Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Fionna Owen has asked us if we would be interested in creating  an exhibition during the first two weeks in September..
The theme  should be Middlewich in Summer and Photos should be taken  in July/August 2017.
HOWEVER NO PHOTOS OF THE BOAT & FOLK FESTIVAL  (this is catogary on its own)

Preferred size is 16 * 20 Ins (standard frame size)   Preferably the photos should be mounted

Thursday, 20 April 2017

A little on Landscapes...

Landscape by Andy Boyle

There was a lot of discussion on focusing for landscape photography last night. Advice ranged from how to pick up the camera and shoot to how to plan a shot (that ‘one in a million- “I just happened to be in the right place at the right time” shot’. ;-) )

I would normally arrange a follow up to answer your questions but the next two meetings are booked and then we have a summer break. So I have tried to answer some of the issues here. There are, as we discussed last night, several different approaches; the main factors being time and experience.

My first recommendation would be – GET THE SHOT! If time is critical then get the shot, it might just be that ‘one in a million’. If you shoot in raw then you have some ‘wiggle room’ re. the exposure* but not with the focus so this is key. The quick, down and dirty answer is to reduce the aperture size (not number) and set the focus to just below infinity. This will give you the quickest shot but won’t give you the maximum usable depth of field** (assuming having everything in focus is your goal). If you have a foreground that you want to be in focus then you need to start thinking about focusing on the ‘middle ground’.  (“But there is no ‘middle ground” they chorused.) This is the hyperfocal distance that Bill mentioned last night.

Imagine you are focussed on infinity; the depth of field is then centred on infinity, with half of it ‘behind’ the subject of your camera. This means that, although you are technically achieving the longest depth of field available for your aperture, you are not using it all in your photograph. Reducing the depth of field but centring it on an area which is nearer the foreground maximises the amount of your picture which will fall inside the depth of field and increases your chance of having everything in focus. Find out more about it here.

* Underexpose slightly with DSLR cameras to preserve detail in the shot. Overexposed (blown out) areas will lose detail but underexposed areas will have detail that post-processing software can use. Very important for sky detail. If in doubt then use bracketing.


**To be in focus an item must be within the depth of field which is a distance that centres around your point of focus. The smaller the aperture the larger the depth of field.

Useful apps for mobiles:

Apps for calculating hyperfocal distance on Android

Compass link for Android

 Mel :-)

Monday, 6 February 2017

A Little HDR


I have been banging on for a while now so I thought I should add something here..
I know some HDR pics are a bit overdone and can be a bit harsh on the eyes. This is a easy mistake to make as when you first start playing the the software you tend to push it to its limits just to see what it can do (and forget to reset it afterwards) . I must confess that I have done this myself in the past.
The main reason for using it is to reduce the excessive Highlights and Shadows that can be found in some pictures. To give a colour boost to a “Flat” picture I find that can be done with one frame.

Some people also say that it reduces noise in dark areas of a picture..

An example of this may be a church interior. Normally the camera will attempt to meter for the average light and in a church this may give very dark interiors with correct light from windows or correct light of the interior with 'Blown Out'* windows.

HDR uses a series of 3/5/7 frames which are the Reference frame with other frames darker or lighter. Personally I use three frames :- Normal, + 2stops under exposed & 2 stops over exposed

Many cameras have the “AE Bracketing” function built in so this can be done automatically (and if you are lucky handheld). If this is not the case you should use a tripod and:

Go to Aperture priority mode (You need a fixed focal length.  The shutter speed will vary.)

1 Take a normal picture
2 Set the exposure adjustment to -2 stops and take a pic
3 Set the exposure adjustment to +2 stops and take a pic

If you check the pics on your LCD you should have something like the following :-
Underexposed by -2 stopsOver exposed by two stops.

Perhaps the easiest way of processing the HDR pics is lightroom.. All you have to do is highlight the three pictures and press CTL H (CMD H on a mac I believe) or “Photo”, “Photomerge”, “HDR”

This will go to the HDR preview screen. On the side of the screen are a couple of tick boxes.
Make sure the auto align box is ticked as this will attempt to correct for movements of the camera.

The other option is for ghosting – this is for anything that might move in the picture (between the 3 frames). I would recommend setting to either “None” or “low” -  This should reduce the processing time required. If there is a large amount of pink areas on the preview set the ghosting higher.

Once you have done this press “Merge” and it will take a short time to process the picture depending on your pc. Once complete it will return to the normal Lightroom screen..

The processed frame might not be visible right away as the you are looking at imported files. You will have to go to your normal “Library” view of the folder

Initial Result of HDR process

At first glance the picture does not look greatly different from your reference image but you now have a greater dynamic range of colours and controls available to you..

By reducing the Highlights & White sliders you should be able to fix that “Blown Out” window and the Shadow & Dark sliders should improve the darker areas of the picture.

The vibrance and saturation sliders will allow you to control the colour (along with the other colour controls)

Also remember these controls can be applied locally by the filters and correction brush as well!

After processing

I believe there are two ways of processing HDR files in Photoshop. As I am not a PS expert I will give the most straightforward.

Open P.S.
“Merge to HDR PRO”

You will be prompted to open your pictures and then a 'Processing Dialogue' will open on the screen.

Photomatix is a HDR processing program that can act as a stand-alone or a Lightroom plug-in
You can download a trial version to play with but this will put a watermark on any pictures it creates. These can be removed by purchasing a license.

HDRefex Pro is part of Google's free (NIK collection) designed to act as a plug-in to LR or PS.
With a little playing around it is possible to run this as a stand-alone program (run the exec file from within the program files folder).


*Blown out -An area where the image appears bright white and the camera hasn't stored detail that may have been available to the naked eye.