Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale

Sometimes with a good base in reality you can scale something up in your imagination:

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This is Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland. Look somewhat familiar? If you have read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown or seen the movie that could be why, this chapel gets a feature in both.

The chapel is beautiful, full of intricate carvings.  It has been restored and is open to the public thanks in part to the publicity from the book and movie.  I’m grateful for that, the chapel is a work of art. I’ll be honest though, I thought the book was terrible and because of that, didn’t even bother with the movie. The book plot involves a vast conspiracy. I’m a simplest explanation tends to be closest to the truth kind of person. Writing a work of fiction can be similar to photography. It can be an exercise in taking something real and expanding it in your imagination. That was the process I used to get the above photo from this original:

ISO 800 10mm f/18 1/100

Pretty obvious that I have taken some liberties with the facts so to speak. I’ve added filters to accentuate textures in the stone and the sky. Added a blue tone for a stark, cold feel. Then I obscured the edges to swallow up details like the bench and the tourist.  Like the chapel in the book, I’ve taken a bit of what was there and then added some imagination.

Do you like my imagined version? Did you like The Da Vinci Code? feel free to leave a comment below. If you are thinking of visiting the chapel, know that they have a restrictive photo policy.  It is also a fairly small space that is often crowded. With those things in mind, I would still recommend a visit, it is beautiful.

Cheers!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Pedestrian

Not too long ago I took part in a charity walk whose path toured the grounds of some of the colleges at Cambridge University that are normal shut to the public. There were a lot of beautiful buildings and gardens but at Corpus Christie College I was stuck by this scene of all the pedestrians observing the “stay off the grass” sign while a solitary bird ignored it completely:

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Cheeky little bird!

It was a funny scene, but the original image was a bit, uninspired:

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You can see I have done quite a few edits here, but one of the most important was applying a field blur in Photoshop. In this case, I have kept the bird in focus and purposely blurred all the people. Emphasizing the importance of the little rebel who was strutting around the grass looking down its beak at us walkers on the path.

Have you ever edited a photo to tell a story? Certainly this can be a bit of a controversial topic, but feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Thursday Doors: Secret Garden, Secret Door

I was enjoying a day out at Buckland Abbey and came across this lovely door:

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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

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

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!

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Windows

I’ll admit I think slightly odd things at times. Like when I first saw this scene:

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All these beautiful planes looking out the window toward the airfield, like they would like to go out and play. So when I wanted to capture that thought, I went to the back of the hanger and shot out towards the airfield, as if taking a shot from the plane’s point of view.

This is a situation where shooting a bracketed exposure is a good idea.  My original photos were like this one:

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Because of the bracketing some images showed more detail inside the hanger and some more detailed outside.  Combining them into an HDR version gave me this:

ISO 500 19mm f/16 1/125

That’s nice if what you wanted to show the details of the scene, but really my original slightly wonky thought, was more about the idea of planes stuck in a hanger.  So that first photo is an edited version of the second photo in the post.  What I did to it was first to increase the vibrance and saturation, then I sharpened it a bit.  From there I applied a few filters.  The first filter gave it both a cooler blue tone and more of a film camera feel.  Then I added a vignette. That’s a way of darkening the corners of the photo. Usually, I would apply a vignette to the center of the photo and darken the edges uniformly.  In this case, it’s set so that your eye is drawn to the outside world, but I’ve left enough detail in the ceiling of the hanger, making it clear the planes are stuck inside. The details of the floor of the hanger are completely obscured, but in this case they were not important to the story of the photograph.

I took these photos at the Imperial War Museum Duxford in their display of American aircraft. The museum is huge and includes a working airstrip. Even if you do not have a particular interest in aircraft, this museum could keep you occupied for a day. What do you think of my interpretation?  What about the HDR version? Do you often photograph a scene thinking not just of what is technically in front of you but what story you could tell from the scene?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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:

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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!

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:

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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:

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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!