AB Friday: March 2015

Final Photo
Final Photo
It’s time again for the ABFriday One Photo Focus Challenge, in which a photograph is provided for readers to interpret with post-photo processing.  This month’s photo came from Loré Dombaj at Snow’s Fissures and Fractures.  To see how other photographers interpreted this picture (and they will be wildly different), click here.
The original started out like this:
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Original Photo
Original Photo
As is my usual, I spent some time with Loré’s picture to evaluate what I saw and wanted to emphasize in it (thanks to a fellow blogger, Emilio Pasquale, for pointing out that’s how I do my pictures).  The face of the cherub caught my attention and I decided that’s what my focus would be.  I did some adjustments in Lightroom, then used the radial filters to lighten up the plant on top of the cherub’s head and the cherub’s face.  I used another radial filter to darken the left bicep so it wasn’t so washed out.
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I then cloned out the sign that was partially hidden behind the tree and cropped the picture to a 1×1 to remove the extraneous tables and chairs on both sides.  By the way – I cloned out the sign the SECOND time I processed the picture, since I didn’t notice it the first time until I was done with all my adjustments, including those in Photoshop.  It was easier to go back and redo it than try to clone it out so late in the game.
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Below is how the radial filters, cloning and cropping were done.  #1 lightened up the entire plant, while #2 lightened up just the darkest part of the plant.  #3 lightened up the face, while #4 darkened the shoulder and upper arm.  #5 cloned out the sign, while #6 cropped the picture into a square.
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Detail of the radial filters and cloning done in Lightroom.
Here’s how it looked before going into Photoshop.  I’ve also shown the adjustments panel in Lightroom to show what got changed:
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In Photoshop, I applied several different filters to it – Topaz Clarity (Low Contrast and Color Pop 1), Topaz Adjust (Low Contrast and Black Rose), and a border from OnOne (Russell).  The Black Rose was an overall tint that adjusted the entire picture.  I normally don’t do that to my pictures, but in this case I liked how the colors popped out on the statue and tables, while de-emphasizing the plants.
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I adjusted brightness and exposure to lighten up the picture slightly, then put on a text layer for a watermark acknowledging the original photographer.  I tried a watermark in both the lower left and upper right corners, before settling on the upper right corner.  That’s why there are two text layers, one of which is turned off (the little eyeball is missing).
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March 1PF PS Adjustments Blog
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After saving this as a *.psd, I went back to Lightroom and exported it for posting on my blog.  This limits the size and resolution so my pictures take up less space and load faster when my blog posts are opened.  Normally I sharpen my pictures when exporting them, but in this case it over-emphasized the detail, which I felt distracted from the picture itself.
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I enjoyed trying out different things, experimenting with several different looks, and creating a beautiful picture.  And for your laughter and amusement, here are some bloopers:

Interested in how I post processed other photos?  Click here to see more.

 

Post Processing Stained Glass Photos – Part 3

The final picture after processing.
The final picture after processing.  Taken at St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church in Bar Habor, Maine.

Last week, I started a technical series of how to post process photos of stained glass windows.  In Part 1, I went over taking and selecting which photo to use, making adjustments in Adobe Lightroom, and moving the picture to Adobe Photoshop for more complex work.

Part 2 showed how to correct for distortion (i.e., keystone effect) and adding in a hue / saturation layer.

Now that a hue / saturation layer is in place, it’s time to create a mask.  The mask blocks out what part of the picture I don’t want adjusted with the next step.  In this case, I will block out the background, then invert the mask (i.e., turn it inside out) so that any changes I make will adjust the background only and leave the stained glass alone.

Add in a hue saturation layer in order to darken the background.
Add in a hue saturation layer in order to darken the background.

On the hue / saturation layer, click the white box (see where the down arrow is pointing).  Another box will open up to the left, which I’ve put a big circle around.

To the far left are two boxes that should be black and white.  When I hover the mouse over them, they are called the foreground and background color.  Make sure the black is on top as shown here.  If it isn’t, click the tiny double arrow (shown with the tiny circle around it) to reverse the boxes.  If the black box isn’t on top, this won’t work right.  If my boxes have different colors in them, I click the itty bitty boxes next to the tiny double arrow.  That will restore the default colors of black and white.  I will have to click the double arrow to put the black box back on top.

Yes, itty bitty is a technical term, although I don’t think Adobe has it copyrighted :)

Click the mask and make sure the right colors get used when brushing the mask in.
Click the mask and make sure the right colors get used when brushing the mask in.

Now it’s time to brush in a mask and cover up the background.

