Stitching Images with Microsoft ICE

ICE2_1_welcome_screen

I enjoy taking panoramic images of landscapes, cityscapes, street art or any other time when the view exceeds the frame. While an increasing number of cameras (particularly smartphones) are offering an in-camera panoramic mode, individual images and good stitching software is essential for high quality images.

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Why Bother Shooting RAW If You Are Culling JPEGs?

1866_UE

What do you think is the possibility, when you are choosing and sorting images based on the JPEG previews, that you are going to discard the better-quality image, and keep the lesser-quality one? Let’s take a look at a typical “training” shot for a holiday – noon of a sunny day, blue Ionian sea, bright white limestone pebbles, bushes with dark-green, high-detail leaves (which lose all detail if the shot is underexposed), deep shadows under the bushes. These types of scenes typically have a very wide dynamic range. We will see later, however, that the real range of the shot we are examining is pretty much only 8 EV, if the exposure is technically correct.

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DxO ClearView Anti-Haze Adjustment First Impressions

DxO ClearView PL Image 3

The purpose of this article is to share my initial impressions of the DxO ClearView anti-haze function which is contained in the Elite Version of DxO OpticsPro 10 software. As many Photography Life readers know, I’ve been using DxO OpticsPro as my main RAW processor for some time. I started out using DxO OpticsPro 8, then upgraded to 9 in order to get the PRIME noise reduction function, then upgraded again to OpticsPro 10 in order to get speed improvements with PRIME, some enhanced Smart Lighting presets, and the new ClearView anti-haze function. With each upgrade I felt my money was well spent.

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Quick and Simple: Post-Process Using Layer Blending

Layer Blending With Photoshop_Soft Light Blending Mode

Adobe Photoshop is really not about speed. I can’t say it’s ever been – even back when I was using the then-current version 5 (and the more capable 5.5), it was packed full of features and required not only lots of time to even begin to master, but to use for the simple things, too. Not to say it’s slow to work with, exactly, but if you want to accomplish your task quickly without any excuses, Lightroom is perhaps more suitable. It certainly ought to be. Yet if you work slowly and methodically, if you spend not minutes, but hours and even days post-processing a single image or a series, that is what Adobe’s heavyweight is most suitable for. Not for the sort of work where you click a few buttons and move on, but for the patient sort, where every detail matters, where there can be no sloppiness. Simply because of its vast, enormous capability. To own Photoshop just for one or two features is, more often than not, a bit of an overkill.

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Saturation or Vibrance?

Saturation or Vibrance_Hue-Saturation Slider Crop

Just a few years ago, if you wanted more saturated colours in your landscapes or any other sort of photography, there was one basic adjustment to apply – saturation. Especially for beginner photographers, the Saturation slider in Photoshop was one of the most useful tricks to learn and seemed to change everything. You start with a boring, flat looking sundown, and you end up with this magnificent landscape to behold.

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Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Q&A Session #2

Lightroom Q&A Session

Last update: January 1, 2015

I did the first Lightroom Q&A session over a year ago and I think it is about time I do one again. As before, you are welcome to ask any question you like about Lightroom. I very much hope to answer all of them by updating this article. I will run this session for up to a week and update the article regularly with answers. If there are any questions very specific to a certain case, I may answer them in the comments section. Specific, to-the-point questions will be answered in this article, while questions requiring more extensive explanation may be covered in separate articles in the near future. As always, our readers are very much welcome to pitch in and participate actively in this Q&A session by helping with the inquiries (I doubt I will know all the answers!). If you are new to Adobe’s Lightroom and find it difficult learning what’s what, this is the time and place to ask for help!

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High-Contrast B&W With Lightroom

High-Contrast B&W With Lightroom_The Result

A while ago, I wrote an article on low-contrast B&W conversions with Lightroom. After reading through some of the response the article received I was pleasantly surprised that so many of our readers actually prefer low-contrast look over the ever-popular high-contrast conversions. That is not to say high-contrast B&W photography is in some way inferior, not at all. It is merely the more popular, the more easily accepted sort of look, which is exactly the reason why I saw fit to go against the wave and start with the opposite. Now, ever since I wrote that piece, I’ve received several requests for a similar article on a high-contrast conversion. This topic is particularly tricky for me since I rarely do high-contrast B&W, but the requests did remind me of one occasion where I was deliberately working towards such a result from the very start. And so, as always, we begin with a photograph.

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Adobe’s Software Bloating, Performance Issues and Bugs

Adobe Lightroom 5.7 Crash

I will be honest, I am not a fan of Adobe as a company. I never liked their business model: their practice of gobbling up competition (sometimes out of fear), their Creative Cloud extortion and their sleazy management that only cares about their next quarter revenues. But most of all, I never liked Adobe’s poor software development practices. In my past tech life, Adobe products were always a big pain due to numerous security holes and huge, frequent updates. In fact, Adobe has been notoriously bad with releasing poorly tested software with too many security holes. In 2011, Adobe dominated Kaspersky Lab’s top ten PC vulnerabilities list, with “extremely critical” security vulnerabilities that allowed attackers to gain access to computer systems and execute arbitrary code. These security vulnerabilities spanned several Adobe products, which most PCs had at the time and even today: Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash Player. No wonder Apple did not want to support flash in its iOS (which thankfully resulted in the slow demise of the Adobe Flash), since Flash was a very badly written, resource intensive platform to begin with. Although Steve Jobs mostly blamed Adobe Flash for being a PC-era platform, two of the biggest reasons why Flash support was excluded from iOS were in fact related to security and stability concerns.

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Turn Your Photo into An Artwork

Painted Photo of Angry Bald Eagle

Have you ever wanted to do something a little different with your photographs? Not stop with the simple click of the shutter and turn it into an actual digital painting? That is what I am going to teach you in this article. I know not everybody is a painter and while painting skills would be beneficial, you really don’t need to be an artist to do this. The photo below is the result of me using Corel Painter to turn one of my photos into a digital painting. This tutorial contains some creative ideas and methods a photographer can use, even if they are not artistically inclined or have access to the same software as me. The idea is to open your mind to the possibility of using your images in an artistic manner. I am using a bird in this tutorial, but it could be a pet, your friend, a family portrait or anything else.

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How to Make Simple Perspective Adjustments Using DxO ViewPoint 2

viewpoint 2 before and after

In my recent Street Photography in Greece article I mentioned that I used DxO ViewPoint 2 to apply perspective adjustments to many of my street photography images. A number of readers contacted me outside of the discussion forum and asked me if I could demonstrate a couple of common adjustments that I do with this software as they were unfamiliar with it.

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