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Lorem Ipsum

Quis autem vel eum iure eprehenderit, qui in ea voluptate velit esse, quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum, qui doloreeufugiat, quo voluptas nulla pariatur? [33]

At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus, qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti, quos dolores et quas molestias exceptursint, obcaecatcupiditatnon provident, similique sunt in culpaqui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga. Et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. Nam libero tempore, cum soluta nobis est eligendi optio,

cumque nihil impedit, quo minus id, quod maxime placeat, facere possimus, omnis voluptas assumenda est, omnis dolor repellendus. Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet, ut et voluptates repudiandae sint et molestiae non recusandae. Itaque earum rerum hic tenetur a sapiente delectus, ut aut reiciendis voluptatibus maiores alias consequatur aut perferendis doloribus asperiores repellat. 

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam eaque ipsa, quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt, explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem, quia voluptas sit, aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos, qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt, neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum, quia dolor sit, amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modtemporincidunt, ut labore et dolore magnaaliquam quaerat voluptatem.

Ut enim ad minimveniam, quis nostruexercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, 

nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur?

Quis autem vel eum iure eprehenderit, qui in ea voluptate velit esse, quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum, qui doloreeufugiat, quo voluptas nulla pariatur? [33]

At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus, qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti, quos dolores et quas molestias exceptursint, obcaecatcupiditatnon provident, similique sunt in culpaqui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga.

Et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. Nam libero tempore, cum soluta nobis est eligendi optio, cumque nihil impedit, quo minus id, quod maxime placeat, facere possimus, omnis voluptas assumenda est, omnis dolor repellendus. Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet, ut et voluptates repudiandae sint et molestiae non recusandae. Itaque earum rerum hic tenetur a sapiente delectus, ut aut reiciendis voluptatibus maiores alias consequatur aut perferendis doloribus asperiores repellat. 

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam eaque ipsa, quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt, explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem, quia voluptas sit, aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos, qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt, neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum, quia dolor sit, amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modtemporincidunt, ut labore et dolore magnaaliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad minimveniam, quis nostruexercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur?

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Building WordPress Photography Sites

I’ve built this site by hand using the best components I could find. After somewhat lengthy research and trial and error, I’ve arrived at two primary building-blocks: the theme, GeneratePress, and Jordy Meow’s suite of photography plugins.

For most any photography site, a decent gallery scheme is going to be the key component. Meow provides two plugins that allow you to easily create dynamic galleries directly from Adobe Lightroom.

The first is really a set of two plugins that allow syncing between Lightroom and WordPress. The second allows beautiful styling of galleries. They both operate completely independently from one another; you don’t have to use Meow Gallery, but I don’t think there’s a better one around.

For the site’s theme, any WordPress theme will work, but I arrived at GeneratePress after trying several others. If you want any level of customization, GeneratePress forces you to become familiar with its Elements system that allows you a high-degree of control over placement of blocks in almost any location in WordPress. As such it’s not as easy as WYSIWYG builders. But if you need to go that route, it also works fine with Elementor, Divi, Beaver and the like.

The benefits of GeneratePress are that it is lightweight and responsive. These are two things you need for a photography site that bears the burden of having many images.

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Holy Trinity of Plugins for WordPress and Lightroom

If you’re building a photography website on WordPress, and you use Lightroom, three plugins by Jordy Meow comprise the holy trinity (I wanted to say  holy Meow Mix – but… copyright) of WordPress photography plugins https://meowapps.com/. Photo Engine- WP/LR Sync This first part of this trinity is a two-parter plugin that allows you to sync images from Lightroom collections with your WordPress site.  Photo Engine is the plugin for the WordPress side, and WP/LR Sync, is the plugin on the Lightroom side. The power of this combination can’t be overstated. Want to add or delete an image to a specific, say “Architecture” WordPress gallery? Just move it into the Architecture collection you’ve set up in your Lightroom WP/LR Sync publishing service.  Press the publish button, and it uploads your image to your WordPress site. If, like me, you often go back and re-edit photos? No problem – your image in Lightroom’s WP/LR Sync is marked as a “Modified Photo to Republish” and again, it simply awaits a push of the “publish” button to upload to your WordPress site. Now for the fun on the WordPress side… After publishing, you’ll find your galleries (collections) neatly contained in WordPress folders. With the proper software (I suggest Meow Gallery, which I’ll cover next) you don’t need to touch WordPress once you’ve link a gallery to a page! Additions, deletions, and updates happen automagically! Your workflow effort has been reduced to next to nothing.  Updating, moving images, etc on your site is as easy as moving them into the proper collections in Lightroom! Meow Gallery If you’ve looked into gallery schemes for photography you may have fallen in love with tiled galleries. For galleries containing a mix of aspect ratios (think portrait, landscape, squarish) a tiled gallery to me is easily the most attractive form of presentation.  And you might have seen Jetpack’s implementation. It looks good, but it comes with one major drawback; Jetpack, a bulky sledgehammer of a plugin that includes many features you’re unlikely to need. Additionally, if you use Jetpack’s CDN, your images stay on it forever; to update an image, you need give it a new filename; think on that when you think “workflow”! I rejected that solution out of hand, and soon found a plugin “Tiled Galleries without Jetpack”, that worked pretty well. It’s really Jetpack’s tiling software without Jetpack. The “author” cleverly removes everything else. He says he’ll update whenever Jetpack does, but he hasn’t for a year. Perhaps Jetpack hasn’t updated its tiled gallery component, but that still made me a bit nervous. So I was delighted when I learned Meow Gallery had implemented tiled galleries.
A word here about Jordy, author of these plugins. Put simply, he knows what he is doing.  As you read through his documentation, you get a sense of his code-philosophy; he's been around the block and understands and avoids the pitfalls of bloated code that can slow down a site, and misbehaving code that crosses boundaries to conflict with other plugins - with resultant problems and debugging nightmares.

