Follow my travels as I explore the different and unique areas of our vast nation. I try to put my own unique view on to the common travel destinations and find unique places to share. Enjoy visiting my site and following my travels!
Last night I watched an interesting program on AppleTV. The show was released July 30 and is called Watch the Sound with Mark Ronson. My only recall of Ronson is from the song Uptown Funk he wrote and recorded, featuring Bruno Mars. It was great to put a face to the name.
He has penned songs for Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera; one of the most notable is Shallow with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. As I watched the first two episodes (Auto Tone and Sampling) Music making/song writing involves a creative process I was not completely surprised by but to the extent tech is used left me in that “Ah-Ha” state of mind!
The creativity of using computers (or tape) has been going on for decades. Songs are created, notes are edited (for good or bad) and things that are old are made new again through sampling of rhythms and runs. There’s a fine line between plagiarism an being creative.
Paul McCartney is one of the guests on the show; he talks about the equipment and the processes he and John used to give their music a unique sound. next time you hear Strawberry Fields, listen closely, a Mellotron was used to create the dreamy sounds we heard.
I highly recommend to any of you who are in the creative arts, whether visual or audio, to watch and listen to what is done and how it all comes together!
Parallel the creation of music to photography; photographers use computers to edit, manipulate, and create one of a kind images! Hats off to all of the creatives in this world!
The world of photography has seen great changes over the last couple of decades. With the advances of digital photography and the increasing amount of editing software available, it is difficult to separate photographic fact from fiction. Recently, Mike Moats and Rick Sammon have had topics in their groups about whether members are purists or enjoy creativity.
Mike shared his experience of an individual who criticized his use of external programs to give his image a special look. Rick advocates for cropping and using programs to improve images. What about Ansel Adams? He was definitely the master of light; finding it, creating it, using it to make his photographs unique.
Photography, is it an art? Do photographers create? When is a photograph not a photograph? These are questions that have been tossed around for centuries! Think about double exposures, intentional camera movement, and dodging and burning. The photographer has a vision of what their photograph should look like. To compare a photographer to a painter might be unfair, but the process is similar.
A painter, comes on a scene and chooses the color palette, brushes, and type of medium to work with. The image is created with brush strokes on canvas, paper, or other medium. The painter decides the composition and the point of view they want to show. They may change their perspective (edit their work) while they are painting; a few brush strokes and the painting will look completely different. The painter/artist decides when they are finished. The thought process for the photographer is similar, but the tools are completely different.
The photographer approaches the same scene, makes a lens choice, sets the exposure, and studies the composition before pressing the shutter. Rick Sammon talks about using your camera like a drone; move it around and see what different angles look like. Zoom in, out, move forward, backward, turn the camera, try different angles, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Not doing these activities will result in missing a unique angle or composition. It has been said many times, “all photographers do is press a button,” but wait…after they press that button they go back to their “darkroom” or computer and work on the image. One of the keys to the creative process is editing.
Editing a photograph can be very simple, just a few adjustments to exposure, contrast, sharpening. There are those who think editing is difficult or challenging, but if it is not practiced, like anything else, it will continue to be daunting. Editing software is easy to come by and a lot of photographers have an arsenal at their disposal, but yet, photographs are placed in public viewing without any adjustments. It is sad…there are many good photographs posted daily, but they could be awesome images with a little work! Those photographs have great potential!
Potential, one must see the potential in an image…the one thing that makes the image unique/special. Taking a few minutes to work on a photograph can make all the difference. There is an article that talks about the artistic eye or creative mind. There are individuals who innately have this “gift;” those who lack the artistic eye can develop it if they work on it. Developing a creative mind takes much practice and dropping some of the preconceived notions/rules about photography. Sometimes it’s just a simple crop or a minor clone, or it could be a hard crop or big clone! Again, see the potential in an image. Creativity takes work. Creatively changing an image often results in the photographic “lie.” Is it still a photograph or an enhanced digital image? The art belongs to the photographer; it is their vision, their view of the world.
Pay attention to photographs you see every day. In the photograph below, clearly the star of the show is the waterlily and the reflections. The photograph was taken at the maximum focal distance and the flower was in the middle of the pond. Take the shot or walk away? This was a single frame. It took work to make the photograph that was visualized at the time the button was pressed. Many pass up the opportunity to go the extra mile to make an image special. The final result? Is it an accurate depiction of the scene or is it a lie?
A few months ago I received an email from a software company call Sleeklens. They offered to give me a set of their Lightroom Presets (Through the Woods) for free in exchange for a product review. At first I was skeptical because I had never heard of this company or so I thought!
I searched their internet page and contacted another photographer, Mike Moats (he was listed on their Facebook Page), he recalled their products, and said, “Why not give it try?”
I contacted Sleeklens and ideally they wanted a turn-around time of a couple of weeks. I knew based on my schedule and other life happenings, it probably would not happen for a couple of months!
My opinion on presets is not a “Hip-Hip-Hooray” attitude. My past experience with presets are “It’s a good start” then I have to tweak to get it to the stage I want it. With that being said, I think my review may come as a surprise!
I have other presets that I’ve received from other companies, either as a premium or something I’ve purchased. I opened the presets in Lightroom and noticed I had other presets from Sleeklens…I’m not quite sure where I had downloaded them from. I played around with them a little; at least it was somewhat of an assurance this was a legit company.
I had just returned from Yellowstone National Park and was still playing around with my images when the email came with the “Through the Woods” presets. The presets come with Develop and Adjustment Brush presets. I had loaded some of my previous brush presets in the wrong folder and with the instructions I moved those to the correct location so I had a whole new game going!
Lets look at before and after images. Many of these I did reset to the original, some I added the preset after my initial adjustments were present.
Original unedited image
After making adjustments on my own I added the Break of Dawn preset and it gave the image warmth and opened the shadows.
I felt encouraged after I saw the results of this image so I tried another.
I used the Exposure-Brighten preset on this one.
The humming bird was initially adjusted with the Heavenly Warmth preset then I used the Brighten Shadows adjustment brush to pull out the details.
I used the Calm Sunset preset and then made further adjustments with graduated filters, luminance, and temperature.
Since the color presets were working so well, I decided to do a monochrome image.
I picked this image because in color the water was still brown and thought it may look better in black and white
I used the Pressed in Time preset, then added Monochrome Fantasy, and darken shadows and less highlights.
By now I feel that using the Sleeklens presets is definitely a great start to any image, but also can stand alone!
I aded Warm Shadows preset; adjusted shadows and clarity…BOOM…that’s all I did!
Calm Sunset preset added and highlights adjusted.
I used Darken Shadows preset and Autumn Colors
To conclude, yes, the Sleeklens Through the Woods presets are a “winner, winner!” I went in feeling very skeptical about using a preset, but the more I played and worked with them, it became apparent that the presets could function on their own without much help or further adjustments. I give this a thumbs up! To purchase your set of presets and brushes you can go to Sleeklens for Lightroom
Until recently I did not realize how many different types of leaf photographs I had. Leaves are fascinating. They bud in the spring and are a lively green; then in the fall, they change to reds, yellows, and oranges. Structurally, leaves have veins, stems, and are textually interesting. I love to bring that texture forward in my photographs.
Palm leaf before
Palm leaf after On1 Effects
I had posted the above before and after in my post “Creativity: Where Does it Start?” I had transformed the ordinary palm leave to be viewed “differently”. I feel as a photographer it is my job to challenge our view of reality from time to time. The processing I chose for this image changed the color as well as the perspective of the image. It also highlighted the details in the leaf and stem.
Rhododendron After processing in Lightroom and On1 Effects
On the left you see the original image of the green leaves. I liked how the light was hitting the leaves and felt there was a “photograph” somewhere in this image. I began using my crop tool and started dragging it around the image until I settled on a crop I thought was pleasing to the eye. There was so much going on in the original photograph that I needed to isolate a section. I then converted it to black and white. The tonal range of the image worked well with that choice. I then finished my editing in On1 Effects to add texture and to bring out the details in the leaves.
Sycamore leaf before
Sycamore leaf after processing
The above sycamore leaf was taken with my Sigma 120 – 300 f/2.8 zoom. I removed the lower right stem with the patch tool in Photoshop, then edited the color and texture in On1 Effects. The transformation was just what I wanted.
I was trying out my Tamron 28 – 300 f/3.5 – 5.6 and captured this leaf hanging off of my maple tree. I was exploring for things to photograph with the lens as I had just purchased it from KEH. I brought out the texture and details using On1 Effects. The sharpening tools in On1 Effects does a great job bringing out the details in images.
This was another leaf I was practicing on with my Tamron 28 – 300 f/3.5 – 5.6. It was a single color leaf among the dry gray and brown leaves. It caught my attention while walking around my patio.
I spotted the oak leaf while walking around William and Mary College’s Campus this fall. While the image itself is a little soft, I enhanced that softness by decreasing the clarity. The colors are very vibrant. I added a soft white vignette to make the leaf stand out.
Palm leaf: Intersecting Lines
Purple Basil captured with LensBaby Spark
Palm tree on Ossabaw Island, Georgia
Above are a few of my other leaf images I have captured over the last year. I hope you enjoyed exploring the world of leaves! Effects 10 is available as a free download!
Lightroom presets are interesting. Most of the time I prefer to edit my own images. If I do decide to choose a preset, I end up making additional adjustments, so I figure I should start from scratch anyway.
I saw the frosty fog rising off of the river on Sunday morning and noticed how the trees became frost covered. I know the time frame to capture this is short and it was already 10:00 a.m. I knew I had to get moving!
I used a 0.6 ND filter, because the sun was so bright and it really separated the blue sky while maintaining the white snow. I photographed these images with my Tamron 24 – 75mm f/2.8 on my Nikon D800E at ISO 50. Shutter speeds and aperture varied depending on the light. Most of the time it was at f/8 – 11 and 1/100 – 1/200.
