title bars which in my opinion look a lot better than default OS ones used in previous release
  • Differences between preview and final image has been minimized.
  • Instead of size ratio like 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 etc. now there are zoom buttons.
  • Improved multi-monitor support
  • New processing method Fusion/Realistic (available only in the Batch Bracketed photos for now). It should work especially well for real-estate photographers.
  • All EXIF and GPS data should be now properly transferred from the source images. 
This version is free for all users who bought 3.0 or higher and it can be downloaded here.

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