The code is clean; to add image titles for images in Meow Gallery, I used only basic coding skills to add a title field and a corresponding enable/disable checkbox in the admin menu. In documentation, he shows how to use filters to keep this sort of custom code out of the plugin itself so you can survive updates.
None of this will matter much to you if you're happy with these plugins out of the box, and you easily can be; Jordy gives plenty of configuration options in set-up menus.
Meow Lightbox Coming soon
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Tony Northrup is wrong (about Adobe Super Resolution)

Take a look at the left and right halves of the image below. Hover with your cursor and click.  These come from the same Canon RAW image. The left half is unprocessed, the right has only been upscaled using Adobe’s Super Resolution. The difference is clear.  Tony Northrup’s YouTube video on Super Resolution was sent to me independently by two members of a local photography club.  In it, he claims that Super Resolution is useless on all but Fuji X-trans files.

 

He’s wrong.  He misses the  primary use of the feature, namely, for shots that are heavily cropped. This photo is such an example. Ignore that it is boring; I grabbed it from an online sample.

Understand that the difference between the left and right images is hardly an anomaly. You will get similar results with any reasonably sharp low-pixel image.  The Super Resolution feature would yield similar results for a fuller frame image that had to be blown up to a very large size, such as a wall mural.

Northrup’s conclusions only apply to the case he presented: a well-composed full frame image displayed at moderate size.  (Even so, he compared an unprocessed Super Resolution image with an image he further tweaked for detail – not quite fair.) 

So for the images he worked with, he is correct that improvements are too marginal to be worth the effort.  Perhaps Northrup has no shots that suffer the low-resolution blues due to heavy cropping.

I am not so lucky.  So I used Jeffrey Friedl’s Data Explorer, a crazy useful plugin (grab it and tip him a few bucks) that allows Lightroom to find and group images by more than 200 data criteria – criteria like crop-amount.

I found dozens of images cropped at a rate of 50% or more that easily become candidates for Super Res treatment! These images become “rescue” images, and I hope that in the near future I’ll be able to batch-process them in Lightroom’s super resolution implementation (soon please, Adobe.)

Side note:

Fuji X-trans RAW files represent a special case; they require a specialized processing, and Lightoom’s less-than-stellar treatment has often led photographers to seek third-party solutions.  Some of these X-trans images will benefit from Super Resolution even at more “normal” sizings.

See my original post on Super Resolution which also has other image samples.

Below, a rather extreme blow-up.  

[twenty20 img1=”24032″ img2=”24031″ offset=”0.5″ before=”without” after=”with super resolution”]

LImagine these two treatments represented two different lenses. Would you want to take one back?

[twenty20 img1=”24095″ img2=”24096″ offset=”0.5″]

The original photo, to illustrate size. To reiterate, super resolution won’t make a difference unless you’re blowing an image up to a very large size, or using a very severe crop.  In either of these cases it can make a large difference.

Take a look at the left and right halves of the image below. Hover with your cursor and click.  These come from the same Canon RAW image. The left half is unprocessed, the right has only been upscaled using Adobe’s Super Resolution. The difference is clear.  Tony Northrup’s YouTube video on Super Resolution was sent to me independently by two members of a local photography club.  In it, he claims that Super Resolution is useless on all but Fuji X-trans files.

He’s wrong.  He misses the  primary use of the feature, namely, for shots that are heavily cropped. This photo is such an example. Ignore that it is boring; I grabbed it from an online sample.

