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.

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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!

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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!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Bridge

Sometimes a photo challenge theme fits nicely into work that I have in progress.  This past weekend I was in London, in part to see Tower Bridge:

ISO 250 20mm 1/2000 f/8.0

Recently I purchased a new lens, it’s a wide angle lens, 11-22mm, to complement my 50mm and 70-200mm lens.  I am thinking of using this lens mostly for landscapes. I will also be pressing it into service in city settings. In particular shots taken in the interior of buildings where my 50mm struggles to get the whole of what I am trying to capture. A wide angle lens can also be used to create a beautifully different perspective of a scene:

ISO 250 14mm 1/800 f/8.0

These photos are two of one hundred and fifteen that I took of the bridge.  Getting the pictures home, I put them in Lightroom, which is always my first step.  I have taken a look through all the images and these two above are among the images that I may edit later; as seen above they are not edited at all.  I will keep them in this state for awhile.  I find it helpful to have some time between my shoot and when I edit.  I find it hard to be objective about them when they are newly shot. Although eventually most of the photos will be deleted, nothing has been deleted yet. Photos I take with my larger camera are on the slow track in terms of my editing process.

The fast track consists of photos that I take on my phone.  They are often taken and then processed or discarded within twenty four hours.  This one was a keeper:

The view of one #London landmark from another. #towerbridge as seen from the #toweroflondon

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

A successful photo on my phone is often an overview photo like this one.  More detailed photos I usually shoot with my larger camera.  I find it helpful to have both cameras with me, I find it creates a more complete narrative.

Do you shoot a single scene with more than one camera? Do you have a different approach to editing photos that are created out of your different cameras?  And yes, those first two photos really are unedited, it really was that bright and sunny in London last Sunday! Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Delta

If you are ever at Hampton Court Palace don’t forget to look up. The Astronomical Clock, an imposing, functional work of art, was installed in 1540. Other than the time it also indicates high tide at London Bridge.  That’s important if you are traveling by barge, as many members of the court at the time would have been doing. We used the car park; just one way in which times have changed since the clock’s installation.

ISO 1000 50mm 1/640 f/16

While touring the palace I was using my Canon 50D with a 50mm lens.  The challenges that day were the rain and the fact that I was taking photos indoors and out. One thing that my camera does well is allow for a high ISO and a resulting photo that is not too grainy; in this case I set my ISO high so that I could change my shutter speed and aperture frequently. I brought home a lot of images, but I really found the clock facinating. You can see in my final image I have combined black and white and color.  Here is where I started:

ISO 1000 50mm 1/640 f/16

One of the first things I did was to crop the image using the straighten feature in Photoshop.  From the angle which the photo was taken, I think it is natural for it not to be 100% straight, but I wanted it straighter than the way it had been shot.  I also sharpened the image.  I mention these two steps because they are often my last two steps, but this time were my first.  I then created a second layer, making it black and white.  The black and white copy on top, the color underneath. I allowed Photoshop to make the black and white by clicking Image-Adjustments-Black&White. This will make default adjustments but also pops up a dialogue box that will allow, via sliders, the user to adjust the various values of the image. I like to start with the default, but it rarely matches exactly what I want to see.  In this case, it was the sky, there was no detail in the default, but the sliders helped me fix that.  Then I added a layer mask on the black and white copy.  In the layers panel there is an icon with a  rectangle with a circle in it, that will created the mask.  I then used the paintbrush tool and painted over the face of the clock which revealed the color layer beneath.

I really like the result, but what do you think? The black and white brick really makes the color of the clock face stand out in a way that I like. Do you mix black and white and color in your editing process? Do you like the results you get?  I find that it is a bit of a mixed bag, sometimes it works really well other times it is a complete miss. I also have found that I have to go ahead and try it, I can’t always tell just by looking at the original image if it is going to work.  Do you have an editing technique that is like that for you? sometimes it works and other times it is a mess?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

 

 

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

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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: Evanescent

As with most places I have lived, I know that I am only going to be here for a few years. It’s an evanescent way of life, when you know you will be packing soon.  I think my photography sometimes captures that as well.  Last week, I took this image while out on a walk:

ISO 500 50mm f/16 1/200

It was a beautiful day, and it wasn’t raining in England! Ok, well maybe somewhere in England it was, but not on the little part that I happened to be walking on.  This spot was near the end of the walk, and I knew I had to take a photo as I approached, who could pass on a scene like this?

