The State of Cameras

Photography is a very technical, and technology-driven pursuit. Camera makers continue to try to outdo each other with various improvements in features and functionality and tout these in big, bold headlines. But are these improvements really beneficial or just bleeding edge incrementalism that is intended to get the ‘photo press’ all agog and photographers to part with money? Continue reading

The RAW Goods – Nokia 1020 Raw Capture

If you read my write-up on the camera in the Nokia 1020 from back in November, you’ll know that I found a number of shortcomings with it.  At that time, I noted that there would be a firmware update coming that would give RAW capture to the phone in the form of DNG.  It was called the Lumia Black update. Continue reading

Image Blending With Luminance Masks

In a recent article we looked at using luminance and density masks as a tool for sharpening images.  Today we’re going to look at using luminance masks as a tool for blending images to extend dynamic range.  It’s a very slick trick and much easier than manual blending using layer masks and painting in the image. Continue reading

Lions and Tigers and Bit Depth….. Oh My

This will be just a quickie today. There’s a lot of confusion in digital photography circles about the terms Dynamic Range and Bit Depth and how they’re related. Some think that they’re completely interconnected. They’re not. It gets even more confusing when HDR is brought into the mix. Let’s try to clarify. Continue reading

HDR Software Review Series Pt VII – HDR Darkroom

HDR Darkroom is another relative newcomer to the HDR software scene. I say relative newcomer because it came to market after many of the well known apps like Photomatix, Dynamic Photo HDR and FDRTools.  I only became aware of it in the last couple months and decided to add it to the growing list of software apps in this series.

I should state upfront that after sending some questions to the folks who produce HDR Darkroom, they’ve provided me with a full version (sans watermark) and in return, I’m going to provide them with some samples to use on their web gallery at no cost.

Unlike many of the other applications coming out on the market, HDRDR is ‘just’ an HDR application.  It’s not trying to be all things to all people, which is a plus in my book.  They’re concentrating on one thing with HDRDR and concentrating on doing it well.  32 bit files can be saved either as Radiance (.hdr) or OpenEXR (.exr).  When saving JPEG files, there are no quality options.  The file is saved at full size and full quality.  Personally, I prefer this.

On opening the program, the GUI is clean and simple with a menu bar at the top and menu icons down the left.  This allows you to use whatever method you’re comfortable with to work.  Positioning your mouse over an icon brings up a description of what it is so you’re not working blind if you use the icons. Continue reading

HDR Software Review Pt IV – Artizen HDR

After three weeks without a proper monitor courtesy of Dell and their poor customer/warranty service, I’m finally back up and running, caught up on the work that got behind and ready to dive back into the HDR app. review series. In this instalment Artizen HDR from Supporting Computers.  One note before continuing:  In the introductory post to this series, I commented on my dislike of the practice some of these app developers have of watermarking finished images.  Well, Artizen does that but goes one step further.  If you’re working with a trial, you’ll get screen that pops up on a regular basis asking if you’re ready to buy the software now.  This is incredibly annoying and were I in the market for an HDR app would completely turn me off buying it.

I first became aware of Artizen a few years ago.  At the time, the concept was interesting.  An HDR application but also a fairly fully featured photo editing suite.  Checked it out back then and while it was interesting, it really wasn’t ready for prime time.  The HDR part of the software wasn’t as good as other options available and in terms of an editing package, Photoshop Elements or Paint Shop Pro were superior.

Fast forward a few years and not a lot has changed, unfortunately.  Downloaded the latest trial of the software and the GUI looks basically the same as it did back then.  The GUI looks deceptively appealing – nice dark grey backgrounds, colour swatch on the right, various editing icons on the left but once you delve into it, it’s not as attractive as it first appears. Continue reading