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Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:28 pm
by pwt54
Andy, your comments on the lenses is probably right. I spent most of the day with the 18-55 lense, but I would have loved to have the 55-250 lense for the 2 deer. I could have used it for the 5 flocks of turkeys, also. I've been taking notes, because this is a whole new world for me.

Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:32 pm
by autzig
Carol, you should know that I was a high school teacher for a couple of years after I got out of college. I still have a desire to teach, so let me offer an educational thought about your snow fence shot. This isn't a critique, just a photography lesson. You may already know this stuff but that's ok. I still satisfy my craving to teach.

Look at the snow fence photo. What color is the shadow of each of the snow fence slats? Look closely. They are blue! In fact, so is the snow on the other side of the fence. So why is it blue?

Here's the answer. The color of light in the shade is blue. It has something to do with objects blocking everything except the blue spectrum. (I taught history, not science.) You want the blue to be white? Set your white balance to shade. Alternatively, you can use a warming filter. My guess is that you had your white balance set for sunlight. If you like the blue, it was set perfectly.

As an experiment, open the photo in Adobe Bridge. In CS3, you can even open jpg files in RAW. Change the white balance to daylight, cloudy, and shade and see which one you like best.

This is a great example of why you have white balance settings on your camera. Remember when you shoot, you have to consider, not only the quality of light, but the color too.


Posted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:46 pm
by abby
Hi Al,
What a wonderful teacher you must have been........lucky students......and now lucky me. :wink:

I shot that fence photo using auto white balance.

This is one of the reasons Andy has been "preaching" to me to shoot RAW. I went out yesterday and shot in manual mode and shot in RAW. It was smack dab in the middle of the day......very bright sunshine.....not the best light for shooting........but shooting in RAW did help I suppose.

Want to take a peak? I have a few photos on my Picasa site. They are in the first's called D90Raw or something like that. There's just a few of them, but I want to see what you think about the white balance. I didn't want to make it too "warm" because I wanted the snow to be nice and white. However, the first photo I notice the shadows are a little on the bluish side. What do you think????? How does that one look to you? To me, the others look ok but I'd like your opinion (and anyone else too who might be looking).

Thanks so much,

Posted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:15 pm
by autzig
Carol, first things first. I absolutely love the photo of the little kid. Perfectly exposed, the rosy cheeks, the beautiful blue eyes. That one belongs on a wall. Exquisite!

Moving on to your other photos; I think the white balance on most of them is good. I think Auto white balance does pretty well on sunny days.
The first photo, I think, is much too blue. I downloaded it and made some white balance adjustments. Here's the original.


I opened it in Camera Raw and adjusted the white balance and got this which I find more pleasing because the snow is white rather than blue.


Rather than changing the white balance you could open the photo in Photoshop, add a Hue/Saturation layer and desaturate blue. I took it to a -60. The snow was nice and white but the trees weren't warmed up like they were when I adjusted the white balance. Try it and see what you think.

I don't think shooting RAW really makes a difference in the camera. Where it makes a difference is in post processing. The reason for the difference is that there is no lost data. You can adjust your blacks and whites and play around with them all you want. If you make a change to a jpg file you can't go back to the original.

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:01 am
by abby
Hi Al,
I do like the color of the snow and the color of the shadows is much better in your version. The only thing is, it looks like I would have to give up the nice staurated blue sky in order to avoid blue that correct? I used a polarizer filter and I liked the color of the sky in the original better than the second version.

I'm glad you liked the portrait. He's my favorite subject.......he's the most photogenic person I know. I think I have more photos I've taken of him than I do my own family. He lives next door and he is "just like family" to us. He came on a long walk with me through the woods to get to that boat house. He was such a little trooper! :)
I softened that photo intentionally to give it a softer look. I find with kids that works (to my taste anyways). I also have learned to position the eyes at an angle on a tightly cropped face like that. It sure helps to have such an adorable subject!

Thanks SO MUCH for all of your help, encouragement, and work you have done to show me the example photo.


Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 6:34 pm
by autzig
Carol, if you want to keep the nice blue sky, open the file in photoshop, apply a hue/saturation adjustment layer and desaturate the blues to -60. With this adjustment layer you will get a layer mask. Use a big brush, set your foreground color to black and paint over the blue sky. Black will hide the effect of the adjustment in the areas where you paint. You will get the white snow while keeping the sky that you liked. Here's the photo I created using that method. Notice that color of the green trees is not as saturated as in the example where I changed the white balance. I prefer this one. If you like the other one, saturate the yellows in the same or a new layer.

