Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

There are times when I think about how we as people can’t help but change the world around us.  It’s like we can’t help but interpret the earth around us, even if that means altering it.  Our generation is not the first to do this:

ISO 800 50mm f/10 1/1250 sec

When you walk around Stonehenge you can’t help but wondering why people did this.  There are no shortage of theories, but not a whole lot of definitive answers either.  That makes it more intriguing, but even if we had all the answers I think this site would still be awe inspiring.

Stonehenge is currently administered by English Heritage, and while there are a few different ways you can visit, we were in the area by car and did use the walking audio tour.  For this photo, I used my Canon 50D and took several shots with the thought of stitching them together in Photoshop to create the panorama you see above.  The main thing to keep in mind is to attempt to shoot as level as possible.  The first version of the panorama had some people in it.  I removed them using the healing brush and the Edit-Fill-Content Aware features of Photoshop.  I also did a white balance correction using the eyedropper in Levels, and sharpened the photo.  I am adding my Flickr version below that you can click on to see a larger version:

Panorama of Stonehenge

It is also available as part of my Picfair portfolio.

Below is an Instagram version, this version, shot with my iPhone gives a slightly different perspective and an idea of how many people I had to remove from the version above:

#Stonehenge with #nofilter So beautiful @englishheritage #england

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Do you ever find yourself wondering about how the landscape has changed over the generations? or why people do the things they do? How do you like my panorama, do you think I did a good job removing the people?  Feel free to leave a comment below.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Security

This past weekend I was at Ely Cathedral and took a tour of the Octagon Tower.  Here is a panorama from the top:

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/2000

I added the full size version to my Flickr account so you can click on the photo below if you would like to take a closer look:

Ely Cathedral

It was a fabulous weather moment.  And being that this is England, I do have to say moment, the sun is likely to go away at any moment. It was a bit windy, but just beautiful.  Because time was limited, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about composition, I just took a bunch of photos.  This one, I have left unedited. There are a lot of imperfections in it in terms of photography, however to me it represents fairly well the grandeur of the scene, the raw beauty of it.

For my Instagram feed, I went with something a bit different:

The view from the Octagon tower @ely_cathedral is #beautiful #england

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In this case, you can see that I did think about the framing.  It’s Instagram, so I did use a filter and add a vignette. Same trip to the top of the tower, but two different interpretations of what I saw at the top.

After we were finished this tour, we looked around the Cathedral a bit on our own and then took the ground level tour.  At this point you might be wondering why I’ve titled this post, Security.  On the tour, we found out that the foundation of the Cathedral is about 5’8″ deep.  I can assure you that this did not make me feel super secure about the whole structure staying up despite the fact that it has for quite awhile. Never mind how I then felt about being on the top of the tower!

Has that ever happened to you, you found out the risks after you took the chance? In this case, it worked out well.  In fact, the Cathedral has two towers and we are planning to go back and take a tour of the other tower.  What do you think of my two interpretations of the view from the top? Do you sometimes photograph or edit with the intent of telling more than one tale?  Feel free to leave a comment below.



What I Saw

Maybe this happens to you. You are looking at something and you see what is actually there, but in your mind you see something else. This happens to me a lot. When it comes to my photography it can create a bit of tension; part of me likes to record just the facts while another part is off imagining.  This image is from that imagining side:

ISO 800 50mm f/10 1/640

This photograph is a panorama and the original files looked like this one:

ISO 800 50mm f/10 1/640

The original files are kind of just ho-hum, but what I liked was the green and also the texture of the brick.  I was also just intrigued by the fact that the building was there.  It’s part of an old sewage farm and was first constructed in 1887.

ISO 800 50mm f/10 1/640

The building now is in pretty good shape but does have an abandoned look about it. When I created the panorama, I knew I wanted to bring out that aspect of it.  A quick sketch of how I created this image looks like this.  I selected the original files that I wanted to use in Lightroom. Then Lightroom-Photo-Edit In-Merge to Panorama in Photoshop.  From there I cropped and straightened the image. Then I sharpened it and saved it back to Lightroom.  From Lightroom-Photo-Edit In-Analog Efex Pro.  I ended up using a wet plate camera setting but then changed the settings within that filter and saved it back to Lightroom.  In Lightroom I made a few more adjustments, mostly to get the green colors to a point where I liked.

