Archive for the ‘Promote Control’ Tag

Circus Life   7 comments

Circus Life


I’m sorry that it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything of my own. Life has been a circus around here.

We’ve been keeping close to home most days, working on the expanded gardens. No matter how many hours we’re out there, at the end of the day we always have something more to do. (Totally worth it for the organic veggies.)

I hope to get back into the swing of things photographic, and to catch up with everyone as soon as possible. In the meantime, please enjoy this scene taken at a local ‘museum’, of sorts.

500px | Google+ | Follow on Twitter | Galleries & Prints

Linzee’s Window   13 comments

Linzee's Window

Located at St. Saviour’s Episcopal Parish, Bar Harbor, Maine.

This church is definitely worth a stop if you’re in Bar Harbor. Although on the small side as far as churches go, it’s adorned with dozens of beautiful stained glass windows, with ten of them by Tiffany. I was particularly attracted to this one for it’s rich color and depiction of the local scenery.

From the St. Saviour’s web site:

Elizabeth Linzee: Designed by Denby of New York, made in Boston in 1937. It depicts St. Elizabeth with the child Jesus and St. John the Baptist. Note the hills of Mt. Desert Island in the background and the Trinity depicted with three gulls. Miss Linzee was an active supporter of the Jesup Library during a lifetime of summers in Bar Harbor.

More information on the church’s windows can be found here.

Because of the low amount of available light in the church, I shot this as a bracketed set in order to capture all elements of the window. Turns out that I needed them all! Nine exposures at 26mm, f/2.8, ISO100

500px | Google+ | Follow on Twitter | Galleries & Prints

The Good Life   9 comments

The Good Life


This past autumn while in Maine, we had a nice visit at Eliot Coleman’s Four Season farm (lettuce in Maine, in January!) One of the assistants there suggested that for a nice lunch, we should drive just down the road to Orr Cove. Best tip we had on the entire trip!

We pulled off to the side of the one-lane road, making sandwiches and firing off some sun flare brackets, after which, we drove about 50′ to The Good Life Center, the place where we found the Alien Landing.


This image was particularly tough to process, which is why I didn’t offer it up for the recent HDR Collaboration, choosing Inland Sailor instead. The sun flare caused a great deal of spotting and CA, and the dust on the sensor didn’t help much, either. Eleven exposures, f/22, 17mm.

500px | Google+ | Follow on Twitter | Galleries | Facebook

From Flare to Eternity   11 comments

From Flare to Eternity


I’ve always wanted to catch some good sun flares, but it’s not always the easiest thing to do. It seemed I never could get it quite right.

Driven by the influence and tutorial of a master of sun flares, Dave DiCello, I took some extra time on a client shoot to catch this morning scene. If it weren’t for Dave’s support, I likely wouldn’t have posted this at all, but there you have it. Thanks, Dave!

HDR from 11 exposures (give or take) at +/-1EV, f/22, 17mm, ISO 100

500px | Google+ | Follow on Twitter | Galleries | Facebook

Who Decorates the Scenes…   21 comments

A stunning autumn sunrise over Cobscook Bay State Park, Edmunds, Maine

Who Decorates the Scenes...

Autumn sunrise at Cobscook Bay State Park, Maine.

I awoke that morning in darkness and crawled out of the tent, hoping to catch a good sunrise. Sometimes it’s really worth getting up so early.

In this place, so far removed from roads and ‘civilization’, it’s utterly still and hushed at that time of morning, save for the occasional call of a shorebird or a small boat working its way up the bay. It’s a time of quietude and a time for reverence for whoever decorates the scenes we see.

(The title is from one of my favorite Chris Smither songs, “I Am the Ride.”)

Follow on Twitter | Galleries | Friend on Facebook

Autumn in New England: Bemis Brook Falls   2 comments

A view of Bemis Falls, New Hampshire, in the White Mountains on a foggy and rainy day

Kay Gaensler’s recent images from New England had me feeling nostalgic for the trip we took there this past September, so I went back to the library to find this nice waterfall image.

On the trail to the outstanding 200′ Arethusa Falls lie a number of smaller cascades and pools. This is the Bemis Brook Falls, if I’m not mistaken, and the rainy, foggy day made for a perfect backdrop to the falls. Even though we love to climb and gain elevation, on days like this the effort just isn’t worth the limited view. Instead, we try to find nice walks in the woods, or waterfalls, or a dry camp shelter to hang out in for a while.

