Weekly Photo Challenge: Peek

Last week I showed you photos taken at the top of St. Peter’s Basilica from the outside viewing area.  This week I’ll show you a few details of the interior of the dome. These are shots I took on the walk up, just a few details from a place that is a grand and beautiful. I’m a bit leery of heights. Sometimes, that fear inspires me to take a photo.  Here I am taking a peek into St. Peter’s:

ISO 320 4.15 f/2.2 1/17

To get this photo, I focused on the grid and allowed the background to blur. Even with the blur, it’s pretty easy to see how ornate St. Peter’s is.  A photo like this also expresses my fear of heights, I often feel that I can’t focus correctly, so I have directed the camera lens to do the same. I was using my iPhone, which likes to self-correct things it feels the photographer is getting “wrong”, so it took a few shots to get the photo I wanted. In this case, I knew I wanted the shot to be in its finished form without any further editing.

In some ways, it was much easier to get this shot:

ISO 500 4.15mm f/2.2 1/17

Close up detail of the eye of an angel, part of one of the many mosaics that ring the walkway of the landing.  Close-up, in focus shots, are the kind of photos that I think my phone generally handles pretty well. Again though, the camera defaults to catching what it thinks is correct; while the details are correct, the color is not.  The original file looks like this:

ISO 500 4.15mm f/2.2 1/17

I edited the photo in Lightroom.  I warmed the overall temperature, giving it a bit more of a golden glow.  A warmth not captured in the photograph, but that I felt was there at the time.  I’ve also sharpened it a bit and darkened the corners, to draw your eye to the eye in the photo.

I knew there were steps and a climb involved at St. Peter’s.  It would have never occurred to me though not to bring both of my cameras.  This is one of those times that people sometimes make the argument that it is better not to bring a camera, to just be in the moment. I can respect that line of thought, but for me this is a time of compromise.  I took out my camera, got the shots I wanted, then put my camera away and just spent some time looking around.  I’m that person in my family, the one that always gets to the top last.  How do you handle times like these? do you ever go without your camera?  How do you like my glimpse inside St. Peter’s?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Corner

Fitting that this pub sits on a corner:

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/220

Located on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, this pub is named after a local citizen who is said to be the inspiration behind Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. Deacon Brodie was a cabinet maker and thief.  His day job allowed him access to homes that he would later rob.  He was eventually caught and hung.  A short walk away at the National Museum of Scotland, there is a multi-floor exhibit that includes a cabinet that is attributed to Brodie, though was probably made by his father.

This photo was shot on my iPhone and edited in Lightroom.  The first edit was to crop the photo.  I decided on a square crop in honor of this week’s photo challenge.  While making the crop I took advantage of the angle tool which allowed me to straighten the photo a bit.  Since I had been standing close to the pub, the perspective was a bit skewed.  Having done that, I sharpened the photo and darkened the corners by sliding the highlight priority into negative numbers.

How do you like the edit?  Have you ever been to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile? It’s a popular tourist destination particularly in August during the Tattoo and Fringe Festival.  Both of those things are worth checking out. I would also recommend looking through the history of Scotland over at the National Museum, it’s an interesting display. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Satisfaction

I enjoy taking photos. I like editing and creating my own little pieces of art.  But making art is messy, in my case, it is a digital mess.  I’m a tidy person.  While I don’t mind my photo files looking like someone is working, I don’t want my space to be a digital disaster area.  Part of cleaning actually starts at the beginning as I am importing files.  I keep my files organized in folders which are labeled with the date and the location of the shot.  I edit some shots right away, others I throw away right away.  The majority spend several months sitting in a folder.  I find it helpful to have to some time pass before I do a deep clean of any folder.  When I deep clean, I look more critically at each photo. I’m deciding if I really want it to be taking up disk space. Everything that is deemed not disk space worthy is sent to the trash can:

ISO 125 4.15mm 1/35 f/2.2

It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to do this type of cleaning.  If they aren’t already, surviving files are tagged, making them easier to find in the future.  As far as when any file gets a final edit, I am much less structured about that.  Some have had final edits the day or so after they were shot.  Some wait for months or even a year.  I’m not worried about rushing that part of the process, keeping my good files organized makes it easier to come back to them when inspiration strikes.

As for the photo above.  I took several shots with my iPhone of the screen. They have been imported into Lightroom. The version I liked best I opened in Photoshop and made a duplicate layer.  The top layer was converted to black and white.  I then put a mask on that layer and painted to reveal just the blue below. Do you like this edit? Do you feel lighter after you have cleaned out your digital files? I honestly do.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unusual

Static, I think that is one word that comes to mind when describing a war monument. The Battle of Britain Monument is unusual in that it is dynamic.  Not only do the elements of the monument protrude in interesting ways, they do so at eye level.  It is a very interesting work to walk around.  It was my first visit, so I took a lot of shots as I walked around getting my first impressions.  When I got home, I created this photo:

ISO 32 4.15mm 1/50 f/2.2

The photos I took, I took on my iPhone.  Mostly, I was capturing details of the monument and not the monument in its entirety.  I find my iPhone is a good tool for this kind of photography.  I will show you the original shot at the bottom of this post, but as you can see there is a lot going on here, so one of my first thoughts was, what would I like to highlight in my final photo?  The answer was the bright sky you can see in the binoculars of the soldier in the foreground.  I used Lightroom to create my version.  I first cropped the photo then sharpened it a bit.  I then used a radial filter just over the binoculars, the effect evenly muted the rest of the photo, but kept the vibrance of the sky.  I then lightened the corners of the photo which I think helps encourage your eye to stay more in the center of the photo.  For comparison, here is the original photo:

ISO 32 4.15mm 1/50 f/2.2

What do you think of my edits?  Is there another approach you would have taken in editing this? Your comments are welcome below.

Cheers!

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

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: 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

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

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!