Saturday, February 10, 2007

Moving this blog to a new home...

Back in May 2006, I wrote my first blog entry for I wanted to learn about blogging and to use a format that was different from the rest of my site. In fact, I wanted to write about developments on the site and other random musings that came into my mind. So I opened an account with and I ran this blog for the past nine months. The blogging experience was so positive, that I soon found myself blogging regularly. was easy enough to use, and it did exactly what I wanted, in a simple interface. But then "The New Blogger" came, forced by Google upon the Blogger community. Guess what? After switching to New Blogger, the problems began. Sloooowwwwww loading times, and -even worse!- pictures often would not load at all. Yikes! Sometimes cryptic error messages would appear. (Read more about the problems in this awesome post by Gregg Scott.) But unlike Gregg, I did not wait another 187 days for Google/Blogger fix their systems.

I switched to Wordpress yesterday. :-)

This blog (i.e. at will not be maintained any longer. For future updates please visit...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

How to work with Adobe RGB - and get excellent results!

Cumbre Dorsal, Tenerife, Spain
Photo Copyright © 2005 by Mark Zanzig/

Today I would like to share a tip with you that I received from Stefan Steib, friend, photographer, and co-owner of lense manufacturer Hartblei. It's about colors. Over a beer in the local pub, I complained to him that the photos of my Canon EOS bodies were often looking grey and dull, and that they sometimes were a nightmare to correct in Photoshop.

He nailed down the problem immediately - colorspaces, and the fact that I am photographing in JPEG (instead of RAW). I was shooting my photos in Adobe RGB colorspace, but was publishing to folks on the web who usually use monitors with sRGB colorspace. Also, most printing services also use sRGB.

Now, the Adobe RGB space contains basically "more" colors than the plain sRGB colorspace. While the amount of data in the picture stays the same, the colors represented by the colorspace on the monitor look different! And if a Adobe RGB photo is displayed through sRGB on a monitor, the colors are basically "made fit" for the smaller sRGB space. The result: bright colors look less saturated, i.e. grey-ish and dull and somewhat wrong.

The Canon EOS manuals, by the way, point out that unless you know what you are doing, you should stay away from Adobe RGB mode and shoot in sRGB or Standard mode. (And, yes, I admit that I clearly was not knowing what I was doing.)

If you want to stay completely out of trouble, Stefan strongly suggests to shoot in RAW.

If this, for some reason (e.g. lack of space on your memory cards), is not possible, Stefan recommends to use Adobe RGB colorspace for the photo shooting and the entire image processing - until the very last step, i.e. when it comes to print or web preparation.

Here's how you do it in Adobe Photoshop (I'm still using version 7, so things might have changed with CS2):

  1. Shoot the photo in Adobe RGB setting.
  2. Open the image with Adobe Photoshop.
  3. When asked, assign the Adobe RGB colorspace to the photo.
  4. Make all your corrections to the photo as required.
  5. To finally prepare your photo for printing or web use, open "Picture" > "Mode" > "Convert to profile" and convert from Adobe RGB to sRGB IEC61966-2.1.
  6. Now save the photo, ideally with a name indicating that it's in sRGB.

As a matter of fact, this has improved my photos so much that I re-did all of the Tenerife shots. Above you see a result comparison of the incorrect (lower right) and the correct (upper left) way of working. Can you spot the difference? I do: the colors in the upper left corner are more saturated, looking much more natural, and take considerably less time to correct in Photoshop. This changed an okay-ish photo into a terrific one. :-)

Tenerife Photo Gallery
Stefan Steib at Flickr
Hartblei Lenses

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ireland relaunched

The Waterside Pub, Howth, Ireland
Photo Copyright © 1999 by Mark Zanzig/

I liked the results from the Italy relaunch (see my post from last week) so much that I decided to do the same thing with the Irish photo pages. I re-scanned all 100 photos and replaced the old ones, so you will not see a problem with bookmarked pages or images.

Right now I am going through the whole site to get it in shape. C'mon - we have 2007 now, and stuff that looked okay in 1999/2000 is often not good enough for today.

Please stay tuned! :-)

3 Weeks in Ireland

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Italy relaunched - or: the joy of slide-scanning

As some of you probably know, I currently have some time on my hands. So I had a closer look at the older parts of my site, especially the section featuring our millenium trip to Italy. The colours were way too bright, the slide frames did not look good any more, and the copyright statement was refering to an old e-mail address instead of the web site. What's more, because I added photos later, the overall style was not consistent any longer.

Well, to make a long story short - I just scanned the original slides again, this time using the Minolta Dimage Scan Elite II scanner with 2800 dpi resolution.

But this was no fun - I suddenly noticed that those seven year old slides had some issues. I found that only the 100 ASA slides would result in good scans, while the 400 ASA slides looked all grain-ish and thus unsharp. Basically, some terrific shots of the past have just become useless for anything larger than 8x12 inches. It does not surprise me, though, because we all have better monitors today, and by now we are used to the flawless photos coming from digital cameras.

The good news is that you (the web user) will not see such problems - the new scans look much better than the old ones, especially the colors are much more realistic than before! And I think the trip report is now consistent again.

So, please have a look at the revamped site, and let me know what you think.

3 weeks in Italy

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

I hope you survived the holidays and New Years eve and are now in for a fantastic year 2007. To make the start a bit easier for you, I worked like crazy over the past few days and put together the Namibia gallery, containing 303 photos (of more than 2,900). Yes, I know that the "travel tips for Namibia" article is still missing, but the photos are there - and this is where all the good stuff is. :-)


Namibia Photos

Friday, December 15, 2006

Back from Namibia

Elephant at Halali Waterhole, Etosha National Park, Namibia.
Photo Copyright © 2006 by Mark Zanzig/

So we are back from our two week trip to Namibia, and all we can say is - that we are speechless for the beauty of the country. It's a photographer's dream come true, and I am quite busy sorting the roughly 2,900 photos that Petra and myself took during these two weeks. Right now I am down to 400 photos, but this is still too much for the site - nobody endures more than 300 photos on the Web. There are a number of awesome photos, just like the one posted above, which does not really help with the task of eliminating the bad ones.

Anyway, I hope to have the update for the site ready for Christmas, so that you can enjoy the holidays with fresh unique photos from this fascinating country.

Please stay tuned.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Coming Up Next: Namibia

After a series of shorter trips, it's about time for a longer trip again. This year sees us traveling to Namibia, the African pearl in the South-West with just two million inhabitants but an area roughly 2.5 times the size of Germany!

They've got it all: culture and nature, history and future. Of course, we will be visiting their National Parks (Etosha and Namib Naukluft Park) to shoot some awesome photos.

We are excited.

If you can't imagine why, just watch the excellent Namibia video below. Then you'll understand. Anyway, please stay tuned for our photo story in December 2006. :-)

Video: "Namibia - Experience It Yourself"
Namibia Tourism Board (Official Site)