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:

From the beautiful #gardens at #bucklandabbey @nationaltrust

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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!

 

 

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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.

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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!

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: Evanescent

As with most places I have lived, I know that I am only going to be here for a few years. It’s an evanescent way of life, when you know you will be packing soon.  I think my photography sometimes captures that as well.  Last week, I took this image while out on a walk:

ISO 500 50mm f/16 1/200

It was a beautiful day, and it wasn’t raining in England! Ok, well maybe somewhere in England it was, but not on the little part that I happened to be walking on.  This spot was near the end of the walk, and I knew I had to take a photo as I approached, who could pass on a scene like this?

This image is quite a busy one in my opinion, full of texture.  When I went to edit it I could see that there were a lot of competing elements. In this version I wanted to highlight the church.  I did a few things to accomplish that.  First was cropping.  I have cropped the image so that using the rule of thirds grid. The right side of the church runs along the right vertical guide grid and the top flat part of the roof, meets the top horizontal of the grid.  Here is a screen shot that shows the grid:

The faint lines you see are the grid that is referred to as “the rule of thirds”

Once I had the church situated in what I thought was a good spot, I did my other edits.  I gave the photo a bit of a faded look overall but then used the radial filter in Lightroom to bring a bit of focus to the church.  By making the church brighter than it surroundings I am making it stand out.  The radial filter controls in Lightroom are nice in that you can make the focus point as large or small as you would like.  I ended up including a bit of the land in front of the church because I thought it helped draw your eye to the church.

I liked this version, so I added it to my Picfair portfolio.  Do you like the edits? Do you ever think about the fact that you are capturing a fleeting moment when you are taking a photo?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

There are times when I think about how we as people can’t help but change the world around us.  It’s like we can’t help but interpret the earth around us, even if that means altering it.  Our generation is not the first to do this:

ISO 800 50mm f/10 1/1250 sec

When you walk around Stonehenge you can’t help but wondering why people did this.  There are no shortage of theories, but not a whole lot of definitive answers either.  That makes it more intriguing, but even if we had all the answers I think this site would still be awe inspiring.

Stonehenge is currently administered by English Heritage, and while there are a few different ways you can visit, we were in the area by car and did use the walking audio tour.  For this photo, I used my Canon 50D and took several shots with the thought of stitching them together in Photoshop to create the panorama you see above.  The main thing to keep in mind is to attempt to shoot as level as possible.  The first version of the panorama had some people in it.  I removed them using the healing brush and the Edit-Fill-Content Aware features of Photoshop.  I also did a white balance correction using the eyedropper in Levels, and sharpened the photo.  I am adding my Flickr version below that you can click on to see a larger version:

Panorama of Stonehenge

It is also available as part of my Picfair portfolio.

Below is an Instagram version, this version, shot with my iPhone gives a slightly different perspective and an idea of how many people I had to remove from the version above:

#Stonehenge with #nofilter So beautiful @englishheritage #england

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Do you ever find yourself wondering about how the landscape has changed over the generations? or why people do the things they do? How do you like my panorama, do you think I did a good job removing the people?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Good Match

Processing photos sometimes seems like a challenge of matching a photograph with a filter.  Sometimes a good match comes about by accident or experimentation. For me though, most of the time when I see something, before I even take the photo, I have an idea of what I want the final result to look like.  When I took this photo for example:

ISO 500 50mm f/8.0 1/80

ISO 500 50mm f/8.0 1/80

It was this that I saw in my mind:

ISO 500 50mm f/8.0 1/80

ISO 500 50mm f/8.0 1/80

I only had a moment to snap the photo, so made sure everything was in focus and took the shot.  I was interested in the imposing nature of the stone contrasted with the organic spiderwebs that looked like they were permanently attached.  I kept that in mind as I went to crop the photo.  In Photoshop I used the crop restraints of 1×1 to create a square.  I also straightened the image, but not entirely. I wanted to keep that idea that the man made object was attempting to dominate the scene but that was not completely possible.  Time and weather have taken their toll on this piece of stonework.

When I created this final version, instead of using a black and white filter I went more with a cream, I think that it brought out the weathered look of the stone better. To me these edits bring out what I saw when I was looking at the scene.  What do you think? Do you ever think about photo editing as a matchmaking exercise? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadow

I’m living in England.  Some weeks that means that I feel like I am living in shadows. This has been one of those weeks.  An idea that I tried to capture on Instagram:

Quiet morning on a rainy day. #solititude #photography #candles

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The photo has a filter on it, but the reality is that it was a very rainy and dreary morning in my office.  I liked the photo though, mostly anyway, so I decided to pull out my larger camera to see if I could create a photo that was more exactly in line with what I was thinking.  Here is the photo, taken with my Canon 50D, as it was before being edited:

ISO 800 50mm f/18 5.0 sec

ISO 800 50mm f/18 5.0 sec

One of the first things I did when shooting this version was to turn the red candle around so you can’t read the label.  Also, with this being a standard photo, I can allow for more space around the candles, something that Instagram is not set to do.  I set the f-stop to f/18 because I wanted the photo to be in as much focus as possible.  This of course means that there is less light for the exposure.  You will see that my shutter speed is a full 5 seconds.  So this photograph does require a tripod to be in focus.  In this case though, I just used my desk as a tripod, it just happened to be perfect for the angle that I wanted for the photograph.  Here is the final version:

ISO 800 50mm f/18 5.0 sec

ISO 800 50mm f/18 5.0 sec

I suspect the first thing you will notice is all the blur that has been added into the photograph.  You might find that odd considering I just made mention of how in focus I wanted the shot in the camera to be.  What I was thinking here was that I wanted the unedited version to be as close to reality as possible so that I could then decide what reality to keep in and what to edit out.  I’ve used the field blur feature of Photoshop to blur this image while keeping most of the candle sharp.  I’ve used the healing brush tool to remove a few marks and dust on the candles.

The final image is what I had in mind when I was originally looking at the scene.  It retains a lot of the reality of the scene but is a more subdued and meditative version. It is the version that I added to my Picfair portfolio.

What do you think of my various versions?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!