This image is quite a busy one in my opinion, full of texture.  When I went to edit it I could see that there were a lot of competing elements. In this version I wanted to highlight the church.  I did a few things to accomplish that.  First was cropping.  I have cropped the image so that using the rule of thirds grid. The right side of the church runs along the right vertical guide grid and the top flat part of the roof, meets the top horizontal of the grid.  Here is a screen shot that shows the grid:

The faint lines you see are the grid that is referred to as “the rule of thirds”

Once I had the church situated in what I thought was a good spot, I did my other edits.  I gave the photo a bit of a faded look overall but then used the radial filter in Lightroom to bring a bit of focus to the church.  By making the church brighter than it surroundings I am making it stand out.  The radial filter controls in Lightroom are nice in that you can make the focus point as large or small as you would like.  I ended up including a bit of the land in front of the church because I thought it helped draw your eye to the church.

I liked this version, so I added it to my Picfair portfolio.  Do you like the edits? Do you ever think about the fact that you are capturing a fleeting moment when you are taking a photo?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Danger!

In case you thought it was safe to leave the house, my teenager will tell you it’s not:

ISO 800 50mm f/10 1/250

Pictured above, a dinosaur, not my teenager.

This is the terrifying or hilarious sight that awaits you at the entrance of National Showcaves Centre for Wales. It kind of depends on how you feel about dinosaurs. As I was sitting eating my lunch not far from this dino, the reaction was mixed.  Some young visitors were really excited.  Others were wondering what they had done that their parents were punishing them this way. My  teenager was firmly insisting that we walk straight past the dinosaurs to get to the caves and not take photos like this to post to Instagram:

When you're in #Wales to take a look at a cave and run into a #dinosaur #thingsthathappenedtometoday

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

But as my teenager can tell you, there is a danger in leaving the house with your parents.  They are likely to do highly embarrassing things while at the same time making it obvious that they are your parents.  So, what’s a teen to do? Consider these steps:

  • Ignore parents, perhaps they will stop talking about stupid poses they want to do.
  • Hiss at them to be quiet, in the hopes they will drop the subject of posing with dinosaurs. Be careful with your technique when applying this step.
  • Agree to one photo, after all Mom like never actually posts photos of you to social media, so probably no one will ever see the photo and you can move on to seeing the caves.
  • Consider rolling your eyeballs (no wait, definitely roll your eyeballs) as you finally move on to the caves and wonder why your parents are so impossible sometimes.

In addition to providing those helpful tips for dealing with impossible parents, I will talk a bit about the actual photos.  The top photo was taken with my Canon 50D. While I was taking the photo I thought about composition, I wanted the dinosaur to mostly fill the frame. I also considered a few different angles, trying to get as much of the metal fence and shop that was next to the dinosaur out of the photo, so I wouldn’t have to worry about cropping later.  In Lightroom, I sharpened the photo a bit and also did a white balance adjustment.  In this case I just used the eyedropper tool, picked a neutral white spot, and Lightroom made the white balance adjustment.

With the Instagram version, white balance is out the window.  The photo, taken with my iPhone, is more about setting a scene than reflecting the actual scene. What the two photos have in common is my thoughts on composition.  In both of them, I thought about filling the frame with the subject and about keeping later cropping to a minimum.

Also, there were caves, but the dinosaurs were awfully fun to photograph.  Has that happened to you, you go out with the thought of taking photos of a sight, but then get distracted by something else like dinosaurs? There are a lot of ways to manage white balance in editing software, do you have a favorite method? Parents! like what is with them?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!