Sunday, June 24, 2007

Camera Raw 4.1 versus Flexcolor

Hasselblad camera users are familiar with the image processing software "Flexcolor" that comes with the Hasselblad Digital backs. This is a very powerful software with many important features for pro photographers who shoot untethered or tethered to a computer. It also has a good feature that allows the native Hasselblad raw files to  be saved as DNG files. For my style of work, which involves processing batches of images from landscape photography shoots, I find that Adobe Camera Raw 4.1 (ACR) works best. I convert my raw image files to DNG files (I archive the original 3F file). Once the images are in DNG format I open them in the Adobe Bridge program to view and sort. The new Adobe Bridge has a very useful feature that allows you to magnify a portion of a series of images in order to quickly compare sharpness, etc. Opening an image or series of images from Bridge brings up the Camera Raw dialog. I will not go in to the many features of ACR 4.1 here, but there are plenty of online resources about this that are easy to find with a google search. The tools I find really important in the latest version of ACR are fill light, recovery, clarity, sharpening, noise reduction, grayscale conversions, and the ability to re-open a tiff or jpg in Camera raw. I use this re-opening feature to sharpen images in ACR for final printing, since I think the ACR sharpening is better than the PS CS3 sharpening. I prefer to sharpen images as the last step of image processing in preparation for printing. I do not find anything wrong with the Flexcolor software from Hasselblad - I have just found that for my particular needs, which are different from a studio photographer, ACR / PS3 offer the easiest way for me to achieve optimum image quality from my H3D files. The Flexcolor software is constantly being upgraded by Hasselblad and tailored to the hardware of the H3D and their other digital cameras. It is conceivable that in the future there will be major benefits to processing all raw files in Flexcolor, such as improved focus and distortion correction. Anyone with an H3D or other Hasselblad digital camera should continue to monitor updates of Flexcolor and do comparisons by developing the same raw file in both ACR and Flexcolor to see what produces the best results.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Brilliant Waters Book Ordering Information


Signed Copies of Brilliant Waters can be ordered online at Hawks Peak Publishing .

combines Elizabeth Carmel’s stunning
landscape photography with a selection of moving poetry by recognized
writers. Robert Redford contributes engaging insights and commentary in
the book’s foreword. This collection of remarkable photographs captures
both the intimate details and grand panoramas that exist exclusively in
the Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, and the High Sierra regions of California and

In his eloquent foreword to BRILLIANT WATERS
Robert Redford writes:  “So what would you do if you came upon a sight
seen before only to see it as if for the first time?  This was the
effect Elizabeth’s work had on me; capturing the power of what exists
while elevating the experience through the poetic use of photography. I
saw this country as if I had not seen it before—like I was being led
slowly, carefully, along a great and beautiful path.  To have this
sensation of stop time observation is not easy. This work simply
stopped me in my tracks.”

BRILLIANT  WATERS is divided into three  sections: Water and Stone, Colors of the Sierra, and Winter’s Grace.
Each section contains a portfolio of large 8” x 10” color plates
personally selected and sequenced by Elizabeth Carmel.  Selected images
are paired with poems written by Richard Wilbur, John Updike, Octavio
Paz, Gainor Ventresco, and Frederick George Scott. This book will
appeal to all who love the scenic beauty of Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, and
the High Sierra, and to photography enthusiasts worldwide.

expresses her inspiration for the book in the following excerpt from
her preface: “Water, in its many manifestations, forms the unifying
theme of BRILLIANT WATERS. Whether a photo of a cool shroud
of mist on Lake Tahoe’s boulders, a carpet of camas lilies brought to
bloom by spring rains, or a high Sierra stream flowing in summer, the
varied images all explore the interplay of water and light.”

book is unique in its subject, scope, and artistry.  It is an enduring
testament to the accomplishments of previous generations who have
worked to preserve the Sierra Nevada. It is also a reminder of what is
at stake as we strive to protect the natural world for future

The book is distributed by Graphic Arts
Center Publishing and will be available from all major book retailers
such as Borders, Barnes and Noble, independent book stores, and online

A traveling  exhibit of fine art prints from BRILLIANT WATERS
is available for display at museums and galleries. Interested
exhibitors should contact Elizabeth Carmel for details on availability
and scheduling. Images from the BRILLIANT  WATERS exhibit will be on display at a show  opening  July 15, 2006 at the San  Diego Museum of Natural History.

