Suffusion XV
Black & White Mastery
December 12-16, 2016

Test the latest Epson printers, inks, and papers. They’re the best ever!

Find out more here.

Learn the heart of Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop including the latest advances.

This workshop closely follows the content of my most popular workshop, The Fine Digital Print Intermediate, diving more deeply into black and white imagery.

The Fine Art Digital Printing workshop series offers the most advanced digital printing workshops available anywhere. You’ll learn more in one week than you learn in a semester in college.

Save 10% / $160 – Register By October 31
Alumni, save an extra 10%

Suffusion XV

Suffusion XV 

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My free enews Insights features an extended video on mastering black and white photography … plus more resources on optimum exposure.

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How many shots do you need to make an HDR merge?

The most common answer is three.

The real answer is … it depends. First, it depends on the contrast ratio of the scene. Second, it depends on the exposure value (EV) increments you use between exposures. Third, it depends on the camera you use.

Many scenes only need 2 exposures. Most scenes need 3. Some scenes need 5. Only a few scenes need 7 or more.

How far apart in EV (exposure value) should separate exposures be?

1.5 stops. (Really any value between 1 and 2 stops.) While you won’t get better image quality if you use more shots separated by less exposure value (less than 1 stop), you also won’t compromise it. While you can also use higher increments (more than 2 stops) be careful – you may produce banding in smooth areas, particularly those with gradations.

Do you need to make HDR merges more frequently with some cameras and less with others?

Yes. Cameras that have a greater dynamic range can capture a higher contrast ratio and so don’t require HDR bracketing as frequently. While this can make a difference for images that would require two and occassionally three shots, for scenes with more extreme contrast ratios HDR merges will be necessary for all cameras.

What exposure mode should you use?

In a majority of cases, use Aperture priority mode (fixing aperture) to fix depth of field. If aperture changes dramatically between separate exposures, substantial changes in depth of field will most likely lead to a loss of focus in some image areas.

You can make exposures for HDR merges by bracketing ISO. Noise levels between exposures will be averaged. The final results will have more noise than the lowest ISO and less noise than the highest ISO.

You can also make exposures for HDR merges with shutter priority mode (fixing shutter speed). Try this when shutter speed drops so low that you can no longer eliminate motion blur, either because of subject motion or because you’re hand holding your camera. (But, use a tripod if you can.)

Do you need to use a tripod to make exposures for HDR merges?

No. By setting your camera to auto-bracket and making exposures in quick bursts you can eliminate the need to use a tripod for well lit scenes. Today’s HDR merging softwares do an excellent job of aligning separate exposures. However, in low light or when long exposures are desired using a tripod is usually necessary.

Read more on HDR techniques here.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.



Buy now.

Sale ends at 12:00 PM (PDT) on October 19, 2016

5 Day Deal’s 2016 Photography Bundle over $2700 for $97.

Videos, ebooks, ecourses, presets, textures, software, more.

Plus 10% goes to charity!



Today’s cameras (including smart phones) can create great looking HDR images on the fly, but to get optimum results it’s best to do this manually. In camera solutions render artifacted JPEGs and give you little or no control over how the results look. For optimum results, make separate Raw exposures and render them manually. While the technology at work is wizardry, this four step process is easy to practice. It’s an essential skill for all photographers.


+2 stops




-2 stops

1       Expose

Today’s fast burst auto-bracketing cameras combined with software alignment make hand held HDR possible. However, it’s recommended that whenever practical you use a tripod to eliminate any alignment issues between frames that might arise; it’s necessary if exposures are long.

HDR merges require multiple bracketed exposures. The goal is to produce at least one exposure with great highlight detail and another with great shadow detail. You may need additional exposures in between your lightest and darkest exposures to help smooth tonal transitions between shadows and highlights. The most common number of images used is three, because this is the default number for auto-bracketing on DSLRs. However, there is no ideal number of exposures for all scenes. Some scenes need as few as two, while others need as many as eight. In general, it’s best to have more than you need, not less. The wider the dynamic range of the scene the more exposures you’ll need. Make sure that separate exposures are between 1 and 2 EV (exposure value)(equivalent to one f-stop) apart. It’s typically recommended that you fix f-stop and change shutter speed to avoid depth of field issues, but other changes in EV will work.


Merge in Lightroom

2       Merge

After producing multiple bracketed exposures, the next step is to combine them with software into a single 32 bit file.

Simply select the exposures you wish to include (You don’t have to use them all.) and use the software of your choice. The software you use to merge exposures will compensate for alignment and ghosting, from motion of either camera or subject. (Lightroom and Photoshop do excellent jobs.)

Rather than rushing to render this file at the same time, save it – you may want to render it multiple times.


