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!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Layered

Layers is what Photoshop calls them. They are a helpful tool that I use to create my images.  I used layers in a few different ways as I was creating this image:

ISO 640 95mm f/11 1/500

This original looked like this:

ISO 640 95mm f/11 1/500

When using layers the first step I take is to duplicate the original layer.  I then begin my edits on the second layer.  What this means is that if my edits go badly, one option I have is just to delete the duplicate layer and go back to the original.  In this case on the second layer, I cropped the photo, did a levels adjustment, sharpened it, and then added a photo filter.  Once I was happy with my edits I saved it. Because I use Lightroom as a catalog for my photos, when I am in Photoshop, I am actually saving a version to Lightroom.  Lightroom also keeps a copy of the original for me.  I like keeping a copy of any original that I have edited, because sometimes I go back to the original and edit the photo into another version.  This particular version I added to my portfolio at Picfair.  The version I posted to Instagram is here:

#Swan in the glow of a #summer evening.

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

What do you think of my layered version? In this case I focused on the warm glow of light.  I was thinking another direction to go with editing was the cooler blue tones.  Do you use layers to edit your photos? Have any related tips you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wanderlust

This week’s photo challenge starts with “Have you traveled anywhere exciting lately?”  Oh boy, travel is a topic maybe it’s best not to get me started on as “going to see things” is a bit of a hobby for me.  It also happens that I was on the road just a few weeks ago.  I visited a few well-known spots that pretty much everyone has heard of.  This post though is more about something I really love about traveling, and that is visiting some spot a bit off the tourist path and being utterly charmed by it.

I do enjoy history, so I often find myself at spots of historical significance.  I will admit though, if it has to do with World War II, it’s probably because my husband found it.  That’s how I came to be standing here:

ISO 400 4.15mm f/2.2 1/100 sec

Where am I? The Upottery Heritage Center.  Here’s a Google map link, if you would like to see a map of the area.  Why was I here? Well the Band of Brothers left from here for Normandy; that was my husband’s interest.  He had been in contact with Robin, a volunteer at the center, who had agreed to open the converted hut for us to take a look around.  This is one of those museums that has been put together by people who care about the history of the area.  It’s a small space, but there is an incredible amount of well researched detail here.  My husband talked to Robin about those details.  For me, it was the photographs, look at all the photographs!  Our youngest child was traveling with us and found the stash of newspapers from the time. Eventually, it was time to drag ourselves away from this room. The driving tour was next.  Robin was willing to take us around to show my husband where the old airfield was.  For me the highlight of the driving tour was this:

ISO 25 4.15 f/2.2 1/420

During the war it was a guard station.  It’s the last remaining one in the area and now if functions as a Remembrance memorial.  A beautiful tribute if you ask me.

Part of the tour took us through farms that are currently in use, so from my Instagram, I have this shot.

On a #walk with a #cow #nofilter #england

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

A cleaned up version of that shot is in my Picfair portfolio.

This morning in Upottery was a highlight of the trip.  The well known places were good too, but this was unique, something that will stick in our collective family memory. In terms of the photography, I stuck with my iPhone for this visit and was pleased with the results. Have you perhaps had the experience as well, that a lesser known place ended up being a highlight of a trip? Can you believe how lush that grass is in the Instagram photo? That’s a no filter photo.  Feel free to leave your comments below.

Cheers!

Spider (so click away now if they’re not your thing)

One of the challenges I face when I am running is to keep running.  I’m not always successful, but in this case it means that I got this photo:

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/710

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/710

I’ll admit if I had seen this spider in my home, I’d have probably squealed like a girl and ran away before dealing with it. On a run however, when I am just passing the web and spider by, I find it beautiful.  On this particular morning there were a lot of spiders out working.  This one I stopped for because I thought the light in the web was just about perfect.  Here is the original shot:

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/710

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/710

In the edited version I really focused on the warmth that was in the original.  I used Lightroom for my editing. One of the first things I did was increase the temperature slider.  I liked the effect that had on the spider’s legs and on the sun rays. I’ve also used a graduated filter to bring a bit of interest to the sky.

The fun thing about this photo was that I took it with my iPhone, I was happy with the result. What do you think? Do you try to ignore spiders when you are out and about? Do you prefer the original or the edited version?  Feel free to leave a comment below. I’ve added this photo to my Picfair portfolio and to the Daily Post Challenge.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Frame

While walking this weekend, I came across this ram:

ISO 400 50mm 1/80 f/22

ISO 400 50mm 1/80 f/22

Looks a bit forlorn don’t you think?  He perked up a few minutes later though:

ISO 400 50mm 1/80 f/22

ISO 400 50mm 1/80 f/22

Why? it wasn’t because I told him how perfectly I thought his horns framed his face. No, it was because there was a working dog who was starting the process of getting the rams rounded up.

When I took these photos I used an f-stop of 22 to capture a lot of detail.  I wanted to get the texture of the grassy and rocky ground as much as the ram.  When I went to edit though, the color was a bit washed out.  In this case, I used the levels adjustment in Photoshop to bring back the whites in the photo.  It was a fairly easy fix, just a question of moving a slider.  Once I had done that, in Lightroom I added a vignette.  In this case, I used the sider to darken the corners of the image a bit.  While a vignette can be used to create a very dramatic effect, in this case I used just a little bit of darkening to subtly draw your eye into the photo.  It can be a unobtrusive way to frame a photo.

This ram caught my eye because I thought he was a beautiful creature. I think that happens a lot with photography, that some small editing tweaks are needed to bring out what I had originally caught my eye.  Do you agree? or do you edit in a more dramatic fashion or skip editing altogether?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Face

It’s Spring time so it’s time for chickens:

ISO 1000 50mm f/5.6 1/40

ISO 1000 50mm f/5.6 1/40

Time for cute little faces like these:

ISO 1000 50mm f/5.6 1/60

ISO 1000 50mm f/5.6 1/60

I love taking photos like these.  These particular chickens were hatched in a second grade classroom as part of a life cycles unit and were moved today to a farm.  They grow quickly, but for now they are fluffy and have large feet.

The main challenge for taking photos like these is to catch the chickens at a moment when they are still.  It means a lot of photos end up in the trash bin.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Vibrant

I almost always have a camera with me.  My Canon 50D is my favorite, but I don’t always carry it around.  At times when I don’t have it, I rely on my point and shoot.  One time when I prefer to use my point and shoot is when the crowd looks like this:

ISO 200 15mm 0ev f/5.6 1/125

ISO 200 15mm 0ev f/5.6 1/125

This was the crowd at this afternoon’s Wiener Dog Races that are part of Mardi Gras here in St. Louis.  It’s a popular event.  It’s a friendly and vibrant crowd, but not the best place to take my bigger camera.  Here’s a shot of what people came to see:

ISO 200 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/500

ISO 200 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/500

Mostly the dogs seem to love this, some however, are not impressed:

ISO 200 22mm 0ev f/5.9 1/200

ISO 200 22mm 0ev f/5.9 1/200

This little fellow seemed to be disdainful of the pleas and shouts of encouragement to run.  This little shot of defiance was my favorite shot of the day, and something that my point and shoot can easily handle. In this case, I feel like I can get the photos I want for the story I want to tell with the smaller camera. I have left the photos as they were shot, no editing.  For this particular post, I wanted the photos to convey the sense of a casual observer taking in an event.

How do you handle photography in a crowd like this? Do you take a smaller camera, or do you fearlessly wade in with your largest camera? Your thoughts are welcome below.

Cheers!