In addition to posting this in the Weekly Photo Challenge, I am also posting it in an interesting challenge called Thursday Doors.

How about you, do you often look at something and imagine something completely different? Is the green of Spring emerging where you are or are you on the opposite side of the world, springing into another season altogether?  Feel free to leave a comment below.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Atop

If I’m headed into Cambridge from the park and ride, I always head to the front seat at the top of the bus.  This week, I was joined by a fellow passenger who stood for the whole ride in making “vroom-vroom” noises.  I just settled for making a photo:

ISO 64 4.15mm f/2.2 1/1000 sec

I shot this panorama on my iPhone and from Lightroom edited it using the Google Efex Pro plug in. Once I created a version that I liked I brought it back into Lightroom.  I then made some further edits. In this case, I warmed it up a bit, brought a bit of clarity to it and added a vignette.  I like the plug in as a starting point for editing.  One thing that I do when I am adding filters is to wait, even if it is just for a moment, before deciding I am done.  In my opinion, it is rare that a preset filter has exactly what you had in mind.  I give it a bit of time, look at the photo again and then usually edit again.  Filters can be a good place to start, but rarely are they your final vision.

I was in a bit of an experimental mood when I was writing this post, so I am adding in what should be a link to a slightly larger version of the photo in Flickr.

Panorama in Cambridge

Directions on how to do that are here.

I’ve also added it to my Instagram feed, using the work around I came up with last week.  In this particular case, I am also experimenting with adding the panorama format and not the traditional Instagram square format.

A #panorama from the top of the bus #bestseat #cambridge

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If you are on either of those platforms, you can stop by and let me know what you think.  Do you use the panorama function on your cell phone? When you are editing do you wait and come back later to your edits? Feel free to leave a comment below.


Is That What I Meant?

Sometimes the image you create takes awhile to get to its final form.  I was working on a panorama recently that did not have the most auspicious beginning:

A screenshot of the work in progress in Photoshop

A screenshot of the work in progress in Photoshop

It’s a start, but it needed a lot of work.  I started with the crop tool.  That way I could get an idea of what problems were going to need fixing, and what I was just cropping out, so therefore didn’t matter.  Once I had done that, the three largest problems were the missing sky, the missing building in the lower left corner, and the boats.  To re-create the sky and building in Photoshop you can use the lasso tool to select the area, then edit-fill-content aware fill.  This tells Photoshop to put in that area what it thinks should be there based on what else is close by in the photo.  In this case, it did a very nice job.  For the boats, there were just too many masts hanging out in the bottom of the photo, it was a pretty big distraction.  For those I used the healing brush, so where there were masts there was now just water.  The photo now looked something like this:

Not Quite There

ISO 500 50mm f/11 1/1000

This version shown is the Photoshop edits, plus some of the tweaking I did in Lightroom.  I wasn’t crazy about this color cast, but a bigger problem was lurking in the sky.  It’s a bit hard to see on a small screen, but there are a few spots where you can see the Photoshop transparency where there should be sky.  Just a few spots I missed when recreating the sky in that section of the photo.  So with that fixed, here is my final version:

Panorama final

ISO 500 50mm f/11 1/1000

I fixed the sky and dialed back the sepia tone in the water and land.  I did want to give the photo a bit of a nostalgic feel, so I kept the colors muted.  This is the final version that made it to my Picfair portfolio.  In this case, worth the effort of editing I think.  If you were wondering this photo was taken from Conwy Castle in Wales overlooking the harbor.  What do you think of the added in sky and building? I think Photoshop did a pretty good job filling those spots in.  Do you like the tone in the photo? Feel free to leave a comment below.


