Depth of Field and the 1/3 – 2/3 Rule

All photographers know that higher number f-stops mean greater depth of field, but maybe some don’t realize that there is an important ratio involved in the field of focus. This ratio must be considered when choosing the f-stop for a particular shot.

While the length of the lens drastically affects how much of the subject will be in total focus, where you set your focus point is critically important. This is particularly true when using automatic spot focusing and manual focusing. Learn to divide the desired focus area into thirds and set the focus one-third of that distance. When you focus on a particular spot, two thirds of the focal range behind that spot will remain in focus while only one third of the area in front of that spot will remain sharp. This is why portrait photographers set their focus on the subject’s eyes. This way the features of the entire head remain in focus.

DOF f-2.8

f-2.8 focused on middle bottle results in only one bottle in clear focus

DOF f-22

f-22 focused on middle bottle results in all three bottles in field of focus

DOF Stagger

Side view show bottles unevenly staggered in 1/3 – 2/3 ratio

A 35mm lens set at f-7.1 will have a much larger focal area than the same lens is set at f-2.8. Below are three examples of shots taken the same distance (16 inches) from the image sensor. What’s important here is not so much the actual focal area, but the fact that as the lens is closed down from 2.8 to 5.0 and further to 7.1, the area of focus (depth of field) almost doubles. Notice that as the f-stops increase in number, the area of focus increases, but the ratio remains constant.

DOF f2.8DOF f5DOF f7.1

The triad cocktail of ISO, shutter speed, and f-stop determine not only the exposure but the precise area of the photo that will remain in good focus. No amount of post-sharpening will rescue a shot with a shallow depth of field. Think ahead and you’ll be very happy that you did!

Visit the website to get a fuller picture of how to improve your image(s).Imageprep banner

If you really want to understand what produces great color photography, you must understand how light behaves, both in the capture process and in post-processing. I’ve developed a very entertaining and easy-to-understand video series that will teach you these fundamentals and get you on track to capture and produce amazing color.

Posted in Tonality and Appearance | Leave a comment

Overlooking the Un-obvious

Squirrel6-RAW Interpreter

RAW file adjusted in RAW interpreter software (Lightroom, Camera RAW, etc) 

Virtually all digital photos contain more detail than can be seen in the image that comes out of the camera. This statement is neither exaggeration nor overstatement, it is a provable fact. When these original images first appear on the monitor (JPEG or RAW) they are the digital equivalent of one-size-fits-all garments. They cover the essentials but rarely reveal significant detail.

Squirrel6-Original JPEG        Squirrel6-JPEG-Levels

Initial JPEG view of RAW file                            JPEG Adjusted in Photoshop Levels

JPG files are simply ballpark or “stock” interpretations of the RAW files. Initial JPEG algorithms are blind to the tone and color contents of the image; they simply apply the very same interpretation to the RAW data. Even if the file is slightly over or underexposed, the same tired JPEG formulation is applied indiscriminately, causing many “good” images to be assumed “bad.”

Even when you view a RAW camera file, you are only viewing a single run-of-the-mill JPEG interpretation of the detail captured by a digital camera. Even within the RAW interpreter, this initial image seen is only a rough starting point. There is always more detail just below the surface of every camera file; more detail than even professional photographers realize.

There are five basic tonal areas to be adjusted and modulated in both a RAW and a JPEG file, though the 16-bit arena of tones lets you push these ranges around amidst many more tones. JPEG files are 8-bit files, which means that they display only 256 tones of each RGB color. RAW files, on the other hand, contain either 12 or 14 bits of information (depending on your camera’s image sensor). 12 bit files contain over 4,000 tones, and 14 bit files provide over 16,000 tones of each RGB color.

Don’t let the word “bit” scare you. A bit is just the smallest metric of tonal value. Think of bits as the number of stair steps between the floors of a building. The more bits (levels of tone) in an image means more freedom to adjust the tones. It’s all about digital elbow room. In the case of image editing… more IS better.

