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Notes on using this feature, photography equipment and software, and technical image information

The following annual trip Chronicles focus on my photography trips each year providing images and commentary in chronological order. The long term purpose of these chronicles is primarily as way for me to better recall events while memories of my field work are still fresh so years later when I exhibit work using 8k UHD displays, these records will help describe events. And a secondary purpose of course, is to modestly entertain the public on current adventures.

All road trips are at least mentioned briefly with dates however those that did not result in notable work may just include a single sentence without images. The commentary includes insights into trip planning strategy and especially trip timing as that is the most difficult to understand element for outdoor landscape photographers because with some subjects timing is limited often weather dependent. For example, the peak of wildflower blooming or in the fall, leaf color change, is often brief at any location changing somewhat year to year. I also provide insights into strategy once out at locations, not all of which end up with success. Additionally provide some events during trips as they unfolded, life on the road, adventure out in the field, and particularly what, where, when, how images selected for this feature were taken. I take numbers of images but only some are strong enough for public exposure and of those only a representative selection will fit into a feature like this. In other words I may capture a few strong images of a particular subject or similar subjects, though only one will likely fit into a feature meant to entertain a public audience. As someone with many unique subjects the public is not aware of, also have not publicly exposed some strong images on my web site in order to not give others clues to where I worked whatever if I think such deserves some protection. When I exhibit with 8k displays, such images will be in the live mix.

navigation

From the Contents page all trip dates can be accessed by its listed links. There may be one to a few dates per each page. Moving so, changes the browser to that new sub page. On each sub page are links at top and bottom to return to the Contents page or one may use a browser Back button and links to the following sub page. At the bottom of each page is a link to my David Senesac Photography home page. At top right on the home page is the primary link into each year's Contents page. On each page are sub-links to enlarged vertical slice view image links explained below that changes the browser to those pages.

Another just added feature on each Chronicle index sub page is a link to a thumbnail page for any gray frame bordered images that are downsized to 3% of full image size. That provides an excellent comparitive graphic for image sizes. At the bottom of each sheet is a pixel ruler that is also scaled in inches at 300 pixels per inch. The single frame size from the A6000 is 6000 pixels wide by 4000 pixels high, 6000x4000=24 megapixels so 6000/300= 20 inches by 4000/300=13.3 inches. Generally wildflower close-ups tend to be single frame shots while I often stitch blend landscapes as is evident looking at the thumbnails. Below that rule is a listing of image names in front of two columns. Images are alphanumerically listed that is essentially the date/time sequence automatically named by the camera software. The first column is the number I've added in the lower left corner of each image that is that alphanumeric sequence while the second column is the actual sequence as displayed on the page. In the lower right corner of each image is a 10 level aesthetic ratings code I've assigned from 0.5 to 5.0 like the Adobe Bridge star feature that can only be practically evaluated by this person that can view a full image. Some images that one might expect to rate highly are not so, possibly because there are soft focus issues on parts of a frame and a long list of othe factors. Likewise there are some images rated highly that may not appear to be so merely because one is not looking at fine detail in the full image.

As someone viewing images seriously for 4 decades and studied art, my aesthetic sense has greatly evolved. I do have the ability to critique images in considerable detail, something that has never gone over well on Internet image critique sub-forums where many members tend to be more interested in inane stroking one liners while viewing any serious criticism as personal attacks and upsetting site vibe.

equipment and post processing software

All downsized images with gray border framing were captured in this feature with my 24 megapixel APS-C Sony A6000 mirrorless with either a Sigma 60mm f2.8 DN, a Sigma 30mm f1.4 DN (replaced Sigma 30mm f2.8 DN in 2019), a Sigma 19mm f2.8 DN (added in 2016), or a Sony SEL55210 zoom lens atop an Oben CT-2316 carbon fiber tripod (replaced Induro CT113 in 2019) with a Manfrotto MH054M0 magnesium ballhead. Also use either a Gigapan Epic auto robotic head or much more commonly a Nodal Ninja III MK II manual panoramic head for stitching panels processed with Kolor Autopano or in a few earlier cases Photoshop Photomerge. Focus stack blending is usually performed with Zerene Stacker though I use Photoshop CS6 occasionally and all final processing is with CS6. I use a collapsible diffusion disk (Impact), and sometimes a collapsible silver reflection disk (Litedisc) with close-up lighting. Also in my close-up work, the A6000 in camera fill and bounce flash, 10mm, and 16 mm extension tubes (Vello) and a Benbo Trekker tripod. Images on my web pages that do not have a gray border frame are information shots that are most often taken with a compact digital camera of which I've owned several since 2003 with my current one the Canon ELPH 190, though I take some informational shots with the A6000 too if convenient.

I will comment herein that focus stacking will greatly increase one's understanding of image sharpness using different lenses and apertures. Although some think using a DSLR full frame image sensor with raw processing is key to best image sharpness, such is small thinking at the optimal low ISO end of settings and the way jpg processing has improved in high end cameras at neutral settings. More important is using on a still tripod each lens's optimally sharp aperture with a lens sharp in all frame areas just not the center as is common with zoom lenses. There is a reason people buy prime lenses though it is quite true that zoom lenses have considerable framing advantages especially when optimal sharpness is not an issue.

images sized for web display

All HTML and CSS within this feature was manually coded. Mouse hover over images for image names and listings of elements I recognize like plant and animal species including latin names and topography elements like peaks and lakes etc. Images are all downsized jpg's to fit a typical desktop computer monitor in this era thus full image widths are limited to 1000 pixels and heights to 888 pixels except for vertical slices. So adjusting browser window width for a bit more than 1000 pixels wide will view well. Of course displaying large images with large file sizes are impractical on the Web because of long Internet server download times. More importantly for those creating serious or commercial work, any image viewable on the Internet can be illegally copied even if one shows only small sections per screen. That of course removes fine detail that depending on a subject can significantly impact image aesthetics. Accordingly I've two mechanisms developed that shows part of most images at near full detail.

