HDR Photography Mare Island Photography Photography - Canon 5D Mark II Photography - Canon PowerShot S95 Photomatix Pro

A Peek Inside Building 680 at Mare Island

Building 680 - Mare Island - Ready to Go - 2011

Doug Kaye and I spent a bit of time exploring Mare Island this afternoon.

I was amazed at the scale of the place. Huge buildings. Imagining this place with thousands of workers doing their thing. Brings back yet another sense of the greatest generation – how they were able to build and deliver on something of this scale. Yes, it is a great country!

This is one of the images we got peeking into the windows of Building 680, perhaps the largest building on the island. What did they make here, we wondered? This image is a hand-held HDR shot using my tiny Canon PowerShot S95 – with its lens flat up against the glass.

Below is another version – somewhat aggressively post-processed into a black and white. It’s the same building – but a different wing – and this version was shot using my Canon 5D Mark II with a 28mm f/1.8 lens.

Tracks - Building 680 - Mare Island - 2011

HDR Photography Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Canon 5D Mark II Photomatix Pro San Juan Bautista

The Crosses at Mission San Juan Bautista


Just out back of Mission San Juan Bautista is a small, private cemetery with a locked gate. In the cemetery, there are about twenty crosses spread across the hillside – but apparently they mark many, many more graves. The San Andreas fault runs along the base of the hill just below this cemetery as does the original path of El Camino Real.

This image was taken over the locked gate – using my Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lens. The image was first processed as a single image HDR using Photomatix Pro and then converted to black and white with Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2. A subtle color tone was added to slightly warm the image.

HDR Photography Photography Photography - Canon 5D Mark II Photomatix Pro Stanford

The Arches in the Stanford Quad

The Arches in the Stanford Quad by Scott Loftesness

A couple of weeks ago, I was out walking around Stanford and came across this scene just off the inner Quad. This image was shot as a single image HDR with my Canon 5D Mark II and the Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens. For this shot, ISO was 100, shutter speed was 1/320 with the lens at f/4.6 at 130 mm. The image was post-processed using Photomatix Pro and tweaked slightly in Photoshop CS5.

Hope you enjoy!

Golden Gate Photography Photography - Black & White Photomatix Pro San Francisco/California

The Golden Gate from Fort Baker

Golden Gate from Fort Baker by Scott Loftesness

I seem to be in a bit of a North Bay rut! Here’s another black and white image from the Marin County perspective north of San Francisco. This is the Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Baker, a truly delightful – and usually lightly visited – spot on the north side of the Golden Gate. Click on the image to see the light boxed version.

You get some unusual perspectives from this location – of both the bridge and also of The City itself (see this wonderful nighttime shot of The City that my friend Doug Kaye took from Fort Baker during a full moon recently). Behind me when I was taking this shot is Carvallo Point, a very pleasant lodge and restaurant (Murray Circle) that uses many of the old buildings from Fort Baker as its rooms.

Photography Photography - Canon PowerShot S95 Photomatix Pro Stanford

Knight Management Center @ Stanford

Knight Management Center @ Stanford (HDR)

This evening Trey Ratcliff hosted a photo walk at Stanford that started at the Knight Management Center of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. As I was walking to the event, I snapped this 3-image HDR photo of the courtyard using my tiny Canon PowerShot S95. The image was lightly post-processed using Photomatix Pro before cropping it to a 16:9 ratio image for display here.

Here are a few more shots from tonight’s event. Here’s the group photo taken by Peter Adams before we headed out on the photo walk.

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Sequence @ Stanford

Sequence @ Cantor Arts Center - Stanford University- by Scott Loftesness

This afternoon I visited the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford to see the new Sequence sculpture by Richard Serra that had just been installed. Cantor is exhibiting this amazing work until 2010 when it will be moved to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The image above is a single image HDR shot using my tiny Canon PowerShot S95. The image was post-processed as a single RAW using Photomatix Pro and then tweaked a bit in Photoshop before uploading it here.

While the colors are over saturated a bit compared to “real life”, I just love how this image turned out. The shades of color, the gradations, and the lovely curves all make this a very special image for me – and hopefully for you!

More of my Sequence photos are available here. Here’s a 2 minute video of my walk thru the sculpture:

Compact HDR HDR Photography Lightroom Photography Photography - Canon PowerShot S95 Photomatix Pro

Single RAW HDR Processing with the Canon PowerShot S95

[Update: These same techniques apply to the Canon PowerShot S100 and, I believe, to the Canon PowerShot S110 as well as the Canon PowerShot S95.]

Recently, I’ve begun doing more HDR post-processing of single-shot RAW images I’ve shot using my always handy Canon PowerShot S95. This is the camera that goes almost everywhere I do – it’s in my backpack!

Canon PowerShot S95It’s capable of producing some beautiful single RAW HDR images – see this example that I shot last weekend in San Francisco.

Cable Car - San Francisco - 2011

Oh, by the way, I didn’t worry about lens barrel distortion when I post-processed that shot of a San Francisco Muni Cable Car!

One of the things to beware of when doing single RAW processing – particularly with compact cameras like the S95 – is just how much lens barrel distortion exists in the RAW file output by the camera. This distortion can be surprisingly significant – but it takes just a couple of additional steps in the post-processing workflow to deal with it – when required.