Understand that the difference between the left and right images is hardly an anomaly. You will get similar results with any reasonably sharp low-pixel image.  The Super Resolution feature would yield similar results for a fuller frame image that had to be blown up to a very large size, such as a wall mural.

Northrup’s conclusions only apply to the case he presented: a well-composed full frame image displayed at moderate size.  (Even so, he compared an unprocessed Super Resolution image with an image he further tweaked for detail – not quite fair.) 

So for the images he worked with, he is correct that improvements are too marginal to be worth the effort.  Perhaps Northrup has no shots that suffer the low-resolution blues due to heavy cropping.

I am not so lucky.  So I used Jeffrey Friedl’s Data Explorer, a crazy useful plugin (grab it and tip him a few bucks) that allows Lightroom to find and group images by more than 200 data criteria – criteria like crop-amount.

I found dozens of images cropped at a rate of 50% or more that easily become candidates for Super Res treatment! These images become “rescue” images, and I hope that in the near future I’ll be able to batch-process them in Lightroom’s super resolution implementation (soon please, Adobe.)

Side note:

Fuji X-trans RAW files represent a special case; they require a specialized processing, and Lightoom’s less-than-stellar treatment has often led photographers to seek third-party solutions.  Some of these X-trans images will benefit from Super Resolution even at more “normal” sizings.

See my original post on Super Resolution which also has other image samples.

Below, a rather extreme blow-up.  

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Adobe Super Resolution – Fuji X-trans Game Changer!

Impatience got the best of me so I didn’t wait for Adobe’s new Super Resolution feature to reach Lightroom (it’s said to be coming soon).  So I tried it in Photoshop’s Camera Raw. Let’s cut to the chase – the results in certain circumstances are nothing less than staggering.

The following images tell the tale.  The one on the right is the Super Resolution image with four times the number of pixels as the original.

Note that this example is extremely blown up to 200% for the comparison.  At normal viewing levels, the differences aren’t nearly as impressive (more on this later).

Fuji shooters know that certain features such as leafy vegetation haven’t done so well with Adobe’s demosaicing algorithm. Fuji’s X-trans sensor uses a non-standard photosite array that while resolving some issues, has not had the greatest results with non-specialized (read: Adobe, for one) RAW sharpeners.

Tech note:

The easiest way to run it currently is by opening your RAW image (or jpg, but why?) in Photoshop (set to open files in Adobe Camera RAW mode). It’s hidden under the three dots and “enhance image.”

The massive file produced is autosaved to the original directory. You need import it into Lightroom.  I’ve had intermittent app crashes, and so far the best results seem to come when I close Lightroom and open the target file after Photoshop is already loaded, but have seen no clear reporting of this at the Adobe site. Your mileage may vary.

The below image represents a 200% blow-up.

[twenty20 img1=”23850″ img2=”23851″ offset=”0.5″ before=”Fuji RAW” after=”Super Resolution” hover=”true”]

A picture does say a thousand words, doesn’t it?  This was shot on my Fuji X-E2 which has 16 megapixels. It might forestall my need to upgrade in the neverending chase for more pixels.  I don’t know if images from cameras using traditional Beyer sensors will see as marked improvement.

Tony Northrup in a youTube video Photoshop Super Resolution: 4X megapixels (actually tested-surprising!) reports that the enhancement offers little improvement for non-Fuji images.  Tony is wrong by being right only in a limited sense:  Wrong About Super Resolution.

How does Adobe do this magic?  You’ve probably been hearing a lot more about artificial intelligence (AI) recently.  From Adobe’s website: “The idea is to train a computer using a large set of example photos. Specifically, we used millions of pairs of low-resolution and high-resolution image patches so that the computer can figure out how to upsize low-resolution images.”

Prior to AI, achieving higher resolution was done by blowing an image up to double its dimensions and then using a mathematical algorithm (bicubic interpolation) which essentially smooths the image by giving each pixel a bit of information from its neighboring pixels.  (Imagine each pixel as the center of a tic-tac-toe board, “borrowing” a little bit of information from each of its eight neighbors.)

With AI, something very different is happening; new information is added based on what the software thinks (from massive trained experience) should be there!

It should be understood that by creating pixels out of whole cloth, so to speak, AI can create problems of its own.  The information supplied might not be right. Artifacts can be introduced.

Below: the same image at 100%.  Notice how at this resolution, differences are minimal. Pay close attention to the bricks, directly under the glass portion of the light, the bare branches to the right of the light, and the bare branch that parallels the light. Both detail and color are improved, but ony marginally.

[twenty20 img1=”23883″ img2=”23882″ offset=”0.5″ before=”Fuji RAW” after=”Super Resolution” hover=”true”]

What’s the takeaway here?  If you’ve captured a scene full-frame and it is displayed at a normal size on, say the internet, or a 4×5 sized print – the difference will be visible, but very marginal.  But say you’re blowing up the image to an 8×11 or much larger print – then the difference can be very visible.

