50mm Lens, Animals, Birds, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Still as a Statue

I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to post for the travel theme statues at Where’s My Backpack? when I saw the original post on Friday.  But yesterday I was looking through some of my files when I came across some images that almost looked like statues.  So I chose one and set out to make it look more like a statue.  Here is what I created:

ISO 400 50mm 0ev f/4 1/125

ISO 400 50mm 0ev f/4 1/125

This is a Cape Thick-knee who lives at the St. Louis Zoo.  I had shot this image using exposure bracketing, so I created an HDR image using Photomatix.  I ended up thinking that the Black and White artistic setting ended up looking the most like a statue.  In Photoshop then I cropped and sharpened the image.  Here is the original:

ISO 400 50mm 0ev f/4 1/125

ISO 400 50mm 0ev f/4 1/125

It is a bird that blends in with it’s background, and it was sitting very still, so it would have been very easy to miss.  It has lovely colors, but what do you think of my stone version?

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Animals, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

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!

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50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Winter Photos

We have had a lot of crummy winter weather here.  I’m ready for Spring, but while I’m waiting I have been taking photos of the snow.  Droplets is the theme at Sonel’s Photo-Editing Challenge this week, so I was working with this photo this morning:

ISO 160 50mm 0ev f/5 1/500

ISO 160 50mm 0ev f/5 1/500

I took this photo back in December and at that time used Photomatix to make it into an HDR image.  The great thing about HDR photography, is the detail it brings out.  This can also be it’s downfall.  In the image above,  I really wanted all the detail of the berries, but the background was cluttered. Bringing more attention to the berries also accentuated all the details in the background which detracted from the photograph.  So, once I had created my HDR version, I opened it in Photoshop and duplicated the layer.  To the newly created layer, I added a black and white adjustment layer. Because I wanted the  berry to still have it’s color, I used the mask that came with the layer, and painted black over where I wanted the color back in the image.

I still wasn’t crazy about the result, the black and white was too flat and cold.  So, I put my layer that had some color still in it on top of the black and white adjustment and changed the blending mode to luminosity.  Here is a screen shot of what my layers panel looks like for this image:

A screenshot of the layers panel.

A screenshot of the layers panel.

This last step warmed up the image just a bit, which I think it needed.

So, another day of snow, ice, and rain here.  Hope it is nicer where you are! What do you think of my edited photo? Your comments are welcome below.

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Close

One of the reasons that I write this blog is to keep track of what I have tried and keep notes on what works or doesn’t.  This photo I took with Sonel’s Photo-Editing Challenge in mind.  The topic this week was trees.  A week or so ago it snowed and then there was a lot of wind which made some neat patterns in our yard.  So I went out to take some photos.  With this one I was trying to show the similarity in the patterns in the bark and the snow:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/9 1/320

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/9 1/320

I took this using the exposure bracketing setting on my camera.  From there I edited my three exposures in Photomatix and put it in the painterly setting.  Then I opened the image in Photoshop. I knew I wanted to use the filter gallery but because the image was a 16-bit image, the filter gallery which is located in Filter-Filter gallery was greyed out.  So first I had to go to Image-Mode- and change it to a 8-bit image.  Then the Filter-Filter gallery was able to work.  In that gallery, I changed this photo to watercolor with angled strokes.  Then I cropped this photo because the original had a brick house in the background which was really distracting from the textures that I was trying to accentuate.

I would say that this photo sort of worked, a kind of close, but no cigar.  The first thing I would have gone out a bit earlier, because it was pretty bright.  The other thing I would have done differently was to shoot the photo from a different angle so that the house would have not been in the background.  Part of the problem was that it was bitterly cold and I don’t think as creatively when I am cold.  I guess I need to work on that…

Here is one of the original photos, so you can see where I started:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/9 1/320

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/9 1/320

Feel free to let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Photo Editing, Photography, Technology

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning

Are you a robot nerd? I’m not, but I do have one living in my house so I am by extension.  If you read this blog regularly you have probably noticed that I have children.  One of them is on a FIRST Robotics team at the local high school.  Yesterday was kick-off for the build season.  Build Season is the six weeks that the teams have to build their robots to compete in this year’s competition.  This year’s game is called Aerial Assist.

