Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental

Sometimes it’s fun to experiment, try something new.  I gave a few tools in Photoshop a spin and here is the result:

ISO 1250 22mm f/9.0 1/40

Not everything I did to get this final result was new to me, but because certain steps were, this photo took some time to produce. A typical learning curve with any thing that is new.  I started with this photo, shot in the early morning. The sun was up the sky was beautiful, but the streetlights were still on and even the traffic had a sleepy feel to it.

ISO 1250 22mm f/9.0 1/40

The first few edits were pretty basic. I cropped and straightened the photo. Then I removed the wire you can see in the sky with the healing tool.  Then I sharpened the photo. This is the color version that contains the sky that is in the final version:

ISO 1250 22mm f/9.0 1/40

From here I wanted to make a black and white version.  I find that sometimes if you boost things like saturation and vibrance in a color version it ends up being over the top in color:

ISO 1250 22mm f/9.0 1/40

But quite nice in black and white:

ISO 1250 22mm f/9.0 1/40

I then put my nice color version and the black and white version in Photoshop. At this point the photograph was two layers, black and white on top and color underneath.

With the selection tool, I picked out the area of the sky in the top layer, made a mask, then inverted the mask.  This had the effect of revealing the color sky underneath.  This was by far the longest step in the process.  I don’t have a whole lot of experience with the selection tool, it can be a bit stubborn and add in things you don’t want in your selection. I’m not a patient person. I would like everything to work correctly the first time, thank you very much.  I will say that this tool is one that has improved over the years. When I got that part of the effect to where I wanted it, I then dropped the opacity of the black and white layer to 95%. This brings in just a hint of the warmth of the color version that is on the second layer.  It also the same tone as the sky, so it makes the two layers clash less and work more as a single image.

What do you think of my final image? Do you have an image editing tool that you avoid because it drive you crazy?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Rounded

I climbed to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica this week and looking down couldn’t help but noticing how rounded St. Peter’s Square looks:

ISO 500 22mm f/9.0 1/800

I went in the early morning.  They officially open at 8, but were letting people in before that, so I was at the top just a few minutes after 8.  It was a hazy morning, but that made the view beautiful.  Here is the original file:

ISO 500 22mm f/9.0 1/800

The edits I have done in Lightroom included bumping up the temperature slider and the clarity. Other than that, I felt that the image worked as is.  It’s rare that I don’t crop a photo, but it this case I felt that wasn’t necessary. The best edit was the simplest one.  I had attempted in other edits to make an HDR version of this photo; I also cropped a version using the straighten feature.  Ultimately, it was this edit you see above that ended up being my favorite.

The climb up the dome itself was not my favorite moment in Rome. It isn’t hard in terms of the number of steps, but if you have trouble with closed in spaces it might not work for you.  The stairs are narrow and spiral inward in places. I made it, but it wasn’t a fun climb for me.  I was glad to have gone early in the morning when there were not too many other people which meant that I could just keep climbing to get to the outside viewing area and fresh air faster.   When I had done my research on the climb, I had only really considered the number of steps and not the space where those steps were. The view was worth the climb though.

The photo was worth the effort.  Have you ever felt this way about an image you have taken? What do you think of my minimal edit?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Glow

In photography, there is often a lot said about the golden hour, including the fact that there are two of them. Like a lot of the rules of photography, you get some great results by paying attention, it is a fabulous time for natural light to infuse your photography.

Very nice, but my life often doesn’t work that way.  I have to make do with the light I have at the time. As a result, I’m almost always thinking about lighting and working with what I have to make a nice photograph.  Here is a nice bit of light I found and exploited:

ISO 1600 19mm f/22 1/250

To me, this photo is all about the soft glow of red and orange tones.  Here is the scene as I originally saw and shot it:

ISO 1600 19mm f/22 1/250

When I was taking this photo, I wanted to get as much of the scene as possible, so that included sky and surrounding trees, even though I thought I might be cropping later. When I went to edit the photo, I added an orange tinted filter and also boosted the orange and red tones in the photo, their saturation and luminance.

As far as cropping went, I used another rule of photography, and that is the rule of thirds.  Here is a screen shot with the rule of thirds grid applied to the photo as I was cropping:

Screen shot of the cropping process.

What I was thinking was that the docked boats were the point of interest and most prominent part of the orange tones. It was the way the light was illuminating the interior of the boats that made me take a photo in the first place. I have placed them at one of the grid intersections. This size crop also allows for the curve of the bridge and the people on it to be standing in a spot where your eye is likely to rest.  These are things that strengthen the composition of this image.

What do you think, do you like my interpretation of the light and the crop of this image? Your comments are welcome below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale

Sometimes with a good base in reality you can scale something up in your imagination:

ISO 800 10mm f/18 1/100

This is Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland. Look somewhat familiar? If you have read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown or seen the movie that could be why, this chapel gets a feature in both.

