I had in mind to process this picture remembering the Stargate series since a long time ago.

After a photowalk with some friends, one of them suggested going to Temple of Debod for next session. And then, I reminded that I had this image and another similar one but with less focal length in my hard disk.

So, when I came back to home, I reviewed my Lightroom catalog from Madrid , and found the 3 exposures ( 2EV,0EV,-2EV) that I shot 3 year ago. You were thinking that I let pictures without processing so much time. And it is sometimes true. I prefer to wait for a time, days or weeks in order to begin to edit the pictures for a session.

After tonemapping the picture, I wanted to give it an ‘Stargate’ look. So I used the ‘Radial Blur’ In Photoshop to defocus the sky and the water in the pond and to let as a main subject the ground beneath the temple and part of it. The inusual situation in with the interior light of the temple is switched on and not the external lightning leads the eyes to this yellow gate, giving the touch ‘Stargate’. Besides, the ground and the temple are in focus and the rest of the pic is blur in order to suggest a Goaul’d ship.

The photo is dedicated to the millions of fans of this series. Stargate was originally released on October 28, 1994, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Carolco as a movie. And three years later, Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner created a television series titled Stargate SG-1 (10 seasons) as a sequel for the film.

During the original SG-1 series, another one was created that was Stargate Atlantis (5 seasons) and after ending this, a last sequel series was produced, Stargate Universe (2 seasons).

On April 17th, 2011, the Stargate producer Brad Wright announced that any plans for the continuation of the franchise had been cancelled indefinitely, ending 17 seasons (354 episodes) of Stargate television.

Stargate :: HDR :: DRI

Debod Temple, Madrid (Spain).

Canon EOS 450D | Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 DC EX HSM @ 10 mm | f8, 8s, ISO 100.HDR/DRI from 3 exposures on a tripod Manfrotto 055XPROB + 322RC2 @ [-2 EV .. 0 .. +2 EV ]


This is the acronym of “Depth Of Field“. I have been usually using this word in my blog, giving sometimes a brief description about it. But in today post, I am going to talk a little more about this topic in relation with my experience using different digital cameras.

I bought my 1st camera on April , 2004. It was a Canon Ixus 400. The Ixus belonged to a Canon compact series with a slim body, with great quality for a point-and-shot camera, but with so few manual settings. After breaking the LCD of this camera, I changed to a Panasonic DMC-FX9. I was less happy with this camera ‘cos it had 6 MPixels vs. 4 MP of the old Canon, but it provided less details and more noise. In 2007, I began to take photography more seriously and changed to a ‘bridge camera‘, the Sony DSC-H5. This camera included manual and semi-automatic modes and provided a bigger zoom. In 2008, I went on holidays to Miami (USA), with the idea of buying a Canon EOS 450D due to the high euro/dollar ratio, but I bought it finally in Spain through a website due to the limited warranty to USA. The change to a DSRL with an APS-C sensor was the way to a new world of sharpness and digital edition in RAW, and more flexibility with lenses and creativity using my dear Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens for architectural and landscape photography. Finally, this year, I have recently bought a full frame camera, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, and a new era for control of focus, more sharpness, and high ISO settings has begun for me ….

Now, you can be asking why I have described you my old cameras and some of the decisions that I took for buying them, if I am talking about DOF. So simple, you are going to discover it in the following paragraphs.

Depth of field (DOF) , as a definition, is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image.

The DOF depends on several factors:
– Aperture
– Focal Length
– Sensor size or ‘cropped factor’ (in relation with full frame camera sensors, 24 x 36 mm)
– Subject distance

The aperture is usually specified with the f-number, the ratio of lens focal length to aperture diameter. Reducing the aperture diameter (increasing the f-number) increases the DOF. So you are wondering, why you shoot a lot of your pictures with f/11 , if the maximum f-number in your lenses is usually f/22 ? Due to a problem called diffraction, that occurs in camera when you increase you f-number, reducing the amount of light transmitted and the the sharpness in the image borders. f/11 is an usual value for what we can call ‘critical aperture’. The critical aperture is the optimal f-number value or values for which you obtain overall sharpness (including the extremes and center of the picture), avoiding defocus and diffraction. So as you are seeing here the practical use of the aperture depends on the amount of sharpness or blur that you need or want for creative effects in your composition, but taking into account the optics defects. If you want so little DOF, just only to get the subject in focus, for example for portrait photography, you should use your lens ‘wide open’ with f-number bellow f/5.6, usually f/2.8 or less. For landscape photography as you want to get all in focus, sharpness from the foreground to infinity, you should use f/13, f/16 … but if you can , don’t go to more ‘cos you will have blur in the extremes due to diffraction.

