Tag Archives: RAW

The Digital Negative


The Digital Negative by Jeff Schewe, published by Peachpit Press, ISBN: 13 978-0-321-83957-2.

I have just read this book to try to get a better understanding of digital photography.  Schewe is a photographer who has also been working with the boffins at Adobe since the early 1990’s to help develop RAW, Photoshop and more recently Lightroom for photographers from a photographer’s point-of-view.  His books are therefore as close as you can get to finding a first class knowledgable author.  He has published two books ‘The Digital Negative’ and “The Digital Print’ the later I have just began to read.

The Digital Print briefly covers the basic background of how the digital image is made in the camera but drills in to the featured and functions in both RAW and Lightroom that you will use to process your RAW file in to a presentable photo.  This includes a recommended and sensible workflow, background information from the Adobe engineers explaining why certain features work the way they do.  Chapters 4 and 5 a dedicated to Photoshop for advanced editing beyond the capabilities of RAW and Lightroom for those images worth the extra effort.  Chapter 6 covers the recommended workflow from importing pictures from the camera, storing, backing-up, making copies, cataloguing on to developing.  This book does not however cover printing as this is a topic for his second publication.

This is a good book to read, I learned a few new features in Lightroom that I was unaware of and also instructed me in the use of RAW that I am unfamiliar with as I have only used Lightroom so far.  Lightroom was was developed with a lot of the features from RAW and both will talk to one another but changes made in one will alter the other’s parameters and this is a useful thing to be aware of if you use both RAW and Lightroom.  If you want a better understanding of Lightroom, RAW and Photoshop this ids the book to read.  This is not however a detailed book for Photoshop it covers the topics that most photographers need but doesn’t look at all the magic tricks possible in Photoshop.  This is a book intended to help the modern photographer become confident and proficient developing digital photographs to a point that they can print or advance to higher levels of editing using Photoshop and plug-ins.  Not too technically challenging and easy to read and fairly easy to understand without an engineering degree.

A very good book that I would recommend.

Colour of light

Light, Science & Magic, 4th edition. By Fil Hunter, Steven Biver, Paul Fuqua.
Published by Focal Press, Taylor & Francis Group.

Further reading:
Basics Photography 02 Lighting, 07 Exposure. By David Prakel.
03 Capturing Colour by Phil Malpas. Published by AVA Publishing.

Normal un-coloured light will appear through our eyes to be white.
Light is in fact made up of a range a colours which can be seen through a prism or in a rainbow. All of which mixed together makes white as we see it. The three primary colours of light that can between them make up the full spectrum of colours are Red, Green, Blue (RGB) as used by monitor screens, digital cameras and even our own eyes.

In photography white light is described using a colour temperature scale called Kelvin. The idea is that a substance heated in a vacuum changes colour the hotter it gets, starting from a dark red at it’s coolest moving through yellow, white to blue at it’s hottest.

Kodak, set the bench-mark for early colour film photography by choosing the kelvin temperature measurement of 5500 as a standard white balance for daylight film. Since then two additionally standards for white balanced film has been adopted for use with tungsten lighting: 3200 and 3400.

Colour film images can easily be tainted by a colour cast created by a light source that the film has not been formulated for. Therefore, the right choice of colour balanced film should be considered and loaded before shooting or / and additional coloured filters should be considered and fitted to the end of the lens of the camera to correct for the colour cast that the light source is expected to create.

In digital photography this problem still persists but can be easily corrected by either simply selecting a white balance option from the camera’s menu system of pre-programmed choices or if photographing in RAW by altering the white balance later-on using photo editing software on a computer.

However, it is best practice to always set white balance on your camera before shooting as will save time later on in post editing.

On most DSLRs there is an option to create custom white balance by taking a measurement from a 18% grey-card and on some professional cameras a specific temperature value can be set.

