Crazy Use of a Nikon D800E

Forget drones. Try driving a remote controlled 4×4 car equipped with a Nikon D800E into a pride of lions in Botswana.

The “Car L” project was hatched by Chris McLennan and engineered by Carl Hansen to capture unique images of lions with a Nikon D800E, fired remotely by Chris McLennan using a trigger system built into the remote control unit.

 

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Sony Ups the Ante

Sony’s new Alpha 7 (24MP) and Alpha 7R (36MP) 35mm full-frame, mirrorless, interchangeable lens cameras are now available in the US. I just bought the Alpha 7R (no anti-aliasing filter) and can barely contain my excitement! Prior to this camera, the Leica M-system was the only game in town for a full-frame 35mm, interchangeable lens, mirrorless compact camera. Now I can use my Leica M lenses on the Sony (with an adapter), which at $2,300 is about one third the price of an M Type 240. The Sony has great high ISO performance and a large, bright EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) with focus peaking. The 36MP sensor with no anti-aliasing filter (similar to the Nikon D800E) is capable of delivering very sharp high-resolution images. And I deliberately said “capable of” because any 36MP (or above) camera requires impeccable shooting technique.

Make no mistake, these new mirrorless cameras by Sony are not Leicas. They don’t have the hand-made precision build quality of a Leica. They don’t have a family of native lenses, with only one Sony/Zeiss lens – a 35mm f/2.8 – available as of December 4. The Sony Alpha 7R 36MP sensor is prone to vignetting and color casts when used with lenses wider than 35mm, both of which can typically be fixed in post-processing. The shutter is loud. But even so, the Sony Alpha 7 and Alpha 7R cameras are quite capable and potentially revolutionary products.

In this video The Camera Store TV’s Chris Niccolls checks out the new Sony Alpha 7 and Alpha 7R. Enjoy.

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FrameShop Script v0.9.5 for Photoshop CS5 & CS6

FrameShop is a script for Adobe Photoshop designed to give the photographer/artist a variety of mat and frame styles for displaying digital images on the Web. The initial version of the FrameShop script (v0.9) was described in detail in an earlier post on this blog. This new version (v0.9.5) runs on Photoshop CS5 and CS6, and has several new features:

  • Colors are selected using the Adobe Color Picker rather than color presets
  • Text positions are set by default to EXIF left, Title center and Signature right, all on the mat under the image
  • GPS latitude, longitude and elevation have been added to the selectable EXIF text items
  • Result can be saved as JPEG, TIFF, PSD, PNG or GIF
  • Result can be saved with the same ICC profile as the original file or another profile
  • Script runs on a duplicate of the original image and leaves the original image open after running

I have not tested the script with the Adobe Creative Cloud version of Photoshop (yet).
Update (September 9, 2013): The FrameShop script (v0.9.5) has been successfully tested with Adobe Photoshop CC.

The FrameShop script dialog box is organized so that each option can be selected and customized independently:

FrameShop-UI-600x402

Setting the Options

For those who are familiar with Adobe Photoshop, using scripts and/or the FrameShop script, the following explanation of FrameShop options can be skipped. The script is easy to use and the settings/options are easy to “play with” without damaging any pixels. If you’re unfamiliar with using scripts in Adobe Photoshop, read the following guide and you’ll be on your way.

Size and Sharpening
The script will size the final framed image to fit within the maximum width and height dimensions specified by the user, just as the Adobe Photoshop File>Automate>Fit Image… menu function does. The image will not be distorted to fit the dimensions, but will be proportionally sized, then matted and framed to fit the maximum dimensions specified. Checking the Smart Sharpen checkbox will apply sharpening, similar to the Adobe Photoshop Filter>Sharpen>Smart Sharpen… menu selection, to the image (before the mat and frame are added).

Mats
Several mat styles are available:

  • Drop shadow
  • Cut bevel
  • Overlay
  • Double mat
  • Plain mat

The Overlay style doesn’t add a mat. Instead, it converts the outer edge of the image (dimension set with the mat Size setting) to black and white. The opacity of the overlay is determined by the Opacity setting. A stroke can be added to the image for the Drop shadow and Plain mat selections. The mat can be set to have equal dimensions on all four sides (Equal mat), or set to have a bottom border that is twice the size of the other sides (Gallery mat).

Here are two examples of what the script can do. Other examples of each mat style are in an earlier post.

