Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art

I’ll admit right up front that when I saw that “Cover Art” was the theme for this week’s photo challenge, I had no idea what I was going to do.  Then I thought about what I have been shooting lately. A quick look through my files, and you would see that nature images is what I have been focusing on. Then I was looking at this image that I processed a week or so ago:

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

And there is my cover art for an article on the plight of bees. I was thinking in terms of a series of images.  The one above looks nice and cheery and the truth is that beehives aren’t thriving lately. I wanted to make the image that conveys that peril.  The above image was shot in a local cemetery and I had used an f-stop of 3.5 to blur out the background.  I also tweaked the exposure a bit and sharpened it in Photoshop.

My first thought was to convert it to a infrared image, I thought that would create a surreal, something is a bit off kind of feel.  I did that by creating a black and white layer in Photoshop and then using the infrared setting.  I didn’t like the outcome, but I did like the black and white version, which was the first step in creating this image:

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

While I liked the tone of the image, I felt that it was too sharp and that blurring would help create a sense of the bees disappearing.  So this image has a field blur filter applied to it.

I liked it, but was curious to see what a similar filter setting would look like in color.  So, I created another version:

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

Now I’m not sure which version I like best.  Which version most suggests to you that something has gone wrong for the bee population?  Feel free to let me know in the comments section!

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Refraction

When I see the word refraction, I can’t help but associate it with the word reflection, even though I know they are two different things.  The refraction images I made for this week’s photo challenge could really fall under either description.  This particular window, is lovely in the morning with the first light that it lets in, but in this case I was looking to showcase the trees that can be seen through it:

ISO 400 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/80

ISO 400 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/80

I find the distorted view to be quite interesting.  However, in the original of this photo, the houses and trees visible through the side panes were pretty in focus.  So, when I edited this version in Photoshop, I used the Iris blur filter and adjusted it so that just the middle pane of glass was in focus.  Here is what the original looked like:

ISO 400 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/80

ISO 400 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/80

I liked the dreamy feel that the Iris Blur filter brought to the photo.

When I was shooting this series of images, I pulled out all my cameras and tried a variety of settings.  This one bellow was my favorite straight out of the camera:

ISO 500 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/60

ISO 500 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/60

I used my point and shoot to get this particular image and it has a toy camera setting, which is what I used here.  While the distortion of the trees is still visible, this particular setting also brought out the detail of the glass etching, which I ended up really liking.

It was interesting to me that my top two images from this particular photography session ended up being from my point and shoot camera.  My DSLR and iPhone both created acceptable but not great images.

This week’s challenge was particularly fun because it took me down some unexpected paths, and those can be some of the most interesting moments in photography don’t you think?

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy

It’s a bit of a contradiction but one of the things I hate about Photoshop I also love. As a photographer, I love to create an image in camera and not have to edit it later. However, I do also enjoy creating a new image out of the one that was taken straight from the camera. For me, editing often involves creating an image that is softer, a dreamy take on the original.

In honor of this week’s photo challenge I took a photo I had taken a few weeks ago and created two versions, both artistic takes on the original.  Here is the original photo:

ISO 1000 135mm 0ev f/4 1/125

ISO 1000 135mm 0ev f/4 1/125

One of the reasons I took this photo using the settings I did was that I knew that it would blur out the background pretty well.  To me, this was important because the garden is a very crowded place and I wanted to focus on these two flowers.

When I edited the photo, the first thing I did was crop, specifically to get rid of the yellow in the background that I found distracting.

ISO 1000 135mm 0ev f/4 1/125

ISO 1000 135mm 0ev f/4 1/125

I did like this version but for this challenge I took it a step further, and created a version using the paint filter in Photoshop:

ISO 1000 135mm 0ev f/4 1/125

ISO 1000 135mm 0ev f/4 1/125

You may also notice that I took the liberty of removing the two little bugs from the flower.  No bugs in the garden? Now you know that is a dream, certainly not reality thankfully.

So how do you like my oil paint version?  Do the other versions appeal to you more?

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Follow the Signs

Sometimes when you are out hiking trial markers are very helpful, other times less so:

ISO 125 4mm f/2.8 1/120

ISO 125 4mm f/2.8 1/120

I took this photo over the summer while on a backpacking trail at Hawn State Park in Missouri.  When we are carrying all the stuff needed for backpacking I tend to just carry my phone and use the camera that it has.  In this case, that was all I needed, just a snapshot to show a funny sign.

