August 27th, 2015

Tim Grey's Take on Lightroom RGB Values and On My RGB Value Recommendations. And My Response...

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This is another one that I started at my Mom/s last week. I an still sitting next to denise at 35,000 feet. We have one hour, 12 minutes till Salt Lake City. And then only another ten hours till we get to Juneau. :)

This blog post should be published automatically at 6:00am on Thursday, August 27, 2015.

Namibia IPT

If you missed the info on this great trip, please click here. So far we have assembled a cast of international participants: one from the US, two from South Africa, one from Hong Kong, and one from Australia. More than a few are world class photographic talent….

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The August 10, 2015 Issue of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter

Today’s Question

Arthur Morris asked a question in his blog post here about checking the RGB values in Lightroom. When I use the eyedropper tool it shows a value in percentage. Is there a way to show the actual RGB values?

Tim’s Quick Answer

It is possible to view RGB values in Lightroom as 8-bit per channel values (0 to 255) rather than as a percentage (0-100), but only by enabling the Soft Proofing display in the Develop module. It is critical to keep in mind that the Soft Proofing preview (and therefore the RGB value presented) are based on the specific profile and settings you establish for the soft proofing display, and thus don’t necessarily represent the actual final RGB values for the image.

More Detail

When you move your mouse over the image in Lightroom’s Develop module, the RGB values for the pixel under the current mouse position will be displayed below the histogram at the top of the right panel. Those values are displayed as a percentage rather than the range from zero to 255 that are commonly used to describe RGB data.

You can turn on the Soft Proofing checkbox on the toolbar below the image preview area to have the RGB values shown as 8-bit per channel RGB values (0-255) rather than as percentages. However, those values will be based on the settings established for soft proofing, meaning the values are only meaningful in the context of a specific printer, ink, and paper combination.

What that translates to is that I recommend only using the Soft Proofing option if you are indeed preparing a photo to be printed, and you need to evaluate the output you can expect based on a specific printer, ink, and paper combination.

For more general purposes, I recommend leaving the Soft Proofing checkbox turned off while applying adjustments to your images and evaluating the overall photo. That means you’ll see RGB values as percentages rather than as the 8-bit values you might be accustomed to. But a little bit of math can provide a translation, and with a little bit of experience you’ll gain an understanding of how the values relate to each other.

It is worth noting that the 8-bit values themselves aren’t a full representation of the information in your images, assuming we’re talking about RAW captures, for example. Lightroom actually processes your photos (in the Develop module) with a 16-bit per channel workflow. In other words, the actual underlying values for a photo could range from zero to 65,536, not just zero to 255.

I should also hasten to add that I don’t agree with Arthur Morris’ suggestion that the brightest value for an image should have RGB values of around 240 or so. As far as I’m concerned there is no reason to restrict your processing of a RAW capture to avoid white values that are brighter than a specific value. With some print workflows there used to be (and in some cases still is) a reason to keep the whites from getting too bright. That isn’t the case today for most workflows. Restricting your bright values arbitrarily is only limiting the dynamic range of your final image, without providing a true benefit.

Tim Grey

Tim and I have been friends for many years. He has been a guest co-leader on three (I think) BIRDS AS ART IPTs over the years. He is knowledgeable and has a dry wit that leaves many folks in stitches. Early on I turned to Tim for digital help. Now my first choice is always Denise Ippolito who almost always knows the answer. I do have one new question on an totally unrelated subject that has baffled both denise and me. I will run it as a blog post and see if Tim or anyone else can help.

My Comments on Tim’s Comment

First off I have made a personal and career choice to keep things simple. I have been told many times that there are serious errors in my workflow. John Shaw nearly fell of his chair while guest co-leading a Fort DeSoto IPT when he saw me flatten an optimized image and convert it to 8-bit. Let me repeat, my choice is to keep things as simple as possible. I have no clue at all about several topics that Tim writes about above. Despite my image processing short-comings and short-cuts, my optimized TIFFs look good when viewed full size and even my 1200 wide (<395kb) JPEGs have been drawing rave reviews for many years as far as color, image quality, and sharpness. Simply put, they look great. Not bad for someone who according to many experts is doing so many things wrong....

Secondly, we rarely do any printing at BIRDS AS ART. What little printing we do is done by my righthand man, Jim Litzenberg. The prints all look great to me and we have never had one returned.

I should hasten to add that I do not agree at all with Tim Grey's suggestions above. I love my WHITEs right around 235 or so (not 240--that is denise's preference). As I said in the original post, I find it difficult and time consuming to tease detail out of WHITEs in the mid-240s and the low 250s. To my eye, the WHITEs in my optimized images look bright and reveal lots of fine feather detail (except in fog or snow when creating images that have good detail in the WHITEs is simply not possible).

I have noted often that though WHITEs that come in at 254, 254, 254 may in fact be theoretically perfect, I want no part of them. I prefer practically perfect WHITEs to theoretically perfect WHITEs. Going back to the simpler approach, if you place your WHITEs at 254, 254, 254 as it seems that Tim is recommending, then you are maximizing contrast at the highlight end of the equation. When working in full sun, the last thing that I want to do is increase contrast.

