Back Up, Back Up and.... Back Up!

Well, the recent snow storm here in Westchester, NY was yet another illustration of how important it is to have a back up. Power was out for almost three days, and for someone who spends as much time on a computer (while a home) as I do, no power is a fate worst than death :-)

The top photo shows one of our Honda Hybrids (100,000+ miles) at the peak of the storm. Look at all that snow.

Fortunately, I have all my stuff backed up in several places on accessories drives that I can plug into my laptops with Firewire 800 cables.

By the way, I do have a pull-start generator (great back up), but I could not get it started for a day and a half. Brrrrrrrr!

Land-line phones were down, of course. However, my trusty iPhone worked - but it needed power, too.

Good news: My always-charged Versa Battery came to the rescue, powering my laptop and my iPhone.

The Versa Battery provides anywhere from 6 to 15 additional hours of power for a laptop - depending, of course, on what you are doing. Processing raw files, for example, will require more power than writing a Word document.

If you think you'll ever need a battery back up, check out the Versa Battery. Also, it's great for airline coach passengers on long trips who don't have access to power outlets like the folks in the front of the plane. (The battery fits neatly under your laptop.)

The Versa Battery is also great for those going on safari, where power is sometimes not available.

Explore the light - and think back up,

P.S. Yes, the Versa Battery also works with PCs.

Atlanta Seminar, Prelude to a Workshop

Hey Gang,

DPE’s Rob Knight and I are doing a workshop in Atlanta: August 13-15. This is a hands-on workshop: lots of shooting and lots of personal digital darkroom work.

As a prelude to the workshop, I am giving two seminars for Showcase Photo&Video on April 10: HDR and Digital Imaging.

Hope you can join the fun!

Explore the light,


P.S. I took this shot in Atlanta’s Little Five Points. A great place to make pictures.

Beware of Banding, Notice the Noise, Forget the Filter & Raw Rules!

I got the idea for this post after receiving the latest issue of one of my favorite magazines. Great images, as always. However, I was a bit surprised to see that one of the low-light images, great as it was, showed visible and obvious banding.

• • •

One of the reasons why I use a high-end digital SLR (currently the Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 7D) is to get the cleanest possible image, that is, an image with as little noise as possible. I like to keep it clean, so to speak.

In my quest for a clean image, I always shoot Raw files, and use the lowest possible ISO.

In addition, I strive for the best in-camera exposure, trying not to underexpose the image, which can add noise to an image, especially in the shadow areas.

At its worst, underexposing can cause what is called "banding" in a file – an effect in which you can actually see the bands of pixels. Banding, by the way, is exaggerated with JPEG files, which is another reason for shooting Raw files. (But as someone just pointed out (and reminded me) on twitter, you can get banding even with a Raw file if it's poorly exposed and processed.)

I actually don't have a good example of banding because, again, I strive for the best in-camera exposure - always checking the histogram on my camera's LCD monitor. So, in an effort to illustrate banding (and noise), I opened up the shadow areas from one of by Botswana images using Curves. The long white boxes illustrate the most visible bands in the picture, which you probably can't see because it's a low res file.

I used this image to illustrate this point: If you underexpose a file too much and try to open up the shadows, you'll get an image with noise and banding.

About my properly exposed elephant image: check out the tonal range. The sun in not washed out and you can see into some of the shadow areas. This is an example of why I say, "Raw Rules!"

Speaking of noise, if you do have a noisy image, Topaz DeNoise does a great job of reducing it.

On another topic, check out the ghost image of the sun in the top picture. It was actually in the bottom picture, too, but I removed it with the Burn Tool and Clone Stamp tool in Photoshop.

The ghost image was caused by the sun reflecting off the front element of my lens and then bouncing back onto my UV filter. This is when I leaned that you gotta remove all filters when shooting into the sun :-)

Explore the light,

Digital Frame or Standard Mat?

I could use your help/advice on a project.

I am having my first exhibit of my travel work later this year in NYC. Which of these printing options do you prefer: Printing the image without (top) or with (bottom) a digital frame?

Printing the image with the digital frame would let me sign the print itself.

If I print the image w/out the digital frame, I'd print full frame on the paper and sign the white mat.

Also, price not being considered, would you be more likely to buy a 24x36-inch print or a 24x16-inch print?

Your help sure would be appreciated.

Thank you!

Explore the light,