Note that some images, while having the distortion, look fine to the human eye without any of this additional post-processing. You’ll have to be the judge as to when to tweak further and when to accept the initial result instead.

As described in my recent photography workflow article, my S95 images all come first into Lightroom where they’re stored in my photo masters directory on an external hard drive. I use a Smart Collection in Lightroom to highlight all of the RAW images in my collection. When I’m interested in doing some post-processing, I’ll browse that collection of RAW images and then use the Show in Finder menu item to open a Finder window with that image selection. I’ll then drag that image onto Photomatix in my dock and begin the HDR post-processing. Once that’s complete, I’ll save the resulting JPEG and import that into Lightroom. It’s then that I apply Lightroom’s adjustments to deal with the barrel distortion problems – as well as dealing with any chromatic aberrations that might have cropped up along the way.

Below you can see two images that illustrate the problem – the first is the output from Photomatix following single image HDR processing. The second is the final result following post-processing in Lightroom to remove the distortion and chromatic aberration. In between, I used Lightroom’s Lens Correction adjustments to perfect the image.

First image – following single image HDR processing in Photomatix Pro:


Notice the geometric distortion in the rectangle around the Dairy’s logo. That’s the lens barrel distortion that hasn’t (yet) been corrected.

If you look closely at the right border of the logo, you can see some chromatic aberration – a bit of red that’s seeping in next to the tight border. We’ll fix that too in Lightroom!

Second image – following the use of Lightroom’s Lens Correction/Manual (mostly using the Distortion, Vertical and Horizontal sliders) and using the Red/Cyan slider in that same Chromatic Aberration section. It’s like magic how it moves those pixels around at your command!


These tiny compact cameras are wonderful for shooting RAW images on the go – but sometimes you’ll need to further refine the resulting images to square things up and correct the lens distortion when using their RAW images for single-image HDR. In an ideal world, Photomatix would be able to do this automatically when importing a single-image RAW – maybe that will come along sometime?

PS: Are you curious where I took this shot? Here’s the spot – the corner of Mission St. and Ocean Ave. in Carmel, CA. You can see the Carmel Dairy logo on the wall – presumably long protected from paint over by citizens of Carmel!

Carmel Dairy

HDR Photography iPhone 4 iPhoto Lightroom Photography Photography - Canon 5D Mark II Photography - Canon PowerShot S95 Photomatix Pro

My Mid-2011 Photography Workflow

Self Portrait in a Moving Mirror

My photography workflow has evolved significantly over the last couple of years – “evolved” being perhaps a euphemism for “gotten more complicated”! I’ve been influenced by paying attention to the workflow of others – picking up tips especially from watching Trey Ratcliff and others as they’ve shared their approaches. I’ve wanted to write this down for my own reference – and, now that I’ve written it up, thought it might be worth sharing as well. So, read on for my photography workflow – as it stands today.

HDR Photography Lightroom Palo Alto Photography Photography - Canon PowerShot S95 Photomatix Pro

Working a Subject

Bill Bliss Memorial Sculpture - Palo Alto Baylands (HDR)

It’s fun to get to make repeat visits to interesting locations at different times of year with varying weather conditions, etc. For example, I do a lot of photography at Stanford – where I have my favorite spots that I enjoy seeing with different sun angles, cloudy vs. blue skies, etc. Looking back at my portfolio of Stanford images, I can also see how I’ve improved over time (or, at least changed!) – and that’s fun to observe and reflect on.

Another recent subject this week has been the Bill Bliss Memorial Sculpture in the Palo Alto Baylands. I blogged about it a couple of days ago. Yesterday, while taking my car into the dealership for service, I was near the Baylands again – this time with a wicked morning sky as a front was moving through the San Francisco Bay Area. I made a quick detour down to the sculpture, grabbed my little Canon PowerShot S95 out of my backpack (it’s always with me – like my iPhone 4 – who’d imagine we’d be walking around with multiple cameras these days?!).

The image above comes from a 3-shot exposure bracketed sequence shot handheld – and post-processed in Photomatix Pro, Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom. It’s different than the ones I shot a few days back – and that’s why I like it!

HDR Photography Photography Photography - Canon 5D Mark II Photomatix Pro

The Bill Bliss Memorial – Palo Alto Baylands

Bill Bliss Memorial - Palo Alto (B+W HDR + Selective Color)

On Sunday, I set out to explore some local spots for HDR photography. One of the spots was the new Bill Bliss Memorial Sculpture by James Moore in the Palo Alto Baylands. I shot this photo with my Canon 5D Mark II using a 28mm lens.

This was a 3-shot HDR taken with the 5D mounted on a tripod – and then post-processed in PhotoMatix Pro. Once that conversion was complete, I used Nik’s Silver Efex 2 to do the black and white conversion – with the selective color to bring out the blue in the bike frame. A final touch up in Lightroom 3 completed the image. 30 seconds of composition on the scene followed by 30 minutes of post-processing to get it right.

I have so much more to learn about how to use Nik’s Silver Efex 2 – just beginning to get acquainted with all of its power!