Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How we edit and organize our pictures

We've been using Adobe Lightroom to organize and edit our pictures.  We've been trying to take most of our pictures as RAWs.  This means that your pictures take up considerably more space (~15 MB) than a normal JPEG (1-3 MB), but edits on RAWs tend to look a lot better then if you were editing the JPEG directly.  For a more in-depth discussion of the tradeoffs, SLR Lounge has a pretty good article on the differences between the two formats.

Editing makes a pretty big difference to some pictures - particularly underwater photos, and photos that were over or underexposed.

Here's an example of one of our pictures from the summit of Mount Kinabalu (you can click to enlarge).  On the left is the original, unedited picture.  The center panel shows the result of increasing the brightness on the JPEG vs increasing the brightness on the RAW in the final panel.  All that I did to this picture was increase the exposure.

Original, edited JPEG, edit RAW
Here's an example of one of my jellyfish pictures from our dive at Point Lobos. I took a lot more artistic liberty with this photo. Red light penetrates water the least, so underwater pictures tend to have a bit of a bias towards green. I made it a lot bluer - probably bluer than the water actually was.  I also played around a bit with the exposure, whites, blacks, shadows and highlights - basically to try to get the jellyfish to standout a bit more.

Original (left) and edited (right) version picture of a jellyfish
Here's what lightroom looks like.  This is in "develop" mode - most of what I'm doing just involves moving the sliders around and seeing what I like best.

Laura's has a copy of Adobe Photoshop as well.  Photoshop is a lot more sophisticated and works on a per-photo basis; it doesn't have any of the album management features that Lightroom provides.  If you do decide to start shooting in RAW and you're looking for an easy way to organize and edit your photos give Lightroom a try (Adobe offers a free 30-day trial)!

PS.  Thanks to Marta and Kim for suggesting Lightroom to us (and convincing us that shooting in RAW is worthwhile).

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Diving at Point Lobos

Jerome -- The only time that Laura and I dived in Northern California was in February when we were getting our Open Water Certification.  Those dives spent the majority of the time doing the dive training exercises. So this was our first "real" fun diving back at home.

Laura opted to go with a full drysuit.  It creates a watertight seal around your neck and wrists and in theory keeps you a lot warmer in cold water.  The downside is that a dry-suit is more complicated, more expensive, harder to maintain buoyancy (at least for a drysuit beginner) requires you to wear a lot more weights (to offset the air in the suit. I really disliked the choking feeling from the neck seal, so I opted to wear a wetsuit (varying in thickness from 8mm - 5mm).  Water on the surface wasn't too bad - even when we hung out on the surface for 30 minutes waiting for everyone to get properly weighted etc, the cold wasn't too bad.  But at the bottom it was cold - only 11°C!!  Both Laura and I noticed that we moved and functioned considerably slower in the cold water.

What did we get to see?  On the surface, we saw an otter, a sea lion, and pelican.  Down below, there were lots of pretty big jelly fish, nice anemones, fish, lots of kelp -- an a friendly seal that came by to check us out!  Visibility wasn't great -- I'd guess about 3m or so. And because it was so cold, our dives weren't too long - around 30 minutes rather than the hour we'd generally do in warm water.  On the surface, the rocking of the waves on the little zodiacs was pretty unpleasant -- I think most of the people on the boat were feeling some degree of seasickness.

Not sure how often we'll be braving the cold to scuba dive out here in the future.  It's a very unique marine environment, but its a lot of time and effort for the fairly short dives and the cold a low visibility make it a bit less rewarding.