Signing in can be very important when it comes to backpacking.  We also stop and register at the trailhead when we will be gone for a few days:

ISO 80 4mm f/2.8 1/24

ISO 80 4mm f/2.8 1/24

Fo this photo, which was also taken with my phone, I have edited it using a Iris-blur filter in Photoshop.  This obscures the details of the people signing in and I have set the focus point on the act of signing in.

When out on the trail sometimes it is difficult to find creatures like this frog, because they are attempting to give no sign of their presence:

ISO 64 4mm f/2.8 1/24

ISO 64 4mm f/2.8 1/24

Even sharpened a bit in Photoshop, this photo is still a bit blurry and is a situation where I wish I had one of my more sophisticated cameras with me.  This frog was beautifully blended with the background, and my camera phone really doesn’t do him justice.

How do you decided which camera to take on a trip? For me, a lot of that comes down to weight and how much else I am going to be carrying.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Deepest Night

I enjoy walking through cemeteries and looking at grave markers.  Today I found one that I would not want to run across at night:

ISO 1000 70mm 0ev f/5 1/125

ISO 1000 70mm 0ev f/5 1/125

This iron lady sitting at the foot of the cross I found somewhat intimidating.  I think it is the stern look on her face.

It was a tough grave marker to get a photo of as well, so I figured I was going to have to take some liberties in the editing process to get the image that I wanted.  Lighting was a issue.  Although it was a sunny day, the marker was in the shade.  Also the grey stone was very light in color and the lady was a very dark green.  I took a bracketed shot.  So one exposure in the middle, then one a stop higher and one a stop lower.  With those three shots on the computer I put them in Photomatix and then created an image using the painterly setting.  With that finished I opened the photo in Photoshop, cropped it to straighten in a bit and then sharpened it.  Here is the original middle exposure:

ISO 1000 70mm 0ev f/5 1/125

ISO 1000 70mm 0ev f/5 1/125

What do you think of my final interpretation? Do you enjoy walking through cemeteries?  If you do, and happen to be in St. Louis Missouri I would recommend Bellefontaine, it is a beautiful place.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance

It’s been a long summer and some of the wildflowers in our garden have seen better days:

ISO 800 150mm 0ev f/4 1/250

ISO 800 150mm 0ev f/4 1/250

It’s a small act of endurance to live in this spot in the garden. The flowers that grow there are subject to heavy rain, blistering sun, and wind.

It’s been a long and busy summer in our house as well. If you have stopped by this blog before you know that I took the summer off to focus on a few things. I’m still working on my Illustrator class, but I have missed blogging so I am back, hopefully once a week.

The photo above I took this morning in our garden with my new (to me) Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS lens. I will show the original photo below. I increased the exposure and clarity in Camera Raw.  Then in Photoshop I cropped and sharpened it. I was pleased with the outcome.  I’m looking forward to playing around some more with this new lens.

ISO 800 150mm 0ev f/4 1/250

ISO 800 150mm 0ev f/4 1/250

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Cheers!

Between projects and work and life in general

The theme this week at the WordPress photo challenge is between. I’ve been working on a lot of things lately, too many perhaps, and I have decided that I have to choose between a few of them and make a choice about what I am going to focus on for the rest of the summer.

I was out biking a few weeks ago, and since my point and shoot camera is always with me, I got this shot while I was taking a rest:

4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/250

4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/250

I used the macro setting on the camera and was really pleased with the way the background was blurred, giving the field a bit of a romantic feel.

One of my work projects for this summer is learning Adobe Illustrator.  I’m taking an on-line course that you can do at your own pace.  I created this image from my original photo in Illustrator using Image Trace:

4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/250

4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/250

I imported my .JPEG file photo into Illustrator then chose Image Trace-Low Fidelity Photo.  Then I cropped the image.

I was pleased with the result, but what do you think?  Learning Illustrator is one of the projects that I am having to decide if I want to continue.  What that means though, is that I need to decide between this blog and the Illustrator class.  Because both the blog and class require on-line hours, I feel like I can only do one or the other if I am to keep the rest of my life and work in balance. I chose the class, it was actually a hard choice for me to make, I love writing this blog. I felt in the short term that the class needed to take priority, so this blog will be on hiatus for the rest of the summer.  Since I am behind in follow-up visits to other blogs I am hoping to take a bit of time every day to visit a few.  I am hoping this will keep my in the loop and excited to resume blogging in the fall.

As always, your comments are welcome below, and I would like to thank all of you who have stopped by to take a look at my blog.

Cheers!