A pano of St Peter's Basilica.
I recently upgraded to the newest version of Lightroom and one of the new features is its ability to correct wide-angle distortion. It does an incredible job of automatically straightening lines. Take a look at the photo below. This was from a photo of a cathedral in Rome I took and processed early in 2012. I decided to put the new Lightroom through the paces and see how it would work on this photo. It really is an amazing difference. I did lose some of the photo on each side but it really makes the photo look much better. More importantly it was very easy; just push the Auto button and the magic happens. One more note, I did reprocess the above photo from scratch by combining 3 photos in 2 stop increments to capture the vast dynamic range and also using the distortion correction.
Today's photo is an example of what many photographer commenters would say is what NOT to do with a photo. I have had this photo in my "Need to Work On" collection ever since I first took it outside Florence, italy in Feb 2012. I thought it was a photo with an interesting subject in a fascinating environment. Unfortunately, the several times I worked on this photo, it just never seemed to make an impact; it was lacking something. Many photo commenters say you shouldn't keep trying to make a photo work. If it doesn't work with just a couple minutes of work, then it's not a good photo. I'll sum up their position with a common phrase I used while in the military; "You can't polish a turd". BUT, sometimes the image needs some time to simmer and experimentation to find what can make it work.
During our trip to Rome last February, I took a lot of photos of the Coliseum because we stayed in a hotel just a couple minutes away. I took sunrise, sunset, mid-day, panos etc, but this is by far my favorite. In fact, it's the only one of the Coliseum as the main subject I selected as a pick from all those photos. I particularly like how the people at the bottom give context to the incredible scale of this ancient marvel.
This is a brand new photo I'm posting for the first time. I love super-wide angle! This was taken handheld with my Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 (@ 11mm). I bracketed with 3 shots +-2 stops. I was very pleased that I didn't have much ghosting since I had to do this handheld. If you must start pixel-peeping you could find some movement but overall it came out very well. Post processed with Lightroom, HDRed with Photomatix and made better with Photoshop. Enjoy.
I'm slowly going back to many of my best photos and seeing how I can improve them with the magic of Photoshop. One it's a good lesson on learning this incredible program, and two, it usually makes them better.
Here's another before and after from my current learning how to use Photoshop. Now this isn't a pure test of Photoshop's impact on a photo because I did redo this from scratch. But there were a number of areas where Photoshop gave me the ability to improve this photo. The reality is that it is subtle differences but look at the left side of the church below the top round window in the before photo and you'll see a blue color cast. I was able to remove that and bring a more consistent look throughout. There were a number of other issues as well, but I won't keep you any longer.
AFTER (New Version)
BEFORE (Old Version)
How many of you use programs like The Photographer's Ephemeris or VeraClock? These programs along with the compass in my iPhone are critical in planning photos in advance for sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset photos. I spent a good bit of time before traveling to Italy going through where we were going to visit and using these programs to find out where and when I wanted to be for a good sunrise/sunset shot. I used it for the Coliseum, St Peter's Basilica (didn't get one there), Duomo (we were only in Florence for one morning so I picked Ponte Vecchio instead) and of course here Ponte Vecchio. Of course I used it throughout while we were in Rome and Florence as we walked around and I saw potential locations. If you're going to be traveling, take a look at these programs (or others) and use them to plan your best shots.
This is the Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence. I made a point of getting up early to catch this sunrise. Unfortunately, it was a cloudless day so the sun is VERY strong. Also I think I got this shot off a bit too late as the sun made its way over the buildings. I started this shoot with my my Super Wide Angle Tokina 11-16 lens and once I got several shots, I switched to my 24-105L lens, which is what I took this shot with. All of this happened within a two minute timeframe. This is a reminder of how short a time you have to get sunrise and sunset shots like this. I have several other shots in this area with nice Golden Hour light that I'll post later.