Last semester my robot child took a vinyl cutting machine that the school had but was broken, fixed it, and then used it to cut out her robotics team logo and put it on the exterior door of the robotics classroom.  The logo is a variation on the school’s mascot, which is a ram. Because I am a proud mom, I took a bunch of pictures:

ISO 160 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1000

ISO 160 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1000

In this case I have a fast shutter speed because I knew I was going to bracket these photos and process them into HDR images using Photomatix.  I also created a black and white version:

ISO 160 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1000

ISO 160 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1000

In both versions I decided to stick with trying to create photos that kept all the detail and stayed true to what you would see if you were up at the high school taking a look for yourself.

So, yesterday was the beginning of a very busy time in this household.  I’m excited for my robot child, because she is excited about the start of the season.  It’s a bit sad though, because a lot of my communication with her over the next six weeks will be via text.

If you’ve never heard of FIRST Robotics, maybe check out my links above, it is a really great program and they have all different age levels as well.

What do you think of the Ram logo that my robot child created? I think it is pretty cool.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Merry Christmas

Every year I take some pictures of our tree.  Tonight I was photographing this ornament that was a gift and is a new addition to our tree:

ISO 400 50mm 0ev f/2.5 0.4 sec

ISO 400 50mm 0ev f/2.5 0.4 sec

For this shot I choose a f-stop of 2.5 because I wanted the snowflake to be sharp but the pine needles to be a bit soft.  I used a tripod so that I could take multiple shots that would be exactly the same except for the shutter speed.  I then picked three of the photos and created an HDR image using Photomatix.  I used the “natural” setting because with this photo I am just trying to show detail and leaving it at that.  Thoughts or comments? feel free to leave them below.

This post was written in part as a response to the Weekly Photo Challenge the theme of which is one.

I would like to wish each of you a Merry Christmas, all the best to you.

Cheers!

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Animals, Birds, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, Picfair

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

The prompt for the WordPress photo challenge asked  participants to think about not only the size of something but its impact when considering what to submit for this week’s theme, grand.  So, I thought small.  This photo is of an Eastern Screech Owl, a version of which is available on Picfair.

ISO 400 260mm 0ev f/5.6 1/400

ISO 400 260mm 0ev f/5.6 1/400

If you are a regular reader of this blog this image is familiar to you.  I originally created this image as a full color HDR image, if you would like to read about that original version click here.  This particular version I created in the last week because we did some lessons on HDR in my Photoshop class and I created a series of new images for an assignment but then came back to this image to do something a bit different.

Even though it is a Photoshop class, my preferred software for HDR is Photomatix, so that is what I used to create this image.  When shooting this photo, I used the exposure bracketing feature in my camera, so I had three exposures, one light, one dark, and one in the middle.  If you’d like a bit of an explanation of HDR, there is a brief overview here.

For the image you see above, I already had created a color HDR version.  I went back to my bracketed photos and created a black and white version.  With my two HDR versions on my desktop, I then opened them in Photoshop.  Each of the photos is on its own layer.  Then I spent a bit of time creating different combinations until I came up with this version.  In this version, the black and white is on top of the color version.  I put a mask on the black and white layer, and with my paintbrush painted over the eyes, revealing the color version underneath.  That’s it. Probably the simplest version I worked on, but the one I liked the best.

This particular photo I took at World Bird Sanctuary, which if you are ever in the St. Louis area, is a great place to visit with your camera.  I’m sorry to say, that this little owl passed away this week.  A tribute is here, and as a regular visitor to World Bird Sanctuary I can say that this bird was an excellent ambassador for the work they do there.  A little bird that made a grand impact indeed.

