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Tag : RAW

Buttermilk Creek

Because it has such a short watershed Buttermilk Creek tends to run dry for most of the year. With the rain over the past couple of days I decided to gamble and venture out to see what it can really look like. To my good fortune Mother Nature provided me an amazing array of deep rich colours to enjoy. From the green of the moss to the orange, yellow and red of the leaves. Accompanied by the sound of roaring water these gifts were my reward for joining her in the rain.

Post Processing

All of my images are initially downloaded from the memory card to my hard drive using Adobe Lightroom 4. This image is a three image HDR that combines -2EV, 0EV, +2EV to bring out the maximum amount of detail in the shadow and the highlight areas. The images were combined using Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro 2. After the image merge the image was saved back to Lightroom for some final adjustments to various colour values as well as to add a slight vignette.


  • Location: Buttermilk Creek, Hamilton, Canada
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D
  • Lens: Sigma 18-200 mm
  • Focal Length: 28mm
  • Aperture: f/11
  • Shutter Speed: .5 sec., 2 sec., 8 sec.
  • ISO: 100
  • Metering Mode: Pattern Metering
  • Tripod: Manfrotto 055CL
  • Manfrotto 486 RC2 ballhead

Why I shoot RAW

Recently I got into a discussion with someone online about why one should choose to capture images in RAW rather than JPEG. The comment to me was basically “the JPEG looks great right out of the camera but the RAW image looks flat and boring. Why should I bother with it?”

The reason is RAW files contain all of the visible light information that is presented in the scene and lets you decide how to develop it.

A JPEG file on the other hand contains only  small portion. Essentially your camera records every bit of light it is shown and then applies a predetermined recipe to create an averaged image and throws away all of the unused info when it writes the JPEG file to your memory card. If there was very dark shadows or bright highlights in the scene they will be in your image and there’s no way you’re going to recover those areas because the info is gone. If you had the incorrect white balance selected you’re beat there too, it’s baked in to the file.

Getting back to the RAW file, although it may look a little flat to start you have a tremendous amount of latitude when it comes to editing the image. Have a spot that’s a little too dark? You can solve that. How about a spot that is a little too bright? You can solve that too. Don’t like the overall colour that you achieved with the “Auto White Balance” setting? Well try changing it to “Daylight” or “Cloudy” or any of the other WB settings to get a more pleasing feel.

Here’s a perfect example of what I mean. The image on the left is straight out of the camera with the scene exposed for the light in the sky.

The image on the right is the same shot with only adjustments made in Adobe Lightroom.
Aside from the adjustments that you can see on the sliders I used the brush tool to selectively paint in a little exposure adjustment in a few areas and set the Camera Camera Calibration to “Camera Deep”
No HDR, No Photoshop, No other tricks, just Lightroom
This is why I shoot RAW.

So next time you think to yourself “why RAW?” just give it a try and you just may convince yourself.


  • Location: Hamilton Waterfront Trail
  • Camera: Sony NEX-7
  • Lens: Sony 18-55 f3.5-5.6
  • Focal Length: 18mm
  • Aperture: f/8.0
  • Shutter Speed: 1/20 sec.
  • ISO: 100
  • Metering Mode: Pattern Metering

The Fog

I recently joined a community on Google+ where people post about my hometown Hamilton Ontario. After viewing a number of wonderful images I was inspired to share this interesting shot that I captured last fall.

I was sitting on my deck getting ready to enjoy a beverage and perusing Twitter when a number of local tweets began referencing an eerie fog that was engulfing the lower city. Not one to need much prompting I quickly changed plans, grabbed my camera, hopped in the car and headed to an amazing place to view this wonderful city, Sam Lawrence Park.

The light was falling fast. However since I was a little trigger happy when leaving the house I neglected to bring along a tripod! This made it a challenge to shoot the way I had hoped. I was thinking long exposure with a small aperture at ISO 100 but that was all out the window because of my silly mistake. Oh well, I had to make the best of it.

Since I was hand holding in low light I was forced to push the ISO to 3200 so I could still stop the aperture down a little to f6.3 for better depth of field and still shoot with a slow shutter 1/40 sec. with no camera shake. Since I was shooting at 24mm I was on the edge of  the safety zone for that. The rough rule for avoiding camera shake being, keep your shutter speed at or above your focal length. I probably could have shot at 1/25 sec. but I’m not that steady.

The other challenge I had with this image was the colour. Since our eyes have a dynamic range of about 11 stops of light and the camera only sees 3, what I was seeing was hard to record. If I had that tripod I could have shot a multiple frame HDR to capture a broad spectrum of light and combined them in post to present how I remembered it. But I didn’t, so I had to “cheat” a little.

Since I shoot almost primarily in RAW I had a little more latitude with the editing of this image. Once home I imported it into Adobe Lightroom and got to tweaking. I increased the exposure, opened the shadows, decreased the highlights, added some clarity, boosted the vibrance, added a little sharpening, decreased the noise and added a vignette to draw your eye to the center.

After all of the editing I had the image that I remembered in my minds eye.


  • Location: Sam Lawrence Park
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D
  • Lens: Canon 24-70mm f2.8L
  • Focal Length: 24mm
  • Aperture: f/6.3
  • Shutter Speed: 1/40 sec.
  • ISO: 3200
  • Metering Mode: Pattern Metering

Playing in the winter sun

It’s been quite a while since I have had a chance to go out and shoot, just for fun.

