2009 Website Newsletter – 3

PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS & SEMINARS

HOLDEN ARBORETUM – CARVER’s POND (JUNE 20, 2009)

Carvers Pond at The Holden Arboretum in Lake County, Ohio
Carver's Pond at The Holden Arboretum in Lake County, Ohio

I’ll be visiting Holden Arboretum on June 20 for a one-day photo workshop exploring Carver’s Pond, one of my favorite places at the Arboretum.  After a morning classroom session on digital nature photography, we’ll enjoy a woodland hike to one of the finest hilltop views at Holden, followed by a steep descent through the woods to Carver’s Pond, which has a fine summer display of water lilies, as well as many dragonflies, beaver activity, and early summer wildflowers. We’ll meet again on July 7 from 7-9 pm to share and critique photos taken during the workshop.  To register, call Vonna Zahler at (440)-602-3833, or visit Holden’s website:

www.holdenarb.org

COASTAL MAINE BOTANICAL GARDENS, BOOTHBAY, MAINE (JUNE 27-28, 2009)

Marsh view, Acadia National Paerk, Maine
Marsh view, Acadia National Park, Maine

Boothbay Harbor on the coast of Maine is home to Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, the largest public garden in the state, and the host for a two-day Digital Garden Photography Workshop on Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28, 2009. In late June lupines, cliff roses, wild iris and other early summer wildflowers will be in bloom, plus a variety of horticultural displays, majestic ledges and stonework, pristine forest and tranquil water views in the gardens.  This will be an intensive, two-day workshop that will provide an in-depth introduction to digital nature and garden photography with an afternoon photo shoot and a review and critique of your photos.

For more information about Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, call (207)-633-4333 or visit their website at:

www.MaineGardens.org

PLEASE NOTE – THIS WORKSHOP IS FULL!

ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS, HAMILTON, ONTARIO (SEPTEMBER 12-13, 2009)

Lilac Dell, Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, Ontario
Lilac Dell, Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, Ontario

During the mid-1990s, I visited the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario, one of Canada’s premier public gardens, several times to photograph lilacs and other shrubs for a book on gardening with shrubs and vines.  I will be returning to Hamilton on September 12-13, 2009 to conduct a two-day Garden Photography Workshop at the Royal Botanical Gardens. For more information about the workshop, call Nancy Lee-Colibaba at (905)-527-1158 (Ext. 510), or visit the Royal Botanical Gardens’ website at:

www.rbg.ca

THE NATURE CONSERVANCY IN OHIO

One of the most effective environmental conservation organizations is The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which since its founding in 1951 has protected more than 119 million acres of critical habitat and more than 5,000 miles of rivers in 30 countries and all 50 U.S. states. With more than 1 million members, TNC is a powerful voice in conserving the world’s best remaining habitats – have you joined TNC yet?

The Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy has helped to protect more than 40,000 acres of natural habitats in the Buckeye State, and this spring I was invited by Terry Seidel, Ohio’s director of land protection to obtain new photographs of several TNC preserves in the Buckeye State.

Large Red Oak at Rothenbuhler Woods, Monroe County, Ohio
Large Red Oak at Rothenbuhler Woods, Monroe County, Ohio

The photo above shows TNC’s Ross LeBold and Monroe County, Ohio landowner Neal Marty at the base of a large Red Oak at Rothenbuhler Woods, a 200-acre old growth forest near Sunfish Creek in  southeast Ohio.  This is one of the steepest hillside preserves I have visited in the Buckeye State, and I’m very grateful to Neal for his help in carrying some of my camera gear back up the  hillside after we had scrambled 500 feet down the slope to obtain photographs.

Vernal Pool in Hemlock Swamp, Ashtabula County, Ohio
Vernal Pool in Hemlock Swamp, Ashtabula County, Ohio

The above photo shows a vernal pool in a 250 acre hemlock-birch swamp forest that was recently acquired as an addition to Morgan Swamp, one of Ohio’s largest inland wetlands, in Ashtabula County.  Black bear, bobcat, and snowshoe hare are three of the notable inhabitants of this pristine TNC area, together with an array of ferns, hemlock trees and unusual plants.

Lupines at Kitty Todd Preserve near Toledo, Ohio
Lupines at Kitty Todd Preserve near Toledo, Ohio

The third TNC preserve I visited was Kitty Todd, west of Toledo in the Oak Openings area of Lucas County. In late May, many of the open oak savannahs were carpeted with Wild Lupine, which is the host plant for the endangered Karner Blue, a diminutive butterfly that was extirpated from Ohio but has been reintroduced in recent years by the staff and volunteers at Kitty Todd, with help from the Toledo Zoo.  Several other rare butterflies occur in this region, including the Persius Duskywing and Frosted Elfin, but the flamboyant Karner Blue, shown below, steals the show.

