This was a crazy idea I had and it worked out just fine. I suppose the first step is to be on an escalator that has a rich or interesting set of lights around it. Set up the tripod legs on the steps (which you have to do quickly because you are moving… it’s sort of a Level 6 tripod maneuver!) and then let it fly with a shutter speed of at least 2 seconds. This one was a 4 second exposure.
Daily Photo – A cloaked woman in Hong Kong
I was riding up a series of colorful outdoor escalators in Hong Kong and this mysterious cloaked women went flying by me. She made it up to a group of people where she got stuck for a bit, right when I took this shot.
What was mega scary was when we would hear little bits of ice cracking and falling… we would very often freak ourselves out down here. Why would two grown up men get so close to the edge of a glacier? Because we're dumb guys… this is what dumb guys do, and, well, that's what we are.
I took this photo during a little tutorial video we were shooting while there… so you’ll see more of her soon!
Daily Photo – The Desert Rose Begins to Swim
This girl was amazing! She was working at the hotel when our whole photo adventure crew entered the Damaraland are of Namibia. She announced herself at lunch as “The Desert Rose” and she was a real piece of work… just hilarious and a total actress. She could also do the whole click-language thing which was a source of endless entertainment!
Experiment! There is no right answer… When there is a little bit of ambient light, you may need to go shorter or close down the aperture, as I did here. This one is F/14 at 5 seconds. Not that I knew that ahead of time… I had to experiment. When I did F/4 at 5 seconds, the whole thing was way too bright but the light trail was the right length, so I just darkened it up by increasing the F stop to F/14.
Daily Photo – London as Night Closes In
Here's one of those really fun long exposure shots that are readily available all over London. This is one of the great advantages of living in a big city is that you get all that crazy tail light action that I don't get here in Queenstown. It makes for a very fun way to be creative and try new ways to fill up the frame with unexpected light action.
I took this one during the big photowalk event — thanks again everyone!
The Complete HDR Tutorial is selling great, so thank you so much! There is part of it that includes some of the “Extreme HDR” that you can see in today’s photo below!
Daily Photo – A little bit of penguin science
Yes, this is a very strange photo; I agree! Remember Captain Scott's hut from a few days ago? This was found in one of the back corners. Parts of the team was there to do science experiments and things of this nature, which I assume included having dead penguins lying about. Everything has been perfectly preserved, and I'm not even sure if this is a real penguin or not. I think it is. It probably is. I was afraid to touch it, thinking it might pop up and scare the bejeezus out of me.
Here’s a documentary about the hotel I took a photo of below. What a place!
Daily Photo – Checking into the Burj Al Arab
Okay, I didn't actually check-in here, but maybe someday! This is the world's only 7-star hotel and it is absolutely majestic and crazy inside. I didn't even know what was happening with my eyes when I was in there… super-duper-overload! It was all I could do to settle myself to take a photo. This area is right after the revolving doors… I took this photo around 2 AM after Rene and I had spent the evening up in the top floor bar editing photos.
I took so many thousands of photos down there. I have a lot more coming this year… I hope you don’t feel overloaded by too much of one theme! Actually, as I blog about these, it gets me more excited all over again, and I can’t wait to go process more photos!
Daily Photo – Dave full of Risk
This guy's name is Dave Risk. What a completely awesome name! Can you imagine having such a badass name and then just doing stuff like this all over Antarctica? What a stud!
Haha this was a fun midnight-ish photowalk we did in Antarctica. I was out on the main continent with a group of scientists doing all kinds of work. The next day, Stu and I were supposed to be choppered out, and we had a TON of extra alcohol… I mean a ton. So we brought it all over to the camp of about 8 of us and we all listened to music and got totally confused. And then we decided to walk around a frozen lake for an hour and take photos! Haha what a fun night… and here's Dave looking pretty deft across the frozen lake.
(that bad news is that Stu and I got socked in with a blizzard the next day and we were running dry!)
I shot this video literally 30 mins ago… what a great morning here in New Zealand! I make mention that we have new Masters starting at The Arcanum — exciting news for those of you that have been on the waiting list or recently applied!
Lightroom 6 Unreview
This sensational blog post is brought to you by Trey’s Lightroom Presets, which are mega awesome and were made by Trey, the guy writing this in the third person that thinks these presets will bring you happiness and enlightenment on your deathbed.