In post I decided to try the IR preset. Some of the images were very impressive using this preset. I do like a little more contrast, so I adjusted the blacks and contrast slightly to give me the look I wanted.
I hovered over some of the other presets and the Direct Positive really made the images pop with color! The contrast between the blues and whites was beautiful! Direct positive is a process dating back to the 1800’s. Typically, the image was captured directly onto the paper and it was a black and white image. In Lightroom, the direct positive setting increases the saturation, blacks, and highlights and produces a very high color image. The image can be easily converted to black and white after using the Direct Positive preset.
The images below demonstrate the use of 2 different presets in light room; Direct Positive on the left and infrared (IR) on the right.
Direct Positive Preset
While I do like my images to have a little more contrast (more pleasing to my eye), there is something about the subtleness of the image below that I like. Left is the original and right is IR. I did remove the boat from the image.
Straight out of the camera
IR setting with a slight black and contrast adjustment
The vignette in the corners is from my ND filter on the camera. I do attempt to remove that with cropping or adding a reverse vignette.
I suggest you try some of the presets in Lightroom; what is nice, Lightroom gives you a preview of what it will look like. I use this as a starting point then make my own adjustments. I have also set up my own presets in the past if I’m editing a batch and making the same changes throughout.
I decided to try focus stacking. Focus stacking is when you take a series of images and you focus on one section of the image at a time, then save them as PSD images. The key is to have your camera on a tripod so you do not change position.
Open the images then go to File>Scripts>Load Files into Stacks. After you stack the files you go to Edit>Auto-Blend-Layers.
The image will be in focus throughout.
This was fun to try. I will have to try it again sometime.
I saw a Facebook post on group site I participate in about refraction of light. The images were very interesting. I decided to put together a few items for our camera club to use at a future meeting.
If you google refraction of light you come back with a lot of scientific information. However when you google refraction of light in photography a lot of nice images appear!
With help from a friend of mine, I put together several backgrounds; some had color some were black and white. I purchased scrapbooking paper and used double stick tape and old scrap mats to mount the paper to so they would not bend.
Try different patterns
Try different glasses
Using a pole lamp with 3 lights to light my subject, I put up my backgrounds and filling glasses with water. I also laid some of the backgrounds flat and used them as a base; the patterns then reflected on top of the water.
My camera settings (Nikon D800E) ISO 640, f/14 – 16, shutter speed ranged from 1/5, 1/3, 1/13 sec depending on which background was being used.
Try different angels and adding color
Just a splash of color catches your attention
This is a fun winter project as you do not need a lot of supplies, just clear glasses, vases, bowls, water (distilled is recommended because tap water bubbles), and paper or fabric with a design. You can make your own designs using Photoshop and printing the off of you printer.
Using different camera angles changes the perspective
Try patterns under the glass and look at what happens as you move around
Ice Cream Parlor at the Old Country Store in Jackson, Tennessee
Every so often I browse through my images and something catches my eye. I look at it and think, “What can I do with this?” Images like this have so much detail and I like converting that detail into an HDR-like image. I started out by making a few adjustments to the shadows and highlights in Lightroom. I then moved the image over to On1 Effects to do the rest. I used the Amazing Detail Finder, Clarity, I lightened the shadows, Exaggerated the tones and edges, and added a subtle HDR look to the image. I moved it back into Lightroom to adjust the contrast slightly for my finished product.
See the before and after side by side:
Out of the camera image before processing
Never give up on images you may have in your files. I hear people all of the time say they delete pictures. While I have many, many images I will never process, occasionally I find one that surprises me!
After posting this blog, it was suggested to me to see what the image looked like in black and white. Here is the result:
When photographing nature we encounter imperfect subjects. It takes a little patience and imagination to make corrections to an image after it’s captured.
While looking through images that were photographed this summer, this one was intriguing. The bug on the coneflower was lost in the shadows and was very much in focus.
Bug lost in the shadows
The shadow slider in Lightroom opened the area and other adjustments were made to the image. Then the gap on the left kept screaming! Cropping did not help, so the image was edited in Photoshop (Photoshop is used as a plug-in to Lightroom). The magic brush tool was used to capture a piece of the adjacent area and a layer was created of that selection. The petal was turned and transformed, then a layer mask was applied so the petal could be blended in with the rest of the flower.
A petal was added to the left to fill the gap
Then the space on the right was an attention grabber. The same technique was applied. After the second petal was added the image was saved in Lightroom and the radial filter and adjustment brush was used to make sure the bug was the central focus of the image.
The gap on the right was filled with data captured from the adjacent area
Nature is imperfect and as the old margarine commercial says, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” there are those who believe that you capture the image “as is” and make no changes. Making changes to an image that is imperfect has it’s merit. The photographer has to make the decision if the risk of “fooling Mother Nature” is worth taking!