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My Photographic Process.



I capture images with a Canon 7D digital SLR. It is an 18 megapixal device. I have adequate long lenses to capture the subjects. The lenses are long but not fast. I use a tripod, almost always. I use a tripod on my Sigma 50 500 mm lens and a monopod on the camera as needed. I use two Canon flashes mounted on brackets near the front of my Sigma 180 mm macro lens for insects. I support it with a monopod.

I bracket everything from depth-of-field, white balance to exposure.  Digital has increased my learning curve on the latter.   I shoot every way of which I can think as I work.  I am growing in visualization, though I am learning.  I see things in which I think there is something but I am not sure what it might be.  I spend a lot of time with my subjects to get a feel for them.  I shoot them and try to decide later as I optimize images on my computer what is worthwhile and what is not. 

I process the raw files is Adobe Camera Raw as 18 megapixal or larger files. At this stage I make the first round of cuts by eliminating unsharp images and those with compositional flaws.  I also eliminate redundant images.

I then open them in Photoshop CS5. I de-spot every image.  This is a carry over from the day when my sensor seemed to be perpetually dirty.  I remove distracting elements using the clone stamp and healing brush tools. I add contrast as needed with the curves tool. I identify the subject, if needed, name and save the file with all layers intact as a .tiff.  This is my master image file.

Next, I have a database in which I record the image. It shows a thumbnail of the image. I record camera settings and setup. I list filters and flash used. I record where and when the image was captured and where it is saved.  Once the image is logged into the database, I re-evaluate it as to use, including artistic value. I decide whether it goes onto my website and if I will print it. I decide if a given image should be printed for sale at art shows and the size or sizes. I record those decisions in my database for later reference when I am making prints.

When it is time to make prints, I crop to the intended size and dpi for printing. I use "picture package" in photoshop even if I am making only one of any given size. It applies the file name in tiny letters in the lower left corner. I sharpen using "smart sharpen." I print on an Epson Stylus Photo R2880. My computer system is color profiled from beginning to end.  It was built by me.

I sometimes crop the insects and birds tightly. I keep to a minimum, the interpolation associated with cropping to larger sizes. I keep all original raw files as well as all layers on my master image file. I have a double set of copies of my images on DVD's and BlueRay Discs. I have another copy of the images on hard drives. I keep one set of the DVD's and BlueRay Discs in a fire safe in an air conditioned environment for longevity.

If you see a picture of a bird or insect that looks close-up, that is because it is close-up or I have used digital interpolation to make it close-up.  The image must pass with my eye as being worth this effort.  The final decision is up to you.  Look at the image and judge how you feel about it.

Larry Eicher




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