Group 03 Bulletin Board

6 threads - 27 total comments

This page is dedicated to discussions about our theme (General Photography) that are outside the scope of our monthly images. Adding comments and replies works just like image comments with one big exception, the dialog doesn't close at the end of a round and can be added to year-round.

Thread Title: Topaz Mask AI

Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Hi Everyone
Sometimes I struggle with getting my subject in crisp focus and my background blurred. I've started playing around with Topaz Mask AI. So far I've been reasonably impressed. It doesn't work perfectly all the time, but it does do a pretty darn good job. Depending on the background, if you use too much blur, the subject can have a tendency to have too sharp of a cut-out appearance. That's easily fixed in Photoshop using a blending or blur brush. I've attached an example. Let me know what you think.   Posted: 05/07/2021 08:29:01
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Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
A 50% blur was added to the background   Posted: 05/07/2021 08:29:39
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LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
Does anyone use JPEG2000 instead of the standard JPG file format for saving images? I just learned about this format this morning. Curious if you have any pros and cons to share. Thanks!
  Posted: 02/06/2021 09:37:23
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
While this format is an improvement as it is no longer a lossy one, it has not been adopted as a standard by pretty much anyone, most especially web browsers and other image viewing apps. It pretty much died on the vine as a result.   Posted: 02/07/2021 23:27:00
LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
That’s too bad. It does offer 16bit over 8bit files, is that not an import feature? Thanks got your reply.   Posted: 02/08/2021 03:50:46

Thread Title: FREE B & W Webinar

Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Totally off subject, but if you are interested in B & W, my local camera store (Kenmore Camera) is offering a FREE webinar:   Posted: 02/06/2021 09:04:44
LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
Great idea, Michael, I just signed up! Looking forward to it.
  Posted: 02/06/2021 09:20:08
Bunny Laden   Bunny Laden
Thanks Michael. I am just getting started with Monochrome. This looks super! I signed up.   Posted: 02/06/2021 11:51:03

Thread Title: Are Blown Highlights Really Bad

LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
I have a question regarding images that show blown or specular highlights. Is there a time when these lighting concerns can be considered an artistic choice that enhances an image, or is it a negative that should be avoided under any circumstances? I look forward to your discussion!   Posted: 02/04/2021 07:06:53
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
It's all about context. In macro images, specular highlights are to be avoided at all costs. In a sunset/sunrise, the sun can be blown out but not detract from the image if it's relatively small in comparison to the rest of the image. In general, though, they are distractions and technically a loss of image information and should be compensated for, either with a polarizer or by HDR.   Posted: 02/05/2021 00:05:32
LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
I suppose you are right, Tom. I was looking at some images by Joel Grimes who does commerical sports photography and on his portraits the highlights on the athletes arms were blown out, the indoor ceiling light star bursts were blown but the image was amazing and showed great details and character in the person he photographed. Something like this would not make it in a salon where I am, or would it? Very interesting. Thanks for the comment.   Posted: 02/05/2021 02:57:19
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
It all depends. In product photography, especially with jewelry, at least some specular highlights are almost expected. If they make sense, like Joel Grimes' work, it's not a problem. Some judges are sticklers, though.   Posted: 02/06/2021 00:26:06

Thread Title: Identifying Hand of Man

LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
I have a question for those that compete in the Nature category. Can you give me details about how to identify the "hand-of-man?" I understand the obvious posts, bird houses and things noted in the PSA nature category definition but I find that definition vague. Any help clarifying is appreciated.

Also, tips for identifying hybrid plants.

LuAnn Thatcher   Posted: 08/07/2020 11:51:22
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
Hand-of-man includes structures (like things made with concrete, wood or metal), roads, orchards & cultivated land, and anything that is obviously planned. Many flowers are no longer considered wild and could lose points depending on the judge.

Hybrids can be difficult to identify, especially since nature can do her own brand of cross-pollination. Most heirloom plants have been identified, so variations can be identified by comparison to known species.   Posted: 08/08/2020 11:42:49
LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
Thanks, Tom, that is helpful. This message board works pretty well!

LuAnn   Posted: 08/08/2020 11:48:16

Thread Title: Focus Bracketing

LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
Does anyone do focus bracketing? If so, what type of camera do you use and what is the process you use to capture better focus in your images?