So how has my “keep it simple not so perfect approach” fared? Most importantly, I love the look of my images on my Macbook Pro. And more than a few of my digital images, including many with large areas of white feathers, have been honored in the most prestigious international contests including the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition and the Windland Smith Rice Nature’s Best competition. All have been optimized with the goal of bringing the WHITEs into Photoshop with the RGB values no greater than the mid-230s.

So who is right? It does not matter. You and your photos are what matters. Learn to control your WHITEs during the RAW conversion wherever you do them. Experiment with various RGB values be they numeric or percentages. Determine where you want your WHITEs to be by trial and error. Settle on what looks best to you in various settings (electronic or print) and stick to your guns until you see a need for change.

Final Thoughts

Two highly honored images of mine come to mind quickly: King Penguin breast abstract and Gannets in Love. Each feature lots of WHITEs all brought in to Photoshop in the mid-230s.

Lastly, I am proud to say that as far as viewing the RGB values in Lightroom in the “Bashing Lightroom?” post here, the conclusions matched most of what Tim Grey wrote above. So thanks again to Alan Lillich for contributing that excellent summary and thanks of course to Tim Grey for allowing me to republish his newsletter content here.

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Typos

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August 26th, 2015

Bill Lloyd's Save Your Butt Tip...

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It is 5:26am on Monday, August 24, 2015. I have been up for a few hours. The boat’s generator just came on and we will be departing to the south about 1 1/2 days late for our Inside Passage adventure.

This blog post is scheduled to be published from the Cloud at 6:00am on Wednesday, August 26, 2015.

Bill Lloyd Save Your Butt Tip…

In the blog post here, where I mentioned the posterior pain that came with 20 hours of travel and much too much sitting, Bill Lloyd who had so much fun on the UK Puffins Trip that he immediately signed up for our Namibia IPT, was kind to leave this potentially pain relieving solution:

I mentioned this briefly on the UK Puffin IPT to Denise: the ThermaRest Travel Cushion really has made a huge difference in my travel comfort. So much so, that I use it while driving long distances as well. It weighs only a couple ounces and is self-inflating; the key is that after it fills you need to let out the air until it is only about 1/3 full> It rolls up nicely and will easily slip into the top of the great Think Tank Urban Disguise bags that you both use. If you don’t try it, you’ll never know how great it is.

If I have to get some sleep on a plane, the ThermaRest cushion, foam earplugs, and even those silly sleep mask blindfolds are a must. And they do work.

You’ve got my sympathy, keepin’ the nether regions happy is a top priority for me when I travel! Bill

Following Up With Bill

Not being one to part so quickly with 30 bucks I had a few more questions for Bill. I sent him the Amazon link and asked if I had the correct item. He responded:

Yep that’s it. It’s self inflating. Open the valve and in a minute or two it’s fluffy. Close the valve and sit on it, then slowly open valve to let air out. You want it something like only a third full, your butt almost contacting the seat. If you’re perched, rolling around on the thing, that’s too much air. Bill

Then I wrote back as follows: Am I correct in thinking that it gets down to almost nothing when you squeeze all the air out?

He answered:

Pretty close. I open the valve and roll up as tight as I can from the opposite end. Close the valve and it stays rolled up. I’ve got an Urban Disguise like you guys, it can go in the top center compartment rolled, or I used to pull it out flat (deflated) and stash it under the large side flap - B.

I am having Jen order one for me today. You can order yours by clicking on the logo link above. Many thanks Bill!

Why Bill Signed Up for the Nambia IPT

It was great to see you again.

As you know, I haven’t been on an IPT in some years. I came away from the 2015 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT surprised at how much my photography improved with the “refresher” course. Nothing beats making images on an all day week-long intensive experience like that – I’d truly forgotten. Those of us to your right hadn’t even noticed the Razorbill pair copulating until you called out to us: we were still getting puffins in flight.

So, it was a no-brainer signing up for Namibia! When I saw the price, I had my deposit in the mail even before the itinerary was up – and I think waiting for years to go to Africa is going to pay off with this trip. Really looking forward to traveling with you and Denise, getting wildlife and landscape images together doesn’t seem to be the rule with most tours I’ve looked at in the past – it’s usually one or the other. Be seein’ ya!

Bill

Join Us In Namibia

Learn how by clicking here. So far we have assembled a cast of international participants: one from the US, two from South Africa, one from Hong Kong, and one from Australia. More than a few are world class photographic talent….

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Typos

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

August 25th, 2015

Can Denise's Tree Be a Circle?

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I started this blog post last week when I was at my Mom’s. I am finishing while sitting in 22B at 35,000 en route from JFK to SLC and then on to Seattle and Juneau. Sitting next to me in 22A working on some of her Iceland images is denise ippolito. We are headed for our SE Alaska Inside Passage cruise. There are gale warnings for Saturday and Sunday. Yikes!

