Tag Archives: photo

In Service of the Print

In the spring of 2013, I was preparing for my biggest road trip ever. I knew that I was going to take a lot of photos of 4 incredible destinations. I was trying to learn as much as I could about photography. I came across a Youtube video by B&H about HDR photography by Alan Kesselhaut (youtube link [http://youtu.be/v3CPavb2NWs] / Alan’s site: http://www.alankesselhaut.com/]. He said something 23 minutes into that video that struck me, that what we do in photography is “in service of the print.”  If you’re interested in watching the video, be prepared, it’s long, but very informative even if it’s almost 3 years old.

I recently made several prints. I made a calendar using several photos and three large prints of my photos. The calendar was great. I used Picaboo [http://www.picaboo.com/]. I knew nothing of them before I tried their service. I thought it was worth a shot to see if they are any good. I have to say they are GREAT! The photos had a nice glossy finish and the card stock for each pages is really sturdy. The binding wires are also good quality and makes for easy flipping of the pages. Based on this, I think they probably produce good prints with their other services.

The following are the prints I used for the calendar:

I am THRILLED about my large prints, however. I used Bay Photo [http://www.bayphoto.com]. I’ve heard nothing but good things from them. Now, I made a print on a piece of metal, but it was a SMALL metal print. But something happens with the large print. I requested a 48″ wide print of my photo of Chicago’s skyline that I like to call “Chicago on Liquid Lights”. This was printed on a “Pearl” paper. It’s priced a little higher than their “Metal” paper option. It is AMAZING. I can’t say that enough. The lights of the City of Chicago look simply amazing. AMAZING!

Chicago on Liquid Lights

My other photo I made was am 18″ x 24″ of the photo I call, “The L Runs Through It”. The paper and print I used was identical, the pearl paper. Again, I was absolutely thrilled with the print. The blue hour sky was amazing. The lights of the buildings were great, but the light representing the train’s long exposure was crazy good! There is something about the paper that reflects light in an amazing way. I don’t know how else to explain it.

The Chicago L going through the near north side of city center.
The L going through the near north side of Chicago just before it crosses the Chicago River into the “Loop”.

Another photo I printed was among the first photos I took with my NEX-7. It was a photo of a gate in Libertyville called the “Liberty Walk”. The gateway is just an alley between two buildings to get you to the parking lot. But the walls were made of brick, the cement walkway was wet, too. There were lights that had a starburst in the image. The brick walls were also wet, too. Again, the print looks great.

Liberty Walk

I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Toy Soldiers

In my home suburb, Arlington Heights, they display holiday lights and scenes. This year they put up toy soldiers that made you think of The Nutcracker.

This was shot a few weeks ago during the morning blue hour and while it was snowing lightly. I really enjoyed these guys. They didn’t display them last year. The textures on his face is cool, and the glittery garland compared to the snow is a nice touch.

In my home suburb, Arlington Heights, they display holiday lights and scenes. This year they put up toy soldiers that made you think of The Nutcracker.
In my home suburb, Arlington Heights, they display holiday lights and scenes. This year they put up toy soldiers that made you think of The Nutcracker.

Just a word on editing. Some photographers insist on making snow always look white. I agree to this up to a point. In this case it really was blue hour. Where the sky is blue, and everything gets a blue tint to it. So, yes, the snow really does look blue in some cases. The soldiers are the subject, anyways, not the snow.

New Years 2015 – Skyline Photography

I don’t usually like to get thick into the weeds when it comes to creating a photo. I do get technical, but I’m fully aware lots of people don’t like reading all that stuff.

I’m preparing to do a skyline panorama of Chicago. This morning I went to the Adler Planetarium to take these photos. It was 6 AM when I got out of the car. It was FREEEZING out, btw!

Here’s the photo:

Chicago Skyline from Adler Planetarium. New Years morning, 2015.
Chicago Skyline from Adler Planetarium. New Years morning, 2015.

I took about 5 images going from left to right. This one is roughly the center image. Whenever I do a panorama, I almost always at MOST move the camera’s field of view only about 1/3 of the frame.  Then I take another photo.

When I’m stitching a panorama, I’ll try it one of two different ways. First, I’ll try it in Photoshop. This is usually easy but also takes a long time for the computer to do.

The second method I use is a free program from Microsoft called Microsoft Composite Editor. This program is actually pretty quick. The knock I have against it is that it requires me to create 16-bit tiff files to my hard drive.

But the problem that I have with creating panoramas happens regardless of which program I use. A panorama program will stretch the image if you tell it to stitch to maintain PERSPECTIVE. The tends to stretch the lines so that they are all straight. Straight lines matter with architecture. But, it stretches out the sky, too. What is the problem with that? What used to be clean and clear sky is now showing pixels that I couldn’t previously see.

There are several things I can do to minimize that, but it takes a bit more work. It would be lovely if there was a tool that minimized this problem all in one step, though.

So, that’s my riff on panorama stitching. If you found it interesting, let me know.

The L Runs Through It

The L runs beneath the Chicago Skyline

I shot this from the top floor of a parking garage. It’s actually a single frame of a much larger panorama I’m still working on. I was really hoping I’d get an L train here. This is an hdr processed photo and of the three photos I took to process this photo, the L train arrived in time for the final shot, a long exposure.

The L beneath the Chicago Skyline at night.

The L beneath the Chicago Skyline at night.

Prints can be purchased at my Smugmug page by clicking on the photo. You can also view a full res version by going to my Google Plus page.

I am back, Happy 4th! My Yellowstone trip.

I am back from visiting the 3 national parks. I went to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and Arches National Parks. So, for the next several days I’ll be posting photos from there.

Anyways, today’s photo is from Yellowstone. One of the ideas I was wrestling with was the idea of how do you know that the photo is from Yellowstone, or any other place for that matter? I need to add context to the photo. Often time, that context is something in the foreground. When I saw this bison and the mountains and sky, I knew I had that element.

There were actually two bison here, but I decided to wait for the other one to wander out of the frame. He was a little too active and making the image unbalanced.

Bison Landscape in Yellowstone

To process the image, I did HDR processing. A little layering, to make the bison more defined. A little playing with the saturations, sharpening, and so on.

I hope you enjoy!