Let’s take a different example: you’ve taken a picture but discover in post-processing that you want to crop heavily.  Or perhaps you would have rather used a telephoto lens, but didn’t have one with you.  Blowing up your image would normally have shown extreme degradation.

Stephen Bay has done a super comparison of Super Resolution to Gigapixel AI, a product of Topaz software. Both products do essentially the same thing, with similar results.  I might prefer the Gigapixel treatment slightly; I like the denoising they add, not see it as fakey as Stephen does and am not bothered as much by the artifacts.

But these are quibbles; both products create magic.  It should be noted that both products create new image files that are much larger than the original RAWs. My Fuji shots are around 33mb in size and Super Resolution adds a new file about eight times larger!  In other words, this is a process best reserved for truly deserving shots.

The Topaz product, according to Bay, takes several minutes to process an image.  the damage for Adobe’s isn’t nearly as great; it took under a minute and a half for my XE-2 RAW on a mediocre computer.

Imagine these two treatments represented two different lenses. Would you want to take one back?

[twenty20 img1=”24095″ img2=”24096″ offset=”0.5″]

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Sharpen AI by Topaz Labs – a Winner!

Not long ago, I had the opportunity to photograph Kiane, a lovely Minneapolis-based model. One of my favorite shots of her was spoiled because I missed the focus. (Note to self: avoid using manual focus lenses in situations that are risky.)

Enter Sharpen AI, a software product created by Topaz Labs. Their claim was sharpening “repair jobs” that border on the miraculous, so I thought I’d give them a try. I’ll cut to the chase and present the before and after. The left ‘before” side represents my best effort to sharpen the image in Lightroom, the right “after” image is with Sharpen AI by Topaz Labs.

I have seen some “knock your socks off” examples, but this is not one of them. On a mobile device you won’t be able to see the difference, but on a desktop computer, particularly around her eyes and mouth, the difference is obvious. And it is exactly the difference between a shot that doesn’t quite make it, and one that does.

A side note or two. The image was shot on a Fuji X-E2. Results with Sharpen AI seemed to be better if I did not try to sharpen in Lightroom first, but this should be considered an early result. Also, Sharpen AI has three different sharpening “specialty” modes and I would not have considered the softness in this image, (exposed at 1/250s) to be a result of motion blur. But Sharpen AI’s auto-detect said that stabilization mode was the best way to go, and indeed it was. 

[twenty20 img1=”22753″ img2=”22757″ offset=”0.5″ before=”Before” after=”After”]

On the right is another example. Viewed from a desktop computer, the difference might be marginally noticeable, and on a phone is invisible. Now click on the image for a blow-up. The difference is obvious. (The left image is a little over-sharpened – I didn’t take the time to fix it.)  This helps illustrate an important point: sharpness is largely dependent on resolution, which is a function of viewing size and/or viewing distance.

This principle illustrates the “danger” of pixel-peeping; you can waste a lot of time and effort working to sharpen an image to use at a size or (less often) distance that renders the additional sharpening unnoticeable. Learning when and where it matters is key.

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Einstein & Monroe

You may have seen this illusion. Look at it close-up, and it is Albert Einstein. Back away a few feet and it is Marilyn Monroe. What is going on here? You’re seeing the effects of frequency resolution.

Close-up, you’re seeing the finer detail that is familiar to you as details of Einstein’s face. When you back away, (or perhaps, remove your glasses) that fine detail becomes lost to you in the distance, only to be replaced by the softer, less detailed information of Marilyn’s face.

It’s a little bit spooky and your initial takeaway might be that seeing is not believing.

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A quick note on my posts…

Most of these posts are in a state of creation and/or repair. Just as I’ll tweak images over time, so too, with my blog posts – with one important difference: while I’m not likely to post an image I think ‘deserving’, it’s a different story with most of my posts. Some of them barely deserve to be called rough drafts. The blog area is my mental sketchpad for ideas, and I’ve elected to just post them, unfinished.

I might even add more to this post, too.

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Arrival! – Viltrox 33mm f/1.4 for Fuji

After a long three (!) months of waiting from order to delivery, it arrived. It was said to be held up at shipping facility.

So far I only have “build” impressions (very good ones) but will be reporting soon on the quality of this budget prime lens.

UPDATE – early returns are in – I’m very pleased with the performance of this lens. See images here.

I also recently purchased the new 7artisans 60mm f/2.8 macro lens for Fuji. Unlike the Viltrox, it is a manual lens that can’t communicate with the camera in any way. It, too, is a good bang-for-the-buck lens and I will report on it in a future post.