Weekly Photo Challenge: Unusual

Static, I think that is one word that comes to mind when describing a war monument. The Battle of Britain Monument is unusual in that it is dynamic.  Not only do the elements of the monument protrude in interesting ways, they do so at eye level.  It is a very interesting work to walk around.  It was my first visit, so I took a lot of shots as I walked around getting my first impressions.  When I got home, I created this photo:

ISO 32 4.15mm 1/50 f/2.2

The photos I took, I took on my iPhone.  Mostly, I was capturing details of the monument and not the monument in its entirety.  I find my iPhone is a good tool for this kind of photography.  I will show you the original shot at the bottom of this post, but as you can see there is a lot going on here, so one of my first thoughts was, what would I like to highlight in my final photo?  The answer was the bright sky you can see in the binoculars of the soldier in the foreground.  I used Lightroom to create my version.  I first cropped the photo then sharpened it a bit.  I then used a radial filter just over the binoculars, the effect evenly muted the rest of the photo, but kept the vibrance of the sky.  I then lightened the corners of the photo which I think helps encourage your eye to stay more in the center of the photo.  For comparison, here is the original photo:

ISO 32 4.15mm 1/50 f/2.2

What do you think of my edits?  Is there another approach you would have taken in editing this? Your comments are welcome below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Bridge

Sometimes a photo challenge theme fits nicely into work that I have in progress.  This past weekend I was in London, in part to see Tower Bridge:

ISO 250 20mm 1/2000 f/8.0

Recently I purchased a new lens, it’s a wide angle lens, 11-22mm, to complement my 50mm and 70-200mm lens.  I am thinking of using this lens mostly for landscapes. I will also be pressing it into service in city settings. In particular shots taken in the interior of buildings where my 50mm struggles to get the whole of what I am trying to capture. A wide angle lens can also be used to create a beautifully different perspective of a scene:

ISO 250 14mm 1/800 f/8.0

These photos are two of one hundred and fifteen that I took of the bridge.  Getting the pictures home, I put them in Lightroom, which is always my first step.  I have taken a look through all the images and these two above are among the images that I may edit later; as seen above they are not edited at all.  I will keep them in this state for awhile.  I find it helpful to have some time between my shoot and when I edit.  I find it hard to be objective about them when they are newly shot. Although eventually most of the photos will be deleted, nothing has been deleted yet. Photos I take with my larger camera are on the slow track in terms of my editing process.

The fast track consists of photos that I take on my phone.  They are often taken and then processed or discarded within twenty four hours.  This one was a keeper:

The view of one #London landmark from another. #towerbridge as seen from the #toweroflondon

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

A successful photo on my phone is often an overview photo like this one.  More detailed photos I usually shoot with my larger camera.  I find it helpful to have both cameras with me, I find it creates a more complete narrative.

Do you shoot a single scene with more than one camera? Do you have a different approach to editing photos that are created out of your different cameras?  And yes, those first two photos really are unedited, it really was that bright and sunny in London last Sunday! Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Delta

If you are ever at Hampton Court Palace don’t forget to look up. The Astronomical Clock, an imposing, functional work of art, was installed in 1540. Other than the time it also indicates high tide at London Bridge.  That’s important if you are traveling by barge, as many members of the court at the time would have been doing. We used the car park; just one way in which times have changed since the clock’s installation.

ISO 1000 50mm 1/640 f/16

While touring the palace I was using my Canon 50D with a 50mm lens.  The challenges that day were the rain and the fact that I was taking photos indoors and out. One thing that my camera does well is allow for a high ISO and a resulting photo that is not too grainy; in this case I set my ISO high so that I could change my shutter speed and aperture frequently. I brought home a lot of images, but I really found the clock facinating. You can see in my final image I have combined black and white and color.  Here is where I started:

ISO 1000 50mm 1/640 f/16

One of the first things I did was to crop the image using the straighten feature in Photoshop.  From the angle which the photo was taken, I think it is natural for it not to be 100% straight, but I wanted it straighter than the way it had been shot.  I also sharpened the image.  I mention these two steps because they are often my last two steps, but this time were my first.  I then created a second layer, making it black and white.  The black and white copy on top, the color underneath. I allowed Photoshop to make the black and white by clicking Image-Adjustments-Black&White. This will make default adjustments but also pops up a dialogue box that will allow, via sliders, the user to adjust the various values of the image. I like to start with the default, but it rarely matches exactly what I want to see.  In this case, it was the sky, there was no detail in the default, but the sliders helped me fix that.  Then I added a layer mask on the black and white copy.  In the layers panel there is an icon with a  rectangle with a circle in it, that will created the mask.  I then used the paintbrush tool and painted over the face of the clock which revealed the color layer beneath.

