Sunday, May 31, 2009

Post-processing (or, why don't I like my digital RAW photos?)

If you are new to digital (huh?? new to digital?? it has been around for ten years or longer now!!), meaning new to DSLR photography you may be less than thrilled with some of those shots coming out of that beast.  I find that many Club members either resist, or have no current intention, getting involved in post-processing.

Well, friends, you will get involved in post-processing one of these days.  How do I know this?  That was me, about five years ago.  I made the transition from film to an early Nikon digital compact camera - one of those that shoots only jpegs with in-camera settings that amp up the saturation and sharpening so everything coming out of it "pops."  I thought I was happy.  That is, until I read up on "raw" photography and used all that new knowledge to study up on the best equipment out there which led me to the purchase of my first DSLR.

Let's just say that my first experience with raw photos left me with that nauseated, "What the .... !!" feeling. Those shots just plain sucked...I thought.  So, I went right back to that article which had sent me into the store to purchase my first DSLR in the first place, and there it was - the techie talk near the end - and it went something like this...  "Every digital SLR raw photograph requires post-processing."  What the heck?  I read on.  "RAW photos are akin to what we called "negatives" in film photography." Then, it struck me - many of my film shots went into the waste basket.  Why was that? Because the lab just printed what I sent in...bad as it might have been.  The lab could have dodged and burned my shots, making them much better, but they didn't.  If I had wanted every shot to best the best it could be, I would have had to purchase darkroom equipment and chemicals - and even then, I probably would not have been good at it.

It's much the same in the digital world.  Only now, the darkroom is called "Photoshop," or "Capture NX2," or a host of other hot post-processing titles.  If (when) you decide you want to get the most out of your photography, you will take the plunge into RAW and then, by definition, you will have plunged into the world of post-processing.  I have yet to take a RAW photo that did not require some degree of post-processing (PP) work. The good news, unlike the darkroom and chemical days of film, computers present us with many opportunities to set up repeatable processes, or "shortcuts" that were simply not possible with film.

We'll dive much deeper into this topic at our meetings, I'm quite sure.

Would You Like Some Training on Adobe Products?

If you are at all like me, Adobe products can be intimidating...all those controls and buttons!  What do they all mean?

I have two recommendations.  The first one is a recommendation based purely on training curriculum and my perception of "value" - -  I was first introduced to when I purchased the Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master Collection.  Adobe offered me a "free gift" of my choice...and one of the options was a free month of access to  I thought, "Why not?"  I was amazed at the volumes of content in their library of flash movies, and when I actually watched the first one (I chose the introduction to Adobe LightRoom 2) I was blown away at the presentation. guessed it, I purchased a subscription for $25 per month, which gives me full access to the entire library of training. has not only Adobe titles, but pretty much anything I could ever imagine wanting to know more about.  They have additional subscription levels, too.  Check them out!

My second recommendation is really a no-brainer for any photographer - - membership in the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, or "NAPP."  Membership costs $99 per year, and also grants members to full access to a plethora of reference materials.  But, here is the best part about NAPP - free shipping on all orders from B&H Photo-Video (my personal favorite supplier of everything photographic and computer related).  Those of you who know me best will know that I recouped my NAPP membership fee in about three months.  Check NAPP out by clicking here

Those are my two hottest tips for training, tips and tricks, and more.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

June Model Shoot in planning stage

Ken Crites reports that the young lady who attended one of our early B&N meetings has confirmed that she is interested in working with us.  Ken is planning on the weekend of June 6, but still needs to confirm with her (Zarina).  If you are interested in participating, please fill out a "comment" below.  Note that you must be a registered user of the blog to post comments.  Registration is easy and free.

Working with Zarina may not be free - Ken will let us know.  She will most likely require an electronic copy of all photos, however.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dayton Air Show Dates and Sign-up List

The Dayton Air Show will happen on the weekend of July 18-19, 2009, at the Dayton International Airport.  We are planning to car pool to the event.  If you are interested in joining us, please add a "comment" to this post, indicating how many in your party and which day you prefer.

Ticket prices range from $12 (senior) to $16 (regular adult) at local area Kroger stores.  At the gate, prices ranges from $15-$19.  See the web site for additional pricing options for photographers.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lord Canon - Luminous Landscape

Luminous Landscape has gone through several stages of transition over the years.  At one time entirely dedicated to Canon, the site is currently more of a generalist.  I have found it to be a great resource for most things digital, especially so for Canon afficionados.  To go to Luminous Landscape, click here.  Please let us know what you think of this site.

Lord Nikon - Thom Hogan

The Nikon community has annointed Thom Hogan as its resident expert, for the Americas, at least. Thom writes the best technical reference manuals available anywhere.  Nikon no doubt recognizes Thom's contributions, too, because Thom will have his technical manuals available shortly after a new DSLR comes to market.  I'm sure Nikon is making their new gear available to Thom waaaaay before the rest of us.  To go to Thom's web site, click here.

