Archive for the 'HDR Photography' CategoryPage 2 of 6

Why You NEED the Zone System for Digital…

And How it Can Change Your Life in 15 Minutes.

by Gavin Seim: Original article from Gavin’s f164 journal. (updated 11/15/11).

This may be the most valuable piece I’ve written on photography. In the last year, I’ve started working with 4×5 film and digital side by side. I’ve also explored extensive exercises in tonal control, truly learned to visualize, and implemented key parts of the Zone System that was developed by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer, both in my film and my digital work, in color and black and white.

The idea of visualizing and using Zones is not promoted heavily today. It seems much of the industry, including many of its educators, arrived at digital and decided that the past 150 years of photographic knowledge were somewhat irrelevant. What I’m about to show you is not taught much, but understanding it WILL change your photography forever. I’m not kidding; once you get this, you’ll never see light the same way again. And I hope you’ll share it with others.

Sunsets Hidden Falls. Yosemite, 2010 - A general look at where I placed the scene elements in relation to the Zones. Each arrow leads to what I see as the zone on the scale.

I’m going to stay simple because these concepts are essentially simple. I have not come up with a new digital based zone system, a stripped down version, or an article full of nerdy equations, white papers, or complex systems. This is not hard, and you can start putting it to use TODAY for film or digital. Since most of us are in the digital world, I’ll focus on that. I’m going to show you how to use the core of the Zone System to make you a vastly better photographer. I’ve also brought along some examples for analyzing the Zones.

To those of you who already know this, kudos. But I challenge you to review and analyze whether you’re really using it, or just buzzing along in digital bliss and fixing things later. Excuse my bluntness, but this is happening to the best of us. We need to get back to basics, visualize, control tone, dynamic range, and image quality.

Originally, the Zone System was a complete approach that included everything from the initial exposure to the final print. Now we don’t use darkrooms much these days, so I’ll focus on the pivot point of the Zone System: the Zones themselves. That said, I would encourage you to study the whole process even if you don’t use film. It will help you gain a better understanding of light and photography. Not only that, but old books like Fred Picker’s Zone VI workshop, deal with it quickly and effectively and can often be had for mere pennies.

1. The Zone Scale.

The Zone Scale lies at the core of the Zone System. It consists of eleven squares that span from clipped black (Zone 0) to clipped white (Zone X). Each square represents a change of one stop. The first part of using Zones starts before you release the shutter. Truly visualizing your image is like nothing else. Once you master it, you see the image you plan to make, including your edits and refinements, in your mind before you ever take the photo. It changes everything about how you photograph and how refined the resulting images become.

Brilliantly simple, the Zone scale allows us to visualize all our light from complete black to complete white in one stop increments.

To begin, look at your scene. What’s outside your window right now? Visualize what zones in which the things around you fall. Then imagine you’re taking a photo. Imagine where the zones would be if the image came out exactly as you wanted. It does not have to be what you “see” but what you “visualize” for the finished image. How do YOU want to make it?

Think about what Zone levels on various objects in this scene would most complement your main subject as well as your supporting cast of elements. Sometimes it helps to begin by trying to visualize a scene in black and white, even if your final image is going to be color. Thinking in terms of only tones can be helpful, especially early on in the process.

Continue reading ‘Why You NEED the Zone System for Digital…’

A New HDR Video Training Workshop.

I don’t post here for every Seim Effects product I come out with, but I have something new today that I’m pretty excited about. HDR and dynamic range is something I became passionate about years ago. Since then it’s become more than a “look”. It’s become a way for me to better understand and manage light on every level. I think mastering dynamic range is an everyday essential for the serious photographer. It goes deep.

People had been asking for a recorded segment on HDR for years now. And I’ve finally got a collection finished. Enter, HDR Magic. But it’s more than Basic HDR. Over 2 hours of fully downloadable HD videos where I show you how I make HDR images and manage dynamic range on more subtle levels. This is the 2nd of my video training collections (the first is Cloning Magic). I love live workshops, but there’s something to be said for watching a workshop whenever you like.

There’s lots more info on Seim Effects if you’re interested. Of course as always, you readers can use code PPS to save 15%. Head over to the HDR page for all the details and and the first video. Hope you enjoy them… Gav

Pro Photo Podcast #75, Lots of photo tips. And other stuff.

Click To Listen>>

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Review in iTunesVote on Podcast AlleyDirect Podcast Feed

Today’s Panel... Gavin SeimDenns ZerwasEric GuggenheimMark Teskey.

On this roundtable we discuss a lot of tips and mistakes to avoid from various genres of photography. We also get into some news, industry and business talk and more.

