Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient

One of the things that I enjoy about photography is that it is a way to document change:

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This photo was a few months in the making. It began when I noticed that the swans on this lake had built a nest and that it was being sat on no matter the time of day.  Then the cygnets appeared.  The adults kept them at a distance though, as you can see from this photo that I took in May:

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Now that the cygnets are bigger, they are allowed to the closer side of the lake, still closely supervised, you can see the adult has its eye on me:

#swan family in the #goldenhour #nature #photography

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The family seems to enjoy the last few moments of sun on the lake in the evening. They are active then and are very tolerant of my presence, which is how I got this photo:

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It’s not a perfect shot, but I thought it had potential.  The subject is interesting, that moment where the adult stretched its wings seemed like a good place to start in terms of the narrative of the image.  The first edited version ended up being this one:

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I used Photoshop for my edits.  The first thing I did was remove the ducks.  I used the healing brush tool to do that.  I’ve cropped the photo, and sharpened it. When I had saved that version back to Lightroom, I bumped the temperature slider up just a bit to accentuate the warm glow of the sunset light. I like the photo but I was interested in creating the photo you see at the top of this post. I thought the triptych, breaking the photo into segments, would tell the story in a different way.

The photos in this post were taken between May 23 and June 20, and show just how transient a cygnets life is, they change every day. Photography bears witness to these changes. Photography can also manipulate as well, as shown by my decision to remove the ducks from the photo. A human form of transience, a recreation of the landscape. My final version is an obvious retelling of the scene. What do you think of the edits? Do you prefer a photo that is a faithful recording or are you okay with manipulation?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Order

I find that military cemeteries and memorials are an attempt to bring order to the chaos of human conflict. The neat rows of uniform grave markers, the minimalist and tidy green space, they stand in contrast to what I perceive as the disruption and disorder of conflict.  On Memorial Day this year, the staff at Cambridge American Cemetery put out pictures in front of the grave markers and along the borders of the Tablets of the Missing:

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Seemingly a small detail when viewed from a distance, but amazingly personal when examined at close range.

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The cemetery is a sobering reminder of the human cost of war, and the display puts a face on it and makes it more personal:

"Faces of Cambridge" Women served too #WWII #cambridgeamericancemetery #lestweforget @usabmc #memorialday

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Most blog posts I write are about the editing process I go through.  This post is about the importance of sometimes letting an image stay in its “as taken” state.  The first two images are shown as shot and I would argue tell their story without the need for editing. The last image is in the standard Instagram format with the filter I chose for it accenting the light that illuminates the name on the grave marker.

When I am taking photographs, I often am thinking about what I would like the final image to look like.  In this case, I knew that I was going to want the final images to have very little editing done to them.  While my usual minimum edits are white balance, cropping, and sharpening, for the first two photos skip even those steps. What do you think of my unedited photos? are there times when you skip editing in favor of an “as-is” final photo? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Friend

It’s been a busy week. Today it’s back to England weather, but last week was gorgeous; my unprocessed photo folder overflows, a beautiful problem to have. This weekend included a walk with friends that went through a barley field:

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This panorama, taken on my iPhone, originally looked like this:

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The edited version was produced in Lightroom. In the crop tools there is an “angle” option which allows you to drag a line along what should be the straight horizon and then creates a crop from there.  As with many edits, I sometimes think that I am gaining and losing.  In this case, the edited photo is straighter. The original however, has a quirkiness to it that I kind of like.  I’ll point out also that this photo is breaking one of the rules of photography.  Generally it is considered bad form to include part of a person, you should either include the whole person or crop them out entirely.  It’s a good rule, but I think there is a carefree feeling to this photo that allows that rule to be broken.

From that same walk is an Instagram photo that reminds me that flowers and insects form important friendships as well:

#poppies and friend #thingsiseewhilewalking #england #summer

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What is your thought on my panorama, is there a version you prefer? Can you believe that beautiful sky was in England this weekend?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Evanescent

As with most places I have lived, I know that I am only going to be here for a few years. It’s an evanescent way of life, when you know you will be packing soon.  I think my photography sometimes captures that as well.  Last week, I took this image while out on a walk:

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It was a beautiful day, and it wasn’t raining in England! Ok, well maybe somewhere in England it was, but not on the little part that I happened to be walking on.  This spot was near the end of the walk, and I knew I had to take a photo as I approached, who could pass on a scene like this?

This image is quite a busy one in my opinion, full of texture.  When I went to edit it I could see that there were a lot of competing elements. In this version I wanted to highlight the church.  I did a few things to accomplish that.  First was cropping.  I have cropped the image so that using the rule of thirds grid. The right side of the church runs along the right vertical guide grid and the top flat part of the roof, meets the top horizontal of the grid.  Here is a screen shot that shows the grid:

The faint lines you see are the grid that is referred to as “the rule of thirds”

Once I had the church situated in what I thought was a good spot, I did my other edits.  I gave the photo a bit of a faded look overall but then used the radial filter in Lightroom to bring a bit of focus to the church.  By making the church brighter than it surroundings I am making it stand out.  The radial filter controls in Lightroom are nice in that you can make the focus point as large or small as you would like.  I ended up including a bit of the land in front of the church because I thought it helped draw your eye to the church.

