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Welcome to Stay Focused

01st January 2021

Great photos are born in the camera

By now you know that Stay Focused is part the arnielee website.

We’re here because we love taking pictures. We’ve been adding new photography articles that should interest you which you’ll see under RECENT POSTS.

To search for articles that may be of interest, click on a keyword under TAGS.

You’ll find articles based on our 50+ years of experience in photography. We happy to share our know-how with you so in hopes that you’ll discover new ways to enjoy your picture taking even more.
Note: You can click on most of the photos to enlarge.

Video Roundup

05th February 2023

Organizing videos from past years

 :
My collection of digital photographic files on my hard drive starts in 1998.

Since then I’ve been trying to keep the image files organized by date and event.
 




Within my PhotoArchive1 folder are more than 63,000 digital images that I’ve taken from 1998 through 2010. This folder is subdivided into folders arranged by year and some folders are further subdivided by month, day and event name.


 
Since it’s inception I’ve used Adobe Lightroom to organize and edit most of my photographs. As an ardent user of Lightroom I’ve benefited from the new and powerful features that Adobe continues to add to this software. I’ve spent many, many hours using Lightroom to tag the images and can now easily search for images by date, name, event, category, more.

Two weeks ago as I was going through these older images I realized that I haven’t done a good job organizing the videos that were taken at the same times as the still photos. I’m now reminded that video recording was missing from the digital cameras that I used. It wasn’t until about 2004 that my first digital camera had video capability. These videos were small sized producing 320 x 216 resolution movies. By about 2006, the resolution of my movies jumped to about 640 x 480. Since then resolution has grown by leaps and bounds with many non-professional cameras offering 1920 x 1080 and some even having 4K resolution of 3840 x 2160.

Let’s get back to my past videos. I use Lightroom to easily spot the videos. then I make digital copies of all of these videos with a set of filenames that clearly identifies the date of the recording.




With Lightroom I’m looking at the contents of the 040523_Birthday folder where I see two videos files – one 9 seconds and another 15 seconds in length. From here I Export a copy of these videos and separately rename them with a prefix of 2004_04_ to make it easy to determine the date taken.


 
I repeated the process of Exporting the videos from Lightroom from each folder. This took many hours over a several day period. When I finished, I had processed more than 1150 videos.


Above you can see a group of the renamed exported videos. All of these videos (more than 1000) are now in a single folder that other members of the household can view at their leisure.


 


The year and month prefix (in this example 2010_09_) help to put the videos into a chronological context but is not helpful otherwise. However the small thumbnail photo provides a better way to key in on the contents of the video. It’s not perfect, but is certainly a better way than keeping the videos hidden within my PhotoArchive1 folder.

Would you be surprised to learn that I have never viewed many of these videos? Up to now I have concentrated on the still images in my large collection and have largely ignored the videos. With my videos now more organized I am anxious to view these “motion pictures” – some going back almost 20 years.

One of my future missions is to uncover the videos that I took from 2011 to the present.
 
 
Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 

The early days of picturetaking had me carefully setting up to take that spectacular photo, sending the film off to develop and patiently waiting for the prints come back from the photofinisher. Unexpectedly I experienced much disappointment when I looked through the returned pictures only to see my favorite subject as a blurred image. The cause may have been my sloppy focusing or me shaking the camera while using a slow shutter speed. No matter, the result was a missed opportunity.

When I review my large collection of photos – especially the older ones – I’m amazed how many aren’t “tack sharp”. Before the advent of autofocus cameras, we had to rely on manual focus techniques to keep the lens properly set. And before the advent of higher ISO film, we had to rely on stabilizing techniques to minimize the camera shake. In my younger days I must have been a photographer with sloppy habits and this explains why I have a bunch of blurry photos from back then.

A few weeks ago I learned of a software product that supposedly “fixed” blurred photos. After reading a couple of reviews of Topaz AI I decided to give it a try. In addition to sharpening images it can reduce image noise and can boost image resolution.

Topaz AI can be used by itself (standalone) or as a plug-in (helper) for Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. I have used it as a standalone but most often as a plug-in for Lightroom.

Here’s a quick look at how Topaz AI can make those blurry pictures go away.


 
Below is a photograph taken with film in the early 1970’s using a manual focus camera. You can see that the original image on the left is not quite in focus.
 


Here I’ve started Topaz AI to process the original image. This is the Topaz AI screen. On the left half of the split screen is the original image while the right half shows the improved image. On the far right is the control panel. By default the software analyzes the image and applies the changes that it believes will improve its appearance.


 

This is an enlargement of the Topaz AI control panel.

At the top is a thumbnail of the original image. Move the thumbnail rectangle to view different parts of the original image.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

In this case Topaz has used its Autopilot settings to find a subject’s face in the original image, apply medium noise reduction and sharpen the subject in the image. You can override these settings if you do not care the resulting changes.
 
 
 
 
 
 

You can see that the buttons to Remove Noise, Sharpen and Recover Faces have already been activated (blue) but the Enhanced Resolution has not been activated (grey).

If you want to increase the resolution of the original image (Upscale), you can do so by selecting 1X, 2X, 3X, 4X or Max. You might use this if you’d like to make a poster size enlargement from your original image.

I did not increase the image resolution.

The dimensions of the resulting image are displayed below the enhance resolution choices.
 
 
 
 
Making changes to the settings are not permanent until the image is saved so you can make various adjustments until you achieve results that are favorable to you.


Here are portions of the original and “fixed” versions of the image.
 



original image – click to enlarge

image processed with Topaz AI (click to enlarge
Clearly you can see that Topaz AI has done a remarkable job in removing the cause of the bad focus in original image.
 



Next is a second image that suffered from focus blur caused by my rush to capture the bighorn sheep before it got away. The original was taken in May 2022 using a digital camera:
 

You can see that Topaz AI automatically applied the Remove Noise and Sharpen features to the original image. I did not need to use Enhance Resolution.


Below are portions of the original and improved images of the bighorn sheep.
 


original image (click to enlarge)

image processed with Topaz AI (click to enlarge)
 
Without any changes to the Topaz AI settings this software has produced an amazing image. It has saved another one of my photos from the “throwaway” pile.
 



 
I’m impressed Photo AI’s ability to fix the few dozen blurred images that I’ve thrown at it over the past few weeks. But what’s just as impressive is how easy this software is to use. So far it’s lived up to the AI that is part of its name.
 



 
For those of you who may be interested in this software, you can get a free trial version for either Mac or Windows personal computers. Visit Topaz Labs and look for the Photo AI package.

 
 
 

Showing Their Age

27th October 2022

Old Photos In My Collection

You may already know that I have quite a large collection of photographs. The overwhelming number of them are photos that I have taken over the many years that I’ve been a fan of photography. My personal photos start about 1960 making them about 60 years old.

Additionally I have a few hundred photos that I’ve been archiving for relatives. A large proportion are older – many dating back to the early 1900’s. A few are one hundred years old.

Below are some of these photographs that I’d like to share. Not all of them are ancient but they represent items or events that should harken you back to an earlier era.
 
 

 
Take a few minutes and go through your collection of photographs. You may unlock some of those nostalgic memories.
 
 

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