So here’s some common-sense advice. Your camera captures all images as RAW data by default, so save your files in RAW format and enjoy a nearly limitless latitude of tonal adjustments. Raw files NEVER get overwritten because the data is never actually changed. When you save your adjusted image, you typically save the edit as a high-value JPEG file. Any adjustments made to RAW files are merely recipes of possible interpretations; you can spin off an unlimited variety of JPEGs with impunity. No risk, only reward. Working with RAW images will set you free to experiment and explore everything your camera’s image sensor has captured, and… you can save the (.xmp) recipe files individually for future reference and recall. Can’t lose with that!

Visit the website to get a fuller picture of how to improve your image(s).Imageprep banner

If you really want to understand what makes color work, you must understand how light behaves. And I’ve developed a very entertaining and easy-to-understand video series that will teach you these fundamentals and get you on track to capture and produce amazing color.

Posted in Tonality and Appearance | 1 Comment

Out of the Shadows and Into the Light

Uncovering Hidden Details In the Shadows. There are usually significant details hidden under the weight of the darkest parts of an image. These darker details are very rich and revealing, and to some extent they are recoverable, but they must be carefully extrapolated. The reason why these details are hiding has to do with the default linear tone mapping that takes place in the camera when the image is being captured. While image sensors see light linearly, the human eye doesn’t!

Notice the illustration below. The reason the top gradation stripe looks “natural” is because that’s the way your eye registers light; pretty evenly distributed across the range. The bottom strip is how your camera parses that same volume of light.
LinearCapture Eye-Camera

Compared to human eyesight, digital camera sensors are biased in the way they capture light. It is a known fact that over half the luminance range captured by digital cameras favors the lightest portions of the photos while the darkest tones are quite compacted. When an image is opened in an image editing application, the highlight and quarter-tone detail is lavishly represented while the shadow/three-quarter tones are scantly recorded. Put simply, the image sensor is designed to dynamically record light. The brighter the light, the more information is recorded. Where I come from, this is called blatant discrimination!

It is for this reason that images saved in RAW format can captured a bit overexposed (when referencing the on-camera histogram). There is always more information present in the image than the histogram can reveal. Truth be known, the beloved histogram only displays the relative values of just 128 corridors of tone. Considering the fact that even consumer-level cameras can capture well over 16,000,000 colored tones, there are plenty of the darker tones to open up without encountering objectionable “posterizing” effects.DIM 2-B4

Arch B4 HistAbove, you see a published example of an image significantly lacking in shadow detail. To the left you see the histogram of that image. Notice that the shadow side of the histogram is not slammed up against the left side. This is a good sign. It means that there is still room for adjustment.

DIM 2-After

Arch Aft HistAbove, you see a published example of an image significantly lacking in shadow detail. To the left you see the histogram of that image. Notice that the shadow side of the histogram is not slammed up against the left side. This is a good sign. It means that there is still room for adjustment.

Above you see that same image after the shadow tones have been moved toward the middle tones, resulting in the darkest areas of the photo showing much more detail. Notice the histogram to the left. In spite of the original image being a second generation JPEG, there was ample detail in the shadow region that just needed to be opened.

Also notice that this shift of the shadow tones didn’t affect the quarter-tones and highlights. Remember, detail is a product of internal contrast. If you want to see shadow detail, you’ll have to “expose” the internal contrast within the shadow tones. The key to good photo interpretation is balance, and balance is governed by the type of lighting in the scene (high key, normal, low key, etc.) Learn to interpret the effective light range (either at exposure or during editing) and take bold steps to deliver both smooth transitions and visual detail.