I liked this version, so I added it to my Picfair portfolio.  Do you like the edits? Do you ever think about the fact that you are capturing a fleeting moment when you are taking a photo?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Heritage

I am a bit of a history buff.  I enjoy thinking about how generations before me lived, which is why I was fascinated by the interior of this church:

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It’s a reimagining of what the church would have looked like in 1520 :

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The church is part of St Fagans National Museum of History which is just outside of Cardiff, Wales. It’s an interesting collection of heritage. This museum is unique in that they have collected various buildings and homes from different time periods and parts of Wales and moved them here to this site. Visitors have a chance then to view a wide variety of the history of Wales in one place.

The interior of this church was interesting because it brings to life what it would have looked like in the Middle Ages. Usually, churches from this time just have traces of the paint, and you have to use your imagination as to what the original would have looked like.  This particular example brings to life the use of the church almost as a book and guide for those who would not have been able to read.

As for the photos, it was raining that day, and so I had to be selective of when I would take out my larger camera.  For most of the day I relied on my iPhone.  I keep my phone in a pretty decent case to prevent damage from when it gets dropped.  On days like this I also keep in in a very technical waterproof case, a ziplock bag. That meant for the shot of the sign, I just had to slip it out for a moment.  The inside of the church was easier as it wasn’t raining in there.  The low light and the small interior of the church meant that the iPhone was a good choice for getting a representative shot of church.

I did edit the photo a bit in Photoshop.  It’s been sharpened and I also increased the exposure a bit. A large part of why I took the photo was to remember this space.  I’ll probably even come back to look at this photo the next time I am in a church that has remnants of a similar style of painting.  Have you ever done that, taken a photo as a point of reference, to help you better understand?  Do you have a favorite history museum?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflecting

A few weeks ago I was visiting Salisbury Cathedral. The font they have is also a beautiful reflecting pool.  I created this image from the photos that I took:

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The font was created by William Pye and installed in the Cathedral in 2008. This link will take you to the website of the Cathedral which has a photo that shows how the font is situated in the Cathedral. It’s a beautiful work of art that I think has an interesting way of interacting with its surroundings, something that the link will give you a feel for. The image I created is more of a close up and so is missing that perspective.

My take is more on the font as reflecting pool.  For a few moments, there was sun and the reflections of the nearby windows in the font were beautiful.  The original photo was taken on my iPhone.  There were a lot of people around that through cropping and Photoshop have been removed.  I removed the people for two reasons. One was that I was trying to still the image a bit, there is a lot going on and I wanted to remove some of the “busyness”. The other was that some of those people were children.  I am not a huge fan of images posted online of children where they or their guardians have not been informed.

But back to the scene itself.  I created a black and white version, but was not completely happy with it because ultimately I thought the color of the windows was an important part of the image.  This final image gave me a muted color, but one that left enough in it to show the beauty of the reflection.

I’ll be honest, I love religious art, how do you feel about it? if you are not religious, do you still appreciate it for the sake of art, or is that too off-putting for you? How do you feel about removing people from a photo? It can change the story of a photo pretty dramatically, what is your take on that?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Danger!

In case you thought it was safe to leave the house, my teenager will tell you it’s not:

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Pictured above, a dinosaur, not my teenager.

This is the terrifying or hilarious sight that awaits you at the entrance of National Showcaves Centre for Wales. It kind of depends on how you feel about dinosaurs. As I was sitting eating my lunch not far from this dino, the reaction was mixed.  Some young visitors were really excited.  Others were wondering what they had done that their parents were punishing them this way. My  teenager was firmly insisting that we walk straight past the dinosaurs to get to the caves and not take photos like this to post to Instagram:

When you're in #Wales to take a look at a cave and run into a #dinosaur #thingsthathappenedtometoday

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But as my teenager can tell you, there is a danger in leaving the house with your parents.  They are likely to do highly embarrassing things while at the same time making it obvious that they are your parents.  So, what’s a teen to do? Consider these steps:

  • Ignore parents, perhaps they will stop talking about stupid poses they want to do.
  • Hiss at them to be quiet, in the hopes they will drop the subject of posing with dinosaurs. Be careful with your technique when applying this step.
  • Agree to one photo, after all Mom like never actually posts photos of you to social media, so probably no one will ever see the photo and you can move on to seeing the caves.
  • Consider rolling your eyeballs (no wait, definitely roll your eyeballs) as you finally move on to the caves and wonder why your parents are so impossible sometimes.

In addition to providing those helpful tips for dealing with impossible parents, I will talk a bit about the actual photos.  The top photo was taken with my Canon 50D. While I was taking the photo I thought about composition, I wanted the dinosaur to mostly fill the frame. I also considered a few different angles, trying to get as much of the metal fence and shop that was next to the dinosaur out of the photo, so I wouldn’t have to worry about cropping later.  In Lightroom, I sharpened the photo a bit and also did a white balance adjustment.  In this case I just used the eyedropper tool, picked a neutral white spot, and Lightroom made the white balance adjustment.

With the Instagram version, white balance is out the window.  The photo, taken with my iPhone, is more about setting a scene than reflecting the actual scene. What the two photos have in common is my thoughts on composition.  In both of them, I thought about filling the frame with the subject and about keeping later cropping to a minimum.

Also, there were caves, but the dinosaurs were awfully fun to photograph.  Has that happened to you, you go out with the thought of taking photos of a sight, but then get distracted by something else like dinosaurs? There are a lot of ways to manage white balance in editing software, do you have a favorite method? Parents! like what is with them?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!