Light is Everything!

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Peekaboo!

iPhone 8 SnapSeed Edit

Getting Stacked

I’ve been a macro photography fan forever. It’s an awesome frontier of photography with literally limitless options for creativity and subject matter. I’ve got the 105mm Micro Nikkor f/2.8 and it’s been a phenomenal workhorse of a lens, especially when paired on the D800 (or any newer super-mega-pretzel sensor). One thing that was missing from my macro photography was the ability to stack images and make one ultra-sharp, hyper-focal image. When you’re shooting macro, it’s impossible to get everything in focus the way you want even stopped way down to f/7Billion.

Enter the wonders of Photoshop. I never used to use it. I had a stand alone version Lightroom that I kept using forever because I didn’t want to move to Adobe’s RIPOFF subscription system. However, when I upgraded to Mac OS X Catalina (the WORST version of Apple software I’ve ever used and my biggest regret in computing), it upgraded to only 64-bit software so my old 32-bit version of Lightroom was no good no mo’. I was forced to upgrade to the subscription from Adobe and I got Photoshop for the first time. I had always used open source software GIMP which was great, but it didn’t have the auto-magic image stacking ability like Photoshop does. Having a computer do all the layer masking stuff for you is the best thing ever.

There’s lots of elaborate guides on how to do this on the internet but here’s how I did it. You bulk edit your macro photos in Lightroom to normalize colours and whatever else you want, then:

  1. Export the files to full-size JPEG
  2. In Photoshop, go up to the File menu in the Menu Bar, choose Scripts, then choose Load Files into Stack.
  3. In the Load Layers dialog box, set Use to Files, then click Browse. Navigate to your images on your computer, select them and click Open.
  4. Back in the Load Layers dialog box, select Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images, then click OK.
  5. In the Layers panel, click on the top layer, then Shift-click on the bottom layer to select all layers.
  6. Go up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar and choose Auto-Blend Layers.
  7. Crop the image with the Crop Tool to remove problem areas around the edges.

And that’s it! You get a glorious product in the end that is sharp and detailed all the way through your intendedly sharp region of the photo. It’s pretty slick.

Gerbera Daisy 100% Crop
MacBaren Vanilla Cream Pipe Tobacco

So that’s it. If you ever wondered how people got those incredibly sharp and detailed macro photos, this is how. I always remember seeing macro photos of bugs that were razor sharp all the way through and wondering what manner of sorcery it was! But when you look up the magician’s sleeve, it’s not that tricksy after all. 😎


Country Road

iPhone 8 SnapSeed edit

Summer Storm

Crazy colours and textures in this wild storm!


Prairie Relics

iPhone 8 Edited in SnapSeed

Balance

iPhone 8 edited in SnapSeed

The Game is Afoot!

iPhone 8 edited in SnapSeed

June 7 Sunset

iPhone 8 Edited in SnapSeed


Red

iPhone 8 SnapSeed Edit

Cloudy Sunset in Oxbow

iPhone8 edited with SnapSeed

Image

The Power of an Image


Halo

Went outside and looked up and saw this incredible halo! I don’t know anything more about it than that! That and 16mm on a full frame isn’t enough to capture it all. Probably need a fisheye. 😎


Super Pink Moon

So here’s a bit of nerdy post. In the midst of Corona-Mania-2019, I managed to run out and nab a photo of the super moon on April 7. I used the same lens for both of these photos, the veritable 70-200 f/4 Nikkor. On the left is it on a full frame, 36MP Nikon D800 camera. On the right it is on the 24MP Fuji X-Pro2 with an adaptor. Fuji is a crop sensor so you get the effective extra reach of the lens. But it is interesting how the fuji seems to capture more detail.

Fuji Image @ 3:1 zoom

Some of the increased acuity comes from Lightroom’s rendering of Fuji RAW files. The dreaded “wormy” details show up as noise in the image which does have the effect of making it look sharper. This is a side effect of how Adobe render’s the X-Trans sensor images. They have made gains to correct it with Adobe Camera RAW but it’s still present to my eye.

Nikon Image @ 3:1 zoom

The Nikon file doesn’t have the wormy detail. But as a result it doesn’t look quite as sharp.

