Weekly Photo Challenge: Collage

The thing with photo editing is that there is a lot to be learned.  So much, that sometimes I forget how to do something that I have tried before.  When I saw collage as a theme for this week’s photo challenge, I took the opportunity to make something a bit different than what I usually do.  This is the result:

All images originally shot on my iPhone

It has been a few years since I tried something like this, so I started by using these basic directions from Adobe.  Having reviewed the instructions, I thought about the final image I wanted to create. I decided I wanted to focus on nature images taken within the last few months.  I further decided that I wanted to use photos that I had posted on Instagram. When I post to Instagram I often stick with the square format and my nature images often are edited to be full of light and have a dream-like feel to them. This meant that the images would have some commonality, even if the subject differed slightly, and that would help keep the collage together visually.

One step I added to the basic directions was to drop the opacity of each of the photos while they were in separate layers in Photoshop.  I did this to help create the linear but yet non-uniform borders within the collage.  Once I was finished in Photoshop, in Lightroom I increased the clarity and saturation and darkened the corners a bit.

What do you think of my final photo?  There are many ways to create a collage, do you have a favorite editing program to create them?  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

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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: 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: Order

I find that military cemeteries and memorials are an attempt to bring order to the chaos of human conflict. The neat rows of uniform grave markers, the minimalist and tidy green space, they stand in contrast to what I perceive as the disruption and disorder of conflict.  On Memorial Day this year, the staff at Cambridge American Cemetery put out pictures in front of the grave markers and along the borders of the Tablets of the Missing:

ISO 25 4.15mm 1/750sec f/2.2

Seemingly a small detail when viewed from a distance, but amazingly personal when examined at close range.

ISO 25 4.15mm 1/540 f/ 2.2

The cemetery is a sobering reminder of the human cost of war, and the display puts a face on it and makes it more personal:

"Faces of Cambridge" Women served too #WWII #cambridgeamericancemetery #lestweforget @usabmc #memorialday

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Most blog posts I write are about the editing process I go through.  This post is about the importance of sometimes letting an image stay in its “as taken” state.  The first two images are shown as shot and I would argue tell their story without the need for editing. The last image is in the standard Instagram format with the filter I chose for it accenting the light that illuminates the name on the grave marker.

When I am taking photographs, I often am thinking about what I would like the final image to look like.  In this case, I knew that I was going to want the final images to have very little editing done to them.  While my usual minimum edits are white balance, cropping, and sharpening, for the first two photos skip even those steps. What do you think of my unedited photos? are there times when you skip editing in favor of an “as-is” final photo? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Friend

It’s been a busy week. Today it’s back to England weather, but last week was gorgeous; my unprocessed photo folder overflows, a beautiful problem to have. This weekend included a walk with friends that went through a barley field:

ISO 25 4.15mm 1/1600 f/2.2

This panorama, taken on my iPhone, originally looked like this:

ISO 25 4.15mm 1/1600 f/2.2

The edited version was produced in Lightroom. In the crop tools there is an “angle” option which allows you to drag a line along what should be the straight horizon and then creates a crop from there.  As with many edits, I sometimes think that I am gaining and losing.  In this case, the edited photo is straighter. The original however, has a quirkiness to it that I kind of like.  I’ll point out also that this photo is breaking one of the rules of photography.  Generally it is considered bad form to include part of a person, you should either include the whole person or crop them out entirely.  It’s a good rule, but I think there is a carefree feeling to this photo that allows that rule to be broken.

From that same walk is an Instagram photo that reminds me that flowers and insects form important friendships as well:

#poppies and friend #thingsiseewhilewalking #england #summer

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What is your thought on my panorama, is there a version you prefer? Can you believe that beautiful sky was in England this weekend?  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

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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: 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

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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!