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

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

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!

Lingering

I wrote a post about some roses that I had in the house a little over a week ago.  Then I kept the flowers until well after their scent had faded.  As you can imagine, it was so that I could get some photos.  Here is one that I shot a few days ago:

ISO 800 50mm f/8.0 2.0 sec

ISO 800 50mm f/8.0 2.0 sec

What I was thinking about was light. I knew I wanted to shoot in the early morning light, to take advantage of that lovely tinge of the first light of the day.  In this case, my tripod was mandatory, you see the exposure time of two seconds? there is no way for me to get a clear shot while holding the camera.  So, with my camera set up on the tripod, I worked a bit with my f-stop.  I wanted the roses to be fairly in focus, but I wanted the raindrops on the window behind to appear as bokeh.  F/8 was the answer for this photo shoot.

So then to the editing, cropping was my first step.  I then created a color version and this black and white version:

ISO 800 50mm f/8.0 2.0 sec

ISO 800 50mm f/8.0 2.0 sec

You can see that I have cropped out the left side of the photo, just a bit too much going on there in my opinion. The slightly warm tint to this version I got by sliding up the temperature slider in Lightroom.  I’ve also added a bit of grain to this version.

With both a color and black and white version created, from Lightroom I opened them as layers in a single file in Photoshop.  Here is the final version of that experiment:

ISO 800 50mm f/8.0 2.0 sec

ISO 800 50mm f/8.0 2.0 sec

To achieve this look, I have the black and white version as the top layer but I have lowered its opacity.  I did trying adding a mask to add in more color to the roses, but ended up not liking the effect.  The original color of the roses seemed garish against the more muted background of this combined version.

What do you think of my versions? I added both the black and white and the combined version to my portfolio on Picfair. I like them, does it bother you that the roses are not their original color? have you ever tried combining black and white and color photos? the result can be lovely or jarring, it is interesting how varied the outcomes can be.

Cheers!

The Greatest Work of Art in the World

It’s possible you walked right past it.  It’s always amazing to me what I run past almost daily.  It’s scenes like this:

ISO 25 4.15mm f2.2 1/2200 sec

ISO 25 4.15mm f2.2 1/2200 sec

Or this:

#frost and #sun on my morning #run #nofilter #photography

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

 

These two photos represent to me the greatest art in the world, art that occurs in nature.  Don’t get me wrong, I love going to art galleries or churches and looking at beautiful works of art, but you can’t beat what you walk past every day.

These photos were taken within minutes of each other yet have a very different feel to them.  The first, which has been edited, is moodier despite the warm tone of the sky.  Here is what the original photo looked like:

ISO 25 4.15mm f2.2 1/2200 sec

ISO 25 4.15mm f2.2 1/2200 sec

A cooler tone, but more distracting elements in the lower left and right of the photo.  I used Photoshop, the healing brush tool, to remove them.  I then used the Analog pro plug in in Lightroom and applied a filter that warmed the photo up and also introduced the grain that you can see in the final image.  There is a vignette in the corners that I think is most obvious in the lower corners.  This version I posted to my Picfair portfolio.

The Instagram photo, well it’s an Instagram photo.  What I mean by that is that photos I post there tend to be more casual and everyday.  I like the light in the photo. I think it works well in Instagram’s square format too.  It isn’t a photo that I would put in a more formal setting though because part of the plant, the part that is closest to the viewer, is out of focus.  I could get all high and mighty and tell you haughtily that “It’s art!” but the reality is that it is distracting.  I like it, but I’m not going to edit it.

Do you have a favorite among the images? Are you on Instagram, I am @marantophotography if you’d like to stop by there. Do you have a favorite work of art?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

This Is My Home

I had a blog project brewing for the new year.  Then I got a little push to work on the project before the new year started. You are looking at the project, it is the blog itself.  I wanted a new look for it.  This blog is the living room of my online home and I wanted to redecorate.  I had big plans, a whole new WordPress theme I was thinking.  It turned into something much more modest.  None of the themes that I tried on suited my vision of home. I’ll be honest, it was frustrating.  So, what have I done then?  First, I kept the theme I had been using, it’s the Able theme if you are curious.  What’s new is that I got rid of the sidebar.  One of the lovely things about the Able theme, is that you do have the option of displaying photographs in a large format.  This is a photography blog, it makes sense that the images should be large.  All of my social links are now up in the header.  I did keep the header image and kept the type a color that I borrowed from the lion header image.