Male Karner Blue on Lupine, Kitty Todd Preserve, Ohio
Male Karner Blue on Lupine, Kitty Todd Preserve, Ohio

For more information on The Nature Conservancy, visit their website at:

www.tnc.org

Butterfly aficionados may also enjoy the photo below, which shows an adult Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly that has just emerged from the chrysalis, shown alongside. The Baltimore Checkerspot is locally common in the Buckeye State, but until a recent visit to a wetland in northeast Ohio I had been unable to find a colony during mid-June, when the Baltimore Checkerspot is on the wing.

Baltimore Checkerspot and Chrysalis, northeast Ohio
Baltimore Checkerspot and Chrysalis, northeast Ohio

A TALE OF TWO PHOTOSHOP PLUG-INS

I use Adobe’s Photoshop CS4 with Bridge for virtually all my browsing, editing, and fine-tuning of digital photographs.  Why not Lightroom, some of you may be asking? For one thing, I dislike having to navigate backwards and forwards between Lightroom and Photoshop whenever I want to use a layer-based technique. I don’t shoot thousands of new images each month, and the elegant, metadata-based search techniques provided by Lightroom are of limited usefulness since I don’t sell much of my photography as stock. Nor do I wish to undertake the considerable task of converting my 700 gB of digital photographs stored in multiple folders on my Drobo drives into a single, unified Lightroom database. It’s a worthwhile project, but not one I plan to undertake in the near future.

Photoshop CS4 provides a staggering array of sophisticated features, and the only plug-in that I find indispensable is Photokit Sharpener from Pixel Genius. The extensive facilities for Capture Sharpening, Creative Sharpening, and Output Sharpening are fast, easy to use and provide excellent results.

Each year I sell a large number of Epson Ultrachrome color (and a few black-&-white) inkjet prints to clients, including hospitals, corporations and other large institutions. Many of these clients are selecting prints for display in corridors, conference rooms, and other large spaces, and I often receive orders for 24×30-inch, 30×40-inch and 40×50-inch prints. I make these prints by up-sizing TIFF files created by scanning 6x8cm and 4×5-inch color transparencies, or up-sizing TIFF files produced directly with my 12 mB Nikon  D2x and D700 digital cameras.  As recommended by Adobe, I use the Image Size command with the Bicubic Smoother option for up-sizing TIFF files for large prints, and the Image Size command with the Bicubic Sharper option for down-sizing TIFF files to produce JPEGs for use in Powerpoint, emails, and my website gallery.     This approach is very fast and provides excellent results.

Recently I received an email inviting me to download a trial version of Genuine Fractals, a program from the Altamira Group designed for up-sizing files.  I tested Genuine Fractals by enlarging several 35 mB TIFF files, which produce approximately 12×18-inch prints @ 240 ppi, to 205 mB files that produce 30×42-inch prints @ 240 ppi.  Each up-sizing procedure in Genuine Fractals took more than a minute on my Core 2 Duo PC, while each Photoshop CS4 Image Size command took just a few seconds. I made 12×18-inch test prints of a section of each of the 30×42-inch prints on my Epson Stylus Pro 9800 printer, using Premium Luster paper, and was unable to detect any meaningful difference between the Genuine Fractals and Photoshop CS4 prints, even when using a loupe. The “Pro” version of Genuine Fractals costs $299, and Altamira includes a “free” gallery wrap routine for use when making canvas prints that need to be stretched over a wooden frame.  Sorry folks, but there are several Photoshop scripts and actions that do this gallery wrap and are truly free and may be downloaded at no cost from several websites. My advice – save your money and buy a copy of Adobe’s Lightroom, or something else that costs almost $300 – instead.

A Photoshop plug-in that I find much more compelling is Perceptool, which may be downloaded for a free 30-day trial from the website of its creator, black-&-white photography expert George DeWolfe, who studied with Ansel Adams, Minor White, and Dr. Richard Zakia.  During the past 40 years, Mr. DeWolfe has studied how we perceive images, and his plug-in, Perceptool, takes the “luminance” image produced by a digital camera and converts it to a “luminosity” image as perceived by the visual cortex of the brain. Although the plug-in was designed for use primarily with B&W images, I have applied it to numerous color photographs and found that in every case there is a perceptible improvement in the image.  The Perceptool plug-in adjusts the tonality and contrast of highlights, midtones, and shadow areas in subtle ways that make the image “glow”.  And the price, at $89, is very reasonable.

You can download a trial version of Perceptool from George DeWolfe’s website at:

www.georgedewolfe.com

Also available for download is a free PDF that explains how Perceptool works. You may also be interested in George DeWolfe’s new book, B&W Printing: Creating the Digital Master Print , published by Lark Books.

NEW ENGLAND TRIP

I will be leaving for two weeks in New England on June 21, including my June 27-28 garden photography workshop at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens near Boothbay. Before the workshop, I’ll be joining friends for a few days in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where we hope to photograph fields of wild lupines and alpine flowers near the summit of Mount Washington. After the workshop, I plan to explore the lower coast of Maine for a few days before returning home around July 5.

Until my next newsletter, enjoy your summer, wherever you plan to spend it!

Best Wishes,

Ian and Fuji

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