Nick Dewar – Early 1970s

Nick Dewar - Early 1970s

Nick Dewar – Early 1970s

This is a portrait of the late son of some dear friends from my days in Scotland. It brings back some wonderful memories from my time in Scotland. Nick was drawing on his mother’s hand that afternoon, if you look closely you can see a face in her palm. The special part is that he went on to become a very accomplished illustrator like his dad. He called me Fotographie because I always seemed to have a camera. Sadly he passed away much too young, you can view some of his work here Click to view a little larger…

Leonard Cohen – 1970s

Leonard Cohen No.1

Leonard Cohen No.1 – Early 1970s

A long, long time ago a Scottish friend introduced me to the music of Leonard Cohen and we went to see him in concert in Edinburgh, Scotland. Back then you could take your camera and walk right up to the stage and take photographs…things have changed a bit since then. For some reason I felt the need to revisit my film archives and scan a few of the images from way back in the film days…don’t even begin to ask what camera, film or lens combination I used, NOT a clue.


Leonard Cohen No. 2 – Early 1970s

Leonard Cohen No.3

Leonard Cohen No.3 – Early 1970s

CS5 HDR – St Mary & St Finnian

St Mary & St Finnian Church

St Mary & St Finnian Church - CS5 HDR

Well I made the jump to CS5 after having skipped CS4, just don’t see the need to do the upgrade thing for every version. I read a lot about the improved HDR in CS5 and wanted to see if it lived up to the hype…soooo here’s my first experiment with HDR in CS5.

I have to say that it’s not too shabby, to steal one of Tony Sweet’s lines. The reduced noise and the ability to select one image for ghost removal worked pretty good. The tone mapping will take some time to get use to what the sliders do. This is NOT a review of the new HDR features in CS5, just some of my initial observations.

The image above is a 5 image HDR, using 1 stop EV with a D700 and a 24-70mm lens. I tonemapped in CS5 and did a lot of additional processing in CS5. Some processing included, Nik Color Efex Pro plug-in filters, Nik’s Viveza, Topaz Adjust and Simplify and the sky was dropped back in without any of the above filters and worked separately.

Click on image to view larger…

This is an image of St. Mary & St. Finnian Church along the Road to the Isles in Scotland. Somewhere I would surely like to visit again…we’ll see.

Loch Ness at Dores, Scotland

Loch Ness at Dores No 1

Loch Ness at Dores No 1 - D700, 24-70

Going over some images from our Scotland trip I found these HDR black and white images I forgot to post. We were looking for a place to get down by the loch for a special request from a certain family member. As we were getting ready to leave the hotel in Inverness we ran into the hotel manager and asked him where we could get down to the water. He gave us some great directions and pointed us to Dores. Both of these were shot down by the boat launch area. A Frenchman was in his van getting ready to take his kayak out. It was a bit breezy and there was a chill coming off the water. Not the kind of day I would like to go kayaking alone…

Loch Ness at Dores No 2

Loch Ness at Dores No 2 - D700, 24-70

I can still feel the chill coming off the water…

Glen Coe Panorama

Glen Coe Panorama

Glen Coe Panorama - AutoPano Pro - D700 - Click to view larger

I was going over some of the photos I took in Scotland and was disappointed that I didn’t have more time and better weather when we passed through Glen Coe. The scenery was spectacular to say the least but 70 mph wind gusts and driving rain did NOT make for fun photography. I did manage to grab some shots in spite of the weather and this one is the subject of this post. No, it’s not a spectacular iconic landscape shot but given the circumstances it definitely DOES reflect the kind of day that it was.

I shot three quick, and I do mean quick, hand held shots between the rain storms at the Glen Coe Visitors Center, trying to overlap the shots by about 50%. I knew it would be a challenge to stitch these being that I didn’t have a pano head or tripod at the time. My D700 with a 24-70mm lens set at 24mm @ f/8, 1/90 sec and ISO 800 are the image details. Here’s the files I had to work with:







Having tried to stitch these images together in a few different programs that I use for stitching and  NOT getting the results I wanted, I gave AutoPano Pro by Kolor a try. Having seen the AutoPano Pro stitching program before and reading many good reviews I download a demo to see if it would do a better job of stitching. Well I ended up buying a license for it and it is NOW my GO TO stitching program. Fast, easy to use, plenty of control and does a better job than anything I have tried.

Yes, I have used Photoshop Photomerge and it does work sometimes but you don’t get any real control with it if it doesn’t stitch correctly.

Yes, I have used PTgui and Panorama Factory, both good programs and both do good jobs most of the time. I’m just saying that I found the AutoPano Pro program to be better.

Here is a enlarged detail from the final pano, like I said nothing iconic or spectacular but sure does bring back memories from our trip! AND I NOW have a NEW, BETTER stitching program…

Glen Coe Pano Detail

Glen Coe Pano - Detail about 25% of final

Tony Sweet Soft-Ray Filter

Kitchen Still Life - Tony Sweet Soft-Ray - D700, 24-70

Kitchen Still Life - Tony Sweet Soft-Ray - D700, 24-70

I was reading a great post yesterday by John Barclay illustrating the use of the Tony Sweet Soft-Ray filter made by Singh-Ray. You should take a look at his wonderful image here along with the rest of his work. As I was processing some of my images from our Scotland trip I came across this image using the Soft-Ray filter. I thought this image also illustrates what can be done with this filter soooooo I’m posting it here.

This was shot at ISO 1600 at f13, I think I was just doing some quick sketching with the camera at the time, anyway that’s my explanation for ISO 1600. With the D700 it really didn’t do much damage to the file. The noise that was there could be easily removed with noise reduction software. No way I know of to get this same glowing look in post production.

This was shot at our friends home in Crail, Scotland and yes that was, at one time, an official government sign.

Stairwell Still Life

Stairwell Still Life - D700, 24-70mm

Stairwell Still Life – D700, 24-70mm

Continuing with the Scottish window theme from yesterday…this is from our friends house in Crail. Bob is an free lance illustrator, quite good I might add, so throughout their home were lots of still life vignettes. This was in the stair well going to the second floor. I could have just stayed in the house and shot still life’s for days….

Cottage Window in Crail

Cottage Window Crail, Color - D700, 24-70mm

Cottage Window, Crail, Color - D700, 24-70mm

This is the kitchen window at our friends home in Crail, if you think you see a pair of eyes in the window, you’re right. It’s one of the family cats, the  BLACK one of course. Processed this with Topaz Simplify and Topaz Detail. Also added the edge effect with Nik Color Efex Pro, Vignette filter. For all you black and white fans, here’s a version using Nik Silver Effects Pro. I can’t decide which one I like best?

Post Updated: As requested by Betsy, I have added a soft focus effect to this image.  I didn’t add a lot of softness to the image because it won’t show very well in this small version. Also just for Betsy a enlarged detail of the window with the cat…

Cottage Window, Crail - Softer Version

Cottage Window, Crail - Softer Version

Crail Cottage Window - Enlarged Detail

Cottage Window, Crail - Enlarged Detail

Cottage Window, Crail B+W - D700, 24-70mm

Cottage Window, Crail, B+W - D700, 24-70mm