You almost never have to settle for something in Photoshop. You just need to know what to do and how to do it and you can get exactly what you are after.

What do you think of this one?


Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:10 pm
by Andy
For Clarification: NEF IS a RAW file format -- it is Nikon's Raw File Format.

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:30 pm
by Andy
Carol /Al: Perhaps I haven't been clear on my conversation about White Balance. Back in "the day" when we used film, you had to buy film that was color balanced for the light conditions. Most film was "daylight balanced which meant the characteristics of the film were already balanced for most sunlight conditions. If you wanted to shoot indoors, you needed "Tungsten" film which was balanced for the colors as they looked under incandescent light bulbs (which traditionally had tungsten filaments).

When you got "blue" shadows in the snow, except for the ability of the printer to adjust, you were basically stuck with it. This was particularly true for slide films. What the "white balance" adjustment in the digital camera sensor is doing is that same, except that now you have the ability to balance the color yourself.

RAW files are not white balanced. They are computer information as captured. They must be "interpreted" which is what a RAW converter (like ACR) does. Ultimately, the file must be rendered as a PSD, TIFF, JPEG, or other recognized file format. White balancing (even in the camera) is always done after the fact. When you shoot in the jpeg mode in the camera, the camera interprets--through its own microprocessor--the RAW information and converts it--in camera--to jpeg. The theory is that more powerful and intelligent programs--like photoshop--can do a better job of converting than the in-camera software does.

The great advantage to RAW shooting is that it really doesn't matter what the CAMERA SETTING for white balance is. You basically don't have to worry about it. Instead, you do the white balancing in the RAW converter. I leave the white balance setting on "automatic." ACR converts it "as shot." Al is right, IMO. The Nikon Cameras do a pretty good job of getting it "right" in daylight conditions. But in ACR, you have pretty much infinite White Balance adjustment capability--after the fact! You can change the pre-set settings (e.g., daylight, flash, shade, etc.). But better, you can adjust the sliders for color temperature--which is really what white balancing is all about--until you get a look you like. I prefer a "warm" look to my photos and consequently most of my stuff is adjusted to a fairly high color temperature. The "cooler" color temperatures are more blue, or "colder" looking.

So, I am not saying that white balance isn't necessary or important when shooting RAW. Rather, I am saying that I don't worry about the camera settings (at least not for outdoor shooting). I do my WB adjustments in the RAW converter.

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:48 pm
by abby
Andy wrote:For Clarification: NEF IS a RAW file format -- it is Nikon's Raw File Format.

Thanks Andy. I have since learned that.
What happened was it was not installed correctly. So, I googled RAW file vs NEF file and I found this (a portion of the article I found)

February 05, 2005

"At work, RAW is king. The first time I ever opened a RAW file in PhotoshopCS I was floorer. "OMG. It's like taking the picture again." As it should be.

Photoshop's RAW interface gives you soooooo many options when it comes to manipulating RAW files it literally puts you back behind the camera....but not so with Nikon's proprietary NEF files. Not only does Photoshop not recognize the file type if you don't have the plugin installed, but the plugin eliminates all but a few basic RAW options. It gives you a few basic "white balance" options and and exposure compensation slider. The histograms, color layers, brightness and contrast settings; everything that makes the RAW palette great are gone."

So, you see, at the time, I could only use the basic RAW options and I *thought* it was because it was a NEF file, and I thought NEF meant something different, but I was wrong.

Are you still with me???? Or am I confusing you?

After it was installed correctly, I learned that Nikons RAW files are called NEF because I could use ALL of the options and now I'm good to go.

Make sense??? I hope so.
I'm sorry. this stuff is all so new to me and I'm trying the best I can to understand. Don't mean to be a PIA.
PS To answer your other post......
You made it clear to me the last time we discussed white balance and the reasons why you like to shoot RAW so that you can adjust the white balance when you are processing the image and it's one less thing to have to worry about (changing the white balance setting on the camera) while out shooting.