Podcast #75 forum discussion:

Notable Time Indexes:

  • 00:00 Introductions, micro 4/3 stuff and other news.
  • 21:25 Workshops announcements.
  • 26:17 Techniques for different situations. Architecture.
  • 35:09 Techniques for different situations. Outdoors.
  • 53:15  Techniques for different situations. Weddings.
  • 1:00:50. More tips on photography. Avoiding mistakes.
  • 1:20:40 Marketing. Things on our mind about the industry.
  • 1:37:15 Announcing Pro Photo Show LIVE.
  • 1:42:14. After show. Random things.

Links to things we mentioned.

Info on live show. Post coming soon with details. I’ll add a link.

Lights & Shadows. HDR and tone workshop. Coming to CA in April.

LR Power, Lightroom workshop. Coming to CA in April.

The new Fuji X100 rangefinder style.

It goes head to head with the Leica X1.

Some other interesting models.

Ricoh GXR,

Sigma DP2.

Continue reading ‘Pro Photo Podcast #75, Lots of photo tips. And other stuff.’

See you in California for Spring 2011 workshops.

by Gavin Seim. So I’ve planned another road trip, along with Spring workshops. I’m hitting the road early April with my little family and heading to SF area for two workshops in Oakland. I’m stoked. We plan to spend about a month on the road in the RV. After the workshops, we may head up towards the Grand Canyon as I hunt for stock and landscape images, then who knows. Here’s the workshop lineup. I hope you’ll help me spread the word and I hope to see you there.

April 16-17 is  my Lights and Shadows workshop. This is a fresh 2 day event that covers HDR and beyond. It’s an intimate workshop limited to about 20 people. We’ll be doing work in the field and editing back at the home base. More info here. There’s also a Facebook event page.

On April 18th is the Lightroom Power workshop. This has something for everyone. We’ll cover basics, but also get deep into power user stuff. It’s another fun hands on workshop, so bring your laptops with LR and prepare to think differently about your editing. More info here, and the Facebook event page here.

I’m also working on setting up something for Fresno. Still working on the details of that, but stay tuned to this post or the Seim Effects FB page for details. I’ll also update the workshop pages if a new location is added. Hope to see some of you there… Gav

Pro Photo Podcast #74 – Crazy Awesome Image Quality

Click To Listen>>

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Review in iTunesVote on Podcast AlleyDirect Podcast Feed

Today’s Host... Gavin Seim.

Today we’re going in depth on digital quality and the Six Keys to Image Quality. Gavin discusses what he’s learned about getting down and getting the best image quality possible from digital files.

Gav with the new printer. The image links to the post about it.

Podcast #74 forum discussion:

Notable Time Indexes:

  • 00:00 Introduction. The Challenge
  • 07:05 The Six Keys to Quality.
  • 26:07 Editing Process in depth.
  • 29:18 Film resolution thoughts. More process.
  • 49:05 Thoughts on cameras, sensors & lenses.
  • 51:23 The new printer. Canon IPF8300.
  • 56:52 Picks of the week (links below)
  • 59:20 Coming workshops and closing thoughts.
  • 1:04:32 The after show.

NOTE: The Pro Photo Show Christmas contest winners will be announced soon. Stay tuned.

The Six Keys to Getting Great Image Quality.

The Fuji X100 looks really good.

A look at RAW vs JPEG.

File degradation article.

Continue reading ‘Pro Photo Podcast #74 – Crazy Awesome Image Quality’

HDR. The new film. Not that overused fad from the 2000’s

by Gavin Seim (updated 07/11): HDR simply means High Dynamic Range. But lets face it. A lot of this HDR looks a lot like clippings from a spoof horror movie. It’s the Flickr HDR. I think this happens because many don’t really grasp what HDR is all about and how to use it well. This includes many HDR software developers. They fall for the fad instead of thinking of it as a serious photographic tool. It’s can be so powerful if used with balance.

Tufa Sunrise. Single bracket HDR pano. More details here.

Back in the day there was film. Then came digital. Then came HDR. First we merged light and dark images in special ways to get a wider range of light. HDR merging was not perfect and was often overdone, but it could produce beautiful results. Often results that looked edgy and bold. Young guys like me thought we were so cool. Capturing detail that was never seen before.

Then I started looking closer. Studying what the film forefathers had been making for years. Looking at the dynamic range and detail. I realized that HDR was really not so new. Film photography had high dynamic range also and I saw images that astounded me. Images, that had I not been told they were on traditional film, I would have assumed were digital HDR. It helped me realize something.

HDR is not a trend of over-processed, super amped, ultra edgy photos. I think many architectural photographers got this memo, but most others didn’t. I’ve talked about balance in HDR processing for some time, but what I’ve come to further realize and started teaching in Lights & Shadows Workshop is that HDR is about controlling tone. It’s about understand and managing light. Digital in itself does not yet have the dynamic range that film did, so we compensate. Just as a film photographer might have used filters, various film types and chemical process to get dynamic range in their images, we use digital manipulation. HDR photography is little more than the new film. Continue reading ‘HDR. The new film. Not that overused fad from the 2000’s’