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

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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!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

There are times when I think about how we as people can’t help but change the world around us.  It’s like we can’t help but interpret the earth around us, even if that means altering it.  Our generation is not the first to do this:

ISO 800 50mm f/10 1/1250 sec

When you walk around Stonehenge you can’t help but wondering why people did this.  There are no shortage of theories, but not a whole lot of definitive answers either.  That makes it more intriguing, but even if we had all the answers I think this site would still be awe inspiring.

Stonehenge is currently administered by English Heritage, and while there are a few different ways you can visit, we were in the area by car and did use the walking audio tour.  For this photo, I used my Canon 50D and took several shots with the thought of stitching them together in Photoshop to create the panorama you see above.  The main thing to keep in mind is to attempt to shoot as level as possible.  The first version of the panorama had some people in it.  I removed them using the healing brush and the Edit-Fill-Content Aware features of Photoshop.  I also did a white balance correction using the eyedropper in Levels, and sharpened the photo.  I am adding my Flickr version below that you can click on to see a larger version:

Panorama of Stonehenge

It is also available as part of my Picfair portfolio.

Below is an Instagram version, this version, shot with my iPhone gives a slightly different perspective and an idea of how many people I had to remove from the version above:

#Stonehenge with #nofilter So beautiful @englishheritage #england

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

Do you ever find yourself wondering about how the landscape has changed over the generations? or why people do the things they do? How do you like my panorama, do you think I did a good job removing the people?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

What I Saw

Maybe this happens to you. You are looking at something and you see what is actually there, but in your mind you see something else. This happens to me a lot. When it comes to my photography it can create a bit of tension; part of me likes to record just the facts while another part is off imagining.  This image is from that imagining side:

ISO 800 50mm f/10 1/640

This photograph is a panorama and the original files looked like this one:

ISO 800 50mm f/10 1/640

The original files are kind of just ho-hum, but what I liked was the green and also the texture of the brick.  I was also just intrigued by the fact that the building was there.  It’s part of an old sewage farm and was first constructed in 1887.

ISO 800 50mm f/10 1/640

The building now is in pretty good shape but does have an abandoned look about it. When I created the panorama, I knew I wanted to bring out that aspect of it.  A quick sketch of how I created this image looks like this.  I selected the original files that I wanted to use in Lightroom. Then Lightroom-Photo-Edit In-Merge to Panorama in Photoshop.  From there I cropped and straightened the image. Then I sharpened it and saved it back to Lightroom.  From Lightroom-Photo-Edit In-Analog Efex Pro.  I ended up using a wet plate camera setting but then changed the settings within that filter and saved it back to Lightroom.  In Lightroom I made a few more adjustments, mostly to get the green colors to a point where I liked.

In addition to posting this in the Weekly Photo Challenge, I am also posting it in an interesting challenge called Thursday Doors.

How about you, do you often look at something and imagine something completely different? Is the green of Spring emerging where you are or are you on the opposite side of the world, springing into another season altogether?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers?