Sunday, August 31, 2008

LRGC 3.0 Advanced User's Guide Update

I am working hard on the Advanced User's Guide. Right now with work so busy and school starting for the kids, I had to slow just a little bit. However, here are some of the topics that will be covered.

There is a full section on some more advanced features such as the MP3 player. However, this guide is more than just a list of settings. The Advanced Guide will consist mostly of examples showing many different ways to setup LRG Complete. For example, did you know there are many, many ways you can setup the heading in the Shell? Did you know that you can customize almost anything presented on your web site? I don't want to give away the secrets just yet, but there is much that you can do under the hood of this incredible web site generation tool.

The Advanced User's Guide will also include tips for planning the creation of your web site and many planning aids and forms to get you started on your own web site or modify one already created.

The plan is still to have it finished by the end of September. Keep watching!
... Read More!

Don't forget to visit my photography web site where we sell museum quality black and white prints framed to last up to 175 years - Outdoor Images Fine Art.

EYE5: The Golden Ratio

This article is part of my series on the study of 'The Photographer's Eye' by Micheal Freeman.

What is the Golden Ratio? The answer is 1.618... No, this is not the answer to the question 'What is the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything?' which is 42. If you haven't read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, then don't worry, read on.

History of The Golden Rule

The golden ratio appears frequently in the study of mathematics and more specifically, geometry. The ancient Greeks began studying this ratio because of it's tie to mathematics. The Greeks have given the credit for the discovery to Pythagoras who is most frequently known for developing the Pythagorean Theorem, or a^2 + b^2 = c^2.

Euclid was the first to record the Golden Rule. Euclid said, in his series of books called the 'Elements',
A straight line is said to have been cut in extreme and mean ratio when, as the whole line is to the greater segment, so is the greater to the less.


What Euclid is saying is that when the ratio of the total length of any line to a certain portion of that line is the same as the ratio of the two segments of the line to each other, then you have a division equal to the Golden Rule. In mathematical formula terms, if you have a line divided into a and b like the following from the Wikpedia Article on the Golden Rule,

then, (a + b)/a is the same as a/b. If you solve this equation, you end up with a number that is approximately 1.618.


The application of this 'magical' number can be used by first understanding the ratio in terms of frame size. Recall we said that a 24mm x 36mm film negative is in the ratio of 1.5 to 1.0, or close to The Golden Rule. If we have a negative that is 20mm high, then the application of the golden rule would say we want a width of 20mm x 1.618, or 32.4mm. This would provide an image Frame that applies the Golden Rule.

Unfortunately, the size of most films and digital imagers does not follow the Golden Rule. How do we use the Golden Rule in photography? We divide the frame.

Dividing the frame into sections was the topic we began in the last essay and is the topic we continue here. First, we will round the Golden Rule to 1.6 for the remainder of our work, because we can more easily estimate sizes.

By taking a Frame size and dividing the width and height into the Golden Rule, you can find four points, one in each quadrant of the frame, that translates to these locations.

Does this mean the Subject of an image should reside at that point? It can, especially if the subject is very small in relation to the remainder of the image. For example, a small desert plant could be placed in one of the four locations with sand encompassing the rest of the image.

What if the Subject is large? Then we have another choice. Instead of placing the Subject at one of the four points, use the point to create a rectangle within the Frame.

Then, place a larger subject within the smaller Frame. Obviously, since there are four points within a Frame that correspond to the Golden Rule, there are four rectangles within the Frame that also correspond to the Golden Rule. An example of using this concept would include an image of a dock at the beach in the evening. The dock could be placed in one of the two bottom divisions with the ocean and sky filling the remaining areas.

Multiple Divisions

A concept that we will further explore as we move on is multiple divisions. Frequently our images do not have such simple subjects and backgrounds and they may include multiple subjects. A more advanced method of applying the Golden Rule is to take a divided Frame, like in the example shown above, and further divide the remaining areas into new Golden Rule areas. This can be done several times, although the more divisions, the more complex the image and the more time involved in placing the camera to record the image.

Multiple divisions are increasingly more complex and really only lend themselves to still images where the proper time can be taken divide the image on the Frame. In addition, practicing a simple Golden Rule division for awhile will help make multiple divisions easier. I.e., practice makes perfect.


For this essay, take four sheets of paper and draw a Frame size that fits your photography equipment. If you have multiple Frame sizes available, pick one and stick with it. If you have access to transparency sheets, they will work better as you can view a subject through your sheet.