I really like the result, but what do you think? The black and white brick really makes the color of the clock face stand out in a way that I like. Do you mix black and white and color in your editing process? Do you like the results you get?  I find that it is a bit of a mixed bag, sometimes it works really well other times it is a complete miss. I also have found that I have to go ahead and try it, I can’t always tell just by looking at the original image if it is going to work.  Do you have an editing technique that is like that for you? sometimes it works and other times it is a mess?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient

One of the things that I enjoy about photography is that it is a way to document change:

ISO 250 200mm 1/320 f/11

This photo was a few months in the making. It began when I noticed that the swans on this lake had built a nest and that it was being sat on no matter the time of day.  Then the cygnets appeared.  The adults kept them at a distance though, as you can see from this photo that I took in May:

ISO 1000 200mm 1/200sec f/16

Now that the cygnets are bigger, they are allowed to the closer side of the lake, still closely supervised, you can see the adult has its eye on me:

#swan family in the #goldenhour #nature #photography

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

The family seems to enjoy the last few moments of sun on the lake in the evening. They are active then and are very tolerant of my presence, which is how I got this photo:

ISO 250 200mm 1/320 f/11

It’s not a perfect shot, but I thought it had potential.  The subject is interesting, that moment where the adult stretched its wings seemed like a good place to start in terms of the narrative of the image.  The first edited version ended up being this one:

ISO 250 200mm 1/320 f/11

I used Photoshop for my edits.  The first thing I did was remove the ducks.  I used the healing brush tool to do that.  I’ve cropped the photo, and sharpened it. When I had saved that version back to Lightroom, I bumped the temperature slider up just a bit to accentuate the warm glow of the sunset light. I like the photo but I was interested in creating the photo you see at the top of this post. I thought the triptych, breaking the photo into segments, would tell the story in a different way.

The photos in this post were taken between May 23 and June 20, and show just how transient a cygnets life is, they change every day. Photography bears witness to these changes. Photography can also manipulate as well, as shown by my decision to remove the ducks from the photo. A human form of transience, a recreation of the landscape. My final version is an obvious retelling of the scene. What do you think of the edits? Do you prefer a photo that is a faithful recording or are you okay with manipulation?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Friend

It’s been a busy week. Today it’s back to England weather, but last week was gorgeous; my unprocessed photo folder overflows, a beautiful problem to have. This weekend included a walk with friends that went through a barley field:

ISO 25 4.15mm 1/1600 f/2.2

This panorama, taken on my iPhone, originally looked like this:

ISO 25 4.15mm 1/1600 f/2.2

The edited version was produced in Lightroom. In the crop tools there is an “angle” option which allows you to drag a line along what should be the straight horizon and then creates a crop from there.  As with many edits, I sometimes think that I am gaining and losing.  In this case, the edited photo is straighter. The original however, has a quirkiness to it that I kind of like.  I’ll point out also that this photo is breaking one of the rules of photography.  Generally it is considered bad form to include part of a person, you should either include the whole person or crop them out entirely.  It’s a good rule, but I think there is a carefree feeling to this photo that allows that rule to be broken.

From that same walk is an Instagram photo that reminds me that flowers and insects form important friendships as well:

#poppies and friend #thingsiseewhilewalking #england #summer

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

What is your thought on my panorama, is there a version you prefer? Can you believe that beautiful sky was in England this weekend?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Evanescent

As with most places I have lived, I know that I am only going to be here for a few years. It’s an evanescent way of life, when you know you will be packing soon.  I think my photography sometimes captures that as well.  Last week, I took this image while out on a walk:

ISO 500 50mm f/16 1/200

It was a beautiful day, and it wasn’t raining in England! Ok, well maybe somewhere in England it was, but not on the little part that I happened to be walking on.  This spot was near the end of the walk, and I knew I had to take a photo as I approached, who could pass on a scene like this?

This image is quite a busy one in my opinion, full of texture.  When I went to edit it I could see that there were a lot of competing elements. In this version I wanted to highlight the church.  I did a few things to accomplish that.  First was cropping.  I have cropped the image so that using the rule of thirds grid. The right side of the church runs along the right vertical guide grid and the top flat part of the roof, meets the top horizontal of the grid.  Here is a screen shot that shows the grid:

The faint lines you see are the grid that is referred to as “the rule of thirds”

Once I had the church situated in what I thought was a good spot, I did my other edits.  I gave the photo a bit of a faded look overall but then used the radial filter in Lightroom to bring a bit of focus to the church.  By making the church brighter than it surroundings I am making it stand out.  The radial filter controls in Lightroom are nice in that you can make the focus point as large or small as you would like.  I ended up including a bit of the land in front of the church because I thought it helped draw your eye to the church.

I liked this version, so I added it to my Picfair portfolio.  Do you like the edits? Do you ever think about the fact that you are capturing a fleeting moment when you are taking a photo?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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.

Cheers!