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: Tiny

One thing I love about rain is its ability to change the mood of a photo, adding interest almost immediately.

ISO 500 50mm f/5.6 1/80

ISO 500 50mm f/5.6 1/80

I saw this scene and felt that the little bit of yellow would make an interesting contrast to the other earthier tones in the photograph. The yellow also lit up the raindrops a bit, helping to highlight them even though they were tiny.

To get this final result, I used exposure bracketing while shooting.  I then combined the three images, identical except for their exposure values, and combined them into an HDR version of the photo.  That might seem like a lot of effort for one photo but it really brought out the detail in the raindrops and the richness of tone that was available in the yellow.

Have you ever taken extra steps in processing what looks like an ordinary photo to uncover additional beauty?  I like the stillness and moody tone of this image, what do you think? To me, the mood is almost more important here than the subject matter. A version of it has also been added to my Picfair portfolio. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow

A few weeks ago I was standing at the end of Deal Pier as the sun was thinking about setting.

ISO 100 50mm f/5.6 1/1000

ISO 100 50mm f/5.6 1/1000

It was a beautiful moment of contrasts.  The shadows were already leaving parts of the scene dark while the sun was intensely lighting other parts.  I knew that this was not going to turn out very well straight out of the camera so I shot a bracketed image that I could use later create an HDR image in Photoshop.  The link that I have included I picked because it has some good tips, but also because it contains my least favorite thing, and that is a bit telling you when you should or shouldn’t use HDR.  I understand that sometimes when learning a new technique it is best to narrow your focus and give it a try in situations where you are likely to get a good result.  However, I really think when it comes to editing, you should broaden your horizons and experiment.  The beautiful thing about digital editing is that you can always throw away versions you don’t like, so why be bound by traditional rules?

Here is the version of the image above with the highest exposure:

ISO 100 50mm f/5.6 1/1000

ISO 100 50mm f/5.6 1/1000

You can see why some editing was going to be required.  In addition to creating an HDR image, which was the first step, I then cropped the image. Next I used the curves feature to bring some more detail into the darker parts of the images.  I then increased the vibrance and saturation a bit.  Sharpening the image was the last step.  It may sound like quite a bit of editing, but I wanted to recreate the feel of that moment on the pier.

What do you think of the final version?  Do you find yourself sometimes hemmed in by the rules of photography only to then realize that they are guidelines and not actually set in stone?  Feel free to comment below.

Cheers!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: State of Mind

It’s late winter here, what to me is the hardest time of year.  I had an unexpected day off in the form of a snow day this past week.  I was up early as usual, but didn’t have to stick with my usual schedule.  I took advantage of this change by taking photos of the storm that was blowing outside:

ISO 800 50mm f/7.1 1/100

ISO 800 50mm f/7.1 1/100

This week’s photo challenge is to choose a photo that reflects your state of mind, and I chose this one.  It’s pretty dark here, but what drew me to create this image was the light, the almost ethereal glow of early morning in a snowstorm.  This photo is actually an HDR image, One of the original exposures is just below. I used HDR to bring out the definition of the house and the trees.  I also think it helped the photo glow a bit more.  That to me, is the strength of HDR, you really can bring out a lot by using even just three exposures and combining them into one image.

ISO 800 50mm f/7.1 1/100

ISO 800 50mm f/7.1 1/100

It’s not all doom and gloom here, it’s just the start of Spring, so this day was followed by a very warm and sunny day, but for me, this was the image that reflected the mood of the week.

How are things where you are, is the weather turbulent there as well?  What do you think of my edit? are you a fan of HDR, or not so much?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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: Optimistic

This is a photo I created this week:

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

It took quite a few steps to get there.  First was, of course, to pick up the camera and take a picture.  I was thinking this was a serene looking moment as the rest of my busy life swirled around.  I bracketed the photo as I was shooting and created an HDR image out of it:

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

Then in Photoshop I created a sepia version:

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

I liked that version, but in the back of my mind I was really thinking about black and white photography.  I spend a lot of time looking at images and other people’s creative work.  I had recently been at Hammer Home, a street photography blog, and looked at and commented on this image.  If you look at that image you might think there is no connection to the black and white that I created, and on the surface you would be right.  It’s just that I was thinking when I looked at my final image, that I had been influenced by what I had seen and thought about earlier. To get my final version, I have actually applied four things in Photoshop.  I started with a black and white layer, added a photo filter with an underwater tint, added noise, and then added a Iris blur.

That’s a lot of small, but easy, steps to get to my final version.  At this point you might be wondering why I am calling this post “Optimistic”? It is because of a feeling I have every time I set out to create something.  It is the, slightly intoxicating, optimism of creation.  I feel this way every time I set out to create an image; I get a similar feeling when I set out to write this blog.

Do you experience this optimism in your creative endeavors?  Feel free to comment about it below, if you’ve blogged about it, feel free to leave a link to your post. Feel free to leave comments on my editing or photo processing below as well.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Alphabet

This morning I was walking, and came across this sign:

ISO 400 78mm 0ev f/11 1/125

ISO 400 78mm 0ev f/11 1/125

Only, it didn’t look like that.  That is more what it looked like in a final version that existed in my head and was going to be put in this week’s alphabet photo challenge. Here is what I actually saw:

ISO 400 78mm 0ev f/11 1/125

ISO 400 78mm 0ev f/11 1/125

It was a cold and grey morning, and I knew that I was going to want to edit this photo into something that I didn’t see, so I took a bracketed shot, of which the shot above is the middle exposure.  When I got home, I edited the photo into an HDR image using Photomatix.  Then in Photoshop I added some grain and an over the top sepia layer.  The result is the top photo.  I think you can tell that I was cold when I took the picture from the warmth that I insisted upon that is shouting a bit too loudly in the edited version.  I think though, that the sign is trying to invoke another time and place, so bringing an additional layer of fiction is ok in this situation.

Have you ever taken a photo knowing that the final image you wanted to see was something entirely different?  What do you think of my take on this photo? Your comments are welcome below.

Again this year I am using a widget in my sidebar for this year’s photo challenges.  I am using this widget courtesy of Cardinal Guzman.  The link is to the post of his with this year’s widgets, it would your while to have a look at some of his other creative posts as well.

Cheers!