Birds, iPhone, Nature, Photography, Silent Sunday, Wandering Wednesday

Silent Sunday: Swans at Sunset


ISO 25 4.15mm f2.2 1/450

Inspired by Wandering Wednesday: Sunsets.

11-22mm Lens, Canon 50D, Instagram, iPhone, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

A Study in Light

You won’t have been a photographer for very long before you hear of the term the golden hour. It’s a great time to shoot outside as the light is usually really nice then. I appreciate that light, but honestly, sometimes I take photographs in whatever the conditions are because that’s when I could be there.

I was visiting Omaha Beach nowhere near the golden hour. The light was flat and hazy, usually a bad thing, but in this case a bit magical:

ISO 640 16mm f/16 1/640sec

I love that the light was illuminating just one part of this Les Braves Memorial.  The version you see above is an HDR image.  It was created using three exposures, here is one of the original exposures:

ISO 640 16mm f/16 1/640sec

One of the things combining the exposures did was combine the waves, which I like. You can also see that while I was editing I removed the fence.  I used the spot healing brush tool in Photoshop to do that.

Further along the beach, I took this photo with my iPhone that I then posted to Instagram:

#omahabeach yesterday and today #dday #wwii #lestweforget

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

That photo is not edited, I think the natural light in it was perfect and skipped putting a filter on. My husband had brought along photos of the landing at Omaha and we lined up that classic image shot by Robert Capa with the approximate place on the beach. My husband had brought along several resources for us to look at while we exploring the beaches, which made our visit that much more moving.

Have you ever been out shooting in “bad” light only to find out that it was perfect? Do you like the HDR version or does the original memorial shot appeal to you more? Feel free to leave a comment below.


This post was added to Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge.

iPhone, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twisted

Sometimes I can’t help but wondering, Mother Nature what are you thinking? because this seems a bit twisted:

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/140sec

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/110sec

These photos were taken in the greenhouse that is part of the gardens at the Down House which was the home of Charles Darwin. If you go for a visit make sure to pick up an audio guide, it is fascinating.  As for the photos, they were taken with my iPhone.  I had brought along my Canon 50D with a wide angle lens, so while that was great for overall shots of the site and garden, I left the detail work to my iPhone. Shots like the ones above are something that I think my iPhone handles well.

I did edit these shots in Lightroom so the originals are below for sake of comparison:

I’ve cropped both, as well as done overall adjustments to the highlights and vibrancy. I also sharpened both.

So do you like the edits? Do you find these plants a bit creepy? I do honestly.  Feel free to leave a comment below.


iPhone, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Story

I love taking photographs. For me, it is my favorite way to interact with the world. Sometimes it is a challenge though, typically that challenge involves lighting or deciding on an angle to shoot from. In this case, though, it was the story behind the photo:

ISO 160 4.15mm f/2.2 1/35

This photo is from the interior of the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague, originally built in 1535, the names you see on the walls there are of the approximately 80,000 Jewish victims of the Holocaust from the lands that are now the Czech Republic or Czechia.

The synagogue also has a display of art by children who were interned during the Holocaust, and most of whom died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. It’s heartbreaking, I couldn’t even bring myself to take photos in that room.

The link to the Synagogue I included above includes a short video of the space. For me though, this is one of those places where the story is hard to tell in just photographs. Being in the space itself seems important. For that reason, it was hard to focus on getting a good photo. I took a few shots then put my camera away, taking some time to just be there. One thing that I will share that struck me about the names, was that they included their birthdate and death date, or in some cases, the last time they were seen if an exact death date isn’t known. I’m not sure why I found that powerful, but I did.

Have you ever struggled to capture a scene in a photograph? How did you handle the situation? Your thoughts are welcome below.


iPhone, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography


When should you stand for your beliefs? Thomas Abel (or Abell) may have thought about this as he was in the Tower of London awaiting execution for being a heretic:

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/390

I took this shot for a number of reasons. One is that I knew this week’s challenge was forsaken, certainly, the Tower of London would provide a photo that would match that idea. A second reason is that I had read about this piece of graffiti in the book The Burning Time by Virginia Rounding. I’m about halfway through reading the book, but it does make a pretty good case for keeping your religious views to yourself in England, July 1540.  Abel was executed along with two other Catholics and three Protestants. Charges against Abel stemmed from his public support of Katherine of Aragon.

