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!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Order

I find that military cemeteries and memorials are an attempt to bring order to the chaos of human conflict. The neat rows of uniform grave markers, the minimalist and tidy green space, they stand in contrast to what I perceive as the disruption and disorder of conflict.  On Memorial Day this year, the staff at Cambridge American Cemetery put out pictures in front of the grave markers and along the borders of the Tablets of the Missing:

ISO 25 4.15mm 1/750sec f/2.2

Seemingly a small detail when viewed from a distance, but amazingly personal when examined at close range.

ISO 25 4.15mm 1/540 f/ 2.2

The cemetery is a sobering reminder of the human cost of war, and the display puts a face on it and makes it more personal:

"Faces of Cambridge" Women served too #WWII #cambridgeamericancemetery #lestweforget @usabmc #memorialday

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

Most blog posts I write are about the editing process I go through.  This post is about the importance of sometimes letting an image stay in its “as taken” state.  The first two images are shown as shot and I would argue tell their story without the need for editing. The last image is in the standard Instagram format with the filter I chose for it accenting the light that illuminates the name on the grave marker.

When I am taking photographs, I often am thinking about what I would like the final image to look like.  In this case, I knew that I was going to want the final images to have very little editing done to them.  While my usual minimum edits are white balance, cropping, and sharpening, for the first two photos skip even those steps. What do you think of my unedited photos? are there times when you skip editing in favor of an “as-is” final photo? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wanderlust

This week’s photo challenge starts with “Have you traveled anywhere exciting lately?”  Oh boy, travel is a topic maybe it’s best not to get me started on as “going to see things” is a bit of a hobby for me.  It also happens that I was on the road just a few weeks ago.  I visited a few well-known spots that pretty much everyone has heard of.  This post though is more about something I really love about traveling, and that is visiting some spot a bit off the tourist path and being utterly charmed by it.

I do enjoy history, so I often find myself at spots of historical significance.  I will admit though, if it has to do with World War II, it’s probably because my husband found it.  That’s how I came to be standing here:

ISO 400 4.15mm f/2.2 1/100 sec

Where am I? The Upottery Heritage Center.  Here’s a Google map link, if you would like to see a map of the area.  Why was I here? Well the Band of Brothers left from here for Normandy; that was my husband’s interest.  He had been in contact with Robin, a volunteer at the center, who had agreed to open the converted hut for us to take a look around.  This is one of those museums that has been put together by people who care about the history of the area.  It’s a small space, but there is an incredible amount of well researched detail here.  My husband talked to Robin about those details.  For me, it was the photographs, look at all the photographs!  Our youngest child was traveling with us and found the stash of newspapers from the time. Eventually, it was time to drag ourselves away from this room. The driving tour was next.  Robin was willing to take us around to show my husband where the old airfield was.  For me the highlight of the driving tour was this:

ISO 25 4.15 f/2.2 1/420

During the war it was a guard station.  It’s the last remaining one in the area and now if functions as a Remembrance memorial.  A beautiful tribute if you ask me.

Part of the tour took us through farms that are currently in use, so from my Instagram, I have this shot.

On a #walk with a #cow #nofilter #england

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

A cleaned up version of that shot is in my Picfair portfolio.

This morning in Upottery was a highlight of the trip.  The well known places were good too, but this was unique, something that will stick in our collective family memory. In terms of the photography, I stuck with my iPhone for this visit and was pleased with the results. Have you perhaps had the experience as well, that a lesser known place ended up being a highlight of a trip? Can you believe how lush that grass is in the Instagram photo? That’s a no filter photo.  Feel free to leave your comments below.

Cheers!

When It All Adds Up

A while back I blogged about this photo:

ISO 800 50mm f/13 1/160

ISO 800 50mm f/13 1/160

Based on what I could find online, a few things like his name and date of birth didn’t seem to add up when you looked at this grave marker.  So I went back to the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial. The staff member who helped me was a bit surprised that I wasn’t researching a relative,but was more than happy to give me a hand in my research.  It ended up being pretty simple.  The Carlisle H. Reville whose grave I photographed, was Carlisle H. Reville Jr.  My search had been further complicated by the fact that the 1930 Census record was handwritten, and the later data entry spelled his first name wrong.

It's easy to see why a mistake was made.

It’s easy to see why a mistake was made.

So, on the data entry portion of this page, he is listed as “Caulislo”, easy to see why.

In the course of my research I found out that Reville Sr. had served in WWI.  I also found out that Reville Jr. had first been buried at another cemetery but was moved here when this cemetery was established.  What I can’t find is a decent lead on the family, other than they were living in Pennsylvania in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  If you happen to know this family, I am more than happy to have them contact me if they would like a digital copy of the photo I have taken of their relative’s grave.

