10th December 2015 – On Skies & ROC Round Two

Skies, can’t live with them, can’t live without them, indicates some of the difficulty that the greatest source of light on the planet can present to photographers and may explain why some retreat on a more or less permanent basis to a studio where these things can be controlled. That, however is not the fate of the landscaper, the wedding photographer, the took-the-camera-on-holiday snapper, well, anyone who takes a photograph of, or in, the great outdoors. Pretty much everyone, then.

 

Dynamic range is the problem, luminance, the ability of a sensor to reproduce the extremes of blacks and whites in a photograph and everything in between. The human eye/brain combo has a dynamic range of 10-14 f-stops, about 1/1,000,000,000 times the faintest light to that of the of our local star in the middle of a bright and sunny day. DXO give the highest dynamic range of any commercially available DSLR at 14.8 stops. So how can that be a problem? Most modern DSLR’s and CSC’s appear to be within that 10-14 stop range so can emulate the human brain. Yes and no. The question is where the average that you are metering for lies in that range. Your camera does not possess the same dynamic processing capabilities as your brain which constantly adjusts to available light levels (and has been several million years in the development in doing so). What we see in an image is the capture of a moment. It is fixed. The exif data tells you that. What we see with our eyes is dynamically adjusted to what we “know” and changes constantly. In our brains the “shutter” is always rolling, not fixed.

 

That expectation can be shown in an image with a high dynamic range (that’s a clue) but necessarily arranged around the average the light meter has constructed or the camera instructed by the photographer. Those f-stops in the range have captured the information, we just need to rebalance the image to our expectations. That was the subject of our last meeting and Gerry Painter, Mark O’Grady and Nick Hale gave us some valuable leads on how, with some contributions from the floor, using both Adobe (Elements, Lightroom and Photoshop) and Smart Photo Editor how we can use that inbuilt dynamic range to our own advantage; and yes the same applies to JPEG and to RAW, just not in equal measure.

 

Broadly the latitude in a JPEG is plus or minus 2 stops over the “correctly” exposed average. With RAW that moves to approximately +/-3 stops. What the sensor can see, approximately, and what the eye can see, is not the same as the sensor records in straight numbers. There are a number of solutions that are available including HDR either from a single or multiple frames plus the various trips that we were shown using the tools available in the photo editing suites and we mentioned above. A single HDR image taken pushed to reveal the highlights and so then back to the original and push to the shadows then combine the three to cover a greater range is one way but if the range needs to be extended further then three separate shots can be used. To get the best out of this will usually require dedicated software such as Luminance HDR, which is free, or Photomatics or any number of similarly capable software, to blend the images into one.

There are, of course, other factors to consider, especially if you are blending two images, especially the quality/temperature of the light needing to match to make things convincing. That is convincing, not accurate – see the discussions of this over the last two posts. This was shown to be relatively straightforward, what doesn’t match between two images really stands out rather clearly and it is down to being a little critical of the outcome. Does this look as if it is one image, or does it look like more than one image crammed together. The hit and hopes do tend to stand out. As ever it is a matter of personal taste. It’s your photograph, what are you happy with?

 

Which brings us to round 2 of the ROC. Paul McCloskey was our judge and thanks to him for his insights and reflections on the night. The number of images commended was the highest to date and reflects not just a growth in quality but also one in diversity. The club moves from strength to strength. There was some conversation about what Paul saw and what some in the audience saw differently, as ever when we compare and contrast each other’s work, but that is both a good and necessary thing. The story we think we are sending out won’t always be the story that other’s think we are telling, and that can open us to other opportunities.

 

Results are as follows, those marked No Image Available mean exactly that. There was no image in the cloud folder for them.

 

Digital Print Images

 

Highly Commended

Beauty and the Beast

Mark O’Grady

No Image Available

 

The Vessel

Simon Caplan

PRINT_EmptyVessels_269

The Beast

Mark O’Grady

No Image Available

 

 

Garage Sale

Rob Heslop

No Image Available

 

 

 

 

3rd

Anonymous

Chris Harvey

Print_Anonymous_307N

2nd

Centre of Attention

Chris Harvey

Print_The Centre Of Attention_307N

1st

The Big Bang Theory

Ian Coombs

Print_ The Big Bang Theory_233

Digital Images

Highly Commended

Who Needs a Parrot?

Debbi Griffin

01-Who needs a parrot-220

Flintlock

Eddie House

01_Flintlock Pistol_233

 

Top Note

Ian Coombs

Top Note

Butterfly With No Name

Julia Simone

01_butterfly with no name_242

 

 

It’s a Bird

Pauline Ewins

Is it a bird

Brecon Beacons – Falls

Steve Hallam

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Sorry I’m Late

Julie Kaye

02_sorry I'm late_295n

The Greek Goddess Ariadne

Jo Gilbert

02_The Greek Goddess Ariadne _299

Cold

Julia Simone

03_cold_242

 

 

3rd Vetran

Julie Coombs

3rd_Veteran_243

2nd

Coming Through

Martin Ethrington

2nd_Coming Through

1st

Past Times

Gary Butler

1st_Past-Times_310

 

Congratulations everybody, a fine showing.

 

17 December Meeting SCHOOL IS CLOSED. REPAIR TO THE UPSTAIRS OF THE LANGTON COURT ON LANGTON COURT ROAD. Bring something festive to eat and lots and lots of prints of any size – it will be fun.

 

 

Next meeting at the School: January 7th 2016 – Chairman Maurice has the floor. Read up on your Little Red Books …