Exercise – Colours into tones in black-and-white

In this exercise, I created a still life using sweets, modelling clay and drinking straws laid on my grey card that I use for manually setting the white balance. The object of this exercise is to use colour filters when converting a colour image to black and white to improve the tone and contrast of the black and white picture. This can be achieved with digital photography by using the colour filter options in Photoshop or Lightroom by adding or subtracting the colour values on the control sliders found in the greyscales functions, available to both of these programs. These features simulates in a more controllable way the adding of a coloured filter to the end of a lens on a camera when photographing with black and white film.

I began this exercise by using my grey card to set the white balance for my camera, I then I set up my still-life with the camera set on a tripod positioned over the subject. I used my 105mm lens, manually focused and set to aperture priority, ISO 100 and I used a cable remote to trip the camera.

First image remains as shot in colour.
Second altered in Photoshop with the greyscale function with no filter adjustments.
Third, fourth, fifth and sixth images all adjusted in Photoshop with one filter raised to simulate a coloured filter over the lens but with the other primary colour sliders lowered to adjust tone and contrast.

Apart from sharpening this image has been untouched and simply converted to JPEG.

Photoshop – Filters – Camera Raw filter – HSL/Greyscale – tick box “Convert to Greyscale”.
This image has been simply converted to the grey scale in Photoshop without any adjustments to the colour filter sliders which were set to the following default settings:
RED – +7, Orange – +2, Yellow – 0, Greens – -13, Aquas – -22 Blues – +5, Purples – +5,
Magentas – +7.

Red filter.
Filter sliders:
RED – +100, Orange – -27, Yellow – -36, Greens – -41, Aquas – -22 Blues – -69, Purples – +5,
Magentas – +7.

Yellow filter.
Adding_yellow _filter_and_reducing_green_blue_red-resized
Filter sliders:
RED – -42, Orange – -8, Yellow – +11, Greens – -19, Aquas – -22 Blues – -23, Purples – +5,
Magentas – +7.

Adding_green _filter_and_reducing_yellow_blue_red-resized
Filter sliders:
RED – -49, Orange – -21, Yellow – -33, Greens – +78, Aquas – -22 Blues – -13, Purples – +5,
Magentas – +7.

Adding_blue _filter_and_reducing_yellow_green_red-resized
Filter sliders:
RED – -12, Orange – -29, Yellow – -33, Greens – -77, Aquas – -22 Blues – +100, Purples – +5,
Magentas – +7.

By playing with these colour filters in the grey scale I have been able to alter the appearance of all the items on the grey background. However, the grey background itself, has remained constant in all the images.

Leap of faith

I have started to take more control of my camera by manually setting the white balance to either the pre-set settings for sun, cloud, etc. or using a grey card and calibrating the camera under the current ambient light conditions at the time.  In the past I opted to trust the camera to decide for me; but I am taking lots of photos of the same subjects for this course all with the same light conditions etc.   I want to be able to take advantage of the batch processing featured in Lightroom or NX2 in order to quickly and efficiently make adjustments to my RAW files and in order to do so I must me sure that the batch of images all have the same WB for the process to be effective on all the shots.  It is easy to be lazy and let the camera do the thinking; so it takes a little leap of faith to start owning more of the responsibility of setting the camera up for good and correct exposures.

Assignment One – Contrasts

Assignment One – CONTRASTS
In this assignment I have been tasked to find eight subjects that I could use to express extremes of different qualities and take pairs of photographs, which bring out the essential differences and then to add one photo that holds both contrasts.
From the twenty-one choices, I selected: Large/small, pointed/blunt, liquid/solid, strong/weak, light/heavy, black/white, straight/curved, sweet/sour. Please review my work and notes and I look forward to your critique. Thank you.

Strength of Steel-resized

Strength – I looked for something that both suggested and represented strength and I came upon the struts that are attached to the bridge and the supporting arches. I see these struts act as lynch pins between the burden and the support and the angle of the strut suggests tension between the arch and the road. I consider that the strut is part of a whole and that the strength is through the working partnership it has with other components, namely the main Arch support above it and the supporting girder below.