After creating the Frame, divide each Frame into the Golden Rule and, using a different color than the Frame color, draw the two intersecting lines. Use a ruler and be as precise as you can. Using the same different color, mark the point of intersection with a round dot you can see at arms length. You should end up with a Frame marked similar to the images above.

Take these four sheets and find at least four different subjects, preferably two small and two larger subjects. For each subject, hold up each frame in turn to the subject. Place the smaller subjects at the points of intersection and the larger subjects in the largest division. Study these through the drawn frames.

Then, shoot each subject in the four locations through your camera, placing them in the proper location as best as you can. Print each of the sixteen images and study and make notes about the different placements. Divide each image on paper, using a ruler and a marker, into the Golden Rule. Alternatively, you can take more transparency material and scale down a frame size to the printed size. Then you can overlay the Golden Rule on each image while taking notes.

Added Challenge

As and added challenge, repeat the exercise using the same subjects as the previous exercise. Compare the locations of these subjects between simple linear divisions and the Golden Rule. Which ones seem to represent the subject the best? the most pleasing?

Also, if you wish, try making Frames on transparencies with multiple levels of division. Shoot several complex images trying to place multiple subjects in these divisions.


Using these sheets as a guide, your eye will become accustomed to where the points lie in the Frame. This takes time to develop but will be well worth your time, especially if you shoot candid street shots. Fast paced photography does not give you the luxury of measuring and setting up a photo opportunity. They are there and then gone.

Take these transparencies with you and use them with still images before lifting your camera. See where the placement would be. When finished, print out the image and see how well you cropped the subject within the division.

Viewing, shooting the image, printing and reviewing after the fact will train your eye to reach the Golden Rule without thinking. Good luck!
... Read More!

Don't forget to visit my photography web site where we sell museum quality black and white prints framed to last up to 175 years - Outdoor Images Fine Art.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

LRG Complete Version 3.0 Finished!

Lightroom Galleries has published the completion of LRG Complete 3.0, the first public release! Now the User's Guide is also finished! You can download the User's Guide using the links to the right, or by following this link: LRG Complete User's Guide. Go visit Lightroom Galleries and download the template now! ... Read More!

Don't forget to visit my photography web site where we sell museum quality black and white prints framed to last up to 175 years - Outdoor Images Fine Art.

Friday, August 29, 2008

LRB Portfolio - An Easy Lightroom Web Site!

Sean McCormack over at Lightroom Blog has created a new Adobe Lightroom Web Gallery that produces an entire web site with up to 6 galleries for show.

First, I'll tell you there are several things I really like about this new web gallery. The appearance of this web gallery is very neat and clean. It is beauty in its simplicity. Even as Sean says, there are those out there that either already have a web site or want more customization. However, this web gallery provides a very neat and simple way to show a group of galleries and provide email contact about them. It's cohesive and doesn't require any html programming mutliple page uploads.

I like Sean's use of the php mail forms to keep the email addresses private - a concept becoming increasingly more popular and is certainly more protective. I also like the ability to disable the right-clicking of the mouse and hence, easy downloads of your important images! Again, this is also more popular and important. Finally, something missing from many web galleries is an easy to use installation guide that explains the various settings of the web gallery.

All-in-all, this is a high quality Web Gallery for Lightroom 2 (2 Only, not Lightroom 1.x). Go on over to Lightroom Blog and check it out.

For those that already have a web site, I see another use for LRB Portfolio. It would be extremely easy to create sub web sites with this product just to show a specific event or portfolio. If you already have a web site at, then create one for and link it to your main site. You can later remove it if needed. The ability to generate a web site so quickly means you can add and subtract events all day long!

Great stuff, Sean!

... Read More!

Don't forget to visit my photography web site where we sell museum quality black and white prints framed to last up to 175 years - Outdoor Images Fine Art.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Lightroom Tip#18: The White Balance Selector

I was working on a group of images this weekend when I realized I had forgotten about the White Balance Selector in Lightroom 2. Sure, you can spend time sliding the temperature slider around until you get what you want, but that doesn't give you an efficient starting point. More importantly, all digital cameras can have different temperatures for a series of images, even if they are effectively the same image. In this tip, I will show you how to easily use the White Balance Selector and get a great starting point for adjusting your images

First, let's take a look at where this tool is. True to Adobe and Lightroom, we have a dropper. Side Note: I dont' know the history of the dropper, only that CS3 and other programs use it and I really like the metaphor.

