Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting

It’s fair to say that I had been waiting for months, eager to head off on holiday to Scotland.  We had tickets for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. I’d been once as a child, and it was a fond memory, so I was looking forward to seeing it again as an adult.  The show did not disappoint, we even had fabulous weather.  As I was reviewing my photos from the evening I decided I wanted to create an image that suggested a memory, like the vision I had in my head from when I was a child.  This is what I came up with:

ISO 3200 18mm f/11 1/40 sec

Here is the original:

ISO 3200 18mm f/11 1/40 sec

You can see that I’ve made quite a few changes.  The biggest was in the overall tone of the photo, I wanted to accentuate the golden hues and quiet the blues a bit. I started with a photo filter from Analog Efex Pro, and edited from there.  One of the nice things in Analog Efex Pro is that there are a lot of options and a lot of sliders, so you can easily start with a preset and work from there.  Back in Photoshop I cropped and straightened the photo.  Then I used the healing brush tool and the spot healing brush tool to remove the radar/metal tower thing that is on the castle.  The healing brush allows you to pick another section of the photo and paint it over what you want to remove.  I used that first to take the tower out.  I then used the spot healing brush tool, to make the sky in the area match the rest of the photo better.  The spot healing brush looks at the surrounding area and then makes a best guess.  It was good for the clean up effort in this case.

I like the dreamy feel to the first photo, I think I managed to get a version that was what I had set out to do.  What do you think?  Have you been to Scotland? It’s a beautiful place. If you happen to be in Edinburgh in August, check out the Tattoo, it’s a unique show. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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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: Details

Often when I am photographing at a spot like St. Edmundsbury Cathedral, I first take a few overview photos, trying to get a feel for the place.  Then I will take some time to look for what I think is unique to the spot. A few weeks ago I posted a look at the exterior of the Cathedral, the big picture.  In the past week I was looking at some of the photos of the interior, and one of my favorite shots was taken looking out from the Cloister:

ISO 400 4.3mm f/2.7 1/80

ISO 400 4.3mm f/2.7 1/80

This spot, with textured windowpanes overlooking an enclosed garden, was peaceful.  This version of the photo has been edited using Photoshop. I was making my first attempts at using Photoshop Actions this week. Basically, actions are a series of edits done all at once. The link provided gives an overview of what they are and how to install them within Photoshop. You can make your own or a google search will reveal ones that are available for free download. I found one that I thought would fit with what I was doing with this photo.  Then I went to work on the details.  While actions are often advertised as a quick way to edit your photo, I think most photographers will want to add their own edits, after all its unlikely that your vision will match else’s exactly.  Here is the photo as it was originally shot:

ISO 400 4.3mm f/2.7 1/80

ISO 400 4.3mm f/2.7 1/80

As you can see, the edits changed the mood of the photo quite a bit.  I do like the edits, for me they give the photo a feel that I was looking to apply to it. Do you like the change? Feel free to leave a comment below.  Do you use Photoshop actions? why or why not?

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up

Walking around the Wimpole Estate this weekend, I’ll admit I was struck by the size and grandeur of the place, but I was more drawn to the details.  This clock was one of the many furnishings that caught my attention:

ISO 400 4.3mm f/2.7 1/15

ISO 400 4.3mm f/2.7 1/15

Conveniently placed on a mantelpiece that had a mirror behind it, the photo shows some of the detail of the ceiling of the room.  I edited the original photo first in Photoshop.  I cropped the image and then removed some of the imperfections of the mirror using the healing brush.  I also sharpened the image, even though I knew I would be adding some grain later when I switched to Lightroom.

Once back in Lightroom, I used the “Aged Photo” preset as a starting point for the feel I wanted.  I added a bit of grain and darkened the corners using a vignette.  Here is the original photo:

ISO 400 4.3mm f/2.7 1/15

ISO 400 4.3mm f/2.7 1/15

A few things occurred to me while I was editing this photo.  First was the the point and shoot camera I was using has a macro setting, and it would have been interesting to use that setting to shoot this photograph and see what turned out differently.  The second thing was that this could be edited into a completely different photo focusing on the blue colors and colder tones that are available.

What made me take the photo in the first place?  From across the room, I looked up and saw the light and the way it was interacting with the clock and the mirror behind it.  I could tell from there that I wanted to create and image with blown out light behind the trumpet blowing angel.  A bit of a cliche perhaps, but it appealed to me.

Does that happen to you, that you look and see the image you want to create instead of the photo you are going to take? Do you like my take on the photo or do you think and cooler, blue version might appeal to you more?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

Editing photos can be a fun way of interpreting the earth around you. This photo is an image I created in Photoshop:

ISO 400 4.3 f/2.7 1/250

ISO 400 4.3 f/2.7 1/250

The reality of what I saw was closer to this:

ISO 400 4.3 f/2.7 1/250

ISO 400 4.3 f/2.7 1/250

The larger story was that I had gone to the park bench these flowers were growing next too because I thought it would be a good photo.  It turns out it wasn’t.  Even the various edited versions could not match the beauty or serenity I saw in the moment.  That’s a bit frustrating.  But when I got home, this images above, that I didn’t think much of when I was taking it, ended up being the image that I liked best.   On this particular day, I had both of my cameras with me, but it was this image taken with my point and shoot that I liked best.  In Photoshop the image was cropped and sharpened.  I then applied a preset filter in Lightroom that gave it a different color and I also added a bit of grain.

Has that ever happened to you? You are sure a certain image is going to be a gem, only to find out the riches are hidden in another image?  Feel free to leave a comment below.  The edited image looks quite different from the original, what do you think of the change?

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!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Circle

Part of Christmas is putting everything away.  I’ll admit, we are doing that a bit early this year, before the end of the Christmas season on the Church calendar.  This year, our packing up is a bit more involved.  We will be moving this coming year, so we are sorting though everything, and deciding what to keep, what to get rid of, and what is going into storage.  Since we are moving from the US to England, all our lights are going into storage.  That’s easy.  Harder is sorting through the decorations.  Or at least I thought it would be hard.  It turns out my kids thought it was fun.  Also, I drug out my camera to take some photos, and that is always fun.  Here is an ornament that will be coming with us:

ISO 3200 50mm 0ev f.3.5 1/30

ISO 3200 50mm 0ev f.3.5 1/30

To shoot this photo, I used a magnifying, close-up lens on my 50mm lens. I lined Santa up so that the light would be smooth and luminous behind him.  Here is the original photo:

ISO 3200 50mm 0ev f.3.5 1/30

ISO 3200 50mm 0ev f.3.5 1/30

I cropped the photo and applied a vintage filter in Aperture:

ISO 3200 50mm 0ev f.3.5 1/30

ISO 3200 50mm 0ev f.3.5 1/30

I liked the vintage feel, but thought it was too strong.  So to get the final version I started this post with, I opened the image in Photoshop and then duplicated it.  One layer I made into a black and white version, that was the top layer.  Then I dropped the opacity of that layer to about 50%.  I then made a mask on that layer and masked in the santa figure. The result was the more toned down vintage feel in the background.  That, to me, is more appealing.  What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.

A version of this image is available on Picfair.

Happy New Year to all my readers and visitors.  This year will be a busy one in my household as we relocate. It is a cycle that we are use to, we move every few years for work reasons.  To me, it often seems like a circle, we move, get set-up, get situated, get ready to move again.  In a way this cycle feels like the smaller yearly cycle of celebrating Christmas.

Cheers!