Designed for You

When we were planning our trip to Wales, we decided we wanted to explore Snowdonia National Park.  Our hardest hike of the week was going to be Mt. Snowden.  For us, the path that made the most sense was the Llanberis Pass, at nine miles, it was the longest way up and back, but is the least technical of the six main paths up the mountain.  We would be climbing 3,199 feet and the Llanberis path had the most gradual ascent of our choices.  This is what awaited us at the top:

ISO 800 50mm 1/2000 f/13

ISO 800 50mm 1/2000 f/13

Technically, this is a panorama.  It is two photos stitched together.  The originals were incredibly hazy, but after I had created the panorama in Photoshop.  I used Lightroom’s “dehaze” sider to make it clearer.  I also used the clarity slider and sharpened the image a bit.  I didn’t take the haze out completely though because I knew I had a clearer image.

I also had hiked with my iPhone and I created this panorama:

ISO 25 4.15mm1/2500 f/2.2

ISO 25 4.15mm1/2500 f/2.2

It’s clearer, and certainly the sky is bluer, but to me the first photo more closely represents what this hike meant to me. We had designed our trip around this hike.  It was what we scheduled ourselves for the first day in case we had to delay or reattempt it another day later in the week.  It was the hardest hike I’ve done in awhile.  So getting to the top was more about the serenity and silence of the first image than the community that is represented in the second.  The haze and lack of people in the first image to me look more like a postcard or an image you might print and put on your wall.

Do you plan your holidays around a single activity or goal? Do you bring back a photo from your holidays that represent the trip? Do you sometimes go with out a camera on purpose?  How do you feel about my two images, they do represent two different things don’t you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare

This summer has been a busy one. I’ve missed out on several weeks of blogging due to a move. But this past week week, I missed out because I was on holiday.  I was in Wales for the week.  I don’t know about you, but when I think of Wales, I don’t usually think of sun soaked images like this one:

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/1000

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/1000

It’s a rare day when lens flare is visible in a photograph from this part of the world. This particular hike led us to Dinas Emrys, the legendary birthplace of the red dragon seen on the Welsh flag. I had my Canon 50D and my iPhone with me.  I shot this panorama on the iPhone and then took a bunch of photos with my bigger camera.  As with most times I go on holiday, there are a lot of photos to edit now that I am home.  For this photo though, not much was needed.  I did end up cropping it a bit and sharpening it.  Other than that, I let it be, including the bit of lens flare that you can see in the top center of the photo. I left that in as a visual reminder of the intensity of the sun in that moment.

Have you ever done that with your editing, purposefully left something in that is considered an imperfection? Do you also bring home a lot of photos to edit? I will be busy for a while!  Feel free to leave a comment below.

I also posted this photo to my Flickr account, if you would like to see a larger version.

Portrait

Who do you see when you look at this photograph?

ISO 400 4.3mm f/2.7 1/200

ISO 400 4.3mm f/2.7 1/200

I see a portrait of my youngest child.  I see that child has come back from a walk. Bringing evidence of the outdoors, flowers in this case.  The last few weeks it has been likely to be blackberries or an unripe apple fallen from the tree brought back to the house for further “research”.

I had been doing some research on photo editing at the time these flowers arrived and had just finished reading this short article on split toning.  I took some macro shots of the flowers so I could experiment a bit using the information I had just read.  I shot images with both my DSLR and my point and shoot, but ended up liking the point and shoot versions where I had used the macro setting better.  Here is the shot I decided I liked best:

ISO 400 4.3mm f/2.7 1/200

ISO 400 4.3mm f/2.7 1/200

I thought this version was a good candidate for my split toning experiment.  I did all the editing for the photo in Lightroom. The article I had read had suggested that when using split toning, you should pick the highlights or the shadows and just edit one of the two. That seemed like a logical starting point, but after making the highlights more yellow, I decided to go ahead and make the shadows more brown.  It transformed the photo from very cool to very warm.  I then boosted the color saturation of the purples a bit so they would stand out a bit more.  I added a bit of sharpening and then cropped the image.

How do you like the final version? I think I added in the warmth of color to reflect the warmth of the moment that I felt in receiving these flowers.  When I look at the original I think it would be possible to edit a colder tone version that would be very different but perhaps beautiful in its own way.  I tend to gravitate to warmer images, how about you?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning

In the morning, you can often find me outside.  I love being out in the light and quiet of the early part of the day.  I’ve just moved over this summer, and so my landscape has changed.  Meet one of my new neighbors:

ISO 100 155mm f/13 1/100

ISO 100 155mm f/13 1/100

Between the two lakes I visit in the morning, there are five adult swans.  There are plenty of other birds and the beautiful haze of morning light.  I don’t usually take my camera with me first thing, I’m out for my morning run or walk just soaking in the day, not yet photographing it.  Yesterday morning, I made an exception, I went out with my camera before going out for my run.  I got a few photos of these swans, I took them from several angles so the light looks different in them.  This particular one, I shot into the sun.  I wanted the saturated light of the sun to be in the photo.  What I lost by doing that was detail in the swan.  To bring back some of that detail when I was editing in Photoshop, I duplicated the original layer.  The bottom layer I sharpened.  The top layer I put a mask on and then masked back in some of the details in the swan.  This meant that the more hazy feel of the light could stay in the photo.  Then I cropped the photo, because as you will see below, this swan was not by himself:

ISO 100 155mm f/13 1/100

ISO 100 155mm f/13 1/100

To me, these edits made a pretty radical difference.  To be honest, I’m not sure which I prefer.  The second seems more like a snapshot and the green near the second swan just kind of bugs me.  But the overall feel of the light I do like in the second photo.  There is another photo from this series that I am editing that I am having a similar struggle; I’m just not sure which version of the photograph I prefer.