You can click on the image for a larger view in a new window.

Merged from six exposures +/-1EV in  HDR Express from Unified Color, with added Shadowmapping at 10%.  Nik Color Efex Pro White Neutralizer took the gray out of the water; Tonal Contrast to crispen details; Vignette Blur for enhanced mist effect. Topaz Detail brought up a bit of color.

They Never Call…   4 comments

An old, grungy telephone at Peter Limmer & Sons in Intervale, New Hampshire.
You know how it is. You give someone your number, and…

Inspired by a recent Brian Matiash webinar, I used onOne Phototools to grunge this scene up a bit, only to realize that it was pretty darned grungy to start with.

This old telephone — and one only slightly newer — can be found at Peter Limmer & Sons, Bootmakers, in Intervale, New Hampshire. The shop is a a curious and eclectic sort of place… just perfect for HDR. They do make a great boot, and I’m happy that Peter let me get a pair as well as grab some brackets.

(If you haven’t seen the HDR of the homeless Limmers in my photostream, visit Consigned )

The phone looks cool when viewed Extra Large, so please click on the image above to see it Extra Large in a new window.

This image was derived from a set of eleven exposures taken with the Promote Control. This worked out well, as the lighting was very dim in the shop. I merged and tonemapped them using Photomatix Pro 4, settling on settings that Matiash had suggested in his recent “Grunge” seminar.

I used several different filter effects from onOne Phototools to set up the grunge look, as well as the slightly blue cast in the windows. Following that with NIK Color Efex Pro Darken/Lighten Center (one of my favorites) and then a little dark vignetting seemed to work well.  Last thing was to block out the phone number that had been written on the shelf.  I was going to put in 867-5309, but does anyone really remember that song anymore?

I Found My Thrill…   Leave a comment


Sunset at Acadia National Park, Blueberry Hill on Cadillac Mountain, Maine

on Blueberry Hill, on the auto road to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, in Acadia National Park, Maine.

You can click on the picture for a lager view in my Landscapes Gallery.

As friend Bob Lussier might suggest, it’s “just another Acadia sunset.” Ay-yuh…

While Acadia National Park is one of the most beautiful places we know of, it’s also the second most heavily visited national park in the country. For those looking for tourist attractions and shopping, or to get rinsed off a rock in high surf, there’s no shortage of opportunity. But if you’d prefer solitude, you can find niches and other isolated spots where you’re just not aware of another person on the planet.

Blueberry Hill, however, is not one of those places of solitude. While we really wanted to get a good Cadillac Mountain sunset shot, so did 50 other people gathered at the spot. It was worth it for the view, and I met another nice photographer during the shoot.

This image is an HDR derived from nine frames, taken using the Promote Control. Those nine frames were processed in Photomatix Pro 4 using the Shadowmapping technique found in this blog, with a little help from Topaz Adjust.  I found that very little needed to be done, though, as the scene spoke for itself.

Promote Control   2 comments


When people are first learning about HDR photography, one of the most often asked questions is, “How should I set the exposure bracketing on my camera?” Since this is a function of the camera that many photographers rarely rely on, just getting it set up might seem to be a mystery, but there are manuals for that. (Umm… you did read the manual, right? 8) ) Beyond learning the basics of automatic exposure bracketing (AEB) on your camera, though, there is the question of exactly which settings you’d want to choose for a given HDR situation.

The common wisdom is that you should set your camera to take a minimum of three exposures at Exposure Values of -2EV, 0EV, and +2EV. This works out pretty well for most people and most shooting situations. It’s also about the safest advice that one can give for shooting HDR brackets, as many entry-level and ‘prosumer’ cameras are capable of doing this.  There are differences between camera models, though. Some can take five brackets, for example, but only allow for 1EV spacing between them.  A rare few allow nine brackets, but be ready to stimulate the economy by shelling out some serious cash for the camera. (To view a comparison of AEB capabilities on different camera models, check here to open the list in a new window.)

Whether you’re shooting the camera’s maximum of three brackets or five, experience has shown that shooting in this limited range does not always capture all the data you need for the best result!