I’m a huge fan of Lightroom, but this HDR addition is mega lame. Mega Lame Dot Com.
I’ll also talk about some of the other big additions, which everyone seems to rave about without hesitation. I’m actually fascinated by the internet and how Adobe can make the slightest little change or improvement that should have been there several years ago, and everyone goes nuts like Moses has found a third tablet with five new commandments. I think actually there may be a hidden Adobe commandment that says, “Thou shalt cripple Lightroom so more plebeians must buyeth Photoshop.”
But first, since everyone probably wants to know about the new HDR functionality, we’ll get started with that. I’ve been doing HDR stuff for about 8 years and used just about every product. Every day I put up a new image here on the blog… so that’s 365 images a year, most of which have some element of HDR in them. It all started a long time ago with the HDR Tutorial, which I continue to update.
About 3 or 4 years ago I switched from Aperture to Lightroom and I never looked back. I really do love Adobe Lightroom and even made an Organize Your Photos! video tutorial here to show how I use it.
Here’s five of my favorite HDR images so you can see the kind of work I like to do. My work is not for everyone, and if you don’t like it, what you don’t realize is that I’ve already ignored you even before you’ve thought about it.
New HDR in Lightroom
In short, here are the three things I’ve found (I expand on each one below):
The results are a bit boring (often, quite boring)
LR HDR appears to be 30-80% slower than Photomatix
There are absolutely no options for you to adjust the intensity of the HDR image. Even more surprising is the resulting new image has many siders pre-moved (including the highlight slider completely to the left), meaning there is little or no more recovery there.
Try This Yourself and try not to type #WTFAdobeHDR
It appears that you could save time by simply taking the middle exposure, dropping the highlights, and amping up the shadows. And by save time, I mean up to several minutes. I have a fast computer and using the HDR Merge on Lightroom is is pretty slow. If you just move THREE sliders on the middle exposure, you appear to get the exact same result in 2 seconds.
Tell me if I’m crazy; tell me if I’m wrong. I mean, I’m not, and I won’t listen to you anyway, but feel free.
Here’s the new image that is created after merging in Lightroom HDR. You’ll see those three sliders on the right, each of which are automatically moved for you during the process. This took about 30 seconds on a Really Fast Computer.
Here’s one I made from the middle exposure in 2 seconds by simply moving those three sliders myself.
I’ve been scratching my head trying to figure out why they made something so underwhelming. Personally, I don’t want to have to use another tool in the process… I know the people at Adobe are smart, but I’m actually confused how such a big team can take so long to make something so uninteresting. The team at Nik made a great HDR product in a small portion of the time. The team at Photomatix made something better than Adobe many years ago (and way way faster).
It’s actually surprising to me that a big company is so far behind these small companies. Why didn’t they just buy Photomatix and get their uber-fast and much-more-interesting algorithms? I don’t own any of Photomatix, btw… but just wondering about the decision processes of Adobe. They do a lot of strange stuff, but I figure this is because many decisions are made by committee, and this is why we never see a statue of a committee.
Lackluster HDR Results
When processing the photo, there is literally ONE option to adjust the look of your photo, which is “Auto-Tone.” That is basically ZERO options. And I don’t even know why it is an option, because if it is not selected, your photo does not get HDR’ed! It’s like having a Gaussian Blur dialog with a checkbox inside that says “Gaussian Blur.”
I’ve tried about 10 different images in there. I toggle on and of the “Auto-Tone” image and I haven’t been impressed once. Again, I can get the exact same result by just moving those three sliders on the middle image.
The Before Shot
The HDR Results from LR
One of 20 different results from Photomatix
Like, why not have Presets with lots of options? Pretty much all modern filter programs out there have presets now with little thumbnails. Maybe you’ve seen the awesome MacPhun Intensify stuff for example? Honestly, it’s not that hard to do, and Adobe could have made some Very Interesting HDR Presets that could give you a lot of different looks.
For example, here’s a screenshot of Photomatix featuring some of the Vaingloriously Named Trey Ratcliff’s Photomatix Presets. These are recommended by 2 out of 3 doctors.
