Happy New Year: The Earthbound Light Best of 2011
As we begin 2012 I'd like to take the opportunity to look back on the year that just ended. I've been publishing weekly articles here at Earthbound Light for more than a decade and I'm truly thankful for your continued support. After reviewing my web server logs for 2011 I herewith present the top ten Phototips articles for the year as determined by your browsing habits.
#10: Options for Focus Stacking Software
Optical lenses have a limited depth of field that gets even more limited at high magnification. Digital image editing has provided a solution by allowing a series of traditional images shot at different focus distances to be merged in software to create a composite far exceeding the depth of field possible any other way. Adobe Photoshop can do it as can a number of applications from other companies. Based on grinding through the Earthbound Light web server logs the tenth most popular article of the year was this one reviewing some of those programs.
#9: Sharpening in Adobe Lightroom 3
Appropriately sharpening a digital image without overdoing it can be an elusive goal for some. There are countless third party vendors out to get you to spend money on their sharpening programs. You don't really need to though since Adobe takes sharpening seriously too. I've written more than one article about sharpening in Photoshop but hadn't addressed the topic in Adobe Lightroom until this article was published this past June. Your browser clicks made it the ninth most popular article of 2011.
#8: Wherever You Go, There You Are
A truer statement would be hard to come by. But this obvious fact often goes unnoticed by those trying to overcome a creative block. Letting go of your preconceptions can be considered a requirement for truly seeing what is front of you anew. This article had its genesis in a conversation I had early this past spring with a friend about their particular situation but it seems to have struck a chord with many readers as well.
#7: What the Heck is Metamerism?
You print out one of your favorite images and hang it on your wall. As soon as you do, you notice that the colors under the light in your living room don't look at all the same as they did when you printed it. And worse yet, not all the colors seem to have shifted uniformly. Welcome to metamerism. Ink manufacturers have done a lot over the years to diminish the problem but it still crops up sometimes. This popular article describes what causes metamerism and also what you can do to help solve it.
#6: Gamut Warnings and What to Do About Them
One way in which not all color spaces are created equal is the range of colors (or "gamut") each is capable of describing. This means that the colors you see on your monitor might not even be possible on your printer. Color management helps you to render colors accurately, but what if a color can't even be rendered? Such "out of gamut" colors can indeed be problematic. Photoshop can deal with the situation automatically but you may not always like what it does. This popular November article outlines strategies for taking matters into your own hands.
#5: Blending Modes for Photographers
Photoshop uses "blending modes" to control how one layer combines with what is underneath it. The default blending mode is known as "Normal" but there's no reason why you always have to be normal, if you know what I mean. This popular article provided an overview of how you can use blending modes as a tool for optimizing your images.
#4: Photomatix Pro 4 vs. Nik HDR Efex Pro vs. Oloneo PhotoEngine Beta
High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging is quite popular these days but not everyone is trying to achieve the same thing by using it. It's easy to produce that "hyper real," overly saturated HDR look with any number of programs, but it's much harder to create natural, realistic HDR images. This article is a rundown of some of the available HDR applications and how they fare for those of us interested in more than pop-art. SNS-HDR is another program I wrote about shortly after this that also does a great job. The article about it just barely missed being in the top 10 this year.
#3: Learning to Drive Your Camera
Photography is a creative pursuit that entails the use of tools and techniques requiring practice to become proficient at. The goal is for the use of camera and lens to become second nature so you can focus on making images rather than where a certain control is or which direction to turn a certain knob. In this way, the learning process has a similarity to learning how to drive a car. And just as with learning to drive it's best to practice before the pressure is on. Fumbling with your camera controls while the most gorgeous sunrise you've ever seen fades rapidly before you may not be as bad as trying to learn to drive in heavy traffic, but they can both made easier by some practice before hand. This analogy struck a chord with readers who collectively rated it the third most popular article of 2011 based on their collective web browser traffic.
#2: Adobe Plans to Rebrand, Repackage Photoshop and Lightroom
April Fools Day comes annually but always catches some off guard. I've written a tongue in cheek article in honor of this holiday for a few years now that have each been quite popular. The 2011 installment spread a rumor about Adobe's plans for the next version of Photoshop and Lightroom. Adobe has indeed done some crazy things over the years that I merely embellished and exaggerated until the net effect strained at the fabric of believability enough to give most readers pause for thought. Not all though since at least some fell for it at first. OK, some may think me evil, but I have fun with this. Apparently many of you enjoyed it too, or were perhaps taken in by it, to make this the second most popular article of the year.
#1: Seeing Beyond the Apparent
If you think you know what you are looking at you have already limited what it could be. Sometimes it's not important what something actually is when you are photographing it. The camera and lens are creative tools that allow you to isolate aspects of reality and render them in ways not apparent to the casual observer. This most popular article of 2011 serves basically as an invitation to move beyond "goal oriented" photography into an open, playful exploration of abstract possibilities.
Well there you have it. If you've already read all of these, thanks. If not, click through and give them a read if I've spurred your curiosity. Either way, here's to wishing you the best in 2012.