Mesquite-Flat-Dunes-FrameShop-600x447

Colson_130127_L1000366-Edit-FrameShop-600x406

Frame
In addition to selecting the frame color using the Adobe Color Picker and setting the frame size (in pixels), you can add an inner shadow and set the size (Depth) of that shadow.

EXIF
FrameShop determines from the file’s EXIF metadata what information is available, and shows that metadata next to the individual EXIF checkboxes. If an EXIF element is not available, the script will show it as being not available (e.g., “ISO N/A”). If you are uncertain about what information is available to Adobe Photoshop in the EXIF metadata, you can view the information from the Adobe Photoshop File>File Info… menu selection. The Font dropdown menu displays all of the fonts installed on the host system. FrameShop displays the following EXIF metadata (if available):

  • Filename
  • Camera model
  • Lens
  • Focal length
  • Shutter speed
  • Aperture
  • ISO
  • Date taken
  • GPS latitude
  • GPS longitude
  • GPS elevation

The (optional) EXIF text is by default positioned on the left in the bottom of the mat, but can be positioned either left, center or right. Its horizontal and vertical position can also be adjusted using the H offset and V offset boxes.

EXIFPanel
Title
If title information has been saved in the source image’s IPTC Title metadata field, the script will show that text in the Title text box. The (optional) Title text is by default positioned in the center in the bottom of the mat, but can be positioned either left, center or right. Its horizontal and vertical position can also be adjusted using the H offset and V offset boxes.

TitlePanel
Signature
If copyright information has been saved in the source image’s IPTC Copyright metadata field, the script will show that text in the Signature text box. The (optional) signature text is by default positioned on the right in the bottom of the mat, but can be positioned either left, center or right. Its horizontal and vertical positions can also be adjusted using the H offset and V offset boxes.

SignaturePanel

Save
Once the other options are set, you can either run the script and save the result as a JPEG, TIFF, PSD, PNG or GIF, or run the script and have the framed image remain open in Adobe Photoshop. The latter choice is useful when determining how to set the options, particularly the text offsets, or when the user desires to manually adjust the layers in Photoshop. The image can be saved in the same location as the source file (Save in same location), or in a different folder, chosen by clicking the Select Folder… button.

JPEG save options:

JPEGSave-600x69

TIFF save options:

TIFFSave-600x70

PSD save options:

PSDSave-600x70

PNG save options:

PNGSave-600x70

GIF save options:

GIFSave-600x70

The framed image can be saved with the same ICC profile as the original (Same as Source), or in one of several other ICC profiles:

OutputProfile
Clicking Cancel dismisses the dialog box and returns you to the open source file.

Installation
The script requires Adobe Photoshop CS5 or CS6, and will run on a PC (Windows 32-bit and 64-bit) or Mac (OS X). This version (v0.9.5) will not run on Photoshop CS4 or earlier versions of Photoshop. Install the script in the Scripts folder so that it will show up in the Files/Scripts menu of Photoshop:

Mac OS
Applications/Adobe Photoshop CS_/Presets/Scripts

Windows
Program Files/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS_/Presets/Scripts

Be sure to restart the Photoshop application after script installation.
Or you can put the script anywhere (on your desktop for example) and browse to the script using the Photoshop File/Scripts/Browse… menu.

Under the Hood
When the script runs the first time, it produces a settings file, FrameShop Scriptv0.9.5.xml, in the Adobe Photoshop CS_ Settings folder. If you encounter problems using the script, try deleting this file and re-running the script. A corrupted settings file could be the culprit. The FrameShop Scriptv0.9.5.xml file, which saves the settings for the script, is located in:

Mac OS
Users/[user name]/Library/Preferences/Adobe Photoshop CS_ Settings

Windows 7 and Vista
Users/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS_/Adobe Photoshop CS_ Settings

Windows XP
Documents and Settings/[user name]/Application Data/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS_/Adobe Photoshop CS_ Settings

Download
Download the .zip file and, after unzipping, install as detailed above.

button

If you experience difficulty with a localized version of Photoshop (versions of Photoshop other than North American English language), I have disabled the version check logic just for you:

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Everything Else

For those who became hooked on the color presets of the initial version of FrameShop, you can find popular hexadecimal Web-friendly colors on a number of websites. Just do a Google search for “hexadecimal color codes”. Here’s an example.

