Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental

Sometimes it’s fun to experiment, try something new.  I gave a few tools in Photoshop a spin and here is the result:

ISO 1250 22mm f/9.0 1/40

Not everything I did to get this final result was new to me, but because certain steps were, this photo took some time to produce. A typical learning curve with any thing that is new.  I started with this photo, shot in the early morning. The sun was up the sky was beautiful, but the streetlights were still on and even the traffic had a sleepy feel to it.

ISO 1250 22mm f/9.0 1/40

The first few edits were pretty basic. I cropped and straightened the photo. Then I removed the wire you can see in the sky with the healing tool.  Then I sharpened the photo. This is the color version that contains the sky that is in the final version:

ISO 1250 22mm f/9.0 1/40

From here I wanted to make a black and white version.  I find that sometimes if you boost things like saturation and vibrance in a color version it ends up being over the top in color:

ISO 1250 22mm f/9.0 1/40

But quite nice in black and white:

ISO 1250 22mm f/9.0 1/40

I then put my nice color version and the black and white version in Photoshop. At this point the photograph was two layers, black and white on top and color underneath.

With the selection tool, I picked out the area of the sky in the top layer, made a mask, then inverted the mask.  This had the effect of revealing the color sky underneath.  This was by far the longest step in the process.  I don’t have a whole lot of experience with the selection tool, it can be a bit stubborn and add in things you don’t want in your selection. I’m not a patient person. I would like everything to work correctly the first time, thank you very much.  I will say that this tool is one that has improved over the years. When I got that part of the effect to where I wanted it, I then dropped the opacity of the black and white layer to 95%. This brings in just a hint of the warmth of the color version that is on the second layer.  It also the same tone as the sky, so it makes the two layers clash less and work more as a single image.

What do you think of my final image? Do you have an image editing tool that you avoid because it drive you crazy?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

 

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Thursday Doors: You have to look up to see the Door

There are some beautiful wooden doors at Ely Cathedral:

ISO 800 50mm 1/100 f/6.3

The photo above was taken on the Octagon Tower tour so I was at eye level.  From the main floor of the cathedral though you would be forgiven for looking up and not realizing it was a door:

ISO 800 50mm 1/50 f/10

Even with one open, from the floor it’s not overly obvious.  Standing next to it though, it’s obvious:

ISO 160 4.15mm 1/35 f/2.2

Getting good photos in a church can be tough. Often flash is not allowed so you have to use the lighting available in a creative way. It was a sunny day when I was visiting, so that was a plus.  The first and third photos in this post have been cropped and sharpened. Particularly for the first photo, I thought the available light highlighted the photograph in interesting ways.  The middle photo is an HDR image. I bracketed the shots and then combined them in Photoshop. In this case, I was looking to add as much detail to the image as possible.

The tour of the tower was really interesting, but to me the highlight was these doors. Having the opportunity to see them close-up really allowed me to see what beautiful works of art they are.  What do you think of my edits? Do you also enjoy seeing works of art from different angles?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rounded

I climbed to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica this week and looking down couldn’t help but noticing how rounded St. Peter’s Square looks:

ISO 500 22mm f/9.0 1/800

I went in the early morning.  They officially open at 8, but were letting people in before that, so I was at the top just a few minutes after 8.  It was a hazy morning, but that made the view beautiful.  Here is the original file:

ISO 500 22mm f/9.0 1/800

The edits I have done in Lightroom included bumping up the temperature slider and the clarity. Other than that, I felt that the image worked as is.  It’s rare that I don’t crop a photo, but it this case I felt that wasn’t necessary. The best edit was the simplest one.  I had attempted in other edits to make an HDR version of this photo; I also cropped a version using the straighten feature.  Ultimately, it was this edit you see above that ended up being my favorite.

The climb up the dome itself was not my favorite moment in Rome. It isn’t hard in terms of the number of steps, but if you have trouble with closed in spaces it might not work for you.  The stairs are narrow and spiral inward in places. I made it, but it wasn’t a fun climb for me.  I was glad to have gone early in the morning when there were not too many other people which meant that I could just keep climbing to get to the outside viewing area and fresh air faster.   When I had done my research on the climb, I had only really considered the number of steps and not the space where those steps were. The view was worth the climb though.

