Archive for April, 2012

Dogwoods!

Thursday, April 26th, 2012
Dogwood and ponderosa pines near the Ahwahnee Hotel, yesterday morning

Dogwood and ponderosa pines near the Ahwahnee Hotel, yesterday morning

I’m teaching my Spring Yosemite Digital Camera workshop this week, but wanted to post a quick note to let you know that the dogwoods have suddenly popped out in Yosemite Valley. On Saturday I saw only a few green discs, but yesterday dozens of trees were in full bloom, and it seems like more are emerging every hour. The dogwoods are most photogenic when they first blossom, before too many leaves obscure the flowers, so the next week or so should be the best for photography, though the dogwoods will continue to bloom for a couple of weeks beyond that.

—Michael Frye

Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author and photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to YosemiteYosemite Meditations, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters, plus the eBooks Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, and Exposure for Outdoor Photography. He has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.

Reflections in the Merced River, Tuesday evening

Reflections in the Merced River, Tuesday evening

Lightroom 4: Working With the New Process

Friday, April 20th, 2012

(If you’re getting this post through email, click here to view the video.)

Here it is, my second video about the new process in Lightroom 4. In Part One I explained how the new tone controls work; here in Part Two I talk about how to use these new tools to process both low- and high-contrast images. Here are some of the main points:

- Where to begin? If you’ve read my eBook Light and Land, or watched one of my previous videos about curves, you know that in the old process I preferred starting with all the Basic tone controls set at zero, and the point curve linear. Does this still apply in the new process? (1:10)

- Curves or sliders? The new Basic Tone sliders are much better than the old ones; are they good enough to replace the Point Curve? (10:30)

- Does the order matter? Adobe suggests using the Basic tools in order from top to bottom, starting with Exposure, then Contrast, and working down to Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks—essentially working from the midtones out to the black point and white point. But this contradicts a long-standing tradition in digital imaging of setting the black point and white point first. Should you stand with tradition, or embrace the new order? (13:02)

- Processing a high-contrast image. (21:04)

This video is about 27 minutes long, so, as I said with Part 1, grab your favorite beverage, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Spending a little time with this video now will save time later when you’re processing photos. More importantly, I hope that this video will help you get the most out of your images so that they convey what you saw and felt when you pressed the shutter.

As I mention in the video, the best way to learn more about processing images in Lightroom is to take a workshop. There’s are still a couple of spots available in my October workshop, The Digital Landscape: Autumn in Yosemite. This is a comprehensive course covering the entire process from capture to print, with field sessions covering exposure, composition, and everything you do before pressing the shutter, and lab sessions where we process and print the images with Lightroom.

I hope you enjoy Part 2!

—Michael Frye

Related Posts: Lightroom 4: The New Tone Controls; Using Curves in Lightroom and Camera Raw

Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author and photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to YosemiteYosemite Meditations, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters, plus the eBooks Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, and Exposure for Outdoor Photography. He has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.

 

Jeff Grandy’s Unfiltered Series at The Ansel Adams Gallery

Sunday, April 15th, 2012
Unfiltered Object #4 by Jeff Grandy

Unfiltered Object #4 by Jeff Grandy

Planning to visit Yosemite in the next few weeks for the waterfalls and dogwood bloom? While you’re there, stop by The Ansel Adams Gallery and see the current exhibit by Jeff Grandy, featuring prints from his exquisite Unfiltered Series. The show will be on display until May 10th.

Jeff is a long-time friend, and I’ve always loved his classic landscape images, but this new work of his is quite different. He’s focused on the colors and textures of water, and created a series of abstract and imaginative images. You can see some samples on Jeff’s website.

There will be reception for the artist April 21st from 3:00-5:00 and I plan to attend. Hope to see you there!

Michael Frye

Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author and photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to YosemiteYosemite Meditations, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters, plus the eBooks Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, and Exposure for Outdoor Photography. He has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.

Lightroom 4: The New Tone Controls

Friday, April 13th, 2012

(If you’re getting this post through email, click here to view the video.)

As I wrote last week, Lightroom 4 represents a big change—the biggest change to Adobe’s Raw processing engine since Adobe Camera Raw was introduced in 2003. They’ve completely revamped the underlying algorithms for all of the tonal controls, and changed the behavior, and in some cases the names, of all the Basic Tone sliders.

Overall, I’m really happy with the new process, especially for high-contrast images. But if you’re accustomed to Lightroom 3 the new tools may seem strange at first. So I’ve been working on two videos to explain the changes and how to work with the new tools.

