Magic at Stanford

I took advantage of yesterday’s Presidents’ Day parking enforcement holiday to take a walk around the campus. As I was coming into the Quad, I happened across what appeared to be a model shoot underway – with a lady in a red dress standing in the sunlight under columns.

I captured the image with my iPhone Xs Max and edited it on my iPhone using Adobe’s Photoshop Express – which includes a wonderful variety of tools to get creative with images – including adding reflections. Fun!

Monday afternoon in early December

Monday Afternoon – Portola Valley Town Center, California

One of my favorite local destinations is the Portola Valley Library. Near the parking area is a beautiful field of trees leading up to the hills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. 

As I arrived yesterday afternoon, this tree was glowing in the afternoon sun – at a low angle in the sky on this day in early December. Image shot with iPhone Xs Max and tweaked in Snapseed.

Learning to Print!

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My first print – Crater Lake, Oregon

This past weekend I attended Michael Frye‘s excellent three day workshop “The Art and Craft of Digital Printing” in Pasadena, California. Michael is an excellent landscape and nature photographer who is very well known for his work in Yosemite and environs – as well as being as a master teacher of landscape photography. His workshops are extremely popular – and usually fill up quickly the day they are announced!

I first met Michael when my son David and I spent a day with him in Yosemite back in 2010 visiting a few of the non-iconic venues in the park that are among Michael’s favorites. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to take several of his other photography workshops – including a beautiful fall colors Eastern Sierra workshop and a mystical coastal redwoods workshop along the Northern California coast. But I’ve never before taken a workshop devoted entirely to learning how to produce digital prints.

During this weekend’s digital printing workshop, Michael taught us the processes he uses in Lightroom (and Photoshop) to create a master file of a photograph in preparation for printing – and the process of moving through proofing the print on smaller paper before ultimately making a final print on larger paper. During the weekend, we had access to three Epson P800 printers that Michael and his wife Claudia had set up for us in the classroom.

Since I don’t own a photographic printer, this was all a new experience for me – and one which proved very stimulating and gratifying. Holding a final print of one of your favorite images is a real delight – especially when it’s printed large (17×22 inch prints were our final output during this workshop). I also learned just how much time it can take to get to that point of hold your large print in your hands – as the process of printmaking is much more in pursuit of perfection than quickly posting a much smaller digital image on one of the social media platforms!

I came away feeling much more confident in my ability to create large prints – what many have said is the final stage of the process for any serious photographer! Michael (and his assistant Robert Eckhardt) thoroughly shared their years of experience in digital fine art printing – making for a very satisfying and productive weekend workshop! Michael has been teaching this digital printing workshop twice each year – and I can’t recommend it highly enough if you’re also looking to learn how to print like I was!

Note: Michael’s also the author of an excellent book on post-processing titled “Landscapes in Lightroom: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide” which I highly recommend. He includes a number of accompanying videos with the ebook that are among the best I’ve seen on the various aspects of using Lightroom effectively.

Using Fujifilm JPEG Film Simulations

The delights of using Fujifilm cameras include the film simulations that Fujifilm includes for application to JPEG images. I’m a big fan of Classic Chrome for color images and Acros for black and white images.

UK wedding photographer Kevin Mullins has just posted a blog post and accompanying video describing how he uses these film simulations in his wedding photography. He sets up his favorite setting using the Custom Settings feature of his Fujifilm cameras.

Mobile Photography on Monterey Bay

I recently drove to Monterey to join my friend and painter Don Neff while he was doing plein air painting as part of the 2018 Carmel Art Festival. Don took us to one of his favorite spots along the Monterey Bay coastline – Perkins Park in Pacific Grove.

Don and I caught up on old times as he was painting a small 6×8 inch canvas for the show.

As I was sitting with Don, we watched the sun play with the fog bank – creating some beautiful and ever changing lighting on the bay. There was a single fishing boat out – seemed to be turning circles in the middle of the bay. I captured a few shots with my iPhone 8 Plus including this one:

Later, when I was home, I began playing with this image using some of the iOS photo editing apps that I’ve collected (don’t ask how many I have!). One of my favorites for landscape (or seascape!) scenes is called Distressed FX. This app is available on both the iPhone and iPad. It allows you to simply experiment adding both color and texture effects to an image. With this image, I cropped it to a square format and then, using Distressed FX, added the sky and a subtle texture overlay. The result is startling beautiful – and way different from the original! [Update 5/29/18: Here’s a good introductory tutorial about Distressed FX.]