I used my zoom lens adjusted to 65mm, f/16, 1/100, ISO-100, WB-Auto, RAW. I made adjustments in Lightroom, cropping and straightening, and making small adjustments to exposure, contrast, highlights. Sharpened and saved to JPEG.

Weak as a Sapling-resized-a

Weak – Looking for contrast to strength I felt that a small fig tree sapling that I am growing offered the suggestion of something that is weak, as it looks small and fragile; and most importantly alone. To make this image more interesting I wanted to exaggerate its vulnerability; so I set up a scene with the plant surrounded by tools that could destroy it setting the open shears in the background suggesting imminent destruction.
I set up the scene on my garden table to take advantage of natural light with the help of some reflectors.

Camera on a tripod, I used my recently purchase Nikon 105mm Macro lens, f/13, 1/250, ISO-125, RAW, WB-Auto and additional flash. I made adjustments in Lightroom, straightened and cropped and made some adjustments to exposure, contrast, highlights, sharpened and saved to JPEG.

Sweet memories-resized-a

Sweet – My first thought was sweeties and I imagined brightly coloured sweets in a bonbonniére. My thoughts then led to sweet childhood memories; so I had my scene and using some framed photographs that my wife has of herself and her sisters as children I had the ideal sweet memories and all I needed was to buy some sweets and Jelly Babies was the perfect choice.
The Jelly Babies also work on another level, suggesting coloured childhood memories, sickly sweet, bright and cheerful. The lace cloth suggest femininity and nostalgia, the frames emphasise the importance of those memories to the individual and the bonbonniére the possession of an adult who perhaps hasn’t quite grown up.

I set this scene up in doors using a white reflector to provide a clean background, I set my Nikon speed light to operate remotely standing to the left of the scene, in very close, just out of shot, pointing the flash to the ceiling to bounce the light down and create an even light and minimize shadow. This was controlled from the small flash built into my camera the reflectors were set up on the right hand side of the scene. With the camera on a tripod, I used my new 105mm lens, f/13, 1/250, ISO-125, WB-Auto, RAW. In Lightroom I straightened and cropped, made some adjustments to exposure, contrast, highlights, sharpened and saved to JPEG.

Sour Relationship-resized-a

Sour – I now needed a similar scene to contrast sweet memories and convey SOUR; so my thought naturally led me to ideas of relationships and how they can turn sour. I wanted a similar scene and I also wanted something else to convey the taste of SOUR. I thought lemons and limes and I thought lemons with gin and limes with tequila. Therefore, gin and tonic for the women and tequila for the man, I then found a suitable image of a loving couple on the internet that I t printed and tore in half, then using some personal framed pictures to suggest relationship history, I set the scene. All the items add layers to the story, the knife, the salt, the limes all suggest bad words, bitterness, recrimination, aggression and pain. I used the red painted wall of our living room for the background which I felt suited the mood of the picture. The doilies suggest that all of these emotions are controlled and kept “civilized” in the context of the expected behaviour of a typical middle class couple.

I set up my lighting the same way as I had set up for “Sweet” with the speed light to operate remotely and in the same way of bouncing the light from the ceiling and setting the reflectors in same positions. Again the camera was set on my tripod, 85mm lens, f/4.5, 1/250, ISO-125, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom adjustments – I simply sharpened.

A Splash of Liquid-resized-a

Liquid – I wanted to somehow convey an impression of the properties and feeling of liquid through a single image and after much consideration I thought that a splash is a good clear example and also provides a sense of drama and spectacle. I chose a strawberry as it adds colour and texture and was easily manageable. I set the scene outside on my garden table to take advantage of the natural light as I was using a fast shutter speed. I set the glass on a white table cloth and used a white reflector to provide a clean background. I had trouble with the wind blowing over my reflectors and my D-800e is not the fastest for high speed continues shooting; so I often missed the perfect exposure and after several hours I finally had some images that I could use.

Camera set on a tripod using my 85mm lens, f/4, 1/6400, ISO-400, WB-Auto, JPEG (normal). In Lightroom, I adjusted the light temperature to give a cooler look and bring out the blue, I angled and cropped the image for greater impact and I made small adjustments to exposure, contrast, highlights, whites and blacks and sharpened.