The Basic panel is the first panel underneath the histogram in the Develop module. The dropper to the left of the temperature and tint sliders is called the White Balance Selector. Clicking on this dropper will activate the tool and change the cursor to a dropper. Moving the mouse over the image will provide a display similar to the one below.

Notice the enlarged grid below the dropper. This grid shows pixels surrounding the dropper on the image. It also gives percentages of the component Red, Green and Blue hues that make up that pixel. Try to find a slightly lighter than Middle Grey grey. This would be represented as a color close to 50%, 50% and 50% of Red, Green and Blue. After finding one and hovering over the pixel with the dropper, click with the mouse to set the White Balance. See how the temperature slider changes to a new value and the WB: selector is set to 'custom.'

This results in the white balance adjustment you see below. The image on the right has been adjusted and the image on the left was 'as shot.' Notice the blue tint on the door in the original white balance. Notice how the temperature increases removing the bluish tint.

This is only one example. There are many times when shooting images of snow, or shade that the temperature is much further away from a desired level. The key to this tip is quickly getting to a starting point and adjusting from there.

Once you find a white balance for an image in a sequence, you can copy the white balance setting among the whole group of images so that they are the same temperature.

One final note. This isn't the only eye-dropper in the Develop module of Lightroom 2! We will create some more tips for how to use the other shortcuts away from the sliders. Enjoy!

... Read More!

Don't forget to visit my photography web site where we sell museum quality black and white prints framed to last up to 175 years - Outdoor Images Fine Art.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Essay: Thinking in Themes

In keeping with the work we are doing on the Photographer's Eye, I wanted everyone to see this essay from the Luminous Landscape contributed by William Neill on Thinking in Themes. William's 25 year experience is captured in his esssay as he tries to bring focus to the photographer. This focus, William says, will help produce a series of meaningful images that go together. Take a moment and review this essay and his portfolio links at the end. ... Read More!

Don't forget to visit my photography web site where we sell museum quality black and white prints framed to last up to 175 years - Outdoor Images Fine Art.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lightroom Galleries

You have been seeing articles about the LRG Complete Web Gallery for Adobe Lightroom. Hopefully you have been able to keep up with the development going on. Joe over at Lightroom Galleries has been hard at work putting this new package together.

The really neat part about LRG Complete is that the web site design is completely independent from the Web Gallery. Each person can design the total number of pages and galleries they wish to use and upload them separately. You have complete control over the structure of your web site. This is unique in Lightroom Web Gallery design.

Another unique feature is the ability to have not one, not two, but three separate ways to sell your images online. LRG Complete has the ability to use PayPal, Google Checkout or just Email to order and pay for images online. This is also unique in Lightroom Web Gallery Design.

There are many, many more unique features in LRG Complete, so take a visit over to Lightroom Galleries. You can get there through the links in this article or the navigation menu on the side of my blog. Keep an eye out for the first public release of version 3.0!

... Read More!

Don't forget to visit my photography web site where we sell museum quality black and white prints framed to last up to 175 years - Outdoor Images Fine Art.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

EYE 4: Dividing the Frame

This article is part of my series on the study of 'The Photographer's Eye' by Micheal Freeman. Note that we skipped EYE 3 and will return to it at a later date.

With this essay we begin discussing the division of the Frame. The subject of the image divides the Frame. The background divides the Frame. All of the elements in the image divide the Frame. So how do we determine where to place objects in the image to divide the Frame in the most pleasing way?

Since the topic of this essay is 'Dividing the Frame', then it is only appropriate to answer this question with: divide the Frame, then place the subject in one of those divisions. Sound complicated? There's more good news - since there are many pleasing ways to divide a Frame, there are multiple 'right' answers about placing the subject!

We are going to discuss a number of ways to divide the Frame and place a subject over the next few essays. Each essay will concentrate on one method and then provide some exercises to help us practice that method. The most important guideline to remember here is that the number of ways to perfect this technique are infinite - so be creative, but also be critical of your work. Look for new ways to represent a subject. After all, the point of learning to see with a photographic eye is to learn about being creative.


There are two very common series or progressions in mathematics - Arithmetic and Geometric. In this essay we will discuss the first progression and move to the second one in the next essay.

An Arithmetic progression is linear. This means that each number in the series, when plotted with the difference between each number, forms a straight line. Linear, meaning straight line.

In terms of a Ratio, Arithmetic progressions are a ratio of 1:1. Squares and rectangles of the same size represent linear progressions. In terms of the Frame, dividing a Frame into four equal parts is linear. Dividing a frame into thirds is linear. In fact, dividing a Frame into any number of spaces, each with the same size or area is a linear division.

