Yearly Archives: 2010

I was looking for a good noise reduction tool. When I looked on the internet it was not clear to me what would be the best program, so I did some testing. My main goal is to reduce most of the noise without the use of all the fancy settings. Personally I do not hate some noise in my pictures. Probably because I own a Canon 5D which doesn’t generate much noise at all. But the main reason why I’m looking for noise reduction software has to do with HDR. When I generate a HDR image I always get more noise in my images then I wished for. So I am in need of some good noise reduction tool Don’t expect too much of this mini test. Basically what I did was the following, I opened the original photo with the appropriate program or plug-in (within Adobe Photoshop CS4). If the program or plug-in had an automatic setting I used that. If not I only used the most basic adjustments/settings to get a decent result. Maybe I am just lazy, but hey I don’t want to spend my precious time with reducing noise. So the image on the top left is a crop of the original HDR file. (the un-cropped image can be found in the following article Curacao misty water HDR). The other images are the results of one of the following tools: Noise Ninja 2.2.1 (Stand Alone) Noise Ware 2.6 (Stand Alone) Noise Ware 4.2 (Photoshop plug-in) Photoshop CS4 (Stand Alone) Lightroom 3 (Stand Alone) NikSoft Dfine 2 (Photoshop plug-in) Neat Image Pro 6.0 (Stand Alone) Topaz Denoise 4(Photoshop plug-in) The most important thing for me is that I don’t loose any important details in the photo, so that is one of the things I based my conclusion […]

Another experiment that I have been working on, water drops. This is still a huge challenge for me. I keep doing something wrong. The results I get are alright but that is where it ends. I have been reading many tutorials and this has improved the results but I am still not satisfied. There is always something (little) that prevents me of getting the result that I want. For example, when you look at the pictures in this gallery you will see little white spots in the water. These are little air bubbles that were sticking to the bottom of my glass bowl. And I couldn’t find a way to get rid of them. I do realize, after reading a few more tuts, that I need to use the duration of the flash as exposure time and not the actual exposure time from the camera. So this will be something to play with. I also know now that you don’t need to light the actual water drop but that you need to use the reflection of the light. All little things that you need to be aware of… Will be continued….

Flowers and Close-up. A nice and relaxing subject…. It is just a way to work and test my close-up objectives and try to improve my Macro skills a wee bit. During spring and summertime we have some nice flowers in the garden which are good subjects to play with. And over and over again i keep getting surprised by the beautiful images you get when you crawl into the heart of flowers. When I bought my first macro lens (Canon 100mm f/2.8) I started with photographing flowers, and now with the Canon MP-E 65mm in my possession it is even more intriguing to see the wonders of mother nature. In this article just a few examples. Most of the time I am looking for the tiny flowers opposite to the larges species. Just because it is more of a challenge for me to work with these. What I do know for sure is that there will follow more flower photographs in the future, due to the fact it is so much fun to do. Just click on the photo’s to see the larger versions.

More experiments with drops of water on flower petals. Or as I like to call them ‘Flowerdrops’. Don’t ask me why but I love to play with this concept. For starters it is fun to do, and I can learn a lot while trying to beat the problems that I will encounter. It gives me the opportunity too play with several aspects of photography, think about; Close-up shooting, light setup , composition, and color. So in a very tiny space I can work with all these different factors. Just see it as my mini studio on the dinner table in the kitchen. The only thing that you need to remember is to keep your flowers fresh… Close-up shooting: Static objects, so no moving bugs and other influences from mother nature Light setup: You can use small flashed and little pieces of paper, so no big studio lights and soft boxes. Composition: It is very important to set the right position, (otherwise the water drop will not show the image of the flowers in the background) So I need to think about composition which is a nice challenge. But also possible because of the small setting Color: Most flowers are very colorful, which gives me the opportunity to play with these colors, and the small setting gives me the freedom to easily change backgrounds. If you keep the above in mind you will be able to create nice pictures. For me it is looking for that little bit extra. And I do realize that I still have many roads in front of me.