Frozen Solid-resized-a

Solid – Following on from the theme with the water and strawberry, I decided that the contrast for liquid water is frozen solid with the strawberry trapped inside; so I froze a strawberry in a cube and set up inside this time and simply used the light from an LED torch to illuminated the subject. I decided upon an LED light as it provides a cold blue white light that I thought suitable for the subject. I found an A4 blue plastic presentation binder that I could use as base and background for my ice cube. Laying the torch to the left of the cube shining diagonally through the ice and setting the cube angled to the camera I quickly took my pictures before the ice melted.

Camera on tripod, 105mm lens, f/5, 1/5, ISO-200, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom – Image angled and cropped for more of a dynamic impact, light temperature adjusted to give a cooler look and bring out the blue form the light and I made small adjustments to exposure, contrast, highlights, whites and blacks and sharpened before saving to JPEG.

Sharp nosed-resized-a

Sharp – My first thought was that a pointed object is a good example of sharp for example the end of a knife, tip of a spear, top of the railings in a Park, but I wanted something more interesting. I am fortunate to have Brooklands Museum right on my doorstep; so I paid a visit and took some pictures of the Concord on display. Cutting edge in aeronautical design with its long pointed nose and in addition the pitot tube extending out from the tip of the nose heightens the sense of its sharpness. I felt that this was the perfect choice and surely a subject that is both iconic and a head turner. To get an almost “Thunderbird” effect I simply tilted the image when cropping.

Photographed hand held I used my thrifty fifty (50mm lens) f/22, 1/250, ISO-250, WB-Auto, RAW.
Lightroom – I adjusted the angle and cropped for a more stylistic image, small adjustments to light temp, exposure, contrast, highlights and shadow, sharpened, saved to JPEG.

Blunt work-1-resized-a

Blunt – With Concord still in mind my first thought was to get an image of the nose of a sub-sonic aircraft as a contrast, but I did not feel that this would convey the feeling or impression of blunt. However, staying on the thought of design I had an idea of drawings and pencils. This led to the idea of another still life scene, this time I used an architect’s drawing I have for a planned extension, a blunt pencil, an architect’s ruler and sharpener, etc. The blunted pointed end of the pencil contrasts well against the sharpness of Concord. I used my speed light remotely bouncing the flash off the ceiling and operated from the built in flash on my camera but this time I didn’t use reflectors.

Camera on Tripod – 105mm lens, f/8, 1/250, ISO-125, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom – small adjustments to exposure, contrast, and sharpening before saving to JPEG.

Vanguard to curves-resized-a

Curve – Whilst at Brooklands the curved design of the Vickers Viscount with its painted curved lines created a nice artistic image of curvature and so I captured this image with a hand held shot then converted to Black & White in Lightroom making some adjustments in the colour controls in the Black and white mode to adjust the grey scales separately and I tilted and cropped the final image for a greater effect.

Camera hand held – 50mm lens, f/20, 1/250, ISO-250, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom, tilted and cropped, small adjustments to light temp, exposure, contrast, converted to B&W and adjusted, sharpened and converted to RAW.

Straight to the point-resized-a

Straight – For this subject I chose to use the large model of Concord outside Brooklands museum, it has a long straight profile leading you straight through the picture and I chose to convert to Black and White in Lightroom to remove distracting colour from the subject. Hand held I stood just about under the nose of the model to get the shot and tightly cropped.

Camera – 50mm lens, f/22, 1/200, ISO-200, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom – Small adjustments to light temp, exposure, highlights and shadows, contrast, B&W with fine adjustments, sharpened and saved to JPEG.

Light as a feather-resized-a

Light – My thoughts for something to be as light as a feather; so on one of my dog walks I collected a number of bird feathers and on returning home I took this shot holding my camera with my right hand whilst dropping a feather with my left and looking through the view finder at the same time. I set my camera to continue high speed shooting, set image quality to JPEG low res, set auto focusing to shoot and refocus, fitted speed light with TTL and hoped for the best! After many attempts I got this image that I was happy with as it conveys the impression of the floating feather. I then converted to Black and White in Lightroom.