I used my iPhone because it was hard to get a photo in this part of the Tower. It was crowded and the light wasn’t great.  I chose this angle because even the shadow seems determined to blot out Thomas Abel, which I felt tied well to the theme of forsaken. I then cropped the photo. Doing this removed the edges of the plastic cover that is over the graffiti and also a number which corresponds to some information about Mr. Abel on a nearby display. I did boost the clarity, I also warmed the tone of the picture a bit to make the shadows more pronounced.

Having visited the place where he was kept prisoner, seen his rebus, and read about him, I still am left to wonder what motivated him to make such a stand.  As the book, The Burning Time points out, plenty of people did not speak about their religious beliefs, they simply moved with the times. Considering that Abel was executed with people who didn’t share his religious convictions, it’s pretty clear how dangerous it was to speak of any religious matter publicly at this time.

For me, it was interesting to be reading about this time in history when I was also able to see it on display. Do you ever line up photography and reading in this way? Do you think this photo is a good representation of forsaken? Feel free to leave a comment below.


11-22mm Lens, Canon 50D, iPhone, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

All Aboard

There are times when it becomes necessary to attempt a workaround. This particular photo was one of those times:

ISO 1250 10mm f/13 0.6sec

The challenge before me was to create interesting leading lines within a photo by doing what is called a zoom burst. You do this by changing the focal length while you are taking a photo. There are also various motion filters you can use to create the look afterword, Photoshop has a number of filters for that which you can read about here. In this case, though, I was simply turning the focus ring of the lens while taking the photo. Or at least, that’s what I was trying to do.  Here is what my best, unedited, version was:


ISO 1250 10mm f/13 0.6sec

What wasn’t working was the dial, it wasn’t in focus enough, you can’t read it at all. I could tell this even on the small screen of my camera. I took a bunch of shots but knew I did not have what I wanted. I was at the same time, blocking the way of people who were trying to get through and slowing down my family.  So, I took this shot with my iPhone.

Close up on the iPhone

I was pretty sure that if I got a close up of the dial, I could create something later. So, that’s what I did.  I opened these last two photos as layers in Photoshop.  From there I scaled down the phone shot to fit the Canon shot: In Photoshop: Edit-transform-scale, hold the shift key to keep the proportions of the original photo. Then I added a mask to the phone layer (which was the top layer) and masked out all but the dial. I also dropped the opacity of that layer a bit so that it wouldn’t be completely in focus since the layer below is showing through slightly. And there you have it, that first photo is my final version of this editing process.

My take on zoom burst with a little help from Photoshop.  What do you think? Do you like using blur with photography? I’ll be honest, I don’t use it all that often. It can be an imaginative interpretation of a scene though, do you think it works with this subject? Your thoughts are welcome below.

These photos were taken aboard the HMS Belfast which is docked in London and functions as a museum.  An audio guide takes you all over the ship. It’s an excellent glimpse into what life on a ship would be like.



50mm Lens, 70-200mm IS lens, Birds, Canon 50D, Instagram, iPhone, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Tour Guide on Patrol with the Ducks

A few days ago I went looking for these guys:

ISO 800 95mm f/9.0 1/3200 sec

Only in real life, they looked like this:

ISO 800 95mm f/9.0 1/3200 sec

I was looking for them because week six on the Dogwood 52-week challenge is alternating rhythm, or to practice using light and dark to create depth and rhythm. Sunlight on the lake often creates harsh shadows which adds a sense of depth.  As for these four birds, they always seem to be hanging out and patrolling the lake as a unit, the rhythm of their lives in step with each other regardless of the other activity on the water. It’s a honking loud rhythm too, in case you were wondering.

For this challenge, I was out to push the depth and rhythm ideas a bit. I added a motion filter and tin-like cast to the photo, I think it makes the light and dark contrast stand out, pushing it to a bit of an extreme for a nature image. Lightroom is a good editing tool for pushing ideas, sometimes you can go a bit too far though. Do you think this edit pushed the boundary of the challenge, or did it hurl it off the cliff? Your thoughts are welcome below.

It’s no wonder I went to my local lake, you will find me there a lot, it’s one of my favorite places to photograph:

Just a few shots from the last year or so. And one more from this morning:

#rainbow #thingsiseeonmyrun

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

I may not make a good tour guide since I spend a lot of time chasing photos and listening to ducks, but it is beautiful and a good place to practice photography.