Weekly Photo Challenge: Heritage

I am a bit of a history buff.  I enjoy thinking about how generations before me lived, which is why I was fascinated by the interior of this church:

ISO 500 4.15mm f/2.2 1/17 sec

It’s a reimagining of what the church would have looked like in 1520 :

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/250

The church is part of St Fagans National Museum of History which is just outside of Cardiff, Wales. It’s an interesting collection of heritage. This museum is unique in that they have collected various buildings and homes from different time periods and parts of Wales and moved them here to this site. Visitors have a chance then to view a wide variety of the history of Wales in one place.

The interior of this church was interesting because it brings to life what it would have looked like in the Middle Ages. Usually, churches from this time just have traces of the paint, and you have to use your imagination as to what the original would have looked like.  This particular example brings to life the use of the church almost as a book and guide for those who would not have been able to read.

As for the photos, it was raining that day, and so I had to be selective of when I would take out my larger camera.  For most of the day I relied on my iPhone.  I keep my phone in a pretty decent case to prevent damage from when it gets dropped.  On days like this I also keep in in a very technical waterproof case, a ziplock bag. That meant for the shot of the sign, I just had to slip it out for a moment.  The inside of the church was easier as it wasn’t raining in there.  The low light and the small interior of the church meant that the iPhone was a good choice for getting a representative shot of church.

I did edit the photo a bit in Photoshop.  It’s been sharpened and I also increased the exposure a bit. A large part of why I took the photo was to remember this space.  I’ll probably even come back to look at this photo the next time I am in a church that has remnants of a similar style of painting.  Have you ever done that, taken a photo as a point of reference, to help you better understand?  Do you have a favorite history museum?  Feel free to leave a comment below.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Danger!

In case you thought it was safe to leave the house, my teenager will tell you it’s not:

ISO 800 50mm f/10 1/250

Pictured above, a dinosaur, not my teenager.

This is the terrifying or hilarious sight that awaits you at the entrance of National Showcaves Centre for Wales. It kind of depends on how you feel about dinosaurs. As I was sitting eating my lunch not far from this dino, the reaction was mixed.  Some young visitors were really excited.  Others were wondering what they had done that their parents were punishing them this way. My  teenager was firmly insisting that we walk straight past the dinosaurs to get to the caves and not take photos like this to post to Instagram:

When you're in #Wales to take a look at a cave and run into a #dinosaur #thingsthathappenedtometoday

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

But as my teenager can tell you, there is a danger in leaving the house with your parents.  They are likely to do highly embarrassing things while at the same time making it obvious that they are your parents.  So, what’s a teen to do? Consider these steps:

  • Ignore parents, perhaps they will stop talking about stupid poses they want to do.
  • Hiss at them to be quiet, in the hopes they will drop the subject of posing with dinosaurs. Be careful with your technique when applying this step.
  • Agree to one photo, after all Mom like never actually posts photos of you to social media, so probably no one will ever see the photo and you can move on to seeing the caves.
  • Consider rolling your eyeballs (no wait, definitely roll your eyeballs) as you finally move on to the caves and wonder why your parents are so impossible sometimes.

In addition to providing those helpful tips for dealing with impossible parents, I will talk a bit about the actual photos.  The top photo was taken with my Canon 50D. While I was taking the photo I thought about composition, I wanted the dinosaur to mostly fill the frame. I also considered a few different angles, trying to get as much of the metal fence and shop that was next to the dinosaur out of the photo, so I wouldn’t have to worry about cropping later.  In Lightroom, I sharpened the photo a bit and also did a white balance adjustment.  In this case I just used the eyedropper tool, picked a neutral white spot, and Lightroom made the white balance adjustment.

With the Instagram version, white balance is out the window.  The photo, taken with my iPhone, is more about setting a scene than reflecting the actual scene. What the two photos have in common is my thoughts on composition.  In both of them, I thought about filling the frame with the subject and about keeping later cropping to a minimum.

Also, there were caves, but the dinosaurs were awfully fun to photograph.  Has that happened to you, you go out with the thought of taking photos of a sight, but then get distracted by something else like dinosaurs? There are a lot of ways to manage white balance in editing software, do you have a favorite method? Parents! like what is with them?  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.


Designed for You

When we were planning our trip to Wales, we decided we wanted to explore Snowdonia National Park.  Our hardest hike of the week was going to be Mt. Snowden.  For us, the path that made the most sense was the Llanberis Pass, at nine miles, it was the longest way up and back, but is the least technical of the six main paths up the mountain.  We would be climbing 3,199 feet and the Llanberis path had the most gradual ascent of our choices.  This is what awaited us at the top:

ISO 800 50mm 1/2000 f/13

ISO 800 50mm 1/2000 f/13

Technically, this is a panorama.  It is two photos stitched together.  The originals were incredibly hazy, but after I had created the panorama in Photoshop.  I used Lightroom’s “dehaze” sider to make it clearer.  I also used the clarity slider and sharpened the image a bit.  I didn’t take the haze out completely though because I knew I had a clearer image.

I also had hiked with my iPhone and I created this panorama:

ISO 25 4.15mm1/2500 f/2.2

ISO 25 4.15mm1/2500 f/2.2

It’s clearer, and certainly the sky is bluer, but to me the first photo more closely represents what this hike meant to me. We had designed our trip around this hike.  It was what we scheduled ourselves for the first day in case we had to delay or reattempt it another day later in the week.  It was the hardest hike I’ve done in awhile.  So getting to the top was more about the serenity and silence of the first image than the community that is represented in the second.  The haze and lack of people in the first image to me look more like a postcard or an image you might print and put on your wall.

Do you plan your holidays around a single activity or goal? Do you bring back a photo from your holidays that represent the trip? Do you sometimes go with out a camera on purpose?  How do you feel about my two images, they do represent two different things don’t you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare

This summer has been a busy one. I’ve missed out on several weeks of blogging due to a move. But this past week week, I missed out because I was on holiday.  I was in Wales for the week.  I don’t know about you, but when I think of Wales, I don’t usually think of sun soaked images like this one:

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/1000

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/1000

It’s a rare day when lens flare is visible in a photograph from this part of the world. This particular hike led us to Dinas Emrys, the legendary birthplace of the red dragon seen on the Welsh flag. I had my Canon 50D and my iPhone with me.  I shot this panorama on the iPhone and then took a bunch of photos with my bigger camera.  As with most times I go on holiday, there are a lot of photos to edit now that I am home.  For this photo though, not much was needed.  I did end up cropping it a bit and sharpening it.  Other than that, I let it be, including the bit of lens flare that you can see in the top center of the photo. I left that in as a visual reminder of the intensity of the sun in that moment.

Have you ever done that with your editing, purposefully left something in that is considered an imperfection? Do you also bring home a lot of photos to edit? I will be busy for a while!  Feel free to leave a comment below.

I also posted this photo to my Flickr account, if you would like to see a larger version.