Thoughts

It’s Website Time!!

It’s official! After a couple of years of knowing that I should set up an actual website for my photography, I have finally done it. SuzyTBoPhotography.com is up and running. It’s still in the baby stages right now, as I add photo galleries from this year’s events and fine-tune exactly how I’m going to run the site on a day-to-day basis. I would love to have you stop by and see what I have done so far. Hopefully this will be a next step towards my world-wide takeover of the motorsports world!

And here’s a photo that I took last night of the amazing lightning storm that we were having đŸ™‚

Canal Lightning

Lightning over the Selig Canal

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Motorcycle Trips and PhotoStudio 6

A couple of weekends ago I took a trip to the wonderful (and luckily close-by) Ouray, Colorado with my husband on our big, loud Yamaha RoadStar cruiser. We spent the night at the Box Canyon Lodge, which is an amazing place to stay if you ever get the chance. They have fabulous rooms, spring-fed hot tubs, amazing views, and since it is in Ouray it is within walking distance of everything. On Sunday we drove over Red Mountain Pass to the town of Silverton for lunch. Before we stopped we drove up Molas Pass a little way and found a caravan of Ford test vehicles at the overlook. Including a future model Mustang. It Was Gorgeous.

A few days ago I finally bought the editing software that I downloaded a trial of a long time ago and really liked. ArcSoft PhotoStudio6. It’s simple to use, feature-rich, and works wonderfully. It has HDR and RAW editing features, great enhancement ability and pretty much every other feature I could ask for. I only have two minor complaints: the first would be that you can’t reorder layers, they are stacked on the front as you make them, the second is that there are no fancy presets for HDR editing. The sliders work well, but some ‘artistic’ presets would be a nice addition. I’m more than happy that I finally decided to actually buy it.

Here are the results of the two combined – the trip and the software.
Enjoy!

 

Categories: Photography, Things With Motors, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Newest Prints and Plans

image

Printed on NPL's 'Kodak Endura' metallic paper

Yesterday I received my latest print order from Nation’s Photo Lab (if you haven’t heard of / tried them, they are amazing!) This particular print is one that I will frame and then hopefully be putting up in the local motorsports shop that my husband works at. There are a couple more from this order that I’m hoping to find (at least temporary) homes for around town.
Here’s hoping! đŸ™‚

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Another Year of Photography

This past year I made a list of goals for advancing my photography; both my skills and my career. I have accomplished almost everything that I set out for year one- and then some. I made every major event that I wanted to shoot, did a few photo day-trips, I got my camera (much earlier than expected), I shot my first (two!) paid sessions, and revised and expanded my portfolio.

This next year I am going to do a goal list again, but even bigger and better, and more tuned into my career goals. Here is my photography goal list for 2013:

  • Shoot at least 3 dirt bike / car races
  • Shoot at least 3 team/individual sporting events
  • Submit entries to at least 3 photography competitions
  • Take at least 4 photography trips outside of local area
  • Complete a creative photography challenge every week (more on this below)
  • Blog at least once a week (in addition to the challenge)
  • Search out and shoot hidden portrait locations in town
  • Acquire an external flash unit
  • Become more proficient with external flash, reflectors, and back-lighting portraits
  • Take at least one photography class or seminar

Starting on the first week of January I will be taking part in my own creative photography challenge every week. I (along with some help from my co-workers) came up with 52 challenges to keep my creative juices flowing and sharpen my skills. I randomly re-ordered the challenges, and that is the order in which I will be completing them. The challenges, by week, are as follows:

  1. Green
  2. Emblems
  3. Pets’ Eye View
  4. From the Hip/ No Viewfinder
  5. Night Spotting/ Flashlight
  6. Circles
  7. Emotion – Hope
  8. Squares
  9. Playgrounds
  10. Rust
  11. Bokeh/ Light Streams
  12. Long Exposure – Daylight
  13. Fashion
  14. Emotion – Sadness
  15. Sculptures
  16. Pattern/ Repitition
  17. Bridges
  18. Natural Formations
  19. Converging Shapes/ POV Difference
  20. Tilt-Shift Setups (and edits)
  21. Animal Portraits
  22. Orange
  23. Grave Yards
  24. Shadows
  25. Abstract/ SuperMacro
  26. Star Trails
  27. High Places
  28. Abandoned Spaces
  29. Self Portrait
  30. Macro
  31. Waterfalls
  32. Curves
  33. Farm Equipment
  34. 1-10 (shooting multiples)
  35. Threes
  36. B&W/ High Contrast
  37. Blue
  38. 100 Paces (walk 100 paces – shoot what’s there)
  39. Urban
  40. Faces in Nature
  41. Emotion – Confusion
  42. Yellow
  43. Alphabet Shoot
  44. Lines of Convergence/ Vanishing Point
  45. Reflections
  46. Emotion – Joy
  47. Red
  48. Food
  49. Light Painting
  50. Purple
  51. Technology
  52. Panning

I think I will denote my challenges as #CreativityChallenge. If anyone feels like joining me on my little creative journey, or just following along, that will be the tag that I’ll use, and you can, too.

[I will also be making a blog page on which to put the challenge list and the links to all the corresponding posts.]

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To RAW or not to RAW

In my last post I mentioned that I was going back and forth between shooting in RAW format and regular JPEGs. I’ve read a lot of articles on both sides of the issue. There are some photographers that brush off RAW shooting as only for those that need to constantly correct their pictures in order to get a good image out of it. There are many other (equally as talented) photographers that swear by RAW and never shoot in anything else.

So, what’s the big deal about RAW images that make them so superior? Are they really so much so that they border on cheating? How much CAN you do with a RAW image that you can’t do with a JPEG? Well, first off, my answers all come from a non-Photoshop angle. As much as I would love to be able to have actual Photoshop, the closest I have is ArcSoft PhotoImpression 2000. That’s right a 12 year old, made for Windows 98, Photoshop-esque program. Actually, I LOVE my Photo Impression – so much so that the next editing software I’m getting will be ArcSoft [PhotoStudio, to be specific]. Back on point, all of my comparisons will be based off of what can be done with a RAW or JPEG image OUTSIDE of any Photoshop programs- using just the standard-issue Canon Digital Photo Professional software.

I did a few test shots today, while shooting in my Canon T2i’s RAW+L mode [RAW+JPEG on some brands, I believe]. I took a few over and under exposed pictures and sat down with the laptop to see what I could make of them.

The first shot was a terribly over exposed sunflower. The kind of shot that you would get if you went from a shady spot to direct sun and forgot to adjust your exposure settings [oops!]. As you can see in the original, the pedals are washed out almost to the point that you can’t even distinguish them from the completely sunned-out background.

In the JPEG edit I was able to pull out a little color, enough that you can see the pedals without the center becoming just a black dot. Still no details and the colors are still all washed out. ->fail.

With the RAW image I clicked on my new friend ‘linear’ under the brightness and contrast sliders. A few minor adjustments and I had a detailed, well-exposed image that I actually kind of like. [side note: when you first click ‘linear’ on a picture it will usually make it super dark with a ton of contrast until you adjust the exposure area in the box above]

Next up was a dark pink rose that was really blown out.

Editing in JPEG was rendered pretty much useless. Again I got some of the color back, but that was about it.

The RAW version came through with flying colors, even grabbing the details in the dew drops on the petals and the veins on the leaves.

The next shot was a just slightly over exposed rose [think: sun just peeked out from behind a cloud]. Nothing majorly wrong, but it could use some help with color tone and some blown out highlights.

The JPEG edit didn’t turn out bad, the leaves are darker green and the rose is nice and pink. Still not very much contrast, but it’s an alright shot.

The RAW edit, however, came out wonderful. The leaves don’t have that yellow-ish hue that the JPEG image does and the flower is the nice deep pink that it should be.

On the other side of the spectrum, I took an under exposed picture of some lamb’s ear. Again, nothing majorly wrong, but it’s missing out on some highlights and the shadows are pretty dark.

Editing the JPEG brought up the highlights, but also washed out some of the nice deep green color in the mid-range.

Using the RAW image I was able to bring out more highlights and at the same time keep the darker shadows and the richness of the color and leaf detail.

My final comparison was more of an afterthought, so it is one of the pictures that I took a couple weeks ago of a corn field. It’s a picture that I already liked a lot, so I was curious as to what more I could do with it.

I edited the JPEG copy and brought out the golden tone that the fields have and got a little more shadow detail to come through, too.

The RAW version captured more of the golden hue that I was looking for, thanks to being able to adjust the white balance from the original shot. I also got a bit more shadow detail from it. The only downside to this one was that the blue sky faded a bit from the white balance adjustment.

I personally love the RAW format for what you can do with it. Almost every time I switch from RAW back to JPEG I miss some great shot that I could’ve saved with some clicking and sliding. The only real disadvantages that I see with it are time and space. It takes milliseconds longer to shoot in RAW and if you’re shooting in burst mode some lower performance cards struggle to keep up and can give you 10 seconds or so of unusable lag time after a 4-5 shot burst. You also need a bigger card for the larger RAW files [I run a 16 or 32gb all the time, so it’s not an issue no matter what mode I shoot in]. Once you are done shooting the files you are putting on your computer are larger and therefor take longer to copy [2 minutes instead of 20 seconds], and for all intents and purposes you have to convert them before you can share/upload/archive them, which takes a few minutes. Also you need more storage space on your hard drive if you are going to keep the original files. I only keep the RAW files for the pictures that I really like and think are worth keeping extra data on.

My opinion is this- If you are a purest, if you Never edit your pictures, if you delete any pictures that aren’t perfect from the beginning, or if you are really crunched for time when going through your latest batch of shots, then go on ahead and keep just shooting in JPEG mode. It’s just fine for most scenarios IF you get all your settings exact the first time. Otherwise, go for RAW. It’s more adaptable, more fixable, and overall, less prone to screw you over if you don’t have your settings exactly right when the million dollar photograph shows up in front of your lens.

So yay for RAW and yay for photographers in the 21st century who aren’t afraid to admit that we’re not perfect and who love the tools that we have available to help us capture our world just a little better.

[Edit: Since originally writing this post I have gotten a class 10 sd card to use. Even with this card I get at least 4 seconds of processing time after shooting an 8 shot burst sequence. I find that if you are at an event where you will be shooting burst mode mostly or entirely [ex: horse races] then shooting in JPEG is the way to go. There is almost no lag time with even a mid-class card and therefore I would say the benefits of immediate recovery outweigh the lack of adaptability that you come across. ]

Have you had any RAW experiences? What do YOU think of the RAW format?

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Soon there will be action!

Action pictures, that is! I’ve been a bad blogger and haven’t been posting as often as I would like. I’ve also been a bad photographer and have not been shooting as much as I would like, especially action photos, which are the field that I really want to pursue. Well, in the next two weeks there will be no less than two action events that I will be going to and photographing.

Tuesday, August 21, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge  will be coming here to beautiful Montrose, Colorado to start leg number two of the race series. 16 of the top cycling teams in the world will be racing nearly 100 miles to Crested Butte. I have my spots all picked out and, with some very careful planning on my part, I will get to be there for a portion of the ‘parade lap’ that they are running just prior to the start of the race AND another portion of the race that runs through a spectacularly scenic stretch of road. I’m Excited!

The other ‘big event’ is our annual dirtbikers’ camping extravaganza on Labor Day weekend. There will be lots and lots of dirtbiking and other miscellaneous activities over the weekend and I actually managed to get Labor Day off this year, so I will be there to witness more of it than I have gotten to in a few years.

So be on the lookout for more fun and exciting SuzyTBo pictures flooding your reader feed (because you’re following already, right?!?)

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Just the Beginning!

Thanks for visiting the SuzyTBo Photography Blog!

Check back regularly for the latest and greatest – and the older stuff – as I work on getting this venture up and running and up to date!

If you are interested in getting any prints of the pictures on my site just write to me at SuzyTBo@gmail.com and we can discuss sizes and available options.

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