While visiting Curacao during our holiday, I had the perfect opportunity to experiment with long exposures and try to get the misty water effect. An effect of which I am a huge fan. I also wanted to combine this effect with another effect, HDR. So I needed long exposures and at least three of them for each photo. Before we left I have been thinking about buying a variable ND filter, but after reading many reviews on the internet, and learning that the Fader ND from Light Craft Workshop wouldn’t work with most of my Canon lenses and the Singh-Ray was way above my budget, I decided that I should be able to do without. I have to say that I wished I had more cash to buy the Singh-Ray filter, because I did miss it. An on the other hand, the people a Light Craft were telling me that they were working on a new version of their filter, but I didn’t know if that would fix my problems (showing a black cross on wide angle Canon lenses) and it would not ship before our departure date so that was no option. So I had my tripod set on the beach and tried to block some light with my Cokin ND filters. Unfortunately they have a purple color cast so I didn’t try to combine two of these (which will intensify the color cast). You can adjust the white balance to minimize the color cast but you can only do so much. So I ended up with only one Cokin ND8 filter and at the end I achieved 30 seconds for the +2 stop shot on the smallest aperture. But only 2,5 seconds for the -2 stop shots. And 2,5 seconds is just too short for the nice misty […]

We went on a holiday to Curacao and there I found an old quarantine house on the edge of a cliff it was an abandoned building with rotten floors, but the light was beautiful, so a nice situation for some HDR shots. I was the only person at the location, probably due to the extreme temperature during the day. I love the way how the color of the light is effected when the HDR technique is used, especially the shot on the left is a good example of what i am talking about. All shots are three shots (-2, 0, +2 stops) combined in Photomatix. I know it is not standard to have such huge color shift but when you play a bit in Photomatix it is an option at least. In in some situation I just love the effect. I used a tripod for all the indoor shots. Most shots taken without tripod failed miserably, just because of the simple fact that it is almost impossible to combine a good HDR is you don’t use a steady base. Also outside where is enough light to achieve a faster shutter speed it is recommended to use your tripod. Personally I always mess it up and keep thinking that I will survive without. Dumb thought!. I hope I will learn eventually (LOL). I always try to get the best result from Photomatix without the need to do more adjustments in Photoshop or Lightroom. Some of the photos in this series needed small corrections because I used a width angle lens and I don’t like the curved lines. But that was basically it. Want to see more? Just click on one of the photos and you will be taken to the gallery where you will find more from this serries.

I was lucky today. I stood on the balcony and saw a Small White butterfly. It was relaxing in the sun on the glass border of the balcony. I walked upstarts to get my camera with the MP-E 65mm Macro lens and Macro flash. It gave me about 15 minutes to work with it. Unfortunately it was very hard to use the flash on the glass background, and too dark to work with the MP-E 65mm without flash. So I had to improvise. I disconnected the flash from the lens and used it handheld, this gave me the opportunity to move the flash to the back and control the light that way. Personally I am very pleased with the result. Just click here to go to the gallery to see more. Later that day, still my gear on the kitchen table, I noticed a few bugs in the garden. All I want to say is I just love to photograph bugs in their natrual habitat, but that it is hell to do so especially with the Canon MP-E 65mm. For me it is like a bug-hunt and it give me extra credits if I succeed without any animal unfriendly tricks. After reading a very good tutorial (I won’t share the link here) about how to control bugs for macro shots I have to say that I agree in the comments that were placed on this tutorial. You just do not control bugs, if you don’t have to. And if you have enough experience and skill there is no need for this. The guy wrote about freezing insects, using vinegar, using sticky tape and more. I think that the pictures in this article prove that there is no need for bug control. And that it is more then possible to shoot […]

On one of my trips through the country side I saw two rowing boats filled with water laying the waterside. And I thought these were a good subject for HDR. Brought my tripod and 16-40mm lens and made some shots. Back home, after trying a few settings in Photomatix I did not like the results at all. Then I remembered an article I read on the internet which showed an example of black and white HDR photography. (link). The article shows an nice example that appealed a lot to me. So I decided to try it myself (on my own way – not following the tutorial) and I must say that I am very pleased with the result.

For many months I have been driving by this barn, even plotted it on my GPS. But never took the time to stop and take some pictures, until now. I can’t explain why but I just like the whole scenery and always had the feeling that I needed to photograph this, in HDR. So finally I did. I had a lot of dust on my sensor and because this is not normally the case, I experienced something new. The HDR process emphasizes the dust spots in a way that it is almost impossible to remove them. So to make sure that I could still use the images I decided to give them a old-fashion look and feel and applied a sepia filter to it. Personally I like the result and it fits the idea I had in my mind.

Did a new studio shoot last weekend with Mick. And again, learned a few new things about shooting kids. Had to do a lot of retouching due to the fact that I used the small background paper. My initial thought was – small kid, small background, but a little 3 months old will not listen to any directions, so you need to have enough room to play in. Ergo, a bigger background would have given me more playground. And will prevent a lot of Photoshop work afterwards. Another lesson learned was that I need more time. As soon as the little rascal decides that it is enough, you have to listen. And a curious Nickita to my side wasn’t a good idea either. All that Mick did, was observing Nicki and he did not pay any attention to the camera. So we already talked about a new date for a more relaxed photo shoot. And this will take place at Mick’s house, so if he decides that it is enough and he gets tired, this won’t be a problem. Overall I am more then happy with the results. So I placed a few examples in the gallery. [Canon 5D, 24-70mm, Soft box, Standard flash head, silver reflector]

Shooting kids in the studio, always a challenge. But what a fun job to do. For both me as for my daughter Nicki. This weekend I decided to do another shoot with Nicki. I had this idea of a High-key photo shoot combined with flowers. So for the preparation we went shopping for a nice white dress and some artificial flowers. I had the idea to use roses and thought it was to risky to use real roses because of the thorns. So we went for fake flowers. Set up the studio with a white background, a soft box, a standard flash, and a hand held reflector. First we did some test shoots so Nicki could adjust to this new environment that suddenly appeared in her living room. The moment she was comfortable in the new environment we dressed her up and let her play with the props. And what a fun that was. After a while she understood that she could smell the flowers, or at least she could act that she was smelling them and we could even direct her into the right position (all I used was a small background (1,25 meters wide)) The moment she started to loose interest we gave her a new flower to play with and this worked really well. Ad the end we even introduced a whole lot of fake pedals to play with. Or should I say to throw with. That was the moment the fun for her really kicked in. Some tech info: All photos were shot with my Canon 5D, 24-70mm USM L, on 200ISO. I had to do a lot of polishing in Photoshop due to the fact that the background was very small. And as a final touch I used Scott Kelby’s 7-point system to enhance the […]

Photographing in the snow can be very difficult for some people, while this is not necessary. With a few simple pointers you will improve your snow photos. First you must be aware that snow is white and reflects a lot of light. To correct this you need to tell your camera to overexpose. You need to experiment to find the right setting, in my own experience it differs between 1/3 stop to 1 1/3 stops. It all depends on the total picture. There are more than enough resources on the web that will explain how to deal with this. For now I want emphasize that there is another technique that can help a lot to improve your photos in a snowy situation; HDR High Dynamic Range images. When you shoot in RAW (as you always should do) you can make two copies with different exposure settings of one photo. So you make a -1 stop and a +1 stop version of the original. Together with the original you can use these copies to create a HDR via Adobe Photoshop or Photomatix (there are other programs that will work as well, but I do not have any experience with these). Make sure that you don’t go over the top with your HDR settings, just some subtle extra definition in your shadows and you whites should do the trick. I have included an example. On the left you see the HDR version and on the right the original RAW 0 stop version. The HDR version has more detail in the snow areas without losing too much contrast and brightness.

There fell a lot of snow just after new yearsday. So I decided to get up early so I would catch some nice light. Not knowing that I had to remove ice from my windscreen for almost 30 minutes. But it was worth to get out of bed at this early hour. The light was beautiful and the fog added just that little bid extra. It was good to see, that many people could appreciate this beautiful view and they went outside armed with their camera gear. I used my Canon 5D, and overexpossed 1 stop to get the nice looking white snow.