50mm Lens, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ephemeral

I was out the other day during a short break in the rain to take photos of my neighbors flowering dogwood tree.  Those photos were what I thought of when I saw this week’s photo challenge was ephemeral.  I find this tree’s blossoms beautiful, but they are so fleeting.  They are one of the first things that bloom in this area and because the weather is very unstable, the blossoms often get damaged within a few days.  Here is one of my processed images:

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1600

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1600

You will notice that the shutter speed is pretty fast.  It had to be to deal with the wind.  Luckily there was enough overcast light to handle that sort of speed.

I will put the original photo below, but when I went to process the image I knew that I wanted my final image to look quite a bit different than the original.  Within Photoshop I opened the image in Camera Raw and desaturated it into a black and white.  Then I used an adjustment brush and a very light yellow color to paint over the bloom.  Then I opened the image in Photoshop and cropped it a bit.  I created a layer and added blur.  Then I added a mask and painted back the detail in the bloom.  I then added a bit of noise to the whole image.  Here is what the beginning image looked like:

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1600

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1600

With these edits, I created an image that I think reflects the fleeting beauty of spring.  Do you think it works?  Do you have a favorite spring tree?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Flowers, Photo Challenges, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange

In terms of this week’s photo challenge, orange, I guess I just got lucky.  Today was the start of Art in Bloom at the St. Louis Art Museum. The challenge for local floral gurus in the area is to create a floral arrangement that represents a piece of art work they are assigned.  It is a fun and very crowded exhibit to see.  For this blog post I chose to show the floral arrangement of Catherine Thoele who was assigned Octagonal Jar with Design of Cherry Trees, Peonies, and Chrysanthemums.

Of the ones I saw, this was my favorite interpretive arrangement.  I loved the orange of the flowers, but one of the details that I appreciated was the leaves that had blue paint flecks on them, it was a nice tie-in to the original art work.

The challenges as a photographer to get these photos included low light, no flash allowed, and the crowds.  I chose to take my point and shoot, it is easier to handle in a crowded situation.  I used two different settings to get the photos.  One was Auto.  The other was a program mode that allows me to shoot macro.  I got some nice close-ups of individual photos in that mode.  As far as post-editing, I have kept that to a minimum. I did some cropping on a few.  The biggest adjustment I made was on the vase photo, where I applied an Iris blur filter.  I made that choice because the background was truly distracting.

I think it is because I enjoy looking at interpretations of art that this is one of my favorite exhibits of the year at the St. Louis Art Museum.  What do you think? should interpretations like this be featured in museums? Also, it was mentioned in the challenge to try a different gallery format for the photos.  I generally insert my photos one at a time in a fairly large format, so this gallery is a change for me.  What do you think of the format?  I think I can get away with it in this post, but I don’t think I be changing my normal format any time soon.  Your comments are welcome below.

Cheers!

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Birds, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: (Let the Journey be the) Reward

Easy to say, let the journey be the reward, hard to do though in my opinion.  I had been rethinking the way I view my workday this week so in a strange way this challenge did tie into what I had been thinking about this week.  I have an hourly part-time job and then I have my own business which I am hoping to have up and running in the next few years.  It is easy to let the hourly job, with its short term reward of a paycheck, take precedence over my own business whose reward is more long term and harder to describe.

So, this week I started a timer to keep track of the hours I am putting into my business.  An attempt to remind myself that this job is as real as my paycheck job.  So far, I have found it helpful, so I am going to stick with it for awhile.  One of the things I was working on this week while I was on my new clock, was layers and textures.  As part of that I went out this morning and took some photos of leaves, dead and brown, in the hopes of using that image to create new ones.  So below is a description of what I was working on.

First here is the original leaf photo:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/50

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/50

It’s a bit dark and needed some cropping.  This is a version that I edited into more of what I had in mind:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/50

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/50

Then I decided to try combining it with another image.  Here is the image I chose:

ISO 800 75mm 0ev f/4.5 1/250

ISO 800 75mm 0ev f/4.5 1/250

I then combined the two and created this final image:

ISO 800 75mm 0ev f/4.5 1/250

ISO 800 75mm 0ev f/4.5 1/250

Is this image one that I will sell? Nope, but it is the technique that I will use in other images that I would.

In this case with the two images in Photoshop, I drug the leaves in as a layer below the owl image. Then I put a mask on the bird layer and using a paintbrush set at about 40% opacity, I painted the leaves faintly in.

What do you think of the technique? Is this something you have also tried? What to you is most rewarding in your artistic endeavors?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

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50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

I find the rules of photography interesting. Interesting in that they are good guidelines, and challenging in that, as an image creator, you need to decide when the best time to break the rules are.  This week’s challenge pertains to my favorite rule, the rule of thirds. It’s my favorite because I find it to be the most challenging of rules.  It is almost always a good composition guideline but can be the most fun to try to creatively break.

I stuck with following the rule this time around because I am working on a project where I think the rule applies.   I am just starting to work on a series of images dealing with concussion.  My youngest has one, and it has meant serious restrictions on activity.  In this first image I am working on conveying the difficulty of reading when your vision is blurred.

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/3.5 1/20

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/3.5 1/20

I felt the rule of thirds worked for this image because putting the figure in the bottom right corner with the book out of focus and overwhelming in the image just seemed to make sense.  I shot this scene a few different ways, but this one, where even the figure was slightly out of focus, was my favorite.

I used my 50mm lens to get this image.  I was also trying out a magnifying lens that I inherited recently, but I liked the 50mm images better.  The shutter speed is slow on this image, so I started with my tripod but then ended up rearranging the image and just put the camera on the floor.  I’m using natural morning light only and even with a slow shutter speed, and an aperture of 3.5, I still needed to bump the ISO to 640.

Once I picked this image from the several different versions I had shot, I cropped it a bit in Photoshop and then added a bit more blur using the iris blur filter.

So what do you think, does this image convey what I am trying to get across? Do you think this was a good use of the rule of thirds?

Cheers!

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70-200mm IS lens, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

As I was thinking about how to respond to this week’s photo challenge, serenity, it occurred to me that I would say serenity is an idea that shows up a lot in my photography.  For this week, I chose this image:

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

The image itself was taken this past fall.  I stopped, looked up, and saw this lovely pattern of light that I thought would turn out well in a photograph.  This final edited version is actually a fusion of two identical images shot using different exposures and then edited in Photomatix Pro.   Here are the two originals:

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

I felt that creating an HDR image would bring out the jewel tones in the leaves and the bokeh effect in the background of the image.  When I took the original photos, it was a bright day so I had lowered my ISO to 100.  It was also a bit breezy, and in this case I wanted the leaves to be still, so that is the reason for the fast shutter speed.  I settled on an f-stop of 5.6 after a couple of other tries, because I felt like that was the right balance of bokeh in the background and clarity in the leaves.

As for serenity, it’s been a bit elusive in my life lately.  I’ve missed the last few photo challenges.  It’s nice to be back, and I’m looking forward to getting caught up on my comments and visits to other blogs.  As for serenity in a photo, this particular image works for me but what do you think? your comments are welcome below.

Cheers!

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Canon 50D, Photo Challenges, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone But Not Forgotten

Interesting topic this week for the Photo Challenge.  It made me think of grave stone markers, so I went back to work on a photo that I took a few months ago:

ISO 100 70mm F/3.5 1/160

ISO 100 70mm F/3.5 1/160

This edited version is an HDR photo.  I was interested in creating an HDR version because I thought that the detail of the stone would match the bokeh of the background in an interesting way.  The edit is a slight and subtle one.  Here is the original, middle exposure of the three images that I combined:

ISO 100 70mm F/3.5 1/160

ISO 100 70mm F/3.5 1/160

I think that the HDR treatment gave the grave marker the bit of pop that it need to separate from the background.  What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.

I love looking at grave stone markers, especially weather-worn ones, monuments to those who are gone but not forgotten.

Cheers!

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Birds, Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement

I found out this week that this photo won an honorable mention in a photo contest that I entered it in:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/50

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/50

I titled this one, Siblings, it was taken last spring as part of a series of images I took of a the nest that was just outside our kitchen window.  This particular image was taken with my point and shoot camera.  I then cropped it and sharpened it in Photoshop.  To be honest, I did minimal post editing with this photo because I thought that the picture told the story without anything added to it.

I was pleased to have won with this photo, it seems like quite an achievement to me considering the quality of competition that my camera club offers.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

Cheers!

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70-200mm IS lens, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Minimalist

When I think of minimalist photography, I always think of an image that is more poetry than novel. To me poetry as a writing form allows for more interpretation than the fully formed narrative of a novel. Minimalism allows for more breathing room.  So for this week’s challenge, I chose to edit an image that I took a few weeks ago in a very peaceful garden:

ISO 500 100mm 0ev f/10 1/500

ISO 500 100mm 0ev f/10 1/500

To get this image, I chose an f-stop of f/10, because I wanted the water and the bridge to be in focus.  This image is more about taking in an entire scene than it is about just the elements in the foreground. I also chose a fast shutter speed because it was pretty windy that day but I knew I wanted an image that was more serene.

When I got to the editing phase, I first cropped the image because I felt there were elements in the photo that were distracting.  Then I put a warming filter on it in Photoshop.  Here is the original photo:

ISO 500 100mm 0ev f/10 1/500

ISO 500 100mm 0ev f/10 1/500

What do you think? Does this qualify as a minimalist image to you, or does it still have too many elements? How about the filter, I think it conveys a sense of calm that helps the image seem more minimalist, do you agree? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Cheers!

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70-200mm IS lens, Canon 50D, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing

Weekly Photo Challenge: Descent

When I saw this statue last week, I was amused by the pumpkin decoration for Halloween, but what I was really interested in capturing was the water:

ISO 800 80mm 0ev f/13 1/80

ISO 800 80mm 0ev f/13 1/80

I had used an f-stop of 13 to capture as much detail in the scene as possible.  That ended up being a mistake because in the original, which I will put at the bottom of this post, there is too much detail in the grasses behind the elephant.  I chose a shutter speed of 80 because I wanted some of the water to be frozen and some of it to still be in motion. That speed and the harsh light helps the water stand out in this photo.

The background I never managed to completely solve, but I did take some steps which I think helped.  A fiddled around quite a bit in Photoshop, but for the version above here is what I have done.  First I cropped the image and sharpened it a bit.  Then I converted it to black and white.  In honor of Halloween, I masked the orange of the pumpkin back in. That orange seemed a bit too cartoonish with the black and white.  So I then put a photo filter layer on it, using the sepia setting. The pumpkin still sticks out because sepia and orange are not the same, but that combination is less jarring.

Here is the original:

ISO 800 80mm 0ev f/13 1/80

ISO 800 80mm 0ev f/13 1/80

So this week’s theme was descent.  I was originally thinking of the descent of the water, but it could also be a descent into the madness of Photoshop.  Let me know what you think of my created image in the comments below.

Cheers and Happy Halloween!

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70-200mm IS lens, Canon 50D, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art

I’ll admit right up front that when I saw that “Cover Art” was the theme for this week’s photo challenge, I had no idea what I was going to do.  Then I thought about what I have been shooting lately. A quick look through my files, and you would see that nature images is what I have been focusing on. Then I was looking at this image that I processed a week or so ago:

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

And there is my cover art for an article on the plight of bees. I was thinking in terms of a series of images.  The one above looks nice and cheery and the truth is that beehives aren’t thriving lately. I wanted to make the image that conveys that peril.  The above image was shot in a local cemetery and I had used an f-stop of 3.5 to blur out the background.  I also tweaked the exposure a bit and sharpened it in Photoshop.

My first thought was to convert it to a infrared image, I thought that would create a surreal, something is a bit off kind of feel.  I did that by creating a black and white layer in Photoshop and then using the infrared setting.  I didn’t like the outcome, but I did like the black and white version, which was the first step in creating this image:

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

While I liked the tone of the image, I felt that it was too sharp and that blurring would help create a sense of the bees disappearing.  So this image has a field blur filter applied to it.

I liked it, but was curious to see what a similar filter setting would look like in color.  So, I created another version:

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

ISO 160 200mm 0ev f/3.5 1/800

Now I’m not sure which version I like best.  Which version most suggests to you that something has gone wrong for the bee population?  Feel free to let me know in the comments section!

Cheers!

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