• More extreme D600 shadow recovery for outdoor photography

    I’ve been after this shot for years, every time I visit this spot. For one reason or another — light coming from the wrong side, uninteresting sky — I’ve never been satisfied with the type of shot I got. This year I was fortunate to have the right sky, but at the wrong time of the day, when these two rocks were side/back-lit.

    Fortunately, just a couple of minutes of post-processing in Lightroom gave me some pleasing results. The key here was to expose for the sky then use that amazing D600 dynamic range to recover detail in the shadows, as we also saw in a previous article.

    To show how this worked, let’s first see the shot as captured in the camera with the Landscape Picture Control with a straight, no edits conversion in ViewNX.

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    To show some nominal shadow recovery here’s the same shot with +100 shadow recovery applied in ViewNX. A significant improvement, but this shot has lots of built-in potential left.

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    To fully optimize the final result I used Lightroom, first applying a custom preset I developed for my landscapes, followed by shadow recovery adjustments. To complete the edit I also used the adjustment brush to selectively apply exposure compensation to the shadow areas on the nearest rock.

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    Eduardo Suastegui is a fine art photographer serving Los Angeles with story-telling wedding and event photography.


  • Outdoor Photography at Buck Rock Lookout, Sequoia National Forest

    Atop an 8,500 ft. peak with 360° views of the surrounding Sequoia National Forest and beyond, Buck Rock Lookout makes for striking outdoor photography. If you can make it up there as I did this summer, it’s worth a trip. Though its principal purpose enables rangers to spot fires in the surrounding forest, you may find, as I did earlier this week, that you also spot a few photographs while you’re there. I hope you enjoy the few I captured in the very short 40 minutes I was there.

    [Click on each image to view it larger]

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    Eduardo Suastegui is a fine art photographer, serving Los Angeles with story-telling wedding photography.


  • D600 color processing: NX vs. Lightroom

    Over the past couple of weeks I’ve participated and/or read a number of online discussions about colors and how well they turn out or look. I thought I’d share a shot I took this spring in New Orleans’ French Quarter, processed 4 different ways to highlight why I prefer LR over NX for quick RAW conversions that give me colors I like.

    Note I said “I like.” Color “quality” more often than not comes down to (a) preference and (b) what we’ve gotten used to as “normal” or “accurate,” so I don’t expect others to necessarily concur with my choices. Don’t let preference distract you from the point I want to convey, namely that with Lightroom one can adjust and enhance color more flexibly to arrive at the desired result than if one were to rely on Nikon’s Picture Control construct.

    Having said that, let’s look at the first two samples, both converted in ViewNX. The first one is a straight conversion using the Picture Control I had set in the camera (Portrait). For me this result is okay, perhaps even “true to life,” but lacks pop.

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    For the next sample, I used ViewNX to switch to the Landscape Picture Control. Now I get a little bit more pop, especially in the sky where I like deeper blues. Notice that the bass is also a deeper, more eye-catching orange. Blues and oranges play off each other (opposite in the color wheel), so that’s an appealing element in this photo.

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    Now let’s switch over to Lightroom for this next sample. I prefer Lightroom because it lets me isolate the effect I want by color (blue, orange, red, yellow, green, etc.). It also lets me play with tone curves on the R,G,B channels independently (can’t do that with Picture Control Utility), which, although not used in this case, gives another layer of power and flexibility. Ditto for split-toning. As you can see in this sample, the blues are really popping (okay, perhaps over the top), but this is one preset I ginned up which I sometimes apply to my outdoor non-people photos.

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    In the end, I went with a VSCO modified preset I use for my people photography. The look is more “filmy” (allegedly emulating Kodak Portra 160 film stock) for what I think is an interesting, appealing result. If you look inside this preset, you will find lots of the independent color tweaking I mentioned along with a multifaceted tone curve. For me this “filmy” look best fits the subject, namely some cool-looking musicians in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

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    Again, you may not agree with my preferences, but hopefully you now see how many more possibilities you may have for creativity and expression when you move beyond the Nikon Picture Control construct. Let me know what you think!

    Eduardo Suastegui serves Los Angeles, California with story-telling event and wedding photography.


  • Post Mardi Gras in New Orleans

    This spring I visited New Orleans a few days after Mardi Gras, where I enjoyed flexing my travel photography muscles. I’ve been so busy lately, I forgot I had these sitting somewhere in my computer. After a little culling and post-processing, I’m finally able to share them with you. Let me know what you think.

    (Click on any image to see it larger)

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    Eduardo Suastegui is a fine art photographer serving in Los Angeles with story-telling wedding and event photography.


  • Travel photography: Road trip to Ouray, Colorado

    During a recent stay in Durango, Colorado, we went on a day road trip to Ouray. Expecting a lot of quaint, we were surprised to learn that surrounded by high mountains, Ouray is also quite the 4×4 off-roading mecca. We spent a few hours window shopping, walking about town, lunching at the local brewery, and hiking to one of the local falls.

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    Eduardo Suastegui is a fine art photographer serving Los Angeles with event and wedding photography.


  • Celebrating a 50th birthday in Durango Colorado

    I had a great time photographing a 50th birthday celebration for a dear friend. Here are a few of my favorite photos captured over the course of a few days that included enjoying the 4th of July parade and great zip-lining at Soaring Colorado. You may also access the full photo gallery here…

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    Eduardo Suastegui serves Los Angeles with wedding and event story-telling photography.