50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Travel Theme: (More Than) Brown

I’ll admit that when I first read Ailsa’s prompt about brown, this post I am writing now is not what I first thought of.  It is kind of interesting isn’t it, how projects you are working on sometime evolve?  One of the places I have been this past week is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.  It is a beautiful place that I think even if you are not a religious person, you could enjoy the art simply for its beauty.  The interior of the Cathedral has lovely mosaics on the walls, many of them in beautiful earth tones.  This post is about brown though, so I will show you one mosaic panel that had quite a bit of brown in it:

ISO 2000 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/25

ISO 2000 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/25

The Cathedral is beautiful, coaxing photos out of it is tough.  The first thing I will tell you about getting this photo is that I was on a tour with a group of young people so I didn’t have a lot of time for photography.  I’ll tell you now that my life is full to overflowing and photography has to coexist with the rest of my life.  There are sometimes when I go out just to take photos, this wasn’t one of them.  I’m a pretty firm believer that in fitting in a few photos as frequently as possible will make me a better photographer.  All that to say, this would have been a good time to have a tripod, but I didn’t.  If you look at my settings you will probably guess that this was a pretty low light situation.  I had my ISO really high.  I settled on an f-stop of 7.1 even though a smaller (number) f-stop would have let more light in, the subject was far enough away that it wasn’t in focus. I also have a really slow shutter speed.  Slow enough that it is actually hard to get a sharp image.  In situations like this I think about yoga.  Really, I focus on my breathing, when I am at the height of a deep inhale, I click the shutter, then exhale.

So, I look at the back of my camera and know that I have an image I can work with.  I did edit the image above in Photoshop.  I did shoot in RAW, so first I opened it in Camera Raw, I bumped up the exposure.  I’ll show you the original image below and you can see that it was dark.  Because it was shot it RAW there was a lot of information that could be recovered though, which increasing the exposure did pretty well.  I then chose to put a film filter on it, I use a plug-in to Photoshop to do that.  I choose the Kodak elite chrome 400 setting, because it brought some additional texture to the image.  Then I did some final sharpening in Photoshop.  Here is the original:

ISO 2000 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/25

ISO 2000 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/25

What do you think? would you have shot it in a different way? or perhaps edited it a different way?  Your comments are welcome below.  If you have written a blog where you faced similar shooting and editing challenges, feel free to leave a link.



16 thoughts on “Travel Theme: (More Than) Brown

  1. kirkistan says:

    Wait–you don’t carry a tripod with you everywhere? I like how you redeemed that shot and I really appreciate your thoughts on process, both with Photoshop and “fitting in a few photos as frequently as possible.” Your posts have convinced me to shoot in RAW+jpeg again and take a bit more core with the images i produce. I like your final result.


    • I know some folks who seem to lug their tripods everywhere. I guess my point is that doesn’t always work for me and I need to focus on what does 🙂 I do always have a camera though, even if it is “just” my phone. I think it is important to take photos and practice even if it is with a “just” camera (and no tripod!), so that is what I try to do.


  2. I never carry my tripod (except for sunrise/sunsets/night scenes) – most of today’s cameras let you bump up your ISO enough to get good indoor shots and I always shoot RAW +jpeg so I can get the instant gratification of seeing the shots on upload, and then pull the details out later. I like the richness of the original photo which I think is a tad lost in the conversion, but the conversion is also leaning to the orange side. I’d suggest pulling the slider away from yellow and a bit back towards blue and I think you’ll find this lovely image pops even more.


  3. poppytump says:

    I liked being able to see more detail in your edited shot PJB … but in some ways .. probably the result of being half lit churches on a regular basis as a youngster somehow I’m veering towards prefering your original . Not quite sure why … maybe feels a little richer in tones .
    Anyway just my thoughts .
    Always appreciate the trouble you go to explain your method. Thank you 🙂


    • Thanks, I appreciate your thoughts on this one. You are right that half lit is part of the experience in a church like this. The first one does have the richer tone so maybe I could try to edit it again attempting to preserve the tone but still making the exposure a bit lighter. I think that could be done easier with a longer exposure and a tripod, which I guess isn’t exactly re-editing but re-shooting. 🙂


  4. You did a wonderful job on bringing out the brown. The original is just too dark. But you highlighted its charms.

    I appreciate this even more after the miserable time I had when trying to take photos of the dark wood carvings inside Saint Etienne du Mont in Paris. I’m not very skilled in lighting, had not studied the manual first. I lucked out by trying different camera angles. Finally I got a couple of photos that did the interior justice. It is a beautiful church.


    • Dark wood carvings are tough, and can be tough to edit too. I like the idea that you tried to shoot it a bunch of different ways because honestly that was probably the best option in terms of getting the final photo that you wanted. Post-editing can help a lot but the stronger the original image the better.


  5. I am still trying to figure out my point and shoot, but I do play with the light settings. I don’t take yoga, but I like the idea of holding your breath while you snap the shot – if your tripod isn’t handy. I like visiting Cathedrals, although it has been a while. The edited photo is really beautiful 🙂


    • It can take awhile to master any camera. I would say right now that I can actually use my DSLR more effectively than my point and shoot. My point and shoot is a bit newer and I don’t use it quite as much. So in addition to just spending more time reading the manual, it would help if I was practicing with it more 🙂


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