How presets look in Photomatix
Slow HDR Boat to China
I’m not gonna write much about this other than to say that in my 10 tests, it was always quite slow. It averages 30-80% slower than Photomatix. Maybe I’m just used to speedy Photomatix or other fast tools like MacPhun.
I have a fast Macbook Pro and I have used Lightroom to HDR merge many times. On average, for 3 RAW photos (each one 36 megapixels), it took 17 seconds to get into the dialog and then an additional 10 seconds after clicking merge. For 5 RAW images, it took 44 seconds to get into the dialog and an additional whopping 104 seconds after clicking merge.
Compare that with Photomatix (see my Photomatix Review) with the exact same photos. For 3 photos, it took 10 seconds to get into the dialog and then 4 seconds to process. For 5 photos, it took 16 seconds to get into the dialog and 5 seconds to process. That’s an amazing savings of over two minutes. TWO MINUTES DOT COM. (sorry I’ve been doing robot-voice lately).
I think one reason it is slow is because it’s converting everything to DNG first. So maybe if you’re already DNG it will be faster… personally I don’t covert to DNG. This is another topic… people ask my why I don’t convert. My short answers are: 1) It takes quite a bit longer during import. 2) In practice.I don’t really see the size savings as being material. 3) I’m not worried about my RAW photos going obsolete, and just in case they do, I can convert to DNG in 5 years or whatever when my computer is 50x faster.
Here’s another surprise (the hits keep on comin’!). After the photo has been HDR processed, you’ll notice that the sliders have been pre-slid for your pleasure.
Maybe some of you know about the Photoshop “Merge to HDR” functionality. Now, I’m not really a fan of that either. However, there is one good feature that I was SURE Lightroom would include. In Photoshop, when you drag in a bunch of images for HDR, you still get a lot more control over the shadows/highlights and this sort of thing. Yes, you can add some gradients and adjustment brushes in LR, but it’s not on the surface. Even when I do that, I’m not seeing any more recovery.
And when you compare the HDR functionality in Photoshop to Lightroom, again, there is no comparison. At least the Photoshop one gives you some options to tweak out the intensity or variety of the effect. The only options the LR version gives you is around the ghosting.
Good stuff about the New Lightroom
It seems generally faster. Their marketing speak is “up to 10 times faster” which could mean literally anything (like the Help dialog loads 10 times faster whereas the curves tool is 1.2 times faster). But I do notice one of my biggest pet peeves is way faster — the crop tool. Before, when I would make a lot of changes to a photo, it was extremely sluggish during the crop.
Also there is a panorama merge, so that is handy for quick panos or people that want to only live life in LR. I still use Autopano because it is more powerful and lets me do HDR panoramas.
There are other features that I don’t use like facial recognition and advanced video slideshows. There are also some updates to mobile, but I don’t use those much, if at all.
What I wish they had added
Even though I love Lightroom, I find Adobe to be a frustrating company. It’s so obviously that they purposefully cripple Lightroom so people will keep using Photoshop.
A really good example is the content-aware healing brush. It’s Really Amazing in PS, and the spot-removal tool in LR is just not good enough. It’s literally Very Easy to add into LR, but they don’t do it.
Another good example is layers. Layers would not be that difficult to add (especially with their team of engineers that are using their time instead by working on such killer features as “Advanced Video Slideshows”).
I’d also like to see better catalog control and organization. I have it figured out, but it’s inscrutable to many people. I can’t tell you how many people, especially beginners, are super-confused about how to manage your LR catalog, especially if you travel and you have too many photos for one computer or drive.
Obviously the thing THEY were most excited about was the HDR functionality. All their marketing material and blog posts begin with this amazing announcement. But it’s by far one of the most underwhelming features. What do you think?
See this photo below? It’s not usual that I publish them, but it actually represents MOST of the photos I snap… There are always interesting things here and there. These actually don’t take much time… and I know people generally don’t like it when I post “casual snaps” here and there on the blog, but here’s one anyway — hope you don’t mind!
Daily Photo – Waiting on the London PhotoWalk
I always try to arrive at the PhotoWalks around the world a little early so that I can meet people and say hello. We had a super-informal gathering here at the Milkbar before we headed over to the big event. That's my friend Lee sitting there in front… it was so crowded inside that we had to sit outside to enjoy our coffees. We can here to meet up with Gordon Laing from Cameralabs.com — was great to see him again!