Eric Hian-Cheong: Blog https://www.erichcphoto.com/blog en-us (C) Eric Hian-Cheong (Eric Hian-Cheong) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:47:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:47:00 GMT https://www.erichcphoto.com/img/s/v-12/u186377329-o365354859-50.jpg Eric Hian-Cheong: Blog https://www.erichcphoto.com/blog 80 120 ACR & Lightroom's New Epically Powerful Dehaze Tool https://www.erichcphoto.com/blog/2015/6/acr-lightrooms-new-epically-powerful-dehaze-tool TLDR: Photo 1: Original RAW converted to JPEG; Photo 2: Manually adjusted version of Photo 1; Photo 3: Photo 1 with Dehaze set to +80; Photo 4: Dehaze set to +20, manually adjusted.

So I've been a little slacking in keeping up to date with what's been coming out of Adobe's labs recently. So when the new release of the Adobe Cloud came out a short while ago, I hit "Update All" and didn't think much else of it as my computer silently went about updating my suite of installed Adobe apps in the background. 

It wasn't until today I opened up Lightroom again do work on some engagement photos I took the other weekend for a friend. While playing around with the develop module, I noticed a slider I didn't recall noticing before.

Under "Effects," it seemed a new, inconspicuous slider labeled "Dehaze" had appeared. So naturally, I swung it all the way up to 100. The effect on portraits -- clear, sharp and well exposed in soft, diffused light -- was... not pretty.

But the slider's name sounded too enticing to leave for later, so I went back to some photos I recall being frustratingly hazy from a trip to Shenandoah National Park in September 2014. 

All I can say is wow. 

This is the original photo of a valley in Shenandoah, imported in RAW, the re-exported as a JPEG.    

It's the type of photo that immediately lets you down because "That's not how I remember it." The camera and lens picked up far more haze than I did with my naked eye and it is evident that the image requires quite a bit of work.

Now this is the image I initially created from the above. Looking back, it still could have used some work, but for sharing on social media and as a memory, it was sufficient. 

Manual

It took a lot of work to get there. Contrast, highlights, blacks, clarity, vibrance and at least two gradient masks were needed to cut through the haze in the RAW photo.

Now this is the same RAW photo as above, imported directly, but with Dehaze set to +80.

WOW!

A single slider was able to accomplish 90% of what took probably a good 15-20 minutes of playing with manually. It's not perfect. I think the foreground contrast is still too muted and I actually think the background haze was cut a little too much. But still, well played Adobe! This is definitely a slider for the keeps!

By the way, here is a revised final version of the image above, using many of the same manual adjustments as well as dehaze set to +20:  

Here is another example of the Dehaze tool at work, this time of a photo of the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland. 

Original RAW exported as JPEG. 

Same photo as above with no other adjustments other than Dehaze +75

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(Eric Hian-Cheong) https://www.erichcphoto.com/blog/2015/6/acr-lightrooms-new-epically-powerful-dehaze-tool Sat, 20 Jun 2015 02:16:16 GMT
In DC, Spring Means Cherry Blossoms https://www.erichcphoto.com/blog/2015/4/in-dc-spring-means-cherry-blossoms Officially, the first day of spring each year is March 20. In DC, though, it is hard to accept spring has arrived until the countless, delicate, pale pink blossoms of the hundreds of cherry trees bloom across the city. This past weekend saw the peak of 2015's bloom cycle and presented a natural opportunity to head down to the Tidal Basin to catch them in the cool morning air.

 

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(Eric Hian-Cheong) https://www.erichcphoto.com/blog/2015/4/in-dc-spring-means-cherry-blossoms Sun, 12 Apr 2015 16:00:02 GMT
Top Photos from France 2014 https://www.erichcphoto.com/blog/2015/1/top-photos-from-france-2014 Sharing some of my favorite photos taken over the last month while home in France. 

 

And finally, the annual family portrait, this year featuring plaid and a selfie.