Continue reading “Post Processing Stained Glass Photos – Part 3”

Post Processing Stained Glass Photos – Part 2

St. Saviour's Episcopal Church in Bar Harbor, Maine
Image after all post processing is done.  Taken at St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church in Bar Harbor, Maine

In my last post, I began a technical series of how I processed some photos that I took of stained glass.  Click here for Part 1, which explains how I selected the photo and began processing in Adobe Lightroom.  Click here to see the original post with all the photos.

At the end of the last post, I finished my initial edits in Lightroom and loaded the picture into Adobe Photoshop for further editing.  This begins with what I did next in Photoshop to improve the picture.

The first thing I do is create a duplicate layer.  This way, if something goes wrong, the layer can be deleted, a new one created, and I can start all over again.  In other words, I haven’t altered the original photo.  If I make a mistake and forget to add the layer, I save it right away with a new name so that I don’t accidentally overlay my original photo.  If something goes wrong, I have to delete the entire photo, but it’s better than having ruined the original photo.

To duplicate the layer, right click on the layer, which is shown in the down arrow and mostly hidden under the pop-up box.  On the pop-up box, click duplicate layer.  When the next box comes up, you can name the new layer or not.  You can always change the name later by double clicking on the name of the layer and then editing it.

Create a duplicate layer before doing anything.  This way if something goes wrong, you can delete the layer and start again.
Create a duplicate layer before doing anything. This way if something goes wrong, you can delete the layer and start again.

Continue reading “Post Processing Stained Glass Photos – Part 2”

Post Processing Stained Glass Photos – Part 1

Image after all post processing is complete
Image after all post processing is complete.  Taken at St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church in Bar Harbor, Maine.

A few weeks ago, I posted stained glass photos that I took at St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church in downtown Bar Harbor, Maine.  Everyone ooh’d and aah’d appropriately, then one of you stuck your hand up and said, “How did you do that?”  It turns out she has a number of stained glass pictures taken during a trip to Europe and hadn’t figured out how to process them up.

So this is going to get a bit technical and take several posts to explain, but here’s how I did it!

Select A Photo With Detail

The first thing is to select a photo that has sufficient detail in it.  I shot these with a high ISO because of how dim the church was and I was hand holding my camera.  Had I been tripod mounted, I could have used a lower ISO and had less noise (i.e., graininess).  But I didn’t have my tripod with me and I don’t know that the church would have let me set it up anyhow.

I routinely bracket my shots.  Bracketing is where my camera takes a picture at the normal settings, then another one that’s darker and another that’s lighter.  So I take 3 pictures of every shot that I want.  This helps improve the odds of getting a keeper.

Here’s the difference when I reviewed my pictures later:

The picture on the left is with normal settings.  Although it seems to be a better brightness, the details are lacking in the robe, flowers and even the hair.  The one on the right is technically too dark, but you can see a great deal more of the detail in the robe, flowers, and hair.

Continue reading “Post Processing Stained Glass Photos – Part 1”

Stained Glass in Maine

During my recent weekend in Maine, my daughter and I went into St. Saviour’s Episcopoal Church in Bar Harbor.  She waited patiently as I oohed and aahed over the stained glass, then proceeded to take a bunch of pictures.  According to its website, the church is the “oldest, largest and tallest public building on Mt. Desert Island”.

I offer a selection of those photos as my interpretation of this week’s photo challenge on refraction, which Wiktionary defines as, “the turning or bending of any wave, such as a light or sound wave, when it passes from one medium into another of different optical density”.  These windows were so very detailed that the light coming through was a jumble of bright colors.

I’d like to blithely expound on how this nurtured my creativity.  Well, it didn’t.  I found it frustrating and time consuming, although the end result was quite good.  I think once I get over being frustrated, I’ll be happy for the time I spent on it, but I’m not quite there yet.

Processing these took most of today.  The top 1/3 of several of them were overly dark, I think due to eaves on the outside.  Once I got them looking good, the backgrounds lightened up and the wood paneled walls showed up as maroon noise.  Ack!  My favorite boy toy made several trips upstairs to answer questions and teach me how to use layers and masks in Photoshop.  I got it figured it out too!  So that’s good.  I just wish it wouldn’t have taken so much long.  As is typical with the learning curve, it took me as long to do the first one as it did to do the rest of them together.  Of course, I was doing laundry too, so there were interruptions to hang up and put away clothes.

The pictures were a challenge to take, which is why they needed so much processing.  Thankfully my photography has improved enough that I could switch to manual mode and use spot metering to determine the optimal settings.  However, anything that was lightly colored was blown out (i.e., it showed no detail).  I had to keep slowing down my speed to darken the photos.  Worse yet, I had no tripod and wasn’t sure the church would like me setting on up anyhow.  So I hand held as best as I could, increased my ISO, and hoped for the best.

Below is how it looked before I processed it.  Everything is crooked (something I do too frequently).  The panel of three also has keystoning.  The left and right windows leaned in and while it didn’t look bad, I used transform in Photoshop to straighten them out.  And oops, I also included what my daughter was doing as I took pictures.  She was so intent on her phone, she didn’t notice me taking her picture with my cell phone.

To see everything I’m doing with my 31 Days of Nurturing My Creativity, click here.

To see what others are doing with their 31 Days project, click here.

 #write31days

Sharing A Passion For Photography

Day 2, 4:00 pm
Day 2, 4:00 pm

My favorite boy toy has been in love with the camera for years and I have the pictures to prove it too!  (Click here for pictures of a younger boy toy with his camera.)

He’s encouraged me over the years to do it with him, with varying levels of success.  Not that I’m stubborn or anything (cough, cough).  Not that he wasn’t insistent that I do it exactly the same way he did it (more coughing).  Over the last few years though, we got it figured out.

Day 5, 7:30 am
Day 5, 7:30 am

So our vacations don’t quite fit the norm of everyone else, as these pictures show from our recent trip to Maine.  Our days might start at 5:30 am to catch the sunrise.  It might not end until after midnight if we’re out doing some night photography.  We catch up on our sleep in the middle of the day, when the light is flat.

He enjoys using a tripod and composing each scene to the nth degree, a holdover from his days of film when film and processing were expensive and took way too much money from our household budget.  Me, I hand hold my camera and in a short period can shoot several hundred pictures.  After that, I get bored waiting for him.  Eventually I find someplace to sit and read while I wait for him to (yet again) get done.

Sometimes I amuse myself by taking pictures of him.  It’s best to catch him from behind or when the camera is in his face so he’s not scowling at me.  It did occur to him though that he might want to use some of these on his website and he got much friendlier about it!

Day 5, 3:10 pm
Day 5, 3:10 pm

There are other big differences in how we approach our photography.  He’s blowing his up into 18″ x 27″ canvases to sell for hanging on the wall.  Mine are going into a blog or photo album.  His have to be perfect – people don’t want to pay for “it’s good enough”.  Mine are “good enough”.  I have limited patience and time for editing and processing them and because they’re so small on the screen, they don’t have to be perfect.  My audience loves them as they are; his criticizes everything he does.  Not everyone, but every year there’s a few customers who get nasty about it.  I don’t know why they don’t just keep walking and feel they have to tell him what they think is wrong with his work and how they can do the same thing with their little point and shoot camera.

Day 5, 3:40 pm
Day 5, 3:40 pm

It’s taken us a long time to get to this point.  He was critical that I didn’t do it the way he did.  I responded by not bothering to take pictures.  If I took pictures, I came home with all kinds of good things.  He’d come home with a few, then complain that he didn’t get any good pictures.  He’d give me advice, I’d ignore it, then find out the hard way why it was good advice – like when I tried taking pictures of the lightning several years ago.  He insisted that I upgrade my digital camera several years ago and he was right about how the quality improved.  But when I turned up my nose at learning Adobe Photoshop, he backed off and suggested I try Adobe Lightroom instead, which I love using.

Then one day he looked at my pictures and realized that I’d gotten very, very good at the photography.  When I demurred, he told me to look around at the art fairs and art galleries that he liked checking out.  He was right – my pictures were nearly as good as his and in some cases, even better.  I definitely had an eye for composition.  Funnier yet, I was asking him questions about Lightroom that he couldn’t answer.  He’s still the king of Photoshop, but I’m not bad with Lightroom!  He’s been more supportive of the way I do my photography and as a result, I’ve been much more receptive to his advice.

Day 3, 10:00 am
Day 3, 10:00 am

According to a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, sharing an interest good for a relationship as it prevents boredom and complacency, and encourages the brain chemicals related to pleasure and bonding.  In the article, it talks how learning a new hobby from scratch is one way to go, but another way to consider is when one partner has a passion already.  For the other partner, they have a build-in teacher and get bonus points for efforts.  Of course, that has its pitfalls, as my husband and I found for ourselves.  For the newbie, check the attitude, take direction, and don’t kill the joy for the partner with the passion.  For the proficient partner – reward the newbie, be patient, and stay focused on the long-term goal of introducing your passion so the other partner will want to learn it.

Day 2, 7:00 am
Day 2, 7:00 am

At the end of the article, one of the partners commented on learning beekeeping with his wife saying,

“If you create fun, enriching experiences together, you reinvent yourself and your marriage. . .
you look at your partner in awe.”

[If you’re interested in improving your photography or other skills, check out this review of Lynda.com for inexpensive on-line training.  I highly recommend it!]