March 2008

Cathedral Art

One of the aspects of the cathedrals in England that enthralled me was the detail work in every aspect of the building.  Obviously millions of hours were put into the beautification of these places of worship by talented artists.

As I walked through the building I randomly shot photos of the different scenes depicted in paintings and carvings.  I wish now I had taken more time to do this than I did; something I hope to rectify on my upcoming trip in May.

I can’t think of the right word for this carved art.  It’s not a statue…what would you call this?

This One Doesn’t Count

I have never owned or learned to use a meter, so I just take some set up shots before hand to make sure I have my settings where I want them and the strobes tuned in.  Call me lazy or cheap, but it works for me.

I typically have the model (or someone else helping out as in this case) just stand out there to fill in while I take my test photos and make adjustments.

One of my favorite things to do is tell them "this isn’t going to count" so they don’t worry how they look.  You get a wide variety of expressions when you say that, from relaxed to bored to downright goofy.  Greg here falls in the relaxed to bored category 🙂

Daylight Savings Sunrise

Sunrise

Daylight savings time in the spring is never fun. Spring forward just means losing an hour of sleep and trying to convince your body it is time to get up when it knows it is owed another hour of bliss.

Going to work is once again in the dark until the season catches up with the time shift, but that also means I get to look out at a beautiful sunrise from my office. I walked out a couple of days ago to snap this from the front of the building. A great way to start the day.

Canon 40D, 24-105L, 1/500 at f/4.0 and 200 ISO
see it bigger on flickr

Gerber Baby

This is some aged/green processed look added to a portrait taken of my little niece. When we were taking the photos I commented that I thought she had a perfect “Gerber Baby” look to her when smiled (which was often). For some reason she found me particularly funny that day, which is excellent when you are trying to capture baby pictures!

I played with settings in Lightroom to see what I could find that brought out that Gerber look.

What do you think?

My Wife is Golden

Heather

My wife, Heather, is golden; and I’m not just saying that because of the sunset lighting we had last night.  I am always grateful for the good fortune that smiled on me when I met and somehow convinced this woman to wed me.  There is nothing good I have done in my adult life that would have been possible without her supporting and often leading me along the way.

I’m a lucky man I tell ya, a lucky man.

Canon 40D,  EF-S 17-55, 1/125 at f/4 and 200 ISO

Moran Eye Center Video

It’s that time again for the video of the most recent Photowalking Utah event. These videos only take me a few hours to edit and upload, but getting them online has a little delay while I wait for people to post their photos to the flickr group along with some good old fashioned procrastination on my part.

As described in my previous post, (also here and here) we had a very enjoyable event visiting the Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah. Bryan Jones, who made the access to the lab possible, later wrapped up the event well on his blog.

Hope you enjoy this wrap up video of the event. I’ll try to keep these up when I can attend as long as there is continuing interest. Please feel free to post this video to your site/blog, just please give a link back here for credit.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i32tmGtoPks[/youtube]

Before & After Post-Processing

As a photographer, I enjoy capturing moments and scenes, but often the scene I capture is simply a canvas for what I end up doing for in the “digital darkroom” for my final photo I share with others. Lately I have been combing through Flickr and other sites to find photos with post-processing I really like and trying to create similar effects myself. I am also consuming as many online tutorials as I can find for good techniques. I feel like I have a lot to learn, but also that I can share some of what I have learned.

With this in mind, I am starting up a new Flickr Group called “How I Did It: What I Did in Post.” I still need to finish writing up all the rules and coming up with some good examples, but that will be a evolving process in itself.

My thought with this group is not to expect people to write up lengthy tutorials with plenty of screen shots and extended examples. Though I love those kind of tutorials for their detail and ease of following each specific step, an essay like those are very involved in creating. For me I am more interested in the summary of what was done, basic steps that give me an insight into what the artist did to create their final image. Though I may need to learn more to understand what is meant by specific steps, the more wonderful examples I see with some hints as to the post-processing steps, the better I will get at having a variety of ideas in my pool of techniques I can use when bringing a photo to life.

