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: 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: 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: Beneath Your Feet

On an overcast day this past week I was able to get some bird shots that featured reflections:

ISO 2000 70mm 0ev f/7.1 1/15

ISO 2000 70mm 0ev f/7.1 1/15

This Cattle Egret has an almost identical replica of itself right beneath its feet.  The somewhat dark, overcast morning allowed for some vivid reflections.  It did mean however that I had to raise my ISO and lower my shutter speed to attempt to get the photo I was after.  This bird paused for a moment, so I was able to get the shot.  I have plenty of other shots that will be headed straight to the trash bin.  As far as editing, I stuck some pretty basic moves, I cropped the photo, increased the temperature rating in Camera Raw to warm it up a bit, and sharpened it.  Here is the original:

ISO 2000 70mm 0ev f/7.1 1/15

ISO 2000 70mm 0ev f/7.1 1/15

I think the edits make for a more compelling photo, what do you think?  Feel free to comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Muse

When it comes to my photography and what I choose to shoot, there is no doubt that nature is my favorite subject.  To narrow it down further than that, I would say that I prefer to shoot animals over landscapes.  For this week’s photo challenge, I am limiting it even further, this post is for the birds.

First, a short update on my chickens. I wrote back in May about a chicken that we were helping get back on its feet. Literally, one of the things we did was reset his legs, so that he could walk.  Although small, he seemed to be healthy, so we reintroduced him to the rest of the chickens.  We were a bit concerned that he would be too small to get near the heat lamp, but I guess we should not have worried:

ISO 800 14mm 0ev f/5 1/40

ISO 800 14mm 0ev f/5 1/40

Almost right away another chicken took him in and was helping him stay warm.  This photo, taken by my oldest child the day after his reintroduction, made me so happy.  With care like this, I think he will do well.

My other bird up date is on the robins:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/125

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/6.3 1/125

We had a healthy nest outside our kitchen window this year, and all of the hatchlings made it to the relative safety of the hedgerow.  In addition to having a great time photographing them, one of my posts was featured on Freshly Pressed.  That particular post has approximately 500 likes on it; 100 likes is usually what my posts receive.  I’m happy to say that we have spotted these hatchlings a lot this spring.  It seems that a few of them have chosen to stay near the hedgerow, so it has been fun to watch them grow and thrive.

In addition to my bird stories needing an update, this blog needed one as well. All the extra traffic on my blog made me take a second look at my About page.  Turns out, I hadn’t updated it in about two years.  So I took a few minutes this week to make it a bit more current.  Take a look if you are curious, feel free to leave a comment there or here on this post if you like.

Cheers!