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Delaware Bay Lights

A forum to discuss lighthouses Mid-Atlantic Region of the US
(New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware)

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Postby Gary Martin » Mon Aug 27, 2007 8:01 pm


There were times on Saturday when the visibility stunk, and there were other times when Mother Nature cooperated and gave good visibility. This shot at Ship John Shoal was one of those times. I would have liked to get a better reflection in the foreground but the tide was going out at a healthy clip which kept the water stirred up enough near the shoal to keep from getting a really good reflection. Oh well, an excuse to go back out there another time...

Image
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Postby Grover1 » Mon Aug 27, 2007 8:32 pm


Gary ...

I love your work to death ... well, near death ...... but I've been out to that lighthouse twice in the last three years, as recently as this June with Dave and Kathy ... and it just aint a red lighthouse ...

When we were all trying to figure out when most of us could all go on this outing you voiced the opinion, I believe, that late summer would not be optimum becasue of particles in the air ... on such a humid day as you experienced Saturday, could that, along with whatever filtering you may have been using, caused the color to skew that much?
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Postby Gary Martin » Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:17 am


Probably, that image had the bejesus polarized out of it. The other factor to consider is what the sun was shining through to get to the lighthouse. In any case, all of 'em of Ship John Shoal look about the same. The other thing to keep in mind is that the way the sensor "sees" the light may not match what the human retina sees. Whenever you shoot digital, you have to set a black point and, ideally, also a white point in the image for things to look correct. That was done when I worked up the image file. The only other thing done to this image was to adjust the levels. Neither of these manipulations should have shifted the color any. There were times out there Saturday, though, that I would have sworn the haze had a pinkish tinge to it by eye - so it may have a lot to do with the sun interacting with the water droplets in the haze on the way through. For what it's workth, every fog signal out there was going off on Saturday. I also shot a bunch of film. Will be interesting to see what the film gods have to say about color last Saturday.

Miah Maul, in contrast, was the disgusting sorta pink color that it has faded to this year.

Go figure...
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Postby Gary Martin » Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:57 pm


Coming up on Ship John Shoal from a distance gives you, I think, a somewhat better idea of what the mists out on the bay were like last Saturday... pretty thick. From this angle (more or less from the south), the light has sort of an oxblood or cordovan hue... when we circled around to the left of the light (more or less looking east, I think), it took on a much more red color cast.

Image

Now I'll just have to go back out on a clear day to see just what color the darned thing really is!
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Postby Biggy » Tue Aug 28, 2007 7:09 pm


Having shot Barnegat Lighthouse many times during the past few years, in all seasons and amid different conditions, I definitely can say the color red looks a lot different depending on the light variations, the angle at which you are standing relative to the sun's light, and how the digital sensor interprets such things. Digital imaging mechanisms have a tough time with reds. That's just based on my experience.
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Postby rocky5128 » Tue Aug 28, 2007 8:59 pm


I looked at Christophers pictures and at my pictures of the light and my pictures came out as a brownish red, and Chris's were more orangish red.

Miah Maul came out that ugly faded pinkish red in both our pictures also.

Kathy
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Postby Grover1 » Wed Aug 29, 2007 2:50 am


The only other thing done to this image was to adjust the levels.

Gary ... I have seen this said by you ... and by many others ... when talking about what you post. For the uninitiated, for the novice like me, what does this mean?

... and not fot nothing, I'm thinking excepting the day it is actually painted, Miah Mull is always a disugusting faded pink ...
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Postby Gary Martin » Wed Aug 29, 2007 2:51 pm


OK, Barry, here it goes.... sort of a reprise of some of the old Photography 101's...

I picked an image of Ship John Shoal at random, happens to be 0097 out of about 350 shot last Saturday. The staring point image shown first has had absolutely nothing done to it.. even includes the dust spots on the sensor that I haven't taken out with a Photoshop CS healing tool yet.

Image

The image just above is a screenshot from Nikon NX with the RGB levels color window moved in on top of the starting image before I took a screen shot.

Notice that only about half the window is in use by the overlapped RGB indicators. Ideally, you should have information content across the full window. Adjusting the levels setting is going to move the image in that direction.

Adjustments of this type can be made in Nikon NX which I happen to be using, all versions of Photoshop, and other image editing programs as well.

Generally, I start from the low end setting, and usually will move it to the beginning of the curve as shown in this next screenshot.

Image

You'll notice that the left slider (left inset window) has been moved to 41 (on a scale of 0-255), which brings it to the bottom end of the adjustment curves. The result is shown in the color window (right inset window). Notice now, too, that more of the right window is filled with the RGB color bands. The colors in the image are also now more saturated.

When you adjust from the right end (left window) as shown in the 3rd screen shot, the image brightens considerably.

