EMAIL NEWSLETTER WITH AWEBER

We have recently moved our email newsletter to AWeber and thought you might like some input as to what we like about their product.

For all of you who are not using an email marketing service for your business, you really should consider doing so. Having an email list or newsletter is the best way to mobilize your audience to take action.

It’s also a great way to maintain an active community of readers/customers for your site. In any case, this post is not about trying to convince you to use an email marketing provider, but if you are in the market for one, this review may help you out.

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Enfuse/Blend

Many times we are complimented on how “real” outNbout images appear, here is one of our secrets…

Why Enfuse?

Enfusing, or Blending, of images is one of our most practiced technique to ensure a “more complete and real tonal range” to our images. The full dynamic range (or gamma) of a typical landscape scene exceeds the spectral range of digital cameras photo cells, therefore areas of extreme darkness or lightness lose their amount of information (color, contrast, sharpness, detail etc.).  If the exposure is biased towards the shadows then the highlights suffer and visa versa, not to mention the increase in “noise”.  If the photo is taken to satisfy the middle of the road then the image will lack the “real” or “three dimensional” aspect of the original scene.

Today a RAW file from a full frame digital camera can have a 12 stop exposure range, thus making the art of image blending possible as each exposure maximizes the potential of that “dynamic portion” of the final image.  This is also known as “exposure fusion”.

The art of enfusing an image involves taking a series of exposures ranging from extreme dark to light and then within the computer “blend” the images together to render a final image that exhibits an exquisite range of detail from both ends of the spectrum with little or no digital noise. Although the technique is not difficult it does require a certain degree of patience and forethought when taking the initial photographs. Instead of taking many photos and then picking out the best one we typically scout out our locations well in advance to determine the best season and time of day to render the shot.

The Final Blended Image

Enfused from 5 original images. See original images at the end of this post

Enfused from 5 original images. See original images at the end of this post

Click here to see the final image after Photoshop Lightroom tweaks

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Coupons & Savings

Enjoy Some Complimentary Savings 

PhotoDeck

Our primary commercial business is managed through PhotoDeck, a photography website with a brain!
We go beyond basic online portfolios and rely on a smart PhotoDeck website to empower our business – this gives us a competitive edge.

  • Portfolios
  • Customer proofing
  • Client Private Login Accounts
  • Rights Managed, Royalty Free and Plus Pack calculators
  • Self fulfilled orders
  • Enterprise-grade e-commerce (0% commission)
  • Very fast website, no flash, just well written html code…According to Pingdom, PhotoDeck websites are typically faster than 92% of all websites tested via their service
  • Built in Timeline and analytics
  • Mobile friendly, resizing on the fly and creating layouts that work on all screens, laptop, tablets and phones. Plus all the features continue to work, regardless of the platform.
  • No commission on your sales. Founder JF comments “We stick to what we’re best at, being a technology provider. In the same way that we don’t come between you and your clients, so we don’t step between you and your business partners.”
  • Enhancements are ongoing by those who themselves are in the Photography business. In the last few months alone, Photodeck has rolled a print partner program.
  • It integrates with WordPress. If you have a self hosted WordPress website, then you can take your Photodeck style settings and export them to WordPress. This means that you can achieve a consistent look between your blog and your Photodeck site

Want to learn more…simply click here and use our referral code YG@UYIFGS during sign up to save 50% off your first month subscription.


Zenfolio

We have been using the Zenfolio hosting service for organizing and presenting our personal family photos and videos online.
We think Zenfolio is a great service, and we wanted to recommend that you open an account as well.

Some of the features Zenfolio offers are:
• Unlimited storage for your photos and videos
• Elegant pages with a variety of layouts and designs including creating your own completely custom designs that you can edit without any knowledge of coding
• Beautiful presentation of your photos and videos
• A very easy to use and intuitive interface
• Full screen Slideshows with music (50 free songs are included)
• Ability to link to many image sizes and share your photos and videos on Facebook and Twitter directly from your account. This way, you can upload files only once and share them any way you like.

You can use our referral code V8Q-XN2-5DV during sign up to save 10% off your own subscription. Once you subscribe you’ll get your own code and if you get enough referrals you may never need to pay for the service again.

Zenfolio offers a free Trial account for two weeks so you can see if you like it. I really think you should give it a try.

http://www.zenfolio.com

 

Focus Stacking

Focus Stacking

As defined by Wikipedia…Focus stacking (or hyperfocus) is a digital image processing technique which combines multiple images taken at different focus distances to give a resulting image with a greater depth of field (DOF) than any of the individual source images. Focus stacking can be used in any situation where individual images have a very shallow depth of field; macro photography and optical microscopy are two typical examples.

Macro or micro photography, has focus limitations due to the nature of the design of the lens. You can capture incredible close up details but the depth of field (distance between the closest and furthest objects in a scene) is extremely limited.  The range of focus is directly related to the degree of “macro”.  The end result is an image that has a very small area where the image is sharp; ahead and behind of this focus point the image is unsharp.

Using the Focus Stacking technique has allowed us to overcome this “narrow band” of focus and gain infinite focus between the “near and far” objects within the scene.

Technique

The starting point for focus stacking is a series of images captured at different focal depths; in each image different areas of the scene will be in focus. While none of these images has the scene entirely in focus they collectively contain all the data required to generate an image which has all parts of the scene in-focus. In-focus regions of each image may be detected automatically, for example via edge detection or Fourier analysis, or selected manually. The in-focus patches are then blended together to generate the final image

Trio20

For this particular object we took seventy one (71) photos to “focus stack” as one final image…the trio images above represent the furthest, mid and closest range of the pictures taken.

The upper left photos represents the furthest focal point whereas the one in the lower right is where the focus is at the forefront of the object.

MicroFocusRailThe Micro Focus Rail is the key to taking a range of photos where you can control the small increments necessary to travel from the closest to the furthest focus point of the object.
After the Tripod/Focus Rail/Camera/Lens is setup we turn off most of the camera’s auto functions (focus, exposure etc.) and manually focus on the further distance of the object we wish to include in our focus-stack.

Then you take a deep breath and commence on the task of taking a series of photos where the camera/focus settings are never altered; rather between each exposure you adjust the micro focus rail “one increment at a time” as you move from the furthest point to the closest point.

Depending on the type of focus rail you are using the increments can be manually adjusted or automatically controlled using a motorized controller.

The Software

Prior to the computer focus stacking was not possible as the small/fine increments taken within the camera need to be compiled into one master image.  This is not technically possible without the aid of the computer as millions of computations are made to assess each image, extract the “sharp in-focus” band and then create a new image with “just” the sharp sections from each of the 71 images.

We use Zerene Stacker to “stack” our images into one final image.  Zerene Stacker uses two methods to determine which portion of each image is in-focus.

  • PMax is a “pyramid” method. It is very good at finding and preserving detail even in low contrast or slightly blurred areas. It’s also very good at handling overlapping structures like mats of hair and crisscrossing bristles, nicely avoiding the loss-of-detail halos typical of other stacking programs. But PMax tends to increase noise and contrast, and it can alter colors somewhat.
  • DMap is a “depth map” method. It does a better job keeping the original smoothness and colors, but it’s not as good at finding and preserving detail.

Once you have determine the best method the software does the rest..

Still life of cactus skelton

If you wish to discuss this technique in further detail please feel free to contact us

 

How the Darkroom Experience Applies to the Digital “Lightroom”

Interviews with artists, photographers and writers living and working on the creative fulcrum between fine art and art for industry
by Geoff Bush

With fifty-plus years working with great creative minds in the ad industry in both management and creative capacities, I have always been fascinated with the choices and rationales offered by the best of the best for the application of their talents to the commercial world. The most experienced of these individuals also presents an opportunity to learn about changes – technical, social and personal, providing insight to what those planning to make a career in creativity. In this dialogue Roderick Bley, a deeply experience photographer, demonstrates the importance of singular focus on a craft to achieve personal creative goals.

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How the Darkroom Experience Applies to the Digital “Lightroom”

An interview with Roderick Bley, professional digital photographer.

Question #1 – How did you get started in photography?

You could say that I was literally born into the industry.  When I was a teenager my parents owned a photo lab where I am sure I was as much a hindrance as a help, but it’s where I caught the bug. Even before the photo lab my public school librarian knew that I was interested in photography and would loan me the school camera, a Russian Zenith E. This continued throughout high school where I joined the camera club and the yearbook club. If you were looking for me, the school darkroom is where you would find me. Also did local wedding photography and learned a lot about personal photography.

Question #2 – Tell us about your formal education in photography.

I was fortunate to have been accepted into the photo technology program at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto.  This was a four year program but I was well prepared because of my practical experience. So my professor advised me to head out into the real world after my second year. I took his advice and he was right because photographic education was just beginning.

Question #3 – Tell us a bit about your real first career in photography.

I had a number of paying jobs while in Toronto but my first “career” job was working for a small family run photo lab in Calgary, Alberta Canada. As with most young entrepreneurs the thought of owning my own business was always on my mind but the path to get there started on the night shift. The company was expanding its operations and I graduated to the day shift where I was quickly involved in assisting the business build a new location and move the operations. It was also during this time frame that I first met the Kodak rep, a great guy named Joe Davis, who was working with a world leader in the photographic industry with great products. There appeared to be some hope of becoming part of the business. The family had other thoughts so I decided it best to head out on my own and opened a small black and white photo lab. I kept taking landscape and scenic photographs and sent them to various stock agencies in the hopes of selling the rights. In the early days I was fortunate since the agencies were looking for fresh talent and new images. As the years went by they became more demanding and required a certain “quota” to retain their audience. I really enjoyed the photography but had a young family to care for and the chance for speculative income was trumped by a need for the steady work in the photo lab.

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