Another thing that won’t change on the blog is the underlying thread of photography.  I hope you enjoy my photography and reading about how I create images.  That is the main reason I write this blog.  With that in mind, this is an image I was working on creating this week:

ISO 800 50mm f/5.6 1/30sec

ISO 800 50mm f/5.6 1/30sec

When this poinsettia branch fell off the rest of the plant, I was presented with a lovely photography opportunity.  I wanted to create an image that was both warm and dark, one that represents the idea of reflecting on the year that has passed and the one that is to come.  The original photo is here:

ISO 800 50mm f/5.6 1/30sec

ISO 800 50mm f/5.6 1/30sec

I decided to shoot this photo using a bracketed exposure, I wanted to create an HDR image that would bring out the detail in the leaf.  The final image was also cropped in Lightroom.  I used the perspective crop feature to level out the final image just a bit.  I have also used a photo filter.  The filter was adjusted to add warmth to the image and also a bit of texture.  I then darkened the corners using a vignette.  The final image was added to my Picfair portfolio because I do think this would make a good stock image.

So, what do you think of my final image?  I was using only the candle and natural light to light the photo, can you believe it was only 3pm?  In this part of the world these last days of the year are also the darkest.  They do open up a wide variety of photography options though.  This will be my last post of the year, I expect to be back in this space in mid-January.  In the meantime you can find me on Instagram and Twitter.  If you are a blogger, I’ll probably be by to visit.  Feel free to leave a comment below about the photo I have created.  I would also appreciate feedback on the new layout of the site!

All the best to you and yours for the coming year.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Relax

When I stumble across a scene like this, I get pretty excited:

ISO 800 50mm f/11 1/250

ISO 800 50mm f/11 1/250

This is one of the scenes that await visitors of Fountains Abbey in York.  It’s a beautiful place.  There is something about a view like this that I find very relaxing.  I spent the day here, looking around. I took the walking tour to get a better feel for the history of the place. But really I was just there for the beauty.

The photo above started like this:

ISO 800 50mm f/11 1/250

ISO 800 50mm f/11 1/250

I had my camera set to take a bracketed exposure because I was pretty sure I was going to want to make an HDR version in Photoshop.  HDR in this case because I knew it would give detail and a bit of pop to the ruins.  I then used my Analog Pro plug in as a starting point to make the photo look more like a photograph and less digital. I chose to keep the cool tones of the original since it was shot in December.  I’ve also cropped this photo a bit with the thought of keeping the focus on the ruins.

I’ve added this to my Picfair portfolio, because I was pleased with the outcome.  How do you like this edit, does it seem relaxing and peaceful to you?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

One, Two, Three!

Sometimes, it takes a few photos and a bit of editing to get to what you intended to create.  The first step is getting the photo. At first I walked past this photo.  Then a few minutes later I thought, “Did I just walk past a leaf shaped like a heart covered in frost and not take a photo?”  The answer was yes, so I backtracked and took this photo:

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/50

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/50

Hmm, ok, that was shot vertical, so then I tried a horizontal orientation:

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/50

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/50

Ok, better, but this final version is really what I had in mind:

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/50

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/50

This in my mind it is a sort of stock image.  One you might see with text of some kind on the right side.  I created it specifically with my Picfair portfolio in mind. When I was processing it, I started with cropping it using the rule of thirds.  In the original photo I shot it with the leaf centered.  I chose to do that in this case, because the background was all the same, but I thought when I took a closer look on my computer one of the sides might be more interesting.  I also removed a little yellow leaf and a bit of frost below the stem that I thought were distracting.  Those edits were done in Photoshop.  I then put the photo in Lightroom and did some additional edits, adding a bit of clarity and warmth.

What do you think of the final photo? I often find that my final photo has several forms before it is finished, is that your experience as well? Have you ever walked past a photo, thought about it, and turned around and went back with your camera out?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!