AboutMe - Kenneth Sheide Photography


Background:


As a child, I accompanied my parents on fishing and camping trips and, although I didn't realize it until years later, those trips instilled in me a love of nature. In 1998, I upgraded from the cheap point & shoot film camera I had been using to an SLR kit without knowing the first thing about shutter speed, aperture, or film sensitivity (ASA/ISO). During my initial efforts to learn to use the camera, I found I enjoyed photographing nature, scenery, and wildlife most. I have had hobbies come and go throughout my life, but I have never tired of photographing the beauty of our planet.


Purist:


Many photographers heavily process their images these days. I am not one of them. I simply don't enjoy sitting at the computer and would rather be out trying to capture the perfect photograph in the field. That said, there are some things I do to optimize my captures in the computer. First, I regularly adjust the white balance, contrast, shadows, highlights, white point, black point, saturation, and sharpness within Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP). DPP is the only tool I use to extract my images from the raw data captured by the camera sensor. After that, there are four things I do. First, I remove any dust spots via clone brush. Dust spots are a by-product from digital capture and I feel removing them is simply going back to where the photograph should have been had my sensor been clean. Second, I crop as needed. I always try to capture full size but sometimes a wary subject or the longest lens I have don't allow me to do so. Also, occasionally a less than 100% viewfinder causes things to be hidden along the frame edge that I don't want in my photo. Since DPP now supports cropping I will usually do my cropping in it and save that as a recipe before extracting from the RAW files. Third, I digitally fix red/steel eye caused by flash using a process I developed that is easy to do, seems to work great, and produces natural results. Finally, I rotate as needed to level the horizon (also done in DPP). I rarely do this step since I use both digital and bubble levels but, on occasion, I get things wrong and have to square the photo to the world.


Things I don't do and currently have no plans on doing are: HDR (on the computer), focus stacking, and plug-in post processing. I consider any changes beyond the four I outlined as actions that create digital art and not a photograph. There's nothing wrong with doing any of that, but I feel such changes should be readily presented with the resultant image to avoid deceiving the viewer. And such images should be classified as digital art and not as photographs. Finally, and quite strange for a digital photographer, I don't own or use any Adobe products other than the free PDF reader. The minimal editing I do to my photos is done with a program called Paint Shop Pro (mostly version 7 because it is fast and easy to use but I use the newer module-based X5 version only for batch conversions since I don't care for its interface at all).


Archiving:


After I dump the RAW files to my laptop's hard drive, I go through them with Canon's DPP and delete the ones I don't want. As needed, I make the adjustments mentioned above to the keepers and then save those adjustments back to the RAW file as a recipe. I'm very ruthless with editing and typically keep only around 33% of my landscape photos and maybe 10% of my wildlife/action photos. The rest get deleted. Once I have my keepers I name them as follows: BBBB_YYMMXXXX where BBBB is the camera body, YY is the year the photo was taken, MM is the month it was taken, and XXXX is a consecutive number starting at 0001. The way I get from the camera's file name to my naming system is with a custom KixTart script I wrote which renames the files and automatically increments the XXXX with each successive file. I added the BBBB portion in 2015 after not having it in the filenames for 12 years. This addition was so I would never have two different files with the same name when I take photos with two camera bodies in the same month; a problem I had previously. I wrote another KixTart script and ran it across my existing files to quickly bring everything up to this new naming standard.


I keep my RAW files in folders with one for each camera body and subfolders for the years and months. I also extract .JPG images from the final RAW files and resize them down via recorded batch functions in Paint Shop Pro. For each RAW folder, I have a matching JPG folder. That allows me to quickly view and pull images for use on the web or e-mail by browsing the JPG folders of my images without having to take the time to convert from the RAW files. Finally, once I rename my RAW files I always have at least two copies. I keep one on my laptop's hard drive, put a copy on an external hard drive, and every so often back up to an offside external hard drive. All drives are encrypted (to prevent theft of photos in case of loss) with TrueCrypt. It was discontinued in 2014 but I continue to use it and have found a variety of replacements I'll try the next time I upgrade my laptop. I currently (2015) use 1TB 2.5" hard drives to store my files and have them only about 60% filled.

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