Weekly Photo Challenge: Windows

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

ISO 500 19mm f/16 1/125

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:

ISO 500 19mm f/16 1/125

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!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Time

I enjoy walking through graveyards, but that was not what I was doing this past week when I saw this grave marker:

ISO 800 120mm 0ev f/11 1/125

ISO 800 120mm 0ev f/11 1/125

I was walking through a garden at the time, and this grave marker just happened to be in it.  I was happy to have my longer lens with me so as not to be tempted to trample in the garden even in its off season.  I bracketed this photo and later created the HDR version that you see above.  I also used several filters in Photoshop that, while I think still look realistic, dramatically changed the photo.  Here is the original:

ISO 800 120mm 0ev f/11 1/125

ISO 800 120mm 0ev f/11 1/125

You will see that I cropped the photo as well, mostly to remove the plant label, but also to get rid of some of the sky which I felt wasn’t particularly helping this photo.  I had never been to this garden, but as I was walking though I thought that it was a place I would like to come back another time. I love visiting gardens as they go through their yearly cycle of blooming and dying.  I feel the same way about graveyards, which tend to be gardens in their own right.  It might seem dark and creepy to some but to me it is the opposite.

How about you, do you have a favorite place to visit in all the seasons?  What do you think of my edits?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Roy G. Biv starts with R

I have been in Utah for a few weeks.  One thing Utah has in abundance is beautiful red rocks:

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/16 1/30

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/16 1/30

I took this photo at about 6:30am at Bryce Canyon National Park as the sun was starting to work it’s way through the rocks.  I used an f-stop of f/16 because I wanted to show detail in the rocks.  That required a fairly low shutter speed, but I wasn’t too worried about that because I was fairly sure my subject matter wasn’t going anywhere.  The light was the variable, shots taken a few minutes earlier on the same settings were much darker.

I bracketed this photo and when I edited it, created this HDR image in Photomatix Pro.  The individual photos turned out a bit flat as compared to what I was seeing in person.  I think this HDR version above is closer to what I saw.  I was thinking as I was taking pictures that this landscape just looked better in person than in photos.  So after taking my shots, I put my camera away and just stood for awhile watching the sun come up.

Have you ever had a moment like that where you just put your camera down, because you were sure the images wouldn’t do the moment justice?  This week’s photo challenge is Roy G. Biv, the colors of the rainbow.  I love taking photos with all sorts of colors, but I also think that sometimes the rainbow is best experienced without the camera.  What do you think? Feel free to comment below.

Cheers!

Butterfly

I hadn’t been in awhile, so last week I stopped by the butterfly exhibit they have at the St. Louis Zoo.  As butterfly houses go, this is a small one and it is often crowded.  It was when I was there, but I still managed to set up and use my tripod.  But if you are in the area I would encourage you to stop by.  It is a beautiful spot.  Despite the crowd, people seemed to be relaxed, perhaps a result of being around natural beauty.  I got this photo:

ISO 250 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/20

ISO 250 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/20

You will see that the lighting on the butterfly is a bit uneven because he was in a sheltered spot.  Because I knew that I would have difficulty getting all the detail I wanted in one shot, I set my camera to get a bracketed exposure.  So, the final photo you are looking at is an HDR image I created using Photomatix.

In order to get as much detail I also used a low ISO, and therefore needed a slow shutter speed and a tripod for this shot.  Once I had created my image in Photomatix I then opened it in Photoshop.  I cropped the image, sharpened it and then applied a blur to the edges and background.  Here is one of the original images, to give you an idea of what I started with:

ISO 250 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/20

ISO 250 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/20

Pretty big difference I think, but before I started editing, I thought the final image was in there, just waiting to be revealed.  What do you think?

I didn’t know it when I took this photo but just a few days later, gardens would be the announced travel theme at Where’s My Backpack?, so this image is my submission for this week.

Cheers!

Travel Theme: Big

I visited the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden over the summer and like everyone else took a picture of the sculpture Spoonbridge and Cherry:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/250

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/250

Given the size of the sculpture, there are many different ways you could shoot it.  When I was shooting, there were a lot of people milling around so that was a factor in the angle I decided to go with.

The other challenge in taking this picture was that it was bright and slightly hazy, which meant that the exposures I was getting were a bit flat.  Given that I had such a high shutter speed to cut down on some of the light, I was pretty confident that I could bracket the exposure and make an HDR image later.  The resulting image is what you see above.  I’ll put the original middle exposure photo below.  You will see that the two are not drastically different.  While HDR is also great for creative images, I think it also works well for standard shots such as this one.  To my way of thinking, it is a clarification of the original shot. The HDR editing software I prefer is Photomatix.  In this case I combined my images and then cropped and sharpened it is Photoshop.

Here is the original image:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/250

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/250

What do you think? Would you have even bothered with the photo editing process on a photo like this?

This post was written in response to the travel theme big over at Where’s My Backpack?

Cheers!

Travel Theme: Architecture

If you are ever in St. Paul Minnesota, stop by the state capitol and take the tour. Don’t forget your camera because, weather permitting, the tour goes out on the roof:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/8 1/125

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/8 1/125

The view of St. Paul is wonderful and you can take a photo of this gold leaf statue that is on the roof of the building.

When I was on the roof, I was pretty sure that I was going to want to do an HDR version of this image.  So, I bracketed my exposures.  So the image above is a combination of three images, set to (-1, 0, 1)  I did this because it was an overcast but bright day, so I was pretty sure that just a single image would be pretty washed out.  I’ll put the original image in at the bottom of the post so that you will see what I mean.  I used Photomatix to create the HDR, but what I really wanted was an image that looked like what you would actually see, so I stayed away from the color manipulation that is possible in photo editing.  I then sharpened the image in Photoshop and cropped it just a bit.  Here is the original image:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/8 1/125

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/8 1/125

In this case, I think the HDR gave the image the subtle boost I was looking for.  What do you think?

This post was written in response to the weekly travel theme challenge at Where’s my backpack?; architecture is the topic for this week.

Cheers!

Travel Theme: Sculpture

Sculpture is theme at Where’s My backpack? this week.  This is one of those themes that at first I was thinking that I didn’t have anything, but once I took a look through my archives I realized that I had more than I thought.  I decided to go with this photo in honor of the 4th of July:

The edited photo

The edited photo

This World War II memorial is on the grounds of Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis Missouri. This memorial is on St. Louis County Parks property.  There is a National Cemetery right near the county park.

This photo was a tough one to get and I have to say, if I was to do it again, I would go at a different time.  This photo was taken in the middle of the day, so harsh light and shadows were a problem.  Having said that though, the reality is that I was there when I could be there, so I did the best I could.

At the bottom of this post I will put the original photo, just so you can see what I was up against.  I was thinking that I would use HDR to get a better end result.  So, I tried bracketing my photos, but didn’t really get a great result.  What you see in the above photo is a bit of a false HDR.  It is made from one single image.  In Aperture I made two additional copies of the original.  Then I changed the exposure to -1 on one and -2 on another.  The original I left at 0. These three I merged into HDR using Photomatix.  I ended up liking the version you see above which is using a “painterly” setting.  Then in Photoshop I sharpened and cropped the image.  That’s a bit of fixing for just one image, but here is the original:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/60

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/60

So, that was a bit of work for one photo, but I do like the HDR image better.  What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.

A very happy 4th of July to my American readers.

Cheers!