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: Against the Odds

This past week I went on a two hour walking tour of Oxford. I had never been to Oxford, and anytime I am in a new city I find walking tours a good way to get started. The tour included a bit of history of the area and a few of the highlights.  I will admit though, to being that person, you know, the one who is a few steps away from the group taking photos.  While on the tour, I got this photo:

ISO 500 50mm f/8.0 1/100

ISO 500 50mm f/8.0 1/100

I love this idea of nature growing right into a man-made structure, although I suspect in this case it has had some encouragement to grow that way.  I edited the photo into this:

ISO 500 50mm f/8.0 1/100

ISO 500 50mm f/8.0 1/100

A little more dramatic, I’ve used a few filters to make it feel like not only is it against the odds that the tree would be there but that it is amazing that the photo even still exists given it distressed state.

When I was editing the first thing I did was crop the photo.  Mostly to take out the bit of the sky in the left corner and some of the fencing in the lower left.  For the fencing in the lower right I used the healing brush tool in Photoshop to remove that. I’ve then used the plug-in Analog Efex Pro to create the photographic look of the final version.  I’ve used some blur and an uneven border to make the photo look worn and damaged.  The nice thing about the plug-in that it gives you a good place to start with creating looks like this. It’s then up to you how to further interpret it, more blur? less? it’s all pretty easy to manage within the plug-in.

What do you think of my final version? I’ve included the link to the walking tour I took, it was a good one, I would recommend it; do you ever take walking tours of places you are visiting?  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!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude

I do enjoy being on my own, but at this point in my life I’m not alone a lot.  It’s the nature of my work and of parenting that I be with others.  I have found over the years though, that is is possible to experience a sense of solitude when when others are around:

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/4800 sec

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/4800 sec

This is an image I created from the shot below that I took while out on a run yesterday:

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/4800 sec

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/4800 sec

It was a cold morning, the sun was out briefly and in a very intense way.  It made for a beautiful and hazy moment. I have edited the first version to saturate the image with color and then added a lot of grain to give the photo an intense and somewhat surreal look.  It was a simple edit using the sliders in Lightroom.

My Instagram version turned out this way:

A beautiful start to my day. #nofilter #running #photography

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

I stuck with the softer hues for that version.

From my photographs, you might have the impression that I run in wide open desolate places.  You would be wrong. This spot, while beautiful, is just steps from a lot of houses and is on a very busy path. To me though, running is a moment of solitude.  It really is just me and the path, just as the photo suggests.  Do you find that to be an interesting contradiction? to be alone yet not alone?  What do you think of my various edited versions? To me that first version looks like it could have been taken almost anywhere, I like that about it, but does it seem that way to you? Feel free to comment below. Check out my other moments of solitude on Instagram @marantophotography feel free to follow me, I like the company!

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!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Repurpose

Occasionally, I’ll take a photo that doesn’t work out quite right. By occasionally I mean every time I take my camera out. Mostly this is because I’m a fan of trying different settings in the camera and framing what I am photographing in different ways. I think one of the big bonuses of using a digital camera is the ability to throw away images later. I also always wait to throw images away. Instead of deleting photos while they are still in the camera, I download all my photos and make sure to take a look at them on the bigger screen. I’m talking about a photos like this one that I took this weekend:

ISO 500 50mm f/5.6 1/400

ISO 500 50mm f/5.6 1/400

What I was trying to do at the time was get a shot of the snowdrops in the foreground from a low angle but not lay down on the ground at the same time.  It didn’t work; the camera focused on the flowers that were just emerging in the background.  On the back of my camera it pretty much looked like the whole photo was out of focus.  On my bigger screen I found the shot more in focus than I had realized and more interesting.  I took this as an opportunity to create something a bit different than what I had originally intended when I shot the photo.  Here is what I came up with:

ISO 500 50mm f/5.6 1/400

ISO 500 50mm f/5.6 1/400

First I cropped the image.  Then I ignored conventional photography wisdom that insists that a photo be completely in focus. I used this photo to work with two filters that I like but find a bit tricky to get exactly right.  One is the iris filter in Photoshop and the other in the radial filter in Lightroom.  I started with the iris filter in Photoshop which allows you to drop a pin on the part of the image you would like to be in focus, You can make that pinpoint whatever size you would like it to be. Then you then use a dial to decide how blurred the rest of the photo will be.  In this case it was a bit of back and forth before I settled on the size of the part of the photo that would be in focus.

The radial filter in Lightroom I used to warm up the image as well as boost the clarity and vibrance.  The interesting thing about that filter is that you can either have the edits applied to the area inside the filter or outside.  It’s just a question of a checkmark that is inside the dialogue box.  I always try it both ways, just to see what I like.  Usually, as I did here, that box ends up with a check in it.

What do you think of the final version? Do you ever repurpose photos in this way?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

And now, a line from the Little Mermaid

I’d like to share this post featuring the writing of Theresa Barker and a photo of mine.
Cheers! Amy

Theresa Barker - Lab Notes

Photo by Maranto Photography is used by permission of the photographer, all rights reserved.Photo by Maranto Photography is used by permission of the photographer, all rights reserved.

One of the blogs I follow is Photography Journal Blog, where the blogger, Amy Maranto, posts the most amazing photographs.  She also generously provides information on how the photograph was created, sharing her knowledge with other photographers and image-creators.  The image above came from Amy’s blog.  Please take a look at Amy’s message in “About this post” at the end of my story!

In Search of Fairer Sights

She has traveled.  Though it is little known, the mermaid of Copenhagen, Den lille Havfrue, visited China in 2010.  She wishes to see the sights beyond her home location positioned on a rock near the promenade, but so far, Shanghai has been the only acquisition in her tourist portfolio.

It is a matter of some vexation.  She is considering placing an advertisement in a global publication…

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