What to do? Because of this digital camera “weighted” light range, three imperatives become evident for editing digital images. First, capture your  images in your camera’s RAW format (perhaps in conjunction with a high-level JPEG format. Second, slightly overexpose your images. Remember, your camera captures vast levels of quarter tones and highlight detail. And third, get serious about spreading out the lower end of the contrast range in your RAW Interpreter software like ON1 Photo Raw, Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom. These editing tools present very similar tone adjustment toolsets that allow for significant internal contrast adjustments with absolutely no loss of detail.

Shadow detail is not nearly as fragile as some would purport. The lower range of the tonal range is quite robust. The human eye doesn’t perceive tone separation in the shadow tones as much as it does in the lighter tones. Don’t be afraid to push some of those three-quarter tones north toward the middle range of tones. Your images (and your viewers) will thank you for the clarification. One more note about shadow details; they actually need to be separated to display properly. Separate those tones and watch the details jump out. Visit the website to get a fuller picture of how to improve your image(s).

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If you really want to understand what makes color work, you must understand how light behaves. And I’ve developed a very entertaining and easy-to-understand video series that will teach you these fundamentals and get you on track to capture and produce amazing color.

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Dots Definitely Derail Digital Detail

This is a topic that probably hasn’t kept you up at night, until now.

The dynamics and detail of photographs that are reproduced on a printing press can get significantly compromised by the very process that produces them.

The reason the pictures in your magazines do not look as sharp in print as they looked on your computer monitor is because of tiny little dots. The transition between square pixels and round dots is not a seamless one. This is because the halftone process uses variable-size dots to portray the tones and colors found in photographs. The tones in between white and pure (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) colors are simulated by variable-size, solid color dots. The very enlarged picture below shows the process.


The illusion created by these dots is truly amazing and actually works quite well, but the dot matrix certainly presents problems. Notice that you don’t see much detail at this size. However, if you view your screen from about twelve feet away, you’ll literally see a different picture. In truth, the dots employed in the printing process are much too small to be seen by the naked eye, but smaller detail that is evident in the pixel-based computer file literally falls between the dots in the halftone process. There is a pretty severe limit on how much detail can be produced by somewhat symmetrical round dots. Dots definitely derail digital detail. Therein lies both the problem and the challenge.

But not all is lost. Innovative techniques have recently been developed that digitally enhance this process. The real magic happens in the post photography editing/enhancement stage by carefully massaging the four tone-zones of each image’s internal contrast. Professional image sharpening doesn’t happen by choosing the “Sharpen” command from the Photoshop menu, it comes from controlling zone contrast.


But this all must begin with a solid understanding of digital image processing and the pixel-halftone conversion process. Printed images from digital cameras can now produce detail not possible with traditional photo and lithographic processes.

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Printed Picture Dynamics – The Good, Lackluster, and Frumpy

Question: with all the technical control afforded by imaging software, advances in digital camera technology, and constantly-improving pre-press and pressroom controls, why do many high-end publication images appear… somewhere between lackluster and frumpy? All aforementioned technology considered, every image in your publication should routinely appear razor sharp and highly detailed, but in too many cases, they don’t! It’s in your best interest to recognize this situation and ask why? Maitland 15

When you look at the feature article pictures in your publications, are you totally knocked out with the results? Are all images showing clarity, detail and definition? If your answer is “yes,” you can stop reading this post now; you are in a fortunate minority. Most publication Editors will answer this question with a quiet “not always,” even though their staff and contract photographers are true professionals. The photos are always well composed and technically accurate, and yet they still lack something.

B4&A-1Here’s a thought. You know those Architectural Digest and National Geographic-grade pictures that nearly assault your eye? Those full bodied, highly detailed mages have that special oomph of detail and authenticity that bumps them way above average Photoshop images. I was fortunate enough to work as a photoengraver for many years early in my career, producing images for that level of publications, and now find it visually difficult to tolerate frumpy pictures. To me, it’s the visual equivalency to listening to an orchestra out-of-tune. It’s simply unacceptable at this level.