BRILLIANT WATERS: 104 Pages, 12” x 12” Hardcover,  44 8x10” Color Plates.

            Publisher: Hawks Peak Publishing –

            Distributed by: Graphic Arts Publishing  Company, 800 452-3032 –

            ISBN-10:   0-9776877-0-8

Images from Alaska

It has taken me a few weeks to go through my image files and select my favorite shots from our trip through Southeast Alaska. The main goal of the trip for me was to get shots that I can include in a future book on Alaska, which will be in a format similar to my current book "Brilliant Waters". I also enjoyed looking through the indy bookstores in the various Alaskan towns we visited to find Alaskan poetry that I could use in my upcoming book. Some of the images I took may also be successful as fine art prints - I will print out a few and have them available for people to look at in our Truckee gallery. I have included 10 jpgs of some final images in the Southeast Alaska photo gallery in the right column. My Web Site is in the process of being updated with all the selected images, those should be on the site within the next week in the Alaska portfolio.

Last week NPR had a very important discussion about the climate changes occurring in Alaska. One show addressed How Alaskans are dealing with climate change  and another details the effect of climate change on the landscape. Both shows address the fact that Alaska is a rapidly transforming, and, in some cases, vanishing landscape. We may be among the last generations to witness the wonders of the vast Alaskan glaciers.


Friday, June 8, 2007

Challenges in Photographing Southeast Alaska

The inside passage region of Alaska is  a wonderful wilderness landscape that poses a number of challenges for photography. The first is access. Many of the most scenic areas require a long boat trip for access at sea level, or an expensive float plane trip that results in mainly aerial views. We decided to take a small boat cruise because it would allow us to visit remote areas that the big cruise ships cannot reach, and because relying on the Alaska ferry system would limit our stops to developed towns. Being on a small boat allowed access to small islands and inlets that would be difficult to reach otherwise. We were able to get in sea kayaks or skiffs to go ashore most days. We used the buddy system when hiking since this area has a large population of brown bears, which you do not want to surprise in the wilderness. I was able to get most of my landscape shots on these shore excursions. The rest of my photography was limited to shots from the boat, therefore it was a challenge to get a 3 dimensional composition since images always consisted of ocean followed by an assortment of mountains, sunsets, etc.  We took a floatplane trip into the Misty Fjords area from Ketchikan, and I was pleased with a few of the shots I was able to get from the floatplane. The challenge with airplane shots is to minimize window reflection by not shooting at an angle, and to use a fast shutter speed. There is not much time to grab a shot before it is gone, so you have to be quick. I was hand-holding the H3D in the airplane with a 50-110 zoom and that worked fine, although in hindsight I should have used an ISO of 200 instead of 100 to get faster shutter speeds. The new Camera Raw 4.1 has amazing noise removal capabilities that I think dramatically improve the results from shooting at a higher ISO - if I had known this before I left I would have used a higher ISO than 100 on my handheld shots. I am still working on my selected portfolio images from the trip and will post those next week, but here are a few  - the sunset was taken handheld from the boat, and the Misty Fjords shot was taken from the floatplane. The immense scale of the Misty Fjords landscape is hard to describe  - you can get somewhat of an idea by comparing the size of the very large trees to the cliffs and the shoreline in the image.




Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Alaska Report

We just returned from a wonderful trip along Alaska's inside passage. We spent 8 days on a yacht that cruised from Sitka to Juneau. We stopped in some wonderful remote bays and also stayed 1 night in Glacier Bay National Park. I highly recommend  the company we traveled with, American Safari Cruises, for anyone interested in seeing  this part of Alaska. I was focussed primarily on landscape shots since I was shooting with the H3D and it is not really the best tool for wildlife photography. It will take me a few weeks to go through my images and finalize the ones I will show on my website. I do have a couple of fun shots I am posting with this entry, one of a whale eating her  lunch, and one of a group of sea otters. I look forward to trying out the new Adobe Camera Raw 4.1 to process my image files. This new upgrade has some very powerful new features that are described in detail at Photoshop News . In the next week I will also be posting some additional reports about the Alaska trip.