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:12 pm
by abby
Here's one more version of that photo. I did a different thing than you suggested. I'm not too experienced with layers yet so I did my own thing by just taking the lasso tool and selecting the snow then I chose saturation and chose blue and took the slider and moved it to the left to desaturate the blue color in the selected area. Here's my version.


I like this one and I hope you do too. You were so right. That first one was waaaay to blue. I have learned a very good lesson. Thanks so much for putting up with me.


Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:18 pm
by abby
LOL Al..........We did it again!!! I looked at this post a little while ago and you hadn't posted another new version. So, I worked on the photo and posted it, and now I just saw your other version. I love it!!!!! It's perfect. It's pretty close to the one I just posted. Yours might be a bit brighter than mine which I like better.

Thank you so very much.

Carol :D

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:46 pm
by autzig
Carol, one of the beauties of Photoshop is that you can accomplish something using any of a variety of different methods. Yours worked just fine.

Using adjustment layers is not difficult and once you see how much easier they make things, you will never stop using them. I went to a weekend Photo workshop with John Shaw. He showed us how to use layers in Photoshop and I was blown away. Because of that seminar, I went out and bought the full version.

Just click on Window at the top and check layers if you don't already have your layers pallet visible. At the bottom of the layers pallet click on the black and white circle and choose the kind of layer you want like hue and saturation. The adjustment box pops up. Make the adjustments you want (Make sure the Preview box is checked so you can see the effect.), click OK and you will see the layer mask. Use your brush with the foreground color set to black to hide the areas you don't want to show the effect of the adjustment. If you only want a small area to change, press CTRL BACKSPACE with white as the foreground color and the layer will be filled with black. Paint the mask with white and the changes will be revealed. This is very easy stuff.

Actually, the first adjustment I make is a curves layer. Click OPTIONS and you can choose from three different Algorithms or choose your own adjustment. Look at the difference by choosing one of the presets.

Now that Andy and I have convinced you to shoot in RAW and you've taken that bold step, start learning what Photoshop can do for you. I'll be happy to give you some e-lessons.


Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:22 pm
by abby
Oh my gosh Al, thank you so much for the offer. I am so humbled by the generosity of the kind people who post here.

Andy has taught me everything I know about Photoshop through email tutorials. He's probably reading this right now saying "watch out Al, you don't know what you're getting yourself into" LOL Seriously though, over a year ago Andy started tutoring me in Photoshop and I learned so much. I knew NOTHING when we first started. Since then I have signed up for Kelby on line training, but honestly, it's nothing like Andy's one on one teaching. It was so much easier for me to understand when I got one on one lessons. If I got stuck on something (which happened a lot) I could just ask and get it clarified. With the Kelby training, if I get stuck then I'm basically out of luck.

I know there's still so much I need to learn about Photoshop. I've only scratched the surface.

Yes, I'm sticking with RAW and am going to shoot only RAW from now on. I really want to improve and do everything it takes to kick my photography up a notch or two. I feel like I have gotten stagnant and I want to do better. With my new camera, shooting RAW, learning more Photoshop "stuff" and getting that new tripod that Andy has been profusely recommending :), I am hoping to start seeing some improvements.

Posted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:36 pm
by autzig
Carol, here are a couple of ideas for you. First, I learned a lot about Photoshop from Scott Kelby's Photoshop for Digital Photographers book. I think I've got them all; for CS, CS2 and CS3. Another thing to consider is Epson's Print Academy. They originally had a download program but now they've got an all day seminar. One is scheduled for Boston on February 28. You can find out more at ... a_home.jsp . Consider becoming a NAPP member (National Association of Photoshop Professionals.) You get Photoshop Magazine plus access to the members area on the website where they've got all kinds of great video tutorials.

Here's my favorite Photoshop tip. Open your image in Photoshop, make a copy by pressing <CTRL> J. Then click on Filter, Choose Sharpen, then Unsharp Mask. Set the amount to 50, Radius to 20 and threshold to 0 and watch what happens. In almost every case the difference is very noticeable and the result is very good. If the sharpening is too much, increase the threshold until you are satisfied with the look. I learned this technique from Chas Glatzer on his New Foundland workshop. Try it, you'll like it.

Posted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 9:36 am
by abby
That tip was amazing!!! I just tried it on one of my photos and my jaw dropped. Thanks so much for that.

The sharpening was a bit too much so I increased the threshold as you suggested. Wow. Very easy and very impressive.