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by James Yates
Here comes summer! Before you head out to the beach, have you made sure you're still on track with your business and creative goals for the year? Take a moment to check in on theLoop for some education and inspiration from your fellow photographers! Here's a roundup of the top theLoop discussions from the month of May.
A new member wants advice on which lens to use. Are the heavier, more expensive options the way to go? Lots of advice given on this thread!
A wedding and portrait photographer needs advice on lens options. Let's see what the Loopers had to say in this thread.
A mountain biking-event photographer wants Loopers thoughts on options for something small and quick enough to pack into the woods. Lots of good advice here!
There's another long thread discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of Thumbtack. See what your fellow Loopers have to say about the consumer service website.
Did anyone experience compatibility issues when upgrading to Windows 10? Long discussion on the subject found here!
theLoop is a much better place to get product advice than those random Amazon reviews! This photographer is traveling to Italy and needs to know which camera strap will keep her protected.
One Looper asks: "Here's the conundrum: is there a well built, good quality and pretty accurate ND filter (preferably variable) that doesn't sacrifice image quality?" Read the feedback on this thread.
Hurry! There are offers from DriveSavers, Manfrotto, Profoto, H&H Color Labs and Pounds Labs that are expiring soon! Be sure to use them while you can and keep the Special Offers page bookmarked so you don't forget the deals.
Member Perks & Savings are just more of the ways PPA
helps you Be More Savvy.
By Sarah Ackerman
As you expand your photography business, you don't know what you don't know. Asking questions on theLoop to expand your knowledge is a great place to start to learn about any area of photography! With 29,000+ PPA members behind you, there's bound to be someone who has been in your shoes and can offer a word of support or advice.
This month, we're highlighting the thread concerning skyline images, specifically how to reduce the noise in them. Check out what your fellow Loopers had to say and the beautiful images their advice helped create (complete with before and after shots):
Jonathan Andreas: Hello! I currently travel for work and aside from my day job I make it a point to get out and shoot skylines when I am in bigger cities. Most of the time I shoot around dusk and during the night. Typically I am shooting with a ISO of 100 and as slow of a shutter as I can with a f/22 (canon 5d mark III, 24-70 f/2.8) I just started using live view and manually focusing as well- I am just looking for some tips for how to reduce my noise during the low light shots as well as some post production tips. Thanks! -Jon
Thomas Viceconte: Are you using long exposure noise reduction in-camera? Is there a specific reason you're using f/22 for all the images? How are you processing the files in post?
Jonathan Andreas: Thanks for responding Thomas, I did not know there was an option for noise reduction in camera. I will apply that and check it out the results. I have been shooting f/22 just so I could use a long exposer. Are there negatives to using f/22?
Eugene Lugo: Shooting at F22 will cost you some sharpness due to diffraction. I would suggest using a neutral density filter and a larger aperture if you can do that and still have enough depth of field.
Jonathan Andreas: Got it, I didn't know that. I'll try the larger aperture and look into the filter. I have been using iPhoto to process my images. Once I get home in May, I will be able to use CS6 to process my images.
Leroy Moore: Jonathan, in-camera noise reduction takes two photos. It takes your photo, then closes the shutter and takes another. So, if you are shooting a 3 minute shot, you lose another 3 minutes while the camera takes a dark frame. It then subtracts the noise produced in the dark frame from your original image. It's slower and sometimes works well, depending... You set this up in your camera's menu system.
Suggestions: DXO Viewpoint 2 is not very expensive and can be used to correct the optical distortion you are getting.
Fair noise reduction software includes Lightroom and some techniques with Photoshop. Topaz labs makes a great and inexpensive de-noising software called DeNoise.
But if you want to sell large copies of these great photos, your best noise reduction that can be had is by DXO Optics Pro labs. It also converts raw files and is a stand-alone program. The Prime de-noising algorithms of this software are currently the best available at removing noise, but leaving detail. I am not sure, but I think buying the bigger program may come with the Viewpoint software included.
Have fun shooting...
Jonathan Andreas: Leroy, I appreciate the feedback, I'll take a look at the programs. For future photographs do you think the neutral density filter is the way to go? Thanks!
Kevin OConnell: I shoot mostly all long exposure and paint with light. I would suggest you try shooting different f-stops as well. See how more brilliant the light is at say f13. You will see a difference in the two scapes. Also find the sweet spot of your lens for optimum detail. Very easy to do with tutorials on youtube. You probably already know to shoot during the Blue hour for the best looking skyline shots, if not try that as well.
Tim Gray: Another thing to consider is the higher aperture numbers create the nice star-burst flare effects from direct lights (ex: the streetlights on the bridge). The trade-off is that your lens provides sharper focus and less edge distortions at the middle f-stops (f/8 - f/13).
As for the noise reduction, are you shooting RAW or JPEG? If you are shooting in RAW, then noise reduction is not applied in camera. I have not done comparisons shooting RAW with long exposure NR setting but my guess is that would only be applied for JPEG. Has anyone else tested this for RAW images?
Thomas Viceconte: You're welcome, Jonathan. In addition to all the excellent recommendations from others, you can try applying the digital lens optimizer (DLO) in Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software that comes with your camera. You can download the software from the Canon web site. DLO reduces lens aberrations and diffraction. It would be interesting to see what it does with the images that you posted. If I apply DLO to an image in DPP, I set the sharpness/unsharp mask to 0 before using DLO and make no other adjustments in DPP. I then export the file as a 16 bit TIFF and process the file in Lightroom/Photoshop. It's not needed for every image, but if you're using the extremes of a lens, it might help improve the image quality. I used this process on the attached image that I took handheld at ISO 1600. It's not perfect, but if you look in the dark areas of the image I think the noise is minimal.
Jonathan Andreas: I attached the before and after canon photo professional, just from tweaking it really quick it is a huge difference!
What would you add to this conversation? Chime in on theLoop or ask your own question! If you're thinking it, chances are so are your peers! Not a PPA member, join today at ppa.com/join and access the thriving community of theLoop.
James Yates is an Atlanta-based writer/actor and the Communications Specialist at Professional Photographers of America (PPA). A graduate of Georgia State University, James has worked in the non-profit sector his whole life and is proud to be able to help artists achieve their goals. In his spare time he can be found walking his dogs on the Beltline or partaking in the nightly theater and comedy scene in the ATL.