Years ago top-shelf image preparation required precision optics, expensive equipment and highly-trained craftsmen. But in 2015, anyone with a digital camera, a computer and an understanding of the process can produce amazing work. Why then do we continue to see *frumpy pictures on the pages of high-end magazines?

There is only one reason. Frumpy pictures persist because of a lack of understanding about the unique requirements of the printing process. Magazine production departments are full of very talented designers and artists. They are thoroughly versed in the tools and techniques of both Photoshop and InDesign, but perhaps not so much in the fundamentals of light and color. Even professional photographers who finesse and obsess over their beautiful gicleé prints probably don’t fully understand litho color reproduction.bellingham-giclee-printing

The process of lithographic reproduction is quite different from that of inkjet printers. Let me change that. It’s entirely different, involving unique (highlight and shadow) tonal range adjustments, saturation settings, and even image sharpening. Printing presses have special dietary needs, and when fed correctly, they produce spectacular results. But when fed a generic photographic diet, they produce only generic results. Not exactly what you’re looking for.

Imageprep bannerThis series is a small excerpt from my on-site training two-day series: Image Clarification. See for more information.

That’s the way eye sees it. Feel free to leave a comment and keep the conversation going. If you saw this post listed on a LI group page, add a comment to the listing in that group! Thanks for joining me. If you like this blog, let me know and tell your friends.

This is the first appearance of the spooky series called Image Tonality and the Histogram. This first installment is open to the public but the balance of the series will be available only to followers of this blog. Sign in now (top right of this page).

See you next time, Herb

Click the Follow button at the top of the page so you don’t miss any future posts.

*frumpy pictures are soft fuzzy and lacking in detail

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Photoshop Tools and Audio Controls

There exists an amazing parallel between the sciences of audio and photography; one that I learned about in the ’80 from personal experience. I owned a hybrid photo/litho production company in Nashville Tennessee from 1973-1986. This allowed me to enjoy both the creative and the production sides of the communications industry

.studer a800 Harrison_Console

I had contracts with Studer/Revox and Harrison Systems, the audio industry’s top tape machine and recording console manufacturers, designing and producing their print advertising materials. What I learned about audio processing during this period definitely improved my understanding of color image processing.

bass-treble  Multiband-EQ-Enabled

By watching sound studio engineers, I learned that shaping sound is very similar to shaping images. Think of bass as shadows and treble as highlights. A simple example of a parametric EQ is a treble/bass knob; a crude overall shifting of tones. The internal contrast of each (audio and photo) range clarifies detail and provides punch in both sound and sight. The distribution and emphasis of the middle tones in both sound and pictures is critical. Muddy sound is just as obvious as muddy pictures.

This is the same “crossover” principle used in the audio industry to clarify and boost deep bass sounds, separating them from the rest of the audio spectrum, can be applied to photographic ranges.

Levels control  Curves Tool

The difference between the Curves tool and the Levels tool closely reflects the functional differences between multi-band graphic equalizers and parametric equalizers. The beloved Histogram serves as a simplified (visual) Spectrum Analyzer.

There is a good reason why the word “color” is used to describe sound shaping in the audio industry as much as it is used in the photo industry. I gained a whole new view of photographic color and tonal shaping from from working inside sound studios. (I also now own a killer personal sound system.) I may share some of this insider info in another post series.

Dependence on the general contrast controls (Photoshop’s Levels dialog) and audio’s treble/base knob rarely produces real clarity. Next time you listen to music on a good audio system, think about these parallels. What you hear from a well-adjusted sound system will actually let you see this issue more clearly.

If you really want to understand to shape your color photos in Photoshop or Lightroom, you need to understand how to shape and contour the light. Follow this blog and you’ll start learning some pretty nifty ways to put the spunk and pop in your printed image.

And here’s another way I can help you. I’ve created a very entertaining and easy-to-understand video series that will teach you the Fundamentals of Color and Light. This series of nine instructional videos will get you on track to capture and produce amazing color.

