Nik Collection for Free

What a great Easter Egg: the Nik Collection is now a free download! Nik is a maker of post production plug-ins for tools such as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

  • Analog Efex Pro – explore the look and feel of classic cameras, films, and lenses
  • Silver Efex Pro – master the art of black-and-white photography with darkroom-inspired controls
  • HDR Efex Pro – from natural to artistic, explore the full potential of HDR [high dynamic range] photography
  • Dfine – improve your images with noise reduction tailored to your camera
  • Color Efex Pro – a comprehensive set of filters for color correction, retouching, and creative effects
  • Viveza – selectively adjust the color and tonality of your images without complicated masks or selections
  • Sharpener Pro – bring out hidden details consistently with the professional’s choice for image sharpening

nik-collection-free

It was then bought by Google, and now Google is making the plug-ins available as a free download…

Continue reading

Captain’s Chair

During my visit to Patriot’s Point in Charleston, SC, I snapped this picture of the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier captain’s chair.

Aircraft carrier captain’s chair. Post processed.

Seemingly an easy exposure enough, but with the bright sunlight, it created a wide dynamic range (range from the brightest pixel to the darkest pixel) that it poses a challenge for most digital cameras. How so, you ask? Take a look at the original exposure below.

The original exposure. Details of the ship’s bridge surrounding the captain’s chair were lost in the shadows.

You can see that while the out-the-window view of the Ravenel cable-stayed bridge is about the same as the post processed photo, the details of the ship’s bridge is almost completely lost in the shadows. Even large portions of the captain’s chair is lost. So how do you capture a photo like that in the first image above, that shows a balanced exposure from the outdoors to the indoor elements?

Continue reading

Night Photography: Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Travel photography, for all that entails, is my favorite type of photography. There is nothing that beats the excitement of seeing a new place, new people, new sites that re-ignites my inspiration for photography.

Travel photography for Paris, known as the city of lights, would not be complete with some night shots. During our vacation to Paris in May 2014, I ventured out to take this night shot of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

A 5-second exposure without using a tripod!

Traveling without a tripod, I managed to take a 5-second long exposure. Read on to see how I managed to steady the camera and set my exposure to achieve the starbursts light effect without a starburst filter.

Continue reading

How to Take Pictures of a Ferris Wheel at Night

Carnivals. Cotton Candy. Arcades. Rides. Ferris Wheels. These words conjure up thoughts of fun, good times, and simple pleasures.

Nikon D600 & Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S lens @ 5 sec, f/22, 28mm, iso 100 on tripod.

To a photography enthusiast, it conjures up an opportunity to shoot long exposures at night to capture the dazzling lighting effects of the newer Ferris wheels. Read on to see how I harvested the light…

Continue reading

How to Take Pictures of Fireworks

Fireworks. The word conjures of memories of 4th of July’s, New Year celebrations, visits to Disney theme parks, and other very special occasions.

4th of July fireworks

Opening salvos. Nikon D600 with Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S lens @ 10 seconds, f/13, 28mm focal length, iso 100, and tripod.

So how do you take pictures of fireworks? It is not that hard really. Fireworks photography is one of those photographic techniques that is rather prescriptive. This article is a “how to” for digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras.

Continue reading

Biltmore Hotel

We visited the famous Biltmore Hotel in Coral Cables, Florida during our weekend vacation to South Florida last month.

Biltmore hotel

Biltmore hotel. Nikon D600 with Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S lens @ f/9, 1/200 sec, iso 400, 14mm. Lightroom post processing: exposure +0.33, fill light +60, vibrance +10, saturation +10.

We arrived late in the day for a quick self-guided tour. It was about an hour prior to sunset. The clouds were low in the horizon, acting as a light diffuser for the low setting sun and providing the soft, low contrast lighting for these architecture shots.

Continue reading

At the End of the Rainbow

Thunderstorms in Florida in the summer is a daily occurrence. Nothing unusual. This storm was a little bigger than usual as there were flood warnings throughout town. Just before sunset, however, it let up a little bit, enough for the sun to peak through before setting. And then this magic happened…

Rainbow after the storm

Rainbow after the storm. Nikon D600 with Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S lens @ 14mm focal length, 1/80 sec, f/4.0, iso 200.

Read on to see how I post-processed the raw image to get this final result…

Continue reading

Architecture: Florida Hospital East Orlando

The thought of hospitals conjures up all kinds of memories and emotions. For me, I am reminded of emergency rooms and urgent care and anxiety; birthing rooms and newborn nurseries and the overwhelming excitement and love for my newborn children, nieces and nephews; operating rooms and intensive care units and the worries that come with such situations. Surely, hospitals and the attending physicians, nurses, staff, and volunteers play an important part in our lives.

As buildings, hospitals are very functional. Some even have architectural flair. While function take precedence over form, there is still form. For example, take the new addition to East Orlando Florida Hospital. The new building is built with a gentle curve, serving as an architecture point of interest for the facility and a compelling architecture photographic subject.

Florida Hospital East Orlando is architected with a gentle curve.

Florida Hospital East Orlando is architected with a gentle curve. Taken with Nikon D600 with Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 AF-S lens @ 14mm focal length, 1/80 sec, f/13, iso 100.

In the shot above, I composed the flower bed into the bottom of the frame to give the image some foreground interest. Serendipitously, though it was late morning, the sun was positioned behind the building, leaving the building evenly lit with indirect light. I framed the sun into the shot to add a sun flare that diagonally stretches across the image (as if to remind us of the flowers’ need of the morning light). I cropped the original image using Adobe Lightroom with a cinematic widescreen aspect ratio of 2.4:1 for an epic effect, re-composing the flower bed in the bottom third of the frame (using the composition rule of thirds). Other Lightroom settings included temp 5333, +0.33 exposure compensation, recovery 100, contrast +50, vignetting -10. View the larger 1200 x 500 pixel image.

Read on to see more images of this unique hospital building…

Continue reading

Dreaming of a Bokeh Christmas

With individual members of my family traveling before the holidays, it was not possible to take a complete family of five group portrait for this year’s electronic greeting card, so I opted to take individual portraits in front of the Christmas tree over a period of several weeks. With a common theme and background, I should be able to assemble a coherent collage. As I was preparing my “studio”, I was lacking a willing volunteer/model so I can set my camera and off-camera flash settings. For the sake of progress, I volunteered myself as the model and used a wireless remote shutter trigger. After numerous tries and adjustments to my placement and camera settings, I ended up with this self-portrait.

Bokeh Christmas self-portrait

Bokeh Christmas self-portrait.
Nikon D5000 with Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AF-S lens in manual exposure @ 1/200 sec, f/2, iso 320, TTL flash with -1 EV, and manual focus.

Read on to see how I capture this self-portrait or “selfie”…

Continue reading