Lightroom 3 beta is around

While I'm still enjoying (and learning!) Lightroom 2, version 3 is already in the making. A public beta has been made available by Adobe, Jeffrey Friedl told in his blog a few days ago. It should allow easier publishing of collections, rather than through plug-ins (although Friedl has already updated his for LR3!), but also export of slideshows.

At least as important may be the promises of still better handling of imported pictures: for instance reduced noise. (That is one my my issues with my Sony A700 camera, so I'm going to download LR3-beta for testing!) But also the opposite: film grain effects.

Making good on my promise, interlude

I have to apologize to the Japanese Acer palmatum in my garden, because it is no longer dull brown: it just took its own sweet time to turn fully red. Maybe I can take some pictures of its autumn colours later this week. Timing is of the essence!


End of summertime

Now that in Europe the clocks have been turned back to 'normal' time, this photo is quite fitting: it was made during the summer time but is about nights--and we sure will have long nights again between now and March 2010.

Photographer's dilemma with this photo: what is the 'right' colour temperature? Lamp light is not as white as daylight. Lamplight is about 2800 K, daylight 5500 K on a sunny day. If you keep the white balance of your camera to daylight, the lamplight and all else will be awfully yellow. If you take the lamplight as 'white' as any RAW-converter will let you do, much of the nighttime atmosphere disappears. My solution: Just try some settings in between the two extremes until you get a satisfactory impression. The disadvantage of tampering with white balance is that you cannot really say that your photo has 'real' colours. Then again: your eyes and brain make adaptations to interpret different light settings, so why cannot you do the same in your post-processing of photos? That needs a well-calibrated screen on your computer, of course, but that is a different story.

Photo taken in Piran (Slovenia, Sept. '09).


Making good on my promise, part 2

I had my eyes open for autumn colours, but somehow this autumn the trees seem to go brownish without too much good colour. Even the Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki' and the Amelanchier in our garden, put there because they usually have great autumn colours, are disappointing a bit this year. Only with the benefit of backlight and the 'golden hour' before sunset do the photos come close to what I had hoped.

Only the little Fothergilla major is making good on its promise of delivering autumn colours even in this year. Yes, there is a paradox in having a little Fothergilla major, but in Friday's Gardeners' World the presenter also remarked that hers had stayed much smaller than she had hoped, just like ours. But just like her, we can rejoice in being able to look down on all those fiery-coloured autumn leaves :-)


Better watermarks in Lightroom: Mogrify Plug-in

Here's one for conservative Lightroom users like me. The real buffs, who are at home in all the blogs, in Adobe's exchange site for LR-plugins, etc., have undoubtedly known this for a long time. And if you don't use Lightroom at all, this is abracadabra--but please come back to my blog next time!

For the few of us then, one of the very few nagging discomforts about LR2 is that there is no way to control the watermark you add to the photo upon export: it sits in the left corner, in a fixed font and size. Of course you can go to Photoshop or use external small applications (shareware or freeware!) to add textual or graphic watermarks to jpg-files after exporting, but that is too much of a hassle: we want more elegant, user-friendly solutions. And finally I found one--as the real buffs know since a long time. One Timothy Armes developed a plug-in for LR that lets you add watermarks but also borders and frames in one go while doing the export! The watermarks can be text, self-written or taken from the photo's metadata, or graphic, and you can control the font (in a somewhat awkward way, for Mac-users at least, but it works) and where it is placed. Once installed and once you have designed your watermark, it will be used automatically for all exports, unless you turn it off again: 'fire and forget', really easy!

The multipurpose plug-in is called LR2/Mogrify and can be found in the Photographer's Toolbox; a Dutch-language, extended explanation was published in April 2009 (I'm really behind!) in DigitaleFotografieTips. The plug-in is 'donationware' and I guess that after a little more testing, I am going to make a donation to Mr Armes indeed: it seems to be worth more than whatever is a reasonable donation.