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Preparing Photos for Publication – Part One

Here’s a serious question… who should be preparing your photos?

Typically, the three folks (in descending order) generally charged with overseeing the quality of publication photos are: the photographer, the publication’s production department, and the printer’s pre-press department.

Collectively, there’s a pretty good chance that essential color, depth, and detail are unwittingly getting left out in the process.

Maitland 14Before you dismiss this as an inflammatory statement, please hear my reasoning. Having spent many years of my career in each of these three positions, I am certainly not about to criticize any of them. Actually, it is precisely because I have handled digital images in these three positions AND as a pressman that I dare to make such a statement. Allow me to explain. There is a critical though not-so-obvious truth behind what I’m about to say.

First, professional photographers certainly know their way around cameras and software (Lightroom or Photoshop) and understand color, tonality, and sharpening well enough to produce great looking prints. They understand color correction, color spaces, and color printing, and they are the first (and perhaps the last) in the production line to adjust the images.

Next, the production department receives the images and determines if they are ready for prime-time. If an image doesn’t look stellar, they’ll try adjusting it to make it look a little better before dropping it into their page makeup application and generating the PDF file that gets sent to the printer.

Finally, the pre-press department at the printing company checks the images for proper resolution, color space, and highlight/shadow settings before dispatching the file to the platesetter. Generally, the printers do NOT want the responsibility for “editing” images.

So what could possibly get overlooked with all this oversight? A whole bunch. And it all starts with the photographer. The photo is his/her responsibility. And herein lies the problem. While photographers understand fine art prints and image editing software, very few professional photographers see their photos through the eyes of a pressmen. But they should!

There is a quantum difference between preparing photos for ink jet printers and preparing images for publication presses. It’s an RGB-vs-CMYK thing that differs significantly in color space, color saturation and tonal reproduction. Actually, it’s a communications issue that can be quite easily cleared up once it is addressed.

Maitland 15In the beginning. When an image is captured with today’s digital cameras, it initially possesses more than 4000 tones per (RGB) color. Do the math, that’s a whole bunch of possible colors. Considering the fact that JPG conversion drastically reduces that number to only 256 tones per RGB color, the initial tone and color shaping of the camera image is super-critical! Simply put, how the photographer shapes that data before it is saved as a JPG file will determine how much detail and clarity will appear in the magazine.

The old adage “start with the end in mind” comes clearly into focus here. Since these images will all get printed in a magazine, the publication press is the ultimate arbiter, and deserves the loudest voice in the conversation. What does that mean? Four critical facts.

Fact One: the detail that a press can reproduce in the darkest (shadow) portions of an image is limited by several factors; the grade (quality) of paper being the biggest. Fact Two: camera image sensors capture very little shadow detail. Fact Three: the darkest areas of a photo are the most difficult areas to print cleanly on press. Fact Four: if the photographer doesn’t shape each image specifically for the press and paper stock, the image will probably lose shadow detail and will display muddy middle tones.

ViennaTreesCURegardless of whether the photographer captures RAW or JPG camera images, the very first adjustment made to those images will determine the clarity and appearance of the printed image. More on this in a following post.

Assessment Time: If you are the Publisher, Editor, Creative Director, Production Manager, or a contributing photographer, now it’s time to do your homework. Grab the last issue of your publication and notice the print quality difference between the photos in the national ads and the photos in the editorial articles. While the photo quality may differ to some degree, the printing clarity shouldn’t.

If the cover and feature article photos in your pub don’t display detail in the shadows, clean color throughout, and reasonable “snap” (not to be confused with over sharpening), you should be concerned. Not worried, but concerned enough to set some new standards. In the following posts in this series, I’ll address specific production issues that will make a significant difference in the visual appearance of your publication. One that your advertisers and subscribers will appreciate immediately. Check out these examples

Join me for the next post in this series where I’ll discuss how to uncover the hidden details.

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To Be (Visibly Appealing) or Not To Be, THAT is the Question!

I’m toying with a new idea, and it all has to do with photo quality. In particular, the real estate photo listings. On my last post I noted that it seems that few people actually care about the quality of real estate pictures listed on the internet (see “Does It Really Matter Anymore?“). The somewhat surprising number of detailed responses to that question compelled me to investigate this issue more.

Maitland 14I’ve done a number interviews with agents and done some deep digging into the blasé attitude that a large number of real estate agents, brokers, and agencies currently have about their images. The prevailing opinion is somewhere between “our clients don’t pay any attention to pictures, they expect them to look bad” and “property pictures are only useful for a short period of time, they’re not worth the effort,” and even “I have to pay for them out of my own pocket, the cost involved is just not in my budget.”


Maitland 15It just seems astonishing to me that exquisite product photography is employed to promote everything from energy drinks to baby diapers while sub-quality images are used to entice people to buy multimillion-dollar houses. Yeah, that makes sense- not.

So- I’ve decided to offer real estate image optimization services to agents who understand that quality sells quality and that garbage doesn’t. I put together a couple of videos presenting my case for spiffing up lackluster images. Since I’ve picked up a couple of tricks in my 45 years of photography, digital color and image reproduction, and I’m quite confident that I can significantly improve the appearance of the majority of real estate images I have seen on the Internet. BTW, I don’t hype images, I present them in their best light ever- I figure I get all spiffed up to go to a fancy restaurant… just makes sense to me.

HOME 6While putting this service model together I’ve encountered a number of people that have been so underwhelmed with the pictures associated with a given property that they decided not to even visit it. One of these folks actually purchased another home (attracted by the well done images), only to find out that the ugly-picture house was an amazing property; one that they perhaps would have purchased instead.

AlpharettaSo, let it be hereby known that the real estate image optimization service known as ImageOpt is open for business. Two things you should take a look at… 1) the “Mythbuster” video I put together as a promo (, and 2) the website for the service that includes tutorial movies on how to gather and submit images for optimization (

To make this service a little more attractive, I’m offering a quite unusual pricing structure for the four different types of services I’m offering: Basic Optimization (stills), Optimization and Transition (video), Grayscale Zoom to Color (video), and StillMotion with Text and Music (soundtracked video). The agents pay only 60% of the fee with their submission and don’t pay the balance for 60 days– nutz right?

What?  It’s called incentive!

I’ll get a feel for the interest in this venture from the little survey I’m including here. This should be fun. And it should be an eye-opener for both the agents and for myself. We’ll see. Take the Poll. Let me hear what you think. You can check more than one, or you can offer another opinion. If you have friends who are in real estate, ask them what they think.

That’s the Way Eye Sees It anyhow.

See you next time.


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Does It Really Matter Anymore?

Lately, I’ve come to the uncomfortable reality that perhaps my obsession with delivering clarity and definition in the digital photographs is much more important to me than it is to many in the Internet (and even print) publishing community. From the opinions I’ve heard recently, it would seem that people really just don’t care. Could that be true?

I recently decided to investigate high-end (1.5-14 million dollar) real estate listing photos to see how the Real Estate Master Salesmen represent their clients’ properties. What I discovered was a bit disturbing. While most of the multiple (sometimes up to twenty-five) scenes presented in these listings were very well captured by the photographer, the post production preparation; delivering what I think of as “The Big 3” imaging issues (tonality, color, and clarity) was glaringly absent.

Images are the visual vehicles that whisk viewers away on an emotional journey. If you want your viewer to take this ride, you must make your vehicle attractive and easy to enter. Look at the images below, and see if you get what I mean. The image on the left is the current listing image, the one on the right, my attempt to correct the screen capture of the Internet image. I only wish I’d had access to the original images!


My question (to anyone who would like to comment) is “if you were representing a client’s home and had a choice of how that image would be viewed by potential buyers, why would you not choose to optimize these image(s) before you listed them?” Question number two must follow: “don’t you not think that your prospects would benefit from the difference?”