I have purchased Thom's e-books since the D-200 came to market.  With his e-book, you will receive a CD in the mail (no downloads), which you can load onto your computer or have printed at your local Kinko's.  Personally, I like loading the pdf file onto my field laptop computer.  The pdf is searchable, which makes it truly a quick-reference for the field, where you need information fast, in most cases. Thom also includes a printed quick-reference guide that is just slightly larger than pocket-size.

Lastly, Thom's blog on the front page of his website is a good place to learn what is going on in the digital imaging world at any given time.  Check it out!

Action Central - For Photoshop Actions

This is one of my personal favorite resources for Photoshop actions.  For those new to Photoshop, an "action" is a third-party plug-in that must be installed on your computer. Actions work like macros in other applications - think of them as "recordings" of steps that have been created by other Photoshop users for a given effect.

Open Topic Thread

Until I figure out how to set up everyone so you can start new threads, please use this topic to suggest new topics.

January 2010 Bald Eagle Trip

The bald eagle trip is now being planned for January 2010.  We will stay at the Super 8 motel in LeClaire, Iowa.  LeClaire is the location of Corps of Engineers lock number 14 on the Mississippi River. Migratory bald eagles gather near the locks during the coldest part of the winter, because undercurrent flows in the river break up the ice covering and make for good fishing for the eagles Here is a link to some of my photos from my 2009 trip

Please post a comment here if you are interested in the January 8-10, 2010, bald eagle photography trip.  In your post, please indicate the number of rooms you will need.  I will assume one room per poster if you do not indicate otherwise.  Last year, I paid about $60 per night. Once I have an approximate number of rooms needed, I will try to get a special rate for the club.

I will drive up to LeClaire on the morning of Friday, January 8th.  I like to set up and shoot for about an hour at a time, then return to the room to look at my photos on the computer and warm up for an hour or two, then repeat the process until dark.  I'm looking forward to the trip and I hope many of you can join us!

Dust Bunnies? Arctic Butterfly Available to Members

This is to let everyone know that I have purchased the Arctic Butterfly Professional sensor cleaning kit from Visible Dust Technology.  The Arctic Butterfly is generally considered to be the best product in the industry for dry cleaning of digital camera image sensors.

For those of you who are new to digital photography, you may have noticed those irritating little "smudges" on your photos.  They usually show up in the "sky" portion of outside photos, and you know if these are dust bunnies when they are always in exactly the same place on your photos.

Personally, I recommend removing them first by blowing air into the chamber - be sure to follow your manufacturer's recommendations for locking the mirror out of the way. The best air blower is the "Rocket Blower" by Giotto's ($12.95 from B&H).  Only if that doesn't work, move to step 2 - dry cleaning - with the Arctic Butterfly.  The Arctic Butterfly basic set is available directly from Visible Dust for around $150 (Canadian).  Link to Visible Dust website.  In the event that dry cleaning does not solve the problem, wet cleaning is the last resort.  I recommend sending your camera in to the manufacturer's maintenance facility, or using a reputable local shop, for wet cleaning.

For anyone who would like to try dry cleaning, please let me know and I will bring the Arctic Butterfly to our next meeting.  If you are not confident about trying it yourself - I will clean your sensor for you in return for a small contribution to The Photography Club in the amount of $10 per sensor cleaned.  Please contact me in advance to set it up.

Links to Capture NX2 Video

While browsing dpreview today, I discovered a discussion about Nikon Capture NX2 that contained a video showing some of the cool features.  The two links below represent a combined total of 12-13 minutes of tutorials on great features, most of which were not known to me until I watched it.  Check it out.

A Link to DP Review - one of the best resources for photography tips

I discovered (Digital Photography Review) several years ago, as I was just converting from film to digital.  I have found this site to be my "go to" source when I have a question and I need a reliable answer.  The site has thousands if not millions of regular participants, and many of those are earning a living from photography.  I encourage you to check it out, and even set up a membership account there.  It does not cost anything to join.

DP Review was an independently-owned enterprise until about a year ago, when it was purchased by  Despite the fact that it is now owned by a large enterprise, I continue to find it to be one of the better resources for honest, independent exchange of ideas.  If you decide to post a photo there for comment, be advised that you may receive "honest" comments!  Don't have thin skin!

Here is the link:

Be sure to check out their "Discussion Forums"

The Photography Club blog is Open!

A big "Hello" to our members!  I have been searching for a better way to share ideas, tips and tricks on photography between meetings.  I hope this blog meets our needs in that area.  Please feel free to begin posting here, and let's see how this works out.