11-22mm Lens, Canon 50D, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

A recent trip to Rome gave me the opportunity to visit Montecassino Abbey.

ISO 250 22mm f/9.0 1/800

That’s it up on the hill. The Abbey was founded by St. Benedict and is beautiful with stunning views.  This image was taken at the nearby Polish War Cemetery. The calm, serene image that I have above makes the destruction of WWII and the fighting that took place here almost unimaginable. It was so quiet while I was here, peaceful.

I used a wide angle 11-22mm lens to capture this scene. I like that lens for landscape shots like this one, it helps bring a sense of expansiveness to the image. It was very bright that day, so I took a few exposures.  In Photoshop, I merged two of them into a single HDR image.  I find that HDR is sometimes a good way to create an image that has a good final exposure, meaning that I haven’t lost to much detail in either the dark or light spots in the image.  Other than that, I let the image stand on it’s own.  It was a bit hazy that day, and I haven’t attempted to take that out of the photo.

For me, this was a peaceful, quiet moment. You will have to tell me if that is the kind of feeling it evokes for you? Feel free to comment below.

While we are on the topic of serenity, I’ll tell you my life at the moment is anything but.  It’s a good thing though, just somewhat full to overflowing.  I have the opportunity to do several unique and exciting things over the next few weeks, so I have decided to take a break from blogging. I will be back mid to late January, so I’d like to take this moment to wish all of you a serene and peaceful holiday season and all my best to you for the coming year. Thank you for reading.

Cheers!

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11-22mm Lens, Canon 50D, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transformation

Something that I’ve found fascinating since I was a child is the ability of the planet to transform itself.  The idea that a volcano can change the course of human events is humbling, a reminder that we can’t control everything.  That’s what I was thinking when I shot the photos that would become this image:

ISO 640 22mm f/10 1/640

That’s Mount Vesuvius in the background and the excavated town of Pompeii in the foreground.  I knew a bit about the history of Pompeii before my visit but one thing that I didn’t know, or had forgotten, was that when the volcano erupted in 79 AD it added land to the area. Pompeii use to be the port, now the port is further away.  As for the photo, it went under a bit of a transformation as well.  I started here:

ISO 640 22mm f/10 1/640

This photo above is one of three shots, identical except for their exposure value, that I combined into one photo, making an HDR version.  From there I cropped the photo. There was quite a bit in the foreground that keeps you from moving to the back of the photo and the lurking volcano. Then I thought about the mood of the photo.  I wanted to express the indifference of nature to the ambitions of man. To achieve that thought, I removed the people in the photo with the healing brush tool. Seems a bit ironic. Then I put a cool toned filter on top of the photo and darkened the edges a bit to help draw your eye to the volcano.

I thought the outcome made for a more interesting photo but what you think?  Have you ever been to Pompeii?  For me, it was one of those places that I have always wanted to see and it did not disappoint.  Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Cheers!

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11-22mm Lens, Canon 50D, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental

Sometimes it’s fun to experiment, try something new.  I gave a few tools in Photoshop a spin and here is the result:

ISO 1250 22mm f/9.0 1/40

Not everything I did to get this final result was new to me, but because certain steps were, this photo took some time to produce. A typical learning curve with any thing that is new.  I started with this photo, shot in the early morning. The sun was up the sky was beautiful, but the streetlights were still on and even the traffic had a sleepy feel to it.

ISO 1250 22mm f/9.0 1/40

The first few edits were pretty basic. I cropped and straightened the photo. Then I removed the wire you can see in the sky with the healing tool.  Then I sharpened the photo. This is the color version that contains the sky that is in the final version:

ISO 1250 22mm f/9.0 1/40

From here I wanted to make a black and white version.  I find that sometimes if you boost things like saturation and vibrance in a color version it ends up being over the top in color:

ISO 1250 22mm f/9.0 1/40

But quite nice in black and white:

ISO 1250 22mm f/9.0 1/40

I then put my nice color version and the black and white version in Photoshop. At this point the photograph was two layers, black and white on top and color underneath.

With the selection tool, I picked out the area of the sky in the top layer, made a mask, then inverted the mask.  This had the effect of revealing the color sky underneath.  This was by far the longest step in the process.  I don’t have a whole lot of experience with the selection tool, it can be a bit stubborn and add in things you don’t want in your selection. I’m not a patient person. I would like everything to work correctly the first time, thank you very much.  I will say that this tool is one that has improved over the years. When I got that part of the effect to where I wanted it, I then dropped the opacity of the black and white layer to 95%. This brings in just a hint of the warmth of the color version that is on the second layer.  It also the same tone as the sky, so it makes the two layers clash less and work more as a single image.

