Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

What is Focus Breathing?

Some lenses change apparent focal length during focus due to their optical design.

A demonstration of focus breathing in the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lenses

Some lenses change their apparent focal length as you move from infinity to near focus. This phenomenon is called “focus breathing.” In the video above, I demonstrate what this looks like using the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G and Nikon 50mm f/1.8S lenses on a Nikon Z7 mirrorless camera.

Pro Tip: Rename Your Image Files

Use Lightroom Classic to create meaningful photo file names automatically during import

Your camera automatically names image files using the convention: DSC_1234 (or similar). The problem with this naming format is that when your frame counter hits 9999, it rolls over and begins again at 0001. This means that over time, you’ll end up with many images on your computer all sharing the same filename. That can create headaches over time, especially if you’re trying to locate specific images on your computer outside of Lightroom.

In this video, I’ll show you how to rename your images upon import using Adobe Lightroom Classic. The convention I use combines my initials (JPO) with a sortable date (YYYMMDD) and then the frame number from the original image. This technique only works if you’ve set the date correctly in your camera. The advantage of this technique is that if you’re looking for images on your computer, each file will have a unique name that includes date information to help you locate it. Once you’ve set up a file renaming template in Lightroom, you can use it to rename images that are already in your Lightroom catalog.

Dealing with a blown-out moon in landscape photos

Using Photoshop to create natural landscape photos that include the moon

In landscape photography at twilight, the moon will most likely be blown-out. Here’s how to get a natural moon exposure in your images by using Adobe Photoshop.

When photographing landscapes at twilight that include the moon, proper exposure can be nearly impossible to achieve. That’s because while the dim light of twilight requires a relatively long exposure, the moon requires nearly a sunny-16 exposure. As a result, there is no one camera exposure setting that will get the scene right. Your options are:

  • Under-expose the scene and recover shadows & highlights in post
  • Properly expose for the landscape and blow out the moon
  • Bracket exposures and combine them in post

All of the above options have drawbacks. In an under-exposed image, you’ll be prone to getting noise when you try to recover shadow details, and you may or may not be able to recover detail in the moon. If the moon is very small in the frame (as with wide-angle lenses), you can make the conscious choice to just allow it to blow out completely. Bracketing exposures is another option, but I’ve found that traditional exposure blending or HDR tone-mapping just doesn’t quite produce the results I’d like, because the blown-out areas around the moon often bleed into the sky or are exacerbated by thin clouds.

Recently while I was in the field, I decided to try a variation on exposure blending. I captured two shots: the first was exposed only for the moon, and the second shot was properly exposed for the landscape. I then used Adobe Photoshop to combine the images, but instead of just blending them (as with a traditional composite), I had to completely remove the blown-out moon from the landscape photo using Photoshop’s Content-Aware Fill tool.

Video: Processing Landscape Photos with the Moon (Photoshop)

Photographing Fall Colors

Fall colors adorn the mountainsides in Teller county, Colorado
Fall colors adorn the mountainsides in Teller county, Colorado

Pro tips for photographing fall colors and foliage

As summer starts to fade, it’s time to turn our thoughts to the approach of autumn. The smell of pumpkin spice is in the air, and soon the leaves will be turning. If you want to photograph the changing leaves this year, it’s good to have a plan, and have the right approach. Here are my tips for getting outstanding photos of fall colors.

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How to Fix Banding in Digital Images

Remove Banding Artifacts with Photoshop

Mirrorless cameras converted for infrared capture can be prone to banding artifacts.

When I got my infrared-converted Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera, a colleague told me to watch out for banding in my images. I have never seen banding in images from my normal Nikon Z cameras, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

It turns out that in rare instances, I can detect slight banding patterns, especially if I’ve made strong local contrast adjustments, like the Structure slider in Silver Efex Pro 2.

Removing banding from digital images with Photoshop
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