News from Rod Barbee Photography
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July 2011 Rod Barbee Photography Newsletter
Greetings
Well summer seems to have arrived (finally) in the Pacific Northwest. We'll see how long that actually lasts. This month's newsletter will have to be quick as I've got to get myself to Oregon for a couple of days of collecting images for the new book project.

Actually, I had planned on sharing with all of you some photographs of me alongside the 45 lb. halibut I caught on a recent fishing trip with my dad, my brother, and my brother's partner.
I had planned that. But as you'll see, there are no pictures. And that's because we didn't catch any. Grrr. As with everything else I've encountered this year, because of our cold spring the fishing season was running late this year. Well, maybe next time.

National Park Field Guides by the NPCA
 
The National Parks Conservation Association has developed a National Parks Field Guide app for the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad. Pick a park and this app has all sorts of information about plants, wildlife, and some general information.
I gave it a bit of a test drive and while it certainly has plenty of information, not all of it is accurate. For instance, it indicates that there are rattlesnakes in Olympic National Park. Not quite. Yes, there are rattlesnakes in Eastern Washington. Not in Western Washington.
But it's a start.
The return of Don Mammoser
 
I've been emailing with my pal, and workshop partner, Don Mammoser. As some of you already know, Don has been traveling since last fall. He's been to Russia, Egypt (before the uprising), India, and more. Right now he's in Montenegro, working during the summer before he and his girlfriend Anya continue their travels.
But by next spring he'll be back in the states and we've been discussing workshops for 2012.

Here's some of what we're tentatively thinking of for 2012:

  • Monument Valley with a possible Hunt's Mesa over night, early to mid-April (and a possible Slot Canyons tide trip that's either part of the total workshop or as an add-on).
  • Yosemite (May)
  • Colorado Mountains and Wildflowers (July)
  • Canadian Rockies (mid to late September)
  • Colorado Fall Color (late September to early October)

Anyway, I'm looking for feedback on what people might be interested in. Just to let you know, the Hunt's Mesa overnight trip is quite an experience (but it does add to cost).

Soft proofing in Lightroom
 
I really like using Lightroom. And the only thing that's kept me from doing all my printing from Lightroom is the lack of soft-proofing. In case you're not familiar with the term, soft-proofing gives you a preview, on your monitor, of what your print will look like. I typically use it to preview the difference between the rendering intents of Perceptual and Relative Colorimetric. Depending on the content of your image, there could be a noticeable difference between the two.
Until now my workflow for printing has been to open an image from Lightroom into Photoshop, invoke soft-proofing, choose the appropriate printer profile, and choose rendering intent. I'll then switch back and forth between Perceptual and Relative rendering intents to see which might give me the best results.

Adobe has yet to include soft-proofing in Lightroom, but as with many things in Lightroom, there's a plug in that handles the problem. The plug in costs about $16 US, so it's not unreasonable, and it works adequately. It doesn't have the smoothest of transitions when switching between rendering intents (Lightroom has to process things), but it can give you side by side comparisons between your calibrated monitor view of an image and the "print" view.
Until Adobe adds this much needed feature (my opinion), this plug in certainly serves the purpose and at a pretty good price.

Zion and Oregon Coast workshops
 
My Zion workshop in November still has a few openings. I've been getting some queries about it but as of right now I still have three spaces left. The fall is my favorite time to be in Zion: it's less crowded, it's not as hot, and the fall colors add a real nice touch to the red rock. I like it in the fall so much that I'm planning on staying on an extra day or two just to camp in the park. Zion's also one of my favorite parks to camp in.

And the Oregon Coast workshop I'm doing with Bob Stahl is slowly beginning to fill. This one is in late September in one of my favorite Oregon coast cities: Newport. And that's not just because it has a great wine shop. There are all sorts of great things nearby or maybe 45 minutes or so away, including their wonderful aquarium, a couple of fantastic lighthouses, and one of the best "photographer's" harbors you'll ever visit. Oh, and Bob and I will be there to help you fine tune composition, figure out what filter you need, figure out that hyperfocal thing, and maybe even show you a thing or two in Lightroom and Photoshop.

NIK HDR Efex Pro
 
So I've finally succumbed to the allure of HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography. Or at least the possibilities of it. I get so many questions about it that I figured I better learn a little more.
From what I've been reading and hearing, NIK's HDR program is the best of what's out there so I downloaded and installed the trial version. Unfortunately I only had a few older images I'd shot with the potential for HDR in mind. But it did a fantastic job on those. And while I was in the Palouse I shot a few more and was impressed by the natural look I was able to achieve using the NIK program (or a more stylized look). So I bought a license. There are a couple of things I really like about HDR Efex Pro. One of them is all the presets it provides. Pick one that looks close to what you want to achieve and then use the sliders to fine tune it.
And the other thing I really like is what NIK has done with the sliders. Instead of having controls with names you have to look up in a technical manual, NIK has chosen to use sliders with names that should be familiar to anyone using Lightroom or other image editing programs. Names like "whites" and "exposure". Names that make sense. And a third thing I really like is the ability to make selective changes. NIK uses what it calls U Point Technology to allow the user to "selectively edit one area of an image without affecting other areas."

And wouldn't you know it, now that I've already bought the program NIK is having a summer sale. Through July 15th you can get HDR Efex Pro for just $99.95. They also have a few of their other plug-ins at the same price. One of these days I'll get around to trying those out too; everybody I know who uses them loves them.

Summer update!
 
And because this wouldn't be a summer newsletter without any summer backyard project update, I want you all to know that I have indeed started my summer project. I got it started a few weeks ago, even though I really intended it for later in the summer. But the new book project came up so I decided to get started on the backyard project a little earlier.
And what, you ask, is the project? It's a new set of ponds with a very small stream and a waterfall. I've gotten all the real back breaking digging done but still have a little bit of shaping to do. Then I have to get all the materials and blah blah blah. I'll get to it eventually. Probably after I'm done with the current book project.

That's all I've got time for now. I've got to get to Oregon and get to work on this book!

 

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Rod Barbee Photography | 172 Robin Lane | Port Ludlow | WA | 98365