Archive for April, 2009

Take a guess: Where was this shot taken?

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

Mark Zanzig/zettpress

The water splashes, the sun sparkles, and the beautiful surf-gal with her wet hair gazes at the waves. But where in the world did I capture her? What do you think? Just post a comment with your guess, and I’ll be happy to solve the question with more photos in a week or so.

(Nothing to win this time, but I think it’s good fun anyway. :-)

Happy Easter everyone!

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Mark Zanzig/zettpress

Thanks to all friends and visitors of our blog and website – for your visits, comments, mails and more! Have a good time over the long weekend, have fun searching for Easter eggs, and enjoy the lamb! And here is, just to get you into the right mood, a fantastic clip I found on Youtube: Extreme Sheep LED Art.

Have a wonderful, peaceful, and happy Easter!

Nova Scotia – Here we come!

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

The decision has been made. This years’ big trip will lead us to beautiful Nova Scotia, the eastern most province of Canada. We’ve booked a connecting flight from Munich to Halifax, via Montreal. And then -three weeks later- we will fly back home from Montreal.

Why Nova Scotia? Well, we wanted to use up some of our Lufthansa bonus miles. But we did not want to spend them for flights that can be purchased for little money – no, we wanted to get the best punch for our collected miles. So we started to look at eastern Canada, which has always been on our top-ten wishlist. And Nova Scotia sounded like the perfect destination for us: The sea, unspoilt nature, beautiful sights, nice little villages, good food, and friendly and relaxed people. You name it – Nova Scotia has it. Well, we hope so anyway. :-)

So the planning has begun. And thanks to the friendly folks at Nova Scotia Tourism, it’s quite easy. They sent an excellent guide for our trip, 384 pages strong and full of valuable information. The guide is called “Doers’ & Dreamers’ 2009 Guide”, and it looks appealing the second you see it. (Are we doers or dreamers? No idea. I guess we are both.)

Doers’ & Dreamers’ 2009 Guide
Nova Scotia Tourism

But ultimately it’s the content that counts. And here they have done an outstanding job: all the accommodations have been listed, complete with contact information, brief directions how to get there, and tips for the trip. All this has been neatly grouped into meaningful sections that follow the eleven official Nova Scotia trails. Oh, if only all tourist boards around the world would recognize the value of such detailed material for the traveller!

They have put together interesting places and sites for various interest groups. I especially liked the section for photographers – “Great Photo Op Spots”. This will be a useful help for us as we will be doing a full trip report for one of the magazines we’re freelancing for. Of course, you can also expect a couple of images “off the beaten path” which add spice to our story.

Anyway, we look very much forward to this journey. If you’re interested to read more, keep checking back at the end of the summer.

Recommended Sites (official site)
The Nova Scotia Discussion Group and Photo Pool on Flickr

Adobe RGB vs. sRGB – What you need to know

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Recently I met a photographer on one of the big photo communities. His profile was full of excellent shots, many of them done on a set for a music video. He used the excellent Canon 1D mark II N, a camera model I had been using until 2008. Despite his skills to actually compose the image and find the right moments, something was not right.

I noticed a lot of subdued colors in all of the shots. The blue of the sky was rather a light purple instead of the clear blue sky I would have expected. The finish of the car was also not really bright and catchy, but looked dull and not saturated. At first I thought that this look might be intentional, to give the images that very specific subdued look. But then I looked at some of the EXIF details of the file, and there it was…

Record Mode: JPEG
Color Space: Adobe RGB

The photographer had been using Adobe RGB while saving the image files as JPEGs.

Before I start to discuss the color space issue, I’d like to recommend to you to always shoot RAW. This will enable you to change a lot of stuff at post-processing time. With essential shots for clients, I always go for the risk-free option – which is RAW. Be aware that once the JPEG has been saved, you have virtually no chance of recovering any of the details contained in the shot (that have not been processed correctly by the camera’s JPEG algo). If it can’t been seen in the JPEG, that specific detail is often lost. A RAW on my high end cameras stores 14 bits of color for each channel, that’s 16,384 individual values per color. The JPEG squeezes these 14 bits into 8 bits per channel, i.e. 256 individual values. That’s just about 1.5% of the theoretically available data for each pixel. Now you understand why saving images as JPEGs on high-end cameras is a bad idea.

But in this case, the colors are the problem, and JPEG is the cause, because only when you save an image as JPEG you need to assign a color space at shooting time. A JPEG needs to carry an information on the color space for the image so that other devices (screens) can properly display that image. That’s why there is an entry for “color space” in your camera menu, typically offering both Adobe RGB and sRGB. I know there are photographers out there who like to shoot JPEG, often because they know that they are not going to need the leeway that RAW offers. In these cases, you have to know what you are doing, or your shots turn out wrong, color-wise.

You see, the Adobe RGB space contains basically “more” colors than the plain sRGB colorspace. While the amount of data in the picture stays the same, the colors represented by the colorspace on the monitor look different! If a Adobe RGB photo is displayed through sRGB on a monitor, the colors are basically “made fit” for the smaller sRGB space. The result: bright colors look less saturated, i.e. grey-ish and dull and somewhat off.

Here is an example for this phenomenon, a photo of a hangglider at Izana mountain in Tenerife, Spain. Please note the difference in the colors. Have a look at the blue skies, the red backpack, and the brown soil. I think the difference is quite significant. But please be aware that the difference is NOT visible in a color-managed browser like Firefox. (Thanks to Wes for pointing that out in the comments!)

Saved as JPEG using the original AdobeRGB color space

Converted from AdobeRGB to sRGB prior to saving as JPEG
Mark Zanzig/

Here is another example, this time from a slide that was scanned using Adobe RGB. Again, the first image has kept its original Adobe RGB color profile while the second image was converted to sRGB prior to saving as JPEG. Do you notice any difference? I do. The pink finish of the car is much brighter, and the logo looks actually like gold, the blue sky is blue, and the number plate has better contrasts.

Saved as JPEG using the original AdobeRGB color space

Converted from AdobeRGB to sRGB prior to saving as JPEG
Mark Zanzig/

I don’t know how you post-process your images. Chances are high that you’re using Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, or Apple Aperture. These are all capable of handling color spaces correctly, but you still need to know about color spaces, especially if you are shooting AdobeRGB with JPEGs (with RAWs you only have to care about the color space when you save the image to JPEG, see below). Lightroom and Aperture automatically recognize the correct color space from the image profile and assign the correct color space to the image.

So, you have to watch out when you open an image with Adobe Photoshop. You typically have set up your Photoshop installation to operate in a specific color space. I have set mine to use Adobe RGB. Whenever Photoshop is instructed to open an image with an assigned color profile that deviates from the standard color space, it will ask you which color space to use? None, or the Photoshop default (in my case Adobe RGB), or the assigned color space (usually sRGB). It does not matter which setting you use, because Photoshop will automatically convert the image into the selected color space (which is good).

But you always have to keep the selected color space in mind when finally saving the photo file as JPEG from Photoshop. Clients usually don’t want RAWs, TIFF is also quite rare these days. They want a JPEG, and now you know that you need a color space assigned to that JPEG. And most printers and screens are calibrated for sRGB, not AdobeRGB. That’s why you should always convert the color space from Adobe RGB to sRGB prior to handing out the photos, or publishing them on the web. Please pay attention that you should convert the photo and not just assign the sRGB color profile to the photo.

Then you and your customers get the brillant colors your high-end camera actually delivers.