Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient

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

ISO 250 200mm 1/320 f/11

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:

ISO 1000 200mm 1/200sec f/16

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

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

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:

ISO 250 200mm 1/320 f/11

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:

ISO 250 200mm 1/320 f/11

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: 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!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Harmony

It’s worth it, I think, to have public parks, they make it a little easier to feel in harmony with nature. Maintaining a natural setting requires some work.  Setting fire to a prairie seems counterintuitive, but it does actually help keep the land healthy and productive.  This weekend there was a controlled burn at a nearby park, so I went to take some photos:

ISO 160 170mm f/5.6 1/640

ISO 160 170mm f/5.6 1/640

It was a sunny morning, so I was able to set my ISO low and still have a high shutter speed.  The image you see above is an HDR image.  I bracketed the photo while I was shooting so that I could create an HDR image later in Photoshop. For this shoot I was using my 70-200mm lens; it allowed me to get great shots but not get in the way.

The images in the gallery below tell more of the story of the burn.  I decided to not edit them at all, keeping them as close to what I saw for the viewer.

It was interesting to watch them work.  This particular park of the park is beautiful when it is in bloom.  The burn will help keep it that way.

Don’t you love it when interesting photography shoots just drop in your lap? Have you ever seen this type of work being done?  What do you think of the HDR version?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Optimistic

This is a photo I created this week:

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

It took quite a few steps to get there.  First was, of course, to pick up the camera and take a picture.  I was thinking this was a serene looking moment as the rest of my busy life swirled around.  I bracketed the photo as I was shooting and created an HDR image out of it:

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

Then in Photoshop I created a sepia version:

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

I liked that version, but in the back of my mind I was really thinking about black and white photography.  I spend a lot of time looking at images and other people’s creative work.  I had recently been at Hammer Home, a street photography blog, and looked at and commented on this image.  If you look at that image you might think there is no connection to the black and white that I created, and on the surface you would be right.  It’s just that I was thinking when I looked at my final image, that I had been influenced by what I had seen and thought about earlier. To get my final version, I have actually applied four things in Photoshop.  I started with a black and white layer, added a photo filter with an underwater tint, added noise, and then added a Iris blur.

That’s a lot of small, but easy, steps to get to my final version.  At this point you might be wondering why I am calling this post “Optimistic”? It is because of a feeling I have every time I set out to create something.  It is the, slightly intoxicating, optimism of creation.  I feel this way every time I set out to create an image; I get a similar feeling when I set out to write this blog.

Do you experience this optimism in your creative endeavors?  Feel free to comment about it below, if you’ve blogged about it, feel free to leave a link to your post. Feel free to leave comments on my editing or photo processing below as well.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Alphabet

This morning I was walking, and came across this sign:

ISO 400 78mm 0ev f/11 1/125

ISO 400 78mm 0ev f/11 1/125

Only, it didn’t look like that.  That is more what it looked like in a final version that existed in my head and was going to be put in this week’s alphabet photo challenge. Here is what I actually saw:

ISO 400 78mm 0ev f/11 1/125

ISO 400 78mm 0ev f/11 1/125

It was a cold and grey morning, and I knew that I was going to want to edit this photo into something that I didn’t see, so I took a bracketed shot, of which the shot above is the middle exposure.  When I got home, I edited the photo into an HDR image using Photomatix.  Then in Photoshop I added some grain and an over the top sepia layer.  The result is the top photo.  I think you can tell that I was cold when I took the picture from the warmth that I insisted upon that is shouting a bit too loudly in the edited version.  I think though, that the sign is trying to invoke another time and place, so bringing an additional layer of fiction is ok in this situation.

Have you ever taken a photo knowing that the final image you wanted to see was something entirely different?  What do you think of my take on this photo? Your comments are welcome below.

Again this year I am using a widget in my sidebar for this year’s photo challenges.  I am using this widget courtesy of Cardinal Guzman.  The link is to the post of his with this year’s widgets, it would your while to have a look at some of his other creative posts as well.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Oops!

For this week’s challenge, I invite you to take you on a walk around the zoo with me as I go in search of a photo. I take a lot of photos and I’m grateful for digital photography.  It’s easy to go ahead and take a photo, try another angle, another setting perhaps.  Think for a minute, try something else.  The beauty of digital is that you can throw away all the duds.  My laptop trash bin often has a lot in it. Here is a little gallery of our walk:

You can roll over any of the photos to see why they will not be making it into a blog post other than this one where I show you all my oops moments.  For those of you who visit regularly, you will recognize that cheetah.  He was in last week’s post looking like this:

I see you

ISO 800 f/5.6 1/250 0ev 200mm

To get that one photo, I took one hundred and twenty two photos, for me that is almost nothing.

I have a few that I will keep.  I’ll edit those, make sure they are tagged, and save them to a separate hard drive too.  The rest, well those are headed for the bulging trash bin.

Thanks for taking a walk with me. I always like chatting about photography.  Feel free to comment below, either about what I have done here or about your own creative process.

Cheers!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eye Spy

Sometimes a visit to the zoo is like a game of  I Spy, as in good luck finding anyone out and about.  Not so a few days ago on a cool autumn morning, a lot of animals were out enjoying a bit of the morning sunshine, including this cheetah:

ISO 800 f/5.6 1/250 0ev 200mm

ISO 800 f/5.6 1/250 0ev 200mm

Usually when I am taking animal photos I try to get a shot with their eyes in focus.  In this case, there was something I liked about the photos with its eyes closed.  A bit relaxed and aloof at the same time.  While I was shooting that morning I had set my ISO to 800 because I felt like with the sun going in and out, 800 would cover the changing conditions.  I had my shutter speed at 250 because a lot of the animals were moving around, and that speed was enough to capture that motion.  In this particular photo, that wasn’t really necessary.  I have not done much post processing with this photo, the original is below, and you can see the biggest change is the cropping:

ISO 800 f/5.6 1/250 0ev 200mm

ISO 800 f/5.6 1/250 0ev 200mm

In this case I was mindful of the rule of thirds, and placed the cheetah’s closed eyes along one of those rule of thirds grid lines.  I think keeping it simple in this case made for a good photo, but what do you think?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!