This discussion is taking place at 300% – which is stupid. Pixel peeping this close is a thing nobody really does except camera nerds. And maybe u if you’re still reading! 😂

So there’s the Pink Super Moon on two cameras with the same lens. If you’ve ever wondered why this is called a “Pink” super moon or a Wolf moon, check out this article. The Pink moon has the added blessing of calculating the date of Easter. 😎 🙏


Back In Action

Well, the main site is back in action after some serious weirdness. Still not exactly sure what happened. But I had to trash and re-upload the entire site. UGGG! Major pain. But at least the gallery is back in the saddle! 😎👍


Hacked

It appears my portfolio website at http://www.schultzphoto.ca has been hacked. I’m working with my web host to resolve the issue. Not sure exactly what has occurred as I’m using randomized pass-phrases with loads of entropy. Hopefully we will get to the bottom of it soon!


Too Late

Too Late for the Sundogs… Not a Haiku.

There were glorious sundogs this evening.

I was changing a poopy diaper.

I was too late.

😒


The Rink

The good ol’ skatin’ rink! There are not many more iconic small town venues. We had the extended family down for a couple days and took part in the public skating. Our rink upgraded their lighting from horrid barf green sodium vapour to glorious LEDs which is awesome x 100000000. However, I still shot black and white in a street photography style because I like it. Before, you used to have to shoot B&W to get rid of the putrid lighting. But now, we have the freedom to do it for fun! 😎

I shot this all with the FujiFilm XPro2 and the beloved 35mm f/2 lens. I shot JPEGs and locked them into my ultra contrasty black and white TRI-X film simulation. Here’s the settings:

I did cheat and shoot a bit of colour for the baby and the water tower which was bathed in glorious golden light. But that’s our little secret! 😉


Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Wishing all my clients, friends and family a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2020!

For unto you is born this day in the city of David  a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!

Luke 2:11


Sunset

Just a couple of quick sunset pics tonight with the Fuji XPro-2 and the 90mm f2. I dig the super saturated Velvia look in bleak winter! 😎


Of Backups and Archives

I remember back when I got my Nikon D800 DSLR camera. 36MP. THIRTY-SIX! Enormous! YUGE FILES! Now we have cell phone cameras with more resolution. LOL The more resolution the better, right?! From a quality perspective, perhaps. But from a storage perspective, this massive amount of Data Hoarding has become a nightmare to manage. Let me explain.

In the digital world, we have many enemies to our data. The number 1 is storage media failure (ex: hard drive dies). People don’t seem to understand that it is a matter of “when” not “if.” Mechanical hard drives will all die eventually and we don’t know when. 5-10 years? 1-2? Hard to say. Even with premium drives, they still all die. So people have devised that backing up the data is essential. This has led to the 3-2-1 principle that states 1 is none, 2 is one and 3 is two, meaning that unless you have 3 copies of your data, it doesn’t exist digitally. All people should follow this practice. However, when you start managing Terabytes of data, this management gets more and more expensive. But the priceless family memories are … priceless! So what do we do for ourselves and our photography clients?

We start doing the math on storage cost per Terabyte. Hard drives are by far the cheapest means of backup. Here’s a quick list of Nov. 2019 CDN pricing on Amazon for 7200 RPM drives:

The sweet spot is either 2TB or 8TB drives in cost per TB, although they are all pretty close. So that’s easy then. Just buy the size of drives you need x 3 and be done with it. This works best for a backup (redundancy) solution. The only hang up is, these drives, when placed into cold storage (ex: in a box in your closet or fire safe) are still susceptible to failure both mechanically with the drive mechanisms (they are best used spinning not sitting) and also magnetic degradation (the platter the data is stored on degrades over time resulting in data loss). So this is not ideal either. What options are left for the archive solution?

You can go with a cloud solution and/or with an optical media solution. Services like Amazon S3 Glacier are now more affordable than ever (like $0.0018 per GB for their Deep/Archival solution [$1.80 per month per TB]). You have the advantage of your data being protected against our other enemies: physical theft and physical destruction by catastrophe like fire or flood. But, someone else also has access to your data in the cloud. It is more susceptible to digital theft as hackers can also steal it, despite locked down and secure systems. And, you have the added time/cost of the bandwidth to upload all your files.

So that leaves us with the final solution for archiving data. Optical Discs. Word on the street is that archival quality DVDs are the best in longterm cold storage options. However, at only 4.7GB per disc, it becomes unfeasible for archiving lots of data. One TB saved on DVD would take ~213 discs and cost a whopping $490 dollars!

This is where archiving to Blu-Ray becomes the only practical option in my mind. For shelf-life, the M-Disc option is being promoted as King by lasting 1000 years! Chances are none of us will be around to verify that claim! Blu-Ray manufacturers claim that these discs could/should last 100-150 years. Not too shabby. This means that under ideal storage circumstances, your data should be safe 10-15x longer than on hard drives alone.