enlarged vertical slice view for each image

Below many images shows an enlarged vertical slice view link. Selecting those links is quite recommended and changes a window to a either a jpg window with 3 sections or a single narrow slice. In the former at top that displays an identical reference image as on a feature page. Beneath that are several standardized lines of image information. Also below images are 3 arrows that point to adjacent vertical slices that are displayed at bottom. A full image is downsized by 50% then 300 pixel wide vertical slice sections are copied in. These vertical slice images are set up as links instead of being embedded directly in feature pages because they are moderately larger files that would otherwise take too long to load browser pages. However at 1000 pixel widths, they can download ten times faster than a full image 10,000+ pixels wide. Vertical slices readily show why 952 pixel wide images on feature pages are inadequate to represent large images. Thus show how frame detail is sharp from bottom to top. One may return to main feature pages using a browser's back button. The second mechanism displays only a single 300 pixel wide vertical slice jpg and is generally all I am using since 2019 as I've gotten lazy. Generally large images with an exceptional amount of fine detail like a landscape of a receding dense field of different flowers will not view aesthetically when significantly downsized because detail becomes blurred with a result that views as though it is less sharp than even a small image with large elements that is simply post process sharpened.

focus stack blending and stitch blending

Almost all images use focus stack blending from several images with different manually selected focus points per shot at a few apertures. Most shots are at optimally sharp f5.6 with a mix of smaller apertures to ensure no poor focus distance holes in a set. When I began focus stacking in the spring of 2015, I just used a few shots usually at F11 but quickly refined that process to create images as sharp as possible. Additionally many landscapes are composites of multiple column and row stitch blended frames. Accordingly image sizes may be much larger than even the most advanced DSLR's or digital medium format cameras can produce with single frames. A 3x2 panel of frames would contain 6 frames, each of which were created from up to 30 shots thus a total of maybe several dozen individual shots. The raw composite width using my mirrorless 24 megapixel Sony A6000 that is 6000x4000 pixels would be about 14000 pixels and height 9000. Note it is not 18k wide because of necessary approximate two-thirds overlap between frames for stitch processing. For close-up images almost all are single frames made from several shots focus stack blended. However each frame is likely to have required more individual shots than single landscape frames due to more 3-dimensional depth of field concerns. And yes creating such images does require a lot more work both during image capture and especially in post processing some of which can be difficult if there was any subject movement as is common with vegetation.

Although some may think stitch blending seriously limits possible landscapes to static subjects due to element movements, many such situations can be worked using creative approaches. For instance if it takes two minutes to take a set of 10 shots in each column of a 3 column by one row subject, clouds in a sky will move creating registration issues during post processing blending. But if one puts a camera in manual focus at the end of shooting focused at infinity, one may in just a few seconds fire of 3 additional shots in rapid succession while moving the panoramic head for each column between easy to adjust detent positions. Much more of course for the thinking person. In any case, I welcome integration of such features into camera software to take shots rapidly.

pixel file sizes and printing

Below each gray bordered image shows the file name, image dimensions, lens used. The file size is an indication of how large an image may be printed. Image sizes of close-ups are almost always single frames thus limited to the maximum sensor size of 6000 by 4000 pixels. Some strong images that I feel are a bit soft in focus in parts of a frame may eventually be reduced somewhat in size from current listed dimensions. Generally all my 60mm lens shots are exceptionally sharp, while some 30mm shots suffered from an intermittent loose glass element that upon eventual return to Sigma, they replaced such with a new lens. In the mean time, I will work through a long list of images that might be affected.

file checking

Given a lot more available time this pandemic year of 2020 at home, I've had time to check files presented in the Trip Chronicles section representing work since the spring of 2014. Over that period, I've taken nearly 90,000 shots that resulted in about 2700 post processed subjects. Note a single focus stack frame on average was blended from about 15 individual shots and varies greatly depending on subject. The 6 years of Chronicles pages show about 1200 of those images or about 200 per year. My website also includes about 5000 files from earlier film work however those files remain unchanged though I did rearrange my homepage. Given my decades of hi tech hardware electronics engineering support background with considerable computer language skills, I was able to do so using a combination of Excel with notepad, Command Prompt windows running Windows commands especially batch commands, UNIX commands ported to Windows, and exiftool operations. After field work, I run the following exiftool command on every image file that after tabbing is copied into an Excel frame that has important use while post processing. I maintain a full mirror copy of my online website on a home drives and backups that has been checked for differences via a number of processes.

exiftool -csv -s -CreateDate -FileSize -Make -Model -XResolution -YResolution -FullImageSize -LensModel -FocalLength -FOV -FocusMode -FocusDistance2# -FlexibleSpotPosition -FocusPosition2 -Orientation -ShutterSpeed -FNumber -CircleOfConfusion -HyperfocalDistance -ExposureProgram -AFAreaMode -MeteringMode -ISO -ExposureCompensation -BrightnessValue -LightValue -Flash -FlashExposureComp *.jpg > exif2.txt

I also have an Excel master files with information for each processed image file as well as a master file for Chronicle pages used images. Although I might have better begun this system using a database application since I have programmed using databases, because it has evovled over time, was better dealt with manually. For example my use of suffixes and prefixes on image files has changed over time so one check was to make sure all end use jpg names, for control files and html files were identical.

   David Senesac

   email: info@davidsenesac.com

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