The focal length also controls the DOF. With telephoto lenses (long focal lengths) , you reduce the DOF. This is the reason to use them in portraits, to get only in focus your subject or part. And with wide angle lenses (short focal lengths), you increase DOF, being the most useful lenses for landscape and architectural photography.

DOF is, to a first approximation, inversely proportional to format size. I am going to explain this firstly with cropped format DSRL ( e.g APS-C cameras with a 1.5 for Nikon or 1.6 for Canon sensor size ratio). These APS.-C camera systems allow using many of the same lenses on both full-frame and “cropped format” cameras.. If pictures are taken from the same distance using the same f-number, same focal length, and the final images are the same size, the smaller format has less DOF. If pictures taken from the same subject distance using the same focal length, are given the same enlargement, both final images will have the same DOF. The pictures from the two formats will differ because of the different angles of view. If the larger format is cropped to the captured area of the smaller format, the final images will have the same angle of view. So as consequence, if you compare with compact camera where sensor size is still smaller, you will discover why you usually have overall image in focus with your compact camera and your are so happy with your landscape photography, although your camera exif data said that the picture was taken with f/5.6 or less, but you are angry cos you can’t get the bokeh ( blur in background) that get the photographers that shoot your favorite model.

The subject distance is very critical when you are very close to your subject, reducing the DOF. I have discovered after using several cameras , that it is specially critical with Full-Frame cameras and you should consider specially where you are focusing with your camera in interiors with low f-number although you were using wide angle lenses. So in order to solve this problems, it is useful to consider the use of hyper focal distance.The hyperfocal distance is the nearest focus distance at which the DOF extends to infinity, focusing the camera at the hyperfocal distance results in the largest possible depth of field for a given f-number.

The image posted shows how the DOF is extended from a few meters to infinity, but some part of the image is defocus, the tiles on the right side, due to the short f-number, f/4.

Way To Entry :: HDR :: DRI

Estación Fantasma, Metro Chamberí , Madrid (Spain).

Canon EOS 5D Mark III | Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM @ 17 mm | f/4, 1/30 s, ISO 3200.HDR/DRI from 3 handheld exposures @ [-3 EV .. 0 .. +3 EV ]

Colors and emotions

Color psychology is the study of the way that things are perceived and processed by humans. The fact that colors affect our moods, emotions and behavior, has been known to humankind from ancient times. Although, the way a certain color affect someones mentality is very individual and one color can have different effects on different people.

Different studies give us the evidence that human reaction to colors with different emotions. Besides, depending on our psychological state, we see colors in a different way.

As a photographer, I have experimented that it is true when you are going to edit a picture. Your mood is going to influence in the color treatment that you are going to do. Although your beginning processing steps were very basic and mechanical, like White Balance adjustments and other minor basic color settings in a RAW editor. In the final steps of your processing workflow, you are going to show this, in how you do with the minor alterations to tones, doing for example a sky more dramatic, a sunset warmer… And all of this, and the results show the complex personality that you have. Your pictures are the mirror of your soul..

After editing a lot of pictures and making a lot mistakes doing HDR. I have not only discovered how to correct the hues alterations that are produced by Tonemapping Software like Photomatix. I have learnt to see the reality in my mind. To remind the scene when a picture was taken and to reproduce the colors that I saw. Besides, the emotions that I felt and that I am having in the moment of edition are mixed to reach the final image result, giving you a more hyper-realistic or surrealistic feeling to your canvas.

In the case of the post picture, after making primary White Balace adjustments in LR for each exposure to generate an HDR file and tonemapping it in Photomatix, I finally mixed several layers with ‘Pop pup’ preset using Topaz Adjust plugin and ‘Tonal Contrast’ and ‘Pro Contrast’ with Nik Color Efex Pro in Photoshop over the HDR image and the 0EV exposure. The purpose was to get warmer tones and richer textures on the fountain and the grainy floor and to obtain a more purple sky. I wanted to give a dreamy touch to the picture , doing it more surrealistic , with the golden tones in the fountain and the floor, due to artificial lighting (yellow bulbs).

The Fountain Of Golden Dreams #1 :: HDR :: DRI

Sabatini Gardens, Royal Palace, Madrid (Spain).

Canon EOS 450D | Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 DC EX HSM @ 10 mm | f11, 6s, ISO 200.HDR/DRI from 3 exposures on a tripod Manfrotto 055XPROB + 322RC2 @ [-2 EV .. 0 .. +2 EV ]

ISO 12800

ISO 12800 is not the name of a new sci-fi film directed by George Lucas like his first movie THX 1138. In fact, THX was the name of a new generation surround sound, developed by a George Lucas company, that nowadays we all hear in the cinemas. And if you don’t know, maybe we make HDR due to another product developed by a George Lucas Co, ILM. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is an American Academy Award-winning motion picture visual effects company that was founded on May 1975. And in 2000, ILM created the OpenEXR format for High Dynamic Range Imaging. This is the 32-bit file format that I use to save my HDR files before tonemapping.