This post took about an hour to prepare. If all goes well, it will be published automatically at 6:00am on Tuesday, August 25, 2015.


denises-tree-circle-lens-_a1c3275-palouse-wa

This 3-frame in-camera Art Vivid HDR image was created on the second 2015 Palouse IPT with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM Fisheye Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens at 8mm and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III . ISO 100. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops +/- two stops around the base exposure of 1.3 sec. at f/8 in Av mode. Live View and 2-second timer. Color temperature 8000K.

Gitzo 3530 LS tripod with the Giottos MH 1302-655 (Tiny) BallHead. Wimberley P-5 camera body plate. Live View (for mirror lock-up) with the 2-second self timer.

Center AF point/AI Servo Rear Focus AF on the tree branches in the center and re-compose. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

Can Denise’s Tree Be a Circle?

The funny thing about photos of Denise’s tree is that whenever I look at them my left hip hurts…. A lot. See here for “here ” for “Hip-wrecked on the Prairie” if you missed that tale.

Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM Fisheye Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens

The Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM Fisheye Ultra-Wide Zoom lens is fun to use. It gives you a perfect circle at 8mm with a full frame camera body–be sure to zoom out fully, and it gives you a 15mm fish eye when used with a 1.6X crop factor camera like the EOS 7D Mark II. Again, you must be sure to zoom out completely or you will clip the corners.

Making good images with what I affectionately call “the circle lens” can be a bit tricky…. I have not yet figured out how to work with it on clear days. If you work with the sun behind you your shadow will be an integral part of the image. And if you turn around and include the sun in the frame you will have all sorts of diffraction and flare…. I love playing with the circle lens in the pre-dawn or on cloudy days when both of the problems mentioned above are no longer factors.


palouse-2016-card-layers

Subject and focal lengths from upper left to right and then around to center.

Palouse Falls: 11mm; homemade kiddie race car: 105mm; barn siding pan blur: 798mm; Rolling fields diorama: 110mm; Crayola drums: 343 mm; Hay barn interior: 19mm; vintage gas station: 40mm; Dilapidated farm building: 13mm; Denise’s tree Infrared: 20mm.

Images and card design by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART.


The Palouse ~ A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT)/Eastern Washington State. June 3-7, 2016/5 Full Days: $1699/Limit 12


The Palouse ~ A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT)/Eastern Washington State. June 10-14, 2016/5 Full Days: $1699/Limit 12


Double Header!

Maximize both your travel dollars and your learning experience by signing up for both IPTs.


denisepalouse-card

Images and card design by Denise Ippolito/A Creative Adventure.

The Palouse IPTs

Rolling farmlands provide a magical patchwork of textures and colors, especially when viewed from the top of Steptoe Butte where we will likely enjoy spectacular sunrises and possibly a nice sunset. We will photograph grand landscapes and mini-scenics of the rolling hills and farm fields. We will take you to some really neat old abandoned barns and farmhouses in idyllic settings. There is no better way to improve your compositional and image design skills and to develop your creativity than to join us for this trip. Two great leaders: Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris. Photoshop and image sharing sessions when we have the time and energy…. We get up early and stay out late and the days are long.

After 6 days of back-breaking scouting work in early June 2014 we found all of the iconic locations and, in addition, lots of spectacular new old barns and breath-taking landforms and views. On three additional scouting days in 2015 we discovered several more truly amazing locations. We will teach you what makes one situation prime and another seemingly similar one a waste of your time.

What’s included: In-the-field instruction, guidance, lessons, and inspiration, our newfound but very extensive knowledge of the area, all lunches, motel lobby grab and go breakfasts, and Photoshop and image sharing sessions when possible. There will be a meet and greet at 7:30pm on the evening before each workshop begins.

You will learn and hone both basic and advanced compositional and image design skills. You will learn to get the right exposure every time. You will learn to develop your creative eye. You will learn the basics of HDR (high dynamic range) photography. You will learn a variety of in-camera creative techniques. Most importantly you will learn to see the situation and to create a variety of top-notch images. Do see both of our blogs for lots more on that in the coming weeks. You will learn how the quality and direction of light combine to determine the success of your images. And–please don’t gasp–we will be working quite a bit with sidelight when creating landscapes. Lastly, we will be doing some infrared photography.

To Sign Up

A non-refundable $699 deposit is due now. The balance will be due on February 15, 2016. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. Whether or not your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

With the spectacular success that we enjoyed in 2015 it seems quite likely that this one will fill up very quickly. Please let me know via e-mail that you will be joining us. Then you can either call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 during business hours or send us a check to leave a deposit; the latter is preferred. If by check, please make out to “Arthur Morris” and mail it to: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us via e-mail: artie or denise.

Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options. You can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

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We want and need to keep providing you with the latest free information, photography and Photoshop lessons, and all manner of related information. Show your appreciation by making your purchases immediately after clicking on any of our B&H or Amazon Affiliate links in this blog post. Remember, B&H ain’t just photography!

…..

Amazon.com

Those who prefer to support BAA by shopping with Amazon may use this link:

Amazon Canada

Many kind folks from north of the border, eh, have e-mailed stating that they would love to help us out by using one of our affiliate links but that living in Canada and doing so presents numerous problems. Now, they can help us out by using our Amazon Canada affiliate link by starting their searches by clicking here. Many thanks to those who have written.

Typos

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).