Using Lightroom CC for a new mobile workflow while traveling

I was recently in Hong Kong for a week of street photography. While there, I used a different mobile-centric workflow for my images – and, while it wasn’t perfect, it definitely simplified things. Here’s the basic idea:

Gear: I traveled with my MacBook Pro (with LR CC), my iPhone, and my iPad Pro (both with LR Mobile). At home there’s an iMac with my master photo library managed by Lightroom CC Classic. For this to work well, your hotel (or AirBnb, etc) also needs to be “well connected” – especially in terms of upstream bandwidth.

Workflow: After a day of shooting, I used Adobe Bridge on my MacBook Pro to import images from my camera’s SD cards into a date-based folder hierarchy on the MacBook’s SSD. Separately, I used Image Capture to import photos from my iPhone – and copied those images into the same date-based folder hierarchy. (Alternatively, I could have simply opened LR Mobile on my iPhone and imported the iPhone images I wanted into LR from my Camera Roll). Each day I had a new folder with all of the images from my cameras and my iPhone.

Next I opened Lightroom CC (LRCC) on my MacBook Pro and import the new images from the folder hierarchy (e.g. the images imported using Bridge and Image Capture in step 1). LRCC will import these images and immediately begin uploading them with the cloud. For this uploading to be efficient, you’ll want to be sure you’re using hotel WiFi with decent upstream bandwidth – something that worked very well for us in our Hong Kong hotel – but which could be problematic at less well connected hotels.

As LRCC uploads the images to the cloud, several good things happen:

The images are also sync’d to LR Mobile on my iPad and iPhone. They just start showing up as the syncing completes. The images are also sync’d to Lightroom CC Classic running on my iMac back home. If Lightroom Classic isn’t open on my Mac (or if my Mac is powered off), the syncing begins when Lightroom Classic is next opened on my Mac. LR Classic will download the images from the cloud and save them to a special folder – which I’ve pointed to a folder just for this purpose in my images folder hierarchy. In LR Classic preferences, I’ve also clicked the “use date hierarchy” box so that the downloaded images will be stored in a date hierarchy folder structure within that specified download folder.

When I get back home, I can open LR Classic and move the images from the download folder into the normal date-based folders in my image library. LR will remember that these images – although they’ve been moved – are still synced to the cloud. Thus, any changes I make to an image will be sync’d everywhere – including any ratings updates, any photo edits, cropping, etc. Even deletions will be sync’d everywhere.

The net effect of this workflow is that I avoided having to do the old catalog import workflow from LR Classic on my MacBook Pro into LR Classic on my iMac when I got home.

But the BIG benefit of this LR CC-based workflow was having my images quickly available for reviewing, editing, rating, etc. on my iPhone and iPad while I was traveling in the field. In addition, any images I shot on my iPhone could be imported into LR Mobile on my iPhone and they’d automatically be sync’d into the Lightroom cloud and down to my LR Mobile on my iPad and to LR Classic my iMac back home.

I should also mention that once the images have been imported to LR CC on my MacBook Pro, they can be deleted from the folder hierarchy on the MacBook. Once the originals are sync’d to the cloud by LR CC they are no longer needed locally on the MacBook Pro. Of course, I didn’t do any deleting while traveling – as I wanted the redundancy (in addition to keeping the SD cards) – but I could have – and will at some point back home!

I just found a YouTube (10 min long) video by Ted Forbes that also describes this workflow.

Revival

It’s been a while since I have done any posting here – like five months! It’s time to get things rocking again. Lots of recent street photography – mostly shared on my Instagram page. I’ll share some of those images here along with some of the back stories behind them.

Let’s get started with this image from today: the magical staircase at the Mechanics Institute on Post Street in downtown San Francisco. I was walking from the Montgomery Street BART station to Apple Union Square when I walked by the Institute and was reminded by a friend’s post from this location that he shared on Facebook. A quick duck inside the front door, past the elevators into the staircase – and then simply look up! I used the Halide camera app shooting in RAW and post processed in the Darkroom and Snapseed apps.