Coming back to the post title, when we talk in photography about ISO, we are referring to one of the 3 exposure parameters (Exposure Triangle): aperture, time and ISO. This means that we can get the same exposure, changing these parameters. As an example, the combinations: aperture f/11, time 1/15s, ISO 12800 ; f/8, 1/30s, ISO 12800 or f/11 1/30s ISO 6400 produce the same exposure but not the same image. And you are wondering why ?

Each change of one of these parameters need a change for 2 other ones. But each parameter has its effect on the image:

ISO: In traditional film photography, ISO was the indication of how sensitive a film was to light. In Digital Photography, ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. The same principles apply as in film photography – the lower the number the less sensitive your camera is to light and less grainy.

Aperture: It is measure with diaphragm diagonal with f-stop number. High f-stop numbers mean narrow aperture and as consequence less light. The aperture is basically the parameter that change the Depth Of Field (DOF).

Time: It is measure in seconds or fractions of. It is basically used to control the sense of motion in the pictures.

But why 12800 ? Because it’s a high ISO number. And Higher ISO settings are generally used in darker situations to get faster shutter speeds and avoid camera shake. This is one of the reasons to change to a Full-Frame camera like Canon EOS 5D mark III. There are sites like the cathedral in this post image where tripods are not permitted, so the only possibility to get images sharp is to increase ISO. But High ISO means so much noise. About that, I can say that I am very happy with the behaviour of the 5D mark III at high ISOs. The images are fully usable for large prints at ISO 3200 and they are useful for middle-res at ISO 12800. In fact, if you check for reviews and comparisons of this camera with Nikon D800, you will see that 5D mark III wins D800 quality and sharpness, when ISO is higher than 800.

Woman Praying At Almudena Cathedral :: HDR :: DRI

Catedral de la Almudena, Madrid (Spain).

Canon EOS 5D Mark III | Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM @ 17 mm | f/11, 1/15s, ISO 12800.HDR/DRI from 3 handheld exposures @ [-2 EV .. 0 .. +2 EV ]

Night and Day Long Exposures

We always like when we see a picture with clouds motion in the sky and the blur effect due to long exposure times. This gives a surrealistic touch to the images. But the question for common people is how a photographer gets this effect.

The approach depends on the time hour, if it is near night or if we are in the midday or not near to dawn or after twilight.

During the day, to increase the exposure time it is necessary to decrease ISO (but this can be only done in some professional cameras and only 1 step, from ISO 100 to ISO 50). Or another solution it is to use small apertures (around f/22). But it is usual that although the diaphragm is very close, the estimated time for the exposure was not sufficiently long. So the solution is to use what photographers call Neutral Density filters (ND).

The ND filters rise the time exposure by several stops ( a stop is the halving or doubling of the amount of light availables and means double exposure or as consequence double time for exposure). So it is usual to select one depending on the time requested or effect in the sky (if for example there is so few wind, we will need a ND with more stops). The usual filters and their stops increase are:

· ND2 (or ND0.3) : 1 stop
· ND4 (or ND0.6): 2 stops
· ND8 (or ND0.9): 3 stops
· ND400 : 8 2/3 stops
· ND1000 : 10 stops

So that means that when you use a NDx filter, x is equal to time multiplier ( that is 2 ^ stop), the time for the exposure will be the exposure reads by camera meter without filter multiply by x. It is usual to measure exposure without filter, due to 3 reasons:

– The use of ND filters produces warm or cold hues and changes your White Balance. So if you want to use the appropriate WB, you need the camera metering without filter to set it later in your RAW editor. Although, you sometimes prefer the colors created with the filter.

– As the filter is so dark ( e.g ND400, ND1000) the camera has not light to calculate an exposure time. So in Bulb mode, you manually select the time.

– Due to the same problem, the camera can’t focus automatically.

How you are seeing, for long exposures (time > 30 s), you need to set you camera as follow:

– Set Bulb Mode ( because you time is > 30 s and other modes don’t support this).
– Use low ISO to avoid noise due to long exposure.
– Use a remote control to release the shot in order to avoid camera shake.
– Pre-focus without filter or use manual focus.
– And of course, to use a tripod or put the camera in a fixed surface.

Clouds Vanishing On Arganzuela Footbridge

Clouds Vanishing On Arganzuela Footbridge :: BW

Manzanares riverside, Madrid (Spain).