If you have any comments, questions, suggestions for new features, or bug reports, please contact me. If you are reporting a bug or are asking a question about a problem you encounter, please include the following information in your message:

  • Operating system (Windows or Mac OS)
  • Adobe Photoshop version
  • Error message received, if any
  • Type of image being processed (JPEG, TIFF, NEF, etc.)

Thanks to those who have allowed me to use their prior work in this script, and to those who have tested it and provided feedback.

Adobe and Photoshop are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

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Happy Birthday Golden Gate Bridge!

Today marks the 75th birthday of the Golden Gate Bridge. Since it’s one of my favorite photo subjects, I thought I’d post a few of my favorite images of the bridge. Happy birthday!

Colson_060731_0940_Flat.jpgColson_100915_4887-Edit.jpgColson_100915_4967_Master.jpg

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Nikon D800 Sets the Bar High

Today’s announcement of the Nikon D800 has upped the ante in the world of DSLR photography. With a 36.3 megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor and full HD 1080p video with stereo sound, the D800 is a game changer. And Nikon has set the bar even higher by announcing the D800E, which according to Nikon “incorporates an optical low pass filter (OLPF) without anti-aliasing properties to facilitate the sharpest images possible and is a great option for RAW shooters who are in a position to control light, distance and their subject to the degree where they can mitigate the risk of moiré and any false color.”

Some of the D800′s specifications (see the Nikon website for a complete table of specs):

  • 36.3-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor
  • 35.9mm x 24mm sensor size
  • 1/8000 to 30 sec. shutter speed
  • Up to 4 frames per second in FX-format
  • TTL exposure metering using 91,000-pixel RGB sensor
  • ISO 100-6400
  • 51-point dynamic-area AF
  • Built-in flash
  • Live View

Already, with very few who have even touched the new camera, there are reviews, articles and digests appearing on the Web, including:

Nikon USA now has the 20 pages Nikon D800 | D800E Technical Guide available for download. The guide is particularly useful in describing and illustrating techniques for getting sharp images with a 36-megapixal camera.

Stay tuned. This is exciting!

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Lightroom 4 Public Beta Available

Having used Lightroom since its initial release 6 years ago, I’m excited about the announcement and availability of each new version. Today Adobe announced the availability of Lightroom 4 Public Beta. This version introduces two new modules – Book and Map – and adds major new functionality to the existing modules.

New Features in Lightroom 4 Beta (from the Adobe Labs site):

  • Highlight and shadow recovery brings out all the detail that your camera captures in dark shadows and bright highlights.
  • Photo book creation with easy-to-use elegant templates.
  • Location-based organization lets you find and group images by location, assign locations to images, and display data from GPS-enabled cameras.
  • White balance brush to refine and adjust white balance in specific areas of your images.
  • Additional local editing controls let you adjust noise reduction and remove moiré in targeted areas of your images.
  • Extended video support for organizing, viewing, and making adjustments and edits to video clips.
  • Easy video publishing lets you edit and share video clips on Facebook and Flickr®.
  • Soft proofing to preview how an image will look when printed with color-managed printers.
  • Email directly from Lightroom using the email account of your choice.

Lightroom 4 Public Beta can be downloaded from the Adobe Labs website.

Tom Hogarty’s Lightroom Journal has a complete description of new features, system requirements and known issues, and a very comprehensive list of Lightroom 4 resources.

Michael Reichmann has a streaming video describing the new features on his Luminous Landscape site.

The new soft proofing feature is one of the most exciting and highly anticipated additions to Lightroom. Andrew Rodney, The Digital Dog, has a very compelling video on his website describing this feature.

Ian Lyons has an illustrated preview of Lightroom 4 on his site with links to other sites that describe the new release.

Scott Kelby’s NAPP Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Beta Launch Center is up and operational.

Then there’s Adobe TV, where Digital Imaging Evangelist Julieanne Kost walks you through new features, workflows and enhancements in the latest release of Lightroom 4 beta.

In the coming days, many more descriptions, tutorials and reviews will appear on the Web. Stay tuned. And I would be remiss in not including the following caveats from Adobe:

This download will install Lightroom 4 beta and will work independently alongside your installation of Lightroom 1 or higher. The beta version is intended to provide an opportunity to give feedback and as such, does not read, upgrade or import catalogs from previous versions of Lightroom. If you currently own Lightroom, please continue to use Lightroom 1 or higher for your primary workflow needs.