Or, do you use exposure bracketing? And what process do you use for this method?

I use Fuji X-Series XT2 and XT4. Thanks, LuAnn   Posted: 06/03/2020 12:52:43
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
I do both. Virtually anything I shoot at home I will bracket exposures to end up with an extended range after merging in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw). I also do a lot of extreme macro, so focus stacking is a must - sometimes resulting in around 100+ images that get merged in Helicon Focus.   Posted: 06/03/2020 14:48:40
LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
Thanks for your reply, Tom! I have been thinking of getting Helicon Focus. I do have an 80mm macro and just recently bought a Laowa 2x 65mm lens. The Laowa is all manual but it is very interesting to use. I do use extension tubes and a teleconverter when necessary.

Do you shoot macro in controlled environments? I was outside today and it was a bit windy.

What is your favorite feature in Helicon Focus?

LuAnn   Posted: 06/03/2020 15:40:06
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
I would love to try out the Laowa, but it's beyond my budget at the moment. I'm able to get 2x with extension tubes on my Tamron 60mm Macro, and have recently acquired a cheap bellows and a reversing ring, so I hope to get even closer.

There's no way for me to go handheld - too much shake in my hands - so most of my macro work is in my home studio. I have captured single close-up images of ants in my backyard, but I want to get closer.

Helicon Focus is, basically, set and forget - I drop in the images and hit the Render button. I work on other things while it churns away merging my images magically. I have also experimented with Affinity Photo, which has a very good merge function for a focus stack. Side-by-side comparisons sometimes come out in favor of Affinity Photo's result.   Posted: 06/04/2020 15:40:49
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
Here's an example from last month in Group 95:   Posted: 06/04/2020 15:59:28
LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
That is a great shot, Tom! It's amazing, I used to hate those dreaded dandelions now I love them!   Posted: 06/06/2020 08:29:01
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
I just received my new Laowa 25mm Ultra Macro lens, that goes from 2.5x to 5x. It's a bit tricky at the higher magnification, but I'm looking forward to working with it.   Posted: 02/06/2021 00:28:45
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
Oh, and I have an older Nikon D5000.   Posted: 06/03/2020 14:49:35
Stuart Ord   Stuart Ord
Hi LuAnn,
I'm in Group 95 with Tom. We have some virtual good chin wags in there!
I'm an Olympus user, and have just come across a fascinating combination of lenses which gives over 5x magnification (in true micro 4/3 terms, 10 times if related to a full frame sensor size) with a good working distance of 30mm. All will be revealed, I'm still experimenting! It would be possible to do something similar wth other makes. In outline, it goes like this:
Camera body
Extensions tube(s)
Focal length extender (1.4x converter in the Olympus case)
More extension tube(s)
Macro lens in 1:1 mode.
  Posted: 06/05/2020 15:47:23
LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher

Very interest how you added the tube and then the converter and more tubes. How many tubes in all and what size do you use?

LuAnn   Posted: 06/06/2020 08:36:07
Lisa Cuchara   Lisa Cuchara
I do Focus stacking in-camera (Olympus cameras) and if need be focus bracketing and then stitching in PS or Helicon. The technology for in-camera focus-bracketing is really amazing now (Nikon D850, Nikon Z, Fuji XT2 with firmware, XT3, XT4, and then Panasonic and Olympus. Olympus takes it one step further where you can focus stack in-camera (which works for many subjects, the limitation is for subjects that you need more than 15 focus stacks, then you need in camera focus bracketing with software. I do focus bracketing using the 60mm macro (my favorite) and the 30mm and the 12-100 and the 40-150 with extension tubes.   Posted: 06/06/2020 02:30:04
LuAnn Thatcher   LuAnn Thatcher
Lisa Cuchara,

Thanks for sharing, Lisa. Very intersting process. I just bought the Fuji XT4 and it does internal focus bracketing. I need to spend some time figuring out how to get it to work. I did try it on my XT2 but there wasn't good explanation from manufacturer on how to adjust the settings. I have to just be persistent and it will work!
  Posted: 06/06/2020 08:39:32

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