Monday, March 2, 2015

Ghost Town - Nelson, Nevada (Part 3 "The Post")

The third, and final part in this series is the "The Post." The following video tutorial walks through how I created the final image. It goes from Lightroom to HDR Efex Pro 2 over into Photoshop CC, and back into Lightroom.



Monday, February 2, 2015

Ghost Town - Nelson, Nevada (Part 2 - "The Shoot & The Gear")

Following up from my previous post "The Shot" (above). This time I'll walk through the "The Shoot and The Gear."

After we arrived and got checked in at Nelson this was the first spot I saw that I wanted to shoot. It might have been the big Coca~Cola sign that drew my attention, it may have also been the overall shape of the barn. As soon as I looked at it I saw a very simple composition.

I knew I wanted to put the peak of the roof in the upper left hand third, which meant positioning myself on the right. I started with my tripod in it's full height position, but after trying a few test shots I lowered it by about a third. This gave me a bit of an upward looking view, which put the peak of the roof where I wanted it in the frame.

It was just past 6:00 pm so the light was beginning to fade, so it was a great time of day to shoot. I knew even before coming to Nelson that I was going to be bracketing every shot and have a little HDR'fest. Even if I wasn't going to do any HDR, but just single exposures, I still would have bracketed multiple shots. I didn't know when I was going to be back so getting a range of exposures provides some latitude to play around with in post.

As you can see from the above image I shot a 7 bracket set (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3) and I've highlighted the exposure value for each image. You'll also notice that these are NEF's so I was shooting in RAW, which provides for maximum flexibility in post. Again, I didn't know when I'd be back so I wanted to give myself the best chance for the best outcome in post.

You can also see that the +2 and +3 images are really blown out, but look closely inside the open door of the barn. In the other exposures there is no detail to be found, but at the high end I was able to get some of that interior detail. Also, check out the sky in the -3 shot. This has a nice natural gradient as the light was fading. So basically I chose 7 shots because I thought that would give me enough range to grab all of the detail from the shadows and highlights.

There's so much really cool stuff to shoot there that I could have stayed a lot longer, but it was getting dark, and our stomachs told us it time to feed them! ;)

The Gear - I was shooting with a Nikon D810 fitted with a Nikon 16-35mm f4. Shot in aperture mode, 16mm @ f6.3. This was my first real outing with the D810 and I'm very happy with how it performs.

Stay tuned for Part 3 - "The Post", where I'll walk through how I mashed all 7 exposures together to create the final image.



Monday, January 26, 2015

Ghost Town - Nelson, Nevada - Part 1 "The Shot"

While I was attending Photoshop World 2014 in Las Vegas last September I finally got the chance to head down to the old Ghost Town in Nelson, Nevada. However, if you punch "Nelson, Nevada" into your GPS you'll get nothin'! Good thing I had a travelling companion that day who told me it was actually called "Searchlight, Nevada" ...thanks +Deb Uscilka! Punched in "Searchlight" and away we went!

If you do go, and it's your first time, be sure to sign-in at the main store. There was $10.00 charge, which is really nothing compared all of the great photo opportunities there. And believe me when I tell you we were not the only ones there that Friday night.

After we checked in this was this first location that I set-up to shoot. As the post title says this is Part 1 "The Shot". I'm going be trying something new here on the blog where I'll take one image and follow it with a 3 part series. I'll walk through "The Shot", "The Shoot & The Gear" (what I used and how I got the shot), and finally "The Post" (post processing to make the final image).  So stay tuned for Part 2 shortly where I'll talk about how I got the shot.

Cheers for now!


Monday, August 5, 2013

Giving the SmugMug Another Chance

I've been playing around with the new SmugMug site...and I like it! It still has a few things that could function better, that I talk about below, but it's a vast improvement over the old site. 

I used to use Smug Mug a couple of years ago, but shut it down as it was so cumbersome to manage, and the format was little pedestrian.

Now it's so much easier to use with the new features launched last week. Here are few of my favourites:

New Design Themes - very professional looking, especially the way your photos are automatically set up; you don't really have to think
Organization - really easy to re-sort and organize your photos, just a simple drag and drop
Content Blocks - relatively easy to customize your site; you can create your own page from a blank slate even within a Theme
Simple and Clean- the look and feel is simple and clean across the board
Mobile - looks great on a mobile device, and I also did some customization on my iPad

However, there were a few niggly things that drove me slightly nuts (SmugMug in case your listening):

It was a little difficult to figure how to do some things using the Help options. This is not due to lack of information, but rather the opposite with too much information, which makes is hard to sort through when you're looking for a quick answer. Thankfully it was +Trey Ratcliff to the rescue for me with his video giving a peek behind the kimono of how he set up his site. Thanks Trey!

Also, the Help link doesn't open in a new tab or window. I didn't realize this until I was 4 or 5 links deep in the Help section, found what I needed, but then realized that I had left my site a few exits back. I solved it by opening another tab myself after I realized this, but it's a pretty easy fix.

OK, you've just spent some time customizing your site and set up your menu, inserted a logo, and configured your social buttons. Then you decide to try a different Theme only to find that your logo, menu and social button settings didn't carry over. You have to configure each of them again in the new Theme.

I know this seems like a small thing, but once you have these foundational pieces configured it would be nice if they carried over into the different Themes so you don't have to duplicate effort.

As I said, pretty niggly things that I experienced, but overall SmugMug got a lot of things right here! My site link is below, and I'm going to keep playing with a few different designs. But I think it's time to give SmugMug another chance.