When you install Lightroom 4 beta, the software will remain active through March 2012. Once the final version of Lightroom 4 is available, please follow the new installation instructions.

Note: This is a public beta, not a final product. Neither the quality nor the features are complete yet. We want to show you our direction and get your feedback so that we can incorporate it into future releases. This public beta release does not include all of the features that will be part of Lightroom 4, but instead gives you a preview of some of the new features.

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Nikon D4, the new Prince of Darkness

 

Specifications:

  • 16.2 effective megapixel, full-frame sensor
  • 10fps shooting with AF and AE, 11fps with focus and exposure locked, 24fps 2.5MP grabs
  • 91,000 pixel sensor for metering, white balance, flash exposure, face detection and active d-lighting
  • ISO Range 100-12,800 (extendable from 50 – 204,800)
  • MultiCAM 3500FX Autofocus sensor works in lower light and with smaller apertures
  • Two sub-selector joystick/buttons for shooting orientation
  • 1080p30 HD video at up to 24Mbps with uncompressed video output
  • New EN-EL18 battery (21.6Wh capacity, CIPA-rated at 2600 shots)
  • Twin card slots – one Compact Flash and one XQD

See Shooting the D4! on Joe McNally’s blog and Thom Hogan’s article on the D4 introduction.

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Steve Jobs – He changed our lives. We will miss him.

steve_jobs-600x513

When Devin called, I knew instantly that he was sad. After the introductory, “Hey Granddad”, he said, “Steve Jobs died”, wiping a tear from his eye. I knew that because he had called me using FaceTime from his iPod. I said, “Yeah, I heard. Steve Jobs was one of my heroes.” “Mine, too”, he said. Devin is 9 years old, by the way, and has been exposed to Apple’s technology since he was old enough to reach a keyboard. His Mom, our daughter Angela, started using an Apple II in elementary school, both at home and in class. And so did our son Michael, neither realizing how miraculous that was to me, a young electrical engineer at the time.

Devin moved to the San Francisco Bay area this summer, and one of the first things he wanted to do was visit Apple’s headquarters. He did, and came home with stuff from the gift shop that he later explained, “could only be bought on the Apple Campus.” When I was 9 years old, my heroes were fictional TV characters, not corporate CEOs. But Steve Jobs as hero came not from his position as CEO, but from his obvious technological and marketing genius. The fact that Devin so casually could pick up a handheld wireless device and have a video conversation with his Granddad is a testament to that genius.

Steve Jobs changed our lives. He brought his genius into our homes, our schools, our offices, and our hands. Speaking for my family, I can say with some confidence that his genius enriched our lives, and continues to expand our reach and scientific curiosity. Thanks Steve for being our hero. We will miss you.

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Adding EXIF with Adobe® Lightroom® 3 and LR/Mogrify 2

In a post about two years ago, I wrote a tutorial on the use of Adobe Lightroom 2 and Timothy Armes’ LR2/Mogrify plug-in to add EXIF information to an image processed for the Web. Since that tutorial was written, Lightroom has been updated to Lightroom 3 and LR2/Mogrify has been updated to LR/Mogrify 2.

This tutorial is an update, providing complete illustrated instructions for using Lightroom 3 and LR/Mogrify 2 to add EXIF data to an image processed for the Web. LR/Mogrify 2 works on both PCs and Macs, but on a PC, you must install ImageMagick first. These instructions are written from the perspective of a Mac user, but the PC process is almost identical. For those who would prefer to use Adobe Photoshop to perform this function, the PrintEXIF and FrameShop scripts, available free on this website, are good alternatives.

First, follow the installation instructions to install LR/Mogrify 2. Once installed correctly, you should see it listed in the Lightroom Plug-in Manager dialog box (File>Plug-in Manager…):

Plug-in-Manager-600x628

In the Lightroom Library module, choose an image (or images) that you want to export for the Web with the EXIF data displayed in an image frame. Click “Export…” (or select File>Export… from the File menu OR right-click and choose Export>Export… OR use the keyboard shortcut Shift-Command-E on a Mac) and select the settings for the exported file:

Export-Dialog-Box-600x716

In this example, I’ve chosen to keep the same filename for the exported image, export the image as a JPEG with the sRGB color space and a quality of 70, resize to 800 pixels on the longest side, and sharpen the image for screen viewing. I’ve also chosen to minimize the embedded metadata in the exported image to reduce its size.