Since I was back at the cemetery, you know that I took some more pictures.  Here is one from that day:

The edited black and white version

The edited black and white version

I’ve edited this in Lightroom and using a black and white plug-in.  I’ll post the original below, but one of the first things I did while it was still a color version was to bring out detail in the shadows and increase the saturation in the blues and the greens.  It looks horrible in that state, but once it is converted to black and white it looks good again. Here is the original file:

The original

The original

The subject is well suited to black and white I think.  I’ve included it in my portfolio at Picfair. Somehow the color version just seems to vivid for the subject matter.  What do you think?  Feel free to comment on my new photo or on the follow up from my older post.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia

I’ll admit I’m suspicious of nostalgia. When people look back on the past, in my opinion it tends to be with a rosy optimism. I’m ok with that as long as you realize what you are doing. I’m just not really sure the “good old days” were anything more than fine, kind of like now, there is a lot going on that is bad and plenty that is good too.  This past weekend we went to Bletchley Park, which is a museum space dedicated to code breaking during World War II.  It was fascinating; if you are interested in history, science, math, or people, I would recommend going.  Plan to make a day of it, you’ll be both inside and outside, so dress accordingly.  This photo was taken in one of the work areas they had set up:

ISO 320 4.3mm f/2.7 1/30

ISO 320 4.3mm f/2.7 1/30

The sun was shining brightly and so I knew that this would be a light saturated image, perfect for a feeling of nostalgia. Lightroom is kind enough to have a setting called “Aged Photo” so I started there. I took a look at the various sliders and the settings Lightroom had selected and then did some modifications from there.  I added some grain and made the vignette a little stronger.

Th museum itself is a fascinating look at what can be best about human beings, our ability to think and create. But it’s set against the backdrop of World War II.  The death toll from that war is just appalling, really reflecting the worst we are capable of as human beings. To me just that is enough to stop thinking of this time in any sort of nostalgic way.

How about you? Do you tend to look back in a more glass half full sort of way? How do you like the editing I’ve done to the photo? Have you also noticed the nostalgia-related filters in your editing software? I’ll admit, I tend to like the results, even if I do then edit them further.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Quest

Sometimes a blog post is a few weeks in the making. This is one of those posts.  It started a few weeks ago with a visit to the Cambridge American Cemetery, the final resting place for almost 4,000 American war dead from WWII.  On the grounds there is also a very well done visitors center.  I spent some time looking around the cemetery and took this photo:

ISO 800 50mm f/13 1/160

ISO 800 50mm f/13 1/160

Actually, it is a very edited version of this photo:

ISO 800 50mm f/13 1/160

ISO 800 50mm f/13 1/160

I cleaned the marker a bit and patched up the grass around it.  I did both of those things using the healing and cloning tools in Photoshop.  I also cropped the image and put an iris blur filter on it.  The filter was mostly to blur the trees in the background just a bit more than they were in the original photo.  I then switched to Lightroom and converted it to black and white, applied a graduated filter, added grain, and a split tone effect.

That’s more effects and editing than I typically do.  As I was working with this photograph I couldn’t help but think of this particular person and was just curious to know a bit about him.  My first thought actually was to wonder if his family in the US has a photo of his grave marker, and if not would they want one?  I went online to see if I could find any information on him. A search of Carlisle H. Reville returned a synopsis of his death. I then found copies of the 1930 and 1940 US Census records that list him.  The 1940 census gives his name as “Carl H. Reville”, but based on the other family members listed, I believe it to be him.  If this is correct, this is where I think the story gets odd. Carlisle would have been 48 if he died in 1943.  His record at the cemetery indicates he was a pilot and 1st Lieutenant.  Census records indicate he was a salesman.  To complicate matters, his son Caulislo H. Reville, is listed as 13 years old in the 1930 census.  I can’t find him in the 1940 census, but he would have been 26 in 1943, a much closer fit for a 1st Lieutenant in WWII.  It just has got me thinking, I’m wondering if it’s possible the names are wrong?  I can’t even tell you exactly why this bothers me, but now I’m on a bit of a quest.  My next stop will be back to the cemetery, to see if I can find out how old Carlisle was at the time of his death.  If he was indeed 48, I’ll think he was a bit of an outlier for his rank, but that does happen.  If the cemetery doesn’t have the information, I’ll be back online to try an find out more.  An interesting note, US Census records from 1950 will not be made public until April 1, 2022.

If you are still reading, what do you think? do you agree Carlisle’s age seems a bit off for the situation?  Have you ever taken a photograph and then found out you had a lot more on your hands than you realized? Do you like the edits?

Cheers!

Travel Theme: Sculpture

Sculpture is theme at Where’s My backpack? this week.  This is one of those themes that at first I was thinking that I didn’t have anything, but once I took a look through my archives I realized that I had more than I thought.  I decided to go with this photo in honor of the 4th of July:

The edited photo

The edited photo

This World War II memorial is on the grounds of Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis Missouri. This memorial is on St. Louis County Parks property.  There is a National Cemetery right near the county park.

This photo was a tough one to get and I have to say, if I was to do it again, I would go at a different time.  This photo was taken in the middle of the day, so harsh light and shadows were a problem.  Having said that though, the reality is that I was there when I could be there, so I did the best I could.

At the bottom of this post I will put the original photo, just so you can see what I was up against.  I was thinking that I would use HDR to get a better end result.  So, I tried bracketing my photos, but didn’t really get a great result.  What you see in the above photo is a bit of a false HDR.  It is made from one single image.  In Aperture I made two additional copies of the original.  Then I changed the exposure to -1 on one and -2 on another.  The original I left at 0. These three I merged into HDR using Photomatix.  I ended up liking the version you see above which is using a “painterly” setting.  Then in Photoshop I sharpened and cropped the image.  That’s a bit of fixing for just one image, but here is the original:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/60

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/60

So, that was a bit of work for one photo, but I do like the HDR image better.  What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.

A very happy 4th of July to my American readers.

Cheers!