I’m thinking that the Blu-Ray option for archiving will be the way to go. The advantages outweigh the cons. Stick them in a fire safe at home or in a safety deposit box and Bob is your dad’s brother. Massive data centre entities like Amazon & Facebook have gone this route. Many will say that optical media is a dying medium. While it may be less popular/convenient than other methods of handling data such as a RAID or NAS, for archiving I’m leaning heavily to going with this option for a long-term, data archiving option. It’s about an $18 per TB premium over buying more hard drives and still cheaper than the $21.60 for an Amazon deep glacier cloud service (per TB, per year).

To wrap this up, using Blu-Ray as the third member of the 3 fold Data-Safe Strategy is a good way to go. It’s a bit more costly per TB than hard-drives, but offers far greater longevity, making them cheaper by the year. With digital assets, nothing is fool proof. But this strategy will go a long way to keeping your data safe and accessible for years to come. Kick Murphy our of your digital life! 😎


Claybank in Black & White

I love Black & White photography. I also love colour. But every once in a while, B&W is the way to go. The family was recently out at Claybank, Saskatchewan the site of an old brick factory that has since been converted into a museum/heritage site. The textures of this place scream Black & White! So, I shot that way with my trusty XPro-2 and the good ol’ 23mm lens. This is a build your own film simulation setting that seeks to mimic an old Tri-X film from back in the day. Really punchy, really contrasty. I added a bit of grit/clarity in post to make the images more crunchy. It’s a cool way to use light and make memories. 😎


Grad 2019

Time for a long overdue High School Grad blog update! I love shooting grads, it’s probably my favourite genre photographically. It incorporates such a variety of styles from headshots to detail shots to environmental portraiture to off camera flash to natural light, the whole gambit. And, 99.99999% of the time, the grads actually want their photos taken. So they cooperate! 😎 This goes a loooooong way to making awesome lasting memories for the client. This gallery has a few of my fav images from this past grad season.


Spruce Woods, MB – A Photo Essay at 35mm

Our Family took an extended May Long Weekend to go to Spruce Woods Provincial Park in Manitoba. It just so happened to be only 2.5 hours from where we live so no big deal, even with the near 1 year old baby in tow. I brought along my Fuji Film XPro-2 and all three “Fuji Cron” lenses (23, 35, 50 ~ 35, 50, 76). But I shot the whole trip with only the 23mm (35mm) lens. Mainly because I am used to that focal length from my X100s fixed lens camera. But also because I believe that 35mm is the most versatile focal length for travel photography.

What makes Spruce Woods awesome is that it is a gorgeous sandy desert . . . that happens to have an incredible forest of Spruce, Aspen and Juniper trees growing out of it! As I surveyed the landscape, I was bombarded with “How can this place exist?” It seems like a twilight zone time warp walking around there! We took a Belgian horse drawn wagon tour which was really neat and then did some hiking the next day around the dunes. The two main natural attractions are the dunes and the little spring fed lake called “The Devil’s Punchbowl.” But the whole place truly is something to see.

Back to the Fuji kit. The XPro2 is my fav camera of all time. So compact and versatile in and of itself and when coupled with the little 23mm lens offers a perfect mix of portability and capability. I shot primarily in JPG as I always do with Fuji because the files are THAT good. I switched to RAW for a couple shots where I wanted extended dynamic range if I wanted to make a print later. But the JPGs are so brilliant I usually only shoot that format. There’s quite a bit of latitude for editing even the JPGs but I nearly never have to do anything to the files. They come out of camera so, so sweet. Colours are amazing. Detail is crisp and clear. What’s not to love?

So 35mm. It’s truly a versatile place to live when shooting travel (especially with kids in tow). It’s a ‘pretty wide’ way to the view the world without being toooooo wide, although if you were going for straight landscapes you’d want to be wider perhaps. I’d highly recommend this one lens/one focal length approach for your next trip. See what the restriction brings! 😎


Wild Turkeys

We’ve been super fortunate to have this pack of wild turkeys hanging out at our place. They come right into the yard, struttin’ their stuff. They’ve been around for quite a few years but this year they have been really quite prevalent. It made for some sweet photo ops early this morning. I took some shots through window glass and then stalked them out into the back prairie. I was able to get within 10-15′ of the birds which was pretty sweet. 😎