While simple, there are many more various of division for a Frame than linear divisions. It is these variations that begin to provide a unique way of organizing the placement of a subject within a Frame. Thus, the linear division of a Frame is the simplest to learn and we will start with the linear division. However, division of a Frame only gets more exciting from here.


This exercise is lengthy in order to get your creativity sparked for the next several essays. We will design a few linear divisions and then shoot a variety of subjects within those divisions for later comparison.

Take three sheets of paper (more if you have the time). On each sheet of paper, draw a Frame that is roughly the proportion of your camera medium. For 35mm film users, the ratio is 24mm x 36mm or approximately 1:1.5 (this is where the 3:2 ratio comes from). For digital users, you may typically have available a 3:2 or 4:3 ratio. For this exercise, do not use the wide angle ratio.

After creating the Frame on your sheets of paper, divide each sheet into different linear divisions. Try a variety of the same sized squares or rectangles. After completing these, put them in page protectors or a small notebook to carry with you while you shoot some images.

Find a subject that is simple, without a complicated background. For example, a window on a wall, a birdhouse in a field, a lone tree, the hole in a putting green or some other simple subject.

Next, take a series of images with your camera for each sheet, placing the subject in each of the divisions. For example, if your subject is a hole in a putting green and your first sheet is divided into four squares, then your series of images would be as follows: (1) the hole in the upper left quadrant, (2) the hole in the lower left quadrant, (3) the hole in the upper right quadrant and (4) the hole in the lower right quadrant. Use a single subject for each of your three sheets.

Repeat the process for at least two additional subjects (three in total). Print these images for comparison and make notes on each image about how the placement of the subject affects how you view the image as a whole. For example, how would a birdhouse look in the bottom right corner with sky in the other three quadrants? Contrast that with the birdhouse in the upper left corner and a field in the other three quadrants? Which image would leave you looking for something missing in the image and which one would leave you feeling complete? Does one image make you feel short or tall? Does one image leave you viewing the subject and one image leave you looking around the rest of the Frame?

See if there is a commonality between different subjects of certain areas of your three Frame divisions. If you tend to like one or two positions in that Frame division, color those in with a highlighter or colored pencil.

Place your notes and your images in your notebook with the results from the other exercises. Be sure to view images around you in light of what you discovered from this exercise. When you see billboards, magazine advertisements, shop windows, web pages - everywhere you look, analyze the Frame and where the subject is.

Next we will talk about a special linear ratio called the Golden Ratio.

Printing Tip

Printing this many images for comparison can get expensive with ink and paper. If you are on budgetary constraints, try printing four images on a page leaving borders for your notes. Anything more than four images per 8.5 x 11 inch page would be too small to really analyze. You can also use a magnifying glass when viewing these images to help make them larger.
... Read More!

Don't forget to visit my photography web site where we sell museum quality black and white prints framed to last up to 175 years - Outdoor Images Fine Art.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Nikon Coolscan - ICE or No ICE?

I wrote an article about Post Processing Errors with a Nikon Coolscan 5000. This update gives us a the results of two different options that can be used to scan color negatives or slide film with the Coolscan. One option is clearly superior to the other.

NOTE: The images are just under 1mb and may load slowly. This is to provide an adequate comparison.

Scanning with No ICE

The first option is to scan with no ICE used. Remember that ICE is what removes spots and blemishes from the negative using the infared scanning capabilities of the Coolscan. Also remember that with color negatives or slides, the GEM and ROC settings, even with the ICE turned off, give the post processing error.

Scanning with ICE Enabled

The second option is to use the ICE option. This should help remove dust spots although it will not help with grain management. The ICE function does not work with greyscale images because of the way it works. However, ICE works wonders with color images.

Comparison of ICE and no ICE

Below is a comparison of two images, the first using ICE and the second with ICE turned off. Notice the dust in the right hand image, or the one without ICE.

Notice in the second example the level of detail. Again the image on the left was scanned using ICE and the one on the right with ICE turned off. The detail level is the same in this 1:1 or pixel level view. However, the contrast is a bit higher with the ICE turned on.

Next I will look at the actual negative through a loupe to see which one of these images best represents the contrast of the negative. For now, the ICE scan provides significant dust removal and would be the scan I will use.
... Read More!