Canon EOS 5D Mark III | Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM + Hoya ND400 @ 19 mm | f/22, 33 s, ISO 100. BW from 1 exposures on a tripod

But during the night they are more problems to get a correct exposure. Then, You don’t need the use of ND filters but you should take into account:

– As it is so dark, the camera again has problems to focus, but now you can’t usually focus automatically (or pre-focus) as during the day. So you can use Live View Mode to select manually the focus distance, with the help of a lantern e.g. or use what it is called hyperfocal distance ( in a short-hand, it is the distance to focus for the best sharpness, widest deep-of-field, DOF). The hyperfocal distance depends on your DSRL type sensor (Full-Frame or APS-C), lens focal length and aperture. You can get tables to calculate it.

– And again, due to you have so few light, you need to set manually your time exposure. But now, the solution to calculate the time is to increase ISO and/or increase aperture (decrease f-stop number) and to take the time measure with AV mode and later adapt it for the aperture and ISO that you want or need to select with the Bulb mode. So each increment in ISO ( for example ISO 100, 200, 400) means double time. And each f-stop decrement (for example f/11, f/8, f/5.6, f/4 …) does the same.

Moonlit At Juan Carlos I Park

Moonlit At Juan Carlos I Park :: HDR :: DRI

North Pond, Juan Carlos I Park, Madrid (Spain).

Canon EOS 450D | Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 DC EX HSM @ 11 mm | f8, 26s, ISO 100. HDR/DRI from 3 exposures on a stable surface @ [-2 EV .. 0 .. +2 EV ]

Now, you are thinking, this is more to calculate, I am not a mathematics … what I do to simplify this ? I am going to get you several tips:

• When I used my Canon EOS 450D (APS-C) and Sigma 10-20mm lens @ 10mm, I adapted the hyperfocal distance to a visible mark in the focus ring (usually 3 fts), so then my aperture was conditioned to f/4 or f/5.6 , I don’t remember exactly. So you can do similarly in you workflow.

• To use Photopills or a similar software with calculators for your mobile. With Photopills you have hyperfocals calculator, Exposures calculator (for ND filters) and more, but this will be a topic for another post.

Hyperfocal Distance Calculator

Exposure Calculator

She’s A River

An old version of this picture was one of the winners of the International HDR Day. The pictures were selected by the HDR guru, Trey Ratcliff and Rick Sammon.

I was not happy with the final result of this image, so as I am usually doing in last weeks, I have re-processed it again. The picture had artifacts due to an usual problem with tonemapping software is the objects in motion. In particular, the water streams like waves on the sea or fountains.

Photomatix or other HDR programs don’t correct efficiently the ‘ghost effect’ produced by the water motion, so the best way to correct this is to manually blend in Photoshop the tonemapped image with one o several exposures. Although I don’t explain this in the photo-feet because I do in a shorthand. I usually do this, also knows as Digital Blending or DRI (Dynamic Range Increase) in my current workflow ,for so many pictures, to get a more natural look on them.

The manual blending is done, working with different layer masks for each of the exposures and the initial tonemapped image. I really love to do this. It is like painting. I was afraid when I was a beginner but now, I enjoy. You can try it. Just put your tonemapped image in a layer and one of the exposures in another one. Create a layer mask and select a soft black pencil with some opacity ( that depends in the image) to make transparent the above layer. They are combined to get the final image before removing noise and sharpening the picture.

In this case, I used the 0EV exposure to correct the ghosting in sky cloud and fountain water and the -2EV exposure to get more details in the water flow.

She's A River :: HDR :: DRI

Plaza de España, Madrid (Spain)

Canon EOS 450D | Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 DC EX HSM @ 10 mm | f11, 2.5s, ISO 100. HDR /DRI from 3 exposures @ [-2 EV..0..+2 EV]

Streamlines At El Capricho Park Lake

Streamlines could be a work for the university when I was studying Aeronautical Engineering more than a photo title. But in this case, we could say than both of them.

The use of neutral density (ND) filters permits during the day to shot long exposures. As result, the water flow is showed in the picture like star trails in night shots. It is so curious how what I mathematically learnt is drawn here on the water.

After a rainy winter and beginning of spring, although this is an old pic, the image shows the usual leaves green tones at the beautiful El Capricho park, that this afternoon I am going to enjoy again with a walk there. Unfortunately, it opens only the weekend and has a restricted and scheduled access.

Streamlines At El Capricho Park Lake :: HDR :: DRI

Parque El Capricho, Madrid (Spain)

Canon EOS 450D | Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 DC EX HSM + HiTech ND 0.9 filter @ 10 mm | f22, 1s, ISO 100. HDR /DRI from 6 exposures @ [-3 EV .. -2 EV .. – 1 EV .. 0 .. + 1 EV .. +2 EV ]