Dust spots

Dust Bunnies in the Sky

It seemed to come together just fine for me. I had gone through my photos from the past three years and set aside 45 candidates to enter in the latest round of the Peachtree Corners Photography Club Gallery event. After winnowing these down and reprocessing sixteen of them I seemed to have a nice collection. I uploaded the set to the club and checked the photos in the online OneDrive folder.

Our judges are tough. Photos must be technically flawless before they are judged on a long list of other criteria. Previously the judges had rejected some of my photos that I was most proud of.

Just to make sure, I zoomed in on the first photo. Then the shock came.

Cue up that old Burl Ives cowboy song …

Yippie aye eh – yippie aye oh – dust bunnies in the sky!

Yes, spots, dust spots, in the sky area. About half a dozen of them. I had processed the photo carefully to make sure it was just the way I wanted it. I had no reason to manipulate smaller areas and never noticed the problem.

So, quickly I deleted the photo from the upload folder. Took the image into Photo Gallery and used the Retouch tool to excise the dust bunnies. Uploaded the image again. Once more I zoomed in. No! There were more of them. Faint, but more. One more round and I think I got them all.

The photo was taken early in the morning. I wanted to show the rocks in the river, the reflection of the moon as well as the the sky turning color in the coming sunrise. The aperture was at f/16. I went back to check other photos from that shoot. A photo taken a few minutes after the one here showed a perfectly clean sky. But for that the aperture was f/5.6. That’s how dust spots act. They are most noticeable at small aperture settings.

Dust on the sensor of an interchangeable lens camera is almost unavoidable. I have my sensor cleaned professionally about once a year. But let me assure you, if you change lenses in the field, like I do, dust will get in.

Ludwig Keck – Moonset on the Chattahoochee

.:. © 2020 Ludwig Keck

Posted in camera, Photography | Tagged | 2 Comments

Hurray!

Celebrating, celebrating!

Ten years on the internet is half an eternity, Maybe more! My blogging has been on and off, sometimes intense, at other times “in hibernation”. I thank my followers for having given me that occasional push to keep going.

 

.:. © 2020 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Blogging | Tagged | 9 Comments

Count to Four, Slowly

Things were going pretty well on the development of the online exhibition that the Peachtree Corners Photography Club was getting ready. I was working “the strings behind the curtain”. Photographers were uploading their entries. I assembled the photos in an online OneDrive folder for the judges. We already had over eighty entries. The judges asked for a listing so they could review the photos and make notes ahead of getting together for the final decisions. All that online, of course. These are still the pandemic times.

No problem, right? Well, getting a list of the photo files in the OneDrive folder is not quite straight forward. Windows 10 presents OneDrive looking just like a local folder. So I decided to use the command-line “dir” command to make a listing. I piped the data into a text file. Worked just fine. I grabbed the data in the text file and pasted it into an Excel spreadsheet. Voila, the judges could do their work.

Well, it didn’t take long before one of the judges reported that there was a photo that was missing from the list. Either that or it was out of order.

I started investigating. The number photos and the number of lines in the spreadsheet were the same. Next, was there an ordering problem? How could that be.

I found the item the judge complaint about. Yep, the listing was not in the correct order, not the way the photos displayed in OneDrive.

Looking at the file name I noticed it contained underscores. We had been very liberal, allowing the photographers to use whatever file names they wanted to use so long as it started with their names or initials. Staring at these names it occurred to me that the “dir” command goes back to the early DOS days of the PC era. I faintly recalled that there were a lot of different ways to organize the “alphabet” – where the strange characters, like the underscore, were placed in the order. I ran a quick test with some made-up files and file names. Yep, the “dir” command comes up with a different order from the way they show in File Explorer. Oh, Microsoft!

My quick fix was to just sort the file listing in the Excel sheet into the correct alphabetic order. It had been only hours, well, a fair number of hours. I thought I was done and sent out the new spreadsheets.

Didn’t take long and there was another complaint of out-of-order file listings. Now what? It took me longer this time. The files, as sorted in the Excel sheet, just didn’t all match the order of the files in the OneDrive folder.

The affected files had numbers in them. I finally found, and confirmed in online searches, that the way numbers are handled in Excel and in File Explorer is different. Oh, Microsoft!

Well, dear reader, you are probably just as confused right now as I was. Let me illustrate. Here are my demo photo files in a folder. The “dir” command listing, the File Explorer window, and the sorted list in an Excel spreadsheet.

The first filename, file_sort-demo-1.jpg” had an underscore. None of the others did. The files ended in numbers, 1, 200, 30, 4.

Notice in the “dir” listing the order came out 200, 30, 4, 1. The last one due to the underscore.

In File Explorer, and that is the same as how the files display in OneDrive, the order is 1, 4, 30, 200. In actual “numerical” order. However, when sorted in Excel, the order is 1, 200, 30, 4. Sorted on the value of the characters, left to right.

There is no way to reconcile Excel sorting with the “name” order in the folders. At least not an easy, workable way, that I could find.

It made me want to use words. You know, those kind of words that would make mothers in olden times run for the soap. Of course, I don’t use those kind of words. Besides, I am not a poet but a photographer. So here are the images of my test files. I tried to make my expression of sentiment fairly subtle.

 

This article was first published in my blog at Cafe Ludwig

.:. © 2020 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Computer - general, Microsoft, Microsoft Office, OneDrive, Windows 10 | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Evening Event Photography

In photography we cherish the “golden hour” and the “blue hour”, the short period before and after sunset when the light changes to soft warm and then to gentle cool. This is, of course, also the time when many outdoor events take place such as concerts, fairs, and many public get-togethers.

It has been one of my favorite times to photograph happenings. The most recent one was “Night Market”. I will share my approach and some photos from that event.

When shooting such events I want to concentrate on the subject matter, the places and especially the people. With the rapidly changing light that does not leave a lot of time to take care of the technical details. I think of such shoots as consisting of three distinct parts. The time before actual sunset time when there is still plenty of light, the time after sunset when the light gets dim and it becomes harder to even see the camera controls, and the third part that consists of artificially lit situations like concert stages where the light often is very harsh.

In this article I will just review my approach for that first part, when light goes from daylight to dusk, when the artificial lights do not yet dominate.

For the “Night Market” I decided to use my “evening setting”. That is aperture-preferred with a specified slowest shutter speed, auto-ISO and center weighted light measurement. I use single point focus so I can control what is sharp.

My settings were: Mode A – aperture preferred. Aperture at f/5.6, shutter speed at 1/125 second max. Sensitivity at ISO 200 with auto-ISO. That means the ISO will be at 200 when there is enough light for a shutter speed of 1/125 s or faster.

Does that work? It does, but not as smoothly as I would like. The bright sky or bright lights can still confuse the camera and cause the subject of interest to be under-exposed.

Here is how that worked for my shoot. This shows the thumbnails of my RAW images.

You can’t make out the details of the photos, but you can clearly see that some look darker than others.

For comparison, here are the thumbnails of the final selection of post-processed images.

You can see that these are more uniform in appearance. But, of course, each photo required careful, individual adjustment. Something I want to do anyway.

What you could not see in these thumbnails is how the light got dimmer over the period of this shoot. This chart shows the ISO setting selected automatically by the camera for each exposure.

My first photo was taken at 6:43:23 pm, The last one at 7:27:59 pm (the chart only list the time for every other exposure). The first few were at ISO 200 as there was still plenty of light for the overview photos. Two showing action on the stage are exceptions and they required ISO 1600 and 1800. Then the ISO values crept up, A large block required ISO well over 4000, these where stage shots, and finally some near ISO 2000, again overview photos.

One image required ISO over 10,000. I use a Nikon D800, a camera that is nearly eight years old. It’s low-light capabilities are not anywhere near what modern cameras can do. There is a lot of noise in the images at higher ISO.

This gets me to post-processing. I use three photo-editing apps. First ON1 Photo RAW for exposure adjustment, pepping up the image, and sometimes some other corrections. Then come Topaz Labs DeNoise AI which is a magic tool for noise elimination. The final step is Microsoft Photo Gallery for cropping and minor adjustments as well as resizing.

Here is that image that needed ISO 10159.

You can see plenty of noise in the Original on the left. That is the part in the little white box on the right. The middle image shows how beautifully this tool cleans up the noise.

You can see that noise just is not a limiting factor for my evening-time photography. You may have questions about some of the details. Those are topics for other posts and some of those will be in other sites.

Back to that very first photo. It is an overview of the “Night Market”. I did this exposure as I walked in as a test to make sure that I had set up the camera correctly and I was able to get decent photos. This shoot was done on assignment for Peachtree Corners Magazine. I included this first image in my delivery to the client. They liked it enough to use it as the title image on their Facebook page. What more could I ask?

Oh yes, I did promise to show some of the photos. Here are the ones that Peachtree Corners Magazine included on their Facebook page. Click on the first one to go to the gallery.

This article was first published at CafeLudwig.com – This is a test of block editor copying.

.:. © 2020 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Blogging, Photography | Tagged , | 5 Comments

On how we see

Seeing Cars

Facebook reminded me, with a two-year old iPhone photo, of the day we parted with our old Ford Taurus. It had served us faithfully for eighteen years. Looking at the photo some pleasant memories of that trusty vehicle came flooding back.

All of a sudden I could only see the that rounded shape, the truck, the neighborhood just seemed to almost disappear.

That is how it is with car nuts, “automotive aficionados”, they don’t see cars the way the camera does, or us “normal” folks. They see just that magnificent mechanical automobile. Not like this; this is what you, I and the camera see:

But more like this, the automobile and little else:

We look at this antique jalopy driving by and smile.

But for our car enthusiast friends this scene conjured up a totally different image:

Yes, to our “Car and Driver” friends, only the car matters, Even the drivers fade into paleness. They feel the vehicle zooming along on a race track, they see the beautifully shaped details.

So, that’s my analysis of my auto loving friends. Do you think I pegged them correctly?

NOTE: No bystanders, drivers, or neighborhoods were harmed in the making of these pictures.

This was a demonstration of image selection, layers, blurring, photo overlays and some other techniques.

.:. © 2020 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Digital Photos, Photo Editing, Photography | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Archive Treasure – 1

Cleaning and organizing can get easily sidetracked when you find some long forgotten treasures. Here is one such photo. This is a panorama stitched together in ICE (Microsoft Image Composite Editor – also a relic), showing the Atlanta skyline as seen from the “Old Ted”. Only goes back to August 2013, but in Atlanta that is ancient history.

Here are the individual frames:

 

.:. © 2020 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Digital Photos, Image Composite Editor, Photography | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments