Thursday, March 26, 2009

Work Flow

Image: Eyelash Viper, Costa Rica, 5D2, 70-200 f4 L IS, f7.1,1/200s ,ISO 1600,-.2/3 ev. Digital photo Pro and CS3
The Darkroom, or rather Lightroom as its referred to today, now consists of electronics instead of chemicals, but we still do the same basic things we did in the film days, we adjust saturation, we dodge and burn, we try to get every last thing out of our RAW files that we used to try to do with our film in the dark room. "RAW" this is the equivalent of what used to be the negative, so remember if you shoot in jpg only, you are throwing away the negative.

Every camera's work flow will be a little different, maybe by a small amount, but always in my experience at least a little. The 5D Mk II is no exception, Digital Photo Pro, the software that comes with your camera, if you use a Canon, actually works very well in a lot of cases, the software of choice for me is Lightroom (currently at V 2.3) see Killer Tips, followed by CS3 (now CS4) for local adjustments, final color, size, sharpening and print.

I will always adjust curves, white balance if needed, noise and sharpen in RAW, whether I use DPP or LR and save as a 16 bit TIFF file, the only time I use jpg is when saving for use on the web. Next step is to open in CS3 and adjust curves, levels and color, I always use layers with CS3 as you have the ability to turn them on or off. Next I do local adjustments and dodge and burn if needed. Now I size using bicubic and sharpen for print using Smart sharpen and save as a 16 bit TIFF, a 100 meg file is not unusual at this point. I do all of this on an external LaCie 1 tb drive, all my best work is burned to CD at this point for back up, the rest is put on a 2 nd back up drive for later use as stock. I have found I will use DPP for animal, city and people and Lightroom for landscape or seascape. This of course is only an overall look at workflow, I could write pages about it, mostly it takes practice to develope your own workflow, but these are the basic steps I use.
I use ACDsee Pro for viewing and selecting work, you can drag and drop images into CS3 for printing and re-sizing, it is ultra fast when viewing large amounts of photo files.

Shadow and highlights where just added to the latest release of DPP 3.6.1 and I look forward to trying this new version out, Canon is constantly updating DPP and you should try the newer versions. Update DPP 3.6.1 Get it here
Ross Murphy Images In Light
coming soon: sharpening and sizing for the web.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Night Fall

Image: 5D Mk II, 24-105 F4 L IS, 2 shot panorama


The Beginning of Darkness, that time between Sunset and Night. This is my favorite time to photograph a cityscape. The sky normally turns a bright blue before going gray to black, the lights in the buildings are on by this time and you get the blue sky and the building lights, the contrast is just right for evening cityscape's.

Ross Murphy Images In Light

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Image: Monteverde, 5D MkII, 70-200 f4 L IS, iso 400, f11

Image: 5D Mk II, 300mm f4 IS L

Monteverde :

High up in the mountains of the Cordillera de Tilarán in north central Costa Rica lies a magical place called Monteverde. What is it you may ask ? its a cloud forest reserve of 10,500 hectares.
The bio-diversity is stunning, with: 878 species of epiphyte, over 500 species of Orchid (largest in the world), The mammals include six species of marsupials, three muskrats, at least 58 bats, three primates, seven edentates, two rabbits, one ground hog, three species of squirrels, one species of spiny mouse, at least 15 species of long-tailed rats and mice (Muridae family); one species of porcupine, one species of agouti, one of pacca, two canides, five mustelides, four species of procionides, six species of felines, two species of wild pigs, two species of deer, and one species. of tapir. (Ref) over 400 species of bird including the elusive Resplendent Quetzal and seven species of Hummingbird like this one Visiting this park in the clouds is like walking through an emerald green cathedral, a hush falls over you as you listen to the exotic calls of the jungle, keeping your eyes peeled for what animal or plant turns up next, towering tree ferns 20 feet high or the buzz and neon flash of a hummingbird, if your very lucky a wild cat or the Resplendent Quetzal may appear. This was the first time in my visits to Costa Rica that I actually got cold, most of the time this forest is shrouded in clouds and rain, but this last trip included wind and cold air rushing up the slopes with temperatures that felt like the low F 50's. Waterproof gear is essential here for photography, along with a poncho for yourself.

Ross Murphy Images in Light

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sharpest zoom ever ? - Canon EF 70-200 f4 L IS

Photo: 5D MkII and 70-200 f/4L IS, 2 shot panorama

One of the eternal questions for Canon owners is which 70-200 should I get ? Of the 4 to choose from, they are all very good, but with a range in cost of $500 to $1700 how does one choose ?, I have had the 70-200 f2.8 L, 70-200 f2.8 IS L and presently the 70-200 f4 IS L. All three of these len's where sharp. I purchased the original back in my film days and enjoyed it, at one point it was stollen so my re-purchase was the 2.8 IS version (at the time there was no f4 IS), the "IS" or image stabilization is an amazing feature that works exceptionally well. So I had a trip comming up and this caused a problem, which lens's to take with me ? I realy wanted to take the 17-40, 24-105, 70-200, 300 f4 and one body, but these would not all fit in my bag of choice, not to mention the weight would be prohibative to pack around all the time. My solution ? buy the 70-200 f4 IS, try it out and sell the loser. keep in mind that for me the bokeh of the f2.8 was not that important, I have other lens's for portrait shots and the 1 stop differance between f2.8 and f4 is not enough to matter for low light shooting, for that you want f1.4 len's. So after recieving the f4 IS version and trying it out on a skyline shot of Seattle I became convinced, at half the weight, a $600 savings, one stop better image stabalization and getting a sharper lens, to me there was no competition, I sold the f2.8 IS version, in a perfect world I would have kept both, but in these times of economic turmoil, not going to happen. Oh and this allowed me to fit all the lens's I wanted in to my carry on bag, and made my life a lot easier.
So if you want one of these lens's you need to juggle, weight, cost, speed and image stabilization, as far as IQ is concerned, they are all very nice and you can't go wrong there. If its portrait work, its got to be one of the 2.8 versions, I think for most other applications f4 should suit most people fine. Photography has always been about trade offs, this is just another one those.

My recommendations are as follows:

for portrait work: 70-200 f/2.8L IS II

for all other work: 70-200 f/4L IS

for cost saving: 70-200 f/4L

Update: the newest member, the EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II, at around $2300 trumps them all, yes its worth it, I upgraded to the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II and it is also well worth the money.

Kai says it all here 

Ross Murphy

Images In Light

The Digital Picture Review

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Costa Rica and Aviarios Del Caribe

Picture: Two Fingered Sloth young, taken with 5D2 and 24-105 f4 L, ISO 3200 f7.1, 105mm.
El Perezoso or as we know them in English The Sloth:

One of my favorite places to visit when in Cost Rica is the Sloth sanctuary, run by Luis and Judy,
it is located on the Caribbean side just north of Cahuita National Park about a 3 1\2 hour drive from the Capital of San Jose. They have a small hotel here that is a nice place to stay, they conduct educational tours of there facility and also run birding tours on their extensive property. If you need some where to stay on the way south, I highly recommend it. They rescue orphaned and injured Sloth and rehabilitate them and release them back to the wild when possible, when we where there a couple of weeks ago they had about thirty Sloth, ranging in age from new born to adult, including both species, the Two fingered and the Three fingered. These animals are incredible and a joy to see up close, especially the young, they have a very alien appearance and are probably the most good natured of all wild animal's. They can be seen in the wild through out most of Costa Rica, including nearby Cahuita N.P. (watch out, the White Face Capuchins may steal your food) which is a must see when in the area.
Puerto Viejo is the last major stop on the way south past Cahuita and the beaches at Manzanillo are to die for, with lots of interesting and eclectic jungle lodges and hotels to stay in. One I can highly recommend in Cahuita is Coral Hill Bungalows. Be sure to stop in Manzanillo and eat at Maxi's (pic) or play a game of soccer with Ricky (the owner of Maxi's) and the gang on the beach out front, they play every night, your sure to have a good time.

Ross Murphy Images In Light

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Photographic Inspiration

This photo was taken with a Canon A2E and a 70-200 f2.8 in Serengeti NP
One of the things photographers some times have trouble with, finding that image that's new and inspiring, maybe we have taken things for granted or found ourselves in a rut, after all I have shot everything within a hundred miles of where I live, right ? Well, some times exploring the world on the WWW can re-inspire us to see something new just around the corner. I live in a place that many consider one of the best in the country for landscape photography and yet often find myself wondering where should I go shoot this weekend. I have been to Mt Rainier countless times, I find I often gravitate to the standard places, which is fine if you can find a new way of seeing that place, most often though its best to find a place you have never been to or a place you may not have had luck with before. Creating your own iconic image may seem hard and it is, especially in this age of digital information, you can find photos of almost every nook and cranny of Mt Rainier on the web these days, but try finding an image that has meaning, emotion and passion.
A great place to find inspiration can be found at the UNESCO world heritage web site here The 878 world heritage sites listed 'currently' would take an army of photographers a lifetime to document and many more life times to document images that evoke and inspire emotions that stir the soul and tell that places story in images. Many of these places listed are just around the corner from some of us, yet we seem to take them for granted. I feel I have been very lucky to have visited more than 40 of these sites, most with out a camera or before I became impassioned to document them in a way that tells there story in an image. I would love to one day say "I have visited all these places", that may be unrealistic but hey, I can try. One place I would love to visit again is the old city of Segovia in central Spain, what a magnificent city, with it's Roman aqueduct, ancient cathedral and the fortress of Alcazar, its narrow streets and many other historic buildings. If only I could transport myself there this instant the very thought of the images I could take makes me want to drool.
Writing this has given me the inspiration I need and I hope it inspires others to get out and travel and visit some of these incredible places and return with there own inspiring images.
Ross Murphy, Images In Light

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Canon 5D Mk II, first thoughts

Canon 5D Mk II, PART 1. Above shot with 5D Mk II and 70-200 F4 IS.This camera has an incredible sensor, the images it produces when exposed correctly just amaze me, my last two camera's being the 5D (now sold) and the 50D (returned) where both good, but this camera has produced images beyond all my expectations. The images are smoother, cleaner and retain all those things the 5D1 had that made it such a successful camera. The control layout and menu's have been improved with new features while still maintaining a familiar interface to the classic version.

 The higher iso capabilities of this camera have been under stated in my opinion, I was shooting Humming birds in Costa Rica last week at iso 1600 that look very clean and printable. I hope to test this out this week by printing a 12 x 18 on my IPF 6100. There has been some recent talk of problems with cameras failing on Antarctic expeditions with The LL, well after over two weeks in Costa Rica in high humidity, rain, boat trips and salt spray, my 5D2 held up with no problems, including a wave over the bow that deposited water directly on the top of my 5D2, of course I promptly dried it off, water was on all the buttons and the around the main control dial, it did give me a scare I have to say, but gave me no issues with the camera.

More later, this is my first blog and I am not sure how this is all going to work, but hope to keep it up with plans to add pictures and also talk about what works well with this camera, including lens's.

Ross Murphy, Images In Light.