Process in Lightroom

3       Process

As 32 bit files can’t be displayed or printed, the penultimate step is to render them into a new 16 bit file capable of being displayed and/or printed. This is a critical step that has the greatest effect on the look and feel of your images.

You can use the same software that you created a 32 bit file with or any HDR software. There are many HDR softwares to choose from; Lightroom, Photoshop, Photomatix, NIK’s HDR Efex Pro, Aurora, etc. While most HDR softwares are capable of producing fine results (if used carefully), they do not all produce the same results. It’s worth comparing multiple products before settling on your favorite. You may even want to combine the renderings from different softwares in Photoshop.


Refine in Photoshop

4       Refine

Consider the purpose of the first HDR rendering of an image as a way to create a great base for further improvements. Even in the best HDR renderings, it’s rare that additional post-processing isn’t recommended. This could be as simple as reducing noise or as extensive as dodging and burning. In a few cases, you may even want to use Photoshop’s layers to blend multiple renderings of the same image.

Today’s cameras and software continue to make HDR merges easier and easier. You can get great benefits for just a little effort.

Read more on HDR techniques here.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

“X-Rite is very excited to announce a limited edition “Pink” promotion!
Limited Time Offer Supporting the Cure
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re supporting the Breast Cancer ResearchFoundation (BCRF), the highest rated breast cancer organization in the U.S. We’ve developed two limited edition products with 20% of sales donated to theBCRF!
Capture for the Cure Limited Edition ColorChecker Passport Photo
For more than 40 years, ColorChecker Targets have delivered accurate and repeatable color results in photography and filmmaking with targets right for every shoot. This handsome and convenient ColorChecker Passport has a custom image with The Cure’s pink ribbon imprinted on the case and a pink lanyard.
Calibrate for the Cure Limited Edition ColorMunki Display
You know ColorMunki Display as advanced display calibration made simple. This handsome ColorMunki features side panels in the signature pink that is recognized around the globe as a symbol of efforts to find the Cure to breast cancer. 
Each of these products is limited to 2000 pieces.
20% of the proceeds go to the BCRF.


Alignment XIV

My free October Desktop Calendar features an image from Death Valley, California.

Download your free copy here.

Find out more about this image here.


Enjoy this collection of quotes on being in sync.

“Tidal rhythms have an effect on our physiology…. When we feel out of sorts, our body is out of sync with the body of the Universe. Spending time near the ocean, or anywhere in nature, can help us to synchronize our rhythms with nature’s rhythms.” –
Deepak Chopra

“Sometimes you are in sync with the times, sometimes you are in advance, sometimes you are late.” – Bernardo Bertolucci

“Be out of sync with your times for just one day, and you will see how much eternity you contain within you.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

“When mind and action are separate, zen is lost. We keep the two in sync by paying attention.” – Philip Toshio Sudo

“There’s something about the rhythm of walking, how, after about an hour and a half, the mind and body can’t help getting in sync.” – Bjork

“Part of the joy of looking at art is getting in sync in some ways with the decision-making process that the artist used and the record that’s embedded in the work.” – Chuck Close

“It happens so quickly it seems like it’s coming from somewhere else. It’s not It just means that you’re in sync with yourself. And whatever your goal is, in terms of hearing a melody or a lyric, the closer you get to it, the faster it comes out and the easier it is to “spit it out”, as it were.” – Harry Nilsson

“Dream big, as long as you do it in sync with your truth, with your heart, your brain. And you are not hurting anybody, go ahead and do it.” – Angelique Kidjo

“I feel that all you can do is give it your absolute best with whatever gifts the universe has given you. And if you make it in some way that other people can recognize, that’s fine. But even if you don’t quote-unquote make it, you’re fine, if you’ve given it your whole heart and soul. You’re totally in sync with your purpose and with the universe. And that’s fine.” – Alice Walker

Explore The Essential Collection Of Creativity Quotes here.

Discover more quotes in my social networks.

View The Essential Collection Of Creativity Videos here.


In photography, exposure value (EV0 is a number that represents a quantity of light. Each increase or decrease in number indicates a doubling or halving in the amount of light; often referred to a stop of light.

Although multiple camera settings can yield the same EV, they often don’t produce the same image characteristics. The shutter speed (time – how long the shutter stays open) determines the amount of motion blur, the f-number (aperture – the size of the hole that lets light into a camera) determines the depth of field, and the ISO (sensitivity – a way to boost image signal) determines the amount of noise.

“The exposure triangle” is practical way of visualizing the interaction of these three variables; shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. To achieve optimum exposure one must balance all three and an adjustment in one requires an adjustment in at least one of the others.


Read more on Exposure techniques here.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

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