Image

The slider was adjusted down from 255 to 181, which is the very top end of the color bands in the adjustment window. Going any further would over brighten the image and tend to burn out color. At this point, you'll note that about 3/4ths of the RGB window now has color bands in it, roughly twice the size of what we began with. This is about where the adjustments should stop, aside from getting rid of dust spots, etc.

At this point, the image is more or less visually what I was seeing. You'll notice too, that the color of the light has changed and become more red in the process. As David noted, sensors have problems with red light, much more so than film does.

The process that I just walked you through you can do channel by channel separately. I simply did it for all three channels (RGB). There are times when one channel or the other will have serious problems and then you need to deal with them separately.

Hope that this helps some for those not accustomed to making these sorts of adjustments.

Here's the finished image...

Image
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Postby Gary Martin » Wed Aug 29, 2007 5:27 pm


A couple of other notes:

1) I always shoot digital in Nikon's RAW mode. You have more versatility that way if you're shooting in really weird lighting conditions. You can adjust levels for JPEG images but you can't do some of what follows should you need to if you blow an exposure or it doesn't look the same on the compute screen as it did on the midget monitor on the back of your camera.

2) Another adjustment that I always make is to set the black point. This would be a spot in the image where RGB = 0,0,0. If you don't tell the camera what is black, it's silicon chip brain has no way of knowing. IF you check some of the recent photo mags, several of them have talked about the importance of setting the black point and what it does for the color. Just to the left of the base of the caisson is where I set the black point. It's also a good idea to set it at about 1-2% above 0 so that if you have something in the image that is really blacker, you're not biasing it brighter. On the other end of the scale, you should also set a white point when you can. In the case of this image, the bird guano is a nice bright white. Here again, I usually back off to about 95% so that if there are brighter pixels than what I pick I'm not biasing against them.

3) Shooting in RAW mode, you can also go back in to adjust the EV setting of the image. EV = 0 is "normal." If you shift to negative EV values, you'll get more color saturation. I've always found that digital sensors in the two Nikon digitals that I have (a D2H and D200) tend to give rather anemic color if you're at EV=0. Hence, my digitals live at EV = -0.7. This is the same as intentionally underexposing an image by -2/3 of a stop if you need the EV scale translated. In other words, if "normal" was f/5.6, I would have been shooting at f/7.1 (in 1/3 stops, the scale f/5.6, f/6.3, f/7.1. f/8 -- f/5.6 and f/8 are a "full stop" apart, meaning that you letting twice as much light get to the film or chip at f/5.6 as you are at f/8 for the same shutter speed.

4) Shoot at the lowest possible iso setting if your camera allows that adjustment to minimize noise. If you're on a boat, you may have to go up some. Everything I shot last Saturday was shot in the range of ISO = 200 to 400.

5) After adjusting the levels, you can either store images in RAW or some other format. I always use TIFF at this point, which gives me an ~28 Mbyte image file for the D200 at 300 dpi. If I want to downsize, I do that using Genuine Fractals, which is a plug in for Photoshop. I think I'm currently using v4.1 although I know there are more recent versions available. It comes in two forms, a "light" and a "heavy" form. The former will do it for most everyone on this forum. The heavy duty form allows you to work in CMYK rather than RGB color space. If you have to do color separations for print purposes, you'd need to go that way. The difference in price for the two versions is about 3X more for the heavy duty version and not worth the cost unless you're really going to work with CMYK files. As I periodically have to supply color separations to printers, I got zinged for the more expensive version, which I think was about $300!

Again, hope some of this is useful or helpful.
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Postby Biggy » Wed Aug 29, 2007 5:34 pm


Got all that, Barry? :lol:
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Postby Gary Martin » Wed Aug 29, 2007 5:35 pm


Well, Barry did ask for that explanation :!:
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Postby Biggy » Wed Aug 29, 2007 5:39 pm


Gary ... Are you sure you didn't forget anything? :lol:
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Postby Gary Martin » Wed Aug 29, 2007 5:43 pm


I probably did, but anyone is welcome to correct me or add whatever I forgot.
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Postby Gary Martin » Wed Aug 29, 2007 6:22 pm


I'm going to post some of what I shot from the various lights... 14 Foot Shoal comes up first in the file the way Windows stores things, so, here goes...

Coming up on the light from a distance through the fog...

Image

There are a number of shots from various angles while we circled the light...

Image

Image

Image

Image

Imagine going to that little "white house" on the left side of the caisson on a cold night when there was ice floating in Delaware Bay...

Image

Finally, leaving 14 Foot Shoal headed toward Brandywine Shoal...

Image
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Postby Gary Martin » Wed Aug 29, 2007 6:25 pm


All sorts of things popped out of the mists...

Image

...including this brightly colored spinnaker :!:
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