What do you think of my final image? Do you have an image editing tool that you avoid because it drive you crazy?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

 

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iPhone, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Peek

Last week I showed you photos taken at the top of St. Peter’s Basilica from the outside viewing area.  This week I’ll show you a few details of the interior of the dome. These are shots I took on the walk up, just a few details from a place that is a grand and beautiful. I’m a bit leery of heights. Sometimes, that fear inspires me to take a photo.  Here I am taking a peek into St. Peter’s:

ISO 320 4.15 f/2.2 1/17

To get this photo, I focused on the grid and allowed the background to blur. Even with the blur, it’s pretty easy to see how ornate St. Peter’s is.  A photo like this also expresses my fear of heights, I often feel that I can’t focus correctly, so I have directed the camera lens to do the same. I was using my iPhone, which likes to self-correct things it feels the photographer is getting “wrong”, so it took a few shots to get the photo I wanted. In this case, I knew I wanted the shot to be in its finished form without any further editing.

In some ways, it was much easier to get this shot:

ISO 500 4.15mm f/2.2 1/17

Close up detail of the eye of an angel, part of one of the many mosaics that ring the walkway of the landing.  Close-up, in focus shots, are the kind of photos that I think my phone generally handles pretty well. Again though, the camera defaults to catching what it thinks is correct; while the details are correct, the color is not.  The original file looks like this:

ISO 500 4.15mm f/2.2 1/17

I edited the photo in Lightroom.  I warmed the overall temperature, giving it a bit more of a golden glow.  A warmth not captured in the photograph, but that I felt was there at the time.  I’ve also sharpened it a bit and darkened the corners, to draw your eye to the eye in the photo.

I knew there were steps and a climb involved at St. Peter’s.  It would have never occurred to me though not to bring both of my cameras.  This is one of those times that people sometimes make the argument that it is better not to bring a camera, to just be in the moment. I can respect that line of thought, but for me this is a time of compromise.  I took out my camera, got the shots I wanted, then put my camera away and just spent some time looking around.  I’m that person in my family, the one that always gets to the top last.  How do you handle times like these? do you ever go without your camera?  How do you like my glimpse inside St. Peter’s?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

 

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11-22mm Lens, Animals, Birds, Canon 50D, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pedestrian

Not too long ago I took part in a charity walk whose path toured the grounds of some of the colleges at Cambridge University that are normal shut to the public. There were a lot of beautiful buildings and gardens but at Corpus Christie College I was stuck by this scene of all the pedestrians observing the “stay off the grass” sign while a solitary bird ignored it completely:

ISO 1600 13mm f/20 1/400sec

Cheeky little bird!

It was a funny scene, but the original image was a bit, uninspired:

ISO 1600 13mm f/20 1/400sec

You can see I have done quite a few edits here, but one of the most important was applying a field blur in Photoshop. In this case, I have kept the bird in focus and purposely blurred all the people. Emphasizing the importance of the little rebel who was strutting around the grass looking down its beak at us walkers on the path.

Have you ever edited a photo to tell a story? Certainly this can be a bit of a controversial topic, but feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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11-22mm Lens, Canon 50D, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

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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70-200mm IS lens, Animals, Birds, Canon 50D, Instagram, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, Picfair

Weekly Photo Challenge: Layered

Layers is what Photoshop calls them. They are a helpful tool that I use to create my images.  I used layers in a few different ways as I was creating this image:

ISO 640 95mm f/11 1/500

This original looked like this:

ISO 640 95mm f/11 1/500

When using layers the first step I take is to duplicate the original layer.  I then begin my edits on the second layer.  What this means is that if my edits go badly, one option I have is just to delete the duplicate layer and go back to the original.  In this case on the second layer, I cropped the photo, did a levels adjustment, sharpened it, and then added a photo filter.  Once I was happy with my edits I saved it. Because I use Lightroom as a catalog for my photos, when I am in Photoshop, I am actually saving a version to Lightroom.  Lightroom also keeps a copy of the original for me.  I like keeping a copy of any original that I have edited, because sometimes I go back to the original and edit the photo into another version.  This particular version I added to my portfolio at Picfair.  The version I posted to Instagram is here:

#Swan in the glow of a #summer evening.

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

What do you think of my layered version? In this case I focused on the warm glow of light.  I was thinking another direction to go with editing was the cooler blue tones.  Do you use layers to edit your photos? Have any related tips you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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