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.

Untitled photo

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. I adjust the white balance, contrast, shadows, highlights, white point, mid point, black point, saturation, and sharpness as necessary to the entire capture 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. Once I make those optimizations I save them back to the .CRW or .CR2 file as a recipe. After that, there are four things I rarely 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. I don't have to remove dust spots from any photos I've created since around 2008 when Canon started including ultrasonic sensor cleaners in their DSLRs because those cleaners do an amazing job keeping dust off the sensor. Second, I crop as needed. I always try to compose to fill the frame 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. I crop within DPP and save that as a recipe before extracting from the RAW files. Third, I digitally fix any red/steel eye caused by flash. Finally, I rotate as needed to level the horizon using DPP.  Canon now includes digital levels in their cameras which I use for all my architecture, landscape, and macro photography. I used hot-shoe-mount bubble levels prior to those digital levels being included but, on occasion, I still get things wrong, mostly when shooting action or hand-held, and have to square the photo to the world. When I'm shooting from a tripod I use the Info button to bring up the digital level on the rear LCD screen and ensure things are green/level before I trip the shutter. What an awesome feature those digital levels are!

Things I don't do and have no plans on doing are: HDR, focus stacking, combining pieces of two or more photos into one, removing something other than red/steel eye from an image that was present during capture, or adding something to an image that wasn't present upon capture. I don't consider the results of any of those activities as a photograph anymore and instead view them as photo-based digital art (PBDA).  Certainly there's nothing wrong with creating PBDA since there are no rules in art and it is a wholly subjective pursuit!  However, I feel that any PBDA activities should be readily presented with the resultant image whenever possible to avoid deceiving the viewer into erroneously believing the image displays things as they were when a photograph was captured. Although I don't do it, I do consider the result of digital dodging and burning to a single capture as still being a photograph, since neither the contents nor perspectives within a single photograph are being changed; just selective exposure.  The same thing has been done in the darkroom since the early days of film photography, and I accomplish something similar by using graduated neutral density filters over the front of my lenses.

To sum up my opinion on ethical manipulation of camera raw data and the standard I set for myself for something to remain a photograph, it is that any changes should be made to the entire image at the same time and in the same amount other than removal of sensor dust spots, removal of steel/red eye, or selective darkening or brightening of certain areas to produce a result closer to how the eye perceived a scene.  Otherwise, the result is PBDA that is not representative of how a subject was viewed through the camera and lens at the time a photograph was captured.

Finally, although strange for a digital photographer, I don't own or use any Adobe products whatsoever. The red/steel eye and sensor dust removal I do with the ancient version 7 of Paint Shop Pro.  I also use a newer module-based X5 version but only for batch conversions since I dislike its editor interface.

Recognition

I don't often enter contests or submit my work but am adding this section (February 2021) to highlight some of the recognition it has received.

Norfolk Botanical Garden 75th Anniversary (2013) Photo Contest - 1st Place in the Wildlife Category.

The contest results are no longer on the https://norfolkbotanicalgarden.org/ web site, but the photo that was recognized is of a green tree frog (below).

Green tree frog at Norfolk Botanical Garden, VA. © 2013 Kenneth R. Sheide

Virginia Master Naturalist 2015 Photo Contest - 1st Place in the Fauna Category

http://www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/home/virginia-master-naturalist-program-photo-contest-results

The recognized photo is of a Cedar Waxwing eating a berry.

Cedar Waxwing eating berry, Newport News. VA. © 2014 Kenneth R. Sheide

Bird Watching Daily 2019 Bird Portrait Contest - Honorable Mention

https://www.birdwatchingdaily.com/photography/featured-galleries/2019-bird-portrait-contest-honorable-mentions/nggallery/image/tricolored-heron-1/#view

The recognized photo is of a Tri-Colored Heron and I actually don't have that particular photo in the galleries, but have added it below.  (The below image has higher JPG compression applied so doesn't look nearly as sharp as the one on the Bird Watching Daily web site.)

Tri-colored Heron in Florida. © 2011 Kenneth R. Sheide

Tri-colored Heron in Florida. © 2011 Kenneth R. Sheide

2020 National Wildlife Federation Photo Contest - Honorable Mention

https://www.nwf.org/Home/Magazines/National-Wildlife/2021/Feb-Mar/PhotoZone/Shared-Moment

The recognized photo is of a Gold Dust Day Gecko.

Gold dust day gecko. Oahu, Hawai'i. © 2020 Kenneth R. Sheide

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 in the Purist section 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 25% 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 (http://www.kixtart.org) 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 different camera bodies in the same month. 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 offsite external hard drive. All drives are encrypted (to prevent theft of photos in case of loss) with TrueCrypt (http://truecrypt.sourceforge.net/). It was discontinued in 2014 but I continue to use it and have found a variety of replacements I'll eventually try. I currently (2018) use 2TB 2.5" hard drives to store my files and have them only about 40% filled.

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In