 

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(Eric Hian-Cheong) Paris holidays lights photos https://www.erichcphoto.com/blog/2015/1/top-photos-from-france-2014 Thu, 15 Jan 2015 22:00:00 GMT
Snow in Shenandoah National Park https://www.erichcphoto.com/blog/2014/11/snow-in-shenandoah With Thanksgiving 2014 officially behind us and December just ahead, the Winter season is officially upon us. But Winter came early across the East Coast with a storm dumping several inches of snow along the Bos-Wash corridor creating a nightmare for holiday travelers and leaving thousands without power. Washington was spared the worst -- we got some heavy flakes but nothing dramatic. Shenandoah National Park, 75 miles west of Washington and several thousand feet higher, was a different story. So naturally the day after thanksgiving, that's where we headed. 

 

By this time of year, most of the park's facilities. Due to the heavy snow, one ranger told us, large portions of Skyline Drive were still closed and being cleared of snow and fallen trees. Nevertheless, the drive between Thorton Gap and Skyland Resort was open, providing great views of the valley and of snow-covered trees. 

Though the major campgrounds are closed at this time of year, backcountry camping is still allowed as is hiking into the park and areas closed to vehicles. On the way over, we passed a sign with Smokey the Bear indicating that the fire risk in the park was "Low." No kidding. 

 

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(Eric Hian-Cheong) https://www.erichcphoto.com/blog/2014/11/snow-in-shenandoah Sat, 29 Nov 2014 15:32:00 GMT
My Photos on Display! https://www.erichcphoto.com/blog/2014/11/my-photos-on-display On 2nd St. SE, just across the road from Library of Congress Madison Building sits Le Bon Cafe, a French cafe and neighborhood institution in operation since 1991. It also happens to be owned by a friend of mine from back home in Paris. 

As of last week, several of my photos from Paris are on display. Stop by the cafe for a wonderful lunch or simply a coffee or pastry!

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(Eric Hian-Cheong) https://www.erichcphoto.com/blog/2014/11/my-photos-on-display Sat, 29 Nov 2014 04:01:16 GMT
“Prepare thyself for Merriment!” https://www.erichcphoto.com/blog/2014/9/-prepare-thyself-for-merriment Ah! La Renaissance! A time of renewal, of cultural creation and adoration! The age of Da Vinci and Michelangelo, of Popes and power, of Borgia’s and Medici’s… and in the US, of turkey legs, costumes and beer. Huzzah!

I attended my first Faire over the weekend. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I left pleasantly surprised. Was any of it historically accurate? Not really. Was it fun? You bet.

The Maryland Renaissance Festival takes place in a Tudor-inspired village set on 25 acres of forest near Annapolis Maryland, just an hour drive from Washington, DC.

Over 250 000 people turn out annually across the 9 weekends the Faire is open, making it one of the larger Faires in the country. To my relief, it is perfectly acceptable to arrive wearing modern garb and enjoy yourself.  A friend of mine tried hard to get me into a kilt. It didn't happen. But those who go the extra mile and dress up make for fantastic color.

It's fun to see the variety and creativity of the costumes guests arrive wearing. There were lords and ladies, monks and wenches, pirates, vikings, elves and even a robot. (As a side note, I really wanted someone to arrive as Ezio Auditore from Assassins Creed, but alas, no such luck).

One of the best things about the Faire were the arts and crafts which reminded me of the medieval section of the Munich Christmas Markets, only no China-made trinkets here. Each stand featured the crafts of local expert artisans. There were sword smiths, glassblowers, woodcarvers, leatherworkers, and more, often providing demonstrations of their trades to audiences.

Also note-worthy were the performances. I had little interest in the slap-stick clown comedy at some of the stages, but the live music was worth the $17 admission price on its own. I’m no stranger to ancient-inspired folk music and have had pretty good exposure to it, so I was thrilled to see something new: Cu-Dubh’s unique style of Scottish bagpipe combined with middle-eastern tonality and tribal rhythms to which a belly dancer performed.

Sirena, a trio of drum-beating songstresses straight out of Homer's Odyssey also put on a good show.

Finally there was the joust! Four knights in shining armour (British spelling intentional) faced off on horseback to prove themselves to the public. Over 3000 people crammed into the stands to watch the 30-minute spectacle that included skills with sword and lance. No one was unhorsed, and I have a suspicion the real-deal from the ages of yore was significantly faster and more violent, but it was fun to watch all the same.

As I said, I was pleasantly surprised. This trip I was an observer, but I can see myself going back to participate in earnest at some point in the future, and perhaps, maybe even in a kilt.

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(Eric Hian-Cheong) Fair Faire Maryland Renaissance https://www.erichcphoto.com/blog/2014/9/-prepare-thyself-for-merriment Mon, 08 Sep 2014 17:28:56 GMT
Labor Day Weekend in Shenandoah https://www.erichcphoto.com/blog/2014/9/labor-day-weekend-in-shenandoah Ok - so, I'm going to try to start blogging on a semi-regular basis and try out Zenfolio's blogging platform. I've tried others, but hopefully using one platform will help me do this more regularly.

For this first post, I am sharing some photos I took on a weekend in Shenandoah National Park. For those who know me, I have a HUGE love of the outdoors, but haven't been able to find time to get out of Washington very often. Well, I'm trying to do that more and with Shenandoah only 2 hours away, it seemed like an ideal place to go for a quick camping trip.

With forecasts of thunderstorms, I wasn't sure what to expect. Instead of showers, though we got perfect weather all weekend.

I went with my friend James and we left DC around 6pm on Friday and drove into the sunset (stopping at IHOP for breakfast-for-dinner along the way), finally arriving in Shenandoah after dark, pitched our tents and went to sleep - or tried to. There was some insect that was LOUD. It wasn't a cicada, but regardless, I found myself wishing I had brought the earplugs in my desk drawer from home.

The next morning, we woke with the sun - around 6:30 and decided to go for a drive until the Wayside (read coffee) station near the camp opened at 9 (my car is pretty dirty right now thanks to all the construction going on in my apartment's garage).

We drove out of the campsite North along Skyline Drive to see... well, lots of rolling fog coming up the mountain which made for some neat photos of ghostly trees in the morning mist. Somewhere out in the fog, a woodpecker's drilling echoed across the unseen valley.

When the fog finally started burning off around 8:30am, we were treated to some pretty good views.

After stopping at the wayside to get our caffeine, we set out on the Overall Run trail that leaves from the Mathews Arm Campground. Its a nice hike that takes you down a hill to some waterfall overlooks. Unfortunately, the park hadn't seen much rain and the falls were pretty dry. Still, though, the views were great (if a little hazy) and the weather was as good as it could be.

We continued down the trail until it leveled off. At this point we decided we should probably turn back since it was not clear how much further the trail went and what the terrain ahead was like. It was around 2pm and we hadn't been able to get a good trail map (I had tried three stores none of them had a topographical map of the park). So back uphill we went.

One of the points on the trail that normally overlooks a stream. Little rain had fallen and the riverbeds were pretty dry.

After returning to the campsite, we took a drive 35 miles south to Big Meadows to check out the visitor center. We finally got the map we were looking for and then picked up some hot dogs, buns and beer for dinner. We got back to camp, built and fire and just hung out until dark. The fog started rolling in again, but I was able to get one photo of the stars by laying the camera on the roof of my car. The milkey way was just barely visible.

The following morning we broke camp before heading to a short 3 mile hike up to Mary's Rock near Thorton Gap. At the top was a superb view of the valley below perfect for a panorama stitch.

For my first trip to the park, I think it was overall a success. I plan on heading back in early autumn when the trees start changing. Hopefully there will be another post!

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(Eric Hian-Cheong) Camping Hiking National Park Shenandoah https://www.erichcphoto.com/blog/2014/9/labor-day-weekend-in-shenandoah Fri, 05 Sep 2014 17:18:20 GMT