DIM 2-B4Once again the image above is the current listing and my “fixed” version of the image.

DIM 2-AfterPut yourself in the place of a potential buyer. Would the optimized version of each scene not make it easier to picture yourself in that room? Would the level of visual appeal feed your prospect’s desire, or would this attention to detail make no difference at all?

To keep this issue in perspective, keep in mind that I spent the first seven years of my young career running very large and very noisy printing presses. I got worn out trying to make the color pictures look better by tweaking the controls on the press. Realizing that this was not the answer to great images in print, I refocused my career path back into the image preparation side of the shop. I apprenticed and learn the secret to producing great images on press was to prepare them properly before they made their way into the pressroom. I actually spent a three year stint shooting my own litho films, plating them myself, and then running the press that printed them. Wow, what a difference it made.

DIM 3-B4

DIM 3-AfterLike most journeys in life, I learned to begin with the end in mind. I knew the press’ appetite and I started feeding it what it could digest. That started a very long romance with producing stellar images, whether they are destined for the press or the Internet. Here’s a big hint… one image doesn’t satisfy all needs. Each output needs unique preparation. This is a generally ignored concept, but an absolutely true one.

DIM 5-B4

Now I find myself a member of a group of ex-photoengravers who know the secrets of image preparation but are somewhat disillusioned by the fact that visual quality might not mean that much anymore. What a shame. What a loss.


Many of these specialist fraternity members of DIM 5-Aftercolor separators and photoengravers were summarily dismissed by the desktop publishing revolution but still hold the keys to the kingdom.

Let me know what you think about this.

For those who want to produce the very best results from digital images, I suggest you learn about the key issues of color and light as it affects digital photography. A good place to start might be to watch my online Gotta-Know Video series. It will fill in a lot of the blanks and disclose many of the mysteries left by the departure of the color separators and photoengravers. Whether you learn this from me or from somewhere else, please learn how to shape your images before you unleash them on the public. You’ll see a difference.

Watch this free introduction to my video series on light and color.

See you next time,


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The Great Paynter European Photo Adventure- Post One

I just finished a 30-day trek around southern Europe with my best friend (my wife Barbara), and my Lumix G5. This composite shot (one of over 4500 taken during the trip) is of one of the Dresden Museums, just down the plaza from Frauenkirche cathedral. I left my big Nikon at home and traveled with my mirror-less Lumix G5, two lenses, and a MeFoto Roadtrip tripod packaged in a CaseLogic sling. Dresden is an amazing city! Put it on your bucket list.

I put myself on a very strict photo regimen. Since I preach about the necessity of understanding light, I figured I had to put it into action. I decided to shoot by The Deerhunter mandate: one shot, one kill. No bracketing, no retakes, and no peeking. Dangerous? You bet. Scary? Yep. But a very rewarding challenge. I only reviewed the images each evening as I downloaded them to my laptop.

For the most part, the images are unedited. What you see is what the camera captured.

Dresdon Museum PanoThis image started out as three images that were “photomerged…” in Photoshop. Aside from that, they are virgin pixels. Morning sunlight coming across the scene provided the contrast. Low ISO (160), f5.6 aperture and a moderate (1/400) speed provided the stable focus. Spot metering on the glass above the front door delivered the tonal balance. The WB was set to Daylight.

Dresdon Museum Pano BWSince the image contained a full range of tones, the resulting black and white was pretty much a straight conversion with just a little contrast added for drama.

Reading and metering the available light accurately and setting the camera to address those readings almost always delivers results for me. The real discipline is in taking the time to use my brain before I use my camera. Get bright about light and the dividends will pay off big time.

I also suggest that you take the opportunity to learn more about the basics of light and color from my video series entitled the “Gotta Know Videos: Part One- Light and Color.”

Until next time, this is Herb Paynter

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