So what do you think of the combined HDR version? I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions below.  If you don’t have anything to say about this particular photo but would love to leave a comment, take a moment to wish me good luck on my Photoshop final exam which is coming up this week!

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Light, featuring spider webs

Spoiler alert, the spider webs in this post do not have spiders in them.  So, if spiders creep you out, don’t worry, you can keep reading.  This week’s WordPress photo challenge is about light.  I was walking through a Christmas tree farm this weekend and I saw these webs reflecting the sunlight:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/5 1/500

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/5 1/500

This image here has been processed as an HDR image using Photomatix.  Usually when I am creating an HDR image I have shot my photos using the exposure bracketing feature on my camera.  I did shoot the tree using bracketing, but then I was not happy with my results when I got home.  The bracketing I had used was an exposure of -1, 0, +1.  The +1 exposure was too bright and did not help bringing detail into the merged images.  So, in this case, I took my 0 exposure and created two duplicates of that.  One I changed the exposure to -0.96 and the other to -1.57.  I did this step using Aperture.  From there I put my three versions in Photomatix and used the default settings to create the HDR image.  Then I opened the image in Photoshop, made a levels adjustment and sharpened the image.

As you can tell from the exposure settings that I used, it was really bright out when I took this photo.  So, I did try to cut the light down by using a low ISO and high shutter speed.  I could have cut even more light out by raising the f-stop to a higher number.  This however, would have brought more of the webs in focus and really what I was after here was to have the ones in the foreground be clear but the ones in the background visible but not sharp.

So, what do you think? would you have guessed this is an HDR image if I had not told you? one of my goals in using HDR in this case was to bring out detail but not over process it, how do you think I did?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Flowers, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Travel Theme: Delicate

I really enjoy the changing seasons.  The other week I was hiking at Babler State Park and I took some pictures of wildflowers.  I love to see the changes and imperfections in their petals as the weather is getting cooler.  When I saw that delicate was the theme at Where’s My Backpack?  I thought that these photos would fit nicely:

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/250

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/250

Here is the original photo that has been cropped but not really edited much.  I have the f-stop set at 5.6 because I wanted to get the two blooms in front in focus but I was OK with the ones in the back being out of focus.  If those back buds had been in focus I think the surrounding greenery would have been distracting.  I chose a fairly high shutter speed because it was a bit breezy and I was bracketing my exposures as well.  I bumped up the ISO a bit to help the exposure as it was a bit dark.

Since I had a bracketed exposure I decided to make an HDR image using Photomatix.  This shot below is with the “creative setting”.

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/250

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/250

I like the detail in the petals but it wan’t really what I was going for.  Since there is also a HDR setting in Photoshop, I gave that a try:

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/250

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/250

I’m using the “regular” setting for this image. I then had to use the burn tool to bring in more detail in the petals.  I’m not crazy about the way the background flowers turned out in this one though.

It’s funny because there are elements of each photo that I like, but I don’t really have a favorite.  How about you? Does one appeal to you more than the others?  My other photos from Babler State Park are here and here.

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Animals, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Editing, Photography

Chimps and Photomatix

A few weeks ago I was at the zoo and got some photos of a few chimpanzees hanging out in the trees.  It was about 5pm in the afternoon and super sunny.  Between the bright sky and the dark chimps, I figured this was a good time to do a bracketed exposure so that I could create an HDR image in Photomatix.  Here is my HDR version:

ISO 160 50mm f/6.3 1/400

ISO 160 50mm f/6.3 1/400

I had my shutter speed set pretty fast for this series of shots, but the chimps did still move a bit between exposures.  Movement like that is called ghosting.  Photomatix has an easy to use tool to take care of that, in this case it worked pretty well but not perfectly.

Here is the original so you can see the difference:

ISO 160 50mm f/6.3 1/400

ISO 160 50mm f/6.3 1/400

I think, in this case, the HDR version does a nice job of bringing out details that you can’t see in the original, would you agree?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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