Window on my Weekend

The theme for this week’s WordPress photo challenge is window.  I spent the weekend at the hockey rink.  My little hockey player had a series of out of town games, so three games in less than 24 hours.  If you play hockey you know that is a lot of ice time.  I watch and take photos from behind the glass.  It look a little while for it to occur to me that I could create a photo that would fit this challenge while I was at the rink.  So here is the scoreboard midway through the third game:

ISO 2500 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/320

ISO 2500 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/320

Ouch, not a good game for the home team, we would end up winning 11-4, which is not a typical score in hockey.  My little hockey player’s team won all three games, which is nice, but the first two games were actually more interesting in terms of actual hockey and the scores were a bit closer.

This photo above is a panorama.  I created it out of three photos in Photoshop.  From where I was standing it was not possible to get the whole scoreboard in the frame. So, I shot three separate frames, making sure to have enough overlap so that Photoshop would be able to piece them together.  In Photoshop I went to File-Automate-Photomerge and just used the presets to create the image.  From there I cropped and straightened the photo.  Looking at it now, I think it could have used a white balance correction.

This is week two of the Weekly Photo Challenge for this year.  Last week I was reading the entry for “Beginning” by Cardinal Guzman, and he had created widgets to use that would allow a blogger to collect photo challenge posts all in one place.  The link I provided will take you to see his creations, one of which I am using in the right hand column of my blog. I would like to thank him for sharing and encourage you to visit his blog if you are interested.

So what do you think of my panorama? Are you a hockey fan?  If you have never seen a game I would encourage you to give it a try.  Check your local rink for a free game!


Weekly Photo Challenge: The Hue is Green

This panorama is the second of two that I created for my Photoshop class:

It's actually two panoramas in one.

It’s actually two panoramas in one.

In full size this is a 36″x 17″ print.  I know there is a limit to what can be viewed here on the blog, so I have put it in my Flickr photo stream as well.

Since the theme of the WordPress photo challenge is hue, I will start by talking about that.  When I was thinking about the final panorama, I wasn’t sure at first if I was going to stick with the green tones that were in the original photograph.  So, I experimented with that a bit.  You might remember that I blogged this photo a few weeks ago:

ISO 250 50mm 0ev f/1.8 1/400

ISO 250 50mm 0ev f/1.8 1/400

At this stage I was trying to decide if I was going to make the panorama match this more golden hue instead of the green.  I decided to stick with green, but if you would like to see how I made the green photo golden, the post is here.  You found the green version of this photo in the panorama above right?

Once I had decided to stick with the green hue, I created the panorama of gravestones in Photoshop.  In order to get these photos, I used my tripod.  My tripod can pretty much lay flat, and I used it in that position, because I liked the angle that included the grass in the foreground and I also like the way the background turned out in the series of photos.

If you are going to shoot a panorama, consider using a tripod or other flat surface because it makes it easier for the software to put together your final image.  The other thing to remember when shooting a panorama is to leave overlap in your photos so that the software has things from your first image that it can match up with your second image and so on.

But this is actually two panoramas.  The stone angel is a panorama as well, although a smaller one than the gravestones.  I put these two panoramas together in Photoshop.  The gravestones are one layer and the angel is another.  The original canvas was white, but I put a stone texture on it and then a layer of green.  I chose the specific green color by using the eyedropper tool and selecting a green that was in the gravestone panorama.  The cross that is behind the angel is actually a photoshop brush that I downloaded from Obsidian Dawn.  I included just a general link so that you can see the wide range of brushes they have, but I used one from a series of celtic crosses.  The text is Psalm 23, and I just used a separate layer for that and typed it in.

So, that is actually a pretty brief version of how I created the panorama, it was a fairly involved project.  What do you think of the final version? Questions and comments are welcome below.

I look at a lot of different blogs, including those of artists whose work is quite different from mine.  I get a lot of inspiration and other tips from various blogs here on WordPress.  The blogger I’m about to thank is one whose blog has content that some would label as “mature” in terms of content and vocabulary, if that bothers you, don’t click on the links. I’d like to thank Cardinal Guzman for the idea to post my larger panoramas on Flickr, he does a lot of street photography and has some beautiful, moody images on both of his blogs, which can be found here and here.

Also, the other panorama I created in this series is here on Flickr and here on my blog.