I felt, then, as if there were millions of beautiful penguins out in the sea of Plug-In and I just caught one nicely on my camera--just like the penguins in the Noorderdierenpark in Emmen (NL). And yes, if you look closely, there is a different watermark, in the right-hand corner, and somewhat less obtrusive than the standard LR2 one.

I also tried Mr Armes's LR2/Blog export plug-in; the entry on Berlin that I made earlier today, was made with it. But that one I found not useful: it may make it easy to upload a photo and add a little bit of text in a single go upon exporting from LR. However, you can only make simple unformatted text and also you cannot control the lay out of the photo in the blog entry. That was too limited to me, but if it's enough for you, have another look at the Photographer's Toolbox site.

Missed hoped-for chance: Berlin in the rain

Berlin is a great city for photos of modern (and restored neo-classical) architecture. But that needs good weather, or at least dry weather for the buildings to appear at their best. Last week I was there, with some extra time, and even with a special travel guide for architecture fans (on sale in bookshops all around the city). But it was cold and rainy--as I wrote to some of my readers before. Instead of a nice set of photos, almost the only thing that came out was this contrasting view of the TV tower at the Alexander Platz and a church spire: Who comes highest? Is TV more important than religion (maybe that was an intended message in DDR times)? And what does it mean that the TV tower disappears into the clouds?


Robert Capa's Dead Soldier: Truth or Fame?

The solution to the question if Robert Capa's iconic picture of a Loyalist soldier dying in the Spanish civil war in the 1930s was true or false was the subject of an article in the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad on October 9 (the article itself is not in the public part of the website--sorry!). It was a long article, so the answer was not simple.

First of all, the answer did not come from the 'Mexican suitcase', the suitcase full of negatives made by Capa that surfaced in 2008 in Mexico. The negative of the famous photo was not there; it has been missing for years. Second, the state of the art on this question will forever remain a matter of debate between experts and would-be experts. It is, so much we can take from the discussion, probably not a photo of a soldier dying in a large-scale action. Probably Capa went on a small tour with a group of soldiers for a photo shoot; it was a staged photo. Some stories have it that the man in the picture was shot by a sniper at the moment Capa pressed the shutter--to my mind too good a story to be true. It was said that Capa himself never claimed it was a picture 'at the moment of death'.

The impression of authenticity of the photo may have been a trick: Capa may have made a slightly unfocused photo on purpose (no autofocus in those days, of course!), and moved his hands a bit to give the impression he himself was diving for safety while pressing the shutter.

And then there is the role of the press. Capa's picture was first published September 1936 in two French magazines, Vu and Regards. In Vu they published a whole series of the young photographer (he was 22 at the time and not yet famous) with poetic, symbolic captions going with the photos. When the same picture was republished later in world-famous magazine Life in the USA, July 1937, there was a much more dramatic caption, talking about the photo being made at the moment the soldier was killed. Being published in Life, and with such a dramatic caption, were the occasion for Capa to become world-famous--and he did not say that the caption going with his photo was not truthful. He did not even lie, he just did not tell 'the whole truth'. What would I have done--what would you have done--if fame suddenly beckons?

Footnote: the picture can be found on many websites so have a look at Google or better the Wikipedia if you do not know it, but is copyrighted.


Making good on my promise, part 1

This weekend I began making good on my promise to do some photos of autumn colours this time. Hopefully some more stunning ones will follow in future instances, because there are not many colouring trees yet. But for starters, this was not too bad. I liked making the discoloured leaves not the single subject of the picture (going against my own precept of simplicity), but putting them in "by the way" in a picture of the "other-worldly" form of the flower-base still standing on our Cornus Nuttallii.

Looking around for more coloured leaves, form caught my eye instead of colour. Hence the second photo, of the walnut in its bolster. Natural symmetry.


Mediterranean colours: Sun on the Stairs

Originally uploaded by DFW-Photo
Been on a trip to Istria (Slovenia, Croatia, on the Adriatic coast) last week and just recovered from it--physically OK again and photographically still very impressed. It all shouts colours. Even the photos I envisaged as black-and-white ones look better in their original, colour form!