Do you run into this with your photography, having difficulty picking between two versions of an image?  What do you think of my versions, do you have a preference? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Connection

An interesting thing about the Harris’s Hawk is that they hunt in packs.

ISO 50mm f/5.6 1/1000

ISO 50mm f/5.6 1/1000

This photo was taken at a falconry show at Leeds Castle.  For these birds, having a connection with a larger group makes hunting easier. I thinking blogging is similar, it’s more rewarding when you are part of a larger community. Just this past week I published my 500th post. I started this blog with the idea of using it as a journal.  It was be a way for me to keep track of my photography journey; specifically I wanted to write about how I was editing photos. It’s been a good way to keep track of what I’ve tried and what has or hasn’t worked.  What I wasn’t really counting on when I began blogging was the visitors to my site, many of them bloggers themselves.  They would leave a comment or like a post which would lead me to look at and comment on their work.  It’s been a conversation that has improved my work, helped me think more critically about my editing process. Also, I’ve seen other people at work in their photography in ways that I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t a part of this blogging community.

When I took this photo, I knew there would be some work to be done before it was finished. The photo was taken under really harsh lighting conditions. I was glad that I had my Canon 50D with me, which meant that I could shoot in RAW. Basically, I knew the detail I would want to see in the final edit would be available in the RAW file, even if I couldn’t see it here in the original photo:

ISO 50mm f/5.6 1/1000

ISO 50mm f/5.6 1/1000

The first Photoshop edit I made was to work with the highlights and shadows.  I knew I wanted to bring out more details in the wings and that was a way to start.  I also did a slight levels adjustment and then some sharpening.  Sometimes, I start my editing with cropping, but in this case I left it to the end.  The crop wasn’t extreme, but I do think it made the composition more interesting.

How do you like the final editing outcome? They are beautiful birds aren’t they?  Feel free to leave a comment below.  I’d also like to take a moment to thank all my readers over the past few years, I appreciate what you have added to my photographic journey.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow

A few weeks ago I was standing at the end of Deal Pier as the sun was thinking about setting.

ISO 100 50mm f/5.6 1/1000

ISO 100 50mm f/5.6 1/1000

It was a beautiful moment of contrasts.  The shadows were already leaving parts of the scene dark while the sun was intensely lighting other parts.  I knew that this was not going to turn out very well straight out of the camera so I shot a bracketed image that I could use later create an HDR image in Photoshop.  The link that I have included I picked because it has some good tips, but also because it contains my least favorite thing, and that is a bit telling you when you should or shouldn’t use HDR.  I understand that sometimes when learning a new technique it is best to narrow your focus and give it a try in situations where you are likely to get a good result.  However, I really think when it comes to editing, you should broaden your horizons and experiment.  The beautiful thing about digital editing is that you can always throw away versions you don’t like, so why be bound by traditional rules?

Here is the version of the image above with the highest exposure:

ISO 100 50mm f/5.6 1/1000

ISO 100 50mm f/5.6 1/1000

You can see why some editing was going to be required.  In addition to creating an HDR image, which was the first step, I then cropped the image. Next I used the curves feature to bring some more detail into the darker parts of the images.  I then increased the vibrance and saturation a bit.  Sharpening the image was the last step.  It may sound like quite a bit of editing, but I wanted to recreate the feel of that moment on the pier.

What do you think of the final version?  Do you find yourself sometimes hemmed in by the rules of photography only to then realize that they are guidelines and not actually set in stone?  Feel free to comment below.

Cheers!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Cherry On Top

Sometimes it is just a very simple thing that can trip me up.  I have a new iPhone that takes panoramic photos if you know how to use it.  Feel free to roll your eyes in my general direction, but I had to look for instructions on how to get that feature to work.  I was glad I did though, because it meant that I was able to get this photo of the Port of Dover:

ISO 25 4.15mm f/22 1/3000

ISO 25 4.15mm f/22 1/3000

Pleased as I was with getting this feature to work, I did edit it a bit in Lightroom. Final touches like sharpening and getting the color to pop was the cherry on top for this photo.  It is possible that just this simple thing made me one of the happiest people in Dover this past weekend, it certainly wasn’t anyone who was waiting to take the ferry to France.  If you happen to hear anyone talking about how bad their experience was, know that they probably aren’t exaggerating.  I saw the lines, it was horrible.

How do you like my photo of the port?  For me it was learning to take a panorama on my phone that was a small thing that made my life happier, how about for you? Is there some small photography skill that you learned that made a huge difference?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!