If the scene that you’re shooting has limited dynamic range (here’s an example), or if the sun is at 90-degrees, you can shoot three brackets at +/-2EV and get a decent result. In fact, it seems that the majority of published HDR images use those settings. But, we could expand on that same principle and suggest a new axiom: The greater the dynamic range of the scene, the more brackets you want, and brackets tighter than 2 steps are goodness.

Without getting overly technical, the sensor on each camera model has a maximum dynamic range that it can capture. Within that dynamic range capability, there is a “sweet spot” for each model, a range where the captured data is represented well. (You can get more information on your camera and lens combination at DxOMark.) If the dynamic range of your scene falls outside of those capabilities across three brackets, the resulting HDR image will suffer in terms of blown-out highlights and crushed shadows. In the overall scheme of things, the image will probably still look pretty impressive, but it won’t be all that it can be.

We also need to bear in mind that whatever image we’re viewing, whether it’s a print or on-screen, has been tonemapped down from the full 32-bit HDR to a version that current technology can display, so in a sense, much of the original HDR data is ‘lost’.  Given that this is the case, doesn’t it make sense to start with the best possible set of data?

There is now a way to get around the limitations of your camera’s AEB function, and a way to get tighter brackets. I had been hearing about a device called the Promote Control, from Promote Systems, as something that can open up the shooting capabilities of almost any camera. Having heard nothing but positive talk about the device, I decided to get one.  Happy, happy… One of the best days we can have is when the B&H box shows up on the doorstep (and you’re fast enough to beat the neighbor to it.)

The Promote Control has several different modes: time-lapse with start delay, one shot, and manual hold, but the mode of most interest to us is the HDR mode. You can read about it on the Promote Systems website, but in short, you can set the Promote Control in HDR mode to take a sick number of bracketed shots, and it allows you to set the EV steps between each in 0.3EV increments. So, if I want to take a bracketed series of, say, 15 frames with 1EV in between each, you just use the buttons on the Promote Control to set it up, then press the Start button.

Some functions of the Promote Control require an optional shutter cable to activate them, such as the Mirror Lock Up (MLU) function, which helps to reduce the vibration caused by the camera’s mirror swinging up on each shot, or for shots longer than the camera’s maximum exposure time, often 30 seconds. In addition, the Promote tends to shoot frames far more slowly without that shutter cable.

Here’s the problem that I ran into: My camera model was not on Promote’s list of cameras that accept the optional shutter cable. In my situation, since I wasn’t terribly affected by the lack of MLU or long-exposure functionality, the biggest problem was the sluggish shutter activation speed without the cable.  If I were shooting a large set of brackets on a landscape with moving clouds, by the time the series was done, the clouds would have moved enough to cause ghosting issues in post-processing. Having the capability to shoot wide and tight brackets outweighed that issue enough for me to spring for the Promote Control.

But, it never hurts to ask the question. With an upcoming photo safari in mind, I contacted the people at Promote Systems to see if a shutter cable for my camera model would soon be available (there was a rumor floating around about that.)  I was told that, yes, it would soon be available, but not in time for my trip.  Bummer.

Over the next week or so, I worked with Max Mamonkin at Promote Systems, and guided by the advice of a friend, to come up with an alternative solution, one which required me to cut into my Nikon MC-DC2 cable release and rig it for my camera, requiring only a 3/8″ stereo headphone jack from Radio Shack. Although the micro-soldering was touchy, we managed to get a DIY cable up and running.

Having accomplished that, Max could have let the issue rest, knowing that I had a solution for my field trip, but he continued on my behalf. Promote Systems received a test batch of the new cables, and Max immediately tested and shipped one out to me. It works like a charm!

Let’s see how this breaks down: A reasonably priced ($299) electronic device with a USB interface for future firmware upgrades that allows a seemingly ridiculous number of brackets at almost any EV interval.  Check.  Responsive and friendly customer service people. Check. A support specialist that goes above and beyond the call to get this cable into my hands in a timely fashion, in time for a major photo opportunity… Priceless.

I really can’t say enough good about Promote Systems and the people there. They’ve been quite helpful in this process, and I thank them very much.

Best wishes,


Note: I am not affiliated with Promote Systems in any way other than being a satisfied customer.

%d bloggers like this: