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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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!

 

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!

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!

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!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Corner

Fitting that this pub sits on a corner:

ISO 25 4.15mm f/2.2 1/220

Located on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, this pub is named after a local citizen who is said to be the inspiration behind Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. Deacon Brodie was a cabinet maker and thief.  His day job allowed him access to homes that he would later rob.  He was eventually caught and hung.  A short walk away at the National Museum of Scotland, there is a multi-floor exhibit that includes a cabinet that is attributed to Brodie, though was probably made by his father.

This photo was shot on my iPhone and edited in Lightroom.  The first edit was to crop the photo.  I decided on a square crop in honor of this week’s photo challenge.  While making the crop I took advantage of the angle tool which allowed me to straighten the photo a bit.  Since I had been standing close to the pub, the perspective was a bit skewed.  Having done that, I sharpened the photo and darkened the corners by sliding the highlight priority into negative numbers.

How do you like the edit?  Have you ever been to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile? It’s a popular tourist destination particularly in August during the Tattoo and Fringe Festival.  Both of those things are worth checking out. I would also recommend looking through the history of Scotland over at the National Museum, it’s an interesting display. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Satisfaction

I enjoy taking photos. I like editing and creating my own little pieces of art.  But making art is messy, in my case, it is a digital mess.  I’m a tidy person.  While I don’t mind my photo files looking like someone is working, I don’t want my space to be a digital disaster area.  Part of cleaning actually starts at the beginning as I am importing files.  I keep my files organized in folders which are labeled with the date and the location of the shot.  I edit some shots right away, others I throw away right away.  The majority spend several months sitting in a folder.  I find it helpful to have to some time pass before I do a deep clean of any folder.  When I deep clean, I look more critically at each photo. I’m deciding if I really want it to be taking up disk space. Everything that is deemed not disk space worthy is sent to the trash can:

ISO 125 4.15mm 1/35 f/2.2

It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to do this type of cleaning.  If they aren’t already, surviving files are tagged, making them easier to find in the future.  As far as when any file gets a final edit, I am much less structured about that.  Some have had final edits the day or so after they were shot.  Some wait for months or even a year.  I’m not worried about rushing that part of the process, keeping my good files organized makes it easier to come back to them when inspiration strikes.

As for the photo above.  I took several shots with my iPhone of the screen. They have been imported into Lightroom. The version I liked best I opened in Photoshop and made a duplicate layer.  The top layer was converted to black and white.  I then put a mask on that layer and painted to reveal just the blue below. Do you like this edit? Do you feel lighter after you have cleaned out your digital files? I honestly do.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!