Now the fun begins. If LR/Mogrify 2 has been enabled in the Plug-in Manager, a Post-Process Actions box will appear in the lower left of the Export dialog window:

Post-Process-Actions

I want to create two borders around the image – a white stroke inner border with a width of 1 pixel to highlight the image and a larger outer border to hold the EXIF text. In the Post-Process Actions box, double-click “Inner Borders”, “Outer Borders” and “Text Annotations”, and a check mark will appear beside each of those items and beside the “Mogrify Configuration” item. As you double-click each action, an options dialog box will appear in the Export dialog window. The first box, Mogrify Configuration, will look something like this:

Mogrify-Configuration

The Mogrify Configuration box may have a different appearance and options in the PC version of LR/Mogrify 2, so you should consult the installation instructions for the plug-in for the appropriate setting(s). The illustration above is for the Mac version.

The next box is the Mogrify Outer Border Options box. Here I’ll choose the width and colors of the borders for the image.

Mogrify-Outer-Borders

In this example, I’ve entered a 25-pixel 50% gray border on three sides, and a 50-pixel gray border on the bottom to hold the EXIF text. If you choose an image size different from the one in this example (800 pixels on the longest side), you may want to experiment with the border dimensions to get a result that you like. The plus and minus signs on the right of the box alllow you to add or delete borders. And the “Scroll up” and “Scroll down” buttons allow you to see the additional border settings if you add more than two borders.

I also want to add a 1-pixel white inner border to the image and enter that information in the Inner Border Options section:

Mogrify-Inner-Borders

The next step is to add the EXIF data to the bottom frame. We’ll do that with the Mogrify Text Annotations box:

Mogrify-Text-Annotation

Notice that I’ve chosen to add the text annotation after the border is applied so that the text will appear in the bottom border. You need to know where the fonts are stored on your system to choose a font. On a Mac, they’re stored in the “/Library/Fonts” directory. In this example, I’ve chosen TektonPro-Bold. You’ll have to use trial-and-error to choose the font size. I experimented and found that with an 800-pixel image, and a 50-pixel bottom border, a font size of 14 pixels was just about right for the TektonPro-Bold font. I chose white at 100% opacity for the font color. Since I’ve already created a bottom border for the text, I’ll leave the “Background” box unchecked. For positioning the text, I’ve chosen to indent the text 30 pixels horizontally and 10 pixels vertically. And I’ve chosen to have the text read horizontally in the bottom border. Note however that I could have just as easily created a side border for the text, and have the text read vertically.

The LR/Mogrify 2 plug-in gives the user access to all of the metadata available in Lightroom, including the EXIF and IPTC information. In this example, I’ll add only EXIF data to the frame, but you can add as many data “tokens” as your border will hold. Click “Add Token” and select “EXIF” as the Category from the pop-up box:

Metadata-Selection

Now start adding EXIF “tokens” one at a time. You can add punctuation (commas, @ symbols, colons, etc.) directly in the “Define your text” box. You can see that in this example I have added a comma after “{cameraModel}”, “lens at” after “{lens}”, and “sec.” after “{shutterSpeed}”. Remember to click “Add a new line” after several tokens to stay within the boundaries of the bottom border.

Until I’m sure that I have all of the options set to my liking, I select “Show in Finder” (different in the PC version) in the Post-Processing box:

Post-Processing

Now click “Export” and see what you’ve created. You’ll likely not get everything spot on the first time around, but after several tries, you’ll get the result you want.

Once you’re satisfied with the settings, you’ll want to save those settings as a User Preset. In the Preset box, click “Add”:

Preset

Now, name the preset something descriptive like “800px with EXIF” and save it in the “User Presets” folder:

New-Preset

Here’s the final result for this example. Enjoy.

Colson_110216_6509-Edit

If you’re confused by the lens description, I was using a 1.4x teleconverter for this image.

Please provide feedback on this tutorial by using the Contact page. Thanks.

Adobe, Lightroom and Photoshop are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

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Happy Independence Day!

 

As we celebrate the adoption of the United States Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, be reminded of the second sentence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Enjoy the day! Eat a brat, drink a beer (or three), and watch a fireworks display, all in the pursuit of happiness of course.

Independence Day Fireworks

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