The photo was worth the effort.  Have you ever felt this way about an image you have taken? What do you think of my minimal edit?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Glow

In photography, there is often a lot said about the golden hour, including the fact that there are two of them. Like a lot of the rules of photography, you get some great results by paying attention, it is a fabulous time for natural light to infuse your photography.

Very nice, but my life often doesn’t work that way.  I have to make do with the light I have at the time. As a result, I’m almost always thinking about lighting and working with what I have to make a nice photograph.  Here is a nice bit of light I found and exploited:

ISO 1600 19mm f/22 1/250

To me, this photo is all about the soft glow of red and orange tones.  Here is the scene as I originally saw and shot it:

ISO 1600 19mm f/22 1/250

When I was taking this photo, I wanted to get as much of the scene as possible, so that included sky and surrounding trees, even though I thought I might be cropping later. When I went to edit the photo, I added an orange tinted filter and also boosted the orange and red tones in the photo, their saturation and luminance.

As far as cropping went, I used another rule of photography, and that is the rule of thirds.  Here is a screen shot with the rule of thirds grid applied to the photo as I was cropping:

Screen shot of the cropping process.

What I was thinking was that the docked boats were the point of interest and most prominent part of the orange tones. It was the way the light was illuminating the interior of the boats that made me take a photo in the first place. I have placed them at one of the grid intersections. This size crop also allows for the curve of the bridge and the people on it to be standing in a spot where your eye is likely to rest.  These are things that strengthen the composition of this image.

What do you think, do you like my interpretation of the light and the crop of this image? Your comments are welcome below.

Cheers!

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!

Thursday Doors: Secret Garden, Secret Door

I was enjoying a day out at Buckland Abbey and came across this lovely door:

ISO 250 50mm 1/200 f/8.0

It’s an entrance to a secret garden that is on the grounds.  Beautiful, but not really easy to photograph, lots of dark shadows.  Here is one of the original shots:

ISO 250 50mm 1/200 f/8.0

The color of the flowers in the original is lovely but a bit overpowering. As for the dark shadows, I decided to go ahead and make friends with that element of the photo.  I was working in Photoshop here, but used the add-on Analog Efex Pro as a starting point.  I ended up liking a filter that had a bit a blue tone to it.  I also straightened the photo.

I posted an Instagram version here:

and have the full-size original in my Picfair portfolio.

While I often edit to make a photo look more like the actual scene, in this case I liked the darker tones. I think it makes the photo a bit more mellow and serene.  Has this ever happened to you, an element of an original photo that you find bothersome ends up being its strength?  Do you like the darker tones of this image? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Cheers!

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Windows

I’ll admit I think slightly odd things at times. Like when I first saw this scene:

ISO 500 19mm f/16 1/125

All these beautiful planes looking out the window toward the airfield, like they would like to go out and play. So when I wanted to capture that thought, I went to the back of the hanger and shot out towards the airfield, as if taking a shot from the plane’s point of view.

This is a situation where shooting a bracketed exposure is a good idea.  My original photos were like this one:

ISO 500 19mm f/16 1/125

Because of the bracketing some images showed more detail inside the hanger and some more detailed outside.  Combining them into an HDR version gave me this:

ISO 500 19mm f/16 1/125

That’s nice if what you wanted to show the details of the scene, but really my original slightly wonky thought, was more about the idea of planes stuck in a hanger.  So that first photo is an edited version of the second photo in the post.  What I did to it was first to increase the vibrance and saturation, then I sharpened it a bit.  From there I applied a few filters.  The first filter gave it both a cooler blue tone and more of a film camera feel.  Then I added a vignette. That’s a way of darkening the corners of the photo. Usually, I would apply a vignette to the center of the photo and darken the edges uniformly.  In this case, it’s set so that your eye is drawn to the outside world, but I’ve left enough detail in the ceiling of the hanger, making it clear the planes are stuck inside. The details of the floor of the hanger are completely obscured, but in this case they were not important to the story of the photograph.

I took these photos at the Imperial War Museum Duxford in their display of American aircraft. The museum is huge and includes a working airstrip. Even if you do not have a particular interest in aircraft, this museum could keep you occupied for a day. What do you think of my interpretation?  What about the HDR version? Do you often photograph a scene thinking not just of what is technically in front of you but what story you could tell from the scene?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!