Recently, Kathy and I decided to take our puppies out for a walk and just let them be dogs. Go, run around in the field and have a good time just playing. I hoped to get a few shots of them on a generic natural background but it took a little planning to achieve success. By incorporating the use of a circular polarizer to control the light, shooting RAW to capture enhanced dynamic range and a little post processing to bring out the best of the images, we now have a few frame worthy shots to hang in the house.

Post Processing

All of my images are initially downloaded from the memory card to my hard drive using Adobe Lightroom 4. For this image,  shadow and highlight adjustments were made, the image was warmed by boosting the color temperature a little, overall vibrance was boosted and a slight vignette was added. Prior to finishing the image it was then opened in Photoshop where I used the content aware patch tool to remove the distracting plant that appears in the middle of Sandy’s chest and beside her shoulder.


  • Location: Mount Albion Conservation Area
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D
  • Lens: Canon 70-200mm f2.8L
  • Focal Length: 73mm
  • Aperture: f/3.2
  • Shutter Speed: 1/1600 sec.
  • ISO: 100
  • Metering Mode: Pattern Metering

Billy Monkley Cascade

One foggy October morning in Hamilton, Canada.

Post Processing

All of my images are initially downloaded from the memory card to my hard drive using Adobe Lightroom.  For this image some minor adjustments to various colour values and saturation were made, as well a slight vignette was added.


  • Location: Billy Monkley Cascade, Mount Albion Conservation Area
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D
  • Lens: Sigma 18-200mm
  • Focal Length: 21mm
  • Aperture: f/22
  • Shutter Speed: 2 sec.
  • ISO: 100
  • Metering Mode: Pattern Metering
  • Tripod: Manfrotto 055CL
  • Manfrotto 486 RC2 ballhead


Get out and enjoy the colour!

The leaves may almost be gone but there is still plenty of color to enjoy in Hamilton.

Image Details

  • Location: Mount Albion Conservation Area
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D
  • Lens: Canon EF24-70L
  • Focal Length: 70mm
  • Aperture: f/10
  • Shutter Speed: 1/125 sec.
  • ISO: 640
  • Metering Mode: Pattern Metering
  • Hand Held

So, I won a photo contest!

Recently I opened my email and scanned a message that started “Congratulations! Out of thousands of outstanding submissions…”

Since I get so much spam I figured that this was just another message that got past my spam filter. However upon reading further I saw the words “Lake Shebeshekong” and that stopped my cursor from completing its journey to the delete icon. I thought to myself “I know that lake, we were there this summer!” Since I was just reading the message preview I was a little confused so I decided I better open the message and investigate.

When I did, I read the complete message “Congratulations! Out of thousands of outstanding submissions for the Canadian Tourism Commission’s 35 Million Directors project we’ve selected your image to be part of our website that combines inspiring clips from across Canada”.  Upon seeing the Government of Canada logo and the name of my photo “Lake Shebeshekong Sunset” it all cam back to me.

Back in August I submitted my photo to a contest that I became aware of on Twitter. I searched out the site, submitted in the final days the contest was open and then, due to age, I promptly forgot about the contest until I received the email message.

I am actually pretty proud of the shot, I even have it printed, framed and ready for hanging here at home. And that says a lot because I don’t usually print my images.

To my delight I found out the prize that I won is a GoPro camera package worth about $500.

Now I have a completely new direction to follow with my creations. With an underwater housing and video/still capability I can think of all kinds of neat ways to capture content. In fact, just this morning I recorded the trip I take to drop my daughter off at school. Isn’t that exciting? OK, maybe not, but now I have a new toy to play with that will hopefully net me some cool content to share here. Only time will tell…


  • Location: Lake Shebeshekong, Parry Sound, Canada
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D
  • Lens: Canon EFS 10-22 mm
  • Focal Length: 10mm
  • Aperture: f/22
  • Shutter Speed: 30 seconds
  • ISO: 100
  • Metering Mode: Pattern Metering
  • Tripod: Manfrotto 055CL
  • Manfrotto 486 RC2 ballhead


To enhance or not enhance?

Recently I, along with others, was on the receiving end of some criticism for the style of images that I post on a certain user group on Facebook. The group is comprised of outdoors enthusiasts that specifically enjoy the number and variety of waterfalls in Hamilton, Ontario (The Waterfall Capital of the World – 140 waterfalls) Many of the members post images of the various falls that they visit on their outings and the comments (usually positive) ensue.

Recently however one member decided to post his image (which was very good) but added the caption “This was taken with a camera” to which he followed “My photos are not “PLAYED WITH”. All I do is a little color correction and exposure setting and maybe a little unsharp mask. I try to get it right in the camera first and not rely on photo shop to fix what should have been done in the camera.” 

As you might expect the flaming arrows started to fly back and forth. I sat back and followed the thread with interest to see where it would go. Part way along the moderator intervened to control the situation and to his credit he did not delete any of the posts. There were a few additional posts of support for the original “not “PLAYED WITH”” guy as well as his detractors who like me “PLAY WITH” our photos.

Below is one of my photos (before and after) that I am sure was the subject of the “PLAYED WITH” comment. My minds eye saw an image that my camera could not capture. With the help of Adobe Lightroom I got pretty close to the image I had envisioned when I pressed the shutter release.

So here is my question, when is it OK to edit a photo and when do you stop?