Weekly Photo Challenge: Layered

Layers is what Photoshop calls them. They are a helpful tool that I use to create my images.  I used layers in a few different ways as I was creating this image:

ISO 640 95mm f/11 1/500

This original looked like this:

ISO 640 95mm f/11 1/500

When using layers the first step I take is to duplicate the original layer.  I then begin my edits on the second layer.  What this means is that if my edits go badly, one option I have is just to delete the duplicate layer and go back to the original.  In this case on the second layer, I cropped the photo, did a levels adjustment, sharpened it, and then added a photo filter.  Once I was happy with my edits I saved it. Because I use Lightroom as a catalog for my photos, when I am in Photoshop, I am actually saving a version to Lightroom.  Lightroom also keeps a copy of the original for me.  I like keeping a copy of any original that I have edited, because sometimes I go back to the original and edit the photo into another version.  This particular version I added to my portfolio at Picfair.  The version I posted to Instagram is here:

#Swan in the glow of a #summer evening.

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

What do you think of my layered version? In this case I focused on the warm glow of light.  I was thinking another direction to go with editing was the cooler blue tones.  Do you use layers to edit your photos? Have any related tips you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting

It’s fair to say that I had been waiting for months, eager to head off on holiday to Scotland.  We had tickets for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. I’d been once as a child, and it was a fond memory, so I was looking forward to seeing it again as an adult.  The show did not disappoint, we even had fabulous weather.  As I was reviewing my photos from the evening I decided I wanted to create an image that suggested a memory, like the vision I had in my head from when I was a child.  This is what I came up with:

ISO 3200 18mm f/11 1/40 sec

Here is the original:

ISO 3200 18mm f/11 1/40 sec

You can see that I’ve made quite a few changes.  The biggest was in the overall tone of the photo, I wanted to accentuate the golden hues and quiet the blues a bit. I started with a photo filter from Analog Efex Pro, and edited from there.  One of the nice things in Analog Efex Pro is that there are a lot of options and a lot of sliders, so you can easily start with a preset and work from there.  Back in Photoshop I cropped and straightened the photo.  Then I used the healing brush tool and the spot healing brush tool to remove the radar/metal tower thing that is on the castle.  The healing brush allows you to pick another section of the photo and paint it over what you want to remove.  I used that first to take the tower out.  I then used the spot healing brush tool, to make the sky in the area match the rest of the photo better.  The spot healing brush looks at the surrounding area and then makes a best guess.  It was good for the clean up effort in this case.

I like the dreamy feel to the first photo, I think I managed to get a version that was what I had set out to do.  What do you think?  Have you been to Scotland? It’s a beautiful place. If you happen to be in Edinburgh in August, check out the Tattoo, it’s a unique show. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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!