Back to the Future

Back to the Future

Originally uploaded by hawridger.

I’ve said before that I’m a sucker for these shots. That’s partly because I love taking them. This is my latest from several I took last Saturday night.

I used my Rebel XT mounted on a tripod in the rear floorboard of my Honda Accord. I anchored the tripod by hanging a bag from the center and then seat-belted the tripod with the center belt. I used my Canon RC-1 remote and set the exposure to: 10 sec @ f/16; ISO 100.

Initial adjustments and crop of RAW file in Lightroom and added some saturation and then a color burn layer and mask in Photoshop.

[tags]cars, light, photo, shutter, priority, long exposure, rebel xt, remote, howto, how to, setup[/tags]

The Mystery Behind Color Spaces: Adobe RGB vs. sRGB

Talk about frustration. I first learned the significance of using color spaces the hard way – lots of bad prints. The worst part of it all was that the local photo lab I was using at the time didn’t either recognize and/or understand what the problem was. They blamed the problem on monitor calibration. That wasn’t the problem though.

See, when I took my digital files in on a disc or uploaded them to the store, they looked washed out and dull – nothing at all like the brilliant colors I saw on my monitor. So, I changed photo labs – same problem. Then, one day, I found the answer – I was submitting my prints in Adobe RGB color space rather the sRGB colorspace. After I switched to using sRGB exclusively I never got the washed out look on my prints again. Wonder why?

What is a Color Space?
I’ll admit, I don’t understand all the technical bits of what a color space is. If you’re into that kind of thing and want to know more, I’d say have a look at Wikipedia’s entry on color space. That said, if you think you can put the explanation into a short paragraph of plain english that I can understand, please post it for everyone’s benefit.

I’ll try to explain how I see this color space concept. There’s a lot of colors in the world around us. My camera sees a lot of them, but not all. Depending on the color space that I choose (either in camera or in my editing software) I’ll have more or less of these colors to display. sRGB is the standard set of colors that are used on the internet. You can thank Microsoft and HP for this. There’s only so many different values of Red, Green, and Blues (and combinations thereof) that we get on websites – because sRGB is the standard and that’s what web browsers use to see color. I suppose the simplest way to say it is that a color space is a defined set or range of colors.

About the Adobe RGB Color Space
Simply put, Adobe RGB has a bigger range of colors that sRGB. Adobe RGB was designed and implemented by (no surprise here) Adobe Systems, Inc. It was designed to help you get more color out of your inkjet printers that use a much bigger color space than sRGB. Particularly, Adobe RGB consists of a much wider range of greens and cyans (green-blue). So, we’re now clear on the fact that Adobe RGB gives photographers more color to work with. Sounds like a no brainer. Let’s go on to sRGB though.

What Adobe RGB color space looks like:

About the sRGB Color Space
sRGB, as noted above, gives us a smaller range of colors than Adobe RGB; however, don’t forget that it is the Internet standard (thanks Microsoft and HP). If you’re looking at pictures on the web via your web browser and they look nice and colorful, then you can bet it’s in sRGB color space.

What sRGB color space looks like:

More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that sRGB is what most photo labs use today. You name it, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Wolf Camera, Ritz, and Target all use the sRGB color space to print your photos. Online labs like Kodak, York, and Snapfish, among others use the sRGB color space. Even labs that market themselves as “pro” labs such as Mpix or Myphotopipe (which I use and love) use the sRGB color space to process your prints.

Which One Should I Use?
It depends. This isn’t too hard to figure out though.

If you print your own photos and you want every ounce of color that you get out of your photo, then learn to use Adobe RGB. I can’t really tell you all that you need to know. Take a look at some of the resources that I’ve linked to in this post. Feel free to educate the rest of us on it if you know how to do it. Note that there are a few photo labs that will accomodate the Adobe RGB color space. Consider, for example. Printroom will accept whatever color space you send them, including Adobe RGB. They don’t say that they’ll print your Adobe RGB color space but they will “use the color information in your image file to convert it to the color space of the printer used to print the particular size-paper combination specified in the order. As a result, the images are printed exactly how you see them on your calibrated monitor in a “color aware” program like Adobe Photoshop.” That’s better service than you get from most online labs. If anyone is aware of other labs that accomodate Adobe RGB, please let me know.

If, like me, you take your photos, make a couple of edits here and there and either upload them onto the web at a place like SmugMug or print them out locally or online at a site like, then you now know that you should be using sRGB from start to finish. Likewise, if you go the path of Adobe RGB, you’ll need to convert those images to sRGB before you decide to upload and share them on the web.

Additional Sources to Learn More
sRGB vs. Adobe RGB from Cambridge in Colour
Dry Creek Photo: Introduction to Color Spaces
Color Space Fundamentals
Wikipedia – Adobe RGB
Wikipedia – sRGB – Adobe RGB
Nature Photographers Online Magazine: Beyond Adobe RGB
Microsoft: Color Spaces and You

[tags]color space, adobe rgb, srgb, monitor, color, problems, photos, calibration[/tags]

Computed Photos

To continue my previous ramblings on technological innovations and photography, Science News Online has an interesting article on computed photos and how this technological trend will affect photography in the future.

HDR is part of this trend obviously.  Love it or hate it, HDR and future innovations are now a part of the photographic world. There’s a world of innovation waiting out there.  There’s already plenty here that is too much for one photographer to master it all.  Embrace what you love and enjoy the creations of others.

Computational photography, however, transforms the act of capturing the image. Some researchers use curved mirrors to distort their camera’s field of view. Others replace the camera lens with an array of thousands of microlenses or with a virtual lens that exists only in software. Some use what they call smart flashes to illuminate a scene with complex patterns of light, or set up domes containing hundreds of flashes to light a subject from many angles. The list goes on: three-dimensional apertures, multiple exposures, cameras stacked in arrays, and more.

In the hands of professional photographers and filmmakers, the creative potential of these technologies is tremendous. “I expect it to lead to new art forms,” says Marc Levoy, a professor of computer science at Stanford University.  Read the rest of the article. . . .

Weekend Reading/Viewing Material

Wondering when you will ever get those thousands of film shots in digital format? Thinking about which scanner is the best to buy for your needs, but you don’t even know what to start looking at? Popular Photography has the run down on all the film scanner 411 and tells you what to look for in a scanner. They even go as far as recommending a model or two. Check it out.

Nothing to read, but something to watch. Take a look at how you can get rid of people cluttering up your photos of that beautiful fountain with Photoshop CS3.

Save some money and hack that disposable camera for repeated uses.

This photographer nailed it.

Camera Tossing

Camera Tossing (3 of 3)

Originally uploaded by hawridger.

I’ve been reading the Camera Toss Blog for some time now and admiring all the great abstracts that camera tossing produces. Until last night, I hadn’t tried it myself.

I was more than pleased with my first effort (above) at camera tossing. What’s more, it’s addictive like crack! Seriously, I blew through half an hour just getting warmed up.

It’s easier than it might look. Be warned though, you should take a browse through the beginner’s guide and Mini How-to over at the Camera Toss Blog (take note on the disclaimers stating that you can break your camera) before jumping full throttle into camera tossing.

The Future of Digital Cameras

We fuss about sensor size – oh, I like the 1.6 crop factor because it gives me a longer focal length; or, oh, I want a full frame camera because I get a wider angle. We (including yours truly) nit-pick the features of digital cameras apart before they’re even release. We fantasize about the next cameras that Canon or Nikon are going to release (especially yours truly – *cough Canon 40D, *cough Nikon D3). If this rings a bell then you truly need to take a look at some technology that could revolutionize the way we think about image capture; something that could far surpass the capabilities and quality of film (I understand some of you believe we have already arrived and film lovers should just let go).

Ease on over and check out the Light-Field camera if you’ve never heard of it. It’s like HDR on steroids and being chased by flaming ninjas that are all in-focus. Oh yeah, and I want one.

How to Use Your On-Camera Flash

my brand new camera…..flash

Originally uploaded by rougerouge.

I was stumbling around the web today and came upon PlanetNeil. Neil van Neikerk is a pro photographer in NJ. You should really check out his blog and photos. He’s got a creative vision that really shows in his work.

You’re wondering about the whole on-camera flash bit, right? This is where the stumbling comes in. I landed on his FAQ for flash techniques, specifically, the use of on-camera flash. Solid stuff. His FAQ is very well written with nice example photos of what he’s talking about. If your photos just look plain wrong when your shooting with your on-camera flash, head on over now to learn how to do it right. That said, if you think you know how to bounce your flash and you’re still reading this post then you need to read it too – go now.

Thanks for the great article Neil and thanks to rougerogue on flickr for opening blogs on the cool shot above.