A project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this site shows you a bird and asks you questions for identification. By so doing, Merlin begins to “learn” what people need to know. To build Merlin, Cornell Lab needs to know how thousands of people remember and describe birds.
Canon returned my 100m-400m lens this past Friday, which it repaired under its warranty, shipping it via standard overnight delivery–all at no cost to me. I sent the lens to them via ground on the Friday two weeks prior. It turned out that the image stabilization was not working properly. They repaired the unit, and checked and cleaned the rest of its inners. I’ve had a chance to use it and it now seems to be working fine. Bravo Canon!
It seems I’ve run into a problem with the 100–400mm lens that I purchased this past June. The image in the viewfinder began jumping around when I pressed the shutter button half-way—often this would continue even after shutter release. I contacted Canon’s customer service. Based on my description of the problem they suspected the image stabilization had failed. I sent the lens to their service center and they accepted the lens under warranty. I hope to have it back in about another week. I’ll let you know how the process went, as well as how the lens works when I get it back into the field.
I haven’t quite understood why Lightroom will let you use FTP to send images directly to other sites, but not their own Photoshop on-line gallery. At long last, Photoshop.com recently announced that it has a plug-in available that will do just that–all in one step. Now, instead of having to export from Lightroom, then go Photoshop.com to perform the upload, then relabel the photos as I did in Lightroom, these can all be done automatically with the Lightroom Publish Plug-in.
I had the same problem getting my images from Lightroom to this blog at WordPress.com. Voila! Now there’s LR/Blog (http://www.photographers-toolbox.com/products/lrblog.php). Now I can just export from my images from the Lightroom Library to WordPress.com. In fact, I have the option to include a post at the same time. These two Plug-ins increase my production workflow significantly.
At this point I’ve established my two photography web sites–at WordPress and Photoshop (and more or less understand them)–and I now have the basic equipment I need for my photography.
I’ll begin posting to my blog on a weekly basis on Fridays by 5PM. Most of the topics from this point forward will focus on my field trips, and background about my subjects.
I’ve been using Canon’s f/4.5-5.6 L USM IS lens since June and I must say I’m very happy with it. It certainly takes time to learn since I have no super-telephoto experience. It’s heavy; with the camera it weights about 5 pounds. Nevertheless, even with my slender build, a 3 or 4 hour foray into the field doesn’t seem to pose neck strain, though tripod breaks definitely help.
Although the USM autofocus is very quick, it’s not so effective when photographing birds where there are often leaves or branches in front of or behind the subject, often resulting in an out-of-focus bird. Manual focus seems to be the better alternative under these conditions. When extended to greater magnification, the image stabilization feature helps but you really need to brace the camera against something solid if you’re shooting at less than 1/800 of a second, otherwise the image will not be sharp. As always, it’s important to know your subject so you can be in position with the necessary camera settings to get the best shots. (More photos at: http://sfielding.photoshop.com)
I now have just one more class to complete in terms of learning everything there is to know about using Lightroom (well, at least enough to establish a consistent workflow). Much of what I’ve learned is based on Nat Coalson’s, “Streaming your digital photography process.” This process starts by switching your raw or dng files to black & white to make your histogram and tonal adjustments before returning to color. Thereafter, you make color adjustments before proceeding to any touch-ups. These completed, final adjustments to sharpening and preparation for printing conclude the development process. Obviously, I’ve compressed a lot into a couple of sentences.
Before I started this course I felt as though I was awash in a sea of software alternatives. Now I have a workflow (which I can adjust, as necessary) and I have a technical understanding of all the Lightroom tools at my disposal. I heartily recommend anyone venturing into digital photo software to take a class, or at least get a text-book that provides clear explanations for novices. Do avoid overly technical texts–there’s not much value added, in my opinion.
Next up, I ordered the Canon f4.5-5.5 100-400mm L USM IS super telephoto lens. I’ll let you know how this learning process goes in upcoming posts.
I don’t know about those of you who are new to digital photography, but I find that just learning to use photo software isn’t enough to get the best possible images. Although I know how to manipulate most of the software menus, I end up making a lot of adjustments through trial and error, which takes more time than I want to spend with less than ideal results.
So, last night I began a Lightroom class. As the late W. Edward Deming (a continuous quality expert) would put it, I’m addressing the weakest point in my image production process. For those who don’t know, Lightroom is an Adobe product that integrates with their Photoshop line. However, Lightroom is designed more for organizing and developing photos according to a more intuitive workflow process, whereas Photoshop focuses more on special effects. Lightroom also has the advantage of not making any destructive changes to your raw or compressed files.
Here’s to better images!