Camera hand held – 50mm lens, f/4, 1/250, ISO-125, WB-Auto, JPEG-low. Lightroom – Adjustments to Light temp, exposure, contrast, shadows, whites, blacks, converted to B&W with adjustments and sharpened.

Heavy task ahead-resized-a

Heavy – Whilst walking my dog I took note of some large rocks placed in the Park for the kids to play on and I had the idea of creating a “selfy” trying to move the rock. Returning with my kit and some Garden tools I chose to use a rake as a prop and a spade and a hat to help with focusing. Setting the camera on higher ground on the tripod and using both the cable remote and 20 second timer I programmed the camera to take x 3 shots each time, after many attempts and a lot of exercise I finally got a shot that I was happy with. When editing in Lightroom I tilted the image to put the rock lower which helps give the impression of a great weight barring down against my attempt to lever it up. Again I thought black and white was a suitable medium for this image.

Camera on tripod – 55-300mm zoom lens at 200mm, f/22, 1/100, ISO-400, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom – Adjustments to light temp, exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, converted to B&W with adjustments, sharpened and saved to JPEG.

When I am big-resized-a

Small – I chose a still life using some tiny teddy bears that my wife keeps in her desk and using some coloured felt and my speed light set up to operate remotely from the built in flash on my camera. This image is of a teddy bear acutely aware of his height and rather remaining small wants to be big. I thought using a tape measure gives a good perspective of his size against the real world.

Camera on tripod – 105mm Macro lens, f/14, 1/250, ISO-125, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom – Adjustments to light temp, exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, sharpened and saved to JPEG.

Mine's a large one-resized-a

Large – Following on the theme I thought large; so obviously large teddy bear, adult, with something large and with a little word play I came up with a large whisky and so I had my planned still life. I used my speed light on remote and controlled from my camera via the built in flash and in addition I set up my reflectors.

Camera on tripod – 50mm lens, f/11 1.3 sec, ISO-125, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom, adjustments made to light temp, contrast, highlights, shadows, sharpened and converted to JPEG.

Black & White-resized-a

White & Black-resized-a

Black & White – I saw this project as a particular challenge as if you are working in this medium you can not have one without the other unless you simply want a plain black image or a plain white image. I got inspiration from a late 18th century past time of creating silhouettes of people using black and white card. To recreate this idea I used the translucent part of a 5 in 1 reflector as a screen and behind this I placed an LED lamp and my remote operated speed light. I then asked my wife to stand in front of the screen whilst I took the pictures. The flash gave me the freedom to operate my camera hand held for the shot. I then made adjustments in Lightroom converting to black and white and I used Photoshop to produce a second image reversing the Black to White and flipping the image to create the two contrasts.

Camera hand held – 50mm lens, f/8, 1/250, ISO-125, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom – Adjustments to light temp, exposure, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, B&W conversion, sharpened, cropped. Photoshop – flipped and black and white reversed the both images saved to JPEG.

Straight to the curve-resized-a

Contrasts in one Image – I chose this image as the light has created some very attractive curved patterns on these straight and curved edged items. I loved the coloured rainbow effects from this experiment and this is my favourite image simply because I find it unusual.
To obtain this image I wanted to shine a plain white background through the items then photograph them using a polarize filter. To achieve this I used the screen of my laptop, but first I had to create a plain white image; so using Windows “Paint” and simply saving the blank canvas as the image I then made it my screen saver. I then laid the ruler and protractors on the screen stood my tripod with attached camera and PL filter over the top and took my photos.

Camera on tripod – 50mm with PL filter, f/8, 0.8sec, ISO-125, WB-Auto, RAW. Lightroom – Adjustments to light temp, exposure, contrast, shadows, highlights, saturation, tilted and cropped, sharpened and saved to JPEG.