Here is an example of what I am talking about. This is a recent photo I posted to Flickr and included in this blog:

This particular photo is one that I took a few years ago on a wonderful trip to the United Kingdom. I was astounded at the intricacy and beauty of this building, but also by the dramatic clouds looming over it. The final image I posted was much better (in my humble opinion) than the original:

I have covered previously my thoughts on whether a photo is “tainted” by the involvement of Photoshop in the development process. I strongly feel that if the final image is your artistic expression of the scene and improves on the photo, all the better.

My idea for rules & requirements for this new group are to ask any photo invited and added to the photo pool would need to add in a general listing/description of their steps they used in to post-process their photo. As most people will likely be thinking back to what they did rather than taking notes along the way, I would expect fairly a general list of tips. That said, those general tips can be very insightful.

Here are my steps I did in developing this photo:

  1. Opened two copies of the file, each initially exposed differently in Adobe Camera Raw. Often I do this in Adobe Lightroom, but with this particular image I went straight into ACR/Photoshop. The first was exposed for the sky (darker), and the second for the building (lighter).
  2. In Photoshop, I duplicated the building exposure file as a layer in the sky exposure file and closed the extra file.
  3. A layer mask was added to the building file, hiding the sky portion of that exposure so I ended up with a dark sky and a brighter building in the same view.
  4. I used a Curves adjustment layer on the sky to add contrast
  5. Another Curves adjustment layer on the building for brightness/contrast for drama and detail
  6. Saturation adjustment layer on the building to adjust and amp colors for drama as well
  7. An Overlay layer filled with neutral gray and then 5% large/soft brush for dodging and burning along with some slight vignetting to emphasize the building and mute the sky as it was further from the building.
  8. Stamped out some distracting elements (people) in the foreground.
  9. Downsized for upload, then Smart Sharpening, at roughly 60%, radius of 0.3 and threshold of 0.

That’s it (sarcasm intended). The process is really subjective along the way as I tweak to what seems to be best for the individual photo. Now that is an example of a fairly detailed list of steps. Here is a shorter version that would also be acceptable:

  1. 2 exposures of same file, one for sky one for building
  2. Combined in one file with masked layers
  3. Curve to sky for contrast
  4. Curve to building for contrast & brightness
  5. Saturation adjustments to building
  6. Dodged, burned & slight vignette
  7. Stamped out people
  8. Downsize & sharpening

Obviously a little more detail is nice, but even from this more concise version there is a lot to learn!

Most photographers I know enjoy sharing their tips on creating great photos, probably because most of us have learned this way from others as well. My hope is this group can be very informative and one that photographers will be happy to share their insights rather than shy away from revealing their “secrets.”

I would enjoy any feedback here or in the group as to if you think this idea is worthwhile and how it could be improved upon and pulled off in a beneficial way. Thanks!

Doorway to Somewhere

This is another photo taken during my walk around Exeter. I had a couple of hours before sound check and wanted to take is as many sights as I could. This doorway within a doorway struck me as interesting.

On the upcoming tour I am hoping to carve out as much time as I can to quickly see nearby sights and find interesting things to photo. On this first tour I was honestly so nervous about getting the shots I needed for the project that I rarely took time to get out and see things.

Canon 10D, 1/90 at f/8 and 200 ISO
see it larger (because bigger is better) on flickr

Exeter Cathedral

This photo was taken on a short walk from my hotel when traveling in the UK with Donny Osmond in 2004. I was simply astounded by the age and beauty of everything as I walked around

The sky really was close to this dramatic, I just added some contrast to it. The building I changed up the colors a bit.

Here is a link with more about this amazing structure.

I am very happy to announce that I will be headed back to the UK in May with the Osmonds on their upcoming reunion tour!  I will talk more about this in the near future, but I thought I’d make quick mention of it here.

Canon 10D, 1/125 at f/11 and 100 ISO
see it larger on flickr

Out of Bounds

I was playing with the technique called “out of bounds” popularized in several contests at worth1000.com (you can find a tutorial on their site). This may not have been the best photo for it, but it turned out ok. I think it would have been better had the entire seal been visible on the right. It’s a fun photoshop trick that I will likely try out again in the future.