The chapel is beautiful, full of intricate carvings.  It has been restored and is open to the public thanks in part to the publicity from the book and movie.  I’m grateful for that, the chapel is a work of art. I’ll be honest though, I thought the book was terrible and because of that, didn’t even bother with the movie. The book plot involves a vast conspiracy. I’m a simplest explanation tends to be closest to the truth kind of person. Writing a work of fiction can be similar to photography. It can be an exercise in taking something real and expanding it in your imagination. That was the process I used to get the above photo from this original:

ISO 800 10mm f/18 1/100

Pretty obvious that I have taken some liberties with the facts so to speak. I’ve added filters to accentuate textures in the stone and the sky. Added a blue tone for a stark, cold feel. Then I obscured the edges to swallow up details like the bench and the tourist.  Like the chapel in the book, I’ve taken a bit of what was there and then added some imagination.

Do you like my imagined version? Did you like The Da Vinci Code? feel free to leave a comment below. If you are thinking of visiting the chapel, know that they have a restrictive photo policy.  It is also a fairly small space that is often crowded. With those things in mind, I would still recommend a visit, it is beautiful.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pedestrian

Not too long ago I took part in a charity walk whose path toured the grounds of some of the colleges at Cambridge University that are normal shut to the public. There were a lot of beautiful buildings and gardens but at Corpus Christie College I was stuck by this scene of all the pedestrians observing the “stay off the grass” sign while a solitary bird ignored it completely:

ISO 1600 13mm f/20 1/400sec

Cheeky little bird!

It was a funny scene, but the original image was a bit, uninspired:

ISO 1600 13mm f/20 1/400sec

You can see I have done quite a few edits here, but one of the most important was applying a field blur in Photoshop. In this case, I have kept the bird in focus and purposely blurred all the people. Emphasizing the importance of the little rebel who was strutting around the grass looking down its beak at us walkers on the path.

Have you ever edited a photo to tell a story? Certainly this can be a bit of a controversial topic, but feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Windows

I’ll admit I think slightly odd things at times. Like when I first saw this scene:

ISO 500 19mm f/16 1/125

All these beautiful planes looking out the window toward the airfield, like they would like to go out and play. So when I wanted to capture that thought, I went to the back of the hanger and shot out towards the airfield, as if taking a shot from the plane’s point of view.

This is a situation where shooting a bracketed exposure is a good idea.  My original photos were like this one:

ISO 500 19mm f/16 1/125

Because of the bracketing some images showed more detail inside the hanger and some more detailed outside.  Combining them into an HDR version gave me this:

ISO 500 19mm f/16 1/125

That’s nice if what you wanted to show the details of the scene, but really my original slightly wonky thought, was more about the idea of planes stuck in a hanger.  So that first photo is an edited version of the second photo in the post.  What I did to it was first to increase the vibrance and saturation, then I sharpened it a bit.  From there I applied a few filters.  The first filter gave it both a cooler blue tone and more of a film camera feel.  Then I added a vignette. That’s a way of darkening the corners of the photo. Usually, I would apply a vignette to the center of the photo and darken the edges uniformly.  In this case, it’s set so that your eye is drawn to the outside world, but I’ve left enough detail in the ceiling of the hanger, making it clear the planes are stuck inside. The details of the floor of the hanger are completely obscured, but in this case they were not important to the story of the photograph.

I took these photos at the Imperial War Museum Duxford in their display of American aircraft. The museum is huge and includes a working airstrip. Even if you do not have a particular interest in aircraft, this museum could keep you occupied for a day. What do you think of my interpretation?  What about the HDR version? Do you often photograph a scene thinking not just of what is technically in front of you but what story you could tell from the scene?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting

It’s fair to say that I had been waiting for months, eager to head off on holiday to Scotland.  We had tickets for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. I’d been once as a child, and it was a fond memory, so I was looking forward to seeing it again as an adult.  The show did not disappoint, we even had fabulous weather.  As I was reviewing my photos from the evening I decided I wanted to create an image that suggested a memory, like the vision I had in my head from when I was a child.  This is what I came up with:

ISO 3200 18mm f/11 1/40 sec

Here is the original:

ISO 3200 18mm f/11 1/40 sec

You can see that I’ve made quite a few changes.  The biggest was in the overall tone of the photo, I wanted to accentuate the golden hues and quiet the blues a bit. I started with a photo filter from Analog Efex Pro, and edited from there.  One of the nice things in Analog Efex Pro is that there are a lot of options and a lot of sliders, so you can easily start with a preset and work from there.  Back in Photoshop I cropped and straightened the photo.  Then I used the healing brush tool and the spot healing brush tool to remove the radar/metal tower thing that is on the castle.  The healing brush allows you to pick another section of the photo and paint it over what you want to remove.  I used that first to take the tower out.  I then used the spot healing brush tool, to make the sky in the area match the rest of the photo better.  The spot healing brush looks at the surrounding area and then makes a best guess.  It was good for the clean up effort in this case.

I like the dreamy feel to the first photo, I think I managed to get a version that was what I had set out to do.  What do you think?  Have you been to Scotland? It’s a beautiful place. If you happen to be in Edinburgh in August, check out the Tattoo, it’s a unique show. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!