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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Triumph Over The Color Cast

B&W Saves The Day • Composition And Content • Assembling Gigascapes • Keeping Track

Labels: ColumnTech Tips
Color or not, you're always looking for a properly exposed, sharp image. The file may lend itself to black-and-white if there's a strong tonal range, with good separation of those tones, meaning that you'll probably have solid whites as well as blacks within the image after it's converted. The viewer's eye will be drawn to lighter elements of the image, so be aware of distracting highlights and get the light on your subject. A sense of movement, such as a curving road through a landscape or a strong repetitive design, can be very effective in black-and-white renditions. As a final note, tones set a mood, and if the mood lends itself to a low-contrast capture, then the grays will work for you in the black-and-white conversion.

Assembling Gigascapes

Q I've been working with the GigaPan system to create large, high-resolution landscape panoramas from a grid of captures. It's a struggle to composite the separate images and work with the resulting massive multiple-gigabyte files. How do you deal with this problem?
J. Reilly
Seattle, Washington

A Working with big images means big files; there's no getting around it. But there are a couple of options you can apply to control file size, depending upon how particular you are about the final quality of your panorama. My preferred method is to photograph all of the segments in RAW format, then bring them into Lightroom, optimize one representative capture and sync the rest to match. From Lightroom, I save the individual files into a single folder as 8-bit TIFF files. Optimizing the captured files in their original 16-bit format gives me more control and higher quality; reducing their size to 8-bit TIFFs makes them easier to composite in the GigaPan software, Autopano Giga 3.0 or Autopano Pro 3.0 (from www.Kolor.com). Once assembled, they then can be finalized within the 4 GB size limitation of the TIFF format in Photoshop.

You could save the files in JPEG format after optimization, but I find the JPEG size limitation to be far too restrictive for my panoramas. And you could, of course, make your original captures in JPEG format, but recognize that the high-resolution result you seek will be compromised by the initial JPEG capture, which won't contain the same amount of information as a RAW capture.

Keeping Track
An occupational hazard of photography, photo safaris and camera club outings is the possible loss of equipment. I've used a number of labeling systems to keep track of mine, from expensive "permanent" custom labels to Dymo labels to simple designs from my own computer and printer. I recently encountered a new system, FinderCodes, that allows you to label your equipment (or your pet) with a QR code that can be scanned from smartphones or entered on the FinderCodes website (www.FinderCodes.com). The company offers several types of labels, ranging from plastic tags to small stick-ons that can be adhered to camera bodies, lenses and tripods. The good person who finds your stuff scans the label with a smartphone, receives your message, contact information, reward offering or other instructions, and you receive a message with approximate location anytime the QR code is scanned.

Follow George Lepp's exploits, see his latest photographs and be part of the discussion on his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/georgelepp. Lepp is part of the OP Blog at www.outdoorphotographer.com/blog/author/glepp.


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