B/W HDR Look in Lightroom

Anthony Morganti uses an interesting technique to create photos with a black and white HDR look in Lightroom. It can transform a photo so it looks something like this. (I added a vignette as well.)

B/W HDR Look 1

B/W HDR Look 2

It doesn’t suit all photos of course, it’s also only a starting point as you should develop your photos in whatever way you desire. To avoid repeating all those steps every time I created a Lightroom preset.
Grab that file and install it in the same way you’d install any Lightroom preset. What d’you think?

Restoring From Physical Media

dancing in the street

Remember DVDs? Last night while looking for the original photo of this dancing in the street photo I was horrified to find an empty directory!

Empty Directories

I had no idea when they were deleted. I searched my backups but of course the directories had been synced a long time ago and they were gone. I checked Backblaze and there was no sign of them. I even checked Google Plus for their backups but still no sign of them. I must have deleted them more than two years ago.

I hate that. I have multiple copies of every photo just because this might happen and yet it wasn’t enough! My backups sync every night so any deletes were synced within twenty four hours.

Almost. Later, I remembered that I had backed up photos to DVDs before I started using multiple drives and Backblaze. They were up in the attic!

DVDs

It didn’t take long to get them, the first DVD worked and my photos from The St. Patrick’s Festival in 2006 were restored, but the photos from April 20th were on the second DVD. The second DVD didn’t work. Nooooo!

The rest of the photos did survive their stay in my cold, damp attic and were restored. I’m thinking now about monthly offline backups to a drive I’ll plug in occasionally.

Do I have any photos from April 20th, 2006? I remember the day well because I was in St. Finbarr’s Hospital with my wife helping a family member. While the others waited I went outside to take photos of a derelict building at the back of the hospital grounds. People passed me going to work while I was take pictures of the daisies, flowers and old architecture. Soon enough a security guard showed up but he just asked me to stop taking photos. I do have a few photos. We called to a friend later in the day and I got some shots of her cat so that’s here too. :)

What’s the take home message from all this?

  • You can never have too many backups.
  • You need versioned backups (of a few days at least) in case you notice a mistake a few days later after your backups have been synced.
  • You need an offline backup that’s synced periodically.
  • You need cloud backup that will keep your files safe for a length of time after they’re deleted. Backblaze holds on to your files for thirty days after they’re deleted!
  • When you export files from Lightroom, Photoshop or whatever graphics app you use, always make sure you export a full size original version, not just a web version.

I’m sad that those files are gone, but glad I have a few reminders of an eventful day.

Raw DNG Samples from the Nexus 5

Android L, the next major release of Android will allow apps to get raw data from the camera. This lets photographers extract more information and develop photos a lot more than they could with simple Jpeg files. They’ll be able to “push” the image further to recover blown out highlights and recover detail from shadows.

At least that’s the theory. You’re still working with the relatively small lenses and sensors in camera phones so they’re not going to compare to a DSLR or dedicated camera but images will get closer in quality.

This thread on r/Android has some samples of DNG files you can work on in Lightroom or whatever your RAW processor of choice is. The photos were taken with lcamera as the official Google camera app only records to Jpeg images. I took a stab at the “auto exposure” image here and came up with this:

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That’s pretty good for a photo taken by a Nexus 5 at ISO 1635. Lightroom settings were as follows:

Settings:

  • Temp: -1.65
  • Tint: +59
  • Exposure: -1.65
  • Highlights: -100
  • Shadows: 100
  • Whites: +2
  • Blacks: -29
  • Clarity: +22

Detail

  • Sharpening
    • Amount: 67
    • Radius: 1.0
    • Detail: 10
    • Masking: 70
  • Noise Reduction
    • Luminance: 20
    • Detail: 50
    • Contrast: 0

I’m really excited to see what Android L will bring to camera apps once it’s officially out in the wild and more phones have it installed!

How to remove the shine on faces with Lightroom

I had to develop a bunch of photos I took at an event recently and some of the faces in the photos had distracting highlights. The shine wasn’t too bad, but it mocked me and my initial attempts to fix it!

Lightroom is limited in it’s editing tools but it does have a powerful brush tool. The instructions I found here worked a treat. You can use the brush tool, healing tool or a combination of both.

  • Select the brush tool and change the colour to a shade close to the skin colour. Do this by clicking on the colour tool and when the colour picker popups up drag the cursor to where you want to grab the colour in the picture.
  • Set the brush to a low opacity and colour in the shine. Go slowly, it’ll take a number of passes.

You can also use the heal tool, but again make sure the opacity is set low.

Retro Gaming at jQuery UK 2013

Just a few photos that have been sitting in my “upload folder” for the last year or so after attending jQuery UK. Look at all those old 90s consoles! Snes and Megadrive machines? There’s another machine there too but I don’t recognise it. I wasn’t a fan of console gaming back then, but if they’d thrown in a C64 I’d have had fun!

It was an amazing conference and best of all, the talks are online. I remember being blown away by Wait, Chrome DevTools can do THAT? by Ilya Grigorick.

Scenic photos of Oxford will eventually make their way to my photoblog at In Photos dot Org.

Get out and make some memories

It can get pretty crazy at live performances can’t it? I’m 100% guilty of taking photos at concerts and I recorded video of my son’s stage performances at school. I even sneaked a camera into the Irish Bruce Springsteen and Take That concerts.

Meanwhile, this is what Louis CK has to say about posting videos of your kids on Facebook. It’s very NSFW obviously so be warned!

Do you wonder if you’ll ever watch any of those videos again? You need to make it easy for your family to do. Grab Plex, install it on your PC and tell it where your family videos are. It will do the hard work of indexing them. You can browse them from a web interface, on your phone in their app, on PS3 or Xbox 360 even. I’ve rediscovered videos taken when my son was only two years old that make me smile and laugh all over again!

I found the video above on fstoppers where Mike Wilkinson mentions a singer named Mayer Hawthorne who told people to get out their phones and cameras and he and his band posed for photos. Apparently everyone put their cameras away afterwards and enjoyed the show. Good idea. Taking that one step further it’d be great if performers put photos and videos of their shows online for fans to download. Put that URL on the ticket. Could schools do something similar? Most schools must have a reasonably competent (or enthusiastic) photographer and videographer as a parent. Delegate the job perhaps?

Finally, keep making memories and recording them but as I’ve been reminded many times, get your face out from behind the viewfinder too!

Photos of Bruce Springsteen in Cork

Yesterday evening Bruce Springsteen played in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork City. It was a glorious summer evening and with gates due to open at 5pm I headed down there early with my wife. We had to queue along the Marina for more than an hour but we had the shade of the trees and brought along a fold up chair too. Unfortunately when we eventually got to security they told us the chair couldn’t be brought in and we hid it in the bushes hoping it would be there later. Bags were searched too so I’m glad I didn’t bring my DSLR!

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While we waited we heard Bruce singing for a sound check. I’m not that familiar with all his music but they were some beautiful melodic songs I need to try and find and listen to again. We were probably among the first few hundred in so we got to within about 3m of the pit barrier. Beyond that were the early birds who had camped the previous night and VIPS (I presume) who were right up next to the stage. Pretty close eh?

Watch the Hat

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We were really close but right in front of us were 3 tall gentlemen who blocked my view almost entirely. I had to lift the camera in the air or squint in between heads to see the stage at all unfortunately.

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Bruce Springsteen puts so much energy into his performance it’s amazing. He collected placards from the audience, got 2 kids up on stage to sing, went shaking hands with the front row, encouraging everyone to sing along. He knows how to work a crowd!

It was of course really crowded so after 40 minutes we decided to retreat. Apologies to those in our way but thank you for being so kind as to move out of our way. I don’t think I’ve ever said “Excuse me, sorry, excuse me, sorry” so many times. The crowd just went on for ever and ever!

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Near the other end of the pitch there was a lot more room and we met up with some friends there.

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We left early to avoid the crowds and found quite a crowd outside. Local residents and others had gathered on the Marina, in boats and across the river to hear Bruce play! We looked for that fold up chair we left outside earlier but someone had taken it.

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We walked around the Atlantic Pond and up that narrow path/road at the other end. It was so nice to see people sitting or lying on the ground just listening to the sound coming from the stadium. Perfect evening for it.
Shortly after, we got into a taxi in Ballintemple, headed into town where we relaxed for a bit before heading home.

A great night, if he plays in Cork again I’ll go but I’ll want to be more familiar with his back catalogue next time!

Photos are from my Samsung Galaxy S4 and a now ancient Panasonic Lumix FZ5 that was small enough to fit in my pocket, even with a 12x zoom! Please leave a comment if you’d like to use these photos.

Edit: I recorded a 24 second clip of the band playing “Wild Thing” but here’s a longer clip!