Don't forget to visit my photography web site where we sell museum quality black and white prints framed to last up to 175 years - Outdoor Images Fine Art.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

LRG Complete Advanced User's Guide Almost Ready

I have been working on an Advanced User's Guide for LRG Complete. In this User's Guide I discuss in much more detail the Paypal and Google Checkout options including how to set up taxes and shipping at both online merchant services. I've included extensive detail on Google Analytics as well as a detailed tutorial on the MP3 player and updating song lists.

I have put together numerous examples of headings and menu systems for the Shell Web Gallery and created worksheets to help you plan your color schemes and your website layout. I also discuss using the email ordering system with customized settings to allow SMTP emails.

There are many more topics discussed in this Advanced User's Guide. If you have a specific topic you would like covered, leave me a comment here so I can consider including it! My goal is to have this finished in time for the release of LRG Complete 3.0 with an early release out for you to review.

Let me know what you would like to see! ... Read More!

Don't forget to visit my photography web site where we sell museum quality black and white prints framed to last up to 175 years - Outdoor Images Fine Art.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Post Processing Error with Nikon Coolscan 5000

Ok, so I have been using a Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 for well over a year with no problems. Most of my scans are black and white film, saved as TIFF's using the greyscale scanning. I have also used the slide feeder and the long film strip scanner with no problems.

However, last night began a string of errors centered around a message:
There was an error in performing post processing.

I was scanning a 36 image strip of slide film and it always gave me the error after scanning the second frame and while processing. The strip being slide film and color, I had the ICE settings on to remove any latent scratches or dust, as well as the ROC (set to 0) and the GEM (set to 1) for removing some of the grain in the negative After researching on the web and spending all night tweaking one setting at a time and then rebooting in between, I believe I found the answer.

It seems that using ICE, ROC and GEM together in a scan cause this error every time, and always on the second frame. This appears to be true even if the ROC is set to zero, so it would effectively be turned off. This is confirmed in this post from even though the post is from 2004.

More important are two additional points: 1) Nikon is obviously aware of the problem at least as of 2004 and no fixes are evident even in Nikon Scan 4.02. 2) Each time Nikon Scan bombs, you MUST reboot your entire computer after shutting off the power.

Apparently, the problem persists in memory although I haven't tested thoroughly to determine if it is the scanner memory or computer memory or both. My procedure when I get this error is to shut everything down and reboot from scratch. Then at least I know where I'm starting.

Because I have been scanning black and white, I cannot use ICE which only works for color scans. (Technical note: it has to do with using the infared scan and comparing to each color scan for dust and scratches - greyscale is single pass, no color). Additionally, I just didn't use the ICE feature when I was scanning stacks of slides.

So the choice time now comes: which item is most important? In this particular case, I was scanning FUJI Velvia 100, so the grain should be fairly small and I believe I can fix that easily in Photoshop. So, in this case, I am choosing ICE to continue as scratch removal (which I hope is unnecessary!) and dust removal are much more painful.

Hopefully Nikon will also review this post. They have created a great scanner, but the software bells and whistles should be removed if they won't work as advertised.

UPDATE 8/6/2008:

The ICE setting worked well in that the scanning completed. However, after inspecting the images in Lightroom, they appeared 'fuzzy'. I have worked enough now with black & white film shot through my Leica M-4 and M-6 that the negatives should be sharper than these scans show. I am now scanning the same images with no ICE settings and no GEM or ROC settings applied. I will create another post showing the difference at 1:1 in the detail areas.

Note that using only the ROC and GEM settings with no ICE settings gave me the same errors reported above. Even with ROC set to zero and GEM set to one. It appears that the Nikon scanner has issues when scanning positives (slides). I have not had trouble with greyscale scanning (black and white). Stay tuned.

Update 8/12/2008:

See an update article on using ICE or no ICE when scanning color negatives or slides. ... Read More!

Don't forget to visit my photography web site where we sell museum quality black and white prints framed to last up to 175 years - Outdoor Images Fine Art.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Lightroom Plugins Discussion

The Lightroom Journal posted an article on Adobe's current feelings about Plugins and External Editors. During the beta testing of Adobe's Lightroom 2.0, there were many posts about the ability for Lightroom to perform certain tasks. This was especially true regarding functions available in Adobe Bridge, Adobe Photoshop and other programs. This article has a great insight into the purpose of non-destructive editing, which is new in the Adobe lineup with the creation of Lightroom 1.0.

While leaps were made in external editing - smart objects, multiple external editor links - the population of true Plugins for Lightroom will be up to the programmers of the world to create non-destructive products. ... Read More!

Don't forget to visit my photography web site where we sell museum quality black and white prints framed to last up to 175 years - Outdoor Images Fine Art.