Understanding the creative aspect of lens aperture
We all learn in Photography 101 that the aperture setting is a physical property of the lens, and you can vary its size to control the amount of light entering your camera. Usually, we think of aperture as it relates to the rules of exposure.
Back when I was shooting film and early digital cameras, it was considered ideal to have a “fast” lens (meaning one with an aperture of f/2.8 or wider). Why? because with limited ISO options (remember film rarely was faster than ISO 800 and early DSLRs got noisy in a hurry above ISO 400), a fast lens meant you could shoot hand-held in dim conditions without a flash.
Today, ISO no longer limits most photographers. Sure, images are still cleaner and have greater dynamic range at a camera’s base ISO, but you can shoot above ISO 6400 these days pretty much with impunity. That means you have much more creative latitude to choose the aesthetic of your shots by varying the lens aperture.
Double the size of your RAW files without losing detail
Today, Adobe released Camera Raw 13.2. Like most updates to Camera Raw, this one includes new camera and lens support. However, Adobe has added a new feature in Camera Raw 13.2 called “Super Resolution.” This new feature uses AI technology to double the linear pixel dimensions of your image files, including RAWs. The result is an image with 4x the resolution of the original with remarkable detail preservation. This new feature creates a “supersized” DNG format raw file from your camera raw image that can be opened in Photoshop. This new feature is not yet in Lightroom, but it will be arriving soon.
Using Photoshop to create natural landscape photos that include the moon
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)
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.