The first video, embedded here, explains some of the differences between the old and new processes, how the new tools work, and the ways they affect an image’s appearance. Here are some of the main points:

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Redbud and Poppies

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012
Poppies in the Merced River Canyon, Sunday afternoon

Poppies in the Merced River Canyon, Sunday afternoon

It’s turning out to be a great year for poppies in the Merced River Canyon, along Highway 140 just west of Yosemite. While nothing may ever match the spectacular poppy bloom of 2009, this season is coming pretty close. There’s a brilliant display on the north side of the canyon about three miles east of Briceburg, with poppies reaching from the river to the ridge tops. A mile or two further east, around Grandy’s Hill, you can find some great patches of flowers above the road on the south side of the canyon. And there are plenty of poppies at the beginning of the Hite’s Cove trail.

The bloom seems to be spreading from west to east, as it did in 2009. During the last week poppies have appeared in many places on the north side of the canyon from the rock-slide to El Portal, including some of the areas burned in last year’s Motor Fire. I’m hoping that this spread will continue, and we’ll see poppies blooming for two or three more weeks.

Despite the fact that this is mostly unfenced public land, and some of the best poppy displays are on the same side of the river as the highway, access to the flowers is difficult. The hillsides are extremely steep. Not fall-off-and-you’ll die steep (at least in most places), but it requires a lot of agility, stamina, and sure-footedness to climb up many of these hills, and a slip could cause injury. Most people are going to be limited to telephoto views from the road. The one spot with relatively easy access to close-up views of poppies is the beginning of the Hite’s Cove trail.

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Lightroom 4 Update

Friday, April 6th, 2012
Clearing storm along the North Carolina-South Carolina border—processed with Lightroom 4

Clearing storm along the North Carolina-South Carolina border—processed with Lightroom 4

I’ve finally had a chance to really dive into Lightroom 4, and I’m very happy with the results I’ve been getting. While I haven’t found a big difference in processing low-contrast images, with high-contrast scenes the improvements are significant.

The accompanying image was made during my trip to South Carolina last November. It was a fast-changing situation—the sun suddenly broke through, and I missed the exposure slightly, so the brightest highlights at the top of the clouds were blown out. By the time I adjusted the exposure the scene had changed.

I struggled to process this image with Lightroom 3. While I was able to recover detail in most of the highlights, they still looked a bit hot, and the darker bottom half of the image seemed flat, despite extensive efforts to bring out the detail and contrast in this area. You can see this Lightroom 3 version at the bottom of this post.

The version on the right was processed in Lightroom 4. I was able to get better texture and detail in the brightest parts of the cloud, while the bottom half of the photograph has more local contrast, and seems livelier. Overall I’m much happier with this version.

Along with this improved ability to handle high-contrast images, Adobe has made big changes to the Develop Module. I’ve been testing Lightroom 4 extensively, and though I’m still learning, I’ve found out many things about how the new tools really work—things that I haven’t seen or read elsewhere. I’m looking forward to sharing all this with you, but it’s easier to show you than write about it, so I’m working on a video (or maybe two videos), that do just that. I’ll show you how the new tools differ from the old ones, how they really behave, how that might influence the way you work, and some suggested working methods for getting the most out of Lightroom 4. I’ll be posting this next week—stay tuned!

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Spring Storm

Monday, April 2nd, 2012
Sunbeams striking El Capitan, 6:32 a.m. Sunday

Sunbeams striking El Capitan, 6:32 a.m. Sunday

Winter arrived late in Yosemite this year, but now it seems reluctant to leave. Of course that’s fine with me, as I love photographing storms, and we certainly need the moisture.

A short but intense weather system dropped about an inch of precipitation on Yosemite Valley Saturday afternoon and evening. The storm began with rain, but quickly changed to snow. I was in the valley on Saturday for the Yosemite Conservancy Spring Forum, and driving out at about 5:30 in the afternoon I encountered blizzard conditions, with thick snow blowing sideways. I stopped at El Capitan Meadow and set up my camera and tripod underneath the back hatch of my car to try and capture the falling snow (see the photograph below). I managed to keep the camera dry, but my pants were soon coated with an inch of snow.

It looked like we might see clearing on Sunday morning, so Claudia and I drove up early and joined about ten other people at Tunnel View. We started talking and socializing, but all that stopped when some breaks appeared in the clouds, and then rays of sun struck El Capitan (above).

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